Discretion is the better part of valor.

I had planned on running the Oddyssey Half-Marathon here in Philadelphia this upcoming Sunday.

My heart was set on running this one for a number of reasons:

1.) It’s one of my hometown races. I haven’t done distance here on my home turf as of yet this year.

2) My runfam is going to be there. Earlier in the year, my excitement was off the charts on the message boards and on the Book of Face in regards to running this race with my people.

3.) 3:41:08. That was my finishing time for this race last year. Mind you, I had just run my first trail half-marathon (1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut half) the day prior to this race and the heat was dialed up to “Satan’s Crotch” – level on race day. Those two factors combined plus the fact that I was even less experienced as a runner  = very little running done. My sights were firmly set on getting my revenge on this course…but as you can probably tell by the title of this post, I have decided against running this race this year.

Let me explain.

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If you follow this blog or any of my other social media outlets, you know that I ran my fastest half-marathon ever at Brooklyn a few weeks ago. That race was also the first time I ran an entire race without walk breaks. My point in mentioning these two things is only  to say that I think what has happened to me has a direct correlation to these two “firsts.”

After Brooklyn was all said and done, I felt fine during the ride back to Philly and during the rest days that followed. My memory fails me at this time (who I am kidding; it fails me 99.9999% of the time) but at some point, I ventured out to get some miles done and felt pain directly above my left heel during each footfall. Discomfort during runs is par for the course; pain is not. It felt sharp and increased in severity with each step. In the back of my mind, I had a sneaking suspicion as to what it was but didn’t really want to believe it and give it credence. Nevertheless, I stopped running immediately and walked back home to assess the situation further.

By the time I got home, I stopped denying to myself that the pain was in my (L) Achilles area.

While not necessarily an immediate “death sentence” in regards to running, all the reading I have done in the past has indicated that improper assessment/management of Achilles issues can have long-term consequences that I don’t even want to think about. My initial reaction to this realization was anger. I mean, come the hell ON! Finally break 2:20 at a race while running the entire thing…feel like an actual runner for once….planning to step it up a notch in order to get hit that 2:00 and under mark for my half by year-end…and THIS happens?

My background in emergency medicine left no room for the remaining steps in the “stages of grief.” I went straight from “anger” to “acceptance.” Gotta deal with the reality of the situation. So, I stopped running…which lead me into a funk that I haven’t really been public about save for a few of my close friends. It’s why I didn’t post a blog last week. Worked my way through it though and realized that I still wanted to be a part of this weekend’s race experience…so I did the next best thing: signed up to volunteer at the race!! I don’t exactly know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing on race day, but the volunteer spot is with Run215  so it involves being loud and encouraging…so this is right in my wheelhouse.

As for my Achilles, I have run on it-cautiously. Picked up KT tape, increased my rest days and incorporated more stretches targeting that specific area. The addition of these things have made running…less uncomfortable. Going to see someone in sports medicine in the next upcoming week or so for an actual diagnosis as opposed to my basic assessment. Definitely want to get to the root of this problem quickly and treat it directly so it doesn’t happen again.

Alright. That’s it from me for now. I’ll keep you all posted on my progress. Thanks for reading.

PrB

 

Air BNB Brooklyn Half-Marathon post-race review!

In my relatively short time racing, I have had race days where nothing goes right. Start to finish. Top to bottom. From my rest, nutrition, race-prep to actual race execution….NOTHING went right.

Saturday was NOT one of those days.

In fact, it was the complete opposite.

Let me start from the beginning.

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The trip up to NYC was blissfully uneventful as I rode up with my running buddy Nancy, her daughter and dog. We had a spectacular day as far as weather was concerned for the ride and for the pre-race party / packet pickup. The familiar view as we crossed the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island into Brooklyn really struck me on this trip as I am usually driving up alone and focusing on driving safely. From the passenger’s seat, I got a chance to really stop and look at the bridge as we approached it and the sheer vastness of The Narrows. It’s refreshing to me to get a perspective on how small  I am in the scope of everything else every once in a while.

