Monday, November 17, 2008
With over 300 posts, and 90 races done, I feel as if though I have not much left to write about.
I have been contemplating an action for quite awhile, and now I have decided to follow through.
I am retiring from writing blogs. And this is my last entry.
For any of you out there that enjoy what I write, I am sorry if you wanted me to keep going. It's just that the luster from writing blogs has worn off, and there are other things that I can focus on besides being a running reporter.
Instead, I am just going to live my life and focus on being happy.
If there is an over-arching theme that I want people to come away with from my sometimes interesting, sometimes zany cyber-diary, it is this....
Be happy and seek out with full vigor to achieve that for which you think you cannot.
Dare to dream, but don't just stop there. Listen to what your heart tells you to do, and then follow through with action. Grab opportunity by the throat, and go for it.
Most importantly, never give up on your dreams. If you never quit, you will never fail.
I have applied this to my running. With all the blogs that I have written, you can see that despite my odds, I have succeeded to be a good runner. Perhaps not an elite runner, but the best that I can be right now. And instead of getting worse with age, I AM getting better. I plan to and will break 4 hours at next year's NYC Marathon. I can say this because I believe in myself. And I believe in myself because I always try my hardest and leave nothing behind. If you believe in your heart and follow through enough, you too will see that fiction can become fact.
You just gotta try. Take a chance. There is no shame, only honor, when you show the world that you followed your heart and followed through.
To everyone that might visit, be you an old-timer, or a newcomer....THANK YOU! It has been my pleasure to write for all of you. I wish you all the best, and since most of you are runners, I wish you all to run your best, and bless yourselves for learning the ability to act upon your desires. It is a true blessing, is it not?
It has been a wonderful experience for me here in cyberspace. I shall never forget it.
Thank you all again for reading my blogs.
Peace and out.
Alex Gonzalez aka. "Blogrunner"
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The club is hosting a benefit run in Central Park at 10am for free healthy meals for those that are living with serious illneses. The service is called God's Love We Deliver (GLWD), and they are there to provide these meals to the many men, women, and children dealing with illness in and around New York City. For a contribution of $25 dollars, I can help touch some families in desperate needs during these desperate times. I am not looking for a PR, whihch would have been an insane pace of 7:20 per mile for me, but I will run to help this worthwhile cause. Afterwards, the club is meeting the West Side Triathlon Club for a brunch in the Upper West Side, and I think I can probably enjoy myself provided I stick to salad (easier said than done)
The race is in Central Park (see course here ---> http://www.nyrr.org/races/2008/pdf/r2d_map.pdf ) and I'll be updating this blog with my results.
This probably wont be as satisfying as when I used to work on Thanksgiving Day at the Salvation Army and at hoeless shelters in the South Bronx giving out Thanksgiving Dinners to families, but it will be satisfying to know that I am helping them indirectly, nonetheless.
So, not only was this race to help feedy the needy, but the part of the donation also helped the Aids Fund as well.
The race started at 10am. I left my house at about 7am, since I still had to register onsite. The roads were empty. The Long Island Expressway seemed like a scene right out of 'I Am Legend'. My parking mojo was dead on. I found a spot right on Central Park West and 68th street, only a few spaces from the last time I was in Central Park for the Blue Line Run.
Pauline (Pre).....Hey Pauline, where is Tom?
Barbara and her sporty LuLuLemon running top with the built in gloves (not shown).
Yep. There I is. And at 161, 7 pounds lighter than from my last race. Bonnie, do you see the FP shirt? Do you? Were you wearing yours today? Huh? Huh?
We (Forest Park Road Runners) fielded quite a team today. 10 runners, 5 guys and 5 gals ran today. It was great to see Sandra run today. She was so bummed (and who wouldn't) when she had to bail on the NYC Marathon. Her husband showed up too.
Also, I wasn't the only one to run the Marathon and lace back up 2 weeks later. Jack also ran. Bonnie took the train in, ran her race, and from the finish line, ran home another 9 miles, as she is training for the Las Vegas Half Marathon next month. Tom and Pauline (Pre) both ran as well. Tom as usual, blew us all away.....But I am closing that gap....ever....so.....slowly...lol.
