Race Reviews

TCS New York City Marathon Training Series 18M Race Review

Date: Sunday, September 15th 2019

Distance: 18 Miles

Location: New York, NY (Central Park)

Time: 2:44:51

Welp the big training event before the marathon is now officially in the past. I learned a lot about what to expect, what I need to work on, where I am at with my fitness, what kind of runner I am, and how much I dislike central park all in the course of almost three hours early Sunday morning.

First off lets get to the gear. For some reason I can only imagine was due to overstock, the gear for this race was the ever practical arm sleeves. The arm sleeve, as history commonly accepts, was not made cool until Allen Iverson wore one. In of course, as many readers are aware, a sport that involves your arms. So just to get it out of the way, these arm sleeves are wack as hell. They look like bad stained glass windows. I already have tattoos I don’t need fake ones. Of course here they are for reference. Make your own judgement.

Moving on. The race itself went surprisingly well. The start time of 7:00 AM would normally have me throwing a fit, but I actually think with this distance it was a blessing. I had little time to think about the task at hand, as I was mostly focused on staying awake and maneuvering the PATH and subway. I wound up taking an Uber to the start line anyway. But because it was early I just woke up and got right to it.

The weather was great for it, I think it was high 60’s low 70’s for the entire time, if the race started any later it would have been a nightmare, as it crept up to 80’s later on. I had planned on taking my sweet ass time for this, really emphasizing the “training” part of the race, but I think I either got caught up in the moment or just had a good day out there. I am by no means a great runner, I would say for my age I usually sit about average, but I was extraordinarily consistent throughout the course.

Originally I planned on running 10:30-11:00 minute miles in order to focus on just getting the distance in without injury, but around 3 miles in I noticed that I came out the gate faster than I would have liked. I know I have the watch, but I kept trying to do the math every time I passed a timer, which by the way they had at every mile, and I was surprised that I was moving quicker. I thought I actually slowed down at some point but clearly I stayed consistent throughout.

For anyone who has ever done a NYRR race or ran in Central Park in general, they are familiar with the fucking up-and-down nature of NYC’s one redeeming place. The race was three loops around the park, which is not only really unoriginal but also means you know where the hills are and can start dreading them. Now this wasn’t really an issue for me until the 3rd time around, by which point I was working on miles 12 through 18 and knew exactly where every incline was. That third lap was torture, I hit like a physical wall around mile 15 where I honestly questioned if I would be able to go another foot.

My strategy going in was water every 5 miles and some bee goo around the halfway mark. This did not happen, I took water/Gatorade at miles 5, 9, 12, 14, and 16 which shows me that I need to be aware of how necessary hydration is. My fear with water breaks is that as I slow down to grab a cup that I just physically won’t be able to pick it back up, but experience has shown the actual opposite effect. It’s not like when I have to stop for stupid cars that I just collapse, idk what kind of mental block makes me think it is going to happen during a race. I also think I need more of those gel packet things.

Either way, I smoked that last mile finishing nice and strong. Physically the largest challenge I had was in my legs. My groins were killing me, which is surprising as usually my hamstrings are the first thing I feel. I honestly thing doing yoga earlier in the week was the game changer. My quads felt like bricks by mile 16, I am not sure really how that is going to change besides just getting in better running shape, but it has motivated me to keep going to hot yoga torture chambers and get a few more gym sessions in before the big race.

Ultimately I finished and considering I wasn’t “racing” this race I am beyond happy with my times. This was a huge validation of my own ability and the success of sticking with the program. No more races on the agenda until the big one, so it is on me to stay focused. Bonus picture of me looking like human death at the finish line at the end of this.

Final Notes: Same thing as last week about the Giants, I don’t want to hear it.

