21 Days to the NYC Marathon

It’s 21 days until the 2017 New York City Marathon, which will be my third. I thought this year was going to be ‘the’ year, and perhaps it still will be, but the omens have not been good.

I was expecting 2017 to be a year of PR’s and PB’s but instead a niggling knee problem and ongoing issues with my right foot and ankle have clipped my wings, and a general malaise set in throughout the year. Compared to 2014, which was my first ‘serious’ year of running, the races I’ve run this year speak for themselves. Let’s take a look.

Here is a table of my Five Boro’ Race results from 2014 and 2017, and below this is plotted on a graph showing pace per mile for each race.

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 6.28.27 PM

 

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With the exception of one race, the Queens 10K which is the shortest, my race pace is slower this year than in 2017. Not only that, but the gap is pretty consistent among the Half Marathon races (46 seconds at Staten Island, the latest, and 49 seconds at Fred Lebow).

I’m not sure where this leaves me, other than to make sure I run a really good tactical race on the day. In 2014, I should probably have run around 4:10 to 4:15, and instead only managed 4:33:33. My min/mile dropped from 9:24 for the first 5k down to 12:25 for the last 5k giving me an average of 10:26 per mile.

In 2017, my predicted (and recommended) pace is 10:20 – 10:38 per mile. If I can hold the higher end of that, without going too fast at the start, there is a chance I can pull this one of out the bag. A marathon PR really would make this year worth it.

 

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Heart Rate and Heat Soak

OK, so 6:08 hard fought miles today, just a little less than yesterday’s 10K race, but it was hot hot hot.

After a sprightly start @9:27/mile, my pace slowed to a drastic 10:59 during the last mile, which I partly walked. I wasn’t quite ready for the crash my sugar and carb-free day would bring me, along with some stifling late spring New York heat and humidity.

So here’s the chart – my old ticker Vs pace.

Heart Rate and Heart Soak
Getting Hotter and Slowing Down

I’ve been humbly reminded this evening what it’s like training during the summer! Yay for Fall Marathons!

Half Way to 90

It’s been a while, but I’m back to cover the second half of my 2017 running, particularly as I am having another crack at the NYC Marathon in November. More of that later. For now, here’s a quick recap of 2017 so far.

Goals

I started the year intending to run at least 1,000 miles (last year I did 652 and my personal best was way back in 2014 when I ran 952 miles. It’s been all down hill since then! With 452 miles logged since the start of the year, and my official marathon training yet to start, I am pretty confident that I’ll get to 1,000 by the end of the year, even if I am very slightly behind schedule right now.

Lifetime Distance
All down hill since 2014

Another goal was to run all of the New York Road Runners ‘Borough’ races, plus the Marathon, so seven in total. I have managed to run four out of four so far, although my pace and progress has been hampered somewhat by niggling knee pain (pretty much classic Runner’s Knee). I have seen my pace slowly improve over the hour races from a pedestrian 10:08/mile in the Fred Lebow Half Marathon as the start of the year, to a relatively sprightly 9:10/mile in my latest race, a 10k in humid Queens, New York on my 45th birthday.

Queens 10k Finish
Who doesn’t love 98% humidity…

Hitting 45 Years of Age

Is 45 a milestone? It’s not like 21, or 40 or some other round number, but it somehow feels significant to me. It’s half way through my 40’s, so I am officially in my mid-forties, something that sounds like a generic term for pre-middle age. I started running 5 years ago (and started this blog then too) and while I improved pretty significantly in my first two and a half years, I do feel like it’s been a slow steady decline since then. However there is plenty of evidence that late starters can be very quick runners, even faster than people who start in their teens or 20’s, so I am quite determined to reverse this trend.

My best marathon time was in 2014 when I completed it in 4:33:33, whereas in 2015 it took me 5 hours and 25 minutes, almost an hour more. This year I am targeting 4:15, and have signed up for a training plan starting on July 17th to hit that target.

Nutrition

One last thing is that I’m going to focus a lot more on nutrition than I have previously. Starting today I’m focusing on cutting refined sugars from my diet. I am pretty ill-disciplined with food – it’s not that I exactly eat badly consistently, but I am prone to buying sugary snacks at the work vending machine, or on the way home, or just devouring cookies or chocolates from time to time. Time to reduce the gut!

Strength Training 

OK, here we go. I don’t know why I am some useless at this, but my lack of cross-training or strength training is almost certainly at the root of many issues I have with posture and injuries. I’ve had problems with my right leg for years. It’s either my ankle, foot, knee, hamstring or lower back, but always on that right side. So I will be adding planks, burpees, squats (including jumping squats) and my least favorite ever, pushups!

er… I’ll let you know how I get on.

OK enough typing for now… I need to go out for my 6 mile run, and it’s 79 degrees out with 80% humidity. Bring it on!

The Brooklyn Half Marathon – No PR!

It’s almost a week since I ran the Brooklyn Half marathon for the 3rd consecutive year, and if I am honest, I was really hoping I’d beat my half marathon PR of 1:56:07 after getting 2016 PR’s at 5K and at 4 miles. Although I did beat my course record from 2014, I missed out on a PR, and by quite a margin. 1:59:08 was my official time, a full three minutes short of my PR. I’m pretty disappointed, although perhaps it’s fate that I’ll have to beat this record at Staten Island in October, which is where I set it in the first place.

