Friday, May 25, 2007

Weather: Hot N' Steamy

No, this is not the title of some taboo publication, or of a new sandwich at McDonald's either (cause then it would be Hot N' McSteamy). It was the weather today. It was a suffering, sweltering, sticky slithering and salacious 90 degrees outside. One of those days were the body would sweat upon itself as a pre-cursory substitute ingredient for cooking oil.

With our boss letting us go early for the holidays today, I figured to make my way immediately to the park and get some miles in before having to get the kids. I loaded some music on the iPod and "Seal"ed the deal (click on pink play circle below to listen to either of the two tracks below - note I've found that I have to click once, wait a second or two, and then click again. odd.), and started my voyage.

Seal - Waiting For You ( Thick D. Remix )

Seal - Killer ( Paul Rauhofer Remix Part 2 )

Only the complete shade of the trees helped. It was a hot one!

A little over seven miles in a little over an hour figures about the right tune up 2 days before my race on Long Beach on Sunday of which nearly 3 miles of it will be across the entire expanse of the ocean village's boardwalk. Looking forward to it, but as in year's past, it looks to be hot thus far. Race time is at 8am, so that means that if Ileana & the kids come, I will be having to drag us out of here by like 6am.

Rather than posting the music on the right, I may start posting what I'm hearing to go along with the blog. Seems a bit more natural, if natural is even an acceptable word to describe the internet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Running With The Bulls

What an exciting day this was. And exciting does not always equal fun.

I got up this morning with a horrible stomach ache. I had been nauseous since Monday afternoon. I'm not sure what it was, but it was either one or two things:

Thing #1 - I had a delicious pasta and meat sauce that Ileana cooked for me, but I was
so busy at work, that I wound up eating it at my desk, after it had gotten cold. About
an hour later, that's when my stomach ache began.

Thing #2 - I dropped off my kids at the "Pie Man" in Valley Cottage on Sunday. My ex-wife
and her husband convinced me (after having a beer with them) into ordering the "Pie Man's" speciality pizza which had bacon, onions, and peppers on it. I ate most of the pie during my
hour plus commute back.

The day continued with my laptop completely going to hell. My email, internet explorer, etc etc, all kept crashing. Even though my manager had given me the thumbs up to take a half-day in order to get to Manhattan and race, I was still aggravated that my machine was sucking wind, albeit it allowed me to drop the laptop off for Desktop support to work on it yesterday afternoon.

Coming home, a police car past me and busted the guy right in front of me for speeding. Whew! I was actually speeding myself! I normally am good at observing where they usually are, but I was feeling so sick, that I didn't notice him until he was right on my ass.

I got home around noon-time, and headed for the pharmacy. Minutes later, I was popping a Zantac 75, 5 Ultra Tums, and crashing onto my bed.

"B-r-r-i-n-n-n-g-g-g!" My alarm clock went off. It was now 2pm. A few minutes later, Ileana called me to see if I was on my way. The plan was for her to leave her car at her company's garage and meet me at the 7-train, 40th street subway station at Long Island City at 3pm.

The weather was incredibly beautiful. Sunny, in the mid seventies, with low humidity (30%) and a nice cool breeze. I got off at the 40th street station, and minutes later, up comes Ileana (the 7 train is acutally an elevated station, above Queens Blvd.). I passed her my MetroCard, and seconds later we both got back on the next Manhattan bound 7.

We changed at Times Sqaure for the 1 train southbound to Chambers (would have been Cortlandt but that station was destroyed during 9/11).

We walked to the American Express Global Headquarters at 3 World Financial which is right off of the Winter Garden, a large 200 foot high atrium with real palm trees growing inside. Despite having lived in NY all my life, and despite all its issues, I still marvel at how beautiful and diverse this city is.

We sat at the park bench overlooking the oversized yachts in North Cove. As time passed, hoardes of runners and spectators alike began to congregate in the area.

Runners from Merrill Lynch had their own t-shirt, and they were everywhere (Later on, Mr. G, the weatherman for Channel 11 news, had announced that there were 20,000 runners of which 6,000 of them were from Merrill Lynch-incredible!)

To kill time, and to try to make myself feel better (I was still as sick as a dog), I decided to call
my grandmother. She loves to talk forever, so I figured it would help me to focus on other things, albeit, it probably would not be enough.

After that, I still had more time to kill, so I decided to be cute, and ride the bull. Literally. Check it out...

Even Ileana joined in on the fun (her's were taken after my race).

In the meantime, I was still sick as a dog. I even tried yoga.

Nothing helped. I felt like I was going to throw up and now I was actually breaking out in a cold sweat (yuck). I went to get Ileana a Kit Kat (her blood sugar was getting low), when I saw her....


The same person that I had been racing against in the Brooklyn Half, and then again during the Colon Cancer challenge. She had narrowly beaten me both times, and she was here!

