Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Training March 19-25

Mon-9miles in Jersey City, easy pace
Tues-3miles AM in Jersey City, evening workout 3.7mile warmup/cooldown. 8miles alternating between Marathon pace and sub-threshold/10k.  Muddling the lines a bit? Not training in the no-man's land but training to run out of it with a surge when necessary.
Wed-Much needed day off, it's been about 11 days of high volume and good intensity.
Thurs-12miles total, one run in Johnson Park in the AM, and a longer run in Jersey city with a short break waiting for group run to gather up
Fri-8miles warmup/cooldown, Fartlek total of about 6.9miles(1min on/4easy, 2on/3off, 3/2, 4/1. 2 sets) Hard sections run at 10k race pace roughly.
Sat-9.25miles with Luis Romero in Jersey City, went to Weehawken track(did 1 mile on it) and back to the store
Sun-17.25miles at River Rd in Bedminster, pace accelerated throughout the run, hit 5:40's for a bit, struggled with GI problems. damn it. Avg pace was about 6:05 I believe. Cows, horses, streams, trees, good times.
The Black River-Bedminster, NJ

Week's total miles: 82
Notes: 3 quality sessions, 2 went well, the LR was not great, but I know why.  Just a few weeks to go until Boston. Time to sharpen it up and ease back on the volume.  Pretty excited, 5:30's feel slow now.

Friday, March 23, 2012

When the Hammer Breaks

Who's had a Running Injury? Please raise your hands{most everyone raises there hand}.  I've had injuries or nagging conditions throughout my entire running career.  No one who trains hard, fast, or far is going to escape the signals from the body that say, "Hey! Knock it off! That hurts!"  As careful as one ever may be, if you stay at it long enough, you will break down, get fatigued, at the very least, need a rest day or week!
For me as a runner, one of the toughest things to endure is not running due to injury. Imagine, you've been on a roll, building and building.  Every run you can go faster, taking it easy seems pointless.  You run a slew of new PR's, slicing time like a hot knife through butter, the clock is your play thing.  Momentum makes anything seem possible, it's manifest destiny!  You're traveling West young Man, You've got a fever!  And the only prescription is to DROP THE HAMMER!
and then the hammer breaks...
Jump into the time machine with me, venture now to the fall of 2008. I was at an all-time high, I was on my way to my 4th marathon attempt, and had built all my training and racing around a hop-skip-jump to an Olympic Trials Qualifying time. A big part of success is believing it's possible, and I was the first disciple of my own religion.  My first 3 marathon training periods were poorly executed, and the races themselves weren't great either, but along the way between NYC 07' and Philly 08', I smashed all my PR's, and it was all going well...or so I thought.  My Achilles tendon became inflamed a week before the race.  I raced the marathon anyway, battled the pain for 20miles(just beginning to fade at 20, still heading  for a 2:31) before things got ugly, and the last 10k were a painful, limping, death-march to end. Finishing in 2:36:42, periodically being passed by some other very good runners, wallowing in the anguish of not being able to do a damn thing about it.  
I had every expectation that I was fit enough to hit a 2:29 that day. The plan was, simple, get the 2:29, train another 6months, get a 2:24, train another 6-12months, get a 2:22, another 6months-2:21:59, and I was going to be on my way to race the best marathoners in the USA.  But there I was with a 13minute PR, muscles, lungs, and heart, strong enough to smash through a brick wall, and now suddenly, with numerous injuries. 
The next several weeks my feet just ached and throbbed continuously, eventually as I started to run again, my shin hurt too, another stress fracture!  I'm pretty sure I had about 3 of them at that point.  I couldn't run for about 4 months.  Crestfallen fails to describe my emotional state during these months.  The void seemed like a bottomless pit.  I went to sleep wondering what it was going to feel like to rise from bed in the morning and take a couple of steps, never mind go run.  You struggle to figure out what to do with yourself, and you revert to self-defeating activities.(overeating and partaking of the drink too much), But after those 4months, I was able to work my way back.
Zoooom-we're back to the Future(um, I mean present):
It's 2012, I'm running well, going further, and sometimes faster, enjoying it, picking my battles more wisely.
A broken hammer, can be made into a stronger hammer, melted down and recast, presto, new hammer!  Your body will heal, and especially in the case of bones, they often end up stronger than before they broke!  The comeback trail is a rough one, but this is a journey you made at least once before. You know you just need to retrace some steps, what lies ahead is what you're after, so you take your time and you'll get there.  Learning to take it easy is one of the hardest things to do as a competitive runner.  Or maybe to realize, that you aren't competing every step of every run.  Easy running is more beneficial than one might realize, and also more fatiguing than you'd think.
That's a big hammer!
Rest days, sleep, and nutrition can't be ignored, if you want to be able to drop that hammer again!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Allies on the track

