Shana with a sweet sign!
Sunday, November 6, 2011, was the big day: Marathon Day! I started my training back in July and logged over 250 miles while training for the race. Everything was going great until I sprained my left ankle in mid-September. The doctor said I had to stay off it for eight weeks, thus sidelining me from the marathon. I was crushed. But with perseverance, determination and
a boatload of stubbornness, I decided to push myself and continue on with the training, hedging the injury with twice-weekly physical therapy sessions.The hard work paid off and yesterday I found myself on a 6am ferry to Staten Island on my way to the ING New York City Marathon! The morning was cold and there was frost on the ground in SI, but luckily I was dressed in layers, so I was nice and toasty. I munched on a bagel, downed some Gatorade and water, and ate bites of random "bar food" (those healthy protein energy bars) I had packed in my bag. I made sure my new Injinji socks were snug and my new Vibram Five Finger Bikila's were flexible and velcroed on tight (who needs laces when you have velcro?) I sat in a parking lot for about two hours
with thousands of other runners in my time wave before they told us to get ready and start heading to our official corrals. I made use of the bathroom one last time (hey, you shouldn't run on a full stomach) and then headed to the race start.There wasn't much room to stretch due to the overcrowding, but I found a small clearing and then began my pre-race dynamic stretches. We waited in the corral for about forty minutes for who-knows-what, so I passed the time chatting with a fellow runner who happened to be standing next to me. This was his first marathon, but he had done trail races further than 26.2 miles before. I told him he'd have no problem then with a measly 26.2 miles.After the national anthem was sung and Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave us a short pep talk, the horn was sounded and we ran en-masse up the slow incline of the Verrazano Bridge out of Staten Island and into
Brooklyn. I focused on my running form (Pose-->Fall-->Pull)
and on pacing myself. One of the biggest problems first-time marathoners have is going out too fast, not leaving themselves anything for the second half of the race. I felt great as we ran over the bridge, and I kept thinking two things: 1) I'm actually running a marathon!!! and 2) Crap, I still have 25 more miles to go.The second we exited the bridge and entered Brooklyn I saw thousands of fans clapping, cheering, singing, and urging us on. It put a HUGE smile on my face and gave me a burst of energy. There was so much positive energy and so many people happy to see us suckers running. Without the crowds the run would've been boring, but they made it a memorable experience.I made sure to grab either Gatorade or water at every other drink station to stay hydrated and avoid
getting a migraine later in the evening, which had been a giant problem after some of my long training runs. Unfortunately, I didn't drink enough, as you'll find out later...So my goal for the race pre-ankle injury was to finish in 3:30:00, an 8-minute per mile pace, but since the injury I wanted to finish in 3:45:00, and 8:30 minute per mile pace. And honestly, as long as I finished under four hours I'd be happy.
The first eight miles flew by, and I was in cruise control. A bit too much cruise control actually. My average pace to that point was 7:36 minute miles, which was way too fast and not sticking with the game plan on pacing myself. But I felt great, the crowd was there, the weather was beautiful, my breathing was slow and steady and my feet felt just peachy. Plus, I just sucked down a Gu Energy gel power pack at mile seven, so life was good.The energy in Brooklyn stayed high the whole time, and there were small bands performing every quarter mile or so. That was really cool. We hit the bridge to head into Queens at the halfway point, and my time was still well under 8:00 miles (1:42:18), and actually just two and a half minutes slower than my half marathon PR (personal record)
time of 1:39:55. I guess pacing myself isn't my strong suit. I sucked down another gel energy pack and then I was in another borough.The Queens's crowd was a bit thinner than Brooklyn, but I was able to find my friend Wendy in the mix just before mile 15 which really boosted my morale. Getting a personal shoutout is the coolest!
