Five Years of Racing

With last week’s marathon, I’ve officially completed five full years of racing consistently. I technically ran two races before the 2013 marathon, but they were the Empire State Building thing and the Corporate Challenge and those are… barely races.

So here are some things.

Races run: I’m not sure. NYRR has me at 59, but I’ve also run Chicago, Boston (sigh), Hartford, Philly marathons, 3 QueensDistance tuneup races, a charity race in RI, and a race on Roosevelt island. Which is nice more, for 68. Which means my next race will be my 69th. Nice.

And my PRs?

5k: 17:55 (2016)

4m: 23:23 (2016)

5m: 29:37 (2016)

10k: 37:46 (2017)

15k: 58:18 (2015)

10m: 1:00:52 (2018, yay!)

Half: 1:20:16 (2016)

Full: 2:56:24 (2015)

So, yeah, of these 8 main distances I have run a few times (though the 15k is just Corbitt repeatedly and the 4m is mostly the superbowl race), 50% were in 2016 (from March to July), and 25% more were Oct-Dec 2015. So, really, Oct 2015-July 2016 was my best. I am taking next year off from the full distance to focus on trying to get really comfortable running at or below 6:00/mile without needing to go full effort. Someday, all of these will fall.

But yeah, 69 is next, lol.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Nine thoughts after my ninth marathon finish

  1. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. My hip is damaged in some way. I think it’s clear now that my old, old injury from college, when I jacked up my back playing rugby poorly (and I only joined to follow some friends… sigh…), never really healed. It was really deeply painful for most of my junior and senior years, and I got painkillers prescribed, Oxycodone. I could have ended up with a problem, but they were way too strong. I took two and was like, nah, I can’t function. Got rid of them. Eventually, I went to masseuses and a chiropractor and that finally got the pain to subside. And they were helpful and great. But apparently the damage was never resolved, and then, after I ran nearly 9 miles a day for nearly 2 years, the impact brought it back out, but the discomfort is in my hip instead of my back. I first noticed this during the 2016 marathon, and of course haven’t been able to last the whole way in any marathons since. Yesterday, like Hartford, I subconsciously ran higher on my toes, and I can do that for up to two hours (it works in 10 milers and halves), but my calves, strong as they are, can’t do it for three hours. So, between the Corbitt race and the Superbowl race, I will consult a medical professional for information and between now and the fall of 2020, I will either solve the hip problems or learn to run on my calves for longer, as that might actually be a good way to run. We’ll see.

  2. No marathons in 2019 for the first time since the 2012 one was cancelled. It’ll be weird. But I need not to spend more than 2 hours running at full speed for a few seasons. I will still get up to 60 miles as I train for the halves (Brooklyn. SI, Pelham) next year, and as my fitness is strong, I can get back under 1:21 to qualify for the 2020 marathon by time, hopefully under 1:20 for my own personal goal (why shoot for 1:20:59 and not go for 1:19:59, right?).

  3. I am excited to cheer for the NYC Half and NYC marathon for the first time ever. I’ll bring my puppy, too.

  4. You know, it SEEMED like perfect weather, but the sun was kinda blinding after all that time. Sun jacks me up after a while. Didn’t really slow me down. Just something to note.

  5. My timing plan was good! My fueling plan was… excessive! Four gels is plenty, three is probably ideal.

  6. I saw more signs about voting than anything else. I think it’s gonna happen tomorrow for us. Though baby Trump without the House is gonna be pretty terrible.

  7. I wasn’t the only one who cramped up. But I came up with a good plan. I made a deal with myself, that walking for a long time didn’t do more than just walking for a short time to calm my painfully spasming calves. So once I cramped up for the second time (I was just going to fight through it in my left calf but once my right calf fell apart too it was over), I said, okay, this is Manhattan, all the blocks are numbered. I knew I had to get to 59th street and we entered at 138th. I figured, that’s about 80 blocks. So I said, 8 blocks running, 1 block walking. And I made sure not to be walking when I knew I had people waiting for me (116th, 102nd). This helped a lot, and although those walking spots added a minute to each mile, I felt good enough. And I managed to run up the whole fifth avenue hill.

