Sunday, December 31, 2006

Finish Line Hindsight

2006, or any year for that matter, slightly resembles a long distance road race…

January starts with a bang as we vie for position and hustle to stay true to personal and professional resolutions. We find our pace and place as the months stride quickly by. The summer comes, fatigue mounts and the finish line seems impossibly far away. Summer slips by and turns to Autum. With determination we press on through the busiest months of the year. At last the year’s frenzied end approaches and we sprint into the holiday finish line.

The week between Christmas and New Years Eve brings to mind those moments after crossing the finish line where you catch your breath, check your time and reflect on the race.

My running highlights of 2006 include:

  • Ran a total of 1,260 logged miles (further in reality) in six different States
  • Ran 17 organized races for a total of 152.4 racing miles
  • Set personal records in the Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k, & 5k
  • Raised over $3,600 by running for The Alzheimer’s Association
All in all it was a pretty good year! As for my 2007 goals... I'm really not sure. I have given thought to trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I have pondered training for and running my first ultra-marathon. I have also considered giving the triathlon a whirl. They are all worthwhile aspirations and with the right combination of devotion, effort and chance they are feasible as well.

Whatever your goals may be I wish you a fast and injury-free 2007.

Happy New Year!

"A good resolution is like an old horse, which is often saddled but rarely ridden."
-Mexican Proverb

Monday, December 25, 2006

Haiku Challenge! Results

I know you've been eagerly awaiting the results of the Running Haiku Challenge! I can't think of a better time to share the results than Christmas Day!

Thank you to all who read this blog. My thanks also to those who comment and share their thoughts, advice and opinions.

I also want to commend those who sent in Haiku's. I was rather tickled by many of them.

Merry Christmas!


Honorable Mention
(in no particular order)


Pins poking blisters
Wrenching black nails from their beds
Runners torture toes

by FastChick


Out of cigarettes
Circle K is on the way
A worthwhile journey

by The Geek of Everything (with Yarsh)


I'm on the treadmill
Sweating but going nowhere
But Springer is on

by Greg Stadnik


I don't feel so good
It's Montezuma's Revenge
Dirty strip club loo

by Yarsh


I race through the park,

Feet barely touching the ground,
To a new PR

by Alan Wagman


Before a big race
Preparation is vital
Don't forget nip guards

by Just12Finish


Throw me the idol
Large boulder rolling towards me
Jock, start the engine

by The Geek of Everything (with Yarsh)


Stuck in traffic now
Just hit some punk ass jogger
Stupid marathon

by Greg Stadnik


I run to be free
To eat and drink in excess and
To run faster than you!

by UptownGirl


Gas is expensive
Fuel light glowing on dashboard
Wait bus driver! Wait!

by The Geek of Everything (with Yarsh)


Forty weeks pregnant
She is never coming out
Try another run

by Kate Sun


I run for myself
Effortlessly up the hills
Breathing crisp air

by Alan Wagman


Mama always said
Stupid is as stupid does
Now run Forrest, run

by The Geek of Everything (with Yarsh)


Taut female rear end
Saying catch me if you can
Keeps me running hard

by Alan Wagman


Mighty rivers flow
Red tide seeps through fabric run
Should'a worn nip guards

by Just12Finish


Threw eggs at a cop
Made sure he was really fat
Leisurely running

by Greg Stadnik


Have need for pizza
Out I go into the night
Mozzarella good

by The Geek of Everything (with Yarsh)


But she had grey hair!
She CAN'T be in my age group.
Bitch stole my trophy.

by FastChick


They say I'm crazy
My feet keep pounding far
Eat my dust I say

Third Runner Up

Friction grits twin peaks
Polyester can't rebuff
Don't forget nip guards

by Just12Finish


Second Runner Up

Twig snaps from behind
No one is camping with me
Large bear with sharp claws

by The Geek of Everything (with Yarsh)


First Runner Up

Red indicator
Means: Portajohn Occupied
I might lose my shit.

by FastChick


Running Haiku Grand Champion

Wearing two layers,
Out in the wintry weather,
I train for Boston

by Alan Wagman


"All good poetry is forged slowly and patiently, link by link, with sweat and blood and tears."
-Lord Alfred Douglas


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday Tag

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Egg nog with Spiced Rum and Cinnamon.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa wraps presents. Sometimes Santa pays for fancy wrapping too.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White lights.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. Don't need some silly weed to get me some sweet kisses!

5. When do you put your decorations up? When there's time.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Honey baked ham.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? Getting Nintendo seems to stick out in my memory.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't like what this question implies... Is there something I'm not aware of?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? "A gift" LOL that's an understatement!

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Define tree. Does an eight inch sapling count as a "tree?"

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Snow is good stuff.

12. Can you ice skate? Yes, but, not in years.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Favorite gift was one I gave... A Christmas Eve Engagement Ring to Salena. Fortunately for me she liked receiving it.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Laughter with family and friends.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Spider cookies (family recipe).

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Christmas morning mimosa's.

17. What tops your tree? The tallest twig.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Receiving is nice but giving is much better.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Donde Esta Santa Claus or Old Fatso by Augie Rios.

20. Candy canes? No thanks.

21. Favorite Christmas movie? A Christmas Story.

22. What do you leave for Santa? A big pile of credit card debt, er, I mean milk and cookies...

"How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep the holidays than commandments."
-Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Haiku Challenge! Update 3 "Hang Tight"

The run up to the holidays have been a rather busy time. Work is hectic as we wrap up 2006 and plan for 2007. On the home front we moved to a new apartment and as a result are struggling with even the simple things like:

"Have you seen the _______."

Go ahead, fill in the blank with just about anything... We can't find it among the boxes.

All of this is just to say... The Haiku Challenge! results will be announced soon. Please hang tight. I promise it will be worth the wait - some of your entries are pure genius.

"None are so busy as the fool and knave."
-John Dryden

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Haiku Challenge! Update 2 "The Prize"

Today is the deadline to submit your Running Haiku Challenge! To help inspire your creativity and encourage you to apply your substantial intellect and wit I have decided to announce the prize for the winning Haiku.

As noted prior, the "Running Haiku Grand Champion" will receive glory, international super-fame, eternal bragging rights. The winner will also receive a $10 Gift Certificate to the iTunes Store!

Because of this new development. Becuase I am a nice guy. Because the cubic square footage of my living room is 80% corrugated cardboard boxes. Because I want to be witness to your literary genious I am extending the deadline. Please submit your Haiku by email to me at morefew {at} gmail dot com by end of day Sunday.

