Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 14: Taper time!

For some reason in my mind I am celebrating the start of the taper like this is the end of the road and the race is already over. Stupid but I can’t help it. Last week was an absolute beast and from purely time management standpoint the start of the taper will make my life infinity easier. That is not to say it will be easy, the point is to try and get some juice back into my zombie legs but still maintain some fitness.

Last week beat me like I was the Giants secondary. The 10-mile tempo run was brutal, I mean a 10-mile run in general is no walk in the park but the pace changing was torture. I thought it went well, I mean I was kind of rushing it because I was trying to the see The Joker but my watch got messed up and I wound up feeling like I needed to run a little extra. The tempo itself was fast, doing a quick mile 5 separate times really pushed me. To follow that up with a nice 8-miler the next day was death.

As for the other two runs, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself on the day off, Friday’s run came around and I felt great. Kept the pace night and light, ending with 4 rounds of strides, which entailed a pushed pace for 30 seconds followed by a 1:30 minute recoverary. Helped with staying loose.

The obvious beast was the 22-mile monster. I ran it Saturday, which was good because it was a nice cloudy 60 degrees when I started. The run went smoothly, I did a 14-mile loop followed by an 8-mile loop. Took the goo at mile 6, a quarter of a banana at mile 14 and another goo thing at mile 18. Hydrated at miles 7, 14 and 19. No real outlying difficulties besides overall pain in my entire being. My knees were hurting but nothing crippling. I thought I kept a solid enough pace, I mean it was a lot slower than some of my other training runs but I wasn’t too concerned. I listened to almost 4 straight hours of the audiobook though so expect Friday’s blog to be a monster. Having to run 6 miles the next day fucking sucked though. O well it’s in the past now.

Lets take a look at the upcoming week. The big runs are 8 and 14 miles, don’t really anticipate much of an issue with either of them. The 14-miler I might try and push the pace just to get used to running a little harder. Prob not though. The workouts are a 6-mile interval and a 4-mile hill run. Hill run will be the most fun of the week. Well that is all I got. Stay in school.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s Week 11: The Crucible

Stellar original title to represent what will be the most difficult week of physical activity in my entire life. This is what will either make or break me. It is time for my running crucible.

But before we get to the specifics, which I mean since I post the entire plan every week you can kind of just see already, let’s talk about the previous weeks high’s and low’s. The low’s are Florida running. Florida is a swamp. Any time I have ever run in Florida it is nothing but a torturous experience. The weather is psychotic, in the course of an hour run I experienced hurricane rain, it then stopped and became muggy to the point where I was parting the air like Moses did to the Red Sea, to finally completely sunny like the fucking Sahara. I ran 4 miles yesterday and I swear I thought I would just pass out on the boardwalk like the goblins outside Penn Station. Miserable.

SOOO Friday I ran a miserable 5 there, Saturday fortunately it was so cloudy and windy that I think I was just whipped forward like a rag doll for 10 and then the aforementioned Sunday Runday. Not fun. I did get a nice workout in on Friday to beef up the ol’ twig legs. Which is good because I ate like shit. The beginning of the week went well, I think I spoke about the intervals already but I like that workout. I think the one minute bursts followed by two minute jogs is a good but not terrible workout.  Whatever the de-load week is over. I feel not de-loaded.

On to the crux of the matter. Is that how that expression works? This week tops off at 55 miles. Anyway you break that up is going to miserable, but for conversations sake let’s get into it. An 8-mile hill workout kicks things off, as you can see from the workout posted below I am upping it to 10 rounds of .25 mile repeats because I love pain. But truthfully I was so miserable running up the Harlem hills during my 18-mile race I know I need to continue to train on them. Then I am going knock out a “casual” 9-miler the following day. I truthfully think that the Wednesday run is going to be the hardest run of the week. Followed by triple 6’s leading into the long run. The tempo run is going to be a disaster. It hasn’t changed since I have done it but I will post it for consistencies sake.

All this is in preparation for the monster 20-miler on Sunday. The goal is to just get it done by any means neccassary. I am thinking about running like two 7-mile loops and then a 6-mile loop. Or doing two 10-mile loops. Either way after the each loop I will be taking a quick Gatorade respite and will do the goo every 5 miles. I think if I just pace it and it isn’t miserable out I prob will make it. Either way it is much easier to type about shit then to do it. So no more.