Race Reviews

New Balance 5th Avenue Mile Race Review

not me…obviously

Date: Sunday, September 8th 2019

Distance: 1 Mile

Location: New York, NY (5th Ave between like 62nd and 83rd St. or something)

Time: 0:05:59

I was looking for the format I used last time for one of these race reviews and realized it has been almost two months since I last ran a race, which for someone who runs consistently seems like a really long time. In actuality doing races is almost getting in the way of the actual training. For example, this race is only one mile (which you probably got from the name of the race). I had to run 10 miles on Sunday, so after finishing the race I would have had to either run before the race or after. If I got a medal for the race or any other swag, I would have had to either run with the stuff or leave it. I keep all this stuff hypothetical because they gave no after race stuff so this didn’t really apply. I also did my long run on Saturday so I had to run 4 after the race which isn’t bad at all. Point is, the races can in theory get in the way of training, or at least force it to take way more planning around, hence why I only signed up for two races during this 16 week thing. One of those is the 18 mile training run, which lines up with my 18-mile run so that is actually great.

Complaining about things that didn’t actually happen at all aside, the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile race is a really cool concept. They do the race in waves (they might call them heats but it’s the same concept) broken up by age so you actually line up with a bunch of people who are in your own age range, as opposed to around your same speed. It definitely has an actual person against person competition feel to it, because you know everyone around you started around the same time as you so anyone you pass you beat. If you care about those things. Which of course I do because I am hyper competitive.

With 9,172 running this thing, broken up into a lot of groups over not a lot of space, it seems like it would be an organizational nightmare, but NYRR does an excellent job of keeping the thing moving. My wave, the 25-29 age group, went at 9:20 AM, if I remember from last year that is an hour later than last year. Last year’s weather was trash, this year it could not have been more perfect. I think it was 60ish and sunny.

This is an awesome race. That being said, I fucking hate it. I easily think it is the hardest race I run. This is entirely my own fault and has no reflection on the race. Last year I flat out sprinted the first quarter mile because I tried to keep up with all the dudes in the front, and after that quarter mile I felt as if death had come for me. I spent like 20 minutes after this thing hacking up a lung.

This year was still not great, though I didn’t feel like death so that’s an improvement. I spent much more time loosening up, stretching actively and statically in an attempt to get my hammys at the minimal working. I also came out much more reserved. This helped a lot, as I cut off 18 seconds from the year prior.

Still though, after I passed the quarter mile timer, I had fleeting thoughts about bailing on running hard. I honestly think I would have if I didn’t think that stopping would have caused me to flat out tear my whole leg. The second quarter of the race is slightly uphill, so all I see in my vision is emptiness, very uninspiring. At least the second half is better, it starts off downhill and I could see the finish line so at least I knew my torture was coming to the end. I felt my hamstrings pulling the entire time though. I tried to kick it up another notch at the 200 meters left sign, as I saw that I was getting close to getting under 6 minutes, but I didn’t realize that I had started like 8 seconds after so the timer at the end line was over 6 minutes I was too deflated to run harder. Good thing I didn’t slow down though because I was literally one second from not being under. That was not intentional at all.

Either way, if you are great at running a mile this race is probably a blast. I mean I came in 408 of 825 in my age group. As I said I am irrationally competitive, so even knowing I am not a great mile runner, the fact that 407 dudes finished ahead of me is infuriating. And on top of that I was basically dead average. I hate this race. At least at other distances I don’t really care as much because I know I suck at it. This one hits harder for some reason.

The gear though for this race is sweeeeeeet. Last year they gave out the wackest hats known to man, I don’t even have mine I threw it out instantly so no picture. This year though they gave out a pair of running shorts, but like really nice ones that have pockets. The women’s shorts don’t have pockets but I am a man so that is zero issue to me. Here they are:

I didn’t take any of my own pictures because I forgot my phone in the car, for some reason bringing my wallet instead, which of course is very useful for running a mile. So my apologies.

So in review, this race is really cool and probably a ton of fun. Unless you are me and find no joy in anything. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jenny Simpson won this thing for the 8th time. What a fuckkkkking beast. Who cares about the guys. Also Tiki Barber I think ran this. It infuriates me to no end that this guy is apart of NYRR. Stay tuned for a race review next week!

Final Notes: No comment on the Giants game yesterday. Leave me alone.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 6: PR’s and progress

Yes it is Tuesday. Yes I know the title of this blog series is Marathon Mondays. Yes I know that means that a blog about training for a marathon that is titled Marathon Mondays should be posted on Mondays not Tuesday. And I am also aware that this is the second time I have done this. Well guess what. I fucked up. So here it goes!