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Crossing the Verrazano into Brooklyn at sunrise.

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Whoever at NYRR came up with the initial idea for the pre-race party at packet pickup made the company a LOT of money as it brings out a lot of people.  It’s almost as much of a draw as the race itself for me. Vibes were breezy. Runners and partygoers laid out in chairs on the faux grass   The sun warmed the pier and blue skies provided the perfect backdrop for the event along with the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance.

Picking up our race materials was as simple as showing a confirmation code on our phones to a volunteer who then scanned it, handed us our race bibs and directed us to t-shirt pickup. To be completely honest, the race t-shirt was the one thing that I had my reservation about in regards to the race this year. You see, beginning in 2016, the athletic apparel / shoe manufacturer, New Balance, has taken over primary sponsorship over the majority of the NYRR events to my knowledge with the AirBNB Brooklyn Half-Marathon and the Bronx 10-miler being immediately affected. Asics’ long-time contract as the official outfitter expires after this November’s running of the race with New Balance reportedly taking over directly afterwards. My initial reaction when I first read the news of the takeover a while ago was “meh.” When I saw that the this year’s race shirts were practically identical to last year’s save for the red stitching along the seams and the “New Balance” logo on the arm, my reaction was again “meh.” Upon finding out from my BMR Philadelphia brother who was standing outside the packet pickup tents that they were customizing race shirts at no additional cost???? My reaction was to run back into the tent to get my shirt customized with the quickness.

BackOfShirt

Had to abbreviate since they only allowed ten total characters….

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So…as for the actual race, as I said in the beginning, everything came together perfectly. The forecast for rain that any and everyone who was running this race had been kind of concerned about…never happened. For the majority of the time the skies were occasionally sunny but mostly overcast, which suits me fine as that keeps it nice and cool and I tend to do my best work when it’s cool; which for the most part we all do as runners.

The lines through security moved quickly on Eastern Parkway and Nancy and I ended up in a sea of runners bunched together. It was so crowded that we ended up waiting off to the side of the actual corral gates because it was damn near impossible to get in and I had ZERO intention of making the mistake of starting near the back of the field again. The race was run in two waves and we were in wave 2 which was slated to start around 7:45 so we played the usual “hurry up and wait”game that you end up being a captive participant in at most races with a large field. Surprisingly enough, the crowd moved fairly quickly, I as started my Garmin, wished Nancy a good race and set out to do my thing.

Miles 1-5 went by fairly quickly and without anything to write home about. I was holding around @ 10:30ish pace and felt comfortable enough to take in the sights and the cheering without having to stare at my watch every five seconds or stopping to walk. A few water / Gatorade stations came and went without much of a thought by me insofar as to stop at them since I had taken in some hydration directly before the race. My focus was on a PR and since I really didn’t feel overly thirsty, I didn’t want to lose any time I had banked with a stop at a crowded port-o-potty.

My thoughts and concerns were squarely on one particular section of the race: mile 6 which went uphill through Prospect Park. During my run here last year, this mile was the one that I ended up doing a good amount of walking…and complaining. Being over 50 pounds heavier than my current weight and not having done as many hills as I have now, I along with a bunch of other folks, struggled with that hill in the worst way that day. My focus was not on charging up the hill and bombing down the other side. Instead, what my plan was to do was to maintain a relatively even amount of exertion on either side of the hill, therefore keeping my times as short as possible.

When I felt the familiar shift in my level of effort not equalling to my output as far as my Garmin was concerned, I knew I was on the mile 6 hill. Same as last year, most people around me slowed their run to a walk as we ascended.

I kept running.

By this time I was thinking to myself “slow down….but don’t stop running.” Surprisingly enough to me, my body actually paid attention to the stuff my brain was ordering it to do! My pace slowed, but I knew that I had more than enough juice to get back on pace on the other side of the hill. This would actually prove to be the first of two watershed moments for me as a runner during the course of this race.