Final Notes: I am in love with a man. His name is Daniel Jones. Our hero, our savior, our messiah. The Week 3 GOAT. The future of my happiness. An absolutely masterful display. I walked off the plane Sunday, fired up the game and watched him run right up the gut to win. I cried, I laughed, I fell in love.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 10: Amateur hour is over

That seems more like the title of a bad action movie or like the fourth season of a sports movie that went straight to DVD. Maybe when they reboot Air Bud they can borrow my subtitle. Either way it is week 10 of this magnificent series as well as the 10th week of my marathon training so let’s talk about it.

Last week was nothing short of brutal. Just a heavy workload capatalized by the monster run on Sunday, which of course you can read all about in the previous blog if you are so inclined to hear more whining. To be fair hill workout’s are slowly becoming my absolute favorite workout so to start the week off like that was ideal. I mentioned before that I did some hot yoga later that tuesday night and I fully credit my success for the rest of the week on doing that class. Two-a-days are a lot to put on your plate, they consume an enormous amount of both time and energy while depleting an already drained body, but yoga has almost the opposite effect. Besides the obvious stretching aspect I just think it helps so much with strenghting without straining and reenergizing the body by increasing blood flow. So if you are a dude who is too masculine to do it well you are a bitch.

So I switched up the 7 and 8-mile runs to accomadate my schedule, but I am convinced that those Wednesday/Thursday mid-week medium mileage runs are the hardest runs of the whole training plan. Something about those two days absolutely murders me. Wednesday I ran in the morning and had planned on doing the extra mile but physically I just called it quits, which is crazy considering it was only an extra mile. Could have been an extra 10 miles for all that mattered because I just couldn’t do it. It’s weird that I can have such a bounce back for the tempo run on Friday, which went excellently. I mean 2 1/2 miles at a 7ish minute mile pace is great for me. Felt good after it as well

But taking a look at this week there are a few things to note. It is certainly a de-load week, which at this point I know I need despite my body feeling great. I am headed to Fort Lauderdale for the weekend so I squeezed in a workout yesterday to try and find my abs in order to flex for social media. Sadly they are still lost. I am highly encouraged that I was not really sore at all the day after the 18-miler, so I want to keep that momentum and push it with the extra workouts. I did the intervals this morning, they went fine. No other running workouts this week which is a blessing. Just gotta knock out a 10-miler at some point then straight lounging on the beach. Till next week . . .

Final Notes: Pray for Daniel Jones. O lord.

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.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 9: Halfway Home

Chronicling on a week-to-week basis my progress on this training plan has had nothing but positive effects on the actual training. The old adage “you have to put it out in the world to make it happen” or something along those lines has forced me to hold myself accountable. I am at the start of Week 9 which means I have crossed the halfway point, hence the super clever and original subtitle for this thing.

This week is one of the 3 peak weeks of the training plan with 50-54 miles as the weekly mileage. I already skipped the optional 4-mile run so 50 it is. When I was shopping around for (free) plans, I thought that a week like this looking fucking impossible, now I’m so used to this thing that all I can think of is if I will get home from the 18-mile run in time for the start of the Giants game. No doubt sitting through a Giants/Bills game is going to be a way worse three hours then the run. Probably will be sorer from it as well, as I internally rage and pop a blood vessel or take a kitchen knife and gouge out my eyes to save myself from the misery. If I have to listen to Troy Aikman, Troy fucking Aikman of all god damn people, defend the Giants and Eli Manning against Joe Suck for my Sunday afternoon my ears are going the way of the cameras of Jeffery Epstein’s cell, off. Nailed that joke 3 weeks too late. Man the Giants have a way of getting me off script.

It is a testament of how sticking to a plan and continuing to push yourself can really pay off. I swear when I started this thing I thought the concept of having to run 18 miles sounded impossible. I knew how gassed I was after running half marathons and an additional 5 miles seemed like a worse torture then being a cornerback on the aforementioned Giants last Sunday. Now I’m thinking that after the 5-mile run on Saturday I might hit the gym and get a little extra work in. Crazy.

