130 days 18h 12m 52s
That is how long until my third 26.2 mile journey of discovery. The 2008 ING New York City Marathon is scheduled to start on November 2 at the base of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and this time I will be ready. After building up my base recently, it is now time to officially start training.
I finished that event in 6:08 in my marathon debut last November, landing each right step on a different area for the last 14 miles due to excruciating plantar fasciitis pain. I had tried to compensate by crosstraining at hotels while working the entire month of October on the road for our Major League Baseball postseason, but I felt ill-prepared for what I would face. Although ecstatic about just finishing, I looked forward to progress and in April I ran a 5:21 in the hilly St. Louis Marathon, which included my best Half ever. So my goal now is to go from 6:08 to 5:21 to 4:50.
Here is my plan of attack, and I ask that my marathoner friends feel free to offer any suggestions as appropriate. I am driven.
I just got off the phone with my local sports medicine doctor's office in Manhattan, and made an appointment for 9 a.m. Thursday. I have three issues to monitor:
(a) There is a growing issue with my right patellar tendon area, tenderness just below the kneecap. I have been icing after I run. Last night I ran around Central Park late after work, and came home and iced it. It ached really bad after the icing. I can tell that at my present "base pace" I could be headed for knee trouble.
(b) Left Achilles tendon. This is the same problem I had leading up to the St. Louis Marathon. It never went away, so it was chronic. During that run last night, it was daggers at about the 2.5-mile mark, and a few times it made me want to stop, though I didn't. I don't want to push it to the brink of rupture, so I also need to have the good doc show me how to manage it. (I hope I don't get a layoff.)
(c) Weight. The last week I have been trying to eat smarter, and still I squeezed in a PB&J sandwich and milk just to apparently piss myself off. I was just raised that way. I can't survive just eating almonds. I am trying my best, and I am drinking water constantly, and I know I should eat a little something every few hours. Eating late is my biggest problem due to my schedule, I think. This is the area where I drive myself crazy and I will do my best, but right now I am carrying too much weight and I would like to drop at least 10 as fast as possible. I have a ton of nutritional guidance including from my athletic sons; hopefully I can be strong in this area. I often suck really bad in this area.
I am not running with Team for Kids this year, so I'm on my own somewhat. I am going to use one of the training schedules that are thankfully posted on the NYC Marathon site. This is the one I will follow:
There are other plans from which to choose, suiting many different levels. You should take a look at this page for yourself.
My base right now is just fine for the start of this. But again, it might be affected by whatever the doctor has to say Thursday so stay tuned.
Bob and Shelly Glover are the two authors of the Runner's Training Diary that I use, so I am very happy to follow their plan. I know that many thousands of other NYC Marathoners follow it so I'm in good company. It has all the speedwork breakdown I will need to know as well.
Time for me to get serious about my NY health club membership. I will use the Xpress Line with its eight machines to work all the major muscle groups. That will help me avoid the natural wear that otherwise happens to the joints, causing knee and hammy trouble. I was doing this before the STL Marathon and I know it made a difference; my quad lift was much better in that race. That is where I will work the core as well, and as usual I will bail off in the middle of many runs onto the grass of Central Park and just do crunches, side-ups, planks, leg lifts/etc right there under the sun to sweat and hopefully lose more weight.
If it's like last year, once again I will deal with a tough (one I love!) October schedule, where I am constantly traveling and at ballparks for the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series. Last year I got lucky with a World Series sweep in Denver. This year's World Series starts on Oct. 22. If there is a Game 7, it would mean that my travel day is Friday, Oct. 30 (Expo day). And if I'm on the West Coast (let's say the Angels are Game 7 home team and I return from L.A.), there will be some jetlag to go along with the obvious challenge.
This time, there is another big challenge. I will be working the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. I leave Aug. 5 to get there in time for Opening Ceremonies, and will depart on Aug. 22, the day after Closing Ceremonies (and men's marathon, which I can't wait to watch). I will be going everywhere the U.S. Baseball Team goes, buses to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, other events, wherever they choose, so those Olympic athletes will dictate my schedule. While I am there, I will try to adhere to the above training schedule as religiously as possible. I have been told about the occasional "black air" as pollution is worse there than anywhere on the planet, but others have told me that it clears away for extended stretches. I will deal with the schedule and the air, and I will deal with a full day of flying one way and a full day of flying the other way, and unless something changes it will be hello middle seat for me on both of them (knees).
EQUIPMENT AND MUSIC
I have the tunes to rock the bod with the pod, but papa need a new pair of shoes. The Brooks Glycerines I bought for the STL Marathon have been gold, at least as far as I can tell (knowing the knee is barking). The woman who sold me those correctly discovered that I have high arches, which no one bothered to check before. That made a difference. I might get the same ones, but I am tired of green, and I am up in the 300s with them now. I need to rotate shoes. I am good on other equipment, a closet full of the right gear. I need more GU, lots of GU.
FINISH LINE DANCE SONG
I already have a reputation as that guy who dances across marathon finish lines. No one else does so I guess I am 2-for-2 and officially the solid gold dancer of the marathons. I am undecided on what song to dance across the NYC Marathon finish line to this time, so it's TBA. I am open to suggestions. Last year, in honor of my TFK lime green racing singlet, I danced across the finish line to Peaches & Herb's solid gold classic Shake Your Groove Thing:
I just know that this is going to make a huge difference in my second New York City Marathon. I know what to expect. I am not going to stop at a pay phone booth on the street in Brooklyn this time and call my Mom collect or stop to pet an English Bulldog for five minutes (that put me over 6 hours!). I am going to "chunk it" and focus on 10-10-10: 10 miles, 10 miles, 10K. I am going to stay in the middle of the streets, rather than last year when I hugged the right shoulder so that I could high-five 1 million kids (seemed like it)...that saps energy.
There is a long way to go, but I know from last year that 4 months flies fast. Especially when you factor in one month spent in China and one month spent working the MLB postseason. That's half of my upcoming training, so that tells me right there that I have my work cut out for me. I will be disciplined, I will try my best to eat right and keep guzzling oceans of water, I will remember that not long ago I was smoking cigarettes and lifeless, I will have the heart of a champion.
Please come along for the ride and leave comments and tell me what's up in your world, too. It's time to train for the New York City Marathon!