Tuesday, March 21, 2017

NYC Trip Report

A typical Crazy J trip is characterized by doing and seeing as much as possible in a limited amount of time.  I don't like to simply lounge around in an expensive hotel and don't really care about fine dining either.  I do enjoy going off the beaten path to take in some local culture away from more typical tourist spots.  On this trip, I took it to a new level with the sightseeing.  I don't think I've ever crammed this much into a long weekend before.

3/17- Caught a 6:30 flight out of B'ham and landed in LaGuardia around 10:00 local time.  I took a cab into town, which took an hour and cost me over $50.  I would recommend taking a bus to a nearby subway station instead.  I was able to get a pass for unlimited subway rides for the rest of my trip.  I dropped off my bag at the hotel and I was out the door on my way to Grand Central Station, just 10 blocks away.  I got some lunch at Mendy's deli and browsed around a bit.

Grand Central

Next stop was Times Square.  I snapped a couple pictures and went into a few shops but did not buy anything.  Because it was St. Patrick's Day, I noticed a lot of drunks, pervasive use of the f-word and occasional smells of marijuana.  Word on the street is that you should not bother making small talk with locals and that's generally true but if you ask for directions, they will be helpful and courteous.  I got a nice surprise later in the day when a random young woman approached me in a subway station to compliment my smile.  That made my day.
Bull Market

It was on to Wall Street from there and this time, I did take the subway and found that I got a handle on the train routes pretty quickly.  I walked past the NYSE and the bull before reaching the new World Trade Center just a few blocks away.  I saw the 9/11 Memorial monuments then headed up 100 floors to the top of the Freedom Tower where I got some amazing shots of the skyline.  From there, I found myself in a very upscale shopping area that doubled as a subway station.  I ended up stopping at 34th St to get a view of the Empire State Building but chose to view the Top of the Rock instead.

I got tickets for a 8:50 PM observation and thought it was pretty cool to see the Rock at night after seeing the Freedom Tower in the daylight.  Not surprisingly, I was dead tired by now and was happy to settle in for the night.
9/11 Monument

Times Square

100th Floor of Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower 2

Empire State Building from 34th.
Top of the Rock at night

3/18-I planned to scale it back a bit to stay off the feet.  First stop was Tom's restaurant for breakfast which was used in the TV show Seinfeld.  The exterior is the same but the interior is different.  Much of the show itself was actually filmed in LA instead of NY.  I got some eggs with toast and potatoes, which was decent but only memorable because of Seinfeld.

Seinfeld Cafe

I hit the subway again to the Bronx for a tour of Yankee stadium.  In the only real downer of the trip, I was not allowed in because of a soccer match.  I did walk around a bit and got some tasty chicken at a local establishment for an authentic Bronx experience off the beaten path.  It was back to Manhattan from there where I got a quick sample of Central Park before a lazy afternoon in my room.  That worked out well because it was the only bad weather day of the trip.  In the evening, I met up with Nick and Cara for a steak dinner in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn before bed.

Central Park

3/19- Ran 13.1 miles in the morning.  More on that later. I got cleaned up, checked off St. Patrick's then took the subway into Brooklyn.  I ended up at Flatbush and Fulton St. Shopping district before making my way to Dumbo (Downtown Under Manhattan and Brooklyn Overpass) where I got some of the best pizza at a place called Juliana's.  I then walked across the Brooklyn bridge to Manhattan and back.  My legs held up okay.

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn

Brooklyn Bridge

Next, I went into a section of Queens called Long Island City just to do something in that borough.  I got another nice view of Manhattan.  There were a few fancy restaurants overlooking the river but after a late lunch, I was fine with bar food.

View of Manhattan from Queens

3/20- Walking tour of the Upper West side including the Seinfeld apartment address of 129 W 81st St.  The address is real but it's home to a realty office not an apartment building.  A few blocks away was Riverside Park with views of New Jersey.  On the East Side, I just walked by the high end shops and did not even check the prices of items for sale then checked out Trump Tower.

Radio City
Had to Check it out.

Inside Trump Tower

With time to kill before my flight, I went back downtown to Battery Park where I saw a decent view of the Statue of Liberty.   I did have time for the 9/11 museum this time around and it was gripping.  Wish I had more time but I couldn't risk a SNAFU on the trip to the airport.

