I raced the 5 Mile Challenge put on by the Alley Pond Striders running club out in eastern Queens this morning. It was a beautiful day for a race and my family came along for the fun. We signed up W for the kids race, he didn’t want to wear his number, but when he saw all the other kids running down the sidewalk, he jumped right in. We carried him most of the way but there was some running and lots of shouting “RUN RUN RUN!!!”. So that was my warmup, not traditional, but very fun.
Then it was my turn. Right from the start, I saw only 2 women ahead of me and I passed them during the first mile. I went out hard but comfortable, the course was hilly, but manageable. There was only one long stretch of gradual hill in mile 4 that was really tough, mainly because it was so late in the race. My splits show how hilly it was:
Total time: 34:06 by my watch.
The last mile had a nice downhill stretch in it and I felt pretty good so I picked up the pace. Most of miles 3 and 4 were in an out and back section so I had lots to keep my mind off how I was feeling, watching the winning men go by and then lots of runners letting me know I was leading for the women. I really enjoyed this course – they did a great job having volunteers at each turn – and it was nice to be running on bike paths through wooded sections of the park. I’d definitely go back if I get the chance next year.
I decided to skip the long run this week as I’ve done them for the last 2 weeks and instead get in the track workout I wasn’t able to fit in during the week. I wanted to do something different so I did a ladder workout that went like this:
400 – 98
800 – 3:22
1200 – 4:59
1600 – 6:33
1200 – 4:56
800 – 3:08
400 – 89
I have a 5 mile race coming up so I wanted to do something a little faster than race pace so that’s how I came up with the distances to give me a total distance of 4 miles. This workout went really well despite the fact that I ran it on a very crowded track. It wasn’t that there were other runners, there were kids soccer games going on on the infield and which meant lots of parents and little kids that were oblivious that someone might actually want to run on the track. I’ll remember that next time I think about putting off a track workout until the weekend…
Anyway, when I planned this workout, I decided that I should try for 7 minute pace for the first half and then see how I felt after the mile. Once I got going, I was going a little faster than that, but I just went with it since I felt good. I felt strong in the mile and then just tried to have fun on the way back down the distances. I’m really encouraged by this workout, it makes me realize that a few weeks of consistent speed work can really make a difference. I’m almost feeling like a real runner again…
I don’t want to ruin it by writing this, but I’m starting to get myself into a pretty good routine, aside from taking almost a week off because I was sick for the half 3 weeks ago now. Its helping that B has started doing speedwork once a week so I have some motivation and sometimes company. Today happened to be my first really warm run of the season, and also my workout day. I think its almost 80F out there, about 30 degrees warmer than my long run on Sunday, and it felt hot on the track. I did 3 sets of 4×400, with 200 walk/jog rest between intervals, and then longer breaks to get water and catch my breath between sets. Splits looked like this:
92, 95, 95, 95
92, 91, 92, 92
93, 95, 93, 91
I managed to keep it consistent and finish strong even with the heat. Breaking it up into sets made it much more manageable than thinking of it as 12×400. Water fountains at the track (at Juniper Valley Park) still weren’t on but after the 2nd set, I found that the bathrooms were open and the drink I got was enough to get me through the last set. Otherwise, I would have cut it short.
I’ve definitely run this workout faster than this, but I count this as a success. On the run back, some guy yelled “Nice abs!” out his car window, so that made me feel good too, although it reminded me that I do need to work abwork back into my routine eventually.
So the National Half Marathon came and went, and I didn’t run. B and I planned to use it as an excuse to get away from the city for a weekend but on Thursday, he came down with a stomach bug and on Friday I woke up with the beginning of the cold that W brought home from daycare. My in-laws were slated for spending the weekend with W so we could get away and they had arrived from Wisconsin Thursday night so we figured we should just go, even though we both felt terrible when it was time to head to the train on Friday. So off we went. Met S, H and B for dinner that night where I confessed I was thinking I wouldn’t run if I still didn’t feel great in the morning. It was hard for me to justify making myself feel even worse and making the cold last longer by pushing myself through a half marathon I hadn’t planned on racing fast anyway.
So Saturday morning rolled around and I rolled over in bed and turned off my alarm and went right back to sleep. B started feeling better mid day, right around when I went downhill. Great timing all around. Not all was lost though, if we hadn’t gone away, we would have been home with our busy toddler in a cramped apartment, at least this way, we got to take naps (yes, two naps Saturday) and just relax which probably meant we recovered a lot faster than we would have otherwise.
I ran the McCarren Park Track Classic on Saturday. I surprised myself with a strong performance in the mile finishing just under 6 minutes, and then had fun joining a DMR team at the last minute for an 800 and then a 4×400 team with some soccer players that I met through SBRC. But I’m sore now! Yesterday, I felt it in my abs and hamstrings. Today I went for an easy run and my legs were really heavy. I’m sure that easy run was good for me and I’ll feel better tomorrow (or at least Wednesday – tomorrow I get to spend 7 hours driving for a client site visit for work, that won’t be good for my heavy legs). I’d better, National Half in just a few days!
