The NYC two-thirds-athon

Just another Saturday morning route worthy of its own post. 5 wolf pack warriors ventured out on a 17 miler route that I designed in an attempt to explore new areas instead of the usual Central Park and Riverside roads. This is why I like this gang; they aren’t afraid to run in the streets for hours. Perhaps they even prefer it like I do. Besides, once your mileage gets to a certain point (like 12 miles or so), there just isn’t enough park to run in unless you like to run in circles. Its great using long runs as a way to explore new worlds (roads) and civilizations (neighborhoods); to boldly go where no runner has gone before…

facebook_887723923

There is a sense of freedom when running in the streets. The rules for cars and bikes don’t apply. The main rule is to not get hit by a car. I can run through red lights, I have the “right of way” at intersections, I can zig-zag between the sidewalk and street lanes anytime, and even run in the opposing lane. In my opinion, its preferable to run in the opposing lane while on a bike path or really close to the parked cars (without banging car mirrors of course). The sidewalks are never as smooth as the street roads and I don’t like cars creeping up on me from behind. With all this freedom, one must be cautious of their surroundings. If you hear sirens, just get back on the sidewalk. Some cars are not looking out for runners who suddenly appear at intersections; slow down when approaching intersections. Trucks and buses have blind spots so you have to keep an eye on them. You also have to respect dogs (leashed or not) as they will chase you for random reasons, just walk passed them if unsure. You also have to keep an eye out for cracks in the streets and sidewalks that will ruin you if you step into them the wrong way. Most importantly, thumbs up or high-five incoming runners if they are paying attention.

The NYC marathon is the ultimate street running experience, and I can’t wait to finally experience it.

The NYC Two-Thirds-athon (17.5 miles):
17m

For some strange reason, this turned out to be the most hilliest route ever. Harlem hill and Cat hill in Central Park have nothing on the endless hills we were about to encounter. The plan was to meet at Madison Square Garden at 7AM. I have the worst luck when it comes to the subway. I was 30 minutes late and had to run 25 blocks just to intercept them since the trains wouldn’t move at 59th st. I’m thankful they waited for me. Off we went via the East river for 2.5 scenic miles and crossed the Williamsburg bridge into Brooklyn.

Williamsburg-bridge

We then went north via Leonard street for another 2.5 miles. The scenic run quickly became a tour of an industrial wasteland. We headed east via Greenpoint Avenue, crossed the John Jay Byrne bridge into Queens, then north via Van Damn street.

newtown-creek1

Now here was 2 miles that probably won’t happen again. With a pollution smell in the air, we passed by scrap metal and shredding/recycling factories, a waste water treatment plant, and other related buildings. Also, this big tractor came out of nowhere almost running us over. I guess workers are not used to seeing people in this area. I just learned that perhaps the biggest oil spill in United States history occurred right here in Newton Creek in the 1950s. 17-30 million gallons of oil and petroleum products leaked into the soil from crude oil processing facilities over a period of several decades. We ran through this area at a quicker pace to escape the toxins and poison fumes. I wish I had known about this before designing the route. Sorry wolf pack warriors. We at least live to tell the tale.

0302-26-13

After we passed Queens Blvd, we headed north via 28th and 35th streets through Astoria; a nice Queens neighborhood. At the north tip of Queens, we simply outlined the west side of Queens keeping the East river to our right. You get nice views of the city from Astoria park. I purposely left the Queensborough bridge for mile 16 to simulate the real NYC marathon.

640px-Queensboro_Bridge_from_above

This bridge is the considered to be the hardest part of the NYC marathon. This bridge always kicks my ass. But this time, after 16 miles, I only took one walk break which is a great improvement from last year. Although this bridge is a tough animal, there is nothing like working your way down the bridge into Manhattan. Overall, the 2/3-athon was a success. No injuries and nobody left behind, even though I couldn’t keep up toward the end and lagged by 30-60 seconds per mile.

Training Report:
Week 11/21 of the training schedule. Half way through! It only gets more intense from here on in.

