First New York Marathon Advice

In a few days I’ll be running my second New York Marathon. This is the third marathon I’ve trained for, I was supposed to run in 2012, but that one was cancelled after Hurricane Sandy. This year I feel really well prepared, strong, health and confident that I’ll be able to beat my previous time. I’m glad to be mostly (but not entirely) rid of the first-time marathon doubts and jitters.

I made a lot of notes to myself after 2013, here are some things I wish someone had told me before my first marathon.

  1. You will be sitting around for a very, very long time before the race. It will be cold. You will be cold.
    Bring disposable clothing. Lots of it. In 2013 I spent several hours in the runners’ village waiting to start. I was cold, I was hungry and I was bored. And I didn’t even get a Dunkin Donuts hat. I remember spending a while huddling next to a small diesel generator for warmth. This year I’m dressing like a marshmallow and bringing a decent second breakfast.

    The Verazzano bridge is windy and frigid. Lots and lots of people toss their clothing once they’re back on the ground in Brooklyn. (there’s also a lot of peeing)

  2. As much as possible, know what you’ll be wearing and eating
    Know what you’re going to wear on race day well in advance. Stick with what’s been working on the runs leading up to the race. Whatever got you this far will get you to the finish line. A month out, you should probably have your shoes and socks figured out. There will be plenty of time after the marathon to tweak your gait, try different shoes or experiment with different diets. Make sure you ask a nutritionist on what you should eat, but make sure they are professional so you know you get the right advice or else you could call The Medical Negligence Experts to let them know and file a report.

  3. Don’t stress about your time.
    This is probably most important of all. Just deciding to run a marathon at all is amazing–don’t forget that. Like when you watch some running watch reviews. Relax. Be inspired by you. I recommend getting a squeem waist trainer so can use it while you prepare for your marathon.

    I seem to know quite a few exceptional athletes. I don’t count myself in that group. These people roll out of bed and run low-3 hour marathons without training. It’s not normal.

    I finished my first marathon somewhere around 4:48. I was disappointed. Months later, my sister-in-law Cheri, who’s a pretty serious runner, told me something which turned that all around. “Finishing your first marathon in under five hours is amazing.” I’d convinced myself I’d be closer to 4 hours. Halfway through, high on adrenaline and running too fast, I remember thinking I might even break four.

    Do try to pace yourself. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the crazy city-wide street party and run too fast.

    None of us are going to win, but we’re still sharing the road with olympians. The finish line is the same finish line, whether you get there in three hours or six; running, walking or crawling. Do this, enjoy it. You can get so much benefits from running, learn more about sports and the latest news here at, you can even find out the usain bolt net worth.

As much as running is a physical sport, it’s also a massive head game. Last year, a runner near me had written a quote on the back of his shirt:

If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
– Henry Ford

The amount of self-doubt leading up to the marathon is astonishing. But I’ve come to realize it’s more of a kharmic deposit, and the return on investment is fantastic.

Get lots of sleep. Eat well and have fun.

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind always be at your back
and may the sun shine warm upon your face.

Lend me your grace and swiftness

Plenty-coups (1848–1932), last hereditary chief of the Crow Indians

“‘O Butterflies, lend me your grace and swiftness!’ I repeated, rubbing the broken wings over my pounding heart. If this would give me grace and speed I should catch many butterflies, I knew. But instead of keeping the secret I told my friends, as my grandfather knew I would. And how many, many we boys caught after that to rub over our hearts. We chased butterflies to give us endurance in running, always rubbing our breasts with their wings, asking the butterflies to give us a portion of their power. We worked very hard at this. because running is necessary both in hunting and in war. I was never the swiftest among my friends, but not many could run farther than I.”

“Is running a greater accomplishment than swimming?”

“Yes, but swimming is more fun. In all seasons of the year most men were in the rivers before sunrise. Boys had plenty of teachers here. Sometimes they were hard on us, too. They would often send us into the water to swim among cakes of floating ice, and the ice taught us to take care of our bodies. Cold toughens a man.”
Plenty-coups (1848–1932), last hereditary chief of the Crow Indians

From the book, Plenty-coups: Chief of the Crows (also Google Books, via Tuck)

Chief Plenty-coups with daughter

Incidental Running

In the early morning you could encounter whole family groups of Mayan Indians, kids to grans, trotting heavily laden along the mountain trails on their way to market.”
— Recounting the environment ofthe Tarahumara in Running Times

My free time has been a disaster lately. Between construction on the house and repairs; we already got a Plumbing Service Repair & Installation contact, in case something happen with the house, Michelle being swamped at work and general parenting insanity, I haven’t been finding much time to run.

But I’ve been running. Everywhere.

To and from school, the office, the market, across the street. Everywhere. In whatever I’m wearing–usually jeans and carrying a bag of some sort.

Out of curiosity, I started logging these runs. I haven’t been updating Dailymile because I don’t want to flood my stream, but I’ve decided to start recording summaries totaling up a day or two of incidental runs.

While my overall mileage is down, I’m feeling better physically than I have in years–no aches and no complaints. Some of this comes from focused strengthening and improved form, but I suspect it’s simply from moving constantly and not overloading anything.

The only drawback I’ve noticed is is I’m less inclined to go out for a late run on days where I’ve already gotten in a few miles. This might make marathon training as much a discipline challenge as anything else.

Even though I only managed five deliberate runs in March, I still pulled in nearly 46 miles for the month. For the past two weeks, counting weekdays only, I ran 19 times for a total of 14 miles (0.75 miles per run). Here’s a table showing what all those runs looked like:


Distance (miles)


Pace (per mile)













































































2012 Manhattan Half Marathon

This was not the triumph I’d been hoping for.

9:07am, about 6 miles in, 23°F on the CNN clockI’d built this race up in my head quite a bit, convincing myself that this one would redeem last year’s injury hampered race. Despite those thoughts, I wasn’t able to train adequately. It likely wouldn’t have mattered anyway, temperatures dropped suddenly and my body never had a chance to adjust to running below-freezing yet. My left knee threw a cold-related tantrum near mile 8, tightening up and never letting go. The last few miles were something of a death march. These things happen sometimes, even with perfect training.

So why did I build this one up? After a fantastic running year in 2010, I went into 2011’s Manhattan Half with a mild foot ache and finished with a stress fracture. Probably two fractures, but the X-ray only showed one at the time. The spot where my foot gave out in 2011 has been haunting me ever since. Just past Cedar Hill behind the Met. 2012’s race was supposed to be when I confronted that demon and put it to rest.

The weather would have none of it. Saturday was the first snowstorm of the winter. Not a big storm, but cold, windy and with enough snow to mess things up a bit. Like the subway, but more on that later. NYRR switched the race to an unscored, non-competitive run; participants would get 9+1 credit whether we ran it or not. After the first lap one of the NYRR organizers was telling people to bag it at 7 miles. I didn’t. Again at 12 miles, an organizer said the last mile was too slippery and to stop early. I’d been fighting my stupid knee for too long to quit there, so again, I kept going. After two hours in a blizzard with a crap leg, this level of psychological torture was sort of existentially comical.

The race started out well, it was snowing, windy and 23° but everyone who braved the elements was in a great mood. This was my first snow run of the year, so my footwear situation was untested. This seemed like too long a run, and likely too wet, to try huaraches and socks in the snow for the first time. I ended up wearing a pair of wool Injinji socks and Soft Star DASH moccasins. The combination seemed fine, I had a similar cold knee issue a few weeks ago in huaraches, so I don’t blame the shoes.

Running in snow is hard work. At the finish I heard someone say it was like running on sand. I didn’t think it was that bad, but my heart rate was significantly elevated the whole time. Trouble sleeping the night before also didn’t help. Still, I didn’t “bonk” or run out of energy, and had my knee cooperated, I don’t think I would have.

Even after finishing with my worst Half Marathon time ever, the day just wouldn’t let up. Thanks to subway and bus troubles, I ended up finishing the morning with a 1.5 mile slog across 14th St. By the time I got home my feet were soaked, I was very cold and very tired.

But in the end, none of that mattered. It was an insane, amazing morning, and while not the triumph I was hoping for, it was a triumph nonetheless.

I’m looking forward to doing it again–and better–in 2013.

Postscript: Two days later I found myself running along the East River, no shirt, no shoes, and smiling in the sun. This has been a crazy winter.


Free Your Feet infographic

Free Your Feet. Since you were a baby, you've worn shoes. You might remember your first Nikes or Adidas too: a nice thick sole with padding up to the base of the ankle. In a few remote parts of the world, though, nobody ever wears shoes, and evidence shows that they're in much better shape because of it.


One quibble with their timeline: The human foot has remained essentially unchanged since the pre-human Australopithecines, nearly 4 million years ago. Judging from evolution, the design must work pretty well.

Created by X Ray Technician Schools, via Tuck, via The Discovery Channel, via America’s Podiatrist.



iPhone Heart Rate Monitors

For the past couple months I’ve been experimenting with MAF training, running at a targeted heart rate with the goal of improving my aerobic base. I’ve been using a simple heart rate monitor (HRM), but I always run with my iPhone and it would be nice to record my heart rate data alongside all the other information my phone collects.

All iPhone compatible HRM sensors work by attaching a dongle to the iPhone.

I’m only looking at Runalyzer and Wahoo because they both work with a wide range of apps. (Runalyzer compatible apps, Wahoo compatible apps) The other HRM options I found, Garmin’s and Digifit’s, only work with their own proprietary apps.

Wahoo uses the ANT+ wireless protocol (2.4 GHz) and requires an ANT+ compatible HRM strap. Runalyzer claims to work with all existing analog HRM straps (5.3 kHz). Runalyzer’s hardware dongle is slightly shorter and wider than Wahoo’s.

Unfortunately, RunKeeper, my preferred running app, doesn’t support anything except the Wahoo Key. But I tried iSmoothRun again and was very impressed with how it’s progressed since I last tried it–enough to switch.

So, I’ve decided to try the Runalyzer dongle with iSmoothRun since I can keep using my existing Omron HRM strap. It’ll be here in a few days.

NYC Barefoot Run Weekend 2011

Sunday was the second annual NYC Barefoot Run, and the cap on a very unique, very fun weekend. In spite of a forecast of potentially heavy rain, the weather was perfect.

I ran three loops, or as Chris H. said (a line I’m gleefully stealing) “I had three wonderful conversations.” I’m still nursing some old ankle injuries (shoe-related) and some of the laps were a lot faster than I’ve been comfortably running lately, otherwise I would have kept going. But I couldn’t have asked for better company.

My main takeaway of the weekend was how much the idea of barefooting has grown in the past two years. Sure we’re still out on the fringe, but it’s a rapidly exploding fringe which is transforming lives around the world.

I really enjoyed meeting and catching up with old and new friends, putting faces on names and being surrounded by hundreds of like-minded people whose radical diversity was unified by our hyper-capable genome. And toes.

Thank you to Maggie and John Durant and all the organizers and volunteers who put this together. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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