Wednesday, April 30, 2008

RUN ACROSS AMERICA: Richmond, Indiana

91 days and 629 miles later, I am running through the border town of Richmond, Indiana. Long gone were the Pittsburgh and Columbus milestones. I had planned to write about those wonderful cities, but it's been pretty hectic in the Blogrunner world recently to do anything about it. As a footnote however, I will say that if you ever do go to Pittsburgh, that you really owe it to yourself to check out the Mattress Factory. It is one of the most bizarre, and wonderful places anywhere around. And no, it's not mattresses they show you, but some of the most uniquely qualified avant-garde art this side of the universe.

I know very little about Richmond, so rather than pretend that I do by paraphrasing Wikipedia, I'm just going to blockquote it below. Pictures are provided courtesy to the internet and all who own them. Thanks to all.

One non-sequitor....I am going to see Boston and REO Speedwagon on the 12th of August at Jones Beach. I've never seen either group, and I am stoked about it! I'll be bringing wine, cheese and crackers for a little high-class tailgating.
Okay back to Richmond....

Richmond (pronounced /ˈrɪtʃmənd/) is a
city in Wayne
, Wayne County, in
east central Indiana, which borders Ohio. It is sometimes
called the "cradle of recorded jazz" because some early jazz
records originated there at the studio of Gennett Records, a
division of the Starr
Piano Company
Richmond is the county seat of Wayne County.
The city's 2000 population was 39,124. In the 1990s, Richmond's population
declined by 1.6 percent.[4]]

Richmond was settled along the East Fork of the Whitewater
in 1806 by Quaker families from North
. John Smith and David Hoover were among the earliest settlers.
Richmond is still home to several Quaker institutions including Friends United
, Earlham College and the Earlham School of

Richmond is believed to have been the smallest community in the United
States with a professional opera company and symphony orchestra. The Whitewater
has since closed its doors but the Richmond Symphony Orchestra is a
source of community pride. Will Earhart formed the
first complete high school orchestra in Richmond in 1899. A later orchestra
director, Joseph E. Maddy went on
to found what is now known as the Interlochen
Center for the Arts
in Michigan.

A significant group of artists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
came to be known as the Richmond Group. The list
of artists includes John Elwood Bundy, Charles Conner, George Herbert
, Maude
Kaufman Eggemeyer
and John
Albert Seaford
among others. The Richmond Art Museum
has an outstanding collection of regional and American art.[5] Many
consider the most significant painting in the collection to be a self portrait
of Indiana-born William Merritt

Richmond was once known as "the lawnmower capital" because of the lawn
mowers manufactured there from the late 19th century through the mid-20th
century. Manufacturers included Davis, Motomower, Dille-McGuire
and F&N.
The farm machinery builder Gaar-Scott was based in

In the 1920s, Indiana had the strongest Ku Klux Klan organization
in the country under Grand Dragon D. C. Stephenson, with
control over the state legislature and an ally in Governor Ed
.[7] At its
height, national membership during the second Klan movement reached 1.5 million,
with 300,000 from Indiana.[8]
Records show that Richmond (home to Whitewater Klan #60) and Wayne County were
Klan strongholds, with up to 45 percent of the county's white males having been
Klan members.[8][9] At the
same time Gennett Records was recording important black jazz artists,[10] it
also produced private-label contract recordings for the Ku Klux Klan.[11]
Official racial segregation was a feature of Richmond life until 1965, when the
city ended its policy of restricting black firefighters to one station and
limiting the promotion opportunities of firefighters and police

After starting out in nearby Union City, Wayne
Agricultural Works moved to Richmond. Wayne was a manufacturer of horse-drawn
vehicles, including "kid hacks", a precursor of the
motorized school bus. Beginning in the
early 1930s through the 1940s, several automobile designers and
manufacturers were located in Richmond. Among the automobiles manufactured there
was the "Richmond" which was built by the Wayne Works, the "Rodefeld", the
"Davis", the "Pilot", the Westcott and the Crosley.

In the 1950s, Wayne Works became Wayne Corporation, a
well-known bus and school bus
manufacturer, and relocated to a site adjacent to Interstate 70 in 1967. The
company was a leader in school bus safety innovations, but closed in 1992 during
a period of school bus manufacturing industry consolidations.

Richmond was known as the Rose City because of the many
varieties once grown there by Hill's Roses in several sprawling complexes of greenhouses. The company
once had about 34 acres under glass. The Richmond Rose Festival honored the rose
industry and was a popular summer attraction.

Richmond is located on the National Road,[12]
which became part of the system of National Auto
. The highway is now known as U.S.
Highway 40
. One of the extant Madonna of the
monuments was dedicated at Richmond on October 28, 1928[13] The
monument sits in a corner of Glen Miller Park adjacent to U.S. 40.

On April
, 1968, several
downtown blocks were destroyed or damaged by a natural gas
explosion and fire
, killing 41 people and injuring more than 150.[14]
Thereafter, the main street through downtown was closed to traffic and the
Downtown Promenade was built in 1972 (and later expanded in 1978). The
five-block pedestrian mall was later torn down and the street reopened to
traffic in 1997 as part of an urban revitalization effort.