I must beat her!

Suddenly, my adrenaline was kicking in. A purpose to do this race, sick and all, after all!

Ileana started laughing when I told her about this person. I even pointed out to her.
Shelby Siegel. (and if Shelby Siegel ever googled her name and saw this...then Shelby, I have no ill will against you...i just needed a pathetically lame reason to motivate me, and you are it!)

At around 5:50pm, I started making my way to the starting line. I was able to walk up to where the 7 minute milers lined up. Shelby and her gals from the NY Harriers club, walked past me and stopped by the 6 minute per mile markers. "Hey! They don't run their races that fast. They're cheating!" I thought to myself.

So I did what any normal, red blooded American would do, and cheated myself, by walking up to between the 5 & 6 minute per mile starting area. Moments later, she noticed this, and actually walked further up. This time all the way near the starting line where the world class runners would start. "Son-of-a-b*%^$!!!", I thought to myself. How much more egregious could she be? We were already competing, and the race hadn't even started yet!!!

Mr. G, New York's local weatherman, along with Mary Wittenburg, president of the Road Runners Club of New York, and the CIO of Merrill Lynch, were among some of the speakers by the starting line, prior to the start of the race. This race had a great cause. All of the monies collected, went directly to the American Heart Association for future research on Heart Disease and the prevention of it.

The race was supposed to start at 6:30pm, but New York's "Finest" had a challenge in closing West Street off. West Street is a major traffic artery for Manhattan. And is essentially West Side Highway, south of 14th street.

When the race began, I nearly tripped on a sneaker that was on the ground in front of me. Some guy took off so fast, that it came off, and he had to turn around to pick it up. He nearly got trampled! My strategy today would be simple. I would play it safe. I was not going to go all out, for fear of dying, LOL, even though Shelby had to be beat. Adrenaline can do a great many good things however, and by the end of the first mile, I was already shaking off the effects of being ill. In doing so, I made it one helluva run. I did my first mile, in 7:20. So much for the notion of doing each mile in 10 minutes, as I whined about it on my father's voicemail earlier in the park.

As I race south on Water Street, and amidst the Con Ed construction forcing the road to narrow considerably, some guy about 6 foot 6, passed me by running in a three piece suit, and holding a briefcase!

Despite thinking that I had picked up the pace, I finished my second mile in 7:34. As we passed Whitehall Street, a great breeze from the New York harbor came onto us, now that we had wiggled our way past all of the tall buildings, and narrow streets. And as we came upon South Ferry, all of us were basked in incredible sunlight, which also reflected off the temporary steel plates left behind for street repair.

We continued onto State street and then made our way through Battery Place, passing Battery Park, and Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park. At this point, I was firing on all cylinders and really motoring. We turned left onto 3rd street and made our way into and north on South Cove, where I could see the finish line up ahead about about a third of a mile away. A few last bursts of speed, some curtailed by the density of the runners around me, still allowed me to do my last 1.1 miles in 7:35, which would mean that I did my 3rd mile in 6:53 and my last tenth in about 41 seconds.

Ileana was on my left right before the chutes. This time I saw her but she didn't see me. I turned around, stopped, grabbed her attention, and she clicked off this photo off me, fresh (fresh? now that's a laugh. take a look at it! I looked like I'm ready to keel!) from finishing the race. My only concern is that I had not yet crossed over the second set of mats, so I am wondering if my time will be accurately reflected on the results.
The post-race, shaped up to be a lot of food, drink, and trinket handouts from various vendors onsite to promote their 'wares. We stayed a little while, enjoyed the veggie subway sandwiches that I only ate half of (cause I was still nauseous) and admired the views of the Hudson

We walked back to Chambers Street, where we hopped on the 'E' train and took it all the way back to the Union Tpke Station. Upon coming out of the station, a taxicab driver asked me if I needed a cab. Ileana jumped in and said, "He doesn't need a cab. He needs an ambulance."

Got home, showered, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was accepted for the New York City Half Marathon race on August 5. This is a BIG race, which goes through Central Park and the streets of New York, traversing Times Square, Penn Station, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Tribeca, and the Financial Area, finishing up at Battery Park. Should be a dooooozy.
Footnote: Shelby won again. Dammit! ((Shelby, if you stumble across this website. Congrats to your run. Hopefully I'll get there myself soon!!!))

Monday, May 21, 2007

T minus 20 hours and I feel like crap.

Well at least a happy crap.

In a good mood, but I ate pasta for lunch, and now 10 hours later, I feel like I'm ready to give birth to twins. I haven't even eaten dinner (well, that's if you don't include my hybrid-bowl of Raisin Bran and Cap'n Crunch Berries that I just had right before Jack Bauer jumped off the rope-I started watching the series tonight. In fact I made it a point to just watch the last 24 minutes of the 24 hours this season. And I did it!!! And this is the longest freaking parenthesis-laden text ever!).

How's my left leg doing? Well, I had some moments today. In a way, I almost can't wait to get this and my 10 mile race (this Sunday) out of the way, so that I can get back to training.

Anyway, I started to post old, never before told stories from my nut-job past. There will be more to come, in what is to be my "tell-all" running biography. Some may be funny, some pretty effing boring, and yes, some may leave you shaking your head. In a way, I feel like the Geraldo Rivera (aka. Jerry Rivers) of reporting......Except not as gay. (Hey! Can I be sued for that? No you can't. Yes you could. No you---ahhh leave it be already!)

So here is my next, new, "old" submission ->

My race tomorrow is the Wall Street Run. There is no physically rewarding reason to do this race. I'll be running through narrow streets right through where the World Trade Center once proudly stood, the United States Federal Reserve bank (Hey, i could use some dough!), and the New York Stock Exchange. Indeed my mission here is to manipulate the 3 miles worth of cobble-stoned and potholed-laden streets. Manipulate them as, well, as the capitalists manipulate the market (that one's for you Dad!)

9,000 runners are expected to be onhand and about another 100,000 on the sidelines rooting our sweaty little 'selves, as we make our way in and around the world's capital underbelly.

The weather is going to be a nice, toasty 75 tomorrow at 6:30pm when the race begins. Hell, if it gets too hot, I might jump off the edge when I run off of Battery Park, and turn my 3 miler, into an Ironman! (Am I kidding? I nearly drowned watching the remake of Poseiden on DVD)

Okay. So I have been trying to get into this race, and have not been able to do so, so far. I tried everything I could....and I can't! So I have decided to go all-out, anti-hype. I am going to go out of my way to be as boring as I can possibly be. Sort of like the opposite of a Marine.....Be All You Can't Be.....or is that the Navy?

Here's the blow-by-blow, turn-by-turn, grunt-by-grunt, popcorn-trail for tomorrow:

The starting line is on Murray Street at Fourth Place, just west of West Street. Start eastbound on Murray and turn right (south) on Church Street. Turn left (east) on Liberty Street, right (south) on William Street, and pass the one-mile mark as William crosses Wall Street. Continue on William, turn right (west) on Beaver Street, left (south) on Broad Street, and left again (east) on Pearl Street. Turn right (east) on Fletcher Street, right again (south) on Water Street (using the southbound lanes only), and pass the two-mile mark on Water between Coenties Slip and Broad. Turn right (north) on State Street, left (west) on Battery Street, follow Battery as it curves north, turn left (west) onto Third Street, and make your final turn left (north) onto the Battery Park Esplanade. You’ll pass the three-mile mark just north on Albany Street and finish on the Esplanade near North Cove.
Oh yeah, here's the map too:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A busy day...

Today, and as I expected, was to be a busy day. Not only was there a race at 10am, but I also was assigned to manage a project that was to take place this morning as well. I had already missed two non-refundable races this year due to off-hours work related events, so I really did not want to lose out again.

The weekend started off with dramatics. The graphics adaptor to my work laptop failed, and this was a bad thing. I needed the laptop to check all of the systems for this weekend's upgrade. Although, I had to drive all the way out to Melville to get a co-workers laptop, I was relieved to have been able to get a suitable replacement. Still, the extra few hours of unexpected travelling, coupled with an ever important Met-Yankee game (YAY, METS WON!), eliminated any chance of getting in a last minute trot. My mileage this week has been way off, all due to a nagging injury in my left leg. My x-ray turned out to be negative, but to play it safe, I did not want to make it worse. My leg feels good now, so the rest definitely helped.

Fortunately, this morning's testing went onward with flying colors. I wont bore you with the details, but it was an involved plan that included people in New York, and India. With everything in good shape, I was able to leave for my race at 9am with Ileana and the kids. Ileana is my support core for all of these events that she attends with me. She wishes she could run too, but she's a little bit nervous, because she is type-1 diabetic. Truthfully, there are thousands of runners who are type-1 diabetic who run. It's all a matter of putting in more effort in monitoring herself before, during, and after her run. Perhaps, one day all of my running will give her the incentive to do this herself. She has a great body for running, and I think she could really do well, if she only tried.
Today, was fairly cool (52 F) and windy outside. The start of the race was on the oval track next to Forest Park. At least the rain the weathermen had threatened us all week long, never came. I had lined up in the front, and after the gun went off, I found myself in 9th place overall by the time we left the track and headed into the park. No sooner than we entered Forest Park Drive, the road that cuts right through Forest Park, the same one that I train on, we left it immediately for the unknown horse trail.

The pace was too fast for me but I managed to clock my first mile in 6:36. If it weren't for my lungs, I would have been able to threaten my own personal record. However, I could not keep up. My lungs were working much too hard. This was a surprise to me. Nursing back to health a bruised left leg, I had cut down noticeably on my mileage. In fact, my last run was on Wednesday. So while my leg was feeling a lot better (and still does, Im happy to say), I had expected my legs to be the weak link. Not so. My aerobic capability was evidently diminshed. The last 2/3rds of the 1st mile was on this horse trail, that was nothing but up and downhills all the way. It was in better shape than I had expected, however, and I might very well use this course to train in. Considering how flat Queens and the rest of Long Island is, this was a nice surprise...even though it wasn't for a race! Anyway, it was hilly all the way. And, I suck at hills (STILL UGH!).

The second mile was a complete abomination for me, as I clocked my second mile in 8:20. Plenty of "whitehairs" passed me by. There was a time not too long ago, when doing any mile under 9 minutes was a major victory. This is one of the reasons why anyone who runs on a regular basis, will become good at it. They just have to keep at it! By the way, "Whitehairs" is a term I use for all the people, that like me, are definitely not in the Open Male category, but rather somewhat up there pass me by!!!

Despite the implosion, I still managed to keep a positive outlook. And even when I did my next mile (Mile 3) in 8:08, and more people passed me by, it didn't matter to me at all. I was actually storing back energy for one final push.

As we exited the horse trail and entered Park Drive South however, I noticed that I didn't have enough energy as I thought I would. Guess the horse trail took a lot more out of me than I had anticipated. I was actually beginning to feel grateful this race was coming to an end...

Entering Victory Park and the oval track, I decided to put in my last, all out kick. I ran as hard as I could. I felt completely winded, and dizzy, but I abandoned all self-health checks, when this guy, who looked to be around my age, was trying to pass me. I noticed this immediately, and stepped it up even more. "Not with my kids here, not with Ileana here!" I kept reciting in my head, and ferociously sprinted the last 200 yards to the finish.

This ensured that I would not be passed again.

I completed my last mile in 7:13, and crossed the finish line in 30:17. Albeit, it was a disappointing finish timewise. I had to consider that when compared to my JFK race a month ago, this course had hills everywhere, whereas the JFK race was on the Airport Runway, a course that is as flat as it comes. Also, the longer the race, the slower one goes, I guess (JFK=3.1 miles, Forest Park=4 miles). This race also stopped my continuous streak of besting my previous PR (Personal Record) at 4 races.

The age categories in this race were 10 years, as supposed to the normal 5. What a shame. Had it been the normal 40-44, I would have come in 2nd place, and would have trophied!! But no biggie. I'll be back at it next year, and now that I know the will be REVENGE!

More stats & info: I came in 38th overall, out of 150 runners. Came in 8th in my division 40-49. Also, some guy named David Gonzalez, came in 28th (that's my father's name!). I know that I will never hear the end of it now that I've mentioned it. Also, and in 29th place, was a Lisa Gonzalez. In fact there were 5 Gonzalez's in the top 50! I guess we all are pretty "speedy" after all! The Forest Park track club will be posting the final results with photos, sometime this week. When they do, I'll mod this blog with the link.

All in all, I am real happy to be healthy, I love doing this, and can't wait for next race!

My post-race exhausted look:

Now it's time to rest up today & tomorrow, for Tuesday is the Wall Street Run!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Forest Chaos.

Okay, so here's what the race course looks like. Or so I think, based on the voicemail I got at work from race director, Jack Berger.

Now as you probably have heard me rave about in past blogs, this is the park that I recently discovered a few months back. As you can see by my workouts, this park is to me what the 'Batcave' is to Batman, or what the 'Fortress of Solitude' is to Superman. Now all I need is the cape, and yes, some of those superhero powers too...

Most interesting about this race is that a good portion of this race goes through a horse trail. There are pretty few left in New York City (to say the least), and I've actually never run on them either. So far, I've been training along Forest Park Drive, so this should be a surprise.

I'm not only hoping for good weather, but I definitely need to be careful for the uneven ground, and for things that might lurch out at me during the race....Never a dull moment. But then again, that's part of my fascination of racing. The ability to try a new course, and see what it's all about. Stagnation is death! For example, I play a little bit of golf (or something that barely resembles it) now and then. I know people who have a yearly membership to a particular club. All these people ever do is to play golf on the same course every week, every time. No sense in switching with all the money they've coughed up for it, right? Well, I could never understand how someone could be content in sticking to one course all the time. I think the same applies to me and my running. I am always looking forward to a new challenge!

Anyway, it appears that Forest Park's four-mile equestrian path meanders through 165 acres of oak forest. Recently renovated, the path offers a quiet refuge from the normal city goings-on. I've never
run through the equestrian path. Willlllburrrrrr?
I must be careful for the stallion droppings along the
way. The last thing I need is to spend the rest of my
Sunday, picking the last stages of digested hay, off the waffle of my sneakers. Just one of my challenges...

My biggest challenge that day however, wont be the fact that my left leg still hurts a little, or that I have my kids this weekend either. This Sunday my company has an IT cutover. The data services group are upgrading their core network infrastructure, which is going to temporarily affect EVERYTHING, including my 400 or so VoIP phones, and IP access to several Voicemail & Video Systems. They envision to be finished at 8am, whereby either myself or my coworker (who is equally unavailable) is required to do post-migration testing. I have people at one of our remote locations who are planing to be in by around 11am, to test the IP phones. Problem? My race starts at 10am. It's 4 miles. If I run too slow, I'll barely make it back in time to host my own conferenced bridge call with my workers, and if I run too fast (yeah, right) I might have to stick around to receive an award (super yeah, super right). Sunday is going to prove to be a complicated endeavor to say the least.

Fortunately, my girlfriend will be onhand to watch the kids at the start/finish line, and that will help a bunch. Either way, I am looking at a possibly stressful race......ugh....

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Nice Race-Free Weekend...

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I took my 90 year old Grandmother out for a nice dinner at a Spanish restaurant called "Salamanca". Located on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, I was pleasantly suprised by the value for the quantity and taste. We ordered "tapas", a full bottle of Marques De Caceres Red Spanish Wine, a Caldo Gallego soup, and then for the main course, a Paella Valenciana for myself and Grandma, and a Chicken Villaroy for Ileana. All told, with tips and taxes was under $100! In New York, anything under a $100 for 2 is good, but for 3? Insane!

My grandmother turns 91 in September this year. She has remarkable stamina, is incredible quick-witted, and somehow talks even more than me! We had a really nice time as my Grandma talked a lot about her heritage in Sevilla. An oddball thought on the way to the restaurant: This was the first time, I drove her anywhere in a car. We took Ileana's CTS.

With a lot of unanswered requests gone by the wayside, I decided to foresake the good weather, listen to Ileana, and work out indoors at the Gym. The reasoning for this was simple. I needed some upperbody work. I've been noticing that I am doing very poorly on my uphills, and I read somewhere about how having strong abs, strengthens your core and better connects your arms to your legs (or something like that).

LA Fitness keeps getting busier. Parking there is becoming a nightmare. However, I may go back there a few more times this week and see how I do.

I have a new race this Sunday. The Forest Park 4 miler. It's through the park I've been running through a lot, but in this race, they are using the horse trails as part of the run. Sounds exciting, but I must exercise extreme vigilance while running, that I don't trip over anything foreign. I still remember Zola Budd & Mary Decker Slaney in the Olympics (uh oh....did I just date myself?) and would not want to end up on the ground screaming "Why Me? Why Me?" like whatsherface from the figure skating competition three olympics ago (or so).

My Mets pulled out a great come from behind win tonight after some real sloppy defense in the beginning. Let's Go Mets!

I am grateful that once this month is over that I just have about 1 race in the month of June to concern myself with. Too much racing = not enough training. And after all, my real race is the New York City Marathon. Although, and having had my father live there for about 8 years, I am really intrigued by the Chicago Marathon. If I am koo-koo enough, I might consider doing both next year, even though they are less than one month apart. Oh Boy! There I go again, biting off more than I can chew!

And speaking of chewing, my diet has been atrocious recently. Tonight I ate an entire large bag of Crunchy Cheetos. What is up with that? Oh sure, I had a broiled flounder with vegetables and a salad....but with Cheetos? Truth was, the Cheetos was a fantastic compliment to the fish.
Yes people, you've heard it here. I am a runner, and I eat CHEETOS. How I still get away with this, and soon to be at the age of 42, I have no clue.

When it comes to food, I think Fiorello LaGuardia (famous mayor of NYC in the 40's) said it best:

"The Devil is easy to identify. He appears when you're terribly tired and makes a very reasonable request which you know you shouldn't grant."

Oh no. It's 1 am. I will be sleep deprived tomorrow. Bah!!!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Ouch! Sweat Burns!


I had a business trip today to visit a telecom lab for Avaya in New Jersey today (yep, i'm a geek). And traffic on the way back was a nightmare. Originally, I had thought I'd be back home by about 5pm, but as it turned out, I didn't get back until 7.

Between the New Jersey, Staten Island, the Belt Parkway, the Belt Parkway, the Belt Parkway (notice I keep repeating that)......THE BELT PARKWAY!!! TRAFFIC THERE IS HORRIBLE!!!

I was determined to run tonight, because I didn't yesterday, so I quickly changed and started an 8 mile run through Forest Park, with an extra 4 laps worth of ovals in Victory Field.