Welcome to the Monday* rendition of the my progress whilst training for my first marathon! If you are just joining in, this blog series is mostly whining about injuries and making excuses so buckle up. Lets start with how last week finished up.

Once again I skipped the flex day run, actually taking a day off instead of doing some type of cross training or running. My legs were just beat the hell up and I really did not think I could even run one more mile without something snapping. It was a great choice. Tuesday was a 6-mile hill run as well as a soccer game later on, so I seriously needed to be fresh or I wasn’t going to make it. The hills were great, I keep meaning to take a picture of the bridge I run up on 14th street in Hoboken. I think it’s 14th street at least. Whatever it is about .35 miles long so it works. The workout went swimmingly, I did 7 sets of .25 mile repeats up the hill. Some lady walked up that hill twice, once in the beginning of me starting the hills and once at the end. So all that lady saw me do was run up and down this hill, since she was walking slow as shit I had to run past her like 8 times. The last time she just laughed at me like look at this fucking loser. Fuck you lady with your old woman walking ass, go play in traffic. Just kidding she seemed nice and even waved the last time.

The rest of the week was pretty standard, though the 8-miler on Thursday was pure fucking torture. You know sometimes its just hot and muggy and you are shot and every step feels like you have been laying on a mirror in the middle of the Sahara wearing a gimp suit? Maybe that is just me…

Tempo run really felt like I loosened up, my gf was doing an 8-mile tempo run that was 1 mile at tempo, .25 mile recovery, for 4 miles so I did 3 miles of that with her. It wasn’t too bad prob kept around an 8-8:30 minute mile for them. Either way I got through it.

And finally, the long run. I set a new distance PR on Sunday with a lovely 14-miler. That run was honestly the first time that this whole running 26 miles thing seemed possible. We set it up pretty solidly, in front of my apartment I had a Gatorade (yellow of course. yellow is a flavor don’t @ me) so when we ran about 7 miles we passed the apartment and refueled for a good 30 seconds. That made all the difference. Well the weather made all the difference really because it was gorgeous. Whatever it felt great.

Taking a look at the upcoming week it seems to be a down week in terms of day-to-day runs so I am looking forward to getting some cross training in. I did some hot yoga yesterday and while my downward dog still looks like dead dog I really do recommend adding yoga to your routine. I feel astronomically better today than I did yesterday. Once I learned to accept that I am always going to suck at yoga and to not be embarrassed about it, I have way more fun. I still try all the hard shit and fall and stuff, but what are you going to do. Like I tried to do this pose where you are in tree thingy and you grab your big toe and extend the leg out, but my hip almost snapped off and I stumbled and gave it up. It would have looked sick though. I think this is it.

Today, I have an 8-mile interval run and I think this will be the most challenging thing I have on the agenda so I am glad to get it out the way. No soccer tonight the seasons over. We sucked. The long run this weekend is 10 miles so nothing too crazy there. I even have a 3-mile run on the schedule, what will I do with all the time on my hands. Maybe finish a fucking book…

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s Week 4: A day late but still great

I’m thinking this is going to be a quick update this week, since I already fucked it up by not blogging it yesterday. This is not the blog of excuses, just complaints masked in poor attempts at comedy, so I’ll just tell the truth. Took the day off from work yesterday, and after doing my 12-mile long run in the middle of the day, I was shot and laid on my bed all day while I was subjected to listening to the Bachelorette, as I was too tired and hot to get up and watch my own stuff in the other room that we are too poor to use AC in. That being said, they did my boy Pilot Pete dirty. Guess that’s what you call a…wait for it…crash landing.

Why did I do my long run on Monday of all days, especially considering it was only 102930 degrees out. Well me and the old ball-and-chain went hiking up Mount Minsi on Sunday, which is located somewhere in the Delaware Water Gap or whatever the hell it’s called. Lovely hike, only took like 4-5 hours to do the whole thing, with time spent trying to capture the perfect Instagram picture, which I will of course share below. Go hiking it is pretty chill. 

