Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nothing like running for free at a $179 per month Equinox

Where does Equinox get the nerve to charge patrons $179 a month membership for the sake of what? Showering on cedar planked stalls? I got a free week from my friend, and made the most of it. I sweated all over the place, ran my ass off, stretched, curled, lifted, jerked, bent, twisted, hopped, and skipped for hours on end on the 29th and 30th of July.

Even my friend thinks the membership is a ripoff. They are literally 60% higher than any other club in the city They can't site real estate payments as the root cause to the ridiculous costs either since other competing clubs are located more or less in the same place now, can't they?

I don't like to use my blog as a vehicle for attacking an organization or establishment, but c'mon!
Even the rich people probably complain about your rates! The other day I got an email asking why I didn't join. You have to be kidding me right????

equals a big,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

RACE REPORT: Marcum Corporate Challenge 2009

It was nice last year when I finally came in 1st at Arrow last year in this race. I didn't know that Jon Garber would be in Germany at the time, and Jon was clearly a better athlete than me. But, I really was happy with my pre-race and performance.

I was actually at the Lexington Avenue office today. A dream, because I had stayed over my friend's house the night before which happens to be 1 block away from the 96th Street Station. As a result, it only took me 9 minutes to get to work.

OT: Found this super-cheap place for lunch near Grand Central Station, where Pizza is only $.99 per slice. Two slices and a soda were $2.50. The line went out the door and snaked down the block. Once inside the place, the mexican workers there were furiously making, cutting and boxing pies as fast as they could to keep up with the demand.

I actually sent a text on my iPhone to my boss showing how I am saving the company valuable money by eating here, but I got no response back (lol).

It was of little surprise that the name of the place would be exactly as you see on the awning in this picture. 99 cent Fresh Pizza. Indeed.

I left the city at about 3pm and it was the right call. Traffic was not too heavy at that time because it was between lunch the commute home, and fortunately not too many trucks were on the road either. I actually took route 231 and entered Ocean Parkway from the East to reach Jones beach going opposite the flow of direction. Another great call!

I got to the site almost 2 hours early. Like I've regrettably done, in years past, it was great for once not to have to hurry, just like I did at my tune up race a week before. However, I struck again, by forgetting my race number. I had to go to the race info booth and get reassigned a new number (as seen at the top of my post - what a large and ugly number right?).

Almost as ugly as the number, was the meeting point for Arrow. Except, I later found out that if it weren't for some of the organizers, who, get this, pitched in their own supplies and money, we would not have had any race this year. I totally understand my company's point of saving money, but it would have been really lousy if we had not shown to race. After all, this was a CORPORATE challenge for LONG ISLAND businesses. And we are not only a Fortune 200 company, but easily the largest company in all of Long Island.

Example of most companies' setup:

...and now...our setup...

The course (pic below), was identical to last year's run. Basically and out and back with a minor annoyance of an "appendage" slightly before the end. This is where I died out last year and felt like throwing up.

After a horrendous version of the Star Spangled Banner was sung (which may have lasted even longer than the race itself), the gun went off, and we went all on our merry way.

After last year's debacle where little oversized children, who had no business on being at this race, as they blocked the runners from doing there thing, I am pleased to report that it was just us 'grups out there pounding asphalt, and breathing in the salty air. The weather was 84 degrees and very humid (what else is new) but at least it was overcast, so the sun would not prove to be a factor this year 'round.

Last year I went out too fast. I remember something of like a 5:11 burst at one point last year. This year the focus was fast, but steady. And it paid off.

I did my first mile in 6:54.89 with a best burst of 6:10. Feeling fresh, I noticed that I actually past someone with an Arrow shirt. Someone I had never seen before.

My second mile was slower. I did this in 7:11.25, bb of 6:28. Looking over my shoulder I noticed that this man was still on my heels. Damn, where is Jon Garber in the meantime, and why is this mysterious Arrow person looking to debunk my 2nd place standings, I humbly thought, assuming that Jon was way out in front.

The way back east (from 1.5 miles to the end) is a bitch. Headwind all the way. One has to really have a gut check when racing the tail half of this race. This is why it is so important to save your energy, like I was doing here.

My 3rd mile was 7:16.1, bb of 6:29. Though my time slipped, I actually had a net people pass ratio on this mile of like 4:1 (I passed 4 people for every 1 that passed me).

As we entered the appendage, I was feeling pretty good. No longer did my strong efforts make me feel delusional like last year, where I thought that the appendage entry into the parking lot field next to the finish, was really the finish. No, this time I had the whole course charted out. I was totally in control when....

