Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Four Days 'Til Showtime

Four days left. The game plan is set. Carb loading…if you can count the extra half-bagel I ate this morning…is in full swing. Actually, I’m not very much into eating gargantuan meals before a big race. (Didn’t the nutrition expert mention in the Nova Challenge that you only need an extra 2000 or so during the marathon?!) The way I see it, your body is going to absorb whatever it’s going to absorb and eating more just makes you poop more, no? And if you have a fast metabolism like me, whatever goes in seemingly just comes right out. So what’s the point? I know I’m hitting the wall at mile 20 no matter what, and I’m not foolish enough to think that keeping a reverse-Atkins diet for a few days is a silver bullet to marathoning success. I am just going to my normal meals, plus a little extra and just trust my GI tract to do its thing.

What I do believe in wholeheartedly however, is proper hydration before race day. For that, I’m buying a full bottle of Poland Springs each day on my way to work and not letting myself leave the office until the bottle is empty and the pee test is clean. I’ve also asked my office mates to make sure I’m taking sips at least every 30 minutes. They’re all having so much fun with this. They all want to pretend like it’s some warped out drinking game or an initiation project at a college fraternity.

Anyway, the rest of the week is going to be hectic. Tomorrow will be my very last training run…probably going by the finish line as a final dress rehearsal. Friday will be expo day, where I’m hoping to pick up a pace bracelet, and give, I mean, get a few autographs from some elite runners. Saturday will be about the Olympic trials in the morning, rest and packing in the afternoon, and big pasta dinner with my training buddies (not my idea, but it’s tradition) at night. Sunday morning, I hope to be up at five for my trek to the starting line in Staten Island.

Weather should be good for race day: 40s-50s, partly sunny, so I’m excited. Oh look, I probably just jinxed myself. Rain, now there’s definitely going to be rain.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Top 10 Things I Absolutely Will NOT Miss About Marathon Training

After reading all the inspiring stories I can remember, hearing all the motivational tips I can keep straight in my head, and watching the captivating transformation of ordinary people to marathoners in “The Nova Marathon Challenge” tonight (which was BTW very informative for nonrunners and somewhat educational and inspiring for the rest of us), I thought it’d be fun to take a break, throw a curveball, and come up with a list of things that I will NOT miss after Sunday…(that is, of course, until when training begins for the next marathon!)

1. The weekly trips to the laundromat.
2. Waiting for the wee hours to go so your neighbors won’t find out about the stench that is your running clothes.
3. Being dubbed “The Pooping Laminator” by your friends for always being the first to leave at all the late night parties.
4. And heading out the door for long runs even before they’ve even made it home.
5. Weighing less than the anorexic girl at the office who eats a piece of lettuce each day for lunch.
6. Forgetting what beer and alcohol taste like.
7. Buying shoes other than running shoes when I go shopping.
8. Not finishing every other excuse with “’cause I have to go running…
9. Craving gel packs when I’m working past noon.
10. Comparing all the girls I see to all the girls I see while running (Not fair, I know…girls who run are way hotter!)

Any more? Suggestions? Send them my way. I’m planning to use this list as motivation to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Gosh, can’t believe it’s only 4 days away…

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Little More Inspiration for NYCM

There’s a new vibe in the city today. I distinctly felt it on my way to work. The temperature has gotten considerably cooler; I hear a lot more foreign accents in the subways (maybe that’s just my imagination, but I believe it’s true!) and there are a lot more running related banners and flags on First Avenue than I’ve ever remembered. Yes, everyone, race week has officially begun. I, for one, am so excited about this weekend that I can hardly concentrate on what I’m doing at work. There’s the Olympic Men’s Trial on Saturday, where the top three finishers earn berths to represent the country next year in Beijing, followed by the biggest road race of the year for us who live in the city, the 2007 ING New York City Marathon. For a runner, what can be more amazing than watching the best of the best compete in your own backyard and then going out to try to match their effort the very next day? To watch great athletes make history one day, and have the opportunity to make personal history by having a great performance the next day in the same event in front of a few hundred thousand of your closest neighbors cheering, clapping, and screaming your name every step of the way has got to be one of the greatest thrills of this marathoning life. I, for one, can hardly wait.