On the subject of progress, I have to say that taking a week off had noticeable effects on my running last week. I mentioned that my body had felt great after not running which was wonderful, but I feel like I struggled to get through the Wednesday 8-miler and the Thursday 7-miler. Those runs felt absolutely torturous and the only things I can really attribute that too are the weather (maybe?) and the break. Perhaps not for the first time but certainly this was noticeable to me, I actually worried that I would be unable to finish the run. I almost started walking, which to me is equal to quitting. I was fucking gassed after both of those runs. I don’t think it was exhaustion from the interval run, but I definitely was exhausted. Terrible. On a lighter note the rest of the week went great, the Friday tempo run I really cruised through, I ran the 10-miler on Saturday with no issues, and Sunday’s run was torture but for different reasons well documented here: https://swordsandsports.blog/2019/09/10/new-balance-5th-avenue-mile-race-review/

So what am I looking at for this week. I mentioned already that the long run is an 18-miler, which I will be doing the NYRR training run thingy for (review to come). That obviously is an enormous challenge, but after the relatively successful 16-mile run (minus almost drowning and having rain drops assault my bald dome) I hope to cruise through it. I ran the 6-mile Hill run this morning and it was relatively easy. I will see how the 8-mile, 7-mile, 6-mile tempo, and 5-mile runs go but I really don’t foresee any problems. My hamstrings still feel absolutely murdered but that will fade. Alright time to stop talking about it and instead get too 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 8: Back and same as ever

Back from a not-so-well deserved vacation is the number 204958028 blogger in the world, here to tell harrowing tales of his adventures in foreign lands. Actually no I am not doing any recap of Colombia in this blog because I am terrible at coming up with ideas and need to save that for another day. What I am going to provide the world with is a progress report on my quest to run a marathon.

Kind of like what college football did with week zero actually having official games, we are officially at Week 8 of this thing after last weeks unofficial Week 8. Actually that doesn’t relate at all but I do want to say calling something week zero is either bad-ass or the stupidest thing ever. Since college football is boring as fuck, I vote stupid.

As you can see from the lovely picture above, I clearly did not run once on my vacation. I have to say taking a week off was the most bizarre feeling I have had in a while. Not since I went to Ireland last year have I taken more then 4 days off consecutively. I just felt kind of lost, especially since this was in the middle of an intense (for me) training program where I am so used to running at a minimum five times a week. But let me tell you, allllll of my nagging injuries and aches and general physical pain is gone. While I normally scoff at the idea of rest, I still scoff at the idea of rest.

Week 7 of the program was a monster. Having not ran on the Sunday for Week 6, I had to run 10 miles on Monday, leaving no rest day heading into Week 7. This would have been fine in a normal week, but due to scheduling I really had no other day besides Thursday to do my long run. So I followed up that 10-miler with a not terrible tempo run and then I guess my recovery run was the 7-miler on Wednesday. I was dying on that run.

The real fucking challenge was of course the 16-miler. I set a new distance PR (everyone loves hearing about other peoples PR’s I know). As you may have noticed, the run was broken up into two parts. This isn’t because I did like 12 in the morning and 4 at night, it’s because after running 12 miles the fucking skies opened up like a lady of the night to the point where sidewalks flooded and I physically could not run. I had to take cover in a hotel parking lot for like 10 minutes until things calmed down a bit. I looked like a jackass because of course I was running with no shirt and I was just standing there with my thumb up my ass shirtless freezing my nipples off. Things were going surprisingly smooth throughout it which is the real frustrating part. Either way it got done.

This week is another calm before the storm week. I ran the 5-miler I never got to before I went on vacation when I got back Monday morning. Went straight from watching Avengers: Endgame, through customs to hitting those streets like a lady of the night. Thats a callback joke right there . . . I think. I also have never seen any of the Avengers or like the last 12 Marvel movies so that was certainly something. Feel like that Thanos guy gets a bad rap. He was a hardcore motherfucker.

Since I am publishing this late Tuesday night I also got to admit I already ran the 6-mile interval run. It wasn’t too bad. Looking forward to having a nice week to ease back into things. Not looking forward to doing that tempo run on Friday. I am firmly anti-tempo gang. Lets get itttttttt.

Final Notes: Really excited for the next few weeks on the blog, I finished three books over the course of the vacation so I am chomping at the bit to get these reviews out to you guys. One of the books I have blogged extensively about and I can’t wait to whine like a spoiled white child who doesn’t get to eat cookies for dinner. God that is just not a funny joke. The other two are a surprise!

Also FOOOTTTTBALLL is back this week. I know college is already back, but right now I have on this Notre Dame vs. Louisville game and I am getting my yearly reminder that college football is fucking boring. I mean they are showing this fucking Notre Dame coaches vacation pictures from Ireland and Scotland. Jesus Christ. Might bring back Mat’s Money Makers, the ultimate fail gambling blog.