Friday, April 4, 2014

Palante!!! . . . but backwards

So, now that I'm starting to take this running thing seriously again I asked god, I mean Google, what I should be considering as I move forward.  Of course, I came across, several times, the most unheeded bit of advice; Don't get injured.  Google is wise.

I began to think about my previous injuries and remembered how shin splints was what hampered my training the most.  Searching for ways to strengthen my shins, since calves build up much faster, I came across this article on The Benefits of Running Backwards.  According to the article, the benefits of walking/running backwards are:
  • Training while injured
  • Improving muscular balance
  • Burning more calories
  • Improving leg speed and performance
  • Improve posture
  • Heightened senses
I'm gonna give it a try on the treadmill.  I'll start off walking since today is a rest day but who knows . . .
Maybe I'll start the race at the park and end it in Staten Island ;)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Running at Lunchtime

Monday, March 31, 2014


My TCS NYC Marathon Acceptance email
After three failed attempts since 2007, The New York Road Runners have finally let me run!  Now comes the fun part!  Getting from 4 to 26.2 in seven months!

Neither Nick nor Kara made it in with me.  This being Kara's first attempt and I believe Nick's third.

4th time's a charm Nick! 
We'll do it next year!
Well, its been a long time coming and I now need to get to that place once again.  Where I feel incomplete if I haven't run at least twenty miles in a week.  As of now I'm running 4.

Finally!!!  This blog will live up to its name :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Kiss Me, I'm Irish!!!

St. Patty's Day, one of my favorite holidays, is coming up and this year I'm celebrating it by running my first race in years, the Run to Get Lucky 5k.  This is my first milestone on the run up to 26.2 for this year's NYC Marathon and I can't wait!  My favorite girl, Kara, is joining me and afterwards we're heading on over to the green beerfest.  Most races give you a t-shirt for showing up, these guys give you a pint glass to take home but not before you fill it up with brew after the race.


This weekend I learned of Steve Prefontaine.  A student at the University of Oregon, an Olympian, holder of several US running records and the man for which the first Phil Knight running shoe was invented and hence the creation of Nike.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trying it again

Well, time to try it again. Haven't run a mile in years but I'm sure I could jog a couple with some LSD. For posterity, below is the map of the run I'm going to do as soon as I get my old sneakers laced up.

First run in years.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Nike NYC Half Marathon

I had been looking forward to this race for a long time. Since, I wasn't selected to compete in the NYC Marathon, this would be my premiere event of 2007. I had tried to get my mileage up from 9 miles to at least 12 miles before the race but after running hard a few weeks I lost the will. I actually stopped halfway through a couple of my runs and with a heavy head hopped on the bus home.

Though it had been a few weeks since I had run I was going to show up to the race anyway. I had paid for it I might as well go through with it. Worst case scenario I would walk part of it. As long as I was moving faster than a 14 min/mile I wouldn't get disqualified. Besides, it was an exciting course, much more than the ING Marathon in November.

Other than running, I did everything else I needed to do to run a marathon. I began carboloading several days before the race and drank lots and lots of water. It turns out that glycogen, the stored carbohydrates in your muscles, don't only store energy but also water. For every 1 gram of carbs stored there are 3 grams of water. This, I was sure, would come in useful on a hot and humid August day.

The course starts in Central Park near East 86th Street and loops the park counter-clockwise and then empties out onto 59th Street at the Seventh Avenue exit. It then courses down Times Square and turns west on 42nd Street where in continues all the way to the West Side Highway. Runners then follow the Hudson River four miles to the end of the race near Battery Park, the southern tip of Manhattan.

The race was scheduled to start at 7:00am yesterday morning but the racers had to be in their respective racing corrals by 6:15am. Because I live in Morris Park I couldn't count on NYC Transit, they always take my train line out of service on the weekends, so I decided I would take a cab to the race. I called the taxi company the night before to schedule a cab but they told me just to call ten minutes ahead the next day.

I woke up at 4:30am, called and scheduled a cab for 5:30, hopped in the shower, caught some news while stretching, drank more water and went through my checklist: Championchip, racing bib, Garmin, energy gels, heart rate monitor, extra water. My girlfriend and I went outside at 5:25 to wait for our cab; we waited for half an hour. It didn't show up until 5:55. Obviously, I was beginning to get a bit stressed. The penalty for not getting to your corral by 6:15 was starting the race at the end of the pack.

We made it to 90th Street with very few minutes to spare. I could hear the organizers announcing the closing of the corrals. I ran over to the baggage truck that pertained to my bib number and dropped off my messenger bag only to find out that I had I had forgotten a label that needed to be affixed to my bag. Fortunately, I had a few safety pins left over and made my own label with my number, name and cell #. I gave them my bag, kissed my girlfriend and ran off into the park.

When I entered I noticed that there was a long line to get into the corral and all the porta-potties seemed to be fenced off from the runners. It looked like if I had to go I would have to do it before I hopped on line. There was no way that I was going to line up before disposing of my excess water, I had already drank about two liters of water and Gatorade in just the last hour. I begged to use the porta-potty at the first aid station and then lined up.

When I found my starting area I just went over my strategy in my head. Start off slow, pace yourself, pick up the pace leaving the park and kick in the rest after mile nine. I sat, I stretched, I took my first of four energy gels and focused on getting this over within two and a half hours. That was my goal, 2:30.

We waited in anticipation for forty-five minutes, then the national anthem. First race I ever heard that being played. Then a few introductions and "Thank You"s could be heard over the loudspeakers and then it began. Because I was lined up in the six thousands, bib number 6461, it took a while after the start for my group to start moving. We were about four blocks from the starting line. We sat there and listened to some horrible song that was being pushed out of the speakers. A few minutes later we began walking towards the start. As the pace picked up to a jog our DJ played the theme to Rocky, perfect! I crossed the starting line, clicked my Garmin and did my thing.

I had read that I should run the first half slower that the second, so I decided before hand that I would run the first six miles at an 11 min/mile pace. That proved harder than expected. Every time I checked my Garmin I was doing a 9 min pace and I intentionally slowed myself down. Watching hundreds, then thousands of people pass me was very difficult but I reminded myself that if I stayed honest to my strategy I would meet them later, before the race was over. I kept my pace, except for downhills where I let gravity do the work, but I was still clocking in faster than I had planned. After the third mile I felt great but I knew that I had ten more miles to run. I had never run ten miles in my life. I knew I shouldn't get too cocky.

Near the fourth mile I began to hear the panting and near the fifth mile I started to see a few people walking. The crowd wasn't passing me as quickly as before and I was beginning to pass a few but I had to try to keep my pace slow, though the temptation to speed up was stronger than in any other race I've been in.

I reached mile six in a little under an hour

At the seventh mile, the course pours out into the city. We exited the park at 59th Street and 7th Avenue. The experience of running out from under the blanket of trees that is Central Park onto a cleared out NYC avenue with Times Square dead ahead, is nothing less than surreal. I'm sure every runner was awed, regardless of how long they may have lived here. We were greeted and accompanied the rest of the way with the cheers of thousands of onlookers. This was the perfect time to up my pace. With all the energy around me there was hardly a choice.

I ran down the center of the avenue as I ran towards Times Square. Almost as soon as I hit Seventh Avenue I spotted one of the ABC News crews embedded with a brass band. I looked for but couldn't find my girlfriend at our predetermined spot near the Jamba Juice site. As I approached 48th Street, I realized that the race was being televised on the jumbo screen on the NASDAQ building. That was very cool. Times Square was filled with cheering, music and runners. It was absolutely an amazing sight that not even the NYC Marathon could match.

Surprisingly, I found my girlfriend Kimberly amongst the crowd. I ran over, kissed her, exchanged a few words, then I was off. Considering that I felt as good as I did, halfway into the race, I knew spending a minute with her couldn't hurt.

After clearing Times Square we headed down to the river. The wonderful thing about the last leg was that it was all downhill. Now reaching the West Side Highway everything would be flat and sunny, hardly any shade for protection. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day for running and the breeze from the river was helpful at times.

I was surprised that after mile nine I was doing so well. I decided at this point to find someone with a quick pace and just follow them to the finish line. I noticed a very fit looking woman pass me and I decided I would tail her the rest of the way. Approaching mile 12 she started to wane so I pushed on realizing that my breathing was fairly stable and that I still had lots of energy left. I pushed my pace to an 8 min/mile.

As I neared the World Trade Center I realized that I was closing in on the two-hour mark and I was so close to the end. I started pumping my arms and kicking in to anaerobic mode. I wasn't planning on leaving anything on the course, especially if I could get in under two hours. I'm not sure if I looked silly or incredible to the spectators but I was passing everyone, really quickly. As I reached the underpass by the Merrill Lynch building on Vesey Street I started to feel the burning in my lungs. I knew that I had already passed the 2:00:00 mark but I just kept on pumping. I believe I sprinted at least half a mile at the end. I crossed the finish line to huge cheers.

After catching my breath I knew that I had much more energy to run with but unfortunately, the race was over. I know now, for next year, that I should not start the race off as slow as I did. My goal of 2:30 was a much slower time than necessary and next year I plan on finishing at a 1:40 max. Regardless, the NYC Half Marathon has been of the best experiences of my life. I can't wait for next year's race.

5K Time – 0:31:58
10K Time – 1:03:03
15K Time – 1:30:45
20K Time – 1:56:50
Finish Time – - 2:02:04

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No More Sulking

I'm done with my crying, time for a little update.

Obviously not getting into the marathon was a bit depressing. I took a break from training, started drinking, smoking, finished an eight-ball for solo, shot up a bit of heroin, you now, "took a break". That weekend me Kimmie and I hosted our housewarming party where I crushed everyone with the bad news. They all consoled me by getting me more heroin, except for my buddy Ralph and his wife CL who bought me a Garmin Forerunner 305 as a housewarming gift (more on that incredible piece of technology later).

Shortly after that I decided that I would focus on the lottery that I did win the, the Nike Half-Marathon. I strapped on my new Garmin and went running. Now, before I received the bad news I had upped my training pace from 9:30/mile to 8:00/mile. It was very exciting that I could run that quickly for distances over five miles. So, instead of pacing myself as I normally would I would just go and run as fast as I could, sometimes adding mileage to my run midway through. I lost discipline. I also stopped going to yoga and didn't increase my stretching before or after runs to compensate.

So, as you can guess where I'm going with this, on my second run with my new 305, as I approached mile 4 at Orchard Beach, I began to feel soreness in my calf and pain on my left shin. I had planned a return to trip for an 8 mile run but had to walk back half of the way home before I could catch a bus.

After a bit of self diagnosis, I came to the conclusion that I had shin splints. I had felt some discomfort before but after this happened I found myself limping while walking. The treatment for this condition is rest, stretching, massage and icing of inflamed areas. The tricky thing about shin splints is that your legs can feel just fine even during the first mile or two of a run until the stress on the muscles begin to tear them anew.

So, I have spent the last month resting and stretching. I have lost a lot of valuable training time for the half marathon which is on Sunday, August 5th. My max mileage before the injury was seven miles and I had a lot of work to do before I could run 13.1 miles. I decided this past weekend that I needed to shit or get off the pot. I would need to get to 10 miles within the next couple of weeks or just write the whole thing off.

I went up to me Kimmie's parents place this weekend. I committed to running 8 miles on Saturday and 9 miles on Sunday to see if my legs could handle it. They did and I'm back on track. Rested Monday, ran 6 miles Tuesday, resting today and running 8 tomorrow. If I can get to 10 miles by next week I believe I can safely do up to 11 miles before the race. I'm told that the competition and adrenaline will give you an extra couple of miles at race time. I hope that's the case and I hope its enough.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Getting Into the NYC Marathon

On Thursday I finally registered for the ING NYC Marathon. Now all I can do is wait to see if I get accepted. For most applicants entry to the marathon is decided by lottery, due to the vast amount of applications the organizers receive. The odds last year weren't too bad, 38,368 runners gained entry out of 90,000.

Guaranteed entry, without a lottery, can be gained in a couple of ways. First, one can run for an officially sanctioned charity. I originally thought I would take this path to the marathon only to find out that these charity programs carried minimum contribution amounts into the thousands of dollars, apparently not an AIDS walk. If the money isn't raised the runner is liable for it. I just figured training for my first marathon was enough pressure.

The second way to gain guaranteed entry is to run nine New York Road Runner qualifying races the previous year. Unfortunately, there is a caveat attached to those races; the applicant must be registered with NYRR by January for any of those races to count for the following year. I obviously hopped on the boat too late to take that track.

As you may have noticed from my earlier posts, I didn't sign up until February. That means that regardless of how many races I run this year, I will have to go through the lottery again next year. Though, now that I think of it I will have enough time and foresight, and hopefully enough fans, to use next year's marathon to make a meaningful contribution to a good cause.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Baby Steppin to the Big One

I have been accepted to run at the Nike NYC Half Marathon! Like the ING NYC Marathon, this race used a lottery system to determine who would be invited to run. Unlike the marathon, the odds were better than 50/50. I believe they chose 13,000 out of 17,000 entrants.

The race will begin in Central Park. After a one-a-round in the park it will go down Times Square and down the West Side Highway to Battery Park. I'm sure if there was a bridge, they would run us down to the Statue of Liberty.

I signed up for this race to keep myself on track. Knowing that I have to run 13.1 miles at the beginning of August will keep me on pace for 26.2 in November.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The AHA Wall Street Run & Heart Walk

Being a former stockbroker and analyst, this course took me through my old stomping grounds, and what a great day for stomping through them it was. The race started on Murray and West street. There were approximately 7,000 participants, it was the largest turnout I've seen at a race so far. The Merrill Lynchers, the main sponsors of the race, all donned black t-shirts marked with their race slogan, "Running With The Bulls", a reference to the investment firm's mascot.