My longest run in prep for the half in 2 weeks is done. I decided to try and meet up with the Forest Park Runners since I’ve been really missing group running these last few months since we moved. They meet at Forest Park, about 3 miles from my apartment, so I figured a long run was a good opportunity since then I could run there, join them for their run or at least some if it, and then run home. Coming from Carroll Gardens where I was within 2 miles of two different club meeting spots, I was surprised to find that this is the closest group I can find. Maybe it’ll inspire me to keep up with the long runs once this half is over.
Once I got there, I met two others that were there for the first time along with two regulars and we headed off on the main road through the park. We ran around 10 minute miles for our 5 mile out and back, up to the eastern end of Forest Park and then through Forest Hills Gardens. Lots of chatting and houses to look at (Forest Hills Gardens, a private community in the middle of Queens, is a weird place!) made the run go by so fast, even at the slow pace. Once I said goodbye to the group, I headed on the park road for my trip home and added on a little bit to make up for the slow middle miles for just over 13 by the time I got to my front steps.
Definitely thankful for the company and excited to try another one of their group runs in a few weeks!
Today’s run was supposed to be 10 miles following the long run schedule I made up to get me up to 12 before the National Half in 3 more weeks. So I figured, Manhattan is about 5 miles away, I’ll run there…
That’s what I did.
Out Metropolitan to Brooklyn and across the Williamsburg Bridge and then back home. I didn’t map it since it was a straight shot. But on my way out, I noticed that Flushing Ave veered off to the left from Metropolitan so that got me thinking, I could take Kent to Flushing after I got off the bridge so it wouldn’t be just an out and back run. Well, I didn’t quite get that far as I ran into Purim celebrations as I headed towards Kent which threw off my rhythm and I realized I didn’t feel so great. I figured that instead of adding I didn’t know how many miles (I figured at least 1 or 2) to my run when I didn’t really know how far my route was to begin with, I should head back to Metropolitan, especially when my stomach started giving me signs that the rest of the run may not go so well. After a (lucky I noticed it) park with a bathroom pit stop, and a text to B let him know I was still alive, I made it home safe and sound and tired. Total distance: 11.69 miles at around 8:30 pace.
So, overall the run was a success. But I did a lot of dumb things. I haven’t run that long since September. I didn’t bring water or money. I didn’t know how long the run actually was going to be and then decided to just add on a little more… And I was way overdressed for the warm day. Not ideal. You’d think by now I’d know how to approach a long run… Glad its done though.
Here’s the view from today’s run, in Mt. Olivet cemetery, I forget that we live up high here in Ridgewood, until I get a view of Manhattan in the distance like this one.
It hasn’t been all local cemetery runs though. Last week I was in Albany for work and joined Team Utopia for a state office campus workout. Of course, I had to show up on a night with one of the longest workouts of their training cycle – 3×15 minutes hard, 3 minutes rest. This workout was really long for me given that I’ve only been running around 15 miles a week so I took it very conservatively and just tried to hang at the back of the group through the whole thing. I finished it, but my hard sections were slow.
And yesterday I got some crappy news in the morning so by the time the end of my workday rolled around, but before I had to head into school for my late class, I needed to get out and run hard. I headed to the track at Juniper Valley Park and did 6×800 with 2 minutes rest. That was my first track workout in the new neighborhood, the track definitely wasn’t in the best shape, but once I got used to the soft spots in lane 1 near the start line, it wasn’t so bad. I managed to stay around 3:25 for all 6 repeats, so I was happy with the speed and felt like a whole new person afterwards.
After such a long stretch, probably 4-5 months by now, of just doing easy runs all at around the same pace, it’s felt good to mix it up a little bit. I should remember that, even when I’m not training for anything, just putting workouts on my schedule keeps me motivated and even a little excited about getting out the door for a run. I shouldn’t let myself get stuck in the rut of running easy all the time.
We spent a week in Wisconsin for a late family Christmas. Not really a vacation as I had to work, but it was nice to have grandparents around to spend time with W and take some of the pressure off B and me. And, I had my highest mileage week in many weeks with a whopping 19. I decided not to deal with the cold on my long run and got a guest pass to a gym for an 8 miler treadmill run. I helped the time go by by doing pickups every 10 minutes which actually felt good. I wasn’t a big cold weather wimp the whole trip though – made it out for 2 runs in the sub-freezing temperatures. I layered well for them so it wasn’t too bad. Glad I managed to get some runs in between all the good ol’ Wisconsin beer and cheese!
Today I made it out to Highland Park for a sort-of-long-for-me run. Unfortunately a whole section of it around the Ridgewood Reservoir was closed off but I managed almost 8 miles anyway. I’m glad I finally willed myself out the door for a run – I hadn’t run all week as I’m in the middle of a motivational slump. It was a busy week and I just couldn’t get myself to make time for a run. I’m afraid it’s going to be another rough semester and this wasn’t a great way for it to start out. But at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – hopefully, come May, I’ll have my MA and be done (for awhile at least).