I also had a sore throat this morning and almost bailed. It was odd because I haven't had a cold in years. But I manned up (thanks Scott for your...words).
I did have a crazy theory about how best to get rid of this condition. When someone is sick, the body throws a fever to "burn" off, if you will, whatever infection may be ailing them. Well I did not have a fever, but knowing how I heat up during a race, I figured why not give it a shot and run towards health? So, yes, I was crazy enough to run a 4-mile race, BECAUSE I was somewhat sick. And it worked. At least until now (8:27pm). The sore throat is not entirely gone, but it is a lot better now than when I woke up this morning (Just to play it safe, I stopped by CVS on my way home and loaded up on meds, heh!)
Central Park did not feel as cold as they claimed it would be, but once the wind started wailing away, you could sense the chill. The race had a good turnout however. 6,000 people blowing warm air on their hands, bouncing up and down in their corrals. I was doing as much bouncing too, but just to stay loose. In cold weather, arms, shoulders, back and neck can get tight real quick if not stretched.
Beautiful photos of Central Park as I walked to the starting line:
Before the race began, they held the kids race. Don't know who the girl with the pink pants was, but she was booking!
I was in the "yellow" or 3rd corral, and once the race began, it took nearly 2 minutes to cross the starting line.
The first mile had us leave from the Bandshell area, and onto Park Drive East and we headed north from there. Thankfully 4 mile runs through Central Park usually mean an almost complete avoidance of Cat Hill. Nonetheless I still saw that ebony feline statue, marking the top of the hill at the very start.
My race strategy was simple. Try not to kill myself. In the past, I would wait 2 months after the Marathon before taking on another race. This time around? 2 weeks. Truth is, I was feeling winded around the first 1/2 mile, so I actually slowed down a little bit to gain composure.
As we passed the Metropolitan Museum of Art on our right, the 1st mile marker came up. I did less zig-zagging than I normally did, and it cost me dearly. 7:55
The wind was at my back. The second mile is fairly flat, so I started to pour it on.
Before long there we started heading west towards Park Drive West, and there was Mile 2 marker. I looked at my watch... 7:23. YES!
Mile 3 is always a bitch though. It's psychologically where I start to hold back to save some for the end. Central Park is not forgiving here anyway. A lot of rolling hills, mostly up. Plus the tail wind the runners had going north was now hitting us at full force. Some guy not realizing of his surroundings jogged slowly past the water table, and blocking me from getting anyway, unless I was willing to stop. Politely I said "Getting water please move aside", and without even looking back he arrogantly said "So what? So am I"
I had to cut around him, to get my cup. If someone is going for a cup, then go straight to the first one that you can get to, don't skim along all of the tables looking for the right one. They are all the same fer cryin' out loud!
He pissed me off, but I got him back. Got in front of him, drank my cup half way, and rather than making sure that the cup was disposed away from runners like as per the unwritten rules of courtesy etiquette of running, I dropped a water cup half right on its ass, and right in front of his footsteps that was directly behind me. I don't like mean people and he had it coming.
All the negotating, the tail wind, and the hills, and my 3rd mile was completed in 7:55 again. Ugh is what I thought. And again, I've turned this into a competition when it was only supposed to be a fun run. I love to break my own records, what can I say?
Mile 4 was either flat or slightly downhill. The wind was even stronger and yet I was too. I knew that I was going to do a sub-8 4 miler, but I really wanted a sub 7:30 if possible. I really dug hard and gave it my all and nearly hit the wonderbar which for me is 6 minute per mile territory. I did my last mile in 7:06
Though not a PR, having finished in the top 16% was a pretty special achievement considering what I had done back on the 2nd. There were 5979 finishers and I came in 993rd place.
After the run, I immediately called our service provider (what was that you said?). I am the oncall person this month for my job. And we had a service issue yesterday. I left a couple of messages last night to see what the issue had been cleared, but no one called me back. I actually called before the race began too, but when I got to baggage there were no missed calls. Blagh.
I met up with Barbara and Maritza who were waiting for Yvonne. From there we walked out passing John Lennon's Strawberry Fields, and headed north to 90th street, where we went to a Mexican restaurant called Gabriella's for lunch.
