Sunday, December 1, 2013

Run with Mrs. Machine

I'm not the only one who runs a lot. My wife does too. She even ran 2 marathons recently within 14 days of one another (NYC & BROOKLYN).

Today we ran together thru Upper Brookville which included a nice hill on Pound Hollow road that I did twice. Weather was cold but it was sunny and it felt nice overall.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Oyster Bay Turkey Trot

Race Report: Oyster Bay Turkey Trot 5K. It was a cold 25 degrees today, with a lot of wind. I didn't expect to do as well as I did, and finished my first race here, and first post NYC Marathon run. My finish time of 22:52.4 included a good 10 seconds of just getting across the starting line, which cost me a 3rd place trophy finish as the guy who finished ahead of me beat me by just 2.5 seconds. Even still, I never would have thought that I would have had such a great run, I actually ran 3.18 miles and my actual pace was 7:13. Next year, I will have to determine whether to do this one or go back to Port Washington. Even though, I think I have what it takes to medal here, I'm so determined to get revenge in Port. Last year's injury at Mile 4, really was a bummer. My friend, Nat, did his first race here yesterday. Very proud of him. I think he will be hooked from this point forward.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Funny how fast 8 months go by.

Rather than spending oodles upon oodles of time telling you why I stopped blogging, and what I've been up to for the last 8 months, I'm just going to start today as if I never left. Next month, when I do my end of year report, I'll fess up to everything that's come across these tired, but muscular and sexy legs of mine. Tonight I ran with GLIRC (Greater Long Island Running Club). We met up at the Plainview High School, not far from where I work. There were about 11 of us, and we split into two groups. We ran in the pitch black of night, and we ran fast. This is the first time where I was definitely the slowest runner trying to keep up. It was wonderful. One of my goals for next year is to surround myself around faster runners than me, in the hopes that it will help me to achieve better times. I knew these runners were fast, when one of them asked if I raced, and when I mentioned that my fastest half marathon was a 1:39:59, his reply was, "Oh well, we all have to start somewhere." - LOL! I ran 7.4 miles in 1:01:47, for an 8:21 pace. Each mile we ran a little bit faster than the last and we ran the last mile in 7:34. There are a lot of strong runners in GLIRC. Most of the time I was panting, the others were talking as we ran. A lot of strategy talk, and people being happy for coming close to their PR of 1:15 for a half marathon.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

RACE REPORT: Run Nassau-Cedar Creek Park



RACE #: 204
Race Name: RunNassau Series: Cedar Creek Park
Distance: 5 miles
Location: Wantagh, NY
Date/Time: March 23, 2013 @ 9:00am
Weather: 35 deg, 66% hum, 17mph,
Finish Time: 37:49 Pace: 7:34 pr/ml
Overall Placement: 35 out of 273 - top 12.8%
Gender Placement: 27 out of 199 - top 13.6%
Age Group (45-49)
Placement: 2 out of 15 – top 13.3%
Forest Park Runners Placement: 1st Place out of 2
Against Previous Races of Same Distance: 6th best out of 21.
Course Record: Yes.
Personal Record: No.

Talk about lack of mental preparation. For the last two days, Karen and I have been frantically searching for a nanny. This, after some piece of shit decided it was ethical to offer our already-employed nanny a job for the ridiculous some of $800 per week for 45 hours worth of work….and off the books no less! The worst part of it all, was that this was someone in Port Washington. That’s a pretty shitty thing to do, if you ask me, to steal someone away like that. Nonetheless, a business is a business, and with all the work Karen and I were doing to find a replacement, I didn’t think I would have time to search for a replacement.

The good news is that this job market is still an employers’ market. And between, Nanny’s, babysitters, and Au Pairs, we are getting a flood of offers. We will be closing soon on one.

The idea of doing my 2nd RunNassau race seemed beyond remote. It wasn’t until Karen told me to do my long run on Sunday, that I was all for naught on Saturday (I had planned to do a long run on Saturday while she did her race-and while our nanny watched the babies for the last Saturday morning ever) Cedar Creek starts off of Merrick Road on the north end. It’s considered to be near the border of the towns of Seaford and Wantagh, Long Island. Karen and I got there on time, and realized that our car would be the baggage check. Good. I was freezing my guzunkuses off and was glad to stay inside a warm car!

Bathrooms were plentiful in the park, as I got a real toilet with real flushes (yay).

I weighed in this morning 163. Not where I want to be, but at 5 pounds lighter than where I was for the NYC Half, I definitely felt lighter in more “weighs” than one!

I lined up near the front, and unlike Nickerson Beach, I actually REMEMBERED to put my watch on this time! 

After about a half-mile, it seemed like the field was not as strong as I had originally thought it would be, so I decided to go and use the “Pre” (Steve Prefontane) strategy. This strategy calls for going all out and holding on for dear life till the end.
 
It was a fun ride.

I started the second mile at 7:10 and was at PR pace. I wasn’t looking to break records today, just have a good race. In fact, I wasn’t expecting much of anything. And usually when I think that way, I do better. It’s counter-intuitive but it served me well.

