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Marathon training week 3

This was a strange week. First of all a heat wave hit NJ.

As you can see this heat wave was no joke. 95 degrees every day with high humidity. My strategy was pretty simple. Drink abnormal amounts of water all day long. Run at night usually around 7:00 p.m. When running I make sure I bring water with me. I love my handheld amphibian water bottle. It cradles my hand and I don’t feel like I am going to drop it. My other secret weapon is my cool towel. You may have seen this towel advertised on TV. You wet it, rinse it, then snap it and it cools around your neck. I just tucked it into my neck under my shirt and it was nice and cool on my neck.
For two of my runs on the hottest days I went to Loantaka Park which is a paved trail with a lot of tree cover. That kept me out of the sun. My times were pretty good considering the heat. I made a point to run flat routes this week. It also helped me that this was a scale back week. For my long run I scaled back after two weeks of progress. Last weekend I did 7 miles and this weekend only 5. What does everyone else do during a heat wave? Tell me in the comments.

Monday: Crossfit
Tuesday: 3 miles easy pace and 9 mile bike ride.
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 3 miles and Crossfit
Friday: 15 mile bike ride
Saturday: Off
Sunday: 5 miles

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For Boston

Normally I don’t talk politics on this blog but yesterday’s tragedy happened at a sporting event and a sporting event which I have grown to love. I doubt that the terrorists choose this event because of the fact that it is a marathon and more likely just a large crowd and a target rich environment. I do think that there something very American about a marathon. The symbolism is there for everyone to see. All you need is your own body and you own hard work and you too can run one. The are no elites performing by themselves while everyone else watches. People like me get to run on the same course and have the same feeling as the best runners in the world. I played baseball in college and never once did I get to pitch to a guy Ike Josh Hamilton or Miguel Cabrera. In the Marathon field you can compete with the best in the world on an even playing field. In America this is the dream right? If you work hard and put in your best effort you too can compete with anyone no matter their background or upbringing.
Maybe the terrorists didn’t care that it was a marathon but I do. In my experience Runners are usually the nicest and most caring people in almost any recreational sport. It is a sport that is individualistic in nature but also community based. Runners tend to run together and share experiences through social media and blogs like this one. I have never met a runner who wasn’t willing to share a tip or a new training method or a new pair of sneakers that they love with another runner. The Charity money that comes out of these races alone should give you and idea of hat kind of people runners usually are.
From this will come good as it always does. The next few major races will be a little scary but I am sure as runners always do they will band together to show that they are not afraid and they will raise more money than ever for the victims of this tragedy. We as runners from the elite to the recreational will do what we always do when we need some time to think. Go for a nice long run and finish feeling better than ever and ready to take on the world one step at a time.

In honor of all of the victims at the Boston Marathon.

CrossFit Transformation.

I am now 6 weeks into CrossFit. I decided to take measurements before I started which would help me determine just how effective CrossFit was for body composition and overall fitness. While I knew that CrossFit felt different than what I was previously doing I didn’t quite know how much change would occur in just 6 weeks.
CrossFit preaches a Paleo diet which is the eat like a Caveman approach. All organic meats and fresh veggies and fruits only. No processed foods, no carbs, no sugars, no beans, and no dairy. I didn’t quite adopt the Paleo diet completely but I am slowly trying to get there as much as possible. What I have done is increase my protein intake dramatically. I was always focused on just the number of calories that I eat and trying to keep that number to help me maintain my weight. I wasn’t necessarily focused on what foods I was putting into my body. This diet helped me lose 90 pounds and it also helped me maintain that weight loss for 7 years. However, in the last 6 weeks I have been attempting to get a good 40,30,30 split. 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fat. My goal now is to get 200 grams of protein a day and also particularly after a CrossFit workout to have a a protein shake with 40 grams immediately after. I stopped eating cheese, yogurt, and bread which were staples of my diet for a while. I still use Saturday and Sunday Dinners as cheat meals. I allowed myself to to eat whatever I wanted on these days. I used to eat a lot of fast food which was light on calories. I often ate dunkin donuts flat bread egg whites and things like that. Now, I am basically eating salads, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and a lot of Think Thin protein bars which I love. I also eat edamame and dried peas and lots of fruit.
My workouts these days are CrossFit twice a week, one other day a week at regular weight room which is mostly abs and core and 2 runs a week consisting of 3-6 mile runs. In about another month my runs will becomes more frequent and also more intense as the weather gets better. I am running the NYC Marathon this year so I decided to only do CrossFit twice a week so that I have enough time to train for that.
So just 6 weeks into CrossFit at only twice a week:
My weight went from 188-192. I gained 4 pounds. If I was just using a scale as my measuring tool I would not be happy. But let’s look at my other measurements.
My neck went from 15 to 15.25
My waist went from 37 to 35.5
My Hips went from 40 to 39.5
My Body Fat percentage went from 22-20%
My Chest went from 44 to 42.75
My Chest and Shoulders went from 52 to 52.5
And the most amazing number is my thighs went from 18 to 22.5.