Competitive Runners aren't well understood by most people.  I mean, how much do you know about a pigeon?  It flies, it craps everywhere, and it isn't terribly worried about you being near it.  In fact, it's usually expecting that you'll feed it.  Runners are a bit like this...If you're one of them, you can think of the reasons why, as I won't let my own strange metaphor derail me here.  ONWARD!

One of the greatest challenges as a competitive runner is finding a track where you can do a workout in lane one.  Depending on the night and the nearness to a residential area, you'll have any number of activities occurring at a track, and the soccer/football field inside of it.  The chaos can be just aggravating.  Yes, there are rules posted, on a sign,  indicating that walkers/joggers(slower moving traffic) are supposed to use the outer lanes(4/5/6).  Of course you'll find a large number of people persist in using whatever lane they choose, with no regard for anyone else' use of the track.

Despite all the best intentions, and the clearest requests for someone to stay out of lane 1(the fast lane) when not running, they often persist casually, if not brazenly, ambling along with a slow-motion reaction when you're shouting "LANE ONE! LANE ONE!".  They get annoyed because they think you should warn them sooner, but they don't stop to think, "hey, maybe I should just stay out of lane one, these folks are doing some serious running here!"  We've got little wind in the lungs to spend repeatedly asking them to walk in a different lane. Don't get me wrong, I don't own lane one, but you gotta' leave space for people to go by, not block lane 1-2-3 as you stroll during your rest breaks or leisurely walk.

Strength in number is a real thing in these circumstances.  Try going to do an interval workout solo, you'll get no respect at all.  This past Tuesday I ran a workout with a large group.  They were doing something separate from what I was doing, but the volume of fast moving runners helped to keep lanes 1/2 clear for most of the run.
But like Ringo Starr sang, "I get by with a little help from my friends".  Mark Gartenberg of RVRR was out there, doing his own workout, and taking the time on his recovery jog to tell these Lane-one-loafers to watch out for the faster runners.  Mark keeps it light, friendly, and polite...  He's a true Ally on the track!
Mark...this one's for you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Training March 12-18

Point of fact: I use a Sunday-Saturday perspective as it appears on a calendar, but I'm telling you all about it on Monday's, so I'll be posting Mon-Sun. Here it goes.

Mon-2.5mile run to Parent's House, hopped on my Canondale Carbon Six Five, rode to a NAPA store, needed a coolant hose for the Civic, rode back to Highland Park=8.3mile ride.  Easy 14mph avg, hit a max of 28mph!), ran another 4miles after fixing the Civic= 6.5miles run, 8.3 miles bike
Tues-4miles run AM in Jersey City at Runner's High, 8.1miles run in the evening w/Tim Morgan, both of us are still recovering from M4M 20k, day's total=12.1miles
Wed-11.5miles in JC, easy pace just under 7min per mile, mostly over to and in Liberty State Park, sunset was great. Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty, Lower Manhattan...total for day=11.5miles
view of Manhattan Sunset from Liberty State Park

Thur-7.5miles of warmup/cooldown/recovery jog, 4x2miles on RU track with some help from Chuck Schneekloth pacing me every other 800m.  Ran each interval between 15k-10k pace, last mile was 5:18! total miles for the day=15.5
Fri-Split easy 4mile run with Kevin Dimarco, went up to Pershing field in the Jersey City Heights(an odd 550m lumpy gravel track), then ran with Simon and his friend another 5-6miles. total miles for the day=9.5ish
Sat-Run with Luis Romero of GSTC and Mike Burghoffer, from Runner's High to Liberty State Park and back, 9.5miles, not trusting Mike's shitty gps watch ever again, wanted 10miles...total miles=9.5

Sun-Ramapo Mt State Forest w/Tim, Chuck, and Edsel "The Hammer" Flores, the majority of the run was around Ramapo Lake, but I went up to the old Van Sylke Mansion ruins twice, ventured to the old water tower once, went back up to the parking area one extra time.
See below all the cool stuff You DIDN'T see on YOUR Sunday run!
Water Tower near ruins of Van Slyke Mansion
Van Slyke Mansion Ruins
View of Wanaque Reservoir from the Van Sylke Mansion Ruins
I ran down the Hoeferlin(yellow blaze) trail on the way back down on my way for the 2nd run up to the ruins, ran hard the last 30mins of the 135min run.  Feeling strong up steep hills=19miles.  Ran with Trudy in Donaldson Park later that afternoon at an easy pace-4miles. total for the day 23miles.