Now the race report:

2017 began just as horribly as the previous 2 years but I feel like I’ve turned a corner over the last 3 weeks thanks to molybdenum, which has opened up the sulfur pathways.  Still, being limited to 20-25 MPW over the last 2 years with much of that being junk runs, I could not expect a good time.  It’s going to take a few months of steady 40 MPW training before I see significant gains.  Based on my recent workouts, I thought I could do 1:42-1:43 if everything broke in my favor.  If I was a little off form, I would still be able to fight for a post-35 PR of 1:45:58.  There was some question about whether or not I should be taking glutathione for methylation support but unlike in the recent past, a single missed dose won’t kill me.

NYC got hit with a nasty Nor’Easter earlier in the week and there was a chance of another round of snow showers over the weekend.  It turned out okay.  Friday was sunny and 40 but Saturday was a mix of cold drizzle and snow flurries.  Fortunately, it cleared out by the morning.  Conditions at the start were mostly cloudy and 34 degrees with an 18 mph wind.  That’s tough but I’ve raced in worse.  In a long tech and pants, I was fine once I got moving and maybe a touch warm when the sun came out but chilly when the wind began to gust.

Looped around Central Park for the first half.  The terrain was for the most part gently rolling with the exception of tough spots in Mile 4 and near the start.  From there, we came out of the park and through Times Square before turning down towards Battery Park with views of the Freedom Tower.  The finish was near Wall Street.  Truly an iconic route.  From mile 6 on, it was ever so slightly downhill except for a small climb out of the tunnel near the finish.

Race outfit

I just stayed relaxed early and did not even look at the watch until I was over the first hill nearly a half mile in.  I hit the Mile marker in 7:53 which was just where I wanted to be.  Mile 2 saw some nice downhill and my pace quickened to the 7:30 range.  That’s too fast.  Back it down even though I felt good.  I passed 5K in 23:50 officially (7:40 pace), which would bring me home around 1:41.  It’s a little quick but not stupid fast and I still feel strong.  After a brief out and back section, we were in Harlem at the north edge of the park.  There were 3 noticeable climbs here including a long steep stretch for about a half mile near the end of Mile 4. 

By the end of Mile 5, we were through the hills except for the last stretch out of the tunnel and my watch read 38:5x or just north of 7:45 pace.  The 10K mark passed in 48:15, which is a new post-35 PR for that distance.  The 24:25 over the previous 5K was very respectable considering the hills and if paced well, this is a negative split course.  I’m not sure of my exact time at the halfway point because my GPS clocked it at 13.35 (quarter mile long) but I figure it was around 51-flat so I was in very good shape to hit my goal.  I really sucked at running the tangents today.  Central Park has a lot of curves in the road and I went wide most of the time.  Oh well.  Most of the remainder of the course would be flat and straight.

Many runners feel a surge of adrenaline upon entering Times Square.  I got a small boost and managed to pick up the pace a few ticks but it was no surge.  I still felt fairly comfortable but the legs were starting to hurt.  At mile 8, my watch read an even 62 minutes or exactly 7:45 pace.  The math was easy.  Just hold the pace under 8:00 for the last 5.1 and you’ve got a sub-1:43.  

Unfortunately, things unraveled just before the 9 Mile marker.  In a flash, I went from feeling relatively comfortable to flat out awful.  To make matters worse, the wind picked up bigly near the water.  I bet I instantly slowed by 30 seconds per mile and it would get worse from there.  Maybe I could have used the glutathione here but oh well.  I was 73:07 at 15K for a 24:52 split and still under 79 minutes at 10 miles.

The Freedom Tower was now in view and I tried to draw some inspiration but to no avail.  Taking a gel also had no effect.  Just getting to the Finish safely was the primary concern now.  According to the official results, my pace slipped to the 8:45 range and the last 5K was over 27 minutes.  Knowing that I would come up short of the “B” goal, I just coasted in on fumes with a watch time of 1:46:19, which was good enough for the 67th percentile in my age group. 

29 states down.

Final Thought:
All in all, I’m okay with this race.  Performances are expected to vary by up to 5% on any given day so I was well within the range even with the fade at the end.  If I had struggled to break 1:50, then changes would be needed.  I’ve broken that barrier only once in my previous 6 races so I still believe I’m on the right track.  The probable resolution is that I will never approach my former glory but if I can avoid the horrible days and extreme sensitivity to pills, it's a trade that I am more than willing to make.  Even if I am no longer competitive, I can still do well enough to enjoy these events.  I don’t think I would have visited NYC if not for this race and would have missed out on an amazing trip.  Next up is something out west and I am leaning towards the Teton/Helena combo in Wyoming and Montana.  Long way from the big city there.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Training 3/20-3/26

3/20- Planned rest day.  Appropriately sore.

3/21- 3 miles untimed on Jemison Trail.  I was not expecting much and was not disappointed.  I got back to Alabama very late last night then got up early for work.  As for the pills, I feel I may need to cut the Curcumin, which is not a huge surprise.  The molybdenum removed the iron from storage and the Curcumin bound it up and now it may have gone too far.  We shall see.  I am betting that the glutathione is fine but we'll see on that as well.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=3.0
3\22- Trak Shak 3 in 29:45 (9:55 pace). Felt drowsy most of the day. Not yet recovered from the trip. I should be better tomorrow.
Grade:D minus/1 credit/distance-3.0
3/23- Lakeshore 4 in 34:35 (8:39 pace). Nice improvement over yesterday. Slept 10 hours last night. Caffeine is the cause of this mini-relapse. I cheated after the race. I can get away with it for 1 day, maybe 2 but no more than that. Back on track now. Should be normal by tomorrow.
Grade: C minus/1 credit/distance-4.0

Monday, March 13, 2017

Training 3/13-3/19 (race week)

3/13- Gold's 10 in 78:20 (7:50 pace).  This is what I meant to do over the weekend.  One of my most enjoyable runs in a long time.  After a slow start, I clocked 8 consecutive miles between 7:49-7:53 and passed 9 miles in 71:01.  Found another gear at the end and finished with a strong 7:19.  That tells me this pace is definitely sustainable over another 5K and would bring me home in 1:42:55 on race day.  That's a 20 second cushion on the #1 goal, which would be my fastest time since Tulsa in November 2014 before the methylation problems became too much to bear.  Got a shot at it now!
Shorter and sharper for the remainder of the week.  I won't gain much in terms of fitness but it's possible that the relapse is not fully behind me.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=10.0

Methyl Folate news:
Woke up EXTREMELY SORE without it.  1000 was clearly not enough and 1400 made a BIG difference BUT there was NOT MUCH DIFFERENCE between 1400-1800 nor from 1800-2200.  Odds are 5000 may give me trouble but I'd probably be okay on 3000 as long as I take PABA.  I'm okay with that.  I brought the relapse on myself with either caffeine or the MTHFRade.  Now, let's get this blizzard over with and clear out the roads because I'm ready to take on NYC.

3/14- Gold's 5 in 36:54 (7:23 pace).  Very strong.  No ill-effects from yesterday.  Bore a resemblance to the Crazy J of old.  When healthy and well trained, these type of workouts are really not that hard for me.  Still, I was surprised by how well I did today after a double digit run @ sub-8 pace.  I did have to work a bit to keep the pace below 7:30 but this was far from a hard effort.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=5.5
Hey NYC, get out your snow plows because I'm coming for you.

3/15-Planned rest day.  I expect the delayed onset soreness might hit me but I bet I could handle a workout if need be.

3/16- 2 miles in 13:58 (6:59 pace). I was hoping for a little better but it is not a cause for alarm. I think glutathione is causing me to feel just a tad sluggish so I'm cutting it. The fact that I am not horrible with a questionable pill is encouraging.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance-2.5

3/17- No running but this was NOT an easy day.  Whirlwind tour of NYC while the weather was good.  Stops included Grand Central, Times Square, Wall Street, World Trade Center and the Rockefeller Center.  Maybe I'll do a junk run tomorrow but I had best stay off my feet as much as possible.