I had the Huevos Rancheros plus a Sangria. Mmm Mmm Good.
There was a lot of talk about triathlons, and then Maritza's boyfriend Edwin joined us. He works for the New York Road Runners, and I have to admit I was sweatin' his jacket, yo.
With the final results in, I was very pleased with my performance today. 30 minutes 22 seconds for 4 miles. I am taking off tomorrow as a precaution, and then it's the gym on tuesday, and it's a brand new week too.
View of Southern Manhattan (right) as I'm driving Home across the Queensboro Bridge. My 90th race is complete. 10 more races to the Big 100. 100 races. Wow.
Friday, November 14, 2008
As you can plainly see, I am incorporated colorful graphs having nothing to do about running.
Got a give you guys and dolls a break once in a while too, right?
I woke up this morning, and was 162.2. I had not run yesterday or "gymmed", and I went over on my calories. meh. But I did wake up early (5:30) and went to the gym and worked out for nearly 90 minutes. booyah!
Diet wise the day got off to a train wreck. My boss was leaving for sabbatical today, and in his wake 4 dozen bages, and munchkins were left on our cafeteria table for all to consume. Mmmm. Bagels. Mmmmm. Donuts. I had both of both. With cream cheese and butter. Not the donuts dough. though. --- you knoe what I mean! hah!
Later on in the day, however, I started feeling pretty ill, and literally had to run out of the office, barely making it home with out an episode. I am writing yesterday's log here today (Sat.) because I basically slept all night and even part of that afternoon. All told, 13 hours. And my weight's down to 160.2 (as of 11/15) !!!! Not the way, I wanted to lose the weight, but I ain't complaining about the final result either.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Worked out at the gym tonight for 2nd straight night. Assisted dips, abs, hammys, etc. The barrage of making a new me is well under way. I am my own science project.
Also, when I woke up this morning, my weight is at 161, losing another .4 from yesterday. Whoo hoo!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Weighed myself on the scale this morning..... 161.2...... Awesome.
I think a good way to know one is losing some weight is to always feel a little hungry.
Another good sign of strength: As I sit here taking a 5-minute break to write this, someone has brought in a humongous tray of post-halloween leftover candy. Twix, Snickers, and *jeez* just reading this is testing my will!
Of course, there is a limit to this weight loss. I want to get to about 150, and then I will be perfect. Also, as I start to run next week, I will be able to eat more food (YES!)
Last night I slept about 6 hours. Will hope to cash in and sleep 8 tonight. The magic time is 10pm. Let's see if I can be in bed by then!
I was thinking of doing a race on Thanksgiving Day in Port Washington since I don't have my kids this year, and since I'm generally not doing anything. Scott had invited me to hang with his family, but it seems like now they might not be doing anything either. LOL.
Oh well, back to the grind!
"Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness, and self-reliance. Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner. He learns the harsh reality of his physical and mental limitations when he runs." - Noel Carroll
Monday, November 10, 2008
The first week or so, is recovery, and reflection. I take in everything that I did that year, and how I performed. I look to see how I can improve the following year.
Usually this period of time had taken about a month but my body has become more and more resilient. This year, I only needed 1 week. And that's inspite of running the majority of the race like Quasimoto, too.
One of the important aspects for me in this "new" year of running, is to make sure I don't eat dinner late. So, even after having to work late tonight, I came home first to cook. I made a couple of breaded chicken cutlets, but this time did not dab in egg. I used less bread crumbs too. The result? Just as tasty and less calories.
I then left for the gym and excersized for about an hour (8p-9p). I worked on various equipment. I worked on my hammys, abs, shoulders and about 2 miles on the elliptical. Will do more tonight. Reps are good, but with lots to do in my busy schedule, I can see how opting for doing less reps at with more weight resistance as being a more desireable approach at managing my time.
Afterwards I felt great. I did not want to push it, and made sure I had something left in the tank afterwards. Also, I had only slept about 4.5 hours the night before, and doing too much physical with not enough sleep, is a great cocktail for getting injured.
Summary of my workout:
I also did some stretches too, but not the full complement. Not yet, anyway. Calves are feeling much, much better though, so calf stretching could commence as early as this weekend.