7 day total= roughly 86-87miles run, 8.3miles bike
Notes/Comments: Rolling right along, the 4x2mile workout was stellar, and everything is holding up.  Icing left foot, absorbing it all, especially pleased with how easy the last 30-45mins felt up at Ramapo Mt

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How long did you train for that marathon?

Recently, I've found myself almost stuck to find a good answer to that question.  Both, those who identify as "a runner",  and also those who just know a bit about what runners do, will ask me this.  Answers that some people will offer in response to this question are often, "I just followed the Higdon plan", or "16 weeks", "18 weeks" or "I was supposed to do 4 months, but I squeezed into 3!"
For me the answer is as simple as it is complex.  Because the answer is; since the first time I "went for a run".  or maybe I'll  say"16yrs", if I consider the first time I immersed myself into organized training with the Edison High School track team. Or I could tell you, "about 26,000miles... give or take", my current approximate lifetime logged mileage.  The answer changes often as you may now realize.  Part of my trouble in answering is that, my interpretation of this question is still undecided. I feel it suggests that the training completely leaves you after you run 26.2miles. 
I'll frequently say something like, "every run is money in the bank", as long as you aren't running yourself into an injury. 
Various styles of training work for different kinds of people, not everyone can or is willing to make running a priority for themselves.  Some choose to "run a marathon", and for some, running a marathon or many of them is just another step in the journey as a runner.
For me, running is a personal masterpiece in life.  There is nothing I can imagine I'd ever do better.
 So, take your break, after "the marathon", and remember this; a marathon as we commonly run it today is about 2.2miles longer than what was classically believed to be the accurate distance from the Plains of Marathon to the City of Athens.  Such arbitrary details lead us to a fairly simple conclusion, all of this is ritualistic.  How we perform these rituals is what matters, that we embrace it all for whatever it needs to mean for each of us.  I think Steve Prefontaine knew this.
I've been training for the marathon my entire life, and I didn't know it until I ran one.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Training 3/4/12 thru 3/11/12

Sunday 3/4-took day off from running to hike in Mt. Gretna, PA with Trudy, also saw a massive flock of migratory geese at Middle Creek Wildlife Mgmt area. Great day!
Mon 3/5-AM run in Jersey City 3.5miles, Afternoon run in Princeton w/Ashwin for 90 mins, at total of 2:35:10 for 23.25miles, hit a 79 for 400m in 22nd mile of the run. lots and lots of hills on this one. Yes, today I did more than 26miles.
Tuesday 3/6-night run w/Tim Morgan. 10.5miles, Metuchen HS track, St Joes HS track, Bishop Ahr HS track, I call this one the triangle of rubber(too bad there is a bunch of asphalt between them all).
Wed 3/7-5x1mile at HM pace w/400jog recovery.  All between 5:33-5:26, total miles on day=8miles.
Thursday 3/8-Thursday night run in Jersey City, did about 6miles
Friday 3/9-took a day off, long hrs at the job, life can get in the way. grumble.
Saturday 3/10-Grass at St Joe's HS w/Tim Morgan for about 55mins, easy running, and 6x100m strides, 7.5miles total
Sunday 3/11-Miles for Music 20k(USATF-NJ 20k championship), 1:09:06(5:33pace) official time, 9th place overall. My GSTC mates and I win the Open Men's team title and the B team takes 2nd as well! This represent a return to fitness at Long Distances that I haven't seen in 4yrs!  Injuries be damned, I'm back! Total miles for the day=17.5

Week total miles=58(yesterday's race I just tossed on here since it's big news, not counting those miles for the "week", but the past 7 days are 75 miles!

