Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Weather is shaping up.

Today was a busy one at the office. It's only 9:30pm and I feel exhausted. I had wanted to work out during lunch, but there was too much going on, and in good conscience, I knew that if I had taken the whole hour, I would have been even further behind than I wanted to be. I know I am entitled to an hour like everybody else, but I have to admit that I do love what I do for a living.

Weather.com is now reporting that the Marathon sunday will be cloudy and between 44 and 55. This is great!

I saw a great special on PBS tonight about Marathon Running. It even had Ileana interested in running. I keep telling her to do it, even though she feels the diabetes is a major hindrance. I told her that there are scores of people who run with even type 1-diabetes. They are just careful and monitor themselves constantly.

I really do think she could be a great runner. She has the body for it. I told her tonight that with the right training she could definitely be better than me. As I have seen, the "tiny" framed women usually steal the show at these long-distanced runs.

Well that's about it. I'm uploading a song or two, and heading off for bed. I definitely need to start getting a lot of sleep now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Poland Springs Eternal

After nearly a 3 month self-imposed moritorium on racing, which I did primarily to focus on long runs, I decided it was time to pop my cherry again (as if). One more race before Prince Charming arrives at the ball...

This was the second time I run the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff. The last one was on Halloween Day, 2004, and the results were frightful too. The net time on that race was 44:43 but the gross time was 49:44. Something tells me, that my net time was probably higher, giving me a closer to 10 minute per mile than what I wanted. Still, it was an excellent run in that it was my final qualifier for my entry into the 2005 NYC Marathon, a race I will never soon forget.

This time around everything's different. Although I always consider myself a novice, I guess I'm no longer that rookie that I was once. All race day preparations were done perfectly last night. All morning stuff was done accurately and efficiently. In fact, this race was the utmost example of efficiency.

I discovered that the cost for the LIRR is only $3 each way when travelling in NYC.
The LIRR takes me from here (Kew Gardens) to there (Penn Station) in 16 minutes. Sure as hell beats the "E" train!

In fact not only was I able to sleep longer (till 5:51 am - it would have been 6am, but I was too eager), but I got there in plenty of time. Best of all...The LIRR never even took my ticket so I was able to use it on the return! (THANK YOU LIRR!!!)
The connection to the northbound "C" at Penn Station was right there in front of where I came up the stairs from the railroad. And the subway took me to within a block of the park's entrance on 69th. Excellent execution.

The air was much colder than weather.com suggested. I hope they are wrong like this again next Sunday. 61F for a high, is too high for a Marathon. As I am writing this the temp is 49F but because of the 18MPH wind, the "real feel" is more like 42F.

About the only "boo-boo" I did was to eat Ileana's string beans last night. The string beans were fine. It was the red kidney beans mixes in, that gave my lower torso the gaseous and smelly effects of Elizabeth, New Jersey. A minor inconvenience, and a trip to the Port-O-Sans, and all was well again.

As with all races, there were hordes of people walking around in all directions near the starting line, the baggage area, and the port-o-sans.

In addition to the fanfare, and the occassional halloween-costumed runners (two girls as candy corn, one guy dressed up as bam-bam), the race featured "Better Off Dead", a rock band that primarily does classic rock covers. They are not only one of the bands that will be adorning the 26.2 mile route next Sunday, they are actually center stage at Columbus Circle at 59th & Central Park West too. Here's a little clip:

and here: (the camera stopped by itself..ugh!)

The start of the race, had it's typical "rah-rahs" from Mary Wittenberg, President of the NYRR club. Things like, "Who's gonna be here next week to run the NYC Marathon?!" and all that other stuff.

I did not bring my watch with me, figuring to be worry free.

I was going to not even time my race.



The first mile took forever to cross, but when I deducted the time that it took to cross the starting line to the Mile 1 marker, I figured I did it in 9 minutes 21 seconds. I chose to not drink water at the stop.


The second mile took less than forever. Even with several uphills along the way, I did the second mile in 8 minutes and 37 seconds. I have still not taken any water. I improved over the first mile by 44 seconds. Awesome!


The third mile was mostly downhill. I ran a little bit faster. And noticed that I've been passing a lot of people in front of me. Not bad considering I was lined up in the 8-9 minute miler section to start with. I skipped the water again. HTFU (or Harden The Fuck Up) was in play. I decided that instead of playing it safe, I decided instead to be a tough guy. I finished my third mile in 8 minutes and 18 seconds. That's an improvement over the second mile by 19 seconds. Very Good.


