Friday, January 30, 2009

The Worst Website Of All-Time - www.forestparkrunners.org

Yes indeed...This is my own opinion, and yes, this is the club that I (still) am a member of. Again that URL is http://www.forestparkrunners.org/

Go check it out! See for yourself what is in my opinion, a sloppy, disorganized joke of a website.

But before we get into THAT. ......

I am registered for this Sunday's race. I am not looking to set any records, but just have fun.

Okay.....back to the juicy stuff.....

In the past, I have used my blog as a vehicle to offer praise or critique things which are either important or trivial, relevant and irrelevant.

For over 4 months now, I've made numerous recommendations to our club that their website be updated and revamped. For many people, the Internet is a means for finding a running club. Otherwise, why else advertise, or even have a website at all? Many people today seem to forget the impact that a website can have. First of all it can be accessible by anyone in the entire world. This is an important fact that over the years may have been taken for granted through making the Internet the leading source for information. Yet, it still remains itself as a completely viewable source of information by ANYBODY. With this kind of unlimited exposure, the reponsibility to present the right image, is not a priviledge, but rather an obligation.

My advice to improve our website didn't just come from me. Several people, club and non-club members alike have mentioned to me about the myriad of problems with the Forest Park Road Runners' website. Comments such as, "GROSSLY OUTDATED", "LOOKS LIKE CRAP!", "AND YOU CALL YOURSELVES A REPUTABLE RUNNING CLUB?", were among the many that I received regarding my team's site. Rather than allowing my team to sink, I took the onus upon myself, and have been in touch with our club's communications person many, many times. And all I get is "Yeah, I know."

Back in the beginning of the year, I even copied our team President in an email where I blatantly expose how poor our club website is. To date, I have never received even so much as an acknowledgement.

Now, I know I am taking this way too seriously. After all, it's not like this is financial or medical website. This is recreational club. Still, I feel like no one cares. In fact, it's beginning to appear as if their negligence to act or respond is deliberate. I have to admit, stuff like that really bothers me.

In short, we have the worst running club website I have ever seen. I don't have enough time to pick apart every page, so instead I'm going to bitch about the main page which everyone sees. Since most people laugh us off just by what's on that page, I didn't think it was necessary to re-hash every page. Our home page alone has over a dozen issues alone . Here are six of them....

1) First, let's begin with the top of their webpage, which alerts the entire world as to when the next meeting is going to take place....




Am I missing something here, or did I see that the next meeting takes place almost 2 months in the past?

No. This is not a mistake. Just negligance on the part of the person handling the website. It is one thing when I forget to update something on my own blog, because hey, I am just representing myself. But in the case of the Forest Park Road Runners, who are supposedly representing themselves as a reputable running club, this kind of negligence undermines not only the club's competency, but to all who are a member of it.



2) For some time now, I had made a request to have this picture (left) removed from their website. And again, this was made to the club's "communications" person. Normally, I don't give a RATS ASS what I look like, but in this instance, I look like I accidentally ingested a junior-sized bowling ball.

Of course, my telling you and showing you this picture only propogates this. So why am I doing this? Principle. If someone has a picture of you that you don't like, and they have it posted for the world to see, and you let them know several times over 3 month period to have it removed, then it should have been removed! I think this is pretty wrong.


3) Here's another example of pictures that are WAY beyond their expiration date:

As you can plainly see, here is a picture of the New Years Eve Run. Except...it isn't the one that took place over a month ago. It is the one that took place a year ago.

Again, this is decorating our MAIN page for all would-be members to see. Fresh new stuff, ehh?

I'm sure everyone looking at this will admire the attention to detail that our club gives to its website. And I am doubly sure that most of these people will assume (and probably rightly so) that the rest of our club's affairs are going to be handled in more or less the same fashion too.

What a great way to promote a club than through outdated information, right? (sarcasm). At the very least, they could have taken 5 seconds to at least change the year title underneath. No doubt, the laziness is showing through with flying colors here.

And now, one of my favorites of all time....


4) Above all else, this (above) is my favorite piece of artwork on the internet. Don't you just love it? That too is on our MAIN page. I call it Parallel Line Paradiso.

5) Somewhere buried beneath Parallel Line Paradiso (above) is the ability to link to the weather. It's hard to spot because it happens to be in purple (Perhaps good viewing for monochromatic-seeing reptiles). I clicked on the link. Here is where it took me:

Seems to me like the weather is calling for hazy replies *err* skies, with a high today of 404.

Another brilliant example to current and potential new members alike.



6)Q: "I want to help my team win points! What dates are the next club point races taking place?"


A: "Go back to HG Wells time machine, my punchy apprentice! For there you shall see the current schedule of races...Current....Hah...Those races are over 3 MONTHS OLD!!!!

I could just keep going on and on and on. I even had created a race calendar through Google for my team and advised the "communications director" over at the club about it. All she needed to do was to plug the code in. It was mentioned numerous times beginning over 2 months ago and still nothing.

I used this blog, in the hopes that my requests will no longer fall on deaf ears yet I don't expect anything good to come out of it. We have a lot of nice people in this club, but in several ways the people in charge for "selling" our club are completely incompentent. If you want to meet some nice people, and enjoy running through Forest Park, then you really can't go wrong for the annual cost of $10 (still one of the lowest membership fees for any club). But if you are SERIOUS about your running, and want a well-run organization that focuses on running excellence, listens to its members, and makes sure that they show up-to-date and useful information about our wonderful sport, then stay FAR FAR FAR away from the Forest Park Road Runners Club.

Last note....not all local running clubs are created equal.

Here are some examples of some GOOD track club websites....

http://www.pptc.org/

http://www.apstriders.org/

http://www.nyflers.org/

http://newyorkharriers.com/

http://www.westchestertrack.org/

The sad truth is that every track club's website that I've seen is better than ours. Hell, even this stupid blogsite of mine is better than the FPRR site.

Sorry, Forest Park Road Runners....but your score for your website is an "F". An "F" for listening to your club members, an "F" for effort, and an "F" for impressing potential would-be members.

I might be thinking of leaving this club before the end of this year. And hell, judging by how little they care about their member's opinions, and of how inflexible they are, I am sure they will be happy to get rid of me too. Just the same, I'll be happy to join another team, if that's the case. More people to compete against, as far as I can see.....

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We Are All Cutting Costs. So I Am Going To My Part Now As Well

After the recent furlough in my office, I decided that if my company can look ways to cut costs, than so can I. I did a 5K yesterday evening which was followed by a much tougher workout. That "workout" was researching on how to cut costs.

I took a hard look at my current expenses and was able to identify 9 areas in my life where I can cut back. 2009 will be an interesting, perhaps sometimes lonely year indeed. There will be a lot of things that I will need to cut out, all of it will have a direct impact on whatever little social life I have at this moment. However, it is only temporary, and it is the correct thing to do.

Some of the areas for which I have identified for cutbacks are going to be more challenging to accomplish than others, but if I can stick to it, then I can recoup my recent losses from the 2 additional weeks of unpaid vacation that I've been asked to take (along with everyone else in the entire corporation). And considering the alternative, especially with what other companies have been doing in this country, my companies' move is a welcomed one.

One of the nine areas for saving money this year is going to be my racing. I raced 22 times last year. There is no need for me to repeat that again. For one, the races cost money. With the incredibly high amount that I am paying for child support, coupled with the latest actions at work, there is no reason why I need to race as often as I have in the past. Truth is, I do my races to qualify for the New York City Marathon, and as it stands today, I just need to complete 9 races. Between the savings there, and the cost avoidance of not signing up for races that are outside of New York, like the Philly Distance Run, or the Hartford Half-Marathon, I can cut by more than half the costs of my racing.

We're all cutting back this year it seems. I like to think of it as a financial diet. And speaking of that, one of the other areas, is going to be to really focus on "brown bagging" it each and every time. Admittedly, it is difficult when there is no significant other to make me my lunches. I will just have to double my efforts and remain focused on food preparation the night before.

This is not going to be an easy time for me. It seems sometimes as if nothing in my life ever is. Still, I am going to remain positive, and see this storm through as I have seen all the other ones pass through my harbor.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

10K & Keeping Warm in the Winter

I ran 10 kilometers last night. I prepared in advance. Rather than going home first, and perhaps be lured into the convenience of staying in my warm home, I left my office, and went straight to the gym. It paid off. I ran a 10k in Fartlek mode (meaning running, walking, sprinting, hills, etc). 59:05 was the final training result. Obviously, I need to build on this.

Meantime, I have been thinking about running outdoors. For some reason, I've been chicken this winter more than most, as I've been opting for the treadmill every time. Runner's World posted a very good article on tips for staying warm. I could be obnoxious, by copying and pasting the entire article, or completely selfless by giving you the link. Instead, I am going to just give you the skinny on how to stay warm while running outdoors in the winter. So, here goes:

10 TIPS FOR RUNNING IN THE COLD:

1. Get Motivated
Find a running partner to run with. Group runs can be popular in the winter. Even if you are running solo, convince yourself that you can go back inside your home after five minutes if the weather is really bad, because chances are that you won't once you are out there. A night run during a light snowfall is one of the most peaceful things you can experience.

