Sunday, August 31, 2008

RACE REPORT: Nike Human Race

NIKE...."JUST BLEW IT".


Race: The Nike Human Race 10K
Date: Sunday, August 31, 2008
Time: 6:23pm
Place: Randalls Island, New York
Distance: 10 Kilometers
Temperature: 80 degrees
Humidity: 62%
Winds: Calm
# of Runners: 15,000+
Time: 46:52
Pace: 7:33 PR (Personal Record!)
Placement: NIKE SUCKS


A few months ago Nike went public with this "Human" race. To this day (sep 22), I still don't know what the message behind this race was other than it was Nike's exploitive way of saying they had the most runners worldwide ever.

The fact that I even entertained doing this race was nothing short of me being mentally unstable. I had just done the Manhattan 14.2 Training Run race earlier in the morning, and while I was not running that all out in order to save myself for this race, I really had no business even doing that race earlier either. Hell, I just finished moving 30 hours ago, and was shot to hell!

But, I love a challenge.


And so, yes, here I am driving over the Triboro Bridge, and making my way over to Randall's Island with my good pal Scott in the pax seat. Neither one of us were looking at making any record times tonight. In fact, all we were interested was in finishing. Doing 2 races in 1 day would be an accomplishment that I have never done before in my life, but to do it after moving 100+ boxes, and furniture, out of a storage unit and up a two flight walkup some 40 miles away, is something completely insane.

In addition to which, the temperature was hot as hell.

When we got to Randall's the security there was, as nasty as hell. They were directing traffic for people on where to park. They even called this one woman an "idiot" for not following directions. It's a good thing that I wasn't that woman's man, or else there be some major fists flying in his direction. Seriously.

Nike, in their usual circus-like fasion, had a large grass field to the right of Icahn's Track & Field Stadium for all the vendors that were promting the race. Of course, we shamelessly hit every booth, the Granola section, the energy bar section, the poland spring area (which by the way, gave out these nice t-shirts saying "green is the new black".

Nike had photoshoot back drops, promotional vans, and even video cams where you can send a video email to your loved ones.


In the same fashion as their Run Hit Wonder races, Nike's number was printed on their mandatory, race-day battle-red technical shirts. Thousands wearing these red shirts began to flood in, and not long after we got there, the whole island was one big sea of red. If you looked out into the distance, you could see the ferry's hauling in hundreds of more red shirts. It was a red-shirt invasion!

For as well as Nike does their pre-race hype and station setups, they did far worse during the actual race. In fact, this race was THE WORST, disorganized effort ever.

And here is how they sucked ass. And if anyone at Nike reads this, please note that I am doing this in the hopes that you improve (should you ever consider to do another one of these races)

1. Randall's Island is a horrible place for a race.

The roads are broken, and unkept. There are hazards everywhere. In the first half-mile for example, I nearly ran into a signless, green sign-post. I could not see it because it was camouflaged by the grass around it. There are cars everywhere coming in and going out from picnicing. Driving right through our course. There is a sewage treatment facility (though thank God that it was not operational at the time of the run).

Why couldn't this have been done in Central Park, or even Roosevelt Island? Anywhere but here.

2. The gestapo security has got to go.

There was some fucking 400 barely-off-the-boat asswipe calling runners idiots, because they could not follow his low-brow'ed instructions as to where to park. If anyone called my wife, or girlfriend an idiot at the top of their lungs so that everyone else could here, I would have been finishing my race.....in a prison cell. Namely, because that "security" person would still be looking for his teeth. I hate mean people.

Nike may turn a blind eye and say they had nothing to do with this. Well Nike, wake up. This is another reason why Randall's Island EEES NO SO GOOD CHU SEE????

3. Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Nike had too many runners in this race. It was a 10K race and they had 15000 runners. Ridiculous. I understand that there are other places (ie. Peachtreek 10K in Atlanta) that boasts even more for such an event. Frankly, I don't understand the fun of it. This is the Human Race, not the Human Fun Run. There is no way you can compete for a good time, unless you are in the front of the line......and even if you are in the front, wait till you read point number 6.....

4. When you say 6pm, then mean it!

The race was supposed to start at 6pm, but for some unfounded reason, Nike decided to have their garbage-pickers kick into high gear at 5:55pm to scour the footpath for hazmats. What?

They had all day to make sure that the race course was safe. What were they doing all this time? Just Do It? No, more like JUST BLEW IT! (damn, that was effin' corny, right? *sigh*)

We didn't start the race until 6:23pm. It was so bad that at one point we were all chanting *RACE, RACE, RACE* I thought I was in Watts in the late sixties waiting for a riot to break out.

Even more exuisitely nauseating was the person talking to the crowd, stepping over himself on the PA trying to make excuses and keep the crowd at bay. It was painful!

5. The water was warm and not plentiful.

Besides the course being way too narrow for even a Fiat Panda to squeeze through, the water that they gave (and little of it - only 2 stops that I saw) was actually almost HOT. Disgusting. It kinda reminded me of the episode of Seinfeld in which the Kenyan runner accidentally takes Kramer's cup of hot coffee to drink while racing.....Eeeeek!