3/18- Stop and go junk run through Midtown.  Found a good pace early then backed it down.  Did not record the distance but I'll call it 2 miles.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=2.0

3/19- NYC half in 1:46:19 unofficially.  A little slower than what I hoped for but well within the range of variability.  The course was measured a quarter mile long and it's hard to run tangents in a crows so it's a good bet I covered 13.1 in less than 1:45.
Grade:B-/4 credit/distance=14.0

Weekly summary:
First win of the year.
Distance=34.0/ GPA= 28.2/9=3.13
YTD: 319 miles.  1-9/ 1.92

Thursday, March 9, 2017

More Road Trip Plans

I’ve raced a halfway decent 5K and a half since turning 35 but my only 10K has been Peachtree last year, which was a disaster.  A post-35 PR would be pretty easy.  There is a good local 10K this coming weekend but my gut feeling is to skip it.   Instead, I’ll do a 10-12 miler followed by some shorter and sharper stuff race week.   I don’t really care if a race effort leaves me slightly less than fresh in NYC but I REALLY don’t want to risk an overuse injury after the quality long run last weekend.  Any other 10Ks coming up?  There’s usually a 5K/10K combo at UAB in April and there is also one in Tuscaloosa.  I wouldn’t mind a little regional travel this Spring.  Pensacola and Tupelo are options for a repeat and there is also Cotton Row in Huntsville on Memorial Day.  I think I'd lean towards the Coke 10K in Corinth, Miss because I've never done it before.  

If I don’t relapse, I’d like to make plans for an epic road trip.  I can check off Wyoming and Montana with 2 half marathons on back to back weekends but the most fun will be had in between those dates.  Here’s the preliminary plan:

6/2- Fly into Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Drive through some of the Grand Tetons
6/3- Grand Teton half marathon then into Yellowstone.
6/4-Sample Yellowstone, spend night in central Montana
6/5-Drive to Calgary.
6/6-Tour Calgary and go to Banff
6/7-Drive through Canadian Rockies
6/8-Back to USA, Sample Glacier NP
6/9- Drive to Helena
6/10- Race in Helena, back down to Jackson Hole.
6/11-Fly home.

The Grand Teton half is known for indescribable scenery but at 6500 feet elevation, a good time is out the window.  Unlike Tahoe however, the course is mostly flat.  Helena is a race that I am only interested in to check off another state.  It’s a mostly rural point to point course that’s gently rolling but the 4000 feet elevation will hurt.  There is a race in Yellowstone the same day but word on the street is that it’s poorly organized and the trail can be treacherous plus it’s a long drive from Glacier.  Helena would break up the trip.  If for some reason, this falls through, the backup option is exciting as well.  I would race Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota’s Black Hills and see Mount Rushmore.

I see 3 interesting possibilities here depending on my fitness level.
Option 1-Detroit Free Press-I’ve wanted to do this one since 2012 but it never fit my schedule.  It is a PR course and if I’m in competitive shape, that’s the frontrunner.

Option 2- New England Double- There’s a race in New Hampshire on the last day of September and another in Maine (3 hours away) on the first day of October.  Of course, both will be training runs and I don’t care about my times.  My fitness would have to improve to the point in which I can tolerate back to back 13 milers in training.  Even with the recent improvements, I’m not there yet.

Option 3- Albuquerque, New Mexico- Another race chosen only for the 50 states project but I’d like to see West Texas (Amarillo and/or Lubbock) as well.  There is a local couple that are planning to finish up their 50 state full marathon project and I may alter my plans to support them.

I get in Friday morning (3/17) and the plan is to see Times Square first while the crowds are not too overwhelming.  Nearby is Grand Central Station, Trump Tower and the Rockefeller Center.  If I have time, I’ll do some browsing on 5th and Madison Ave.
Saturday, the plan is the Seinfeld cafĂ© for breakfast then the Yankee Stadium tour.  I can then sample Central Park and the Upper East Side.  If I have time, I’ll go downtown for the Freedom Tower and do a junk run in Battery Park.
Sunday is race day and because the finish is downtown, I can catch the quick stuff while I am there such as the NYSE and the 9/11 Memorial but the priority will be Brooklyn and the bridge.
Monday- I don’t leave until evening but I’ll need plenty of time to get to the airport.  I can pick up some of the quick stuff I may have missed that morning but I want to have lunch in Queens just to do something in that borough and maybe save some on the cab fare back to the airport.

Next year:
Yes, I’m already thinking of it.  For the Spring, I’m thinking Vermont plus a road trip into Quebec and/or the capitol of Ottawa.  I’ve already got California but San Diego has a race in August called America’s Finest City that’s been on my list for a while.  When I’m there, I can take a day trip to Mexico.  Tijuana is only 17 miles away but it’s a hassle getting in and out.  Tecate is about an hour away but it’s an easy crossing and I only want to get a meal and a drink just to say I’ve been there.  Canada and Mexico in the same year would be pretty cool.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Training 3/6-3/12

3/6-AM- Gold's 3 in 23:39 (7:53 pace).  Probably a mistake to double today but no harm done.  A longer single run at a slower pace is the better choice after a hard long run.

