Weekly Wrap-Up: December 24-30

Hey, look, my New York City recap is finally done!

My left calf decided to flare up last week for no good reason, which sucked, but I got through it. That’s 2018 in a nutshell, parts of it sucked, but I got through it anyway.

Christmas Present Update: Directly related to running, I got 4 Gu packets and 2 pairs of Balega socks. Adjacent to running, I got a pint glass with the New York City Marathon course etched into it, a framed poster of the New York City Marathon course, 3 photos from this years race in a nice frame, and one more picture of me crossing the finish line. (I’m not sure why I didn’t get gifts like this after I ran NYC in 2016. Not that I’m complaining, of course.)

Weight Check: 168.5, up exactly one pound from last week. I ate and drank a lot, and to only gain one pound from all of that…well, it doesn’t quite qualify as a Christmas Miracle, but I’ll call it acceptable. It could have been a lot worse, I guess.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 4 miles easy 4.01
Wednesday 15 minutes easy, 20 minutes comfortably hard, 15 minutes easy* 4.01
Friday 3 miles easy 3.11
Saturday 12 miles easy 12.01

Total: 23.14 miles

Yeah, there’s an asterisk next to Wednesday, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Monday I was at my parents’ house. It was cold, 37 degrees, but not too uncomfortable. My legs felt OK. I’m not sure what happened in mile 2 that caused me to slow down, but something clicked on mile 3 and I got through the last 2 miles at a faster pace. Considering how I don’t like running in my parents’ neighborhood, it turned out pretty well.

I took off Tuesday. We drove to my sisters’ house in Raleigh after my run on Monday, so I got to see my nephews open all their presents on Christmas morning. They’re the best.

I expected Wednesday to be tough, the day after a holiday. I didn’t expect my calf to start feeling sore during the warm up. I tried taking a walk break to see if that would help, but it didn’t. I was a little late starting the main workout (that was mostly just a brain fart, but I was probably a bit distracted by my calf). Anyway, after a few minutes at an increased effort, I was struggling to stay under an 11:00/mile pace (a minute per mile slower than my recent workout paces), and my calf didn’t feel any better. So I took a 1 minute walk break after 7 minutes, turned around about halfway through the walk break, and tried increasing my effort again for 7 minutes. I was a little faster, though still noticeably slower than on my recent workouts, and my calf was still hurting, and after 7 minutes, I started my cool down with some walking. I resumed running more slowly, and my calf started to feel a little bit better. I added a little bit to the end of the cool down to get to 4 miles.

I originally had a run scheduled for Tuesday, but my coach noted that I could push it to Thursday (my normal rest day) if I wanted to. And that was my original plan, but after my calf problems on Wednesday, I decided to rest on Thursday. My coach agreed with this strategy.

Friday, I was back home. I got on the treadmill one last time before the Resolution Runners show up. My calf wasn’t quite 100%, but it felt a lot better than Wednesday. Still, I took it somewhat easy, starting out at an 11:32/mile pace, going to 11:19/mile after 1 mile, then waiting until around 2.8 miles to bump it up to 11:07/mile for the finish. My mind hated it as usual, but I think it was good for my legs in general and my calf in particular.

On Saturday, the temperature was pretty comfortable although it was pretty damp. My calf seemed to be OK. On the first few miles, it may have felt just a little bit off, but I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t been focusing on it so much, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

My legs in general felt a little sluggish, though. It was a long week, and while I enjoyed seeing my family, I spent a lot of time eating, drinking, and playing with my nephews (who are still the best), and all of that probably didn’t help my running.

It had rained on Friday, and while it wasn’t as bad as previous weeks – none of the greenway was flooded – there were a couple of muddy spots, one that I walked through to keep from kicking up a whole bunch of mud, and the other I took a detour around. It had stopped raining sometime Friday evening, so there weren’t many puddles left.

I found one water fountain that hadn’t been turned off, and stopped there at around 2.3 miles. I had a Gu (with some more water) at around the 6 mile mark. I did take a couple of quick walk breaks on miles 10 and 11, but I did manage to speed up a little on mile 12.

Overall, it wasn’t a great run, but I got through it, and my calf seems to be doing better. I’ll take it.

This week, well, I start tapering for Charleston. I did wrap up 2018 this morning, so now I need to do a December wrap-up, a 2018 wrap-up, and a look ahead to 2019. You’d think finally finishing up my New York City recap would free things up, but no. Stupid calendar.

Race Report: 2018 New York City Marathon

I’m relieved. I finished.

I feel like there should be something more epic, but between last year’s DNF and this year’s unbelievably terrible training cycle, those are the two thoughts that come up the most for me when I look back at the race.

The race didn’t go how I’d hoped, but neither did my training. Still, I managed to get under 6 hours, and even though New York doesn’t have a time limit, I really wanted to make sure I finished sub-6. How times have changed, as I was hoping (in vain) for sub-5 in each of my previous marathons.

Like I did the last 2 years, I flew up to Newark with my parents on Friday and got a shuttle to the hotel on Staten Island. We ate dinner at the hotel next door, and I ate pasta, as usual.

Once again, Saturday was my trip to the expo. Again, the expo had a different layout, but it was still freaking huge.

I got my bib from the Team For Kids booth, which was a lot closer to the entrance, and also very likely less busy than the booth where I would have needed to go to pick up my bib. I didn’t take a picture of my bib right away, because I saw a wall with all of the runners’ names on it, and thought it would be a much better picture if I got my name on the wall along with my bib. (And I figured I’d get a picture of just my name on the wall as well.)

Hey, I finally got a picture of my bib in landscape mode!

I don’t remember if they had a wall of names the last two years. I might have missed it. (Huge expo and all that.) I’m glad I saw it this year, though.

I also got a t-shirt. They came up with another great design this year.

I think I like the 2017 shirt just a hair better, but this one is still really nice, and has the added benefit of being from a race that I, you know, finished.