  8. I have seriously never seen a crowd like that, and I’ve never felt the love as strongly. I’m being less personal online, but suffice it to say, my sessions with good professionals have helped me see and believe in how much people care about me, and I really and truly felt and believed it yesterday. I hope I can always believe it, and when I doubt it, I’ll look back to this day.

  9. Finally, let’s rank my 9 marathons by how much I enjoyed them.

    9. Boston 2017 - We don’t talk about Boston.

    8. NYC 2016 - This is where my injuries came to life, so I had to rank this lowly.

    7. Philly 2015 - It was cool to run past my mom’s place twice but this course was really dull and quiet, comparatively.

    6. Hartfod 2017 - Similarly, it was, uh, cornfields. Which is fine, but once I struggled, having a crowd aside from my wonderful wife would have helped.

    5. NYC 2014 - My god that wind.

    4. NYC 2013 - My first! It was great because I’d never experienced anything like it. But there are better ones because, well, I know what I’m doing.

    3. Chicago 2015 - My PR, perhaps forever. I did not appreciate it as it happened, which is dumb, dumb, dumb. But I have never otherwise felt so strong for, like, 20 miles of a marathon (and then it was sunny).

    2. NYC 2018 - You know about this one.

    1. And finally - NYC 2015 - The happy feelings and improved mental health made yesterday truly special! But, you know, being actually fast was fun, too. I weighed them against each other, and combine the home crowd, the speed, and leading the team, and my first marathon with Alissa at the finish, it still wins, for now. Hopefully 2020 will end up at the top, and then I can take myself back to Boston in 2022 (god, I’ll be old and perhaps finishing a dissertation).

Thanks so much to all for their support. I have never appreciated it more.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Reflections after Marathon #8 didn't go according to plan

  1. The fitness is there. It will remain there. And it can return if I train any year I’m off my game. Good.

  2. I felt my muscles tighten from almost the beginning. This was not a good sign.

  3. I held a sub-7 through mile 19 and then the wheels came off. Lots of walking breaks etc.

  4. Still, my “bad” pace was better than most folks’ best, and after three awful marathons in my last four, will take a finish with tight muscles over puking.

  5. Speaking of puking, I’m just not taking in enough gel. I stopped trying to take in a lot of gel when I got sick in Philly in 2015, but I think now it’s the mixture of the gel and the sweet, sweet gatorade that makes me feel ill. I felt off drinking gatorade during the great 10 miler two weeks ago, even. I’m going to try taking gels at (or near) each 5k and see if I can keep them down and they finally unlock my best performance.

  6. I thought the cool weather was a blessing. It was nice but with the rain I eventually got cold and stiff. So, the opposite of Boston, where it was suddenly hot, basically. Just a little too cold after it was 77 the other day.

  7. This is exactly why I signed up for two races (and probably will do so in any future fall season), because if this had been just one race I would have pushed through, and felt way worse at the end, and still missed my goals.

  8. Night before nutrition was way better. Didn’t feel overly full. I’m slowly figuring out a perfect system for me.

  9. I think in 2015 at my fastest, I was just youthfully energetic, and didn’t need to really take care of myself. I was sick after each race for the whole day and there’s no need for that. I ran to, and through, depletion. No more.

  10. Two days off, back on the horse Tuesday. I know what I need to do now. And I’m going to do it. Now watch it be awful weather in NYC. But I’ll have all my friends and family.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Training - Week 14 (the end of training)

Well. All that’s left is the two marathons. And today I can say I’m as fast as I was during my fastest period, May 2015-April 2016. I had all of my most impressive races during that period, then my stomach fought me, then my legs gave out, then my back gave out, then I got a facial fracture, then my back got hurt again and then I finally started to feel better this May and have improved to my old speed and strength through this well-managed summer of training.

