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?

This Is Your Journey

Good day friends! Time to get over that hump, its Wednesday! These days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the reactions I get from people when we discuss my running. Of course there is always the comments like “dude you are crazy” or “running is just boring for me”. Those are to be expected. Then there are those that claim not to have the time or will blame something else for them to avoid running all together. Then there is the bunch that confuse me with the following comment: “I’m not fast enough, so why bother”.

When I hear that comment, or something similar, it’s like a punch in the gut. My first reaction is to say, “you know you are right, I’m going to stop running because I’m not fast enough either”.

There are tons of people faster than me. So I wonder, why compare yourself to anyone at all? This is your own journey. It’s my journey also. My journey will be completely different from yours. There may be some similarities but at the end it’s customized to you and me.

My journey three years ago started when I was holding onto my daughter’s stroller to use it as a walker in Disney World because excess weight had given me bad plantar fasciitis and the pain caused me to hold onto the stroller, just to walk! My journey started when I got home from Disney. Lose the weight with exercise. I took small steps. Walking, jogging, stopping even during my running as my foot got thru the discomfort. Time on my watch didn’t matter. What mattered was dropping the weight.

When the weight started to go down, the satisfaction of a walk or a jog felt so euphoric. It was like a drug. An exercise high if you will. I never wanted to give this drug up. Walks became jogs and jogs became runs. Never since HS did I ever think I would run as much as I do now, however that journey has led me here.

Going back to the concept of being fast enough, did it matter how fast I was going to walk around my block three years ago when I started my journey 40 pounds heavier? Not at all. My eyes were set on losing that weight. My daughter was 5 at the time. Dad wasn’t about to be slowed down at this age because of some excess weight and ankle issues. When you put all of this into perspective, ask yourself instead, ‘are you fast enough to make the decision to do something better for yourself before too much time passes or before its too late?’ That’s where the question lies. That’s where you question ‘your speed’. Never mind how far others are running or how fast they are running it. They aren’t on your journey. Only you are!

Further what awaits you once you decide to take on ‘your journey’ is a transformation into a better version of yourself than ever before. For many, the physical aspects of your journey will bring you a healthier, stronger and more fit self. However that’s not the only transformation you will see. I talked about that ‘fitness high’. Oh its real…it is very real! Runners can tell you about their ‘runner’s high’ also. For me it is a feeling like no other and it isn’t one that I feel only when I run fast or I set a personal best at a distance. I feel it every time I run. You may not feel it initially but it always comes around! How I wish more people would experience this – but they don’t because mentally they have put up a road block that won’t allow them this euphoria.

Now that I’ve explained why time doesn’t make a difference, I hope I have been able to push some of you out there to stop doubting and questioning yourselves! Sometimes the mind is our worst enemy. Ironically enough, just yesterday I spent the whole day thinking of a quote that a great American Olympic distance runner, Kara Goucher, said back in 2013. I will leave you with a graphic of that quote below and implore you to start your own journey now!!

Got My Fill Of Turkey Trot

Its the Friday after Thanksgiving and I hope that everyone got their fill of turkey, pie and family! I know I got my full of all of those, but I also got my fill of “Turkey Trot”. As I referred to in one of my previous posts, “Turkey Trots” have been popping up in so many towns here in New York that it has become pretty easy to find one and to participate in one. The one that I ran, the Garden City Turkey Trot, took entries pretty much right up until the 10:00AM start of the race. When they were all said and done, close to 4,000 participants took part in the 5 mile race thru the streets of Garden City. A big salute to the committee that organized the race as they not only put on  successful race, but they also gathered food for the local food pantry so that no one went hungry on this special day!

For me, this was the second year in a row that I participated in the race. Last year I ran the race and ran my fastest race pace wise that I had ran in 2016. In 2016 I completed the course in 38:39 (roughly 7:35 pace). What would this year have in store? I went into the race not being sure how I would do. I had not run a road race since the Staten Island Marathon back in the beginning of October. Since then I had cut back my running a bit. In turn, I have been increasing the amount of weights that I have been lifting at the gym. I’ve been strengthening my quads a bit more and my hamstrings and of course my upper body as well. Also adding to my uncertainty about my results Thursday was that my pace on my training runs had not been faster than 8:00 per mile in weeks. Lastly, it was a pretty frigid morning with the mercury barely getting above 32 degrees but the show must go on!

