Another journey of 20

Training is almost reaching its peak as autumn dominates the weather. There is nothing like going out there with the cool breeze in your face at around 50-60 degrees, perfect running weather. Gone are the days of sweating pints. You can’t miss out on running in the parks/trails when it starts to rain leaves and all the colors surround you. It doesn’t last for long though, so get out there and experience it.

We have to remember to enjoy the journeys we take, whether it’s a 5K, 10K, or 20 miler. Training for a marathon has a way of taking the joy of running and transforming it into homework assignments with its schedule, workouts, and other stuff. I’ve started thinking about life after the big race and what the hell I plan to do afterwards. Some people are considering other marathons like Boston, Chicago, Berlin, and London. I might just bring it back to the beginning. Back to when running was an adventure and a half marathon was the farthest distance. But until November, there is a job to do.
Tuesday September 11: 7.02 miles @ 8:30 min/mile. With only 2 days after completing my 20 miler, I felt powerful. Mile 5 was a 7:23 pace, PR for speed! Pushing the limits yet again!

Thursday September 13 (My Birthday!): 5.54miles @ 9:10 min/mile pace. My first time bday job, I’m officially a runner now 🙂

Saturday September 15: 9.47 miles @ 9:15 min/mile pace via Central Park loops. I wasn’t feeling confident enough to run with the wolf pack so I decided to run solo. Why? Because I have my first blister ever. After a few miles of 9:30 pacing, the wolf pack passed by. If anyone knows me, then you can guess what happened next. Of course, I switched over and started to run with them. Whoa, you can immediately feel the difference, like someone pressed fast forward. It was 8:30 pacing minimum for the rest of the run. And the most unlikely thing occurred. Not only was I keeping up, but I was in the front lines of the wolf pack for once. I’m still unsure of my marathon pace but I know its in somewhere around 9:00 min/mile.

Monday September 17: 5.58 miles @ 8:13 min/mile pace. This run was incredible, 3/5 miles under 8 pace! I don’t think I can top this for a while. Perhaps it was all that rice at the Indian buffet lunch.

Wednesday September 19: 7.68 miles @ 8:43 min/mile pace. All miles under 9 pace except the first. Ultimately, this was my goal: to maintain a 9 pace throughout. Good job Jon, keep it up.

Thursday September 20: 6.20miles @ 9:00 pace. This was the recovery run. And still kept it 9 pace flat, I’m ready for the 20 miler, bring it on.

Saturday September 22 (Big 20): 20.01 miles @ 9:34 pace from Brooklyn bridge to the George Washington bridge, then back to 72nd st. Total time = 3:11:41 including rest stops. 10 minutes faster than the last 20 miler but felt more challenging.

Maybe it was the recent increase in my performance, but somehow, I had a sudden confidence, to run 20 miles with the wolf pack. This idea would be insane a month ago but there’s only one way to find out. How exciting. Not easy shooting pics while on the run. A new skill to practice.

Miles 1-10: Awesomeness. Crossed the Brooklyn bridge, passed through the Staten Island ferry terminal, caught a glimpse of the statue of liberty while going through Battery park, passed through Chelsea Piers, and then Riverside Park for the rest of the route. The pace started out around 9:15 pace then worked its way to 8:45/8:30 pace. With such a scenic route, I didn’t think too much about my endurance. Can I really keep this pace for 10 more miles? Of course not!

Miles 11-20: Not as awesome but glorious nevertheless. I spent a bit too long at the Gatorade stop at mile 11. The wolf pack ran off without me. As long as they are in sight then I’m ok. 5 more miles went by. The fatigue and pains kicked in. And something never experienced, my left gluteous muscle was sore and it felt like it was going to pop. Once we reached the GW bridge, we headed back to 72nd street.

By Mile 16, the wolf pack was out of sight. I started taking walk breaks by mile 17. By mile 18, I was still fighting, hoping/praying that the end is near. Miles 19 and 20 were just painful, ugh. Another 20 miler down, one more 20+ miler in mid-October to go.

20 Miles, No Problem Mon

Have you ever tried your hardest to achieve something for months or even years and always fell short? But then finally, you reach that point where you finally feel accomplished and satisfied with your progress. At last you know that what seemed out of reach is now in your grasp. For more than a year I’ve been struggling. The goal was to run the NYC marathon. What a dream, how awesome would it be to call myself a marathoner? I doubted myself so many times throughout the year. There were sessions where I felt like things were not getting better, but worse. Its like pushing a truck that is driving against you. Just a week and a half ago, I felt like a failure with perhaps the worst 13 miler ever. But since I’m not dead, and it can be done, then I’ll just try again. The memories of defeat are wiped away with new hope. And finally finally finally, as of September 9th, I’m confident that I can run 26 miles on November 4th. I could’ve ran that distance last Sunday. But before that story; just some weekly updates:

Monday: 7.04 miles @ 8:46 min/mile pace. Under 9 min/mile, oh yea, getting faster!