I gained 4.5 inches in my legs in 6 weeks. Wow! I knew Crossfit was very leg heavy and I could feel my legs becoming stronger but to gain 4.5 inches was crazy. If you look at all of my numbers everything went down but my shoulders and my legs went up. This is reason number one that you can’t just use a scale as your measurement tool. I can’t wait to see how these numbers continue to change as I get more and more into my CrossFit workouts and also as I start to run more in preparation of the Marathon. The latest research shows that CrossFit increases Vo2 max which will help my oxygen uptake and I think if I take care of my body and recover properly I expect great things from my marathon times. So far CrossFit is a success and I am very happy with it.

Hurricane Sandy and the NYC Marathon. A runner’s viewpoint.

It seems like it has been a long time since the NYC Marathon.  A lot has happened and a lot did happen over the two weeks before and after November 4th.  I am going to try to give you an idea of my emotions, thoughts, and opinions leading up to and after the race.

Monday October 29th.  “The night of the storm”

Monday night’s Hurricane Sandy was one of the craziest nights of my life.  I can’t even comprehend being anywhere near a class 2 or a class 3 hurricane.  Hurricane Sandy started as a class 1 hurricane and was actually downgraded before it hit land.  I have never in my life seen or heard wind like that.  The sound was frightening to say the least.  The wind started to pick up around 4 or 5 p.m. and continued throughout the evening.  At around 7 o’clock I got up to let my dog out before it got really bad outside.  I opened the French doors into the backyard and Wrigley stood there and gave me a look like what are you crazy.

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I then brought her to the front of the house where we have an overhang and she could go behind the bushes and underneath the overhang.  She quickly went and came back in.  As I was closing the door and giving her a treat for going to the bathroom outside there was a loud BANG and the lights went out.  After scrambling for a flashlight I made my way upstairs to do a quick scouting report and here is what I saw in our bedroom.

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That night we spent in the candle light worried about more damage and double checking that everything and everyone stayed safe throughout the storm.  I wish I could say that I got a good night’s sleep in but between the wind, the hole in my roof and being worried about the safety of staying in our house I didn’t sleep much at all.  We called the Fire Department and they came over in the middle of the Hurricane to make sure we were safe.  I was amazed at how brave they were just walking down the streets and shining flashlights on a dark street to find our house.  They surveyed the scene and informed us that there was no wire damage or any other damage other than the structural damage from the tree in the backyard which is now on the house and poking into our bedroom.  They gave us an option of staying in a shelter nearby.  We declined and the firemen left I am sure to help out plenty of other people affected by Hurricane Sandy.  That night the little sleep I did get was on the floor downstairs away from the potential of falling trees.  When we finally woke up at daylight we immediately went outside to surveyor our property and the neighborhood and just check out everything.   It was amazing the number of trees and wires that were down.  Driving around the roads were so damaged that you could hardly get anywhere.  Here is what my backyard looked like the next day.

ImageThe next day was spent checking on my family and moving sections of tree logs out to the street while the tree guys climbed and sectioned the huge tree off of the house.  The following week I didn’t work once. I was busy searching for emergency supplies, trying not to freeze without heat even when the nights dropped down into the 20’s.   The entire week was nothing but a blur.  To say that I was thinking about running a marathon would be a lie.  I had no contact with the outside world.  I had no Television.  We don’t get a newspaper delivered.  My only contact with the outside world was through twitter and facebook.  Around Wednesday I started thinking about the Marathon and social media only made my marathon week a nightmare.

When you are training for a sporting event the week of the event usually is crucial.  Maybe not physically but mentally.  The whole week is about getting yourself in the right place mentally to run 26.2 miles.  The plan was to get a lot of sleep and to be very strict with my diet.  The Hurricane ended those two plans very quickly.  I planned on doing a 3 mile run on Thursday followed by a 1 mile run on Saturday.  I was able to to my 3 mile run on Thursday but my body just felt terrible.  I was cold and I just could not warm up.  I felt like I had lost all my athletic ability.  My diet was out of my routine and I was starting to worry about putting on some weight before the race.  At this point I really had no idea what was going on in NYC or anywhere to be honest with you.  When I eventually started looking at twitter and following the search NYC Marathon I quickly learned that things were not ok in parts of New York City.  One of the first things that I saw was Mayor Bloomberg announcing that the marathon would go on.  Then the president of the NYRR talked about how the course was not effected at all and the race would go on as planned.  They said that there would be some changes to the schedule leading up the marathon with a few events being canceled.  Mayor Bloomberg even said that he expected almost all of NYC to have power by Sunday.  That was the only thing that I knew about NYC and the Hurricane.  To be honest I was a bit surprised that the Marathon was expected to go on as normal but listening to the press conferences it seemed as if there was not much  to effect the race.  I didn’t exactly feel like I was primed for the race but as far as I knew at that point the race was on so I needed to get ready quickly.

From that point on Twitter exploded with negativity and misinformation that  that I have never seen for any event before.  First of all let me start by saying I thought the marathon should have been canceled.  After it wasn’t and the reasons were given I thought ok it’s on and I am going to run.  Mayor Bloomberg and the NYRR’s said that they expected everything to be as close to normal as you can get.  Let me say that I think Twitter is a great thing.  It can give voice to a group of people against a corporation who otherwise does not care what one individual thinks negatively about their business.  If an insurance company rips off a customer in the past that customer could complain and no one would care.  Now, if enough people Tweet to that company directly it will effect their public relations and the company does have to respond because it can effect their bottom line.  In this case I have no doubt in my mind that Twitter shut down the NYC Marathon with 47,000 runners and 4 million spectators.  Whether or not that was the correct thing to do is up to your opinion.  I think it was the correct thing to do. I think the race should have been canceled earlier than it was.  What bothered me was the reaction and the negativity and the mis-information about the race.  People from Minnesota were talking about how runners were going to be running past dead bodies during the race.  People from Chicago were saying that public transportation was being used when in fact the NYRR had said that they hired private transportation to shuttle runners to the starting line.  Others were talking about throwing things at the runners because the runners were being so selfish for running a race that brings 350 million dollars into the city and keeps business profitable that just spent a week with no business whatsoever.  There were literally thousand of tweets per second regarding the NYC Marathon with 9 out of every 10 being negative.  Some people were saying that the runners should run right to Staten Island and help the people in need (which they did) after the marathon was canceled.  Meanwhile 98% of the people I am sure did little on their own to raise money or to physically help out the victims of Hurricane Sandy.   This type of Fake Outrage is what makes Social Media a potential negative because misinformation becomes fact very quickly and it just snowballs until someone responds to the mob’s demands.  Fake outrage is so easy when all you have to do is write a 140 character tweet.  If you had to actually leaver your computer and do something then there would be less outrage.  The thing that bothered me the most was the fact that people were complaining about food, water, and resources being used for the marathon instead of going to people in need.  This seems like a valid complaint which I agree with .  What bothered me was that the Knicks played to a sold out Madison Square Garden that same weekend.  They played on Friday night.  Forget about waiting until Sunday for everything to clear up.  Not one tweet about resources being wasted at Madison Square Garden that night.  On Sunday the New York Football Giants played at home.  The stadium was full and there were ambulances, police officers, food, EMT’s, and plenty of other “resources”  being wasted on the same day that the marathon was supposed to be run.  They even held a pre-game ceremony with “first responders” to honor them and their service.  Why were they there for a glorified parade which many people called the marathon.  Shouldn’t the same people who were so active on Twitter have been outraged about the Giants game.  Again, this is all fake outrage.  It is so easy to click Like on your Facebook or to retweet something without even checking the source.  Social Media shut down the NYC Marathon.

After nearly a week of reading this reaction on twitter I was so stressed out with what to do about the race. I had spent months training for this marathon and did I really want to waste all that training.  On the other side did I want to run if the race and the media was totally negative about the race.  A marathon is supposed to a positive experience.  A symbol of mental toughness and the ability to overcome any obstacle.  I wanted the full NYC Marathon experience where you come off of the bridge on First Ave to a roaring crowd and a wave of positive energy.  Did I really want to run a marathon under these conditions.  Everyone of my friends who I asked for their advice had said that I should do it and don’t listen to all the chatter but many of my Facebook friends also liked a status that said cancel the NYC marathon. It was probably one of the most stressful weeks in my life.  This was supposed to be my second marathon for the second year in a row.  I had said that this would be it for a while.  If I deferred that means I would have to do marathon training for three consecutive years because this year I did everything but the race.  Who knows what next year might bring?  I could get injured or I could just lose the motivation and the desire to compete with my previous best.  At this point I was honestly torn.  On Friday might after a horrible week in which a tree fell on my house and I had no power and all I had read online was that  marathon runners were selfish and spoiled.  Friday night I was 90% sure that I was going to defer to next year.

A lof of friends offered their condolences when the race was canceled and I think they expected me to be more upset about it.  My response to them was the same.  I was glad that the decision was taken out of my hands. My mood immediately changed and it was as if a huge weight was removed from my shoulders.  I have always been a guy who enjoyed the process of building up to an event.  I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with credit or praise.  When I was coaching baseball I enjoyed the practices much more than I did the games although my teams always had good records.  When I was a player and I pitched a good game I would usually not want to emphasize the good performance but instead think about the next day’s practice.  I have now completed training for two marathons and that experience in invaluable.  Don’t get me wrong I loved the feeling of finishing a race and I did have a time goal in mind for New York.  I was not just looking to finish.  If the NYRR allow me to compete again next year I am going to be there the first Sunday in November and hopefully feeling the wave of positivity entering onto First Ave about to finish my third marathon.

What an Amateur Runner Thinks During a 20 Mile Training Run. Warning: Explicit Language.

Mile 1: “My heart is racing. Do I need to slow down? No, this is my pace. Just relax and I’ll settle in.”

Mile 2: “I’m going a little fast. I should slow down. I don’t want to run out of gas in the end. Well, maybe I should keep up this pace while I am fresh. Either way my last few miles are going to be slower. Maybe I’ll just split the difference and run a little faster than my race pace.”

Miles 3-4: “This is easy I can do this all day. No problem. These new sneakers feel great.” (Rosalita, jump a little higher Senorita, come sit by my fire I just want to be your lover, ain’t no liar Rosalita, you’re my stone desire)

Mile 5: “My hip feels a little tight. I hope it doesn’t get worse. What am I going to wear to the marathon? If it’s cold I guess long sleeve T-Shirt and shorts. What if it’s really cold? I guess I have to wait until the week of. When I get back from my college reunion I can start thinking about the logistics of the race.”

Mile 6: Another runner approaches. Look at this guy. I am so much better than him.” Give a wave.

Mile 7: “I can’t wait for next weekend. My reunion is going to be so much fun. I haven’t seen Blair in a while. I wonder who else will be there? I have to try my best to not get too drunk or eat too much while I am there. I don’t want to ruin the marathon with one bad weekend. I am supposed to run 12 miles that weekend. How the hell am I going to do that? What places do I need to show Ann? She’s never been there. I guess just show her around campus and around town. Not much there. “When should I take my first energy Gu? I feel fine now. Maybe 10 and 17. Ann is making Chili for dinner. I can’t wait for that. I love Sunday dinners. I hope she makes Brownies. The ones with the spicy cayenne are so fucking good with vanilla ice cream. I am going to have 3 beers with dinner and finish the week off with an Irish Coffee. I deserve it. I am probably going to burn 3000 calories today.

Mile 8-9: Zone out. Silence for 2 miles and then. “Shit I slowed down quite a bit. Quick body scan. My hip feels a little tight. am I babying it? I don’t think so. I should be fine. My Right hamstring is really tight. Probably because of my hip. Fuck. Why did I slow down? I wasn’t paying attention. Maybe I need my first Gu now. Wow Mint Chocolate is not bad.” ( But now you’re sad, your mama’s mad And your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money Your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money Oh, your daddy says he knows that I don’t have any money Well, tell him this is his last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance
‘Cause a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance)

Mile 10: Approaching my mom’s house. “Halfway. I need to refill my water.” Say Hi to everyone and quickly head out. “The longer I stop the harder this will be. I just need to get this over with”

Mile 11: “Ok Halfway. That wasn’t too bad. Just do it again.”

Miles 12-13: Approaching Madison High School. “Madison is really good at football this year. I wonder how they would do against a bigger school? I think PJ vs Madison would be a close game. I don’t think Madison could beat Delbarton. I wonder how many kids on Delbarton’s team are from Madison? They have to have at least a few. What if all the skill player’s from Madison were at Delbarton? Then they would be really good. That kid Goodwin is going to Rutgers. Why is he at Madison playing shitty competition? I am sure a few of the privates tried to get him to transfer. Delbarton is going to beat Pj I think.”

Mile 14: Zone out until Jeep Wrangler passes. That is nice. I can’t wait until my lease is up. I think I like the Jeep. Damn my Hamstring is really tight.” Stop at red light and wait for cars to pass ” Holy shit my knee kind of hurts. All on my right side. Probably has to do with my hip. I hate having to stop in the middle of a run.”

Mile 15: Girl on a bike passes me. “Fuck her. She has wheels that’s why she passed me. Try running. Biking is so easy.” UpHill. “Ugh I have to run uphill now after 15 miles. I guess the marathon won’t be flat. Just suck it up you pussy. Stop whining. This is why a marathon is a mental challenge instead of physical. Anyone physically can run a marathon. You just have to run a little more every time until you get to 26.2. Eventually you can do it. It’s a simple overload Top of Hill principle I ran two marathon because I am tougher than other people not because I am better.

Mile 16: Overweight Man running in sandals approaches “Look at this moron. He must have just read Born to Run. He’s going to have an injury within weeks. Time to take my next Gu. Wow Peanut butter is really good. I miss Peanut butter since I banned it from my diet. I was like an addict. I couldn’t stop eating it.” This Gu is really good. I think I’ll bring Peanut Butter to the marathon.”

Mile 17: “Come on I am so close. 3 miles is nothing. I think I have the beginnings of a blister on my foot. Damn that’s not good. I hope it’s not too bad. Maybe the new shoes or maybe I need new socks. Damn. What if that happens during the race? I guess just suck it up and finish. I should buy new socks.”

Mile 18: Runner passes me “Fuck her. She’s not that fast. She is probably running 2 or 3 miles. Does she know I am running 20? Maybe I should tell her. I probably look terrible right now. She probably thinks she is so much faster than me. I bet she has never run more than a 5k.”

Mile 19: “Oh boy. I am slowing down. Hold it together for 2 more miles. How am I going to do 7 more miles? I guess I did it before I can do it again. Maybe if I let this car hit me I can stop. No, that would be bad.”

Mile 20: “My legs feel numb. That can’t be good. Stop thinking negative you asshole! ” Just run. Car makes a sharp turn. “Oh what the fuck! That fucking dick. He couldn’t let me cross the street. Does he know that I am running 20 miles today? Figures that he drives a fucking BMW. What a prick. Ok quick body scan My right hip is sore. My right hamstring is really tight. I think I have a blister on my right big toe. My legs feel numb. My left kneecap sort of felt weird when I stopped. I wonder what that is about.”

Approaching Finish. you got this. you got this. Around the corner and I’m done. Wow. That was pretty good. Body scan again. everything feels ok. That wasn’t so bad. I can walk that is good. I bet I’ll be sore tomorrow. Who cares. That’s the last long training run. Now I can taper. 12 miles next weekend and then 8 and then the race. Shit I better not gain weight while I am tapering. Who cares? Time to shower up and get a Guiness. I love Sundays.”

T minus 2 months until the ING NYC Marathon

November 4th is less than 2 months away so I thought I would share my progress so far.  In order to properly explain what I have been doing I have to go back to last winter.  For those of you who remember it was an unusually mild winter here in New Jersey.  We go next to no snow and therefore I was able to run the entire winter.  Normally I take about 2 months off because of my distain for the treadmill.  Take a look at my 2012 running chart thus far.

http://nikeplus.nike.com/plus/activity/running/llopesl55/year/2012#graph

Because of that I decided that I need to take 2 weeks off in the beginning of June to kind of recover and regenerate for the upcoming marathon training.

Coincidentally enough my wife and I took a trip to San Francisco.  I saw a lot of runners out there and the weather was beautiful for a run however, I resisted and took the entire trip off.  Not to say that I didn”t get any physical activity.

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I managed to squeeze in a few bike rides and check out the scenery that way.

For those of you who know I am a teacher full time so being off for the summer has allowed me to train for these fall runs.  I typically train extremely hard during the summer.  I often would work out twice a day with a run and a lift.  My typical summer week looked like this.

Monday:  Lift chest triceps.  Sprint workout.  1.5 mile warmup  2 400’s 4 200’s 8 100’s.  1.5 mile cool down

Tuesday:  Lift Back and biceps.  LifeTime Fitness Run club.  Usually anywhere from 3-6 miles.

Wednesday.  Lift abs, lower back, and shoulders. Occasionally hit the Morristown Running store run club for a 5 miles run.

Thursday.  Lift Legs / functional training.

Friday.  Off day or just stretch and foam roll with a little core work.

Saturday.  Morristown Run club.  5 miles.

Sunday.  Long run.  started at 6 and worked my way up to 13 by the the end of the summer.

That was my typical week from June 20th until August 28th.

I was loosely following a Hal Higden marathon training plan.  This plan allows 2 weeks of progress with every third week as a scale back week. One of the things that I did this summer that I have never done before is run of tired legs.  Partially because I wanted to make an effort to go to the two run clubs whenever I could and also I think it will help me down the road.  I have always avoided running on consecutive days.  My thoughts were that at 190 pounds I am big for a distance runner.  In the past I have always done 3 runs a week with at least a day off in between.  With that workout plan that I just mentioned I ran on 4 consecutive days for 2 months.  I had a slight anterior knee pain on one side but that went away.  I had some issues with cramping in my calves but no more than usual.  Now that I am in my longer runs and that I am back to work full time I am scaling it back to 3 runs a week. The exception is on my scale back weeks where I will add a 4th run for that week.  Hopefully as I get closer to the marathon my legs will feel light and refreshed from all those back to back days early on.

Here is my workout plan for the next 2 months until race day.  It is a little lighter than suggested especially during the week but I am hoping that the back to back sessions plus going a little more early on will get me to the finish line.  From this point on I will also scale back my lifting sessions to only twice a week with total body workouts each day.  I will add a third day where I will do core, stretching, and foam rolling as well.  I will eliminate all lifting of legs with the exception of during those scale back weeks and once I start to taper I will discontinue lifting of legs altogether.

Sept 10th:  4  miles fartlek  , 5 miles easy, 16 miles long

Sept 17th:  4 miles fartlek, 5 miles easy, 3 miles easy, 12 miles long (scale back)

Sept 24th:  4 miles fartlek, 5 miles easy, 18 miles long

Oct 1st:     5 miles fartlek, 5 miles easy,  3 miles easy, 14 miles long (scale back)

Oct 8th:   5 miles fartlek,   5 miles easy, 20 Miles long

Oct 15th:  Taper begins. 5 miles easy,   5 miles easy, 12 miles long

Oct 22nd:  4 miles easy, 5 miles easy, 8 miles long

Oct 29th:  3 miles easy, 5 miles easy, Marathon.

With perfect weather and everything going my way my goal is 3:50.  That is an average of 8:47 a mile without setback.  I would be fine with anything under 4:05.   2 months is a long time so a lot can happen between now and then.  I am sure that I have to deviate from this plan slightly because of one thing or another but that is where I have been and where I am headed.  November 4th 2012.

Book Review. The Long Run

ImageThe Long Run is a book written by Charles Butler about a NYC fireman / fitness enthusiast named Matt Long.   Matt was one of the first responders during the World Trade Center attack on 9/11.  For a while his parents thought that he and his brother, also a firefighter, might have been missing.  He was on of the heroes after 9/11 who stayed day after day and helped search for the missing. He owned a few succesful bars in NYC the most well known is Third and Long.   After long nights at the bar, no pun intended, he was an avid runner, cyclist, and swimmer.  He considered running his passion.  The book begins with him running the NYC Marathon in the annual battle between the NYPD and the NYC Firefighters.  He finished 4th among all of the Firefighters and set his new personal record for the marathon.  In doing so he also qualified for the Boston Marathon which is an amazing feat.  Any recreational runner will tell you how hard that is.  Matt Long also ran the Lake Placid IronMan and planned on one day qualifying for The IronMan in Kona, Hawaii.

The book goes into great detail on his upbringing from a large family raised in New York.  The author does such a great job painting the picture of Matt as a family man and a firefighter than when his accident happens you really feel for him as if you know him personally.  He seems like the kind of guy who you want to have a beer with and just share some stories/

During the NYC Transit strike  in 2005 Matt was supposed to meet some buddies for an early morning workout.  Because of the strike he has no way to get across town and knew that he would never hear the end of it.  So despite it being Winter time he hopped on his bike and headed across town to meet his workout buddies.  On his way a city bus made an illegal turn from the wrong lane and without seeing Matt he crashed into his bike.  Matt was pinned underneath bleeding profusely with broken bones in his legs, hips, and shoulders.  He need almost 70 pints of blood just to keep him alive and the doctors told his family that he had a 5% chance to live and if he did live he would never walk again.

The book then follows his amazing recovery with something like 30 surgeries to follow.  The severe bouts of depression that follow and of course the moment almost 3 years later where he finally accepts that he will never be the person he once was.  The book even gets into the fact that he wasn’t married and his coming to grips with the fact that he now has serious doubts that he ever would be because of his disability that left him unable to have children.

If the book ended there it would be pretty depressing but the amazing recovery of Matt Long bring him from being completely immobile for almost 3 years to running the NYC Marathon again.  It was a roller coaster ride of a book and is a great read for any runner and any person who is suffering from a lack of motivation.  If Matt Long can run a marathon after the setbacks that he had than I honestly believe anything is possible.  It is a true case of mind over matter.  Matt’s mindset that made him a great athlete before his accident as the same determination that made him a Marathon finisher after the accident. This book was a great read for me and I highly recommend it for any weekend warriors like myself.

The Long Run can be found on Amazon.

2012 ING NYC Marathon

I ran the Baltimore Marathon just this past October so I wasn’t planning on entering another marathon so quickly.  I was going to focus on strength training and some shorter races.  My plan was a Warrior Dash in July, the Men’s health Urbanathalon in October, and maybe a few 5k’s sprinkled in.  However, when I watched the NYC Marathon last year it was pretty amazing.  So, I started doing some research online and finding out a lot about it.  Apparently they are making it harder and harder to get in.  Here are your options to be one of the 40,000 + runners.

Here is how you can apply for next year’s race.

Join a ING NYC Marathon pre-approved fundraising team.  I looked up Livestrong which sponsors a team.  I would need to raise 15,000 dollars for their charity to get in the race.  Although it’s a great cause I have 2 jobs so that wasn’t happening.

Get a professional exemption.  I don’t think my 3:57 time at Baltimore is quite up to par for “Pro” status.

Qualify by completing another approved race leading up to the ING NYC Marathon.  Ok, let’s look up the qualifying times.  New York Half Marathon for my age group.  1 hour and 23 minutes.  Yea not gonna happen.

Lastly you could enter your name in the lottery.  According to the website depending on how many applicants you have between a 6% and a 12% chance of getting accepted.  They do have a rule that if you get denied through the lottery for 3 consecutive years than you gain automatic enrollment the following year.    I decided I might as well pay the 7 bucks and enter my name and maybe 3 years from now I can do my next marathon.  (I recently found out that they are getting rid of the 3 year rule but I didn’t know at the time.)

I play the lottery pool at work all the time and have yet to win that lottery but somehow I won this lottery.  With about an 8% chance I am now running the 2012 ING NYC Marathon on November 4th.  Oh boy now I have to get my mind right to train all over again.  Here are my initial thoughts.

I never really stopped running after my last marathon.  I continued with my normal routine of trail running in the fall / winter and road running when the weather gets nice again in the spring.  NJ typically has bad winters with lots of snow for at least 2 months and I hate running on a treadmill so I usually take at least 2 months off during that time.  This year that never happened so I have been running non stop.  So, to avoid burnout and overtraining I am going to keep running until about June 10th and then take 2 straight weeks off.  During this time my wife and I are going on a vacation so that will work out perfectly anyway.

I still have that Warrior Dash in July but I had to postpone the Urbanatahalon because it is just too close to the marathon date.   In the mean time I am focusing more on speed training.  My runs are anywhere from 3-7 miles but I am trying to increase my pace to about 7 minutes a mile.  I am experimenting with lighter sneakers (Brooks PureFlow) but I don’t want to overdue it because I don’t want an injury.  I am not a typical 120 pounds marathoner.  I weigh about 190 pounds depending on the week.  I am also experimenting with a weighted vest for my shorter runs.  The Nike Sparq weighs about 12 pounds and I have been wearing it on shorter runs of 3 miles or less.  The last thing I have been doing is more fartlek type runs which I tend to neglect when my miles get longer and longer.

Once July hits I will start my official marathon training.  Last time I used Runners World Smart coach app on my phone which worked out great.  I did modify it slightly and I probably will again because I am in a running club that runs out of LifeTime gym in Florham Park.  So on those days I will just do whatever run is on the run coordinator’s schedule.  I enjoy having the appointment of meeting with the group at a certain time.  It keeps me motivated during the hot summer months.  The basic routine of the Smart Coach is 2 weeks of increasing mileage with one week of decreasing.  The beginning of the week are the shorter runs with speed work built in.  The weekend runs are the longest.  During training I will run 4 times a week until the mileage gets up past 12 then I will cut it down to 3 times a week.  I also intend to strength train all throughout the marathon training but less reps and no more than 70% of my 1RM.

With about 3 weeks to go before race day I intend to stop lifting legs all together and with 2 weeks to go I will taper my runs to keep the legs fresh for race day.

It’s always bough to set goals for a marathon because so many things can come into play or go wrong but as of right now I would like to finish around 3 hours and 50 minutes and set a new PR for that distance.  My goals os to be consistent all throughout the race and not have any outlier miles mixed in.  If you read my blog on the Baltimore Marathon I had that one mile which was over a 12 minute pace right as I crested the hill on mile 21 that really bothered me.  Image

So, ready or not I am running the 2012 ING NYC Marathon with about 43,000 other people.  As I get closer to race day I will let everyone know what I am wearing so you can play where’s Waldo on TV.

I don’t listen very well. The Good, The Bad, and the Inspirational

So for those of you who spoke with or read my blog last week know I was supposed to make my last long run of 21 miles before tapering. However, I melted in the humidity and died out at 17.5. I went to facebook, twitter, and my running friends for advice on whether I should attempt to get 20 or just begin my taper three weeks out like my original plan called for. Every single person I talked said to just forget about and stick with my original plan and start the taper. For someone reasons I just couldn’t imagine showing up on October 15th and attempting to run 8 more miles than I have ever run in my life. Keep in mind this is my first marathon. I have never ran more than 18 miles at a time before. If this was my 3rd marathon I would have tapered. So despite the advice I ran 3 miles earlier in the week and then went out for 21 today. Fortunately it was much cooler today and it actually felt like fall. I ran a blistering pace (for me) of 3 hours and 7 minutes. If I run this pace on Marathon day I will be ecstatic.
The Good. I wore exactly what I plan on wearing for the marathon. Same shirt, shorts, socks, and sneakers. I wanted to see if there were any unforeseen issues. Maybe the socks shift out of place and cause blisters or maybe my shirt is too loose and causes chafing. Luckily, everything felt great. So let’s analyze what I did so hopefully I can recreate it. First of all I the weather. I can’t control what the weather is on October 15th but certainly that was a big factor. 58 degrees with little humidity and partly cloudy vs 83 degrees with 93% humidity. The second is I actually had pasta the night before. It was my mom’s birthday so we went out for dinner. I had penne all vodka with grilled chicken. I have no idea if this played a factor or not but guess what? I plan on having pasta the night before the big day. I also had two beers and an Irish Coffee. Coincidence? Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game of his entire major league Hall of Fame baseball career. Who am I to argue? Third thing is I ate nothing before I ran. I woke up and had a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. Last week I tried t eat and my stomach was not agreeing. I started to cramp up and feel side stitches most o the way. I did take 3 Gu packs with me and had those every 5 miles. They are 100 calories of high carb and sugar which can replenish glycogen stores that are lost on the run. On race day I will probably use 4 of them. I also tried to drink 6 ounces of water every three miles. I have tried gatorade or vitamin water before but again it doesn’t agree with my stomach. Maybe I will switch to gatorade late in the race when I am on the home stretch but I plan on mostly drinking water.
The Bad. I had a pretty bad foot pain. Just under my big toe on my right foot I had an excruciating pain. When I am running on flat ground moving straight ahead I was fine. Any pronation at all because of an uneven surface was really painful. The streets of Morristown are crowded and if I had to side step a person or a garbage can or any lateral movement was really painful. I am hoping it is just a bone bruise from just the wear and tear of 350 miles of road running. If that is the case I am hopeful that the next two weeks of tapering will help heal that up. Worst case scenario I guess is a stress fracture but I am not there yet I don’t think.
The Inspirational: My wife Ann ran her first ever 5k on Saturday. After weeks of training she ran and completed her 5k and even reached her goal time. In fact, when I was debating whether or not I would ever attempt a full marathon she was the one who made me a deal. She said if I ran a marathon she would run a 5k. I created a workout plan for her and she followed it perfectly. Despite having a pretty nasty cough that popped up the week of the race she battled and reached her goal. I am so proud of her and she did an amazing job.
Now its time to taper. All the hard work in mostly done and I feel ready. This coming week I have two runs of 4 miles with speed work and 8 miles with a hill or two. Then I have a massage scheduled on Saturday which I am very much looking forward to. It is a 90 minute “extreme sports massage” at Bliss in Hoboken. Then after that we are in race week. 2 miles flat and 5 miles flat at an easy comfortable pace during the week. I took of work on the Friday before so I can head down to Baltimore and relax. I have to pick up the race packet and my free under armor T shirt at the Health expo. Then I can walk around a little and see what the expo has to offer. Then Friday night I plan on getting some pasta and a good night’s sleep before race day. Hopefully I can finish the race and hopefully the weather cooperates. Stay tuned foe race day updates. Baltimore running festival. October 15th. Here I come.

not sure where I stand

Well, This was supposed to be my last long run before the marathon. My training plan said to do 20 miles. I was a little unsure about making my last long run 20 and leaving 6.2 on the table. Now, I am leaving 8.2 on the table.
I ran 18 miles two weeks ago. Last week I knocked my long run down to 10 miles. The 10 mile run felt smooth and easy.
My plan was to make this weekend’s run like a race simulation. The Marathon starts at 8 a.m. I wanted to get up around 7:30. Drink my water and hit the road. Of course I slept in a little later. I am taking the Friday before the marathon off from work so hopefully I will be rested. I got up around 8:15. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and got dressed. For some reason I was really hungry. I made a toasted English Muffin with peanut butter. I rarely have this as my breakfast. I finally hit the road around 9:15. For about 7 miles I was feeling pretty good. I always bring a water with me on the road. At about mile 10 I started to feel stomach cramps. Side stitches creeped up around mile 12 and didn’t go away until I was done. The weather was mostly cloudy and around 70 but with high humidity. It was 93% when I woke up. The humidity was brutal. Miles 1-10 I was moving along at my typical 8:50 – 9:35 pace. Miles 10 -17 I was slower than 10 minutes a mile. That is much slower than anything I normally do. I didn’t realize this at the time but after uploading my run on the computer there was a clear point where I hit the wall. In high humidity situations the body just can’t evaporate quickly enough. This can lead to increase body temperatures and lots of other symptoms. I hydrated plenty. I refilled my water bottle two times I refueled with an espresso Gu energy gel. I just could not get into a rhythm. My feet were killing me and my left hip was cramping up. I tried to gut it out for 18 but I couldn’t even handle that. 17.5 was the end. Normally when I am feeling this way I say to myself if you stop now you still have to walk home. I didn’t care at this point. I walked about a mile and a half back home. I took my typical ice bath on my longer runs. Right now I am dealing with aching feet and a sore left hip that feels like it could cramp at any moment. Also, just general fatigue. After I got out of the ice bath and shower I fell asleep for an hour or so. I am starting to second guess this a little. I think I can still do it if everything goes well but what if it doesn’t. Now the question is do I start my taper as my plan dictates or do I try to get up to 20 miles. I am 3 weeks out.