As to how last week went, it was solid. The tempo run went well, it kind of seems like all my difficult running workouts take place on Tuesdays, which coincides with my washed up soccer league. Whatever it is what it is. The hills I must say were really fun, there is this giant ass bridge in Hoboken that is maybe 1/3 of a mile long and relatively steep so I just did .25 mile repeats for 2 miles. Next time I do hills I will take a picture of it for reference. I also wrote a sentence that had both a fraction and a decimal to describe mile length. That’s the work of a genius.

Let me get into the meat and potatoes for what I’m looking at this week. It would be better for the sake of this blog to talk about how I’m dreading taking on this interval run in the 90 degree weather but I already did it this morning. That’s the problem with writing blogs late, you lose the ability to project forward. I will say though, doing intervals the day after running 12 miles, would not recommend to anyone out there. That is probably the reason this plan has an optional run on Mondays, for that little thing I hate called rest. Whatever it’s in the past, so might as well talk about it. In my quest to never make things easy on myself I decided to do 5 sets of 2 minutes hard running, 2 minutes slow jog. It was a 6 mile run so the warmup was 2 miles. Overall brutal workout. Cool I’ll stop complaining now. Just kidding, my knee has been fucked all day. Still got to play soccer tonight.

As for the rest of the week, it seems like a heavy mileage week, though the long run is only 10 miles. Not really thinking this should be too difficult, assuming my knee cap decides to chill in its uhhhh kneecap for the rest of the week. Who knows!?!?! I will be sure to update on Friday. Probably.

Final Notes: Hope I made up for the lack of words with pictures. Really embracing this blogging work ethic.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s Week 3: I survived the 2019 Heatwave

Michael Jordan flu game. Isaiah Thomas 2016 playoff run. Robert Griffin III 2013 NFC Playoff Game. LeBron James playing through an almost broken back for the 2018-19 season. These are the moments we remember. Man overcoming injury to glory. Granted those last two examples both those guys lost spectacularly but you get the point. And LeBron’s injury coincidently coincided with his team losing. HMMMM.  I would add myself to the list of the greats, but I just overcame adversity in training. Credit to me, and I guess if I have to give credit, credit to anyone else who ran this weekend. Actually more credit to me, I don’t do it for the camera’s but rather for the love of the game.

As I am sure all my fellow New Yorkian’s can attest too, it was hot as balls this weekend. It was around 100 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday, and as crazy as it sounds it felt even hotter. I mean, it the type of heat/humidity that caused instant swamp ass two seconds into walking outside. I could feel my chest compressing as I was running. I guess that would be why New York Road Runners cancelled their run this weekend. I am not NYRRs though, and the training must be done. I ran the 10-miler on Saturday morning, I even woke up early so I could get going by like 7:30am. I wish I got up at 6. It might have been one of the top 10 hardest runs I have ever done, including some races. I swear at a certain point I was sweating so much that actual foam was coming out of my compression shorts, like a fucking race horse that has been ran to exhaustion. Literal foam. Nuts. Good news is I think the knee injury is really healed up, it didn’t give me too much trouble. Probably because my ligaments melted. Point is, the weekend was tough.

As for the week coming up, I don’t foresee too much difficulty besides the rain that is coming today and tomorrow. As usual, the Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back can get really tiring, especially when I play soccer Tuesday nights then have to have a longer run Wednesday. I think that my body is getting used to it, or you know like training is actually benefitting me. Tuesday is a 6-mile tempo run, which normally I hate but I am really excited to see how it goes, purely because the Garmin Forerunner 235 (no free ads) has a feature where I can program workouts into it, which should make it much easier to follow along. What a stupid reason to get excited for something I normally hate doing. Kind of like when you get a new suite or gym clothes or something and you get really excited to do something you normally hate just because you got the right gear for it and all of a sudden you think you are going to love it. For me that is pretty much anything involving wearing a suite. Got a new one, obviously thought I looked like hot shit, and was jacked up about wedding season. Ten minutes into the next wedding I was at I remembered that it wasn’t the way I was dressed, it was that I hate socializing and people and events and life. O yea the long run is 12 miles this weekend. Let’s goooooo.