After I was done, my parents and I grabbed lunch inside the Javitz Center. There was a place that sold hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches. I went with a hot dog.

I lucked out after that. A friend of my parents lives on the Upper West Side and invited us to come visit for a couple of hours. We took a taxi to her apartment, and I was able to sit for a while, which I appreciated. It was a good visit. I don’t know her as well as my parents do, but she’s led a really fascinating life, and she’s a good storyteller (Clearly, it didn’t rub off on me), so I could still appreciate spending time with her.

We took the subway back to the Staten Island Ferry. I noticed in the ferry terminal that the sports bar where I had gotten beer and a burger after the 2016 race had closed. Luckily, I did a quick search for nearby burger joints, and found one just one stop away from the ferry.

We picked up sandwiches at the ferry terminal to eat for dinner, and rode back to Staten Island, and then the hotel. The problem with waiting so long to do a write-up is that I can’t remember exactly what kind of sandwich I had. I’m sure it was good, and I do remember having a large chocolate chip cookie with it. (Carbs.)

I stayed off my feet, hydrated a lot, and got to bed at a decent hour. I somehow managed to get a fairly decent night of sleep. It’s the same weekend as the time change, and I’ve often joked that everybody else gets an extra hour of sleep, and I get an extra hour to toss and turn, but this year, I slept a lot better. Compared to other nights, it was barely mediocre, but for the night before a race? It was fantastic.

I had a reservation on the 6:15 shuttle. I think I set my alarm for 5:15, but I woke up around 5, because I always wake up before my alarm on race day. I showered, used the bathroom a couple of times, got dressed, and went downstairs to get on the shuttle. I was surprised to discover that I was the only person who made a reservation for the 6:15 shuttle.

Traffic near Fort Wadsworth wasn’t quite as bad as last year, when they had to scramble to add security just a few days after a terrorist attack, but it still wasn’t quite as smooth as 2016. The shuttle driver took a couple of back roads, and dropped me off near a security checkpoint that was primarily for volunteers, but runners were allowed through as well. Because most of the volunteers had already gone through, and there weren’t many runners, I got through in no time.

I then made my way to my new temporary home.

Team For Kids had a tent in the Start Village. It was heated, so it was nicer than the pre-race temps which were in the upper 40s. Also, it kept me out of the sun for a few hours, which, with my complexion, is a very good thing.

I took that picture right after I got there. It got a little more crowded once buses from the ferry started arriving, but then it started clearing out a bit after Wave 1 and Wave 2 had to leave.

They had bagels, bananas, coffee, water, and Gatorade. They may have had a few other snacks, but I didn’t partake in anything that I didn’t eat before any of my training runs and stuck to the 4 Chocolate Chip Clif Bars that I brought and some water to wash them down. I did drink a little bit of the Gatorade.

We also had our own port-a-potties. I used them several times, and at worst I had one person in line in front of me.

After last year, I was in full Howard Hughes mode, trying to avoid germs as much as possible. They had some hand sanitizing wipes available. I’m surprised they didn’t run out considering how many I used.

I went outside to get a picture of the rest of the Start Village. I like to get a shot of the Verrazano, but I didn’t notice the line of port-a-potties in the foreground.

I also got my annual shot of the elite men and Wave 1 just after the start.

I went back into the tent for a little bit (It wasn’t that cold, I just wanted to stay out of the sun for as long as possible). When I was in there, somebody made an announcement about an “Arts and Crafts” table (it was really just a first aid table) where they had markers if you wanted to decorate your gear and add your name. I wandered over to the table and considered having my name on my shirt. On the one hand, I thought it would be cool to write P.J. on my shirt and have people cheering for me by name. On the other hand, I wanted to wear my shirt to the Y (I only own one other singlet, and I find that I generally like singlets on the treadmill where they help me stay cooler without exposing my upper arms to the sun), and I would feel funny showing up there with a shirt with my name on it. Luckily, I noticed someone who grabbed some medical tape, wrote their name on it, and stuck it to their shirt. I wasn’t 100% sure the tape would stay for the entire race, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

I’m going to spoil it: This was hands down the best decision I made that day (and quite possibly the 2nd best running related decision I’ve ever made, second only to going to a local running store to get fitted for some running shoes right after I started running). Hearing people yell my name all day was awesome, and I highly recommend putting your name on your shirt if you’re running a race with good crowd support.

I did my usual set of pre-run stretches, and then, when they called Wave 4, they led us outside where a coach ran us through some stretches. He wished us luck, told us there would be other Team For Kids coaches out on the course, and then they walked us over to the corrals.

We got to see Wave 3 start while we were in the corrals, which, while not quite as exciting as Wave 1, is still pretty cool to see.

Then we slowly made our way to the starting line.

A guy who was running the race sang the National Anthem. I remembered to remove my visor, so at least I got that part right.

They shot off the Howitzer, New York, New York started playing (unlike 2016, it didn’t get cut off, and unlike 2017, it wasn’t the duet version with Tony Bennett, this one was all Frank Sinatra), and we were off. I crossed the starting line at 11:04 AM.

Miles 1 and 2: Staten Island

Mile 1 was up the Verrazano, but on the lower deck. I swear it feels impossible to tell where the actual peak is when you’re down there. Still, I took it easy, and got through the first mile in 12:56. Mile 2 was downhill through the rest of the Verrazano, then it flattened out a bit on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Like most non-elite runners, it was my fastest mile (I think…more on that later) at 10:25. Maybe a little faster than I wanted, but it wasn’t ludicrous speed.

Miles 3 to 12: Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a whole lot more fun when your gastrointestinal system isn’t going haywire. In the back of my mind, I knew this was in all likelihood my last run through Brooklyn, so I tried to soak up as much of it as I could. It also helped that my legs were still feeling OK through here.

I stopped at every aid station, and got water if I had just eaten a Gu (miles 4, 8, and 12), and Gatorade at the rest. I tried to work in a few walk breaks as well so that I might not be completely wiped out near the end.

I really enjoyed this stretch. Also, this was the first time total strangers were yelling out my name, and that was really cool.

Just like two years ago, I saw some Jets fans and yelled to them, “Beat the Dolphins!” (And, just like two years ago, the Jets did not beat the Dolphins.)

Then I got to mile 12. You know, the mile where I stopped last year.

The aid station was a little bit before the end of the mile, but I recognized it immediately. Last year, I had gotten a cup of water, then was hit with a wave of nausea that told me that drinking the water would be a bad idea because it wouldn’t stay down for very long, and I even looked around for a tree or some other place I might be able to throw up on. I kept going until I saw a medical tent, and that’s where my day ended.

This year, I saw the medical tent in the exact same spot, and I started to tear up. I knew I was going to go farther than last year. I turned a corner, and I could see the Mile 12 marker. I looked at the crowd, and I saw a woman with a sign that said “You will finish.”

I teared up some more.

The feeling of passing the 12 mile mark was just amazing. I knew I had a long, long way to go, and there were still a million different things that could go wrong before the finish line, but I got a huge boost knowing I had made it that far.

Another mile, and our time in Brooklyn was about to end. This time, I was able to leave Brooklyn on foot rather than on a bus, and I was extremely grateful.

My times through Brooklyn were 11:59, 11:49, 12:16, 12:18, 11:56, 12:27, 12:25, 11:57, 12:18, and 12:45. (I guess the mental boost didn’t result in a physical boost. Oh well.)

Miles 13 and 14: Queens

We ran over the Pulaski Bridge into Queens. We didn’t get to see much of Queens, but the crowds are still great through there. I got through in 12:30 and 12:28. My time at the halfway point was 2:39:38. I felt like that was fairly close to where I wanted to be. A perfect split would have given me a PR, but I kind of figured that wasn’t going to happen.

Mile 15: The 59th Street Bleeping Bridge

It’s The Big One. I was about as ready for it as I could possibly be. It’s a slow slog climbing up the first half of it. I did take some walk breaks this time, I was smarter about it. (It still sucks, and adding Bleeping to the name is still warranted.) While I knew how bad the bridge was, I also knew that the turn on to 1st Avenue was waiting on the other side, so slowing down was tough. I managed, though, with a time of 13:25.

Miles 16 to 18: Manhattan, Part 1

Yes, the turn on to 1st Avenue is so much more fun when you’re running than when you’re riding on a bus. I’m not sure why, but I felt like the noise built up more gradually this year, while two years ago it seemed more like a giant wall of sound that hit me all at once. Still, the end result is the same, the loudest cheers of the entire course (this year, with added shouts of my name), and once again, I got choked up. I did reach out and high five a few people under the overpass as you turn on to 1st Avenue, and I think I even thanked them, because it really is a huge highlight.

Here is a good spot to mention that New York City is the greatest city in the world. (But I might be a little biased.)

I was still feeling pretty good at this point, and then I had to focus on looking out for my parents. Once again, I had given them instructions to stand outside a Subway (as in the fast food restaurant, not the underground train) between 86th and 87th Street. (And, like 2 years ago, I again have to ask, why would anyone go to Subway when there are so many great delis near by?) This time, they saw me before I saw them, since they weren’t right in front of the Subway. I ran over and hugged them. Even if I was writing this hours after the race, I couldn’t tell you what I said to them or what they said to me, it just didn’t register. But the words don’t really matter. I know I was thankful that they were there to support me, and I know they love me and were proud of me.

After that, things started to go south. With my reduced mileage in training, I just didn’t have the endurance that I wanted. Even though my paces had been slower than any of my previous marathons and I had taken some planned walk breaks (including on the 59th Street Bleeping Bridge), I still had almost nothing left by around mile 18.

I had Gu at 16. I got though these miles in 13:01, 12:39 (Mom and Dad gave me a little boost), and 13:02.

Miles 19 and 20: The Bronx

I was really struggling. Even the sight of the “Welcome to The Bronx” sign wasn’t enough to overcome my lack of sufficient miles in training. (I still choked up when I saw it, of course.) I was happy to be back in the borough where I was born, and the crowd was great (of course they were great, it was The Bronx), but I still had to walk a lot.

Right around this time, my Garmin Forerunner 220 started beeping at me and warning that the battery was low. It’s over 4 years old now, so the battery life isn’t what it used to be. The combination of me being out there for a while, and the tall buildings making it harder to lock in to GPS signal meant that it wasn’t going to make it to the finish. (It’s OK now, I recharged it and I’ve been using it since then. It just can’t handle a marathon any more. Kind of like me.) All I could do was hope that it made it out of The Bronx. For some reason, I didn’t want it to stop while I was in the borough where I was born. I don’t understand it either.

I had Gu at 20. My times were 14:18 and 15:29. Yeah, this is not a good trend.

Miles 21 to the Finish: Manhattan, Part 2

As I crossed the Madison Avenue Bridge (the last bridge, and several people had signs noting this) and landed in Manhattan, my watch was still (barely) alive. It had made it out of The Bronx. I was relieved.

However, at the 21.85 mile mark, its day was over. It served me well, but now, I’d basically have to run blind. I mean, it’s not like I could speed up that much at this point, but it would have been nice to know my paces. To my surprise, I was able to retrieve the data up until it stopped, but after that, I can only rely on my 5K splits that I got from the race app.

In this stretch, I saw a few Team For Kids coaches. They seemed to always catch me while I was walking. (Then again, I was definitely walking more than I was running, so the odds were in favor of them seeing me walking.) Of course, each one checked in to make sure I was OK and wasn’t hurt. Nope, just undertrained and exhausted.

I made my way down 5th Avenue, then into Central Park. As I was turning into the park for the first time around 90th Street, they had a video screen set up. In the official app, they had a thing where you could generate cheer cards for a runner, and there was a chance they might get to see the cheer cards somewhere on the course. Well, my parents made one featuring a picture of me at the end of the Trophy Trot 10K, and I happened to see it on this video screen. That was really cool, and I think I did manage to start running a little bit right after I saw it.