The race was delayed about ten minutes. In the meantime, my brother-in-law Steve, his first race, and I went to meet my buddy Valentin, who was walking it because of an injury he sustained a week ago. We walked past the corrals and found him near the front of the crowd. I noticed that though runners were lined up according to their pace, volunteers were herding as many people to the front to fill in space, regardless of their speed. I knew that was going to piss quite a few people off later in the race because they would be running behind joggers and walkers. We were lined up incorrectly ourselves, apparent by the fact that we were very near the front at the start of the race while planning on running a 10 min/mi.

The race started at about 6:45 in the evening. The weather and temperature were ideal, sunny and in the low seventies. The course was exhilarating. The spectators – not very happy that a herd of people were blocking their path home after a day of work. From the start, one felt the energy race had. If one looked around it looked like a Nike commercial. Seeing so many people running through these narrow colonial streets, dense crowds swarming through our financial district was absolutely surreal. You could tell that there were quite a few beginners by their initial burst of speed, the kind that punished them later in the race as they walked the rest of the course but that was to be expected since many of the sponsor firms asked their employees to participate.

The course started on the corner of Murray Street and West Street (the West Side Highway) and weaved through the lower Manhattan. It took us down Church, past Moody's Investor Serviecs and the World Trace Center where we cut a left on Liberty and zigzagged through Pine, Wall, Broad, Pearl and Water Streets on our way to Battery Park.

A moment that I'm sure most participants will never forget was when we made our u-turn from Pearl to Water street. Running north on Pearl the course made a right on Fletcher, a street so narrow that it was completely enveloped in its buildings' shadows. As we made the turn the first thing we noticed was the extreme change in illumination. Then you notice how narrow it is and consider how everyone is going to fit. Then to compound the space issue, the water station tables were set up right there making the one-block stretch even narrower. And finally, due to the water stations, the street was flooded. As my eyes adjusted, and I stomped through puddles of discarded water I turned around and took a good look, it was cinematic. At the next corner we would turn south on Water Street, one of lower Manhattan's widest streets.

The last leg was along the river in Battery Park City and fairly congested. Finally we had some cheering from spectators. I dipped between park benches down the promenade to the finish line. Steve and I crossed the finish line simultaneously, at 29:17, a 9:45 pace. Definitely not a PR setter but it was a leisurely run, focused more on the sights and the experience than time. Not next year though. I can't wait until next year's race.

Friday, May 18, 2007

On Not Taking the Bus

Yesterday I had to escort my little sister to school (don't ask). So, instead of hopping on the bus to Fordham Road and then to Marble Hill, I ran it. It took 37:18 to run 3.92 miles. When I consider the wait for the bus, transfers and traffic it takes much less time running.

Running up Fordham Road can be very exhilarating. Apart from its steep hills and the thousands of people that shop in its hundreds of stores, the traffic can be intense. Since I don't run on concrete, I run on the streets, against traffic. Weaving in and out of bus lanes and making sure that I'm noticed by drivers will force me to keep my eyes focused way ahead of me, which seems to intensify my concentration.

After I dropped her off I found myself, habitually, trying to figure out what would be the best bus route to take back home. I'm standing on a sunny Mosholu Parkway, one of the prettiest esplanades in the Bronx, and I'm taking a bus? No way.

I ran down the parkway, on its great running path enjoying the greenery and the wonderful scents of spring, only to come to its end and continue my run along the New York Botanical Garden. Anyone can tell from outside the garden that its flowers are in full bloom inside by just inhaling the aroma that surrounds it. At the end of my mile+ garden stretch I reach my stomping grounds, Pelham Parkway, which is no chopped liver with respect to routes to run in all of New York City.

It took me 28:30 to run those lovely 3.1 miles to my place. It was well worth it. From now I will think twice about getting on a bus, especially if I'm going to mommies, who will always love me, even when I'm stinky.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pelham Parkway in Spring

Lovely morning. I ran with my sweatshirt in spite of the fact that it was sunny and warm. First time that I run Pelham in true spring weather. Much different than usual. The air is sweeter and the trees provide better shade from the rays.

I ran to White Plains Road twice and then took off to Stillman. My splits were 9:50, 9:25, 8:27, 9:51, 3:12 (8:25/mi)


Two big registration deadlines are coming up.

1) The NYC Nike Half-Marathon which closes today.

2) The ING New York City Marathon 2007 on June 1st at 11:59pm.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Shame, Shame, Shame

I've been a bad boy. I haven't run since the Scotland Run 10k at the beginning of April. I caught a cold afterwards and became really congested. Since then I have run only three times, including yesterday, and each run has been four miles or less.

Because of my newfound laziness I have noticed several side effects of not running. I stopped hydrating, stopped taking my vitamins and protein bars and have became quite lethargic. Worse of all I started smoking again, and I don't mean the good stuff.

Loser, loser, loser!

I've kept from blogging mainly because of my disappointment with myself. I went from running eight miles to running none.

I was concerned that I undid my training but yesterday I was reinspired by my buddy Nick who fell off earlier this year but is now back on track. I ran a little over a 5K yesterday at a 9:00 mile. I'm getting back on the horse. I'm going to run every night for the rest of the week.

I have to get back on track.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

My New Buddy

Last week was horrible. After running 18 miles, including my first 8K, I sat on my ass for almost the whole next week. Laziness overtook me. I couldn't get out of the house to do a serious run if it meant my life. Once! Once, I went out, on a Thursday, solely out of guilt. Scheduled to run 5 miles, halfway through the run I decided 3 was enough. I was so disgusted with myself after that. Marathon, yeah right. I was worthless, I could never run a marathon.

Last Saturday, for my anniversary, me Kimmie gives me this overglorified stopwatch as a present, the Forerunner 101. I had seen it before and thought I would get it for the big run, so my thoughtful girlfriend went out and beat me to it. I didn't care for it too much. I thought it would be more of a distraction, with all its bells and whistles, than anything else. I was curious to see how the GPS worked so I took it out on Tuesday.

I scheduled a 6 mile run, plotted it on the USATF route mapper and took off with my new toy. I had to run 6 miles at least once before the Scotland 10K on Sunday. I had yet to run that distance. I was to start on Williamsbridge and run down Pelham Parkway to the loop right before the City Island bridge and back. The purpose of pre-plotting my routes is to know where the mile markers are so that I can figure out my splits and pace. Well, with my new budd that was unnecessary. With its eyes in the sky it kept constant track of my distance, pace and average pace. It beeped at every mile marker and tracked my route on a little map.

By the time I reached the halfway point at the loop I realized that I no longer had to keep to pre-planned course. I noticed a trail and took it, knowing my buddy would keep track of all my vital stats for me. When I came out of the trail I realized I was at Orchard Beach. It was 70 degrees, a perfect day for a run on the beach. So, I ran down the boardwalk for a bit, then turned onto the beach and ran by the water to the end. By the way, running on sand sucks! Better to watch it on film. I ran a bit more to the beach entrance and began my run back home. Throughout the whole thing I had this image in my head of some mantra I had seen earlier on a t-shirt or bumper sticker: "There is no finish line".

All told I ran 7.6 miles. Way more than my personal best of five. Since, then I ran to Mosholu Golf Course and back and am on pace to run 23.5 miles this week. The freedom my Forerunner has given me is great. I can just take off and run without having to worry about the accounting. There are newer versions that monitor your heart rate and allow you to download data from Google Maps, but I don't need any of that stuff. I love my new buddy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

NYRR8000: Correction

According to the NYRR 8000 Fun Run 4M Pics page, the turnout to the race was about eight-hundred not one or two-hundred. For much better race images The NYC Running Blog.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Winter Wonderland

The NYRR 8000 was held this morning despite the snowy conditions. The race started half an hour late which was great because neither the 5 nor the 2 train wanted to run down the West Side this morning. I had to get off at 86th street and Lexington and hop in a cab to cross the other park where the race was being held. I got there with eight minutes left to spare, just enough time to get pins for my bib and a porta-potty stop.

As I reached the starting area I was surprised that there were only about a hundred people, two hundred max. Most runners bailed assuming the weather would be as bad as yesterday's sleet swarmed day. They were dead wrong. No precipitation or wind, lovely day for running.

I reached the starting line a couple of minutes before the start. While we waited for the start I met Mark, a runner from Seattle whose train back home was canceled. Cool guy, he woke up this morning, went online and found the race and decided to join. He asked me what my pace was and and if I wanted company. I said sure but I was concerned that he would throw me off my race or would want to talk the whole way, sure enough, that is exactly what happened.

Having Mark around was great. He helped me keep my planned 9:30 pace through the first two miles which I may not have done considering those hills and the chatting was very helpful.
The five miles went by very quickly. It turns out he was planning on proposing to his fiancé tonight at Niagara Falls but his train was postponed. As we ran I pointed out a few of the more romantic spots in the park; The Boathouse, Woldman Rink, etc. I promised him a more extensive list but I lost him after the race.

Overall, the running was great. We had fair traction considering we were running on snow. I missed the first mile marker so I didn't get that split but my split at the second marker was 18:29. The next three splits were 9:40, 8:50 and 8:47 for a finishing time of 45:48. The race wasn't scored and the ChampionChips weren't used so the times are off the gun but I think I could shave at least ten seconds since I didn't actually start at the starting line. Considering the poor turnout, snowy trails and lack of official time keeping the event was very enjoyable. It was a great morning in Central Park.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Great Week . . . so far

Well, I've bounced back from last week quite well. I ran five miles on Tuesday for the first time, kind of. My bud Nick and I ran Pelham Parkway up to Stillwell and then out to the DMV on Fordham where he had some errand to take care of. That bit was 3.5 mi. and then I ran 1.5 mi. back home alone. The only problem with that run is that on my way back I began to feel the pull of the tractor beam emanating from the Golden Arches on Southern Boulevard and Fordham Road. So, after my Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit/Hash Brown pit stop at McDonald's I finished my run. I was surprised that I didn't cramp or feel any adverse effects to running right after consuming chicken embryos and swine. I guess that half an hour rule only apples to swimming.

That night I did a bit of hot yoga with me Kimmie in Astoria. I'm sure they had the room up to 110 degrees for that class. I did much better than last time and was able to hit quite few poses pretty well but towards the end I lost control of my breathing and felt a bit light headed. The yoga, especially hot yoga is a great way to keep loose for running. It also provides great new ways of stretching at home.

Yesterday, I ran 5.3 miles on Pelham Parkway in preparation for tomorrow's NYRR 8K in Central Park. I finished it in 49:34 for a 9:22 min/mi. I'm very excited about yesterday's run. Five miles is my first marker, ten miles is my next. Every week I'm adding a mile and I'm beginning to see the results of training.

Tomorrow's race is at 7:30am, the earliest I've ever run, and the forecast is calling for snow and freezing rain. I haven't run in those conditions yet and wonder how I will fair. I am looking forward to the challenge, I'm sure it will be fun. Its also my first run in Central Park.

Yesterday, me Kimmie picked up my number and chip for me, she kept the souvenir shirt, of course. I'm ready to go, I just have to make sure I get to bed early tonight which I never do. I'll report after the race.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bad Week

Last week was very disappointing. I didn't get much running in due to my back. I only ran five miles on Thursday (1.5mi in the morning and 3.5mi at night) and three and a half miles Sunday morning. It was a huge drop in mileage from the week before.

I missed the online registration for Sunday's race and figured that it just wasn't meant to be. I didn't have much training for the race anyway. I decided I would be better off just getting rest than to try to force the issue.

This week will be much better, I'm sure of it. I plan on running with Nick tomorrow, probably four miles. The weather is going to get into the seventies, I hear. And I'm focused on doing the 8K this Saturday in Central Park. That will be a fun day. I'll run the race, go straight to class, and then spend the rest of the day drinking green beer! Sunday will have to be a day of rest. This week will definitely be a good week!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Injury #1 – Pinched Nerve

A few days ago, my colleagues and I were playing with the kids we work with in the school gym. One of them wanted to race from one end of the gym to the other. Why I thought it was a good idea to race these early twenty-somethings is beyond me. I'm no Carl Lewis.

Right at takeoff I felt a little snap in the middle of my back. No biggie, I walked it off. The next day it was a little worse. Some sharp pains throughout the day but nothing to worry about. The day after the pain was gone. Race day comes around and I was feeling great.

Sunday night, after Coogan's, it started again. The next morning I woke up with back spasms. I had planned do some Hot Yoga that evening, after work, so I just figured that I could just stretch my back out there and work out the kinks. By the time work was over, the pains were unbearable. Deep inhalations were sending my back into convulsions. I met my sister and me Kimmie at the Yoga studio but I had to punk out.

Yesterday was worse. Not just because every sudden stop on the subway seized the whole left side of my torso, but because unlike Monday, I couldn't just chalk it up as a rest day. I was going to miss the official start of my training schedule that day. I needed to run, but couldn't. Very frustrating. The funny thing is that only after a couple of weeks of doing this I get really disappointed when I can't run or when I have to take a rest day.

Not a big deal, I've had to miss a day of running so far. According to my marathon ticker I still have seven months and twenty-seven days left. But I've learned that until November I really need to consider the consequences of all my extra-marathon activities. I was planning on doing a bit more snowboarding before the snow melted. I think I'll pass on the slopes until December. All I hear from those that have run marathons is that the biggest obstacles to completing a marathon are the injuries that you get on the way.

Hopefully, by the end of today I'll be able to get at least three miles in. I would like to run New York Colon Cancer Challenge 4M this Sunday. To do so, I'll have to get up to five miles by Friday, since I'll be forced to rest Saturday.

All in all – Big lesson, small price;)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Follow Me To Coogan's

Girlfriend Kimberly woke up and made me waffles for my big race, while I showered and put on my jogging uniform. We took off to Washington Heights at about 7:30am for the 9:00am race. I was to meet my buddy Nick near the starting line at 168th street and Fort Washington Avenue but realized when I was halfway there that I forget my phone at home. Probably because I was so preoccupied in making sure that I didn't leave my race bib or ChampionChip behind.

When I reached the starting area I was relieved that there where banners that marked the different starting points for the different paces. At first I thought I would join the 9 min/mile pack but a few minutes before the race remembered that one of my students advised me to stay near the end at the start, so I joined the 11 min/milers.

When the race starts everyone started by walking to starting line, then the pace picked up to a very slow jog. By the time we reached the starting line I noticed that everyone was picking up a much faster pace than I expected. At first I was suckered into following their pace but then remembered another student's (Boyd Brown, look up his NYRRC accomplishments) advice, LSD: Long Slow Distance. So I backed off a bit and let them pass me.

Just before we hit the first mile marker I could begin to hear a chorus of huffing and panting ahead of me. At that point I knew that I was running the race I needed to. Soon after I began to see some of those that passed me slowing down or just walking. I hit the first mile marker at 9:33. Exactly the pace I wanted to run the whole race.

At one point over the second hill, I looked out ahead to all the runners below me and all those running up the next incline. I could see for about fifteen blocks. The street was swarmed with runners. I looked around me and felt like I was part of a herd, a stampede of humans. I noticed how together, we all had the same rhythm, like gazelles, just not as fast. It was an interesting sensation. Then I realized I better start passing people on this downhill while I could still use gravity to my benefit.

Shortly after the first mile marker we began to see the leaders doubling back on their way to the finish line. These gals and guys were incredible. They were speeding past us as we all cheered them on amazed by their ability. They would be finished with the race before most of us reached the halfway point.

We reached Fort Tryon and the lane began to narrow. It was harder to run since the crowd became compacted. Some guy was weaving through the crowd on a downhill and I followed him for as long as I could without becoming a nuisance to others. After passing the midway point I decided to slow it down since we were going up a hill. I ran behind some guy wearing the race t-shirt. I started to get a bit tired so I kept reading his shirt, "Follow me to Coogan's, Follow me to Coogan's" Coogan's bar on Broadway is the sponsor of the race. great advertising! I ran my second mile in 9:07, faster than my first and much faster than I thought I was going.

People were beginning to drop off in the last leg. You could tell some where hurting but kept going. The spectators were great and very supportive. The runners also helped each other out. It was infectious. "Only ten blocks left! Only eight blocks left!"

As I approached the third mile I was surprised that I had so much energy left, I guess the pasta the night before thing really does work. So, I decided to sprint the last five blocks. I didn't want to end the race with anything left. My final split was 8:21 and my official time was 27:36 an 8:54 mile pace.

I never thought running could be so much fun! Coogan's Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K was a great race and I can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My First Road Runner Race

Yesterday, I signed up for the Coogan's Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k. I'm told it is lots o'fun. It starts off in Washington Heights near the armory, a.k.a. the New Balance track where I used to run indoor track as a kid, and goes up Fort Tryon Avenue up to Fort Tryon Park. I'm told that the course is lined with dozens of bands playing blues, salsa and Irish music.

It is an official NYRRC qualifying run for guaranteed entry into next year's marathon but since I didn't join the club in January, it doesn't count for me. Thanks to Danny F. again for the inspiration. I wouldn't have known about this race or even considered it if it wasn't for his comment. Unfortunately, I didn't take him up on the challenge early enough to get the early bird special but now that I know, I'm going to start looking ahead in the calendar for other races to register for.

Wish me luck, I think its all uphill.

Ready to Train

The first of two training schedules that I would like to follow requires that I start running at least four miles/run. So for the past week I have been trying to get my mileage up from zero to four so that I could start my training schedule the first week of March. Well I'm happy to report that I am now ready to train.

This morning I broke the four mile barrier and I must say it went down pretty easily. I don't want to get to cocky but I am beginning to believe that this marathon is really doable. I found a nice route in my neighborhood using USATF's Route Mapper and had a wonderful run.

Since I'm not starting my schedule until Monday I think I'll run the same route a few more times to pick up my pace. My splits today were: 10:21.5, 10:26.0, 11:51.5, 09:41.6. The whole run was at an average pace of 10:35/mile. I'm getting really excited!

Friday, February 23, 2007

So far So Good

So, after a succesful and invigorating two mile run on Wednesday morning, I decided to take Thursday off. I had gone from dropping dead on Monday to loving running on Wednesday, so I figured the damage was done. I took off this morning on a new route, a three mile route. No prob.

My time was slower than usual but I never ran out of breath. I intentionally kept my pace slow, but since it was a new route and I didn't know where my first mile marker was I think I messed up. No worries, the point is that I made a 3 mile run with a 10:30 pace. I wanted to get it up there by today since I promised my brother-in-law Steve that we would run Forest Park tomorrow and I would hate to have to slow him down. I'm very excited about my first week. I think I'll sign up for a 5k race soon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Running Music

I've been wondering about the challenge of creating an i-pod playlist for the marathon that would be there when I need it. At that moment when I need to place my mind elsewhere, what would I play? Maybe a good audiobook? When I have to overcome pain, obviously something inspirational? I don't think the Chariots of Fire theme will work for me though. How about when I need that final kick. What will be the perfect track for my perfect finish? After all, I plan on having a lot of people waiting at the finish line, I can't allow myself to just hobble in. Eye of the Tiger, B-52s, or something from The Cults' Love album? Well, I come across a pretty cool post of running music. Keep in mind that the list certainly doubles as a list of workout music as well.

The author posted his favorites, which reminded me that I definitely need to download some Rage Against the Machine, but the cool part is that the post has 50 comments with others offering their fav five, or more, on their ipods.

Check it out at:
The Derek Rose Blog

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pre-Training Assessment

Well, I started running on Monday. From here on out its nothing but running and hydrating until November. I ran two miles on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday I ran my first mile in 6:44 and my second mile in 8:54. I was very dissapointed in myself because I ran out of breath after the first mile and had to take a break for a minute in between. Worst yet I cramped up on my way back and had to walk parts of the second half. In total I ran 2 miles in 16:48 mins and hurting.

I told my buddy Nick about it and he was fairly supportive. He made me realize that I shouldn't be doing any mile under 8 mins on my first run. So yesterday I ran the same route at a deliberately slow pace. I ran the first leg at 8:50 mins and the second at 8:39 mins. I took a 26 sec. break to take my pulse but I didn't really need it, maybe tomorrow I'll take it while I'm running. Near the end I felt so good I sprinted the last three blocks. My heart rate hardly went up.

I feel a little better now than I did after Tuesday's run. Now I just have to get into shape to start a training schedule. I've looked up a few online and realize that most of them start with 4 mile days. So that's where I need to be by the beginning of March. If I can do two miles on my second day without collapsing I think I can get it up to 4 miles within a week. From there is when it gets hard.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ralphie's a Road Runner

I have finally joined the prestigous, world famous New York Road Runners. I first wanted to join decades ago, when I found out that my track coach in highschool belonged to the organization. But since then, I stopped taking running seriously. Well, that has obviously changed and I am going to need all the help I can get.

I am looking forward to getting the most I can out of my membership and am excited about the prospects of racing competitively as a Road Runner. Their Online Interactive Trainer seems like a great resource and I hope it helps me yield results. The truth is that just being part of the crew makes me feel as if I've taken another step closer to the finish line.

Now I just have to get running.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Danny's Marathon

I just read a great account of the marathon from a runner's point of view. It's weird that what I find most appealing about this race is how difficult and excruciating it is. The more I read about it the more excited I get.

Huge thanks to Danny for his blog Training For My First Next Marathon

I'm Finally Doing It!

For over a decade I have wanted to run the NYC Marathon. Every November I would be inspired to do so when I saw all the runners lining up at the start. Watching them finish is an even greater inspiration. After the race I promise myself I would train for the next year so that I could be part of that crowd of champions. Those incredible people that perservere through all types of obstacles; heat, wind, rain, pain, dehydration, weakness, suffering, doubt - to overcome all adversity and cross that line. Then, I forget. Next November comes around, I slap my palm on my forehead and start the cycle all over again.

Well this year my ADHD won't be getting the better of me. This year I have been reminded of this quest with ample time left to train. My colleague and temporary roomate Nick shared his intent with me a couple of nights ago to run the marathon this year. I paused for a while and thought 'jeez, I have more than enough time to train.' That was Feb. 13th. Yesterday, during Valentine Day dinner I told my lovely baby and gained her support. I know my family is always behind me and I beleive that The New York Road Runners Club can take me the rest of the way.

All of that, of course, relies on my ability to stay focused throughout the year. Focus is a skill that I forget often. But, I know that to finish this race it is the main attribute necessary. I know that to get to the race, it is the only thing. So, I'm posting my journey for all to see. Making this public record so that I can't lose focus. Not just so that I can reread my thoughts like a journal but to set my intetions off and running ahead of me on their own marathon. That way I can follow them to help me keep my pace.

Anyone that reads this, please feel free to comment. All comments are welcomed because at least I know my posts are being read. Wish me luck.