Today, I ran the Bronx 10 miler in 1:00:51, 7 seconds faster than my best, 2015. I never felt bad or ill, and when I wanted to speed up I did. I never felt it in my lungs or stomach, just my legs, where I should feel it.

Didn’t lead the team, but that’s okay. The only person I’m chasing is my best racing self, one who didn’t know his time would be brief. I took my speed for granted back then, and ran unsustainably, nearly 9 miles a day for nearly two years. Now I eat better, drink less, sleep more, stretch more. I’m still older, so all these changes didn’t make me even faster. But my endurance and speed are back to their best.

No more posts in this series. Just marathon 1 on Oct 13th and marathon 2 on Nov 4th. Hoping beyond hope for good weather like today.

Miles this week: 44.39

Miles in September: 264.17

Miles in training (since June 19th): 945.21

Miles in 2018 (why not): 2110.49

Miles until the finish line of marathon 2: 184

(I’ll get to 2500 for the year)

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Training - Week 13

No qualifications to say this was my best week of training, which is good since I’m pretty much done.

Yes, it was cooler, but that wasn’t really the factor.

I’ve been working on my form, as we all should be, and like many I tend to hunch after I’ve been running a long time. I know this, and I try to fight it but it still happens.

I didn’t pay much attention to my form at the start of races/long runs. I figured you start with better form, and it can gradually slide.

But lately, on the advice of my wife (who is usually right about these things), I focused on staying ram-rod straight from step one of each run. And wow, I bashed through lots of goal paces and records and, best of all, wasn’t really putting any strain on my lungs and heart.

Tuesday, my usual run up by the factories, suddenly was able to do faster than I ever had before, by about 8 seconds a mile.

Wednesday, ran over the bridge, not the fastest time ever but far ahead of my goal pace and again, without feeling strain.

Thursday, same thing, fastest I’ve ever done on that route to the Navy Yard.

Then yesterday, I closed out my solo-20-mile-run, my 4th of this training season, with my best one yet.

It was still pretty warm, 70 degrees and sunny, which was not ideal. But I focused on form from step one, and it is much easier to maintain than to retain. I ran a smooth MP+60 for the entire first 18ish miles, then took it easy over the bridge home.

20 days until marathon #1. Just the Bronx (which, barring heat, should go well) next week.

And, I hit 900 miles in training today, in 3 months and 4 days. I won’t hit 1000 until I’m ten miles into my first marathon of the year, so it’s definitely taper time.

Miles this week: 61.26

Miles in training: 900.82 (80% of the way to the second and final finish line)

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Training - Week 12

The hay is in the barn.

My weekly runs are faster than they were when I ran Brooklyn, and Brooklyn pace would lead to a sub 3 without too much stress.

Bridge was fine, under 9. Tues and Thurs were fine. It was all.. fine.

The tune-up, I see no reason to just run it slowly. I ran two loops at marathon pace then cut it because it was getting hot and I didn’t want to just struggle for no reason. My endurance is fine. I added 6 miles at home.

All in all, one 20 miler left next week, then the Bronx, then the two marathons.

Miles this week: 64.3

Miles in training: 839.56

Fewer than 300 left to the finish line.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Training - Week 11

What a big, unwieldy sweaty mess this was, but it's all downhill from here. The hay is now in the barn. The next three Sundays are for fine tuning, then one week relax, then marathon 1, followed by one week to work out kinks at Blue Line, one week relax, marathon 2, sleep/meditation/weightlifting/yoga/dranks. :)

This week started with my favorite run, where I ran down to the Navy Yard, then back and forth over the East River bridges, Manhattan to Willimsburg, follow the marathon route to the Queensboro and up 1st ave to 102nd, Randall's and lower half of the Triboro then home.

Readers, I overdid that one. 

Didn't bring water (I'll find fountains, he said). Just drank gatorade and had chews. I was really blazing it for the first 18 or so. But the run started at 730 and it was already 80 degrees so... yeah I basically couldn't move the rest of the day. But seriously, I have the tune-up and a final 20 (this time in CP where I know there is water). It'll be fine.