A Powerball lottery ticket sold
in Richmond won approximately $314 million (annuity value) in the August 25, 2007 drawing. In
1998, a group of 13 machine-shop workers from Ohio won Powerball on a ticket that
had also been purchased in Richmond
. It won $295.7 million (annuity). The
two tickets were sold at two different Speedway convenience stores
about three miles apart; both sets of winners also chose the cash

Monday, April 28, 2008

RACE REPORT: Alley Pond 5 Mile Challenge

Date: Sunday, April 27, 2008
Time: 10:00 am
Location: Alley Pond
Park, Bellerose, NY
Distance: 5 Miles
Temperature: 49 degrees, Rain.

One of the great things about running is that no matter how much you think you are prepared for all possible outcomes, there will always be a gotcha. Case in point? Today's race.

I was prepared for a lot of things to happen today. My fastest 5 mile run ever was
back on May 18th, 1985. That year, the JFK Runway Race had changed from a 10k to
a 5 miler. Not only was my 31:04 good enough for 1st place in my division
(15-19), it was also the 3rd fastest distance race I ever had.

That was then.

This is now.

My modern day, post 1986, old geezer, or whatever-else-you'd-like-to-call-it PR was last year's Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff race. One week before my 6th Marathon, and on a crisp wonderful autumn morning, I finished this race in 40:55 for a pace of 8:11.

Breaking this PR was imminent.
After a vote at home as to whether or not Ileana and my
kids would join me (Matt voted "no", lol) we went to the Parker Towers to pick
up John from our team. The Parkers Towers, incidentally is where Dominique
Jezequel lived. I could tell you a lot more about her, but we were 12 years old,
so my lips are sealed.

The rain started coming down. It was cold and raw. I sought shelter at the Alley Pond Clubhouse, where I finally met Debbie of Alley Pond (Hi Debbie!). She too is also into the "blogging scene" ( link: http:\\ ). It was then I realized that I left my camera at home (what.....a......dope!) . Debbie showed me where Noelia was, and that was very
cool. If you remember in one of my posts last year, Noelia stopped to help me find my glasses, which were knocked off by punks on bikes. It's so nice to see strangers coming to the aid of others. It was great to finally reunite with her after nearly a year. We introduced one another to our significant others, and talked about that day. She came to root her friend on, as she is recovering from surgery. Here's to a speedy recovery, Noelia! Hope to see you at Forest Park
real soon!

John and I finally found Jack and Bonnie. No sign of Tom or Pauline yet but that would change soon enough. Once again my Garmin did not get a satellite, but I was smart this time, and brought my Polar with me for backup. Armed with all the weapons, I waited patiently near the front of the race for the air horn to go off. John was alongside, and we wished each other luck.


Off we go.

The start of the race was right on Winchester Blvd. in Bellerose. And if you know anything about this road, you will know that Alley Pond Park is on our left, Creedmoor is on our
right, and dead ahead above us is the Grand Central Parkway. The first mile was wet. It was uphill. Again, nothing like you'd see in a mountainous region, but in Queens anything more than 40 feet up is quite a feat. I had taken off real fast. Too fast perhaps? Not sure. I am sure of this though. When one lines up in the front, you tend to go faster than you normally would, simply to keep up with those "elites". Of course, you are not going to survive this, and eventually will drop back. For me, this strategy had paid off in the early going as Miles 2 and most of Mile 3 was level a/o downhill.

We were at a main entry point in Alley Pond park that I was quite familiar with. When I was young, my mother did eveything she could to make sure I went to at least day camp
(whether I wanted to or not). Young People's Day Camp had a lot of doing's in Alley Pond, as we would play in the ball fields and out and around the area. It was amazing to run through this area, and it really helped me to get back my breath which I had left from the first 3/4 miles.

Interestingly, my 7:16.5 mile would be almost the slowest of any mile that I ran. I really had it in my mind today to crush the competition, whatever the cost. The positives of the temperatures were negated by the raw rain and wind. And yet, I was on a mission and focused. For example, it took me nearly a quarter mile to realize that I had just past a corral of goats. You heard right. Goats. There was some kind of petting zoo being setup, and much like Tom Brogan mentioned later on, it was pretty weird to hear goat sounds as I was running.

John, who ran this race a lot more intelligently than I did, stayed behind and paced himself well. But I could not find Tom. Where was Tom? I looked ahead and he was not around? Suddenly, and while on Motor Parkway, this tazmanian devil with a green shirt definitively passed me by. From his left side, it looked like Tom, but I never had another opportunity to catch up to him to see. I managed to stay around 50 yards or so behind. In fact I did my second mile in 7:12.4. But there was no let up with this runner. At the end of road, there was a turn and
he was long gone. Now I know why they call that stretch of race, the "Motor" Parkway, because Tom was booking (that's a Queens slang term for running your everloving-ass off).

And yet, I still managed to improve somehow. No, I did not see Tom anymore. I think by now, Tom was somewhere in Route 66 passing Forrest Gump (or whatever the heck that road was!).
However, I did my third mile in 7:06.3. Holy Shit on a shingle! When was this all going to come to an end?

Well, if you are a geek like me, and appreciate the Star Wars lore, you will know that siths come in pairs. In this case my two siths were in the form of a deadly uphill in Mile 4, and a complete unknown named Robert Rossen, who would be unknown no more.

