And just like that, 2013 walked out of our lives forever. It was a year marked by sporadic blog entries and I can’t promise that 2014 will be any different but I will do my best to stay somewhat active.
So what have I been doing? In short, I’ve been doing my best to focus on my health. That means yoga once a week and running. My diet has gone slightly to shit but I am aware and making efforts to get it back on track. Overall, the physical is stable and I am extremely thankful for that. Running has been the constant in my life, I think I may be a tad burned out but I am still moving forward and isn’t that the name of the game? I have struggled a little with motivation since New York but I am still getting out at least 4 days a week. In the middle of December it came to a halt for a few days, I actually took an unplanned break from running, for get this…5 FULL days. Crazy I know, but to put it into perspective, after NYC I only took 3 days off. I don’t know if I ever mentioned my mileage stretch goal for 2013? I know that the 1,100 mile goal was declared but the stretch goal of 1,250 started coming into focus once I chose my training program for NYC. Well after New York I took it a bit easy. Then the 5 day hiatus coupled with the decline in total weekly mileage, I was doing my best to let that goal slip away. With just 11 days left in December I still had 51 miles to run and two holidays. I kept thinking…1,200 is so AWESOME …I was trying to be content with the total I had already reached. 51 miles in 11 days just seemed overwhelming.
So rewind to the holidays, usually my favorite part of the year because it’s a time for family and friends but life changed a lot for me in 2013 and the holidays slapped me across the face with the weight of it all. November was probably the most insane month in my life, I literally went from completing the New York City Marathon, one of my highest moments, to one of my lowest. I don’t share too much personal information and I don’t plan to share much more than the next paragraph because words would fail the emotion and the person.
I was in a relationship with a woman for over 9 years, someone who I loved completely and cherished as a partner but most of all as my best friend. In mid November it became clear that our expectations for the relationship were not in alignment and that it was time to really go our separate ways. The lesson of the year for me was that no matter how much effort you put in, or how bad you want something, the outcome is not always reflected in the end result. Things don’t always work out as planned. I am doing my best to accept that I gave the relationship my all and that I can’t control the outcome, especially when someone else’s hopes and dreams are part of the equation. I continue to adjust my perspective and focus on the positives. The positives are my friends, new and old, and family that have helped make the transition better and instilled confidence. The reality is that I am thankful for the relationship, she made me a better person and I hope I did the same for her. Either way, time passes whether I like it or not and I’m slowly getting a handle on life as a single person. Doing my best to reform good habits and handle things the right way. It’s a big change in my life and I would be remiss to not share even the vaguest of details.
Running has definitely become therapy, hours on the road or trail with nothing but some background music and my thoughts. As we all know, this can either be really great or really frustrating but overall its amazing because there is no “running away” from your thoughts, you have to face them. So now to turn the focus back to 1,250, I realized I was making excuses and trying my best to whither away 2013. The goal just needed to be addressed, it was absolutely something that I could and would do. I set a loose plan with 11 days left and on December 31 I set out for a trail run in the middle of the desert with 5.3 miles separating me from my goal. The best way to describe the entire run was grueling but rewarding, just like the other 1,245 miles leading up to it. I put in a lot of work this year and although it didn’t show itself in terms of expected results, the other benefits were well-earned. I am in great shape and have my overall health to show for every mile, for that I am continually thankful. I don’t know what
2014 has in store for me I have in store for 2014 but I plan on making the best possible decisions with my opportunities.
One decision I have made for 2014 is to start doing more volunteer and charity work. I have already signed up as a snow mentor for Stoked and this week I decided to do One Run For Boston. A fundraising relay across America that benefits those impacted by the Boston bombing. Amy over at Lavender Parking reminded me about the relay via her blog post and it only took a few minutes to make a decision. I will be running Stage 6 at about midnight in a questionable part of town so it should be interesting! If you would like to donate a couple of dollars then follow this link…One Run For Boston.
This is entirely too long but I think you all know how I am by now.
Thursday – I arrived in New York at 5:45 am on Halloween and made my way to Brooklyn via the subway. I had a whirlwind few days leading up to my trip and was exhausted coming off the red-eye that morning. Usually I try to power through the day but by the time I arrived at my friend’s house I wanted a nap. I hit the bed and slept for a solid 2.5 hours before starting my day. My buddy Andy and I grabbed some coffee and lunch as it started to drizzle outside. A warm bowl of clam chowder and awesome music helped set the tone for six very New York days. We explored Brooklyn by foot, drinking way too much coffee, finding charcuterie shop with beers and then made our way back to the place in time for trick or treaters to arrive. We didn’t have much as far as decorations or costumes but we had candy, iTunes proving “Halloween” radio and a stoop to sit. This was exactly what I wanted and needed that day.
Friday - I ran around Manhattan this morning in search of breakfast, clothes and an Expo. Seeing as this was my second time at the rodeo, I knew the lay of the land. I arrived at the Javits Center on Friday afternoon via a combination of subway and by foot from Brooklyn, had my paperwork ready for a quick and easy entry/exit. The sea of people was a decent representation of what to expect on race morning. The bib pick up was a snap, no line, no issues. Days earlier I had received an email stating that the NYRR had something special for those who decided to return and run in 2013, I figured it was something lame but what they had for me made me smile and kind of sad…
After collecting my bib and my surprise I headed into the madness. I needed a hat because I knew it was going to be cold on race day. I had looked at Lululemon for something cool, nothing, Supreme NYC, nothing…so I had to find something at the Expo. I opted for the official race cap of the marathon in white before heading to the main floor. The set up was genius by the marathon organizers, they had a huge section with official gear and you had to walk through that before you reached the rest of the vendors. Once out, I skipped by every company because I wanted to get back to the amazingness of Manhattan. I would’ve made it out unscathed too if it wast for those damn kids…at Saucony. Those bastards placed their booth right by the exit. I decided to peruse their selection, and of course I see the special New York Kinvara 4, and of course it is bad ass…bought. I also saw a much cooler hat with some matching orange accents and a vintage style New York Marathon shirt that looked just cool enough to buy. End result, a $180 bucks spent in roughly 10 minutes…on top of the $100 I spent at Lululemon about an hour before. New York does an excellent job of knocking down the well fortified walls of my bank account!
Overall experience. Positive. I was very excited to see my bib, so excited that I requested to take a photo with the girl who handed it to me…much like last year. Everything was well-organized and efficient. The only issue about the Javits Center is that the closest subway exit is Madison Square Garden about 3/4 of a mile away. Cabs are out of the question around that area, especially with Friday traffic so way too many runners were forced to pound the pavement with the race less than 48 hours away.
Friday Night - AWESOME. Dinner at my favorite Brooklyn restaurant with great friends. I am not a pork chop fan but I took a gamble on it last time I visited and it was so dang good that I could not pass it up. I don’t think I will ever order anything else from Prime Meats in the future…its mind glowingly GREAT.
Saturday - I did my shakeout run with my buddy Nathan, 2 awesome miles. He ran NYC a few years back so it was awesome to shoot the poop and explore his neighborhood with him. Everything felt as it should, I felt READY. My brother came into town that morning off the red-eye so I hung out with him. I did a bit of walking around the Brooklyn Flea Market since it was less than a 100 yards away from the house. A bunch of “vintage” items and some food…advantage goes to the Rose Bowl Swap Meet, HANDS DOWN. I chilled out the rest of the day before heading to an early dinner at a restaurant that supposedly has the best Gnocchi in Brooklyn…unfortunately it is not a permanent menu item as I had assumed, FAIL. Don’t worry, I still managed to consume tons of pasta and bread to complete the carbo-load. I went home, my buds went out for some drinks. I laid out my race gear, my post race gear and went over the entire race strategy for the umpteenth time. I was never nervous about the race but I was concerned about the 20+ degree drop in temps from Saturday to Sunday, and of course…the 15-20 mph winds all morning. Went to bed feeling great, I fell asleep by 9pm and slept through the entire night. Added bonus, an extra hour of sleep thanks to “fall backward”.
Sunday / Race Day
I was up
bright and dark and early. I was feeling fresh and quickly got ready and out the door in under 15 minutes to catch the subway over to Manhattan. I didn’t see another runner until I hit Brooklyn and then the subway was crawling with them. I was starting to get a little excited. I joined the masses on the Staten Island Ferry and found a seat by the window so I could see the Statue of Liberty on the way. I was bundled and warm and once I saw Lady Liberty, I was so happy to be a part of what was to come.
We arrived at the terminal just around 6:30 and I had read some tips about hanging out there to stay warm, versus heading to the starting corrals and sitting outside in the cold, and wind. This was a great bit of advice. I was warm and comfortable. At first I was concerned because there were only about 7 people sitting down when I arrived but within an hour, the terminal was PACKED and buzzing.
I struck up a conversation with a lady from Boston who was hoping to use her New York time to qualify for Boston. We talked about races, strategy, and how we were both excited to run the course…first timer bonding to the max. I then struck up a conversation with three guys from the UK who had trained together, I had too good a conversation with these blokes because next thing I knew it was 8:20 and I had wanted to be out of the terminal at 8:05. I said my goodbyes, wished everyone luck and headed out the door. The line for the shuttle was insane and I realized that I would be cutting it close to catch my corral. I thought the corral closed at 9:10 for Wave 1 but when I arrived at my area after a quick pit stop, they told me that it had just been cut off…it was 8:55. I was definitely disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to take off in Wave 1 but decided to just be easy and not stress. I joined Wave 2 and snuck my way up to the first corral in the wave. I talked to more runners and started to peel off my bigger layers. I could see the elites on the Verrazano Bridge warming up and then before I knew it, there was a cannon blast and they were off! You could hear New York, New York and the people cheering as they took off. After the first wave took off the staff almost immediately started to walk us up towards the starting line. Police held hands and formed a line to keep runners back.
We turned the corner and I could finally see the starting line about 300 yards in front of us. Next thing I know people started ducking under the human police barricade. I asked why people were doing that and someone said, they missed their Wave 1 start so they are letting them go now… WHAT? Of course I scurry over and tell the official that I am in Wave 1 and they let me through. I started jogging towards the start and realized that there would be no grand start for me and that I had spent no time getting warm or gathering my thoughts about something that I had looked forward to for over a year and a half. I stopped about 50 yards before the starting line, snapped some pictures, situated myself, and focused on the what was about to happen.
I crossed the mat and as soon as I did…it hit me…I would not stop until I crossed the finish line some 26.2 miles later. I was surrounded by…NO ONE. I could hear the music from my phone and the wind testing the strength of my bib, I literally thought it was going to blow off. The wind was that strong. I caught up to a few packs of runners after about a quarter-mile. They were the runners with disabilities that went off at the end of Wave 1. Two guides flanking each disabled runner. Two guys had a prosthetic blade for a leg and to say that I was humbled was an understatement. Then I saw the blind people running with a band around each elbow that kept them centered between two guides…I was not only thankful and humbled, but also extremely inspired. I savored the entire first mile with the eerie Verrazano.
I stayed reigned in and took it at whatever pace I felt comfortable and then slowed it down a bit more to be sure I started slow. I could see Manhattan from the bridge and thought to myself…that looks REALLY FAR, I have to run there. During training I didn’t have a chance to actually see what 26.2 miles looks like so it was kind of insane to get that kind of visual. Coming down the Verrazano there were policemen and a police helicopter hovering to the left of the bridge…it was extremely surreal. I hit the bottom of the bridge and that was the last time I would be able to hear the music on my phone. The crowds started to line the overpasses, pretty sparse but they were there, then I hit the first neighborhood and it was on. I was having the time of my life. I was literally smiling from ear to ear. I was amazed by the energy. Amazed by the cheering people. I settled in at around an 8:40 pace but really wasn’t paying too much attention to it. I kept thinking about something a fellow blogger Jen had written, don’t focus on time, enjoy the experience. I figured I would do both but it was around mile 6 when I realized I was about 10 seconds per mile slower than I needed to be so I decided, no big deal, if I can make it up at the end then great, if not, no big deal.
I started looking for my brother around mile 6. He said he would be across from the Pep Boys at mile 7. I was searching the horizon for a mile and then I saw it and immediately started scanning the right side. Thankfully my brother is 6’7″ so he is very easy to spot and once I did, I headed straight for him and his brother/sister-in-law. I ran over, gave high fives all around and tossed him my phone case that I forgot to take off. I didn’t stop, I slowed, and moved on…in hindsight, I probably should’ve, at least for a few seconds. They knew I was overjoyed to see them, it was seeping out of me physically and emotionally. My brother said, “How is it going so far?”…I yelled back as I passed, “I feel awesome, see you in a bit!”.
The roads were wide heading up 4th Avenue and soon I hit the Barclays Center, an area that I had walked around the days before. I saw a landmark that told me the house I was staying at was less than a mile away. The wide streets of 4th Avenue quickly gave way to the narrow and tree-lined streets of Lafayette. The crowd became thick and the sound became thicker. This was my most favorite section of the course. Maybe it was because I had spent the days leading up to the race exploring it and making it my temporary home but it also has something to do with the area being so quintessentially New York. Classic Brownstone’s on both sides, and trees the color of fall…picturesque.
As I neared the house I took off my sleeves, and put everything extra into my hat before tossing in the gutter as I neared my friends. They had signs, they were yelling and smiling. I was so excited/thankful/proud/happy to be at that very point in my life. I had done something right to be able to be at that point. 8.5 miles in and had passed some of the most supportive people in all aspects of my life, I loved it all. I dished out some high fives, snatched three gel packs from Andy and kept cruising. Go Dom, GO! HA, thinking about it still makes me happy!
I was ready to conquer. Ready to achieve. I was excited once I hit Bed-Stuy, the home of Biggie and Jay-Z. Then the much-anticipated and fully unique Jewish section of the course where the crowds disappeared and had a good chuckle when a lady yelled out…”YOU’RE ALL WINNERS!!! YOU’RE ALL WINNERS”…it’s an AMAZING Seinfeld reference…
I was in cruise control, drinking water at every other station, making sure I was fueled and making sure I was still at a minimal exertion pace. I felt that my race strategy was being executed perfectly. The temperature began to fluctuate drastically. I had ditched my sleeves at Nathan’s house because the sun was peeking through and it was starting to warm up, I figured it would continue to get warmer. The wind was still strong and at around mile 12 but then the drizzle started. Had I known that the weather would take a turn for the worse, I would’ve kept my hat and my sleeves. All was still well, I was running smart and only about two minutes behind my ideal pace at the half marathon point. Around mile 14 I started feeling like I needed to step up the intensity, I was concerned I may be taking it too easy but decided that I felt I had trained well enough that I could make up some ground after mile 20 and still make a run at 3:35. I started getting mentally prepared for break from the crowds and the impending climb at the Queensboro Bridge. I thought, take it easy up, let yourself run naturally down and don’t get too excited when you hit 1st Avenue. I had prepared for a monster, and don’t get me wrong, it was steep but it wasn’t as big as I expected. I used the time on the bridge to assess how I was feeling and refocus…I concluded that I felt awesome and that I would gradually bump up the exertion on 1st Ave to get from about 8:40 to around 8:30 per mile.
As I ran up first ave, the wind was still howling and I knew that it was bad when I started to see a shadow at my feet, I was being drafted. I chuckled and just kept on going, I didn’t lose my shadow for at least a mile. I proactively decided to walk and take in some water at mile 19 to break the monotony of the stride just as I had done in training. I was still beaming with smiles but I knew I needed to start focusing. I knew there was another bridge coming up to get into the Bronx and that pretty soon after that the battle would begin. When I hit the Bridge, my legs started to feel a little odd so I decided to stop and stretch real quick. I walked for about 10 seconds and ate an electrolyte bean before getting started again.
Soon after the above photo the shit hit the fan. I cramped up really bad in my right hamstring and I had to stop. It was at this point that the pressure of the clock became a factor. I started calculating how long I could take to try and work this thing out the right way so I could push to the finish. I decided I was ok with walking and stretching for about a minute before moving forward. I grabbed a banana from a family on the side (the amount of people who offered support like this was incredible). I ate the banana and then started on my way again. About a tenth of a mile later…it happened again. I did my best to tell myself, it’s ok, you are doing awesome. A minute or two had passed and I felt like I needed to keep going, I could feel myself transitioning my thoughts to 3:45. I began to jog, then a couple tenths later I cramped again…I began to realize that 3:45 was going to be difficult to hit if this persisted. I pulled off my phone to see my time as I walked. I had a couple of text messages from friends telling me how well I was doing and that they were tracking me. I hadn’t crossed a mat recently so I sent a response back …cramping bad. Messages came back quickly…keep going, you got this. It never crossed my mind that I would not finish…but it also hadn’t crossed my mind that I would be in this type of battle to make it under 4 hours. I kept moving in hopes that the last cramp was the final one and at some point I would be able to just keep moving and not need to stop anymore. I was hoping that the cramps would subside enough to make a strong push but also began to hope that I could just get into a steady 9:00/mi trot. I just knew I couldn’t afford to cramp or walk much more. I never lacked energy or determination, I still felt solid but my body was uncooperative and soon my positive attitude would disappear.
My heart, my soul, my being was ready to fight. It all became really blurry once I entered Manhattan again. I was in pure anguish. Anguish is defined as not only physical pain but also mental, I was suffering from both. I took gels, took walk breaks, stopped and stretched. The crowds cheered for all the runners but when you stop, they turn into the ultimate support, so encouraging. I was frustrated with what was happening but thankful for the people who did their best to pep me up. The crowds were so supportive, it was something that I didn’t think I would need but I was so appreciative. The people that chatted me up like coaches, I will remember them the most. Around mile 23 there was a lady with a handful of pretzel sticks, of course I thought…salt!…so I grabbed one as I walked, thanked her and then nibbled the salt off like a squirrel. I kept walking then running the best I could but it only last a short a couple of minutes each time. There was a police officer who saw one of my worst cramps in which both hamstrings seized for about 30 seconds straight around mile 23.5…I was in severe pain and she said…do you want medical attention…of course the answer was HELL NO…but I politely said no, I’ll be ok, thank you. She looked at me like I was nuts (I am sure she gave that look out several hundred time that day) but said…ok, keep going…you’re almost there. I knew I was getting closer to Central Park and right before I had a chance to make the turn I cramped in my quads and moved to the side to stretch. My face showed my frustration, pain and probably disappointment. I didn’t want people to see my face when I stopped, so I stretched with my back to them. It was about this time when I realized that even the 4 hour goal was gone….I almost broke down. If there was ever a time that I could be invisible it was then and as I stared at the ground between my legs a girl said…lookin good…with a laugh, and then she said…keep going! If I could’ve cracked a smile at her I would’ve. I started up again and cramped again. Every time I stopped to walk I was met with…you got this…you’re only X distance away. A few people caught the name on my bib and spoke to me like we were friends. Fight through it Dom, don’t give up. Keep moving, keep walking, just keep moving forward. I saw the looks of sympathy on peoples faces when the cramps hit real bad and I was embarrassed. Now I think back and am thankful that people cared enough about a stranger to show an emotion. I am not sure I will ever run New York again but I do plan on going back to the marathon so I can post up at mile 24 and be a part of the support system.
The entry into Central Park was amazing, that was one of the longer sections I was able to stay moving. The cramps were still coming with different levels of severity but for about a half mile I actually felt like I may be able to run all the way to the finish. It wasn’t until about mile 24.5 that the cramps came back with a vengeance. Stop and walk. There was a small section of downhill where I was able to move a little better without feeling like my legs were going to seize up.
I started to recognize the surroundings and new I was getting close to exiting the park and then the cramps hit again. I finally made it to Central Park South and the crowds were thick and lining both sides of the street. I couldn’t shake the thoughts about how I expected to feel when I hit this point. I envisioned pushing hard, running on fumes and fighting through it, feeding off the energy but the reality was that I was doing a balancing act between jogging and cramping. With about a half mile to go my quads seized again and had to stretch by the barrier. An older man with a thick New York accent leaned over and said…You’re almost there, you’re doing it, you’re almost done. I looked up, he smiled, and said…you got it. I acknowledged him and kept moving. I heard him yell out, don’t stop…keep it slow! I didn’t know the man but the interaction felt like he was so invested in me and believed in me in such a way that it was warming. Over the last 6 miles I kept trying to trick myself into believing it was mind over matter, I tried to shorten the stride, run stiffer or run looser. I knew I was real close as I made my way back into the park at Columbus Circle. I saw the people fighting up the last hill with everything they had, looking like they had noodle legs but digging as deep as they could. I wanted that experience so badly. I wanted to sprint to the finish. As I approached the 26 mile marker I thought, I can make it without stopping if I just keep this rhythm…I cramped again. I walked for a few seconds, started to jog and at 26.1, I cramped again. Thankfully I didn’t have to fully walk across the finish line.
I had dreamed about the final 5k and the pain of pushing it. I was looking forward to the battle. The feeling of my heart pounding out of my chest, my lungs searching for air, my feet throbbing or my knees aching. Instead, as I crossed the finish line my breathe was solid, my feet felt strong, my heart was beating just fine and no aches…only tense muscles that were happy it was over.
I crossed the finish line with my head hung low. I was not ecstatic. I was dejected. A lady handed me my medal and said…you just ran a marathon!…but I was sulking. I fake smiled and put the medal in my pocket. If I could go back in time I would punch myself in the face, trust me. They say that you can tell a persons character by how they handle adversity. I would hate to see how someone would size me up at that point in time. Everyone was exhausted around me. Everyone battled in some way. My path was unique to me, but everyone battled. My expectations of the day and the results were different than expected and I made a bad situation worse. What should’ve been one of my proudest moments was my least. Not because I didn’t reach a goal but because of how I handled it. I think it is definitely ok to be disappointed because I know how hard I worked and what I trained my body to be capable of BUT I still gave it everything I had in a very different way. I am proud of that.
I felt terrible. I looked terrible. I’m sure I wore disappointment on my face. A volunteer wrapped a thermal blanket around me and said congrats. The volunteers were so kind and it started to turn my attitude around slowly. As I walked the long and ironically lonely path out of the corrals I saw people limping, exhausted, and on the ground. Some being attended to by medics, it literally looked like a triage. I also saw a lot of faces just like mine. Faces of disappointment, people are a strange bunch. I kept walking towards the exit and started hearing murmurs from people…I mean how far do we have to walk, it’s not like we just ran a marathon or anything…it was kind of insane. I was starting to get tired and really cold after 3/4 of a mile. The temps were in the low 40′s and it was still windy. I walked about a mile before finally reaching the family reunion area. Right before exiting, there was a section where volunteers slapped the special parka on you if you chose to not check a bag at the start. Most were ladies but they were all saints. I was freezing and over walking. There were two people barking orders…keep moving down, no wait ahead!…so I kept walking. I watched as people had parkas draped on them quickly and they moved on….I wanted one real bad but kept walking forward as instructed. Then a woman saw me, she was maybe 5’3″, she jogged over to me, I stopped and went to help her get it over my shoulders and she reprimanded me like I was her child…I got it, just stand there. She hopped up and threw it over my shoulder, she grabbed me by the shoulder area of the parka and tightened it with the velcro. She stared at me and said…congratulations…there was something maternal about the entire exchange that got to me. I realized that I had done it. Not the way I had envisioned…not even close actually. But I had done it.
I learned a lot about myself after mile 20…some good and some bad. I learned that I am pretty selfish. I was so focused on achieving a goal that I denied myself the opportunity to fully take in the greatness of the event. New York City shuts down. A lot of people put their life on hold, for what, some runners? Why? Money…sure. But something that hit me after the fact, days after the fact, is that the marathon is a way for New York to show the world that people (especially New Yorkers) are innately great. We are all apart of this community and we genuinely want to see the best in people.
As I made my way down Central Park West with the rest of the zombiesque walking dead I pondered improving my attitude. Lightening my mood and being proud. I finally made it to my brother and my best friend. My brother suggested I head inside an ATM room to get warm and put on some layers. I told them the details of what happened as jokingly as possible. I think I did a decent job of keeping them entertained with my recap. I said something to the effect of…the most disappointing part is I wanted to do this one right so I would never have to do it again! Then my brother quipped, well, you can always do Los Angeles in March. I laughed and said, I may have to sign up. I plead temporary insanity, I mean look at me…
Originally we had planned to celebrate uptown with beers and I expected to be ready to cheer on some people by the park but I was spent and cold so we decided to head back to Brooklyn. The crowds were THICK and we struggled to make it to the subway. My brother and my friend were so thoughtful about making our way back as easy as possible for me, it again reminded me to be thankful. Once we got out of Manhattan the amount of marathoners diminished and by the time we were back in Brooklyn I was the only orange parka wearing person in sight. One guy stopped me as we exited the subway by the Barclays and said, you ran the marathon! Congrats! He asked me how it went, I told him the truth…GREAT until I cramped at Mile 20…then he said, that’s awesome though, you finished! He also told me that he had planned to run last year but it was cancelled and that he was training to run this year but got injured and had to back out. A perspective moment that happened by absolute chance. As we crossed the streets he said congrats again and went his own way. I did it. I had the chance to do it. I was able to walk away unscathed and healthy with an experience that I will absolutely never forget. An amazing experience all the way around. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, hell, I don’t think it ever does…and one thing I continue to learn is how to take it all in stride. New York taught me more about myself through this struggle then I may have learned without it and for that I am extremely grateful. I now realize that on race day, sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you. That day the bear filled its belly with me but I plan on getting a full helping of him next time. Yes, there will be a next time.
About 3 years ago I was driving to pick up a client for lunch and I was listening to a guy talk about his training for NYC on sports talk radio. I was captivated by the conversation, so much so that I decided right then and there…I’m doing that, I’m going to run a marathon, it’s going to be New York. I picked up my client and we were talking about life, he asked me if I ran because I had a runners build….I chuckled and told him…I wouldn’t say I’m a runner but I did decide this morning that I’m going to run New York. He chuckled at my comment like I was being flippant and then said…there will be a lot of hard work but you can do it…I understood but I had no idea what he meant. Until now I didn’t fully grasp how much of an understatement that was. I remember telling my then girlfriend that day that I was going to run NY, I am pretty sure she thought I was full of shit. I also proclaimed my new goal on Facebook…
Please note, I had yet to run my first half marathon at that point but I had committed to running. But saying that I was close to being a marathoner is like saying that someone who makes mac and cheese out of a box is close to being a chef. So I get that people probably didn’t take me too serious. Going back and searching for this post was awesome, it allowed me to realize how far I have come in the last three years and be even more proud of the journey!
Monday – Fortunately and unfortunately I felt fine the next day. Sure I was a bit sore but no worse for the wear than the day after my 22 miler. Andy and I decided to head to Manhattan for round two at one of my new favorite restaurants, Momofuku Noodle Bar and also to head to Momofuku Milk Bar so I could double up on my confections. I mean seriously, look at this…
After lunch we made our way through the East Village down to SoHo before heading to the Brooklyn Bridge since my buddy Andy had never been. The Brooklyn Bridge is in my top 3 things see in New York behind Central Park and MoMa. We decided to walk across it and catch the subway on the other side. The best decision. Here are some of the highlights…
When we got home, we rested for a bit before heading out for the evening. We hit the Shanty in Williamsburg for cocktails before heading to the much anticipated Peter Luger’s. This was the steak dinner I had been waiting for and by the time we arrived we were primed for a great meal. The staff was awesome and the food did not disappoint. My friends and I made the entire experience memorable, we laughed REAL HARD and had the best of times.
Tuesday - Easy travel day activities. More coffee, exploring and memories on a crisp fall morning. New York is worthy of love for its diversity and uniqueness, it almost makes me want to pack my bags and take up residence. Thanks for the memories and life lesson…until we meet again!
Monday - 4 Miles - So as much as I would have liked to stick to the training program, I felt like having two rest days together was more beneficial so I bumped the mid-week runs up a day. This worked out well because it meant that I could get my buddy Mike out for a run with me on Monday night. Slow and easy. 4.07 Miles @10:09/mi pace.
Tuesday - 5 Miles - I really didn’t feel like waking up early and I didn’t have anything planned for Tuesday night but for some reason I still decided to set my alarm. This is a sign that marathon training has fully restored my morning runner status that I did my best to shake off the months leading into it. I decided to avoid the hills and take this easy. If my legs aren’t ready for elevation by now, cramming at the end isn’t going to save me. 5.05 Miles @8:40/mi pace.
Tuesday Night – YOGA - I had no intention of going to Yoga, I actually told myself no Yoga the last two weeks of Taper but on the drive home I decided that I should. Why? Not sure. I guess the promise of a good workout and some stretching sounded good. I really have no idea but the next thing I knew I was in the studio and sweating profusely. No one REGRETS going to Yoga.
Wednesday – 4 Miles - Knocked this baby out in the morning as well. Completely switched up the routine and did a route I hadn’t done in a while for a change of scenery. Pretty much flat and urban. 4.20 Miles @8:26/mi pace.
Thursday – REST – YES. Awesome amounts of rest. No plans on Thursday until my brother texted me that he would be at my favorite beer bar by my house with his co-workers so I decided to meet him for one drink before heading home to nerd out on the computer for my Fantasy Basketball draft. I am literally in sports overload right now. Thankfully baseball is over. So for my one drink I chose wisely, I glanced in their refrigerator behind the bar and spotted a beer that I have literally been trying to find for over 5 years! SCORE. It was everything I imagined it would be…
Friday – REST - Work. Followed by a late dinner and some movie watching. You know, I have been going a bit hard with running and staying active socially so I am welcoming quiet nights with open arms. I also couldn’t help but look at the 10-day forecast for New York…please go away rain. Get colder if you want but get rid of the rain and any wind.
Saturday – 3 Miles - Decided to shut off the alarm and wake up whenever my body felt like it. Unfortunately my inner clock is an a-hole. I was up at 7:30 but took my time getting to the trail. Once there, I took my time getting warmed up. It was BEAUTIFUL out so being on the clock was not in my best interests. The weather was in the low 70′s and perfectly fall. My goal for this run was to run by feel but also be aware of effort. I didn’t pay attention to my mile alerts and just focused on how I was breathing. The end result was an average pace in the low 8′s which is about where I will need to be from mile 16-22 come Sunday. 3.40 Miles @8:07/mi pace. After the run I hit my favorite breakfast spot and switched up the meal to something a little more runner friendly than bread…steel cut oats…great call.
I spent the rest of the afternoon avoiding the cleaning that needed to be done in my apartment. Instead, I opted to run a few errands and relax before heading to my parents for a family dinner. On Thursday I won a contest at my favorite cupcake business, Dots Cupcakes in Pasadena. This was an awesome coincidence because I was in charge of bringing the cupcakes (as usual), specifically requested from Dots as dessert (also as usual). I was awarded a dozen regular sized cupcakes via Facebook but when I arrived to collect them… they had (4) dozen mini-cupcakes instead. UMM WHAT? This place has my heart but it is also the reason I fear being the thinnest diabetic on Earth. When I order two cupcakes, I somehow end up with four in my box. They know me. It is a gift and a curse…a tasty curse but a curse nonetheless. 48? Really? I took twenty to my parents and twenty to the Bengals bar in Pasadena to celebrate another victory, but that left me with eight. I have never thrown away a cupcake in my life…until now. Ugh, DAMN YOU TAPER!!!!!!!! You’ll be happy to know that before I gave any of them away I decided to do what any normal person would do with 48 cupcakes…
Sunday – 8 Miles - This is not a long run. It was at the beginning of training but now I am a MACHINE. I fear nothing under double digits! Seriously though, my main concern was running this too fast. I kept it reeled in the entire time. A little difficult to do because my mind was all over the place. Thankfully my preoccupied thoughts made this challenging and reminded me that I need to be completely focused on the ENTIRE race for the ENTIRE time on Sunday. 8.15Miles @8:44/mi pace. That first mile time is off, the app jumped about a tenth of a mile…I fixed it at the end.
SUMMARY - So it is finally marathon week…again. I am still not nervous. I am slightly concerned about my goal but have confidence that my training has earned me whatever time I achieve. If I don’t hit the specific number then life will go on and I will still be entirely happy. My main goal is to finish and give it the very best effort possible. Barring any unforeseen natural disasters or accidents, this marathon business should be crossed off the bucket list in less than 7 days! I have done everything but set specific time goals for each checkpoint in the race…i.e. my goal overall time for 5k, 10k, half marathon, 40k etc. I need to put together a spreadsheet to see and write those times on my forearm so I know if I am on track or not. My outfit is pretty much picked out. I have all my gel packs and fuel. I have my transportation figured out. My throwaway clothes. I am set. I guess the last thing to do will be to make a marathon mix for the last 10k but as of right now I am thinking of bagging that and just enjoying the crowds. We’ll see. Anyway, if I don’t post before the race…I’ll see you on the other side!
Do you run with music? If so, have you raced without it? Should I run with or without it?
Monday - Cross Training - REST - I fully expected to be walking around like a grandpa come Monday morning, and don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel like a 16-year-old but I did feel “normal”. I came home from work and watched the Dodgers win game 3 against the Cardinals which had me excited to be in attendance for game 4 the next day.
Tuesday – 5 Miles - An early wake up from a restless sleep, only Jesus knows why. I was curious to see how my body would handle running. The first mile was purposely slow, I knew I would need to allow my body to wake up and get warm. It felt a lot better than expected during the first mile but the real surprise came during the third. I won’t say I felt energized but I felt strong. I wasn’t focusing on pace, just letting my legs do what they wanted and the end result was 5 progressively stronger miles capped by a 7:51 final mile. 5 Miles @8:38/mi pace. A nice surprise for the usually AWFUL case of the Tuesdays.
Tuesday Night – Dodger Game! Yeah, it probably isn’t the wisest thing but you know what, I spent so much time at Dodger Stadium this year, I had to go to at least one playoff game (or two). Plus they had a chance to even up the series at 2 games a piece. Traffic getting into the stadium was HORRENDOUS. This was kind of expected since it is LA but that crap was a shock even for someone who sits in it 2.5 hours a day like me! The stadium was full of energy and I was happy once I finally got to my seat right before the 3rd inning began. It was a pretty exciting game but our pitchers made a couple of mistakes and the offense just couldn’t seem to get it going when they needed it most. The end result was a 4-2 loss and a 3-1 series deficit. Disappointed but was still excited for Wednesday’s game!
Wednesday – 6 Miles - Can I tell you the best thing about blindly buying tickets for two Dodger playoff games? Finding out that the second game would be a 1:00pm start. DAY GAME IN LA! I had no problems requesting a day off for this one and I was beyond excited about having a planned midweek ditch day at Dodger Stadium. I took full advantage and slept in until 7:30 before getting down to the Rose Bowl for some trail running. There is something about getting to see Pasadena during the day in the middle of the week that makes me both ecstatic and angry (since I work nowhere near my home). I focused on the positives and enjoyed seeing the mom’s taking laps with their strollers, and a bunch of other people I envied that didn’t have 9-5′s that could get down to the Rose Bowl at 8:30am on a Wednesday to enjoy the perfect weather. Yes, the weather was perfect, sunny and in the low 70′s with no wind. I took my sweet ass time getting the run started but once I did, I was all smiles. People probably thought I was on crack because I had sunshine coming out of all crevasses and a “good morning” greeting for all whose path I crossed (wo/man and dog alike). I chose to do a punishing hill route that I hadn’t done in a while and upon climbing the monster hill at mile 2.5, the fatigue of the weekends mileage made itself known. I was huffing and puffing, legs were burning and I was seeing spots at the top of the hill. A nice reminder that although I have done more than enough hill prep for NYC, this trail monster was vicious. Once at the top, I walked until I regained spotless vision and then kept on going. I hit the 3 mile mark and turned around, the rest of the run was all downhill, literally. I focused on keeping the exertion level low but it was obvious I was on tired legs, everything was a little more challenging that day. I figured, if I am going to feel challenged then I may as well semi challenge myself. Right? I stepped up the intensity a bit and the last 3 miles were quick but not too draining. 6 Miles @8:23/mi pace.
After the run, I took my time and started up a conversation with another runner as I cooled down. I always forget how nice runners are, I need to get back to running with the run club on Tuesday nights once this program is over. I decided to hit my Saturday breakfast spot and enjoy the sunshine on their patio with a nice cup of coffee and breakfast sandwich. I had to hustle up a little to grab a friend for the game before heading to catch the metro to downtown and then a shuttle to the stadium. Traffic was again, horrendous. It took nearly 2 hours to get to the stadium and we arrived just in time for the 2nd inning. The Dodger offense was alive in this game. We hit 4 home runs on the day en route to a 6-4 victory in a game that never seemed in doubt. Traffic on the way home did its best to put a damper on an otherwise perfect day. A semi-early bedtime capped off the day just right.
Thursday – 5 Miles - I debated switching this run to after work but decided that I wanted to leave myself the option for Yoga at night. Rolled out of bed and out the door into the darkness. I decided to switch the route at mile two so I could work in more hills after the trail butt kicking the day before. There is an equally terrible monster hill on the route but thankfully my body adapted this time and the only effect at the top of this one was some burning glutes and hard breathing. I took this one easy because I had subconsciously pushed it a bit the previous two days. 5 Miles @8:53/mi pace.
Friday – REST – The Dodgers played absolutely terrible and were bounced from the playoffs in game 6. Great way to start the weekend. Wait ’til next year!
Saturday – 5 Miles - I really slept in on Saturday. A solid 10 hours of sleep before rolling out of bed just before 8:30am. I debated going for a run before breakfast but that didn’t work out. Why? Not because I have no discipline, I actually planned on just eating some cereal and then heading to the trail BUT then I realized that my refrigerator was literally empty of any actual food. I didn’t even have milk. A good sign that I need to slow down and return to my domesticated lifestyle of grocery shopping and making my own meals. Well, breakfast at my favorite spot is my favorite part of Saturday so I am not complaining, it’s just a waste of money when you eat out EVERY meal. Moving on. Hit the trail around 11 and man was it warm, easily in the low 80′s, not complaining though because the way I see it, the more miles I log in higher temps now, the better my body will respond NEXT WEEK in the cold of New York (hopefully). Hal said that this should be a “Pace” run so I took that to mean, I have the green light to push it a bit and get my heart pumping for once. Getting the heart going in the heat and on the trail was not too difficult. I used this run as another opportunity to practice my breathing and envision the last 4 miles of the marathon. I am as ready as I can be. 4.5 Miles @7:39/mi pace.
Sunday – 12 Miles - This is the point in training where I need to focus. I kept looking at this run as ONLY 12 miles…seriously. I did absolutely no preparation for this run. I didn’t eat a solid carb meal or do water drops the night before. Hell, I didn’t even do a water drop. I did make sure to stick with my pre-run meal of a banana, a honey stinger waffle, and half a Clif shot gel. I grabbed one 8oz bottle of water, slapped on my new race day shoes to break them in a bit more and out the door I went. It was just after 7am and chilly. The sun was barely up and the city was still quiet, a beautiful Fall morning. The run was uneventful until….
Yeah, most people find quarters or pennies on the ground but not me, this is the third time I have found actual bills on a run. The first time it was a twenty, the second time (like a month ago) it was a five and a one, and this time it was just one George Washington. I did find it in the gutter but I used my water to rinse it off and put it in my pocket. I was actually kind of concerned though, I found that buck at around mile 5 and I used about 2oz of my 8oz bottle to rinse it off, thankfully it was cool out. Everything went smooth, I took a gel pack at mile 6 and rationed my water. Around mile 9 I knew I was going to be fine in regards to hydration and although it was beginning to warm up, I was fine. I got a little antsy to be done so my last mile was slightly quicker than the rest. 12.05 Miles @8:45/mi pace. That is it, no more “long” runs! Next week is 8 and that is chump change in this program so now I really have to watch the diet.
Summary : I hate to say this but I am really not too excited about the race YET. I know it will come, maybe my subconscious doesn’t want to believe it is actually going to happen after last years events, who knows. I don’t think I had a chance to truly get excited last year either since everything was so up in the air. Since there is a lack of excitement, there is also a lack of nerves. I tend to only feel nervous when I feel unprepared, and I know I have fully prepared for this. Don’t get me wrong, I will be a ball of energy at the start and probably pacing a hole into the ground the hour before the race but as of right now…call me Cool Hand Dom. I did get this bit of news last week…
Yeah! WAVE 1. I may have mentioned that I joined the NYRR when I signed up. There was a discount for being an NYRR runner so I figured why not give them some money and become a member. Well, my goal time would have probably landed me in WAVE 2 but because I joined the NYRR, they put me in the “local competitive” group! This is awesome because it means less people in front of me the entire race and post race. I hope to have a semi-easy exit which will also mean that I can grab food around the race fairly easily and hopefully make it back towards the finish to cheer some people on.
Last but not least. This happened at the beginning of last week as well…
My running goal for 2013 was to hit 1,100 miles this year. After the marathon I will be extremely close, within about ten miles I think, or less. So that means I am going to stretch my goal now and shoot for 1,250. I need something to bring me back after all is said and done!
GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE AT THE MARINE CORP MARATHON THIS WEEK! ESPECIALLY JEN AND KATE.
Monday - Cross Training - REST – Nothing to report here other than one of the most exciting games in Dodger history in which this happened…
Tuesday – 5 Miles - After spending time in the mid 90′s heat of the desert on Sunday, it was a shock to the system to walk out of my building to temperatures in the low 50′s. It wasn’t easy dragging my ass out of bed on Tuesday and the cold weather wasn’t making it easy for my body to warm up. I have decided Tuesday morning runs BLOW. 5 Miles @9:05/mi pace.
Tuesday Night – YOGA - I like to knock out runs on Tuesday morning so I can go to Yoga at night, it’s a trade-off. Well, upon arriving at the studio I was rewarded with a surprise new yoga instructor! …yippeeeee! I don’t like change, especially when it’s a surprise and when it involves me (and the rest of the class) looking even less graceful than normal trying to follow a completely new practice. Good work out but there was nothing relaxing mentally about it. Oh yoga sometimes when you win, you lose.
Wednesday – 8 Miles - Set the alarm for an ungodly 5:40am and woke up wanting to murder someone. The temperature was in the low 50′s again, my apartment was cold and my blankets were warm. Cooler temperatures make rolling out of bed even more difficult. I busted out the arm warmers for this one and they lasted about 2 miles, have to get used to wearing layers (hopefully) for New York. Hal wanted me to get in 8 before work but he was going to have to settle for 7 before 7. The legs felt a little livelier than my Tuesday run so I increased the exertion a little but not much and was happy to see almost race pace with minimal effort. 7 Miles @8:19/mi pace. Last of the annoying distance Wednesday runs DONE! I dropped mile 8 because I didn’t want to run it and I was planning to tack on 2 more to my long run on Sunday.
Thursday – 5 Miles - Opted to sleep in and run after work with my buddy. As we all know this means a much slower pace. He called it quits at mile 4 which allowed me to get down to a normal pace for the last mile. Good to get him out and running. 5.00 miles @9:44 pace. After this run my legs just felt tired. Not painful or worrisome, just tired. The exhaustion had me concerned heading into the weekend.
Friday - REST - Long day at work, followed by a mentally exhausting Dodger loss in extra innings, McDonald’s for dinner (frickin disgusting, haven’t had lunch/dinner there in years), an exhaustingly awesome J Roddy Walston concert and a bedtime after midnight.
Saturday – 5 Miles - So, the late night festivities meant that I would be sleeping in…until 7:30am…adulthood. I know it only gets worse when/if I have kids…I feel for you parents that read this and think…7:30!!!!, I wish. Anyway, I headed to the Rose Bowl on the Vespa to get on the trail and I must say, this cooler weather is going to make riding a major pain. So damn cold, I literally felt like I was in Dumb and Dumber HERE. It was only in the low 60′s but add wind at 45 mph and shorts, I may have well been in Fargo. Good news is I made it to the Rose Bowl without getting hypothermia, bad news is they had all the parking spaces blocked off for the UCLA game that evening. Thankfully Pliny (my Vespa) fits almost anywhere…
As for the run, I started slow since my legs had been feeling tired and pretty much kept the effort semi-easy. 5 Miles completed @8:05/mi pace. No aches, no pains, no issues, just a nice Saturday morning run followed by the usual breakfast at my favorite spot. The Dodgers proceeded to ruin my afternoon as they did the evening before by losing yet another close game…I tell ya…you know you’re a fan when it becomes nerve-racking to watch a game. I ended up salvaging the night by heading to the movies to watch Gravity in 3D. It was kind of cheesy but definitely entertaining in a slow-moving sort of way, and it was visually stunning. I had Thai food for dinner to try to carbo-load for my 20 miler. I was so tired that I opted to get to bed early rather than do my water drop that evening.
Sunday – 20 miles - Set the alarm for 6:15, then when I woke up in the middle of the night I reset it for 7, I was that tired. Alarm went off, I got ready and then did my water drops before finally getting out on my run around 8am. I was in denial all week that I was going to run 22 miles…I literally didn’t accept that it was going to happen. While doing my water drops, I had the radio tuned to a classic rock station and the host talked about how the drummer for Cream, Ginger Baker, once did a 20 minute drum solo at a concert. Once he finished the solo, Baker proceeded to pass out and had to be rushed to the hospital. They then played a snippet of an interview with Baker and in typical Rock’n'Roll fashion when asked about the solo he said… “you know how the saying goes, if you’re going to do something, then do it right” …although he said in a very british accent with a scraggle reserved for someone who lived a full, hard life. Did I mention that he was also on drugs? What is my excuse? Well it stuck with me that morning. Not that I want to be rushed to the hospital after the marathon, but if I am doing this thing then I’ll be damned if I don’t train to do it as well as I possibly can. So before heading out the door I did this…
The goal was to keep it slow for 22 miles since I already executed the negative split on my previous 20 miler. I needed to have my body upright and in motion as long as possible. I needed to tap into those glycogen levels so my body could rebuild them in preparation for race day. I started very casual and stayed there all the way through mile 15, most of the miles were right around 9:15 (+/- 10 seconds). At mile 15 though, much like my previous 20 miler, my body started to ache a bit, not painful but not comfortable. So like last time I decided to break the monotony of 2 hours of running by walking for a few seconds and lifting my knees above my waist, then some quick stretches to tell my legs…I get it, this is boring and repetitive. It was exactly what I needed, they didn’t ache again, in fact, they felt a little fresh. So along I went, debating how to extend my route. In order to get to 22 I opted to add a familiar extension that I run on Tuesday /Thursday. I knew the mileage would be spot on if not a skosh over but I also knew that choosing this route would also add in an extra 1.5 miles of hills. If its worth doing, its worth doing well…right? Hills pay the bills and New York has a couple of bridges late in the run, let’s just say I will be well prepared. The best news is my legs felt better going up hill during miles 18-21.5, different muscles I guess. I was prepared to face the wall and at one point I felt a little discouraged but I reminded myself that I felt great, my breathing was calm and there were no pains. So instead of wallowing in the doubt, I stepped up the tempo. I wasn’t moving particularly fast over the last two miles but I did push myself a bit to see how my body would respond…the result, the last mile was my fastest. The route was pretty much perfect and I cruised down my alley as my app announced, 22 miles completed. 22 Mile @9:11/mi pace. Success.
After the run, I kicked back with my feet up, football on, compression tights on, and beer in hand. Then headed for a celebratory dinner at the same place as last year…Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles…
Monday - Cross Training - REST – Legs felt alright after my 20 miler and I even considered trying to make it to Yoga but in the end I opted for rest.
Tuesday – 5 Miles - Got up early and hit the road. I was curious to see how it would feel to “run” since my legs felt ok during my everyday tasks. Let’s just say they were tired…and heavy…but not too bad. It took me a bit to warm up and even when I felt warm, I wasn’t moving too swiftly. 5 Miles @8:58/mi pace.
Tuesday Night – YOGA – Yeah, you read that correctly. Almost 2 full months since the last time I had a chance to do Yoga so I was beyond happy to walk in the door at the studio. My ribs have technically been pain-free for about 3 weeks but certain movements have caused discomfort. I was very tentative and told myself if I felt anything, to stop. Thankfully it went well aside from the obvious and expected loss of strength that comes with a lot of running and not a lot of core/upper body work. I only felt pain once on a roll up technique with about 10 minutes left in class, so I deem myself 99% healed. I miss the full body stretching, strengthening and the drenched clothes that come with knowing you just gave your full attention to your health for 1 hour. Glad to be back at it.
Wednesday – 5 Miles – Decided to hit the trail after work to give my body some extra rest. Everything went well but my legs were definitely still fatigued. My first two miles averaged out at 9:17/mi which I was ok with, trying to take it easy. 5 Miles @8:37/mi pace.
Thursday – 5 Miles - I woke up on Thursday morning with a slightly swollen and sore right big toe, not sure what caused it but I decided not to force the issue with a morning run. I opted to let my body warm up throughout the day and if it felt ok after work then I would get out that evening. It felt ok when I arrived home so out the door I went. I didn’t plan on pushing it too much but the Dodgers first playoff game started at 5:30, which is about when I started my run, so there was a little extra pep in my steps. My first mile was quick, so I slowed it down a bit and changed my route starting at mile 2 to add some hills. I was so distracted by the fact that I was missing the first few innings of the game that I was looking at my sports app while I ran since I couldn’t get the radio broadcast on my phone. I banged out the last mile, took a quick shower and joined a buddy to watch the Dodgers earn the game 1 victory over the Atlanta Braves. 5.00 miles @8:20 pace.
Friday - REST - Yeah, no problem! Almost. My buddy ended up inviting me to see Youth Lagoon (which I mentioned in a previous SSC here) play at a church in Los Angeles. I really wanted to be asleep at 9:30 but he already had the tickets and said the show would be over by 10pm (since it was at a church). Well, as I expected he was wrong and even though I got him to leave early, I still didn’t get to sleep until just after Midnight. If I hadn’t been so exhausted then I would’ve enjoyed the show more but I was starting to get blurry eyed. Very interesting experience all the way around.
Saturday – 8 Miles - As I write my recaps I always pop up my Nike+ activity so I can give you guys the accurate data (like you care). Sometimes I forget my runs and it helps refresh my assessment. I remember this particular run SUCKING, but the data shows otherwise. I remember not being able to focus so there is little inconsistency between miles but overall this was one of those rare runs where the mental doesn’t match the physical. 8 miles @8:29 pace.
Saturday Post Run - I really wanted a change of scenery this weekend and my brother’s place in La Quinta (Palm Springs area) just happened to be free. The desert is awesome in the Fall, usually pretty hot during the day and cooler at night, which is perfect for laying out and then getting in the spa once it cools. It was 90 degrees when I got out there on Saturday afternoon and I immediately threw on the board shorts to soak up the sun. Lazied around after some time outside and then headed to dinner at a decent italian restaurant. After dinner I hit the spa and by 10pm I was OUT. Pasadena is always loud but especially on Saturday nights so the silence was something my body thoroughly enjoyed in La Quinta.
Sunday –12 Miles - I wasn’t sure if I was going to do my long run in the desert or wait until I got home that evening. I actually didn’t decide until late Saturday night and even then I gave myself the ok to sleep in if that is what my body wanted. Well I woke up at 6:30 feeling kind of fresh so I decided to get ready and get out the door. I hadn’t planned out a route but I know the area fairly well so I just grabbed a couple of waters and went.
I guesstimated that if I made my way to the main highway and then looped towards the polo fields where Coachella is held that I could probably make a solid 10 mile route and tack on whatever distance was needed after that. Well, by the time I hit the Coachella grounds I was just over 6 miles and everything was going smoothly.
I just let my body do whatever pace it wanted, which happened to be mellow. City blocks in the desert are long (easily a half mile to a mile) and there is not much besides houses and dirt. The last thing I wanted to do was be caught dehydrated or hurt from pushing it too hard so cruise control won. The miles were extremely boring at times and like any new route, the unknown makes things seem a bit longer than they really are. I did enjoy the cool temps, the golden sun, roadrunners, and other birds during the first half of the run. The second half was a bit different, lots of nothing and quickly climbing temps.
About mile 8 I could feel the sun. I was still feeling well but I would have loved some shade which was nowhere to be found. I grabbed the wrong shorts for this run, the same pair that I had a bad chaffing experience with at RAGNAR, let’s just say, I will NOT be wearing these shorts for NYC. Thankfully that was the only uncomfortable thing about this run. When I hit 10 miles I knew exactly where I was and exactly what route to take. I hit Old Town La Quinta and made my way towards the house. With about a half mile left I remembered that there was an entrance to the golf course that the house and since the course is closed for maintenance I had the chance to run on the fairways…so of course I took it. Running on dry fairway feels like heaven compared to the road, if I could run all my runs on golf courses and not want to shoot myself out of boredom, I would.
The best part of this drawn out recap is that just as I hit the back porch my app informed me that 12 miles had been completed. PERFECT. There are very few times that I impress myself, but being able to draw out a 12 mile route on the fly is one of those times. Nailed it. 12 miles completed @8:53/mi pace.
Summary : My legs definitely felt tired all week so although my 20 miler went well, it definitely took its toll. Getting Yoga back into the mix will be great during my taper and I still want to get into the gym for some light lifting this week. Overall a decent step back week but I think my body would have benefitted from a massage after the 20 miler to help it recover. I will definitely be scheduling one for this weekend to start my taper off on the best foot. The change of scenery was great, although the entire time spent in La Quinta was only about 30 hours, it was much-needed. I think I may go out again the week before I leave to New York and do my last two weekend runs out there now that I have a better grasp on the temperature and routes.
Do you run on vacations and if so, what are your favorite places? La Quinta wasn’t my favorite but it was definitely nice to explore the city some more!
Almost taper time!
Thought of the week. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Stupid, no one eats an elephant but you get it and that is what I focused on as I approached my workouts this week, especially my long run.
Monday – REST – I was exhausted on Monday so I came home, watched Monday Night Football and fell asleep early. I know I need to start doing some cross training. Light weights are coming.
Tuesday – 5 Miles – After pushing it a little on some runs last week I have decided to take it easier on some runs this week. On this particular morning, it wasn’t too difficult considering my legs were sore, especially my groin…which tells me I need to STRETCH. Something I really haven’t done in about 6 weeks. Sure I have touched my toes, done variations of pigeon pose but I need the kick your butt hour of stretching and strengthening I have only found in Yoga. The run went well. I was a little unmotivated so halfway through I decided to change the route and visit a monster hill I use to do repeats on before training started. Completed 5.05 Miles @ 8:45/mi pace. This run reminded me that I need more hills in my life. New York is pretty flat but there are bridges, primarily the Verrazano (150 feet of climb in the first mile) and the Queensboro Bridge (130 feet of climb in mile 15). Pasadena has a ton of elevation change, I climb 100 feet in multiple miles during my long run but 100 feet is not a 150 feet. On this route I climb 100 feet in 2/10 of a mile, I see repeats in my future on Tuesdays.
Wednesday – 8 Miles – Can I tell you how happy I am that I only have one more 8 mile mid-week run left on the schedule. I HATE this distance during the week, it means waking up extra early and being extra tired all day long. Ran 8 Miles @ 8:15/mi pace. One left.
Thursday – 5 Miles - You know those days you don’t want to run, period? Well, that is how I felt on Thursday morning at 5:55am. I half woke up and mentally kicked and screamed for 10 minutes. I tried to convince myself another hour of sleep and time on the trail after work would be a MILLION times better. The convincing ended when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get any meaningful sleep even if I tried so I SHUT UP AND GOT UP. This is not a story about how amazing the run ended up being. IT SUCKED. Unmotivated and uneventful. No glorious sunrise. No amazing burst of energy. Five progressively “better” miles. You know what though, I knocked it out, which meant that my body was rewarded with 48 hours of rest and I was free to watch Thursday night football and Seinfeld that evening. Completed 5 Miles @8:38/mi pace.
Friday – REST – Nothing to report here. A night at home doing laundry and an early bedtime.
Saturday – 5 miles – Hit the trail somewhat early but upon arriving at the Rose Bowl I was reminded that there was a 5k Gladiator Rock N Run scheduled for the morning. Gladiator runs are best described as Crossfit meets 5k, a lot of over the top Rocky type stuff; people holding cinder blocks over their head, carrying tires, and an assortment of absurd obstacles. It all looked very uncomfortable. Usually races at the Rose Bowl stick to the paved loop but this one went onto the upper part of my trail run, which was cool because I got a chance to see people in misery on something I love to run. You would think that this would be an annoyance but I was mentally transported into race mode, which is not what I needed but thoroughly enjoyed. The trail is extremely narrow so I had fun weaving through people for about 3 miles. When I hit the 4 mile mark in my run I had a chance to actually hear my pace and realize I was probably going a little to hard considering I had 20 on tap in less than 24 hours. I decided to forgo the last half mile because I had pushed it a bit and mainly because I didn’t feel like it. Flexibility. Even though it was only a half mile, the mental implications of saying it is “ok” and get on with my day were huge. Completed 4.5 miles @7:51/mi. Breakfast at my spot followed by horse races and carbo-loading for my long run.
Sunday – 20 miles – I planned my route out on Saturday evening and hadn’t fully committed to one of three options until I did my water drops. I figured the best thing to do was embrace doing the Rose Bowl loop twice so if anything went wrong I would be around people but that meant even more elevation climb and a nice big hill at mile 18.5. When I began the run I decided to attempt to execute my marathon strategy so I started slow and aimed for a negative split. The last 4 miles of my 20 miler last year were brutal and I remember having so many questions when I finished so the number one goal was to keep it reigned in at the start. I went out with a water and had my second one with Clif Energy shot (mocha) hidden at mile 7, just cruising. By the time I got to my third bottle at mile 11 I was thirsty but felt well and decided to gradually increase the pace in mile 12 when I began the first of two Rose Bowl loops. My fourth bottle was placed at roughly mile 15 with another Clif energy shot, and by the time I reached it the heat had kicked in and I was definitely thirsty. The second loop went well but my legs were feeling a bit tired and I was again thirsty, thankfully I had one more bottle dropped at mile 18. I think five bottles is solid but I may drop another one for my next 20 miler in a couple of weeks because I definitely wouldn’t have rejected another on this run. Come marathon Sunday I plan on taking in water at least every two miles and my gel packs every 6, starting at mile 5 (so at 5, 11, 17, and 23). I want to have this routine nailed down come NYC. Back to the actual run! At about the 10 mile mark I had decided that since I was aiming to negative split I wanted to post a sub 3 hour time. With about 3 miles left I was doing the calculations while assessing how I was feeling and decided that I could come close without really having to pour it on. When Nike+ told me my total time with two miles left I knew that I would have to run the last two miles in around 17 minutes. So the hill at mile 18.5 was tough but I gutted it out nicely without feeling like I was reaching. I was able to recover quickly at mile 19 and push it for the final mile. I ended up running the last mile in 8:04 and the total time was just over 3 hours. Completed 20.05 miles @9:00/mi pace (3:00:16). I am extremely happy with the time and exertion levels. This run was much better than my 20 miler last year and afterwards I still had enough energy for a Dodger game with brothers and nephews that I have been looking forward to for the past month.
Summary : I did my best to envision the NYC Marathon start and hammered home the fact that some people are going to take off quick and I do not need to be one of them. I am planning on running my first mile around the same pace as my training runs and planning for my first 3 miles to be roughly around 8:30/mi. I read this on Active.com …click HERE for the full article with tips for your first marathon…if you don’t want to click, here is the excerpt that best outlines my plan of attack:
“Keep it simple; tap into your inner GPS. Run by color and tune into your breathing, heart rate and perceived effort (how you feel on race morning). For the first 14 miles, run at an easy, conversational pace, or in the Yellow Zone. If you’re unable to talk while you’re running, you’re going too fast.
From miles 15 to 24, dial up the effort to what I refer to as the Orange Zone, or the pace where you can talk but only in 1 to 3 word responses (not full sentences). For the final 2.2 miles, you’ll have the energy to push hard to the finish and hit the Red Zone. This is only possible if you conserve your energy early in the race and avoid going out too hard—which happens to be the number one mistake most runners make on race day. Be the tortoise not the hare; start off slow and steady.
You can entertain yourself and keep your pace in the final 10K of the race by going “fishing”. Cast your invisible fishing line and hook a runner ahead of you who went out too fast. Reel them in slowly, staying in the Orange Zone, and focus on the next person. There’s nothing more empowering than passing people (nicely) in the second half of a race. It keeps your mind mentally activated, focused, and allows you to run stronger than you could ever imagine.”
Well, that’s the goal and with less than 5 weeks until race day I am happy with my progress but still have some things to work on during my next long run in a couple of weeks!