I had my last Gu at mile 24. This time, I actually stopped for Gatorade at the mile 25 aid station. Two years ago, I had been trying in vain to get a marathon PR and skipped the last aid station in the hopes it would help. This year, I figured I needed the aid.

After that last stop, though, I did start running again, and I pretty much ran the rest of the way, with one exception.

We came out of Central Park onto 59th Street. And near 7th Avenue, my parents were waiting for me. Once again, they saw me before I saw them, but I slowed down so I could give them hugs, and then I headed towards the finish.

Mile 21 was, uh, 17:09. The last 0.85 that my watch caught was at around a 16:15/mile pace, although I don’t know how accurate that 0.85 measurement was. I think it was pretty close, I could buy that the next mile marker was roughly 0.15 after that. My pace from 35K to 40K (21.7 miles to 24.8 miles) was 16:12/mile. My pace from 40K to the Finish was 11:26/mile(!) which was a pleasant surprise. I somehow managed to finish strong.

As I approached the finish line, I knew what I wanted to do. It’s something that I thought about before my first marathon, but in the moment when I got to the finish, I just completely forgot about it. I’m sure it crossed my mind in 2016, but I’m not sure why I just ran across the finish line. Maybe it was because I was disappointed that I didn’t PR? Anyway, I knew that there was a very good chance that this would be the last time I’d cross the finish line of a marathon, so I decided to make this one count.

I’ve got my arms raised up, and I’m making the N.C. State Wolfpack hand sign with each hand. I’m a proud graduate of N.C. State (Go Wolfpack!) even if I wasn’t much of a runner back then. And, as you can see, my little piece of medical tape with my name on it made it to the end.

Side note: This is not only the best marathon finishing photo I’ve ever gotten, it might be the best race finish photo I’ve ever gotten.

My official time was 5:52:03, an average pace of 13:26/mile. I have to admit, when I saw it, I kind of winced. But I finished, and that’s the most important part.

After I finished, I got my medal, and then they had some photographers taking pictures of people with their medals. A few lines had formed, so I waited, and ended up with a picture that looks like I had been waiting in line and just wanted to get going. (I’m not going to include that picture.)

I got my heat blanket and goody bag after that. The goody bag had a delicious McIntosh apple, some off the wall flavor of Gatorade that was almost clear but tasted like cherry (I really didn’t care after 26.2 miles), a bottle of water, a protein bar (meh), a vanilla protein shake (I think I drank it on Monday rather than waiting until the morning of my flight and realizing it wouldn’t get through security), and a bag of pretzels.

After that, a Team For Kids volunteer found me and guided me to the special post-race area they had set up. It’s on Cherry Hill, so, yes, I had to walk up a hill to get to it. I survived. We had a heated tent (not that it was all that cold outside) with chairs. I was a bit worried that if I sat down I wouldn’t be able to get back up, but I took a chance.

Also, while seated, I took the picture I’d been waiting for.

I did manage to get up after a few minutes, since I wanted to go meet my parents. The thing is, when you leave Cherry Hill, in order to leave Central Park, you have to take a path that includes a pedestrian bridge, and the bridge has steps leading up to it, and (even worse) steps leading down from it. I survived this as well.

I exited the park at 72nd street and found my parents. We walked a couple of blocks west to Broadway and got on the 1 train. I was able to ride for free with my medal, which is a lot better than riding for free with a MetroCard that a volunteer gives you after you have to drop out of the race due to illness. We got off one stop before the end at Rector Street and walked about 2 blocks to Bill’s Bar and Burger. Last year’s dinner was ginger ale and saltines. This year, I had a beer (Five Boroughs Brewing Company Pilsner, which, based on the name, I think would make an excellent choice as an official beer of the race) and a cheeseburger, and it was glorious.

So here’s my usual picture of the medal with a packet of Gu for scale.

(Fun fact: I used my last Gu during the race. From then until Christmas, I had no Gu packets in my house. I always get a few for Christmas, so, since this report was so late, I used one of my gifts in the photo.)

It’s roughly the same size as the 2016 medal, a hair thinner, but with a little extra near the top of the bridge. I do like the medal design, but I’m a little biased.

I haven’t mentioned the weather during the race yet, because really, it was perfect. 52 degrees, sunny (OK, I would have preferred a few clouds, but I didn’t get any sunburn), and most importantly, no wind. It was good enough that the Men’s winner, Lelisa Desisa, finished with the 2nd fastest time ever for the course.

So, almost two months later (sorry), what does it all mean?

My time was definitely slower than I’d hoped. But my training didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. There’s one thing that I noticed when I looked at my training cycles before my previous marathons. For those, the average pace of my marathon was slower than the average pace of the majority of my long runs. This time, my average pace was faster than the majority of my long runs. That’s really how it’s supposed to work, your training kicks in and you race faster than you ran your long runs. You could argue that I underachieved slightly in my first two marathons, and, if anything, I actually overachieved in this race.

I guess I’m satisfied with my performance. I’m still disappointed that my training didn’t go well, but considering how poorly it went, I did OK on race day, and I finished. That’s the important part.

It doesn’t erase 2017, though. Maybe if my training this year had gone as well as last year, and I ran a really good race, I might feel differently. I’ll never know how well I could have run last year if I hadn’t gotten sick. It still sucks. But on November 4, 2018, I did manage to find a little bit of redemption. This time, I finished, and I’ll never take that for granted again.

And with that, I’m about 99% sure that I’m done with the marathon. I won’t say never, but right now, if I was a betting man, I’d bet on no more marathons. Each has been an unforgettable experience (Unfortunately, I couldn’t forget 2017 if I tried), and I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of doing through each training cycle and running each race. But I’m 45 years old now. It’s not going to get any easier. And the amount of time and effort that I have to put in to train for and then run 26.2 miles…I just don’t think I can do that again. Ultimately, though, at this point, I just feel like I have nothing left to prove. I’ve completed 3 marathons. Not many people can say that. I’ll still run shorter races (as I write this, I’m just a couple of weeks away from the Charleston Half Marathon), and I’ll continue to enjoy running, because I do love it. It’s just highly unlikely that I’ll ever run 26.2 miles again.

I said in my 2015 Raleigh City of Oaks recap that I’d heard this saying: “I’m not saying it will be easy, I’m saying it will be worth it.” I had wondered if it was true as I was training for that race, and in the end, I realized that it was absolutely worth it. The 2016 New York City Marathon was worth it, too. Even if it didn’t turn out as planned (that’s an understatement), the 2017 New York City Marathon was worth it.

The 2018 New York City Marathon? Yeah, it was absolutely worth it.

Vital Stats

Full Name of Race: TCS New York City Marathon
Location: Starting Line on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Staten Island, New York
Date and Time of Race: November 4, 2018, 11:00 AM (Wave 4) (Actual start: 11:04 AM)
Bib Number: 68671
Official Finishing Time: 5:52:03, 13:26/mile. 46,977th of 52,697 Overall, 4,378th of 4,699 in Age Group (Male 45-49)

Weekly Wrap-Up: December 17-23

Everything pretty much worked out this week, and it went pretty well. Except for the part where I wanted to make some progress on my New York City Marathon race recap. But hey, I found some time to get this wrap-up out on time, so there’s that.

Weight Check: 167.5 pounds, down 0.3 from last week. I did my weigh-in before my short Saturday run, but still, considering everything, I’ll take it.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 4 miles easy 4.01
Tuesday 15 minutes easy, 2 x 10 minutes comfortably hard with 2 minutes easy in between, 15 minutes easy 4.86
Wednesday 4 miles easy 4.01
Friday 11 miles easy 11.01
Saturday 3 miles easy 3.11

Total: 27.0 miles

Wow, 27 miles even, I did not plan that.

Monday was cold, 34 degrees, but not too bad. My legs were a little tired. The first 3 miles were consistent, but slower than I’d like. I did manage to get a bit faster on the last mile, so I’ll take the strong finish.

On Tuesday, I did my workout. The weather was similar to Monday, cold but not terrible. My legs felt OK at first, then started to get a little tired, especially during the second interval, and were pretty fatigued during the cool down, but it was understandable. I was able to run faster in the 2nd interval, and I even had enough for a little push at the end of the cool down. Also, I managed to avoid walking during the 2 minutes between intervals and at the beginning of the cool down (although it was definitely a very slow jog). Overall, it was a pretty solid workout.

Wednesday was a treadmill run. My legs felt good, but as usual, my mind hated it. My paces for each mile were 11:32, 11:19, 11:07, 10:55. So I guess it was a good treadmill run.

So, Friday I had the day off work. I had been hoping to do my long run that day so I’d only have to run 3(.1) miles on Saturday before leaving town. However, the forecast was giving me flashbacks to last Saturday. Still, when I got up that morning and saw a break in the rain, I decided to go for it.

It was damp, a little windy, and it rained a little bit during the run, mainly in the last half. But it didn’t rain as much Thursday, so there weren’t as many puddles as last week. Also, it was more than 10 degrees warmer, and that made a huge difference. There was still some flooding keeping me from part of the greenway, but I was able to put together 11 miles without too much repetition.

I can definitely see an increase in pace on the second half, which is good. My legs felt pretty good for the most part. I think they started to feel a little tired on mile 9, my slowest mile during that stretch, but I recovered and pushed it near the end, maybe not quite as much as my long runs before last week, but the last mile was still my fastest. And after last week, I was relieved to make it through all 11 miles.

Saturday was much cooler, but not too terrible (and more importantly, it was dry). My legs definitely weren’t 100% the day after an 11 miler, but I thought they held up pretty well all things considered. I managed to gradually speed up over the course of the run without pushing too much until the very end. It was a good, solid run.

Next week, well, there’s a little holiday coming up, and some travel. I have a schedule. Whether I can stick to it is another story.

Weekly Wrap-Up: December 10-16

I’m late. Spoiler Alert: Next week’s wrap-up is probably going to be late, too, since my current plan is to leave town on Saturday, December 22.

The week started late and ended with a run that wasn’t fun, but I got through it, and some of it even went well.

Weight Check: 167.8 pounds, down 0.9 from last week. I’ll take it. It was a stressful week, but I lucked out by working from home a few days where I don’t have nearly as many snacks available as I do when I’m at work. My weight is still a little higher than I’d like right now (especially considering what’s to come with the holidays), but at least for now, I can enjoy a small decrease. I’ll do my next weigh in Saturday morning pre-run, which, since it’s before I gather with my family, might turn out OK.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Wednesday 20 minutes easy, 15 minutes comfortably hard, 15 minutes easy 4.51
Thursday 3 miles easy 3.12
Friday 4 miles easy 4.01
Saturday 10 miles easy 9.16

Total: 20.8 miles

I had to juggle my schedule around a bit (and then I had to juggle a second time since Thursday was originally scheduled for 4 miles but due to time constraints I made a last minute swap with Friday), and I don’t think I want to run 4 days in a row again anytime soon, but I made it work.

I waited until things dried out so there wouldn’t be any black ice, so Wednesday was my first day back. It may have been dry, but it was cold, 30 degrees. My legs felt like they had 3 days off, and in retrospect I probably should have waited until Thursday to do my workout. Still, once I warmed up (both running and temperature), I got better, and the cool down was a little faster than the warm up. It wasn’t quite as good as I’d like, but I got through it. I added about 30 or so seconds to get to 4.5 miles.

Thursday was 35, not quite as cold. My legs felt better, and my paces reflected that. I got a little faster on each mile without really pushing that hard until near the end. I’m happy with this run. (I still don’t know how I ended up with .12 instead of .11, but hey, I might need that extra .01 at the end of the year.)

On Friday, it was wet outside (more on that in a minute), which made the treadmill feel a little less bad. My mind hated it, but my legs were fine. I started at 11:32/mile, sped up to 11:19/mile at 2.5 miles, and at 3.5 miles, sped up to 11:07/mile. So it went pretty well.

Saturday…well, remember how I said it was wet on Friday? Yeah, it rained pretty heavily. And while it had eased up a little by Saturday morning, it was still wet and miserable. Parts of the greenway were flooded and impassable, and other parts had giant puddles, so sometimes I went around them through mud, sometimes I hurdled them, and sometimes I just ran through them, and all 3 options sucked in different ways. It didn’t rain the whole time, and it was never all that heavy, but it still wasn’t fun. My legs didn’t feel great, and I don’t know how much of that was the conditions (and the puddle avoiding), and how much of it was running 4 days in a row. I suppose my performance wasn’t terrible, and miles 2 and 3 were actually pretty good, but I definitely noticed a slow down late, and after hitting 9 miles, I decided to cut it short and just ran from that point to my car, so that’s where the 0.16 comes from.

While it’s definitely a strong contender for Worst Run of December(and that also says a lot about how well the rest of the month has gone so far), it wasn’t a complete disaster, and as time passes (and I dry out), it looks a little less bad. It still wasn’t fun while I was doing it, though.

So, I guess I still need to buckle down and finish that bleeping NYC race report. I’m not making any promises.

My schedule is about to be thrown into flux with holiday travel. I do enjoy seeing my family (especially my nephews, they’re the best), so I don’t mind juggling my schedule for them.

Weekly Wrap-Up: December 3-9

We had a winter storm come through Saturday night. I was expecting worse, but mostly I just got sleet and cold rain in my neck of the woods. I’m not sure what conditions will be like Monday morning (some more snow may move through, and any sleet in the roads will probably freeze over), so I might need to juggle my schedule for next week, but we’ll see.

I had a pretty good week of running with a really great finish.

Weight Check: 168.7 pounds, down 0.1 from last week. Beats the alternative, I guess. I think I did overindulge a bit on Saturday. Partly I was hungry after my run, and partly I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to get back out into the world to get food. Hopefully, with some more reasonable weather this week, I’ll get back to normal and maybe lose a little bit of weight.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 4 miles easy 4.01
Tuesday 20 minutes easy, 10 minutes comfortably hard, 15 minutes easy 4.06
Wednesday 4 miles easy 4.01
Friday 3 miles easy 3.11
Saturday 8 miles easy 8.01

Total: 23.2 miles

Monday I paid for that really fast mile at the end of last Saturday’s long run. My legs felt a little off. The weather was nice, though, 51 degrees. My pace wasn’t as consistent as I’d like, but I got through it with a decent overall pace.

On Tuesday, I had my first speed workout since…uh, August? Cooler, down to 41 degrees, but still comfortable. My legs weren’t quite 100%. The warm up felt a little bit tougher because of that. I got through the workout in the middle, and it wasn’t too bad. I was hoping it would be a little bit faster, but it was still under 10:00/mile, so that’s pretty good compared to my easy runs. My legs felt a little better on the cool down, which is why it was noticeably faster than the warm up even though the effort wasn’t that much more. Considering how long it had been since I’d done speed work, it went pretty well.

Wednesday, I got on the treadmill to give my legs a break. They felt fine. My mind hated it, of course. After my workout Tuesday I decided to keep it fairly easy. I started at 11:46/mile, then at 1.5 miles I sped up to 11:32/mile, and for the last mile, I sped up to 11:19/mile. It went pretty well.

On Friday, it was cold, 33 degrees. My legs felt fine. My pace seemed pretty consistent with a slight increase near the end. A pretty uneventful run, which isn’t a bad thing.

Saturday I went out there not knowing when I’d be able to run again, and decided to make it count.

Weather was cool, 43 degrees, but comfortable. My legs felt a little tired on the first two miles, and I’m not exactly sure why. They got warmed up by mile 3, though. I kept it fairly steady for the next few miles, gradually speeding up a little, and then I took off on the last mile, and finished with what I’m pretty sure is the fastest mile I’ve run this year, 8:53.

Obviously, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Next week, I’ll get back out there after the weather clears out. I might have to skip a scheduled run or two, though. Then again, considering how I finished my long run, I can probably use a little extra rest. Also, I’ve got a 10 miler on the schedule, so I’ll be back to double digits. And I’ve made some progress on my New York City Marathon recap, so maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to finish it this week.

Weekly Wrap-Up: November 26-December 2

It was a pretty good week, running-wise.

I have no idea when I’ll have my New York City Marathon report finished. This is why I’m not a professional writer, I could never hit deadlines. (Never mind that I’d also have to have at least a little bit of writing skill.)

Yoga Update: Wait, what? Yeah, I started doing yoga. A friend recommended a YouTube channel, Yoga With Adriene. She seems pretty cool, and she’s done a few 30 day introductory series at the beginning of each year, so I’m working my way through the one from 2015. My flexibility and balance are pretty piss poor, but I’m getting by. Maybe it’ll help my running. It’s part of a plan to diversify and get into some physical activity that isn’t running. I’m not giving up running, I just want to branch out a little, that’s all.

Weight Check: 168.8 pounds, up 1.7 from last week. Well, crap. It wasn’t a great week eating-wise, but I didn’t think it was that bad, especially when I was already starting from 167.1. Buckle down this week, I guess.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 3 miles easy 3.11
Tuesday 4 miles easy 4.01
Wednesday 3 miles easy 3.11
Friday 4 miles easy 4.01
Saturday 8 miles easy 8.01

Total: 22.25 miles

Monday warmed up a bit to 50 degrees. I missed the steady rain earlier in the morning, but it was still damp and there was occasional mist. My legs felt OK. I felt like I couldn’t find a steady pace, although the pace graph doesn’t look that bad. I did manage to get a little faster near the end, though.

