Thursday, May 14, 2009

Training Status & Matthew's progress

My training has been going great so far. I'm back to 157, which is optimal weight for me since it's mostly muscle. My next big run is on the 30th (Brooklyn Half Marathon), and so as long as I continue doing long runs, I should be in fine shape.

I've been running at the gym again. I really like my gym too. Even though there is no swimming pool, Fitness 19 over in Lindenhurst has been a good place to go to eat miles when the weather has been less than desireable or when it's too dark out to be able to run safely.

Tonight, I actually did two things at once. My laundry was getting a bit backed up, but the laundromat is fortunately in the same shopping plaza as my gym is. I did 3 loads, ran over to the gym, and did 4 miles. I really ran fast tonight too. During my first interval, I reached 11.1 MPH, good enough for a 5:25 pace.

After the first session, I did some easy stretches, headed over to the laundromat, threw everything in the dryer, and went back again to run some more. This time I did 5 miles, and during one stretch reached 12.1 MPH and maintained it for 1/4 mile. That speed equals a 4 minute 58 second pace.

In the end, I wound up with an overall pace of 8:23, which even included some walking baked-in.

My ex-stepmother is coming over tomorrow night with her boyfriend, Jim. They're staying at my place until Monday. Jim, an brilliant artist, is hosting a showcase at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. Before Jim, I never knew that there was such thing as artistry in furniture!

Also on tap, and by far the big moment of the weekend is my son's Holy Communion. I have been so proud of my son of late. Not only has he started shining scholastically this year, but he is also excelling at baseball too. And that's with the fact that he is an 8-year old boy who is playing with the 10-year old leaguers. If I needed any reassurance that putting him in the "advanced" league was the right thing to do, it was put to rest this evening. Prior to the start of the Mets game against the Giants (for which I'm happy to report that they are up 4-2 in the 5th right now), they had an expose on Keith Hernandez's early years. As you may or may not know, Hernandez, was raised in Pacifica, a San Francisco Bay Area surburb, and an absolutely gorgeous place to live. I've been there, I know!

Anyway, Keith's parents had seen their son's love and passion for the game, and feeling that it would benefit him, convinced the coaches to advance him to 10-year old leaguers when he had just turned 9 (sounds familiar??). His talent proved itself, because rather than cracking under the pressure of the advanced age, Keith hit .300 his first year, and flourished from there. A few years later in High School, he won his 1st MVP. And from there it was history... The link for the video is here --> Keith Hernandez - Childhood Memories

I don't know what the future for my son will hold. Not sure if he is going to get tired of the game, or if he is going to be one of these lucky souls that has found his true love so early in his life. But whatever his choices will be down the road, I will support him and love him because that is, above all else, the best thing that we can provide our children.

Of course, if he becomes the 1 in 500,000 children that actually makes it to the MLB, I won't be broken up about it either! At that point, WHATEVER team he plays on, will suddenly my favorite team on Earth.

Anyhow, I've charged my camera for this Saturday, and once finished, I'll be uploading my photos to Kodak with a link to share. I really miss my kids, and can't wait to have them next weekend for the long weekend. Rain, rain go away!!!!!

Book Review: Running From The Devil

Mix one part Rambo, one part MacGyver, and one part femininity and you get yourself Emma Caldridge, a fiercely intense character, whose brain and brawn comes to serve her handily amidst the challenges put before her in the jungles of Colombia.

Jamie Freveletti's book, "Running From The Devil" interested me from the start. If it isn't tough enough to run in a marathon, imagine having one's training being put to the test...To survive a certain death in the jungles of Colombia!!!

A chemist by trade, Emma's smarts even outdoes her running endurance! The book was nearly as enlightening as it was exciting. I found myself thinking how inane I was had this situation befall me, that it made me want to go back to College!

I kept trying to put the book down, but as great storytelling will do, it kept me drawn to reading without stopping. I kept wanting to know what happens next, and when you can write that way, you have hit the jackpot. You don't even realize the mechanics of the reading, and (Jamie) Freveletti does as an incredibly admirable job in reeling you in, and keeping you on the edge of your reading chair.

Without giving much away, the book takes you straight into an explosive beginning (literally). Let's just say that about the only thing that Emma was not in control of, was her luck for being ejected deep into the Colombian jungle. Far away from where the rest of the plane she was on, had crashed landed.

After that, it's a free-for-all for the bad guys who swarm in to the remaining survivors. If it's not the Columbian Cartel, it's the Paramilitary. In short, there were several competing forces in the Columbian jungle make it for an intense, albeit slightly dizzying action-thriller. A paradox when you consider that even in the harshest of mother nature, that man is stil the ultimate enemy. This is a subtle theme for which Freveletti accurately and vibrantly depicts throughout her story. There are dangerously frentic moments throughout, and Freveletti delivers the goods in keeping you informed of everything.

Her characters in the story are believably human too with the main focus being on Emma herself, who perhaps was created from Jamie's own persona. All of her characters remain consistent in behavior, while our heroine, Emma, being by far the most believable among the bunch. This novel is just as worthy as Emma's likeability. She's aggressive, sensitive, resourceful, and shows that she has her moments of doubt and frailty. A true heroine!

In short, the story, the characters and the action is terrific. If you can, I say you run as fast and as far as Emma would, and grab yourself this book, dammit! Get it, read it, and afterwards look around you and be glad you don't have to find your way out of a violent jungle!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Book Review: Fun On Foot In New York written by Warwick Ford with Nola Ford

How many times have you read a book about walking or running, and say "That makes sense!" or "That's a great book!" Then you go out, apply it to your own training, and realize you wished you had eaten your words?

Well, I am pleased to announce that "Fun On Foot In New York" is NOT one of those books.

"Fun On Foot", written by fellow runner, Warwick Ford, sets out to both educate and demystify the perils associated for the fellow walker or runner, who wants to run in a location but is just unsure as to where to go. He does so by creating the most comprehensive guide to running and walking in the Greater New York City and NJ area...EVER!

Taking "copious notes" as he mentions in his Preface, Warwick along with the help of Nola (his wife), has put together a compendum of routes with descriptions, pictures, deviations on courses,maps, diners nearby (lol), times to run, etc., that you will not find on any online running course mapping program. In short, you will find and every little nook and cranny that a runner would want to know before taking a course head on.

The extent of Warwick's knowledge seems endless. This makes the application of this knowledge for the fellow walker/runner useful....AND FUN!

But to just say that it was written well is perhaps a bit conclusive. So, I decided to challenge Warwick's findings, by actually RUNNING some of the courses he mentioned in the book.

I am here to tell you that I am extremely pleased by all of his course descriptions. It is a wonderful resource for New Yorkers, and outsiders alike. Enlightening and dead-on accurate.

"Fun On Foot" caters to walkers/runners of all abilities. It won't just give you the longest course in a given park (for ex.), but several ones if there are several ones available. It is written to be easily digested, too. In short, you don't need to be a world-class athlete to fully understand or enjoy the amount of information that's available here.

Finally, "Fun On Foot" is user-friendly to the out-of-town traveller looking for a place to walk or run, and is extensive enough to the local dweller, interested in exploring more of their own neighborhood.

If it sounds like I am a bit excited, it is because this was a book that should have been written decades ago. Finally, it is here, and now we can all benefit from it.

I for one, have decided to even do my own "Fun On Foot" exploration, and started running through routes I've never even knew existed. So far this has been a lot of fun for me!

In short, this is a gem of a book and I highly encourage it to the fellow walker or running enthusiast. Great stuff!

Walk, errr actually no.... RUN to your computer and order it online!

For more information on this guide you may visit their website at http:\\

You may also visit Amazon or B&N (Barnes and Noble) as I believe it is for sale on these sites.

Bang. Bang. Tack on another 15.

With the beautiful weather we are having today in New York, I decided to do 2 runs today. A short, 3-mile run through beautiful Eisenhower State Park, and a new run I've never tried before utilizing the Ellen Farrant Memorial Bikeway. A path for which I would never had known without having received a promotional copy, "Fun on Foot in New York". The review for that book is coming shortly.
I parked my car in field 2, and made my way to the start of the red line course just behind the southwest corner of the tennis courts. It was very windy outside, and I already realized that I was going to be burned because I failed to bring my SPF. The visor would hopefully help however on my run to Jones.

As you can see there was a lot of twists and turns on this route. I had taken an photo of the course from the "Fun on Foot" book using my iPhone, but as I would see later on, the path was well marked with red arrows, and my iPhonitis dependancy during my run subsided. What a great day it was outside. The coffee at Dunkin was finally kicking in, and my "small" 3-mile run in and around the park, went really well. My body felt nothing at all.
After I finished up, I headed out of the park, by car, and drove to the northern tip of Cedar Creek Park. I had never been there before, and was going strictly by the book's directions.

Hot Damn! This run looks somewhat intimidating via satellite. GOTTA LOVE IT!!!!!It was a little after midday, so the sun was beating down strong. Since this was going to be my long run, I took my Camelbak in tow with me, a pair of sunglasses, and some money just in case.One of the first things I noticed was a carnival that was being set up at the park. Looks nice, and perhaps this could be a place where I could take my kids if this is still around on Memorial Day weekend. One of the "side" benefits of running, is that you come encounter with a lot of potential future events to consider.

Not long after passing the carnival, I noticed a couple of rollerbladers and cyclists entering a wooded path along side a brown sign (above). Alas, the Ellen Farrant Bikepath was in view.

The southwardly path is a trail that goes from Seaford to Jones Beach State Park. In the beginning it was fairly windy, and covered in shade by the trees overhead. That would be shortlived. Within about 1/4 mile, I was still on the trail, but essentially running south alongside the Wantagh State Parkway.