At the Start Line Of The Garden City Turkey Trot!

My first mile was a bit congested traffic wise. A lot of folks were up at the front of the start that probably didn’t belong there but its Thanksgiving, everyone is just thankful for running today! First mile was not bad. Clocked a 7:13 for the first mile. I vaguely remember my first mile in my previous year’s run being around 7:15 and I thought that was pretty fast. I did go onto slow down my mile pace over the next few miles. This year was going to be a bit different.

Mile 2 had its share of uphills after mile 1 had included down hills. As such when my split for mile 2 came in, I knew this was going to be a different day. My split was 7:12 for mile 2 with uphills! Mile 3 included the longest uphill of the race. My split for mile 3 was 7:13. That 3rd mile drained me a bit and I was eager to see how I would be after the 4th mile. A water station was set up in mile 4 but I declined it because I tend to splash when I take water at water stations and it was too cold to be wet!

In that mile, we passed by a large group of spectators that naturally gave us a boost. They accomplished their job. My split for mile 4 was 7:07. When I looked at the cumulative race clock as I passed by the 4th mile marker it was under 29 minutes and that was the race clock which meant my time was likely faster since I started a little bit behind the start line. At this point I thought to myself, unless I took a bullet in the last mile or collapsed, this was going to be a PR!

Then I set my eyes on a woman who was in front of me the whole race. The distance between her and I was consistently between 10-15 yards. She likely never saw me but some how every time I sped up, so did she. With about a half a mile left, I decided to end the song and dance between this lady and I. I blew past her but with a half mile left, I can tell you that the weight training I have been doing kicked in. I was afraid that I started my kick too early but my arms believe it or not helped to increase my strides. My quads helped keep my stride steady. With about a hundred yards left, my GPS mile split was announced in my head phones. 6:59! Damn – broke 7 minute on my lat mile split! Cumulative time was 36:12, more than two minutes better than last year! I couldn’t believe it!  I was exhausted after this race but I felt great! I didn’t envision running this fast at all but I will tell you that the weight training indeed helped. The legs felt stronger and pumping the arms led to longer strides down the stretch which undoubtedly led to a fast final two miles. I’ll say one final thing about this performance – it was fast for the distance but it was also fast period. My 5k split and my 4 mile split were both faster than I had ever run all out for either of those distances. Crazy right?

This race was not just special because of my time but also because of a couple of other factors. First, if you see my Under Armour Map My Fitness stats up above, I burned 723 calories. Guess who was having pie Thanksgiving night with zero guilt! Haha! But what really makes this race special is that my wife ran it. My wife is new to running and admittedly is not ready to tackle the distances that I do. As such, we don’t run together as she would rather I run ahead. I would want nothing more than to run with her but as I always tell lot of folks, run your race, not anyone else’s. Further my wife is an asthmatic, but let me tell you, that being an asthmatic does not stop her from running. As I have mention so many times, she has set out a goal to increase her mileage while controlling her asthma. She did a 5 k earlier this year and then we did a 4 mile run together in June. On Thursday she had signed up for the shorter version of the 5 mile race which was available, the 1.5 mile fun run. She was going to do this with my youngest daughter but when the weather was too cold, my daughter bailed and opted for staying in a warm bed on thanksgiving morning. This gave my wife the chance to take on the 5 mile race. An opportunity had presented itself and she seized the moment and crushed it. This is an amazing feat for her and I was ecstatic about being there to witness it. In a year she ran a 5 k, a 4 miler and a 5 miler. I had mentioned to her running a 10k earlier in the year and she gave me the look of “No way”. After Thursday I mentioned to her that she is just over one mile away in distance from that 10k and she couldn’t believe it. Her progress this year is truly an inspiration for people that say “I can’t run”. Oh yes you can!

Now that Thanksgiving is over and you know that the holidays are looming in December. Resolve for the next few weeks to get up and get out and burn some calories. Go for a run. If not start with a walk with a light jog. Remember, something is always better than nothing!

United NYC Half Facebook Group

UANYCH18_Race-Header

March and the United NYC Half Will Be Here Before You Know It!

 

The calendar says that it is only November but I already have the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon on my mind. I ran the 2017 version of the race earlier this year and while I know I have not run the full New York City Marathon, I can tell you that the United NYC Half was a lot of fun and I was very impressed with the organization and promoting done for the race.