For all of those that can’t join us on the roads, and as a preview to those who will, accept this video as an invitation to get out there and run! (Oh, and if on any of the runs these week, you should bump into a member of the running elite, tell him/her that the Laminator will be looking for a new training partner after Sunday!)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Marathon Mantra

So I ran by Central Park yesterday and today hoping to bump into some of the elite runners who will be participating in the Olympic trials next Saturday to ask them about my pre-marathon jitters. Although it was raining yesterday and quite windy today, I thought for sure I’d see at least one world-class athlete gracing the course with their presence. After all, there aren’t THAT many places to do a long run in the city…I should know. But alas, no such luck for me. All I saw were a bunch of empty bleachers set up next to the marathon finish at Tavern on the Green, which was cool, but not the same as meeting an actual runner. I even tried sitting on the bleachers for a little while waiting for someone of note to come passing by, and only started back up again when my butt started to freeze.

So that was the disappointing part. The better part of the story is on what I did find in the middle of all those miles in the park this weekend. Somewhere between mile 4 and 6, when I was trying to figure out if I should start out on the Verrazano with 6:45, 6:55, or 7:05 mile, I saw an Addidas ad on a lamp post that asked “Have you run YOUR race yet?” and reminded me of my half-marathon PR in Queens a couple months back. I thought about why I was able to run that race so much better than all the others. I figured out that part of the reason was that the Queens Half was the only race this year that I ran by myself, without any of my friends or my training buddies. Usually, when I’m running with other people, I consciously or subconsciously start out at a specific set pace, either much faster or much slower than I would otherwise, so that by the end, I either have too much energy left or have spent it all in the beginning and have to take walk breaks in the end. But in Queens, I was running as my own man, without any pre-conceived notions of how fast or slow I should run. I ran according to how I felt during each part of the course without any external influences and was able to finish as fast as when I started. In essence, I was running “my own race”.

So that’s why I’ve decided to adopt my favorite running motto “Run Your Own Race” as my NYC Marathon mantra.What that means is that I will not try to plan ahead to run my race at a particular pace or with a particular strategy, but allow my body the freedom to dictate what the comfortable pace for that day will be. Being that this is my third marathon overall (second NYCM) I am pretty sure I will be able to pace myself appropriately according to feel and still finish in a respectable time. It also means I will stop worrying about weather, crowds, and other external factors of which I have no control over. Whatever happens, I am trusting myself to just figure it out as I go along.

I hope nobody is put off by this, but I’m trying to best and quickest way for me to get to the finish line and this should help. Anyone else with other helpful hints (I’ve given up trying to find an elite to answer my questions, sigh…), please pass them along. Because this time, in this race, it’s personal, baby!

[But…I still have some motivational running stuff to share to help everyone with their own race. So stay tuned…]

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pre-Marathon Jitters?

Maybe it’s the bad weather we’ve been getting lately. Maybe it’s the frustratingly short and infrequent miles I’ve been logging this past week. I’m not sure why, but I haven’t been feeling as strong and focused as I thought I would be heading into the final weekend before the marathon. It’s weird. In my head, I know I’ve trained well and have no major injury concerns yet my heart isn’t so set on running 26.2. It wants to train for a couple more months before we head out there for the real thing. [Are you crazy?! Umm, heart…you better run that by the lower body parts before you utter aloud such ridiculousness!]

When it comes down to it, my body is tense because it’s never been asked to perform with a finishing time goal before. During the past two marathons, I’ve started the race with only the goal of running well and finishing. Now, all I can think about is 3:10. If I make it, I’ll receive a hero’s welcome. If I don’t, I’ll waste another year of training, and all those half-marathon PRs and training records I’ve set this year will be for naught. Okay, it’s not that bad, but I can’t help feeling this way, and it’s a lot of pressure. I just hope my two running buddies are enjoying their pre-race taper and having butterflies in their stomachs because they’re nervous for their first NYCM, not because they’re sick.

Hopefully, I’ll feel better after my 8 mile run in the park tomorrow. I hear they’ve put up the bleachers by the finish at Tavern on the Green already. It’s always a thrill to run by that side of the park in the days leading up to race day. I always try to imagine what I’ll feel in the moments right before and right after crossing the finish line. This year it’s especially exciting since the Olympic trials will finish there the day before the NYC marathon. If I see any of these elite runners on my run tomorrow, I’m going to stop them to ask for advice on dealing with the pressures and expectations from a world-class athlete. They obviously are the only people who know what I’m going through right now.

