Posted by: mmartininycmarathon | September 25, 2011

Training Updates!

Hi there all my loyal supporters!

It’s been a little while, have been swamped with work and personal things including increasing my training for the 2011 NYC Marathon.

For this post I would like to give an update on two of my most recent runs/races. The first one is the first 20+ training run and the second is the Fifth Ave Mile race held yesterday in NYC.

As for the training for NYC, all is well besides not getting enough speed and hill workouts in however as both of these runs have shown I am probably at a better fitness level than I had projected.

9/18/2011 / 20 mile training run

Last Sunday I decided to challenge myself to a long run of 20 miles. In the world of running there are three core mile goals that I have learned and heard about over the years that are major markers. 10 mile marker (double digit miles), 20 miles (double digit mile marker x2) and the infamous marathon distance of 26.2 miles.

This 20 mile training run would be vital and key in determining where I am so far in the training season and what adjustments I would need to make. Mentally I didn’t want to go into it with any expectations besides just to finish. I had previously completed a 18 mile run (three loops of Central Park) 2 weeks prior so that I felt was on my side.

As I was figuring out the course map I was considering that I had not done a long run in 2 weeks and the overall mileage was not where I felt it needed to be, so I decided to split the run up into three parts. One was a 7 mile loop of the city streets that would include Times Square and my 5th ave loop. The second was a full loop of Central Park which would  be 6.2 miles and the third would be a wildcard selection depending on how I felt.


I began running through the city from the Upper East Side, down Fifth Avenue and working my way across 59th Street. This portion (59th Street) is the final stretch of the NYC Marathon and throughout both years of training I wanted to incorporate this stretch into my training so it becomes second nature. I had mentioned the importance of running certain parts of the actual race course during training to have your mind and body become familiar with the sights, sounds and even smells of that leg of the race. Considering this would be the final stretch before hitting the park to the finish line, it is truly an important part to have become second nature.

Since I felt like I was still trying to have my body become accustomed to running these distances I decided to work my way down to 14th Street and make a pit stop at Jack Rabbits to pick up all my GU for the rest of the run. One thing I was keeping in mind was to try and work on my pacing and become aware of how my body felt vs being so concerned about my overall finish time.

For the first 7 miles as I worked my way over to Fifth Avenue on 14th street and back up to 59th street, felt great and I was getting myself into a good rhythm. I knew once I hit the park things would start to get a little more challenging and that I would need the reserved energy and mental capacity to get over any challenges. As I wrapped up the FIRST portion of the run I started to prepare for the SECOND portion.


The second portion of the 20 mile run would consist of the one strong loop of the park. Two weeks prior I had done three loops so that was encouraging as I started winding my way on Park East Drive. I encountered the usual suspects first beginning with Cat’s Hill. At this point in the run I was probably at about the 8 mile marker and started to feel the incline. There was a good amount of people out and usually, bikers and walkers would be out climbing this silently difficult hill. I would use anyone of these people as motivation to keep going. Also, the fluid vendor at the top of the hill would be a decent motivator as well. Once I reached the top I bought a lime green Gatorade and was back on my way. The next stop would be the usual arch-nemesis, Harlem Hill.

Harlem Hill and I have had a long standing relationship, sort of a rivalry since the day I first met him. Our last encounter was 2 weeks prior in which battled out three grueling tests of will and sheer ego, macho proving blows. I would, in the end prevail but not without Harlem putting up a strong strong fight. Today it would be just as grueling and I looked forward to the battle I was about to face. Working my way up I have been implementing a technique Coach Frank had told us from TFK in 2009. While running up a high graded incline hill, start counting backwards while looking a few feet in front of you. Mentally this will trick your mind and body into thinking you are advancing faster up the hill and in no time you will have crested the hill. Having that in my aersonal, I used it against Harlem and made it up half-way to the water fountain to replenish. Since I was only about half-way through the 20 mile run it was important to think of winning the war, versus the small battle against my arch-rival.

Coming back down from Harlem working my way down the west side of the park, things started to become challenging. At this point I was starting to feel the effects of running almost a half-marathon but kept pushing and using everything I saw as a small nugget of motivation to keep going. After passing 102nd street and working down to 72nd street, more and more people would be out. For me, I need the people to keep occupied and motivated. Without them even knowing, by just being out enjoying Central Park they assisted me in finishing the first 13.1 miles of my long training run.


After experiencing Central Park I decided to not push it too much considering I was trying to complete 2 more miles than I had done in 2 weeks prior. With my mind made up, I chose to do the 7 mile city loop (reversed) as the FINAL portion of the run. I decided to reverse the run to change things up a bit as with any constant running program, they will advise you to change up the route to keep things new and fresh.

As I worked my way down Fifth Avenue I began to feel the onset of fatigue. My pace was pretty consistent and I didn’t feel like I was pushing it too much. I finally reached 14th street and things started to go downhill. I use the term downhill lightly though as I felt like I was starting to push myself but not to the point of no return. I had to dig deep, push through and keep my mind at bay. Once I got to 7th Ave from 5th Ave I would need to work my way back up to 59th street and cross over and run to First Ave and 72nd.

I always break up 7th ave from 14th to 23rd street, 29th street (where I used to work) 34th Street (Penn Station), Times Sq and finally 59th Street. All these markers would help in my overcoming any effects of fatigue or any moments of wanting to quit. When I got passed Times Sq running past the David Letterman Show, I began to hit my wall. My legs felt heavier then they had the entire run, every step began to get harder, each block seemed like another mile. As I started to walk, I said to myself, “wow, this is so friggin hard!”. A lady came by to ask me if I was OK and I replied by saying I was in a faint and tired voice. I wanted to tell her in some way, that I WOULD be OK, that her consideration would help me continue on. Shortly after, a guy came by smiling, mumbling something like, “if I could look as good as you, I wouldn’t need to workout” while giving me the thumbs up. I used whatever little energy to smile and tell him thanks. Both of these two people encouraged me to dig deep, get to 59th street and make my way back to my original starting point.

20+ miles in the book in a estimated finish time of 3:05:30 (9:11 pace). A very self satisfying and successful run in which would be a huge turning point in the training season. It would solidify my confidence that 11/06/11 would be a great race and the next two 20+ mile runs I am seeking out should and hopefully be just as successful.

9/24/2011 / 5th Ave Mile race

The Fifth Ave mile would be my first time doing a recorded one mile race since probably when I was in grade school.

Since I had not done any running since the successful 20 mile run, I didn’t have any expectations. I just wanted to do the run and not get injured while enjoying the race. Days leading up the race, I knew I would be a little competitive against myself and have it be a true test of my ability to run a good mile.

As AB and JS would accompany me to the race, they plotted themselves right near the finish to watch me finish. I warmed up by jogging up about 3/4 mile up to the start. As I worked my way up to 80th street, I saw Karinna! She is back from her around the world tour and back in NYC to run the NYC Marathon with me! We said hello and exchanged quick catch up details. She wished me luck and told me she’ll see me in a  bit.

When I got to the start my heat (men 15-29) was called to get to the start and we would be off like horse out of gate in about 15 minutes.


We were off! The one thing I knew going into the race besides any personal considerations was that I needed to get settled into my pace pretty quickly but not to go out too fast. Just as I was settling in, I rolled my ankle in a pothole and thought for a moment I would need to drop out! I put weight on it for a few meters and it was good enough to continue. Meanwhile runners were whizzing by and instantly I was right back into it.

I had briefly done the math to pace myself for a 7 min mile finish which I thought I would be able to realistically do. the half way mark I would need to be at 3:30 seconds. By my time when I reached 70th street (half-way) I would be just under 3:00 mins. Still at this point I felt OK. I still felt I was treading close on the 5th and and my final gear 6th going back and forth. Battling these gears I continued down 5th ave and there were people lining the street cheering. I past Karinna and just gave her a look of “wow this is hard!” but knew she had belief in me.

The next 1/4 mile down to 65th street I knew I was closer. I had run the 70th >> 60th street so many times during training and knew 60th street always comes faster than expected. I still had juice, the NOS tank was available and I waited to strike. I could hear Coach Asteria in the background yelling “Go Team for Kids, GO MARK, you can do it!”.

It gave me that extra boost I needed.

As I got closer to the finish the barricades started to become visible, the finish was approaching. I had no idea what pace or finish time I would complete this grueling test of will and power.

I knew AM and JS were at the finish.

I had no energy to look.

I only booked it.

The NOS was launched.

I sped to the finish leaving everything out on the Fifth Ave.

OFFICIAL FINISH TIME: 5 mins 56 seconds.

This was a HUGE surprise as I never expected to have broken 6 minutes. It has been a silent goal of mine to be able to run a mile in the 5’s and on this day, the running gods blessed me with running my best mile.

Post 5th Ave Mile with my two best supporters

Coming off this running high, my next milestone will be another 20 mile training run. Until the my next post, HAPPY RUNNING!


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