Boston weekend and a Run to Remember

A while back, I was deciding which half marathons to register for that are outside of NY. Why, because I haven’t been to many states outside of NY. I’ve been to CT, PA, NJ, VT, FL, and recently NV and CA. 30 years and that’s it!? What kind of American am I? It then hit me, why not register for out-of-state races to give me a reason to travel, and run around these new lands in the process. Naturally, I chose a neighbor state; Boston MA and registered for the Boston Run to Remember, and got more than just a race experience.

I recently realized that treadmills are a good tool for running 5Ks (even 10Ks). They provide speed/incline control and other perks such as: weather proof (no wind, rain, snow, or ice), provides a nice place to put a water bottle, no traffic to take a minute or 2 from you, and no sudden cracks or things to trip on. With a zero incline, I wanted to truly measure my 10k speed. Without any breaks, I ran a 52 min 10k (my best yet). In time, this should be 50 min, maybe even 45 min, we’ll see. Although it can get extremely boring, the treadmill makes a good training tool to assess ones’ performance.

What was originally just a race turned into a 3 day Boston trip. My wife and I took the greyhound bus from NY and arrived in Boston on Friday afternoon. We stayed at the Seaport Hotel which was cool because it was across the street from the expo and the start/finish line of the race. There was a hotel discount for those running the race. And finally, I didn’t need to deal with baggage checking at a race. After a long walk around Quincy Market, North End, and some ofthe wharfs, we went back to the hotel and crashed. I managed to squeeze a 30 min treadmill before dinner; had to keep the muscles alive.

Saturday began with a buffet breakfast, then the Aquarium; a good idea since it was upper 80s outside. Legal Seafood was across the street, so we went there for lunch. We then walked the freedom trail to Boston Common. All sweaty and tired, we headed back to change because the ghost tour at 8pm awaits by Faneuil Hall. We were in a group of 40 or so, walking on some freedom trails, but getting some interesting Halloweeny type tales and several behind the scenes stories along the way. There is an actual hotel room (Omni Parker – 303) where staff and guests are either slapped or punched by a drunken ghost every now and then. After an attempt to have dead souls switch a flashlight on, we headed back to Seaport and had room service dinner. A big salad and baked potato for me, carb it up! Its almost midnight and only a few hours left for sleeping, argh.

6am, yawn, but hey, the starting line is right outside the window, ahhh the life. 7am, I’m running with a 5,000 runner mob, yay! The first few minutes is my favorite part of a race, its like embarking on a journey into the unknown with a sea of people for no reason! I feel like a little kid who broke free from his parents’ grasp, running to the park with the slides, swings, and other kids. This is why I run, to feel like a kid again, to be free. The city buildings are a mile away, I can’t wait to get there alongside these crazy people. After mile 3, it was another 3 mile path to Harvard U along the river, then back. I felt the heat and some minor shin pain; maybe this won’t be a PR for me. I saw a fellow jogger blogger RunToMunch, she was already 10 minutes ahead of me on the return path, she kicks ass. Once I reached the return route, I somehow felt numb to pain, bring it on! Mile 9, 10, 11, back in the city center, the end is near. Whoa, I just noticed my time at mile 12, can I PR again after PR-ing last weekend?! On to the main seaport road to the finish, at mile 13, I ran like I just robbed somebody. 1:54:32, PR! Yesss!

The party just started. I booked an 11am brunch cruise on the Odyssey ship docked at Rowe’s wharf. What a lovely surprise, lunch BUFFET! I had 1500 calories to make-up for, nom-nom time. Many people aboard were celebrating something, so in my case, this was a celebration for the race. And then came the victory cheesecake! Great food, great views, great time, Jon recommends. And of course, one last walk around town before its time to pack our bags.

Back to NY the following day, and the real marathon training begins…

Back to the Races

So much can happen in a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my new 10k training days from now on (minimum 25 miles per week plan), so this post begins on Tuesday. I never ran the Forest park route at night and it just so happened that it was really foggy. After running for 2 miles, there were no more street lights. It became pitch black and I couldn’t even see the ground, like a scary movie scene. The only way out was forward, so I grabbed a stick (just in case) and ran faster. I’m the only running idiot in the whole park right now! After mile 4, I was out of the park and in the street, whew. At the end, I was soaked, not of sweat but dew from the cloud.

The new job starts Monday! My last day was Wednesday. Its a brand new start for me, and I’m looking forward to it. Later that day, my wife and I went out with some colleagues/friends to Chelsea Piers to celebrate the new job, good times. On Friday morning, I felt like hell. I can’t believe I’m sick, my body was steaming hot and so weak.  I knocked out for 2 hours in the middle of the day. But one thought kept circling in my mind… will I be able to run the 7am Brooklyn Half marathon race? I just kept drinking water, swallowed acetaminophen pills, and hoped for the best. I woke up at 4am on Saturday, still undecided but had an hour to make up my mind. After eating some oatmeal, I went out for a 5 minute test run to see what my machine was capable of. Yes, a passing grade, sore throat is minimal and 90% power levels, I’m in!

Alex (my running buddy) shared a cab with me to Prospect Park. 15,000 runners were there for this epic race. My goal was to finish in less than 2 hours. I kept myself extra hydrated and had to pee twice before the race, but once we started, I had to pee again! The lines for the potty at mile 1 were ridiculous, I refuse! At mile 2, I noticed runners jumping in the bushes (even women squatting, lol). I quickly joined the pee crowd to relieve myself. The mile after was a record for me, 7.53 min/mile. I made sure to drink water from every water station since I still felt a bit sickly, sometimes 2 cups per station. The race went fast, and no walking breaks (except for when drinking water). Around Prospect park, inside Prospect park loop, the long  journey down Ocean Parkway, the first sighting of the Cyclone coaster, the Coney Island boardwalk, the finish line. I finished the race… UNDER 2 HOURS! My time was 1:56. PR for me! Unbelievable! Such a great race, great weather, no leg pain, great time, great experience. 

Next weekend is the Boston Run to Remember Half marathon!
<– Thats me with hands up.
<– My first race medal, makes me feel special 🙂

13 miles down, time to rest now.

Taking it back to January

An eventful week. Thursday may have been my fastest 10k yet; under 55 minutes. But lately, all of my runs have been somewhat painful. Can’t they just be easy and enjoyable? Do all runners look like they are about to pass out when they finish a run session? I don’t think so. Once again, there’s something wrong with the way I’m training; but what? On the bright side I did hit 20 miles last week, but at the expense of limping on Monday.

Saturday was the open house with the TFK (Team for Kids) charity group. What a great group of people. Everyone was really friendly and of course they were all crazy about running. This would be the first time in which I had the opportunity to hang out with so many runners in one place. And the coaches, they were like the Avengers of marathon training.

One coach spoke with me for 15-20 minutes regarding my approach. He advised that it was too early to be running 20 miles, especially without a “base”. Also, that my 2 run sessions per week is a doomed approach and injury prone. I should instead spread the mileage throughout the week, perhaps 4-5 runs per week with a half marathon being the new long run distance for now. Also, he advised not to have 2 “hard” training sessions back to back. A hard training session can be defined as a very long distance or very fast pace. A recovery day must follow a hard training session in order for the muscles to grow properly. I took it all in and decided to change right there.

Just for fun, 15 of us all went out to central park a ran a 4 mile loop. Amazing, we ran at a talking pace during the entire time. 4 miles went so fast, it felt like 2. I got to know 2 more coaches during the run; one who ran an Ultra marathon – 100 miles, and one who ran a 38 minute 10k just an hour before I met him. These guys are going to be my new marathon role models. Starting June 2, the official TFK charity team training begins, can’t wait.

<- Summer is here!

Sunday is the long run day as usual. I would’ve went for 20 miles again but why. This was a good time to apply the coaches’ advice. A half marathon distance should be good. 80 degrees out in New York; I chose wisely. The end result: no pain, like I didn’t even run today, like I could do it again tomorrow. 2 hours and 3 minutes! Damn, I gotta get used to running in the heat, and its only May.

Next week, I’ll be racing the Brooklyn Half Marathon!

The Big 20

Back from vacation, and feeling refreshed, I ran my Thursday 10k in 56:18. That time should be below 55 by the summer, I’m blaming the hills and traffic lights for now. Thus far, my longest distance is 18 miles in about 3 hours, but that was a whole month ago. For this Sunday’s long run, another attempt for 18 was made. The weather was in the low 60s; ideal. This time, I decided to reduce my usual pace. By this point (1.5 years of running experience), one should have a feel for their top speed, comfort speed, and relax speed. I resisted the urge to speed up and adjusted my pace depending on how out of breath I was, but never above comfort speed.

At mile 14, I felt better than usual. Around mile 15, I felt something strange on my sneaker like someone was grabbing it from behind. Wow, it was this big dog trying to bite me, whoa! I look back and grill the owner, but was too into my run to give a shit, so I kept running. People seriously need to be more responsible for their dogs. By mile 16, I was tired but not too tired to do 2 more. At mile 17, there was a choice to be made: should I run 1 mile home or do an extra “Willow lake loop” (2 miles) then run 1 mile home. Hmmm, why not, I’m on a roll. At mile 18, I started to regret my decision but was too far to turn back. At mile 19, I may have walked 75% of it, but 20 miles must be mine. I bought a coco icy from the mexican man and then just raced home with everything I am made of.

TWENTY! There is a freakin “2” in front of my mileage! It took 3:28:31. Six more miles, one more hour of easy jogging to be a whole marathon. I may be able to pull off a 4:30:00 after all.

20 miles down, time to rest now.

West Coast

I haven’t posted in weeks; many things going on. For the past week and a half, I was touring the West Coast consisting of Vegas, Yosemite, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and LA.

Vegas: the main strip is somewhat what I expected, as well as the 90 degree weather. Gambling and drinking everywhere, great place to party all night (Hangover). The Bellagio buffet was great, and the view from the Eiffel Tower was pretty cool. And what’s up with all those escort card pushers.

Yosemite: It rained and was foggy, boo. Maybe one day I would go back to see it on a clear day, and perhaps do some big hikes, wild water rafting, and hug a Sequoia tree. But still, the views were impressive.

Santa Barbara: A very short visit. All I remember was a beach and an avenue full of stores for clothes shopping (booooring). The residential areas were nice at least.

LA: I had enough time to explore Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Bel-Air.

SF: This was the highlight of the trip with so many things on my todo list and managed to do them all. We entered through Sausalito for a brief Golden Gate bridge viewing area then drove through several neighborhoods, and even drove by the Full House block. After a sunset cruise, I ate some crab at the Stinking Rose restaurant, Yum.

The next day was a visit to Alcatraz followed by the Academy of Science, Golden Gate park, and Chinatown feast. I made sure to load up on the carbs. The next day was RUN Day!

My hotel was on Market street and Hyde. I started by running up Leavenworth St, the hilliest 1.5 miles ever. After 3 breaks or so, I managed to reach Lombard St to the “steepest crookedest street”. I then ran to Coit Tower after a nasty spiral uphill. Then ran back down to the Embarcadero. It was smooth running from here on, the views were great. I ran past Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Mason, Marina Blvd, Crissy Field, and could see the Golden Gate in the distance the entire time. Eventually, I reached Fort Point, the best spot I could think of for a Golden Gate shot. I quickly realized that it was a dead end and had to turn back. I found some steps which led me to the Presidio, and followed a bike path until somehow I was on the road, then the beach, huh. Even with GPS, I felt lost. Once I hit California street again, I decided to just take it back to the hotel instead of going to Land’s end. I eventually just took a cab. I went selfie crazy during the entire route.

Maybe next time, I’ll run farther and change the route a bit. I capped the run for 2 hours because I scheduled a bike ride across the bridge later that day. Let’s just say biking is not my thing, and my ass hurt for days. And the downhills in Sausalito had me preparing for death, I’ll just stick to running. But overall, it was cool to bike in the SF streets and go across Golden Gate. During the last night at SF, we dined around Fisherman’s Wharf followed by Ghirardelli chocolate, and trolley car night ride (I made sure to be in the front and hang off the side).

Overall, it was a great trip, great experience, and met cool people. Life would be interesting if it was one big vacation.