Monday, April 28, 2008

Tenner and Movie

Waking up to rain is never a good feeling when there is a long run on the agenda. But yesterday, such was the case. To combat the elements, I armed myself with a hat and rain jacket (ie my disguise) and bravely ventured out into the wet world that is nyc in the spring. But, as soon as I got out there, the raindrops decided to take five. Yes, the sky was gray and the air was damp, but it was dry. Lucky for me, since I had to secure a tenner to top off my mileage for the week. I'm cramming for Brooklyn, you understand. The run went well: the rain held off, nothing hurt, there was a nice breeze off the Hudson, my pace was steady, etc. The run totaled a bit more than ten miles and ended in one-thirty-five. Now I can taper.

Later in the day I headed down to the Tribeca Film Festival to see a movie called "Run for Your Life." Not only was this film truly inspirational, but it also taught us a great deal about the humble beginnings of the New York Marathon and NYRR. Since this showing was a world premiere, many of the audience members were runners (many of us marathoners) who wanted to learn more about Fred Lebow and his impact on our running community. I was surprised at how much I didn't know about the history of the NYRR and the marathon. After seeing this film, I am even more excited about my participation in the 38th annual nyc marathon--and very glad the current course tours the five boroughs instead of looping around Central Park four times!

In many ways, running has become a significant part of our society. Just as baseball is considered America's favorite pastime, running is fastly finding a way to seep into our culture. Anyone can run (reminds me of Ratatouille--Anyone can cook ;)), and road races are more and more accessible for our participation. New York City alone has "an abundance of running clubs" (NYRR website--intrepret as you wish) and a "plethora of road races" (yours truly--intrepret as "shitload of races") for runners to compete in. This film revealed just how prevalent running is in our world today. I am honored to be a part of it. I recommend this film to everyone; runners will enjoy it, no doubt, but I think people from all walks of life will be amazed at the power of putting one foot in front of the other. This simple action united a crime-infested city in 1976 and has since inspired generation after generation to lace up their shoes and experience the freedom, exhilaration, and sense of accomplishment that accompanies running. It is no wonder the number of marathon participants is on the rise. What remains a mystery is what the rest of the world is waiting for...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Three in a row

Twice this week, I ran to the gym (5 miles, one way) to lift: Monday and Thursday. Both runs took 46 minutes. What I like about this strategy is the forced stretching routine that follows the lifting. It's also nice to get in a short run as well. I don't run back--sandwiching a lifting session between two five milers doesn't really serve my current purposes.

Wednesday night I ran seven miles in the park passing several Flyers along the way (LF, BC, & GC). This run was just under an hour three. And yesterday, I met up with a co-worker for a fiver (43 min). This puts me at 22 miles for the week so far and earns me a rest day today. I typically don't run three days in a row (like I did Wed-Fri of this week), but the nice weather combined with the novelty of consecutive day running was too precious to pass up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Etiquette on the roads

When I used to run on my college campus or in the Chicago burbs, it was an unwritten rule that runners passing each other on the streets would greet each other with a smile, a wave, or a lift of the hand--and sometimes all of the above. On some routes it was possible to encounter several runners at once, and it was still common practice to issue a greeting to each one. In New York, I have observed a different set of rules. Since Central Park is typically packed, it would be a workout in itself to lift an arm every time you passed a fellow runner. Most likely you'd be running with your arm up in the air the whole time. It's also, in some cases, seemingly impolite to make eye contact with other runners who are busily circling the loop. It's almost as if acknowledging these runners is somehow a violation of privacy. Some runners prefer to avert their eyes in these situations, perhaps sending a message that they are minding their own business. I've sort of adopted a "when in Rome" type philosophy when it comes to this kind of etiquette. When I run in Manhattan, I keep to myself, just like everyone else, and I don't interpret the lack of greeting as rude. In a time-crunched, stressed-out, overcrowded environment, New Yorkers on the run may be enjoying their only moment of solitude. But I'm also pretty convinced that any nyc runner, when running outside the city limits, would happily offer a friendly greeting when passing another runner. I wonder if I'm alone in my observations. Does running etiquette vary based on location? Or is it more of an underlying culture that determines what constitutes appropriate behavior on the roads? There are many articles about the rules of racing, some of which even apply to training runs: register for races, line up according to pace, pass with care, thank volunteers, don't cut people off at water stops, spit sparingly or not at all, etc. But as far as greetings go, I'm kind of left hanging...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Above average

My average run this week came to 8.8 miles. I didn't intend for my three runs this week to be so long, but the nice weather coupled with extra daylight makes for a pretty compelling argument.