2. Arm Your Feet
Keep warmth in and slush out. Run in shoes that have the least amount of mesh. Gore-Tex uppers are optimal. Wear socks that wick away wetness but keep your feet warm.

3. Get Dressed
Dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer. You should be slightly cool when you start.
Here is the guidelines for what to wear:

30 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a
vest keep your core warm. Tights (or shorts, for polar bears).

10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your
base layer, and wind pants over the tights.

0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for
the cold-prone) and a jacket. Windbrief for the fellas.

Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of
mittens, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava.

Minus 20 degrees: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 extra pairs of
mittens, 1 balaclava, sunglasses. Or, just stay inside.

4. Be Seen
Wear reflective, flourescent gear. Use a headlamp so that people can see you.

5. Warm up Prerun
Move around inside enough to get the blood flowing without breaking a sweat. Run up and down your stairs, use a jump rope, or do a few yoga sun salutations. A speedy house-cleaning works, too.

6. Deal With The Wind
Start your run into the wind and finish with it at your back, so the breeze doesn't blast you after you've broken a sweat. You can break this into segments, running into the wind for about 10 minutes and turning around to run with the wind at your back for five minutes and repeating.
Use BodyGlide on your nose and cheeks to prevent frostbite.

7. Forget Speed
Don't worry about times. Also, if you can't run in the middle of the day when the temperatures are warmest, run twice a day because it is better to do that than doing one long 6 mile run where you might get very cold towards the end.

8. Change Quickly Postrun
Your core body temperature drops as soon as you stop running. Change your clothes - head to toe - as soon as you can. Put a dry hat on wet hair. Drink something hot. Bring a thermos of green tea or hot chocolate in your car.

9. Deal with Rain.
Slip your stocking feet into plastic baggies then put on your running shoes. The baggies will keep your feet dry even when you run through puddles. If you have to dry shoes overnight, crumple up newspaper and cram it tightly into your shoes, with the insoles removed.

10. Go Someplace Warm
Travel someplace warm to do your races. This is easier said then done especially when you consider the airfares. Plus, I am on a budget!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Does Success Lead To Complacency?

For the past few weeks, I've been feeling non-plus about running. True, being mildly injured on and off this year did not help. However, it feels as if there is more.

Could it be that after all the personal records that I've set in 2008, especially my 23-year old PR for the Marathon, that I am ...... in a lull right now?

I feel that I am in need of a spark.

Yesterday was the Manhattan Half-Marathon. This was a race that I would have normally run. I typically run every NYRR Half-Marathon that is available. Well, I did not run it. I could have cited that it was 15 degrees at racetime, but cold weather has never been a factor for racing. As for my right calf, it felt fine yesterday. I know I am a little bit overweight for running, but that didn't stop me before. Maybe I wanted to have a good performance and knew that I was not going to come close to breaking 8 minutes? I dunno. Perhaps, I am just suffering from the winter 'blahs'.

I am registered (or hopefully am) for this Sunday's Gridiron 4-Miler, also in Central Park. I am hoping that I can get motivated for it. Perhaps going to the gym every night this week will help.

This has been an unusually cold and drawn out winter. And we still have 2 months to go before Spring gets here..... The sooner the better.

*Blech*

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Obaminator!

I really don't have any intelligent rationale behind the title of today's blog. I just like the word "Obaminator". Perhaps, one day, there could be a late evening infomercial mentioning about this new revolutionary machine that makes you lose pounds off your gut in seconds. And yes, my friends, for $19.99 you will get a set of Joe Biden-select steak knives (you have to use the word "select" in there. it adds to the authenticity...)

I finally ran today. 10K. Still WAY WAY WAY behind in my winter training. I have a half-marathon come this Sunday, and I think I am going to do poorly. I have less than 6 days to "c-o-r-r-e-c-t" (as in the words of Grady the caretaker at the Overlook Hotel) myself. Can it be done? Yeah. Will it? Nah. LOL. Who knows.

So, I've been doing adding to my Facebook in recent days. Astounding the amount of people that I have been reconnecting with. 104 friends and counting....."They like me. They really like me!"
Anyway, I shamelessly plugged this website over at FB, so why not complete the Double Trouble and wash the other hand now..... to find me, go to www.facebook.com and search for Alex David Gonzalez. I've added my middle name because from Grades 1 through 4, I was known as David.
Yes, it's a Spanish Thing.

Charles Eckelman! Figured I'd utter his name since there is no reference of him anywhere on Google.

Goodnight.

