Race Report – Gridiron 4 Mile Run

Hi everyone! I have been away from this blog for a few days. Apologies about that but this thing they called a job, kind of got in the way! I also have been working on some other running related things that kind of some how fell into my lap. I will likely be a little forthcoming on that in the next week or two!

Lost in my absence, was the fact that I ran a race finally! I tell you, it has felt like forever since I have run a race. While I did do an unofficial 5k on New Year’s Day with my gym and I also managed to do a virtual 5k with New York Road Runners, nothing compares to the feeling of an actual race, particularly one at Central Park! Add the fact that I got shut out of the Fred Lebow half marathon and that they cancelled the Joe Kleinerman 10k and I was really itching to get a race in. Well finally the day to race came!

RACE:  NYRR Gridiron 4 Mile Race & Longest Football Throw

DATE:   Sunday, February 4, 2018 9:00am

LOCATION:   Central Park

DISTANCE:   4 Miles

WEATHER: Cloudy, 34 degrees w/ 5mph winds.

GETTING TO THE RACE & PRE-RACE:

I like to document this because the time leading up to a race can dictate the outcome of your race. This was my first race in a while and I was anxious as all hell. With the race being started on the upper easy side (102nd street traverse), I thought I had a good chance of finding some street parking if I got there early enough. I got to the area around 7:30am- Mind you the race didn’t start til 9:00am. After circling for about 15 minutes, I decided to look for a parking garage close to the park. Found one right on 102nd street just east of 5th avenue but it had a line waiting to get into the garage. That was ok, I was early. I was waiting on that line, I noticed a guy walking to a parked car down the block. I bolted off of the line and followed the guy. Sure enough he was pulling out. Free parking was scored!

Meeting up with some members of the United NYC Half Group

 

Adding to the excitement of the pre-race was the fact that I was meeting up with some members of our United NYC Half Facebook community. Close to 30 of us in the group had signed up for this race and several were eager to meet before the race. It was great to meet up with several of them before the race! The cold weather had us a bit frozen, but I think it was safe to say that we all made some new running friends and we likely started a new trend that could carry over to other local races leading up to the United NYC Half Marathon on March 18th!

THE FIRST HALF:

I usually start out in D corral for NYRR races, but this time I started in E corral to run along side one of the members from our online group who had never run a NYRR road race. Knowing this runner, I don’t think she belonged in E corral as I’ve seen her pace and it is definitely faster than E corral. However NYRR has a policy that they  will only move you up once you have recorded a time with them. At the start of the race, it was very crowded and I found myself dodging a lot of slower runners and even walkers. The first mile ran along the 102nd street traverse from the east side of the park to the west side. Once we turned onto the west drive of the park, there was some up hills to overcome. I was taking it easy during this first mile because the crowds just did allow me to stretch out my stride. My first mile was clocked at roughly 7:36. Not bad for the first mile of any of my runs, since I am usually slow in that first mile!

As I approached the second mile, you could tell that the crowds were starting to thin out a bit. I remember seeing a nice area of space and darted for that. It coincided with a down hill and I remember just flying down the hill for about a good 200 meters. Truth be told, that whole second mile felt like a down hill. The mile time was reflective of that. 6:38 was my split for mile 2. What the hell was that? Pretty fast by my standards.

A nice loop in Central Park on Super Bowl Sunday

 

THE SECOND HALF:

Mile 3 was an upward climb as we crossed over from the west side and back to the east side of the park . Up “Cat hill” we went and I was definitely feeling some tired legs up this hill especially after a 6:38 second mile. As we started the climb I could feel my legs getting heavy and my breathing starting to get rapid. There was a brief point where I got distracted. There was a purposely made up division in the road. If you went left it meant you were rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. Going right mean you were rooting for the Patriots. At that moment, I felt like stopping and turning around because I hate both teams. But if you need to know – I went right (lol) .

After that distraction, I focused on controlling my breathing and just taking relaxed strides. Once my breathing was under control I tried to pump my arms and my legs a bit more to get up the rolling hills a bit stronger. Mile 3 definitely wasn’t the fastest mile of the race, but I prevented myself from burning out. In fact, I was actually pleased with my mile split considering that 3rd mile was filled with hills, 7:12 pace!

Once I got past the 3rd mile, it dawned on me that there was only a mile left. This is what I hate about short races, its like you are alway churning a rapid pace each mile. You can’t take a mile off! I know myself, I can always churn out a fast final mile. But like I said, in a short race, all of them had been fast this was going to be a bit of a struggle. I locked my mind into a sustainable rapid pace and told myself just to stay at this pace until the finish line came into sight and then let it all hang out. That’s what definitely happened. My final mile, 6:40. I have never put two sub 7:00 minute miles together in a race before! Hey I’ll take it!

My analysis:

My final time was 28:42 for an average pace of 7:11. This was good enough for a PR at the 4 mile distance. For my first race of the year, I was very pleased with this. If that first mile wasn’t as crowded, I may have run that mile a bit faster. All in all this was a great way to start Super Bowl Sunday!

PR for the 4 mile distance!

Get Ready For Another Half Marathon

Good Morning to everyone out there! This will be a quick but informative post!

The cold weather has taken its grip on New York City again! While running may not be on the forefront of people’s minds right now, runners know that race planning is always occurring. It is after all one way that runners stay motivated. They set these goals and put races on their calendars as something to strive for.

Today, myself like many other folks will try to put another race on their calendar. Next to the NYC Marathon, a half marathon in Brooklyn, New York might be the hardest race to get into. The Brooklyn Half Marathon, now called the Popular Half Marathon, usually sells out in less than 30 minutes. This race unlike the NYC Marathon or the United NYC half marathon does not have a lottery. It’s a simple sign up to register. But registration spots are limited and that’s why it sells out in less than 30 minutes.

Registration for the Brooklyn Half opens at 12:00pm noon today! Park yourself by a computer at that time and deploy a little patience! It might be a marathon and not a sprint to get thru on the registration!

Good luck to all attempting to register today!!

5 Ways To Keep Your Runs Interesting

Cheers to another day my friends! I have gotten a few messages from folks who have started running recently who are struggling to stay motivated in their new journey. It’s new to them and what is still fresh in their heads is how much they have always hated running. Further, if they haven’t run a race yet, they may not have had the opportunity to witness the positive enthusiasm that running can bring to keep them motivated during their workouts. So this morning I thought I would share some ways that can keep running interesting. For me I can’t say that running is ever boring for me, even after all these years. Maybe the reason it isn’t boring is because I call upon some of these every now and then to “keep things interesting”! Here are just a few of those!

Run with headphones. Whether they are wired or bluetooth, running with headphones is a game changer. I have a few playlists that I fire up when I go for my runs. For me it’s 90’s alternative since that’s what I was listening to in high school when I first picked up running years ago and quite frankly, I still love those tunes too! But I have a few other playlists too, like some old school hip hop and another with latin vibes. But music isn’t the only thing you can listen to. Podcasts have become favorites of runners, or maybe even a newscast. All of these can and will make your run go by a lot faster!

Some songs from my 90’s/Alternative Rock Playlist

Mix Up Your Running Routes This is one that I like to do a lot. Let’s be honest here, if you are running the same route over and over again, this will get boring. I always say that running can lead you to be a sightseer whether it’s when your travelling or even in your own neighborhood. Take a look at your runs, if you’re doing the same ones over and over again, mix them up please or consider changing the length of your runs if you must use the same routes.

Track Your Runs. There are a number of running apps out on the market today that track your runs from your phone by use of GPS. I am a fan of Map My Fitness & Strava, but I must say that Strava is quickly becoming my favorite. These apps have information that keeps me wanting to come back and run again and again. One of the reasons Strava is becoming my favorite is because of all the info they give you out of just one run. They will calculate portions of your run and compare them to similar portions you have run before and tell you how you compared to those. Further Strava is quickly becoming another community but solely made up of runners, which means you can follow your friends and compare how you do. I always say numbers can tell a story and Strava’s stats tell you your story while keeping you motivated. Map My Fitness is always coming up with challenges to keep you motivated and thats part of the reason I continue to use them as well as Strava!

Just a few of the stats from Strava that keep my running interesting!

Run With A Group. This is something that I personally had not tried until this week. I’ve always run alone in my neighborhood but since creating a facebook group for the United NYC Half Marathon, I’ve met a lot of runners online in preparing for that race. Some who live close to me, and when I say close I mean New York City (lol), expressed interest in running as a group to prepare for our race in March together. I ran with the group for the first time this week. We had 6 people in the running group and it was an awesome experience. I’ve always heard that group running is fantastic but it was hard to vouch for that without a group to run with. I highly recommend that if you need a change a pace in your running, find a group or even just a friend and go for a run with them. While your chatting away, those miles will trickle by with ease!

Good chats, good friends and good running within a group!

Mix Up The Type Of Runs You Do. Running doesn’t always have to be about going out and running the same distance. As I mentioned up above, the same route can get boring but also the same type of run can get boring. I always like to get a track workout into my routine if not once a week, at least every other week. This allows me to do intervals on the track which in turn help me build my speed. Hopefully most people have a community or high school track near by that they can have access to. If so, I encourage a track work out! Other times, I like to go find a decent sized hill by me and just run up that hill 10-20 times. This will no doubt challenge you but it will be different from your usual run. Plus hill work will make you a stronger runner in general and that is always a plus when running a race! Tempo runs are also a good way to mix things up. Tempo runs involve running portions of a long run much faster than other portions. For example on a 5 mile run, running miles 1,3 & 5 easy but cranking it up for miles 2 & 4. These are just some ways you can mix up the type of runs you do.

When you look at the above, in my opinion, running can indeed be fun! Like with any other task if you do the same thing over and over again you will naturally lose interest. I’ll update this from time to time when I find new ways to keep running interesting. Want to be updated – follow my blog!! lol

Have a great Thursday everyone!

Recovery After A Half Marathon

Happy Monday morning!

In looking at my social media feeds this past weekend and even last weekend, I noticed a lot of folks completing half marathons. Yesterday I was thrilled to see so many people I know completing the NYRR Fred Lebow half marathon. The weather in NYC was perfect for a half marathon and I am hoping a lot of people achieved personal records!

There is no question that when you set out to conquer a half marathon, especially if it’s your first, adrenalin and euphoria will push you to achieve wonderful things. Running a half marathon is no easy feat and while some may think it’s something they can’t do, hard work and motivation will push you to the finish line along with the adrenalin and euphoria I mentioned before. But what about after the race? What about when your medal is hung and there are no more crowds, cow bells clanging or music playing? When it’s just you, and your sore muscles?

sorelegs

Just complete a half martathon? Listen to your muscles!

Since today is the day after a big half marathon here son New York City, I thought I would post some suggestions about half marathon recovery.

  • Hydrate and rest– Sure you drank a lot before the race and during the race but your body will still needs to replenish its liquids. You lost slot of your electrolytes during that half marathon. Therefore look for liquids that contain a lot of electrolytes. Gatorade and coconut water are perfect for this. Also, try to increase your fruit and vegetable intake, you will need the potassium that they provide. Further, your first day after a half marathon should be about rest. Unless you are an experienced runner, avoid running the first couple of days after. Your body needs to recover from the impact of 13.1 miles.
  • Diet.During these important next couple of days you will need to have a well balanced diet to fully replenish the nutrients you lost during the race. Meals that includes a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and monounsaturated fats are ideal after the in the days after a race. I like to go with roasted salmon with quinoa and garlic mashed potatoes. Coincidently, I like this before a race too! (lol) A little Greek food is always a plus for me. I enjoy some pork kabobs with cherry tomatoes and onions and a lemon cucumber dressing with rice.
foamrolling

Foam rolling is a great way to help sore muscles recover!

  • Listen to your muscles. There is no question that there will be sore muscles to deal with. Whether it’s your hamstrings, quads or calves, spoil them rotten the next couple of days. Ice them. Invest in a foam roller and massage your muscles. If you don’t want to invest in a foam roller, get a friend or loved one to simply use their hands. If you want to splurge, seek out a sports therapist or a masseuse for a deep tissue massage. Do any of the above that suits you but please don’t sit there and let your muscles ache!
  • Walk but don’t run. While running the day after is not recommended because of the impact on your legs, do go for a walk to stretch the muscles and get the blood flowing.
  • Need more to stay active? I understand that some of you just don’t like the couch or that your body just needs a workout as a mental escape from it all. I’m kind of like that myself! (lol) Go ahead and cross train in the first few days after a half marathon if you must. But if you do. work muscles you didn’t use in your half marathon. Stick to upper body work or something that is low impact on your legs. I find yoga can aide in flexibility right after a half or full marathon. Also if you can gain access to a pool, running or walking in a pool is really helpful. Cool water helps muscles recover and there is zero impact on your legs in the pool.
  • Running again I know, you just crushed a half marathon and you want to run again. I would hold off on any running until about day 3 after your race. If you recall in the last week or 2 before your half marathon, most people tapered their miles and ran less. If you were training at 10-13 miles, you reduced your runs to much less mileage. Well now after your half, my approach is to “reverse taper“. Go very short on your first run. 2-3 miles is ideal. As you progress over the next two weeks, keep “reverse tapering” and increase your mileage to 4-5 miles then 6-7 miles until you are back in your routine. The idea is to ease your legs back into the running routine while they recover.

Keep in mind that the above are just suggested ideas that can help you recover after a half marathon. These have worked for me in the past as well as others I know. Thankfully, I have never seen any long term effects of injury after a half marathon. However if you have pain, not just soreness, after your half marathon, seek a professional doctor’s advice. In a couple of weeks it is normal to have soreness but definitely not pain. The most important thing is to listen to your body and respond to it with the appropriate treatment. I cannot stress how important this is.

But lets think positive! If all goes well and you recover well and get back into running, don’t be afraid to put that next race on your calendar! Remember complacency can work against you. If you are pleased with your first half marathon results, make a goal to run faster and most importantly a smarter race. We can always improve. Challenge yourself, because the challenges you present yourself will reward you. Comfort never rewarded anyone!

Congratulations to everyone out there that recently completed a half or a full marathon!

Don’t be afraid to plan for your next big race!

Fred Lebow Half & NYC Marathon Tidbits!

Well my friends we made it to the end of another week! The weather is supposed to be a lot nicer in the NYC area this weekend so if you have been thinking about getting out to start running, this weekend is a good time to start with warmer weather in store! Saturday should reach close to 50 degrees with Sunday seeing 45 degrees.

If the weather doesn’t inspire you to get out then, maybe the runners toeing the line this Sunday will in Central Park. On Sunday the New York Road Runners club will be holding the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Marathon in Central Park. 2 and a half loops of the standard loop in Central Park will be run. As of now the race is sold out so there will be lots of runners conquering the 13.1 miles on Sunday. What is more inspiring than having a sold out half marathon in the middle of January! A big salute to all of the runners running the race on Sunday and don’t forget to smile for Fred when you cross the finish line!

This Fred Lebow half marathon pays homage to the late great Fred Lebow who is the founder of the New York City Marathon which of course has become one of the most famous marathons to run in the world. He founded the marathon in 1970 and was one of a handful of 55 runners that took part in the inaugural NYC marathon. In 2017, the NYC Marathon hosted about 55,000 runners while turning away much more than that who just couldn’t be accommodated. Lebow went onto complete 69 marathons in his lifetime and doing so in 30 countries before passing away in 1994. Today aside from his legacy of creating a great marathon, he can be remembered for some of his quotes:

The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama, competition, camaraderie and heroism.

As the Fred Lebow half marathon is run this Sunday, earlier in the week, the race Lebow founded opened up its lottery to accept runners who wish to run the 2018 version of the TCS New York City Marathon. This year’s marathon will be Sunday, November 4th. This race has become one of the hardest races go get into. I was giddy when I received my acceptance into the race earlier this week and had to post something about it! I know however that not everyone will be so fortunate. It has become so difficult to get accepted into this race, that last year, only about 16,000 runners were accepted via lottery. Close to 100,000 applications were received in the lottery. That means only 16% of runners were accepted via lottery!

So if 55,000 runners make up the race- where did the other 39,000 come from? Here are some other options for you to explore if you don’t like the 16% odds via lottery.

9+1 program. For me this is the easiest and most assured way of getting in. It is also the one that requires the most work. It simple. This is the option I opted for last year and how I qualified this year. How to do it? Run 9 NYRR qualifying races and volunteer to work one and you automatically qualify for the following year’s marathon. That won’t get you into this year’s marathon, but you are assured to be in for the 2019 marathon.

Then there is the endless list of charities that you can run for in the marathon. Each charity has a number of spots reserved in the marathon however, you will be asked to raise money for that charity. Usually the amounts that you must raise are over $2,500 and that might be daunting for some.

If you are reading this from another country, you are in luck! If you plan a vacation to New York City from another country, there are guaranteed spots reserved for several runners that are willing to book a vacation to NYC. The vacation must be booked with one of their approved tour directors. More info on that can be found here.

Then there is luck for really fast people. If you are an elite athlete, you will likely get in. But if you are not elite but still fast, there is hope for you. There are time qualifications by age group in the half marathon and full marathon. If you have run a time for one of these races faster than the time qualifiers then you are in luck! To qualify for the 2018 marathon you will hAve had to run the qualifying time in 2017. To see if you were fast enough, check out the time qualifying standards here!

If none of these apply, I’m sorry but your just going to have to sit back and wait for those lottery results! I got turned down for 4 years in a row before I went the 9+1 route. I pray that none of you have to wait 4 years to get in. Lottery results are expected to be announced on February 28th. Close to 60,000 are expected to toe the line this year.

Fred Lebow is surely smiling from above at what his race has become!

Teaming Up For A Cause!

First off, I just wanted yo start the day today by simply saying THANK YOU to all the folks who have chosen to follow this blog. Whether you have been with me from the beginning a few months or ago or recently joined. Today isn’t a milestone or anything for this blog. I just felt like recognizing all of you who read this because to be frank, interacting with you all here and on social media makes this all the worth while!

Having this blog and having my social media pages has allowed me to meet some great people in the running world. Almost every day, its ether new conversation with a runner I had never known before, a new story I learn about someone, a new product I try from a company or in today’s instance, a new charitable cause that I learn about. If you have read this blog then you very well know that thru my running I am not only looking to inspire people and increase awareness to running, but I am also looking to increase awareness to charitable causes. A couple of months ago, I wrote about how I came across the app Charity Miles and how I decided to raise money for “She’s The First” via any of my runs that I complete whether it was a training run or a race. This time I am taking a bit more of an aggressive approach in helping a cause.

Many people always tell me that I have too much energy. My wife implores me to sit in the living room on the weekends because I am always running around doing things around the house instead of resting or spending time with the family. I can’t help it (lol). That’s how I am! I also know that many people sometimes just need that push or motivation just to “get things done”. Many times, my posts will reach people and give them that boost of energy or inspiration needed to put a nasty spell behind them or to just simply get with it and do something to make themselves better. I have learned over the past year or so, that my posts, or the posts of other similar minded people cannot help certain people who are more than just stuck in a rut. They are diagnosed with depression. The National Institute of Mental Health defines depression as “a common but serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working”. The mood is so severe that it can last long periods of time. One thing is to be diagnosed with it. Another is to rid yourself of it and that can be difficult for some.

Recently I was approached by the organization Depression2Extinction.org  (D2E) about becoming an ambassador for their cause. I found their organization appealing because of what their mission is. Rather than focus on the diagnosis, they would rather let members share their feelings and emotions and help those with depression cope in the co-creation of a unified world. As a relatively new nonprofit organization, they are turning to runners like me to help raise awareness for their cause and their organization. My aim with this blog is to help as many people create better versions of themselves. I know that depression is serious and I am in no way an expert in that field. However if i can create awareness to an organization such as D2E, then I can hopefully help some folks struggling with depression to cope a bit.

In the next week or so I will likely come forth with more details of how I will be helping D2E. I may be reaching out to the running community for help on my venture and I hope that many of you will help.

Runners are blessed with an ability to have strong will. Many people don’t like to run. Heck runners themselves probably have minor doubts when we go out for that first half mile or even full mile! But our minds push us to overcome. Lets not forget to help those around us who may need hope for whatever reason!

Keep running and keep helping my friends!

Listening To Your Body

Happy hump day my friends!

I am a firm believer that in order to reach any of your predetermined goals, you will have to push your body to do things that it never has before. Sometimes that means forcing it to do things that may not be natural or may even hurt a little. You all know the old saying, “No pain, no gain” right?

A good challenge for yourself whatever your level of running is, can always be a good thing. For those starting out it can be just running a mile without walking. For more advanced runners it could be breaking 2 hours for a half marathon and so on.

Since the beginning of 2018, I have pushed myself to gradually increase my mileage as I prepare for the 2018 United NYC Half Marathon. My goal for that half marathon is to run my personal best which would be under 1 hour and 51 minutes. A great day would be to break 1 hour and 50 minutes! In the midst of doing that, as many of you have read, it has been frigid in New York City. In my mind, I know what pace I will have to run at the half marathon in order to meet my goals. I also know that right now given the weather in New York City, it’s difficult for me to run that pace. Icy conditions, wind and more layers of clothes than I prefer, are just making that pace close to impossible.

As is the reaction for most people in cold air, my breathing in the cold weather is not optimal. Further, the turnover in my legs right now is just doesn’t happen as fast. There is truth in the fact that the cold air does drop the temperature in your legs slightly lower to the point where the blood does not circulate as fast and they tend to feel a lot more sluggish than in warmer temps. Maybe its that or maybe its mental or maybe it’s the tights I am wearing but I am definitely feeling slower in this cold during my training runs. I’ve come to accept that this will have a direct impact on my pace in this weather and to be honest, that is perfectly fine! For me, right now, there is no need to push the body and risk injury my pulling a muscle. A couple of weeks ago, I felt soreness in my calf when I tried to go full tilt. No need to risk a calf injury. Instead I can focus on increasing my distance which is what I have been doing.

My pace isn’t as fast in this cold – but its ok!

 

The alternative to listening to your body is listening to that bad alter ego of yours that tells you to sit it out and do nothing. We definitely do not want to listen to that! Take pride in stepping up to the challenges or goals that you would like to achieve but listen to your body. The road to your goals is yours alone and if you have to alter the process a bit because your body is telling you something that is perfectly fine.

My wife recently took up running in the past 6 months. She has never been much of a runner as she is asthmatic. In doing some reading on her behalf I found that asthmatics can run, they obviously have to watch their breathing and try to avoid cold air. Her near term goals are to run a 10k and she is working towards this still. But I told her that there is no rush to get there. At times her breathing has been hampered in the cold. At times her knee has bothered her. All things to take seriously and to obviously listen to the body. Still that doesn’t mean its time to go back to the couch. She’s altered her running workouts to work on cardio at the gym on the elliptical and has focused on working her core and some strength training also. When your body talks back, it isn’t the end of the world. Just listen to it. Cooperate with your body by altering your workouts, maybe take an off day or two and your body will reward you in return!

There will be obstacles in every road no matter who you are or what level you are at. No one is immune to them.  How you handle them will determine your outcome. So if your body talks back to you don’t get discouraged – it happens to all of us!

Stay positive and keep moving towards those goals!

Stay focused no matter what obstacles may come!