I am no 100% sure why I missed it by such a margin, but looking at the data my Garmin captured, it looks like it was a case of setting off too quickly.

All the way until mile 7, I was more than a minute ahead, and even at mile 9 was still 20 seconds ahead (although my GPS was buzzing a little before the markers at this point, as I was probably not running the most optimal route). Looking at the table below, getting this extra time at the start may have cost me later on.

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This is exactly what not to do in a race…

At mile 9 I’d fallen behind for the first time, and never got my pace back under 9mins/mile. By that time, I had planned to be running @ 8:40/mile or faster for the remainder of the race.

What’s quite interesting is looking at my stats from my watch at this point (below). I can see that although the race starts downhill (which should be easier), it’s also now on a straight with less crowding, what happens is my pace slows and at the same time my heart rate actually increases. I could understand if my pace simply slowed through tiredness, but my HR goes in the other direction indicates a lack of conditioning and readiness, which I wasn’t expecting. Or simply that banking almost 2 mins of time at mile 4 was a terrible idea! Yes… probably that…

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 6.06.16 PM
Here is what starting too fast does to you…

So, what now?

Well I have a 3.2 mile run on June 1st for the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge. I did this in 26:10 in 2015… so perhaps I can grab that PR instead!

2nd PR of 2016 – Red Hook Crit 5K

For the 2nd year running, my 5K PR has been set at the Red Hook Criterium 5K race, my official time was 23:21 beating last year’s 23:36 by 15 seconds. Five grueling 1000m laps, with a field packed with elite and sub-elite runners, I placed 208th out of 240 runners!

The Red Hook Crit is better known for its crazy cycling circuit, but in recent years the 5K has started to feature more prominently. This year the men and women ran separately. The men’s race was won by Abebe Sihine Mekuria in a breathtaking 14:45 (or 4:45 min/mile) with the second placed Jack Davies also finishing under 15 minutes with 14:53.

The women’s race was won by Zeineba Hasso Hayato in 17:36 and 2nd spot also under 18 minutes was Jennie Cohen with 17:59.

Last Lap
Closing in on the Finish Lane on Lap 5

So this is now officially the fastest 5K I’ve ever run, and 2016 is shaping up to be a good year for setting PR’s.

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3 races under 23 minutes

Next up is the Brooklyn Half. In 2014 I ran it in 2:00:11 just missing out of two hours, and my Half Marathon PR is still 1:56:07 on Staten Island in the same year. I should definitely beat my course record, although that PR might be a little trickier to get, given in 2014 I was at peak marathon fitness at that time.

Let’s see…

Fred Lebow Cross Country Championships 5K

27:23 (8:49/mile) was my time, which is actually my best NYRR 5K time since I started running with them in 2013. It’s almost 4 mins slower than my 5K PR but nonetheless I’m happy given my condition this year and the deadly hills on this race.

There is a 150ft climb in Van Cortland Park over a mile (between .85 and 1.85 miles), and the decent is so steep and slippery, you can’t really make it up or go full tilt. I really could get a taste for cross country.

Looking at my race, I held steady at around 8min/mile until the hills, then dropped off massively. I caught people on the up hill, but didn’t maintain any advantage on the down hill as I was unsure of my footing and letting go.

The middle section of this race beat me up, but something was left in the tank for the last half mile.
The middle section of this race beat me up, but something was left in the tank for the last half mile.

I have one more 4m race on Dec 5th to wrap up the year!

5K – Fred Lebow Cross Country

The 5K is often wrongly considered the “beginner’s” run, thanks to many fun runs and charity runs around the country being that distance. The 5K is actually one of the toughest races you can be in, if you actually race it. In the ideal 5K you are literally on your last legs as you cross the finish line, with nothing left in the tank other than sweat and spittle. If you find you have an extra spurt over the last 100 meters, you didn’t run hard enough mid-race, but if you cramp up and collapse after 3 miles, and don’t make that final 0.1, you ran too hard or just were not prepared. The 5K is literally 13- 14 minutes of agony, if you’re a serious 5K athlete.

Thankfully I am not a professional runner in the 5K category, so it won’t quite be like that of me, but the 5K is a great opportunity to stretch your legs and maybe just about get a PR. I don’t often run this distance, but have enough races under my belt now to know what to expect; good, bad and ugly.

My PR for 5K was this year in April, when I ran the Red Hook Criterium in 23:36 (7:36/min), on a flat road-course of 4 1.25KM laps.

My Red Hook Criterium Lap Times
My Red Hook Criterium Lap Times

The slowest race I have run, for which I still have the times, was in June 2013 when I struggled in New Jersey finishing in 31:28 (10:09/mile) in blazing heat having been grossly under prepared.

Tomorrow I am running the Fred Lebow 5K Cross Country race in t \he Bronx at Van Cortland Park. In 2013, I ran the same course in October 2013 in 28:12 (9:06), although I had forgotten my running shoes that day and ran in some very flat minimal Merryl shoes.

So, after a middle of the year lull, I am hoping to go out with a bang (I have a 4m race in 3 weeks as well) – I should beat my 2013 time fairly easily, but probably won’t get close to the Red Hoot Crit time given the hilly course.