When Bonnie (of FPRR) told us that Mile 4 was a little hilly, that was an understatement. Unlike, the ups and downs of Forest & Central Parks, this was all up! A long, endless uphill grade, that was just looking for vulnerable, ripe and weakened legs to be chewed up and spat
out. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Purdue timer on my chicken legs had just
popped. And my lungs were completely pooped.

Not even a 1/4 mile up the hill, and several people were passing me. At this point, I'm feeling like a casualty of war. Everyone's passing me by and all I could do is to see whether
or not they were in my age group..."Nope....Too Young.....Nope....She's a
girl.....Yep. She a girl too....I think?"

And then came Robert Rossen. The other sith. Or perhaps better still, the "Double-R" (as in subway) train. Robert passed me by like a train. And as I looked at his features, I suddenly realized, "Shit! I think this guy is my age!"

Now, I didn't know whether I had an opportunity to medal or not, but I knew that I was doing great, and well on my way to smashing my Midife-Old-Goat-Crisis PR from last October. I tried
valiantly to catch up on the uphill, but could only muster to close the gap to within about 20 yards.

Mile 4? 8:10.6 .... Blecchhh!

Then came Mile 5. I was spent. Thankfully, this mile started off downhill. I picked up the
speed. I passed Robert. I did this too economically though and he easily surpassed me again as we went along the straightaway. Then came another downhill. This one was long, and big. Essentially, it looked like the same roadway that was used in the first mile. The road was slick, and I was landing hard, but most caution was being chucked away. Oh, and yes, I deliberately
skipped my last water stop. In short, I was going for broke.

I motored.

I easily passed Robert. He was going going....and gone. Or so I thought. If my Garmie had been working, I bet that I was going at about a 5 min/mile clip at that point. I was surging. The kind of kick I am accustomed to do in the last two to three hundred yards of a race. I didn't want to look back. But it was too tempting. I had to see just how much ground I had gained on him.

So I turned.

And there he was.

He was only like 2 yards back.


I had put the hammer on him, but he refused to die.

Meanwhile, Tom Brogan, was well ahead and running somewhere in Fairbanks, Alaska, or perhaps by now, had crossed the Bering Straits on a canoe, and was running through the
Great Wall of China on the other end.

Back to Robert. Why didn't he fade back? I turned back and looked ahead. My energy tank was on 'E', and I still had almost a 1/2 mile to go.

Now it was his turn to burn.

He motored (on Motor Parkway) and blasted by me to my right. The "Green Line" was no longer dotted anymore. We were going so fast, that it seemed like a solid green line instead. It felt like he had taken the hammer away from me, and was nailing me now. What nerve! LOL. My exhuberance was at a point equal to my arches. Flat. It was a flat straightaway to the finish now. I had slowed down considerably, but he must have too because he did not gain much more ground. I could see people cheering the finishers. My kids and Ileana were probably there
as well as the ailing Bonnie. BTW - Tom was running in sapce. He's scheduled to land on the moon and reclaim the American flag any minute now.

The Famous "Green Line" along Motor Parkway in Alley Pond

I had one last ounce in the reserve tank. Here we go.....And so I went. I got closer. And closer. And closer. Robert would later tell me, that he heard footsteps getting louder and louder. I came within about 6 feet of him, but could not hold on. I felt the way Dennis Weaver did when his 1970 red Plymouth Valiant ran out of gas along an uphill stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway in the movie, "Duel". Perhaps instead of a Valiant, I was driving a chevy instead, as in No-va. Translated from Spanish "no va" means "not going". Not only did Robert pull away, but two 13 year olds (a boy and a girl) passed me as well. Fo' shame.

The best though was yet to come. For after partaking in the various Girl Scout Cookies (mmmm....samoas!) and bagels, and orange slices, and bananas, they started posting the preliminary results on the board. I came in fourth. Some guy named "Chris Ezzo" came in 2nd place with a time of 36:50.6. Wow. I finished like 6 seconds behind that....Did I medal in 3rd place?

Survey Says...."X". As in NO.

Robert Rossan came 3rd right behind him.

So now I have to see if he was the one I had my dogfight with. I saw him
waiting patiently by the award table, and the feeling felt ominous.

"Are you Robert"?

"Yes I am."


Oh well. I had a great race. I shattered my previous record by nearly 3 1/2 minutes.
And even though I lost a medal in the final 300 yards, I now have even more fire to do better next year out .....And I am sure Robert will be there for a rematch. (Creedmore, watch out!)

For those with more interest in mathematics 101, here is the link to the race results:

All the pictures are stock photographs from other parts of the 'net. It was
nasty yesterday, not sunny. I'm sure Debbie will be doing her part to blog this
race as well. I also noticed that she got a PR yesterday too. Way to go, Deb!
Also, a nice job done for your club's handling of the race. Next up is our club
on the 18th. I'm thinking of being a turn marshall in the woods and hold up some
horrifying sign like, "Beware of Angry Bears". Something tells me however, that
wont sit very well with the rest of my team though. ....

Creedmoor Psychiatric Ward

I had hoped they would raffle a free indoor tour of the facility to include a weekend stay in the maximum security floor. No such luck....


Run To This Movie.

Going into tonight, I knew I was going to have a positive bias towards this film. After all, as a native New York runner, what would there be to not like? So, I tried hard to keep an objective mind about it, a clean slate of what to expect, if you will, and I entered into the theatre acting, well, acting stupid.

It didn’t work. Within the first five minutes of this documentary, I was hooked. Everything about this film was extremely well done. The director has a great way of being able to describe a lot of detail in less than 2 hours, and does so in such a moving way, that you leave feeling like you were a part of this wonderful man’s life. This wonderful man was none other than Fred Lebow, long time President of the New York Road Runner's Club, and founder of the present day 5 -borough New York City Marathon, which started in 1976.

I could go on forever giving you every wonderful detail about this documentary, but why do something that the director has already done so well, and so much better than I could ever do? The reflections by the people interviewed were top notch. The people selected for the interviews were top notch. This wonderful archival footages of New York City, The New York City Marathon, and of the man, Fred Lebow, are incredible.

Halfway through the movie, I began to realize that I had a smile on my face that lasted since the movie began. I decided to peel my eyes away from the screen for a quick couple of seconds. Sure enough, there were many other people like me with the same silly expression. We were all somehow transported back in time, to Lebow’s world, when running was considered rebellious, fun, and fad. There were tons of funny moments and the movie also had its touching moments throughout, with the final few minutes that I bet left not a dry eye in the house.

Tonight's (Sunday 4/27) 9pm was not the first showing of this film at the Tribeca Film Festival. That took place on Friday 3:30pm. However, it was the first in which George Hirsch, and Bob Glover were in attendance. From 1978 to 1987, George Hirsch was the founding publisher and president of The Runner magazine at which time it was merged into Runner's World. He retired in 2004 and is now the Chairman of the Board of the New York City Marathon. Bob Glover, has been with the NYRR for over 30 years. He has written several best selling books to include the Runner’s Handbook, an incredible compendum on how to run. It’s a great read whether you are a beginner all the way to include the elite competitor. Bob also holds free classes to teach about running. In fact, I remember having the opportunity to attend one of those classes. I remember it well too, because, Fred Lebow was there, and it was there where he made it public that he had brain cancer. Of course, Fred said it in his own way, and was so upbeat about it, that it almost seemed like an easily defeatable foe. That was the one thing about Fred. No matter how much (or little) things worried him you would never know, because he was always a pillar of positivity to all his fans and runners.

The movie ended to a rousing and long applause. When the credits ended, we applauded again. When Judd Erlich, the producer & director of the movie took the stage, we applauded again. It was a heartwarming documentary, and one that touched all aspects of the pulse of New York City, especially during the hey-days of the seventies.

The music, all original I believe, was great. The editing was even better than that. With all the transitionary and special effects you can tell that this was no ordinary documentary. Bob (Glover) and George (Hirsch) both got up on stage with the film crew, and did a little Q & A. There were several heartwarming stories from both, including the one where Bob made a promise to Fred who was in his last days that he would train Moshe, Fred’s nephew to run a marathon. Fred’s wish was that someone else in his family would run a marathon. As Bob told the story, he was choking with emotion. And as he passionately finished his story, we were choking back our tears right along with him.

So two marathon movies have come out this year. Spirit of the Marathon was a great film, but Run For Your Life was beyond a great film. It was great filmmaking too. I will definitely plan on Running For The Video Store should this gem ever come out on DVD.
I’ve seen thousands of films. This might have been perhaps the greatest biographical documentary I have ever seen. Even if you could care less about running, or about New York, you will highly, highly enjoy this film. I guarantee it!

Rating: 10 out of 10 Gonzos. A Perfect Score.

Below again is a preview to this film. Fore more, I would suggest visiting the website directly at

Today was not just limited to the Tribeca Film Festival or even the premiere party at Reboot on Avenue A that preceeded it. There was actually a race today! The Alley Pond 5 Mile Challenge, to be exact. There were incredible highs with a little bitter pill at the end. There’s too much to write about it now (it’s 1:11am), but I will follow up tomorrow and give the full blow-by-blow.
There is a lot to tell!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What a week's it's been!

Haven't had the chance to write much, but it's not for having a lack to write about either. April has been an assault on the roads. I have run and/or cross trained every day this month. 20 days and 188 miles later, I have been very blessed to see that my body has been holding up well. I've started running early in the morning this week too. Temperature-wise in New York has been great, and my stride is looking good.

Perhaps the best thing of all is my weight management goal. Yesterday was my daughter's 10th birthday, and I threw a picnic for her at the park. Alas, the 3300 calories were not something good and I gained 1.4 pounds. However, yesterday morning I was down to 153.8 pounds, and I have no doubts in my mind that I will reach my goal of 140s soon. The cross training has been toning me up as well, and I am beginning to see muscle definition around my abs area.

This past Wednesday, I subbed for Bonnie and led our group for the Wednesday night run. I held court on Victory Field's oval track. We did speed work. 2 X 400, 2 x 300, 2 x 200, and 2 x 100 and then repeated. Afterwards, I met Roberto Puento. He came in 2nd place overall in last year's Forest Park Race. I managed to keep pace with him for nearly 3/4s of a lap, but he is a speed demon. I think I was going a about a 5 minute pace. I also met a guy named Antony who runs with Witold Runners. All the runners in that team are 50 and over, and as Bonnie accurately described, I run as fast as their slowest runner. They are pretty remarkable!

Next week is the Alley Pond Challenge 5 mile race. I am really looking forward to that run.

We had our team meeting today, the highlight of which was to discuss about preparations for the Forest Park Classic that we host each year. It's pretty amazing how much preparation has to take place to put on a race, but from what I've seen, we've got a lot of amazing people in our group, and everything's coming together well thus far. I've volunteered to hand out water (with my kids) that weekend, which reminds me that I will need to sign up to do the same with NYRR, if I am to qualify for next year's Marathon.

I am definitely going to skip the Brooklyn Half on the 3rd, to focus on a good finish for the Long Island half on the 4th. I may however, volunteer to be "Dad's taxi" for the other runners that day. The Brooklyn Half is not an out and back run. You start in Coney Island. You finish in Prosepect Park. It's 17 subway stops in between.

Pictures & video of my kids and festivities for my daughter's birthday to follow.

I've broken the 70 mile mark this week. Like I said, my legs are rubber this week. If only they were like this every week....we shall see.

I owe you all a "Journey Across America" entry. After all, with all these extra miles, who knows where I am.....Ohio, perhaps???

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ryan Hall Answers The Call & Yankee Hex Over?

Ryan Hall is aiming for a place on the podium in Beijing after shaving just
over two minutes from his personal best time in the London Marathon on

Hall's time of 2 hours, 6 minutes, 17 seconds was the third-fastest by an
American. The 25-year-old made his marathon debut at London last April and won
the U.S men's Olympic marathon trials in December in New York to earn a place in

Hall finished fifth Sunday, behind three Kenyans and a Moroccan.

"I really learned a lot out in the race today, more than I learnt in the
first two," Hall told The Associated Press. "It was a great

Martin Lel won his third London Marathon in four years with a course record
time of 2:05:15 and Hall was among a group at world record pace until the last
six miles when their speed was slowed by rain.Sammy Wanjiru and Abderrahim
Goumri were second and third, also with personal bests. It was first time the
top three in a marathon finished under 2:06.

"It was really challenging, both mentally and physically," Hall said. "It
was the uneven pace that made it a real challenge for me because I'm more a
rhythm runner. It was encouraging because Beijing is probably not going to be
very even."

Hall was part of the leading pack that clocked 1:01:12 at the halfway mark,
but he was unable to deal with the surging pace and dropped back at 18

"When they pulled away, they made a pretty hard move and honestly, I just
couldn't go with it," Hall said. "It was tough at that point to just not bag it
(quit), but going out as fast as we did meant I knew I was on schedule for a
good time if I could manage a good second half of the race.

"I just tried to stay positive, which is difficult when you're blown out
the back."
Hall made up nine seconds and rejoined the group by the 21st mile
before he was left behind again by Lel, Wanjiru and Goumri.

"He did a really good job of damage control of not falling apart when he
lost top three for good," Hall's coach Terence Mahon said. "He still kept his
head on and tried to run as fast as he could."
Khalid Khannouchi holds the
two fastest times for an American overall — 2:05:38 to take the 2002 London
Marathon, which was the previous course record, and 2:05:56 to win in Chicago in
the same year. Mahon doesn't expect those times to stand too much

"He's jumped a bunch of steps on this learning curve," Mahon said. "He's
always had a belief that he can medal (in Beijing). Getting this bit more of
experience, it will help both him and I fine-tune his program."

Hall admitted he was tempted to drop out at 23 miles when he began passing
women competitors who were walking.

"Those last miles were very difficult," he said. "The marathon's weird, the
sensation you feel during the race. It's almost like an outer-body experience. I
feel I can go faster, but my legs just won't go."

This was Hall's last big race before he goes to his first Olympic Games,
and he's now beaten several of the men he'll likely line up against in Beijing —
including defending champion Stefano Baldini, world champion Luke Kibet and
former London Marathon winner Felix Limo.

"It gave me a lot of confidence that I can be competitive and I'm
definitely motivated," Hall said.

"I'm really happy with how things went today but there's little bit of
As well as training, Hall will be also cheering on his wife
Sara, a distance runner who is bidding to make the U.S. track team for the

"She's been so close so often to qualifying," Hall said. "To have her
nail it at the trials, I'll be more excited for her than I was in New York for

...And in other (STRANGER) news:

It appears as though Gino's attempt at Jinxing the Yankees has been thwarted, when construction workers were able to identify the area where he worked. From there, they spent $50K and drilled through 5 feet of concrete, to dig up the now-infamous Ortiz Red Sox shirt.

I'm no Yankee fan but....what a dope! This guy (Gino Casto-whatevahh) is going to possibly face jail time for this. He could have done far more constructive things with his bury a replica of a World Series Championship Trophy....under Citi Field!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

RACE REPORT: TGL Run As One 4-Miler

RACE: Thomas G. Labrecque Sixth Annual Run As One Race to Benefit Lung Cancer Research
DATE: Sun. April 13, 2008 9am
DISTANCE: 4 Mile Run
TEMP: 49 Degrees
PERS. DISTANCE REC: 29:23 RACE # LIFETIME: 76th RACE # IN 2008: 6th

It's been awhile since my last race report. After having been diagnosed with Multiple Fatigue Fractures (if that's really what the doc says it was), I missed two races (NYRR8000 & Sctoland Run), and did a lot of cross-training to earn my miles rather than the traditional foot-pounding , that I normally put my body through.
The last time I did the TGL (Thomas G. Labrecque) run, I was at my lightest weight at 153. While I am not at that weight this time around, I have lost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year and am at a respectable 155.

Additionally, I was also on a tear last year, recording PR after PR. My 7:20 per mile pace was only bested the previous week by my phenomenol outcome at the JFK of a 6:40 pace. Considering, that this race this year was the first after a 2 month racing layoff, I was just going to be happy to finish without pain....and perhaps achieve a close to 8 minute per mile average.
There were a lot of other differences in this year's race from last year, both from a race as well as from a personal perspective. Racewise, this year's field has remarkably swelled up. There were over 6000 runners, up nearly 10% over last year. Remembering my struggles getting "through the pack", I intelligently opted to line up right away, and wait a few extra minutes to ensure I was in the right area according to expected finish time. Last year I was also unattached whereas this year I was not only running for myself, but also for my team (Forest Park Road Runners) as well.

I really like the feeling of running with a team as it makes me want to do well for more reasons than normal. Part of the team drove in with Bonnie this morning. I opted instead to huff it on the subway. I totally forgot that the meters in NYC are expired on Sunday, else I might have driven in (although Bonnie did say that the upper level of the 59th St. Bridge was a nightmare....what else is new?)

We all met near the bandshell. It was really cool and it definitely gave me more purpose to run than in the past (as if I needed more motivation, lol).

The race itself was uneventful. The weather, perfect. It had actually been warmer (and muggy) the day before. Not today. After posting a 7:30 for my first mile, I started giving up mentally the thought of breaking any PRs. Now that I reflect, I don't know why I had been feeling so dejected. After all, and like I said before, I would have been happy with an 8 minute mile. However, I did start to feel pretty good about myself when I clocked my 2nd mile in only 7 minutes and 3 seconds. Wow. Did I actually have a chance? I was already half-way through the race, and I've managed to hold up well thus far. Mile 3 last year for me was a bitch, primarily due to the hills. But I also knew that Mile 4 was going to be predominantly downhill too. If I could somehow just survive Mile 3, and have enough in the tank for the last mile, I could somehow, perhaps, possibly challenge my PR of 29:23.

Well Mile 3 did turn out to be a bitch. And although, I did it in 7:37, it felt like I had just run through a vat of extra thick maple syrup (the artificial kind of course!). Runners that were looking to impress, started blowing by me on the uphills, while others that went out too fast, were dying out, some even walking up the hill. I can't tell you how relieved, mentally, I was when I saw the Mile 3 marker. I actually had taken a pit stop just prior to that for some water (my first and only pit stop). But it wasn't even a pit stop at all. Somehow, I was able to run through the water trough, scooping up a cup, flinging the H20 in my mouth, and chucking the cup right into the waste basket. All within a few seconds, and without slowing down.

Around the start of Mile 4, I started jockeying for position. Knowing full well that I wasn't going to face too many more miles, I really started to turn the jets on. The greatest thing, I think, about racing, is that I had totally shed any fear of my injury. This last mile was the perfect example of that. There was an older gentleman, of asian desecent, who I kept passing and who kept passing me, and suddenly it turned into a horse-race. I didn't know it was going to be a photo finish either. But the best part of it all was that he turned to me and shook my hand after we crossed the finish line. Then he pointed at my Forest Park Runners shirt, and told me that he was in the club (well, at least that's what I thought he said). Anyway, I thought it was really cool that we congratulated each other after the run, and as it turned out, his name is Chong Duk Soe. As it also turned out, Chong Duk actually runs for the KRRC (Korean Road Runners Club). There were 30 Korean Road Runners at the race, from all over the tri-state area. Chong Duk is from Rego Park, so perhaps he's seen me training on the road?

I ran with all the intensity I could at the end, and when I looked at my Garmin (which annoyingly took me forever to get a satellite before the start of the race), I noticed something unbelievable. 29 minutes, 19 seconds. A new PR!

Here were highlights of the race.
Film is courtesy of the New York Road Runner's Club

I continued onward and walked back to the bandshell. I took the opportunity to change out into my dry clothing in the port-o-sans (I love my Transpack!). I found my cellphone and called her....she was actually at the finish line waiting for me. I never saw her as I finished the run. She was walking with Bonnie. John (Duralia) who was able to make the race, finished very strong for his first FPRR race as well. I really think John is going to get a lot better, as he's had some great running results (for sure) when he lived in Ontario.

We all met back at the bandshell. Jack (our President) was there, in traditional tank top and shorts as if it was 80 degrees outside, lol! Brenda and Carol were also on hand too, and they looked pretty happy with their overall result.

After a few minutes, the 8 of us remaining (from our field of 13) walked out of the park and headed for a restaurant called "3 Guys", located on Madison and 75th. It was packed with other runners, but it wasn't long at all before we were seated. I had an egg omellet consisting of goat cheese, spinach and mushroom. It was delicious and I made sure to wash it down with mucho cafe. This was a very enjoyable event. And I'm really looking forward to our next race in Alley Pond Park on the 27th.

But the day wasn't over yet. Jack, John, and I hopped on the train at Lex and 77th. We got off and as we were walking out of the station, I saw Arnold Langer. Arnold has been a longtime friend of my dad's. He was at the pastry shop just outside of the Union Turnpike train station. I went inside, and without even saying hello, I addressed the cashier that he was flirting with, while his back was turned to me.

"Did you know that this place gets some famous athletes, namely PGA tour elites?", I said to the girl behind the counter. At this point Arnold turned around, and while his mouth was hanging open, he remained speechless.

"What's the matter? You have NOTHING to say? This is so unlike you, Arnold!"

Well, eventually he did talk, as we sat down at a booth inside the pastry shop. We caught up on a lot, and made a promise that we would see each other again. He also promised that he would see me at the end of my Marathon this year. Also, he said he never got the video. And now I know why. I left it at the WRONG building, with the WRONG doorman. That was over a year ago. What a dope I was. The video, I am referring to, was a movie comedy-documentary that I created showing Arnold & my father playing a so-called "friendly" round of golf together. It was pretty funny, and I wanted him to see this. I will be digging through my archives this week to make him another copy. Although this time, I will be sure to burn a copy onto DVD.

I did 64 miles last week. So far, I have exercised a/o ran 13 consecutive days. I am feeling great. I will continue to monitor my health and watch my weight also. I am in a good place right now, thank God, and hope to continue this trend for as long as I possibly can.

More photos as we walked to the restaurant earlier...

With all the Cherry Blossoms around, I am happy to finally report. Spring has finally come to New York! Below, another CB. This one's on Lefferts Blvd, approaching Austin Street:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Think People Running With An i-Pod Can Be Annoying? Guess Again!

I couldn't believe my own ears until I heard (and saw) this video.
It's not on YouTube, or I would have just embedded it, but click
on the link, to see what I mean!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

So Far. So Great.

Between my cross-training, and now...dare I say it...running, I've been doing great.
Nearly 90 miles for the month of April and no signs of pain from my left leg, and no signs of slowing down either. I don't want to be premature in saying this, but I might just have to change my "skeletor" banner pretty soon if this keeps up.

Lotsa stuff happening in the news of late both local and abroad. First off, the $8 congestion pricing bill was killed in Albany. In fact, they didn't even vote on it. Bloomberg was pretty pissed off, citing that the "cowardice of those responsible in Albany will not be forgotten". I guess no one wants to take a position on anything that could come back to bite them in the ass.

I was sad to see Charlton Heston pass away this week. Poor Charlie. Loved him in the Omega Man, but perhaps one of my favorite lines of all time was, "Get your stinkin' paws off me, you damn dirty ape." Although he was a great actor, I think he started to lose it when he became the President of the NRA. Frankly, I think he thought he was living out some macho movie, but you gotta love Charlie for his stoic like behavior. My old man, who cannot stand him, weeped for him I'm sure (NOT).

I still remember when I, as a joke, sent him an actual model figure of Charlton Heston. He got it for his birthday, in fact (seems like I'm doing something funny to him every year for his b-day...look at the previous Well, he took that action figure and attached a piece of rope from the ceiling around his neck. Later that year (back in 1996), I went to visit him, and saw the disgrace before my eyes. Tsk Tsk.
Heston and his hairy love.

In other events, I think this might be a first, but it appears that we had our first terrorist event at a marathon. A suicide bomber killed 14 people at an opening ceremony for a marathon Sunday, including a government minister who was nearing the starting line with a flag and a former Olympian. More than 90 others were wounded in the attack.

Happy Birthday To The "Creator"

This post is dedicated to my father on his birthday.
Because of his love and admiration (NOT) of Ann Coulter,
and his constant ridiciculing of the GREATEST basketball player EVER,
I now present to you, Davidog Master Dogg!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Holding Up Well

Every Sunday my caloric intake surpasses my allotment. 1 day out of 7 days would not be so bad, and so far, I've actually lost weight and with my kids with me too. I weighed myself this morning and I'm at the incredible new low of 155.4! And just to prove I'm not depriving myself, I had 1750 of my 1950 calories yesterday. Above all else, I need to make sure my body does not enter "starvation" mode, and to do that I need to make sure I eat as close to my daily caloric limit as possible. Losing weight is good, provided I don't lose it too fast.

Yesterday, I did pounded out 10 miles on the elliptical and finished it with 2 easy miles on the treadmill at 6mph. I felt good, and went on to use some exercise equipment before they literally kicked me out (the gym closes at 8pm) on Saturday. Making progress on my ab machine now too. I can do 100 reps x 65 pounds without taking any breaks.

We had a new member join us in this morning's run. His name is John and he recently relocated from Ontario. He denies this, but I happen to think he's got a lot of promise. I had to struggle to keep up with him, and he even talked the whole time (just like me!). He's actually on the north side of the park, like myself. He actually lives in the same buildings (Parker Towers) where one of my first girlfriends, Dominique Jezequel, lived. Boy, the stories I have to tell about that one. I was 12 years old. Let's just leave it at that.

Anyway, John and I took off so quickly, that I barely got to say goodbye to my other comrades. I learned he is in insurance. Based on the training speed, I felt like asking him if he had a life insurance policy he could sell me (lol). We parted ways at Woodhaven Boulevard, and I continued across the boulevard and did final mile through the south side of the park and back. All told, the six miles I ran today was the longest since my prognosis last month. And to tell you the truth, I still feel great, even as I write this now some 4 hours later.

