Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Ten days out. Recovery seems to be going smoothly.  I did a shakeout run on Friday after the Marathon -- 3 miles slow.  Sometimes my legs feel zippy during the first run after a marathon.  They did not  No pain, though.  Saturday I met D and we went for a birthday run. His b'day was 10/8, mine 10/13.  He is a lot younger than me, but we are slowly returning to the running form we both enjoyed a few years ago.  It was delightful.  Then out for coffee.  Then Sunday swim and spin, followed by an actual run at pace on Monday.  I'm feeling good. This makes me nervous.  The few weeks after a marathon have always been dangerous for injuries, so I'm trying to take it easy, but it's going to be hard. . .

Friday, October 14, 2016

Race Report -- Chicago Marathon

So, there's really no such thing as a no goals marathon.  There are always goals and metrics for success.  But, if there was going to be a NGM, this year's Chicago Marathon was it.  I had a short time to train, got sick during the taper, and only bought my airplane tickets three weeks before.  But by any measure (except finish time), the Chicago Marathon was a rollicking success.  I got to run a great race in a beautiful city, with huge friend and crowd support on a perfect day.  Absolutely no complaints.  I flew into Chicago on Friday, with enough time to meet Spencer and go for a shakeout run on the lake.  Sorry Brooklyn Bridge Park but there is no better place in the world to run than the shore of Lake Michigan.  It's worth the trip in and of itself.  Proving that Spencer knows everybody, we were even overtaken by a former client of his who is training for Comrades . ..  For dinner, we met Max (in town for a conference) and his wife (who was speaking at the conference) for greek food, and even talked antitrust.   Saturday was laid back.  Expo, brunch with SBRC buddies, and then early dinner carb load at the perfect little italian place on the North Side.

Race day was cool but clear.  Made it to the start from the L in time to drop my bag, pee (illegally), line up, and pee again (legally).  My plan was very simple.  I was going to let the crowd slow me for the first couple of miles, then settle in as close to a 9 minute pace, meet Spencer at mile 6.5, and then hang on as long as  I could.  Best laid plans.  I was at the back of the first wave.  I was sure there would be some back up, but kudos to the corral seeders.  As soon as we hit the line, the pace went straight to 8:30/9:00.  So did I.  What the heck?  Notwithstanding texts from Spencer to slow down, I hung with the pack, feeling good (and stupid).  Spencer dropped in at mile 6.5, and we had a delightful long run together.  We hit the half at 1:58, dialed it back a bit.  I still felt good at 30k, but then the wheels started to come off.  I could tell, because Spencer was talking and I wasn't.  Then Spencer was running and I was running to catch up to him. . . No disaster, just lost a gear.

Anyway, Spencer got me through Chinatown, Mile 21ish, and then I slogged it in.  I made a decision, a bit before Spencer left, that I was going to have fun, and minimize suffering in the last hour.  No way I was going to break 4 hours, and no reason to ruin a nice day by courting injury.  So, I walked the water stops, concentrated on form, didn't feel too bad, and was certainly ready for a beer at the finish.

Considering that I was not running at all in mid-July, and that even finishing a marathon seemed like a remote possibility and a bad idea, Chicago was a victory.  Also, a truly great city with a great course.  I would completely do it again.

Thank you Spencer for hosting and incredible support, and congrats to my SBRC buddies for great (much faster) races!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Still feeling mediocre

So I met my taper goal of not going very far or very fast.  3.6m at a 9:00 pace.  it was hard. My lungs still aren't clear.  Did I mention that I always find something to whine about when I'm tapering . . . ?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tapers Never Go as Planned

Chicago is Sunday.  I fly out Friday, will go for a short run Friday evening with Spencer, then hang Saturday.  Spencer has promised to keep me company miles 6-19, and for that, I am truly thankful.  I'm gonna need company.  This is going to be a slog.  This is by far the shortest prep I've ever done for a marathon.  I was feeling optimistic a week ago, when I'd done a confidence building 18 and another confidence building 17.  I had planned to go at it pretty hard two weeks out, but my body had other ideas.  Sunday I had a sniffle.  Tuesday I had a hacking, Hillary Clintonesque cough.  I took Tuesday off because of class, Wednesday off because I was sick, and Thursday off because of class.  Friday, I decided to try to run.  The legs were willing, but my lungs were a mess.

Saturday, I ran with my wife and daughter, three slow miles around the monuments.  It was one of the best runs of my life. How much fun. I felt miserable, though, still on the down slope of the cold.  I managed a slow 8 miles with my friend Jim Halpert.  Yes, he really is named Jim Halpert, and he was friends with the Office show runner in college.  Max was going to run with us, but only he understands precisely what happened. Monday felt good, and Tuesday felt mediocre.  My lungs are still a bit iffy, not completely clear.

