Mar 31, 2010

A scary weekend and a slow week

12.53 mi @ 9min/mile
After two consecutive fantastic hill runs on Thursday and Friday, I took a rest day on Saturday but did a small 2 mile run at 8min/mile.

I was looking forward to a nice long run on Sunday at the B&A trail with Jay but who knew that I had a surprise in store. Barely after 6 miles into the run, I had severe pain in my right hip. It was hard to localize but every step sent a jolt through my leg. I've ran through pain earlier but this was the scariest experience during a run, especially with the Mountain MD marathon and Cherry Blossom around the corner. Every mile beyond that was an exercise in pain management until I was able to pop an Advil later and decided to cut short the run to 12.5 miles. I'm not a big fan of NSAIDs and usually do without them even after running a marathon but Sunday's pain attack was beyond me. The rest of Sunday was spent applying ice and compress and living in fear of something horrible. Needless to say, I chickened out on Monday and did not run.

10.53 mi @ 7:52min/mile
Tuesday morning felt somewhat different. The fear lingered but the desire to run was overwhelming. So, I did a small 3.5 mile run at 8.3 min/mile. This felt good. Legs okay. Hips okay. Hallelujah! I stopped at 3.5 so I don't "offend the gods"! Encouraged by Tuesday, I did a 1.5 mile warm up run at 8 min/mile followed by a run to the Fort and back (10.5 miles) at avg 7:52 min/mile. I am wary of this weekend's pain attack and its equally mysterious disappearance. I'm not complaining but keeping the fingers crossed. Just in case.

Mar 26, 2010

Friday: Hill Lust

I loved yesterday's run so much that I had to do it again. This time Jay joined me and we took a different route via Falls Road near Penn Station. This is much better than my usual BMA-Wyman Park route to Druid Hill. Just check the change in elevation for today's run. Love it!

Distance: 11:51mi      Time: 01:40:18

Mar 25, 2010

Thursday: The Dreaded Druid Hills

Today's run was through the "Dreaded Druid Hills" course. Someone who once participated in a DDH 10k said this at the finish line:

I love running hills, but that was mean and totally uncalled for.
My goal today was to run 5 miles on that course (approximately) but ended up doing more. I blame it on the weather. It is a BEAUTIFUL spring evening outside! The hills were not necessarily like Hyde Street  in San Francisco but just enough to challenge your glutes and hamstrings. The Druid Hill park itself appears as an aberration from rest of Baltimore city around it. I went through many parts of the park that I hadn't seen before. Did you know there is a cemetery, a K-9 training unit, a penguin education center, and metal ostrich sculptures in the park? There is also a model "safe city" in the park with tiny houses, street signs, etc -- a great place to take kids to teach about traffic signs. Of course, after all that I had to circle Druid Lake before heading back.

Distance: 9.05mi     Time: 01:21:28

Mar 24, 2010

Wednesday: Beyond the Monument

Did a late night 5 miles in 43 minutes. The plan was to go to the Monument and return as fast as I could but the lure of the descent and an ascent after the Monument was irresistible. So, I did a little more. Stopping was hard today and I wanted more but alas work beckons.

Distance: 5.22 mi    Time:  43:03

Mar 23, 2010

Tuesday: Run to the Fort

Ran a slow 12 mile run to the Fort and back (avg. pace 9 min/mile). This was like an extended version yesterday's recovery run. Jay was very nice to accompany me on this run that was way below our regular training pace. 

Distance: 12.03 mi     Time: 01:48:59

Mar 22, 2010

Monday: Back to work

After a very restful Sunday, it was work as usual today. I stretched for 15 mins, did a small 2.4 mile recovery run in 22mins and spent another 30 mins doing more stretches. Looking forward to tomorrow!

I will be running the Mountain MD Marathon on April 18th in Cumberland. This will be my first Maryland marathon and not Baltimore or Fredrick as I had imagined. The website doesn't look impressive, but the course is challenging and USATF certified. I'm in!

Mar 21, 2010

Sunday: Sleep deficit

Yes, I slept for 10 hours today! And then a little more. Sleeping always does wonders for my recovery. Can't wait for tomorrow's recovery run. It's amazing how we get caught up in work and other banalities of life and neglect sleep. The week leading up to the National Marathon was very stressful for me. There were last minute deliverables that resulted in consecutive 20 hour work days. Tomorrow, work raises its ugly head. Till then, some more tea and nap.

Meanwhile, runindc made this cool video about the National Marathon.

Mar 20, 2010

National Marathon, DC - Race Report


  • Chip time: 3:51:44  Gun time: 3:54:28   Garmin time: 3:49:48 **
  • Course - deceptively hilly. Watch out for the hills at the end of the course.
  • Weather - low to mid 70s. Too hot for running.
  • Personal achievement - two marathons in twenty days.

** Garmin time indicates the actual time spent running. For instance, I paused Garmin when using the porta john. Hence it differs from the chip time.

Picture this: First day of spring, ecstatic crowds, and a picturesque tour of the nation's capital. That's National Marathon 2010.


Unlike NOLA, this one was close to home. Travel (Amtrak + Metro) costed me less than $40. This is the closest I've traveled to run a marathon. (Yes, I haven't run the Baltimore Marathon yet)

I arrived here around noon and headed to the expo right away. Nothing special about the expo -- if you've seen one you've seen them all -- but it was inside the DC armory. So, going to the expo was like getting into an airport, with security scans and all.

I'm no stranger to DC but this was the first time I actually stayed a night in DC. Since Dupont Circle is my favorite hangout place and I wanted to be close to the Metro, I decided to stay at the Inn at Dupont Circle. This is a quite B&B that is only a little more expensive than private rooms in nearby hostels. While booking B&B's, the pictures on the website don't tell the whole truth. The wireless internet connection was non-existent and the room was not bigger than a prison cell. I didn't mind that as I only had to spend a night there. After dinner with a friend, I retired to bed early for the action tomorrow.

Saturday - Race Day

Imagine going to the Metro station and finding only runners there? That's how it was at the Dupont station. The Metro started at 5am today, instead of the usual 7am on weekends. At 5:30am, I was in a train full of marathon and half-marathon runners. If you like crowds you must run this race. There were around 4000 marathon and 8000 half-marathon runners with little elbow room for the first couple of miles. Also the porta johns were conspicuously absent at the start line and I had to make two unfortunate stops during the middle of the race. This is the first marathon I've been to where half and full marathoners run pretty much the same course till the end of the half-marathon. The latter half of the full marathon was pretty much a repeat of the first half but being able to run next to the monuments, esp. the US. Capitol was a unique experience.

This is the first race for Spring and it so happened that the weather was in the mid 70s during most part of the race -- not my running weather. I like it cold. I liked running in Baltimore even when there was a storm. Running in hot weather is exhausting and with my training there was no way I was looking for a PR here. Also, this was the second marathon for this year and second one in the last twenty days. So, I was pretty much used up. I finished the run in 3:51:44.

The race had its funny moments, like while running through a tunnel at mile 19 (?), the "Speed Limit 35" traffic sign cracked me up. I think the cutest poster was "My daddy is faster than your daddy" held by an equally cute kid.

The race bling is really pretty. The embossed US Capitol on the medal looks really cool. I really wish more races had ice tubs at the finish line like NOLA. After asking, all I got was a teeny ice pack. But overall, I'm happy with this race. I didn't have spend much on travel, the run wasn't so bad, and I got my personal achievement of running two marathons in twenty days. My last one was NOLA on Feb 28.

Mar 14, 2010

Sunday: Shamrock 5K

Highlight of today was my mediocre run at the Shamrock 5K race -- 6:55 pace to finish in 20:58. I ran two miles before the race and another four miles afterwards. Not a bad Sunday. Next Sunday, I will be recovering from the DC marathon. Excited! I was in a mood to cook so I made myself a post run lunch -- blueberry pancakes made from fresh blueberries and Red Mill pancake mix. La vie est belle!

Mar 12, 2010

Thursday: Eine kleine Nachtlaufen

Today's run was a familiar one -- unplanned but I-got-bored-so-I-had-to-run kind of a run. Excited about tomorrow's St. Patrick's day pub run!

Distance: 9.32mi    Time: 01:13:53

Mar 11, 2010

Wednesday: Running together

Running is a solo sport. One of the reasons I took up running than any other sport was you don't need acceptance by any team. This is similar to what Feynman observed about honors. You are not judged by anyone unless you voluntarily sign up for races and often nobody gives a damn about race results. There are no rules to be followed de rigueur and you are your own critic. Your only friend could be your running shoes or probably your GPS watch, and still you will do fine.

But running with a partner takes the sport to a different level. I'm a big fan of conversing while running. I often find it odd that I'm the only one who likes to jabber with strangers during marathons. All the camaraderie at the start line somehow vanishes as the miles are crossed.

Jay and I have been running for a while together and we talk about everything under the Sun while training. Today's run was supposed to be a joint run but Mr. Goofballs confused the time and went to Jay's house almost half hour late. So, we had our individual runs separate. Today, I pushed the pedal a little hard at several points but took it easy on the distance for two upcoming runs on the weekend.

Distance: 7.21mi        Time: 58:06

Mar 9, 2010

Tuesday: Fort run

Sometime back I was thinking aloud on why do we run? That's a silly question but there are days when you are just grateful that you can run. For the last two days, I have been working incessantly on my paper that was due yesterday 3 am. After a lot of effort, I did not make the submission and decided to make it stronger for the next conference. The feeling after that is probably similar to a DNF at mile 25 in marathon. To make matters worse, I also got a note that the Lead the way 50K that I was planning to run is cancelled for this year.  Needless to say, the rest of my day today was down in the pits but luckily today I had planned a nice evening run with Jay. We did a medium sized run today and this will be probably the longest I will go before tapering for the DC marathon. I'm now ready for another day.

Distance: 13.36mi      Time: 01:51:17

Mar 6, 2010

Saturday: Harbor run

Ran to the Harbor today on the usual N. Charles route. There's something about this route that I can never seem to get bored. There are always people around, the monument, the commuters waiting for buses sipping from giant cups of coke, folks waiting for someone to come, and those standing and waiting for no reason at all. This is as Baltimore as it can get.

Today's run was to do a medium sized run at marathon pace. I had no desire to stop but my paper deadline on Monday is not going to wait for me either. When I run, I rarely think about the problem I'm working on. During my run today, I saw my professor. I don't think he saw me. I hope not. But how weird is that?

Distance: 7.35mi      Time: 01:02:04

Mar 3, 2010

Wednesday: Science center

Today's run spelled S.L.O.W. This was my second recovery run but only a little longer. Jay and I ran to the Maryland Science Center from my place and back. I was definitely holding Jay's pace but then today that was kind of expected.

Distance: 6.9mi      Time:01:01:54

Mar 2, 2010

Tuesday: Recovery Run

I once saw a t-shirt that said, "Shut up and Run". That's what I said to myself today after resting all day yesterday (Okay, I was also traveling). So, I did shut up and ran 2 recovery miles in 19 mins after stretching for more than 30 minutes. Tomorrow looks bright!

Mar 1, 2010

Mardi-Gras Marathon: Trip notes & Race report

  • Chip time: 03:45:43   Clock time: 03:50:07
  • 40s temprature, light breeze, and flat course
  • Must eat: Gumbo, Banana's foster
  • Can avoid: Beignets
  • Preferred place to stay: "India House" hostel.
Day 0 (Friday evening):
This is the first time I've visited New Orleans, for a marathon or anything else, and I ended up liking this place as soon as I got on the airport shuttle. The driver was so friendly and each and every one of my co-passengers were either running the marathon or the half. So, we spend a jolly good time exchanging running notes. The most impressive of the lot was an elderly gentleman from Spokane who claimed to be running at least two marathons a month. That's an incredible feat!  My lodging was at the "India House" hostel, a few miles from downtown along Canal Street. The driver of the shuttle gladly agreed to drop me off at the Cafe du Monde although my reservation was for the hostel.

I got the usual fare, beignet and Cafe au lait, at the Cafe after a little past midnight; true NOLA experience that I would regret later. After quick stop for beignets I reached my hostel, the India House. It is impossible to not love this place. It has a unique 60s hippie ambiance with almost no restrictive rules or curfews like your average hostel. The staff are extremely friendly and rates very affordable. As a student traveler, I loved both. There is no reason why it's called "India House" as the front desk staff told me it was neither connected to India or the Native Americans. The hostel is a big hit with international backpackers so you will not be surprised to find teenagers and 20somethings from several continents at once. The hostel also provides affordable food but being race weekend and all, I was a little careful about food.

Day 1: (Saturday)
So much for being careful. The beignets I ate yesterday gave me a bad case of rashes today morning. I just applied some coca butter, that I always carry with me, and hoped for the best. I did a small three mile jog in the morning to fight the rash jitters. Rest of the day was spent in a little bit of sight seeing, packet pickup and shopping trinkets. I thought the expo was boring, nothing like San Francisco or New York. However there was one booth with the name EFX, that was trying to sell some "device" that "captured vibrations" and made them "resonate with you". The lady selling this sounded so ridiculous giving her spiel but I played along getting amused all the way.  I thought this was a part of racing in the Voodoo Town. Lunch was gumbo with Cajun beans and rice at Mother's. I stomached that well. Dinner was a large bag of trail mix and a banana with a big bottle of Powerade before hitting the sack early.

Race day: (Sunday)
Race days always make me nervous. I always endup waking very early, go to the race venue almost an hour early and loiter around. Sunday morning, I had a case of the runs but that was just me being a nervous wreck as usual. Pre race food was more Powerade and two bananas.

Sunday morning was great weather to run. I was dressed super light, unlike Toronto marathon where I had to layer up, which made running so enjoyable. The course is very flat and running went according to my pace calculation except for the five mile strecth betwen miles 17 and 21 where I took more than 9 min/mile making me overshoot my 3:40 target. I still don't know why that happened. Perhaps I was distracted by the beautiful New Orleans City Park or when I came across a street called "Peniston" when I cracked out laughing. I did not stop anywhere during the race, not even for water -- grab & go -- but my laces became undone twice during the end of the race. First I tried to ignore it but caved in to avoid a tripping hazard. Around 2hrs or so into the race, somebody held a poster saying "The Kenyan has finished now. You may slow down."

I tried Bynum's +/- game where you increment 1 for every runner you pass and decrement 1 for every runner passing you while ignoring anyone who's walking. This was a fun game but I found it made me run faster than my intended pace during the start of the marathon. So, I stopped that and decided to play it towards the end but as I was approaching the finish line, my mind went blank and I ran like a zombie or as if I was chased by a one.

The race loot was a medal on Mardi-Gras beads. Looks fun! Overall, I loved this race and I'm happy to choose it as my first race for the year. I also loved visiting NOLA and would like to go there again for some serious goofing around.