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Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter Break

Many signs in the city remind us that winter has arrived earlier than usual this year. Grouse and Cypress have beautiful snow caps. Big-O-Tire on W. Broadway is busy as drivers desperately winterize their vehicles. Robert is staying home today coping with a cold after a soccer game this weekend at snow-covered UBC in sub-zero temperature.  Noah fired an email last week advertising new running apparel available in Alma RR and suitable for cold weather conditions. I may need a new pair of warm running gloves myself.
On one of those cold and rainy days last week, long awaited subscription of Runners World finally arrived. To my delight one of the featured articles discussed a necessity to take a winter break to rest and get ready for a new running season next year. After a very intensive training for races in Eugene in May and New York in November, I felt that my body needed well-deserved rest. As part of my training I ran close to 1,650 km from December to May and 1,850 km from June to November, enough to cover a distance from Vancouver to Chicago. Yes, it's time to take a break and follow some of the recommendations from RW:
  • Make time to cross-train: spin cycling, swimming, yoga, cross-country skiing, or weight training for the first two weeks of rest
  • No long-runs:  run no more than 30 to 40 minutes at a time and reduce your mileage to 25% of your regular weekly mileage for the next two weeks
  • Reduce your weekly mileage to 50% for the next one or two weeks, and to 75% for the final week of rest
  • Eliminate speed work.  However, run up to 5 short intervals of 3 minutes each at a pace that feels moderately hard twice a week to keep your legs and lungs strong

Time off in December is also an excellent opportunity for me to catch up on reading or watching a movie, preferably about running J

Run Strong! Enjoy your winter break.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New York, New York

With blue sky, sunny weather, and refreshingly cool air on Sunday morning, 47,000 runners could not ask for a better day to run New York Marathon. Janet asked me to enjoy the start of the race which turned out to be high-ceremony and featured signing of the Star-Spangled Banner, speech by the president of NYRR, Michael Bloomberg on stage, choppers above, media everywhere, several celebrities running for charities, the world’s top elite runners ready for 26.2 mile sprint, and thousands of runners from over 100 countries on Verazzano Bridge embarking on a journey through five boroughs to the tunes by Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York. Yes, it was a big event on a big stage, and Madlene, Wayne and I were lucky to be part of it.  I’m happy to report that our small contingent from Alma RR did just fine.

Age Group
Age Group Place
Madlene Lazarian
Wayne Pagens
Jacek Gorwa

Madlene called me right after she finished. Her legs were sore. The second half of the race was harder and as expected slower, but she sounded very happy. Wayne decided to enjoy the experience and take it easy. I’m looking forward to seeing the photos he took throughout the course. 
Slowly shuffling back to my hotel after the race, I had some time to retrospect and quickly came to a realization that my expectation of breaking a personal record in NY was simply unrealistic. The course is hard. Climbing five bridges and several hills required fast downhill running to compensate for lost time. Countless repeats of running up and sprinting down eventually took a toll. By the time I left Queensboro Bridge and entered Manhattan my quads were shot. In great disbelief I had to admit that my race was over. The group of French runners I was following in Brooklyn was long gone. I could barely walk and there were still 10 miles to go. Someone once said about long distance running: pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. And at this moment I knew that my trip to the Big Apple was all about finishing those remaining long, very long miles to Central Park. Feeding off the energy from screaming crowds along 1st Ave, I started running again one mile at a time, hoping to reach the finish line in the best possible time. My memories are blurry from this point on.  I was reminding myself to look for a gospel choir in Harlem, Pepe was telling me about. Did I miss the college band playing a theme from Rocky? Was Robert able to get through thick crowds and watch the race close to Columbus Circle subway station he was going to come to? Most of the time I was simply too tired to think. 
Crossing the finish line in Central Park was anticlimactic. No jubilation. No despair. Exhaustion and simple satisfaction from finishing. Realization that it was an amazing yet very tough race. A text message from Robert popped up on my phone shortly after I changed to dry clothes. He saw me at 26 mile. Made me happy.
This was my 8th marathon. It was the largest, the hardest, most spectacular, most painful and yet most memorable race. Chris is right. New York Marathon is, without a doubt, the best. Would love to do it again.   

Run Strong! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Race Like No Other

After 22 weeks of training it is time to start packing and getting ready for a trip to Big Apple to run 26.2 miles across five boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan. This year’s marathon has a special meaning to many. It marks 10th anniversary of 9/11, a tragic event that forever changed this great city. Grete Waitz passed away on April 19 this year. She won New York Marathon a record 9 times. Her husband Jack Waitz will be running this Sunday along 47,000 runners who are coming to New York from all over the world. On November 6,  Madlene, Wayne and I will have a privilege of representing Canada. My Maple Leaf shirt is already folded and ready on top of red-and-white racing Kinvaras. Garmin is being charged at this very moment. Compression socks, or leg warmers as Helen calls them, are packed as well. Chris warned me about potentially long and very cold wait in the start villages at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. A trip to Thrifty Store on W. Broadway resulted in throw-away sleeping bag for $14.99 and winter jacket for $9.99 that should keep me warm. Probably the best $25 spent on running this year. My spirits are high, but the self-inflicted challenge of breaking 2:50 in New York sinks in. Noah and Carsten described this course as very difficult with long stretches of uphill running to cross five bridges and many hills especially in the last 3 miles in Central Park. Looking at the elevation map I could appreciate the sheer size of almost two-mile long Verrazano Bridge. To relax and take my mind off time goals, race pace, negative splits, running strategy etc, I decided to look at this amazing race from a light side, as a once-a-lifetime event that should be enjoyed due to its beauty, size and uniqueness. Here are some interesting facts I found on ESPN site about the biggest marathon in the world.
  • 127: Number of runners who toed the line at the very first New York City Marathon, held in 1970. Only 55 actually finished.
  • 9: New York City Marathon victories by Grete Waitz, a Norwegian track star who turned to the marathon at the suggestion of her husband -- and never looked back.
  • 47,000: Number of participants projected to race in this Sunday's marathon.
  • 38: Percent of those racers who are women.
  • 84: Age of Joy Johnson, the oldest female entrant this year.
  • 3,538: Number of entrants from Italy, the country with the most participants outside of the U.S. France and Germany rank second and third for foreign entries.
  • 1,663: Number of attorneys entered in this year's race. Also in the top 10 of professions? Physicians (1,073 entries), good in case of injury along the course ...
  • 8,000: Number of event volunteers during Sunday's race.
  • 2.5 million: Expected spectators along the course.
  • 74: Number of UPS trucks that will take participants' bags from the start in Staten Island to the finish in Manhattan's Central Park.
  • 18,000: Cans of Coors Light ordered for the pre-marathon pasta dinner on Saturday night, which will host 15,000 runners and their families.
  • 4,500: Pounds each of rigatoni pasta and elbow macaroni to be served at the pasta dinner.
  • 17,000: Pounds of clothing discarded at the start line of the race and collected for local charities.
  • 368: Number of portable toilets positioned throughout the course, at more than 35 locations including every mile.
  • 62,370: Gallons of Poland Spring Natural Spring Water available to runners.
  • 32,040: Gallons Gatorade G Series Pro Endurance Formula along the course.
  • 2,300,000: Paper cups used during the race.
  • 60,000: Number of PowerBar Gel packets for runners at mile 18.
  • 130,000: Amount in dollars awarded to the male and female runner champion (amount increases to $200,000 if last year's winner wins again).
  • 31: Amount in millions expected to be raised by all 210 2011 race charities combined.

--Facts and figures provided by the ING New York City Marathon 

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Run Strong! New York, here we come!

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