[Okay, you can stop laughing so hard, you might break something!]

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Little Inspiration for NYCM

In honor of my running buddies RB and MA, who are both dealing with various knee ailments and having doubts about the marathon, and the piece of 1st Avenue I passed by everyday on my way to work, which will be affectionately renamed Mile 17.8 after November 4th, I present this video for your entertainment and running inspiration. (Is it working yet?)

I don’t know about you, but after watching this, I can’t wait to go run. Bring it on, NYC!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Marathon Madness

Something totally unexpected happened this morning. Something weird and bizarre that has never happened to me in my three years of running. Oh sure, I’ve heard it happened to other runners before. I’ve heard that if it happens to you, you’re suppose to embellish it, embrace it, and share it amongst your friends, and have them analyze it and tell it back to you so you can pick the version of the story you like best and retell it to new people when someone asks about it in the future. So what happened this morning? You really want to know, don’t you? Okay, I’ll let you, my loyal blog readers, know, but only if you promise to analyze it and tell me what it all means.

I woke up this morning to the realization that I had my first ever running dream. A few moments before I found myself drenched in sweat, sitting on my bed, I was blazing down Fifth Avenue in the 22nd mile of the New York City Marathon. There were tons of runner all around on both sides of the street, but for some reason, they were all shouting out my name, “Laminator! Laminator!” My body was sore at this point, but I used the energy of the crowd to forge ahead. I checked my Garmin at the 23th mile and realized that I had about 14 minutes to run the last 3.2 miles to qualify for Boston. “This is it,” I told myself as I ran through the entrance to the Park. “If I want to make it, I’m going to have to run the fastest 5K of my life!” I gritted my feet and kicked it up a notch; telling my feet to move as fast as it could and daring the rest of my body. At the 24th mile mark, I slowed momentarily, pushing my way to the side to grab the last cup of Gatorade from an unsuspecting volunteer. “Sorry!” I shouted in between breaths. “Boston is waiting!” Gatorade in hand, I was panting too hard to even take a full gulp. Half of it went up my nostrils, and I poured the other half over my head. I picked up the pace. I’m running faster now than I’ve ever ran before. I’m passing runners on my left and right like the 4 train pulling away from Grand Central Station at rush hour. Now I’m at the 25th mile, 1.2 to go, 7 minutes left. “C’mon Laminator, almost there!” Someone’s shouting at me from behind. I dare not look. I make the final turn and see Tavern on the Green and the finish line in the distance. I quicken my pace and feel my lungs burn like an abandoned inferno. 800…then 400 meters left. I have so much sweat pouring down my face I couldn’t make out the digits above the finish line. No matter, just run. Ten more paces…nine, eight, seven…”Am I going to make it? Just run. Damn it.”…six, five, four…

BBBBBBBRRRRRIIIIINNNNGGG!!!! Next thing I know, I’m in my bed. No, no, no. I hit the snooze and slip back under the covers, trying to coax my mind back to the finish line. But it’s over, I’m shut out. So now, I’m here, a whole day later, still trying to figure out if I made it or not, and what it all means for my race in two weeks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Preparing to Get Excited

My ticket to fame and fortune finally came in the mail today. No, it wasn’t MA and RB paying up for my superlative coaching skills in guiding them to run their first marathon this year. Nor was it the BAA mailing in a personal pre-registration form for the Boston Marathon in 2008, acknowledging that a qualifying time, given my diligent training world-class speed and unwavering consistency, was a mere formality. That would have been nice. Instead, it was a long index card with the words “Registration Card: The ING New York City Marathon” displayed in white capital block letters on a blue background on the upper left. My race number 4324 along with a blue box signifying my starting corral is printed in solid black letters on the lower right. I’m not sure why, but as soon as I pulled out this card from the envelope today, I felt a sudden rush of nostalgia. I’m taken back to when I was in the same position two years ago, holding the registration card for my very first NYCM. On that first go around, I was so anxious and excited that I had to set it back down on the coffee table and go outside for a five mile run before I could allow myself to come back and handle the card again. Needless to say, I’m much calmer about the whole handling-of-the-registration-card part of the process this time around. I’m not some happy-go-lucky marathon rookie that’s going to jump up and down over a registration card anymore. I’ve a lot more sophisticated than that. I’m just going to put it aside on this here table and not pick it up again until it’s time to bring it to the marathon expo in 2 weeks. That’s how a classy marathon veteran is supposed to handle his registration card, right? So, why has it already been 5 hours since I’ve been home, and I’m still stuck in a mindless ritual of picking up the card, casually examining it, then setting it back only to pick it up again 5 minutes later? Do I have OCD or am I just trying too hard to hide the nervous freak? Gosh, this is going to be a long two weeks…

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My Last Long Training Run

As a baseball enthusiast and a runner, I’ve been conditioned never to accept the current state of affairs as an indicator of future performance. Whether we’re talking about pennant chases or marathon races, I’m of the belief that one should not speak of athletic accomplishments until they’ve been achieved, not matter how likely one thinks they are to occur. (For specific examples, please refer to the NY Mets who blew a 7-1/2 game lead in the National League East with two weeks left in the regular season, and the countless runners who had aspirations of posting good times prior to the start of Chicago ’08.) Still, with mounting evidence stacked against me and individual assessments from those who know me best, I’m finding it hard to deny the fact that my training for NYCM has been going extremely well, and I’m running faster and stronger now than ever before. The latest proof of this fact came this morning when I was out with RB on our last dress rehearsal 20-mile training run before the big dance.

After the last of the summer heat and humidity was swept away by some recent downpours, autumn finally made its way into the city this weekend. It was a perfect day for running this morning. Temps were down, the sun was high, and the winds calm. I was slightly anxious about the run before it began because of the finality of the situation. After today, marathon taper will officially begin. As such, there will be no more opportunities to make up the run if I should fail for whatever reason. Not only that, but since it is the last long run before the marathon, today’s run will serve as a barometer for my speed and endurance.

RB and I started out at a somewhat slow pace for the first six mile loop. Both of us were entrenched in conversation from the beginning, which made those initial miles pretty mindless and effortless. That first 6 miles were completed in 45:54, which was a 7:34 min/mile pace. During the second loop of 5 miles, we were breathing harder and talking less. I took that opportunity to speed up to a more suitable pace. RB kept up with me for much of that second loop, although in hindsight, I should have told him to slow down and run at his own training pace instead of mine. The second lap of 5 miles took 36:46 to complete, good for a 7:25 min/mile pace. I lost RB at the start of the third loop (5 miles), and ran with my own lonesome for the remainder of the training run. I was able to maintain a 7:24 min/mile pace for that loop (5 miles), as well as the next one (4 miles). Although I was expecting fatigue and sorness to set in by the third loop, no major setbacks occurred and I finished my 20 mile run at 2:31:32, averaging a 7:29min/mile pace for the duration of the exercise.

RB came in about 15-20 minutes after me and told me how I was burning down the road in the second and third loop to the point that he was no longer able to keep up. I apologized and sheepishly replied that although I was running fast during those miles, it was not a conscious decision to speed up, but rather an attempt to improve my running economy while continuing to take even breaths. That’s when he made the observation that I was running very well, much better I had ever before.

Even now, I’m still having a hard time coming to grips with his commendation. We’ll see how I run at crunch time. For now, I’m just glad that training is officially over, and it’s time to taper. Woohoo!

Memories of Hartford: One Year Later

One year ago today, on a perfect autumn morning in Hartford CT, I ran my second marathon at a time of 3:11:33. Before I allow myself to get too swept up in the preparation for this year’s marathon, I would like to take a moment to commemorate the one year anniversary of my best 26.2 mile run to date by taking you with me on a little trip back in time. Welcome to my world one year ago...

Hartford Marathon logo
The date is October 14, 2006. It’s 4:30 AM, and I’m grabbing the car keys, about to head out the door to taste the first breath of race morning air. I didn’t get much sleep the night before, partly because of pre-race jitters, but mostly because RB (my friend aka race weekend chauffeur) and I stayed a little too late at Foxwoods the night before and had trouble finding the hotel once we got back to Hartford. Still, I wasn’t too worried because I knew it’s normal not to get good sleep the night before a marathon anyway. So after one last look at RB, which was still sound asleep, and a final check of my race bag, I opened the door and unleashed myself onto the world.

And oh my, was it a cold morning! Temps were in the upper 30s, with an occasional northwesterly breeze that made it feel much colder. During the 30 minute drive-and-walk over to the start, I was debating whether to run in a long-sleeve tech shirt and thin sweat pants or ditch the clothes and run in a singlet and shorts like I had planned. It was a tough decision for me because I’m such a wuss when it comes to running in the cold, and always seems to overdress for the occasion (both in running and in general!). Eventually, I made an executive compromise to keep the long-sleeve tech but ditch the pants. By the time I arrived at the start, dawn gave way to a bright sunny day, and I felt a bit better about my decision. After a short warmup and a last minute portapotty run, I found the starting line, scooted my way close to the front, and was ready to roll.

I didn’t have any set expectations going into that race. Since it was only my second marathon and because of various scheduling conflicts was able only to go through an abbreviated 12 week training plan, with only one 18 miler and one 20 miler prior to race day, I was hoping only to run well and improve on my time. So when the horn went off, and I start running alongside the elites, I told myself to run comfortably and find a good pace. I tried hard not to look at my watch much during the beginning, but instead lifted my head to take in the multicolored fall foliage and beautiful Victorian homes all around me. Coming from a big metropolis like NY, where the increasing numbers of towering skyscrapers often threaten to hide the skies away from its residents, I found the picturesque small town scenery thoroughly exhilarating. The flat early course, small crowds and open roads made it feel more like an extended city tour than an actual race. Perhaps the lack of emphasis on pace and time helped me to run fast and relaxed. I was thoroughly surprised when I crossed the half-way marker at 1:31:05, which at the time was faster than any half-marathon I had ever completed.

Unfortunately, the second half of the course, especially the last 10K, ran through the hilly part of town. Unlike the previous 20 miles, which was, for the most part, pancake flat, this last section was full of ups-and-downs, twists-and-turns. I slowed my pace somewhat to compensate, hoping with each turn, there would be some reprieve. No suck luck. I eventually hit the wall at around mile 22, and allowed myself to take a walk break. At this point, after fighting through the hills, I was still averaging better than a 7:05 min/mile pace. So I planned to rest for a min or two before I took off for the finish. Big mistake. All the muscles of my lower leg screamed in pain as soon as I started walking. So even as I watched runner after runner streaking past me, shouting words of encouragement as they passed me by, I wasn’t able to do more than walk/jog the last two miles to the finish. By the time I cross the finished line, I saw that I had missed qualifying for Boston by 33 seconds. I was only a little ticked tough, more for fear of what my friends would think and tease me about afterwards then for how I felt about my running. Although few would believe me, I was honestly more proud of the 15 minute improvement (over my 1st marathon finish) than I was saddened by the 33 seconds of tardiness. The way I saw it, I did not come to Hartford hoping to BQ, so to come close was more motivating than disappointing. [Actually, in a strange twist of fate, I’m now so glad I didn’t make up the 33 seconds, because otherwise, I most likely would still be stuck in the Northeastern blizzard that was Boston ’08!]

So, as I sit here, one year removed, I can say I had a great run at the Hartford marathon that morning, and have no regrets. Besides the wonderful people I got to meet, the beautiful scenery I got to see, and the marvelous running weather I got to experience, I also learned a lot about myself as a runner during that race. For that, Hartford ’06 will always be special to me.

Thanks for coming with me on my little journey back in time. Hope you enjoyed your stay.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why I Run
Reason #7 - To Be A Better M.D.

It doesn’t happen very often. Very rarely in fact. But when an overweigh teenage boy comes into my office asking, with tears in his eyes, for advice on how he could get rid of his man-boobs and not end up like his mother’s brother, who is obese, has diabetes, and spends half his day hooked up to a dialysis machine, how could I resist the urge to share with him what to me comes so naturally? So I gave him a hug, sat him down, and proceeded to share with him my love affair with running. He didn’t talk much, just listened, as I slowly introduced the idea that if he was serious about wanting to cut the fat, weigh less, look great and make others jealous, he needed to cut the junk food, dump the PSP, lace up the sneakers, and do battle with the road. He was skeptical when I told him that if he listened and was diligent with the diet and exercise, I could help him to lose 5 pounds a month so that by the time he graduated high school in 3 years, he’d be down to his ideal body weight. (At the back of my mind, I knew it was a bit of a stretch, but hey, I’m a runner at heart, and ambitious by nature, so I went with it!) I ended the visit by giving him a modified easy walk-jog-run plan to get him started. As he was getting up to leave, I still wasn’t sure whether he was catching on with the program until he volunteered to keep a record of his runs and bring them to me at the next visit. I congratulated him in advance for his courage and determination and promised to call him a runner the next time we meet.
I’m not sure if what I do and say in a half-hour office visit translates to anything out there in the real world for these kids. Because of my specialty, I come in contact with a lot of overweight and obese children. Most of the time, I can offer only very basic and simple advice on nutrition and exercise because the kid or the parent either do not understand the problem or lack the desire or motivation for change. However, once in a blue, I’ll have a family that is receptive and looking to make a difference in their lives. When I get these referrals, I get real excited because then I get to talk about what I’m passionate about, and in the process, use my knowledge and experience to teach, motivate, and inspire my patients to make the decision to live a healthier life. The task is not easy, and the process of transformation can take years, and as the provider, I hardly ever get the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of the labor. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try. Because although the kids might not know it, they help me to run just as I’m helping them to run. (Does that make sense? Well, it does to me!)
In that way, I believe that running has made me a better doctor. And so for that, I’ll continue to run. If not for me, then for my patients.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lessons Learned from Chicago ’07

Now that it’s been at least a couple of days since the Chicago debacle, and we’ve all had a chance to check up on the runners we know to make sure they made it through okay (thoughts and prayers goes out to Chad Schieber and his family), and we’ve all had a chance to voice our opinions as well as read those of others on what the proper course of action should have been, I, for one, am ready to chalk this unfortunate incident to a freak of nature (after all, it was the record high in the 30-year history of that marathon!) and move on. Yet, before I do, I want to just share some of the things I’ve learned over the past few days that will help me as I prepare to run my own marathon in less than a month (yikes!). Hopefully, we runners can all gain something positive from such an overall negative experience.

Five Things I Learned From The Chicago Marathon
1. I will never run another marathon without a contingency plan.
2. Running on a hot and/or humid day, I will never take more water than I need at a water station.
3. On race morning, I will always check the weather report before heading out the door and adjust my goal and running pace right from the start.
4. Before every race, I will check the course map to figure out the best way to get home from different parts of the course in case I need to drop out.
5. I will always remember that no matter how much I’m paying or how much training I’ve done, running a marathon is still a privilege, not a right. As such, I will remember to be grateful to the volunteers and the crowd support, because they’re all out there giving their time and energy to help me run the best possible race.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chicago ’07 Leaves a Black Mark

I was going to write a race report on my running of the Grete’s Gallop ½ Marathon, but the events of the day cannot be ignored...

One dead, 302 injured & hospitalized. It read more like a summary of war in a foreign country than a description of a renowned national road race. But this was the report from The Chicago Tribune on the 30th annual LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon that was held this morning. According to this article and others, with temps reaching as high as 88 degrees, it was the hottest day in the history of that marathon. It was so hot that pretty much all the water stations ran out of water by the time the 4:30 pace group rolled by. People were dependent on sidewalk pedestrians and crowd supporter to hand them bottles of water from the sidelines. The medical aide stands were literally overflowing with runners suffering from heat-exhaustion. The guy who died was a 35-year-old man (?!) from Michigan. Eventually, with too many runners and not enough supplies, race officials called off the marathon, forcing many to stop running after 12, 15, 18, and even 20 miles. In total, only 24,931 out of the 36,000 runners who started the race crossed the finish line.