Thanks Wendage!Before I knew it we were on the 59th St. Bridge, and this was the first time in the race I didn't feel 100% anymore. The only things that kept me going up the never-ending incline was knowing all of Manhattan would be on the other side of the bridge on First Avenue,
cheering like mad.My feet were starting to hurt a bit, and I was worried about getting blisters on the bottoms. I think I may have cursed out loud at the steep decline ramp exiting the bridge at mile 16. Good riddance stupid Bridge.And then BAM! First Avenue. I
felt like I was the star of some parade or something. Just people lined up 10 deep to see a bunch of sweaty people run. There were no words to describe it. I got that same sensation as when we first entered Brooklyn back at mile two and my mouth opened up into a gigantic smile. I held my arms out in the air and soaked up the moment. It was a truly indescribable feeling.Reality hit soon after as I kept stepping in every crack and pothole First Ave had to offer. Don't they pave ever? My feet were hurting at this point pretty good, but without a specific blister spot, I thought I'd be ok. My feet just felt like they'd been tenderized.
I bought a brand new pair of Vibram Five Finger Bikila's and Injinji socks a couple weeks before the race for the extra cushion in the ball of the foot area. While my feet were hurting, I couldn't imagine how they'd feel in my old, paper-thin pair. Yikes!I kept my eyes peeled for friends along the way, but was disappointed I didn't see anyone I knew. My sister was waiting with a big old "Go Barefoot Benny" sign, but I passed her unnoticed since I didn't know where she'd be.
Next I looked for my friends Josh and Rachael on 89th St, and then I saw them waving their arms and calling my name. AWESOME!!!And then I peeked at my watch to make sure I wasn't early to see my wife and daughter up at 95th St. (mile 19). I told her to get there no later than 11:55am in case I was early, but that I'd probably be passing them around 12:15pm or later. The time was 12:05pm, just
after noon, so I knew they'd be there. I stayed left and then I saw them! Fiona was asleep in her stroller and my mother in-law was at a store making me a big sign (thank you!) but my lovely wife was there waving and screaming for me. I ran over, pulled her close and gave her a sweaty kiss. Now THAT was a much needed morale boost! She's been so patient with my whole marathon training and pulling all the weight when it comes to taking care of our daughter while I'm out dancing on pavement.Unfortunately, the adrenaline of First Avenue wore
off soon after, and it was slow going up into the Boogie Down Bronx to mile 20. My longest training run and longest distance ever run was 18 miles, so this was unchartered territory for my legs. The Bronx had some crowds and some music and some spirit, but nothing like the First Ave crowd. Still, it was a huge help having them there. And then all of a sudden we were back in Manhattan on 5th Avenue after crossing the Madison Avenue Bridge.Fifth Avenue. The home stretch. This was it. I was going to finish a marathon! By possibly crawling. Uh oh. At this point, around mile 22, I hit the wall. Lots of people say you hit the wall at mile 20, so I thought I was in the clear since
I was past there already. My pace felt slow and I knew my form wasn't good, and my hips felt tight from 22 miles of repetitive motion. I wish I had stretched more. And paced myself a lot better. But I mentally girded myself by picture the fast four mile run I had done as my last training run earlier in the week, and how good I felt during it. And four miles was nothing compared to the longer runs I had done. But damn, where was Central Park already?!?!Central Park was my training ground, and I knew every hill and twist intimately. I was finally home at mile 24. And then my left leg started to feel tight. And then CRAMP! My left hamstring seized up, and I had to force myself to keep it straight. The crowd in the Park was phenomenal, and some lady cheering said "You can do it, keep going". I felt like I could run the final two miles no problem, but without the ability to move my legs, I was stuck. She offered me some chocolate milk for some reason, but I said thanks but no thanks and limped to the fluid station luckily a hundred feet away. I chugged two Gatorades, bent my legs, and started to run again. If I had to walk the final two miles I'd come in right around the four hour mark, but I really wanted to get under 3:45. The goal of 3:30, which seemed so reachable only an hour ago, was now unattainable. It was crazy to see so many other runners walking or stopping abruptly due to cramping, and I felt lucky I could at least do a 9+ minute per mile pace.And then just after mile 25, at one of the busiest places on the course, full of thousands of spectators, my right leg cramped up. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I couldn't give the crowd a solid run, and I was pissed at myself for being gimpy. I walked it off yet again and kept running at a turtle's pace.
