Bridge work – NYC Marathon Training

Posted: August 25, 2011 in Training
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One of the things that I find so interesting about the marathon is that even though the race is “the same” from a distance perspective, each marathon is anything but.

They all have their own set of challenges to overcome not only during the 26.2 mile test from start to finish, but during the training and preparation that leads up to the event.

Whether it is training through an injury, overcoming poor weather conditions, multiple long runs in the heat or the freezing cold. Rainy training days, high winds or even preparing for a race course that is very different than anything you can simulate in your home town.

Preparing for the Boston Marathon in Austin, TX is a bit more challenging than it would be if I lived in Brookline or Chestnut Hill, MA. That is just part of the deal, and what makes the marathon such a unique event. Especially if you are racing at one of the majors that involve a trip to another city.

With NYC approaching in now just a little over 10 weeks, I have started to focus some of my key workouts each week, specific to he challenges that the NYC Course will present.

The marathon course in NY while not flat like say Houston or Chicago, is much “flatter” than Austin or Boston. But the NYC Course does feature some climbing – late in the race through Central Park over the final 10 kilometers as well as the various bridges that the course covers while visiting the five boroughs along the route.

This week my travels took me to Charleston, SC where the topography is nothing like NYC or Austin for that matter. But Charleston does have one thing that Austin does not to help me for prepare for NYC and that is a large bridge.

And I mean a LARGE Bridge.

Wednesday morning’s 10 mile run at marathon pace took me through basically the entire historic district including a loop through the Citadel campus. I passed by the church yard where I had my first kiss with Dawn, the Exchange Building where we had our wedding reception in 1999, the bed and breakfast where we spent our wedding night, the High Batter and Rainbow Row. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane, and a great 10-mile pace workout on a very hot and humid morning.

Thursday however was time to take on the Cooper River Bridge for a up-tempo 8-miler. My goal was to traverse the long spanning Bridge from downtown Charleston over to Mount Pleasant and back keeping my pace even and steady, pushing hard on the inclines and easing off the gas to recover on the downstroke.

Basically practicing what I hope to do in NYC crossing the Verazzano, Queensboro and Manhattan Bridges – staying smooth and even with my mile splits as we cross river after river.

Crossing over the Cooper River this morning before sunup was wonderful, save the 94% humidity that greeted me as I started my 8-miler.

I was able to hang tough during the climbs and posted mile splits of:

7:19, 7:14, 7:17, 7:22, 7:17, 7:15, 7:15 and a final mile at 7:00 flat.

People often ask me if it is tough to train while I am on the road. The fact of the matter is that aside from packing a couple extra pairs of running shoes with me, my water belt and some extra socks and shorts, it really isn’t.

In fact, I try to make the most of it and incorporate any local “advantages” that I can into my workout, specific to my upcoming race.

Whether it is running at elevation out in Denver, which I will be doing at the Rock and Roll half Marathon just 4 weeks before NYC, or getting in some bridge work out in the Carolinas, you can always find a way to push a little harder and prepare just a little bit better than you could if you were just staying home or even worse, cautiously heading to the hotel gym and running on the treadmill.

There is a big world out there for the distance runner to explore. Take advantage of it. There is always another hill to crest right around the corner if you look hard enough for it.

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