PS. I am a very proud American today. The only wrinkle? Bush should have taken a Greyhound bus out of town today, with a sign around his head saying "3 chances to win a free prize"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not So, Scottso!

The other day, Scott, having noticed that I ran a 7:57 pace decided to leave me a voicemail telling me that I was beginning to enter the downhill phase of my running abilities, due to age.
Truth is, I am still coming off a knee injury, I am 13 pounds overweight, and I never get off to a fast start when a new year approaches anyway (In fact, the same race I did last year was completed at a pace of 8:31).

However, I'm am aware that a body physiology will begin to breakdown over the course of age, and wear and tear. Sure, prior to 2004, I had not run a lick in 14 years (18, if you discount my failed comeback attempt in 1990), so my body is still fairly unused, but I am 43 years old no matter how I want to slice it.

Then, I read this article in this month's Runner's World, which basically has confirmed my feelings about my capabilities all along. And that is that age in it of itself, is not always the determining factor in capability. Here is an excerpt of that Feb 2009 article (page 66-68 for those of you wanting to read the whole story):

First the bad news. Whether you're an Olympic champ or a midpack runner,
your aerobic capacity falls with age. For a healthy trained athlete, it's
not your heart's stroke volume or your ability to extract oxygen from blood that
changes with age, it's that your max heart rate declines and no one can change
that, says Sandra hunter, who has a PhD. as an exercise scientist at
Marquette Univeristy.


The article further goes on to say,

These physiological changes inevitably alter marathon
performance. Though individuals will age differently, studies indicate
that beyond about age 35, endurance performance declines by about five to 15
percent per decade, says Dieter Leyk, a researcher at the Institute for
Physiology and Anatomy in Cologne, Germany. Leyk recently examined
age-related changes in marathon performance among 300,757 runners, and found
that among the top 10 finishers, running times slowed by about 10.5 percent per
decade for men and 14.8 percent among women.

But that study yielded encouraging news for runners outside of the
lead pack. For the nonelites tracked, the decline was a little slower -
and began later. "For these runners, significant age-related losses in
endurance performance did not occur before the age of 50. Mean marathon
and half-marathon times were nearly identical for the age groups from 20 to 49
years." The bottom line: Keep up your training, and there's no reason you
can't continue to put in solid performances well into middle-age.


Sorry Scott. It looks like you will have a very very long way to go before you beat any of my PRs. And judging by the amount of food that you are sampling as a soon-to-be promising chef, I think that a decline in performance will be in order as you suggest......However, it will be for those people who live in Rockaway (or Rockaway Park, or Far Rockaway, or wherever the hell you live!)

Keep dreaming.....and please.....KEEP EATING!!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

RACE: The Fred Lebow Classic

Last year when I did this race for the first time, it was also the first race of the year for me. I was over my desired weight at 165 and it was 44 outside. My result was a pace of 8:31 with a final time of 8:31.

Today, this was the first race of this year for me too. However, I weighed in even more at 168, and it was a very cold 24 degrees outside. My result? A pace of 7:57 for a total time of 39:49.

It wasn't my ALL-TIME PR of when I did the Olympic Village Road Race back in 1984 (a time of 30:49 , pace 6:10) and it wasn't a modern day PR either (Alley Pond - 36:53, pace 7:23), but I am very happy that I am off to an even better start than I did last year.

Weight seems to be a big factor in my times. In the OVRR race, I weighed 124. And in the APC, I weighed 154, some 14 pounds lighter than I do now. It will be important for me to get back to that weight class, especially with the Manhattan Half in 2 weeks.

I wore my Asics Gel Nimbus sneaks today and they felt good. The knee felt okay too. There was a little discomfort when I was driving home, but nothing to write home about.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nothing Torn.

The docs at physical therapy examined my MRI. Nothing torn. Nothing broken. Just a little swelling under the patella (knee cap).

I've done two sessions of PT this week thus far. Between the shock treatments and the ultrasound, it has been helping quite a bit.

I've been to my new gym (Fitness 19) twice this week. The weight is still way up though (as I sit here eating my sausage and cheese calzone). I am at about 168 right now.

I attended the group's voting for the yearly awards. I have to admit I was a bit uncomfortable when it came to voting for the finalists in the mens category, especially when one of the two finalist was myself. Personally, I don't believe that the voting should be done out in the open as it breeds immodesty among one's peers. The voting, should be private and anonymous. Again, I believe that the club is somewhat disorganized in the way this is handled. No surprise here though. It's been several months since I have been advocating that the website that Bonnie controls be modified, but it is still a sloppy mess, and probably will be for a long, long time.

I saw a movie this week, "Slumdog Millionaire". Easily this (or last) year's best.