I am both saddened and horrified at the inability of the race organizers and directors to manage the distribution of fluids to the runners. Although the runners must bear some responsibility to lower their race expectations and adjust their pace accordingly to accommodate the heat, it is dangerous and borderline evil for race directors to allow people, some of them novices, to run a marathon without ensuring them free access to water along the way. And then to have to stop a marathon mid-race and force people off the roads, that is cruel too, because this is what some people will carry with them for the rest of their lives as memories of their first marathon. Kudos and major high-fives for all those who were able to battle through the heat and humidity to finish the race. I just think it casts a black eye for the running community when organizers of a major marathon cannot plan ahead adequately to deal with weather-related circumstances that were known to everyone at least a week in advance, and thereby creating havoc and danger for its participants. I am disappointed because I was planning on running this as a destination marathon sometime in the next few years. I’ve heard such great things about it in the past. But because of this, I’m going to have to rethink those plans.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Prepping For The Day After

A bunch of people I know are going to be running the Chicago Marathon this weekend. As they're all double-checking last minute details, anxiously awaiting what should be a beautiful race day, I want to offer my own personal benediction for their running success in the form of this video so they know what to expect the day after. Just wanted to make sure all the runners are adequately prepped. After you watch this video, then you'll be ready to run. (For all of you running with me in New York next month, consider it a preview.)
Good luck to all in your races. May you all run like the wind and have a strong finish!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Anatomy of A 20 Mile Training Run

Distance 20.2 miles
Time: 2:32:40
Pace: 7:31

It’s difficult to understand the brutality of a 20-mile training run unless you’ve done it before. During the actual race, you can be inspired by the brethren running alongside you, or draw support from the thousands upon thousands of screaming fans cheering and yelling your name. But when you’re out on that long training run, you’re alone (most of the time), running your own pace, keeping your own time, trapped in your own thoughts with miles to go before any reprieve can be contemplated.
I have been unsuccessful in my previous two attempts at running the 20. Whether it was because of the flu, my bum ankle, or any of an assortment of mysterious ailments, my body always seemed to work against me whenever I’m out on long training runs consisting of more than 16 miles, forcing me to stop prematurely. And with each failed attempt, the voice of doubt would increase with volume and intensity, drowning out whatever confidence I had beforehand.
And so it was, with this as the backdrop that I embarked on my third attempt at 20 miles yesterday. Although it was a perfect fall day for running, I was feeling very tired and sluggish at the start. I had caught another head cold (yet again!) the day before, and had worked longer and harder than I wanted to at the hospital in the morning. My beloved baseball team, the NY Mets, had just completed the most dramatic and monumental collapse in recent memory, and I was dreading the Sunday Night Football matchup between my NY Giants and the Philly Eagles, who had put up 50+ points the week before. So even before lacing up my shoes, I had plenty of excuses built up to rationalize a bad run.
To be fair, I had at least one reason to have a good run. My running buddy RB, who I hadn’t seen or run with in weeks, was accompanying me on the run. His presence made the first ten miles fairly enjoyable. We were catching up on recent developments and exchanging thoughts about the marathon while maintaining a steady pace. Unfortunately, I lost him at around the 12th or 13th mile, when he wasn’t able to keep up the pace. I was expecting him to fall back much earlier because he was training for his first marathon and generally runs slower than me. I was surprised and glad that he was able to stick with me for as long as he did. Still, once I saw him slide back, I knew the rest of the run would be solely up to me.
After he had gone, the remaining miles slowly became a very tough grind. My Achilles was starting to tighten up, and more than once, I felt my muscles starting to cramp. Normally, I’d given up by now. At mile 15 or 16. I was dehydrated and fatigued, and it was starting to get dark. But as the road got tougher and my sore feet and ankles started to complain more and more, I started to remember how I felt last week when I ran my best half-marathon ever. I kept repeating to myself that I was no longer just a weak and flimsy runner, but a mentally strong sub 1:30 half-marathoner. I used the mental focus to propel me to the finish despite the agonizing physical pain. When it was over, I had a mixture of sweat and tears in my eyes and had to wipe them away quick before RB could find me in such a state.
I didn’t run my 20 miler in a particularly fast time, and there probably won’t be a record of it save on my personal training log, but for me, it was an important run because it taught me the strength of mental toughness and the power of positive visualization. I will need to utilize both of these weapons to combat the last 6.2 of my 26.2 in 6 weeks.
Clicky Web Analytics