"We improve ourselves by victories over ourself. There must be contests, and you must win."
-Edward Gibbon

Monday, December 11, 2006

Joe Kleinerman 10K

Yesterday was the annual Joe Kleinerman 10K in New York’s Central Park. This race always draws a significant number of entrants as folks try to squeeze in their nine qualifying New York Road Runner races before years end (this is in order to be eligible for guaranteed entry into the marathon). This year was no exception – 4,903 runners crossed the finish line on this brisk December morning.

For me, this race was a PR as I shaved more than a minute from my previous best for the 10K. I’m pleased with the effort but a little disappointed as I was really going for a sub-40. My unofficial watch splits are:
  • Mile 1 - 6:44
  • Mile 2 - 6:38
  • Mile 3 - 6:29
  • Mile 4 - 6:32
  • Mile 5 - 6:30
  • Mile 6 - 6:46
  • Mile 0.2 - 1:15
Had the field been a little smaller allowing for a clean start I probably could have knocked 20-30 seconds off my time. But, what happened in mile 6?

I threw myself at Cat Hill repeating my breathless, snotty-nosed mantra of “Head up. Pump arms.”

It worked, I surged up the hill passing a bunch of people but I fell apart at the top. There wasn’t much left in the tank after that. However, I did get an energizing shout out from Uptown Girl… Thanks!

All told my time 40:59 ain’t too bad a way to end my 2006 racing season.

Now, it is time to focus on my move… And reading your brilliant Haiku’s! Don’t forget to submit your entries by Friday!


"When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them."
-Rodney Dangerfield

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Haiku Challenge! Update 1

I've laughed. I've cried. I'm inspired. I'm slightly concerned about one of you... The Haiku's are coming in and the competition is getting stiff!

There have been a few questions about the Haiku Challenge which I though I would address here.
  1. Yes, you may submit as many Haiku's as you'd like
  2. Yes, I will publish most (or all) of the submissions
  3. No, the grand prize has not yet been determined but it will be something "good"
  4. All entries must be in by December 15th
Don't delay! Email your entry to me at morefew {at} gmail dot com

"When you are in any contest you should work as if there were - to the very last minute - a chance to lose it."
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Location. Location. Location.

New York City real estate brokers have it made – particularly those dealing with apartment rentals. The basic principles of supply and demand are laid bare in New York City real estate. In simple terms, there is incredible demand and very limited supply. In the interest of full disclosure let me say that I am not a broker but rather a recent victim, er, client.

In other parts of the country this economic principle is completely reversed. For example: My first apartment was in a nice suburb of Detroit. To find the apartment I went to a friendly broker and told them what I could afford, what amenities I was keen to have and what neighborhood(s) I wanted to be in. They punched all of this into their computer and - whizbang - I had four appointments for that very same day. And it was all free! That’s right, there is excess supply and the broker fee is paid by the building owner.

If the gargantuan rents and miniscule square footage in New York aren’t bad enough, renters are gouged by a broker fee too. I recently handed over an obscene amount of cash (yes the broker demanded payment in cash!) to a broker. Let me share with you the services I received in exchange:
  • I received the inconvenience of going to the brokers office to fill out a credit check
  • I received the inconvenience of going to the brokers office a second time to sign lease
  • I got the apartment
That is it. The broker didn’t make any phone calls or appointments for me, didn’t drive me to the apartment and show it, didn’t extol the benefits of Southern exposure or proximity to restaraunts and such. Nothing. The guy didn’t even offer me a chair to sit in to fill out paper work. I had to stand awkwardly in a doorway reading legalese in fine print before signing away most of my rights as a tenant. I'm not even sure why I bothered to read the lease… I’d have probably taken the apartment regardless of what was on it.

All he did was post an ad in Craig’s List, watch clamoring fools like myself hustle and beg for the apartment, and then finally accept a fistful of Franklin’s. Ahh the powerful forces of free market economies… How I wish I were on the other side of this equation.

All of this is to say that we are movin’ on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky… More realistically we're movin' on up the block to a modest, though significantly larger two bedroom nearer my beloved Astoria Park. It also has a patio with a grand view of Midtown Manhattan, an underground parking garage and best of all is pet friendly... Yes, Harry has a new home.

Methinks I'll be rather busy and will have a sore back.

"Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them."
-Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Haiku Challenge!

I've teased, tortured and made you wait long enough! So without further adu, welcome to the first ever Running Haiku Challenge!

A Haiku is an ancient form of Japanese poetry consisting of three lines of verse. The first and third line contain 5 syllables. The second line 7 syllables.

Here are a few of my mediocre examples:

My feet ride on air
fast and free down city streets
I am a runner

The heart rate quickens
Cool air dries the hard effort
running against wind

My shoe laces tied
I will run a marathon
Crazy I must be

To enter the Running Haiku Challenge simply email me your haiku to morefew {at} gmail dot com.

Your Haiku may be dramatic, inspiring, humorous, funny or just plain silly. It only needs to be an original work in haiku form and somehow running related.

A highly qualified team of expert panelists* has been assembled and will review all of the submissions. The field of entrants will be narrowed down to:
  • Honorable Mention
  • 2nd Place Runner Up
  • 1st Place Runner Up
  • Running Haiku Grand Champion
All winners will have their haiku published on this blog later in December. Beyond the glory, international super-fame and eternal bragging rights The Running Haiku Grand Champion will receive a very special gift (actual award to be announced later).

Don't delay - email your Haiku to morefew {at} gmail dot com today!

*Er, Ah, Salena and me. And no, we're not really haiku experts. Sorry.


"In accordance with our principles of free enterprise and healthy competition, I'm going to ask you two to fight to the death for it."
-Monty Python

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bam!

Please allow me a moment of self indulgence... I would like to direct your attention to my new 5k Personal Record. Tonight at speed work I kicked it up a notch. Bam!

And.... For those who have been waiting, the moment is almost here. I shall reveal the details of the competition on Friday, December 1st. I hope the creative juices are flowing!

"A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains."
-Dutch Proverb

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Muses of Running

Thanksgiving morning I found myself not with coffee, mimosa or eggnog in hand, but rather running the streets of Queens and Roosevelt Island in the cold and rain. A logical question to pose here would be...Why?

I'll get to that shortly but first a little back story.