Jack gave us a flyer today for the Alley Pond Striders 5 Mile Challenge. I took a look at the entry form, and know the course very well. In fact, in a few of the times that I ran with the Quantuum folks, we actually ran through the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway through Alley Pond. Not only did I love that run, but it reminded me when I was a young kid, and my parents had me in day camp over there too. I definitely plan on running this race. It's on April 27th, so I'll be sending in my application in tomorrow. Also, I might get to meet some of the Alley Pond Striders. I already know Noelia and would like to meet "Terrier Tracks" (she knows who she is...she's got her own blog too!)

I'm leaving soon to take Matthew to his baseball practice. The skies are threatening over here, and I still have to get him an athletic cup, lol, before we arrive at the diamond. I had him practice his "Where's the Play CD", plus we were playing MLB Show on the PS3. He loves it, and I think it's helping him to see a clearer picture about the roles of each of the positional players, and the psychology of a pitcher (when to throw balls, strikes, etc, based on the count). I really just want him to have fun more than anything else, but if he decides down the road to follow up with this sport, I would love to see him become a big-league starting picture. He has a good throw, and a decent aim too. Right now, his hitting is his best. Fielding? He still needs a lot of work, but he'll get there if he wants to.

As for me, my baseball "days" are over. All I've got are my Mets, my MLB '08 The Show game on PS3, and a free fantasy draft league I did on MLB.COM. And that reminds me...I need to get my lineup in !

Friday, April 4, 2008

Shining thru the leaner days.

OK. I haven't been blogging much these days. That's because I haven't exercised in nearly three weeks since my doctor told me no impact exercises. Plus I've been eating between 3 to 4 thousand calories per day, and I've ballooned from 162 all the way up to 170 now. Nothing like Pizza, Cheetos, Cherry Pies, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, and Haagen Dazs. Seriously, I really want to run, but I feel scared, weak and tired.

Now, really.

Do you really believe that?

Is that the attitude of a winner, or a quitter?

Please strike the entire first paragraph your honor. The author has not gained any weight like he said. Rather, he has lost his mind.

I've lost my mind alright. That and about 5 pounds.

Yes. It would be so easy to gain weight. After all, I was gaining weight when I was not injured and running. And with all that extra time on my hand, what else was there to do? Right?




I don't quit. Never have. Never will. When the doctor told me that I had multiple (not even 1, but freaking MULTIPLE) stress fractures on my left upper interior tibia....well...I got pissed off. No. Incensed is a better word for it.

However rather than just sitting and sulking,

Take a look:

On the left, a graphical representation of the drop in weight. The FDA states that a man who stands 5 foot 7 inches tall should weigh less than 160. They say that a man with that height who weighs more than 160, is considered over-weight. My friends, I have not been overweight now since March 25. On March 20th, when I wrote "Blogrunner is Blogbroken", I weighed 161 pounds. At 156.4, I've lost four and a half pounds in two weeks. I could have lost more, faster, but my body would have gone into starvation mode and would have held on to my calories longer by lowering my metabolism. Not exactly what I want. I want my metabolism to be faster!
Since the 20th, I've put myself on a caloric restriction diet. I try not to eat more than around 1900 calories. So, if look at the calendar above, and throw out any day prior to the 20th, I've currently have had 9 days where I went under the caloric limit, and 7 days over the caloric intake. Sunday seems to be my relapse day, doesn't it?

That chart only takes into account calories eaten. If I subtracted the calories I've burned from exercises I've done, then the landscape is completely different. As I previously mentioned in another blog, your body needs to burn 3500 calories to eliminate 1 pound of weight. Not easy by any means.

But eating less is only ONE of the MANY things. One of my other targets has been to take my vitamin supplements every day, and increase the amount of protein my body was getting. Right now, I'd have to say I'd give myself a "B-" grade for this, so I need to keep working at it.

Perhaps, the biggest triumph during this fucked up leg crisis that I've been dealing with, is my refusal to stay dormant. I've done everything I can to stay extremely active. I've been going to the gym several times a week, and have been hitting the elliptical machines with a furious vengeance. Some of my average reps have been as high as 220 per minute over a thirty minute period. On Monday, April 1 I went 2 straight hours on the elliptical. I did 12750 cycles. 6600 in the first hour alone. Two days ago, I did an hour workout on my abs, and even did some shoulder presses. That same evening, I joined the club, and we did go running outdoors. It was an easy 4 mile run, followed by a walk. I know, I know. But I did go easy (at least until the end when I decided to take off right as I hit an uphill on Woodhaven Blvd.) Yesterday, I went running.....In the swimming pool! (Yes, LA Fitness finally got their shitty act together and fixed the pool in Farmingdale). I ran laps for 30 minutes. Talk about a workout!

Through all my FLC (Fucking Leg Crisis), I have somehow learned to reinvent myself. I've been eating better foods, sleeping more, working out harder (without impact to my tibia) and have learned to lower my stress as well. By no means, am I ready to start running hardcore again yet, but my leg is getting stronger and healthier.

On another note, Runner's Edge store in Farmingdale, has graciously donated two awesome hi-tech runner's caps for our giveaway raffle after our Forest Park Classic race. The race is May 18th, and I am actually excited about it......and I am not even running it!

We're supposed to be having a club meeting on the 13th. Should be interesting. I am still waiting to see what date we will all be going to see this movie. I can actually go on the 1st, since I will be in the city in the morning.