Tuesday, I completed eight and a half (loop and the rez) in 1hr19. There was no need to be speedy; I just enjoyed running in shorts and a tee in the absence of humidity. I *despise* humidity!

Thursday, I put in a solid seven in 1hr4. Again, very nice weather!

Saturday was an attempt at a longer run in an effort to train for Brooklyn. After eleven miles (1hr45), I was all chafed up, so I put a stop to it. Eleven is close enough to a half, which is far more than I usually do in the weeks prior to a half.

Today, I went to yoga. So now my tired legs from yesterday have some company (ie my tired arms).

To those running Boston tomorrow (like this crazy bandanahead!!): Best of luck!!! You all rock!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Win-Win Situation

As a teacher, there is a lot of opportunity to reach out to the kid community and enhance a life or two. Whenever I get this awesome opportunity, I usually find that the side effects can often enhance my own life as well. This past week, I've been training a former student (who I'd like to consider my "protege") to run her first road race. Up until this year, she was too young to run in organized races, and instead ran short cross country races and competed in track events for our school. She is a naturally talented runner--a graduate of my After School running program--who can finally take her show to the big leagues.

So today, I had the honor and privilege of running with this amazing young runner. I certainly was nervous (what if she gets hurt? could I keep up with her? what if I lose her in the crowds? i hope she has fun. i hope her mother doesn't want to kill me when this is over...), but also terribly excited. The end result was more than I could have imagined--for both of us.

I warmed up for today's four mile race with a 2 mile run to the start area. My main objective upon arrival was to find my student, so I headed directly to our designated meeting spot. We took our places at the start, and I tried to explain the bottleneck that we were about to experience. Our plan was to move together quickly into an opening, but not to dodge dangerously. Gradually, we'd find a rhythm, I assured her.

After speeches, the national anthem, and a horn, we were off.

First mile: bottleneck as expected. I was terrified that some big person rushing to get ahead would knock my small partner down, but she maintained a vertical position and stayed right by my side. We weaved a bit, but not too much. Our first split was 8:27.

Second mile: With Cat Hill out of the way, we kicked it up. We were passed by Flyer jb24 , who offered a cheer as he sped by. We glided into mile two at 7:47.

Third mile: Once we were past the halfway point, the rhythm returned. Aside from a few, "How're ya doin's?" I didn't say too much. This mile ended in 8:10.

Fourth mile: With only one mile to go, the end was near. Luckily, this mile featured a lot of downhill portions. So we cruised. As we reached the turn to the transverse, I mentioned that now was the time to "give it all ya got." And, after glancing at my watch, I realized that picking up a new PR was strangely a possibility for me. In an all-out sprint, we crossed the finish line (7:36); me nabbing a PR by 8 seconds, and my student scoring an excellent time for her first race--not to mention earning a first place finish in her age group!!

All in all, a terrific race! I am incredibly proud of my student for her outstanding performance today, and grateful that she helped me set a new PR. ("did u break ur record???" she wanted to know in a followup email). My total time was 32:02.

As I jogged the couple miles home, I thought about how great it is to be able to combine two things I love to do (running and teaching, that is). Not only did this race offer priceless compensation, it also revived my running routines. Training with my student earlier this week gave me a fresh perspective of Central Park. They might have been the same roads I usually run on, but instead of flooding my ears with whatever was on my ipod, I was treated to her highly entertaining stories of Upper School life. It might have been just what I needed; after signing up this week, I will soon start training for this little jaunt through the 5 burroughs!!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Back on solid ground

Now that my minor case of "Dock Rock" has subsided, I can start focusing on this upcoming season of running. My spring schedule allows for lots of flexibility, so fitting in quality running time should not be a problem.
First and foremost, I want to avoid injury at every cost. So far, so good.
Second, I want to kick up my distances--The Brooklyn Half is on the radar, which leaves me three weeks or so to train.
Third, I dedicated last week to yoga, which was fantastic. Though my weekly mileage suffered, it was refreshing to roll out the mat and hold some poses. After my 1.5 hour class yesterday, I'm not feeling any soreness. Though I know it won't be with regularity, I'd like to keep the yoga train in motion--even if it's just chuggin' along like this Little Engine.
and Fourth, the nyc marathon is my next big endeavor, which not only means I need to shell out the big bucks to take part, but also that I need to get into "training mode." Serious training mode. Something I have not undertaken since the fall of '05.

My week back to school was kinda fun, and busy. My schedule had to bend around certain yoga classes, and I had to squeeze in a run or two. In total, I attended three yoga classes and ran twice (7 and 5, repectively). Today, I managed a sixer in the park (55 min). Nice and easy. The next challenge will be how to incorporate some speed sessions during the week, which we all know, is the key to successful training.

In other news, I miss the boat...