Archive for October, 2013

Taper Madness!

6 days from now I will have finished celebrating the end of the NYC Marathon and (hopefully) be tucked into my nice, warm bed heading off to sleep.  On Sunday I will cover 26.2 miles (plus all the extra distance that one can expect to add in a crowded mega-race such as NYC).  It will likely take me between 5 and 5 1/2 hours to cover that distance.  But, of course, the journey of my NYC Marathon started just over 6 months ago in late April. Over the past 6 months I’ve run 442 miles (give or take), raised $2833.20 for charity, and learned more than a few life lessons. As cliché as it sounds, the 26.2 miles from Staten Island to Central Park is really just the icing on the cake.

The most common question I’m asked is “Are you ready?” And, for me, the answer is an unequivocal YES! I’ve been pretty faithful to Jeff Galloway’s training plan.  I’ve only missed a few long runs (I think the last one I missed altogether was in May) and only cut a few long runs short (I ran 27 miles instead of 29, for example).  My injuries have been relatively minor, although I will admit that my nagging 5th metatarsal in my left foot scares me a bit. I did all of the assigned speed work, including 14 x 1 mile repeats.  And every mile repeat I ran was at or below my assigned pace (20 seconds faster than race pace).  I know I can cover the distance.  

Weather reports look AWESOME! Low of 40F.  High of 54F.  0% chance of rain.  Rain is predicted on Friday which looks like it’ll bring a cooling pattern for the weekend.  If this advance forecast holds, we will be super lucky.  Ideal marathon conditions. I’m running my home city.  I was born at Mount Sinai Hospital, across the street from Central Park.  I work in the Bronx.  I really feel like I belong in NY.  I know I’m going to savor every mile.  

So what scares me for Sunday?

The unknown.  This marathon is HUGE, even for someone who is used to runDisney’s crowds.  The field will be almost twice as large as the Disney Marathon.  And the logistics.  I need to get to a bus in Midtown Manhattan at 6am to arrive on Staten Island by 7am because the Verrazano Bridge closes at 7am.  And then the only way to Staten Island is either ferry or going through New Jersey.  My start time for the marathon is close to 11am.  Which means 4 hours of sitting on Staten Island waiting to start.  I’m lucky that I chose to run for charity because there will be a tent to wait inside but it’s a long time to wait.  And remember that many of my long runs were done at 4am and not in the middle of the day.

The pacing.  I’ve run my long runs at 2 min/mile slower than race pace.  I know I can run 27 miles in 6 hours.  Can I run 26 miles in 5:15? I’m not sure.  Jeff Galloway emailed the race plan to me today.  1st six miles at 12 min/mile pace.  Miles 6-15 at 11:45 min/mile pace.  Miles 16-20 at 11:45 or 11:30 pace.  Then whatever pace I want for the last 10k.  I’m worried that I won’t be able to handle this distance at a faster pace and I’ll crash and burn.  Again, I know I can cover the distance but I’m not sure I can cover the distance as fast as I’d like.  Truthfully 12 min/mile pace is still a huge PR for me and maybe I shouldn’t go too crazy….

My foot.  It feels ok but not perfect.  I don’t think there’s anything I can do right now to help it get better except take my runs easy this week and hope it holds up ok.  Usually it feels best when I’m wearing my Hokas so I’ll just go with that.

Ultimately, there’s little I can do this week to prepare for Sunday.  I’ll do my short runs on Tuesday and Thursday.  Jeff Galloway still has me playing with some ratios this week to get used to them.  I’m going to drink tons of fluid and try to eat healthy.  Hopefully I’ll get some good sleep (I’m on call until Friday morning so I can only hope for the best).  I’m grateful to have so many people thinking about me on Sunday.  My splits should post on Facebook and Twitter for those who want to follow along.  It’s been a great journey to the starting line!

About 7 months ago I registered to run the Diva Half Marathon on Long Island.  This race has been on my radar screen for a few years but usually takes place the same day as my local half marathon (the Westchester Running Festival).  It’s hard to choose a race that requires a 45 minute drive to the start over one that starts about 3 miles from my house.  Last year I was a little disappointed in both the race shirt and the medal given for the Westchester Running Festival.  The race organizers raised the price of the race and then gave less nice shirts (cotton instead of tech from the previous year) and plastic medals (the previous year the medals were metal and had a spinning component).  I can honestly say that I don’t sign up for races *just* for nice race shirts and medals but there was such a change in quality at the same time as an increase in price.  So I decided, back in March, to try the Diva Half this year.

The Diva Half is a women’s race that takes place in various cities around the country.  The recent race in the D.C. area got poor reviews for an organizational point of view but was also an inaugural event.  The Long Island version seems to get good reviews.  The race celebrates Divas by handing out hot pink boas and tiaras on the course and then giving the finishers champagne and roses at the finish line.  Supposedly the medals are given out by attractive firemen.  It sounded like a fun race not too far from my hometown.

And then I signed up for the NYC Marathon and decided to attempt a time goal… Suddenly I find myself a few days away from running the Diva Half Marathon and exactly one month away from the NYC Marathon.  And I need to decide how to approach this Sunday’s race.

My half marathon PR is 2:25:41, or about 11:06 min/mile.  Last weekend I ran one mile repeats at 10:50 pace or faster and I did it 12 times.  I am very sure that I could PR this weekend’s race, and maybe by quite a bit. But I also know that I have another 20+ mile mega-run (my schedule actually calls for me to go beyond the marathon distance) that I will be doing in London, England.  And then 4 weeks from the Diva is my GOAL race – NYC Marathon.

Ego-wise it’s very tempting to go for a PR this weekend.  I hate the very concept of running a race at training pace instead of race pace.  Logically I understand that going for a PR might cost me my time-goal at NYC.  What to do?

Luckily I have an awesome e-coach, Jeff Galloway, who told me what to do.  His first email said to “take it easy” at this weekend’s race.  I had to email him back for clarification as to what “take it easy” meant.  He suggests 13 min/mile pace for the race (ugh, my slowest half marathon except as part of the Goofy) but then offered a different solution.  If I can stick to a run 20 sec/walk 30 sec ratio for the entire race, I can go faster than 13 min/mile.  It’s still a little frustrating for me to have to slow down but I hope I will keep my eye on the prize…