I just changed my bloodwork this Saturday to an earlier time (now 10am). Going to have my cholesterol checked. It was 219 back in February, which I thought was bad, but my doc mentioned that it was "okay" and "manageable" since I part of that number included a high level of "HDL" (the better of the two cholesterols). I would like to stay under 200 though. So I am hoping that my exercise and recent change in diet will aid.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
We all met up at the AMF Bowling Lanes on 34th Avenue in Woodside, Queens. I was ravenously hungry, not even having eaten lunch. So, I found a pizzeria a couple of blocks away and had two skimpy, but good tasting slices. And a Red Bull.
By the time, I got to the alley, several of my teammates were already there. John, KJ and I think his girlfriend?, Carol, Scott, and Bryon. Moments later, Abby, Bonnie and her two kids, Maritza, Barbara, and Jack showed up as well. Am I missing anybody else? If I am, let me know, and I'll be happy to include on this post.
Anyway, we had a blast. Typical of me, my first game was my best game, and as the night wore on, my luster for being the "Dude" wore off. I went from Big to Little Lebowski by the time 11pm rolled around. Scott (big Giants fan) even got into it, text messaging my gal, Jenn (big Eagles fan). And sorry to say for Jen, the Eagles fell just a little short, 36-31. Don't worry Jen, I wasn't really keeping score, but I pretty much beat Scott both games easily (Scott, that's what you get for saying that my Jets team had it easy today because of playing easy teams all the time....let's see you say that next week, when your team plays the Defense Crushing Ravens!). Anyway, I expect all kinds of fallout from Scottso on this post. Bring it on!
The night's festivities included socializing, bowling, and pizza, for which that pie was demolished in seconds flat. I had to wait for the second pie to come out (because the alley said that they can only make 1 pie at a time-lol) for me to get my first slice. It made me feel good to know that all my fellow runners are pizza whores just like moi.
Here are some snapshots I took with the handy dandy iPhone (no Jen, not the choking victims sign....although we did cover those heimlick moves pretty well via text, didn't we? smile)
Abby, our no-nonsense cool dude. He's coming back from injury and gettin' ready to tear it up at a runner's park near you!
Abby, Bonnie, and KJ, the Forest Park secret weapon. KJ also came back from injury, and he's definitely going to tear it up. His half-marathon pace is like 5:38. That is INSANE! BTW, Bonnie is making her increasingly famous, "Mary-Tyler-Moore-whoop-it-up-in-Minneapolis-pose."
My man Bryon, and Barbara, our social director, and fellow St. Francis Prepster. And yes, Barbara, you definitely looked like an IT geek (no comparison to me-Geek Master) with your elongated analysis prior to each ball hurl. And it paid off!
Abby and John, doing the "Awwwhh" as Carol leaves the 7 pin up for like the 7th time in a row. Carol, who was also in a bowling league, would go on to beat me badly, after Scott departed. Darn, the moment Scott left, I played lousy!
I save the best for last. Here is my friend Scott. He is trying to think of a way to beat me in bowling. When he realized half way through the first game that this was not going to happen, he started using his pulled hamstring and ensuing painas an excuse. I still showed no mercy, and crushed him by like 50 pins to end the first game. He started off the second game with a strike in the first frame, and turned to me and told me he was taking me to school. But as the game wore on, I started to creep up on him. And as that happen, he mysteriously began to use the excuse of his Giants winning for losing interest in the *ahem* choke job he was excelling at. LOL. And by the way Scott, when the hell are you going to update your blog (( http://antagonistofthecoyote.blogspot.com/))? The dust mites from your site are making their way over here now ...*cough* *cough* *CHOKE*!!! He knows I am totally kidding, and having him invite me over for Thanksgiving since I will be without kids this year, was very nice of him.
Ugh. Time to go to bed. Work tomorrow........and STRETCHES!!!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
There are 18 stretches that I will be focusing on 9 before and 9 after running. As people get older, stretching can actually injure you if you don't ease into it. I will make sure not to overdo it and save my energy for when I am actually running.
Here are the Pre-Run Stretches:
SHOULDER SHRUG: First, raise the top of your shoulders toward your ears, until you feel a slight tension in your neck and shoulders. Hold for 5 seconds. Then relax shoulders downward. Think: "Shoulders hang, shoulders down."
FOREARM STRETCH: Start in a standing position with your knees slightly flexed and your feet about sholder-width apart. Hold your right elbow with your left hand. To stretch the armpit area and shoulder move the back of your head back against your right arm, until a mild stretch is felt. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Do both sides.
ARMS BACK FINGER INTERLACING STRETCH: Slowly turn your elboys inward while straightening your arms. This stretches the shoulders, arms and chest. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
If that is fairly easy, then lift your arms up behind you until you feel a stretch in the arms, shoulders, or chest. Hold an easy stretch for 5-10 seconds. This is good to do when you find yourself slumping forward from the shoulders. Keep your chest out and chin in. This stretch can be done at any time.
CALF STRETCH: Stand a little way from a solid support and lean on it, with your forearms, head resting on hands. Bend one leg and place your foot on the ground in front of you, with the other leg straight behind. Slowly move your hips forward keeping your lower back flat. Be sure to keep the heel of the straight leg on the ground, with toes pointed straight ahead of slightly turned in. Hold an easy stretch for 10-15 seconds. Do not bounce. Now stretch the other leg.
QUAD & KNEE STRETCH: Hold the top of your right foot with your left hand and gently pull your heel toward your buttocks. The knee bends at a natural angle when you hold your foot with the opposite hand. This is good to use in knee rehabilatation and with problem knees. Hold up to 10-20 seconds for each leg.
Variation: This stretch can also be done lying on your stomach. Be sure to stretch without pain. Reach behind you with you hand and hold the top of your opposite foot between the ankle joint and toes. Gently pull your heel toward the middle of your buttocks. Hold for 10-15 seconds.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have knee problems, be very careful with these stretches.
LOWER BACK & HAMSTRING STRETCH: Contract-Relax-Stretch. Next, assume a bent-knee position with your heels flat, toes pointed straight ahead, and feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold for 30 seconds. In this bent-knee position, you are contracting the quadriceps and relaxing the hamstrings. The primary function of the quadriceps is to straighten the leg. The basic function of the hamstrings is to bend the knee. Because these muscles have opposing actions, contracting the quadriceps will relax the hamstrings.
As you hold this bent-knee position, feel the difference between the front and the back of your thigh. The quadriceps should feel hard and tight, while the hamstrings should feel soft and relaxed. It's easier to stretch the hamstrings if they are first relaxed.
After holding the bent-knee position, stand up and then bend down again with knees slightly bent (1 inch). Don't bounce. You probably can go a little father already. Hold about 10-15 seconds.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Stretching is not competitive. You may well not be able to touch your toes. The point is for you to get more flexible, not to stretch as far as others.
FRONT HIP STRETCH: To stretch the muscles in the front of the hip (iliopsoas), move one leg forward until the knee of the forward leg is directly over the ankle. Your other knee should be resting on the floor. Now, without changing the position of the knee on the floor or the forward foot, lower the fron of your hip downward to create an easy stretch. Hold for 15-20 seconds. You should feel this stretch in the front of the hip and possibly in the hamstrings and groin.
Stetching for 10-20 minutes in the evening is a good way to keep your muscles well tuned. so you feel good the next morning. If you have any tight areas, or soreness, stretch these areas before retiring (or while watching TV) and feel for yourself the difference the next morning.
Do not have you knee forward of the ankle. This will hinder the proper stretching of the hip and legs. The greater distance there is between the back knee and the heel of the front foot, the easier it is to stretch the hips and legs.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I picked up the kids tonight, and Stephanie mentioned that her music teacher, Christine Gero, ran the marathon too. I took a look at the results. Whoa! She beat my ass pretty well. 3 hours and 50 minutes and came in the top 1000 for her age group (she's 34). I took a look at year's past, and noticed that she was one a member or FRNY, or Front Runner's New York, a very well respected track and field organization in the city. Most impressive was that she too had slower times in year's past, clocking 4:20s and slower. Assuming, that I can overcome this cramp condition, I will no doubt be vying for glory in 2009.
