Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Did you think you could stop the future? Meet QUANTUM-MAN!

"This is your chance...to become the hero."

"The suit has power."

"Did you think you could stop the future?"

"I need you to be...the QUANTUM-MAN!"

By Mark
| Thanks to ASICS for sending me a pair of the brand-new GEL-Quantum 360 running shoes to review. At first, I had to "marvel" at their appearance. They are part of an action-hero costume, with thick individual gel "teeth" that offer spring for bouncing up to the top of our New York City buildings, and a secret power that shall be revealed below.

I brought them to work with me today for a training run in Lower Manhattan, beside the new World Trade Center tower or Central Park, so look for possible superhero tweets.

"You have superhuman strength." A glimpse of the secret power...

I saw this and my tongue started wagging . . .

"The suit has power."

ASICS superhero shoe creators engineered these for "a high octane ride with 360 degrees of GEL Cushioning technology." SECRET POWER REVEALED: "The discrete construction of the full length Trusstic System delivers support and a spring-loaded ride to power through each workout."

See what I mean? "Spring-loaded" is the operative phrase. Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads. . . .

The advanced FluidFit upper is constructed to provide strategic support so "the only thing runners will notice is how great their feet feel while running in the GEL-Quantum 360."

"It's not about saving our world...it's about saving theirs."

"Don't let anyone tell you that you have nothing to offer."

As usual, King Bingley has to see what's going on. His immediate reaction was, of course: "Does this mean walky-walk???" I'm like, have no fear little English Bulldog. I am QUANTUM-MAN."

The GEL-Quantum 360 is a neutral, so it fits within my current shoe rotation. I am coming off the most cushiony 15 miles I have ever done around Central Park in the last nine years, this past weekend's TCS New York City Marathon Long Training Run #1. I did the full 6 mile loop followed by two 5-mile loops, so all the requisite hills and pounding on the regular paved running path rather than my preferred soft interior bridle path. That was done with my ASICS GEL-Nimbus 17s. My friends at ASICS HQ sent me those to test, as well as ASICS GEL-Kayano 21s. My go-to race shoe right now is the Nimbus, and it possibly is my best shoe for life (what's yours?), but in nine years of running I have found it good to mix a rotation as long as it's in your shoe type (neutral).

Here is the rotation I will be using mainly to train in coming months for shorter and marathon distances, up to and including next spring's Rome Marathan and, I hope, London Marathon. My fellow ASICS LA Marathon Blogger Challenge alum Ryan posted a good entry on how he is incorporating these shoes into his training routine. I unfortunately had to withdraw from the NYC Marathon this November because it conflicts with my World Series work schedule in some National League city to be determined, but it will be replaced with a 16th marathon somewhere, and honestly you don't even have to worry when you are QUANTUM-MAN wearing Superhero Specials.



ASICS GEL-Nimbus 17

How they looked after Saturday's 15-miler...

How they looked last week on a trail...

How they look at the ASICS NYC Meatpacking District Store...

ASICS GEL-Kayano 21

How they looked during a run down the Financial District...

How they look at ASICS NYC Meatpacking District Store...

And I thought women would like to see how they look for you all, too...

On a side note, my wife Lisa has assured me that I am taking up enough space in our hallway shoe/coat closet, and that it is time to make another shoe donation. She is right. This will be happening soon, so if anyone has a good suggestion on the best place to donate shoes these days, I will follow up. Here is my blog post about donating shoes back in 2011, and times may have changed. I know the Brooklyn Half Pre-Party in May was one place to donate, so if there is something like that again or a better route, just let me know!

Monday, July 20, 2015

NYC Marathon Long Training Runs

My 2014 #LongTrainingRun #1 used bib
Update: I ran 15 miles in 3:05:37 on 7/25/15.

By Mark 
@marathoner | I have been a member of New York Road Runners since December 2006, and one of my go-to events on their calendar is a race that is not technically scored. It is the New York City Marathon #LongTrainingRun #1 coming this Saturday at Central Park, followed a month later by New York City Marathon Long Training Run #2. Even in years when I have not run the NYCM, I have entered one or both of these events because they are such awesome preparation for any races on your schedule. Such is the case this time, as I am entered in the NYCM but will not be able to run due to work obligations. We are starting the World Series later than usual this year, so Game 4 is Marathon Eve and I'll be immersed in the national pastime.

My 2012 #LongTrainingRun #1 bib.
I thought other runners might appreciate seeing with graphics how the LTRs are conducted, and you can see why these always sell out. Below are four versions of the Central Park map. The park's running path is 6 miles around. As you can see on the NYRR event page, LTR1 is listed as "6 to 20 miles." It is entirely up to the individual runner, based on his or her training progress. Pace teams are provided from 7 minutes to 11 minutes. I have no expectations for this one, since I am in reboot mode following All-Star work and a personal life project in recent months.

There is no timing tag, although there will be clocks on the course, pace groups, volunteers and fluid stations, plus gels. Here's how it works:

FIRST LOOP: 6 miles

On each map, a blue "S" denotes the starting point and we always go in counter-clockwise direction, which is the normal direction at Central Park, anyway. At 7 a.m., we begin the day confronting the toughest hill at the park, the big north hill at the very top. That mile exists only in the first loop, so we will run the entire path for the first six miles. After that, the top section will be shaved off. We finish in the middle of the 102nd Street Transverse, and you can take a gel break, refresh yourself, and then the NYRR crew will gradually announce pace teams as they depart again for the second loop.

SECOND LOOP: 5 miles (11 total)

So we do not run up the biggest hill from here on out, but we do have the "roller coaster" of 3 or 4 gentle hills on the West Drive, and every lap we have to go up Cat Hill, the second largest incline on the course. You can find it on the map from the Boat House past Metropolitan Museum of Art, on East Drive in the 70s and 80s. By this point, the park is starting to fill with visitors on a beautiful summer Saturday. Again, we stop in the middle of the 102nd Street Transverse, collect ourselves, and then join the same or a new pace group.

THIRD LOOP: 5 miles (16 total)

This is identical to the previous map, but guess what? By the time you pass Strawberry Fields on the West Drive next to The Lake, you have just run a half-marathon. Pat yourself on the back. Then keep running. Follow around the south end of the park, then enjoy running beside all the tourists on board the horse-drawn carriages. (A tradition that bears discussion for another day.) Once again, run up Cat Hill, reach the 102nd Street Transverse, and then you're at 16 miles.

FOURTH LOOP: 4 miles (20 total)

For the warriors who are at this stage, it is just the "interior loop" of the park. The bottom section is shaved off, so it's a four-mile lap, and it reminds me that I once ran this lap NINE TIMES in finishing the 2008 Knickerbocker 60K ultra. Packs of runners in their pace groups will take this one on, and finish against on the top transverse. Day over.

What I love most about these races is the shared spirit as runners chill and sit on the bank next to the ballfields at the top transverse, between and after the loops. It is informal but it is also structured, just enough that you know you are all together, and you aren't there just for fun. For me, it is a training run that really forces me to push myself, to see where I am at.

Like here, at the start of the 2011 #LongTrainingRun #1, where we grouped by pacers:

In 2007, it was at this race that I realized I had plantar fasciitis, hitting me hard at mile 14, and surfacing a problem I would fix the next spring. In 2012, I toughed through a really humid day on my way to a NYC Marathon that never happened (I ran Harrisburg instead).

Long Training Run #2 is on August 16 and also is listed as "6 to 20 miles" and really the third in the prep series is the NYC Marathon Tuneup 18M on September 20. That one is near-capacity as of this writing, so hurry and get in if you have a chance. That one is three full 6-mile loops around, and once you have dealt with that north hill three times in a row, you're pretty much ready.

Follow me on Twitter @marathoner
See my Finisher tumblr

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Meet my new friend.

Thanks to my brother-in-law Joe for hooking me up with one of his trusty rides, a Schwinn Circuit. It has everything I need and I just need to do a tape job on the handlebars. The benefit for me is going to be big, a way not only to cross-train heading toward upcoming marathons, but also just to keep it fresh as I zoom toward my 10th runnerversary in 2016. You gotta mix things up.

Sweet ride, nice to meet you. It's been a long time since I actually rode a bike, believe it or not. Here we go! Follow me @Marathoner on Twitter and @Marath0ner on Instagram.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sports Medicine PT Stefanie Bourassa #runHMF Chat Transcript

The Hartford Marathon Foundation just ran a helpful #askHMF Twitter chat at @RunHMF with senior sports med physical therapist Stefanie Bourassa. Learn about Stefanie and her team at Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network on their blog.

Idiots rock

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thank you, Mary - a true leader in the field

By Mark | Last Sunday, I finished the Japan Run 4-miler at Central Park, and it was a familiar scene toward the end. I was in my fourth mile, running down West Drive past the Shakespeare Garden...and a woman was running by me and all runners in the opposite direction, shouting "Good job!" as she ran.

That was Mary Wittenberg as I will always remember her.

It was my 116th race. The first one was in December of 2006, when I was a quitting smoker wondering how I would do in a Joe Kleinerman 10K around the park. The race director said to us runners over the loudspeakers as she completed her pre-race remarks, "Start easy and finish hard."

That was Mary Wittenberg as I will always remember her.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Training for the Airbnb Brooklyn Half

By Rachel | Hi, everyone! As you may know I'm running the Airbnb BrooklynHalf on May 16 with Mark (@marathoner). I ran my first half marathon in The Hamptons last September (right) and the Staten Island Half two weeks later!

I originally had really big goals (for me) for this race and planned on following my New York Road Runners training plan religiously. I really wanted a sub-2-hour half. Unfortunately, right before my training plan started, I increased my mileage way too fast. Next thing I knew I had a plantar fascia strain and couldn't run for two weeks. After that I jumped right back into my plan like nothing happened. I then pulled my gluteus medius. I shouldn't have been so surprised, considering I was increasing my mileage way, way too fast!