Monday, July 31, 2006

The Jump

Careful. There's a bit of a drop to that first step...

Several weeks ago Salena asked what I wanted for my birthday. I looked around our small cramped apartment and realized that I didn't want any "thing." I have all the electronic gadgets and gizmos a guy could ever want. Running attire fills our too-few shelves and closets and a seeming multitude of running shoes peek out from under the bed. I didn't want any "thing." I wanted an experience. I wanted to skydive.

On Sunday afternoon I jumped out of an airplane 13,500 feet above Calverton, NY.

Words such as "exhilarating," "amazing," "breathtaking," and "incredible" completely fail to adequately express the experience. The pictures speak for themselves...

Many thanks to Salena for getting me the perfect gift! Thank you also to my jumpmaster Dunk and cameraman Adam from Skydive Long Island - they are all complete professionals.

PS - The video is coming soon.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

House of the Sun

According to Wikipedia, Leo's rule the heart and spine and are associated with heat and the sun. Leo's are "generous and warmhearted" but also "pompous and patronizing." Leonians are "Creative, broad-minded, faithful, loving and expansive" but also "bossy and intolerant." It's hard work being ruled by the sun.

I can't say that I am huge believer of astrology. I generally look into it once a year - on my birthday. Apparently I am in for a pleasant surprise today I just need to see it.
"A surprising opportunity awaits you, but you have to be willing to see it to take advantage of it fully. Expand your awareness and you'll find that your life is enriched with a much-needed adventure."
Yes, I was born on this day 29 years ago and I've already gotten my first birthday gift in the mail - my official participant handbook for the New York Marathon!

Another annual habit is to review who else was born on July 26th... I am in pretty good company:Other major/interesting events which occurred on this day in history:I leave you with a final quote:
“We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
- George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, July 22, 2006


6-4-6 and I'm not talking about an area code or Smufette's measurements - after all she's only three apples tall (how I know that is a mystery even to me but it's true - Google it for yourself).

6-4-6 is my run for today.

I set out this morning at 7:30am wearing dirty running clothes because the power is still out in much of Queens and my clean clothes are locked inside of a closed and powerless Laundromat... How annoying is that?!?!? And I am "powerless" to do anything about it! (sorry I couldn't resist!)

When I hit the road this morning it was already 80 degrees and the humidity was at about 81%. Fortunately there was a bit of a breeze to help keep me cool but the weather made sure that my stinky and dirty running clothes were freshened with all new stinky sweat. Sorry ladies, I'm taken.

As the miles ticked on, I found my pace to be a touch sluggish particularly going over the 59th Street Bridge (~8:40/mile). The dragging feeling is in large part due to the heat and humidity to be certain, but also due to the schedule I put in this week. Methinks think I need an easy day:
  • Saturday - 14 miler
  • Sunday - 6 mile wooded trail run (thanks for the *easy* run Matthew W.)
  • Monday - Off
  • Tuesday - 6 x 800 meter intervals + 2 miles easy
  • Wednesday - 5 mile Tempo run
  • Thursday - 7 miler
  • Friday - Off
Once into Manhattan I made my way to Central Park where the New York Road Runners were hosting the "Run for Central Park" 4 mile race to benefit the Central Park Conservancy. I had signed up for this race a while back and rather than skip it, I figured I'd just work it into my long run.

My timing was pretty good. I ran into the park and to the start of the race. Knowing that I wasn't really going to "race" this, I lined up toward the back of the queue - somewhere around the 9 minute pace group. NYRR's president and CEO Mary Wittenberg did her thing and the race was under way. For me, the starting gun marked the middle 4 miles of a 16 mile day.

The chute was really very crowed but I was able to settle into a comfortable pace of about 8:30/mile without too much difficulty.

Coming up Cat Hill I heard some people applauding ahead and wondered what it could be. My first thought was that it was the pom-pom squad. As it turns out, it was something even more inspiring. As I climbed Cat Hill I approached a young runner who couldn't have been more than 12 or 13 years old. This particular young runner was also an amputee and was absolutely powering up the hill with his right leg, his crutches and more determination than most of us could ever hope to muster. Well done!

After that experience the race was pretty unremarkable for the next few miles. Unfortunately there was an accident around mile 3. A bicycle rider had crashed into a runner behind me. I couldn't see it well but what I did see didn't look good.

Then, not more then a half mile down the road, it happened again! A women on a road bike crashed right into a female runner. The two women went down right in front of me and slid across the asphalt. Just thinking of it makes me cringe! Both the rider and the runner appeared to be ok... At least the fallen runner got up immediately and walked off to the side of the road.

Plenty of people stopped to help and since this is New York I am sure that there was at least one Physician and one Lawyer among the good Samaritans. I however am but a lowly marketing guy and sans mobile phone at that (read: absolutely useless in this situation). So on I went to finish phase II of this running triad. For those that are interested my official time was 33:52 (8:28/mile pace).

I dumped some water on my head and dove right into phase III. Somewhere along the way the battery to my fancy Triax V10 pooped out. My batteries, though fading, kept me moving in slow but steady homeward bound direction... Across the Eastside and back over the 59th Street Bridge where I bumped into a fellow Hellgate Road Runner in mid workout. (How was the rest of your run Alan?)

As an aside, the bridge seems to be a much more difficult an ascent running from Manhattan into Queens than it does from Queens into Manhattan... Perhaps it just feels that way 11+ miles into a run.

I did a little zig and a little zag as I made my way through the streets of Queens. At this point I was pretty fizzled - Fo shizzle! Finally I made it to Astoria track and bumped into another Hellgater and after a brief chat finished the last half mile or so home. (How was the rest of your run Andrew? Hot?)

I've finally cooled off, stretched out, showered and even hand washed my running clothes with industrial strength detergent - Man alive they needed it!

I can feel that my fitness level is improving as a result of my marathon training. I can tell simply by the fact that I've been rather productive post-run today rather than passed out napping on the couch with the Tour de France on mute. (Way to go Floyd!)

And there you have it. My 3 part 16 miler. Tomorrow... EASY! Easy. easy.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hellgate Road Runners Photo Montage

I put a quick video montage together from photos of a few members of the Hellgate Road Runners Club and thought I'd share it.

Thanks to Jared for the photos! Enjoy.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Bronx Half Marathon

This Sunday (9-July-2006) was the New York Road Runners' Bronx Half Marathon. I had signed up for this race weeks ago though I wasn't sure that I would actually run it until about 12 hours before the starting gun, which is probably not the soundest of ideas.

Once I finally decided to do the race, I told myself that it would just be a training run - the first longer run of my marathon training schedule. After all, the Bronx course is difficult and it was sunny and nearly 80 degrees at the 8AM start.

Someplace deep down in my heart of hearts, my competitive self had other ideas. A training run wasn't enough. I wanted speed. I wanted to race. I wanted to PR. And so, I set out at a quick yet somewhat reserved pace.

Before I continue with the race recap, let me just say that I haven't been doing very many "long" runs of late. Plenty of 4 to 7 milers at tempo pace, some hill work at 5k pace, but nothing really long enough to be considered "preparation" for a half marathon. These past few months I've run several PR's and have been peaking for so long that I thought it was the new norm, but to be honest I've been slacking in my training. Not so much in terms of effort when I am running, but slacking in the consistency, determination and motivation departments. Frankly I have been coasting.

Back at the Bronx Half, I lined up toward the front with some teammates, the gun when off and so did I. I tried to be somewhat conservative, knowing that the heat and the difficult course would take their toll on me. Once I crested the first hill, less than a mile into the race, I knew it was going to be (please forgive the expression) an uphill battle.
  • Mile 1: 7:15
  • Mile 2: 7:20
  • Mile 3: 7:25
  • Mile 4: 7:40
  • Mile 5: 8:57 (this mile must have been marked wrong!)
  • Mile 6: (whoops forgot to hit the lap button!)
  • Mile 7: 14:21
  • Mile 8: 7:50
  • Mile 9: 7:49
  • Mile 10: 7:51
  • Mile 11: 8:13
  • Mile 12: 8:28
  • Mile 13: 8:28
  • Mile 0.1: 0:29
  • Finish: 1:42:14
Mile by mile my pace slipped and thoughts of a PR were washed away by sweat, fatigue and Gatorade. Instead my thoughts turned to just holding onto a sub 8-minute pace. Then I thought about dropping out... I actually considered it for a moment which is something I have never done before.

The miles wore on and I knew I could finish but not before the Grand Concourse had its way with me - the return trip of this "out and back" leg was especially challenging for me. So much so that I had to walk for a minute just before the Mile 12 mark (A huge thank you to the runner that passed me saying "you can do it - almost there man" and the spectator that said "lets go Astoria runner. Stay strong").

With some Gatorade in my belly and a cup of water on my head the end finally grew near and I was able to pick up my pace some for a strong finish.

The good news is that I now know I need to focus and re-commit to my training. I've got to put in the work to reap the rewards. I have ambitious goals set for races this summer and in particular a very aggressive finish time for a little race on November 5th and slacking off just isn't going to cut it.

World Cup Pandemonium in Astoria, New York! Viva Italia!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Vacation Post #4: aftermath & Re-entry

As much as I wish it weren't true, as much as I wish I could ignore and deny it, as much as I loathe to admit it, the sun has set on our vacation. It was 8 fabulous days of lackadaisical lounging, gluttonous gorging and pilfering pirates! Though Captain Sinbad didn't win the Americas' Sail again this year, it was still a really great time. Some highlights (or lowlights, depending on your point of view) in no particular order are:
  • 31 miles of running on the beach
  • 2 very over-cooked Black Angus Ribeye steaks
  • 4 very over-cooked Black Angus New York Strip steaks
  • 9 boneless, skinless chicken breasts grilled Caribbean jerk perfection
  • 1 Extreme Pesto Adventure
  • 4 cases of beer from Bud Light to Guinness Stout
  • 3 + cases of very tasty wines (We found a variety of new favorites) and some spirits too!
  • 3 boxes of cigars on the back porch
  • Countless hours of sitting doing nothing but listening to the waves crash on the shore
  • 1 Engagement announcement - Congratulations to Emilie and Ron!
  • 1 Outdoor Symphony concert
  • Canon fire at sunset
  • 3 nights of amateur and professional fireworks
  • Pirate talk and "swash buckling" jokes a-plenty
  • Quality time with family
Sad, but true. My vacation has come to a close. If the 13 hour drive home didn't prove it, my first day back at the office certainly did. Not that I had a particularly bad day at work, I just have a TON of catching up to do. Alas, there's nothing to be done but to get to it. One thing I did learn is this: When vacationing with friends you may want to have a drink. When vacationing with family, you may want to have several.

Cheers to a very good summer!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Vacation Post #3: I've been tagged

Happy 4th of July to all!

I've recently been tagged by both NYFlyGirl and Ginger Breadman. Part of me is flattered but another part of me feels like this is the blog equivalent of spam...

Without further adieu here it is:

4 Jobs I've Had
  • Marketing Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Soap Opera Extra (Guiding Light, As The World Turns)
  • Starbucks Barista
4 Movies I Watch Over and Over
  • Starwars Episodes 4, 5 & 6
  • The Godfather 1 & 2
  • Office Space
  • Scarface
4 Places I Have Lived
  • Detroit Suburbs
  • Manhattan
  • Brooklyn
  • Queens
4 Television Shows I Watch
  • The Sopranos
  • CBS Sunday Morning
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • Extreme Makeover Home Edition (hate to admit it but I am a sucker for this show)
4 Places I Have Been On Vacation
  • Atlantic Beach, NC
  • Madeira Beach, FL
  • St. Maarten Island
  • Hannacroix, NY (Not exactly a hot vacation spot - but I've had several crazy weekends there)
4 Websites I Visit Every Day 4 Favorite Foods
  • Penne Ala Vodka
  • Pasta with fresh Pesto Sauce
  • Buddies Supreme Pizza
  • Cheese and Crackers
4 Places I'd Rather Be Right Now (this one is hard... there are a lot of places that I'd like to go)
4 Favorite Bands/Musicians (also very hard... I enjoy a wide variety of music)
4 Bloggers I'll Tag (sorry)
Have a good time this Independence Day and don't blow off any fingers with fireworks!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Vacation Post #2: Sand Is Hard

I've now got 23+ miles of running on the beach and can confirm that running on the beach is no walk in the park... My hip and calf muscles are wicked sore, my feet have blistered in new and exciting places from the sand that sneaks into my shoes and even though I am running in the early morning the temperature and humidity are sucking the life right out of my stride.

The late nights, early mornings, hours swimming and frolicking in the surf and the truly incredible amounts of food and drink that we're consuming may also be taking a toll on my running performance. Don't ya just love vacation?

The surf is up and I have some bodyboarding to do. In the interim, here's a couple of photos: