Apr 8, 2014

Race Report: Wharton 5K, Philadelphia PA - 23:56 (PR)

This race was sponsored by Hertz, and as an employee I got a free entry.

It's not very often where you enter a race where you know before the race that you'll easily PR. My previous 5K PR was a 25:48 set in Mahwah back in October 2011 (also at a race sponsored by Hertz). But that race PR has been beat by 82 seconds in training last Monday when I ran 12.5 loops on a track in 24:26.. So I knew I could break the race PR. The only question was would I be able to beat my training PR.

Well, that wasn't really my only question. The other question was would I be able to make it to the race on time? It started at 8:30am "sharp" and was held in Philadelphia on the University of Pennsylvania campus near its largest train station. We didn't leave Suffern until 6:10am and I was getting a little stressed as 7am and then 7:30am ticked by and we were still on the Turnpike. Making a long story short, I arrived at the race shortly after 8:20 and after a far-too-fast bathroom stop I was in the starting area a few minutes before 8:30.

This being a college 5K, I quickly realized that I was one of the old guys in this race. I'm 37. According to the results, there were 25 people (out of 577) in this race who are 38 or older. I'm not often the old fart, so this was a new experience for me. Not that it changed anything.

The Course
The course is a double out-and back from one end of the campus to the other. There was a small bridge with a steep hill several hundred meters from the starting line, and we had to cross it four times. The course was otherwise flat-ish - there was a noticeable grade to much of it but it wasn't substantial. Weather for the morning featured a rather nasty headwind on the "out", especially after the bridge, but otherwise cool and sunny. Surface was half asphalt, half brick.

The bridge (Google Street View)
My goal for this race was 24 minutes. This requires a 7:44 per mile pace.

Mile 1
Having not raced a short race like this in a couple of years, I got caught up in the wrong crowd early and went a tad too fast at the very beginning. I ran that first mile in 7:26 - perhaps my fastest mile ever.  I didn't realize this at the time because I didn't look at my split when the mile ticked by. I actually figured this mile was run in about 8 minutes because the very beginning of this race was quite crowded and it didn't feel like I was going very fast for the first quarter.

Mile 2
In retrospect, I know that the 7:26 first mile was why I crashed - but at the time I thought I ran the first mile in 8. So when I struggled to maintain that 8-minute pace in the second mile I figured that it just wasn't going to be my day to run sub-24. Some days you just don't have it, and I chalked that up as the reason. I knew I would still PR, and since I was racing, might as well dig deep and do whatever I can to stay under 8. This was a very difficult mile for me. On the second lap, when I crested the bridge outbound at about mile 1.9, I came very close to walking. I was definitely working hard at this point. Mile 2 was 7:59 - just made it.

In the pain cave at the end of lap 1/Mile 1.55
Mile 3
I recovered modestly in mile 3, and actually sped up a bit. I still didn't think sub-24 was in the cards, but I figured I could probably break 25 if I kept it up. So I kept pushing at my limit, which was 7:52 for the third mile. I happened to look at my watch with less than 100 meters to go and for the first time I realized that maybe I could break 24 after all. I didn't understand why, but it read 23:40. Turning up the intensity to near max, the last tenth was at a 7:27-per-mile pace, which was actually slower than my first mile. But it was fast enough - my official chip time came was 23:56, a PR and under my 24-minute goal. Gun time was 24:16.

Afterwards, we celebrated my new PR with Breakfast at my favorite place to eat in Philadelphia - a cheesesteak from John's Roast Pork. 
mmm, breakfast

My official time: 23:56 (PR), 166th place out of 577, 123rd place out of 275 males, 21st place out of 61 in the M30-40 age group.

Apr 4, 2014

2014 Week 13

Random thoughts about my runs and anything else that comes to mind.

So there are two major things going on in my life right now, and running is taking a back-seat to that. I expect my weeks to be mostly fake-zeros with a weekend long run until things settle down.

 Here's photos of everything I eat: http://instagram.com/stevetursi

Weight loss contest update (I am in two weight-loss contests right now.)
Update to come next week. (:

Daily log..

