Thursday, July 22, 2004

A race and a rock concert. And I feel free....

(Look at me! Look at how fat I was! And I was already down to 170. You can see it in my face!!)

In a God-awful steampit of 88 degrees and 71 percent humidity, I placed my abilities (or lack thereof) to the test, in my 4th race of the year.

The Nike Run Hit Wonder was in it's first year. The concept? Have a very highly commercialized run, that would consist of having first-rate bands from the 80's that had massive appeal, and actually had more than 1 hit too.

These bands which included A Flock Of Seagulls, Dramarama, Kajagoogoo, General Public, Tommy Tutone and Tone Loc all played along the course. The course was Central Park but interestingly enough it started on the upper west side . We entered in through Central Park West & 110th street, and would head south for one entire loop (on the 10K course) around the park. Afterwards, we'd exit the park and cross a few blocks with a finish line at Morningside Park. Inside was a very large bandshell where Devo wrapped up the evening's highlights.

"Big Pussy" from "The Sopranos" was on hand to start the race, and later on to introduce Tone-Loc and Devo onto the stage.

This race played more like a rock concert than it did a race. There was a lot of local hype around here, plus they limited the amount of entrants to about 5 or 6,000 runners. The environment was electric. It was definitely more than the fact that I had moved out and was a single man again too. This race was something special and different. I felt free. And it felt great.

I had found out about this race from my friend Paul Serraino. He along with some of the other co-workers at Avon, like Stu Berlowitz, and some lady (I forgot her name now), were also running. I actually met up with them by the starting line. I don't know how I found them either because another unique feature of this race was that everyone had to wear the running shirt that Nike gave them because the shirt had the running number right on it. The technical shirts they gave us were of great quality too. 3+ years later, and I still have mine.

The weather was incredibly brutal. The crowd of people on the course made it even more stifling. To our pleasant surprise there were a couple of water spritzers along the course, but it was still too hot. The best part of the race was finishing and heading inside Morningside Park, where they gave out endless supplies of food and water. All of us walking down the hill to the meadow was an awesome sea of blue. It felt as if I was part of some kind of massive cult congregating. Well, at least I wasn't wearing purple nikes.

Tone-Loc nearly brought the house down with Funky Cold Medina, but Devo really stole the show. I had called my friend, Doug Botero and let him hear a few notes. He mentioned that he was unable to hear any of it. But then again, he never was much into them anyway. too. The worst part might have been just before the end of the race. Someone must have forgotten to tell the race directors to have the cops coordinate the traffic passing between Morningside & Central Park. It was like playing chicken, and none of the cars in that area were too thrilled about stopping either!

I never was a hot-weathered runner, and the results proved as such. My net time of 1:00:23, meant that I lumbered in with a 9:44 per mile pace. Overall, I placed 3408th place out of 4865, gender-wise I placed 1857/2288, and in my 30-39 age category I lagged in at 877/1064.

Wow, that was really bad. Well at least it was a qualifier for the 2005 New York City Marathon. Another step in the right direction.

They also gave us nice medals too. After the concert had ended, I left with Paul, Stu and DAMN.......What was that woman's name again??? We drove in one car down close to near where the train station was. And from there it was off to my appalling, if temporary, surroundings of the McGrath basement again.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Run. Swim. Paint.

Despite all my jogging at the newly created gym at Avon, no one, even Suzanne my manager at Avon, knew much as to what was REALLY going on. I wasn't just running to relieve the stress that I was undergoing because of my divorce, or because of my current living conditions. No. It was more. I was training. Training to be in the best shape of my life for next year's Marathon. At that point, the Marathon was the only bright light in what was a very dark tunnel for me.

Almost every day, during lunch no less, I'd go into the Avon gym and start running on the treadmill. Sometimes Suzanne (my boss) would show up. Other times it was Franklin (although he was embarrased by his first name - so per his request, we'd call him Jay). The more I ran there, the more other people from my group would show up too. I thought I was starting a trend....Little did I know. Anyway, I would finish up with me coming back to my desk after taking a lukewarm shower at the one and only shower-stalled bathroom at the far end of the long Avon corridor.

A lot of things had changed in my life since my last race. For one, the separation from my second wife has taken hold. I had been living now in the basement of Dorothy's apartment for nearly 2 months now. The divorce process was becoming more and more painful, thanks especially to a really lousy attorney. I was also stuck with the Honda Odyssey, a much bigger van. And I am also seeing someone else. Her name is Ileana.

This van was used for more than just driving too. Dorothy, Treacy's mother, and my landlord, would not allow me to have my children stay with me. Even if it was only for a few hours. So, whenever I had the children with me, I would have to fold down the second row of chairs, and pull out and leave the third row in the basement. With the extra space, I could now have my children in the back of the van. We would play games like Chutes N Ladders, and Candy Land, or I would eat lunch with them there. Again, the pain of the divorce was bad, but I was obviously going through a lot of pain at Dorothy's basement too. For someone who supposedly did me a favor, or as Gerry had ridiculously put "saved my life", living in that basement was the most dehumanizing experience I ever was put through.

Every weekend I was forced to live up to the role of a Mexican Janitor and/or Slave Boy, by doing everything she asked me to do. But considering the amount of money that I was (and still am) shelling out for child support, it's no wonder why it was that I had put up with it. I suppose this was the thanks I got for not having to pay a rent. By the time I was kicked out into the street, along with the friendship, which they completely torched, I had grown an even thicker skin.

Saturday, July 17th would be no different either. I had plenty of things to do for Dorothy, such as painting the wrought iron bars for all 10 of her exterior windows in white. But by now, I guess I was growing more and more resistive to the idea of enduring being a slave for her anymore. And as such, I was not going to pass up on the opportunity to do my 3rd race of the year.

With the brightness of the day serving as an example of my possible future as a runner ahead of me, I drove my Honda Odyssey van on this sunny day to the upper east side of Central Park. The drive was not as quick as I had imagined though. There was plenty of traffic on the 59th Street bridge. Nevertheless, I found a parking spot right away (miracle) and actually had a few minutes to burn. Literally!

The race started up near 96th Street in the east side of Central Park. It was a quick down hill that spiralled to the right, followed by a full counter-clock wise loop around the shorter loop of the park, with a finish near the Lasker Park swimming pool, also found in the park.

I have to say that my race performance was a little worse than I had expected. Apparently, I did not do so well because of the heat outside.

Net Time: 45:01.....Pace: 9:00.....Overall:998/2371...Gender:721/1260....Age:304/520

But I had a great time in the pool outside. Another race, another notch in the belt, as they say, and again, this great feeling of freedom.

After my race, I would call a few of my friends, including Ileana, to let everyone know how I did.

But for now, it was back to the dungeon. This time it was to clean the gutters in and around the basement windows....