Final Notes: I finished The Obelisk Gate finally, review will be coming at some point this week. A little disappointed in how slow I have been going with the reading lately, I think with no book updates the blog gets a little to me-focused instead of talking about things. Hopefully this inspires me to finish The Dark Defiles, since my boss who has been lending me The Broken Earth Trilogy books is out until next week so I can’t get the next book. It would be nice to be able to but A Land of Heroes trilogy away for all time and never think about it again.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s: WEEK TWO COMING AT YA!

Brutal title, brutal series name. All around just an insulting performance. Will I change it? No the time has passed for this. Buttttt without further ado or to do – I never really know what the correct way to say that is, and in keeping with the mail-it-in Monday theme this blog has already undertaken in the first two sentences/title I will not correct it – lets dive into week two. What a sentence, what a week.

As you may recall from the previous rendition of this, I have started my 16 week training plan (that will take 17 weeks) last Monday. Meaning that the first week is done! It went pretty well, I mean it wasn’t a real uptick in my normal weekly mileage, I think that things will start to heat up when the long runs get to the 14 mile and up range. As you can see, this week had no hills or tempo runs or any other misery, so it wasn’t a challenge to get it done in terms of mileage. I did screw up and read the wrong week and ran 10 miles instead of the allotted 8 mile run but whatever not that big a mistake.. Realizing that I can just screenshot my Runkeeper app, I can post my runs for the week to show that I don’t just talk a bad game, I also play it. Have fun with this data. I know I should be using Strava but idc let me live my life. If they want to sponsor an amateur runner with a hybrid fantasy/sports blog that has amassed almost 30 followers though…

Not to complain, but also to complain, I kind of jacked up my knee playing soccer Tuesday night, so these runs while not long, have been pretty painful. They have teetered on that just enough to bother me and think about the whole time, but not hurt enough to sideline me. If I can run, I’m running. The blog’s resident doctor, Dr. Nathalie Ruiz, DPT, told me that my quad is so tight that my kneecap is jerking up or down or is loose or something like that, hence the pain. She said I’m good though so whatever the grind continues. I’ve been told I will not be getting her take on things, but I would love to get a “This is what you actually did to your body” take on all my injuries, instead of me spinning it in a way that makes me seem less hurt.

The long run was painfulllll though. Felt like Teddy Bridgewater out there. I ran it Saturday instead of Sunday, due to scheduling conflicts, so I really didn’t have a short run the day before. That gave the knee no time to heal. On Thursday, my off day, I hit the gym and did a bunch of hamstring, groin and hip exercises, and I’m thinking I hit the hammys too hard because those things still are not healing. I overdid it with the good-mornings, so now none of my mornings are good. Most toolish two sentences in this blogs history. I know that is a hilarious joke so you would tend to not believe I actually did those, but I did. To get through the run I really tried to foam roll a shitload the night before and prior to the run. I also used that weird Biofreeze gel they give out in the NYRR post-run bags, but I think the only thing that is really going to heal it quickly is rest. So heal slowly it is. Sorry Doc.

Looking forward to the upcoming week. Got a nice 0-4 mile option today, going to shoot for 4 but if I start to feel my knee stiffening I might just forego the run altogether. Fortunately this week seems to be easier, I do have a tempo run Tuesday but it’s only like 4 miles so I shouldn’t be too hurt for soccer that night. The 7 miler Wednesday is going to suck but other than that, I should hold up nicely. I really should get a running watch it makes it so much easier to do those tempo runs. Have a great week everyone!

Final Notes: I went to the New York Red Bulls vs. NYC FC game last night and I think I am all in on the MLS. Not that I am ever going to watch it on TV, but the live games are fun as hell. The speakers were broken last night but the crowd was so loud I didn’t even realize it until like the 25th minute. The highlight of the game was the NYC FC defender kicked a ball out and the line ref called for a corner. The Red Bulls were like fuck that and just threw the ball in while the NYC FC players were jogging back to get set up to defend the corner. They were caught completely flat-footed and gave up a beautiful cross that ended up in a Red Bulls header for the go-ahead goal. What proceeded was legit 10 minutes of arguing. Best part? I bet the Red Bulls baby.