Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, I just got back from Philly on Monday and if you have been following me on social media, then you already know I had a pretty good weekend during the Philadelphia Half Marathon.

I know you are all dying to know the details and trust me, I'm working on it. I assure you the recap will be epic. Meanwhile, we all have turkey to eat, relatives to visit, eating binges to regret and leftovers to collect for later. More importantly, we all should take advantage of this time to spend time with our loved ones and be thankful.

The recap will go live on Monday so have a very happy Thanksgiving day and an even more awesome long holiday weekend.

Keep moving forward.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

And I'm Off!

What an adventure this has been...

Tomorrow, on my birthday of all days, I take a plane and travel to Philadelphia to run a Half Marathon. Injury, and training snafus have all conspired to make this particular training cycle the most challenging I have faced so far but hey, if everything simply came out perfect, would life be as entertaining?

Last Sunday, I did my last long run. A 10 miler where every step was misery thanks to the fact I was very sick. The congestion would not let me breathe and I felt like my face wanted to explode but I did it and was handsomely rewarded with a time that was below my expected time. This picked up my spirits for sure. If I could pull this off feeling terrible, there is a good chance I can run a decent Half right?

On Monday, I went to the doctor and explained my situation. He promptly prescribed a bag full of meds and a shot. Thankfully, I'm feeling a lot better. There is still some congestion and coughing but I'm trusting that if I keep taking all the stuff he gave me I'll be even better by race day.

I also received emails with final instructions and bib number. I'm in corral 7 which I would be very surprised if it wasn't the last one. I arrive in Philly pretty late on Friday (technically Saturday actually) then I pick up my bib on Saturday and race on Sunday morning. On Monday I'm back on a plane to Puerto Rico.

As usual, I will be reporting all my adventures through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and taking some pictures along the way to hopefully make my Flickr account a bit nicer. Also, you can track my progress during the race by going here and signing up to receive updates. You can look me up by first or last name (Frank Pizarro) or by bib number (33135) I have also set up runner tracking on my Twitter account so if you follow me there you will get the updates (I hope).

And that is it folks. Wish me luck, stay tuned to my social media channels and I'll see you all on the other side.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Training Update

Less than two weeks to go for the Philly Half. Where do I stand?

Well, not where I want to be, but that was kind of a given in this case. First, the not so good news:

1. The knee hurts. Every time: There is no way around it, really. After I run, it hurts. How much it hurts depends on the distance I run, which means that long runs are especially bad but it is what it is.

2. Goal A is pretty much out the window: Also a given I guess but it doesn't make it any less hard to swallow. At the current pace I'm managing to run at this point, I'm a minute behind per mile to go sub-3. I know that because of the wheather and because it's race day, I will run a bit faster that day but a whole minute faster? For an entire Half? I don't think so. If I manage to PR at all, it will be wonderful.

3. Avoiding everything that is not straight up running: Any other type of runnning is out right now. Hills, speed work, tempo... anything that is not keeping a constant pace is out in favor of protecting the knee. There is no need to agravate the knee any further but I miss the variety.

4. I'm way behind: Between the missed runs because of the pain and the time the doctor told me not to run at all, I'm way behind on my training schedule, which has been heavily modified.

And the good news...

1. The knee hurts, but not when I run: Which allows to me to run without major problems. It'll sting once or twice during a run but nothing too bad. I have found a manageble pace and form that pretty much lets me run as long as I want so I'm running and that is good.

2. I have adapted: It took a bit of time. You invariably have to make adjustments to your stride and form to protect the injured area, but when I run, it feels good. That wasn't always the case. The first few runs coming back from the doctor-imposed break were awkward and I was sore in places I had not been sore before but it's been relatively trouble free for a while now so everything seems to be falling into place.

Ironically, I seem, to be in the very same place emotionally I was last year before the Disney Marathon. Those who read this blog back then will remember I was freaking out a bit because of all the uncertainty and like any normal first time marathoner I was not sure about a lot of things. Well, its kind of like that.

Next Sunday will be my last long run. I plan to to do it using the Galloway Method at a 2:1 interval to see how that feels and test if I can improve my pace a little without any problems. After that, I will have a clearer picture of what my race day strategy will be.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Brooks Beast 2014 - A Review

Don't you just love it when you have a legitimate excuse to go shopping for something you want? With my recent pair of Junkies reaching the end of their running career and in the interest of protecting my knee from what's left of Half Marathon training as well as the actual Philadelphia Half Marathon, it was time to visit my local running store and grab a new pair of shoes.

This time though -with an important race in the horizon- I wasn't gonna pull any punches. Last time I got a pair of Brooks Addiction (The Junkies) as they are a bit cheaper. They work well but nothing comes close to my shoe of choice, the Brooks Beast. And what do you know, Brooks has redesigned the shoe for 2014 and since I have never really reviewed these before, what better time than now?

Here is the 2012 model compared to the new one:

Historically, Motion Control shoes has not been the most cutting edge category when it comes to aesthetics. To be honest, most look horrible, while the "coolest" ones can earn the designation of "boring" but Brooks has been working on that. The 2012 model was pretty decent and the improvements made to the new one are quite welcome. Gone are the glossier pieces, replaced by flat, textured fabrics. Think alcantara or suede. 

The bottom of the shoe is almost identical to the previous version and that's a good thing. There was no reason to change what really works and I can attest from experience this is one tough sole that will stand up to plenty of miles and abuse.

From the back, you can see that this shoe clearly caters to heavy pronators, with a very pronounced lean to the inside as compensation. Neutral shoe, this is not.

The fit is excellent in my case. Snug but with plenty of room in the toe box to stretch and move the little piggies. They do feel different around the foot compared to the previous version. Like they are lighter (even thought they aren't. They are, in fact  .1oz heavier) or like there is less shoe around your foot. But any concerns that might arise from that fact will quickly fade once you start running. Brooks claims even more cushioning than ever on this edition and putting them to the test seems to confirm this. Compared to the previous edition, they feel more nimble and agile. Compared to my current set of Junkies there is no contest. The Beast remains the Motion Control shoe to beat in my humble opinion. While it is pretty obvious to anyone who reads this blog regularly that I'm a Brooks nerd, I have tried other brands of shoes, especialy Motion Control shoes. However I keep coming back to the Beasties. For me, they just work and if you are a heavier runner looking for cushioning, and pronation support, this is the pair to get or at the very least, it should be on your short list.

By the way, I'm no way endorsed or affiliated with Brooks. I bought these puppies at my local running shop with my hard-earned (and not-so disposable) income. Though with all the shoes I have bought from them over the last two years, maybe they should. LOL