Not too many people were ahead of me by the end of mile 2, which I crossed at 14:30, but catching up to anyone ahead of me was getting impossible as the gap was widening. Interestingly, only 3 people would pass me, which all happened between miles 3 and 4. And when I looked behind me in the home stretch, there was absolutely no one behind me.

In the end, I came in 35th overall, 3 places lower than in the Nickerson Beach race two weeks earlier. But who cared? I still came in 2nd place. That’s two of four RunNassau series races done, and second place on both. And neither person that came 1st in either race, even showed up for the other. Right now, that puts me in first place overall. Wow!!!

Here I am in this video below as I humbly accept my Silver Medal for 2nd place.





http://justfinish.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Overall10.htm

And lastly, I think even this car outperforms the Jetta (hahaha)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

RACE REPORT: 2013 NYC Half Marathon


RACE #:  203
Race Name: NYC Half Marathon
Distance: 13.1 miles
Location: New York, NY
Date/Time: March 17, 2013 @ 9:00am
Weather: 30 deg, 64% hum, 7mph,
Finish Time: 1:48:51
Pace: 8:19 pr/ml
Overall Placement: 3724 out of 14,500 - top 26.7%
Gender Placement: 2622 out of 6903 - top 38.0%
Age Group (45-49) Placement: 249 out of 765 – top 32.5%
Forest Park Runners Placement: 1st Place out of 5
Against Previous Races of Same Distance: 19th best out of 41.
Course Record: No.
Personal Record: No.

A race as big as this, it would suck if I didn’t speak much about it.  But I sucked, so there isn’t too much to talk about.

Kinda wrong.  I do have stuff I can talk about.  This was my 41st Half Marathon, 39th since 2005, and 5th NYC Half.  My time did suck, though I thought I was flirting with a sub 8 pace, the effort I put forth was harder than normal, and so, everytime I looked at my watch and saw that my pace was 8 something, instead of 7 something, you can imagine the disgust I had.  No Red Bull, Gatorade, GU Gel, or vitamin B-6 could help me out today.

It’s called being overweight, folks.  Most people would laugh at this after hearing my weight.  Oh yeah, it’s 168 (or was-when I got home it was at 164.2 but I’ve since eaten).

Please don’t misread me.  I finished with a smile on my face, hung out with my brother Doug, and had a nice breakfast (the last one of its kind that I will have for awhile, anyway).  As always, I know I love running when even on a day like today, I had a lot of fun. 



Actually it was less of a smile and a more of my classic "Gargoyle" face, done up for my buddy Doug, who was waiting for me at the finish.



I'm grateful to finish on my team in first place on my team again, but a big overhaul is going to happen soon. The 629 miles so far done was aided by a high caloric intake. I may have to decide what I want more, 3000 miles this year or improved times. Hopefully, I won't have to sacrifice either and not get injured in the process, but I have a small body frame and the 167 pounds plus clothing did not help me today at all. Need to lose 12 pounds to compete the way I know that I can. This might spell the end (at least for a few months) on some of the fun foods I like (pizza). All foods are on the table (pun intended)!

Without a question, there are simply too many variables that can determine a persons pace. Items such as age, weight, temperature, course (flat or hilly), rest, humidity, and several other factors will determine the overall result.

However, if I were just to cherry pick a single category, perhaps none is more telling than weight. You would think that age would have been it, and in most cases one would be right, but I happen to be an exception to that rule. I started in 2004, and in my training, I have gotten better with my mechanics, and more aware of my strategy. Experience on a previously raced course doesn't hurt either.

However, weight had always been something that I kept barking about as the single biggest factor.

And I was right.

Take a look at the chart below. With Karen's help (she created a trendline), I was able to determine exactly how much of a difference my weight actually impacts my race times. Keep in mind however, that this is not yet refined. For example, I may weigh 165 in the summer, and 164 in the winter. But everyone knows that we all wear more clothing in the winter. It's not just the body that the body carries, but whatever it has on as well. I must have weighed easily over 170 pounds today, whereas while I still weighed 165 in Florida last month, I wasn't wearing much of anything else. The difference? 7 minutes. Again, Florida was flat, and Central Park is just a flat out pain in the ass.




To be fair, I only looked at Half Marathons for the last 5 years. Anything earlier, and then the cost of inexperience would have been too much of a factor to accurately measure impact based on weight. By 2008, I already had enough experience to consider all races since then as worthwhile data candidates.

Look at the result above. It's as clear as day. My best average ever was at 158 pounds, however if you look at a trendline, the result is apparently clear. At the low end of the weight scale (155 poundsmy trendline showed me at 476 seconds per mile (which is a pace of 7:56 per mile). Yet, if you look at the high end of the trendline (169 pounds), my pace there was 508 seconds per mile or 8:28 per mile.

A 32 second difference seems like nothing, right?

But if this was sustained over 13.1 miles, you would now be looking at 419.2 seconds, almost exactly a 7 minutes difference.

With a range of 14 pounds (from 155 to 169), you can almost say that my trendline forecasts an average of 30 seconds more for every extra pound I weigh. This is not as bad as I had theorized without the facts, but now that I know this, perhaps I can forecast (with some modest measure of success) what I can accomplish based on my weight.