Now, however, there's nothing I can do about it.  Time tor rest, rest, rest, and rest.  We'll see what happens on Sunday.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Choose Your Own Cliche or Hashtag Half Marathon

September 26th was the Chicago Marathon.  The Chihalf is my favorite race, and based on the number of long sleeve racing shirts in my closet, the race I have run the most times.  It starts in Jackson Park just south of Hyde Park and the Museum of Science and Industry.  It starts and finishes just past a giant gold statute of the Greek goddess Nike with her arms raised in victory.  It meanders through Jackson Park, Hyde Park, Kenwood, and South Shore (where my grandparents used to live) onto the Outer Drive at 67th, north to 31st, and then back again.

Lats Sunday my wife drove me down to the south side at the crack of dawn and found a back way to drop me off one block from the corrals.  Somehow I got corral N which made me cranky because there didn't appear to be a corral O.

But when it came to run, I ran like it was 2008.  Its seems all the exercise physiology I did finally came together. My new gait matched my breathing.  I ran and didn't walk except at a couple of water stops.  I didn't bonk and ran a chip time of 2:11 fairly effortlessly despite having to weave my way through the scrum of he back half of the runners. 

This is despite spending at least 11 minutes on 5 different pitstops and waiting in line for the port-a-pottys.  Sadly my stomach forced me to make 2 early lengthier stops and a couple more shorter stops along the way.  My guess is that I actually ran a sub 2 hour half if you don't count the interruptions.  That would be my second ever sub 2 half.

Even with the chip time, I ran a reverse split half which is also a rarity.  In comparison to the beginning of last year, I was combating stiffness and left knee pain to lumber to a 2:26 half in New Orleans with brother Sag.  Last week was fun indeed.

Now I face the challenge of being Ted's "reverse rabbit" for the Chicago Marathon this Sunday.  Not sure how flattering it is to be the guy to try to hold Ted back to a 9:40 ish pace, but happy to give it a try.  He will pick me up at mile 6.5 on Sheridan Road by my apartment and then I can be a drag on his running pace for the next 14 miles until I peel off at Chinatown and take the el home.

So will it be #IhungwithTed or #Ican'thangwithTed or #banditmarathon or #homemadehalf?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Race Report -- Marathon Tune-up

Well that went better than expected.  Sunday was the NYC Marathon Tune-up 18 Miler. It is designed to be a hard long run, 7 weeks out from the NYC marathon, but I decided to use it as a last long run/gut check before deciding whether to run Chicago on October 9.  The 18 miler last weekend was a miserable slog, and left me with little hope that eight miles more would be anything other than extended misery.

This week turned out to be a different story.  I felt a bit sore from Friday plyo, so, again, I wasn't too optimistic. Walking didn't feel great, so how could I actually run 18.  There was a pretty good bunch of us from the South Brooklyn Running Club in group E, so we all lined up together.  Marcus was going to run with Caylin at a good clip.  Andrew was going to find the 9 minute pacers and run with them. Sara was gonna run 9:30s.  I had no particular plan . . .

My main thought was to let the crowd slow me down for the first mile or two, and then see how I felt.  This worked pretty well, and just as I sort of got up to speed, the 8:57/mile pace group went by.  Andrew, who was with me, latched on, I went with him.  Marcus and Caylin were off in the distance vaguely visible.  For much of the rest of the race, I found myself yo-yoing with that pace group.  I descend quickly and climb slowly, so I'd drift forward on the downhill, and backward on the uphill.  I believe I was driving the pacers nuts . . .

Coming back up the Harlem Hill, Marcus came up on me from behind.  Caylin was run walking, and he didn't want to.  We ran pretty much the rest of the race together.  He kept me honest going up, and I pushed the pace going down.  The downhill miles tended to be around  8:30-8:45.  The uphill miles 9-9:30.  My average was either 9:00/mile per Strava or 9:12 per NYRR.  Either way, that was respectable, considering where I started back in July.

The big story is that I didn't slow down much at the end. Mile 18 was 8:53, and the last half mile kick was at an 8:20 pace.

So, I went ahead and bought my tickets. I guess I'm gonna run the Chicago Marathon.  I'm still quite modest about my goals.  Aiming at fun and no injury.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Couple of Good Runs

Here's to the fitness effects of the long run -- even a miserable long run like the one I did on Saturday.  On Sunday I slogged through a long cross-training workout. 2200 yards swimming, followed by a double spin class.  Needless to say, I spent a lot of last weekend napping.  Monday, my legs were mostly recovered, I did a comfortable 8 miles at a 9 minute pace.  Historically, that's nothing to write home about, but it's the first time that 9s have felt comfortable in months.  I took Tuesday off (too much to do at work), and then had a really nice fall run on Wednesday.  I averaged 8:30 for 8.6 miles. Mixed in amongst the 8:30+ miles were an 8:10, a 7:54 and an 8:11.  I felt good the whole day, focused on form and kept my cadence high. It was my best run in months.  It's good to be back.