Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jl'm Marathon Training #7

Motzei Shabbat, 28 November 2009

As promised I went for a short run this evening. I wasn't going to go, though. I had decided that I wouldn't and was looking forward to settling down to some relaxing activities, like putting away the dishes.

Turns out that my son, Shimi, remembered that I told him he could come along with me on a run. He would bike and I would shlep myself behind him. How could I give up quality father/son time?

So we plotted out a route that didn't include so many hills and we set off at about 8.30pm. I pushed myself harder than usual and I did a bit of sprinting, which is something I don't do on a 10km run. I enjoyed the time and Shimi was great.

4.5km and 28 minutes later I put the pedal to the metal and powered on home. I don't think I've ever run as fast as that. It only took me about 20 minutes to recover. The time was a bit disappointing, but I put it down to cholent.

Oh, and when I finally recovered, I did put away the dishes ;-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Jl'm Marathon Training #6

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

I must be a masochist. I decided that my previous route, which involved running a particular course and then backtracking, was too boring. If I was running on a treadmill, the scenery would be the same. But since I'm running out on the street, why see the same thing twice?

So on Wednesday evening, I sat down in front of Google Earth with my eldest son and we planned out a new course, according to these guidelines:
  • At least 10km
  • Avoid running through certain communities
  • Not too many long downhills
  • Include the killer Nahar HaYarden uphill
  • Include the 1.22km Yarkon uphill
  • Avoid backtracking as much as possible
The route we came up with is very complicated, but fulfills all criteria. It is actually 10.3km and involves only a few short backtracks. It is also about 80% uphill! OK, I exaggerate, but there are a lot more uphills than in my previous routes.

I completed the course in about 1 hour and 20 minutes, although I'm not entirely sure because I had a technical problem with the stopwatch along the way.

I was absolutely buggered after the run, although I did manage the 100m sprint to the finish line, which was extremely satisfying. All my muscles ached, but at least I didn't injure myself (go Brooks Adrenaline GT9s!)

I'm thinking of doing a quick 5k run on Motzei Shabbat, followed by this new course on Sunday. It is very challenging, but hopefully not too challenging.

If anyone has advice about training for a competitive running event (I know, 10km is not a marathon!) in hilly Jerusalem, please write them in the comments!

Here is a picture of my new route. Obviously, I start from the Home marker and end the run there. Follow the red arrow, but when the route brings you back almost to the beginning (the first turn), follow the blue arrow. As I said, there is some backtracking, but not a lot. Also, most of the backtracking is on the opposite side of the street, so the scenery is still a bit different.

The yellow writing is probably too difficult to read. The yellow writing at the top of the picture says "Massive HaYarkon Uphill" and the yellow writing at the bottom of the picture says "1.22km Yarkon Uphill". Those are my two most challenging uphills, although there are many more shorter uphills along this course.

Click on the image for a larger, clearer view.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jl'm Marathon Training #5

Sunday, 22 November 2009

I went out for my first run in over a week. The flu kept me indoors, but I was itching to get out there again.

I did my first big 10k run, which included nearly 4k of hills, some of them pretty steep. I completed the route in 1:10:00.

I didn't start out well. I got a stitch in the first three minutes and my hamstrings decided to make themselves heard just as I headed off. Things settled down in short order, but the niggling pains at the beginning were a little disconcerting. I guess it was the body's way of waking up after a long vacation.

I thought that it was a relatively solid run, albeit a bit slow. So far I have been concentrating on distance. I think I've got that. Now I need to challenge the clock.

Despite the minor muscle complaints, one thing was for certain: my feet were well taken care of. This past week I purchased a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9s. They are by far the most comfortable running shoes I've ever worn - no chafing, no bleeding toes, no sore arches. It was like running on soft, fluffy cushions the whole way. Well, sort of.

The shoes really are great, although they are as ugly as a box of blowflies. Doesn't matter, I want to step in them, not frame them. Although, for the price, one would have thought Brooks could put a little more effort into the exterior design. The Adrenaline reminds me of 1980s Reeboks mixed with a bit of 1970s night-club-silver. Sort of makes me want to do the boogie instead of the 10k!

This photo was taken after the shoes' maiden voyage. I'm looking forward to taking them out for a spin again. They certainly beat the all-purpose Nikes I was using before. I think that with a proper pair of shoes I'll have a better chance of doing well in this event.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jl'm Marathon Training #4

Really Early Morning, Friday, 13 November 2009

Set out on a jog in the wee hours of the morning at 12.20am. I decided to run a more challenging route than my usual 6 times around Dolev, AKA "The Peanut".

The route I took ended up being only approximately 7.66km, but it was very hard:
1. From my home to the corner of Ayalon and Kishon (about 0.83km - mostly downhill)
2. From Kishon/Yarkon to the corner of Yarden (approx 1.22km of solid incline)
3. From corner Yarkon/Yarden to the corner Kishon/Yarden (total approx 1.78km - lots of ups and downs plus one huge downhill)
Then turn around and do it in reverse (that huge downhill becomes one killer uphill).

I did it in just over an hour and five minutes. I'm pretty happy with that, given the difficulty of the terrain. It's a very challenging course, so I hope to improve next time.

But my biggest accomplishment so far is that I didn't get eaten by a jackal on the way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jl'm Marathon Training #3

Tuesday, 10 November 2009
I needed a day's break to recover from the 10km I did on Sunday. In retrospect, I should have gone cycling, which is a great cross-training activity. But I didn't.

Going out this evening was difficult. I started the run at 10.15pm. I had a stitch for the first 4kms - a minor one, but it niggled at me. I started grunting at around the 3km mark. That's not good. I usually don't start grunting until somewhere towards the end. My feet started to hurt at around 5km - turns out my two smallest toes on my left foot were bleeding. I guess that means its time to hunt for better shoes. I'm certain that all these factors caused me to slow down considerably. But I had to overcome these setbacks and finish the 10km no matter what. I managed my breathing, corrected my posture and rallied over the last few kms to make the run worthwhile.

I made sure that, no matter how tired I was feeling, I powered up the one hill on my route each time I reached it. Strange, but I sprinted up that hill faster each time, rather than slow down, as you would expect. I think that I was psyching myself up for it on every rotation. I was also fortunate that either the cars on the road forced me to quicken my pace at that particular spot, or the music playing in my headphones reached the inspirational points that spurred me on up that hill. I'm beginning to enjoy the hills - at least this one.

My final sprint home over the last 200 meters was blistering fast. I could feel every muscle straining as I powered through the fatigue. I felt like a thousand people were standing by cheering me as I crashed through the winners tape. Despite that the only spectator to my incredible finish was a cat who had its nose stuck inside a tuna can, it was an awesome end to my late-night run.
I completed the 10km course in 1:08:00 (approximately). I realize it is not much of an improvement on my original 10km - I'm sure I can go faster. I just have to try harder and push myself a bit more.

I am far from having conquered the Dolev circuit, but I'm not sure I can motivate myself to keep going around in circles. I'm already planning another 10km route that includes varied scenery and terrain. For the moment, though, I have to follow through with the current mini-challenge to do the Dolev circuit easily and in much better time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jl'm Marathon Training #2

Wednesday, 4 November 2009:
As previously blogged, I decided to ditch the treadmill and run out on the road. I was advised to go for distance to build stamina, rather than time, at this stage (thanks, especially to Chaim and Rafi of the Beit Shemesh Running Club - I still intend to join up, I would just prefer to wait until I have a chance of keeping up a little bit with you guys!)

I took a leisurely jog to Rechov Nachal Dolev (getting there and back cost me 1.7km). Dolev is a 1500m circular street in Ramat Beit Shemesh (well, it's actually peanut-shaped, but you know what I mean) and is relatively flat, with one hill that goes for about 30m-50m. I thought that I'd take it easy on my first time out. I completed my initial lap easily and was getting into the groove when I started my second. I debated with myself the whole third lap and decided to go for a fourth. Why not? I stumbled out of Dolev after four times around and jogged back to my apartment. The 7.7km ordeal took 50 minutes.

When I arrived home, I discovered that I couldn't speak properly. I had trouble remembering words, I couldn't put a sentence together and I had difficulty thinking of the street I jogged on, even after my wife repeated its name for me numerous times. Thankfully, this lasted only as long as it took me to collapse into bed. By the morning I was fine.

Here's what I learned:
  • Hydrate properly before going on a run - sticking to a "hydration plan" throughout the day in preparation for a run is ideal
  • Even if it is cold, don't run in track pants and three layers of t-shirts - I was unwell that week and was paranoid about exacerbating my cold
  • Discipline includes knowing when to stop
I was too tired (read: scared of hurting myself) on Thursday and Friday to go for a run, but I went on a 45 minute walk (each way) to and from the boys' school on Motzei Shabbat for parent-teacher interviews. So at least that was something.

Sunday, 8 November 2009
Well, today was a milestone (literally). Record this date in your diaries and celebrate each year - today, for the first time in my life, I ran a full 10km. I prepared properly, I dressed appropriately and I jogged confidently. It took me 1hr and 10m to run approximately 10.7km (from my place to Dolev and back is about 1.7km + 6 times around Dolev, which is 9km.)

I initially aimed to do 4 laps and then see how I felt. When I went through my system check (legs, breathing, stitch status, etc) during lap 4, I was amazed to feel exactly as I did when I first headed out. That being the case, I decided to go for lap 5. Towards the end of lap 5, I could feel my legs starting to complain, but not enough to make me give up the big 10km.

And I feel good. I didn't get a stitch the whole time, but my calf muscles hurt. I stretched them a lot before setting off, and again when I cooled down, but I can still feel tightness. It isn't painful, so I am not worried.

Here are some observations:
  • It is much more difficult to run on the road than on a treadmill - my feet feel heavier, for some reason, and my running style seems more ungainly (oh, and there are potholes...)
  • Running on the road is more exhilarating than running on a treadmill, but shouting "Come on you lazy good-for-nothing!" in the middle of Dolev is not tolerated as much as doing so in the gym...
  • Drivers are, surprisingly, very courteous to joggers
  • Dogs are not very courteous to joggers
  • One of the joys of a 10km run is the final sprint to the finish line
I think I'll try to replicate this run one or two more times, without focusing on improving my time. Then I'll choose a different route with more inclines - I can save Dolev for the days I do my "easy" 10km runs (never thought I'd hear myself say that!)

Looking at my times and distances now, I sometimes wonder if I will ever get to March doing 10km in a more respectable time, but I think I am on my way.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jl'm Marathon Training #1

Jumblerant (good one, Mr. G.) challenged me to post about my progress with training for the Jerusalem Marathon 10k event in March 2010. So here we go:

Sunday, 1 November 2009:
Started training.

Knowing that I have never run 10k before, I decided to concentrate on distance rather than speed. My usual run is 4.5k and I wanted to start with something easy. I ran a comfortable 5k at a constant speed of 13km/h.

I got off the treadmill and felt really good. I figured that next time I'll go for 6k and build up from there. I also decided that 13km/h is a good pace so I'll try and maintain it, even as I increase the distance.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009:
I hit the treadmill at about 9.20pm. I was tired and fighting a cold. I read on a website today that to start seriously training for a 10k race you have to be able to run 30 minutes without stopping. I had previously promised myself to run 6k, so I decided not to alter my plan - I psyched myself up all day for the 6k and I didn't want a last-minute change to ruin my motivation.

The first 5k was relatively easy, but the last kilometer was hard. Breathing became difficult (I think because of my cold) and I struggled a bit through the last 500 meters.

I reached 6k in 28:08 and then slowed down to a fast walk. At first I was disappointed because I felt so exhausted after the run. After running 5k with absolute ease, I didn't think that 6k could be so difficult. Despite the voice in my head begging me to slow down, I kept to a steady speed of 13km/h (not including the short warm-up before the run). After thinking about it for a while, I realized that I had never run 6k before, that the time I did it in is quite good, and that 6k is only 4k off my target distance, and I'm over half-way there.

I also started working on my abs. I read on the Internet (so it must be true) that runners need to really work on their abs. So I did 2 sets of 15 stomach crunches, as advised by the gym supervisor. The crunches nearly killed me. So I plan to do this exercise every day. Hopefully they will become easier.

Tomorrow I think I'll do a short run on the road, maybe 20 minutes to half an hour of slow jogging on relatively flat terrain, depending on the weather. All the websites say to follow a hard run with an easy one. I'll let you know how I go.

Monday, November 2, 2009

60th Post Bonus

For my 60th Blog Post I thought I'd give you all a bonus.

Here is a story I submitted to a competition. The story is called "A Talented Man."

I won't know the result of the competition until March 2010.


Yossi Karp

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Quit While You're Ahead

Why don't people quit while they're ahead? When the late-great Michael Jackson was the King of Pop in the 80s, he should have hung up his glove and become an accountant or something. Look what happened to him. Not to mention Elvis Presley and Judy Garland, among others.

What makes people so ambitious that they feel it necessary to attempt to revive their glorious past? Unless you are Rocky Balboa, comebacks are rarely successful. Tastes change and the competition gets younger, more agile and more energetic. There comes a point where you have to say, "Look buddy, don't push your luck. You've had a good run, you've achieved fame and fortune, you've given it your all. Now go and do something else."

In an amazingly unprecedented feat of brilliance, last week I smashed my 4.5k record of 20:00, running the distance in 18:31. That's an average of 14.6km/h. About seven months ago I started out running 4.5k in 30 minutes, so reducing it to 18:31 is an amazing achievement.

You'd think I would be happy with that. But an athlete's ambition is an unquenchable thirst.

I'm not going to quit while I'm ahead. I'm not going to take my own advice and fade off quietly into the abyss of anonymity. I'm not going to rest upon my laurels. I'm not going to sit on a couch and watch others take the fame, fortune and glory.

I'm going to train for the 10k Jerusalem marathon. My new aim is to do 10k in 45 minutes. That's about an average of 13.3km/h. I'll pound the pavement and wear out the treadmill until I reach my goal. Then I'm going to find out what the times were for the top 100 people in last year's race and I'm going to aim to match it.

Then I'm going to enter the mid-March 10k race and give it all I've got, pushing myself to beat my personal best. It will hurt, the pain will yell at me to stop, my senses will shout at me to slow down. But I will not capitulate to imaginary voices. My muscles will burn, my legs will ache and my lungs will gasp, but I will settle for nothing less than magnificence.

And once the race is won, when the fans have returned to their homes to compose poetry of my greatness; when the chants of "Yossi! Yossi! Yossi!" have finally melted gently into the circling Jerusalem clouds, I'll sit on my balcony, drink ice-cold beers and dream of the next race in a year's time.