Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Van Halen at Madison Square Garden

After running with the devil for 9 miles on Monday, I went with Doug last night to Madison Square Garden to partake in something extremely enjoyable, the likes of which I haven't seen since 1984.  Van Halen.

I never thought I'd see the day where David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen would not only get on stage again (even though they did in '07) but come out with a new album too.  It was a shame to not see Michael Anthony, but I saw the camradarie between the Van Halens and David and it was tight! 

Tonight was opening night at the Garden for Van Halen.  Doug and I had floor seats, section A in the 20th row.  The seats were incredible.  I decided to take some 1080p video of the concert, to include the opening act, Kool & the Gang.  I understand this was Dave's pick for the opener, and I think he was a genius as it offered a great contrast between their music style's and VH.

Van Halen played a total of around 25-26 songs, and barely came up for air, except for the obligatory drum solo to give Dave's vocal chords and Eddie's blistering finger play a rest.  Wolfie, Eddie's son, was quite impressive in his performance as well.  So much so in fact, that his old man gave him a half-hug and peck on the cheek at the end of Jump, which was the last song of the night.

Van Halen played several songs from their new album, and it fit very nicely with all of their hit songs, which, in my mind is the ultimate indication that the new album is amazing and should not be missed!

I'm going to post links to some of the songs I filmed below as well as some freeze shots from it, for your audio and visual pleasure.  And as for me, I need to run just 6.6 more miles to break my February record for most miles in a February month.

I will also be posting an updated "records" section below.  And as for the website, well, I've hit a snag.  I need to see how to place everything that's here onto there, or else, I need to have that website point to here, so for now, it's a dead issue.

Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love

Alex during his drum solo

Van Halen performs Chinatown.

Wolfgang and David

Father and Son combo

Eddie wails on his toy.


Eddie does Eruption

Everybody Wants Some

Eddie hugs his son for a good performance

Romeo Delight.

Runnin' With The Devil.  and one of my favorite photos that I took of the evening.

Opening Act:  You really got me.

1. "You Really Got Me"

2. "Runnin' With The Devil"

3. "She's A Woman"

4. "Romeo Delight"  and 5. "Tattoo"

6. "Everybody Wants Some" and  7. "Somebody Get Me A Doctor"

8. "Chinatown"

9. "Hear About It Later"  and  10. "(Oh) Pretty Woman"

11. Alex Van Halen's Drum Solo  and  12. "Unchained" and 13. "That's the Problem with Never"

14. "Dance the Night Away"

15. "I'll Wait"

16. "Hot For Teacher"

17. "Woman In Love"

18. "Girl Gone Bad"

19. "Beautiful Girls"

20. Dave's Ranch Dogs  and   21. "Ice Cream Man"

22. "Panama"

23. "Eruption" and  24. "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (part 1)

24. "Ain't Talking About Love" part 2

25. "Jump"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

RACE REPORT: Al Gordon Classic

Our alarm clock this morning rang at 5am, but by then Karen and I had a better alarm, as our precious little ones had stirred around 4:45am. Even still we got out later than we had intended to.  Still, we made it to the race in plenty of time, and even found parking not too terribly far away.
A funny 'gonzo' moment showing Karen on the hunt for a toilet. Hahaha!!
The winds were so bad this morning, that despite the bright sunshine and the 38 degree temperature, it felt like it was in the low 20’s.  Even the NYRR’s club, had everyone check the 5:30am advisory on the status of this race, because there was a chance that it might get cancelled.

Karen is running again!  "Coffee! Bathroom! Coffee! Bathroom! Coffee! Bathroom! Coffee! Bathroom!

Today was the first race that Karen and I had run together since we did Coogan’s some 356 days ago on March 6th, 2011.   It was nice to run with her, and great to see her back in good spirits with the running.  Loved it when she said “I hope you don’t think I’m crazy, but now that I finished, I feel like doing a race every weekend.”   Yes, it does not take long for the addiction to return now, does it?