For Hellgaters: when I ran my three best marathons in six weeks, I ran all my long runs real slow. I was so naive. And it worked out because I was still green and just full of energy (and, uh, untreated anxiety but nevermind that!). So there's no reason I needed to run in the mid-7s the whole run (long runs I run a minute per mile off MP with some burtsts of MP). I am dumb. Staggered home and couldn't really eat all day because I was sick. Yeah, water is useful. Don't be like me.

It was fun though, seeing lots of areas. I hadn't done this run since 2015 and I missed it.

Anyway. So I took it easy and ran indoors the next day (since it was still so hot, hard to remember today!), went to do bridge repeats Weds and they went very well. Took it easy on my 10 miler thurs (I was very mad at the heat by this point), and finally mostly took it easy this weekend, with an energizing 13 yesterday surrounded by two easy/indoor 7s.

But I did finally hit 80 for a week (though really just because my long run was Monday).

Next up: Tune-up next week. Hoping to get to near my best time from 2015, but at least beat my time from 2014, which is more or less my goal for the Bronx and my marathons - shoot to break PRs of 2015, but otherwise be happy beating solid times from 2014.

Miles for week: 80.36

Miles in training: 775.24. Fewer than 400 to go!

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Training - Week 10

This is sort of an odd week. I went out of town yesterday so am using tomorrow's holiday for my long run.

Otherwise, I had my absolute best Thursday steady state run, finishing in 76:12, despite the heat. The bridge repeats went well, and it was overall a nice week.

This was sort of a ho hum week mileage wise (60), but that's okay because next week is the peak mileage week of the whole season, as I'll be crossing 80 for the only time this year, starting with 22 tomorrow morning.

After tomorrow, though, I have an easy weekend next week, then it's just the tune-up, another 20, and the Bronx before the two marathons. So I've got 4 hard long runs/races left before the marathons. That seems like a lot, but I'm far more than halfway to my destination, and there's no sense in stopping now.

Miles this week: 60.16

Miles in training: 694 (which means I'll hit 700 during my long run tomorrow, with the plan to end up with about 1130 by the time I get to Taven on the Green.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Training - Week 9

Great bounce back after a rough 20 last week. Glad we got a break weather-wise.

Monday, hit my goal on the bridge. 

Tues/Thurs, no PRs or anything but both were smooth.

Weds, ran the mile repeats at 5k pace. Managed 5:55, hoped to do that in today's 5k.

And then today, I did that (well, 5:56). Weather wasn't bad. Wasn't too sunny. Hilly but only one was really steep. Sped up mile over mile over mile. 

The hard work is paying off, even if my top top speed isn't as fast as earlier. And I led the team today, though Jon was away. Still a nice feeling to be a leader.

Miles this week (after tomorrow's 7 shakeout miles): 56.91

Miles in training: 634. Fewer than 500 until Tavern on the Green.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Training - Week 8

I wrote earlier this week about how my midweek long runs went very well. And that was really good.

Speed work was strong Wednesday. I don't know what my best reps were in 2015 and 2016 at my fastest, though I know I was at 2:45 on 800s and I've only managed 2:50 this year. 

My long run was 20 miles yesterday. I basically mashed Summer Streets and a CP loop together. 

The loop in the park was great, about 7:05 pace, even on the hills. Summer Streets was alright on the way south, but coming back north the humidity really go to me, I turned my watch off and just finished.

It happens sometimes. It happened last year. I didn't have to cut it short, though, and overall it wasn't really a set back. Just difficult weather. If next week's 5k goes well I'll be in a good place. And it's good that there's a few more chances at good, fast long runs (one more 20 on 9/1, the tune-up on 9/16, 22 miles on 9/22) before the taper.

Good, hard work.

Longest week of the year thus far (barely), with only one longer week (75, in late sept) on the calendar.

More than halfway to the end.

Miles this week: 72.83

Miles in training: 577.72

 

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality