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Blackjack

Last weekend was my last 20 spot.  I had decided to run Gretes Great Gallop to get another race in towards my auto entry into NYCM 2010 so where to get those extra 7??  I began using the wonders of gmap pedometer and it began obvious it made no sense to make it 7 miles since I’d be taking a subway one stop.  So instead, like any normal person, I ran 8 miles from home to the start of the race.  The night before I had made a special trip to the UWS to drop off my stuff at a local gym for post race shower:)  Yeah, because runners do that – we make special hour trips to just drop off clean clothes:)

It was a sultry, sticky morning.  Very reminiscent of Steamtown 2007 except not quite as hot.  Good, let mother nature get it out of her system now! I left Brooklyn around 7:20am for a 9:00am race.  This would give me ample time to head uptown.  As I started my run, I noticed the stares of “is she lost” and “why is she wearing a bib number on the Brooklyn Bridge?”  I just tuned into my shuffle and logged the mileage.  Headed over the bridge to the west side highway and *poof* all of a sudden I was at 72nd street!  It was crazy – I felt like I had just left Brooklyn?!  Awesome.

I arrived to the start and got some water/gatorade and found nyflygirl in the corral.  She had frontloaded as well and was using this as a way to get the miles in.  My plan?  Stick to no faster than 1:50 half.  I had just ran a 1:40 half two weeks ago and no need to push the envelope here.  Plus, I had electric lemonades awaiting me at Boat Basin post-race.  Woohoo!

The race?  I plugged into my shuffle and let my legs do the work.  As I passed the start, I gave Grete Weitz a high five and off I went.  My plan was to stay around 8:45s and maybe sprinkle a few 8:20s in for good measure.  Nothing crazy.  My times were all over the place but it’s fine.  I’m pretty happy that my SLOWEST mile was a 9:00 mile in which I literally stopped, walked a couple seconds to drink and then started running again.   That was at the bottom of Harlem Hill before that horrible mile up to 90th street.  Worst mile stretch of the course! As you can see below, I knew when the electric lemonades were close:)  Oh, I also learned these shorts are done – they kept falling down! eek! 

Overall, solid effort.  Looking at the time, it’s about what I ran for the second half of MCM in 2005.  Things are getting eerie here! 🙂 

Up next?  Staten Island as a final “long run” before the big day.  So close, I can almost taste it:)

Boat Basin?  Let’s just say good times had by all with many laughs and games of charades:-p  Next time, you should come:)

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Another week, more work completed.  Right now the key is to stay HEALTHY. Exactly 4 weeks to go.  It’s amazing what a change just the last 4 weeks have made in my faith in what will occur on October 25.  I’m feeling pretty darn positive and excited.  Much more so than last year.  So that brings us to yesterday and race #3 of 6 in 7 weeks: Cow Harbor 10K.  The plan?  Since I had raced Philly last weekend, it was a chance to hone up on my marathon pace.  Racing this was not going to do much for me and the fact remains I had a long run left as well as legs to keep in shape.  So the plan? 8:15ish pace and feel good about it.  As you can see from the course profile, it’s not a PR course anyway. 

Saturday morning started, well, before it really was morning.  I awoke at the unpleasant hour of 5AM to my alarm trying to figure out why that noise was occurring!  Ha.  Fortunately I had placed everything out the night before so there wasn’t much to do besides get changed, grab my stuff and head out.  I picked up the ZipCar at a location right around the corner.  This became incident #1 of the day.  As I got to the garage, I started looking around and couldn’t find the car!! I had allotted extra time to find the car, etc but it was a bit embarrassing too!  Finally, I called the help line and gave them the information but there were no free cars available so I had to find this one.  As I was on hold for them to find the person before me, I finally found it!  It was tucked in a corner which made it more like where’s waldo.  Oy.

I drove up to the UES to pick up the crew.  There were 6 of us but one guy had his own car since he had to head out right away after the race for a family function.  The drive out was uneventful and thankfully one of my teammates, AH, had picked up our numbers.  One sign that clues you that I was not racing: I went with the short sleeve shirt! You’ll be hard pressed to find me short sleeving it until it’s basically 40s.  Anyway, bus shuttle to the start.  You could tell we were not in NYC anymore as the running crowd was much different.  Let’s just say not your elite pack:)  I’m not being an elitest, just saying.

So KP was not racing and I told her that I was planning to run 8:15s with the hard PDR behind me and gearing up for the big one in 26+ days.  It was nice they had wave starts a minute apart to break up the corrals.  There also was a cow shooting off the start gun! Hehe!

Anyway, off we went right into our comfortable 8:15s.  People passed us as we probably signed up for a true racing corral but stuck right to our pace.  Mile 1 was a net downhill which I find to hurt the quads a lot!  Mile 2 brought you the hill that is Cat Hill on steroids!  It was only a third of a mile but one of those kick you in the a** hills that makes it like you are walking instead of running:-p  I knew there was a hill but didn’t know where it was so after we got up it I turned to KP and said “well if that’s all they got, I’m good to go for the rest of the race.”  She laughed:)

The scenery was gorgeous as we ran by the water and through little residential roads.  People were out of their houses cheering and passing out water.  It truly gave a sense of American spirit.  It was this town’s NYC Marathon:)  I smiled at the people cheering and even threw out a few high fives.  It was nice to not all out race as I feel like I really got to enjoy the full atmosphere.  As we approached mile 5, a guy goes to us “watch out for the next hill, it’s deceiving.”  KP and I were confused as I we passed mile 5 and went up a little blip that was a hill? Oh well.  As we got up the “blip”, there was a sign that said “it’s all downhill from here.” Literally, it was.  We were doing 7:30s and didn’t even recognize it because of the severity of the downhill.  We were chatting and able to give an interview to the cameraman riding alongside.  As we approached the finish line, the announcer got our names which was cool!  Finish time? 51:24 – good for 8:17 pace.  Perfect.  Just what the doctor ordered today.

The finish area was awesome!  They had so much food from smartfood to pirate’s booty to beer to chocolate chip cookies!  :)  YAY!  Found my teammates and many had set HUGE PRs. Woohoo!

After the race we headed back to AH’s parents house for a BBQ of yummy food: burgers, hot dogs, salad, fruit salad, baked beans – you name it!  Finally, it was time to head home.  I got into the car and tried to turn on the engine.  The lights and radio came on but no engine! Uh oh.  So guys being guys, tried to use jumper cables.  No dice.  At this point people were panicing so I called ZipCar.  First thing to try?  Use the zip card to lock and unlock the car again and see if that works? Sure enough, I do that and at the same point the guys were configuring the jumper cables the car turns on!  Whew.  So, yes, there is tight security in the zip cars:)

Part 2 of the weekend brought a 16 miler.  My legs were definitely feeling beat from a week of workouts and no days off since pre-PDR. AU and I decided to wait til the afternoon to give more recovery time AND more important – SLEEP!  My first weekend day of sleep in who knows how long.  I lounged around watching football and napping til around 4.  AMAZING.  🙂

So off I headed to the UES which ended up being a trip and a half because the trains were local.  Ugh:(    I was so glad to have AU to run with because I did not feel like running.  Not at all.  But having someone to get you through it is all the world.  So off we set in the humid air and all.

The run was peaceful as the sun set on another day.  The west side path was free of wandering pedestrians, crazy cyclists, etc.  It was just right.  Mid run the shirt came off because it was so hot and the mugginess of the air.  The legs once again fell into a rhythm and things felt good.  Mid-run I told AU we should hit the west side path to save the legs rather than doing a lap of the park and then Morningside park. Ouch.  We headed down the westside and I said she could count on me to properly get the right distance.  I used time – not mileage and figured out how far we had to go downtown.  Sure enough – picture perfect.  16.2 miles total. The average pace was 8:51 which considering this was an LSD I’m quite pleased.  Things seem to continue to fall into place.

Today I’m taking the day off as it’s Yom Kippur.  I’m recharging the batteries for the final push to October 25.  I’m getting super excited and nervous at the same time.  It’s a good thing – it reminds me of the excitement I felt for my first couple of marathons.  Something that you just can’t explain. 

Keep on runnin’.  And smiling.  Big things await.

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Game, set….

As you can tell, my confidence has grown in the past month as has the strength in my running.  Some have stated that marathon training makes you slower and the like.  Well, if you came across this to read that the statement is true then please move along.  I have just taken that statement in the past month and smashed into the pavement somewhere by the Art Museum in Philly.  Today marked the first time I have taken down a PR in about 3 years!!!  I forgot how good it feels to reap the benefits of hard work.

Anyway, this weekend I headed to Philly for the holiday.  It just so happened the Philadelphia Distance Run coincided with the holiday.  Perfect! I’ve run this race 4 times before and it’s such a treat.  My dad’s friend has run every single race since it started and at the 30th anniversary made them VIPs.  This meant he got 4 VIP passes to share with friends.  Lucky for me my dad is good friends with him and I get to reap the benefits!  Benefits include hanging in the same area as the elites pre-race (hello Ryan hall and Catherine the Great!), easy access to portapotties (including a sink to wash your hands) and an awesome spread of food post-race!

Before we get to the race, nyflygirl came down and got to enjoy the perks as well.  We picked her up on Saturday and headed down to Philly to pick up our numbers at the Convention Center.  One thing I am VERY disappointed about with the race is how overly corporate it has gotten.  They actually CHARGED money to track runners this year.  Ridiculous.  It’s one thing to force every runner to schlep to pick up their number but now you won’t even let people know where their friends and family members are without shelling out more money? PLEASE! </rant>  Anyway, the expo was pretty “eh” which made the wallets happy.  Plus eye on the prize!  My number was interesting, just take a look at those first three digits;)

Saturday night was spent carboloading up Rosh Hashanah style:)  Chicken soup, turkey, meatballs, eggplant, greenbeans, mashed potatos:)  So delicious and made me super ready for Sunday.

Sunday and 5am the alarm cries out on my phone.  I had taken everything out the night before (old school TRD singlet, red shorts and Elixirs) so all I had to do was throw everything on.  At 5am, you can’t think about doing much else.  I head downstairs and my dad tells me he hasn’t heard movement from nyflygirl’s room!  I head in and sure enough, lights out and fast asleep until I flick the light on.  I’ve never seen anyone dart out of bed at 5:15 as fast as she did!  It was very cartoon like.  10 minutes later we were spreading White Chocolate Wonderful Peanutbutter from PB&Co on H&H Bagels.  Out the door we go to meet my dad’s friends to head down to the race!   We get to the parking lot and my dad, being dad, sees his friend and sets the car next to him and parks.  One itty-bitty issue.  It was an isle, not a parking spot! Ha.

Upon arrival in Philly, we head to the start area and the VIP check-in.  I saw Ryan Hall, Josh Cox, Catherine, etc.  It was AMAZING!  I had a guy that holds the AMERICAN record for so many distances right there.  So cool!  Anyway, now that I’m over my gushing of awesome runners, pre-race consisted of some tunes to get the head ready for the race.  I had a very good vibe for this race which again is something I’ve lacked the past few years.  Pre-game tunes consisted of playlists from now and 2005.  I’m not superstitious:)

Around 7:20 we parted ways with my dad and his friends to get to the start.  It was a gigantic clusterf***.  Sure, they had seeded corrals and waves but it seemed that, unlike the NYRR, no one was really checking.  Plus, 5 minutes before the start people were POURING into the corral to the point you could hardly move.  I like that the NYRR says: you’re late?  To the back you go!  These people know better as they’ve run more than a fair share of races. Tsk. 

Nyflygirl and I were in the 3rd corral and you could tell we were both focused for this.  As the time got closer, there wasn’t a lot of talking but focusing going on.  We both had our own race plans which is the way it should be.  I knew what I wanted for my A plan which was a sub 1:40.  I knew it would be tough but figured what the hell? I have 5 weeks to go.  Plenty of time to give it a go today.

The wave start was fantastic as as the horn went I was able to get a quick release and immediately hit my stride.  I knew within the first quarter mile on the Parkway it was going to be my day.  A perfect day: sunny with temps in the low 50s to start the race.  I forgot what it felt like to have perfect racing conditions (thanks, flygirl – remember this for the 25th).  Immediately flygirl pulled way ahead and I had a feeling she was going to have an amazing day!  As for me, my legs settled right into pacemaster zone.  They just clicked and it didn’t feel like all out effort but not easy.  Just a good pace to fall into for 13.1. 

As we hit the streets of Center City, I continued to just cruise.  I was in the zone.  People around me didn’t matter.  I just ran to my own drum and continued to cruise as some would speed up and some slowed down, I maintained.  As we hit close to mile 5, I saw my dad and just said “I’m going to go for it!”  I hadn’t told him what my goals were but he knew what I was after.  I could tell by the thumbs up and huge smile on his face.  He’s used to me not all out racing and giving it all I’ve got – especially the past few years.  Again, I must say it felt so damn good to let it fly.

Onto the west drive we headed for the loop which I’ve become so familiar with.  I LOVE this part of the race.  I can totally just cruise and there’s no turns to slow you down.  I always seem to negative split this race because of this portion.  No exception today.  Around mile 10, I ran into a Front Runner that was doing her first PDR.  I was hoping she’d latch on and we’d be able to use eachother to race towards the elusive 1:40.  No dice so I just continued rolling along.  As we hit the boathouses, my legs were feeling like toast and I could not wait to see that finishline.  As that feeling hit, I reminded myself that this is what will happen 5 weeks from today.  It’s going to hurt but you’re going to want it more.  Keep at it.  I knew sub-1:40 wasn’t going to happen unless I ran a sub 7 mile but I knew I was due for a HUGE new shiny PR.  Nothing to get upset about.  As I hit the Parkway and the hairsharp 180 degree turn for the finish I saw my dad again and gave every ounce of energy pretending it was October 25.  Crossing the finish line it felt amazing – 1:40:39!!!  Holy crap.  I didn’t just tear up my PR, I took it and pounded it into the pavement in Philly.  What an amazing day and amazing feeling to run well again.  Two consecutive races, two amazing efforts. 

As I met up with nyflygirl, I was so curious to hear how she did.  I KNEW she kicked major a**.  Sure enough, she did with a 1:37.  Wowzers.  You go girl!  As she enjoyed a few beers, I went for a mimosa and cookie.  YAY we earned that and then some.

Now, take a look at my splits:

Looking at them, it looks like I lost my 1:40 pretty early with the 7:45s.  But ya know, it’s ok.  My “A” goal was to PR.  “B” goal was sub 1:45.  “C” goal was sub 1:47.  Happy!  Now it’s time to focus on getting to the “match” portion of the training.  It’s so close and now is the time to keep things together and stay healthy.  I’m really pumped from this performance and now know what I am capable of.  The plan is to keep doing whatever it is I’m doing because it seems to be working just fine!

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Ramp it up

Without any intention, this week turned into a high octane, intense training week.  One of my best ever I think in fact.  Since Monday, I’ve run 6 of 7 days (Friday was a complete off day).  It’s funny before this week I had no idea where my training was and felt like a rebel without a clue:-p  I was running and biking but where was I going?  Had I improved?  Did I get my legs back or was I due for another 3:50 ‘thon and disappointment.  I know I know that’s a great time but I’m not satisfied with that anymore.  I want more.  This week may have proved I’m ready to step it up.

