Double Dog Days Of Summer

Motivated by my 5k performance two weekends ago, I was excited to spend the next four weeks getting ready for the Fifth Avenue Mile.  Ever since last year when I came in fourth I have had this date circled on the calendar.  My finishing time wasn’t bad last year, but I came into the race without very much preparation due to my aching achilles and an overall sense of malaise caused by racing burnout.  What made the result toughest to swallow though was how I just let the leaders get away from me and never even got myself in the race.  I gave the race away before it even started, and that has bothered me for the past 11 months.  Even though I have taken a more casual approach to things this year, if I had one race I wanted to target it has always been Fifth Ave.  Now was the time to put up or shut up…

After a deep water pool workout with the team the Sunday after my 5k, I set out to have a great week.  Even though I was working Monday-Thursday nights from home (Harrisburg layovers), I was planning on getting in a bunch of both quality and quantity.  On Monday I finally got out to Ridge Road, a mountain trail road of the “rolling” sort I had heard a lot about but had never run.  I say “rolling”, because that was how it was sold to me by Brian Ober and Bill Bixler – in hindsight I would agree with them if they call 1 mile climbs and 250′ elevation changes in a half mile stretch ‘rolling’.  Either way, 9 miles of varsity terrain in a little over an hour made for a great long run.  Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I ended up running 5 x mile repeats with the girls at practice that night – with the warmup, a 15 mile “double” workout day.  A good start to “double week”…

Tuesday was an easy 5 mile recovery, the sore quads from the hills appreciated the break.  Wednesday was in the HydroWorx pool for my longest aqua-jaunt ever – 90 minutes.  Hopefully as my race schedule starts including the longer races this will become the norm.  I got back in the pool again on Thursday for an interval workout – repeated my standard workout of 3 sets of bounding Tabatas, then 8×60 seconds with minimal rest.  60 minutes total with warmup and cool down completed my first workout of the day.  That afternoon I bagged 5 more with the team as they recovered from their Wednesday workout.

Friday was both the best of times and the worst of times.  It started out as the culmination of an almost 50 mile week (all done while working the night shift), but ended up leaving me with huge questions about where I stand.  I knew ahead of time that he kids would be doing a threshold workout – lots of 8’s, 4’s, and 2’s at tempo (about 5k) pace.  We did this workout a couple of weeks ago and I really liked it, so even though it was being held at 8am due to the holiday I planned on making it.  I came straight to practice from the airport, skipping my usual 5 hour nap after flying all night.  I got warmed up and we all started banging out the intervals.  I felt great, and everyone worked together to hit all the times.  I think the entire workout was about 6500m, so with 6450 meters in the bag what could possibly go wrong?  About 20m from the finish of the last interval I felt the dreaded hamstring tweak – you have got to be kidding me!  I shut it down ASAP, iced it, wrapped it, and headed home.  What should have been a gigantic boost to my morale ended up being a huge bummer.  I’ve been down this road before – just when I was saying to myself that this was the first year I’ve been healthy going into Fifth Ave this happens.  2010 was my first hamstring pull, last year was the calf.  While this hamstring doesn’t feel as bad as 2010’s, it occurred much closer to the race date.  Great.

No time to cry over spilt milk though – time and tide and 5th Ave wait for no man.  Instead of just trying to do everything possible to get ready, now I am now going to have to try to show up as ready and as healthy as possible.  “Luckily” I have been down this road before, and have the HydroWorx pool at my disposal.  It seems like every year I am showing up in New York City almost exclusively aqua-trained, and this year may not be very different.  I am happy with where I was when I got hurt, so hopefully the work I have “in the bank” will be a great base to fine tune in the next handful of weeks.  2010 worked out in my favor, 2011 did not – I know it’s possible, I just need to play it smart and be ready to run hard come “game day”…

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About Nick Berra

I am a 45 year old masters runner from Central Pennsylvania. I have been participating primarily in track events since turning 40 in 2009. This season has produced marks that I have not run in several years, I believe primarily due to starting a strength and flexibility program here at Elite Athletic Performance - I've felt stronger and faster than I have in a long time. That, coupled with lots of underwater running, has kept me healthy and fit - at this age those are things I no longer take for granted... I run USATF events with a team out of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club. They are a great group who have played a big part in making the sport enjoyable for me again. I also run local races for HydroWorx Track Club, supported by HydroWorx here in Harrisburg PA. Their underwater treadmills and training center has proved to be a crucial part of my training, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. I set personal records in the 800m (1:56.06) in 2010 and in the 1500m (4:02:63) and mile (4:23.48) in 2011. Despite the fact that I am not getting any younger, I nearly PR'ed recently and set the M45 indoor world record in the 800 meters at the New Balance Armory in New York City. I ran 1:56.10, besting the 9 year old record by less than a second. I feel like there are still more big things to come... I am married and have two daughters. I am an assistant XC coach at my alma mater, Cumberland Valley High School here in Mechanicsburg PA. I am also a 1991 graduate of the US Naval Academy, currently working as a pilot for FedEx after serving 10 years on active duty flying in the Navy. Beat Army! Beat Army!
This entry was posted in 5k running, 5th Avenue Mile, Aquatic Fitness, Competitive Races, Cross Country Running, Hydrotherapy, HydroWorx Exercise Pool, Running, Training for Runs, Uncategorized, Water Running and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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