Monday, February 28, 2011

Born Again Runner

How many times can a Christian say they can be Born Again? Not quite sure of that answer, but to keep church n' state out of it, I will say that when it comes to running, you are born again everytime you come back from an injury. Not sure if that's what's been happening in the last three days.  But, after getting a weird soreness on my left side of my back which had nothing to due with the injury on Saturday, then subsiding on Sunday, and running well, and then what I did tonight, it would appear that the planets may be beginning to align.  That and perhaps the Mayans may have applied for an extension to their over-promoted calendar.

So.... what did I do today?

As the end of the work day drew near, I realized that for the first time in a while, I was going to do something that was going to give me more pleasure than it day yesterday, or the day before. At first, I was going to to the gym, but with the warmer temps, neither the darkness, nor the threat of rain, nor having my wifey by my side was going to keep me from doing the two things that I had aimed on doing all day long.

When I entered Central Park, already 4/5th of a mile in, I was going at a relatively slightly challenging pace, and still I was surprised when I finished my first mile in under 9:30 let alone 10 minutes. My back was still "there", but the therapy, the advil, the solid advice that I've been getting from friends, fellow runners, and most of all Karen, has helped me to get to this stage thus far.

I was heading south on the west side of the park, when I started noticing something that I hadn't been doing in a while, and that was that I occasionally passing joggers along the way. This was a very good sign.

I hadn’t intended on making this a tempo run, as I was not looking to put my recovery at risk. But…I wasn't about to give up on an opportunity that with the exception of the first two weeks of January, had all but been forgotten since the end of November either. So I decided to carefully increase the throttle to see how much my body would accept before it would start to throw blades at me.

I began to aim at targets, both stationary and moving. Slowly, surely, reaching and passing. My greatest surprise came when as I was approaching the 96th street transverse on the Upper West Side. I had just passed a moving ‘target’ in the form of an ordinary jogger. She was tall, and was running at a 9 minute clip. I typically compete with guys, but for tonight, I’d accept anything that I could consider achievable. Anyway, she was running at about a 9-9:15 per mile clip. As I passed her, I detected her looking over my shoulder, and at first I thought I might have startled her. However, startled women do not catch back up to you and surpass you, which was exactly what she did. And she did so quite abruptly as if to say, “Who the fuck are you to run past me?” Of course Karen would say that my competitive mind was running away with me again. Good! I haven’t felt competitive in quite awhile. And this is exactly what I needed!

Well, everybody likes a chase. I decided to turn this into a racing drill practice, and focus on my form and overtaking skills. I stayed to her left a few yards back. I could tell that she was trying to break away, so I increased my pace to avoid the dust-off but not too much as to turn this into a sprint. Not just yet anyway.

I felt my confidence coming back quickly. This was also very good. In the meantime, I kept a high alert for any foreign pain in my back or legs or anywhere else. The slightest infraction of this kind, and the “challenge” would be over.

She increased her lead to about 20 yards on me, but like any refined marathoner, this was no concern for alarm. I was going to make this my race and at my pace. And when it was time, I began to throttle up to the next gear. Then and not to be so obnoxious I took a look at my Garmin but did so as I was still behind her, so that she wouldn’t see me looking at my watch thinking I was making this into some kind of spiteful sprint that would bereft me of my limited power before the “finish” line. And for me, the “finish” line would be the 72nd Street West Side transverse-just slightly.

As I started to close in, she started pushing sole-2-asphalt herself, doing so without even looking back. Ahhh…a connoisseur of running like myself. This was going to require work!

With every gear up, she responded equally. She was prudent not to let me retake the lead in the FOUR attempts that I made. Man, I thought I was competitive. But I wasn’t going to quit. Ahh….Never Quit….Another long lost running faculty, now coming back to me. Would I be immature to just say “YAY” now?

There was a part of me that said, “Dude, this is a chic. WTF? Don’t compete with chics dude. But my response is always the same. YOU MUST BE TERMINATED. And so, and as we approached the long straight away from 77th street to the slight uphill to the transverse, I completely took off and didn’t look back. And to think that before I took off like that, I was already hitting a nearly 7 minute flat pace. I know, I am stupid. Well, maybe not (hopefully), for as I write this now nearly 2 hours later, my back is still feeling the same. Yippee.

As I got to the transverse, I turned into it to head back east. I stopped, panted loudly, and looked back at my freshkill. I might be injured, but it’s going to take more than a series of disgruntled sprints over a 1.5 mile stretch to read me my rites.

Heading back north, I encountered some running groups that were 20 years younger than me, and running a good 40 seconds faster. No worries. I had my mental trophy for the night. Then this solo dude in the gray NYC Marathon ’06 tekshirt just blasted by me. WTF?
(wow.  this has got to be one of my ugliest running mugs ever..........yikes!!!!)
Still feeling well after the first slay, I figured I’d be sexist if I didn’t terminate one of my own. I pursued, from a safe distance, and as I got past the East 90th Street exit, I cranked up serious gearage, and threw the hammer down as I passed the Fred Lebow statue near the reservoir on 90th. Not only did I pass him before exiting at 102, but I also passed about another 5 innocent byrunners along the way too.

I stopped again for a brief moment and for a split second to take a picture of the hospital (Mt. Sinai) which they had wheelchaired me in nearly 2 months ago. What a fucking saga. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the END of this saga. Though I must remain focused and patient (Not in the "hospital" sense, though. More like in the "wait-for-it" sense.)

Well that’s it for now.

Oh wait. I did say that I had wanted to do not one, but two things.

Well here was the second thing I did tonight as soon as I got home….
(what's with the Chase Visa AARP rewards ad on the right?   Are they trying to tell me something????????)
I had wanted more time to make a final decision on it, but when the email came today warning me that there was only 5,000 entries left, I knew it was a “Now or Never” scenario. I felt so burned (both mentally and LITERALLY) by last year’s 92 degree incinerating debacle, that I just couldn’t pass this up. I’m going to keep at this shit until I get my goal or until my goal gets me….Whichever comes last!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

1985 NYC Marathon Medal - 2 Down, 1 to Go.


To my "ex" friends who had stripped me of my 3 NYC Marathon medals back in 2004, I want you to take notice. I just won an auction last week on ebay, and now I have a NYC Marathon medal for the one that I did in 1985. All that's left now is 1 more. I ought to call you when I get my last one. I ought to call you and tell you both to take my three medals, open your mouths from which your venemous speech emits from, and swallow my medals hard. You are nothing but spineless cowards who enjoy the sense of power, by imposing self-made idiotic judgment over those who suffer or who have less. A shame on you both. For 19 years (1985-2004) I thought you were my friends, but all you will ever be is a shameful and pitiful couple, who thought they were Jesus Christ and Mother Theresa, when I was down and out in 2004.
...
The funny thing of it all, is that my anger towards you has probably subsided a lot more than your guilt over stealing my medals and my DVDs has. Sorry. Life is not easy when you live an uneasy, and unclean life. I've been there myself too, but had changed my act. I hope since then you both have as well, but probably not. I should have known back then when and how you spoke behind other's people's backs, how you probably spoke of me when I too was not around.
...
You are both a bunch of thieves.
...
Once a thief, always a thief. Like I said before, I've been there myself and am not without sin for sure, but I will still go on and say this nonetheless.......
...
Enjoy Your Afterlife...LOSERS!
...
Now let me go back to a time long ago when life was much simpler....
Just like today, you had to be a member of the New York Road Runner's Club. However, you didn't have to run 9 races, or volunteer or anything to get in. You either had to be quick, as in quick to be the first to get your entry postmarked as close to midnight as possible to get a guaranteed entry or be a sub 2 hour 30 minute marathoner which I wasn't. Fortunately, I didn't mind waiting the 12 hours around the GPO on 34th Street on a lawn chair with thousands of other hopeful runners to be able to participate. Above was my application and my MAC (Metropolitan Athletics Congress app) to get in.
...
Best of all... Click on the left and look closely at the application. The race cost TEN dollars. And how much does it cost now? How the hell did they even make money back then and... Talk about INFLATION!!!!!