Monday:  I was up in the Berkshires in Connecticut.  I pumped out a 5 mile run at about a 9:15 pace.  At first glance that sounds “eh.”  But consider the elevation? Almost 1300 ft.  Decent run.
Tuesday: My friend AU wanted to do a tempo run and asked if I wanted to join.  I figured why not? I had taken the day off from work and it always feels good to get a quality run in.  Result?  10.5 miles at an 8:20 clip.  Including hills up by morningside park.  Sweet.
Wednesday: Nike speed with 5 x 1000m on the track.  I knew I needed to be careful with the intensity of the night before.  Result? 8 min pace with ease – felt really good.  Last one? 7:35 pace.  Hmm something’s happening here.
Thursday: Met up with friends at Niketown to meet Kara Goucher.  She is AMAZING.  Totally down to earth and loves NYC.  Who wouldn’t:)  Anyway, that ended up being close to a 4 mile run at an 8:40 clip.  My legs were tired but still felt ok.
Friday: Rainy and OFF.
Saturday: Race day.  4 miler in Central Park.  Quite honestly I had no idea what to expect.  My legs could give me an 8 min mile race or surprise me.  First, I got a red corral number since it was an all female race.  This gave me extra juice to give it a go.  Then Kara Goucher showed up to wish us well.  Hey, if miss 4:55 min/mile interval girl is there, I can’t half ass this!  As the horn blazed, I just said “to hell with it” and raced.  Off I went and managed to pull my second fastest 4 mile run EVER.  Holy crap!  This after the week I had already?  What would happen on rested legs?  29:32 result/7:23 pace.  Quite pleased. 
Sunday: 20 miles.  This was a true test on dead legs.  I think it was great practice for race day.  Those last couple of miles really reminded me of what the last miles of the marathon feel like.  I could feel the end of a 50+ mile week.  Tired but I could sense the reward at the end.  It’s one of those feelings that keeps me running.  Knowing that the finish line is an amazing feeling everytime.  The run was terrific as I joined the NY Flyers for their 20 mile bridges run which took us down the west side highway, over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Brooklyn, Pulaski Bridge and Queens.  Overall just a 9:25 pace but it didn’t feel awful.  Sure it was tough – it is 20 miles for crying out loud – but right now besides exhaustion I’m not sore.  Not at all.  The picture to the right is me coming off the Queensboro almost 18 miles in.  Looking pretty good! 

What now?  I’m taking a bit of a down week to prepare for the Philly Distance Run (Ryan Hall is running it!) next weekend.  My goal?  I want to have a solid race.  Sub 1:45 would be great.  If I can sub 1:45 and feel decent it makes that magical number come October 25th seem not so invincible. 

I’m excited.  Things are starting to come together and I think the missing link from the past couple years – speed – is back in the equation.  Six weeks to go and hopefully it will continue to build towards the elusive goal.  Bring it!  Time to get to that finish line…

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Jumping back in

Holy smokes!  I just looked and the last time I wrote here?  Over a month ago?!  Where the heck does time go?  I’ve been super busy with preparing for the big move.  As I mentioned, I am in the process of buying a place over in Brooklyn!  That’s right – I’m moving to that far off land of Brooklyn:-p I’m super excited and now wait for my board interview then the check writing exercise also known as the closing;)    So it looks like sometime in mid/end of May I’ll be a homeowner! Woohoo!

Running wise.  I signed up for marathon #6.  I’m heading back to the scene of my best marathon: Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC.  October 25.  I’m finally getting back into the running thing as I’ve just been swamped at work and dealing with the apartment stuff.  I also was burnt out from last fall.  But now it’s time to go back in and get focused.  I don’t think a time needs to be mentioned on where I’d like to be as I cross the finish line;-)

I ran a couple of races in the past few weeks: Mudders&Grunters and Cherry Blossom 10 miler.  I didn’t race either. My time for Cherry Blossom was a respectable 8:19 pace.  I never felt like I was hurting and had someone come up to me at the end and say “Great race, thanks for pacing me.”  See, even when I don’t mean to I’m a pacemaster!

I’ve got the Brooklyn Half coming up on May 30th!  Hopefully it’ll be a real short commute to Prospect Park;-)

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So yes, as mentioned in the comments, I did run a half in January.  The half?  Personal worst but personal best as far as vacationing in South Beach:)  Considering I had exactly one long run before the run and had averaged an awesome 10 miles a week.  I’m pretty impressed:-p

Running has definitely taken a back seat with the impending events to come in the next few months.  As mentioned in the last post, I’m in the middle of the housing search.  Things have heated up to say the least and I’m still in love with the neighborhood I found a couple weeks ago.  I’m visiting a few places a second time tomorrow with an agent.  Is this real?!

I find myself wondering how it’s possible to be where I am but hey, we have one life to live.  Go for it.

I’m not ready to reveal to the world the possible new ‘hood due to my superstitions about everything.  I would hate for something to happen to cause this to not happen.  However, let me just say, I will have to change the name of my blog if I choose this destination;-)

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3:48:48

Just figured I’d post since some of you may wonder how today went. I’m satisfied with the effort today but don’t worry, I’m not done knocking on that 3:40:00 door. Just for now – I’ll be back in 2009.

Oh and I’ve decided, if you’re not into extreme weather running, give me a shout out before signing up for a race. I have a feeling now that I’ve covered extreme heat and cold that rain may be in the forecast next time…

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Post marathon blues?