Notes: Annoyed about missing Friday's run/training.  But I ran so well on Sunday, I think it was worth a rest day.  You need them now and then, escpecially when you need need to go to a job.  The Long run and 5x1mile was great.  This week is going to be a big week!


"No Easy Way Out"

So, love it or loathe it.  Rocky IV was somewhat brilliant.  I mean, let's face it, Stallone was a riding the wave of  cold war film where, Russians are "the bad guy".  I more often find that Russian characters in film have been better comic relief than bad guys.  Of course, Stallone co-wrote Rambo III, which at the time in the late 80's made me think, "Hey those Afghans are hardcore to fight those Russian's, but they couldn't do it without Rambo!"
Funny how, that turned out for us, eh?
Anyway, Rocky IV... drifted too much into propaganda.  But the most valuable thing that came out of it all, was this:


This scene gets me so pumped its ridiculous! No, I don't have a best friend who was killed in a mile fun run or something oddly parallel.  It's more like, the idea of the unbeatable foe that haunts your thoughts and dreams. Knowing that you have to work harder than you ever have before to beat that opponent(or the clock)! Yesterday's 20k in Johnson Park, was a lifetime best effort, while not perfectly executed, I ran fast, and produced a pace that would have eclipsed my Half Marathon personal best.  My end time was 69:06(5:33pace), with Anthony Harris quickly(and silently) gaining ground on me.  I narrowly escaped on of the most vicious kicks in NJ, which has thus far, found no distance at which it can be sapped!

I also reccommend watching the last battle scene in Rambo III for some added juice! Why? Because Rambo takes out a Soviet Helicopter by ramming into it with a Tank! Yeah, he did that!

Tomorrow: Intervals...lots of volume, sub Threshold pace. There's no easy way out! There's no shortcut home!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Yiddish, Dirt, Futility and Zombies

There is a Yiddish proverb, "Mensch Tracht, Gott Lacht, "Man plans and God laughs".  I probably find amusement in this because, this is part of my cultural background.  Cultural musings aside, it's an interesting thing to drive to work everyday, and see the "improvements" being made to roadways, bridges, etc.  Like the Pulaski Skyway, ever crumbling, and yet they persist in patching it.  Fighting the inevitable, just like Zombies, they never give up, so I kind of want to be one...a Zombie. I mean, why not, you're dead anyway, why not walk around and have a snack if you can get one now and then?
But the thing that really "burns my bridges", is when Politician's figure ways to feed contracts to companies to "improve" parks. Call me paranoid, but that's how I see it.
Donaldson Park 
This used to be the home of Edison High School's and Raritan Valley Road Runner's 5k XC courses, a nice combination of flats and short steep hills, until it was "improved".  Costing millions, laying pavement over many areas that were just fine being grass and dirt!  Why? So people could walk in their pretty white tennis shoes to keep their cholesterol levels down?  Aside from handicap accessibility, I say, if you don't like dirt and mud, stay on the sidewalk!
I still run in Donaldson now, ringing the perimeter and most enjoyably along the riverside, even when its sloppy and mucked up being at the bottom of hill and more or less a flood plain, but I can't complete either course as they used to be without hitting pavement path or needing to circumnavigate a softball/baseball field.  Bad deal.  Take the beads back Dutchmen, I'll keep the dirt!
The Lehigh Valley Rail Line
Don't be fooled by this photo, this is now covered in pavement, as this was just the grading done prior.  This rail line Started in Perth Amboy(crosses over the GSP), passed through Metuchen, South Plainfield and points West to PA. Being no longer in use, it was a nice spot to get out of the sun and traffic of the congested roads of Middlesex county.  Although often, incredibly muddy, the soft surface was really nice to use for an easy relaxed run.  Then of course, brilliant Politician's decide to pave over it, figuring it to be more cost effective for maintenance as a multi-use  "trail", a half-ass attempt to include it in the "Greenway", currently disjointed and years from completion. It's just a glaring misappropriations of funds.  Millions of dollars to spill ugly black asphalt atop a fairly clear and wide path that was soft and ready for running or Mountain biking. Alas, I still run it, but preferably the section that has yet to be paved.

 Sadly, when the Zombie Apocalypse begins,

plants will overgrow the pavement, cracking and crumbling it.  Bridges like the Pulaski Skyway will weather and collapse.  Because those of us who are not already Zombies, will be too busy killing the Zombies, so that we don't become Zombies.  It is...futile.  So until then, couldn't we just leave the dirt alone?

Training 2/26/12-3/3/12

Sun 2/26-Road Relays- 2x1.6mile loop-total time=roughly 16:30. Warmup+cooldown=5.1miles
Total miles for the day=8.3
Mon 2/27-Ran around Beuchluch over to RU Busch and back w/Mennitt, went out and back on the towpath past Bound Brook. avg pace roughly 6:55-:700 Total miles=20.5ish
Tues 2/28-AM run in Donaldson Park w/NB trail minimus, 3loops on the grass, and back home-
5.3miles 6:45pace.  PM run-Met up with Tiechman, ran around southside of HP, 6miles. Total for the day 11.3miles.
Wed 2/29-short day, need to back off. 2.75miles-6:30pace. that's all folks.
Thurs 3/1-Ran over to Ferris HS, 6mile tempo, 5:36 pace. ran back to the store, cooled down w/group run
Total for the day=13miles
Friday 3/2-AM run in donaldson, chilly, took it easy, 6:50pace for 5.4miles, PM run with Tiechman starting at the RU student Center-10.2miles. All easy paced miles. Total for the day=15.6miles
Saturday 3/3-run w/Dixon to the Busch intramural fields, I do 6x600, no watch, 140m recovery jog, felt good to do some true speed work. ran back.Total for the day=9miles

Week's Mileage total-80miles +/- a bit.
Analysis-Speed workouts went pretty well.  Marathon speed workouts don't feel that fast usually, but I'm in the range I want.  Did a bit too much early in the week, needed to back off on Wednesday, should have known better.  Preferred to split the med/long run into a double.  Sometimes it's fun to just escape twice in a day!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Just a Tempo in the Dark

Sometimes, the thing that drives you is as simple as having just enough time to get in the run you need before another obligation.  That extra little bit that motivates you to move your ass isn't always something like a cliche of visualizing yourself sitting in a lead pack with 400m to go in the "big race", or other such cheesy scenes from a poorly directed film about running.  Too often, training at a high level is isolating, and you just need to do it on your own, by numbers alone, the facts are that not too many people have the time or the drive to do what you're doing.  So, you need to play psychologist with yourself, and ignore the desire for social interaction fairly often.
    Circumstances as they were, my best possible option for a traffic-free tempo run, was to head over to Ferris High School in Jersey City.  This track is not 400m around(this I already knew).  This track is not an oval(also knew this).  This track is not entirely flat(did not know this).  As I arrive there, it is a good while past sunset, and all the artificial light from buildings and street lamps are glaring off of the many puddles strewn about this dilapidated 3-lane strip of worn out rubber.  I run 1 lap around to survey the landscape.
   This track is lumpy.  That is to say, there are spot where, you're going to step into a depression, and then your next stride you will stumble upon a spot that is risen higher than ground level, and then back into another depression.  This seemed to be most evident on the beginning of the back straight, but was a ripple compared to the sloped crater that spanned lanes 2 and 3 on the next corner.  The turns were crudely rounded corners, none of which had any semblance of symmetry.  To add to the obstacles, there were several large piles of goose droppings in some well placed spots.  I tell you, those devil birds must have known I was coming!
   So, I started my 6-mile Tempo, weaving around puddles and goose droppings, adjusting stride length to avoid tripping on uneven ground, holding tight through the "turn 3" to avoid the crater.  As I got a feel for the track, I got a feel for my body's rhythm.  I felt pretty good, and the toughest factor was the tight turns(all 108 of them).  In the end I wracked up 27+ laps on this piece of ground.  I checked my watch often, on most laps I clipped about 76secs.
    Google Map Pedometer(best tool on the internet for runners), would prove later, that this was in fact 356m, not 350m(as someone had told me it was).  The way I ran this thing, I did roughly 363m on each lap.  This shed new light on my feelings about the relative success of the workout.  As I ran back to Runner's High to meet up with the Group Run, I kept double checking the math in my head and continued believing that I was in the 5:45-5:48range at best, when in fact I was averaging 5:36per mile!  The cold, damp weather, the isolation, and the poor excuse for a track couldn't hold me back!  So today, I'm feeling a little bit like Ronnie James Dio(RIP) did in 1983! 
    Just a Rainbow in the Dark!  LOOK OUT!