During the course of the race up to this point, I had greeted at lot of people. Some I knew, some just greeted me on GP and some folks acknowledged me because I was sporting my track club’s colors that day. (Prospect Park Track Club) Approaching the crest of that hill, I was getting mentally bored and was tuning out; giving myself excuses as to why I could walk for a bit. (“You’ve run all this way! So much faster than last year! You can walk! You DESERVE to walk for a bit! Take a break! You won’t lose any time that you won’t be able to get back!”) My focus was wavering…and just as it was, I saw a “Black Men Run” banner being held by a dude who was holding a camera in his other hand and cheering on runners as they went past. He was grinning widely and yelled”YEAH JIM!!! as I was running up to where he was standing. It was the Captain of BMR NYC, Kovon Flowers and seeing a familiar face at that point in time was JUST what I needed to get back on track. I yelled back “‘SUP KO!!!” as I smiled and ran past him while bumping fists. My back straightened up and my focus was back where it needed to be. Best part: it was downhill and out of Prospect Park from there. The most difficult part of my day was behind me.

Miles 7-8 were where I had my second watershed moment as a runner. When we dumped from the overpass onto Ocean Parkway, my pace returned just as I planned. A huge PR was in the cards for me if I just continued at the pace I was on. More importantly to me was the fact that I hadn’t stopped to walk…at all. At all previous races I have EVER run at ANY distance, I had taken at least one break to walk. Around mile eight I slowed down for some Gatorade but immediately dumped my cup and resumed running.  Then the idea came: “you know what? You could actually run this whole thing. You have the power to run THIS ENTIRE RACE. You don’t have to walk ANY of it.” Once that thought popped into my head, it became my focus until the finish….which I did with a sprint onto the Coney Island boardwalk with a newfound confidence in my abilities as a runner and a new, 35-minute PR from my race in 2015.

NYRRFinish

The takeaway message from all of this: if the mind can conceive it…the body can achieve it.

To God Be The Glory.

 

PrB

 

 

“Spread Love /It’s the Brooklyn Way” a.k.a my pre-race review of the Air BnB Brooklyn Half!

First off: Accountability!

Current weight: 253 ibs. Gotta lay off of the energy drinks. (NOS…Y U SO ADDICTIVE?!!!)

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The AirBnB Brooklyn Half-Marathon is billed on NYRR’s website as being “the largest half marathon in the country.” When you first hear it being said or see it in print, you might be quick to dismiss it as just another case of New Yorkers over-hyping something in regards to New York (listen; I have love for my NYC folks…but you all know this is 100% true) but I assure you, when you’re standing in corral with over 27,000 other runners on Eastern Parkway in Prospect Park, you realize the sheer magnitude of this race.

To be honest, you don’t even need to actually be present on race day to get a sense of how popular this race is – you can find out for yourself from the comfort of your own home when you’re attempting to register for this race on the day it opens. When I ran this race in 2015, I registered sometime around 10:00am on registration day. A few folks got wind of the fact that it was on my race calendar so they made an attempt to register that same afternoon, but without success as the race sold out in a manner of hours. When I registered for the race this year, I damn near broke my trackpad, hitting the “refresh” button repeatedly until I saw that my registration had gone through. I then took to social media directly afterwards to get an accurate grasp on how fast the race was selling out….and found out that the race had completely sold out in 52 minutes this year!!

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Unlike the Flying Pig, the draw for the AirBNB Brooklyn Half isn’t the crowd support. Well, at least for me at it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong: there are definitely cheer stations and just random folks on the streets in full voice, motivating you (last year I think I remember the majority of the cheering I encountered being along Flatbush Ave and in Flatbush in general) but that’s not the draw. The draw…is Brooklyn itself. The race affords runners an opportunity to see 13.1 miles of it through eight of its extremely diverse neighborhoods.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a fan of Brooklyn. I have been lucky enough to have spent a little bit of time in every borough in NYC and to me, Brooklyn by far is the most interesting of them all. It’s a LOT different from when I used to visit in the mid to late nineties, but still…the architecture, the music, the food, the people…Brooklyn sets its own pace.

