Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It’s funny. This Sunday past, as I started my planned eight at MP, my breathing was labored, even though I started running at just under 8 mpm pace. You see, I ran around the rosebowl; it’s marked every quarter of a mile. The first quarter was a disappointing 1:58, and I got ready to cut the workout short as I thought I was getting exercise induced asthma. I continued the same effort and I missed the one mile marker. I did get a 1.25-mile split: 9:29, meaning that taking the 1:58 out, I had ran the uphill mile (~2%) in 7:31, or MP. Cool. I went on to complete the loop in 7:18 pace, and the eight miles in 7:19 pace. The effort was a bit harder than I would have liked but it was 80˚F after all (with low humidity). I was pleased but the workout left me totally spent. No matter. My legs felt strong and I felt confident I could break 3:20 at the NYCM.

Then came today. I had three measly miles at MP. Easy right? Right. I warmed up for 2.5 miles and I felt fine (8:30, 8:02, 4:00) with the exception of the two accelerations that had me gasping for air. Damn. I fear I will not have an easy time doing what should be an easy workout. The first MP mile comes in at exactly 7:30, and I don’t feel too bad. Half a mile later I turn back (3:47). Hmm, I need to pick it up slightly to get back to MP. The second mile split reads 7:32. Well within the acceptable margin of error. The next quarter would break my heart in two as I was really struggling to breathe, 1:55. I gave up right then and there. I slowed down to a slog, 2:20 [4:15]. Then I seemed to recover and the next quarter was a more adequate 2:06 [6:21]. It was here that I commanded my legs and arms to go all out on the next quarter, hoping to run a 1:20 and rescue a “lost” mile. I gave it my all; I suspect my form was nonexistent, flailing really. Final split was 7:50. WHAT? I can only run a 90 second quarter? Not only that, my chest was hurting, my breathing was rapid and I had to walk for a few steps. I almost walked the 2.5 miles home. Luckily I convinced my fragile legs to continue at a slog, 9 mpm pace. The positive outcome out of this workout is that I definitely suffer from EIA. At least I have an answer to my less than spectacular workouts. Oh well. Hey, now I can say Paula and I share the same medical condition.

Regardless, I have a race this Sunday and I still intend on meeting my goal. If I do not get an EIS episode during the marathon, I feel confident I can cross the finish line with a big goofy smile.

The plan is rather simple: go out easy and achieve MP by the fifth mile, 38:30. I hope to gain some time in the next five-mile segment, 1:15:30. And chip away a few more seconds in the third five-miler, 1:52:45. The fourth segment will be the critical one, and I expect to do it in 38:00, 2:30:45. The last five-miler should slow me down a bit, 38:30, 3:09:15. If I meet my forecasted splits up to this point, I should be able to run the last 1.2875 mile in less than 10 minutes. We'll see how it goes.

Should you feel like following my anguish, err race, my bib number is 8305. If you add all the digits, you get 16, or 4 squared, my “lucky” number.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Book Review & Sundry

A Race Like No Other
by Liz Robbins

One of the several blogs I follow is the most excellent Pigtails Flying and in one recent entry, she offered this book to whoever answered a question correctly. I did. And I am glad I did.

I have mentioned many times the love-hate relationship I have with the New York City Marathon, and it was rather refreshing to read about the personal stories of some of the entrants: your everyday joe-six-pack and hockey-mom (TM by Lying-Palin).

The reader gains access to the elites from behind the scenes. I learned that Ramala is smart (or dumb) enough to coach himself and how difficult it can be to train in crime-ridden Johannesburg.

Ramala was by far the one elite I identified the most. Paula is Paula; she is expected to win; and she did (in 2004 and 2007). Wami was courageous to race a 'thon at her level just six weeks after winning Berlin. And of course there is Lel who apparently has the most devastating kick among the elites.

The author also explores the lives of those that are affected by the marathon: the residents, the merchants, the volunteers, the race directors, the politicians and many others.

All in all a good read. The book will make the previous NYCM-participant reminisce about the race; and it will make the runner who has yet to pound the streets of NY the first Sunday in November to
yearn the day he does it.

My Last Entry...

had me wondering what the hay was wrong with me. After two bad runs, I laced my shoes for an easy 10-miler (Thursday, October 9). I start at a moderate effort and my stride is choppy, my legs feel weak. Damn. This would make the third day in a row that would find me struggling, cutting a run short. I ran for only five miles; my chest felt heavy; I also felt a bit disoriented. I knew then there was something not right. Being an MD (Google University, thank you very much), I decided my airways were partially blocked. I have access to Qbar and took a poof that night.

The next morning I wake up feeling anxious. I wonder if the medication will do the trick. I start my run and my stride is fluid and long. The effort is relaxed. Just after 1.5 miles I choose to do on-and-offs, quarter miles. I won't bore you with the splits, but I will note that the 4.5 miles of on-and-off were completed @ 7:11 pace. Nice. The medication worked; or was it the psychosomatic effect? The eight miles I end up running average 7:28 (without stopping), woo hoo!!!

Long Long-Run

The plan is to run the first three easy and then run 10-13 miles at MP (7:30), with the remaining miles easy. The course is pretty fast with insignificant climbs. I have support. The weather is mild but it is expected to get in the low 80s. The first mile is run in 7:48, and I am a bit worried because I feel the heavyness in my chest. I have not taken any more poofs of Qbar. I should have. Next mile is within the acceptable range, 7:53. The third comes down a bit, 7:46 [23:27]. Time to pick it up. I lengthen my stride. Surprisingly, it feels fluid. Great. Mile four, 7:21. Ooops, a bit on the fast side. I try to lessen the effort; it does not work. Mile five, 7:22. WTF?

I must have really ease the effort as the next split was a bit dissapointing, 7:37. I concentrate on the effort, I try to quicken the stride rate. Mile 6, 7:30. Hmm, I seem to be working a bit harder than I would like, not much mind you. Mile 7, 7:29; I was hoping to see a 7:25. Oh well. Mile 8, 7:31. Jeez. Now I imagine the 3:20s are in front of me. And they are four runners deep. It will be hard to break through that human wall. I will have to make my move when they go through the next aid station. I use up more energy but I do not want to be holed up, 7:18 [1:15:35=7:33 pace]. I am back on MP; mile 11, 7:27. The next mile, for some strange reason, finds me feeling really, really good. Can I keep this pace for 26.2 in NY? You betcha! Mile 12, 7:23. Wait a minute bucko! Mile 13, 7:33.

Two more miles and I will start running easy; I am beginning to feel tired. Mile 14, 7:20. One more mile at MP; the heat is beginning to wear me down. Thank goodness it's only a training run. Mile 15, 7:28 [1:52:47].

I dream of being able to complete the last 11 miles and change at 8:00 flat. Mile 16, 8:12. Hmm, I don't think so buddy. Mile 17, 8:14. Definitely not. I am running easy; it feels like a jog. The 3:20s pass me and I let them go. Now I have to go number one. I step off the course to relieve myself. I must have lost at least 30 secs. Mile 18, 8:55. I just keep the nice easy pace as all I want to do is "run" up to the 20-mile marker. Mile 19, 8:23. It's getting harder to keep this pace. Mile 20, 8:22 [2:34:53].

Great now I can begin the walking breaks as I want to save myself for my date with NY. I walk for 90 seconds and then I "jog". I grab a 20oz water bottle and I carry it for a while. I feel really thirsty even though I have drank gatorade and water at most of the support stations. I start walking once again (not in the original plan). Mile 21, 11:23, ouch. I want to drink more as I still feel thirsty but my stomach feels full. Mile 22 finds me "recovered" as I did not need to take a walking break, 8:20. Better. Another walking break, another jog. Mile 23, 9:08. Damn, it seems like I may have a hard time with the last 5K and change.

I decide to start cutting the walking breaks by 10 seconds. Mile 24, 8:40 [3:12:24]. Much better. My foggy brain tries to do the math and it's hard. Me figures I need to average 8 mpm to come under 3:30. I don't think so. Sub 3:35 will be fine thank you!

The next walking break takes "only" 70 seconds. Mile 25, 8:33. I hit the 25.2 and the one mile to go "sign." I go for it; I try to pretend it's the last mile of the NYCM. Mile 26, 8:08. The 385 yards are covered in 1:29; not too bad considering I was pretty tired. The last mile with the only significant hill in the course (from 25.2 to 26.2) was clocked in 7:25!!!

To say that I am pleased with the outcome is an understatement. I ran 12 miles at 7:26, which combined with the first three average-out to 7:31... and the last mile at 7:25 makes 16 miles at MP!!! Three more weeks and I'll find out if the monkey left the building.

Huge THANKS go to Arcane who made this training run possible.

The end.

Keep on running y'all!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


running is not as simple as putting one foot in front of the other... repeat as fast as the schedule prescribes. On Tuesday I was to run 10 miles with eight of those at MP. I start the first mile at a brisk 7:53. I feel a bit taxed but I blame it on "it" being the first mile. I am confident I will get to pace on the next mile. And so I did, 7:28. My lungs seem to be working a bit too hard for the pace. I would struggle on the next mile but manged to run it in 7:30. Alas, my body hit a wall; it shut down. I turn around instead of continuing to the five-mile turn-around point. I want to stop and walk. My upper body feels tired; it feels weak. I feel sorry for myself. I shuffle my way for the next three miles. At the end, I am dumbfounded. I don't know what happened. Had it been marathon day, I would have crashed and probably would not finish.

I am glad it happened during a training run.

My brilliant mind suggested I made up the missing six miles at MP the following day. The weather is cooler, 67F. It's a good opportunity to find out if it was the heat on Tuesday (although I had already discarded that idea as I have run faster times in similar conditions without bonking). I warm up for a mile. The MP portion will begin with the second mile. I run it on target, and I feel much better than the previous day. My breathing is more relaxed, not so my arms. I turn around at the four-mile point, and I have ran three miles at MP, but I am feeling tired. Not good. By the end of the fourth MP mile I "know" I can only do one more at this pace. Soon after this I have to stop altogether as I am gumption-less. What is up with me? Did I just go through exercised-induced asthma? Are my allergies really working my immune system to the point of exhaustion? Will I have to adjust my NYCM goal to a more realistic time?

Too many questions. Not enough answers. Or at least answers that satisfy my ego.

This Sunday I am running the full marathon distance as a training run. I wanted to run 10-13 miles at MP. I am hoping my lungs will show up.

Good luck to anyone racing this weekend, particularly those doing Chi-COW-go.