The wait paid off. I made it in!


My running number showing my time from the previous (and first ever) marathon in 1984.

Not only do I log miles now, I did it back then too. Only it was in a book and not online or via an iPod or GPS watch. My how times have changed.
Commercialing for the NYC Marathon was huge back then too. Manufacturers Hanover, Mercedes-Benz (which Fred Lebow would give to the winner along with money) and Perrier (pictured above) were the annual big advertisers.
This was the shirt we got for the race. Made of cotton. Cotton? What's that?
I only know of Hi-Tech Vapor Wear Polytech Breath-Right Wicking Fabric! Again, things were simpler back then, albeit not the best...
In 1985, the New York Road Runner's Club had a monthly (or bi-monthly) magazine called New York Running News. Well..lookie here...this was the annual NYC Marathon issue. PS. Pizzolato won his 2nd consecutive. But...how did I do?
I weighed 125 pounds. And flew like the wind. Marathoning was very difficult at the age of 20 though. Like any horny 20-year old alpha male, I was too busy thinking of sex, and of other impatient matters, instead of discipline. That's why even though I could do a 10 mile run in an average of 6 minutes flat per mile, I never was able to rise up to meet that kinda goal in the Marathons back then....However, I did finish in 1985 (of course) and....
....and who would have known that it would have taken 23 years, and at the age of 43 to finally break that record? Wow!

When I finished, they wrapped me in this. I felt like a baked potato. It was great!
and unlike all the online marketing, gazillions of photos, dvd's, and all other shameless ways to exhibit yourself today from the zillions of cameras snapping up photos of you, we were lucky if we got more than 1 photo. And, the only way you knew was when TSC Graphics would send you something like this (above) in the mail. It was acard, with a photo-proof on it about an inch square.

This would come in the mail too. It was a card congratulating your win. If you didn't notice already, I lived in Kew Gardens at the time. It was my first place that I lived by myself (for a while anyway).




The magazine you saw above with Pizzolato, had me in it too. In fact, every finisher was in it. Were you in it too? Let me know, and I'll look you up! ;-)

Finishing, and getting the medal is by far the best, but it was always nice to get this too. A finisher's certificate, courtesy of the New York Road Runners. I have every single one of my 9 New York City, my 1 Miami, and my 1 Chicago certificate framed and on the wall in the living room over my big tv. Love looking at it for inspiration. Sometimes I will look and say, "Who the hell does Alex González think he is, anyway?" It's pretty awesome.


But after finishing, nothing, and I mean nothing, is more complete than this...
....and now you are back home to where you belong and that's with me!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Virtual Marathoning - in less than 24 minutes.

Did 4 miles on the treadmill. Back still is sore (and will be for a long time, I fear) but it doesn't get any worse when I run, provided I don't do an all out-sprint. Even then it's only marginally more uncomfortable. They say ya gotta be careful with backs, and I have been thus far, and getting out of shape too :-(, but the workload in the office, while exciting stuff, is helping me not to take unecessary risks and run every day just yet.

Actually did a funny thing tonight. I placed my iphone horizontally across the treadmill panel in front, and went to You Tube where from there, I loaded the Chicago, NYC and Miami Marathon Race courses. It made the run a bit more interesting as I ran to what looked like the courses, even if I'm still running slow. . Each race course is about 8 minutes, so about 24 minutes worth of racing virtually while on the treadmill.....I'll get there.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Central Park - Revisted again.

After groin injury in December and back injury in January, I felt like a broken puppet today. However, I did more than I thought I could originally. Karen ran with me too. We looked like a couple of people that escaped from the hospital. Anyway, I'm glad we didn't do our race today, I would have wound up doing less miles, and probably straining myself a lot harder. So this was a step in the right direction.

It was nice to run in Central Park, and I've never seen so much snow in my life.
And with two more snowstorms predicted this week alone, I'm glad I got the opportunity, because it may be a couple more weeks on the treadmill before I can see the "mecca" again.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Slow Road Ahead

Since January 15th, I have not done 1 run. The sledding accident took care of that. Tonight, and 18 days later, I've decided to carefully give it a go. Rather than going to NYSC and chancing getting hurt away from the house, I chose a bit wiser and decided to use the gym in my building downstairs. As it was, thank God I did this, because my gym bag that I had taken to work with me....had two RIGHT sneakers! LOL!



I went downstairs to our gym. I walked for a mile at 4.0 which is a 15 minute mile. My, how the muscles quickly forget everything that they were trained. It takes years to create and reinforce. It takes seconds to destroy and forget. My back is still not 100% and I'm still waiting for Dr. Dexter's office to write me the script for physical therapy. They were closed today again because of the lovely weather we're having. Hopefully by tomorrow.



After the first mile of walking, I decided I was okay to try a little more. I pushed the treadmill to 5MPH (12 minutes per mile pace). After about a quarter of a mile, my left glute felt very tight. After a half-mile I got used to it, and gently pressed onward. With my "home-made" wireless Nano device, I finished my first mile of running in slightly over 12 minutes, but I finished it. One mile. I couldn't even remember when was the last time that I could actually remember a full mile. They used to go by so fast. But for now, would one mile do?



Still feeling okay, I decided I would do 1 more mile and that's it. For the second mile, I actually raised the speed to 6.0MPH (10 minutes per mile). Now, and in addition to my left glute, my right hip felt tight and itchy. I focused on my breathing, remaining calm to help the added exertion, and was able to overcome these two maladies that until now, had been foreign to me.



I increased the speed to 6.5 MPH (that's slightly over 9 minutes per mile), but I began to feel something that felt like a piece of sheet metal hanging over the right side of my back, so I immediately slowed it back down to 6MPH and did the last two-tenths at 5.5 and 4.0MPH.



2 miles at 23:19. And for all the shit that I've been through physically only 18 days ago, I will take it. Still, I can tell you that this may be a slow and long road ahead.



Now, I want to tell you about a slow and potentially long road ahead regarding someone important in my family. I'm writing this because every so often it is important to let everyone know that my life is more than about running. Running is a layer, and a wonderful layer of my life, but to know me, you must get to know my layers, and I have many of them. Not all of them are perfect, but they are all important.



If you have been reading my blogs since I began some 3-4 years ago, you will no doubt know that I've been through two divorces and have three children. My life has been much tougher than it had to be, partially due to bad luck, partially due to the fact that life is like that for everybody, and also partially because of my pigheadedness, especially when I was young and naive.



My oldest daughter will be 22 years old this July. And while I do love her very much, she has been very hurtful to her mother and to me. Look, I never said we were the perfect parents. We got divorced just before she turned 4 years of age. And despite all the anger that her mother and I had towards one another, we both agreed on one thing...Raise our child well. While she has had a rough go (as she has said to me countless times) with her mother through the years, I no doubt imagine her mother has had just as many with her. It is not easy being a single parent for one, and for two, you can't always believe what you hear unless you are there. And unfortunately for me, I haven't been there since my ex moved down to Florida over 6 years ago.



All I know is that something has changed in a very bad way for my daughter over the last two years. It's not the lying, or the stealing, or any of the things that her mother and I can attest to. It's not the unwarranted emails and text messages and voicemails from my daughter calling me anything from a "loser" to an "asshole" to even a "mother fucker" that bothers me. It's the fact that she seems to have no respect for herself. I've pleaded (as well as her mother I am sure) for her to stay in college, or get a job. But it seems like she is not willing to listen to anyone. When she spent all the money I had opened for her in the bank account in both our names, and overdrafted by over 100 dollars, I thought it was for her to pay her cellphone off. I could have seen that as justifiable, since a cellphone is important to help communicate with potential employers and or schools. But instead she overdrafted the money on ridiculous items. She's been kicked out of her friends' house, and last month she has lied to me again and told me that she's been kicked out of her mother's house.