PM- Canterbury-Jemison 5 in 39:35 (7:55 pace).  Smooth and fairly relaxed despite very tired legs.  I didn't care if the pace slipped to over 8.  Even effort over hilly terrain early.  The first 3.5 were just a tick south of 8:00 pace but on the flat section, I dipped to the 7:45 range.  It's normal to see the paces slow when there is a higher volume of miles under my belt in recent days.  A few more easy days will bring the standard issue pace back down.  On the medical front, Curcumin is necessary but extra pills don't seem to really matter.  I should be able to reduce ADHS soon.
Grade:B/2 credit/distance=8.0

3/7-Easy 6 in 46:35 (7:46 pace). Even pace with plenty in the tank. This is sub-1:42 pace and I don't think it is too unrealistic to expect to hold this pace when fresh. Moly will indeed work at doses between 75-225. ADHS was cut with no problem.
Grade:B+/1 credit\distance-6.0

3/8-AM-Lakeshore 6 with the fast group and managed to stay with the pack for the first half then dialed it back. Passed 5 miles in 40:30 (8:06 pace) but fading so I cut off the watch and treated the last mile like a cool down. Not worried that I struggled today. It's just too many miles without enough rest. I could have duplicated yesterday if it was an evening session.
Grade:C+/1 credit/distance-6.0

3/9- Another 5 on Lakeshore this time going the opposite direction plus a mile warm. I was doing my standard pace through 3 then endured one of my worst bonks ever. I couldn't do 10 minute pace after that. The collapse was just as sudden as it was complete. Got home and found the culprit to be too much MF. PABA helped but not enough.
Grade:D/1 credit/distance-6.0

3/10- This was a scheduled rest day but I need to know what the hell is going on with the MF. Started on 1200 and finished the first mile in 7:56 with a rapidly slowing pace. On 1600, I was immediately MUCH worse and didn't even try another mile. Took full strength PABA when I got home and improved but doubt that I could handle a real workout.
PM- Fared no better on full strength PABA in the afternoon session but tacked on another mile.
No grade today./distance=2.0

3/11- Good call on skipping the local 10K.  I would have had NOTHING.  A couple pieces of good news. Both Yucca and SOD (so far) APPEAR to be tolerated now whereas they were disasters before.  I credit the molybdenum for opening up my sulfur pathway.  Unfortunately, neither helped the situation with the MF.  I tried on zero and was awful.  1 lap at Spain Park in 2:16 (9:04 pace) then on 400, I improved only to 2:09 (8:36 pace) but 800 left me worse off than zero.  I jogged 2 laps at glacial pace then tacked on another mile later in the day. Time was 9:40.
Grade:F/1 credit/distance=2.0
If I cannot tolerate the MF, it's the death knell for my recovery.  I don't see a pathway to balance without it.  What could be causing the sudden intolerance?  It could be Lynch's MTHFRade, which is supposed to prevent side effects or it could be cheating on the caffeine restrictions.  Both will be stopped.  Stopping caffeine did help in the past with MF intolerance but I never stuck with it because it did not solve my other problems.  Last resort now.  One way or the other, I may know by NYC just as I predicted.

3/12- AM- 2 miles on Wisteria and improved to 17:40 (8:50 pace). Looking at another slow climb out of a hole. Did manage an 8:34 on the upside. NYC will get hammered by a big league blizzard on Tuesday. Early forecast looks cold but mostly dry next weekend. Central Park will still be blanketed with snow.

PM- Again, I doubled the distance and improved the pace.  4 miles at Gold's in 33:49 (8:27 pace) with another negative split.  Improved from 1@9:40 to 4@8:27 in just 24 hours.  I'll shoot for 6@sub-8 tomorrow.  Took 1000 MF.
Grade:D/2 credit/distance=6.0

Weekly summary:
Despite the relapse and missed long run, I managed 36 miles on the week.  As for the MF dose, I said before that I'm okay with the dose going down but NOT UP AND DOWN!  My need had better not shoot back up next week.  Because I have the homozygous MTHFR mutation, I KNOW that I need at least 1000 and there is no path to balance without it.  Once again, I feel the formula SHOULD be set for good.
GPA= 14.6/8= 1.83