All of this talk, should have most of you reaching for the phones and seeking help for me right away. But don't worry, I have no plans on going anorexic or anything extreme like that. For inasmuch as I love to compete, win, accomplish, etal, I value my life much more. However, having said that to make you all feel at ease, I would love to do a half-marathon at 150 pounds and see exactly how I would do. The one thing I must also account for too, is that at some point, I will start to perform worse if I feel emaciated. Given my small-boned frame however, I don't think that's an issue I will experience in my lifetime again (like when I weighed 120 during my 20's).
Taken from the NYRR website.  Actually I was in baggage zone 5 (based on my running number).
As for the race itself, what can I say?  First off I froze my ASS completely off this morning.  I had to use my white plastic jump suit that I had bought at the NYC Marathon (the marathon that wasn’t) last year.  And even with that and two layers, I was freezing cold.  I was freezing cold when I ran about 3 miles between 5th Avenue and Central Park at 6am when I was trying to warm up, and even when I was bunched with a ton of runners around me.   

Site of where I froze my coglionis.
It was so cold that I had fantasized about someone coming up to me and asking me if we could hug to keep the body warm.  That’s how cold it was.   It wasn’t like the coldest I’ve run in, but having to wait from 6:45 until 7:30 was brutal.  Hopefully mother nature will be a little more kind to us next year.

By 6:45 am the jig was up because after my 3 mile run I actually went back to my car on Madison and 68th to sit inside, but then I had to go back to check in my bag at UPS.

I ripped off my disposable white pants at the start, but it wasn’t until I had passed the 102nd transverse on the east side where I finally took off the top to it. And I only took off my gloves when I had gotten to about mile 10 on the west side highway.

As for this race, the one thing I love is that they have port-o-sans inside the corrals.  I think that’s great!  Now if they can somehow mosey a UPS truck alongside it too, wow! 
Even after just 1 loop in the park, it was plain to see that I was looking a bit decimated here.
Running thru Times Square.  I'm somewhere in there. Can you see me?
Running south on the West Side Highway.
Just passed the Freedom Tower

About to head into the Battery
Coming out of the 1/2 mile battery tunnel.
Another thing I really, really loved, was that Mary Wittenberg was out there congratulating all of us as we crossed the finish line.  I don’t know who her PR person is, but ever since the debacle of the Marathon last year, she has become approachable, and I love this.  This is exactly what a leader of the world’s largest running club should be.  Powerful to lead such a team, yet still afford the time to be there for each and every one of her members.  This is the kind of thing that Fred Lebow would do (if he didn’t), and it really adds to the charm.  Not to mention, and on a cold day like this, Mary really went the extra mile.  Thank you, Mary!

As for the course, I only went 1/10th of a mile over which is really good if you ask me.  Typically, I usually wind up doing an average of nearly .02 per mile. So typically, a final distance of 13.36 instead of 13.1 is not unusual, especially on NYRR courses.

Here were my laps

(01)8:16.15
      (02)8:06.61
      (03)7:47.93
      (04)8:12.17
      (05)8:31.90
      (06)8:01.86
      (07)8:01.24
      (08)7:59.10
      (09)8:01.85
      (10)8:00.47
      (11)8:36.24
      (12)8:40.74
      (13)8:43.65
      (14)8:28 pace for the last .23

From Miles 6 thru 10 I was teetering at sub-8.  Then it all went to hell.  It's called being OVERWEIGHT!

I haven’t put the diet together yet, but here are the foods that over the next SIXTY days which I MUST either minimize or just freaking delete altogether.

MUST CUT OUT!!!

Pizza – My Achilles heel, and by far this if the absence of this doesn’t kill me, nothing will

Toasted Buttered Bagels- the ones I have in the morning.  Goodbye, take an effin’ hike!

Real Ice Cream – Carvel – goodbye.  Baskin Robbins?  I’ll be seeing you.  Weight Watchers’ Ice Cream okay, but 1 at most per night.

Chips Ahoy & Oreos – I don’t buy ‘em, Karen does.  She leaves them in places where I can easily get to them, and even goes so far as to pack them in my lunch.  She means well, and it’s her way of expressing her love for me.  But I must stay away.  160 calories for only 3 measely cookies.  No way to fill up on 3 cookies, so you know how many I’d be eating.

Half N Half -  Yeah I know my coffee sucks with skim milk.  So guess what?  If I can’t take it that way then tough shit.  No more Half N Half.  That stuff pours on the calories – 10 calories per tablespoon or 20 calories per ounce.  Compare that with 10 calories per ounce of skim milk.  And I don’t measure in spoons, I pour on, mein host.  I love lattes.

Butter – Real Men may use real butter, but real runners don’t.  Lard is lard, no matter how you slice it.

Cheese – Each slice of American Cheese or Munster is something like 80 calories.  Cheese is yummy, but it gives me a big tummy too.  60 days.  Suck it the eff up!

 

MINIMIZE

Non Fat-Free Dressing – Either that or use less dressing.

