Friday, March 30, 2012

Jimmy Quinn and the Insanity Walk of August 1981..

Sometimes in life, what we remember the most, may not be perhaps the achievements, but rather the anomalies that stand out.  I have had many achievements.  After awhile it can be a blur remembering them all.  However, some of my achievements were anomalies as well.  And when they are both, the result is usually a memorable one.

This one feat was so bizarre, and all the while so amazing that it must be explained here on this blog.
It was August of 1981.  The top shows on TV were Dallas, Dukes of Hazard, the never-ending M*A*S*H, and the Love Boat.  If you tuned in on the FM stereo of your compact stereo and played WPLJ, you probably would be hearing songs like The Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up", Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll",  Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You" (for which later on that summer would be my "ode" to Becky Soto, my soon-to-be-soon-not-to-be girlfriend, and "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, which would also become an ode to my all-time girlfriend of the past, Tricia Lang.

I was living in Laurelton at the time, and outside of rubbing legs under the desk with one Ellen Corker at St. Francis Prep, I basically was an utter nerd.  My moments of "cool" were limited to when I went over to Jimmy Quinn's house down the block from me, and listened to his AC/DC albums, like Powerage, and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.  And now, "Black In Black" was a big staple of ours as well.

I swear that the movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High, was a dead ringer for Jimmy and I.  Jimmy was Jeff Spicoli, and I, unfortunately was Mark 'Rat' Ratner.  And if you don't believe me....
How is this for an uncanny resemblence?

Jimmy, like me, lived in a connected tudor.  Except, unlike me, he was the corner house, so he had a little more prop than I did. The street behind us was a driveway to all of our backyards.  Backyards for which served many fond, and painful memories for me.  The neighborhood was largely African-American, and when I mean largely, I mean like there were 17 white people in an area of 3,000 or more.  Besides my family and Jimmy's, who incidentally had a black Stepfather, the only other caucasians in the neighborhood were Manny and Connie across the street from us, and Jack and Reba right next door to us.  Jack was like 150 years old, but was active.  Unfortunately, he also thought his IQ was the same as well.  He was very pompous.

Jimmy and I bonded right away.  He actually found me.  Came right to my door one day in the Spring of 1980, and asked if I wanted to play or do something together one day.   My relationship with my best friend from OLQM in Forest Hills, Doug, was unfortunately not as great as it once had been, and this was due to the fact that I no longer lived in Rego Park, so the commute between Laurelton and Flushing was reserved for the weekends at best.
Late in 1980, when John Lennon was brutally and willfully murdered, there was a part of me that felt dead too.  Doug cried when I called him on the phone about it, as I did when Carmen had opened the basement door and told me about it as well.  It was a long and lonely winter, and with no girl to wrap my arms around, I further had wondered if what had happened between Dominque Jezequel back on June 14, 1978 was a fluke for sure.

Jimmy and I would chew the shit about everything.  One day, while I was playing wiffle ball on my front stoop (perfect 5 brick steps up for the strike zone), he was talking about how he likes it when we would do those walks to the Sunrise Multiplex Movie Theatre.  Perhaps, I concluded, it was because we used to find different colored ticket stubs (each theatre had a different color) littered all around outside the theatre.  We used to collect as many as we could.  I came up with this elaborate plan that we would pay to see one movie, but then after the movie was over, use ticket stubs from another theatre and get in.  We could see 2, 3, even once 4 movies in one day for the matinee price of 1.  It was glorious.  And, since there were no computers yet spitting out the movie info, or anything that would result in this stopping us, it was flawless too.

Anyway, I had told Jimmy that I liked it too, but that my longest walk was the march of dimes walk that I did in Queens once.  It was like a 10 mile walk, and I believe it finished on Queens Boulevard too.  Jimmy got excited over what I said, and thought that one day we should do a huge walk like that.  I remembered being totally off the cuff and saying, "Why Wait? Why don't we plot something out now, and do it tomorrow?" 

That's the wonderful thing about being a kid.  Summer vacation.  Talk about feeling free.  Working now for the last 28 years, I can tell you that not a moment goes by where I don't long for those kind of days.  I felt like a king back then.  Wake up when I want, and living in the basement, I basically went to bed when I wanted to too. 

Well, we went back to Jimmy's house, pulled out some good ol' fashioned Rand McNally and Hagstrom maps (Google Maps-there was no such thing as Google anything back then-we dont need no stinking Google maps!!) and started mapping out our quest.  Jimmy and I both had knowledge on how to get to Queens Boulevard in Jamaica from our house, but only I possessed the added knowledge needed to compelete Northern Boulevard, Little Neck parkway and all else.

We agreed that we needed to rest, and as Jimmy was telling his mom, Ann, about this exciting jaunt we were about to embark on, I was heading home to 130-38 229th Street to do the same.   Despite how much I may have complained about how strict or unfair my father and stepmother might have
seemed to me, there were other times that they were liberal, too liberal.  True, I was 16 years old, but I don't think that if my son told me that he was going to walk dozens of miles through the streets of God-awful neighborhoods, that I would have permitted it.  Then again, things were different back then...Yes, they were.  It was a more violent place!   Perhaps, I was afforded the luxury to do what I'm about to tell you, simply because I did a good job at concealing the truth, even at the young tender age of 16.

The next morning, I woke up at 5am.  The sun wasn't even out yet, and it was already warm.  Typical for an August morning.  As I was finishing my Pathmark no-frills brand corn flakes, I could already see a shadow approaching the front door from our stained glass windows in the living room just off the front door.  It was Jimmy. 

I didn't want him to ring the bell, because as it was, I already felt I was getting away with murder, and didn't need to draw any additional attention to what I was going to do.  All I know, is that I was excited, enough to wake up at 5am.  Jesus, I don't even get up that early when I would get up to go to school, and as it was I had to walk several blocks and take 2 buses just to get to Prep!

I gingerly high-footed my way to the front door, and let him in, shushing him before he could make a peep.  He wanted to laugh, because he knew he was just as crazy as me.  A few minutes later, after I had remembered to take the maps and my keys with me, we left the house.

We started up 229th street towards Merrick Boulevard.  This was the way I would walk to get the 1st of 2 buses enroute to High School.  Only, when we got to Merrick, we made a right turn and proceeded to follow its straight path northwest.
Singing--"The Q5, backing into the suuuuwahhhhh!!!"

Merrick Boulevard is not a place where one would want to walk thru if you were white.  At least back then, anyway.  But even as a master tactician, I had figured we would only go through here once, in the early morning, to ensure that we would be safe.  Hence, I was right.  The stores were all closed that Sunday morning, and the streets utterly bare and void of any life.

By the time, we finished talking about the Boston Red Sox (Jimmy's favorite team), our parents, our siblings, girls, Rubix Cube, and Rush and the Marshall Tucker Band, we were already 4 miles into our jaunt and making a left onto Hillside Avenue.

The tall behind dead ahead?  175-20 Wexford Terrace.  My home from 1970 until 1975.

Hillside Avenue already held a plethora of memories for me, for when I was 5, my mother Salud and stepfather, George Seims, had moved us into the Camelot at 175-20 Wexford Drive, Jamaica Estates, NY.  It was right up the road from where we were walking through.  Just a look to our right and one could easily see the big yellow building, prominently displayed at the fork ahead.  It was also near Immaculate School, the first school that I went to in my life.  The school where my grandmother, Rosario Rodriguez would walk me by the hand to the Dalny Road entrance.  Memories, memories and more memories.  Memories already had.  Memories still being forged, and more memories to come for sure, especially the ones with a girl who had gone to Mary Louis Academy school for girls directly across the street from the Camelot.

Jimmy and I made a left on Hillside instead however and went into a direction that I was much more familiar with.  Fresher memories of those in Forest Hills, a great place to live and grow up.  When we approached the "Ideal" motors sign, which BTW, is still there, we made a right hand turn and headed up for what seemed forever up Queens Boulevard. 

It was a sunny day with a warm, but dry wind.  The weather conditions were perfect for this walk.  Of course, when one is a sixteen year old boy, the last thing on your mind is sunscreen, or back then sun tan lotion.  I did pay for it dearly the next day for sure.  I felt like the 'extra crispy' recipe at the Church's Fried Chicken on Merrick in St. Albans, Queens.

Dawn Kane, 1st true crush. lol!
As we passed my newer-old neighborhood of Forest Hills, memories of my first job ever at the "Card Such", a few doors down from where Portofino's Pizzeria was (and still is) on Queens Boulevard came to mind.  Along with that, none other than OLQM, my third school, which I attended grades 6 thru 8.  The Kennedy Building stood tall and proud right in front of us.  All 30+ stories, and at the time, the tallest structure in all of Queens.  And last, and definitely not least, the Dorian Apartment building, a six story prewar tenement building, typical of the area, just across the street and on the same side of Queens Boulevard as that of the Kennedy House.  This was where I reached puberty, lost my virginity, got beat up, got my first stereo, had a nice sized bedroom, and yes, the last time I ever lived with my mother.

Carmen & Lexi in front of Alexanders
I can't recall all of the details, but I'm sure I was the one doing a lot of the talking around this neighborhood.  And with all the talk, no sooner was I reminiscing about Forest Hills, we were already passing my father's office at Iberia.  97-77 Queens Boulevard, or, the eight mile mark. Shortly thereafter, we passed the stationary store of the ill-fated attempt Michael Mancino and I had one day, when we thought we were slick enough to steal a few packs of baseball cards (considering how cheap they were back God, what was I thinking??).  We passed the Chock Full O' Nuts coffee store, and Alexander's Department Store, now the home of several stores, including Marshalls.

As impressed as we already were with how far we had traveled, I didn't even want to think of how much more we still needed to go, so we pressed onward.  Next came L.I.E., then the Macy's rotunda along with the little house that refused to move that was tucked between it and the Citibank. Next was the Elmwood Theatre, the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway), and on and on it went.  One landmark at a time, one memory at a time, and all good things going on throughout. 

Before long, the "7" el was alongisde us, as we marched down Sunnyside. On the otherside of the el would be White Castle's.  It was of no significance to me then, but years later when I would make movies about my family, I would come to learn that this exact location was where my father got his first job ever while in the United States back in 1961. 

Another reason for doing this trek on a Sunday morning, was because we had to make sure that the pedestrian footpath on the Queensboro-59th Street bridge would be available to us at that time.  Crossing that bridge seemed like it took forever for Jimmy and I, the wind howling, and making a mess of our long hair.   

What I didn't know then, that I know now, was that upon crossing that bridge, Jimmy and I had just completed a half-marathon in distance walking.  This outdid my "march of dimes walk" years earlier, and blew away any track 'n' field event that I had done at Van Cortlandt Park for the St. Francis Prep Terriers.

A few years earlier, I had taken the subway with Marcus Colon and we went down to visit the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center.  I had wanted to go to Central Park, but we never did have time.  I also remember the time before then, when I was 12, and actually went by myself to Manhattan with my new camera to take pictures.  I went to Central Park South, took photos of the park, the Plaza, and the building with the Playboy sign on it (yuk yuk!).  Amazing, how my mother never even cared.  Or perhaps, she never even knew?

Anyhow, including that jaunt when I was 12, the only other time I remember going to Manhattan since then was when my Dad took me to Benihana's in the city when I graduated OLQM, and one time later, when Jimmy's dad and his girlfriend took us to the Museum of Art on the Upper East Side.  I was really itching to go back to Central Park and explore everything.

Jimmy and I didn't have enough sense or perhaps courage to walk INTO the park without getting lost, so we agreed to walk the rectangular perimeter of the park.  We walked towards Columbus Circle, then north on Central park West, all the way to 110th Street, and then finally down on 5th Avenue, before heading back out and towards the bridge that we came over on.

Amazingly, by the time we were walk a few hundred feet over Roosevelt Island, along with its tram that was made famous by "Nighthawks" a movie that I had seen just a few months earlier, we had just broken 22 miles.  22 miles and I hadn't done anything to train for it prior to this day.  22 miles, and I was still feeling fresh.  22 miles, and prior to this the most I had ever done was 10 miles.  The day was still young, and I was still full of energy.  Jimmy too. 

Oh, to be young!

Coming off the 59th Street bridge, we decided to veer left and take the northern route, or Northern Boulevard.  After we passed all of the subway tracks overhead near Queensboro Plaza, I remembered passing Doug's mom's place of employment.  Clara, a wonderful woman, and mother of 5, who had to work hard labor at a machinery shop on Northern Boulevard, was like the mother that I never had.  I had been to Doug's home so often, that I felt like a sixth child to her.  Clara was about the nicest human being one can ever find.  Everytime I came over it was nothing but sancocho (if I'm spelling that right) soup, good times, and smiles all around.  Just like my grandmother, who had saved me from total emotional ruin growing up with my mother,  Clara was the antithesis of Mario, Doug's scumbag stepdad.  She was his salvation during those years, IMHO, and she no doubt helped him to get past the
madness that he had to endure during those years. 

Little did Jimmy and I know that by the time we reached Jackson Heights, we had completed what was essentially a marathon. 26.2 Miles.  We were a little tired but nothing to get concerned over.  Back then, I don't even know if I knew what a marathon was, let alone the distance behind it.  All I knew is that we needed to keep going. And so, we did.

Still while on Northern (Blvd).  we passed Shea Stadium and not long after that we came up to the RKO Keith's theatre on Northern and Main.  I mentioned to Jimmy about potentially roping Doug in.  It was already about 1:30 in the afternoon, and we had already walked 30 miles by now.  So, we went down Main Street, passing by the McDonald's where I would inevitable wind up just a year later in October, and made it to Blossom Avenue.

I buzzed from downstairs, and after a few, we got buzzed in.  Doug opened the door.  It was dark inside.  He looked like he was sleeping, or perhaps listening to his music.  Whatever the case was, the lights were all off, and the shades drawn.  Normally, I would've instantly recognized this as the Universal Sign for "Leave Me Be", lol.  Growing up dissolutioned quite a bit, I too had several 'dark' days myself, where I just wanted to be left alone.

My testosterone, adrenaline, what have you, disregarded these 'signs' and in my 'gung-ho' behavior, tried to get Doug to come with us.  Funny as I look back now, for where was he going to go?  Walk to my house and go back in the middle of the night?  Though, I'm sure my Dad would have let him sleep over, so it wouldn't have been a problem.

Doug wasn't up to it, however.  Jimmy threw his hat in the ring trying to convince him that it was so sunny outside, and that it's too late in the day to be in such darkness.  Big mistake, lol!  In one of the many famous phrases that he and I have coined over our 34 years of friendship, Doug uttered,  "I like the dark."  And with that contribution having finally seeping through our gung-ho-take-no-for-an-answer attitude, we finally realized that he wasn't coming.  Perhaps if I had been a better friend, and had told him in advance or our insanity, he might have opted to come.  Then again, since when do teenagers plan anything correctly?  I was a typical teen, I guess.

I remember Jimmy and I leaving feeling bummed, and talking about Doug for a while there while we headed back north on Main, and continued east on Northern Boulevard.  It was already 3 in the afternoon.  But we still had a loooong way to go....

Foodwise, I don't remember much at all about this journey, except for some reason, the thought of White Castle on Bell & Northern seems to ring a bell to me. Two miles later, after we had left Bayside, we were passed the Cross Island Parkway, and in Douglaston.  It also had meant, that soon we would be heading south, and heading home.

I deliberately chose this longer route, because I was deathly afraid of going through the heart of South Jamaica during the sunset and night hours.  Good choice.  

We made a right turn onto Little Neck Parkway and were now heading south, and crossing the 36 mile mark.  By now physiology finally stepped in.  I could feel my legs were sore, and even my arms too.  Jimmy was also hurting a bit.  Both of us were sunburned from lack of proper planning, and our pace was getting slower (no longer the 13-15 minute per mile pace, it seemed, though what did I know?  I don't even think I had a watch on!!!!)

We crossed under the Grand Central and then the LIE highways finally coming up to Union Turnpike in the Bellerose section of Queens.  We had gone 38 miles by now, our bodies holding up, but barely.  Still, I was amazed at what we had done thus far, as we kept conjecturing how many miles we had traveled.  40? 50 miles?  Nah, just 38.  JUST 38. LOL.

We kept heading south and were now in Floral Park. 40 miles. Prolific.  Insane.  And beyond explanation.

My legs were getting worse, and we would stop from time to time to collect our thoughts, and energy.  I remember being low on cash, thus, yes, we did spend money for snacks along the way.  And no, we didn't eat PowerBars to maintain our output.  There was nothing like that at the time.  Twix Bars and Snickers were about as much energy as one could get back then.  Oh yes, and Hostess Cupcakes, Snowballs and Dolly Madison Zingers too. :-)

We were walking in a strange neighbohood now, and on a strange road (Plainfield Avenue), and while we weren't walking through such a bad neighborhood, like Cambria Heights (as it was bad back then-and maybe now still), it was getting unnerving.  It was already 6pm in the early evening, and it took us 3 hours to go 10 miles, meaning we were only averaging slightly under 20 minutes per mile.

Jimmy and I made a right hand turn onto Hempstead Turnpike, and before long we were passing along side the Belmont Race Track on our right hand side.  The sun was beginning to dip, and sunset meant we needed to hurry.  At this point, we were so exhausted that we were flailing our arms back and forth like broken pistons, in search to get some new found energy.  Instead we found some new found chaos, as we both starting getting a bit lost with where we plotted versus what we did.  We wound up having to make a left turn onto Springfield Boulevard and headed south, directly through the neighborhoods that we didn't want to go through.  But at this point we were so tired, that we didn't even care.  And when we passed Montefiore Cemetery, I swore I looked at the headstones and mentioned how jealous I was that they were at rest!

When all was said and done, we got back to our home nearly at 8pm.  We had left the house at 6am, and 14 hours and 46 miles later, our mission was complete.  For many years,  I had thought I had done 60 miles but 46 miles is nothing to sneeze at.  In fact, I wonder if I could ever do that much mileage again running OR walking!

Home Sweet Home or Hole Sweet Hole? (after all I was a basement dweller...)

I was sore and burnt from the walking and the sun. And the next day, I could hardly move, but I think I accomplished something for which very few New Yorker, heck, humans, could muster to accomplish.  What a day!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Headwind vs. Headstrong

I did the 10k Plainview Aspire course today during lunch and someone should have alerted me to bring a sail.  The wind!  At several points, I felt like I was either being vaulted forward, or knocked back.  The headwind was so fierce going uphill on Bethpage, that I started laughing.  I kicked ass in the last mile posting a 6:30 pace.  Take that!

I used the new Jaybirds today, and they were awesome, but I will wait at least a month (for wear/tear purposes) before I give my final decree.   They paired beautifully with the Motoactv, and was able to hear all the readouts as well.  Great debut!

Signed up for the Brooklyn Half today.  My God, what a debacle.  The server could not handle the load, and it took a long time to finally get through.  I guess NYRR got their first lesson in Internet marketing 101.

I'm within 25 miles or so, of busting my record for most miles in the month of march.  I've already broken the single run total, but won't be able to break the single day total, since I'm working all week.

Need to do hill work, but I'm too tired today and have court tomorrow night.  Perhaps Wednesday.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

RACE REPORT: Kings Point 15k

DATE: Saturday, March 24, 2012
TIME: 9:00am
LOCATION:  Kings Park, New York (Suffolk County)
DISTANCE: 15 kilometers, 9.3 miles
WEATHER: 57 degrees, 60 humidity

Had it not been for the outrageous price of the 13.1 Marathon in Corona Park in Flushing Meadows Queens, I would not have even thought about this race.

And, for all of the disturbing previews that I had heard from other runners about this race, the Kings Park Run was one of the few races that actually lived up to its hype.

Neighboring Smithtown, New York, close to where my Uncle Alex ran his Daisy Fresh Cleaners, it was the furthest east I had ever raced.  The weathermen had threatened us with calls of showers earlier in the week, but the weather system spared us, for it knew the uber-challenge that already awaited me. 

The hills of Kings Park.

Despite all the teasing I gave to Karen, I never did think that this course would be as hilly as it was.  Sure, I knew about the 225 foot ascent going down Kohr Road, and about Mile 7, but I had no idea that the rest of the course was going to be an up-down as well.

To first give you an idea of the distance we had to travel, Karen and I left at around 7:15am, not getting there till nearly an hour later.  Parking for the race was at a high school nearby, and not even that was so easy.  The lot was nearly full, and the start of the race was another eight-tenths of a mile or so from where I left the Kia.

Neither Karen nor I bothered checking if there was a baggage check near the start of the race, which clearly hampered our pre & post race activities because it meant having to and not leaving too much time before the gun to get in some extra bathroom moments.

Also, it meant doing some extra running to and from the Sorento after I finished to get the movie camera to film Karen’s finish at the race as well.  But that’s cool.  I needed some extra miles this week anyway, and not sure that I would be able to do it the next day (Sunday) with Matt and Steff in town.

As it turned out, there was a building right at the start. An elementary school.  Typically Karen would make a bee line for the portosans while I would stretch or focus over last minute strategy.  However, we both needed the bathrooms this time.  While she waited on line, I went in and saw that there were REAL bathrooms, so I pulled Karen off the line, and we wound up heading for the Men/Women stalls on the 2nd floor. 

First challenge:  No it wasn’t waiting for a stall and missing the gun.   Even though that would have been disastrous, since smaller races like these do not have a start mat to measure net time.  It was the toilet paper, or lack thereof, that proved to bring a smile and a “ya gotta be kidding me” while sitting down on the throne.  The one thing that can mess up a runner is to have an itchy butt, which happens when you don’t clean well.  I already knew how dedicated I was to this race, but if that was ever in question, the question quickly evaporated, with what I did after I flushed.  Hey, there is a toilet with water under my butt, and I do have hands, right?  Needless to say after I flushed down my first offering, the now clean again water provided a much needed buffer between my butt and wiping hands. 

About a minute later, I came out of the stall warning the next “victim” on line about the issue, and it turned out that he had a roll of toilet paper in his hand!  Well, will someone please let me in on the party?  Why wasn’t I given that roll instead? 

In any event, I think I’ve already spent too much time “scat”egorizing this part of the story, but in case you are all wondering, YES, YES, YES!  I washed my hands with soap afterwards, quite well in fact, thank you!  They were already clean from the toilet water by the time I came out, anyway.  UGH!

Karen was already waiting for me in the hallway, but as quickly as I saw her, I realized that I had to go tinkle, and went right back into the bathroom, this time to a urinal.

Forgetting that this IS an elementary school, and thus, the urinals are only about 4 feet high, and very very very narrow, it was an uncomfortable scene being pressed up so closely to other dudes.  Suddenly, the “urge” vanished, and my mind was focused on lining up some other way….and that was at the stating line, for God-sakes!

Karen and I went outside, and we made our way to the starting line.  The place was a-buzz from a better than local turnout (typically local turnouts are around 300 runners, while this race easily had double that).

To make up for the lack of a net time, I made sure to line up as close to the front as possible.  I kissed Karen, who didn’t line up that far back of me at all either.

From what I could see at the starting line, the course was a downhill for the first 200 yards in front of me.  Since it was and out and back course, that meant that the last part of the race would be uphill. I would forget this later on, but I’m not going to ruin the story for you now!

The gun finally went off, and we were all on our way.  I used my Motoactv in combination with my headband headphones.  Hey Motorola…will you please come out with the successor to the SF700s already??

By the time I had completed  two-thirds of a mile, I had already gone down-up-down-up-down, to the tune of a net minus 95 feet (136 to 41).  My pace was a staggering 6:38 per mile (well, staggering for me, anyway!). 

The first “big” hill was a short one that lasted only about 2/10ths of a mile, but was a quick 40-50 feet up.  When we got to the top, the first mile was completed.  Six minutes and fifty-one seconds!  Even Motoactv congratulated me for the fastest mile ever on her watch. 

The strategy was well thought out, I must admit.  In a way, and for how fast I did that mile, perhaps I was better off for it.  I never would have aimed for something that fast in a long race.  However, and I’m about to give you the secret right away on this race…You got to destroy the downhills whenever you get them, because the up hills are relentless.

I started my second mile going downhill, but once again, I saw another big hill on the back half of 2.  This one made the other one look like child’s play, and for a moment, I had wondered if I was doing Kohr road.  The hill seemed endless, but I thought, “Hey, this isn’t as bad as my training on W.Shore Road in Beacon Hill, the other day!” 

Discouragingly however, people were passing me left and right.  Then again I was lined up too close in front.  Better runners were behind me and finally passing me.  However, I thought instead that my hill work is something which has not yet been desired.

Another downhill again.  “Weeee! This is fun, I thought!” 

I did my 2nd mile in 7:45.  A few seconds to add to a potential PR pace of 7:48.

And then came Mile 2.27.

I looked up.  The party was over.

As a runner, what do you say to yourself when you look ahead and realize that there’s nothing but asphalt, not beneath your feet, but in front of your face?  I tried to remain stoic as I finally saw, what was undoubtedly the nightmare portion of the race.  Kohr Road.

This was nothing like the pretty houses which I had passed before.  Or the first hill, which I thought was surprisingly annoying, or the second hill which I had thought was Kohr.  Hah! Imagine that!  What a maroon I was.  Kohr Road was pain-staking and unmistakingly unforgiving.

Starting at 17.41 feet above sea level, one actually scales, not runs along Kohr road.   You actually start to rise up as you’re heading west on Sunken Meadow Road, totally unsuspecting what you have already started.  But it all comes into unbelievable view once you make the left to head south on Kohr Road.   At Mile 2.45 one is tricked once again the hill is over, but it’s only just beginning. Yes you have gone up about 40 feet in a very short span of distance, but the road bends to the left again, leaving you even more speechless with what you still have, or with what you THINK you still have left to climb.

At Mile 2.64 you’ve already climbed to 104 feet, but based on the grade, you feel like you’ve gone up the Queensboro Bridge (for you NYC Marathoners out there).  And just when you think your’re finally out of the woods, you turn left yet again on another blind curve and BAM (to coin a famous Emeril phrase), you’re facing even more of a climb.

By now, no one is passing you anymore, because everyone, especially people like me, that have never run this course before, are just in utter awe.  It’s another 40 foot climb over another 1/10th of a mile.  When does all this insanity end?

You are now 174 feet up, but your brain thinks it’s much higher than that even.  At this point, your nearby runners are no longer the adversary, the mountain is.  At this point, you are just looking to survive, and your fellow runners, are potential friends, that will hopefully stop to look at your lifeless sack of meat of what once a promising runner on the ground, and call the number on the Nathan VitaBand that’s on your wrist.

But it’s STILL not over and you carry on.  Next up?  A left turn once again on a blind curve.  You look up, praying to God that this hill lets up.  Does he?


Your ascent now takes you to over 225 feet.  At this point, your feet feel like cinder blocks, and your heart is pumping so hard that the rest of the members in your band can time their musical instruments by it. 

I had just crossed Mile 3 in a time of 8 minutes and 41 seconds, and echoes of “This is that toughest Goddamn race I’ve ever been in” were running rabidly between my ears.

From Mile 3 to Mile 4, Kohr road just plays around with you, with it’s quick up and down hills.  At this point, it’s like when a cat is just pawing around a mouse that nearly dead already from fright and not even moving any more.  However, and in my case, this mouse “woke” back up from his fright, making full advantage of a nice downhill which started as I got to Old Dock Road, on the back half of 3, and then plateau’d for a while.  Evidence of this was noted by when Moto told me that I had completed my fourth mile in a time of 7:37.

Of course, I already knew that with every up hill comes a down hill.  And I knew that I needed sorely to smoke it.  With a mile split (mile 3) that was nearly 1 minute over PR pace, I had to do the same nearly 1 minute under.  I totally smoked it too, but not enough to break 7 minutes per, so I settled up with a 7:15 for my 5th mile as I was running northeast along Old Dock Road. 

There are some races where you battle people, and others where you battle the course, and once in a while, especially if you’re not feeling right, you battle yourself.  Me?  I was pretty fit for this race, getting down to a desired 160.  So, it would seem like this was a race where I battle the course, however there was this guy, who nearly bumped into me as he passed me as we turned left onto Old Dock.  I would have given him the green light, except that like a rude motorist, he then cut me off by running directly in front of me.  I did give chase, but it appeared that he was handling this course better than me.  LOCAL!

Mile 6 began as soon as we crossed Sunken Meadow Road, where we were around the Mile 1.27 point (though gratefully not having to turn there to redo the 2nd hill that I erroneously thought was Kohr) and continued in Nissequoque State Park.  I could see the leaders running back on the right side, which meant we were going to loop somewhere ahead.  When we got to the loop area, the runners that were coming back where coming downhill to meet us.  Ugh, this meant that at some point we were going to have to climb again.  No sooner, did I see beautiful Nissequogue River, leading to the Long Island Sound, when I suddenly had to start looping myself.  Another 40 foot climb in less than 2 city blocks.  If I were a pugilist, I would tell you that getting jabbed repeatedly does the trick in knocking you out just as much as getting punched hard in the face or the gut.  Kohr road was the big hard punch in the gut, while these little quick climbs were the jabs.

All of them taking their toll on me, beating me down, a little at a time.  As headed back on Old Dock, finally making the left on St. Johnland Road, this toll began to collect.  I had just done Mile 6 in a pace of 8:05, and falling quick.

Of course, and in a heavyweight fight, the beatdown doesn’t come until your opponent knows you’re are prime for the taking.  He makes sure that you are not going to respond back, and that all of the jabbing (Yale, Bowman, Old Dock, St. Johnland) and occasion monster punches (Sunken & Kohr Rd) that he inflicted upon you, has done irreversible damage upon you.  He looks for signs of weariness in the way you run, in how you drink your water at the station, eat you GU, etc., and then he unleashes his most vicious surprise yet…

Heading south on Kings Park Boulevard, went forever.  Remember that rude guy that cut me off, well he was in sight again, probably from sharing the same agony that I was going through.  The climb on 7 took us back to nearly Kohr-like levels, nearly 180 feet, but unlike Kohr, this was a straight-in-your-face path.  There were no bends, or blind spots here.  You could see the length of what you had to do and you cursed it.  Along the climb was the once infamous Kings Park Psychiatric Center, home to some of the most violent psychopaths this side of the Hudson River.  For it’s many injustices and mismanagement the place was shut down and condemned.  All of the buildings remain, with grafitti, and ominously looking over us, as if to say, “You may be tired, but you better not be stopping here….or else.”  It was extremely disquieting, creepy, and perfect for how I was physically feeling by now.

Mile 7 was a disaster for me.  It took me 8:44 to complete it.  Even worse than what I did on Kohr road.  Remarkable.  The course had already won, and I still had nearly two and a half miles to go.

We got within a block of route 25A, as I could see civilization up ahead, but true to form, this course was not going to let up for a moment, by gracing us with spectators, no.  We had to turn around to redo running past the insane asylum, AGAIN.  

Looking at my watch, I still had somehow defied the odds.  Not only was I still maintaining a sub-8 pace, but was still flirting at a chance of breaking my personal best for a 15K.  My best was 1:12:37 at the Colon Cancer Challenge.  Looking back, running that course in Central Park, and comparing it to this, with its monster hills, and maniacal abandoned insane asylums, is like comparing little children playing a game of Candyland, to a scene from “Saw” (any in the series, take your pick!)

I finished Mile 8 in a time of 7:50.  My PR pace was 7:48, so I lost two seconds.  I was going to need to pull out all the stops and do something like a 7:23 on my last mile to do it, but frankly, I just wasn’t feeling it like I did at the NYC Half.  The vertical challenges took their toll on me.  I was already resigned in my head that today was not going to be the day.  Plus, I already knew that I had the sub-8 locked down, and was happy to even achieve this considering everything that this course threw up and at me.

The first part of Mile 9 was mostly downhill, and for a moment, I was at around an 7 minute flat pace, which was more than enough to make up the difference and set a new PR.  But the final stake in my heart came when I realized that the last half-mile of this grueling course would be the opposite of the first half-mile, which meant all UPHILL.

I did my best, whatever ‘best’ was, crossing the finish line and the last 3/10ths in 2:20 (7:56 pace). So instead of gaining 10 seconds that I was down, I lost another 13, winding up with a final gun time of exactly 1:13:00 even.

The bittersweet moment of knowing that while I had missed my PR by so close, but still gaining my 5th consecutive sub-8 time, washed quickly away as I made my way to the car to get Karen some advil and a camera to see what kind of shape she was going to be in at the finish.   She barely did any hill-work, and had already told me that she was prepared to walk, if need be, and that she wasn’t overly concerned.

The thought of her still breaking her own PR of 1:33:01 began to excite me as well, but as the digital clock over the finish line was closing in on 1:33, and with no sign of Karen,  the PR slipped away for her too.

At this point, I was actually wondering how much later she would come in, so I was pleasantly surprised when after only about a minute later or so, I saw her shuffling move up the hill.

“Karen!”  I shouted, “You can do it!”.   Or better yet, just watch the video below…

After the finish line, we discovered that inside the school, they gave us a printed read out of our final time, very cool.  And in the gymnasium?  A plethora of food, the likes for which you WILL NEVER EVER SEE AT A NYRR RACE!

Bagels, Muffins, Power Bars, Marble Loaf, Raspberry Crumb Cake, Bananas, Oranges, Coffee, Gatorade, Coca Cola, Cookies, and the list goes on and on.

Also the trophies they were giving out were solid, and some of the best I've seen in quite awhile.

I could barely hold enough food, and finally I found an empty brown sack, once containing bagels to put all of our food in.  The race cost $20 and honestly, the food alone felt like it was worth the cost.  Also there was great road assistance, including Suffolk County Police Cars and an ambulance.  I even think a Police Officer cheered us on.  Either that, or I was delusional.  Probably the latter.

One of the runners we saw at the race was the runner-up to last week's St. Patricks Day Run, Heather Williams.  At the age of 36, she ran this race at a pace of 6:36 and won this time around.  Amazing.
Karen wants to know how to bottle that for herself.  Get in line, Karen.

After we came out of the school, free massages were being handed out, and Karen got herself a good one.  I could've too, but I wasn't so sore.  Which leads me up to this...

For all that I thought that this race wiped me out, well, it didn't but it didn't.  I recover quickly, I guess.
And as for this race, despite all of the tough things about it, it is a memorable race, and a great, great course.  If you really want to test yourself, this is the race to do.  I only hope that it doesn't get any bigger than this, because I feel that the size is just right.  Depending on the schedule next year, I would definitely do it again.....AND THIS TIME BEAT MY COURSE PR!!!

Karen and I finally left, in search of the Elmo seat a few miles away. 

We were two runners that did great despite missing our respective PR's by so close! But the wonderful part of this story is that while we missed our PRs, we did amazingly well this early in the year and on such a challenging course, no less.  That, and also how great it is to run with my wife, and my best friend.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hill Work Done. But was it enough? RACE STRATEGY for Kings Park 15k

Today I ran twice.  Once at lunch and once after work.  The run at lunch was typical fare.  Easy, breezy.  A 5k at a slow easy pace.  The one after work, was something different.

The Kings Park 15k is fast approaching, about 36 hours from now, by my watch.  Considering that the Kings Park hills, especially the first one, scales from 20 feet up to nearly 250 feet, I needed to do some added hill work, and fast. 

Port Washington is hilly, but the only place where one could climb 200 feet in such short distances (1/2 mile) is Beacon Hill.

Here is the scaling of the Kohr Road in Kings Park (note it's the first major just can't miss it)

From 16.6 feet up to 224.6 feet.  And it all happens within a full 3/4 mile stretch.  That means the angle is nearly as bad as West Shore, but extend for an additional quarter mile.  Add to that, another nearly mile long climb during Mile 6, and I think you get the picture.  If Cow Harbor thinks they have a tougher race than King's Park, then think again.  At least their Cow isn't getting slaughtered into Quarter-Pounders like they are here at Kings Park.   And with absolutely no crowd support (not that I ever gave a shit about this anyway), the music pumping through my ears becomes an even bigger factor now than ever before.

The only strategy I can offer here is prayer.  That and oh, perhaps a lot of Red Bull and a few GU gels?  I will be visiting Runner's Edge tomorrow to get our race numbers (Karen and I).  She's indifferent towards this because she doesn't care about her time as much as I do.  Or rather perhaps she does, but realizes that there's only so much one can do.

Not me.  I'm going to kill this hill if my name ain't Bill.   Well, it "ain't", but at least it rhymed...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


RACE:  NYC Half-Marathon
LOCATION:  Central Park, West Side, Battery Park, South Street Seaport
DATE:  Sunday, March 18, 2012  7:30am
WEATHER:  47 degrees, 90% humidity, wind 3 mph.
The humidity was at 90% but with the weather a cool 47 degrees, it was totally doable. In fact, it felt like a cool misty day. Overall a good day to run. 

I was a little annoyed by the start time choice for NYRRs. With baggage closing at 6:45, it gave no one from Long Island any choice but to drive in. I would’ve needed to take a 3am train into Manhattan to avoid driving my car, and there was no way I was going to do that.

With my left tibia slightly bothering me again, I was concerned about how to approach this race. True, it would’ve been easy to just take my time. After all, it’s the 2 marathons in October and November that really matter. Still, my inspiration to do my best, is a hard thing to shake off. I needed to run intelligently. Very intelligently.

Karen was decent enough to suggest I sleep in the other bedroom while she handled the night feedings (I did the feedings the night before, when she did the St. Patty’s run). I got about 6 hours of sleep. Not the best, but this was a big race, and it’s hard to get good sleep the night before.

I pointed the Sorento towards Gotham, and headed out into the night. Well, at least no traffic. Tom Tom nearly took me to Brooklyn. Guess that’s what happens when you put in
325 64th St
, as opposed to
325 EAST 64th Street
. Fortunately, I had the sense not to take the BQE as it instructed me to do so, and just took the Queensboro Bridge(sorry Ed Koch, I will never call that bridge after your name).

I was heading towards a garage that Karen had found for me the night before on Google Maps. They were charging $21 for the full day. Not bad. But on a Sunday, with the meters not in service, and with the avenues’ free parking law, I was able to get a wonderful parking spot on 69th between Lex and 3rd. Wonderful, because it put me just 3 blocks from the UPS trucks to handle my baggage. Also wonderful, because it meant a 1 block walk after taking a subway heading home.
With this good start already in my pocket, I gathered my things, and headed to 5th Avenue. Remarkably, and in the sea of runners all making their way in the chilly, almost Spring pre-dawn morning, I met up with Mitchell Coven. Mitch runs now with the New York Flyers. Hey, I really don’t care who runs for what team. Take away the team championships race, and running is hardly a team sport anyway. Ironically, I had on their colors, red black and a little bit of white thrown in for good measure.

At about 6:30, I handed in my baggage. Did pretty well this time, except for the fact that I left my gloves in the bag. Oh well. I walked with Mitch and his friend to the corral, which surprisingly was already filling up.

The first thing I did in the corral was to head for one of the portable stalls. Definitely needed to void, as they nicely say in my sport. Did that, collected my thoughts, and tried to inch my way up to front of our corral. My running number was 9274, so yes, there were at LEAST 9000 numbers/runners in front of me.

One smart thing that I did, and I did this accidentally: I turned off the auto-pause button on my Motoactiv. Why was it smart? Well, and as it turned out, the new course today featured entering into the South Street Viaduct. That’s a tunnel that goes underneath Battery Park connecting the the lower west and east ends of Manhattan Island. During my time in the tunnel, I heard people yelling to hear their own echoes. But I also heard people yelling in curse as their Garmin, Timex, Polar, and Motoactiv watches stopped counting seconds. That was because the GPS is lost underground, so the watch assumed that they stopped, and thus, so did their second hands. Considering how I’d finish up today, it was a fantastic blessing to have done what I did in my corral.

Mary (Wittenberg) did her typical loud rah-rah, and as we finally started moving up, I felt the need to go to the bathroom again. I guess the second Red Bull I drank had finally seeked it’s gravitational level, and needed a quick exit.

I made my way out of the corral, and onto the bathroom line. With 8 people in front of me, I was afraid that more people behind me would walk past me. Now, keep in mind that even though everything is done on net time, starting whenever isn’t an issue. However, in a race of this size, having to navigate through extra people, cannot possibly help your time.

Nonetheless, I was thrilled to as they say “hold hands with an old friend” again. Coming out of the stall, I was ready, willing and able. And empty!

Even with the bathroom misdirect, I was still walking for quite a few blocks-worth in the park. I thought we were going to start at around Tavern but I think the start was even further south. Once we did get started, it was unbearably slow. There are a lot of schools of thought about running around people, and how time-wise wasteful it can be, but clearly, NYRR placed me in a corral that I had no business in being in. As it is, I would finish in 3271stplace, and considering that there were probably many others behind me that also were mis-corraled, I might have easily had passed a net of 6,000 runners or more. That’s the great news. The not-so-great news was that I ran an extra two-tenths of a mile to do it, and that’s because I had to run around, and in between many, many runners that unlike me, were given a correct corral assignment.

Everybody has goals. And while I did not want to hurt my tibia any more than it already has been hurt, I did want to see if I could crack 8 minutes. After my 8:04 at the Joe Kleinerman on January 7th, I had run sub-8 in the last 3 races. Why not then a 4thconsecutive sub-8? I had already run 6 Half-Marathons in less than 8 minutes per mile. Then again, 5 of those courses were along mostly or all-flat terrain….

My first mile took 8:33. Off to a bad start, I suppose.

Yet, for some reason I was feeling really confident, and moreover, unaffected.

This kind of creepy feeling, where I just run without feeling any tiredness or strain on my body, happens once in a blue moon. And usually, when that happens, it’s a good thing. It means the might blood is oxygen-rich, and that my heart and lungs are ready for the pounding.

I went up Cat Hill, feeling this way. I was soaring as I was burning.

My second mile took 8:04. Damn. I was now 37 seconds off-mark to getting a sub-8.

Imagine this.  It took me 10 minutes to cross the start line.  These guys (above) were exiting the park by the time I was completing my 2 mile!
Mile 3 should have been an easy mile. Mostly flat, reservoir on the left-hand side. Again, I was feeling good, as if I hadn’t even broke a sweat. And maybe I didn’t because I just wasn’t trying hard enough. Mile 3? 8:10. I was now 47 seconds behind sub-8 pace.
Running into the S. Street Viaduct Tunnel, a first.
Assuredly, Mile 4 would be interesting. The first fifth of the mile would be a quick downhill around Lasker Pool. But the rest would be the monster that is Harlem Heartbreak. Nonetheless, I was very impressed with my 8:12. But that did mean now that I was nearly a full minute off my mark to a sub-8. And what was even worse was that Miles 5, 6 and 7 marked the rolling hills of the West Side. An area that I typically have had problems with in the past. And with every mile that was done, it meant one less mile that would be available to make up the time.

I started using trickery to fool myself into thinking good thoughts. For example, whenever I went up a hill, I would look straight down at the road, and pretend that I was actually running downhill. In the past, that has actually helped me. Between that and the fact that I had just ingested my 2nd GU, I thought it would pull me through, but it didn’t. My 5th mile took 8:18 to complete. Five miles downed, and I was 1 minute and 17 seconds off pace. Things were looking grim.

My sixth mile should have been where I started to put it all together. After all, it’s mostly downhill, sans the hill leading to Tavern. But even here, I faltered. 8:04 for mile 6. 1 minute, 21 seconds behind pace. Look, it’s not like I can’t do a 7:25 to make up the shortfall. But by now, I would have to do it at least twice, and for the first half of this race, I have shown no signs of life, regardless of how “good” I was feeling. Sure, I was passing what seemed like thousands of people along the way, but at this rate, I was on pace for a mediocre pace. Perhaps my body was telling me that my tibia came first.

Perhaps the most disastrous was yet to come. The last half mile or so in the park and just outside of it. At the halfway mark (6.55 miles), I did 5:05 for the .55 of a mile, bad enough for a 9:15 pace! So instead of being at 52:00 minutes at the half-way mark, I was already at 54:26, a full 2 minutes and 26 seconds over. And while I recovered as I marched down 7th Avenue, my sub-8 deficit I needed to make up was a full 2 minutes and 5 seconds. I would have do something along the lines of a 7:35 pace the rest of the way, just to have a chance.

Did I have it in me?

Well, I do hate losing.

Even before I could make it out of the park, Kirui had won with a near Haile-beating performance of 59:38

The 8th Mile was where I began to turn the corner. Literally. I had just turned right onto 40th street . And as I headed to the West Side Highway, the wind from the Hudson was fairly tame. Still, just like it’s always good to pace yourself behind someone who is reliable, it’s also good to draft behind someone bigger than you. It breaks the wind to either side of you, creating a vacuum of sorts, permitting you to run faster.

West Side Highway.  Look at those times...They are insane!!

I was fortunate enough to find some dude that was like 6 foot 7, and was able to achieve both. Like a master tactician, I bidded my time behind him for awhile, and was able to swing behind another person as I may my way down to the west end. I paid close attention to the fact that I started to need to angle to the right hand side, as you actually go north for almost a block on the WS Highway before hairpinning back south (the other way). All of this, and I had to make sure not to step on any pothole, or even more treacherous than that, the metal dividers whose steely-feet protruded out dangerously close to my tight, right-sided positioning down 40th Street.
In the end, the strategy paid off. And I did my 8th mile in 7:29. I had gained back 31 seconds, and was now above the sub-8 by 94 seconds. But I had much work to do, and needed to keep the pace going.

From miles 9 thru 12, I would be racing down the West Side Highway, towards Battery Park. In past years, I had surprisingly gone flat in this flat (no pun-intended) part of the race. It might have been an uneven amount of effort, mostly giving up too much energy, in the rolling hills of Central Park, that had led to this.

Today was a different tale however. For despite the desperate need now to make up time quickly, I was still feeling surprisingly fresh. My 9th mile took me 7:55 and while it was good that I went sub-8 for the second consecutive mile (and just the second to this point), I was still 89 seconds behind where I needed to be. 4 miles to go, and usually the longer one goes, the more the diminishing returns.

And diminishing returns is what happened to me on Mile 10. Despite a couple of self-initiated bursts of speed, including what I call a “prayer” move, which is when one clasps their hands together, to make themselves extra narrow as they race ahead of two people running in front of you side-by-side, it still didn’t matter. My tenth mile at 7:58 only netted me 2 more seconds.

With a 5k left to go, I was still nearly a minute and a half behind. I knew I would be good for a famous last kick, but behind behind that much in pace, required more than just a 200-meter sprint thru the chutes. Essentially, and at this point, I was going to need a 7:31 pace from this point forward, just to get to exactly and 8 minute pace per mile race.

I’m pretty good with numbers, but when you are in the“physical” mode, one’s head isn’t always clear. I realized that I would have to do under a 23 minute 5k to achieve this as well. To give you an understanding of what this means, think about this…I did the Coogan’s 5K race last month in a time of 22:58 and remember going all out too. This means that I have to be right on par with that. It’s like running a 10 mile race, and then throwing the effort of Coogan’s in after the 10 miles.

I quickly took out the negativity from my conscious, and got back to work. It was important now that I started landing on my forefoot if I was going to try and sprint during the last 5k, because above all else, I was still very cognizant of my injury. I could see that my sense of urgency was taking over, having consumed my last GU prior to when I needed to, and washing it down with the little Gatorade that I had gotten (I didn’t even bother to get water as well – too much time to waste).

I could feel myself floating excitedly. My heart was pumping strong, and I was breathing strong too. Every so often, I could feel my nasal passages getting congested. No problem. Air hankie. That’s when you close one nostril, and blow out as hard as you can thru the other. Clears me right up. Didn’t care if anyone was next to me either. This was war now. Or at least as much as I could think metaphorically at this point.

And regarding the battle on Mile 11? It was a campaign that I had almost won. Pace? 7 minutes, 38 seconds. Great, but I really needed a 7:30. As it stood now, I was still a full minute and five seconds behind the sub-8 pace, with only 2.1 miles to go.

At this point, I knew I needed to go for broke. Typically, I never do it this early in a race, because to me, “going for broke” meant giving it all up, and usually I can’t sustain that kind of effort for more than a half-mile or so. I started to do it anyway, but then pulled back, because I knew I still needed a kick in the end. This was beginning to shape up like the kind of race that everyone likes to watch. The kind of race where the fate of the runner would not be decided at the beginning, the middle, or later in the race, but at the very, very end. I would rather have avoided the drama, but because of the unusual set of circumstances that I was in (behind in pace, but still feeling pretty strong), I began to think this was one of those races that I would remember for a long time.

I was mowing down people by now. Showed no mercy. And, as I passed by the nearby site of the new Freedom Towerat the World Trade Center, my mind wanted to pretend it was actually finishing the race, but the course changed this year. . I realized that I would be going into the South Street Viaduct tunnel real soon. Good, because I would be going downhill, bad because I would have to come back uphill, or so I thought.

I passed Battery Park City on my right, but could barely tell. One, because they had us veering towards the tunnel, and two, because the lap on my watch said that I did Mile 12, in 7:39. DAMN! Good, but AGAIN, not good enough. I was now, 44 seconds off pace, with just a mile and a tenth to go. What did I have to do to get the extra strength that I needed here? A 7:20 mile at the end of a half-marathon?

Instead of relaxing in as I went into the tunnel, I actually sped up. In fact, I pumped my arms, something that I only do when I go up a hill, not down. Once in the tunnel, I heard people yacking it up, screaming, and enjoying the sounds of their yells, eminating around the lower half of Manhattan. Me? I was on fire. I was pissed and for a second I had no knowledge that I had run even a mile, let alone 12.

One reason for great course times?  Look at the downgrade and flatness to round out the back half of the race.

As we all came up and out of that tunnel, I’m not even sure how much, if any, of an uphill there was in coming out. I was so angry, that I felt like I was running in a blind rage of fury. And even as we went running along the haphazard construction-laden service lane of the FDR, I really didn’t even pay any attention to any potholes. It was truly now an all-or-nothing. I was either going to break a sub-8 today, or twist my ankles up in trying. Fate was cast into the tunnel, and left behind. Dusted, in fact.  We made a left onto Old Slip and I could see Water Street up ahead. ‘One final menacing charge’, I thought. No time for me to look at my watch either. My 1.1 miles was my 1 mile. I wasn’t going to look at my watch until I crossed.

The crowds were huge on Water Street, with their roars and their noise makers. It was very reminiscent to running in the NYC Marathon itself. I felt the adrenaline surge through me, and even though I knew I had done something good in that tunnel, I dare not to look at my watch. Instead, I let out a war cry of “Come on! Let’s GO!!!” followed by a senseless yell, the kind only a beast makes when he’s just won a kill-or-be-killed war.

I ran as hard as I possibly could through the finish line, and as the NYCHalf12 banner passed over me, I still had retained some immodesty and threw my hands in the air.

I stopped my watch, only a second or so after I crossed, and got my medal. Then my mylar, and then perhaps the greatest prize of all was when I looked at my laps. I had needed a 7:16 in my thirteenth mile and my time? 7:11. That’s even faster than my pace in my fastest 4 mile race ever (7:12). The last tenth, wow, that was perhaps the most amazing. It was definitely the scream that did it. I did that last tenth in 36 seconds. Multiply that by ten, and you get 360 seconds, or better put a 6:00 minute flat pace per mile. Basically, it’s like running 13 miles on your treadmill, and then upping the control panel so that you are running 10 miles per hour for the last tenth. Not that it’s not done, but for me, that was a pretty damn good kick.

The final time was 1:44:30.5. A full 18 seconds UNDER the 8 minutes per mile mark.

Now that’s a comeback!

As I made my way through the chutes some more, I met up with Pauline Tang, who ran a PR for herself at 1:49:26, and then into the South Street Seaport. They made it sound like it was all free, but honestly, everything cost money. The only thing that was free was the band Black 47. Though I never heard of them before, I checked, and they do have a history, and annual acclaim. But they are no Joan Jett, Devo, or a Flock Of Seagulls, as Nike would have perform at the end of their races. Ahh, gone are the good old times!
here were my split times:
Mile 01 - 8:33
Mile 02 - 8:04
Mile 03 - 8:10
Mile 04 - 8:12
Mile 05 - 8:18
Mile 06 - 8:04
Mile 07 - 8:44
Mile 08 - 7:29
Mile 09 - 7:55
Mile 10 - 7:58
Mile 11 - 7:38
Mile 12 - 7:39
Mile 13 - 7:11
Mile 13.1 - :36 (6:00)

And now for the Gonzo Racing News...

I am now 5 for 5 in head-to-head with fellow team members, Came in 5th out of 29 Gonzo, 5th out of 27 Port Washington Runners as well.

The one thing negative that I will say about this race was that I was misled into thinking that like Coogan's there was going to be a lot of free food.  Oh sure, there was plenty of food...Just all at the typical ripoff prices that South Street is accustomed to charging their customers.  For $140 dollars, you would think you'd get something more than a $10 to make tec-t and a $5 dollar medal...But I guess most of this money goes to the 5-and-a-half-billion New York City Police Officers that do an absolutely ASTONISHING job to make all the runners safe from the never-ending looting of runners during a race (you know that I'm joking, right?)

It took me nearly a half hour to get a signal, and so I left.  Black 47 - the only thing free ( it's a group that plays some kind of Celtic infused rock music ) was not going to keep me here any longer.  Besides, I already had my overpriced sausage sandwich.  Time to go home and say, "Job Well Done!"