I think not.

CONGRATULATIONS!

You are confirmed as a registrant for the 2009 ING Miami Marathon or Half-Marathon!

Nothing wrong with a trip to Miami at the end of January:)

Chicago Weather:

Sunday, Oct 12
High: 56 °F RealFeel®: 49 °F
Mostly cloudy and colder
Sunday Night, Oct 12
Low: 44 °F RealFeel®: 37 °F
Mainly clo

This would be a beautiful thing!

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Wow I’ve been a bad blogger.  Things have been pretty busy around here but here we go.  Last weekend I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run strictly as a marathon tune up.  Unlike 2 years ago, there would be no attempt at shattering the PR today.  One cool aspect of this race is my dad’s friend has run the race every year since it’s beginnings (31st year in a row!).  As such, he gets VIP treatment for himself and friends.  We were able to hang out in the area with the elites before the race and have our own personal baggage check!  Sweet!  I ran into nyflygirl at the corrals and AH was there too.  I told nyflygirl that she should finish way ahead of me today;-)  I was looking to run 1:45-1:47.  The national anthem started and all of a sudden it was like “wait, those aren’t the words.”  Whoops!  Finally we were off.

Immediately, within the first mile, my stomach started to give me issues.  I just thought it was nerves or something and just needed to run it out.  By mile 4 I was still feeling pretty uncomfortable but continued to ignnore it.  As we got to the Park Drive I started to look for a pit stop as I knew there was no way I could finish this half without stopping.  It was that BAD.  Finally just passed the 10K point I made my pit stop for 2.5 minutes or so.  I felt a bit better and knew I’d be able to finish the race.  Given the stopping, etc I made my new goal sub 1:50. 

I started back up and ran a very controlled 8:10-8:15 pace.  Final time: 1:49:21 with the pit stop.  Not too shabby.    The photo is from the Ben Franklin Parkway – just another walk in the park home;)  I’ve started to utilize the hat again as a repellent from sweat in the eyes.  I’m thinking that will happen for the marathon too.  Yellow cap anyone? ;-p

Since the last time I’ve also finished up two more 20 milers and a 55 mile week.  One twenty miler is shown on the left.  We ran from Columbus Circle, around the tip of Manhattan, over the Brooklyn Bridge to Prospect Park, a lap of Prospect Park before heading back and ending on the LES.  As usual, a training season would not be complete with me wiping out somewhere.  I managed to wipe out on a sidewalk in Brooklyn and now sport a lovely wound on my left knee (good job by the photographer not to get that knee in the photo!).   It was nasty humid with essentially 100% humidity as when we got to the tip of Manhattan you could not see Brooklyn!  It was eerie as a cruise ship was coming in it looked like it was coming from nowhere out of the fog.  Surreal.  Finished that run in a shade under 3 hours. 

Yesterday, for my final long run I joined a group for the bridges run.  The first four miles I realized it was definitely going faster than I needed to be at.  I was running closer to MP then LSD pace! I dropped back a group and feel great today.  Ran another solid 7 today.

Two weeks to go.  Unbelievable.  So far the weather is good but we all know what happened last year in Scranton and Chicago (both turned into Steamtown Marathons literally!).

Sunday, Oct 12
High: 53 °F RealFeel®: 49 °F
Mostly sunny
Sunday Night, Oct 12
Low: 42 °F RealFeel®: 34 °F
Clear to partly cloudy

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Tempo me Wednesday

With the big day coming sooner than later, I’ve fallen into a bit of a lull the past couple weeks.  More from outside factors than me but it’s kept me from some of my runs.  It may be a blessing in disguise as I feel fresh and ready to dive back into training for the last month and  a half.  I look at last night as day 1 as official back into training mode.  Just take a look…

This is the time I kept my watch on.  My route: I ran from Midtown down to the 14th street area to meet a friend.  Once he joined me we ended up doing 7.29 miles of tempo at 7:56 pace!  I felt pretty good and it was just what the Dr. ordered to get me back into the swing of things.  Overall I put in a little over 12 and that’s after 15 on Sunday which felt like poo.  It’s amazing how you can feel a zillion times better depending on the day! 

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