It was humid tonight, and I sweated like a pig headed for an umu pit in Hawaii. I counted on that however, because I'm back up to 157. Unfortunately, I like many others, have the same problem.....I love to eat. And if I don't run, my scale starts yelling at me.

What I didn't count on however was the sweat rolling into my eyes. I didn't think much of it at first. But damn! It burned like a mother!! My pH levels must have been off the scale tonight!

I didn't eat dinner tonight. Rather I opened up a container of Diamond Shelled Walnuts, and mmmmm... I must have eaten a good 800 calories worth of walnuts...Oh well...UGH!

Anyway, I plan to get up early tomorrow, and get back on my morning schedule.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Six Months To Go. My Countdown Has Begun.

In six months, I will be running the New York City Marathon.
It will the the sixth time I run it.

My training program will consist of whatever feels right at that particular moment.
I don't have any set plans as to how many miles per week to run, and no particular rules other than I will try to do at least 1 long run every week.

My Ten Commandments of Running:
1. I will not force myself to run more than I need to.
2. I will not eat Mexican food the night before a race.
3. I must load up on potassium for two nights straight before a long run.
4. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep.
5. Pay close attention to the weather.
6. Pay close attention to the shoes I am wearing (at work especially)
7. Believe In Yourself (Bud Harrelson told me this when I was 9)
8. No alcohol the night before a race.
10. Always be thankful. Take nothing for granted.
These commandments may and will probably change.

Most importantly, all of the training that I have done, and have done better this year, can be attributed to 3 big things. The 1st is that I am listening to my body now. If I am tired, I don't run. If I think I cannot race, I wont (even today- I ran at the end - but it was after I FELT that I could do it)
Secondly, would have to be my girlfriend Ileana. She has been very supportive. I, for example, wouldn't even be able to go in half the races I am in, if she weren't there to watch the kids. Even when we don't have the children, having her wake up with me at 5am sometimes, to go with me and root me on, is really something special. I talked about her earlier on in my earlier blogs, but I really must stress how she has been there for me and my running. If I do better in this year's Marathon (which I will!), a large reason for it will be her.
Thirdly, I am more excited about my running this year than any other year. Running to me is an incredible hobby to have. It's healthy, fun, and a great way to do something for free (well not exactly, those sneakers and clothing are not exactly free!)

My next race is in 2 weeks. It's the Forest Park 4 miler. It will be the first time where I run on a trail since running in Van Cortlandt Park when I was 13 years old and in my first few months at St. Francis Prep.

It's Confirmed. I am a running ho.

Last night as the clock struck 10, I felt it was time to take 500 Miligrams of Naprosyn pain reliever, and hit the sack. I had already decided that I was not going to run. The pain on the upper inner side of my right leg (just about 8 inches below the right side of my knee) had not gone away. It was three days, and it still bothered me. It came in harder yesterday, when I played baseball with Matthew. As competitive as I have become, I did not want to harm myself from racing later on in the season.

I had a great sleep.

I woke up this morning at about 5:30am. Although, I decided I would not run, I forgot to turn off my alarm clock. I turned off the alarm, and was about to roll over in bed, when I decided to see how my leg was doing. I got out of bed, and walked around the living room for about five minutes, keeping in mind that everyone else was still sleeping.

Not bad. But was the pain being masked by the 'Nap?

I really had mentally un-prepared for this run, but because of this new condition, I decided to have breakfast, as if I were going to run.

After that, I decided to get dressed in what I would have worn, had I decided to run. Of course, there was no way that I was going to run, and yet, here I am, going through the motions.

A few minutes later, while still pacing the living room like an expectant father, I figured why not pack 'the bag'? The 'bag', as I call it, is my Nike duffel, I pack to each and every race. It has a towel, a change of clothes, a first aid kit, power gel packs, the latest Runner's World mag, and 'Glide' gel. The Glide gel is to make sure that my man tits don't chafe against my shirt. Yes, my girlfriend has really made fun of me about this, but my tits were on fire after my 2005 Marathon (In 2006, my ripped calf muscle stole the attention).

At about 6:20am, Ileana woke up.

"Are you going to race, Alex?" she groggily said.
"No. Go back to bed." I softly responded.

I was about to lay back down in bed, when I began to wonder if the music on my iPod was "up-to-snuff". I mean after all, the music had to befit that of a 13.1 mile race. Even though I did not have any intention to run.

It is 6:35 am. Here I am. The sun is out now and basking through my bedroom window intensely. I'm all dressed up. My pre-run power breakfast consumed. My bag packed. My iPod locked and loaded. But I'm still not running. Why?

All runners do something very important the morning of a race. They shit.
I'd like to tell it to you in a different way, perhaps try my hand a subtlety, maybe adding a touch of class along the way. But no, shit is what it is. With it, runners can't perform. Hence, the endless numbers of green Port-O-Sans one sees when they get close to a starting line of a race.
Like a horse, humans cannot run if they have a bowling ball in their stomach. Mine was not the size of a bowling ball (perhaps TMI here), but I now had the urge to "release the feece" (spelled phoenitically to be cute).

After I did this, and after I flushed. I looked in the mirror. "Do I have it in me?"
Then to be further psychotic, I not only answered myself, but mimicking Dirty Harry Callahan's voice, the response was,

"Well, do ya.....Punk??!!!"

Y-E-S !!!!

Suddenly, the cautionary sage, went out the 9th story window to be quickly replaced by a defiant, and optimistic runner.

A few minutes later, I was on my way out the door, in the elevator, in the car, and onto the Grand Central Parkway. Then the Northern State and Meadowbrook Parkways, and before I knew it, I was parking my car.

It is freezing outside!

Although I have run in minus 15 degree weather ( I will post that blog one day ), I was at least somewhat dressed properly for it. Short sleeve top and racing shorts. Not much else.

I put on my Brooks Beast sneaks for this. I needed a good motion-control shoe, especially since I had no idea how soon after I started the race I was going to be in pain.

The first test, was to be had even before the race began. The parking lot in Eisenhower State Park is about 1 mile from the start. I expected to have pain while walking. I felt a few tweeks, but nothing more.

The starting line was outrageously crowded, and since I got there with only 10 minutes before the start, I was way back. Although races nowadays have starting mats, that measure your time from the moment you cross the starting line, and not when the race begins, this normally would ensure your time to be accurate. However, the one thing that cannot be cured is the congestion that a runner suffers after they cross the starting line. It's important to share this with everyone here, because my first mile was run in 8:43.7. With the exception of my slowest mile (Mile 7) with a time of 8:35, there were no other miles I did slower than 8:11. In fact it nearly took me a mile and a half before the road opened up for me. I normally wont do this, but I will be taking off 20 seconds to adjust for the clog. I realize that my time without these twenty seconds is an "unofficial time", but you'll learn later why I did this.

Unlike the Brooklyn Half - Marathon, this is an extremely BORING course. However, there are no crazy hills in the end, like in Brooklyn either. One nice touch however, was the race "kickoff" music. Axl Rose's lungs wear pleasantly searing my ears as "Welcome To The Jungle" played at full volume on the PA's once the race began, and at the starting line. As each mile progressed, I noticed that I was hitting between 8 and 8:20 per mile, not bad, but accumulated over the first 7 miles, and now I am thinking that I will have no chance at a PR. Add to this, was a terrible headwind from the northeast of about 25 MPH. Unfortunately, that same wind which should have been at my back on the return legs back, died out!

But then again, I thought I wasn't trying for a personal record! All I wanted to do was to finish and not break my leg!

Mile 9 was when I started to pour it on.

The race was almost too boring to describe, so instead I offer you my mile splits....

Mile Time +/- 8min pr.mile pace
01...8:23.7 +0:23.7 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
02...8:11.3 +0:35.0 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
03...8:09.2 +0:44.2 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
04...8:02.4 +0:46.6 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
05...8:09.3 +0:55.9 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
06...8:15.3 +1:11.2 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
07...8:35.1 +1:46.3 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
08...8:09.3 +1:55.6 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
09...7:46.8 +1:42.4 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
10...7:48.5 +1:30.9 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
11...7:51.7 +1:22.6 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
12...7:48.9 +1:11.5 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
13...7:01.4 +0:12.9 behind sub-8 per minute mile pace
.1....:45.1 0:02.0 AHEAD OF SUB-8 MINUTE PACE!!!!

The human body is amazing. I cannot believe that I was able to pull off a personal best, which is even better than the PR I set back in Brooklyn last month. Even if I added back the 20 seconds on Mile 1, I still have broken my PR (gross time was 1hr45min18sec. Brooklyn's was 1hr45min39sec)

At a pace of 7:59, this is the first time I ever ran I race of over 10 miles with a sub-8 minute mile.

((Medals to the first 500 finishers))

I have thus far, had four straight personal records, and four straight personal course records. I don't know when this fairytale ends, but I hope the answer is never. In the meantime, I plan to take off from running tomorrow, but will see about re-grouping on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Thirty Two Years Ago...

....and on a warm, sunny day. My father, then 34 years young, was living in Ridge, NY. Ridge is out in Suffolk County, Long Island, about 40 miles due east of me today.

Dad, an avid tennis and soccer player, felt that it was time to show off his stuff on the asphalt. Long Island held it's first ever Marathon only 3 years earlier, but the buzz was all around, and it apparently stung my Dad full boat.

David (my father), decided he would train hard for this Marathon. Therefore, without wasting a minute, he started to train diligently about 2 days before the race. Oh sure, this strenous conditioning program would be sure to test even the most able-bodied Adonais, but my father felt that he could rise to the challenge. After all, no one had ever trained like him (and thankfully, no one ever has since).

On the day of the race, David was rarin' to go. Despite the 70 degree weather, someone REALLY WISE, must have versed him on the fact that most humans lose heat through their head. And so hence he wore a winter wool cap.

To further prepare for his sure victory, he decided to eat a high protein diet the night before. This consisted of Mexican food, and plenty of high octane, Piels & Schmidt's beers (as Schaefer was not a recommended fluid source for the energy required).

With his 3.6 miles worth of training, a belly full of Frijoles beans, and a six-pack of beer, which alone was valued at around $1.37, my father was fully prepared.
Here he is, proudly holding up his running number.

As the gun went off, my stepmother Carmen, took more photos, and cheered him on before she got into her car to meet him on the other side of the LI shore. Based on the average winner's finishing times back in the era, he felt that he could finish his first race, somewhere between 2 hours and 47 minutes, and 3 hours and 15 minutes.

As my father started running, all he could think was how much of a shame it was that this race was not being televised for all his co-workers at Iberia to see what a real man was all about.

As he was completing the first mile, he saw the water station. "Bah. I don't need no stinkin' water!" he thought to himself. After all, while everyone was wasting their time, and looking lazy stopping for water, he decided to get ahead of more runners. My father was always a fierce competitor. Seeing runners congregating around a table, was like his office personnel hanging 'round a cooler. Lazy punks!

Halfway through the next mile, something suddenly hit him. No it was not the 75 degree weather. Nor the wool winter hat that was cooking what was left of his brain.
And no, it was not his sideburns, which I'm sure by now, was offering plenty of wind resistance. It was his bowels.

He did not understand why his stomach bothered him so. After all, he had a hearty Mexican dinner the night before, plenty of beer, and a full buffet breakfast before the run. He wanted to make sure he did not run on an empty stomach, after all.

Unfortunately however, there was a rumbly in his tumbly.

By the time he was crossing the second mile, he started to realize he was having even more problems. They had warned him that all men hit the wall at around the 18 mile mark, but now he was wondering if the information that he took note of, should have had a decminal point. As in, having a decimal point between the 1 and the 8.
Forget the wall, a freight train called "Unprepared" slammed into his legs, with a sidecar called "Negligence", along with it.

The pain caused his incredible stride to shorten pretty quickly. Soon enough, sixty year old women were passing him by. He could not believe what was going on. "This is just a Marathon after all. And I am better than that!" or so he thought.

Carmen, my stepmother, started driving the Fiat past some of the trailing runners,
when, whoa, what a surprise, noticed a stick-figured looking specimen in red clothes just up ahead. He was all alone by now.


At this point the shell of what was once a thriving, Mexican food eating man turned around and looked at the car steadily. He stopped in his tracks. I was told that if this scene would be compared to a movie, that hands down, it would be Cujo. Namely, the scene where the dog is giving a tired, catanoic like glaze as the white foam was spewing out of his mouth.

David did not wait. With the top down on the Fiat, my father, like a zombie, robotically made a diagonal B-line to the auto. And then without warning, dove into the moving car. He hadn't even waited for the door to open either.

The morale of the story is this. If you plan to dance with the devil, be sure you are wearing the right shoes. Nevertheless, I love my father, and his enthusiastic optimism, has taught me a great many things about living life with a smile on, even in the worst of situations. My father did (and still does) have a good physique, and with all kidding aside, if he had had a better knowledge of the race, and possibly a good trainer, he REALLY could have been a force to be reckoned with.

Now, if we are talking about Basketball, Tennis, Soccer, Gymnastics, Winter Skiing, Water Skiing, WeightLifting, and Poker Playing (hahah), then I will tell you ... to this day, he completely kicks my butt. Dad, I'm proud of you and your achievements, and always loved that humorous story about your only Marathon experience.

But with that wonderful tale, I now must decide upon an equally difficult decision.

Four days ago, and during my second 7 miler, I felt my left leg even more sore than usual. I did not rest the next day, but did the same course again. My leg's was on fire, so I took off yesterday. Today I went to the Mitchel Athletic Complex (located near the Nassau Coliseum) to pick up my running number. Afterwards, I played wiffle ball with my kids. My legs was still hurting, on and off.

The big question. Do I run and risk a possibly worse injury, or do I walk away, lose my $35 dollar entry fee, ruin my weekly mileage, miss out on an incredibly flat, fast course, with optimal weather tomorrow?

I have always been my worst enemy.

I hate to quit. I ran the New York City Marathon last year with a partially torn calf muscle.

Aerobically, I'm in great shape to do the run.
Just a little while ago, I was walking around, and everything felt good again.

What do I do? What do I do???????

Stay tuned....