Another half marathon, another PR. Yesterday I ran the NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon and finished in 1:31:55, an improvement of 2:19 over my time at the Bronx Half Marathon. I'm pretty happy with my effort. I had discussed race strategy with John and decided that I was going to shoot to finish in 1:35 - a strong effort, but far from all out, trying to keep my heart rate in zone 3 (up to 85% of my max HR) or lower for most of the race. I'm hoping that 1:35 is a good goal for the half marathon portion of a half ironman, so I was trying to run an effort that I would be able to sustain after riding 56 miles on the bike. I raced a few minutes faster than planned, but I think that I achieved my goals. My heart rate did creep into zones 4 and even 5, but I don't think I came out of zone 3 for the first 8 miles and my heart rate really only seriously spiked in the last 2.1 miles, when I picked the pace up and raced it in to the finish. I don't mean to be nonchalant about the PR. It's exciting to continue to improve on my best times and I'm proud of myself. I just didn't feel the same sense of accomplishment yesterday as I did when I finally broke the 1:35 barrier at the Bronx or when I comparatively (for me, I mean) crushed it at Cherry Blossom. Also, I know that all of these races are just the prelude to the big ones - I doubt I'll remember my best half marathon time, but I imagine I'll be able to remember my time at Placid for a long time after.
I started out a little too fast (6:48, 6:52), then eased into a comfortable pace, averaging between 7:05-7:10, for the next 10 miles. I ran comfortably, not really breathing very hard and I felt like I could maintain a conversation at most times (the ability to talk while running is one of Chris Bergland's indicators of level of exertion). I turned it on for the last 2.1 miles - as I approached the big hill in Prospect Park, I decided that no one was going to beat me up the hill and I pushed myself pretty hard, passing a few people and not getting passed by anyone. I continued at that pace through the rest of the park (I did mile 12 in 6:56 and 13 in 6:48) and used a final burst to sprint the last 0.1 miles. I wouldn't call it a great race - mostly because I didn't feel great (my stomach was upset for most of the run and my stride just didn't feel as smooth and easy as I ran at the Cherry Blossom race) but my time was great and the recovery was pretty easy. I think that if I'd wanted to push it, I could have run close to or even under 1:30 yesterday.
The rest of the weekend was pretty nice. After the race, I met up with my cousin Emma and her boyfriend Dan for brunch at their restaurant Cafe LULUc in Brooklyn. Dan and Emma are triathletes as well. We saw them at Timberman and at Mighty Hamptons last year and we'll be seeing them at a few races this season as well. After brunch I came home and gave Charlie some good exercise walking around and playing at the dog run. The predicted "storm of the year" started last night and continued all through the day today. It hasn't been as bad as predicted, but it is cold and windy and it rained pretty hard all day. Unfortunately, I had a four hour ride scheduled for today. Option 1 would have been to ride outside, but that would have just been dumb. Option 2 was to skip it, but there's no way that was happening. So, I took option 3, which meant I rode on the trainer in front of the TV for four mind-numbing hours. I did it, but it wasn't fun. I did finally watch the second half of the live telecast of the 2007 New York City Marathon - live, almost 6 months ago, that is. It was fun to watch because I'd actually forgotten who had won the men's race and it was a pretty exciting finish. Seeing the coverage of Lance was great too. After that ended, I watched some TV, and tried, tried, tried to keep my mind occupied. My training intensity suffered a little because of my boredom, but I think the important thing is that I sat in the saddle and pedaled for those four hours. And importantly, the bike was comfortable. My back and shoulders and neck felt great. My ass... well that's another story.
Assaf's running Boston tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be absolutely miserable in Boston right up to about race time, when it might be upgraded from miserable to just "terrible". They're predicting temperatures in the high 30's, strong rain and winds up to 30mph. I feel horrible for him, but maybe the storm will break. Either way, hopefully he rocks it.
The other notable training session since my last entry was Thursday night, when I did a "hilly brick". This involved a 55 minute ride on the trainer, with a bunch of simulated hills and then a quick transition and out the door running to the gym, where I hopped on a treadmill for some hill running. I really pushed it on both the bike and the run, especially attacking the treadmill hills. It was a fun workout and I was really dead after I finished.
Final note - this Josh Spector will not be racing in Kona this November. I entered the lottery and was not among the 200 on the list that came out today. That's OK and my goal for the next few days is to finally finalize my fall racing schedule. I have some pretty good ideas about what races I'm going to do. Originally, I'd planned on taking it easy and finishing the season with a bunch of sprints and olympic distance races, but I'm beginning to think bigger. Decisions to be announced soon.
Brick - April 12
Bike - Trainer
Time: 55 minutes
Average heart rate: 120
Run - to Gym, Treadmill
Average heart rate: 153
Swim - April 13
Time: 58 minutes
Run - April 14
NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon
Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 1:31:55 (7:01/mile pace)
Average heart rate: 158
Course: Coney Island, up Ocean Parkway, Prospect Park
Conditions: Beautiful day, sunny, 41 degrees, some wind
All men: 317/2830
Age group (30-39) place: 138/1067
Bike - April 15
Average heart rate: 116