Races and injuries

Its been 2 weeks since the last post. But if there’s no jogging, there’s no blogging. For a month, I’ve been struggling with the shin splints from hell (it might be more than just splints, who knows). Its a struggle going down the subway stairs the day after a run. I’ve been applying the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) method while wearing calf compression sleeves but it never heals 100%. It’s been the same routine for the past 2 weeks: 6 days no running, kung-fu cross training on Wednesdays, run 11-12 miles on Sunday, the pain returns. Ugh. I’ve come to the conclusion that I overpronate slightly (big toe contacts the ground, other toes hardly do) and my new running sneakers (Mizuno Waverunners 16) are not preventing me from doing so. Going back to the Waverunner 15 sneakers from last year is my only hope.

Why did I run these past 2 Sundays? Well, I raced.

Off to the races:
City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks 4 Miler @ Central Park
April 21st, 2013. 37 degrees (cold for spring)
6,227 finishers
Results: 7:56 pace, 1605 place, 74% percentile, (C)

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This one was dedicated to Boston. Most runners either wore the “I run for Boston” back bibs or the Boston shirts. We all had a moment of silence prior to the race. New York City knows all about going through such events. After an emotional Star Spangled banner, it was race time. My legs felt great until running 7:30 speed at mile 2. Damn, just when I thought my legs were totally cured. I’m surprised I pulled off a sub-8 pace overall though.

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Ha, looks like I’m pointing at my bib number.

CP2
When the fists become knife hands, you know it’s the 100 meter dash to the finish line.

So, a choice had to made since 4 miles did not satisfy me. Take the subway home or … run home. My right calf wasn’t doing so well after the race so I decided to just run across the Queens borough bridge as an experiment. Once in Queens, my legs weren’t that bad. Perhaps running home is a possibility after all. “Home” was only a straight 10K down Queens Blvd. How could a wolf resist? There is nothing like the feeling of running freely in the streets. The mind is totally at peace and relaxed as you gaze forward and pass neighborhoods by, while the body is exhausted and calfs feel like they will explode. So yea, I got high on running followed by a shin splint hangover. And just like an addict, I did it again a week later.

Off to the races – 2:
Run as One 4 Miler @ Central Park
April 28th, 2013. 55 degrees (and reached 70 in a few hours)
6,998 finishers
Results: 8:26 pace, 2488 place, 65% percentile, (D)

It was the same ol loop around Central Park followed by the same route home. The main difference was the 70 degree weather. A nice sunny day, and a sweaty Jon. Its time to get used to running in the hotter weather and hydrating more often.

Training Report:
Not much to report unfortunately

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
Apr 21 Sunday 6.47 8:28 After taking 6 days off and shin splints
Apr 28 Sunday 6.26 9:15 Yikes, its time to change those sneakers

Speed Jams (tunes to run that sub 8 min/mile pace):
I find that Dancehall Reggae can have the ideal number of beats per minute for my running rhythm (170-180 bpm). A “riddim” is a compilation of songs by various reggae artists to a particular instrumental background. Here are quite a few taken from my Spotify list:

    Liquid riddim, Diwali riddim, Bookshelf riddim, Buzz riddim
    Love Salute riddim, Peenie Wallie riddim, Bubble up riddim, Contra riddim
    Full Charge riddim , Over proof (Soca) riddim, Street Swag riddim, Winnings riddim

Random Thoughts
Injuries suck so bad. If you run, then you risk further injury. If you don’t run, you risk fitness and performance. So frustrating. The infamous NYRR Brooklyn Half marathon is in 3 weeks. My winter training is starting to suffer due to all this time off during April. All I wanted was a 1:50:00 half marathon. The chances of that happening are slim. Additionally, NYC marathon training starts right after. Perhaps I’m lucky that the injuries occurred now and not in October.

