Tidbits & Insights For Saturday’s Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon!

Well New York City, this weekend BROOKLYN takes center stage!

This Saturday May 19th New York Road Runners will be hosting the largest half marathon in North America when 27,000 runners are expected to be set loose onto the streets of Brooklyn to wind up on the boardwalk at historic Coney Island! Its time for the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon!

Getting into the race can be a task as this year’s race was SOLD OUT in just a few hours! So if you got in and will be one of the 27,000 participants – congratulations! However now you have to run this race and here you are in the home stretch of preparations. No worries, I’m going to try and help you out!

BIB PICK UP & EXPO

The Brooklyn Half Marathon Expo is set up and ready to go! (photo credit – NYRR)

Unlike most NYRR runs, you won’t be able to pick up your bib at the NYRR Run center. That’s ok though! This pickup will be a lot more fun. The Brooklyn Half Marathon Expo is where you will have to pick up your bib and you might as well give yourself some extra time when you are there because there is much more to do than just pickup your race bib!The expo is open Wednesday thru Friday from 12pm – 10pm in Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 2. In addition to picking up your bib there will be tons of merchandise on sale, live music, food trucks selling their fare, course strategy tips from NYRR coaches and one hell of a view of the Manhattan skyline! The expo is outdoors so come on out and enjoy yourself in the NYC open air!

Whatever you decide to do at the Half Marathon Expo just make sure you get there because that is the only way for you to obtain your bib! Unlike other NYRR races, you won’t be able to pick up your bib the morning of race day! If you can’t make it you can assign someone as your proxy for pickup. They will need your race confirmation form, which you should be able to get from your race profile and a copy of a legal form of identification.

TRANSPORTATION TO AND FROM

With the Brooklyn Half starting at the Brooklyn Museum and ending at Coney Island, public transportation is really the only way to get to and from the race. Keep in mind however that it will be Saturday morning and the subways tend to alter service on a lot of subway lines. Be prepared to get up very early and plan for a long commute if you are going go the race from any where other than Brooklyn. The 4 or the 5 trains are your best bet. Depending on which wave you are in will dictate which subway stop to get off at. Wave 1 runners should get off at the “Franklin Avenue subway station“. Wave 2 runners should get off at the “Grand Army Plaza Station“. The the subway stop and where they are relative to the starting corrals is in the map below which has been provided by New York Road Runners.

Map of the starting area! Photo courtesy of NYRR

In order to verify that the subway nearest you is running on Saturday morning, or if you want to see how often it will be running at an early time of day, I highly suggest using the MTA Trip Planner website . The website allows you to set your starting point as well as your destination and it will give you the best subway route to get you to your destination This trip planner will tell you of any interruption in service on Saturday morning and will also give you the approximate time when your train will be arriving. I have used it before and have found it to be very reliable.

Additionally, folks travelling from Queens or Long Island might want to consider using the Long Island Railroad as an option to get to the start. The Atlantic Terminal railroad station is not too far from the start area. There is a 5:31AM train leaving Jamaica and arriving at Altantic Terminal at 5:51 for wave 1 runners. Then there is a 6:18AM train arriving at 6:39 for wave 2 runners.

As for cabs and Ubers of course they are an option but be ready to jump out of them blocks from the entrance to your corral as traffic is sure to build in the surrounding blocks to the corral entrances. Adding to the potential delays is the real possibility of rain for that day. Be prepared for slower traffic as a result of this. As with public transportation, factor in some extra time into your cab ride just to play it safe.

Finally do you insist on driving and having your car at the finish line? I highly suggest against it! In years past NYRR has had access to the New York Aquarium Parking lot. Not this year. As for the MCU Park parking lot? That lot is off limits because it will be the bag check are to pick up your bags after the race. Outside of local street parking, realistically, there is no where reliable to park by the finish line or even the starting line for that matter. But if you insist on driving, consider parking near the Barclays Center as there are plenty of garages there and the streets should be open in this area as the race does not pass thru that section of Brooklyn. The start line is about a 10-15 minute walk from Barclays center and the train ride after the race from the finish area is about a 30 minute ride. In my opinion if you don’t want to risk getting on public transportation, this might be your best bet!

STARTING TIMES, BAG CHECK & SECURITY

So all the scrambling to get to the starting area via different forms of transportation but what time do we have to be there? See the infographic below brought to you once again from the good folks at NYRR.

Infographic showing important times that you should know for race day! Courtesy of NYRR!

Oh yes – some of the times listed for wave 1 are EARLY but don’t think they are lenient on them just because they are early. For example the bag check closing at 6:10am is a big deal. Why? Since the finish line is no where near the start, all bags are transported to the finish line. If you are in wave 1 and you don’t check your bag in by 6:10am, the vehicles transporting your bag will likely be long gone shortly after 6:10am. Of course you can check your bags in with the wave 2 folks but those vehicles may not get to the finish and be set up for drop off until later. For those that are considering not dealing with bag checking, as of the writing of this blog, race day is calling for a 90% chance of rain. With these odds, we are likely going to get wet. I would personally want to change into a dry set of clothes at the end of the race, but hey, that’s just me!

As for corral closing time, if your corral closes, you will likely be sent to the last corral in your wave. If you weren’t assigned anywhere near the last corral, this may put you into a frustrating position of having to weave in and out of runners that may not be running at your pace.

Therefore it’s important to note the times and factor in extra traveling time so that you have enough time to meet all of the suggested checkpoints above. Be reminded that after you check your bag in, you will have to go thru a security check point similar to that at an airport that requires you to empty your phones and metallic objects into a bin and then walk thru a metal detector. Many folks don’t realize how much you will have to do before you enter your corral.

So to summarize, your commute, bag checking and security checks all have to be factored into your morning in order for you to make it to your corral in time. Oh and then you have to run 13.1 miles! (lol),

COURSE STRATEGY

Members of We Run NYC Running Club at the start of their BK Half Trial Run!

So you nailed your commute, had a great breakfast, mastered bag checking and security and now you are finally in your corral. Now what?? Relax and smile like the folks in the picture above. Why are they smiling? Well, myself, along with about 40 other awesome runners who for the most part are members of We Run NYC Running Club took a test run of the course a couple of weeks back. Here’s how I saw the course on that delightful day!

Miles 1-4: The first mile for the most part is down hill as you ascend down Washington Avenue. WARNING! Resist the temptation to fly in this mile as it is only mile 1! As you loop around Empire Blvd to come up Flatbush Avenue, you might recognize this stretch if you ran the United NYC Half Marathon. This stretch of Flatbush Avenue is the area where the starting corrals were located for the United NYC Half. This stretch takes you up a slow hill that will bring to the end of mile one. You will then come to Grand Army Plaza where you will circle the plaza and go back down Flatbush avenue the same way you came up it before. So that uphill you climbed in mile 1, you will be going down the hill as you begin your 2nd mile. But once again, hold back on the speed! The toughest part is yet to come! From here you will run on the perimeter of the park until you enter Prospect part just before the 4 mile marker.

prospect-park-1

A beautiful running park, Propsect Park will bring you the toughest hills of the race!

Miles 5-7: These 3 miles are entirely within Prospect Park. The park itself is a beautiful oasis in the middle of Brooklyn. But beauty may not impress upon you during the race because the miles within the park are where your hardest work will be done! I am just going to say it – mile 5 is almost entirely uphill. There may be 2 small declines but you are climbing in elevation for the entire mile. This is why I mentioned to hold back on the throttle when you ran those down hills in the first 3 miles. But at the end you know yourself best. If you are a hill runner and haven’t run hard in the race up until this point, then go for it! If you tend to despise hills, then take a mulligan in mile 5, get thru it and look ahead to mile 6 because this is where the party begins for most. Mile 6 will take you down a gradual hill after which you will wrap around the west end of the park on your way to exiting the park at the end of mile 7. Once out of the park, you will hang a left and run onto Ocean Parkway who will be your friend for the next 6 miles!

Miles 8-13: These miles are why people love the Brooklyn Half Marathon! With the exception of going under an over pass and having to climb back up to street level on a couple of occasions, you won’t see a hill the rest of the way. This stretch of the race will take you straight down Ocean Parkway where a lot of local residents will be cheering you along the way. The only intriguing section I find about Ocean Parkway is around the 11 mile marker. Right around Ave W, the road hooks slightly right and when it does, you can finally see the end of Ocean Parkway for the first time. Here is where some runners will make a decision. At this point, you only have about 2 miles to go in the race. You can go for it and hit those final two miles hard if you have the endurance to do so. Alternatively, you may not want to allow yourself to pick up the pace if you can’t hold that pace for two miles. Either way, you can smell the finish line. As you cross under the Belt Parkway, you will be a mile from the finish. Coney Island will start to come into view. At the 20k marker you will leave Ocean Parkway for Shore Road which you will take until you see the historic Cyclone Roller Coaster where you will make a left and head to the boardwalk for that last 0.1 miles.

POST RACE FESTIVITIES AND OTHER AMENITIES

BKHalfFinish

Theres something about crushing 13.1 miles and finishing on the boardwalk at Coney Island!

Congratulations – you made it! Once you have crossed the finish line in front of Tom’s of Coney Island, your personal celebration is just beginning. The post race walk off will lead you down the boardwalk just past MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. The walk will lead you into the parking lot of MCU Park, where you will retrieve your checked bags, assuming you checked one in. Either way once you are done with the bag check area, NYRR has some post race festivities inside of MCU Park which you will be able to access directly from the parking lot area. If rain did fall and you are looking to get into those dry clothes I recommended bringing earlier, kudos to you for packing them and rest assured that you will be able to do so once inside MCU Park.

Once you are done with your day at the race, NYRR members can have their medals engraved at the NYRR Run Center! You can head there right after your race as they will be engraving from 11:00am – 5:00pm on race day! Too tired or don’t feel like heading back to Manhattan after the race? No problem. Engraving will also be done on Sunday May 20 from 10:00am – 5:00pm and finally on Monday May 21 from 12:00pm – 7:00pm.

In closing, this course is a fast course and has been known to produce a lot of personal records. You can nail your training for this race however if you don’t plan your logistics right, you may end up stressing yourself out prior to the race and it may derail your potentially strong results. However if you plan correctly, you could walk away with not only a personal record but one hell of a great day running the street of Brooklyn!

Good luck to all of the runners running the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon on Saturday!

If you found this information helpful, follow me on twitter @catrunsnyc or on Instagram @catrunsnyc_2018. 
Looking for a fun group to workout with and run with? Look no further than my fellow teammates at We Run NYC Running Club!  Look for them as well on social media: Twitter: @WeRunNYCRC or on Instagram: @WeRunNYCRC .

Trial Run Of The Brooklyn Half Course!

My friends! We are less than 3 weeks from the NYRR Popular Brooklyn half marathon! This race came pretty fast but I’ve seen many of you getting at it with all of your training runs!

 

This Saturday, May 5th, 2018, I will be having a trial run of the course with members of the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon Facebook Group that I host . The trial run is as it sounds – a practice run of the entire course- yup 13.1 miles this Saturday morning! The trial run is free and everyone is welcome to join!

*MEET UP SPOT🏛️🏛️

As this is a trial run of the course, I would like everyone to meet up at Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238) at 7:45am! Please do not be late!

Yes thats nice and early in the morning but keep in mind, the actual starts at 7:00am on race day anyways! This gives you a chance to wake up early and practice your routine and route to the start line!

*TRANSPORTATION TO START🚕🚆🚗

For those of you that don’t live in Brooklyn, can I suggest driving to the finish line area, by Coney Island and parking by the finish line. There is a parking lot in MCU Park that if you manage to park there before an attendant is present, you pay nothing! If an attendant is there, I believe it is $15. This lot will only work for the trial run this Saturday because for race day; this lot will be off limits as it will be used for bag check pickup.

For this Saturday however, if you park by the finish line, you can then either take a subway to the start or Uber which is about $10. A few of us are sharing uber’s to the start from the finish line. In order to do this, I would suggest being parked by 7:15-7:30 at the latest!

Of course you can take the subway to the start line. The Eastern Parkway Brooklyn Musem stop on the 2-3 line seems to be the closest station to the start line. Check the MTA website to make sure these trains are running on Saturday morning!

*COURSE MAP!🗺️🗾🏔️

Course map courtesy of New York Road Runners

 

The course map is above. I also posted details of the the start area and finish area are below. Some of you may remember the trial run of the United NYC Half Marathon course that I held back in February. Unlike that trial run that we held, we should be able to run this course fairly close to the actual course. If you remember we couldn’t get on parts of the United NYC Half Course. That shouldn’t be the case here for the trial run of the BK Half. We should be able to see the entire course!

Here’s a brief overview of the course and what we plan on running on Saturday!

-The course starts at the Brooklyn Museum and we will run south along Washington Avenue, down to Empire Blvd where we make a right and another quick right onto Flatbush Avenue.

-Next we head north on Flatbush Avenue, towards Grand Army Plaza. Runners of the United NYC Half may remember this stretch as it was the starting corrals of that race.

-One we approach Grand Army Plaza (at approximately the 1.5 mile mark) we will loop around the Plaza and then head back south on Flatbush Avenue, til we get back to Ocean Avenue.

-We will take a slight right onto Ocean Avenue and proceed straight until we get to Parkside Avenue where we will make a right onto Parkside Avenue. This will be around the 3 mile marker on the course map.

-Continuing west on Parkside Avenue we enter Prospect park near Machate Circle where we will then proceed to do a full loop within Prospect Park.

-After one full loop within the park, we will exit the park close to where we entered it for the loop and run onto Ocean Parkway. Once we leave the park we should be 7 miles in

-Once on Ocean Parkway we will stay on Ocean Parkway and head south for a little over 5 miles until we turn onto Surf Avenue. On the course map this is around the 20k marker or 12.5 miles.

-We will continue west on Surf Avenue for about a half mile until west 10th street where we will make a left onto west 10th street once you pass by the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster.

-Take west 10th street one block to the Coney Island Boardwalk – once you get to the boardwalk make a right.

-Run on the boardwalk until you reach “Tom’s of Coney Island” -this is the approximate finish line of the race!

*PACE OF RUN ⏱️⏱️

grouprun

Group runs are as much about fun as they are about the run!

 

Some things to note – this is not meant to be all out pace. Personally I will enjoy this run and i think you all should too! The weather is supposed to be nice. My definition of nice is Sunny with temps in the 50’s and 60’s for our run! I will likely snap some pictures along the route for myself so that i don’t have to do that on race day! Have fun with this run on what is shaping up to be a gorgeous day!

As for paces, this trial run is for EVERYONE! As I mentioned earlier, I did one of these in the pouring rain in February for the United NYC Half and 12 of us completed the trial run successfully as we split up into similar pace groups. I plan on splitting the group up into the following pace groups:

*Under 9 minute mile pace

*9-10 minute mile pace

*10-12 minute mile pace

*over 12 minute mile pace

It is highly suggested that you note the course directions above as we likely will not stay together in one big group due to the different paces we have. As such, I would be appreciative if anyone is familiar with the course and would like to volunteer as “pace group captain” on this date for any of the above pace groups!

*OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

Also to note are bathroom breaks – try and hit the bathrooms before you start. I have been told that there are portable bathrooms at 5 different locations on the loop within Prospect Park with 2 portable bathrooms where we enter and exit the park to and from our loop.

The stretch along Ocean Parkway is mostly residential so I’m not sure if you will have access to bathrooms during that 5 mile stretch. Or course when we get to Coney Island, there should be public rest rooms to use also.

As for hydration and nutrition, please bring your own! There are 5 water fountain stops within the Prospect Park loop. However once we exit Prospect Park, I cannot guarantee that we will pass by open store fronts.

Additionally please bring your own gels or anything you may consume for a 13.1 run.

Once we are done with the run we can hangout on the boardwalk and maybe catch a cold adult beverage to “re-hydrate”!

If you have any questions or comments – please do comment below! As I mentioned, it’s going to be a nice day on Saturday – let’s get together – meet some fellow runners and take one huge step towards getting ready for the Brooklyn Half Marathon!

Trial run will be sponsored by We Run NYC Running Club but by all means open to all!

See you all on Saturday!

Starting area map courtesy of New York Road Runners

 

Finish line area map courtesy of New York Road Runners

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!

Training For A First Race

If you have committed to start running in 2018, congratulations!

Hopefully one of the things that you have done to help you towards this goal is to commit to a race. If you haven’t been a runner up til now, working up towards a 5k, a 5 miler or even a 10k can be a daunting task. But let’s not fret, with some patience and perseverance you can absolutely get there. In fact, I try to instill in most people that not only will you get there but you are going to enjoy it so much that you are going to want to do this again and again and maybe even on a bigger scale! With that said, I decided to list some key points to keep in mind as you prepare for that first race. These are from personal experience and I am sure they will help in your prep. In fact after all of the races I have done, I still follow these when I start to increase the distance of my races to distances I have never run before!

Give yourself enough time to prep for your big day – race day!

 

  • Plan right.Set a race date far enough out into the future that allows you adequate time to prepare for. Its perfectly ok to be excited and eager to get to your first race date but if you are new to running, you want to give yourself ample time to prepare. 3 months is a reasonable time to prepare for a race like a 5k (3.1 miles) or something comparable. If you have chosen something a little longer adjust the time frame accordingly.
  • Start slow. If you are new to running, please do not try and run your scheduled race distance in the first month of training runs. For example, if your first race is a 5k, build up to the 3.1 miles slowly. Start in the first couple of weeks to run one mile without stopping. When that feels comfortable work up to 1.5 miles and so on and so on. Also, do not be afraid to walk in the beginning. There are some people that find it beneficial to take a short walk and continue running. This is your race and no one else’s! Your goal is to finish the race and feel good! Also, very important that most new runners overlook is stretching. Stretch 5-10 minutes before each of your runs as well as a few minutes after your runs.
  • Listen to your body. If your body isn’t accustomed to running, certain muscles will talk back to you at first. Don’t feel the need to run everyday. Allow your muscles to recover before going out for another run. At first, run every other day to allow your muscles to recuperate. Do not feel the need to run 7 days a week. For older runners, you may need two days off between runs. That’s perfectly fine because while you want to run your target distance on race day, we also don’t want you injured while training for it!
  • Keep it interesting. Many people shy away from running because they say it is boring. I cringe when I hear that because sometimes they give up on running before ever running a race! I firmly believe that if you stick with your running until you have conquered that first race, you may get addicted to it. So how do we keep it interesting? Listen to music while you run works for me. Also, don’t run the same routes every day because that can get boring. Sometimes I say that running is the best sight seeing in your neighborhood. Also running with a friend or a group can keep thinks interesting. If you are engaged in good conversation, those miles will pass by fast! Finally, pick a running application to track your runs. The stats on these things are amazing and they actually can add a sense of fun to your runs. Check out Strava (in my opinion the best) or Map My Fitness by Under Armour.
  • Change up your routes and become a sightseer in your area while you run!

  • Ignore social media accomplishments. Yes you are reading my blog and you might follow my social media and I am telling you to ignore me! But wait – don’t ignore me all together! Ignore the accomplishments of other runners. Don’t be fixated on the distances or times that other runners are running and posting on social media. As I mentioned before, this is your journey and no one else’s. Don’t get me wrong, I think its good to follow runners on social media to see their experiences, to see what works for them and to learn from their mistakes. But sometimes new runners, say “well I am never going to run that time” or “gosh, my times for a mile or so much slower than theirs”. Who cares!! All of these runners started out somewhere and now you are! Your progress is what is important so while its good to follow other runners, never ever compare yourself to anyone else!
  • Trust the process and see it thru to the end. As I mentioned before, so many folks start to run and then give it up. I cannot stress how wonderful it is to run that first race. And then to run the next one. And the next one after that and so on. The experience has so many emotions. The nervousness before the race. The comraderie with other runners. The struggle of the race itself. The sense of accomplishment when you finish. There may be even more emotions for you as well and this continues to happen with each race you run. But lets not get ahead of ourselves – just get thru the first race!

The year is just getting started and with so many races that 2018 has to offer, your possibilities are endless. Hope the above can help you get on track towards your first race. Drop me a line and let me know how it went. Oh and hope to see you are the finish line!

 

Stick with the process and maybe I’ll see you at the finish line!

 

 

 

Here Comes 2018!

A very festive “Hello” to all of my readers out there! I decided to take a few days off for the holidays and I have to say while I enjoyed it with family, I cannot help thinking about my running and getting my racing started in 2018. Even though I took off from this blog for the holidays, I have managed to get out for a few runs. It has not been easy I will admit that. As I am writing this post the temperature outside feels like 4 degrees with a pretty stiff wind. However every time I do complete a run, it always feels great and that’s something I hope that all of you who have been doubting a run in this weather can experience!

The weather was very cold by me this week!

While it has been difficult to take that pivotal first step for each of my winter runs, I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by a great group of runners who have pushed each other to continue training for the 2018 United NYC Half Marathon despite the cold weather! Many of these runners are from all across the country. The temperature in some of these states has consistently been colder than NYC and yet they continue their training. There are stories of “come backs” from injuries and different setbacks along with relentless efforts to conquer personal race goals in 2018. As I am seeing these great runners in this group, I have developed a short list of objectives that I am choosing to serve as guidelines for myself to take my running and my overall well being to the next level. I wanted to share those with you as we approach 2018 because I firmly believe that anyone can apply these to their personal journeys. I hope you enjoy them and better yet, use them to guide you in 2018!

Surround Yourself With Winners

I am not saying to go out and find people who win races, but people who are strong minded and aim high to achieve and meet personal objectives. As I mentioned above I’ve been fortunate to be part of a Facebook group of motivated runners. That is the type of group you want to surround yourself with. But that’s not all. Sometimes you also need to limit the time around people who will do the opposite. You know the type – the ‘nay’ sayers. Those that tell me “your crazy”, “why run, just walk” or some other absurd negativity. These are also the type who might get you to do things that might otherwise pull you away from the things you really need to do. You truly become a product of your environment so make that environment the “winners”.

Everyone in this pic belongs to my gym – a couple are trainers. All of them have that positive energy around them! Find those winners!

Consistency is Key

My next objective for 2018 is to remain consistent with my running journey. The same notion can be applied to anyone out there. Whether you want to be a runner or you are aspiring to be a fashion designer or any other thing that you are passionate about, it has to be on your mind ALL THE TIME and you always have to strive to be better at it. Life has its ways of being very busy at times and I know I am guilty often of using that as an excuse to not get out and run or have a work out. So this year one of my main objectives is to keep the consistency as much as possible and work at avoiding busy schedules and conflicts coming up that keep me from my consistency. In my first objective that I described above those ‘winners’ that you should be surrounding yourself with will not allow you to fall into the temptation’s or conflicts that will keep you from your consistency. This is another reason why you should strive to surround yourself with positive influential people who will not tempt you to do things that could be destructive to your goals. A perfect example for me are the several friends who have gotten me out the night before crucial training runs or better yet, a night before a race day. You can always find a reason to “have to” attend a party or a happy hour. But when you are focused in on a goal, you have to maintain yourself as the number one priority. Those positive influences also will understand if you say no to a night out of drinking. Better yet, they may never even pose the invite to you. That will inevitably help you stay more consistent on your objectives.

I enjoy a good cigar from time to time, but I have to learn to save them for post race only!

Challenge Yourself

Last year I started to run several races. I was fortunate that I had several personal bests during a lot of my races. However several of those personal bests were simply because it was the first time running those distances (lol)! I had never run a 5 mile race before. Never ran a 10k before. Never ran a half marathon before. I hadn’t run a mile all out since senior year in high school! Therefore now in 2018, the floor has been set. I can continue to allow ‘father time’ have their way with me and allow myself to age and use that as an excuse for not getting faster, or I can push like I haven’t before and try to best those times I set in 2017. As I mentioned above, the cold weather has been tough to train in. While my longer term training plan at the moment is geared towards the half marathon that I am running in March, mentally I am also looking at a race that I have in a couple of weeks. That race is a 10k in Central Park. I only ran one 10k in 2017 so my objective is to beat this time. I really don’t want to make any excuses about cold weather being a factor. I will be disappointed if I don’t PR at my upcoming 10k. This is the challenge I present to myself. These are the challenges you should present to yourself if you want to continue to improve yourself!

A pic from the only 10k I ran in 2017. Must run faster than 51:16 in my upcoming 10k!

Accept Your Mistakes, But Learn From Them.

This point is something that I did a lot of in 2017. I ran tangents on race day horribly in 2017. There were races where I ran so much more in distance that I swore my GPS was wrong. I cannot do that in 2018. That partying that I did before race day? No mas. Can’t have that repeat itself in 2018. Lack of consistency? It can’t happen either. We all know where we have failed or hit a bump in the road. Allowing yourself to accept those mistakes is fine, but allowing them to happen again is a no-no. The only way to improve yourself is to understand why you made a mistake, fix it, and don’t allow it to happen again. New mistakes will happen in 2018 and you will have to devote time to work on those mistakes. We don’t have time to keep dwelling or re-visiting the mistakes of 2017!

I’ve been saying for weeks that I cannot wait for 2018 and I’m excited even more for it now! I also can’t wait for the weather to get warmer, but I don’t know when that will happen. I do know that 2018 is just days away. If you haven’t decided on a way to make yourself healthier or to simply create a better version of you, obviously now is the time. The gym’s may be crowded and everyone will flock for that healthier food next week at the supermarkets but don’t let that deter you from starting the process! Use my 4 guidelines above to work at the better version of you! And like I always like to say, when all else fails, get up out of your seat and GO FOR A RUN!

I want to thank all of you that have been reading this blog this first year of its existence and wish you all a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year!

Running away from 2017,

Cesar

Happy New Year my friends!

2017 – My Running Year In Review

As Christmas approaches this weekend, it is soon time to bid the year farewell! I came back to running in 2016 for health reasons but 2017 was the year that I came back to racing. It has been a challenging, rewarding and yet fun year for me as far as my running goes. With that said, I thought it would be a good idea to summarize my year and the races I ran. Hey if nothing else, I know I can always come back to this post and read about my year if I ever get bored or want to compare future races! Sure one can just go to this link and see my results, but that doesn’t tell you any of the highs and lows of those races!  You can stop reading here if you don’t want to read recaps of my 2017 races, but if your intrigued, settle in for a bit of a long read. They were almost all New York Road Runners races but that’s ok because it got me qualified for the 2018 NYC Marathon!

March 2017 – United NYC Half

No matter what happens for the remainder of my running life, the United NYC Half will be a special one for me and one that I will likely want to run again and again. After being turned down for the NYC Marathon for 4 years straight, I was accepted into the United NYC Half on my first try! While the race was run in March with snow on the ground, I didn’t care. I was excited to run my first half marathon and this one didn’t disappoint. The first two miles were frigid but as we made our way thru Central Park, by mile three I felt wonderful. As we left the park to start mile 8 on seventh avenue, I will never forget the energy of the crowd and how it propelled me to my fastest mile of the race. I belted out a 7:46 mile in the middle of the race! From there the crowds on the West Side highway kept me smiling as I enjoyed my first half marathon thoroughly. I finished that day in 1:54 (8:44 pace) and completed my first half marathon. This race would set the stage for several more races in the year!

June 2017 – JPM Corporate Challenge, NYRR Retro 5 Miler, Queens 10K, Achilles Hope  Possibility 4 Miler

Ok, June was a busy month! When I ran the NYC Half in March, I ran it just because I got picked in the lottery. When I picked up my bib however in March, I learned about the “9 +1 program” that NYRR had that would eventually qualify me for the NYC Marathon. I didn’t really pay attention to the program until April however. By then, April and May NYRR races were mostly filled which meant I couldn’t start accumulating races til June. Before I could run my next NYRR race, I would run the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge with my company. I’ve run this race many times over the years but usually casually with my co-workers. In 2016 I ran pretty decent but I knew I could go faster because the course was way too congested! In 2017 I decided I would line up much closer to the start than I did in 2016. What a difference that made. The course is still congested but no where near what I dealt with in 2016.  I ran a 26:45 that day (7:38 pace). Never ran that course that fast or even close to it. Had me feeling positive about what was coming later that weekend – the NYRR Retro 5 Miler.

The NYRR Retro 5 miler is more of a laugh than a race! So many people were dressed up in retro outfits from the 70’s and 80’s! It was like a time warp back to those years. I thought it was fantastic lol . The course was the 5 mile course in Central Park that included Harlem Hill. My ankle was a bit sore still from the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge that I had run a few days before so I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be. Still 40:55 (8:11 pace) was ok with me! My time and the several crazy outfits I saw that day made the race very worthwhile for me!

My Next race in June was the Queens 10k. This race was part of the NYRR 5 borough series, just like the United NYC Half was. I was particularly looking forward to this race because it was situated in Flushing Meadow Park, a park where I used to do a lot of training runs when I ran track in High School. That and the fact that the course ran in front of Citi Field, home of my beloved Mets, had me excited for this race! Someone however should have reminded me the night before about how excited I was for the race. I ended up partying the night away the night before with some friends. Way too many beers! I got to the starting line with a bottle of gatorade, a hangover and a lot of beer burps. In my starting corral I accidently let a small burp out and the lady next to me said to me smiling “someone had a good night last night”. I just shook my head and proceeded to pound the pavement for the next 6.2 miles with my head throbbing for most of it. By mile 4 the hangover was gone, but the lack of sleep kicked in. I managed to run 51:16 (8:15 pace)but I know I could have done better. I want this race back, which will likely be the reason I run it again in 2018!

My final race in June was the Achilles Hope and Possibility 4 miler in Central Park. I enjoyed this race because of all the inspiring athletes that run this race. Blind people, people without limbs, people with several disabilities, all of them running and completing 4 miles. Truly awesome. My wife is asthmatic and while that isn’t a disability, it can create difficulties when trying to run. She ran this race and conquered it. For me inspiration was all around me. I remember pushing hard because of that. It resulted in my fastest race pace of the year up until that point, 30:34 (7:39 pace). The race was a feel good race and I commend NYRR for the job that they do with this race year in and year out.

July – NYRR R-U-N 5K

I had to take a couple of weeks off after a busy June but I found myself back in Central Park on a Thursday night for a 5k. I hadn’t run the 5k distance since the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge a few years back when it was a 5k course. Since I started running frequently, I was eager to see how I would do. I recall the first mile of the race and how I thought the pace was super fast. Well I was right. My GPS told me I ran the first mile in 6:52. I was baffled at how that could be. I went back and looked at the course and it was because the first mile was pretty much all down hill. It all made sense now lol . In Central Park, whatever goes down, has to come back up right? Well it did! I would inevitably slow down and finish my 5k at 22:39 (7:18 pace). Not upset with that one bit! I think my previous 5k time was in the high 24 minute range. By the end of July, I was really starting to like these NYRR runs!

August – Percy Sutton Harlem 5k

Well after not running a 5k in many years, I would do two of them in back to back months! This time I was off to Harlem where I frankly hadn’t been in many years. Since I hadn’t been there in years, I made the mistake of driving there for this race. With the lack of parking in the area, I found myself scrambling for parking. I ended up parking at a meter about 8 blocks away from the start line. Race was at 8:30am. I parked at 8:15am. You could say my race started as soon as I finished putting money in the meter. I got to the start line with 2 minutes to spare before the start. I barely checked my bag in before the start. No bathroom visit. No stretching. And there goes the horn for the start!  I remember running the first mile and I was sucking wind. I didn’t get to jog, or stretch and a lot of the first mile was up hill. As we zig zagged thru the streets of Harlem I took in the sites and was excited at how diverse and vibrant the neighborhood was. Before I knew it we were heading back towards the starting line. You know those uphills towards the beginning? Well now they were become some serious downhills! Great crowds on hand for this race had me pumped the whole last mile. Finished the race at 22:41 (7:18 pace). Just two seconds slower than the 5k I ran in Central Park a month ago! Damn it why didn’t I get a good warmup in!! That would have definitely been a PR! Oh well, save it for another day I guess!

September – 5th Avenue Mile & Bronx 10 Mile

I cannot say that I honestly trained for the 5th Avenue Mile. Sure I did a few workouts leading up to the the race on the track, but they weren’t really speed workouts. They were more of doing 3 or 4 mile runs on the track with maybe doing a few laps at full tilt. Screw it. Lets go run the mile anyways! After seeing heat after heat go off before mine and seeing the energetic crowds get behind the runners, I was anxious to start my race. As opposed to my last race in Harlem, I got a good warm up in here. The bag check is near the end of the race. Which means you have to walk or jog a mile to the start lol. Ok so warmup was done right this time! For this race, it was the closest I have ever been to the actual starting line. I think there were only two people in front of me at the starting line. The horn went off and I tried not to get trampled! The first quarter mile was swift – definitely not what I am used to. I think the clock said 1:15 for the first quarter mile. Umm that’s 5 minute mile pace if you aren’t keeping track!  In the 2nd quarter mile I slowed down particularly because it was uphill. I believe my half mile split was 3:00. As we got to the top of the hill, I could see the finish line. In all of the races I had run so far this year, whenever I saw the finish line, I would start my kick. This time however, it didn’t register in my head that I was still a half mile away from the finish line! Needless to say I hung onto dear life to finish that race as I was gassed. That last quarter mile hurt man! Mile time – 6:12. Hey, I haven’t run a mile all out since High School. I’ll take it! This was a very fun race and one that I would totally do again!

The Bronx 10 mile was a race that I was preparing for. Aside from the Fifth Avenue mile, I had been building up my miles gradually knowing that I had the Staten Island Half Marathon coming up in a few weeks. This race was a perfect training run in my prep for the SI Half. I remember the forecast for this day being very hot. The race however was early enough that I figure we would escape the heat. The course was an “out and back”. Pretty much 5 miles up the Grand Concourse and 5 miles back down. Remember that heat that I thought we would escape? It showed up for the 2nd half of the race! For the first time all year, I fell the effects of the heat. I stopped a lot for water during this race. I want to say 6 or 7 times. Some times it was just to dump the water over my head. I have to say it worked because I found another gear in the last three miles. Each of the last three miles were under 8:00 with the fastest one being the last mile at 7:36. Final time 1:21 (8:08 pace). I gotta say, the crowds were great in the Bronx! Even though I hate the Yankees, I guess it was kind of cool crossing the finish line literally right in front of the stadium. The Bronx 10 mile was my favorite medal of the year. Something about the red and black ribbon – nothing to do with the Yankees!

October – Staten Island Half Marathon

The year started with the United NYC Half in March. Only fitting it ends with another half marathon. This time in Staten Island. The only thing I know about Staten Island is where the Staten Island Yankees play. Lucky for me, this is pretty much where the race started and finished! The only thing I wanted out of this day was to be faster than my half marathon in March. Starting the race I felt decent. We were pretty much going down hill. Mile one was 7:46. Whoa – slow down Nelly, we got twelve more of these miles! At about mile three, some drizzle started and so did some hills. By mile five the hills had flattened out and we were running along South Beach. That’s when the skies decided to open. I have run in rain before, but never like this. It was a torrential down pour. The type that if you happen to be caught in it, you run for cover and hide anywhere until it slows up. I’m in mile five however of a half marathon – where the hell was I going to hide?!? That rain came down so fast that it was running down my face and I was literally gagging on it. My shoes were soaked and I could feel them getting heavier. At around mile nine, the rain decided to stop. But someone decided to put a huge half mile hill at mile nine. I was depleted after that mile I tell you. I hadn’t struggled that much thru a mile ALL YEAR. I wanted to stop. I felt slow and my GPS agreed with me – mile nine split was a 9:02. What? a 9:02? I don’t think I had run that split in any of my races – not even the March half marathon. I have to admit, when I heard the split for mile nine I kissed a PR for the half marathon goodbye. I took one more GU gel in mile 10 and hoped for the best. Mile ten 8:27. Mile eleven 8:02. Ok – here we go. Remember how I said the beginning was down hill? Yup – we are going to finish this miserable day going up hill. After mile eleven I had started to look at the cumulative clock and started calculating if a PR was possible. It still was, but I didn’t factor in a mile long up hill. That last mile was tough. It hurt. Further, because of all the water in my shoes, my insole had started shifting. I knew it was all out of place in my shoe, I could feel it. But the end of the race finally came, and it read a happy time at the end –1:51 (8:31 pace). When I finished I didn’t know how it was possible. Not with all the hills and not with all the rain. I guess the work from March thru October simply paid off. Crossing that finish line also completed my 9th NYRR race. The NYC Marathon was finally going to be mine in 2018!

What a year is all I will say. Running is amazing for just these reasons. In this lengthy post, I had no teammate to run with me. No one to toss a ball to or run for me. This was all me. That’s one of the things I love about running, no one can do this but you! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again  – can’t wait for 2018!!

Workouts For The Week – 12/11 thru 12/17

With the holidays here, I feel compelled to stay on top of my workouts a bit more! Sometimes you see things play out on paper (or on a blog!) and you can either look back on them with pride, or you get ticked off because you realize you slacked off! This week was in the middle for me. I have to admit that the weather has been getting in my way but since I made it a point to start doing some strength training, I feel like I am making out ok on bad weather days.

Here is how my week went work out wise!

Monday 12/11:

This day was a complete fail as it was my Christmas Party At work. I knew going into this day that I would not be able to get anything out of it workout wise. However I was proud of myself for one thing. I usually end up staying to the end of my Christmas parties and end up going to after parties, getting home really late and feeling like crap the next morning. Not this year! Left at 8:30pm after a few drinks and was in bed by 10pm. I will take that away as a plus!

Tuesday 12/12:

I had big plans to get a run in on this day, but my daughter had “Sports Night” at her school, where kids and a parent compete in races and challenges. There was some running involved but it wasn’t quite a workout. Got home close to 9pm and sadly called it a day. This was a day where being a parent just got in the way. We will have those days- but that is when you need to bounce back hard!

Wednesday 12/13:

I came home this day hell bent on running. The weather however was frigid. Wind chill factor on Wednesday night was in the single digits. I opted for the treadmill at the gym on this day. I don’t speak too often about the treadmill because I flat out hate it! Its more of a “dreadmill” for me. Something about this machine that just doesn’t allow me to get into my natural running groove. Also my breathing in the gym is not the same when running as it is outdoors. Never the less, got the running done

Distance – 5.0 miles / Time- 42:32 / 8:24 per mile

Thursday 12/14:

Here was a day to finally work on that strength training! I want to pay attention to my arms, triceps and biceps. Also, maybe because it is more of a vanity thing, I want to work on my chest as well lol. A small part of this is also because I keep flirting with the idea of doing a Spartan race in the future and I know I will need to have strong upper body strength for this so I want to slowly start building that.  I was able to hit all of the body parts that I wanted as well as get some stomach and core exercises done at the end! All of this after a 15 minute warmup session on the bike!

  • 15 minutes of warm up on the bike
  • 3 sets of bicep barbell curls, 12 reps each, 45 lbs, 55 lbs, 65 lbs
  • Alternated above three sets of barbell curls w/ 12 x 15lbs dumbell front raises
  • 3 sets of bench presses, 10 reps each, 115 lbs, 135 lbs, 145 lbs.
  • 3 sets triceps pulldowns, 12 reps each 40 lbs., 50 lbs., 60 lbs
  • 3 sets of butterfly machine, 12 reps each 125lbs., 145 lbs., 155 lbs.
  • 2 minutes of ab roller exercises alternated with 60 second planks (3x)

Friday 12/15:

When I tell you that the weather is just flat out messing with me I am not joking! Friday was pretty quiet at my job so I decided to leave a bit early and try to sneak in a run before I had to get my daughter from school. Almost as soon as I get off the train at my stop, it starts to snow at a rapid pace. By the time I got home and changed into my running gear, there was already a nice coating on the ground. I was determined to get a run in. My earlier run in the week was on a treadmill so that didn’t leave me with the best feeling in the world. My run wasn’t the longest but I had to cut it short because the snow was really coming down hard and I was not comfortable with the footing my sneakers were giving me. Still, a 5k run was completed!

Distance – 3.2 miles / Time- 27:59 / 8:33 per mile

Saturday 12/16:

I was able to get to the gym on this day as my wife had a day of Christmas shopping ahead of her. To help her out, I agreed to hang with my daughter the whole day. The only way for me to get any type of workout now was going to be at the gym as they have an awesome kids program there to keep them busy while parents work out. I followed up my strength training from Thursday with the same workout just lighter weights and more reps.

  • 20 minutes of warm up on the bike
  • 3 sets of bicep barbell curls, 15 reps each, 45 lbs, 55 lbs, 55 lbs
  • Alternated above three sets of barbell curls w/ 15 x 15lbs dumbell front raises
  • 3 sets of bench presses, 12 reps each, 95 lbs, 115 lbs, 135 lbs.
  • 3 sets triceps pulldowns, 15 reps each 30 lbs., 40 lbs., 50 lbs
  • 3 sets of butterfly machine, 15 reps each 105lbs., 115 lbs., 125 lbs.
  • Various ab and core exercises to close out the workout

Sunday 12/17:

Not only did I wake up excited because I was finally seeing Star Wats the Last Jedi, but there was no snow in the forecast and the mercury was going to go close to 40 degrees! I finally was going to try and get a long run in. To make a long story short. mission accomplished! I was able to get in just under 7 miles on Sunday. I felt really good thru out the entire run. I wanted to start slow and easy and I definitely did accomplish that. First three miles we 8:24, 8:33 and 8:24. Once I had three miles in the books, my strides started to open.  Each of the final 4 miles were progressively faster. Final mile was 7:19 pace. No calf pains after and no stiffness anywhere. Long run day was a success!

Distance – 6.7 miles / Time- 55:10 / 8:14 per mile

 

The temperatures are supposed to be back in the normal range this week. Well its about time! The only good thing about this cold snowy weather is that if I get in the day in the high 30s or low 40s, it actually feels like a heat wave to me. I’m debating if I should follow a half marathon training plan or if I should just go at it alone. I keep saying I want to focus on strength training and while I have started, I don’t think most half marathon training plans touch upon strength training. This will be on my mind heavily as I enter this week!

How did your workouts go last week?