On Tuesday, it was cold. 33 degrees. My legs felt fine, or at least they felt well enough that I didn’t notice anything bad. My pace was both faster and more consistent than Monday’s run, and it was over a longer distance, so I was pretty happy with this run.

Wednesday, I figured I needed a treadmill run, and planned it before I saw the forecast. It was about 24 degrees outside, so I lucked out. My legs felt fine, but, as usual, my mind didn’t. I started out at 11:46/mile, went to 11:32/mile after 1 mile, then went to 11:19/mile at around 2.5 miles. It was a good, solid (but mentally excruciating) run.

On Friday, it was a bit windy, but otherwise pretty nice running weather. My legs felt fine. I managed to speed up a little bit on each mile, but didn’t really increase my effort until near the end. Overall, a solid run.

Saturday was the first time since New York City that I felt like it was a long run. It was nice running weather, 52 and partly cloudy. My legs felt pretty good. I decided to go to the greenway closer to my house to make sure I got done before heavy rain moved in (and I made it home before the rain started). The water fountains were shut down for the winter, so I just ran all the way through without taking any breaks.

Other than mile 3, which was noticeably slower and I can’t figure out why, I kept a pretty steady pace for the first 6 miles, just over 11:30/mile. I sped up a little bit on mile 7, getting down to 11:03, and when I got to mile 8, I decided to see how fast I could finish, and I was very pleasantly surprised. 9:22! At this point, I honestly wasn’t sure I had a mile like that in me, especially after 7 miles. (Then again, my fastest mile ever came on the last mile of a 10 mile race.) So, yeah, I was pretty happy with this run.

This week, I’ve got some speed work(!) and a 9 miler. And a lot of work to do on that freaking New York City race report. And more yoga. Namaste, I guess.

Monthly Wrap-Up: November 2018

I feel like this month needs no introduction. OK, I’ll admit that my New York City race report isn’t done yet, but really, I think that’s all I need to say.

November 2018
Total Mileage:
67.02 miles (See, ending runs with .01 pays off every once in a while.)
Average Pace: 12:17/mile
Number of Runs: 13
Last Month (October 2018): 137.64 miles
Last Year (November 2017): 83.72 miles (Last year had more miles in November because I didn’t need to spend as much time recovering, because, well, you know.)
Races: 2018 New York City Marathon

Total Mileage for 2018: (as of November 30) 1042.75 miles

I broke 1000 miles for the year during the New York City Marathon, which is kind of cool, but also a sign that my mileage for the year is a lot lower than I’d like. I guess it’s the whole glass half empty/glass half full thing.

So the only goal I set for this year was to finish the New York City Marathon. I’ve completed my goal, and I’m relieved.

Best Run: 2018 New York City Marathon, 5:52:03, 13:26/mile pace

It was the slowest race I’ve ever run as far as pace. It was 24 minutes slower than my time in 2016. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if I should really call this my best run of the month. But I realized something within the last week. If you look at my two previous marathons, for the most part, my average pace in the race was slower than the vast majority of my long runs. I found 2 instances of long runs at a slower pace than the marathon that year, and they were in July and August. I didn’t dig in, but I suspect they were done in really, really bad weather. This year, I only had 2 long runs that were at a faster pace than my marathon, and they were my last 2 long runs (and they were 13.1 and 9 miles respectively, so not all that long, relatively speaking). I had a nagging feeling after 2015 and 2016 that I had underachieved slightly (and now I’m starting to think that’s what had me keep trying at the marathon). This year, well, overachieved is a strong word, but I’m pretty sure (based on my training) I didn’t underachieve, and that’s something. Also, it’s 26.2 freaking miles. I’d have to really, really, really screw it up to disqualify it from best run of the month (or have some other miraculous run in the same month, which seems even more unlikely).

I’ll give a shout out to my run on November 24. It was a 5 miler (which actually makes it my 2nd longest run of November), it was the fastest average pace of the month (11:23/mile), and the conditions were pretty miserable. Also, it came one day after…

Worst Run: November 23, 3.11 miles, 11:47/mile.

It was the day after Thanksgiving, so, yeah, I ended up with my 2nd slowest average pace of the month. At least I was able to rebound from it quickly.

So, yeah, that was November, finally getting the monkey off my back, then slowly working my way back. The recovery has gone fairly well so far, and hopefully I’ll be able to finish 2018 strong. (Or at least with a run that ends in .18.)

Weekly Wrap-Up: November 19-25

It was a pretty good week overall. Any week where I get to see my nephews can’t be all that bad.

Oh, and of course I’m thankful for running. Yes, I’m thankful even when Raleigh closes part of their greenway and sends me on a detour that puts me on a road that’s one giant hill (which I have to go over twice because I’m doing an out and back), and I’m thankful even when it’s cold, windy, and damp.

Weight Check: 167.1 pounds, down 0.3 from last week. The 2018 edition of “Operation Minimize Weight Gain” was a success. Granted, I had to drive home Thursday evening, and that cut back a little on my drinking on Thanksgiving day, and not being around my family on Friday and/or Saturday meant I ate less. And yeah, 167.1 is still a couple of pounds heavier than I’d like, especially with more weight gaining opportunities coming up in December. Still, I need to put it in perspective. I’m 45 years old, and after Thanksgiving, I’m about 3 pounds overweight. That’s pretty good.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 3 miles easy 3.11
Tuesday 3 miles easy 3.11
Thursday 4 miles easy 4.01
Friday 3 miles easy 3.11
Saturday 5 miles easy 5.01

Total: 18.35 miles

On Monday, the weather was cool but pretty nice. I had done a lot of walking over the weekend, a little bit of bike riding (for the first time in years), and I had a run in with a scooter that left several scrapes and an ugly bruise on my right knee. (We shall never speak of this scooter encounter again.) So I wasn’t quite 100%, but I was still able to run. I was a little slower than last week, but I definitely felt better as I went along, and managed to speed up just a little bit as my condition improved.

