Hey There Delilah

February 28, 2008

I though this article was really interesting. Who knew?

Cohen, Adam Buckley. “There There, Track Star.” Runner’s World. March 2008: 34.

Hey There Delilah

Foot fault

February 25, 2008

The “tweaked foot” as I called it before has kept me from running for SEVEN days — unacceptable! After an initial misdiagnosis, Dr. Michael now says it’s an abductor hallucis strain. (It hurts most when I push down at the top of my arch just below the small bone protrusion on my left foot.)

I resumed lifting and spin class in the middle of the week and walking in more recent days, but this is something I never want to experience again. As you can imagine, I read endless websites on foot injuries that caused me more than one cold sweat. I’m really thankful I may entirely escape this injury and not have it reoccur. It happened early in the season and wasn’t running-related; once my foot heals I hope everything will be back to normal. I’ve been keeping it taped and otherwise not doing anything too adventurous, like yoga!

Injuries are nothing new to me. Having played indoor and beach volleyball for many years, injuries — especially foot/ankle injuries — happen all the time. (I’d say volleyball ranks alongside tennis as the most injury-prone sport where you’re never actually contacting your opponent.)

For whatever reason, I have never cared to get back to running as much as I do now. This morning I ran with my foot taped for 25 minutes at my normal pace without compensating my stride.

Untimed Run

February 22, 2008

Without a watch I feel like I’m running blind. I’ve never owned a sports watch because I never really cared how fast I ran. At most, I’d check the time before I left the house and check again on my return (if I hadn’t already forgotten the time I left). As I mentioned before, my marathon training retroactively started on January 1, officially started in early February, now officially officially begins when I get a watch — there will likely be another official start along the way.

I’ve been shopping around for a watch that can tell time, distance, and heart rate. There seem to be a few major brands that can do it all: Suunto, Polar, Timex, and Garmin. Because GPS was important to me and I didn’t want the inconvenience of GPS accessory pods as with the Suunto and Timex, the soon-to-be-released Garmin Forerunner 405 was the obvious choice. The previous versions of the Forerunner have had excellent reviews.

While the official release date for the Garmin Forerunner 405 was 2008Q1, the Garmin blog specified it’d be available by the end of February. Now, according to dealers, the date has been pushed back to March 20. I’m already in line for one! I purchased the Garmin from Amazon.com on February 7 [currently showing out of stock].

Update 3/2/2008: The Garmin Forerunner 405 release date was pushed back to 2008Q2 and Peg’s Posts on the Garmin blog says the Forerunner should “hit the ground running at the Boston Marathon,” which is on April 21. I’m still in line!

In the meantime, I decided to buy a basic Timex Ironman watch that’ll be helpful until my Garmin arrives and then will serve as a trusty back-up.

My first yoga class

February 16, 2008

I figured that if yoga was good enough for Tom Brady, it was good enough for me. Today at Equinox I tried yoga class for the first time.

My experience with yoga was so new/interesting/unusual that I feel like I might be spoiling it for others writing about it here. The instructor was tipped off that I was new right away by my problems opening the door — how could I have known it was sliding?

Required class materials were a yoga mat, foam block, and colorful blanket, all which were neatly stacked against the wall. The class started with the instructor offering a prayer-like testament to honor President’s Day. Then the class chanted after the instructor in a mystical language. Amazingly, it seemed most everyone knew the words. The instructor progressed into a series of yoga poses; those poses I remember include “Downward Dog,” “Plank,” and “Warrior I”. When I wasn’t spying on what my neighbors were doing, I managed to align my spine, neck, and legs as required, but aligning my soul will certainly take more practice. I just went with the flow.

Obviously I didn’t get very much out of the class, but I can’t discount yoga entirely. Just as with running, it’d be foolish to expect benefits right away, especially when as unprepared as I was. I did find some of the stretches interesting and potentially relaxing. The real question is whether my one hour of time might have been better spent running or lifting. Maybe Tom Brady can help me out with my poses and I can show him how to handle the Giants’ defense.

Later on, sometime between yoga and an evening walk, I managed to tweak my foot. Dr. Scholl’s Arch Supports: -$10.99.

Lifting, running, spinning…

February 14, 2008

It took me a few weeks to settle into a workout schedule. I go to the gym twice a day. Mornings I alternate between running on the treadmill and spin class. In the evening I follow a three-day rotation: legs/shoulders, triceps/chest, and biceps/back. I do at least three exercises targeting each area and abs work every other day. Sure, rest is important, but I don’t schedule it since there are enough days when I can’t make it to the gym. I entirely expect the twice-daily regiment to end once I start increasing mileage.

It’s cold outside so I run on a treadmill; par for course is 25 minutes of either a flat, fast run, or the treadmill Cascades program, which is constant pace over two severe inclines.

My best discovery so far is spin class! The concept is easy: the instructor shouts whether to pedal fast or slow; set resistance easy or hard (simulating hills); and stand or sit. However, there’s plenty of room for improvisation. Are those numbers resistance or speed? How do you go from 70% to 80% resistance when the dial has no numbers and no arrows? And most commonly, what did the instructor just say?? I might have started spinning to spare my knees, but I continue it for the music! The tunes are typically remixes of popular dance music and at Equinox, the bass pounds so hard, you might think you’re at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Not much to love

February 13, 2008

Let me just say it, I don’t love running and I maybe never will. Running is monotonous, solitary, sometimes painful, and requires significant time dedication. This list is not exhaustive.

When I tell friends about my marathon ambitions, the first question is typically “Why??” I hope to provide a well-constructed argument soon; for now, it’s because running is hard. Ironically, all the reasons I dislike running are the reasons why I do it. If marathon running was easy, it wouldn’t be worth my time.

It’s hard to imagine running for hours at a time, so I hope there’s some trick. There’s probably good reason why books on motivation and books on running are paired together.

Running can be made fun, like the real kind. When I lived in Stockholm, Sweden, near my apartment was a long winding dirt trail that dove between trees and flirted with the water’s edge. The trail had blind corners, rocks, steep elevation changes, and embankments. Everyday I’d try to run it faster and the fancy footwork kept it interesting. Trails are to running what moguls are to skiing – amazing!

Love it or hate it, in the end – we’ve all experienced it – the satisfaction from completing a long hard run is incredible.

Official races thus far

February 12, 2008

This is a catch-up entry describing the three runs I’ve completed this year. Before this year I had run two organized 5ks, both when I was in junior high school.

Emerald Nuts Midnight Run 4M
Central Park, New York, NY
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

This New Year’s Eve 4-mile fun run is where I retrospectively mark the start of my marathon training. In the days leading up to the run I made sure I could survive 4M because returning from a long break from running, I wasn’t so sure. This race is a New Year’s party with DJ, costume contest, give-aways, and a countdown to midnight that kicked off the race. It was all quite remarkable: we ran as fireworks exploded above and alcohol-free champagne hydration was provided at the 2-mile mark. I’d definitely do it again. The race was not officially scored; my net time was 31:52 (7:53 pace).

NYRR Fred Lebow Classic 5M (Q)
Central Park, New York, NY
Saturday, January 12, 2008

The 5M Fred Lebow Classic was my first official qualifying race. Not knowing how well I’d run 5 miles and not wanting to be nuisance to faster runners, I started inside the 9:00 pace marker. Instead, I think I became a nuisance to slower runners. My official time was 39:18 (7:51 pace).

NYRR Gridiron Classic 4M (Q)
Central Park, New York, NY
Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Gridiron Classic is a 4-mile race held in the spirit of the Super Bowl! It was amazing to see so many runners. I again started at around the 8:30 pace marker after already twice demonstrating I was 40 seconds faster – fast runner, slow learner apparently! The first mile was spent weaving around people, but at mile 2 the road opened up. My official time was 31:12 (7:48 pace).

Prediction 1

February 11, 2008

I have a habit of soliciting people’s guesses and predictions. So here is mine….

I’ll complete my first marathon in 3 hours 50 minutes (8:50 pace). I figure if my current pace is around 7:50 for a 4-5 mile run, tacking on a minute per mile seems reasonable.

It’s been easy running a few miles at a time, but once I cross 8 miles it’ll be unchartered territory. While the running will turn longer and more difficult, the biggest challenge will be staying focused and to not let my next big idea become my next big distraction. Marathon training will take eight or nine months of almost daily dedication. Knowing this, I started this blog to keep me accountable.

By far, by farrr, my biggest concern is getting hurt. Pretty much anything can be overcome; injuries are the only show-stopper.

Asics GT-2120

February 11, 2008

I currently run in Asics GT-2120 shoes, which I purchased at Sports Authority on sale for a remarkable $59.99. They’re nowhere near the top-of-the-line Asics shoes, but they serve me well. (The 21×0 line has also had very good reviews.)

There are very likely better cushioned, lighter, and better fitting shoes available, but I’m hesitant to take chances here. I previously ran in the older Asics GT-2110 and I had no problems with my legs or feet – I’d like to keep it that way!

Ballroom dancing ends

February 9, 2008

Today I officially ended dancing with the Columbia Ballroom Dancing Team to make room for running. Yes, it was a trade-off and there was no way around it. Ballroom dancing was a hobby I picked-up as a graduate student and continued last semester as an alum. Having had no prior experience, it was fun learning as many as eight Standard and Latin dances concurrently and traveling for competitions at east coast schools.

I just didn’t have the heart to continue dancing any longer. Now that I’m working full-time, it was too exhausting to come home from lessons and practice after midnight three or more nights a week and have to wake up early for work the next morning.

The bigger issue was that ballroom follows a 12-week semester with a long winter and summer breaks in between. It was in all the time I had during this past winter break that I joined the gym and started running. When spring semester started in January, I lost the desire to practice knowing very well that ballroom will end in a few months, my partner will move home, and I’ll again have a void in my schedule.

I met a lot of great people on the Columbia team, especially my partner, Ksenia. Who’s going to embarrass you dancing Soulja Boy now?