There were markers on this trail too, denoting the distance covered thus far. I was pretty amazed by the lack of cyclists on this beautiful day, and never it gave it much thought until I came up to this sign below: WTF???? Leave it to our wonderful state to have things like this on a weekend.

There had been some cyclists ahead of me, that saw the sign and turned around. I thought I would still be able to go to the right side of it, but then noticed it was also fenced in as well.

Did I come all the way here just to do 2 miles and back another 2?

The one thing I can say about myself, is that I have a wanderlust for adventure. I am definitely a thrill-seeker, and I am pretty insatiable when it comes to "going where no man has gone before". I am definitely not the fastest runner, for sure, but I rarely like to say "QUIT" either and I find these signs offensive. Perchance that there is a gaping hole in the bridge, or something that is dangerous enough that my life wont possibly but definitely be harmed, and then yeah, I guess I will use common logic.

I noticed a cut in the chain link. It wasn't very big, but it was just large enough to pull it up and slide my body through it. I broked through! Free again!!!!

As I ran over the bridge the excitement of knowing that I probably should have no business being on the bridge was taking over me. Scoffingly, I even yelled out "FORBIDDEN!!!!" a few times. I was waiting for that huge piece of missing cement for me to fall through 50 feet down and into Goose Creek. But it never materialized. And my efforts for not "QUITTING" paid off handsomely.

I ran past some kind of construction barge that had a large crane. No doubt the reason why the bridge was closed. It was unmanned however. One weird thing about my iPhone. I think it takes drugs. For if I take a picture whilst running, the distortion on the photo is downright scary. Imaging if the bridge or the tollplaza (both above) was this lopsided!

Realizing that I was potentially going to get into trouble, I ran fast through Green Island and made my way over the second bridge and Sloop Channel.

Of course, with a path that was supposed to have been closed, I was bound on seeing weird things along the way....

Meant for motorists, I took this sign as another way of saying "Go Back! Don't Pass Go! Do Not Collect $200 Dollars!!!"

"Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhh!!!!!!" LOL. Yes I kept running.

Well ain't that a stinker! I finally get to the end of the trail, and I could lock up my bike and go check out the concert. Except I used my legs to get here....and Jones Beach Theatre was a barren wasteland!

So now what? Go this far, just to turn around ?


After getting a clearing, I ran across Ocean Parkway (again the thrill meter was getting me juiced), and I entered the massive parking lot of Field 4. The parking lot was completely barren. It looked like an endless ocean of concrete, and as I ran towards the needle, I kept thinking to myself, "Am I The Only Nut That Would Do This Sort Of Thing????"

The Jones Beach needle. Home to many "phallic symbol" jokes, and currently under repair.
I arrive at the boardwalk. More signs. "Do Not Dress On The Beach"..... Does this mean I can undress on the beach instead?
As you can see the place was still fairly empty. Understandable, since it is Mother's Day and since the water temp is still pretty cold. Hmmmm.....I wonder how cold?
Challenge #2 - Do part of my 12 mile run, barefooted.

Again, with this iPhone camera. I pray to the Apple gods that they fix this in their next release of software/hardware. I am actually running on the sand now. Holding the iPhone in one hand and my sneaks in the other.

LOL. As if I wanted to swim in 50 degree waters....

I finally "reached the beach", and allowed my doggies to get wet. Ouch! Damn Effin Cold! B-R-R-R-R-RRR!!!!!!!

The waves were really crashing violently onshore. Oh well, it was time to get back.
I actually stopped at the concession stand on the way back. And no, haha, it was not at the shack pictured below.

I got a hot dog and a diet coke. Great runners food. Got my protein from the dog, and my carbs from the bread. And since the water supply from the Camelbak was getting slightly warm, the diet coke was oh so refreshing to the palette......Ahhhhhh!!!!!!

On the way back, I noticed that there was an undepass. In other words... I never had to play chicken across Ocean Parkway in the first place *DOH!!!!!*

Yeah....Sure....We've been through this before.....LITERALLY.

"The reeds of the run, outweigh the reeds of the many".

"Su-u-u-u-r-e. Su-u-u-u-r-e. Keep 'em coming...."
More danger. Ahhh....Love it!!!

After passing over both bridges again, I started seeing signs of life on the trails, and began thinking to myself that I was about to complete another 15 mile run day in one week. Not bad.

I finished up, did my stretches, and drove back home. What a great experience today was.
Tomorrow will be a lite run for me, probably at the gym.

Overall, I feel really good. Nothing is broken, nothing sore. I've been careful with my training, and getting more rest recently, and it has helped. It's still a long way away, but my key goal is to keep layering one 15+ mile run over another and doing it as often as possible, but without getting hurt ,until the BIG ONE in November. Biomechanically, I feel like am in the zooooooooone right now, so I gotta keep those good vibrations a happening with me. Sorry, with all the beach shit above, I just couldn't help but to quote Brian Wilson. LOL.