Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RACE REPORT #314. Boston's Run To Remember

Race #: 314

Bib #: 10885
Name: Boston’s Run To Remember
Location: Boston’s Back Bay, Seaport Blvd.
Date/Time: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 7am
Distance: 5 milers
Weight: 173
Weather: 57F, Cloudy Hum:88%, 4mph f/South

This blog actually begins where the last one ended.  It was 1am in the morning, as I’m putting my head under the covers in Adina’s bed with Karen at my sister-in-law’s home in Newton, Mass.  I knew that I it was going to be a late night, even without the after-party.

My iPhone went off at 4:58am, which stirred me awake.  The first thought in my head was ‘WHY?’  Why on God’s green Earth, would I subscribe to getting out of bed 3 hours and 53 minutes later, to leave in darkness to go and do a race???

1)     I hadn’t seen my friend Scott since his mom had passed away.  It was going to be the first time that we would race together since the time, Scott and I had done the Hartford Half & Full Marathon.  That was back in September of 2008.
2)     They give out a finisher’s medal.
3)     It really wasn’t dark outside.  Ah yes, Spring has sprung!
4)     Did I mention that they gave out a finisher’s medal?

Then there’s the other alarm clock, Scott himself.

Of course, Scott was right.  But this was a situation that also required me to almost be in two places at once (give or take 4 hours).  I got to Northeast Baptist Hospital at 5:31am, where I found Scott in front of his place of work.  He tried to convince me to not check a bag.  I appreciate his need to be a ‘minimalist’, as that’s what I usually try to persuade Karen into being, whenever we travel for a race, but with car keys, cell phone, etc., it just wasn’t going to happen this morning.

Scott had the uber arrive within minutes after.  There was a girl named Cynthia, another runner, already in the car.  A few minutes later, we drove to another home to pick up some young guy named Carlos, also running the Half Marathon.  We did an Uber pool, as it is more inexpensive that way.

We got to Seaport Boulevard near the start of the race and went inside the building to drop off baggage.  It was interesting that I had forgotten that bag check was inside the building, at the end of the expo, in the back.

It was really great to not only do a run with Scott, but a race, and in Boston, no less.  My back was still a mess, but I was happy to be looking at thousands of others who were there to race, and that I was one of those participants.

The strategy for the race was a simple one.  First off, we agreed to run together rather than me running fast ahead of him.  This was more than fine for me, considering my back and the lack of sleep.  Secondly, we compromised on the music, so we each had 1 ear piece with music, with the other one out so that we can converse with one another during the race.  Lastly, we  agreed to start out slow, and build up speed as we approached the finish, with a kick at the end (like at the last 200 meters or so).

Scott and I lined up at the 7 minute pacers.  I thought he was crazy at first, but just mentally envisioned that a lot of people would pass us and that we’d be okay with that. 

The PA reminded me a lot of Peter Ciaccia from the New York Road Runners Club.  Among the things he said, was about this special girl named Blanca Ramirez.  She is from La Puente, California and her claim to fame was that she has run marathons in all 7 continents, and 11 in total.  She is also fourteen years young too.

The announcer then went on to say that she was here on hand to run the Half Marathon.  Up until the announcement, Scott kept mentioning what a bunch of wimps we were for doing the 5 mile race. After that announcement, Scott looked at me incredulously, and just said, “At this point, we should drop out!!”

The PD heliopter did a fly-by and moments later the gun had gone off.  We were moving.  It was a crowded run, as we stopped close to the starting line before restarting again.Scott and I kept tabs of our Garmin watches.  His was showing a faster pace than mine, but even my watch seemed a little quick.  We wanted to do, for example anywhere between an 8:30 and 9 minute per mile pace.  After the 2 mile, it became evidently clear that we had a good shot at doing an 8:30 pace overall, much faster than either of us had though possible.  

There were several section of this race that somehow reminded me of the NYC Half & Full Marathosn.  For example, the moment in which we circle around the Boston Common, was a striking resemblance to when NYC Marathon runners would nearly circle Marcus Garvey Park at about mile 22.  And also prior to that, when the streets seemed to narrow enough that one felt as if they were running through wall street, resembling closely to the final half mile of the NYC Half Marathon.

Overall, it was a nice and mostly flat course.  And since it was an out-and-back, and the last half mile was a straightaway, we could see the finish line well in advance to prep for a final kick strategy.

I kept asking Scott when he wanted to kick it into high gear.  He kept delaying.  Finally, with about 100 yards to go, and without saying anything, he started charging.  I did the same.  True to his comic form, where he mentioned how he had planned to beat me at the very end, he was not waiting for me.  Naturally, this kumbayah of fellowship, dissolved quickly, and I was out to eek him out.  We were but a few yards from the finish line, where he suddenly elbowed me to get out in front, yet, I still had my foot (I feel, anyway) cross the finish line first.  

We walked back into the expo after the finish line to collect our medals.  They were beautiful, especially for a 5-miler.

While I went to grab my bag, Scott went to the results booth to get his final time.  As I came back, he had a big grin on his face to suggest something was off.

He beat.....me?

I immediately threatened to report this to the Boston Police Department.  It was clear to me that this could not have been correct!  The photos should be ready by tomorrow and I will be posting them along with edits to this blog.  Stay tuned!!!   (UPDATE!!!! PHOTOS DON'T LIE - LOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST!!!!!!!!)

In the meantime, here were my results (in depth):

Not sure what to make out of a max heart rate of 184.  According to Scott, without the heartband, these watches are about 7 beats per minute faster, on average.  Even still, 177 bpm is quite high. Especially for such a sustained period of time.

Finally, comes the ranking.  And here I was both tremendously surprised and pleased.
First of all:

In Overall:  269th out of 2639 finishers.  Top 10.1%
In Males:  173 out of 1219 finishers.  Top 14.2%
In Males, Ages 50-54:  10th out of 79 finishers.  Top 12.7%
This gives me a PowerRank score of:265.96 which puts me deep in the 'Incredible' (Silver) rating!!!

The Photos:
Check back in this blog, when action shots of this event are made available.  Should be within the next day or two!
In the meantime, here were some of the after-race shots:

The day, however, was far from over.  After we uber'd our way back to the hospital, Scott's home, and then Kimberly's.  Kim dropped us off at the T line in Newton Centre.  From there we would make our way to Fenway Park.  I had never been, and now I can cross that off my bucket list.

Steve "Psycho" Lyons.  Actually dated Kimberly recently.

The big year for Boston.

And just when you'd think the day was over.  It wasn't!  We got back to Kim's (Karen picked us up at the T) and did a nice BBQ for everyone.
I was his sous-chef at this 'function'.
Just like Daddy!

Family portrait.  Does Kim see the horns yet??????

"Uncle" Scott enjoying his little ones!

The whole family playing 'Headbanz!'
Seeing my friend Scott was a great way to end the trip to Boston.  Karen had a lot of memories, and saw so many of her childhood friends.  The kids did fun stuff everyday.  And I needed the rest from work (FINALLY).  Now, if my back would only get better!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I Parked My Car At Harvard Yard...This time with photos!

The 25th Harvard Reunion Anniversary...with a little bit of running....

It was Karen’s 25th Reunion Celebration at Harvard University this week.  Coupled with our 7th anniversary, and the Memorial Day weekend, a Brooklyn Half Marathon at the top of the week and a Boston 5 mile race at the bottom of it, and you have all the reasons to finally take an elongated semi-stay-cation. 
We left for Cambridge on Wednesday.  

We drove to Port Jefferson, took the ferry, and continued onward.  

With David fussing over how long he was in the car (freaking out actually), I went faster than normal, and got busted for speeding.  Not the first time this happened, but that’s when I run, haha.  I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket for driving in over five years. $210.  Ugh.
From L: Alan, Kimberly, Karen's mom, Greg and Karen.
Our first night was right in Harvard Yard.  We dropped off Cintia first at Karen's sister, and saw a great photo of Karen and her family from years ago (above).

We stayed at the Wigglesworth D dorm.  My lower back had been bothering me (still) and the three flight walk up with our suitcases, didn’t help either. 

The dorm was right in the Yard.  It was a suite, with its own bathroom.  It had three bedrooms, and was located south of Widener library overlooking Massachusetts Avenue, the south side of Harvard Yard.  The dorms had paint chips and peeling everywhere, and the mattresses were not the greatest.  In other words....college dorm. LOL.  It had radiator heating throughout the dorm.  Despite the walk-up, we were fortunate to have gotten this room, because some of Karen's classmates were not as fortunate enough to even have their own private bathroom!

Harvard Yard was beautiful, and here's a photo of about the only time where the ground and skies would be dry.  The next few days would be an absolute washout, to include the commencement speech.  A moment in which Mother Nature would test my ever-loving nerve with the Mother-Of-All-Downpours. 

That evening, we went out for dinner at a local pub called John Harvard's.  Karen met some of her friends there.  The kids were starving, and I didn't think I would be too hungry. That was until I saw the menu....

Tapas? Wow! 

I had no choice but to follow my Spaniard heartstrings and order some of these tasty treats from the Heartland!

Potato Croquette stuffed with machego cheese.  Amazing.  And still, it paled in comparison to the plate (or bowl, rather) of Gambas al Ajillo. It was perhaps, the best rendition of shrimp scampi, that I've ever eaten, and I've been around the block!

After dinner, we went back and did our sleeping arrangements.  One of the bedrooms had bunk beds. I took the top bunk off, placing it on the floor next to our twin bed. My back was a mess, so Karen kindly took that one.

Thursday, May 25 (Commencement Day)
Holden Chapel-Right out of a Harry Potter movie, lol!
That morning, Karen and I woke up late (in usual fashion).  We rushed with the kids to breakfast, and got them enrolled for an onsite daycare program which started at 9am and would last until midnight!   The kids were in the "Grape" group, which were other children in David and Kayla's age group.  I was astounded by how many children there were in their age category.  This got me to think how Karen, at age 47, was right in the norm for having kids at the age that she did.  Well, at least compared to other alumni!

After breakfast, Karen and I headed off to the gym at the Malkin center (Harvard's own gym), a few blocks south of the yard.  The gym was pretty nice actually.  It was multi-floored and interestingly had separate weigh training rooms for each of the men and women.  Also interesting was the location of the cardio equipment as it was located in a promenade-styled floor overlooking their swimming pool in the center and below.  

After laying down a strong 5k on the treadmill at the Harvard gym a few blocks south of the yard, I came back to shower and to ready myself to endure mother nature’s brutal weather. 

Fortunately, Karen would not endure the same fate as she and her entire class would be protected under the canopy, up and off to the right side of the stage.  The commencement speaker would be none other than Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.  As we all know, Zuck created Facebook while at Harvard, but did not complete with the class of 2007.  He was here to receive an honorary diploma and to celebrate his 10th anniversary of what would have been the Class of '07 for him.  

be up off the left of the stage protected by canopy, as Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, spoke the commencement speech.  His message was as surprisingly inspiring as the weather was surprisingly brutal.  I had gotten there at 1 to get the best, unprotected seat in the pouring cold rain.  The hoodie and umbrella were no match, as I would have to endure 3 full hours of this non-stop flood of rain.  However, and as I posted, if my wife could achieve four years at Harvard, then what’s a few measly hours in this raw and inhuman monsoon, right?  

When I got back to the room, I spent nearly an hour using the hair dryer to dry every part of my body.  I threw my waterlogged blue jeans on one radiator, and my socks and sneaks on another one.  

Later on that evening, Karen and I went to a dinner party inside Northwest Labs.  As written, it was a dinner, open bar and an open mic celebration of creative interests, passions, and fun-things-we-do of the Class of 1992. Phillips Brooks House.  There we met many of Karen’s wonderful classmates and friends.   Some recognized me from the 20th reunion. It was a big party, a celebration, really, showcasing the talents of the alumni of the Class of 1992.  Film makers, pianists, concert cellists, singers, poets, master orators, you name it.  It was an all-inclusive star-studded event.   . 

Beautiful music for which we could hear only because we were so close to the stage.  It was a fun, but noisy mixer.  The organizers should have had them mic'd up!!

Karen with Christine.  Roomies during their Freshman Year at Harvard.

Karen with Sonya.  They lived in Chicago near Wrigley Field when we did our first Chicago Marathon (on 10/10/10).

One of the many nice things I can say about her classmates, is that all who Karen introduced me too, were not only well established, balanced individuals, but they all have a heart of gold.  China Forbes, lead singer of Pink Martini, knew Karen and they were talking for awhile, before I even realized that her band had several highly rated record albums produced over the last 22 years!   

So many other people to mention, that I could go on forever.  That night, I got seriously tanked.  We went to get the kids, who were in an all-day and all-night child care program which would included a ton of fun activities.    Kayla had such a blast, that she had lost her voice by the time we picked them up, lol.  

Friday, May 26, 2017 (Kim's/Tank on 'E'/Pink Martini tears it up
Nice pano shot of the Chapel

After having spent two nights at the 'Yard', it was time to check out to head to Kim's in Newton.  I was also planning the logistics for my 5 mile race and trip to Fenway with Scott on Sunday as well.  We got to the breakfast hall a little bit earlier that morning, and even got a hot cooked breakfast too.  Kayla caught up with one of her new friends from the daycare program the day before (left), and actually was willing to pose. 

We went back to organize, and pack.  Karen went to an event , while I got the kids ready for a luncheon later on that day.  It had stopped raining (mostly), but at least the tables had canopy over them.  David nearly ate all of his roast beef & aoili grinder, while Kayla did little more than eat her bag of Cape Cod chips, lol.   Eventually, Karen came and after we all finished up, she got the car from the Harvard parking garage on Everett street and even helped me to bring down the suitcases and helped me to load the car.  Again, my back was a mess.  I was unsure if the pain would present a problem at the race or not.

Karen stayed behind to attend more functions, while I dropped off the kids at Kim's, where Cintia would be there to receive them.   Kayla was loving all of the photos of her mom, especially the ones from our wedding, for which we had just celebrated our 7th anniversary.

After leaving Kim's to head back to Karen for a dance party at the Science Center Plaza tent, I suddenly noticed that our SUV was nearly on 'E'.  I remembered asking Karen if we should have filled up earlier in the week, but we were pressed for time.  Now I was stuck in some horrendous traffic on I-90, for there was some outdoor music festival happening all weekend long at Harvard Stadium.  I kept thinking how I was going to run out of gas right on Soldier Field Road, and have to leave the vehicle.  Finding gas stations around there are nearly non-existent.  It was a stressful build-up that could have been avoided had we taken care of this before, but finally, and with some luck, I found a Shell station right on Memorial Drive.

The evening was spectacular. The tent was filled to the gills with her graduating class, as Pink Martini was already performing to the delight of their alumni.  Nearly all of their albums on allmusic.com had been rated 4 stars or higher.  


With all the exposure I've had to music, and the various styles of it, I was frankly embarrased that I had not really noticed.  China has a beautiful voice, and the quicky charm of Tom Lauderdale (featured on the piano, below), who founded the band in Portland, Oregon, this great duo round up this entire symphonic band of elegant, and wonderfully sophisticated tones.  Below, a small snippet of their performance at the party: 

Karen & Fran

Andrea Schwartzman (Junior & Senior year) dorm-mate along with Katie Hottinger and husband, Peter Rosenbaum.

Karen, Andrea & Christine Van Kipnis (Freshman dorm-mate!)

I frequented here.  Stoli Raspberry vodka, cranberry and a sometimes (ginger ale), topped with lime slices :-)

Karen with her friend, and runner, Tina Hsu.  Hey Scott Siegel....she likes bacon too! :-)

Peter Rosenbaum & Katie Hottinger... for whom we saw both at a race several years ago in Central Park!

Science Theatre Plaza Tent hosting the 'Everybody Dance Now! Class of '92 Reunion Celebration with Dinner, Cocktails and Dancing.

Karen with Sam, for whom my daughter, Kayla, took to him from the moment she met him at John Harvard's the first time.

Karen with the ever-famous founder of Pink Martini, Thomas Lauderdale!

We're cutting the rug to AC/DC.  Had to record this for videographic evidence that Karen danced to AC/DC!
Karen with her friend, Natalia Sorgente
For the first time in a long time, I was acknowledging that there was no way I could drive us home.  I had a great parking spot right on Massachusetts Avenue, and Karen actually drove us to her sister's house.  We would both admit the next day that neither of us should do that again (regardless of how much fun we had).

Saturday, May 27, 2017  (Bouncy House City BBQ and the Boston Pops)

Kayla playing 'Headbanz' with Cintia.
The following morning, we left Kim's and drove Karen back to Harvard where she would take her class photo, attend a 'Family Feud' like panel (lol), and other events.  In the meantime, Cintia and I parked the car back at Everett's Garage.  Cintia was going to sightsee in Boston for several hours, while I would take the kids to the Field Day BBQ at the Radcliffe Quad.  The three of us walked there, and to my kids delight saw what appeared to be an entire city of bouncy houses at the Quad.  As we were there much earlier than anyone else (before the 12noon start time), David and Kayla had 'run-of-the-house', as they were able to go on all the rides without having to wait in line.  It was just like when the Griswold's had Walley World all to themselves at the end of the classic, National Lampoon's Vacation (1983).  Despite all of the fun, the kids, and Karen (once she arrived) would have, I wish I could have said the same.  I have been suffering with this horrible lower back pain.  Several times, I’ve had to sit down during the event, because standing without moving has been the most difficult pain to endure.  An orthopedist indicated that I have a spot on the MRI that was conclusive with a bulging disk.  Unfortunately, my actual orthopedist was out on vacation.  I am a little pissed off with the fact that I had asked the orthopedist to give me an MRI so that I can rule out the possibility of an organ-related/cancer issue, and yet, the MRI that they administered was only of my spine and nothing else.   So now, after yet another week of wasted time, I’ve left a message with my wonderful primary physician in NYC to see if he can’t recommend a good doc of internal medicine to get the right MRI done.  Scared to death because my mother died prematurely at age 64.  I want to rule out that this continual soreness is anything attributed to it.  After all, paranoia is a heightened state of awareness!  Why does it seem that nearly every doctor that I've been to in Long Island are morons?  Okay, perhaps a bit too forceful of tone here, but this goes beyond bad luck. 

Great photos (and David's great achievement on video) from the BBQ celebration:
You will see a great video of David's Bouncy Ball Accomplishment if you keep scrolling down!

Kayla, as she buries her face into a freshly spun-woven cotton candy treat!

My kids as they eagerly await their Pterydactyl-requested balloons. LOL

It was a beautiful day, FINALLY, outside.

Tent with the BBQ inside.

Karen with Robert De Neufville.  Great guy.  We may have to make a trip to see him and his wife, if we ever get to Oahu!

Photo of my beautiful wife, on this beautiful and sunny day!
The Wrecking Ball Bouncy House.

David's Bouncy-Ball Challenge House.  and his GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT ON THIS DAY!!! See for yourself!!
After the day was over, we all took a Harvard Shuttle Bus back to the Harvard Business of Law building, and from there drove back to Kim's to drop off the kids with Cintia, who had been back from Boston, and to get ready for the big event,  A concert at the Boston Pops featuring '92 classmates and music-sing-along's at Symphony Hall in downtown Boston.

I found an amazing parking spot just a block from Quincy Street where the buses where rolling out from and from there made our way over to the evening's function.  The event was preceded with a light mixer in their banquet hall, featuring sushi and arancelli.  

At the mixer, Karen caught up with an old friend Valerie Taylor.
Valerie, (center), with Karen (right)..

There was plenty to drink as well, but short of a single glass of Pinot Grigio, I abstained completely.  I knew full well that this concert wasn't going to be over until late, and that I probably wouldn't be back to Kim's until at least 1am on Sunday....just FOUR hours before having to wake up to leave to get Scott for our 5 mile race!!! 

The performances that night at the Boston Pops was spectacular.  I never had the distinguished honor to go to one of these before, but it was amazing.   The night had started with 3 songs from John Williams, for which the Boston Pops had been featuring this whole month, including this moving piece from the latest Star Wars movie:

One particularly moving piece, Ravel's "Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G Major: II, Adagio Assai" performed by John Milbauer, and coupled by an interactive video game developedby Teresa Nakra (both alumnus) that was shown on a big screen overhead.  The software was interactive in that it changed according to each musical note.  The entire piece had me actually tearing.  Partially, due to my concern over my back pain, but mostly because of how beautiful the song was (below):

There was an after-party, which I encouraged Karen to stay and attend with the rest of her friends.  However, she came home with me instead, as I had a race to do.  I had to wake up on Sunday at 5am, and in the meantime, I didn’t even get to bed until after 1am that same night.  While I can point to my 10k Personal record in Toronto, where I literally slept all of 90 minutes, and ran inebriated, of all things, my back problem would not be tolerable this time.   

So…how did I do at the 2nd Boston Run To Remember run, and my first ever 5 mile race there.  

Stay tuned for the next installment!