Wednesday March 26
Another 1000-calorie run. I was actually short on time, and wasn't thinking when I entered 1000 calories. I really only had time for 500 calories worth of running, a mistake that became apparent in the first couple of minutes. Oops. Still, I didn't change the setting. I assumed I'd just stop early - but never did. In fact I kept speeding up until I was going almost 8MPH at the end. Turned out to be an awesome 4.89 miles for me - in 40:44. Average page: 8:20 per mile.

Thursday March 27
Lunchtime run with Ami. 5.4 miles in 50:39, 9:23 per mile. This run was notable because every single mile was run under 10 minutes per mile - including the mile that ascends Anne Terrace to Leach Rd. I don't think I've ever run that mile under 11. This time we ran it in 9:45.

Friday March 28
Lunchtime run (work from home day) at Ramapo Reservation. Really only had time for a lap around the lake - which is 1.2 mile fake zero. 1.2 miles in 10:57, 9:08.

Saturday March 29
My tri club normally meets on Sunday morning at Market Basket - but this weekend we had a 21-miler scheduled, so I called a couple of tri club friends who are planning a 10-day stage run to Boston ahead of the marathon there and got together with them and Ami. We ran all around Franklin Lakes, Oakland, and Wyckoff. It was a fantastic morning where we did 21.87 hilly miles in 4:19:04, 11:51. That includes stops. We ran just about every step, too.
Saturday Long Run
Sunday March 30
Lonergan Loop (1.59 miles in 15:41, 9:45) at 10am just as an easy run.

Monday March 31
After a 1-mile warmup, I once again did the 5K track workout around joey's lacrosse practice. This time, which was after having a scoop of superstarch, I ran 5K in 24:26 - 7:49 per mile (PR). This is 23 seconds faster than last week's PR effort.

Tuesday April 1
Tuesday afternoon social run with the lifetime group. Now that the weather is getting nice the groups are getting larger - which is a ton of fun. 3.69 hilly miles in 34:39, 9:24. We did a couple of 100-meter strides afterwards - where my pace in one of them, according to my watch, was 4:11 per mile. If only I could keep that up longer than 100 meters!

Lifetime Tuesday Social Run group

Mar 28, 2014

2014 weeks 11 and 12

Random thoughts about my runs and anything else that comes to mind.

So there are two major things going on in my life right now, and running is taking a back-seat to that. I expect my weeks to be mostly fake-zeros with a weekend long run until things settle down.

 Here's photos of everything I eat: http://instagram.com/stevetursi

Weight loss contest update (I am in two weight-loss contests right now.)
* Lifetime Fitness 90-Day challenge:
I missed the March 25 weigh-in, but I was plateauing anyway and wouldn't have done great. As of March 26 (according to my March 17 weigh-in), my bodyfat is down 20%, which is second place in the Montvale NJ club but still not in the top 100 nationally.

* Hertz "thinner winner" employee weight loss contest:
My score, -11.87%, put me past Piff-Looger and I am over one percent over his 10.8%. He's has dropped to fourth place. But I'm still not in first - some guy in our OKC office came out of nowhere and is 0.33% over me, so I'm still in second out of 480 (first loser.) This is as of the weigh-in on March 7 - but the results weren't posted until March 25th (which is why this blog post is delayed). On March 20th I weighed in again and had a great result - putting me at almost 15% loss.

Daily log..

Wednesday March 12
I tried to make it to the Lifetime CRT class at 5:30 but I couldn't get out of work on time.. so instead I went to the hertz gym and ran 3.01 miles on the treadmill.. in 23:58. Big weight loss today: 272.8 - Down 2½lbs since yesterday.

Thursday March 13
Another winner of a weight loss day. 271.2. 4lbs in 2 days. Wouldn't it be great if every day was like that? That'd be 14lbs/week! I'm just worried about the next plateau and when that's going to happen and how long it'll last.

My run today - 2 miles in 22:38 on the treadmill - was blah. Not feeling a ton of energy.

Pi Day Friday March 14
Lunchtime run with Ami. For some reason we were in a hurry today and ran 2.45 miles at 8:46 pace, and ran the last quarter at about 7:30.

Saturday March 15
6 laps (18 miles) at Rockland Lake with Ami in 3:13. Felt strong for the middle 4 laps, and not so strong in the first and last laps. Had a protein-eggs-blackcoffee shake prior to the run, and zero calories during the run, so this was a good sign of fat adaptation occurring, albeit more slowly than I'd prefer.

Sunday March 16
Crummy day at bowling (134/142/168-444) followed by 5+ laps at the Mahwah High School track.

St. Patricks Day Monday March 17
Broke another treadmill at the office gym, after a mere 7 minutes at about 8 minutes per mile. Not happy. Was on track for another sub-24 5K. I went outside, in 24ºF weather, in my shorts and t-shirt, and ran 2.36 more miles in 20:33.

There was a special at the bowling alley tonight, and I went by myself and played ten games for practice. My scores were 129-118-122-157-168-166-129-231-205-139. Turns out I just need 7 games to warm up.

Tuesday March 18
Lifetime run group, and since there wasn't anyone slow to run with, I ran up front with the fast guys - and they actually couldn't keep up with me! One of them said to me, "I thought you were big and slow!" That was gratifying.

Wednesday March 19
Things are about to get really busy for a week. The daily run is just something that I need to do alongside all the other things I need to do. Today, I ran on the treadmill for ten minutes before taking an hour long group exercise class.

Thursday March 20
Easy 2.7 mile loop around the block in 26 minutes with Ami

Friday March 21
Afternoon short loop around the neighborhood near Joey's school at dusk. 1.2 miles.

Saturday March 22
Conveniently, we had a planned light weekend between last Saturday's 18 miles and next Saturday's planned 21. I would have liked to do 12 today, but it turns out that I did half that. Ran with the lifetime group, where we did 6.5 miles in 57 minutes. This was a tough run for me, especially with the hills!
Sunday March 23
Ran with the tri club for the the first time in a couple of months, where I managed to keep up with the front-runners at 8:30 or so for 4 miles before peeling off and relaxing for the last mile or so back to the car, then home to go back to work.

That afternoon, at bowling, I shot much better this week. In fact, I have a new high game and tied my high series. - 162-194-246 for a 602 series. Here's how that big game went:

Monday March 24
Joey had his first lacrosse practice today, and that means track season has started for me. I get to do a workout on the track around the field he practices on. And today, I decided that I'd finally do an outdoor 5K to see how I do when not on the hamster wheel. And an hour before the run, I did something that I hadn't done since early February.

Rocket Fuel?
I cooked up a bit of simple carbs and ate it before the run. I've been running on zero calories every run for the better part of two months, and while at first it was very difficult, I've adapted to it nicely and most of my runs are more comfortable now. However, it's been in the back of my mind - even after adaptation, will I still get better performance with some traditional fuel?

The result: I ran 24:37, 70 seconds faster than my 5K PR set in 2011. This is not surprising - I am lighter, in better shape, and this was on a flat accurately-measured track, and that 5K was on hilly roads with a bit of trail thrown in. The rice? It is an interesting experiment, and I was hoping the answer would be obvious. But the problem with this experiment is that I had no control. If I had been thinking, I would have run the 5K on the diet that I've been working on for the last couple of weeks, and then going back later and running it again on the rice. And there are so many independent factors (such as weather - it was about 32ºF at this run) that I'd have to repeat it a bunch of times and average out the results. But my hunch is that the rice did NOT give me a significant performance increase. I'm fairly certain I could have broken 25 on my low-calorie diet.

The track (at Suffern Middle School) has a 5000m start line measured, 200m from the finish line. This gave me a convenient and easy way to verify that I was on track to meet my 25-minute goal - run each of the 25 half-laps in a minute or less, which I did. My slowest half-lap was 1:00.5.

By the way, I jogged 5 laps before the run to warm up. And the rice was upsetting my stomach.

Tuesday March 25
I ran for ten minutes on the treadmill (fast - 1.3 miles), before doing a few sets barbell squats at lunch, then I sat in the steam room.