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
Aug 20 Tuesday 6.40 8:51 Just another run in Flushing park before the US Open comes
Aug 21 Wednesday 6.11 9:03 2 10Ks back to back took its toll, 2-day break for me.
Aug 24 Saturday 17.46 ~ 8:45 Check the section above.
Aug 26 Monday 6.71 8:56 This was a comfortable pace. I should push for 8:45-8:30 soon.
Aug 28 Wednesday 6.40 8:43 Power Run! Would’ve been a consistent 8:30 pace if it wasn’t for traffic.

Speed Jams (tunes to run that 8 min/mile or less pace):
I’ve been stuck on Trance, Drum&Bass, and Chillout tunes. Mainstream music hasn’t been doing it for me lately. In my opinion, Spotify is the best App for randomly seeking out artists/albums that you never would have heard.

 

5 Bridges and Summer Streets

The summer is going by quickly but then again it always does. There’s not much to report other than the ongoing marathon training. The mileage has been steadily increasing; 15-16 mile runs on Saturday mornings are the norm. My average speed has dropped due to a month old Achilles pain. Whatever the issue may be, it’s no excuse to stop, there’s always a way around things. Running a bit slower and being patient seems to be working for now, and it gets me through 2 hour+ run sessions. The most recent long runs were my 5 bridge / summer-steets 15-miler with the wolf pack and the NYC marathon long training run #2 16-miler, which are worthy of their own sections.

Crossing bridges to glory:
5bridges15miler SS_EventMap_2013B
The 5 wolves together again. This is the same group that ran an unofficial NYC marathon with me last year. I designed a route that would take us through Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, cross 5 bridges, and finish off with a traffic-free Park Avenue. After meeting up at the usual Columbus circle meet spot at 7:15AM, we started off by crossing the Queensboro bridge (mile 16 of the NYC marathon). Once in Queens, we ran via Jackson Ave until we reached the Pulaski bridge, then crossed it.
1146524_10151872382501159_1274921045_n
We worked our way south (Manhattan Ave, Leonard street, Driggs Ave) until we arrived at the Williamsburg bridge, crossed it and entered Chinatown.
1146597_10151872381531159_368133858_n
1146540_10151872384046159_1682260593_n
Then we criss-crossed boroughs by taking the Manhattan bridge followed by the Brooklyn bridge.
1001099_10151872385306159_2145472958_n
Thanks again to NK for running ahead to snap some photos.

Any runner would be feeling the bridge workout by this point. The remaining journey was a straight 4.5 mile run up Park Avenue from chambers to 59th street. Although we kept a 8:45-9:00 pace for the entire 5 bridge portion, I lost steam at the Park Avenue portion and started getting pains in my right heel. The massive groups of runners and bikers kept me going. You only get to do this 3 Saturdays within the year and the streets were full.
1146641_10151768301914501_1265294431_n 1150338_10151756661504501_1079741725_n
The best thing about long runs is the feast afterwards. This hungry wolf seeks his reward at a buffet or diner. I ordered the usual 2 eggs, toast, turkey bacon, and home fries with some tea. And 3 monster size pancakes as a side dish. Still a bit hungry but had to save my appetite for lunch. Man vs food, this round goes to man!

Confidence regained in Central Park:
Here we go with another ING NYC long training run in CP. Thousands of 2013 NYC marathoners embarked on a circular journey (3-4 CP loops) on a perfect 65F degree morning surrounded me trees and roads.
CPtrainingRoute2
And of course, I was 10 minutes late because of subway route changes. It looks like I’ll be a lone wolf for more than 2 hours. The first loop was perfect. I ran at my proposed marathon pace of 8:30 for 6 miles. With no pain or fatigue thus far, I proceeded to run the second loop at 8:45 pace. Again, no pain or fatigue. Incredible. One more loop! Ok, you can’t feel good forever. I started feeling it around mile 13-14 with a 9:00 pace. Surprisingly, after 16 miles, I feel like I ran a 10k instead. Was it the 2 rest days prior or ditching the minimalist sneakers for a long run? Was it the high carb dinner or the low temperature? A combination of all these things? I need to figure this out quick so that I can repeat it again every weekend, and for marathon weekend especially.

Training Report:
When you are at rock bottom, there is nothing left but improvement. 2.5 months left until the big day.

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
Aug 7 Wednesday 2.46 8:50 I really don’t remember running this one.
Aug 8 Thursday 6.11 8:53 Just another after-work sunset run.
Aug 10 Saturday 15.6 9:25 Check the section above.
Aug 12 Monday 5.81 9:27 Damn, messed up my Achilles again going fast uphill.
Aug 14 Wednesday 6.63 9:13 Flatter route, taking it easy and giving the minimalist sneaks a break.
Aug 15 Thursday 6.44 9:03 A good run, almost to where I want to be (8:30-8:45 pace) comfortably
Aug 18 Sunday 16.26 8:49 The longest run of the year for me, expectations were exceeded, Jon is pleased.

Random Thoughts
Being injured teaches patience. It also forces you to give up speed goals temporarily and focus more on running form, endurance, and adaptation. Running is mind-boggling sometimes. How can such an extremely simple repetitive action (left,right,left,right) be so complex? You never stop learning how to optimize your performance with the endless number of variables involved. All runners become scientists who use themselves as guinea pigs to achieve their running goals.

Less than three months left

Marathon day cometh.

facebook_-1630667983

Once the countdown goes below 3 months, that’s when you start taking things seriously. Gone are the days of less than 2 hour-long runs on Saturday mornings. And God willing, no more injuries. For the past 2 weeks, a new pain haunted me which caused me to walk funny and just killed my running. I messed up something in my right Achilles during a 10k race. The short story: it took 2+ weeks for it to somewhat go away. The long and interesting story…

40349509

Mind over matter:
Whether walking or running, I felt a sharp pain whenever my knee passed my toes. It’s a necessary movement, trust me. To avoid pain and rolling the heel, only the upper half of my foot could contact the floor. Now imagine someone walking like that; one leg while the other is normal. Although I applied ice everyday and took twice as many rest days, I made an effort to run the Saturday morning long runs. I can still recall that awful Thursday when I ran for 2 blocks and then had to stop because it was too painful to continue. 2 blocks! You have to listen to your body though. How was I supposed to run 14 miles two days later at the NYC marathon training run?

121023-central-park-908a.photoblog600

Two days later at CP (Central Park), I’m prepared for the worst and have minimal expectations. Instead of running with the 8:30 pacers, I chose to start with the 9:00 pacers. One mile after we start, I’m already feeling sharp pains and had to slow down. Then around 100 runners ran passed me, 200… I’m feeling like the king of losers. I want to head back and go home. No! I’m not letting this get to me, there has to be a way. Throughout the second mile, I somehow adapted to running with this thing. 2/3 left 1/3 right, hardly any pain. I’d rather run a painless 10:00 pace with a slight limp than not run at all. My good leg has to work twice as hard though. You’d be surprised how fast the miles go when you are totally concentrated on something else. My focus was totally on applying minimal impact on the right leg. I didn’t think I’d last for more than a 10k but I somehow ran over 15 miles. It turns out that jogging is way easier than running.

Training Report:
This was perhaps my worst 2 weeks ever. Bear witness to the power of an injury. I hope none who read this have to go through the infamous Achilles malfunction. Good thing it’s early in the marathon training season.

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
July 24 Wednesday 2.3 10:45 That Achilles injury from two days ago killed me
July 25 Thursday 0.14 13:13 I can’t run. Its over.
July 27 Saturday 15.33 9:46 With a strong resolve, anything is possible
July 30 Tuesday 2.46 10:06 It still hurts. 3 more rest days for me then.
Aug 3 Saturday 11.5 9:54 Still not 100%, but long runs are enjoyable when paced slowly
Aug 5 Monday 4.02 8:56 Almost 100% healed!

Speed Jams (tunes to run that 8 min/mile pace):
I had my ‘Digitally Imported’ App streaming various electronic music , mostly mixes though. Internet radio is good when you get tired of your own playlist.

Random Thoughts
eid_mubarak_461
Eid Mubarak, Ramadan is over. How strange, I’m not sure if I lost any weight after fasting (starving) for a month. Am I all muscle? Anyway, lunch and sleep is much appreciated now. Do you know how much money you can save when skipping lunch everyday?

breaking-bad-final-eps-teaser-poster michael-c-hall-dexter-final-season-sneak-peek

This month has final seasons for two awesome shows: Breaking Bad and Dexter. If you haven’t watched them then you are missing out. Jon highly recommends.