Spartan weekend

How could I resist an adult jungle gym race when it was so close to home? Citi Field became the Gladiator Coliseum built for 10,000 Spartans. A 3 mile obstacle course with various challenges in between, sounds like fun. If you fail to complete an obstacle then you have to pay the price; 30 burpees (alternating push-up and jump). This is how the story goes…

But first, running photos of the me running the Cherry Blossom 10-miler at DC. Thumbs up at the camera man.
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OFF TO THE RACES :
Spartan Sprint Race @ Citi Field, Queens
April 13th, 2013
10,037 finishers
Results: 3436 place, 66% percentile, (D)

As soon as you step into the Gladiator Coliseum, you first notice that this isn’t the running crowd at all. This was a much rowdier and muscular group of athletes. Am I the only one here who doesn’t lift things everyday? Yea, I hardly trained for this one. My reasoning was that the running and martial arts training would be enough. Before heading to the start line, I couldn’t help but notice the unused field. No mud, no barbed wire, no fire!? Maybe there were limitations for this race since it wasn’t outdoors, oh well. And I was all prepared to get muddy and everything, meh. So the race looked like a large conveyor belt of athletes snaking through main walkways, staircases and stadium seats.

A line for the start line? Nobody gave a crap about their assigned times and created a bottleneck at the start. A group of Spartans were released every 15 seconds, but there were at least 1000 in front of me. Well this sucks. Maybe I should’ve started with the elites. After a 20-30 minute wait at the start, I’m finally released. Zoom, I’m running, doing what I do best. After a minute, my fast running ceases for the rest of the race. It was obstacle after obstacle madness.

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Summary of obstacles from a jumbled memory:
– 4 floors of ramps with horizontal wire tied high and low in various combinations. Hop, crawl, hop, crawl, crawl, hop, hop… all going uphill. Why am I breathing heavy already? At the top, whew.

– Three 6 foot walls to climb. 1,2,3, done.

– I turn a corner and see 2 lines of people lifting 25 pound bags above their head and dropping them down. How many I ask? 20. Ok. Ugh, Whoo, I felt that. Onward.

– Going through the nosebleed seats now. Upstairs, downstairs, across. It’s a follow-the-leader kind-of thing. At the same time, I call my wife and swing my arm around so that she can spot me.

– Turning the corner now. Wow, that is the thickest jump rope ever. How many I ask? 50. Sure. 29, 30, 31, ugh, break. 37, 38, break. I’m tired but there are people waiting for my rope. Fine. 49, 50, done. My arms are now noodles.

– Monkey bars, but I’m so tired. While hanging, I recall the 30 burpee penalty if I lose my grip. Nope, can’t have that. Ehhhh, cross, cross, whoa almost slipped, cross, cross, ehhhh, done. Wow, almost didn’t survive, whew. No more arm stuff please. And then there it was, the hernia obstacle.

– A concrete block attached to a rope and pulley. The goal: to pull the rope such that the block reaches the top, and the top was really really high. The big muscle guys were grunting and turning red, which means I’m toast. I tugged the rope with everything and it didn’t move. I hung off the rope and my body weight wasn’t enough to lift this thing. How heavy is this thing!? I scanned for non muscle-head types to see how they are pulling this off. On my left, a dude was pulling the rope while sitting on the ground. Ah, good idea. I copied, and the block rose a bit, yay. After struggling for minute or two while watching the block rise only an inch or two for every power sucking rope pull, the block touched the top.

– Ran down to ground level. Oh great, 2 more walls, but they were higher than before. 1,2,done. Walls are easy.

– Around the corner into a room. What? Push-ups, I got this. How many I ask? 20. Done.

– Into the staircase again. Theres a large bucket full of rubber straps. Why? To wrap your legs and hop up 4 flights. By floor 3, some of us (me too) just started walking up the steps since the strap wasn’t that tight, lol.

– Then back down. Now I get to run through the front row seats, but with a really heavy sand bag on my shoulder, ugh. After several zig zags and going up and down steps, I pass the demon bag to another.

– Yay, I get to run for another minute. And an even larger wall blocks my path. A wall that you have to jump to reach. Several couldn’t do this one. Good thing I can place my foot above my head. I conquered the 7-8 foot wall.

– Next, dozens of these rowing machines. I had nothing left after that concrete block earlier. This is just punishment. 2 minutes of pull, pull, pull. This is why I hate the gym.

– Now we head to the back of the stadium. I see that concrete block again. Grrr. The goal: To carry it a few meters, 5 burpees, and carry it back. I felt like a little boy struggling to carry his daddy’s toolbox on my way back. There is nothing left in this Spartan. But it’s not over yet.

– What are all these large water jugs and steps? Oh I get it. Just like carrying heavy groceries. My legs are kind-of wobbly though. Almost tripped to my death going up the steps for the third time.

– Next, a rope climb. Ha, I did this everyday in high school. Halfway up, my arms had no more juice and I was going no higher. Down I went. 30 burpees for me.

– Next, a sideways wall where you had to hold on to small pegs sticking out. If your feet touch the ground, its burpees for you. I slipped and didn’t care. 30 for me again.

– The spear throw was cancelled. I was looking forward to that one.

– Finally, outside. I see the finish. But first, the net climb. Piece of cake. Next, 10 high jumps onto this ledge. Fine. I make one last run for it, a run through the finish line protectors who knock you with pugil sticks (from American Gladiators). Boom, I take the hit and cross the finish line! An hour of non-stop workout. My body is still sore.

I’m a Spartan!
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Training Report:

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
Apr 14 Sunday 6.21 10:50 Body is so sore, shins are stressed, no running for another week

Speed Jams (tunes to run that sub 8 min/mile pace):
No more fast running until I heal. This section will just have to be “Slow Jams (tunes to run that relaxing 10-11 min/mile pace)” for the next few posts.

Random Thoughts
There was also a JFK airport runway race the day after the Spartan race. How did it go? Correct answer. I didn’t go. My body was too sore, especially my gluteals for some reason. Maybe next year.

Cherry Blossom at DC

It’s another one of those destination race posts, even though Washington DC is only a bus ride away. It’s never a bad idea to arrive a day or two early and explore.

Friday:
Arrived around 3pm and stopped by the race expo to pick up my bib (first time that my name was printed on it), shirt, and free goodies. With a few hours of daylight left, me and wife walked for a few hours to see Obama’s house, the National monument (still undergoing repairs from the August 2011 earthquake and surrounded by scaffolding), Lincoln’s Memorial, the U.S. Capitol building, and everything in between. After seeing so many runners, I realized that running may have been a better way to get around since everything is a mile apart. We ate at Rosa Mexicana and crashed for the night.

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Saturday:
We started the day with a 2 hour Potomac River buffet brunch cruise. Little did I know that we would be sailing around most of the following day’s race route. It’s not easy to eat wisely for the race when the deserts started coming out, I failed but it was worth it. Then there was one more thing to do which would take up the rest of the day, the Smithsonian. With so many museums to choose from, the Museum of Natural History seemed to be the best choice. This place should be called the Skeleton Museum by the way. Below are some shots of the various dinosaurs, a mummy, and the centerpiece elephant. After the museum, we went to Asia 9 and I made sure to have an extra cup of rice for the carb boost.

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Sunday:

OFF TO THE RACES :
Cherry Blossom 10-Miler @ Washington DC
April 7th, 2013
17,492 finishers (40% men / 60% women)
Results: 8:09 pace, 3240 place, 81% percentile, (B-)

SAMSUNG

Almost 20,000 runners for a 10-mile race? It was a challenge just to figure out where the start line was. We were all launched out in waves. I heard the horn and saw a wave of runners moving, but it was my wave! Here we go. Mile 1,2,3,4,5 all under 8:00 pace, yes. Plenty of spectators cheering on and I made sure to high-five the hands that were sticking out. Overall, it was a great course with good views and hardly any hills. My legs started to break down at mile 8 but I was too close to a record to slow down now. It was a bad combination of IT band pain and posterior shin splints on both legs.

