Achtung! NYC Area Running Bloggers Happy Hour is canceled

Pigtails Flying is obviously more responsible than I am. But I’ll echo her announcement — the meetup is off due to the popularity of attending the Millrose Games, crap weather and (this was good timing, actually) my less-than-stellar health today, among a plethora of other reasons.

We’ll reschedule, probably for sometime in March — or whenever this horrible winter ends.

New list category: Elites with good blogs

It’s hard enough to find a good running blog from a regular Jane or Joe Jogger. But it’s even harder to find a good blog written by an actual elite. I hope to expand this list over time, but for now I’ll start with Shannon Rowbury’s blog, which is well written and endlessly entertaining. I am a big fan of Rowbury’s not only for her ability to burn up the tracks and roads, but also because in every interview (and now, her blog) she comes off as a smart, witty, mature and articulate person.

For running wonks: An excellent analysis of Olympic lap times

How fast is Tirunesh Dibaba? Other-fucking-worldly fast, that’s how fast. Read about her spectatular last lap in the 10K final and more from the BBC.

I will not catch this cold. I will not catch this cold. I will not…

Jonathan has come down with a wickedly awful cold. We think he must have touched the wrong door handle at NYRR’s offices when he dashed in to get our bibs and chips on Saturday.

I’ve done more vigorous washing and disinfecting than Meryl Streep in “Silkwood,” but I nevertheless have that vaguely crappy “uh oh” feeling. Fortunately, I have several bottles of the mysterious Gan Mao Ling tablets my sister turned me on to.

Did I mention our entire neighborhood is now covered in a thick sheet of ice? I bought these, which get me down the steps to our ice mobile car without breaking my neck. But I don’t dare attempt to run outside.

This has been the Worst Winter Ever.

Why I train and race

“The wonderful thing about athletic achievement is that it is finite. There is no ambiguity. You did it and no one can ever take that away from you.”

– Sara Mae Berman, three-time Boston Marathon winner

*sigh*

When will this nightmare end?

Spring Race Training: Week 1

09spr-training-011

At last, actual training for my late May race in Newport, OR has commenced. I’ll be training for 19 weeks (including taper weeks), although I’ve only got a schedule for the next three months at the moment, but that’s more than enough to handle for now.

Here are the differences between “training” and “basebuilding,” at least as far as what Kevin has provided:

  • I’m still on a three week cycle, with two high mileage/high intensity weeks followed by one lower mileage/high intensity week; but now there are no days off.
  • Instead of doing faster running by effort, I now have assigned paces that I need to hit. I prefer this, as it’s a truer measuring stick of progress.
  • Recovery weeks are now in the 70-80 mile range rather than the 60 mile weeks during basebuilding.
  • I’m running doubles 2-4 days per week now.
  • The Sunday long runs are getting longer, and three longer races (15-21M) feature Mpace running for a significant chunk of the total distance.
  • I’ve got a speed session every week with lots of variance in the workouts from week to week: from 200m to 2K repeats. And I’m still doing tempo efforts tacked on to longer general aerobic runs every week.
  • I’ve got strides every week on one recovery run, but only eight.

The first week of training was, frankly, outstanding. My training diary notes that Tuesday’s tempo run and Friday’s 2 x 1 mile intervals felt way too easy. I have trouble accepting what seems like a jump in fitness at face value, tending more toward blaming the notoriously inaccurate technology I rely on when running inside (uncalibrated treadmill plus sort of calibrated footpod).

I took things outside on Sunday, though, for a half marathon in Central Park. And I was delighted to discover that I could run fast under rotten conditions and less than ideal logistics. So now I’m thinking that I am fitter and faster after all.

Week 2 includes a nice, long tempo session on Wednesday followed by 5 x 1K repeats on Friday and a 20 miler on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it.

Race Report: NYRR Manhattan Half Marathon

I went into this race with no expectations and goals that were on the casual side. No time goals, loose pace goals — basically a race strategy predicated on this concept: run as hard as you can for 13+ miles.

I had my usual terrible night’s sleep before the race, about six hours and two Rozerem pills. I woke up groggy and sporting big suitcases under my eyes. My thighs ached a bit, I had a stiff left achilles tendon, and basically didn’t feel that great. Experience tells me to ignore such things as predictors of race performance. I’ve had days when I’ve felt great and have run like crap. And vice versa. So I ignored how I felt, banished all negativity from my mind, and went in with as good an attitude as was possible in wind chills of around 5 degrees F.

Jonathan decided to run this race, despite his better judgment. He has about 9% body fat and practically gets hypothermic if he so much as watches “Touching the Void.” His hands are especially susceptible to cold and we’ve spent the last couple of years searching for the perfect hand warming solution (and finally found it in the form of Primaloft mittens, insulated liners and disposable chemical hand warmers).

But, enough about cold hands. What about the race?

We got there later than I’d wanted to, as I was scheduled to do four miles of easy running, worked around the race. With a PA system blaring threats of tardy runners being forced to start in the back , I did a truncated warmup of a little over a mile. Then spent 10 minutes trying to locate Jonathan at Baggage — critical since not only did he have the bag with my costume change, but also my racing bib. Found him, changed into my minimal running outfit — thin tights, tech tee, light fleece, thin gloves and thin hat. I retain heat like a wood stove (which is probably why I race so horribly in the summer), so I can get away with very little clothing, and usually end up shedding the hat and gloves after a few miles.

Then, the dreaded potty break. I got in line at a women’s room and it took 10 minutes to get a stall. Women really need to get more efficient at dropping their drawers and getting things done quickly. By the time I got to the start, the race had begun a good six minutes earlier. So I was stuck in a mass of slower runners  and for the first six miles I had deja vu of the Bronx Half last year, when I started 10 minutes late and spent the entire race blowing past people.

So the first half was a drag. I was running wide around the crowd (and getting yelled at constantly by race marshalls for not staying inside the cones). Things cleared out on the second loop of the park and I had room around me.

Despite feeling like warmed over dog food this morning, with the exception of one bad patch after mile 10 when I felt queasy, I felt great during the race and enjoyed running fast. I spent the entire race passing people (always an advantage to starting late). In fact, I passed Mary Wittenberg (NYRR’s president) — finally, finally beating her in a NYRR race by 30 seconds. It’s stupid, I know, because she’s older than I am and, as such, is actually fitter than I am. But she always beats me, so it was fun to pass that milestone today.

Official time: 1:36:06. Not my best time, but I suspect it’s my strongest performance in a half so far, given the course and crowds. I was 9th in my AG, “top 10″ rankings becoming a pattern for me, and 52nd woman overall.

Jonathan managed to get second in his AG despite not having trained for this. He ran it as a fitness evaluation race, since he’s been focused on coming back from a tendon injury sustained over the summer. But he was on the verge of hypothermia when we met up and has vowed to not run any more races in the extreme cold (which may mean I’m on my own for the some of the training run races coming up in Connecticut). He’s also officially decided that he hates running in Central Park for the exact same reason that I love it — the constant ups and downs — and so will not run any more races there.

Today’s race fun fact: The women’s race was won by Arien O’Connell in 1:23 flat. Regular readers of this blog will remember her as being at the center of the Nike Women’s Marathon maelstrom a few months back. Her half is equivalent to a full slightly faster than what she ran in San Francisco — with Central Park being an arguably harder course. So she’s getting faster…

Marathon stats

And yet more stats to pore over: 2008 stats for the top men’s and women’s marathon performances in this country. These are provided courtesy of TheProfessor on the RunningTimes forum.

Next month, MarathonGuide.com publishes its annual review of statistics for marathons in this country, the USA Marathon Report, covering 2008. Here’s a link to the 2007 edition so you can see what’s coming.

BQ stats, plus a handy reference

Jim2 has updated his excellent statistical examination of Boston Qualifying races and times to include 2008 figures.

And for those of you looking for easy award pickings, this handy chart showing winning times (open and by age group) for the 226 US marathons included in his study can help you plan your next smackdown.

Who knows? With just a little more training, maybe you could be the next Kelly Jaske.

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