6. The race course was A-T-R-O-C-I-O-U-S.

How elseabout I just save you the grief and cut to the chase? With 1/2 mile to go, EVERYONE came to a DEAD STOP. Part of the footpath (see below) took us over a very narrow bridge.

This bridge is run over twice. The people passing approaching the 3 mile mark were merging with those of us approaching the 6 mile mark. Not only did we stop, but we stopped for about 3 minutes hard. It was bar-none THE WORST RACE COURSE ENGINEERING EVER, and the person responsible should have been let go (assuming there is such a job for this). We were all on the verge of doing incredible PRs. There were desperate people all around me trying to avoid the logjam. One woman literally hurdled over me from the top of a sitting bench on the bridge, while Barbara, who was also in the race, also reported that she saw a guy run across the top rail that crossed the bridge. One step in either direction, and he would have plummeted into the water. This is ridiculous! Could Nike have been sued if this person had fallen in and died? Probably not. But then again, who knows?

7. The statistics after the race are THE WORST ever.

So, okay, I came in 25,250th place compared to the "rest" of the world. What does that mean exactly? All I know is that there were 26 cities competing. But I don't know how many runners in total that is, do you? Do you even know how many runners there were in each city? Or what percentage of runners were men? Even in the NYC race alone? And who did I beat, and who beat me? http://www.nikerunning.com/ . Just go there, and go to the race. Their statistical reporting is ATROCIOUS. New York Road Runners is superior in every way to Nike. In fact, Forest Park Road Runners, my club, for the 300 participants and our little humble race, did a phenomenal job compared to Nike. And if anyone argues the point that it's much easier to tabulate our race, then think this.....We did not have computer chips in our race. Nor did we have millions of dollars to make the race what Nike should have made it out to be.

Instead of spending money on any of the research, organization, development, and race controlling, they opted instead for the JUST DO IT banner across Carl Icahn Stadium.

And the post-race entertainment, was crap. LA got Kanye West. What did we get? I can't even remember if the name of the group was a form of tropical disease or a variety of yogurt. Horrible, all the way around.

And, despite all this whining and complaining and just out and out bitching, I still managed to DESTROY my PR. After all I had been through since my move on Friday, I summoned something within myself, and posted blazing splits.

In Mile 1, Scott and I were just trying to stay alive and move with the monstrous herd of red all around us. He and I would look for openings for one another and the other would follow suit.
Mile 1 split: 07:46.69

In Mile 2, I was able to get Scott some water for him and I, because in this race, if you were more than 5 feet away from a water table, then you weren't going to get any water. It was just that dense.
Mile 2 split: 07:37.18

In Mile 3, was the bridge, and more hazardous areas to watch for including get this....... active motorists! on the path....
Mile 3 split: 07:46.25

In Mile 4, we were still moving hard still surrounded by many, but now I am passing a great many of these peeps though.
Mile 4 split: 07:36.89

In Mile 5, Scott drops back and tells me to go forth, and then ...... THE FREAKING BRIDGE!!!!
Mile 5 split: 7:30.62



In Mile 6, we enter the stadium, and rather than rejoicing from the crowds from the stands cheering us on, I was (like so many others) so pissed off about the bridge stoppage, that I did not even want to look at my time on the Official Race clock overhead.
Mile 6 split: 7:01.67

Last 2/10ths split: 1:33.12

Total Time: 46:52
Pace: 7:33 - A new personal record.

The replenishment row ahead was chock full of disgruntled runners. This was by far the worst experience that the HUMAN RACE has ever experienced during the run.


Congratulations Nike. Oh and thanks for charging me the amount of money that you did. I really got my money's worth. Of course, I am being completely sarcastic. At the very least, we all should have gotten a real medal and not some cardboard baton-like case holding a cheap dog tag inside.

Nike Sucks.

Looks like I won't be getting sponsored by them anytime soon, huh?

RACE REPORT: Manhattan (14.2 Mile) "Training" Run.

RACE: MANHATTAN 14.2 MILE TRAINING RUN
DISTANCE: 14.2 miles
DATE: Sunday, August 31, 2008
TIME: 7:30am
LOCATION: 222nd St. & Broadway, NY, NY
WEATHER: 69F
HUMIDITY: 40%

Barely a full day after I moved, I was shlepping out of Bonnie's bed to meet Scott downstairs. I drove back to Bonnie's house yesterday (Saturday) because she was still in California, because i still had her house keys, because her cat (and imaginary fish) needed feeding, and because I just did not want to have to get up at 3am to drive to NYC.

I met Scott downstairs at 5am, and from there he drove us to find a parking spot on near 90th and the west side. We hopped on a cab, and asked the cabbie to take us all the way to 222nd Street & Broadway. The start of the race. Columbia University is there and we also saw a few runners, but we were one of the first. I had nothing to check at this point except for perhaps my left over Red Bull, and like a joker, I wrapped the baggage tag (which was even larger itself than the Red Bull) around the can. I think that between Friday's move, Jack Rabbit and the 20-miler the week before, and now this, that it's safe to say that Scott and I were joined at the hip the last two weeks.

The bathrooms at the track n field in Columbia U. were incredibly nice. It's funny the things people remember. Like synchronized shitting....but I'll leave that one alone.

There was some crazy homey with the mega phone who kept asking people to raise their hands in the air like every 7.8 seconds. We were directly beneath the El train. To start off the race we actually had to touch the first steel-girder to the Hudson bridge. This was as a custom to the race. Even here I had to be competitive and touch the girder behind that one, just to say that I went further in the end.

As the race began I noticed someone else wearing the Nike provided red numbered shirt for this evening's other race. She mentioned that she was doing this race, because she was unable to attend the other race. She will not get a medal, and excuse me, but isn't that like paying twice to just race once??

The weather outside was fairly nice. Pretty cool. It might have been as low as 64 degrees with little humidity too. There was a pace car playing Rocky music while the homey, who was inside, was exclaiming some rap-like shit to all "his running homeys". What Cheese.

The first part of the run, was run through not so nice parts. At one point (was it 188th street) we made a left and went up this incredibly quick steep couple of blocks.

This was yet another run where my iPod did not have any juice/songs on it. Long story. But it was okay. I found plenty of people to talk to along the entire course with.

The temperature began to start warming up, especially as we made our was down the West Side Highway. I am glad that the race started when it did.

I definitely was feeling pretty good even after finishing. They gave us a medal, bagel halves, a ceramic mug, a travel alarm clock, and a pretty nice tshirt.

We finished up in Battery Park and walked another mile or so, till we got to the train station. On the way there though a funny thing. Scott, who has a knack for always giving charity to the homeless, walked past someone like that without giving anything. Just as he was beginning to feel bad about this, up ahead is an elderly African-American sitting in a wheel chair with a coffee cup in his hand and sunglasses on. Scott immediately felt it was time to redeem himself, so he took out a dollar to give to who he thought was homeless. They guy in the chair waved him off however. He was not cripple, and did not want his money. Oh, and the coffee cup? Yeah. Not a holdout cup at all. It actually had coffee. How embarrassing!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Aye-Yi-Yi....2 Races In 2 Days?

Never before had I ever run in two events on the same day. Not even when I was in High School and I weighed 125 pounds wet!!!
Hum....so lets see, I got up on Aug 29th at 5:30am and move my life's belongings until at 11:30pm, and 29 hours later I am waking up at 5am again. To do the entire length of Manhattan Island (14.2 miles), followed by another race at 6:30pm in Randall's Island a 10k. Uh, yeah. I'm okay with this.

WHA??????????????

How did I do? Keep reading the next entries!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Big Move.

For over 2 years, I had most of my personal belongings in storage. We are talking bed sheets, pots, pans, bicycles, CD's, lamps, you name it.

Today was moving day. Time to empty out.
Rather than doing this over the Labor Day weekend, I made a wise choice in moving out on Friday instead. Ileana had aleady called the storage facility before snooping to see whether or not I was there, and I did not want to have any chance of having an altercation with her or her son while moving. Figuring she would be working on Friday, it made perfect sense. Also, there was this little 14.2 mile race to be had on Sunday, so moving on Friday, would have, at least, given me SOME time to recuperate.

I picked up Scott at 6:30am at his house, and after a big breakfast at a local diner on Cross Bay, we made tracks over to the UHaul rental location on Atlantic Avenue. Interestingly, it was only blocks away from her son's house. Hee.
The serviceman there was a complete asshole, and that's putting it nicely. He gives me the key and without even leaving the booth inside the gas station, points his finger in a haphazardly direction to indicate where the truck was. I walk outside and there are like 10 trucks in the vicinity of his dirty, curry-crusted pointed index finger. But, I walk across the street to check it out. And as expected, I could not find the truck at all. IF PEOPLE CANNOT SPEAK ENGLISH, THEN WHY ARE THEY ALLOWED TO PROVIDE CUSTOMER DISSERVICE TO THOSE WHO DO?

I walk back inside and now he is helping another customer. I break into their conversation, when the new customer (or victim) tells me, that I had my turn and now it's his. Shit! I am on a schedule here!!! So I tell him that I was here before, and I still don't have a truck. Then that fucking idiot tells me that I have to wait until he is finished. I HAVE TO WHAT???

Sometimes I am surprised that I am still alive. This guy was about a foot taller than me, and although he was a tub of lard, I turned to that ass, and I said, No, you are going to have to wait until I AM FINISHED. He looked at me all surprised, muttered some shit under his breath, and backed off. Hey, who knows? Maybe he thought I was packing....and not boxes either.....

Bangladesh Bob walked outside and showed me the truck. I finally went back in there, and noticed damage. Uh-huh, like, you want me to drive this damaged truck out, and you will charge me for it when I bring it back like it's my fault right? Again, I had to go BACK to the store.

I actually made TWO more trips, but I will spare you the extra and undulated angst I had to suffer. You get my point.

Scott and I got to the storage facility off of Jamaica Avenue, and began, in earnest to load my entire life's worth of shit into a 17 foot truck. We made what seemed like a 100 trips up and down the elevator. Fortunately we had the bay to ourselves for much of the move. We started at around 9am and finished up by 1:30pm. The manager there, her name is Michelle and she works at the SafeGuard, advised me that I had a balance due of $3 dollars and change. I had asked her what it was for, and she told me that she didn't know, but that she had to charge me. I told her that I don't pay for things that I don't know what they are for. This conversation ensued until I finally erupted by looking at her colleague and saying, I will pay you this money and not to her. Michelle asked me if there was a problem, and I said "Yes There Is. For one, you should not be working in customer service because you are not a nice person. This is not the first time you have given me grief. here I am paying nearly $250 a month and you are squabbling over $3 dollars for which you don't even have a record of what it's for."

Today was a shining example of idiots indeed.

Hungry, we drove the truck onto the LIE. Big Mistake. The LIE was shut down in both directions at exit 38 to exit 40. It was a parking lot. What should have taken no more than an hour, took nearly 2 and a half hours. I was spent. Scott, driving my car behind me was spent also. When we got to my new place, we parked the truck, got the keys from Tony, and went into town for a nice late lunch at an Italian restaurant. It gave us a little bit of energy, but we still had to unload EVERYTHING.

As I write this today (Sept 18th) it is almost impossible for me to imagine just how much work we did that day. Better put, I don't even want to remember. However, we somehow finished up by 8pm, and I managed to lose nothing, break nothing. I have to give Scott the biggest props for helping me here.

I drove the truck and Scott home, then realized I left my car charger for the phone in the truck and drove back to the service station. I didn't get home until almost midnight, and collapsed on the twin mattress, bare and all, in the hot and messy confines of my kids room.

WHEW!!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Inaugural Long Run: Life Is A Beach

There were a lot of factors for why I needed to do this.
One - I needed another 20 miler in my training regimen to prepare for New York City.
Two - With an upcoming move, who knows how many miles I'll be able to do for a while.
Three - What the hell. DO IT!

I have to admit, while I could have leaned on choices 1, 2 and any other rational choice, I really wanted to do it to say I could. I never ran across four beaches and back. So what if the temperature was in the mid eighties even on the shore line? So what if the humidity was like at 70% or worse? Hell, I was ready. The night before I went to Jack Rabbit Sports with Scott down in Park Slope, Brooklyn. There I purchased a Camelback Water Bladder. .

For those of you who don't know what that is, please. Do not worry. I am not out there in the middle of New York harvesting Camels or Rabbits' bladders. No, the water bladder is a compartment of --- ehhh --- let me just show you the picture....


As you can see it is a backpack that is loaded with water for continuous hydration for those extra long runs. The straps are very comfortable, and it holds a considerable amount of liquid. Most impressive was that on the run today, the water remained cold throughout the entire jaunt.



Speaking of jaunt, here is the map of insanity. And yes, I love insanity, especially when it comes to running. If it hasn't been done yet, sign me up. If it has, but it can be done more impressively, then yes, forge my signature, because I will be there. Okay, let me shut my hole for a second. Here's the freaking map!!!!







One of the most crucial elements to this run besides the necessity for water, since most of the run was on boardwalk and in parts where there is no access to fresh water, is S U N S C R E E N !!!! Hello, remember me? Mr. Casper the Friendly Runner? I get sunburned just by googling images of the sun.

Scott showed up at Bonnie's at 5:30am and we were off to Far Rockaway Park. Driving down Cross Bay Boulevard, I was appreciating sites for which I had only recently discovered since becoming friends with Scott, but for which I knew would be fleeting since I knew I was moving out to ...... LONG ..... GUY ...... LAND.

The first five miles was like a fetus waiting to be born. I felt all screwed up, but the word tired didn't even exist. Also verbal exchanges like this didn't exactly help the cause (for Scott that is, because for me I was having a blast)

Alex: "Hey Scott"
Scott: "What"
Alex: "1 mile down. 19 to go"
Scott: "Gee thanks......UGH!!!!!"

LOL !!!!

So here are pictures that I snapped up from the internet to show you the beaches we ran through. Of course I could pictures of any beach with a boardwalk. I mean, hey, sand. wood. water. overpriced snooty condos. it's like that everywhere around right?

PHOTOS:

Rockaway Park:



Rockaway Beach Boardwalk has some real gritty areas.  Parts of the boardwalk (in the abandoned area) are in pretty bad shape.  Raised nails, planks, even missing planks.  Pretty treachourus.  Also, in the "abandoned" areas like the one above, the clientel is poor.  

This is the beginning of the Atlantic Beach Bridge.   We were at the 10K mark.   I was feeling very strong.  In an "out n' back" run, you have to be careful how far "out" you go, since you have to backtrack that same distance.  After we crossed the bridge, we went down some lonely looking streets until we hit Long Beach and once I saw some familiar places from the 10 Mile memorial day race, then I was in my element!


With Long Beach, we ran down the "monopoly" streets until the boardwalk started up again.  We got onto the boardwalk and made it to the 10 mile mark.  I was tempted to run past it, but I am glad I didn't!

The turn around was great.  The liquid in my Camelback was still cool but almost on "E".  When we got back to the state-named "monopoly" streets I stopped at a local supermarket and reloaded.  This time with Gatorade!  

From this point and all the way over the Atlantic Beach bridge I was stoked.  Yes it was hot, but I was doing awesome.  I don't think I ever felt this good 15 miles into a run.   I turned to my pal, and told him that I felt I could convert this run itself into a marathon.  He reminded me about the mind and it's ability to play cruel tricks on me.  Cruel tricks?  How many people do you know that would want to even run 20 miles, let alone run to the corner deli?!!!!  But I knew what he meant, so I decided to reserve my strength for later to see how I felt.

Mile 16 was a breeze.  So was Mile 17.  
And then the mechanics started to break down.
Mile 17 to 18  lasted for like, ever.  The sun was roasting me.  All I needed was a side of potatoes, and I would have made a nice addition to any dining room table on Thanksgiving.
The Gatorade was not that cold anymore.  Shit.  I must not have sealed it well.  ..... Ahhhhh.....So that's why my back was all sticky!!!!!

Mile 18, I turned to Scott.
Alex: "Scott"
Scott: "What now."
Alex: "I don't think I want to do 26.2 miles anymore."
Scott: "See?  It was all a mirage."


Mile 18 into 19.    Death and Taxes minus Taxes.
As the roasting of Alex D. Gonzalez continued, all I kept wondering was....."and I am doing a hot yoga class after this?  I am nuts!!!!"

Mile 19.  Delusions are flying rampantly.  This is what I saw in my head below.

Nice delusion, ehhh?  Well, I've been to Maui.  And let me tell you Rockaway Beach, while very nice is no Maui.  But it was to me.  Had to be.  It would be the only way I could finish my goal of 20 miles.  

Finally it was over.  20 miles in the can.  3 hours 27 minutes and change.  Woo Hah!

When we did finish, we made a wise choice and rather than walking the rest of the way back to his house, Scott called his mom to pick us up.  When she got there, she looked at us like as if we had just escaped an insane asylum.  I don't blame her.  

Back at Scott's,  we freshened up, reloaded on Gatorade and water, and headed out for Rockville Centre to the Bikram Hot Yoga Class.  

The class was torture.
But what did I expect?
You go into a 107 degree dry heat room.  No air. No ventilation. And perform all kinds of stretches.  About the only consolation are that "some" of the woman in bikinis offer the occasional distraction from wanting to do one of two things.   Puke.  Pass Out.

The boot phase came in about 10 minutes after I started.  The pass out phase was about 20 minutes into it.  Incredibly, I survived both (without puking or passing out) and made it to the end.  The instructor even talked more than me (if that could be believed), and was very supportive of me "the rookie".  Scott also helped, by making sure that I placed my mat by the exit door.   It was nice because every so often, the teacher opened the door to the oven.
Now I know what it's like to be an oven-roasted turkey.  At the end of the class, the teacher instructed us to take our time and rest as long as we wanted.  Scott, was just laying there with his eyes closed.   Not knowing what came over me.  Perhaps the heat stroke that was taking over my body,  I decided the throw in the towel.  Literally.  I threw my towel on top of Scott's head.  Man was he pissed! LOL!!!  

Overall, I would have to say it was a pretty cool (heh) experience for $20.  I can definitely see not only how it can make you more limber, but how it can help me run better on hot days too.
Still, I was all too happy to leave.

I wanted to find a picture of the bikram class.  Could not, but here's one I thought was entertaining......


Okay.  And speaking of funny pictures.  I know you didn't think for a moment that I had an entire humoungous barrel roped to my back, right?  LOL

This is more like what I wore during my long run.....

Monday, August 18, 2008

It Really Sucks But I Had To Do It.

POSTED: Wed. Sept 17th


MONDAY, AUGUST 18TH, 2008

Relationship building is always a good thing but when you have to decommission one, it can be a thing of pain. Without getting personal (which is difficult in this subject matter), I had to take a day off from work, and wait for my soon-to-be-insignificant-other to go to work, just so that I can get back into her apartment, and take the rest of my things.

Yes, I am moving out.

More challenging however is the fact that today is August 18th, and my new apartment will not be ready until Sep 1.

So, what were the factors THIS TIME AROUND?

Don't get me wrong. She is not a bad person. But her and I have not been on the same page for quite awhile. We are complete opposites. The reason for having a relationship, above all else, is companionship. While I am not saying that continuous reminders of love, and displays of affection are penultimate in a relationship, it is important nonetheless. IMHO I believed her to be a very cold and negative person at times. Additionally, fighting was happening on a daily basis, and in front of the kids. Normally, this is a big no-no to me, but add to that the fact that I only get to see my kids about 4 days a month because of legal and geographical constraints? My kids come first. She never communicated, and the few times she told me she loved me was to say "I love you in a way". She'd later defend herself by saying that she has a problem with the English language, but I don't buy that for a second. Then again, what the hell do I know right? I've only been married twice, had my heart broken several times more (twice by one woman over the span of 20 years alone).

For me, the art of being matched with a woman, is an art form. And is way more difficult than any ULTRA-Marathon I could ever be in. I can never seem to perfect the art of getting the right woman. But at least I seem to be getting wiser and better each time 'round in the selection process.

About the situation of the 2 weeks before my apartment was ready.....Bonnie of our club was an outstanding friend by allowing me to stay and house sit whilst she went on vacation. Of course, I had to pick up the mail, feed her cat (and her imaginary fish) and all, but it was a huge help. I thanked her privately for this, but thanks again on a public note too.

Of course, the first few days were probably difficult for Ileana. She knew that this was the right thing for both of us, but I don't think she really ever thought that I was going to go through with what I had said I would do for such a long time now. I called her after I was out of there. A feverish experience of going between the apartment and the storage facility for which many of my items were held locked in time for the better part of two plus years.

She was upset when I called and told her what I did. Devastated probably. She accused me of having another woman, even citing my own line, that men usually only move out of one woman, when they have a hope/promise of moving into another. At least she listened to me for once. Truth is, if I even had anyone living with me, which I do not, I would never admit it anyway. For one, it's no one's business but my own, and secondly, what would it accomplish if I did? More hurt, feelings of rejection. I'm not in the hurting business. I don't do it well. It sucks when I've been on the short end of that stick, and if nothing else, I have enough respect for the common person not to let them hurt at my behest.

So as you can gather, I will definitely take the high road on this. I thank Ileana for 4 years together. We did have some great moments together especially the trips to Spain, California and doings in and around New York. She does have a good sense of humor when its directed at herself. She's a good cook and is an attractive woman overall. When she finds someone more compatible than me, she will be happier and realize that what I did was the right choice. Who knows, she might even thank me for it *not holding breath on that one though*.

Life is about to get very interesting again....Where will this all lead.....How will it affect my training? I am sure it's going to take a nose dive. Need to get long runs in though.

Time will tell.....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Park to Park. My Version.



So, something to finally blog about!
Today was one of those unbelievable days. While I didn't feel like I was 100% charged at first, I sure am, even know as I'm writing this, feeling pretty good about myself. Well enough about the self-admiration society. Let's get to business.

This morning I woke up at 6am. Damn was the first word out of my mouth as I realized that I had not charged either my shuffle nor my garmin. By 7:30am when I left, I had enough juice in both and averted a "catastrophe". What a wimp. Actually, I've been doing quite a bit of running without music of late, ever since my iPod Nano became an iPod DooDoo at my NYRR Long Training Run last Saturday.

My initial trek started off with a Karnazes-like maneuver. As I was running towards Forest Park on Lefferts, I was munching on a Everything Flat toasted with butter. It's what a bagel would look like after Bronxilla would sit on it. As I jogged, with Gatorade bottle in left hand and toasted heaven in my right, some people looked at my hapless situation and just shrugged their heads as I ran by them. I even think one person might have said "Get a table" in the same vein of "Get a room" something when two people have the urge for, err you know what I mean.

I wasn't going too slow, but since I had been walking off some of the uphills, I noticed that I might not make the 8am kick off with the club on Woodhaven Boulevard.
The bagel was by now, well inside my digestive vault. Yum Yum. I picked up the pace and made it on time. A few minutes early in fact. Scott was not there, which I figured, because he was probably having too much fun watching steamy women in a steamy room in steamy positions. In other words, Bikram Yoga.

Interestingly, almost everybody that ran today wore their Forest Park Road Runners Club Shirt. Which reminded me: I still needed to sign up for the Club Championships. Another thing, that I had remembered was that I was not going to be able to join the team this Thursday in the city for restaurant week. I was supposed to go and join them at Icon's on the Eastside, but I actually have a concert that night, Journey/Heart/Cheap Trick.

I had told Bonnie, that I was going to be parting ways with the group run shortly. Mentioning that I was going to be making a left turn onto Queens Boulevard and not a right as we normally do, wrapping around Ballys and heading back into the park.

The park was nice and cool. But I knew that Queens Boulevard, an wide-open roadway was going to be a pressure-cooker with the sun out and all. Having forgotten my SPF, I was going to run in the shady side of the road, but did not, as that side went with the flow of traffic, and I always run against it so to see the cars ahead of me. I'm sure the poor lad that died needlessly in Brooklyn had his eyes peeled, before he was taken the other day, but that story jarred me, and I didn't want to be playing poker with the grim reaper anytime soon.

Speaking of the grim reaper, did I tell you it was hot on Queens Boulevard today?
Okay, Okay, this is no "Badwater". I wasn't running up any mountains, and the only melting taking place under my soles was just the occassional strewn garbage from last night's restaurant bags on the sidewalk. I love New York (happy Dad?). It was nonetheless hot, but with my visor and sunglasses this year, I seem to be doing so much better in this God-forsaken heat.

I ran with my iPhone and even snapped off a few pictures before the battery went dead. Guess I didn't charge EVERYTHING! Oy-Veh. (Scott, please confirm if that is the correct spelling)

I was really in the groove and flying well at long training run levels (betweem 9-10 minutes per mile). Most of my running was on the road itself whenever possible, as the sidewalks started teeming with peeps. Especially around Queens Center, where I have to tell people to watch out in 17 different languages, none American.

Queens Boulevard is mostly flat except for two hills. The biggest challenge on Queens Boulevard is that you need to be very attentive if you wish to avoid become road pizza. If you see a car. Then car wins. Bus? Bus Wins. It's that simple. What I like about Queenie Boolybard as James Guadaloupe a once-friend of mine in the long long ago past used to say, is that it has a lot of landmarks, and is not a boring run at all. Just dangerous as heck.

So the first hill was approaching on 61st street. This hill runs for about 10 blocks and is a considerable hill, if you are not prepped for it. I stopped at the BP Gast station just past the entrance to the BQE and bought a water. The machine was nearly sold out. Every button was pressed and finally the last one struck gold. Whew! Forget about the hydration. I almost lost a buck! :-)

The hill was not so bad, and I was feeling great. I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I was running in this 43 year old body, because for a second I swore that there was a house invasion in my sleep last night, and my brain had been switched into a much younger, leaner bod.

The hill ended, and the famous "7" train EL was in plain sight. Unexpected surprise though...Apparently there was road work, and for an entire mile, NYC had stripped off the top layers of asphalt, leaving in its wake a very hard, rough and jagged surface. Ugh. This lasted nearly till I got to Queensboro Plaza (Confusion Central).

Yes Queensboro Plaza is a mess. Always has been. Train tracks, subway ELs, 52 car lanes going in all directions. There's virtually no way to get to the Queensboro Bridge pedestrian walk without playing an elusive game of "chicken" with the motorists. No matter how tired one is, ONE MUST BE EXTREMELY ATTENTIVE HERE!

Ahh, the lovely Queensboro Bridge. NYC Marathon's mile 15-16 as I know it to be. Always kicking my butt, until last year, when I aced it (finally) but never relenting. It's the second highest elevation at 125 feet (laughter from those who live in Colorado may now begin), yet for us city slickers, walking up a flight of stairs can be a chore, y'know?

I ran very strong across the bridge today. Never stopped, and when I came off the bridge to 1st avenue, a wave of excitement washed over me, as only a 6-time NYC Marathoner would know why. Also, 12 miles done and I'm feeling great!

With construction on the street, I had to wiggle my way around, until I got to Central Park south and ran the length till I hit Columbus Circle. I did all I could to hold back the massive adrenaline that just wanted to rush out of my system. Columbus Circle is, after all, the almost-end of the Marathon.

The park was loaded. Cyclists, RollerBladers, People making out, Dog walkers, People getting mugged (just joking). I made sure to stay in my lane with the rest of the runners. The MonsterCable headphones with the connectable iPod Shuffle is such a liberating item. No wires. Anyone who has run with a player should know what I'm talking about. Wires are just a nuisance. I got it at my local Apple store, and I highly advise it, if you're a serious runner, who needs his/her tunes.

There was one person, and Jesus how I wished my iPhone had some juice in it, who was jogging while pushing a stroller that had a baby. Holding on to the left side of the stroller, was the guy's son, who was actually on a scooter. It was very cool to see an entire family moving via the force of one runner.

Harlem Hill, once known as Heartbreak Hill, was run in reverse (clockwise), so the ascent was not so bad. Still, I was really feeling it. I was now heading back south on the East Side, and remembered about registering for the Club Championship race next Saturday. So I lumbered out of CP at 90th street and went to NYRR. The club was a ghost town. No one, except for the girl at the desk and the guy painting the staircase behind her. I signed up, and headed back out and back to the park. Legs a little sore, as I walked/jogged on/off for about a quarter-mile. It wasn't till I got past the 86th Street Transverse, where I started to pick it up again.
I was approaching mile 19 and reverse-engineering "Cat Hill". I hate that little mound of trouble. Yet, I somehow remained focused and stoked. I was going to make it out of the park in one piece it seemed. All I needed now, was just a couple of green lights (because I did not want to risk cramping by having to stop), and I would be on the "E" train at 53rd Street heading back to homebase.

All I can say is "wow". It's not so much the 20.5 miles (did another .5 when running from the train station in Union Turnpike back to the apartment). It's the fact that my legs held up so well. I was wearing my New Balance 1123s which feel like a dream even though they are .5 size (10.5) too big.

After this run was done, I came home and took the kids to Rockaway beach. Yes, I even played "monkey in the middle" (oh shit, the shots I'm going to probably be taking now).

The only negative to today from a running standpoint is that I purchased a 12-piece bucket of KFC for the beach trip. Mmmmm... Fried Chicken. See? It's just so futile!

Oh shit....It's 9:15pm now & I just got up out of my chair ....Legs...not....so....good......DAMN!!!!!
This photo has absolutely nothing to do about running, but it had to be shown. It was my daughter being a goof-ball with her bug-eyes on!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Another Needless Death.

I'm really saddened by what I just finished reading in some of the other blogs tonight about a young aspiring filmmaker named Jesse Tomkins, 27. An ivy leaguer, Jesse was jogging down Atlantic Avenue, and became a sudden fatality when while at the sidewalk, no loess, was struck by an Acura that spun out of control after being slammed by a Cadillac.

It makes me realize just how fragile life is, and how we can be taken from this Earth, just, like, that. More of this sad news can be found here, and other reports.

I can't emphasize ENOUGH, how important it is to always be on the lookout and be DEFENSIVE when road running. It starts with always running in the opposite direction of traffic, so that you can see everything coming at you, and continues with always looking at driveways and parking lots up ahead. Also, please be sure to steer clear of bicycles and dogs. However, I actually think that cyclists are even more hazardous to runner's health than dogs are.

The Summer Olympics are under way in Beijing, and the Americans are off to a fast start with 6 medals already. Phenom swimmer, Michael Phelps is on a mission, winning the first of what could be up to 10 gold medals, an achievement with no equal.

My favorite, Track & Field kicks out of the gate on Friday, August 15th, and you can be sure I'll be intently watching all the way until the final AND BEST event of the Olympiad, the Men's Marathon. I'm crossing my fingers for Ryan Hall, but this is a STACKED field, so we'll just have to wait.

My Metskis are doing well, winning convincingly tonight 8-6 behind some long ball action from Dan Murphy, a home grown, Brooklyn Cycloner. Way to go Dan!

Another psychotically busy week....

Admittedly my blogging has had to take a backseat to my job, my running, and anything else with priority.

Of interest this past week was a trail run that Scott, Bonnie, Carol and I did through Forest Park. Tree trunks, limbs, mudslides, rocks, all littered across the course made it for a challenging event.

This morning I did an early run prior to my meeting call.

Wow. This had to be the most boring blogpost ever. LOL.

Will try to do a long run tomorrow. Though admittedly I feel absolutely drained as of late.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Oh Where, Oh Where Has The Blogrunner Gone?

Well folks, it has been a very busy summer for sure. I don't even feel like I'm running anymore than I feel like I'm running for president. So many appearances. So little time.
Where to begin, as I've aptly phrased in the past....Ah Yes.

So Thursday, Pauline and I had organized the group to attend the world premiere of Dean Karnazes' 50 Marathons, 50 States, 50 Days. Dean is a wicked and loveable nut job. As hard as this may or can be believed, he did in real life what perhaps Forrest Gump, a fictional character could not even do. To be able to do 1 marathon is a special feat. But to do one a day for fifty days. Unbelievable. And yet for 2 magical hours we saw just that. Dean eclipsed his run at the New York City Marathon. No better place to finish, I thought. Except he didn't finish there. Because after the NYC Marathon, he went on a media blitz tour visiting every news network, and television talk show in NYC. For 12 long hours he was essentially doing his 51st marathon, by being scrutinized over his achievements. And then, the fun started. He runs back over 1000 miles back to where it all began in Missouri. Unbelievable is too light a word.

That was Thursday. Friday morning I did 6.5 miles in the morning. And that my friends, was the most uneventful day.

Saturday morning I ran 15 miles, and walked another 1+. Not too shabby right? It was the NYRR's Long Training Run, and let me tell you WHY it was so long. No. It was not the distance. The first loop was around the largest loop in Central Park, which they cut at 6 miles. The 2nd loop was 5 miles. In between, Gatorade, GU packs, plums and more. They did a better job here than they did at the race. I loved it, and will be doing it again for sure. There were 2500 runners in all, and it felt fantastic. But no, none of that was what made the run initially feel so long. My friends, my iPod nano has said 'so long'. The battery died and for good. I was so psyched out, because I had it charged (fully charged) the night before. Surprisingly, I actually began to enjoy the run without the music (although at release of this article, note that I purchased a much more economical 'shuffle' to replace my tunes. Hey, what's a music loving runner to do, right?).

In the end, I felt great and think I could have done the max of 20 miles. Fortunately for me (and not so for my friend) Scott's knees were acting up a little, so to play it safe, we curtailed extending our run any further. Oh, and yes, thanks Scott for the ride. That and the Gatorade and the Jelly Beans were very much appreciated. It is also of note to mention that our fearless leader Jack did a reported 16 miles, and Pauline did the full 20. Way to go!

Later in the afternoon, and after the weather stopped threatening so, we all headed out to Coney Island. Earlier in the month, I had also organized another team event. It was to see the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets) take on their rivals, the Staten Island Yankees at their own ballpark (Keyspan). I have to say it felt pretty nice that I pulled off the logistics fairly well. (Okay no more pats on the back!) The Cyclones got off to a poor start and could not recover, losing 6-1. Prior to the game, we went to Nathan's and a few of us (not me) even rode the Cyclone itself, and did some bumper car rides. Nice! I was also pretty fortunate to find parking. A silver lining from the massive rainstorm a few hours earlier (as most beachgoers headed to the hills).

Yesterday, Sunday, I spent nearly all day in the park with my kids. They had open sprinklers and my kids were having a blast. Even I dumped a few buckets over there heads from time to time too. We also played plenty of wiffle ball. My son beat me 5-2, but I am shamelessly proud to have hit one of the balls over 150 feet and over the 20 foot high fence. Just flexin' that's all...

Today, was an insane day at work. I did not get out till nearly 8pm. Lotsa projects going on, all fun, and all right up my alley. Toronto, Wisconsin, India, New Jersey to name a few. All in all, I'd have to say life is pretty much on "F" for Full and for Fast.