Red Meat – While the allure of protein to help curb apetite is appealing, I might wind up eating too much red meat in substitution for all those great things above I wish to curb.  Chicken, Turkey, Fish (not shellfish), and even Pork will be better than red meat, like steak and chop meat.  And bacon.

I need to drink more water!

Diet soda is okay for now, but can’t do much of that either.

Fruit juice?  Fugghedabout it.  Too many calories.

Gatorade?  Stick to the G2 brand.

I need to start calorie counting.  I know.  It’s a royal pain.  But for the next 60 days, I need to make sure that I am counting my calories to ensure that I’m not screwing up (or not eating enough either, for that matter).

I need to take into account the running and the calories that it burns.  And perhaps run a little less actually.  It seems that in this winter frenzy of running that I’ve been eating even more than I’ve run.  And I’ve run 629 miles since January 1!!!!!

If I can get to the Brooklyn Half Marathon without doing any of the no-no’s I am SURE I will be at an amazing weight.  Then it will be a matter of maintenance.  I will reintroduce these lovely no-nos, but within reason.  Between now and then, I have to figure out how to handle this.  Stress-related factors, work, family life, traffic, long runs, etal, will all have an impact on my knee-jerk reaction to feel like falling off the wagon.  I won’t make any bones about it.  The next two months might be harder than anything I’ve ever done before, but if I love my running as much as I say that I do, then I will do what I must!

My finish.  I'm somewhere around the 1:52:50 mark

Friday, March 15, 2013

NYC Half Prep Run


As I sit here and wait for my Sushi and Teriyaki combo from Aki Sushi in Port Washington, I have been reviewing my strategy for this year’s NYC Half Marathon, which will be taking place this Sunday in Central Park.  (see here -> http://run-race.blogspot.com/2012/03/race-report-2012-nyc-half-marathon.html ).   Just like last year, this race promises to be spectacular as we will all be motoring down Broadway, the West Side Highway, and Wall Street, before we finish at the beautiful South Street Seaport. 

This year, the NYC Half Expo was held at the Hotel Pennsylvania.   And for once, I really think that the New York Road Runners got it right.  At least for me anyway.  Me, and the many who live in Long Island.  Just a block (if that) from the Long Island Rail Road, the site of the expo was fantastic!  Thank you New York Road Runners, when you do something wrong, I will complain, but when you do something great like this, I will applaud you just as hard, if not harder. 
As they say on Spanish Television.  "Hoh-Run"
It’s not easy to put on a race, and you guys are still the best at putting on an extrava-wow-za of a race.

The expo was well organized, allowing for someone to zip in and out in moments.  I didn’t even need my printed confirmation (though I had it on my iPhone just the same) as just my Driver’s License sufficed.

The expo also had it’s share of vendors, but not the zoo from before.  NYC half expo is not intended to be the supermarket of vendors, and that’s fine by me.  One zoo per year (NYC Marathon) is plenty.

Dedicated to my Uncle Juan Carlos!

I stayed for a little while, and then decided I was going to go first to the Chrysler Building to place my bag and coat in my office closet.    The new office rocks, btw.  The views of the Queensboro Bridge (ahem, Ed Koch bridge) and the East River are extraordinary.  Now if we can only get Macy’s to host the Fireworks back on the East River, where it ought to be and not on the Hudson, things would be awesome again.
View from our new office.  Awesome.

I also came to NYC to see my beloved brother Doug.  I was going to meet him for lunch before my long run, but I already clocked in an easy mile (with my bag), and a real burner mile to his job.   To discuss?  What all men discuss about;  Women, Sports, Music, and Women, LOL.  While I consider myself to be blessed to married, I also know the peace I had when I was single for several years, and there were no girlfriends outside of a date here and there.  So in someways, while I always wanted Doug to find someone truly special and good for him, I also envy his solitude at times too.  I guess there is good and bad in any environment in life.  We just have to learn to face the sunshine and let the shadows fall behind us.
Doug and I bid farewell after pizza, and I took off in search of Central Park South and 59th street.  After a few turns here and there, I found myself in front of the headquarters of a tyrannical cheating company that lost $6 billion of investors money. 


Something for which I am now hearing from NPR, went all the way through the Veeps and up to the very top.  Yet, these people still get their  yearly bonuses that total a lot more than what people will make in 10, 20 years or more.  Anyway, this was the first time that I passed through here since my record 31.2 mile run.

I then made my way up to Central Park entered and began my big counter clockwise loop.  I had on the right gear but after a few miles, I warmed up enough that I no longer needed my gloves. 

As I made my way up the East Side, I saw the area again where, back in Jan of 2011 I had wiped out on top of the rock (shown below).   Considering that I came within a ½ inch of damaging my spine, and suffering paralysis, I am still extremely grateful that I can stand, let alone do well in running.   2011 was such a lousy year (with the exception of the twinkies, of course).

I ran on and off with other joggers, including a tall woman, who jockeyed with me for position along Central Park West. 

