Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Alas an update.

I have been running a lot. I have been working a lot. I have been sleeping a little. While the imbalance has not seemed to impact my performance as a runner, it has seemed to cause some cognitive decline. Last night, I got home from an 11.5 mile jaunt through Central Park, said hello to Pepper, set the convection oven to preheat and went to the basement to fetch some frozen chicken and edamame for dinner. I forgot that the door to the basement locks behind you and if you let it latch, you are locked in. Thankfully, I had my phone, and I was able to text Lauren. She contacted a friend in the building who came to retrieve me about 15 minutes later.

As I re-entered my apartment, tail between my legs, I noticed it smelled of bananas foster. That’s when I remembered that we have been keeping our bananas in the convection oven during the day so they are out of reach of the potassium-seeking mouse that roams our building. A bunch of roasted bananas serves no purpose. It appears 3-5 hours of sleep a night is enough to get me through 11 miles or more, but it is not enough to be successfully domestic.

Things should settle down soon. Some staffing challenges at work, coupled with a Giants Super Bowl win have created a lot of opportunities for extra assignments. I am looking forward to working a Monday-Friday day shift for the next couple of weeks.

Since my last update, there has been a lot of excitement. I won’t recap it all because that ship has sailed.

Most notably, Lauren and I enjoyed a fantastic honeymoon in Belize. If you are looking for the perfect balance of paradise and adventure, this is the place for you. We divided our time between the mountains and the beach and could not have asked for or imagined a more beautiful setting. It was exactly what both of us needed; time with each other and just each other. Good wine, good food, good weather and the best company. Pure, uninterrupted bliss. You don’t get a lot of that when you live in Manhattan and work opposite schedules.

Also very notable, Lauren and I traveled to Baltimore to attend the Baptism of our Goddaughter, Stella. It was a quick trip for me, going down and back in the same day, but worth every second. It was a beautiful experience and I was honored to be there on such a special day.

And regrettably notable, we experienced a little scare with Pepper. As she waited for me to get soup from a Vietnamese place last month, something spooked her and she ran into traffic. This was extremely uncharacteristic of her. I didn't see what happened, but it appears she was clipped by a car. We are blessed that the injury to her hind leg was not severe and she seems to be almost back to her old-self. Her confidence is not 100% and every once and a while she walks with a limp, but the vet has assured us she will be fine. I, on the other hand, will never get back the ten years that was shaved off my life as the whole thing transpired.

Fast forward to the recent past. I’m waist-deep into Boston training and at this point, firing on all cylinders. I’m averaging 80-85 miles a week and building. Key workouts have included a 20 mile run in a driving snow/ice storm, 1200 repeats at 3:37 pace, 18 miles with the last 6 miles at 5:40 pace, a four mile tempo at 5:30 pace and finally, the first race of the 2012 season this past weekend.

I was glad the Gridiron Classic 4 Miler was on Sunday. It allowed me to cheer for Lauren in her race Saturday morning. (She did great by the way, finishing 3rd in her age group on a very hilly course!) Oddly enough, despite having living here 8 months, this was my first race entirely in Central Park. I have logged hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles there, but I have yet to experience it as a race course. I was initiated quickly. The gun went off and we went straight up a hill (Cat Hill, for those of you familiar with the terrain). I tucked into the lead pack, staying in close proximity with a Central Park Track Club runner I knew was in my wheelhouse.

The top five, headed by a NYAC runner and some WSX foreign recruits, opened up a gap and it was just me and the CPTC guy swapping wind-blocking duties as we crossed the first mile in 5:12; not bad for climbing. The wind-blocking was of great importance during this race, as my face felt frozen almost as soon as we started running fast. By mile two, we had picked it up a little and were given a slight reprieve on the hills , going through in 5:09.

But the race was made on mile three, and this is where I learned how punishing Central Park could be. The entire mile was an uphill climb and even though I caught and passed one of the WSX runners, I allowed myself to lose some ground. When I got to the mile marker and saw I had clocked a 5:20, I did some quick math and knew I had to recover if I wanted to dip under 21:00 for the race. With heavy legs, I found that extra gear and gunned for the finish. I was on pace as I hit the cruel last 200 meters, an uphill climb to Tavern on the Green. Thinking, “no guts no glory”, I took the hill at top speed and went through the last mile in 5:08, crossing the line in 20:53, 7th place overall.

This was the first time I have raced the four-mile distance since March of 2010 and it’s a 15 second PR on a course that is considerably more difficult that the Shamrock 4 Mile course, and slightly tougher than the Run for Your Life 4 Mile course, both in Charlotte. But, since no race is perfect, I did find some “items to work on.” Most importantly, although I was pretty spent after the race, I felt like there was a little left in the tank. In a race situation, there should never be anything left in the tank. That 5:20 mile was unacceptable. Yes, it was on a hill, but there should not be an eight second difference between that mile and my next slowest mile. That said, this was an exercise in racing tired. I did two quality workouts in the week leading up to the race and was not 100% rested when I got to the starting line.

Ok, this is already much longer than I intended. Working out the spring race schedule now, but I am hoping to get in another mid-distance race before the big New York City Half Marathon in March.

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