As I turn at the base of the appendage to go back out, I see this mystery man about to enter the base. This meant he was only 3-5 seconds behind. With a half a mile to go, and still feeling strong, my mental insanity kicked into high gear. Completely forgetting the laws of nature, physics, and the fortitude to hold my food in my stomach from coming up, I decided to sprint.

The sprint lasted the entire last .5 mile of the race.

I blazed through the last .55 of a mile in 2 minutes and 50 seconds. If you look that up, that is a 5 minute 11 second per mile pace. Unbelievable, even by my own standards. I not only crossed the finish line sprinting, but it took me nearly 50 yards more before I could finally slow down to a stop.

I was so pumped about what I had done, that I started running again, this time to our glorious tent, to see if I was the 2nd person to cross for my team. Well, to my surprise I was not.

I came in 1st place for Arrow. That's 2 years in a row now. I have successfully defended my crown. Where was Jon Garber? I would later find out that he was one of the unfortunate people not to make the layoff cut at the beginning of '09. At that point though, I was so happy that I got my phone and called my friend to advise of the results.

Despite the humble amenities, those who chipped in got beer. God bless those women who did this. Salt of the Earth if you ask me. I prefer wine myself, but at the end of a race, especially a sprint, there's nothing quite like a nice cold frosty one.

A few weeks later, I was highlighted on Planet Arrow for coming in 1st. I got a lot of kudos from my peers (and some kidding around too).

This has always been a unique and memorable race for me, and work-permitting, I will always try to make this race every year, even if I didn't win.

The man in the middle was the mystery man. Turns out he's from another office. And we spoke after the race. Nice guy. Does Triathlons. Hope I can do well in that too soon!
Relaxing, Eating and Boozing after the race.

I realize it's a blurry pic, but the guy with the white bandana is Coleman Leviter. He's going to be a medical supporter on 1st Avenue for the NYC Marathon this year.

Finally. Our team photo. Look for the "ham" with the outstretched arms in the front.

Missed the photo op last year, but not this year!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hamptons! Take Two.

Went to the Hamptons again with my friend. Saturday the 25th, we left Don's house and decided to do part of the "Mighty Hamptons" bike tour. Again, I used Don's carbon-fiber Trek bike.

The weather was beautiful today. Equally beautiful was the areas that we cycled through. Sagaponack, Bridgehampton, Watermill and the lovely and charming Sag Harbor. All told, I did over 40 miles. Not bad for a day's work, which started with a tennis tournament too.

It was really nice that night and we wound up going out with Don to a night club that he is part investor in. Mentioned on how the recession had taken a toll on this place. Could've fooled me. The place looked packed in the backyard!

The next day, we went for a run, but we were both pretty tired. All we could muster was about 3 miles. We went back to the house, but made up for it by swimming 400 meters in Don's freezing pool.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All aboard....the bullet night train.

I ran with my friend tonight, (though the picture is from the right area, it shows daylight instead) and while it was an easy run, I added some bursts of speed in there. At one point, I was able to run down the straightaway path of Central Park Drive East (between 86th and 94th) at a pace of 4:03. Forgive me, but.....what the hell?!!!!

I must write this 5 times on the blackboard...


There. Much better.

I wound up with 8.2 miles for the evening. Not bad for a summer's night workout.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Return To Forest Park

Not having been here since April 5 brought a nostaglic tear to my eye.
However, it was Bonnie and Steve's eyes that saw me tear. Tear out that is.

Tonight, Bonnie's drill was to focus on speedwork. She had mentioned that Steven said he was pretty fast, and that we, as a team, hadn't had fast workouts in awhile.

I got there with my Asics, and mindset. And we took off.

Visualization is a powerful weapon. Today I visualized all of my amazing moments for the month of June. Result? I ran my fastest miles since I was 19 years old. I am in the MACHINE mode now for sure!!!!

Amazingly I did 2 of the 3 miles in 6:02! At one point I was pacing at 5:06 per mile. Insane.

Was the swimming helping my aerobic capabilities? What is going on with me?

Steven and Bonnie finished around 8 minutes.

Kinda disappointing was the fact that there were only 3 people (including me) at the Wednesday night run.

I miss Queens. Nice neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


"How to add more insanity to my life" by Alex Gonzalez


1. Get to work at 8:30am
2. Leave for lunch at 12pm
3. But don't eat.
4. Race in my car to Phelps Pool in Babylon - Travel Time? About 20 minutes
5. Take off my clothes, exposing red & black triathlon suit (INSERT SUPERHERO MUSIC NOW)in the Men's changing room of the pool.
6. Run to the pool, put on goggles, jump in and start swimming.
7. Swim 400 meters as if a shark were chasing you.
8. Jump out of pool, run dripping wet back to changing room.
9. Put on business clothes on carefully in such a way as to not get them wet with my superhero Triathlete suit.
10. Run to parking lot, get in car, drive like a maniac back to work.
11. Park car, run through front door, and dive bomb back into my chair to do work.
12. Do the first 11 steps in 1 hour flat.
13. Repeat this every day until I pass out from exhaustion, or I'm taken to the loony bin.

That, my friends, was my routine for Monday, Tuesday, and today (Wednesday) of this week.

My triathlon consisted of WORK, DRIVING, and SWIMMING.

Notes from my individual swim entries:

On Monday,... I didn't actually write anything. I was either too shell-shocked from the experience or too waterlogged to write anything. It took me 22 minutes

On Tuesday, "I was able to swim the first 75 meters without stopping. Awesome!" It took me 20 minutes to do my swim

On Wednesday, "I started off swimming 100 meters without stopping except to turn around. And I did a couple of 50s as well. This was also perhaps the best balanced swim I've had thus far too. It appears that I can swim during lunch. 20 minute drive, 15 minute swim, 15 minute drive back and about 10 minutes to transition. This is great, it means I can go every day during lunch (weather permitting). I left at 12noon time." It took my 18 minutes to finish the 400 meters.

In the end, what does all of this mean, you ask?


That, plus I need new goggles...again! THIS WILL BE MY 3RD PAIR...Need something that won't leak water into my eyes!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

RACE: Long Training Run #1

Where : Central Park
When : Sunday, July 12, 2009 @ 7am
What: 20 Miles

With a very active week behind me, including a long bike ride yesterday, my friend and I woke up and were late for our race (which was really a training run as nothing was being scored). The morning was one error filled comedy, as I realized that I could not find my number anywhere and had to get another one. The number you see above was not the one I ran with. Hence, I finally found this number, and yes, it was left in my office from over a week before. LOL.

We started about 20 minutes late. Even at a 10 minute pace, we were already 2 miles behind. The race started near my friend's apartment at 102nd and East Drive, so we immediately cut west along the transverse to the west side eliminating about a mile from the course, and getting back about 10 minutes in the process. It still was not enough, so we cut back east across the 65th street transverse, cutting off another mile. However, instead of 20, we were now looking at doing 18 miles the most.

My friend, who is an excellent cyclist, but admittedly not as fast as I, begged for me not to keep pace and to run ahead. After much nudging, I obliged and finally sped up to my normal pace of around 8-9 minutes per mile.

The first loop was supposed to have been 6 miles, follwed by another 5, and another 5, and a 4 miler to make a total of 20. Instead, my first loop was only 4 miles. However, I decided to do loop 3 as a full 6 mile loop and loop 4 as a 5 mile loop. In each of those loops I eliminated a transverse.

After a slow start, I was fairly impressed with the final. 3 hours, 6 minutes, or a pace of 9:18. Only off by 9 seconds from a sub-4, and it was not the nicest weather outside either (slight rainy, and very humid-balmy).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Connetequot & back.

How does one prepare 24 hours prior to running 20 miles? How about cycling for 30 miles?
That's exactly what my friend and I did when we left on bike from my house in Lindenhurst and rode all the way past Hecksher State Park to Oakdale and back. On the way out I had a tough time keeping up with my friend who is an accomplished cyclist, but I did fairly well on the way back and finished strong.

The weather was good however there were a lot of weirdos on the road, that would pass us and just yell at us to try and get us to fall off our bikes. Idiots. It's jerks like these that give the south shore it's hot dog and tuna fish title (that's the South Shore's version of the North Shore's Surf & Turf).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Alex meets the Hamptons.

I never really thought that I ever lived a sheltered life. Yet, and at the ripe young age of 44, and as a New Yorker, I had never vacationed in the Hamptons, and I've never lived in Manhattan.

So when my friend asked if I would go to the Hamptons, I thought this was not only a great idea, but long overdue as well. What a better way to deal with this unpaid furlough than by vacationing where the affleunt go.