This year, they have decided to change the course up and make this a true New York City Half Marathon. In previous years, the race was run exclusively in Manhattan. This year, the race is starting in Brooklyn, and going over the Manhattan Bridge and into Manhattan up the east side, thru Times Square and ultimately ending in Central Park. Many people have expressed their excitement over the new course as it gives the race a mini feel of the New York City Marathon.

New Course Starts The Race In Brooklyn & Ends It in Manhattan!

 

One thing that I do remember about the 2017 NYC Half was the vibe that I felt days before the race at the expo, before the race on race day and of course during the race itself. I realized running this race, that there is a strong running community out there. When you come across another runner, you can usually engage in lots of conversation. Soon you find that some of your concerns, your excitements and other feelings that you thought were unique to you, are actually shared by other people.

So in the spirit of the running community, I decided to start a Facebook group that is dedicated to the 2018 version of the United NYC Half. The group is closed but just request to join the group and you will be allowed in. You can find that group here – 2018 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. I started this because I remember getting ready for the race and not knowing what to expect, not knowing where to go, not knowing what to wear and so many other things. Now as a returning runner, I still have questions running thru my head about this race. Clearly this group can serve as a benefit to any runner so hopefully I will see you in the group if you are indeed running the race.

The group belongs to all those running the race, its not just my group. If you have a question or comment – fire away! Hope to see and meet some new faces running the 2018 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon!

MarathonFoto Always Captures Great Shots!

Time For A Plan

Don’t Be Afraid To Assess & Plan!

 

 

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about my own workouts. I want to run to maintain my stamina for my upcoming races but I also recognized that I needed to start lifting weights again to regain muscle that I have lost due to a lot of running. I have an interval training class on Wednesday’s that I love to take because it is probably my best all around workout of the week. Its right in the middle of the week and I don’t want to give that up. It’s getting difficult to juggle everything so I think it’s time to plan my workouts.

This same scenario could very well be happening to any of you out there but with different things to juggle. I didn’t even factor in home life in my initial paragraph above! Don’t be afraid to admit that you may not be planning your workouts right. For a while, all I did was run almost everyday. In the summer I was running 6 days a week. I lost ALL of my muscle. I don’t want to do that again. So I have to be mindful of that. I started to implement lifting again and my running hasn’t suffered too much. I haven’t gotten faster but at the same time, I’ve gained my muscle back. I don’t want to lose my stamina however because I have a half marathon coming in March and while I have lots of time for it, the NYC Marathon looms next November.

In order to plan your workouts though, you need to have a goal in mind. If you have been reading my posts you know I love to talk about goals. Setting them and achieving them is the only way to go. I see so many people go to the gym walking on the treadmill for an hour reading a books Ok- kudos to you for coming here to the gym instead of sitting on the couch, but will you achieve your goal doing that? I’m not sure?

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Equipment From My Interval Training Class – Part Of My Plan!

 

Sometimes your goals might require more time than you originally thought. Don’t be afraid to incorporate family into your goals to help you with your time management. Sometimes your only going to be as successful as your support team. If you have a family, be upfront with your spouse or your kids about your goals. Explain to them that you need to get to the gym, or go for a run “x” number a times a week. I am fairly certain that they will be more than willing to work with you since at the end, this will only benefit your health!

That brings me back to my personal plan. Going into this weekend, I need to get at least one long run in. I have a 5 mile race on thanksgiving and I haven’t really put any runs in over 4 miles in a couple of weeks. This weekend, I have to put in at least a 4 mile run. I can’t forget about weights as I mentioned, so this is how my week is going to go – I hope!

Sunday – 5 Mile run (tempo pace)
Monday- Weight training (gym)
Tuesday(AM) – 3-4 mile easy jog
Wednesday- Interval Training Class
Thursday – 5 Mile Race
Friday – OFF
Saturday Weight Training (gym)

A plan can happen to you. Just give it some thought. Find a goal and work towards it. Know that you CAN DO IT!

 

a-goal-without-a-plan-is-just-a-wish

Stop Wishing – Conquer A Goal!

My Obsession With Vanny

This is what makes cross country what it is!