The fourth mile had a few minor uphills. Now I sense that I am moving very fast, yet I have no shortness of breath. I'm actually feeling unnerved, because this rush of speed is not affecting me as it had in the past. So I go with it. And it suits me fairly well. I did the fourth mile in 7 minutes and 42 seconds. I improved over the third mile by 37 seconds. Amazing.


The fifth and final mile was remarkable. The finish line for this race is the finish line for the New York City Marathon next week, and is one of the major reasons why I chose to run today's race. By now, I am passing people like blurs on a radar scope. Come and gone. Come and gone. Nobody is passing me anymore. The southern loop of the park is almost all flat. The west side going back north is uphill. I envision that my arms are like titanium pistons to propel me forward, like a locomotive train. I start to see a grandstand up ahead on the left. It instantly throws me back to the finish of my previous Marathons. The effect has completely taken me over. At this point I feel like I am floating, but in reality I am on fire. I'm burning the course up. When I crossed that finish line, I barely even breathed hard. Not bad for someone who just finished his 5th and last mile at six minutes and fifty-six seconds per mile, a 46 second improvement over my last mile.


Mile 1: 9:21
Mile 2: 8:37
Mile 3: 8:18
Mile 4: 7:42
Mile 5: 6:56
Total : 40:55
Pace : 8:11
Overall: 1728 place out of 5973 Top 29%
Gender: 1331 place out of 3081 Top 43%
Age Grp: 216 place out of 454 Top 48%
FPRR: 2 place out of 7 Top 29%
Gonzos: 3 place out of 16 Top 19%

I left immediately after the race, and got home at 9:58am! Record time considering that the race started at 8am.

Well that was my 9th race this year with the NYRR. And you know what that means....

2008 .... HERE I COME!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Never Surrender!

I paid a visit tonight to a place I haven't been in a while. The LA Fitness Gym in New Hyde Park. As before, it was crowded, but I didn't have any problems securing a treadmill and doing my deed. This time is was a 10k.

Running inside made me hot and sweaty. Made me think, "Boy I hope it stays cool, or even rains on Marathon Sunday." Well, I took a look at the 10-day weather forecast and what do you know? Between 52 & 60 degrees and rain throughout the day. A soggy run. This would be my first wet Marathon ever!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Head-WIND and Head-STRONG.

Today I completed another 5 miles, this time it was during lunch time and it was twice around a loop I devised that went along a stretch of route 110, New Road and Smith Street.

The wind was fairly gusty and it slowed me down some. Still, and due to my self-imposed 1-hour time constraint for lunch, I managed to complete it in under 44 minutes for a pace of just under 8 minutes 28 seconds per mile.

I had paid to do the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff Race this Sunday. It too has a five mile distance. Best of all, it finishes exactly the way the Marathon does, hence the race name. Here's the course:

I might just run it at a 9 minute per mile pace. The challenge will be to keep it at exactly a flat 9 minutes for each mile. And as all us marathon runners out there know, the easiest way to break a 4 hour marathon, is to run each mile in exactly 9 minutes. Now this is not to say that I have ANY hopes of breaking 4 hours, but I have a brain, and brains do dream....

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My 12-mile "taper"

The Angel: "Alex, you have trained enough this year. It's time to start winding down. Get your rest. Stay out of trouble. Prepare to enjoy the Marathon in 2 weeks."

The Devil: "I made you sick with a cold, then a cough, which has lasted you a month. I threw at you three projects requiring you to travel to Mexico & Pittsburgh. I made sure that your vacation in Spain would throw you off your running schedule. I made you gain 6 pounds, so that you would run slower. And now? Now you are out of shape, and now you must NOT taper by running super-long distances, like runing 20 miles as often as possible, in the hopes that you will damage yourself too soon before the race. This should screw you over permanently."

Seems like the devil had a lot more to say than the angel...

Yesterday, I decided I would run 10+ miles, and again today. The kids went to the inhouse babysitting program. Me? I decided it was too nice outside to be cooped up indoors. I went ahead and decided to run to my favorite place in the world. Port Washington, NY.

The hills north of New Hyde Park are a real killer. And I was not looking at going too slow either. The weather was a breezy, but warm and humid 79 degrees. And the bright sun was awesome, albeit hot.

The lowest point of my run was running thru the back of the Macy's Parking lot where the trucks load and unload in Manhasset. The high point was getting to my halfway mark at Hewlett Lane, in the best part of Port Washington, Flower Hill (Sands Point much too isolated, and pretentious---sorry, ultra-rich folks...).

I left LA Fitness at 12:08 PM, and between the necessary stops (ie. red lights), and the 6-minute stop at Whole Foods Market for my XXX flavored Vitamin Water, I got back to LA Fitness at 2:00 on the dot. It was 12 miles, but it felt more like 13. The breeze was a bit too strong, and it definitely weakened me, along with the sun.
Still, it took me 1 hour and 42 minutes to go 12 miles, and that's better than a sub-4 hr pace for my upcoming marathon.

Will I break the 4 hour mark at this year's NYC Marathon? Absolutely not. But we'll see which Alex does show up on that day. I have already taken Friday, November 2 as off, to go to the Javits in the afternoon. I have also taken Monday & Tuesday, November 5 & 6, to rest, and appreciate myself for a year long program of training.

I started running 3 years ago and I'm still having a lot of fun doing it.
God Bless me for giving me the ability to do this!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Talk About Tough As Nails.

Think you have what it takes to run a marathon? How about if you were to say yes, and had NO LEGS?

Take a look below. Another remarkable story of courage and will....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Excuses Excuses Excuses. And then....Breakthrough!

No injuries (Thank God) this year to marr my upcoming race. But so many damn distractions. First, all my trips. Spain. Mexico. Pittsburgh! Then, this stupid cough, a remnant of a cold I got in Spain back in September. As you can probably see, my tapering began far too soon. I've been striving to maintain my discipline, but it's been impossible with all this going on. To make matters worse, I have not been feeling very confident, and now that it's dark in the morning, it is a major chore just to get up, let alone run.

At 6 am this morning, I was beginning to have self-doubt in my abilities.
Can I finish this marathon?
Can I do well at it, hopefully better then back in 2005? Or even 2006?
Why am I not pumped up for it like years past? Is it because I've done it 5 times in my life?

And then it struck me. I was sinking in excuses.

True, I've had a lot of challenges making my health and schedule chaotic at best.
But now, with no trips in the future, and a small cough that only seems to act up when I DONT run, I am just a negative, zero-motivated individual. Is this who I want to be?


I didn't feel like running this morning. And, I've gotten used to feeling this way too. Very bad.
But today I may have kicked the habit. FINALLY.

If the Colorado Rockies can go from 3rd place in their division, to winning 20 of their last 21 games, and going to the World Series....then why can't I?

I took a running bag with me to my office, and after work today I hit the streets of the big apple. Starting from the Chrysler Building, I ran down to Broadway and headed north to the enchanted forest of New York... Central Park.
And I prevailed... I ran 1 full, large loop and also did a loop around the Jackie Onassis Resoivoir. But I did not stop there, as I continued to do, get this...another full lap around the park.

At mile 15, I got major foot cramping. Damn cramps. This is going to be the death of me. When I get these cramps. They become so painful, that I have to come to a complete stop until they subside. Why is this happening to me (please say this like Nancy Kerrigan. Okay. Please continue)??

It's these damn foot cramps that are going to ruin my chance at a good finishing time at this year's gala event. And speaking of that, we are now 18 days away from that big show.

Anyway, I came back out through Columbus Square and made my way back to the Chrysler. In the end, I ran a whopping 17.2 miles. Overall, that made my 1 day total a record 20.3 miles. Needless to say, I will not be running tomorrow or Friday, to have another big (but not as big) run on Saturday.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Marathon First-Timer Tips

I've got these tips covered, but he makes good advice...

Spirit of The Marathon

Over the next few weeks, I will be scouring the internet and other sources to bring to
you some of the excitement about Marathoning. Perhaps these public videos can give you a glimpse of my private resolve with this endeavor.

Here's a great preview to a movie that was recently (I think) pre-screened in Chicago. It shows the Chicago Marathon, and talks about the inspirational elements about Marathoning. For me, I always come up with motiviational quotes to keep me focused. Recently, and with my work-related travelling, and my long cold, it has been "The tougher it gets, the tougher I get."

Great stuff. More to come.....
27 DAYS TO GO!!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Handling The Heat.

Perhaps the most dangerous of all obstacles in a race is dealing with excessive heat. This is especially magnified when doing a marathon. Whether you're a world class runner trying to keep your near sprint up for the slightly over 2 hour run, or you are like me, just surviving for over 4 full hours, the sun is not a friend but rather foe.

Last night I was up until nearly 3am. For the better part of three weeks, I have had a nasty congestive situation. Coughing as if I've been smoking 3 packs of cigs a day, I woke up at 9am, had breakfast and hit the road for 11 miles. I've been patiently waiting earlier in the week for my cold to clear up, but between the stress of a project that would have gone awry had it not been for me to take the lead for the vendor, and the constant travelling, my cold has just stayed around.

This is the first year where my legs have been in great shape. Figures that a cold would now try to make a statement. If it's not one thing it's another, right?

Today was a hot day too. Looks like New York is in the middle of an "Indian Summer". The mercury reached 85 degrees. I was only going to run a 10k, but I am sorely in need of re-establishing my base again, after all these inconsistent weeks.
Fortunately, my 11+ mile run was easier than I had expected, even with the heat. However, I showed no shame. I stopped at fast food places, even funeral parlors, to glom some free water for my route (All funeral parlors have water coolers, and they are open all hours of the morning, especially on Sunday. For whomever reads this, let this be a great tip if you are running through the city).

However, I wasn't alone in my precarious running conditions. Today was the Chicago Marathon. At least two people from my online running club, Derek & Mike, were scheduled to run this event. And from what I hear their weather was far worse than mine.

Here's a recap of the Chicago Marathon as re-printed from the Chicago Sun Times earlier in the day:

Man collapses during shortened marathon, dies

October 7, 2007

One person is dead and more than 300 people have been taken to either
hospitals or medical stations following The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon on

For the first time ever, the marathon was stopped prematurely because of the dangers posed to runners on the hottest day in the history of the race.

For the first time ever, the marathon was stopped prematurely because of the dangers posed to runners on the hottest day in the history of the race.

According to marathon spokeswoman Marianne Caponi, 312 people were
taken to hospitals or treated at medical stations throughout the course of the

A fire truck sprays water on participants of the LaSalle Bank
Chicago Marathon, which was cut short because of the heat.

According to marathon spokeswoman Marianne Caponi, 312 people were taken to hospitals or treated at medical stations throughout the course of the marathon.

With temperatures reaching 88 degrees -- the hottest in Chicago’s
history on this date -- many people cut their run short.

Caponi said there were 35,867 people at the marathon’s start, and 24,933 completed the race.

Compared to last year, tens of thousands of fluid servings
were added throughout the course along with 15 extra cooling buses and ten
extra “drop-out buses,” which enabled the more than 10,000 halted runners to
exit the course for free on the CTA.

Runners who had not reached the halfway point -- the 13.1-mile mark
near Halsted and Adams -- were stopped about 11:45 a.m. and rerouted towards
Grant Park, Caponi said.

"This is the first time, and it's the warmest day we've ever had," she said. "We felt it was in the best interest of the runners to shut the course."

It is not yet clear what caused the death of a 35-year-old Michigan
man who was running in the marathon.

Chad Schieber, of Midland, Mich., collapsed during the race near 1500 S. Ashland
Ave., according to a spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Schieber was taken to West Side Veteran's Administration Hospital, where
he was pronounced dead at 12:50 p.m., the spokesman said.

Chad Schieber
Bib # 12689 Midland, MI - USA Age 35 M
START 5K 10K 15K 20K HALF 25K 30K 35k
0:15:25 0:33:37 1:09:12 1:40:55 2:15:43 2:22:44 2:53:15 3:35:12 dnf
TIME Chip Time: Clock: Pace: 11:32
Overall: n/a Gender: n/a Division: n/a

A contingency plan was put in place earlier this week by the city and marathon organizers, who determined that the course would be closed and runners would be brought back to Grant Park if the temperatures went up and runners' speeds went down, Caponi said.

There were 700 medical volunteers -- 100 of them doctors -- assisting
runners in the marathon, Caponi said."

First off, what happened to this poor man is horrible. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

The first marathon I ever ran was the New York City Marathon. It was 1984, and I was 19 years old. Only an hour after the race had started the temperature was 79 degrees and the humidity reached 98% (still the course record). A runner from France, Jacques Bussereau, died slightly after reacing the 14 mile mark in Queens. Over 300 others were hospitalized. As a result of this tragic situation, the New York Road Runner's Organization pushed the event a full week, to the first Sunday in November. This was done to avoid any possible "Indian Summers" from occurring during the event again. But ten years later, it happened yet again.

In 1994, I wasn't running at all. Just getting fat and lazy. But for the 25,000 plus runners, their actions would be sufficiently harder than mine. The temperature was at 68F by the end of the first hour of racing, and the humidity was at the 2nd highest ever (78%). On this day, two people died of cardiac arrest, with several hundreds being hospitalized. There was also a third runner, a local runner from Maspeth, Queens, who had initially died, but EMS workers performed a miracle job, and revived him back to life.

Marathoning, obviously, is no easy thing.