I have not yet begun my diet. My kids are with me this weekend, and it will be too difficult to start while they are here. As it was, Bern was driving them to MeMe's since 4:30pm. It was 7pm when the exchange took place, and I knew we weren't going to get home till close to 9. We stopped at McDonald's got them Happy Meals, and got myself a Fatty Meal in the process (Angus Burger Deluxe). When I go, I go all the way. LOL.
Here's hoping that my kids eat all the bad stuff before they leave. Truthfully, I am so in need of a diet, that I am even considering bringing into the office, any leftover Halloween candy. Having no temptation is crucial.
I have hung a weight chart calendar on the bathroom wall near the scale, and I have started using http://www.calorie-counter.com/ again to keep a daily track of my diet. To keep myself earnest, I am making my diet public. This should help shame me in the early going to do the right thing.
The Fitness 19 gym in North Babylon is open for business. They will allow me to use their facility in lieu of waiting for the one that I signed up for (on Wellwood). I took a look at the distance, and it is twice as far as LA Fitness. So while I still have an active membership, I might be going to LA instead. Gym training begins on Monday. Light running begins on the following Monday.
Above you will see today's nutrional ingestion including caloric intake. Based on my caloric computations where I am Male, 43-years old, and weighing 164, I should be able to consume up to 1975 calories per day. That number is based on a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, little or no exercise at all.
Beneath that is a pie chart which breaks out the percentage of food that contains carbs, proteins, and fats. Leading nutrionalists believe in a 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 20% Fats split, but for people with a higher fat metabolism, like perhaps me, I might want to push it a bit and go for a 40-40-20 split. Obviously, I will be saying goodbye to McDonald's for a long, long, time.
Of course, once I start my insane physical program, I will also be posting the negative calorie accruals in the "Activity" tab above. This will subtract from the number of calories ingested. On a day where I run for 2 hours, I will need to eat at least 3000 calories (based on my weight right now) for me not to lose weight. For anyone interested in figuring their BMR (Base Metabolic Rate) Caloric Requirements, to see how many calories you can consume per day, just go here - > http://my-calorie-counter.everydayhealth.com/Calorie_Calculator.asp
Three more aspects, I've learned about weight loss over the past year which has served me very well.
1) If you lose more than 3% of your entire weight over the course of a week, you're headed for trouble. Too much weight loss will signal to your brain that you are in starvation mode. The body adjusts for that, and burning calories off become much more difficult. As such, I've done this, and true to the warnings, weight stops coming off. Worse yet, I am sluggish, and cannot get good workouts. Max 3% percent of 160 pounds in a week = 5 pounds.
2) DO NOT EAT LESS THAN 3 HOURS BEFORE BED!!! I will be eating after work and before the gym in order to protect this. Anything I've eaten late at night, turns to fat. The next morning my scale has really made me sad over this. Don't do it!!!
3) Get 8 hours of sleep, Eat 5 times a day, Drink 8 glasses of water. The body can lose weight while you are sleeping, especially if the food is already partially digested (point 2 above). Eat often, to keep the stomach juices burning continuously, and not feel hungry. Drink a lot of liquids, as it helps to moderate your system, and flush out toxins. My pee should be clear.
Speaking of toxins...
I will be encouraging my children to clean up on the Oreo's, the Fig Newtons, the Halloween candy, and anything else that they crave. After that, all my shopping for ALL of us will be healthy choices and nothing but. Carrot sticks will be the typical snack around here. Ice Cream once in a blue moon. I'll just buy a teeny container, of a low-fat brand.
My only concern will be boredom of this diet. I must admit, I am not very creative when it comes to cooking, and I am afraid that I might wind up eating the same thing every day (ie. 3 egg whites with tomato) for like, ever. This could cause me to be more tempted to fall off the "wagon". If anyone out there, especially runners, have any suggestions for meals that are not to hard to prepare at any time, please let me know.
I've read a lot of suggestions in sports magazines. But some of it is downright ridiculous. If it's going to involve me living in an organic food store, buying exotic items that cost a fortune and are difficult to prepare, or menus that can only be prepared by Bobby Flay, or by someone else at the French Culinary Institution, then forget it!
My calf is feeling much better now.
Wow. It will only take a week to be almost completely healed. Compared to other years, that is an amazing record in it of itself.