Monday, December 31, 2012

I am a cyclist

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugAs I was hammering down on Martin Luther King during a solo ride this week, I reflected upon my year as a cyclist.

It was a year of many beginnings. I did not even sit on a bike between January and April. I dusted off my barely-used TT bike in May. Learned to be comfortable wearing my cycling cleats. Learned to shift gears. Learned to ride in an aerodynamic position using my aero bars. Learned to ride side-by-side in a group. Learned to set up my hydration system for long rides.

I also became a regular at spinner classes offered by my gym. I used my heart rate monitor to make sure I was putting in the proper effort.  I also gave my old bike trainer a new try.

Cycling has become by main focus of training starting on December 1 this year. I still consider myself a novice cyclist, but I am a cyclist.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Personal Bests - Marathon

4:56:53 Philadelphia Marathon 2004
My marathon debut! I didn't know what I was doing. I reached the halfway mark after 2 hours and 4 minutes, and ran out of energy soon after. The second half took nearly 3 hours. My legs cramped up. I was in pain. I could barely walk on Kelly Drive heading out to Manuyunk. I actually had to sit down on the curb for a minute to pull myself together. My running buddy Betsy, a 50-something woman, passed me on her way back to the Art Museum. She told me to hang in there and that she was praying for me to finish.

4:42:24 New Jersey Marathon 2005
New Jersey Marathon 2005
I ran slightly better but I still had trouble in the second half. I ran out of energy around mile 16. My body tensed up. Legs started to cramp. My pace significantly slowed down. I was running at about a 15 minute per mile pace, which equivalent to walking. When given orange slices at Mile 18, I ate everything including the orange peel. Food never tasted so good. 

4:15:31 Mount Desert Island Marathon 2005
This was my first destination marathon. This was a small marathon with lots of hills. Martha Stewart was the race starter. It was a rainy day and I ran mostly by myself as the race was really small. I finished at No. 184 overall out of 510 finishers, with a time of 4:15:18. My pace was 9:45 minutes per mile, which was a minute a mile faster than my previous best.

MDI Marathon

3:48:02 Flying Pig Marathon 2006
Wee! Wee! Wee!

Wee! Wee! Wee! Even in my wildest dream, I would not think I would be able to run a sub four-hour marathon. I lined up with the 4:10 group. After a crowded first mile, I used a few hills (and bridges) to gain ground. I passed the 4:00 pace girl by around Mile 10. More hills, more people I left behind. My quads were a little tight, but they didn't slow me down a bit. I caught up with the 3:50 pacer around Mile 20. 
Who would have thought that after running 25.2 miles, I could run the last mile in 7 minutes and 27 seconds? I even took time at Mile 26 to wear my piggy noise!

When Pigs Fly

3:43:53 Chicago Gay Games Marathon 2006
Here's to Another Personal Best
After a week of intense soccer, and a heart-breaking penalty shootout loss the night before, I ran my first Gay Games marathon. It was not the regular Chicago marathon route. It was on the lakefront only. The race course consisted of four loops. My splits were 54:00, 52:21, 56:56, and 1:00:30. It was a lot of fun running along other festive gay runners on the last day of the Gay Games.

3:39:27 Baltimore Marathon 2006
My parents came to Baltimore with me. We had a fun time walking around the Inner Harbor. I saw my parents during the marathon. After the marathon, my mom got lost and it took my dad over an hour to find my mom. I tried to help but I was too exhausted to stand around so I walked back to our hotel a few blocks from the start/finish area.

Baltimore Marathon 2006

I was not in the mood to celebrate this personal best, as I thought I could have done a lot better. Here is what I wrote about this race: "I had an unspectacular run in an unspectacular race today. Lack of hill training cost me about five minutes on the second half."
The Baltimore marathon was my 9th marathon overall. I didn't know at the time that this personal best would stick around for 4 years. I needed t0 run 20 more marathons until I finally broke this personal best.
Baltimore Marathon 2006

3:28:42 Philadelphia Marathon 2010

Well, kids, training does make a huge difference. I trained well for the Philadelphia Marathon in 2006, and I had my most amazing marathon race ever. I set a personal record. I went under 3:30 for the first time. It was the race that I had always wanted to run since I started running in 2004.
I started out with the 3:30 group and hung in with them for the first 9 miles. I broke away after mile 9. Half way through, I knew I was in a position to break my personal best, and that reason gave me a huge motivation to push through. By mile 15, I was between the 3:30 and the 3:20 groups. I slowed down a little bit the last 5 miles but hung in there to finish under 3:30.

3:15:13 Steamtown Marathon 2011
I was on a mission training for this marathon. I knew it would be a fast course. I ran fast downhill, and reached halfway at 1:29 which was faster than any half marathon time that I ever finished. The second half was mostly flat, and there were some small hills in the last 3 miles.
I definitely wasn't able to maintain my 7:00 pace after the downhill portion was over. I started to slow down a little bit around Mile 10 but still maintained a 7:30 pace through mile 22. For the last 3 miles, the rolling hills did me no favor. I struggled to keep my pace under 8. I was hoping to finish under 3:15 but ended up with 3:15:13.

I could loosely claim that I qualified for the 2012 Boston Marathon. However, the Boston race was already full by the time I got my BQ. Starting with 2013, there would be a new qualification standard which is 5:13 minutes faster than my Steamtown time.

3:08:35 Philadelphia Marathon 2012

Wow, could this be real? I qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon with a time of 3:08:35 at the Philly Marathon 2012. I was pumping my fist and tearing up as I crossed the finish line while the race clock time was showing 3:09. In the Male 35-39 age group, a marathon time of 3:09:59 or less qualifies a runner for the Boston Marathon.

I was able to execute my plan because I trained well. I followed a good program, and pretty much put the rest of my life on hold for 2 months during this training process. I focused on intervals and hills. I ran slow during my long runs and fast when I needed to run fast. I monitored my pace and progress via the Garmin 910XT with heart rate monitor. I even used a foot pod to be aware of my running cadence.

Labels: , ,

Pretzel City Sports Dirty Bird 15k Race Report

Well, well, I wasn't the only want who came back for a second Turkey Trot. I met Grant Farrell at the Millersville Turkey Trot 5k. I lined up next to him. He finished the 5k about a minute ahead of me, and we chatted briefly afterward. It was cool to meet another Hempfield High School alum who is still racing. This dude was at the Dirty Bird 15k trail race 3 days later, and collected 2nd place for Male 30-39. He was so fast that he was already dressed up in warm clothes when I came in. #WERQ

Dirty Bird 15k elevation

So how was my race? I definitely ran better than I did at my first Dirty Bird 5 years ago. I still started out fast and struggled a little bit going up hill from mile 0.5 to mile 1.5. Many guys and and a few gals passed me during this long incline. I started working my way up after mile 1.5. No one else passed me from mile 1.5 to the finish. I ran very well downhill, flats, and even up some small hills and finish in 1 hour and 22 minutes. I was about 13 minutes slower than that dude Grant but I was 6 minutes faster than my previous Dirty Bird run.

Every time I run a trail race, I wonder why I don't run trail races more often. Trail running puts me in a good mood but I don't have easy access to trails living in center city. I do enjoy all the Pretzel City Sports trail runs and hope to do one or two each year.

Labels: , , , ,