I finally drew the strength and called her mother. You have to remember that her mother and I had been extremely adverserial for many, many years. Which as I look back now, anger is a utter waste of time (usually). I spoke to her for over an hour, and typically where I would have doubted everything that she told me, I am 45 years old and much wiser. I can tell when someone lies most of the time. My ex effortlessly explained in painful detailal everything that had happened with my daughter over the last couple of years. After we were done, I felt nothing less than complete shame for how my daughter has been treating not only her mother, but a person for whom my daughter knows to have cancer. Despite all my previous angst towards her, I pray that she beats the cancer, and lives a good life.



Anyway, my daughter was never kicked out of her house. My ex changed the locks on the house door and did not give her a key. She did this to ensure that her daughter would be home at a decent time. My ex is undergoing the usual chemo and radiation treatments, and something like that is quite draining and tiring, I would imagine. What she had actually told my daughter was that she could come home before she would go to sleep and my ex would let her come and stay in her bedroom. However, due a past "history", where my ex had even placed a keyed lock on her own bedroom door due to theft, she does not allow my daughter to stay in the house when she is at work. She mentioned that she should be either at school, at work, or looking for a job. I wholeheartedly agree with my ex.



I finally came to the realization that my daughter's problems is not due to a lack of employment, or education, it is due to a lack of respect, and a lack of self-confidence. She comes across me as someone who is on a self-destructive trip. I gave her the name of a good therapist, and yes, I know all of this is quite personal, but guess what? If there is anybody in this kind of complicated and many times screwed-up world we live in think that they are above a good session of therapy once in a while, then they don't need therapy. They need a dose of reality.



Apparently, this angered my daughter, saying that if there was anyone that was mental that it was me. I thought that if she went to a neutral-party, like a therapist, that she might be able to leave her anger behind, and focus on what is important in life. And that is herself.



My wife and my family have been witnesses to everything that's been going on and I think my sister Lexi, really hit it right on the head when she said that what my daughter may need is to go and join the Marines, figuring that self-esteem, respect, and discipline would do wonders for her. But she like I, realize that you can't force an "adult" to do anything.



Like I've said before, I've made a lot of dumb choices in my past. Some of these were despite going against the advice of others, but I never disrespected my family the way that my oldest daughter has done so to both my ex and I. And truthfully, I don't even have enough of an ego when it comes to matters of the family to even care personally about her behavior towards me (even though she is rude and wrong) as much as I care about how indignant she's become to herself really. Because at the end of it all, she is the one limiting herself by wasting her timeblaming everyone else for her situation. But what the fuck do I know right? After all, I've only had 3 wives, 3 kids, and 7 jobs since she was born. I was hoping that my "wisdom" could've provided some illumination against my daughter's self-imposed darkness, but in this case, I am not Con-Edison and after awhile anyone is going to eventually get tired giving away much-needed flashlights, just to be thrown into a downstream river of shit. Well, 'nuff said. I will always love all of my children, and just like I will revel in their triumphs, I will hold their hands during their tough moments. But to be clear. Tough moments that are self-induced are wasteful. Lashing out at your parents is also a waste of time. We are here to give guidance, but we are not going to be a whipping post for all that ails you. And if "you" happen to be my oldest daughter, and really even gave a fuck to ever even read this blog, you would know, that everything I do, is not because I could care less, but because I couldn't possibly care more about you than I already have.



Yes, my friends. This is indeed a slow road ahead. Compared to what I just spewed, that made my my screwed up back seem trivial and my 12 minute miles seem like a an airplane going at Mach-2.