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

Week 8 Interlude

My usual routine is like this, on a non-race week with a long run:

Monday: 8.92 miles, which is home to the bridge (a few blocks away), then back and forth over the bridge three times, in fartlek mode (90 seconds full speed, 90 seconds off, give or take).

Tuesday: 10.45 miles, from home up around the factories to Hazen and back.

Weds: I do my best to drag myself all the way to the track. Depending on the workout, it's between 7.59 and 8.84 miles. It was 7.84 this week.

Thursday: Same idea as Tuesday, 10.53 miles, from home down into BK to just past the Navy Yard and back.

Friday: Usually 7.5, sometimes a few on the elliptical to give myself a break. If I do anything on the elliptical, I finish by going full speed balls out on the treadmill so it's a real workout.

Saturday: Long run, focused on staying in the 7:15 range, 20 miles this week.

Sunday: Same as Friday.

Put it all together (including yoga, meditation, and frequent but short weight-lifting) and that's my life and routine.

I wanted to mention Tuesday and Thursday today. Both days, I don't actually turn on the pace function on my watch. I only keep my watch with me so I don't coast for too long and get home so late that I have to rush to work. But I have a vague time goal. Both runs are more or less the same length, and more or less the same difficulty (the Thursday one is a little harder because there's a bridge involved and more traffic).

I'm not at any point pushing myself to anything close to race speed (under 7), but even in this heat, if I'm focused, I run in the 7:30 range. And a curious thing happens: I always get to the halfway point later than I want to, and then I turn back around and I run much faster on the way home.

Today, for example, I started off at a good clip, but I got to the halfway point at 39 minutes. 39 minutes for 5.26 miles is about 7:24/mile. And then I turned around and proceeded to run the same distance in 37:40, which is 7:08 per mile. Mind you, it's very humid (and warm), I was presumably tired, and I didn't really do anything different. Yeah, I specifically tried to speed up at the very end, with a mile left. But I didn't feel the extra speed in my chest at all: I just focused.

Focus and consistent training is everything, at least for me. 

Even when I ran my absolutely fastest marathons, in 2015, my long runs that summer were very, very slow, at about an 8:00 pace. I didn't really do anything long and fast aside from the other races. I should be in a much better position to take my long run speed and just lop off 30-35 seconds per mile than the 2 minutes I tried to cut off (almost successfully) in 2015.

Here's hoping the shorter races prove to be positive omens.

 

Comment

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 7

Real off week this week. I was a bit banged up early in the week so took a week off from speed (aside from bridge repeats) and my long run was shorter at 13. Just needed to reset a bit. Back to the 70 mile weeks this week and my second 20 miler on Saturday, with a 5k next week. 

Mileage: 60.76 (lol off week)

Miles in training: 504.69, in less than two months.

Comment

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