During Wednesday night speed work I had made arrangements to meet Matthew W. for an 8:00AM run Thanksgiving morning. Nothing serious, just a few easy miles before the tryptophan-induced lethargy of Thanksgiving turkey. However when I woke, I woke to a near freezing downpour and thought to myself, "self, you don't really want to go out there..." So I emailed Matthew W. looking for a way out.

On Nov 23, 2006, at 6:42 AM, Josh Morphew wrote:

Matthew,

Given the lousy weather, I am inclined to not run this AM. What do you think? My cell is XXX-XXX-XXXX.

-Josh

Four minutes later Matthew W's one sentence response:


On Nov 23, 2006, at 6:46 AM, Matthew W wrote:

You can't BQ if you don't make the sacrifices....


Needless to say Matthew's Boston Qualifier reference not only got me out the door but also gave me a psychological push. If I can get up and out the door on a cold and wet Thanksgiving morning then I'll certainly have no excuses when training actually begins later this winter.

While running in the rain I commented that the running muses will surely look favorably on us. And indeed they did. The weather on Friday, Saturday and in particular today was fabulous for running. Dressed in shorts and a technical t-shirt I felt like I could run forever. And my iPod turned out a killer playlist.

Thanks for the push Matthew.

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

PS - Check back soon for more details on the forthcoming competition.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Connectivity

This Thanksgiving many people will travel all over the world to spend time with family, friends and loved ones.

I recently came across this video by Aaron Koblin. It is a visual representation of flight data from the Federal Aviation Administration. It is also an exceptional metaphor for how humans connect, particularly through the internet.

At a minimum it is three minutes of interesting imagery set to music.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(PS - I have decided to host a competition of sorts... I will release the details soon. In the interim I suggest you put your creative thinking hat on. )



"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."
-Herman Melville

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Too Much or Not Enough

It has now been two weeks since the New York Marathon and I've run seven times - twice in the first week and five times this week. Certainly my weekly mileage is down but the pace and intensity isn't - of the seven post-marathon runs just two have been easy days. I step out the door with the knowledge that I should be easing back into things but my feet connect with concrete and I soon forget.

Yesterday I was out for a 7-miler with the Hellgater's and ended up running with Eamonn and Mike B. A few miles in the pace quickened and Eamonn, who is coming off the NYC marathon and also having foot issues, dropped off. Mike and I continued on at a brisk pace. At one point I looked down at my fancy watch and realized we were running better than a 6:40/mile pace. Whoa! We finished 7.1 miles in 50:28 - a 7:06 pace.

Along the way Mike noted that I was running well and asked if I could have gone for more at the marathon. Hmmm... Now that is an interesting question. I did run a significant PR. My legs did turn to concrete 20 miles in. I was stiff and sore for days afterward. But could I have run faster? Could I have pushed harder?

Today, I went out by myself for an easy five. It started off well. But again things seemed to speed up somehow. Here are my splits:
  • Mile One - 7:58
  • Mile Two - 7:13
  • Mile Three - 7:07
  • Mile Four - 6:51
  • Mile Five - 6:43
Despite some minor aches and pains my body seems to be managing the effort without issue. I just hope that I am not overdoing it because there are a few things I would like to accomplish this spring...

"All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work."
-Calvin Coolidge

Monday, November 13, 2006

Click-A-Pint

I readily admit that I am a bit of a beer snob. When faced with the predicament of abstaining or having some mass produced swill I will instinctively choose to go without. It's practically a knee-jerk reaction. However, when it comes to the style of beer I am rather open minded. I enjoy hearty stouts and porters, pilsners and pale ales and wheat beers too!

So naturally when I came across www.YouGotBeer.com I was intrigued. Basically, if you wanted to buy me a beer and send it via email you could open your browser and your wallet and send a $5.00 "YouGotBeer" gift card. The gift card arrives via email snail mail and can be redeemed at several national chain restaurants.

Ok, so the downside is that you have to consume your gift at TGI Friday's, Chili's or the like but it's still a free cup of cold barley soup!

When you care enough to send the very best... When you owe someone a drink but don't have the time... Or when you like someone, just not enough to sit down and drink with them... Click a Pint.



"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
-Benjamin Franklin

*Disclosure - I have nothing to do with this company nor have I actually tried the service.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States can receive. The medal is generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America.

Personal politics and opinions on the war in Iraq aside Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham is truly a hero. His actions define courage.

My thoughts go out to his family and hope that they find some solace in this posthumous honor.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
-John, 15:13

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New York City Marathon: Part 2

The Marathon as Teacher

I have now run four marathons in four years and each 26.2 mile encounter has taught me something new.

My debut was the 2003 NYC marathon where I ran a 4:18:06. I learned that the physical demands of the marathon can cause an emotional response and I learned that simply finishing a marathon is a great accomplishment. I was absolutely elated and despite having to walk backwards down stairs for a few days the afterglow lasted for weeks. I rank this among the most significant achievements of my life. This was a particularly thrilling period of my life because three weeks prior to the marathon I was married to a stunning beauty. Being in the taper period of marathon training while on a Caribbean honeymoon is highly recommended!

For my sophomore marathon I returned to the starting line in Staten Island for NYC 2004. I ran 4:03:17. This was a fifteen minute improvement but still mildly disappointing as I was hoping to crack four hours. Lesson learned: starting out too fast is really, really bad.

In the autumn of 2005 I found myself in Chicago’s Millennium Park across from Buckingham Fountain. The Chicago Marathon was significant for me for a variety of reasons. It was my first marathon outside of New York and its flat course suggested fast times. The Windy City was also the first time my mother and father were able to watch me run. The pressure was on and I delivered a 3:50:20 – a twelve minute PR.

I was thrilled and exhausted but having dropped forty pounds and having been cigarette free for years I was also in the best physical condition of my life. My parents were (hopefully) proud and certainly amazed – they’d never seen a marathon before and at the time the 2005 Chicago Marathon was the largest marathon ever. Lessons learned: 1. Training with a group is a Godsend. 2. Speed work is a necessity.

For my fourth and most recent marathon I returned to the Big Apple with lofty aspirations - a sub 3:30 marathon. I choose a fairly aggressive training schedule featuring relatively high weekly mileage. Admittedly I fell a little short of the mileage totals but tried to compensate with quality speed work, hill repeats, and tempo runs. I cut alcohol from my diet completely and cut back on sugar as well.

On race morning I rose early and met my Hellgate teammates. Together in the brisk predawn air we waited for our charter bus to the starting line which was not to come. Apparently our driver was out on a bender the night before and overslept. Scrambling, we found our separate ways over the Verrazano Bridge to the starting line. Fortunately all of my teammates made it to the start and once settled there was plenty of time to relax and prepare.

I had a fairly low bib number and thus was able to line up toward the front of the chute with fellow Hellgater Jessica (who ran a stellar first marathon!). The starting canon fired and the field of 38,368 athletes began their race.

I ran them conservatively but for me the first miles seemed to click by very fast. Before I knew it I was in Brooklyn motoring up 4th Avenue feeding off the wildly enthusiastic spectators. Across the boulevard I saw Morrissey who was running very strong and soon passed me by.

The race made its way through Brooklyn to the half way point at the Pulaski Bridge and into Queens without incident. I took water or Gatorade as needed and knocked off the miles with calculated focus and an almost hyper-awareness that I’d not experienced before. As I approached Mile 14 I began looking forward to seeing the Hellgate cheering squad which was a big boost and propelled me to the Queensboro Bridge. Interestingly enough there was some construction which blocked all the sunlight. For a hundred meters or so we ran in complete darkness. Eerie, but kind of cool.

Coming down off the bridge into Manhattan and fabled 1st Avenue is of course all it is cracked up to be. The crowds roar and cheer and encourage the runners along their journey. My wife, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her significant other were there with signs, high fives and a quick sweaty kiss before I plodded along.

Like many runners I began to fatigue at about Mile 19 and took a mouthful of chocolate PowerGel to compensate. I’ve not had this flavor before and unfortunately it upset my stomach making me feel nauseous as I made my way into the Bronx. Nausea and the proverbial “Wall” – not a good combination.

“Josh! Josh! What do you need?” I looked up from my impeding stupor to see Kate and Marc running after me with Gu and water which I gladly accepted – thank you guys!

Moving back into Manhattan from the Bronx I knew I had a difficult climb up 5th Avenue to Mile 24. The nausea continued, the fatigue settled and I could feel the concrete beginning to set in my legs. I entered Central Park and the focus and awareness I’d know through the first 18 miles had long since diminished. At his point my brain had turned off and I was running on sheer will.

Just before Mile 25 a work colleague caught sight of me and jumped, shouted and flailed to get my attention. I snapped out of my grim daze only long enough to smile and wave. I passed Mile 25 and picked up the pace for the last mile and finishing kick the finish on Tavern on the Green.

I passed through all five of New York’s boroughs, over five bridges, past an estimated two million spectators and crossed the finish line 26.2 miles later in 3 hours 31 minutes and 26 seconds – less than a minute and a half short of my goal. Yes, I was disappointed but the feeling wasn’t overwhelming and it did not last very long.

Completing anything brings with it a certain amount of satisfaction. Approaching and crossing the finish line of a marathon is on an order of magnitude quite different from that of, say, a professional or academic achievement (did you ever loose a toenail or bleed for a final exam? How about for a new client?). Completing a marathon is the culmination of months of daily effort and encroaches on the boundaries of what the human body is physically and mentally capable of, particularly in those last few miles. It is an exhausting, consuming and utterly worthwhile achievement.

So what have I learned from this, my fourth bout with the marathon? I have learned that you cannot skimp on the long runs. I have learned that gradual and unrelenting pressure on the body yields impressive results. I have learned that pushing too hard too fast causes the body to breakdown. I have learned that the marathon rewards the dedicated and punishes the over-confident. I have learned you never know what challenges the marathon will put to you.

Perhaps most significantly this marathon has taught me something about myself. It has taught me that I am hungry for more. I want to see just how far and how fast I can push myself.

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfactions and a sense of achievement."
-Steve Prefontaine


Monday, November 06, 2006

New York City Marathon: Part 1

I am still gathering thoughts on my NYC Marathon experience. I will publish a full report soon. In the interim, I will say this - I finished.

I crossed the finish line in 3:31:26. For your amusement, here are a couple of photos of me along the course. The first is in Queens at Mile 14 the second photo is on 1st Avenue just past Mile 16.

More to come...



"How poor are they who have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees."
-William Shakespeare

Monday, October 30, 2006

Run To Remember: Update #2

It is said that it is far better to give than to receive. I generally tend to agree with this biblically-based colloquialism. However within the context of my Run to Remember fundraiser I must object.

When I set off on my marathon training in early July I also set off on a journey to raise money to honor the memory of my grandmother who passed away due to complications related to Alzheimer's Disease.

The first step in this journey was the most difficult for me. When I sat down to relive my memories of Grandma Connelly and commit them to paper I was rather surprised by the grief I felt, even two years after her passing.

Four months have passed and I’ve run more miles then I care to count, but, I have also enjoyed the support, kindness and generosity of family, friends, colleagues, bloggers and strangers alike - more so than I ever anticipated.

I am absolutely thrilled to report that I have not only achieved my goal of raising $100 for every mile of the marathon ($2,620.00), I have crushed it! To date, I have raised $3,384.80 $3,534.80 (Update: 11/17/2006) to benifit the Alzheimer's Association.

I would like extend my genuine and heartfelt thanks to the following individuals for their tremendous support:

Alan Stiles
Alan Wagman
Alfred Payton
Anne Crawford
Cabe and Melissa Morphew
Craig Adams
Carolyn Whipple
Dan and Lori Durbin
David and Amanda Moncur
Erica Cornwall
Gary Connelly
Greg and Erin Stadnik
Harold and Mary Baldridge
Henry Watkins and Sharon Kossoff
James Sherman
Janine Leveque
Jared and LuAnn Mestre
Joe Brady
Jung Lee
Kaitlin Keaveney
Kate Sunbury
Lisa Richard
Mark MacLeod
Megan McConagha
Michael Laskoff
Mike Heffron
Neil Rhodes
Paul Mitchell
Rich and Pam Morphew
Richie Yap
Sandy Haberman
Sharon Sutton
Susan Newton
Suzanne Hughes
Thom and Judy Christopher
Wendy Davidson
William Beckler
William Hennesey
Yasmin Marinaro
Yvonne Damm

The New York City Marathon is just days away and now it is my turn to contribute. I shall give every bit of strength, will and heart I can possibly muster. Along with me will be your generosity and the memory of Grandma Connelly.

Thank you.

"For it is in giving that we receive."
-Saint Francis of Assisi

Eight is Great

Yesterday was my final "long" run. I ran 8 miles down a hilly back-country road. It was windy, cold and, at times, sleeting.

Four months ago 8 miles would have seemed a reasonably long run. Now it seems sort of ridiculous calling an 8 miler a "long" run. Hmmm, I guess everything is relative.

This week brings a couple of 3 and 4 milers and then the New York City Marathon. I am nervous, excited, hyper-aware of every ache, pain, sneeze and sniffle. My hip and knee are still sore but I am doing my stretches and exercises. I've also gotten a new pair of Asics Gel Nimbus - identical to my two prior pair - and have begun breaking them in. The weather report looks cool and dry.

All that's left to do is to stay healthy and wait.... My fingernails are in for a difficult week.

"Patience is the best remedy for every trouble."
-Titus Maccius Plautus

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Rub Down

First, let me just say that orthopedic massage is not the same thing as Swedish or other more gentle touch massage techniques. Not even close. It’s a fallacy even calling it massage. Sure, there was dim lighting and soothing Zen-like music but there were no hot rocks, aromatic oils or gentle bodywork. This was the teeth clenched, white-knuckled, breathe-through-the-pain, work out the knoted muscles kind of massage.

This massage along with three days off from running and I still have that funk in my left hip and left knee. It isn’t debilitating but it is tender and sore, and well, worrisome. My masseuse discovered that my ilio tibio band is tight while the muscles of my inner thigh are loose and weak. This imbalance may torque out my left leg which may be causing the discomfort. I’ve got some stretches, foam roller exercises, and yes, some Suzanne Summers Thigh Master type exercises to do.

Admittedly it was nice to get a massage and my legs are probably the better for it. My hamstrings, quadriceps, and calve muscles are looser. Please keep the “tight ass” jokes to yourself, but, my glutes were tight too.

Now, I am off to a "secret location" for three days of New England leaf peeping (pictures to come), R&R and some easy trail runs.

UPDATE (10/30/2006): I am remiss for not linking to my masseuse. Despite all my complaining, Anne Taylor of New York Orthopedic Massage did a very nice job. She's thorough and professional and I'd recommend her if your considering an orthopedic massage.

Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve.
-Chinese Proverb

Friday, October 20, 2006

Say it ain't so!

Ahhh, the longest of the long runs are behind me. The grueling weeks of high mileage have past and over four months of focused conditioning will soon be put to the test.

I've run in exceptional heat and humidity. I've run in the cold. I've run in the rain. I've run so early in the morning the dog won't even get up with me. I have run late at night when most rational people are sound asleep. I have run past farms at the exact epicenter of nowhere and I have run through the very heart of the media, finance and cultural capitol of the world.

I've eaten veritable mountains of salad and ginourmous plates of enriched wholewheat pasta. I was surprised at myself by how annoyed I was with the spinach / e coli outbreak. I want my spinach salad!

I've gone so far as to deprive myself of beer, wine and cocktails. Even my beloved Bombay Sapphire & tonic has been banished from my glass these past six weeks (okay, okay, okay... I did have one small glass of Bordeaux on my Anniversary but that was a special occasion).

Now, as I ease into the next two weeks of taper I can rest assured that I have done the work. But wait... What's this tender soreness I am feeling in my left hip and knee? Drat! It cannot be!

I am no doctor but based on location of the pain and a little research I think I my have done something to the adductor muscle group in my left hip / groin which may also be causing the tenderness in my knee.

I've read that this can be caused by inadequate arch support in shoes which causes the ankle, knee and subsequently the hip to pronate and thus become misaligned.

I shall give my self a couple of days off and I have scheduled an appointment for an orthopedic massage. I will also retire my neutral Asics Gel-Nimbus shoes which have approximately 400 miles on them and use my secondary pair which have about 200 miles on them.

Question for the blogoshere:
  1. Do I have time to get a new pair of shoes and break them in in time for the marathon?
  2. Has anyone had a similar experience and have sage advice to share?

"Do not consider painful what is good for you."
-Euripides

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mocha Frappuccino

One February day in 1999, I had a fateful incident with an exploding Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino and a beautiful woman. That currious moment would forever change my life.

Three years ago today that beautiful woman became my wife.

I am a very lucky man.

"Love is something eternal— the aspect may change, but not the essence."

-Vincent van Gogh

Friday, October 13, 2006

Conquering What's Next

As Marathon Sunday draws nearer I find myself filled with mixed emotion. I'm excited by the prospect of running through the streets of New York with 2 million spectators cheering me on. I am also keyed up about the prospect of achieving a significant personal record. I feel pride in all the miles of training I have put in over the past 3 months but I'm also a little nervous about the payoff.

I am grateful to my wife for pushing me out the door on those days I'd rather stay in bed, for her awesome homemade penne alla vodka and her killer angel hair with fresh pesto before those long runs. And I am especially grateful for her being so understanding of my stubborn and time consuming commitment.

I am humbled by the generosity so many have shown in their support of my fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association in my grandmother's honor. I am inspired, encouraged and challenged by the words and actions of my teammates, by this blogging community of runners and by the broader world of running.

Interestingly enough, I am feeling a sense of “what now,” or perhaps more aptly put “what’s next.” The marathon is almost here and I still feel as though I have improvements to make, fitness to achieve and goals to set and conquer.

Maybe I should see how I feel tomorrow after my last long run of 22 miles before setting off for Everest.

UPDATE (10/15/2006): Ouch. I am having difficulty climbing stairs. Everest will have to wait... For now.

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
-Sir Edmund Hillary

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tune Up

Who thought it would be possible to pull a 900° turn while airborne on a skateboard? Tony Hawk did.

When Pete Sampras exploded at the US Open in 1990 with his 120+ mile per hour serve the tennis world was stunned. In 2004 Andy Roddick served a 153 mph serve at a match in London.

On May 5th, 1954 there were those who believed it impossible to run one mile in four minutes. Roger Bannister proved them wrong on May 6th with a time of 3:59.4. Just six weeks later John Landy ran a mile in 3:58.0. Today the record for the mile is 3:43.13 and is held by Hicham El Guerrouj.

Years ago I was a heavy smoker and was 40 pounds heavier than I am today. My first runs (if you can call them that) consisted of two to three city blocks worth of huffing and puffing followed by 20 minutes of walking.

Sport provides constant challenge and we’ve invented various ways to measure progress - whether it’s rotations while airborne, speed on a serve or how fast we can run a given distance.

Running, in my opinion, provides the most pure form of challenge. Half pipes have gotten bigger and skate boards stronger. Tennis racquets have gotten lighter and more rigid. While the manufacturing, material and arch support of running shoes have improved the basic challenge of running has remained the same. Runners compete against themselves, time and distance.

On Sunday, I ran the New York City Marathon Tune Up, an 18 mile “preparation” race in Central Park. The race was by most all measures a success. I arrived early. The weather was delightful. I ran even splits and ran them faster than my intended marathon pace. At mile 17 Morrissey passed by me and I had enough juice to stay in contact with him and then slip by in a finishing kick. Thanks for the inspiration Morrissey!

When I ran this race in 2004 I finished in 2:51:59 – a pace of 9:33/mile.

The following year I ran it in 2:37:29 – a pace of 8:44/mile.

On Sunday I finished in 2:16:35 a pace of 7:33/mile.

On paper these are huge improvements. I should be thrilled. I should be delighted. I should feel confident about the forthcoming marathon…But my elation is tempered by the competitor in me. I’ve already got my eye on a sub-7 minute pace.

Who knows what the future may hold for me but sport in general will continue to amaze as athletes continue to press the boundaries of what is possible.


"It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off."
-Woody Allen


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Change

As you can plainly see, I've updated the look and feel of my blog.

Well? What do you think?

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
-Sir Winston Churchill

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Retired Marathon Runner

My commute into work each day generally takes about 40 minutes, door-to-door. On my way in I typically read the paper, a book or listen to podcasts (every now and again I nod off and dream of the beaches of St. Martin).

Among my favorite podcasts are the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the Slate Daily Podcast, and the Onion Radio News.

Fairly recently the Onion ran a story about a retired marathon runner which I found very funny and would like to share with you. If you are not familiar with The Onion it is a tongue-in-cheek satire news source.

You should be able to hear the podcast by clicking here. If you have trouble with this link you can also find the podcast here.

UPDATE (10/5/06): I should note that the podcast is all of :30 in length.
"I'll publish right or wrong. Fools are my theme, let satire be my song."
-Lord Byron

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Grete's Great Gallop

Things got off to a fairly decent start today. The alarm went off. I made coffee. I took Harry for a walk. I drank the coffee. I finally woke up.

I gathered my things and headed out of the house for the Norwegian Festival Half Marathon in Central Park with plenty of time to stretch out and warm up but the subway line I need to take into Manhattan refused to leave the station.

After some time, fellow runner and Hellgater, Alan, stepped into the same subway car and we passed the time chatting about running. Unfortunately the MTA had chewed into our warm up time and we were now a bit rushed. Compounding the issue was a light rain and the faulty instructions I had to the race start which put us about 10 blocks north of where we needed to be. Sorry about that Alan!

The light drizzle turned to a outright downpour and as I dropped my belongings at the baggage check the air horn sounded - marking the start of the race. Drat.

Rather than wrestle with the thousands of people inching their way through the starting chute, Alan and I decided to wait a couple of extra minutes to get a clean - if late - start. I also took the opportunity to use the Port-a-John. Hey, the race had already started so there were no lines... Carpe Diem!

Alan got out in front of me and I spent the next few miles zigging and zagging around the back of the packers chasing him down. Somewhere around the hills at Harlem Meer I caught Alan and then slipped by.

The next few miles went well but I began to fatigue as the course made it's second loop around the north end of the park. At mile 10 I said to myself "Self, you've just got a 5k to go. Stay strong." I listened to my own suggestion pressing on the flats, kicking up the hills and motoring down them. With about a mile to go I began to push hard to the finish and sprinted the last 400 meters.

At first I was a little disappointed in my final time of 1:37:05 but given the poor start, constant rain and hilly course I should be pleased with this race. But there's always that voice in the back of my head saying you should have prepared better, run faster and kicked sooner...

Here's a photo of me after the race debating with that voice.
"You should listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head."
-Matt Groening

Friday, September 29, 2006

And the winner is...

The votes are in. The hanging chads have been scrutinized, counted and then counted again.

Much like his professional acting career, Actor Josh saw some modest success but not the big time. In his concession speech Actor Josh was quoted as saying, "I'll be back" in a poor attempt at an Austrian accent.

Goofy Josh ran a strong campaign and had a respectable showing, appealing to many moderates and those with a soft spot for dorks.

Calvin's worldwide name recognition and universal likeability failed to deliver due in large part to the copyright infringement scandal uncovered by Deep Throat, er, I mean Mark.

Incumbent Josh never stood a chance...

At the victory party Runner Josh graciously praised his competition, reiterated several of his campaign promises and took off in running shorts and his campaign signature Hellgate running singlet muttering "what the hell, we're all the same person anyway..."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Women of Hellgate

The women of Hellgate - or at least Suzanne and Janine - have made it known that they are displeased with my profile picture... Obviously, I'd like to keep my most loyal readers pleased!

I have decided to let you, my dear reader, choose the image that will represent me in the virtual world of blogging. I have posted 4 images for you to vote on. The image with the most votes will become my new profile photo.

The first image is "Runner Josh" which was taken at a recent race. The second image is a headshot from my days as an actor, why don't we call that "Actor Josh." The third image is well, just "Goofy Josh." Finally, the fourth image is "Calvin" from my favorite comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes by cartoonist Bill Watterson.

Without further explanation, let the voting begin...

Runner Josh

Actor Josh

Goofy Josh

Calvin

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Marathon for the Masses?

I recently came across this article on Slate.com in which the author, Gabriel Sherman, decries the exploding popularity of the marathon as sport for the masses. In particular, the article focuses on “how sluggish newbies ruined the marathon."

I hope to run a 3 hour and 30 minute marathon this November at the ING New York City Marathon. Having fewer runners ahead of me, clogging the streets, would likely help me attain that goal and thus, I initially agreed with Mr. Sherman.

After my biased and self-serving initial reaction I applied some thought to the matter and frankly I couldn’t disagree more. The growth in popularity of the marathon is good for almost everybody – from the first time marathoner whose aim is to finish, to the middle of the pack runner right on up the starting chute to the sub-elite and world class athletes like Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi.

In general terms, the popularity surge of the marathon has inspired more people to get fit, something that America desperately needs. Six of out ten American adults are overweight. Nearly 20% of children in America are obese and many have, or are at risk of developing, Type 2 Diabetes. Methinks repetitive use injuries like stress fractures, tendonitis and shin splints are laughable as compared to diabetes, elevated blood pressure and heart attack.

Increased marathon popularity also means more races and more well managed races – obviously a good thing as this translates into greater opportunity for success for competitive runners. If it’s a small marathon you want you’re not forced to run with 40,000 others plodding down the streets of Chicago. Thanks to the growing popularity of the sport there are plenty of well managed, USATF certified marathons with a smaller numbers of participants to choose from.

This trend also translates into a growth in the Prize Purses for the elite athletes of our sport (the NYC marathon purse is $500,000 this year). And while we’re talking about money I just fail to see how the $660 Million that many “newbies” have raised for Team In Training to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma is a bad thing.

Even if the growing popularity of marathons means I will have to work harder on Marathon Sunday to reach my personal goals, I am glad to run with 37,000 “newbies,” veterans, world class and Olympic athletes. Afterall, it was the the sight of so many running the New York Marathon after 9/11 that inspired me to train for and run my first marathon.

"All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why."
-James Thurber

Monday, September 25, 2006

Weekend Mileage

In terms of running mileage, this past weekend was pretty good – I logged about 25 miles in two days.

On Saturday morning I headed up to Rockefeller State Park for a 20 miler with a bunch of runners from the Hellgate Road Runners Club. We were also joined by Chelle - a remarkable runner who gave several of the Hellgate guys a very serious workout
!

I opted to run with Alan and Janine at a more conservative pace of about 8 minute per mile pace - give or take. We’d never been to Rockefeller State Park and we promptly got lost in the 1,233 acre preserve. Heading this way, then that way, then back again we ended up somewhere off the marked trails and our sweat soaked map was fairly useless. After frequent stops to attempt to orient ourselves we finally found a knowledgeable runner who pointed us in the right direction and with his help we soon found our way back to the named trails on our map. At about this point it also started raining
... Fortunately the rain only lasted 15-20 minutes and we didn't get too soaked because the forest canopy is still pretty thick with foliage.

The trails themselves are great. They provide gorgeous scenery and the packed-dirt trails offer softer footing than New York City streets. The more forgiving running surface is very friendly on the knees but it also absorbs much of the energy return that would normally help propel your stride. As a result, more effort is needed to maintain the same pace on a trail than on the street. And let us not forget the hills!

Personally, I was ready to call it a day at about mile 16. Janine had something else in mind. To quote her: “I feel like shit, but, I came up here to run 20 and I am going to run 20!” Well, that was all the inspiration I needed. I took off and ran the last 3 miles all out (7-min pace). Thank you Janine!

I was a touch stiff on Sunday but still felt ok despite not stretching out much after the 20. Salena and I had some personal obligations and errands to take care of during the day so my “recovery run” had to wait until afternoon. When I did get out for an easy 5 miler it turned faster and faster with each mile. Whoops…there goes my easy workout! Instead I ran a series of negative splits.
  • Mile 1 – 8:23
  • Mile 2 – 8:03
  • Mile 3 – 7:50
  • Mile 4 – 7:33
  • Mile 5 – 7:18
Regardless, it felt great to get out and push the pace. Maybe I’ll take it easy today. Maybe...
"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."
-Steve Prefontaine

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Standard Taxi

Taxi! TAXI! TAXI!!!

We all know how annoying it can be to hail a cab in New York City. This is particularly true at rush hour, in the rain or near heavily trafficked tourist areas. God forbid you ever find yourself in Times Square, in the rain, as the Broadway shows finish their curtain calls and the gussied up tourists meander to the corners in search of a ride back to a hotel or some restaurant featured in their edition of Fodor's travel guide.

Now imagine for a moment that you use a wheelchair. The annoyance of finding a cab becomes a huge and potentially disabling problem.

My father, brother and their colleagues recently designed, built and unveiled a brand new taxi cab which addresses this and several other issues. They call their vehicle the Standard Taxi. It is less expensive to purchase and is far larger and more comfortable for passengers than the typical Crown Victoria taxi cab.

Of all the well thought out features of the Standard Taxi perhaps none is more impressive than the fact that the Standard Taxi is also fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Gawker recently bashed it for being ugly but I can tell you that function, not form, is the primary goal of this vehicle. It is cheaper to purchase and operate than the Crown Victoria, almost twice as fuel efficient, roomier (4 adult passengers can sit in the back), has a duty-cycle that will significantly outlast any taxi on the road today and is fully wheelchair accessible.

Here is a link to their website, a press release and an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Finally, here are some pictures... What do you think?


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Shout Out

A friend of mine recently launched his very first blog!

He's not much of a runner... But as nutty as I am about distance running he is about music. He's suggested many great songs for my iPod running playlist.

Please stop by and say hi to WeCastMusic.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Civic Duty...?

I am furious!

One of the great attributes of my modest apartment is its proximity to Astoria Park – a 65 acre public park complete with an Olympic swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball hoops, children’s playground, Bocce ball court, a nice track and lots of paths for runners and walkers. Unfortunately some of the people that frequent the park are slobs.

This morning while running (circa 7:00am) I noticed a man littering. This was not your typical New York homeless person either - just your average, run of the mill jerk tearing pages out of a calendar book and callously tossing them on the ground as he meandered past the many garbage cans that line the pathways.

I don’t know if it was civic duty, moral arrogance or if I was just tired and grumpy but I couldn’t resist. As I passed this litterbug I looked him straight in the eye and said four little words:

“Use A Garbage Can.”

This set him off in a huge way and he launched into a verbal tirade that would even make Andrew Dice Clay blush. He shouted just about every curse and profanity in the book at me. I am sure he offended all the nearby dog walkers and the good folks doing Tai Chi halfway across the park with his high decibel verbal refuse. Had he been able to keep up with me he probably would have tried to take a swing at me too.

Personal safety aside, was I wrong to address this man’s behavior?

"I have found little that is good about human beings. In my experience most of them are trash."
-Sigmund Freud

Friday, September 15, 2006

Post-Run High

I just got in from a 6.5 mile at an 8 minute per mile pace through Astoria Park. I ran start to finish in the rain. I am sweaty, muddy and completely soaked.

In other words I feel great! Don’t you just love that post-run high?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Run To Remember: Update #1

I'm now heading into the 11th week of my marathon training. My weekly mileage is up to 45-50 miles a week. I've managed to stick fairly close to my schedule, missing only a few days of running due to inclement weather or extenuating circumstances at the office.

My weekly running schedule includes speed intervals consisting of 4 x mile repeats, hill work (basically running up and down hills for 3-4 miles), tempo runs of 5-8 miles at a brisk pace, long runs of 13-20 miles plus "easy" or "junk" miles on days where my training isn't specific.

At this point I still feel confident that I can achieve my goal (fingers crossed) of a sub-3 hour and 30 minute marathon, which, if I achieve will be a personal best by 20 minutes and put me a little nearer to qualifying for The Grand Poobah of marathons: The Boston Marathon. I realize that this is a pretty aggressive goal, but hey, people who jump out of airplanes aren't normally known for being the most cautious folks.

As you may know I am running the marathon this year as a fundraiser in honor of my grandmother. I committed to raising $2,620.00 for the Alzheimer's Association - that's $100 for every mile of the marathon.

I am very pleased to report that my efforts are coming along well. I am about half way to reaching my fundraising goal but I still have a ways to go. In runner jargon I am about to "hit the wall" and I'll need your help to get over the hump and to the finish line. Please do consider making a donation to this very worthy cause here.

I extend my most sincere gratitude to those who have offered words of praise and encouragement and to those who have already given so generously - thank you!
"In charity there is no excess."
-Sir Francis Bacon

Thursday, August 31, 2006

NYC Half Marathon: A Personal Record and a Public Debacle

This past Sunday the New York Road Runners teamed with Nike to present the inaugural New York City Half Marathon. Of course yours truly was among the 10,294 runners who completed the race. Cool.

I dragged my bleary-eyed self out of bed at 4:00am to allow plenty of time to get to the 7:00am start in Central Park. On my way in, I passed my neighborhood bar. Though all the lights were on and the chairs upended on tables a few bar patrons lingered, finishing their icy, watered-down “last-call” cocktails. I hope they tipped well!

I also bumped into a few other revelers stumbling their way home after a long hard battle with Dr. Booze. Waking up at 4:00am is decidedly not cool.

Fortunately enough for me I was granted a preferred start for this race. This put me up toward the front of the starting queue just behind the elite and sub-elite runners rather than cramped in the back with the slower, inexperienced, huddled masses. Obviously this helped my start tremendously. I got off clean and found my pace right away. I still had the urge to go out hard but fate once again smiled on me and prudence outweighed stupidity - I took it easy. Perhaps I was calmed by the lovely string quartet at the starting line (very nice touch – kudos to the race planners!).

Somewhere around mile 3 or 4 I bumped into Eamonn, a teammate and running buddy. Eamonn was good enough to come up from behind and pass me. This immediately triggered the friendly competitor in me and I was off to catch and pace with him. Thanks for that Eamonn!

At this point, about 6 miles into the race, I was still feeling strong and knew that the toughest of the hills were already behind me. It was time to start pushing a little harder. Coming out of Central Park and heading down into Times Square I was probably running a pace of ~6:00/mile. Methinks this was maybe pushing it a little too hard but what can I say… Up to this point I was running a very smart race and I was feeling strong.

As the race made its way to the center of the universe (er, I mean Times Square) I noticed it was oddly devoid of traffic and the usual throngs of tourists. Cool.

We turned right onto 42nd Street and over to the West Side Highway. At this point the fatigue began to set in and my legs began to tire. Not cool.

“Push you fool!” I told myself “Don't be a wimp!” and before long I found myself cooking down Manhattan’s West Side Highway (also closed to vehicular traffic) towards the finish. Then, without warning and without care for the day’s events, Mother Nature decided to rinse off her sweaty runners and thus unleashed the rain! It was a cool and driving rain and I was immediately soaked through. My expensive lightweight running shoes took on water like a sinking ship but still I ran onward, splashing through the flooded thoroughfare.

“Josh!” “Go! Josh!” came the shouts from Hellgater’s Jared, LuAnn and Alan. I smiled, waved, absorbed their awesomeness for coming out and cheering in the rain - and then grimaced. With 2 miles to go, it was time to see if I had any kick left. My splits break down as follows:
  • 5K – 23:01 – 7:24 per mile pace
  • 10K – 45:49 – 7:22 per mile pace
  • 15K – 1:08:54 – 7:23 per mile pace
  • Finish – 1:34:14 – 7:11 per mile pace

Apparently I did have a little something left as I pushed hard through the rain to a new personal record for the Half Marathon – 1 hour 34 minutes and 14 seconds.

So there’s the account of my personal record and now you’re wondering what the public debacle is all about... The short answer is baggage.

As you can imagine, the logistics and organization required for an event of this scale are tremendous. The New York Road Runners have in my opinion always risen to the challenge and consistently put on some of the best and most organized races in the country.

For the benefit of those readers not familiar with how baggage claim is supposed to work at a race like this let me explain. The race starts at one point and ends 13.1 miles away. Runners generally bring personal belongings to the start (a cell phone, dry clothes to change into, maybe a bagel or a piece of fruit). You load your personal belongings into a bag that has a number identical to your race bib number. That bag then goes in a truck which in turn corresponds to the last digit on your race bib number.

In my case my race bib number was 7617. Since the last digit is a "7" I put my things on the "Number 7 Truck." The trucks then drive to the finish and await the runners. Friendly volunteers retrieve your bag from the chronologically packed truck. See how easy this really is? Organization is really the key element here.

Unfortunately for all the runners with their belongings in the "Number 7 Truck" the club failed miserably. I waited for an hour and fifty minutes to retrieve my bag. That’s right and hour and fifty minutes. It took less time to actually run the race than it did to retrieve my bag!

I was cold, wet, furious and exhausted. The patience and restraint that many runners were exhibiting began to wear off as time passed. By now the large and still growing crowd was irritated and began pushing in toward the truck, clamoring for their belongings. A few women were reduced to tears and I actually thought at a few points that the pushing and shoving would turn to fisticuffs.

Luckily cooler heads prevailed over clenched fists of fury and eventually - if slowly - things were sorted out. Mine was one of the last bags to be “found” and as luck would have it, it had been stepped on and trampled causing a Gu pack to rupture leaving my things a nasty, sticky, sweetened glucose mess. Also decidedly not cool.

I generally think of myself as a proud member of the silent majority but I was so perturbed that I actually I emailed the Road Runners Club to politely and professionally inform them of my experience. I was delightfully surprised when Saul Zuchman the Vice President of the New York Road Runners Club emailed me back 10 minutes later. He apologized that I had such a poor experience with baggage and that he and the race production team would take my comments and experiences into consideration when planning future races.

While I won't be able to get my wasted time back nor will I forget the frustration and anger I felt while waiting in the rain I will admit that my confidence in the New York Road Runners organization is restored.