We camped out in the sunny part of the field alongside the starting line where about 5,000 runners were streaming in.  When we had first gotten there at about 7, it was fairly empty, and the lines to the bathrooms were quick.  But you could see that mass waves of people were coming in now.  I can only wonder how busy it must have been at the High School, a few blocks away where we picked up our running number and shirts must have been, soon after we got there.  That, along with parking, were major reasons for getting there early.  The same will hold true even more when we go to Coogan’s. 

 If there is one person I always meet, and always am honored by meeting is the now 65-year old phenom, Julio Aguirre.  Julio, who placed 3rd in last year’s Berlin Marathon (one of the 5 major marathons in the world), was layered, but you can see beneath it was his trusty red-and-white WSX tank top and shorts.  He mentioned that he was hoping to get around 26 minutes, but that next week’s race (Coogan’s) was even more important, as it is a team points race.

As we started prepping, I noticed that my Nano was dead.  How could it be when I’d charged it 100% last night?  Perhaps, it was because I connected it to my headphones, which turned it on and drained it overnight.  I had to wear my big black JVC cans over my bright orange Dunkin Donuts hat.  “The use of headphones during a race is seriously discouraged.”  That’s all I could help but think.

Karen and I hit the head one last time, and we lined up in our respective corrals. (coffee,bathroom...)

The 26 mile per hour winds held the race up for several minutes due to the debris all over the roadway from the branches that could not sustain the howling, whipping winds.  You could tell they were stalling for time when Peter Ciaccia started asking the crowd if anyone was planning on throwing an Oscar party.

I was lined up on the left-hand side when the gun went off.   It didn’t take too many seconds to cross the starting line, the benefits of being in an elite corral.

The first half mile was exactly as planned.  East on
Centre Drive
mostly flat, perhaps even a little downhill, then a left and still uneventful.  Then came the hill at the 2nd half of that first mile, which proved to be challenging but somehow, I finished the hill and the entire mile in an unbelievable pace of 7:20, which was only 8 seconds off the pace I needed to break my fastest 4 mile race ever. 

Mile 2 was mostly flat.  We were now sweeping west and then south from the North side of Prospect.  Despite still trying to catch my breath, and the wind coming in from my right fairly hard, I somehow managed to post a 7:12.  Thus, I was still only 8 seconds off the pace, with the best mile still yet to come.

Mile 3 was mostly downhill, and I took full advantage of it.  I posted a blistering 7:02, and suddenly I was ahead of my PR by 2 full seconds with a mile to go.

I wish the story could’ve ended here.

But …

Not sure if it was because of the first mile, but I was struggling in Mile 4.  This should not have been a difficult mile, but I was feeling fatigued.  I could feel people passing me again, as was the case in the first mile, when the super-elites were passing me by.  I didn’t know what was wrong, but the killer-instinct was quickly being replaced by the roadkill instance.  That was nevermore the case then when I hit the last ½ mile which was mostly up hill.  The last mile cost me the record.  It nearly cost me progress too.  In the end I finished up with a 29:33.  I did my last mile in 7:40, plus an extra .06 in 21 seconds. (which was a 6:16 pace – which was a nice strong final kick).  It’s very possible that the overage killed me, but even without it, I still would have finished at 29:12.  This is nothing to be ashamed of, as this was my 4th fastest 4-miler race ever.

And as promised, here are ALL of the stats...

After the race, Karen visited the latrine, and then we stopped at Dunkin Donuts to get Dolly and Jhonny some coffee and breakfast for watching our chhilluns. 

After that we went to get Steffie and Matthew.  On the way home we went to a garage sale in White Plains in the hopes of finding some baby stuff, but all we did was come away with a rubber chicken.
Run Like A Chicken!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Time to pump air in the tires.

The Cycling Gonzos are in business!  It appears that my application was accepted, which means that Karen and I will be riding together again in our first bike tour in nearly two years come May 6.  As a backup, I was threatening to do the New Jersey or Long Island Marathons, but I really am happy about this. The idea of riding your bike along the FDR with no vehicles, for example, is nearly worth the admission, which was $75 for each of us, blech!

Of course, this means that I will need to get my bike into shape and get a few rides in between now and that first Sunday in May...

My friend, Nat, from work told me good news about his progress
withi his running.  He mentioned that he was able to maintain a consistent pace of 5.8 MPH on the treadmill for an hour.  I mentioned to him that he's ready for a 10k run, and we both looked in the calendar for a race for him to run out here in Long Island. 

He also asked me about training guidelines for which I had all but too many advices to give him.  Springtime (which oddly today is gonna be 60 degrees) is the time of the year, where runners get overzealous with their training, only to injur themselves right as the weather starts to get great.  It's important to be enthused, but even more important to use some prudence when working out.  Last night my wife met me at the gym, and we were playing around on our side-by-side treadmills (how cute).  She wanted to show me that she had good speed, and pumped up the mill to 8.5mph.  I was just as bad and pumped mine up to 12.3mph (which by the way, is like a 4 something per minute mile).  Of course, I only did that for about 20 seconds, but she kept on going.  Result?  Last night she complained more about her hip. 

The best way to train is to take it slow.  Getting injured is something that's gonna happen to everybody sooner or later.  That's human nature.  We tend to run too much, or too fast.  I know I should stretch more.
Muscles and joints need time to adapt from training changes which include jumps in mileage or intensity.  I tend to get injured almost always during training and not racing, because the adrenaline helps me counteract the intensity during a run.  However to prevent breaking down, I would suggest to build your weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week.  And if you're injury-prone then a 5 or even 3-percent increase is more appropriate.

This week I've been focusing on proteins and not as much with carbs.  I'm doing this to starve my body of it's usual carbo intake.  For sure, I'm still probably getting enough carbs (probably even more than most people), but the difference between this and my normal carb intake will help my body to more efficiently use carbs.
For my Al Gordon race this Saturday, I do plan to eat carbs tonight and all-day tomorrow.  This way, my body will have a ton of carbs, but at the right moment.  I don't want to just run well on Saturday.  I want to explode from the starting line, especially because I need to overcome that hill on Mile 1.  To do that I will need the right kind and amount of fuel beforehand.

As for fuel, it's important to eat protein and carbs to repair muscles after a long or hard run.  Runner's world suggested I try whole-grain pancakes with Greek yogurt and blueberries.  Pancakes provides energy (carbs), while Greek yogurt is high in protein.  Blueberries fight inflammation, and speaking of blueberries, I haven't eaten breakfast yet, and I have two packages of Instant Oatmeal with blueberries waiting for me, so...ta-ta for now..

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Saturation of the Port Washington Neck.

It almost sounds like a key ingredient in preparing a very high-class kind of Turkey, right?
But that's exactly what I did as I ran nearly 16 miles, almost non-stop, throughout each and every village of Port Washington.  I even threw in Plandome, Manhasset and Munsey Park for the heck of it too.

My odyssey began in my Port Washington hometown village of Manorhaven.  I take offense when people say, "Oh, you live in Ma-a-a-n-o-r-h-a-a-v-e-n".  What?  Are you having a problem with your motor skills?  A bit too drunk off that high-class wine in your high class mansion to be able to consider Ma-a-a-n-o-r-h-a-a-v-e-n as a nice place to live?  Some of the BEST people live in my part of Port Wash, thank you very much!  But I digress... :-)

I started my normal route which was down to Manorhaven Boulevard, right onto Shore, and all the way till I got to Main, near Ayhan's.  However this time, instead of buckling to the left on Main, I went through the Sunset Park trail and when I got back to Main, I kept going right, past Louie's and
did not stop until Main Street, had become N. Plandome Road.  Essentially, I was running the route that I would drive whenever I needed to take David and Kayla for their checkup with Dr.'s Stern and Lasala over in Manhasset.  You'll see all the photos below, but basically this was a great run today, even if it was a bit slow.  For one, I needed more hill work in prep for the race in Brooklyn this Saturday, and secondly I needed to make up for my abysmal performance at the Training Station last night.  I was well-rested today, and I was definitely going to get mine!
Around one of the bends in Plandome, I was afford the luxury of a mini-trail. 
Compared to some of the Plandome "winds" this one was mild.

Port Washington Yacht Club....In Plandome???

Some of the wildlife facing Manhasset Bay in Plandome.

Yes.  It Blinded Me With Science.

There were some precarious areas to run in the Plandome Area.  Winding blind turns with little or no shoulder made for an a slightly unnerving run along the road for a block or two. However it was only for a little bit.  Road spice sprinkled here and there always makes for an interesting run. :-)

I finally came to the town line of Manhasset.  I knew this because I finally saw the house with the American flag on it perched high above the ground.  This meant that I was not far from the Manhasset train station either, or the center of town, or the doc's office, and within striking distance of St. Mary's on Northern.

Then I just realized where I was that I hadn't before.  Seeing the train station brought back ALL of the memories.  In fact, it was such a memorable (horrible) experience, that I even wrote a funny blog about it, back in June of 2010 entitled How Not To Go From Point A To Point B.
What I didn't mention in that blog of that day was what had happened with Karen's Jetta thereafter.  Well, now you finally get to hear the rest of the story.   After the tow truck picked me up, they took me to Noren's Friendly Auto service, as I mentioned. They fixed the Jetta...supposedly.
These FRIENDLY folks at Noren's FRIENDLY Auto Service charged me $624.63 to replace a fan control module in Karen's Jetta...only for it to be faulty within a month, because they never put it on right, and it got loose and banged against the car for some 2+ thousand miles.  I wound up having to take time off of work (again) and shlep the overheating Jetta (again) to Open Road Volkwagon of Manahttan to get it fixed (again).  And they charged me $624 (AGAIN). As for Noren, I should have taking these FRIENDLY but totally INCOMPETENT people to small claims court. 
And for this "Ralph Nader" moment.  Here's a photo of the place that screwed up my car:


Nearing Bayview Avenue, I could finally see my children's doctor's office of Dr. Stern and LaSala.  Good docs, and I've never been shy to say anything, so I will further add that they blow away Dr. Beth "She looks like a girl and he looks like a boy" Cohen of Uptown Pediatrics in NY.  I'm sure she was a fine doctor, but perhaps her case load was such.  I always felt like we were being rushed out of there.  Not the case here in Manhasset.  Reason # 1,458,923 of why I'm glad we moved out here.
Then of course, came the Manhasset movie theatre, and some nice places for food.  A bakery which I have had the delight of eating food from a few times, and a nice Spanish tapas place called Las Vinas, that I haven't tried, and I also don't think there is one in Port Washington either, so I will definitely have to give this place a try real soon.
Why do I take all these photos on my inaugural runs?  The answer is simple.  I move so much, that this is my way of preserving these small moments in time forever.
Finally, I made it to St. Mary's church on Northern Boulevard.  It's pretty interesting because the building reminds me of an area in Flushing on Northern Blvd. as well, just east of where it intersects Main Street.  For you people out there reading that know Flushing, I think you know what I'm talking about, but if you don't, why don't you send me your comments?  I'll be happy to explain in further detail.

Plandome & Northern was exactly the five mile point in my run.  Oh yeah, this is a blog about running, huh?  I made a left on Northern to make tracks, book, or whatever your fancy expressive way of saying running is, towards Munsey Park.  Musney Park is like a blip on the radar screen.  One moment, you're there, the next your gone.  Blip!  Of course , I also passed through North Strathmore, which makes Munsey Park more like Central Park, it's so small.  Even still, there are more signs to say you are in Munsey Park than anywhere else.  I guess a lot of people get lost in Munsey Park.  Either that or maybe the officials of Munsey Park have an inferiority complex, and deem it necessary to post a sign every 52 feet.

Northern Boulevard is not like the Northern Boulevard in Flushing for sure.  For one, everything is written in English (lol!) and it's not chaotic traffic-wise like it is in Flushing, or even Great Neck.  However, that doesn't mean that it's the safest place to drive either.  There are a lot of little exits from the sides of shops that car come through, and people gaze too much to find their store (unless they are looking for Munsey that is!) and not enough on the road.  A friend of mine back in '04 had an accident right around the place pictured below, and others I also know have had bad experiences as well.

Nice store, but, um....Where the Fuck Is Munsey?????!!!!!!!

A picture of Munsey Estate.  Probably takes up half of Munsey.  "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!" - Do you get that too, when you look at this photo?

Oh dear Lord...Please!  NOT AGAIN!!!!

I knew I was headed in the right direction, because up ahead in the distance I saw IHOP (I Hate Overweight Policemen), followed by the Americana Mall of Manhasset, where the cost of the products sold there is only foreshadowed by the rent those merchants of the rich n famous, must pay.
Though first year I've been living here, I've been around before and this is the 1st time I see a Chinese Happy New Year flag (see red flag). Are they trying to impress Jeremy Lin or something?
I made my left onto Port Wash boulevard, and proceeded back north for what I thought would be the back-end of my large 12-mile loop (more on that in a bit).  It's always good to place the back-end miles near a hospital, well, in case you know.  And with St. Francis Hospital ranked #30th in the nation for open-heart surgeries (yes I know, for sadly my Uncle in Rockville is going to John Hopkins ranked #1 next month). Funny thing about taking photos with the iPhone while running; the lens gets distorted sometimes.  I have the "4" and  when it comes to this distortion, it has improved greatly over that of the "3", and miles better than any Dingle, uhh, I mean, Black-berry, but as you can see here on the left the brick wall adorning the name of the hospital looks a little "lasagna-like" wouldn't you say?

And speaking of (no, not Lasagna) brick, this area of Long Island has some stunners when it comes to brick houses.  I couldn't spend all day taking pictures (oh wait, that's a LIE. I did!) so I just took a few photos of nice brick homes.  The ones below are of the Plandome Heights and of Flower Hill, which I ran through after the hospital gave me a clean bill of health to continue running through. :-)

These houses must go for next to nothing.  I have $5 dollars in my pocket...That ought to do it! :-)

As I ran up Port, I passed the Nassau Knolls Cemetery.  Once again flashbacks of other runs I used to do along Woodhaven Boulevard near Rego Park, flashed through my head.  I even took pictures of the cemetery, but I wont post them.  Perhaps I don't have enough respect for the living, but I sure as hell am not gonna mess around with the stiffs.  Boy, I am a card tonight.  What up, G?

I finally made it to Main & Port.  I actually turned left, and bought and guzzled a Powerade from Frank's pizza, in about 20 seconds.  I don't think I've been this thirsty since I lived in Hewlett and did my first track run with Carmen and our dog Tandra, and that was back in 1984!

Once done though, I noticed Beacon Hill....and then the running voices came to me...
"Alex, you need to practic your hill work. You have a race this Saturday in Prospect Park and the first mile is all uphill.  You need to get your quads in tip-top shape, because otherwise you will have zero chance at breaking your PR (Personal record...not Puerto Rican) of 28:51.  Why don't you give it a try, Alex.  Huh?  Give it a try."

One thing I must warn you, is that I talk more than I blog, which is a lot.  And when it comes to talking to myself, well, I'm way too polite to ever shut myself up.  Fortunately, I had my Motoactv watch paused, or else Mile 9 would have taken me 13 or 14 minutes.

So, I said, F-it.  And I went for it.  I had mentioned in an earlier blog about Beacon Hill.  About how it EASILY surpasses the climb of either the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, or the Queensboro Bridge.  Of how the ascent on the way back is so steep, that you have to laugh as you do it, simply to get enough oxygen.

I figured, hey, since I've run in 31 of the past 35 days, that I must be in much better shape to address this geological nightmare.

What the frick was I thinking?

It hurt like a mother! 

Or perhaps, best said by Linda Blair in the Exorcist, "It burns!  It burns!"

My quads were killing me, my friends.  It doesn't matter what shape you are in, a hill like that is going to kick your ass.  About the only thing that I was truly proud of myself on that hill, is that I may have slowed down (11 minute split, blech, ugh), but I never stopped.  And when I got to the crest of Beacon Hill road (64 Beacon Hill Road, to be exact), I yelled out a very loud, but necessary curse word, showing both my displeasure with what I had just done to myself, along with tremendous relief.

The end was in sight!  Or....was it?

As I blitzkrieged (my wife is Jewish.  Thank God she's not Polish too), my way back to Port Blvd., I kept remembering Coach Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover, of the NYRR, (aka. TaskMaster) words to us.  Don't overstride.  And I didn't.  That was the second time her pearls of wisdom came to my mind, for earlier on when I was still on Shore Road, I had to stop to fix my shoelaces, and her words came to me again..."Your shoelaces are not done correctly.  They need to be tighter.  You gotta make those sneakers work for you.  Come on already!!!!"  See what I mean about task master?  :-)

Suddenly I was making my way down Main.  Passing along the way, Baxter Heights, another Port village/town what-have-you.  Made the right onto Shore, where I raced down and along Manhasset Bay during a very low tide moment.   Finally, I got to Manorhaven Boulevard, and I was at 14.25 miles!  Why, only two days before, I had broken my record for the single-longest run in February.  A title I had held since 2008.  Now, and two days later, I was going to break it again. 

But to do it, would mean I would have to go past my house by a couple of blocks to hit Sands Point.  Now, I don't know if "Sands Point" is considered Port Washington.  Clearly, even where I live in Manorhaven, everyone here puts "Port Washington" as their mailing address.  But those Sands Point people, I don't know.  They make even the Flower Hill people seem a little bit like paupers.  Oh, and if I'm deliberately instigating a fight between townsfolk here in this neck to get everyone to look like the end of the famous Twilight-Zone episode, "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street", well, okay then.  Just kidding.

I ran past my block and went to Dunes Lane. Made a right onto it, and ran till the end, and till the Welcome To Sands Point sign was touching my hand.  Then I ran right, passing the dirt trail to Marwood, headed south for a block, made a left on Linwood, and headed to the end, where as per custom, I would touch the yellow signs at the dead end.  Then I turned back and went to my house on that street.  All told?  16.8 miles.  A new single-run record for February.  Again!

In the end, I ran through every town/village/what-have-you of Port Washington and beyond.
In fact, I've never been bashful, so why start now, right?
Here is the list.
01) Manorhaven
02) Port Washington North
03) Plandome
04) Plandome Manor
05) Plandome Heights
06) Manhasset
07) Munsey Park
08) North Strathmore
09) Flower Hill
10) Salem
11) Monfort Hills
12) Beacon Hill
13) Port Washington
14) Baxter Estates
15) Sands Point
Fifteen towns!  And in nearly 16 miles too.
Of course, what would I be without my photos of signs?

One of about 1,000 Munsey signs. Or best put 2 signs for every living person in town.
Couldn't find anything of Flower Park.  This is in that area though.
Also, nothing that just says "Port Washington". GO FIGURE!

Found this on the 'net.  Nothing for Plandome Manor however. Meh!

And last, but CERTAINLY not least, I will leave you off with one more photo.  Because while I was working my ass off out there, I had to run past this too....

Happy Reading Everybody!