The finish was just around the corner and up a slight hill, and there was no way I'd let myself walk across the finish line.I started to feel the cramping again, but I said aloud to msyelf, "Not again. NO!" People thought I was probably crazy, but I wanted to finish the race already.
I shortened my stride and finally, finally, finally crossed the finish line in 3:39:14! Yes!!!I wish I could say it felt great, but man did it hurt! We had to walk and keep moving, because sitting allows the blood to pool in the legs, causing clots. Plus, thousands of people kept arriving every few minutes, so stopping after the finish would cause a traffic jam. The post-marathon walk was, in my opinion, harder than the actual marathon. All I wanted to do was sit and stretch and drink fluids, but no - all we could do was walk. Brutal, but necessary I guess.The New York City Marathon
is an amazing race, and it was an incredible experience made special by the millions of spectators, cheerers and musicians spread along the 26.2 mile course. And a big thank you to all those who donated to my fundraiser for the University of Massachusetts Hillel House! I'm still accepting donations to get to that $1,000 goal. I've gone to each of NYC's five boroughs in a single day during the Five Borough Bike Tour
, but never have I imagined that I could run all five in one day. Just an amazing experience all around!
Barefoot Benny running near 79th and First Ave.
Not good Pose form: my back foot should already be pulling off the ground and coming underneath my hip. Tsk tsk.
Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Half Marathon
is the fifth and final half marathon in the New York Road Runner's Half Marathon Series. My goal for 2010 was to run all five halfs in all five boroughs, and today I achieved my goal, and man does it feel good! (Though I'm wicked sore at the moment!)I wasn't expecting to do well on this race for a few different reasons. First was that I hadn't had much time to train recently. My trip to Spain got me off my schedule, though I was able to get in three runs since I returned. The next reason is that my best mate Josh (I'm Australian for the rest of this entry) had his 30th birthday party last night, on 10-10-10 (FYI: 10+10+10=30!)
I had to have at least a few drinks to celebrate. Finally, I started developing a stuffy nose and a foggy head Saturday morning, which unfortunately got worse throughout the day. All in all, I only got 4.5 hours of sleep last night, though I constantly woke up due to my stuffy nose.
I woke up at 6am and felt like a piece of crap. I met up with my friend Mary at the SI Ferry and kept repeating how much I wanted to go home and crawl back into bed. But I had a goal to run all five half marathons, and I'd just have to suck it up and build some character. The air was very cool in Staten Island when we arrived at 8am, reaching only in the low 50's. I used the wonderful port-a-potties and then got into my corral with two minutes to go before the race. Phew!The first few miles went by fairly fast, and thankfully my nasal passages opened up and I was able to breathe, though I frequently had to make use of the pocketful of tissues I carried. The course was mostly flat, though there were of plenty of hills that kept things interesting and challenging. The first few miles abutted the water, making for pretty views.I don't think I ever really woke up during the race, but I do remember feeling pretty good until about mile six when I hit a mini wall. I noticed a lot of people passing me, but all I wanted to do was finish under two hours, so I didn't care. Run your own race Benny, run your own race.Things got a bit easier after mile eight, and I remember watching the slower runners go past me on the other side of the road after the turnaround. That kept my mind occupied and my body on cruise control. Around mile 10 I realized I could set a new PR if I hustled, so I stepped it up a tiny bit and planned for a burst for the last mile. I probably ran a seven minute mile on number 12, and before I knew it the race was over. My final time was 1:40:20 for a 7:40 minute mile pace, which was only 35 seconds slower than my PR at the Bronx Half Marathon in August. Not bad for feeling like crap and not getting much sleep!My feet felt pretty sensitive due to the rough Staten Island pavement, and I guessed I had at least one blister on my right foot (yup, it was a fairly big blood blister...ewe.)
The race really wasn't all that bad, but I felt very tired afterward, and was grateful I didn't have to wait to catch the ferry back to Manhattan. I didn't see any other VFF-clad runners on the course, though I did see at least three while on the ferry. It feels great to have done five half marathons this year, and I'm really happy I made it a priority to complete them all. I'm also impressed that I sustained zero injuries this whole year (knock on wood), even though I've run more miles this year than any other my whole life. I truly enjoy running, and I couldn't have done it without Pose running and my Vibram Five Fingers.
Cruising near the finish!
Boogie Down Half Marathon
On Sunday, August 15th, I ran the fourth half marathon in the New York Road Runner's 5-Borough Half Marathon Series
, this time up in the Boogie Down Bronx. I have never really walked around in The Bronx, so I was looking forward to touring a bit of the borough. Wake-up call was at 5:20am, about 40 minutes later than most other of the past outer-borough races since it was just a short hop north on the 4/5/6 line. I munched on my bagel on the crowded train uptown, and felt ready for the 13.1 miles ahead of me.
I spotted a few fellow Vibram Five Fingers wearers as I walked to my corral, but didn't talk to anybody for the 20 minutes before the 7am start. However, there was a woman named Elizabeth who said a quick hello to the one and only Barefoot Benny right after we crossed the starting line, so that was pretty cool. Within the first mile, I was passed by a speedy barefoot runner who looked like he was moving slowly but was actually cruising at a 7 minute mile pace. My plan was to catch up with him and say hi, but he got way too far ahead too quickly.
The course started weaving through a bunch of side streets with parked cars on both sides, and then opened up in a 3-lane road for a bit. There was a turn around only a few miles in, so I got a glimpse of the leaders flying down the course. Those guys friggin' run so fast it's unreal! I don't even think I could sprint and keep up with them!
I felt great for the first few miles, but was worried about hitting a wall at mile 6, much like I did at last month's Queens Half Marathon. The weather today was only 70 degrees and cool, opposed to 90 degrees and humid for the Queens, so that was working to my advantage. Surprisingly, I felt great after mile 6, and before I knew it, I was nearly at mile 9! I like when 3 miles go by without even realizing it!
I decided to kick it up a bit after I passed mile ten, telling myself all I had to run was a 5k and I'd be done. At another turn around I passed a guy named Tait
who I met at two previous half marathons, so I gave him a quick shout out as he flew by the other way. I bumped into him post-race on the way home, and he said the quick shout out gave him a boost of energy and an extra kick.
The last few miles I tried to keep pace with an older out of shape guy with a headband that said "JIM" on it, but he was just too fast for me, and all I could hope for was to keep him in my sights. I had to remind myself to run my race, and not get caught up in running faster than I wanted. The worst case would be to pace with someone 30 seconds faster per mile than me and run out of steam and end up walking.
I kicked it up a notch for the last mile, since I still felt great and nothing hurt or ached. I made sure to concentrate on my form since I felt my hips and core giving out a bit. It's very important to run with a straight back with the chest high, and I feared that I was bending forward at the waist. The barefoot runner who passed me in the first mile came into site, and I caught up with him after a couple of minutes. I asked him if he got his shoes at CitySports, and he laughed at my corny joke. He said the bottoms of his feet were fine, but that his legs were kind of sore. He then saw me wearing the Vibram Bikilas, and informed me about a barefoot runners group in NYC. I said I was aware, told him to keep it up, and proceeded to pass him for the last half mile. I straight up sprinted the last 200 meters or so, and crossed the finish line with a new personal record of 1:39:55 (7:38 minute pace)!
I was extremely happy with the whole run, and loved that I felt great and not really tired at all during the course. The weather was perfect, the course was well laid out and fun with some good hills mixed in, and I just had zero complaints (well, the train ride back too a ridiculously long time, but oh well.) The Staten Island Half Marathon is the last race in the series, and I should be rocking that in October. When I first set the goal to do all 5 half marathons this year, I didn't think my body would hold up, but with only one race left, I feel confident that I'll achieve it.
Boy is this fun!
Breathe Benny, breathe
13.1 miles. Check.
Queens Half Marathon
This past Saturday morning I ran (suffered through) the New York Road Runners Queens Half Marathon, the third in the 5 Borough NYRR Half Marathon Series. I woke up at 4:40am and was out the door twenty minutes later for the commute out to Citi Field/Arthur Ashe stadium out in Queens. While waiting for the 7 train at Grand Central, my VFF Bikilas sparked the interest of two women who asked me if I ran on pavement in those things. We spoke for a bit, and one of the ladies actually owns a pair that she exclusively uses for trail running. I told her I like running on pavement better since you get more feedback and ground reaction, but was impressed she ran in them at all. I asked her why she wasn't using them for today's race, but she's still entrenched in using sneakers. I gave them my Barefoot Benny business cards and was happy to speak to people familiar with minimalist running.
By the time I arrived at the start in Queens by 6:15am or so, it was already in the 80's and quite humid. Uh oh. I hoped my huge pasta dinner and bagel and banana would be enough to get through the race, but the repetitive warnings over the speakers about taking it easy got me worried. While waiting the corral for the race to start at 7am, I chatted it up with another VFF runner. He was like, "Are you Barefoot Benny?" After I confirmed his suspicion (I was wearing my Barefoot Benny Personal Fitness shirt) he told me that I always pass him at these NYRR races. Then I remembered somebody screaming out "Barefoot Benny" at the Wall St. Run the other month and started laughing. Must've been this guy, my new friend Yeung.
The race wasn't nearly as crowded as the other ones I've done (only under 3,700), so I got off to a fast start without all the congestion. The first few miles were hot, but I had fresh legs and kept a 7:30 minute mile pace. I think I hit a wall around mile 6 or 7, where my legs felt tired but my face and head felt really hot. Not good. I made sure to stop more often at the water stations and to enjoy the heat's brief reprieve at the water spray misters. My running form deteriorated big time around mile 8, and I felt the bottoms of my feet getting a bit warm. I like to think of them as raw ground beef, getting molded into the pavement's grooves with each step.
Once mile 9 finally came, I was able to compartmentalize the race into a mini run of only 4 miles. With each passing mile I got happier and happier that I was only running a 5k, then a 2 miler, and so on. My speed declined to over 8 minute miles (I'm assuming) which negatively affected my form no matter how often I actively forced my body to thrust my hips forward and concentrate of the pull and the lean. At no point (save for a hill or two) did my breathing ever get labored and force me to mouth breathe, but by the end of the race I was so overheated and my body so tired that I had no kick left to the finish, beyond the last 110 meters or so. Usually I can pick it up for the last half mile, but not on this hot day.
I crossed the finish in 1:44:46, which is just under my goal of 1:45. The temperature was probably around 90 degrees by then with very high humidity, and all I wanted to do was sit in the shade and rehydrate. I know that if I had breathed through my mouth at all during the race I would've dried up like a raisin and gotten dehydrated very rapidly. As I was milling around in a daze, Gatorade in one hand, bagel in another, and a banana in yet another, I was approached by yet another "Hey, are you Barefoot Benny?" I ended up speaking with Tate, whom I had met during the Brooklyn Half Marathon over a month ago. After a few minutes of catching up, I dragged my sore calves and hot body (not the sexy hot, the oven hot) toward the subway and headed home.
Or so I thought. In my daze I hoped on the first train at the station, which just happened to be going in the wrong direction. I realized this just as the doors were closing but didn't care because I was sitting in the cool AC. Ahhh. And right next to me, some guy named Dan (I think) started talking to me about my VFF's. He complained that he was always in pain when he ran, and that he always wanted to speak with someone with VFF running experience. Boy did he sit next to the right guy. I spoke with him for the minute long ride to the next and final stop, and handed out yet another business card. Man those come in handy!
The rest of the ride back was uneventful, except for the few common stares at my feet. The next day my legs felt like dead weight, and I had pain in both of my knees. This was the first half marathon I ran with pose-race knee pain, and I can attribute that to the breakdown of my running form, which I blame solely on the heat. I hope they start feeling better soon, because I'm running the Bronx Half next month on August 15th.
I saw about 5 other VFF shod runners during the race, one who flew by me right at the end. I need to coordinate a VFF/minimalist/barefoot running NYRR group so we can chat a bit pre and post race. I need to get on that.
I enjoyed the course in Queens, and really like passing Citi Field where the Mets play, and running by the old World's Fair sculptures. The park outside Arthur Ashe stadium was gorgeous, and overall it was a very peaceful and clean environment. Two thumbs up to Queens, zero thumbs up for the bazillion degree weather.
This Saturday morning I woke up at 4:45am and was out the door by 5am on my way to Prospect Park in Brooklyn for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. After grabbing a bagel from the place on the corner, I encountered some subway trouble, namely the trains weren't making all stops. It wasn't the most pleasant situation to face this early on a Saturday morning, but luckily I factored in extra time to my commute. The total trip took about 1:40 minutes or so, and the timing worked out perfectly as I hopped into my starting corral as the National Anthem was being sung just before 7am.
I used to play a lot of ultimate in Prospect Park, so I was somewhat familiar with the area, though I had never run it's three mile loop. I felt great in my new Vibram Five Finger Bikila's
for the first lap (I was probably still half asleep) and the second loop also went by without much problem. I chatted with a few runners about my shoes, and made a point to run up to (and then pass, hehe) other VFF runners. The four or five VFFers I spoke with (all males, though ages varied from people in their 20's to early 50's) all loved their shoes and were all enjoying the run. I even talked to a guy who was running in the Vivo Barefoot
Evo running shoes. He really liked them, though maybe it was because he worked for the company. I gushed about how I own three pairs of Vivos and that they need to get some other colors and styles in for next season. At that point he had enough of my ramblings and ran on ahead.
Once we left the park at around mile seven I started to get a bit tired, though I pushed through it and kept my pace up. I made sure to focus on my form and kept telling myself to "pull" my foot off the ground, a la Pose style.
My breathing thus far was perfect, as my heart rate stayed low and I was able to breath smoothly in and out through my nose. The next six miles were flat and straight as far as the eye could see down Ocean Boulevard, which was actually kinda boring. The road surface wasn't as smooth as Central Park, and I felt the balls of my feet tingling a bit as the miles wore on. This was a bad sign, so I kept checking in with myself and made sure my form was getting sloppy. Fatigue leads to injuries, and with only last weekend's 10k run as my longest recent run, I had to be careful. The worst part about running on the flat, straight, endless road was when I could have sworn I was approaching mile ten, but alas, it was only mile nine. Argh.
The route didn't get interesting until the very end when we made a turn onto the famous Coney Island boardwalk. I think by that time my form went to poop, as the soft planks yielded to my weight. At the very end there was a guy running next to me who said, "C'mon, you can do it!" So I picked up my pace and said, "Ok man, let's do this", and I took off like a rocket and sprinted across the finish. I could have sworn some spectator on the sidelines said, "Wow, look at him!", but I was going too fast to really hear. Boo yea!
My official time was 1:40:26, which is a new personal record for me, beating January's time by over six minutes, and improving over my first half last July by over thirteen minutes! A lot of that has to do with my running form improving, my workout routine which includes more leg exercises, and my knowledge of what 13.1 miles feels like so I can better gauge my pace. My breathing the whole race was calm and easy, and I breathed through my nose the whole race, which I'm most happy about. I still have three more half marathons to run this year to complete the NYRR Half Marathon Series, and I'm eyeing the Bronx one in a few months to further improve on my time.
My new VFF Bikilas held up great, though I think I hit the pavement a bit harder than necessary during the latter part of the race, causing the slight tingling sensation on the balls of my feet, and a small blister under my left foot. Overall they held up really well, and I'm looking forward to wearing down the tread a little bit to made them thinner and more flexible. I'm definitely still a fan, and I highly recommend them to any newbie minimalist runners out there.
-Total runners: 7006
-My place: 988 (cracked the top 1,000!)
-Total time: 1:40:26
-Race pace: 7:40 minute miles
-Note to self: Coney Island is friggin' far from the Upper East Side
Manhattan Half Marathon
Quick stats in case you don't want to read the whole write-up:
Race time temperature: 37 degreesVFF
Conversations with strangers about VFF's
walking his dog sightings: 1
Food consumed post-race: way too much
Yesterday I participated in the first of five half-marathon races
as part of the New York Road Runners Grand Prix
. The racing series consists of a half-marathon in each borough throughout the year, and this first one was the Manhattan Half, taking place in Central Park. In training I hadn't run more than six miles, but my last run was a six-miler on Wednesday, and I felt that the 90 days of P90X improved my cardio
I loaded up on carbs
on Saturday, especially with a big Italian dinner, and then ate a banana and 3/4ths
of a bagel before the race, at around 7:15am. It was chilly out in the morning, and my toes were starting to go numb as the 8am race start drew nigh, but I knew once I started moving I'd be fine. My biggest worry was hitting the wall after the first lap, since that was as far as I trained for, but I knew that as long as I stuck to my game plan of breathing through my nose and regulating the pace that way, I shouldn't burn out.
I saw a girl wearing army camouflage Vibram FiveFingers
at the starting gates, but wasn't able to get over to her to say hello. The first lap went by smoothly, as I was still half asleep for it, and my body stayed in cruise control. I think I ran about 8 minute miles for most of it, but I lost track of my pace after the third mile. Since I know every little hill and turn of the park, I was able to set mini-goals that definitely helped me out mentally, instead of just thinking, "how much further is the finish already!" The second lap was pretty good too, and I paced myself with a group of three friends, who were going a bit faster than I was. Their pace didn't tire me out, so I knew it was a good way to push myself and stay on track for a finish under two hours. I actually ended up talking to one of the guys for a minute when he asked me about my VFF's
, and found that I wasn't breathing hard at all and was able to speak quite normally. Whenever I ran through my mouth in the past I always felt out of breath.
I felt myself slowing down mentally for the last mile, but I forced myself to pick up the pace a bit and probably ran about an eight minute mile for it. The last tenth of a mile I sprinted, as I still had plenty of energy and just wanted it to be over with anyways. My final time bested my first half marathon back in August 2009 by seven minutes, for a time of 1:46:54, a 8:09 minute pace! That made me really happy, and was probably due to the colder weather, as well as the P90X shape I was in. I didn't
have any blisters on my feet like after the first race, but my second toes on both feet were quite sensitive and sore afterward, though I didn't get the dreaded "purple toenail." My calves were very sore, as were my feet, but that's nothing a day or two of rest can't heal.
The next half marathon isn't for another couple of months, but I'm definitely looking forward to it!
While running, I subscribe to the method of nose breathing as opposed to mouth breathing. Among the benefits of nose breathing is that it allows the oxygen to mingle in the lungs for a bit longer, creating a more efficient breath. I also find that it allows me to pace myself better, since I can only go as fast as I can take in air. When more oxygen is needed, as in sprinting, mouth breathing is necessary, but over a longer distance, nose breathing is better. That is just my opinion which I've discovered through various articles, as well as my own testing. The first place I heard about nose breathing was in this article by a high school track coach
. (Scroll down to "Hold Your Breath" for the relevant paragraph.)Today I read an article in the New York Times about high-end mouth guards
, or "performance mouthpieces", that allow relax and align the jaw, prevent teeth-clenching, and open up the airways. Paying anywhere from $500 to $2,500 for a mouth guard seems a bit outrageous to me, but I am intrigued by the idea. While their main touted benefit is opening up the airways, running or working out with a relaxed jaw helps the whole body stay relaxed, conserving your muscles and energy for the exercise at hand. It's a very interesting concept, and I hope the price of these will come down in price so skeptics like me can test it out without breaking the bank.