The best part is that my friend is equally competitive and into sports like me.
So together, we wound up having a very nice time. It included swimming at the inground pool at the timeshare that we stayed at, running various routes in and around Agawan Lake. We also o cycled about 27 miles, and played several hours of tennis as well. I brought my bike with me, but wound up using the owner's bike that was at the house. Don's Trek Hybrid is superior to mine. At least 8-10 pounds lighter and using better components. It's fork is carbon fiber too.

The bike ride was in one word, glorious. The sun was shining brightly, and the wind was at our backs as we rode west on Meadow Lane in Southampton along the water. On the way back going East on Meadow Lane was challenging. That same tail wind was a tough head wind.

True to its hype, the Hamptons is beautiful place. We stayed in Southampton, but really it was the North Sea area. I quickly acclimated myself to the customs of Hamptontonians to include frequenttennis playing, the mandatory reading of Dan's papers at breakfast, and visiting restaurants like the Hampton Point Inn (birthday present from my friend) and to Dockers.

All in all it was a wonderful time. Very relaxing and it really helped me to focus off of the furlough week that was imposed on me. Most importantly I was able to keep my cardio up, and good thing too because the first NYRR Long Training Run of 20 miles is on Sunday, July 12th.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lasker Pool

Phelps Pool is not the only place where I would swim. On this day, I headed back out to my friend's place, changed, and then went jogging up Park Drive East, till I got to Lasker Pool. Lasker Pool.

Located in the upper part of Central Park, it overlooks the Harlem Meer, and is transformed into the Lasker Rink in the winter when it features ice-skating and high school hockey. During the summer months it is converted into one huge swimming pool. Perhaps the best feature about this pool. It is absolutely free of charge. Just make sure you have a GOOD padlock. I didn't and the park ranger took such pity on me, that he allowed me to store my things in his office.

The swimming pool replaced part of the Meer in the late 1960s,when the wealthy Lasker sisters thought it would be a wonderful philanthropic gesture to the children of the community. Many at the time, including the then current Parks Commissioner Newbold Morris desperately fought the construction, labeling a desecration of a sacred space. In 1966, the Pool opened to the public and the beautiful landscaping linking the Loch to the Meer would forever be changed and marred by this monstrous site. Yet, popular opinion defeated the opposition. Even today the controversy continues. The Lasker Rink and Pool still remains for many a horrible eyesore and for others a place that brings great joy and entertainment in the summer and winter months to the often neglected north quarter of the Park.

The length of a lap, from one end of the pool to the other, that is, is 50 meters long, or exactly double the length of Phelps pool. Incredible, isn't it. It is also only 3 feet deep, so there's never a worry for anyone, even those who are swayed away because of depths.

I did my bidding here this afternoon, as I was off this entire week, due to furlough (forced non-pay week off by my office), and swam a whopping 400 meters. However, don't get to excited y'all. Because just like all the other times, my biggest issue is, get this, endurance! I can't seen to swim for more than 100 meters without having to stop at one end of a pool and take several breaths.

Will I ever improve???? UGH!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Time To Dance.

This is a very macho heading indeed. Time To Dance. What does that mean exactly?
It means that with all this swimming that I've been doing that I've been neglecting the one thing that I haven't done in a long, long, while. And that's a long run, my friends.

If you've been following my blogs for the past few years now, you will have noticed a lot of adventurous places that I've run through, many for the first and last times. Today, after my friend left for work, I got my running gear on, my endurance face on, and headed out south down Park Avenue. Headed down south for what would become a 17 mile run in the scorching sun.

I ran all the way down Park Avenue, right around the Met Life building and continued suit until Park Avenue became Park Row. From there I made my way down Lafayette, past Houston, and even further into the bowels of the city. I kept going and going, despite the heat, the sun, and every opposing element begging me to heed to the common sense that running in 90 degree weather is just plain dumb, and made it all the way to Battery Park.

At this point, I could have taken a train back to the Upper East Side, but that would make me a normal person, right? And whoever knows me, knows that I'm anything but normal.

No, instead I decided to raise the stakes. Not just by running back to my friend's apartment, but now by additionally ditching the shade that I had at least obtained from the tall buildings at either side, by choosing to run up the West Side Highway. Over there, there's no shade AT ALL. At least not until I got under the west side highway itself, but that was long after I was running along the 79th street dock and basin. I finally made my way across Riverside Park, a place which I never even remembered running at last year's 14.2 Manhattan Training Run. The last part, which was to run up to the west side was very challenging. One big hill, let me tell you! And, it was beautiful over there. Another great reason to live in NYC!

Pictures from the run: