Brooklyn Half 2013 is here

It’s the race that started it all 2 years ago. My first race and it happened to be a half-marathon. I can still recall the first time I crossed that finish line. After 2 hours and 4 minutes, I swore to never run another half marathon again. It was exhausting, painful, and too early in the morning. 2 years later, it turns out I must really like feeling exhausted and pain is my best friend.

Fast forward 2 years… So I was running a half marathon distance every weekend during the winter until my legs broke down last month. The goal of my training was to maintain my fitness throughout the cold season and to shave 5 minutes off of my previous Brooklyn Half time, which was 1:56:41. Being injured during the peak of my training sucked. I concluded that any gain in performance would be great news, even if it was a one second gain. My alarm went off at 4:45am on Saturday for this 7am race. The time has come to put my winter training to the test. And there is an additional constraint this time around. My right calf hasn’t healed 100% and my training suffered for a whole month as a result. Challenge accepted!

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OFF TO THE RACES:
NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon @ Brooklyn
May 18th, 2013. 59 degrees
21,378 finishers
Results: 8:26 pace, 6660 place, 69% percentile, (D+)

Yep, 20,000+ people just like me who woke up early to run around Prospect Park and then straight down Ocean Pkwy to Coney Island.

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Although sleep deprived, I was in a good mood and ready for a race. Thanks to Alex for this cheese smile shot.

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On your mark… HONK! Miles 1,2,3 were outside Prospect park. My splits were 7:51, 8:06, and 7:38. Yes Jon! Miles 4,5,6,7 consisted of a loop inside Prospect park. My splits were 8:07, 8:17, 8:32, and 8:09. I’m still on target at the halfway point. Can I maintain the pace for another 6 miles? If so, then its a 1:48:00 finish time for me.

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I recharge with a GU pack at the halfway point. The race continues as we all exit the park and onto Ocean Pkwy. Unfortunately, every mile after mile 8 would be slower than 8:30; my right leg started up again. Nooooooo! There was a sharp pain with every step. The faster I ran, the more it hurt. So much for a fast finish. And the last 5 miles are all slightly downhill; just my luck.

I became obsessed with the clock and started doing calculations in my head to determine how fast I should continue to run in order to meet my time goal. According to my calculations, I’m running too damn slow! By mile 11, I was stressed out. You know what, forget about time. Coney Island slowly approaches, I’ll just enjoy the rest of the race and “jog” instead of run. So I threw my pace in the garbage and traded it for enjoyment and scenery.

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Mile 13… on the boardwalk now. I can see the finish line. And I forgot to include the 7 minute start line delay into my calculations! It’s a P.R.! A 1:50:26 finish! YEAAAA!

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I shaved off 6 minutes total and with a bad leg. Everyone was a champion that day.

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Who best than to celebrate with the wolf pack? We’ll be running all over NYC in a few weeks for the NYC marathon 2013 training. But until then, we rest, me especially.

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Training Report:
I didn’t run all week!

Random Thoughts
What is the point in advancing to the next level quickly if you aren’t ready for it yet. How do you know that you aren’t ready? Your body will let you know by breaking down. Just when I thought that I was on my way to a flat 7 min/mile pace, my body said “Nice try young grasshopper, but not yet”. Since the NYC marathon is the next big thing on my list, endurance will be the main focus throughout the summer months. Speaking of summer, a good vacation is also on my mind. Happy memorial day weekend everyone.

Running toward recovery

The weather is 50s-60s almost everyday, ideal for running. You don’t need to layer on the clothes, and you won’t sweat like crazy. And I’m jealous as hell of all the healthy runners who can enjoy it. For more than a month, I’ve been slowly recovering from this inner calf thing and can’t run like I normally do. I’m a caged animal, (roar). Taking 2-3 days off doesn’t help much; the pain comes back after one run. Taking a month off is a last resort and I’m not at that point yet.

New definition for recovery from addiction has been released

Since December I’ve been training to shave 5 minutes off of my half-marathon time (speed up by 0:30 per mile). Every training session became a speed session and most likely caused my legs to break down. Whatever happened to fun runs, easy long runs, recovery runs, etc? With 3 weeks before the Brooklyn Half marathon, I needed a method to simultaneously recover quickly and keep my legs strong enough to run a half marathon.

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Week 1: 
No running from Monday-Saturday. Leg elevation and icing while watching TV or on the PC. Push-ups and planks day and night. Stairs, stairs, stairs! No more elevators. Kung-fu workouts on Wednesdays are still my #1 cross-training choice. As much as I wanted to get out and run on Saturday, I fought the urge. My apartment building has 6 floors, so I decided to go up and down the stairs 15 times (75 flights total) and do squats in the elevator while going back to the first floor. This became boring fast.

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Sunday came and I cracked. Using my older sneakers, I went outside for a 4 miler. Yes, the distance for my “long weekend run” was incredibly short but recovery is key. I was able to “tune” my speed to minimize the pavement pounding force, which turned out to be an 11 min/mile pace. Good bye speed running but hello quick recovery.

Week 2: 
After work on Monday, I was feeling lucky and took a gamble. I went out for another 4 miler. Why? Well, if running shorter distances at a lower pace was working, then why not apply a stress test. The tuning pace was 10:15 min/mile, an improvement. Tuesday and Wednesday were rest days for the legs. Another 4 miler on Thursday evening with a tuning speed of 9:55 min/mile. The final test was a small race; the NYRR Japan Day 4 miler.

 

OFF TO THE RACES :
NYRR Japan Day 4-Miler @ Central Park
May 12th, 2013. 57 degrees
4,796 finishers
Results: 8:13 pace, 1400 place, 71% percentile, (C-)

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Well, maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Another 4 mile loop in Central Park. This may have been the first time where hundreds of runners would pass me by and I didn’t care. There I was, not racing during a race. The goal was to maintain a 8:15 min/mile pace while keeping the pavement pounding force to a minimum. Wow, I actually pulled it off. No PR, but it was a great victory nonetheless.

After racing at my target half-marathon pace for 4 miles, I decided to run home: Queensborough bridge and a straight 10k route down Queens Blvd. The verdict… much better than a few weeks ago. My confidence has been restored, the Brooklyn half race is still a go! I’ll rest my legs until then.

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Training Report:
More like recovery training:

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
May 5 Sunday 3.93 11:21 So depressing, like a zombie chasing humans
May 6 Monday 4.01 10:13 Improving…
May 9 Thursday 4.12 9:54 The pace when I began running, lol.
May 12 Sunday 4.00 8:13 Jon is back!
May 12 Sunday 5.77 9:26 Still taking it easy, gotta save it for Brooklyn

Speed Jams (tunes to run that 7 min/mile pace):
Although I came nowhere close to a 7 min/mile pace during my recovery running, I recall Daft Punk and Usher keeping me company while running under the sun:

    One more time – Daft Punk
    Around the world – Daft Punk
    Harder better faster stronger – Daft Punk
    DJ got us fallin in love – Usher
    More – Usher

Random Thoughts
It looks like I’m finally recovering, and ready for a Half marathon and the 5 month NYC marathon training madness. Thanks again PDXrunningchick and Dominick for your ideas and suggestions. The next time an injury like this occurs, I’ll know how to deal with it. Although conceptually simplistic, running can become quite complicated depending on how involved you get. For someone who gets bored easily, running never gets boring (unless I’m on the treadmill). You could do the same 10K or 13 mile route every week and it will always be a different experience.