Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Lot Can Happen in a Month

For real. I'm notoriously bad at going back and writing things if they're more than a week or two old so I'm going to compress a few things here.

The first weekend of October brought my worst half marathon in two years. It was bad. Mentally, I was out of the race the entire time. Granted, my comedy group had a show the night before so maybe it's not that surprising. I remember waking up that morning and feeling like I simply did not have 13.1 8-minute miles in me. I sure didn't. I still had my cold, I had digestive issues. I was a mess. Maybe they're all crappy excuses but one thing is for sure, it was not a good day in my race career. Particularly when it comes to the half marathon, which is my favorite distance and at which I've been able to consistently perform. Normally if I start a bad race, I can salvage it by the end. This was highly abnormal in that the entire race was a train wreck. Let's move on.

The following weekend was the Staten Island half marathon, which was much, much better. I usually do pretty well at that race. It was all going swimmingly until the new running shoes I bought (I know, right?!) gave me a massive toe blister. PLEASE BE ADVISED: I'VE UPLOADED A GRAPHIC PICTURE HERE TO IMGUR IN CASE YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SEEING MY TOE BLISTER. That's the most graphic picture I've posted since the Blood Blister Incident of 2011 and I want you to be aware of what you're getting yourself into by clicking.

This was mostly no problem until about mile 8, when it started to be a really big problem. In the end, I finished in 1:51 and change. Considering the extenuating toe circumstances and that it was nearly 10 minutes better than my abysmal showing at Grete's (mentioned above), I was satisfied with that. I will, however, be running my next half marathon with a vengeance.

Another two awesome things happened at this race. The first was that Amortya came to cheer us on. The second is that it was my friend Jessica's very first half marathon! She rocked it, in case you were wondering.

I guess we can make this picture an annual tradition
Oh, let me back up to the day before this half marathon. On that Saturday, I went for my long bike ride and it did not go well. I got a replacement cycle computer (which I should have done last year, but go figure) and knew that I wasn't riding nearly as fast as I needed to. I was agonizing and agonizing and finally decided that maybe it would be best for me to do the half iron distance race. Once I'd made up my mind, I felt much more at ease than I had in the previous 4 or 5 weeks.

I wasn't happy about it really, but I'd made my peace with the fact that it was probably necessary. Then, my whole plan was turned on its head when I read on the website that my deadline for switching to the half was September 1 or until the half sold out. Both deadlines had long passed. I didn't know how to feel. I'd gotten so used to the pleasant ease that came with having decided to do the half that I didn't even have it in me to return to my panicked state. Instead, I dug up my athlete's guide and looked at all the cutoff times, trying to determine exactly what I could get away with.

As it turns out, quite a bit. After doing some specific calculations, I realized I probably could do it, no problem. I only had to maintain slightly less than 12.5 mph for the duration in order to make the cutoff. Even on my slowest rides, I managed that pace. So I decided I was going to stick it out and do whatever it took to finish. Not that I really had a choice, but I was comfortable with the thought that I could do it, even if it took me 17 hours.

So I went into my final weekend of training determined to do what I could. On Saturday, I went out for my ride. I got off to a late start and thought I'd probably be able to ride 60 miles before it was too dark. But you know, I kicked ass on that ride and I stuck it out for 100 miles because I was killing it in exactly the way I needed to for the race. In the end, I finished right around 7 hours. Perfect.

The next day, I followed up an 11 mile run with a swim at the Asphalt Green pool. I swam the full 2.4 miles in 1:40 minutes and knew finishing was completely within my grasp.

And you know what? I did it. On Saturday (10/26), I finished my second iron distance race in 13:58:01. It will definitely get its own race report but that will come on another day. For now, have a picture of my medal taken just after I finished.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Race Report: Bronx 10 Mile

This weekend was a little less productive than I'd hoped it would be because I've been fighting some sort of cold. Fortunately, I was able to do the Bronx 10 Mile that I signed up for a few months ago.

I'm trying to turn over a new leaf when it comes to race preparation. Actually, less turning over a new leaf and more getting tired of feeling like a dumbass. I therefore planned to arrive near the start at 7:00am. It was slightly chilly, but I only wore a long-sleeved t-shirt so that I had the option of not checking a bag (Please see this post for why it's a valuable option). As it turns out, Amortya was checking a bag anyway, so I just threw my shirt and phone into his because the line wasn't five miles long.

We met up with Allison, Jessica, and a few of their friends. Allison was nice enough to pick up my bib for me a few days prior to the race. I've found this to be a highly preferable strategy to morning-of pickup because shirt options are very limited once race day rolls around (Ma'am? Would you like an XL or XXL?). After we met up and I picked up my bib, we all began walking toward the corrals. I had a green bib, which was the fourth corral from the front and Amortya had a yellow bib, which was third. We split up, joined our respective corrals and waited for the race to start.

I really hoped to run under 8 minutes per mile for this race. If I have any hope of qualifying for Boston, I need to start pushing the pace much more aggressively than I have been. I did a decent job of this when the race started and I know this because I've started using my GPS watch again. I monitored the my pace closely for the entire race and for the first 6 or so miles, I was reliably under 8 minutes. The next few, however, were a different story.

Let me just begin this paragraph by saying that someone stated at the beginning of the race that the course was "mostly flat." I feel like I need to clear something up, and that is that nothing about this course was flat. It wasn't mountainous, but it certainly wasn't flat. There were rolling hills the entire way. I was fine with this up until about mile 6, when I began to have a much harder time recovering after every uphill. I knew I was in trouble when I spent a good half mile at an 8:33min/mile pace and it was at that moment that I began to come to terms with the idea that I might not achieve my goal.

I didn't. I finished the race at about 1:20:52 according to my watch and 1:20:40 according to NYRR. That's an 8:04 minute/mile pace. Not quite what I wanted, but close. I can deal with it for now but I will be working to bring that down during the post-season winter months.

Amortya finished in 1:11:12. I just looked at his results. Check this out:

As if it wasn't awesome enough that he finished in 1:11:12, take a look at his 5-mile split. It's 29:14. That's under a 6 minute/mile pace. I am in the presence of greatness.

Everyone else we met at the race did great as well, including Jessica, who finished her first 10 mile race! So, kudos to all on a fine run.

Take note, folks. This is the closest my bib will ever be to Morty's!

Black squirrel seen in the park near the race start