Wednesday: 7.02 miles @ 9:00 min/mile pace. I’m still impressed with my progress.

Thursday: 5.26 miles @ 10:05 min/mile pace. Sometimes you just don’t feel like running but do it anyway. I just decided to run wherever my legs took me. This was the ideal recovery run; new neighborhoods, new views, and relaxing pace.

Sunday (part 1): 10.09 miles @ 9:42 min/mile pace. The Bronx 10-miler race.

I was actually nervous about the 20 mile journey, as if I was running a real marathon or something. Well when you think about it, a 20 miler is just one 10K short of one. Breaking the 20 miles into 2 was perhaps the best mental trick thus far.  Anyway, the first 10 miles was great; it was the NYRR Bronx 10-miler race!

It was a nice 70 degree morning, and I ran with my running partner (Alex) the whole way. We went to high school in the Bronx and the route actually passed right by it. Speaking of the route, it started at Yankee stadium, to Moshulu Pkwy and back. Most of the Bronx was still asleep I suppose; too much partying last night perhaps. No crowds cheering unlike in the Brooklyn Half marathon. I still enjoyed the race as it brought back some teenage memories as I passed by familiar areas. This is the only picture that survived; the Fordham road underpass:

After a final mile sprint to the finish, it then occurred to me, this is not the end, but the beginning.

Sunday (part 2): 10.03 miles @ 10:20 min/mile pace via Riverside and Central park.

At the finish line, there were masses of runners enjoying their finish line victory. But the show goes on for Jon. Keeping my race bib on my shirt, I ran through the mob of accomplished runners and headed for Macombs bridge into Washington Heights Manhattan which leads straight into Riverside.

Mile 12,13,14,15… New Jersey to my right, bikers and runners in the front and behind me. Some runners give a little smile because my race bib is still on and says “Bronx 10-Mile”. They know how much I ran already and how many more I had to run to get that far. It would be cool if everyone had a bubble on top of their head which shows how many miles they’ve run. By mile 16, I reached Central Park. Well here is a shocker, I feel fine, like after running a 10K. Amazing! Best feeling ever! There was a Susan Komen Cancer walk/run event going on in Central park which meant… Gatorade stations! Everything worked out way better than I could’ve imagined. Mile 20 was unreal, I could’ve kept going easily.My total run time for 20 miles was 3:21. It looks like I can be a 4:30 marathoner easily. Lessons learned for running 3 hours or more:

– Carbo load, but too much.
– Eat a light pre-race meal, like oatmeal and PB on bread.
– Have a GU or something every 10K.
– Run a pace that is 30/60 seconds slower than your normal pace to reserve energy.
– And most importantly, hydrate hydrate Hydrate!
– And second important, have fun. If you aren’t, then its gonna be a looong run.

Two months left till the NYC marathon

September is the peak of the training, the month of 20 milers.  My sneakers passed away last week; rest in peace old friends. They lived to be 600+ miles old. Today I’m running with the Mizuno Wave runner 15s.

Monday: 7.61 miles @ 9:17 min/mile pace. Not bad, for the first test run with the new sneakers.

Wednesday: 7.16 miles @ 8:53 min/mile pace. It’s always a good day when I can run below 9 min/mile pace (and one mile less than 8 min/mile)

Thursday: 6:54 miles @ 10:12 min/mile pace. It was the night of the blue moon. I managed to touch the moon around mile 5. This took quite a few shots to get right and totally ruined my time, but thats ok.

Saturday (Long-Run): 13.22 miles @ 9:42 min/mile pace. This was perhaps one of my worst half marathon training runs of all time. Why? The freakin love affair between the heat and humidity. I should’ve left earlier, like around 7am, but decided to start at 9am. Running in the summer is dangerous sometimes.

First 10K: Mile 1 was the warmup uphill mile, and then just flew through the next 4. At the end of mile 6, I treated myself to a 16 ounce bottled water and a GU gel to recharge. I should’ve drank 3 more! Off I went on the return trip like a happy running fool.

Last 10K: Mile 7,8 went by. Why I am so tired?! Mile 9 already feels like mile 13. With 4 miles left, I was seriously considering taking the bus but too nasty and sweaty to be around humans. You know you’re tired when people look at you and give you that expression of “dammit man, you look like crap, you must be crazy to be running out here during this blazing heat, but I admire your effort and strong will”. Eventually I was across the street from my house looking like a confused sweaty malnourished puerto rican:

Theres nothing like treating yourself to anything you want to eat after burning 1500+ calories. I felt better after a power nap and a half gallon of water. Next weekend is the true test of will and mental strength; the 20 miler!