The added speed did me well for when I left the park and got back to the Chrysler Building, I had finished nearly 11 miles in a stingy pace of 8:15.   I then got my stuff, and did a near-walk jog back to Penn Station.  Another mile.

And speaking of miles, today I hit the 600 mile milestone.  Last year, I didn’t hit that milestone until the beginning of June….and that was the year that I had done the most miles ever!

UPDATE:  It's Saturday morning now, Karen left a short while ago for her Kings Park 15k race.  I'm here in our bedroom doing race strategy.

1) Last year it was 47 degrees and 90 % humidity at race time , this year the projection is 29 degrees and 60% humidity.  Very cold,  The extra layer will need to stay on unfortunately.  And we're talking long pants too.  Considering that I need to be without my bag for the last 15 minutes, I might put on some tearaways.  The unused pair for the Marathon last year that wasn't, might come in handy.

2) Last year there was no way for me to take the train to the city and make it to baggage in time.  Unfortunately the same is true this year.  The earliest train out of Port gets me into Penn at 6:25, no where near enough time to make the 6:45 baggage check requirement. (and there's no way in hell that I'm going to take the previous train which leaves Port at 4:10am!)

3) Have to remember to try and find a parking spot, near the start, but preferrably on the East Side like I did last year.  Lex & 69th I believe.  Plus money or a metro card to get me back to my car.

4) Need to pack something exceptionally warm, else I'm going to freeze after my run tomorrow for sure.  If Doug and I do breakfast afterwards, I will definitely be looking for Hot Chocolate, Coffee, anything.

perhaps the toughest though is my weight.  I'm 1 year older and 2 pounds heavier.  Every ounce over can impact performance.  I could do some crazy fasting to get to where I was last year, but not to goal weight.  Interestingly, I was the same weight last month when I posted my 2nd fastest Half ever, but that course in Fort Lauderdale was completely flat, and I was wearing fewer clothes. But I also have to remember that fasting, the day before is not recommendable unless I am a boxer.

Protein this morning, and carbs in the evening.  I will need to skip lunch (or tread lightly).  And definitely, definitely, definitely NO SNACKS!    Since I need to be in NYC by 5:30, meaning that I need to leave here by 4:30am *yuck*, I will have to set my alarm for 4am.  This means that I need to get to bed by 8pm tonight the very latest.  I may opt to sleep in the other room tonight so that Karen can watch TV or other stuff after 8pm.

Last year I did a mock run of the St. Patty's course that Karen did after she finished up, in Huntington.  That was a 3 miler for her.   I will do an EASY 5 miles around town, stopping and going along the way.  Drinking water and plenty of it today, will be key.


 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Between Rabbit and Tortoise, Choose Tortoise Every Time!

Oh to be 20 nothing again. Dude on the treadmill next to me just put on a clinic. 4 miles in 24:06. For those challenged in math, that's a 6:01.5 pace. And for anyone who knows a thing or two about running, that is absolutely kick-ass...However, lets see if he's run 600 miles, which is where I will be by this Friday, since Jan 1, ;) 

my best 5k was 18:01. I was only 18, and had a gift I didn't even know I had. Squandered it, lost it and 19 years later realized what I had to do. Been 10 years since I turned my life 'round and I ain't looking back either...
\

I'm not sure what this dude's got on his walls of his computer room, but I know what I have in mine, "Success can only come from hard work". Plenty of miles later, there are still plenty of miles to go . Living and loving the journey!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

RACE REPORT: RunNassau Series-Nickerson Beach



RACE #:  202
Race Name: RunNassau Series: Nickerson Beach
Distance: 4 miles
Location: Lido Beach, NY
Date/Time: March 10, 2013 @ 9:00am
Weather: 36 deg, 55% hum, 4mph, Sunny
Finish Time: 29:42
Pace: 7:25 pr/ml
Overall Placement: 32 out of 292 - top 11.0%
Gender Placement: 27 out of 141 - top 19.1%
Age Group (45-49) Placement: 2 out of 20 – top 10.0%
Forest Park Runners Placement: 1st Place out of 1
Against Previous Races of Same Distance: 7th best out of 23.
Course Record: YES!
Personal Record: NO.


Less than 24 hours removed from the St. Patrick’s Run, Karen and I headed out again for the 2nd 4 mile race in 2 days.  While I am in need of focusing on as many long runs and races as possible, sometimes the enticement of a short run is unavoidable.  A quick burst, and before you know it, you’re back at home enjoying the company of your children.  I hardly ever  schedule to have Matt & Steffie to be at our home during long races, because then I’m robbing us of the time that we’d all rather spend with each other.

Despite just the 2 degree difference, the weather felt much colder today than at yesterday’s race.  The affect of the ocean, wide open spaces, and such made it so.  Fortunately, there was little wind, or it would have been even tougher.  However, and by the time I got to the last mile of this race, I already had not only my gloves, but my hat off as well.    Guess that hot Spanish blood had something to do with it.  ;-)

Driving all the way to the race, I kept vocalizing how I was going to suck as I was still feeling tired.  I even asked Karen at least twice as to why we were doing all this.  Fortunately, she didn’t agree with my sentiments, for I might’ve turned around and gone home.

However, sometimes I run better when I set no expectation level for myself.  This was evidenced especially at last year’s Great Cow Harbor run.  Despite it being one of the MOST challenging 10k races anywhere in this country, I gained a PR there and I attribute it all simply to not even thinking that I had to perform, but just rather to finish and have a good time.   Perhaps the joy of running to enjoy is more than just that.  For me, it seems to relax the mood, and in some ways if I take on a race in a jovial or even  humorous mood, I perform better. 

Case in point, would be this race.   Despite how well prepared I was, I completely blew it, for I had forgotten my Garmin watch and didn’t even realize it until the gun went off.  Imagine that and then imagine that instead of getting upset, I actually took on this feeling of being ‘liberated from devices’-attitude.   

I will tell you that it helped greatly.   This race did not, surprisingly, boast a starting mat, thus no NET time.  But I was very close to the starting line, as I was for my Harbor Race in Frisco last month.  So whatever the clocks would read, it would be very accurate.  

The first mile was coming out of the parking lot and onto Loop Parkway.   I was a little surprised when I crossed the Mile 1 mark at a posted time of 7:15  as I didn’t feel that winded at all by it.  More importantly, I could still see the leader not too far ahead.  I immediately dissipated any need to jump for joy and saved my energy. 

At the second mile mark we had left the parkway and headed into residential streets heading south towards the Atlantic Ocean.  14:45 was my time.

On the third mile, and back on the parkway, I felt some headwind, but the sun was strong, and I started to get a little bit uncomfortable.  I took my gloves off and decided to hold them as I ran.  I completed my 3rd mile and the clock said 22:40.  A 7:55 mile. Yuck.

At the beginning of my 4th and final mile, a gentleman who could have been in my age category roared past me.   Whether or not he was in my category was irrelevant as there would be no catching him.  Later on, and after the race was over, I would catch up with this individual.  His name was Alberto Perez, and while he came in 6th place in his age group 50-54, he beat me by nearly 40 seconds.

I crossed the finish line in 29:42.  And despite thinking I would have done a lot better than yesterday, with the way I felt after Mile 1, I was happy with the result.  7th best 4-miler ever.  I’ll take that.

However, the surprise came after the race.  Vowing to leave right after the race and not hang around like we did yesterday only to find out that I missed medaling by 1 place.  I walked over to the results that were posted on the FLRRT van.  Karen was already in the SUV.  We were ready to leave.

I walked over and the first nice surprise was that I came in the top 50 again.  But then I noticed my overall place.  32nd.  Whoa.  That was awesome!  However, it was when I looked at my place in age, that then I started jumping up and down.  Not 4th.  Not even 3rd.   SECOND PLACE!

The next few minutes involved a new strategy.  Does Karen get the kids and come back?  Do I attempt to get my medal from the GLIRC’s Plainview Office?   Their race director, whose name I do not know, but for whom he and the official scorer were extremely friendly to me, allowed me to pick up my medal in advance.  The race director sympathized with me having twins.  His niece has triplets!

Two races in 24 hours.  I came in Fourth place on Saturday, and Second place on Sunday.  Even more impressive was that even overall I came in 41st and 32nd place.   I’m 6 pounds overweight, and feel like I’m undertrained (if you can believe that with all of the miles I’ve put in so far this year), but the numbers are not lying.  Hopefully, I can ride this momentum into the NYC Half next Sunday!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

RACE REPORT: Huntington's St. Patrick's Run



RACE #:  201
Race Name: Townwide Fund of Huntington St. Patrick’s Run
Distance: 4 miles
Location: Huntington, NY
Date/Time: March 9, 2013 @ 9:00am
Weather: 38 deg, 60% hum, 6mph, Sun
Finish Time: 30:02
Pace: 7:31 pr/ml
Overall Placement: 41 out of 270 - top 15.2%
Gender Placement: 33 out of 135 - top 24.4%
Age Group (45-49) Placement: 4 out of 14 – top 28.6%
Forest Park Runners Placement: 1st Place out of 1
Against Previous Races of Same Distance: 9th best out of 22.
Course Record: YES!
Personal Record: NO.
 
I remembered when Karen did this race last year.  The course began and ended at Coindre Hall.  It was a very scenic run and I remembered doing the course shortly after she  finished doing her race.  This year, we both decided to run this picturesque race.  The course was a little different as it started at the southern, flat section of the marina. 

The weather was seasonable and the sun was out which made it a more bearable experience.  Also there was little wind too.  In some ways this was better weather than at that of Harbor Point in Frisco.

My first mile was 7:17 but my second mile included the climb up two hills, which really did me in.  The 8:10 I posted, was one of the slowest laps ever for a 4 mile race in several years.  This was due partly to wanting to save my energy for the back part of the out and back.  Mile 3 was a return to form.  Posting a 7:30, and feeling this was what I was going to do until the finish.

However, early on in Mile 4, I saw someone who looked to be in my age category beginning to overtake me.  Realizing the need to compete, I had to make sure that if I overtook him, that this would last.  Many scholars on the subject of racing will tell you that if you are going to overtake someone in position, that it has to be a sustainable overtake.  Dancing back and forth in position with your newfound nemesis, for that matter, is not an advisable strategy.   So, I decided to let this person stay ahead of me for nearly ¼ mile until I saw the opportunity.

For me, this opportunity came when I saw that there was a huge puddle of water on the road.  It had poured the two previous days, and not only were the streets in disrepair, with potholes everywhere, but they also seemed to have poor drainage too.  I was hugging the left side of W. Shore Road, on the Huntington Harbor Side.  My “nemesis” was ahead, but on my right.  As we started getting closer to the road flood/puddle, he had not yet made his way over.  I took advantage of this situation.  I caught up to him so that I would be to his left, at exactly the moment that the water was nearly upon him.  This would force him to either a) slow down to run behind me, or b) run through ankle deep water to maintain position with me.   A crazy man like myself, I probably would have sucked it up, and shuffle across the waters.  This should tell you the conviction that I have when it comes to racing.  But, and over the years, technique and comfort is a big part of my strategy too, and who wants to put in a final devastating kick to the finish, with water-logged sneakers, right?

From that moment onward, I looked back a few times, but noticed that I was distancing myself from him and the rest of the runners.  I was really huffing at the finish, as I tried to make amends for the poor performance on Mile 2.  I didn’t know just how bad Mile 2 was timewise, but knew it was ugly.

I crossed the finish line, with barely a breath left in me and I could tell, because a few people told me “Nice Run” after I crossed, to include some fellow runners.  When runners, and not spectators tell you that, it’s usually because they were looking at a man who ran his race like Steve Prefontane.  Meaning?  Nothing left in the tank. 

The unofficial was that I came in 43rd with a 30:04, however, the official showed me coming in 41st place with a final time of 30:02.   I finished my last mile just seconds over a 7 minute flat. Interetingly, and inasmuch as this was a small, local race, they used a B-tag timing chip with start and stop mats, just like in NYRR races.  With few exceptions, with one of the few being the Forest Park Road Runners, the MAJORITY of clubs now use this new and ever-important technology to ensure that runners are properly timed.  I guess these clubs understand the value of accurate timing,  and how much this promotes repeat business to future races as well.

I took video of Karen crossing the finish.  Happy to say that she mentioned that her knee felt okay after the race.  That’s great news, for I want her to enjoy her races and feel like she can give more a max effort without having to deal with consequences later on.
For this race, we also decided to do a little post-race interview..lol..
Karen:
 


The Machine:
 
 
This would be a busy weekend too.  As we would have another race the next day!
Couldn't find Gary Muhrcke or Dominic, but went ahead and posed in front of their banner anyway!
I stuck around in case the Masters winner was in my age group-that would have made me come in 3rd place.
I finished 4th in this race, and while we waited in Legion Hall, and had some of their post race goodies, Karen and I actually spoke to some members of GLIRC (Greater Long Island Runners Club).  As it turns out, their club headquarters are located in Plainview, Long Island, just a few scant miles from where I work.   They are what I would call, an “overarching” club, sort of the way that the New York Road Runners club is to the smaller local clubs in the New York City area.   Karen and I are contemplating of joining them as well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Golden Gate Run To The Pacific!



What a beautiful day it was shaping out to be.  Here I was driving around San Fran like I owned the place.  Going up and down those crazy hills, without a care to the world.  Destination?

The Pandhandle, Golden Gate Park and the Pacific Ocean.

It’s a long cigarette shaped park sitting precisely east of Golden Gate Park.  My mission?  To run along the north end of Pandhandle (Park), and then continue to run West and on the north side of Golden Gate Park, along John F. Kennedy drive until the park would be replaced by the Great Parkway, and the majestic Pacific Ocean. 

This out-and-back with a shoot up north on the Great Parkway past the Cliff House and to Point Lobos, would give me another 10 miles for the day.

The one amazing thing about my body these days, is not my speed, or even the miles that I put in, but my ability to regenerate so quickly after a run. I was even more fresh and excited to do this run, than the race I had only finished up an hour ago. 

However, this was not going to be a kick-ass-run-only effort.  I needed to take it easy, so I made sure that my iPhone 5 was 100% charged for a potential onslaught of photos that it would be taking for me along my adventure.  Facebook and friends were eagerly awaiting my posts, and I would comply this time.

I found parking barely 50 yards from my own private starting line which was at the northeast corner of the Panhandle on Fell Street.

The first thing I saw was a large statue of William McKinley.  I looked at it, and I swore it said “Run Your Ass Off, And Have A Great Workout, Alex!” 

The Panhandle wasn’t without it’s share of intersecting streets, like the one at Masonic, where I jogged in place for a little while.  


Reaching the end of the Panhandle Area after Masonic Blvd.

After less than a mile, I was ready to breach the Eastern end of Golden Gate Park. I could already see a lot of runners and cyclists ahead of me. 



Almost instantly, I started drawing comparisons to Central Park.  And when you do that, you know you’re in a really, really nice place.


Golden Gate Park is a little longer than Central Park is, but a little narrower too.  Narrow in overall width, not in the road, as you can see below ((0831))

It is very wide, and perhaps that’s why the Bay-To-Breakers Run in May commands so many runners (over 40k strong!!)

Just like Central Park, Golden Gate Park is LOADED with attractions.  I saw sign posts for the SF Botanical Garden, the National AIDS Museum, the Japanes Tea Garden, the Academy of Sciences, the Stow Lake de Young Museum…and that was all within the FIRST mile!







The architecture was also very similarly done like Central Park.  Something tells me that those that constructed both parks may have been one and the same?  Take a look below at this nice stone railing as my run took us over another route underneath me…

While I ran, signs of Karen were everywhere.. First was the Rose Garden..

As I was running and taking it all in, and how extremely breaktaking, might I add, I saw something that just stopped me cold.

A waterfall right in the park.  It must have been at least a good 25 feet high   and if that wasn’t enough, the water ran off to a stream that led to another smaller fall, and finally into a lake.  How beautiful.
A meadow for marxists???

Everywhere I ran, I saw something else amazing.  Beautiful lakes, curvy areas to run in.  Trees, Meadows, Flowers.  Wow.



People were sailing their small mechanical powered boats in the lake.  It was very relaxing just watching these boats sail around.  
Another reference to the Rose family.....

Here I am pointing to both the water fountain in front, and the bathroom up ahead.  In the winter you don't see working water fountains in Central Park (probably because they'd freeze).
And not only was the park relaxing, but relieving as well.  I saw a lot of bathrooms and water fountains along the way.   They were all operational.  

A friend of mine from the running club, Lori Diamond, had seen my visual posts on Facebook, and asked me to say hello to the Bison for her.  I really didn’t know what she was talking about, until about a half-mile later or so when I saw …. Bison!  

That wasn’t the only animal (besides me, of course), that I was made aware of.  Apparently, there were coyotes in the midst.  How funny that this sign was posted just yards away from the Bison paddock?  I guess the Coyotes were in town and looking for a tasty treat…





I was finally closing in towards the end of the Park but still didn’t see any signs of a big ocean.  Golden Gate Park keeps you guessing until the very end, it seems.

As I passed the Golf Course (below), and the windmills, I started smelling an ocean-mist in the air.  Good sign.



Alas, I had finally gotten to what I had been running for.  A look at, and a chance to run alongside the great Pacific 
See the white house all the way as the road winds up and to the left?  That's the Cliff House. I would head that way.

This goes hand in hand with the story about people who use 

I decided to head north along the Great Parkway to get to Point Lobos,   To do this would be to run up the hill that my friend Chris has run up.

Will this be me walking through here one day late in life???
It was pretty amazing to see how quick an ascent it was up to the Cliff House but none better than when I turned around to snap up this photo. 

Noticing that my battery was draining on my phone,  I ran up another half a mile to the top of the hill (tough!) to Point Lobos, then I came down and entered the Cliff House. 
Inside I sat at the bar, ordered French fries and a diet coke, and got the bartender to do me a solid by charging my iPhone.  Yep.  I even ran with the iPhone power adapter as well.  











So back down the hill I went, back along the beach, and back into GGP.

Along the way, I saw a segway stand (hmmm. That would have made my run a lot easier now wouldn’t it)

Going back one goes on John Kennedy Blvd for a little while until you can fork right onto Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  to take the southern route. 

Unlike the northern section of the park, there were autos in the southern section, but it might have just been a time of day thing. 

I still felt like I was nowhere near a big city, let alone in one.
Cool Trees!

However, I started to see more and more tourists milling about, which is when I realized I was very near to the entrance to the SF botanical gardens.  Now it REALLY felt like I was running through Central Park!!
I'm sure there is a registered Republican out there who just ran to the bathroom to barf after seeing this photo above. LOL!!!
Big ball fields just like in Central Park.
Karen & I could use this for the kids!!!
Coming close towards the southeastern end, I came across Kezar stadium.  I had never heard of it before, but a friend of mine Heinz, mentioned that he had seen some bands play there, I believe.
What darkness lurks in the feets of men?  The shadow runs!

Amazingly, if I hadn’t seen enough already with all that the park had to offer, I noticed an amazing track and field area.  Was this Kezar stadium??? 

Alas, all good things must come to an end.  I had felt one with the big welcoming part, but I was exiting now, and about to re-enter Panhandle again for one last encore..

As I made my way across traffic and back into Panhandle, I found myself having to maneuver around some serious muddy areas to get to the southern section.  No sooner, than I was in Panhandle, was I finished and looking for the car keys in my pocket.  A little over 10 miles done.

I wrapped up the days’ events by meeting up with Christopher, Karen and their lovely daughter Sydney.  I changed at one of the private bathrooms at the Fairmont Hotel and after picking up Karen (Chris’ Karen) and Sydney at the MoMa, we headed over to the Soma for good eats.  Of course, there was a little more sightseeing along the way, which was awesome.  We got to see Coit Tower, and drove past the Transamerica Building too.

All in all, what a great weekend, to build the buffer needed for those ever challenging go-live Mondays….