Tuesday was warmer, but very comfortable. I felt better than Monday, although I didn’t quite feel 100%. Once I got through the first mile, though, it got easier, and it was a good run.

I ran on Thanksgiving, although unlike the last two years, it wasn’t a race. It was cold, 36 degrees, but not too bad. My legs felt OK. I drove over to a greenway in Raleigh, and due to construction, on the first mile I had to take a detour off of the flat greenway and on to a road that was just one big hill, so that wasn’t fun, and since I was doing an out and back, I hit that hill again on the last mile. I went out a little too fast, so miles 2 and 3 were slower, but not too bad, and I recovered a bit for the last mile.

Friday, I was back at home, and, well, it was the day after Thanksgiving, I didn’t feel 100%. It didn’t help that I had to drive home 3 hours Thursday night. Also, it was colder, and quite windy. Anyway, I got through it, and gradually sped up along the way. It was slower than some of my recent runs, but considering everything, I’ll take it.

On Saturday, I was worried about getting a call from work (I ended up not getting called at all, so that was nice), but I still waited before going out there because I was waiting for the rain to stop. I have no problem running in the rain when it’s 50 degrees, but 37 is a different story. I did still get a little bit of drizzle and occasional wind, and everything was still damp, so it was pretty miserable out there. My legs felt OK, though. I resisted the temptation to sprint so I could get back inside to warm up, and kept an easy, relatively steady pace, with a nice push at the end.

This week, it’s back to normal. I’ve even got something that could be considered a long run, 8 miles. I’ll also work on my NYC recap some more, and hopefully get it finished, but I’m thinking I’ll need another week. Oh, and next Saturday is December 1(!), so I guess I’ll have to fit in a November wrap-up.

Weekly Wrap-Up: November 12-18

I got to run again. Woohoo! I probably didn’t have to wait until Friday to be physically ready to run, but before then it pretty much rained constantly, so I’m OK with the wait.

I picked up one last cheap pair of Adrenaline 18s, since the 19s are out. Interestingly, the pair that they had in stock was the black with red and gold trim, which is the same color as my 2nd (and previously newest) pair. Strange, since the base style was gray with blue and black trim. Luckily, I won’t need them for a while. I’ll probably buy a pair of 19s to use in between the two pairs, because alternating between 2 shoes that look the same is tricky at best.

On another shoe-related note, I didn’t notice this until last week, but my 2nd pair of Adrenaline 18s (the ones I didn’t bring to New York) had 26.2 miles total on them. That’s just bizarre. I couldn’t do that again if I tried.

I’m not going to have my NYC recap done before Thanksgiving. The process for writing recaps is very similar to my marathons. It’s very slow, very difficult, and the results aren’t much to look at. I’ll get to the finish eventually, just like I did in New York City two weeks ago.

Weight Check: 167.4 pounds, down 0.4 from last week. Considering how low my mileage was, this isn’t terrible. I do know that before Saturday I probably would have seen more of a loss, though. I had a lot of fun Saturday. While “had a lot of fun” and “ate and drank too much” don’t have to go together, in this case, they did. And this week, I will embark on “Operation Minimize Weight Gain.”

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Friday 3 miles easy 3.11
Saturday 3 miles easy 3.11

Total: 6.22 miles

Friday was my first day back. It was chilly, 36 degrees, but not too bad. I forgot that I had turned off auto-lap for the marathon, and this was my first run since then. I forgot to hit the lap button at the 1 mile mark, but I hit it at 2 and 3. (I turned auto-lap on after I was finished, so this won’t be an issue again unless I do another race where I’m surrounded by tall buildings.)

My legs felt fine, and I think I’m completely recovered from New York City. Maybe I could have gotten back out there a couple of days earlier, but like I said before, I’m OK with waiting for the rain to stop.

I kept the effort easy for the most part, although I did find myself pushing a little bit towards the end, and my pace seemed to be pretty consistent.

On Saturday, it was a few degrees warmer, so a little more pleasant. My legs felt fine. I eased up a bit in mile 2 when I felt like I was going a little too fast, and waited until the second half of mile 3 before picking it up again. I still managed to increase my average pace on each mile.

It’s good to be running again.

Next week, I’ll be traveling for Thanksgiving. No races this year, but I’ll still go out on Thanksgiving morning and take advantage of the greenway that’s less than half a mile from my sister’s house.

Monthly Wrap-Up: October 2018

October was better. Not great, but not a disaster.

October 2018
Total Mileage:
137.64 miles
Average Pace: 12:38/mile
Number of Runs: 23
Last Month (September 2018): 110.36 miles
Last Year (September 2017): 168.26 miles
Races: None, because I don’t do races a month before a full marathon

Total Mileage for 2018: (as of October 31) 975.73 miles

Oh yeah, that reminds me, I broke 1,000 miles for the year somewhere in New York City. In a way, that’s cool. In another way, I should have made it past 1,000 miles for the year way before November 4. But that’s a topic for next month’s wrap-up and/or my upcoming NYC race report.

Best Run: October 20, 13.11 miles, 12:05/mile

This was an easy choice. I did not expect that run to go that well. Conditions weren’t great, but I went out there and crushed it (relatively speaking) anyway.

I have to give a shout out to my 18 miler on October 13. It wasn’t a great run, but it was my longest training run. I got through it, which, for this training cycle, was an accomplishment.

Worst Run: October 6, 16.01 miles, 14:05/mile

I only had one run where I didn’t make the full planned distance. This was supposed to be a 17 miler, but 16 was all I had in me that day. And, yeah, it was pretty freaking slow. Luckily, things got better after that.

This is the part where I’d look ahead to the next month, but I’ve already had my Best Run of November in New York City. I’m slowly recovering from that, then I’ll gradually work my way back.