Through the cherry blossom trees, you could see the National monument; the finish line. That was enough to motivate me to run fast even though it hurt to do so. The crowds became larger and louder. After turning a corner, it was a long straight path to the finish. Runners all around me started to sprint passed me at this point. Oh really! It’s a 100 meter dash race now? Challenge accepted. My finish line rage is here (at 3:56) and you should be able to spot me. [Hint: I had issues slowing down at the finish line and just kept going, lol. I limped all the way back to the hotel like a Walking Dead zombie, but it was worth it. A 10 mile PR.

Training Report:

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
Apr 2 Tuesday 6.37 9:02 Yep, I need to rest my legs, it shows

Speed Jams (tunes to run that sub 8 min/mile pace):
Nothing new from previous posts unfortunately.

Random Thoughts
Being injured sucks big time. You have to wait days or weeks for the pain to go away. Sometimes you think its gone and then decide to go back to where you left off, only to have the pain return immediately. What’s worse? When you have a Spartan race and a JFK Airport Rotary Club 5K Runway race scheduled back to back next weekend. I’ll just rest my legs and cross train until then. Stay tuned for next week’s racing madness.

Warm weather cometh

No more gloves, hats, or tights under the shorts. 45-50 degrees is the cutoff point for me. If only it could stay this way all year, but it doesn’t. Muggy summer will be here soon enough, so I have to make the most of this transition period. Well somehow, I booked 5-6 races for April including the Spartan race. My bib snake should be a 4-5 feet long after this month.

Thanks to the warmer weather, the wolf pack gang had a west side 11 mile run reunion. The same group that ran the substitute NYC marathon with me in November. We caught up on 4 months of stories and future plans for running, racing, and life. As usual, I’m the slowest of the pack, but then again we were running 7:30 pace for a few miles (the pace at which I’m not much of a talker, more of a heavy breather). Anyway, this was a good prelude to those early Saturday/Sunday marathon training runs for the summer. Matt (one of the wolfpack) suggested a 10K race in Roosevelt Island on March 30th. I signed up last minute and here is a story of a runner who ran the WRONG race.

OFF TO THE RACES :
NYCRUNS Spring Fling 5K/10K @ Roosevelt Island
March 30th, 2013.

With the weather going above 50 degrees, I only wore shorts and 2 top layers for a change. Me and Matt found the mob of runners waiting at the start line, and then bang, the race began. Matt was running below 7:30 pace but I managed to stay around 5-15 seconds behind him throughout the race, but not so sure I could maintain this pace throughout. By the end of the 3rd mile, people were sprinting passed us, why? This is the halfway point right? Shouldn’t they be preserving that for the 6th mile?

After passing the 3.1 mile marker, we realized that we actually crossed a finish line. Huh? Many confused runners were looking at eachother trying to figure out what just happened. It turns out that the 10K race was just about to start. Damn, I could’ve totally PR-ed at that pace for another 3.1 miles. Well, I wasn’t about to run 2 more island loops for the 10K. I had plans to run a new route home anyway.

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After a quick bathroom break, we decided to run with the 10K mob for 2 miles until we reached the bridge to exit off the island. We had some strange looks when we entered the race at some random spot which wasn’t the starting line. After running beside 2 runners who were cursing back and forth (which almost turned into a fight), we “escaped” the island into Queens, and then parted ways. Off I went on a brand new journey through Astoria, Laguardia Airport, and Flushing, keeping the East River to my left. After 10 miles, my legs were toast and I was totally dehydrated (the face is proof).

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Training Report:

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
Mar 23 Saturday 10.8 8:20 The wolf pack runs are back
Mar 26 Tuesday 6.21 8:13 Supposed to be an easy run, then started out at 7:17 pace, lol
Mar 30 Saturday 3.1 7:40 Good thing this wasn’t the only thing planned
Mar 30 Saturday (2) 1.5-2 8:00-9:00 I totally didn’t care about recording this but it still counts
Mar 30 Saturday (3) 10.38 8:43 I have to start drinking more fluids for the warmer weather

Random Thoughts
4 days left until the Cherry Blossom 10-mile race in Washington DC. Might as well turn it into a weekend trip. The weather forecasts 60 degrees during that weekend, nice.