The atmosphere is off the charts with this race – starting at packet pickup / expo which takes place at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Pier 2. It’s festive with food and games to be played along with the usual stuff that goes on at expo, but with it sitting right on the pier with a beautiful view of the East River and Manhattan on the other side. If I would have had more time last year to just relax after pickup, I would have spent time just relaxing here. Any time I’m in NYC, I stop in Brooklyn and particularly at this park. One day I want to get into town early enough to actually get a run in over the bridge. (With the emphasis on “early enough” as I hear it gets really crowded and damn near impossible to run as the morning wears on and all the runners come out for their morning miles.)

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Packet pickup at Pier 2 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (image belongs to Brooklyneagle.com)

The race itself starts off on Eastern Parkway next to the Brooklyn Library. It’s pretty congested at first, but that’s to be expected as bag drop is right there as well. (And because there are 27,000 of you. Just a hunch. lol) As far as the course goes, it’s not terribly hilly and the hills that are incorporated into the course take place relatively early (miles 2 and 5 I believe) within the race. The best part if you really want to put on some speed is the nice, extremely flat section of the course that run straight down Ocean Parkway for a number of miles until you make the right onto Surf Ave and then onto the boardwalk for the big finish at Coney Island. (Side note: this was where I had my first experience with nipple chafing. I ended up running the last mile and and half holding my shirt away from my chest looking extra foolish. Lesson learned. Packing my band-aids as I type this.)

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The end of the race on the Coney Island boardwalk. You can actually got grab an authentic Nathan’s Hot Dog at the original stand on Surf Ave after you’re done…but bring your patience- the lines stretch damn near out into the street. (Image belongs to brownstoner.com)

My official finish time for this race last year was 2:57:04 with me running an average of 13:30 per mile. Needless to say that I plan on doing a great deal better than that with a year’s experience under my belt. My plan run at least a 10:00 min / mile pace this year and finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 2:20 for a new PR over my last PR a few months ago at the NYC Half where I ran 2:37:12. I’m dealing with some residual soreness in both calves and completed my last training run this afternoon. We’ll see how that plays into my weekend but I don’t suspect it will since tomorrow is a travel day and I plan on not doing any more running until the day of the race itself after today. My nutrition has been okay up to this point and as long as I don’t go crazy during lunch at my favorite Caribbean restaurant in Crown Heights tomorrow, (Shoutout to the folks at Gloria’s on Nostrand Ave! Go there! Get fed! Thank me later!) I should be good to go for race day.

To say that I LOVE this race doesn’t really do it justice. From top to bottom, this race is A++ and a “must do” as far as half-marathons go in my humble opinion. So far, it’s the only race that I have made a mental checkmark to do EVERY year if possible.

Alright. That’s it from me for now. I’ll catch up with you all with the recap of race weekend in a few days. Take care!

 

 

Hey…GO RUN!

🙂

PrB

Pacing myself: A hard look at the “big picture.”

Splits

See that data above this text?

That’s the impetus for this post.

Those are my splits for my long-ish run a few days ago…and I was REALLY proud of them.

I still am to an extent but after stepping back and reviewing the whole picture, I’m disappointed in myself at the same time.

Confused?

Let me explain.

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I got up and out to do this run because I had a good feeling overall. My nutrition was (relatively) dialed in,  I had gotten good rest the night before and my legs felt like they had some spring to them after a day off from running. Everything appeared to be aligned for me to go out and get some solid miles in.

I even set out to do this run with a specific purpose in mind! (Yup. Surprised me too.)

As I mentioned a few posts ago, one of my ongoing issues has been with my inability to effectively pace myself during practice runs and races. Various people who have taken me under wing, all the literature that I have read and vlogs that stay in constant replay on my computer have all extolled the necessity of proper pacing. During training runs and races, I kept coming up short because I would sacrifice better finishing times for the quick rush of running really fast for short bursts, inevitably running out of energy way before the finish.

All the advice and science was the same: I repeatedly failed because I was going fast when I should have been going slow.

With this in mind and my plan in focus, I set out to NOT have this run amount to nothing more than junk miles.

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The actual run ended up coming together PERFECTLY. The weather cooperated, (cool, somewhat overcast initially) and I ran a different route than my usual which made the run way more interesting. Breathing came easily and rhythmically. To my surprise, fatigue just never set in. When I looked back at my watch after the run was over, I checked my splits on my GarminConnect app and saw that they had come out pretty evenly without much effort on my part at all. The key to my success was in the fact that despite my desire at certain points to pick up the pace and run faster, I held back. Even on the downhills  – I held back…because I realized that the key to my overall success was to conserve my energy and trust the process. By trusting the process in the short-term, I ended up reaping big-time rewards when it was all said and done.

It had taken me over two years to “get it,” but I had “gotten it” and I (of course) took to social media to tell people about my supposed “eureka” moment.

People congratulated me on my “breakthrough” on all of the running sites I belong to. I felt good. I felt like I now was on the other side of some sort of understanding that not every runner was privy to.

Then…I got this text via FB:

“Are you following the plan or just running? I’m confused about your run today.”

It was from my running coach – and I knew what was coming next was going to be far from congratulatory. He had come across my post as we belong to a number of the same FB running clubs.

He wasn’t at all pleased at my run or my “breakthrough,” because the plan he has laid out for me to get my best time at the Chicago Marathon this upcoming October didn’t call for me to run that day; it called for cross training.

BUT…instead of me resting my legs for the more difficult training and more hardcore, prolonged speedwork that comes later on in the plan…instead of seeing the big picture…instead of trusting the process, I risked potential future gains for short-term success.

It was the same old “short burst – early burnout” scenario as the past two years. I had just been too blinded by perceived success and outside re-affirmation  to see it:

I was still going fast when I should have been going slow.

So, turns out I STILL have a lot to learn.

 

Trust the process.

 

Next up: AirBnB Brooklyn Half-Marathon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race recap: Flying Pig Weekend

Accountability first! Current weight: 252.3 as of 5/2. I ran a lot in Cincinnati…but I also ate quite a bit too.

And…I had a couple of beers.

Annnd…some Kentucky bourbon.

Do I regret it? Nah. I was in Cincy and I wanted to try all the local foods and adult beverages that the ‘Nati and Kentucky (sits right across the bridge from Cincinnati) are known for.

Back on the grind though.

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With that out of the way, let’s get to the race weekend report.

So, I apologize for it being a day late but I was EXHAUSTED from this past weekend’s activities and the 18 hours of travel it took to get from Pennsylvania to Ohio and back.  I thought I would wake up on Monday, refreshed and ready to get stuff done, but we didn’t pull up in front of my house until 2:30 am and my body said “you. are. resting.” The reality of being 43 and not 23 hit me like a ton of bricks and my bed held me hostage for most of the day. As for the rest of the week – life happened. Definitely wanted to get this out to you before it become too old news.

 

I briefly explained in my previous post what my personal draw was to this race. (Fun, festive race atmosphere) Let me take a minute to tell you about the race itself for those who might not be familiar with The Pig and might be reading this / considering running it in the future.

The Flying Pig has a 5k race, 10k race, half-marathon and a full marathon. You can run the 5k and 10k individually or together on Saturday and either the half or full on Sunday. If you so choose, you can participate in the “challenge” where you run the 5k, 10k and the half-marathon (the “3-way challenge”) or the 5k, 10k and full marathon. (the “4-way challenge) If you want the “extra-cheese,” you add the Little Kings one-mile race on Friday for about $25 more. The benefit to all of this? Swag and medals of course! DUH! Each race has its own t-shirt and medal and if you complete either the 3-way or 4-way challenge you get a separate shirt appropriate to your challenge and another medal. If you participated in the “extra cheese,” you get another medal, t-shirt and plaque to mount all of your medals on at the completion of race weekend.

Road runners tend to like medals and swag. The folks who make the decisions in regards to the Pig are apparently acutely aware of this fact and subsequently make sure you get A LOT of both.

I traveled to Cincinnati for race weekend with two of the guys who I started this whole running journey with: my friend Marcus, who as I have mentioned before has been my compadre for over 15 years and my boy Frank who works with me, got me started on trail running and is usually my pacing partner on long runs. We are all members of the same running groups online, run races together before multiple times in real life and are all of a relatively similar temperament, so 18 hours in a van wasn’t going to be too difficult.

My Uber picked me up from my house early and had me at Frank’s house around 7:30 or so. When we got to Frank’s door, Frank was already waiting for me in his car. We shot over to the rental spot and selected a van for the trip. Primary concern: audio capability. Because road trips need epic soundtracks…and epic soundtracks playing back on Fisher-Price-level speakers = not epic.

We picked up Marcus from his house and got on the road. Nothing much to report here. The trip was mostly uneventful. We had figured on a nine-hour commute. We had gotten to a later start than I had initially anticipated and we ended up paying the price for that as far as time was concerned because we had to make it in time to get to the race expo before it closed in order to pick up our race bibs/swag for the 5k and 10k on Saturday and we also had to be in town early enough to get Marcus to the start of the Little King’s one-mile race a.k.a. the “extra cheese” race. Expo was due to close at 7pm and we hit traffic around 5:30 outside of Columbus. It was a blessing for all of us that my friend Staci who I had been in contact with during most of the trip, was already in Cincinnati and was on her way to the expo with some more people who I knew. She was in town to run the race as well and offered to pick up our stuff from expo because she’s cooler than the other side of the pillow. With that off our minds, we were able to relax a little bit more but we still drove with extra pep to get to expo on GP.

We got to expo with just fifteen minutes to spare. We made our way inside to get a quick “once over” to decide what to hit on Saturday after the races when we would have more time to explore. As we were walking in, I noticed a really short man in a suit and tie. I mean…REALLY short. Bald. Wearing a medal around his neck. He looked familiar, but I just couldn’t place where from. I mentally chalked it up to coincidence when Marcus leaned in and said “yo…is that Meb?” I didn’t really hear nor process his question fully so I uttered something like my standard “nah bruh.” Once I got inside the expo and REALLY thought about his question and the way the man looked…I realized that it WAS Meb! Or at least it HAD been. I guess that I just didn’t expect him to be my 10-year-old son’s height in real life. It was at that point that Staci got in contact with me, got me out of my stupor and we linked up to get our stuff from her and headed over to the finisher’s area of the Little Kings Mile.

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#UnimpressedStaci with all of our race swag.

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The Little King’s Mile.

Once at the LKM, Marcus and Staci boarded a bus to take them over to the where the race actually started while Frank and I went to a bar with outdoor seating that overlooked the finish line. I was supposed to run the LKM as well…but due to procrastination on my part, registered too late. Womp womp.

The finish line for the LKM is on Joe Knuxhall way which runs right under the Roebling Bridge that runs over the Ohio River and connects Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky. The area itself is a beautiful waterfront and the bridge itself is stunning. If you are a fan of running near some scenery and near water like I am, then you won’t be disappointed. The race itself seems to attract folks who just want to walk and relax during the whole thing and folks who are looking to burn it up as well. (As evidenced by the winner of the elite stage who ran the mile in something ridiculous like 4:22.) The race medal this year doubled as a bottle opener, which only served as impetus to kick myself even harder for not entering. If you decide to come and do ANY of the races during the weekend of the Pig, make sure you add this race to your agenda. It’s only $25 extra, sweet swag, you can do it at your own pace and you really can’t beat the views and vibes. I watched Marcus, Staci and a bunch more of my people finish from my perch at the outdoor area of the bar with some cold, double dark local brew in hand and thought “this is going to be a really good weekend.

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After the Little King’s Mile with some good people. The Roebling bridge into Kentucky is right behind us.

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10k, 5k and Half-Marathon

The huge thing that was weighing on everyone’s mind during the weekend was the weather. Forecasts predicted chilly, rainy conditions on Saturday (the day of the 10k and 5, respectively) and rain with the possibility of thunderstorms on Sunday during the half and full marathons. The weather folks called the weather pretty much spot on for Saturday, as we ended up having some rain that varied in intensity during the course of both the 10k and 5k.

In my earlier post I mentioned that I was gunning for my first sub-hour 10k. Well, long story short: it didn’t happen. (Official time: 1:06:05)

I wasn’t upset that it didn’t happen; the race itself went off fine without any hitches whatsoever. It was definitely overcast and a bit on the chilly side. I had my race gloves on during the entire length of both the 10k and 5k. The fact that it was overcast and chilly actually worked in our favor as it kept the temps cool for the race. The course wasn’t terribly hilly and my legs felt pretty good as I made my way through the back of the pack.

The fact that I started from my customary position in the back actually played a part in why I didn’t PR, along with a few others. Let me explain.

I have gotten used to my finishing times meriting a position in the rear corrals for so long that I just naturally gravitate towards there out of habit…and for fear of not really being a mid-pack runner. When I start from the back, I am forced to run around a bunch of slower runners and  / or walkers and this adds time and mileage due to the fact that I end up not running the tangents.

I also didn’t take into account the fact that my legs would still be tired from my 10k the day before the drive and from the 9-hour drive to Ohio itself. Once I had completed the race and had a chance to really analyze my performance, I didn’t beat myself up and chalked up any other thoughts of PR’s for another time when I wasn’t running a medley weekend.

When I caught up with my various friends, we agreed to walk the 5k…which I did at first…but then it started to really rain…and I really can’t stand walking when I could be running so after walking about a mile and a half with my people, I jogged the rest for a 56:12.

Not gonna lie here: I was hesitant about even posting this time as a I usually run 28/29 min 5k’s…but it is what it is.

The half-marathon experience was incredible. Crowd support was constant throughout the entire race both on the Cincinnati side and the Covington, Ky side. The weather was initially overcast but became warm and sunny as the race progressed. I felt good overall despite my legs feeling pretty tired from racing twice the day before. My foam roller came in handy as I spent some time the night before the race working out the kinks in my quads on the hotel room floor. I reminded myself to let go of my PR aspirations and enjoy the crowd as the race started. Around mile three or four, I ended up next to a friend who was having a difficult time getting herself up one of the bridges as it was affecting her asthma. I slowed my pace, offered words of encouragement and stayed until I knew she’d felt strong enough to go on further. Like I said before; PR’s were out of the window so why not help my people have a more enjoyable race experience.

Mile 6 of this race is a hill that I had heard about long before I had arrived in the city. I was told that while it was long and daunting, the climb would prove worth it in the end. The people who told me these things were spot-on…about everything. While I had managed to run the majority of the race including the bridges, I ended up having to walk a lot of mile 6.  On my way up, I encountered several entertaining things which included an Elvis impersonator who was singing, a guy dressed in all pink holding a letter “F” and shouting “get the F up this hill” through a megaphone…and what blew my mind was view at the crest of mile 6 which that I got to see while a gospel choir sang in the background.

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The view from the crest of the hill at mile six.

I finished the race at 2:47:40 and felt good about what I had accomplished over the course of the past two days. Looking back at it all, I would do it all the same.

If you are thinking about running a race or series of races for PR’s with fast, flat courses with a strict focus on the racing aspect alone – then this might not be the race weekend for you.

If you are thinking about running a race  or series of races where you can laugh, cheer, eat Twizzlers and donuts, see Elvis, act crazy and vibe with good people, then the Pig might be the race experience you are looking for.

RunFam

THIS is what the Pig is all about.

-PrB

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Race week post! Next Stop: The Pig!

I’m telling you all right now, these types of posts will be my favorite: it’s RACE WEEK!

First off, accountability!

Official Monday Weigh-in: 252 ibs (before morning 10k) 250 ibs (post 10k)

The reason I’m leading off with this is because I was recently part of a “biggest loser” challenge put on by a running coach out of Brooklyn, NY where all of the participants had to log into a shared chat and post their weight on Monday’s before 11:00 am for accountability purposes. That challenge played a HUGE part in getting ready to run my first marathon back in February so I am going to keep on using it on this blog as way to keep myself honest and on track.

Just like with everything else, if I slip-up with nutrition, lack of training, etc, I am going to own it upfront every Monday.

Now that the formal stuff is out of the way, back to the fun stuff: race weekend!

This week’s travels will take Yours Truly to Cincinnati, Ohio to participate in the annual Flying Pig Marathon weekend! To say that my “stoked” level is on 100 for this weekend doesn’t really do it justice. You see, I heard about this race at almost the same time I got my lottery acceptance last year into the Broad Street Run; the country’s largest 10-mile race with over 40,000 participants every year lining up to run (aptly-named) Broad Street from Broad and Olney to the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia. I was excited as I was (and still am) a newer runner, to be running in the biggest and most famous race my city has to offer (with all respect to the Philadelphia Marathon) I kept hearing talk about a race in the ‘Nati that I HAD to run if I liked a race that felt more like a party.

The only problem is that the Broad Street Run and the Pig (and the Pittsburgh Marathon I would later find out) are ALWAYS run on the same day – the first Sunday in May.

I was already registered to run the BSR and as a new runner from Philly, I felt like I couldn’t justify leaving my city, let alone my home state to do my thing before I saw what it was like run this race.

Once I completed BSR with a time of 2:25, I thought to myself “God willing, I’ll do this race every year.”

But the same folks who I had spoken to previously about the Pig got in my head again and said “dude….you NEED to experience this.”

So…here I am.

As far as race prep is concerned, my plan this week is to wing it.

Yup. No plan at all. Let the chips fall wherever.

Joking!

Really though, nothing too detailed because a.) I’m not at the point in my running “career” where every aspect of every race I run is going to be planned out to the letter and b.) this race is a PARTY from what I hear! I want to have fun, eat chili (Cincy has a spot that’s supposed to be FAMOUS for the stuff), drink beer and hang out with the good people from the various running groups I am active in. (Black Men Run, Team RWB, Misfit Runners, Mundane Runners, Sub-30 Runners,  and Run 215 to name a few.)

My goal for the weekend is to PR my 10k race time with my last 10k finish time being 1:12 minutes at the Trenton Half / 10k /5k last year. I ran my 10k split at 1:07 during this year’s NYC Half, so I am looking for a sub-hour 10k this time out. I went out for a spin this morning to see how the wheels and engine felt about my projected time and while I didn’t manage to get my sub-hour 10k, I did manage to finish my run at 1:02, which is faster than my NYC 10 split and my best 10k time for last year! My problem has been (and apparently continues to be) pacing myself. Mile 2 of the run got good to me and I ended up doing around 9:30-ish. I have a habit of pushing it without until the point of burnout, crashing hard and then picking up the pieces of my race….and that’s what happened today. Womp womp.

My plan for Cincy looks something like this: 1st mile – mile 4= 10 mins FIRM. Miles 5-6 @ 9:50 -9:40 FIRM. That gives me my sub-hour 10k without having to overthink it.

I am also running the 5k directly after the 10k on Saturday and the half-marathon on Sunday. My plans for both of those are….to finish and have a good time while doing so.

Yup. That’s about it.

Not a whole lot more actual running for me this week. I have a short stint planned at the track tomorrow for speed work depending on how my night at work goes, some fun times with the folks of November Project down at the Art Museum on Wednesday and some saddle time with Simone (My Trek 1000) and some friends on Thursday, weather permitting. Other than that, resting up,(big fan of this part) hydrating, foam rolling (hate this part) and stretching.

Later on in the week, I’ll post something about what I’m going to use to tackle these races insofar as my shoe selection, nutrition, etc. Also, next Monday’s post will be a recap of race weekend, complete with a ton of pics from expo all the way up to race day and beyond. Also, if you see me in Cincy, come up and say “hi!” We’ll get a pic and chop it up a bit! Should be a great time!

Catch you all in a bit!

PrB

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Your intrepid author….wondering why two years into this whole “running” thing, he STILL can’t fully grasp and execute the concept of pacing…