For absolutely no sane reason, cross country running is something that has stayed with me for some time now. It is the type of running that I do the least of because sadly there aren’t too many cross country style courses by where I live to run on. But yet when an opportunity presents itself to run it, I jump at the opportunity to do so! 

What is cross country running you ask? No it’s not running from east coast to west coast! And it’s definitely not road running! It’s for the most part trail running, occasional grassy patches and lots of brutal hills with unstable footing at times. In short, it’s misery for those that have never run it. I think the reason that it has a special place in my heart is because when I first did any type of organized running in high school, it was the first type of race I ran. 

The Infamous Back Hills Of Vanny

The course that I ran the most was the famous course at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, affectionately known as Vanny to many “harriers” or cross country runners. The New York Times wrote up a great piece about the course a few years back. The article describes the many facets of the course that I fell in love with as a high schooler. 

This Saturday, I go back and visit my old friend Vanny. For the last few years I have been paying Vanny an annual visit as I run the alumni race that is part of my former high school’s city championship meet. For me it’s not only a chance to run a cross country course that to this day I still admire, but it’s a chance to see some old coaches, and cheer on my alma mater. 

As I go back each year however it’s a continuous challenge that i’ve set for myself.  To put this challenge into perspective I recall how in high school, my best time on the course was under 15 minutes for the 2.5 miles course (4000 meters). Keep in mind I ran that course four years straight each weekend from September thru November. When I returned to the course for the first time since high school back in 2009, I didn’t know what to expect. I went into the race that year with a mentality of “whatever happens, just happens”. Well when I crossed the finish line, the clock read 23:32. I just looked at the time, laughed as it was almost 10 minutes slower than high school and then hit the floor because my quads and hamstrings were shot from scaling those hills for the first time in 22 years. It was quite a scene and quite a memory now that I  look back on it. 

The serenity of Vanny makes it very deceptive!

So I’ve gone back 4 of the last 5 years to challenge Vanny again:

2012 – 21:45

2013- 21:10

2015- 20:30

2016- 19:30

I return to visit my friend Vanny again this Saturday. While I can tell you that as I am typing this that I feel confident that I can run faster than last year, I have to remember that we are talking about cross country here, especially Vanny. What if I twist an ankle in the “Back Hills”? What if I hit a ditch on the grassy flats? What if I didn’t train on enough hills and they destroy me again? What if I take a tumble on the steep and fast down hills. 

This is what I love about cross country. The fact that there are so many different variables makes it even more challenging. Just when you think you are ready, you just never know what might happen!
As I go into my “date” with Vanny, I can’t help but remember an old saying one of my high school coaches used to tell us :

“You’ve never lived until you’ve died in the Back Hills of Vanny”

That saying is true as it’s known by a lot of New York City runners. I’ll let you know on Monday how my date with Vanny went!

What Races Are You Running?

What Races Are You Running?

As many of you probably know by now, I am a big believer in setting goals thru running. It is one of the many reasons why I still run at 42 years old. When lots of men are pondering miniscus knee surgery or “fill in the blank” surgery, I have decided to keep pushing my body because of the goal fulfillment aspect that comes with running! For now, I can say that I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve been back to running now about three years, two of which have been serious years. For full disclosure, when I say serious, for me it simply means that I am actually tracking my time and monitoring my progression. That is as far as serious goes with me!

Come Join Us At A Starting Line Near You!

You likely have also read my insisting that you all give a race a try once again, simply for the notion of setting a goal, working towards it and hopefully finding some physical, mental and emotional gain from it. I’ve gotten questions however from people who arent runners such as “Where can I find a race by me?” or “I am looking for a race that is a certain distance but can’t find one?”. Therefore I have decided to start a section of this site that is dedicated to races in and around the New York City. Call it a race calendar of sorts that folks can reference should they need a race to run that suits their skill level, or lifestyle. Maybe you wake up on a Friday and decide, I have nothing to do this weekend, where can I run a race? Maybe my page can help you!

In the meantime, I am reaching out to some of you that do run. What races do you have coming up? I would love to include them on my race calendar as a point of reference. Let me know what you are running in the comments section or as always, you can email me at catrunsnyc@gmail.com !

Lets get out there and conquer some races! Check this race calendar often as I plan on updating it constantly!

Don’t let mind tell you that you can’t run a race- YOU CAN!