Thursday, June 29, 2006

Vacation Post #1: Getting There Is Half The Fun

5AM is too early to start anything let alone something good, like a vacation. Yet the alarm dutifully sounded loud and clear at 5AM signaling the "official" beginning of our holiday.

In a rare moment of advanced preparedness, Salena and I managed to get most everything packed the night prior. Unfortunately moving our bags from our apartment to the car at 6 o'clock in the morning was a soggy affair! The foul weather that flooded the Mid-Atlantic* had settled on New York City bringing horizontal rain and Amazon Rain Forest-like humidity.

At 7:03 we turned onto the Triborough Bridge and our 560 mile drive was underway. In terms of timing, it was a great drive. We got out of NYC before rush hour began in earnest and hit little traffic en route. However, US Highway 13 and US Highway 17 are dreadfully boring and make up most of the drive. Mostly two lane highways which slow to 35 miles per hour through the "cities" (and I use that term VERY loosely) they intersect and actually have stop some lights. Highways aren't supposed to have stoplights!

Some 12 hours later, starving, exhausted and in dire need of a stiff drink we arrived at the beach house we've rented. We were the first to arrive so we naturally dumped our stuff in one of the nicer rooms and busted out the Bombay Sapphire. Ahhh, what a little juniper can do to restore the road-weary!

The rental house is darling and very nicely appointed. Better still is the back porch which overlooks the ocean. Absolutely fabulous.

This morning I got in my first run on the beach - about 6.5 miles at an 8:20 minute pace which is a bit slow for me but given the heat and wicked humidity I'm not too bothered by this. Plus, running on the beach is hard, the soft sand provides no energy return but it is much more forgiving on the joints than concrete. We'll see how the rest of the week goes. For now, I am off to do... well... perhaps a bit of nothing!

*Interesting footnote with regard to the poor weather.

Monday, June 26, 2006

My Mai Tai Fantasy

With a long overdue vacation so near at hand staying focused at work is becoming a “challenge.” My mind drifts from the logistics of packing, maps & directions to the more fanciful - runs on the beach, lounging about in a hammock with a good book, and on to cocktails at sunset (what all goes into a Mai Tai anyway?)

This “challenge” if you will is compounded by the dreadfully soggy weather we’ve had here in the Northeast of late. While the weekend didn’t bring the deluge of rain the Mid-Atlantic states got hammered with it did make for a weekend of sitting indoors, running attire at the ready, just waiting for a break in the rain – which by the way came moments after downing a couple slices of leftover pizza. Augh! A weekend of training lost!

I know what you’re thinking… “Don’t be such a wimp. It’s just a little rain. Go for a run ya’ nincompoop..."

Believe me when I tell you that I had those same thoughts myself. But, in my defense I am still recovering from what was a miserable head cold and I had to drive to Boston and back in a period of less than 24-hours to drop off Harry (our dog) with his aunt and uncle who are going to dog sit while we’re away. Woe is me, right?

In any event, I am open to suggestions for a good book to read on the beach...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hellgate Road Runners Video


I thought that I would share a short video montage that I put together for the fabulous Hellgate Road Runners Club. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ahoy, Ye Scurvy Dogs!

Meet my uncle, Captain Horatio Sinbad. Yes, my uncle is a pirate in every sense of the word. He may not be doing quite as much pillaging and plundering as he did once but I can assure you that this salty dog is the real deal.

In 2002 the good Captain won the America's Sail Class "B" race and was awarded a mighty trophy, 4 years of bragging rights and the honor of picking the location of the 2006 race - naturally he chose his home port of Beaufort, North Carolina.

Sinbad's ship, The Meka II, is a half-scale replica of a 17th century pirate brigantine which, fittingly, he built himself. She's 54' long, has a displacement of about 18 tons and has 6 live, black powder cannons on board (when I say he's the real deal, I mean it)!

Right now you may be thinking "So, did he win the America's Sail by sinking the competition?" I would love to answer that question but I am not at liberty to do so... I'd rather not walk the plank.

Pepsi is the primary sponsor of the 2006 America's Sail and, I am told, has life size stand-ups of Captain Sinbad all over the area. Moreover, Pepsi is putting the Meka II on 8 million cans of Pepsi (article here).

To get to the point, I will be going on vacation next week to attend the 2006 Americas Sail as an honorary crew member of the Meka II - sword, scabbard and eye patch are already packed (and maybe, just maybe, some rum, and booty too).

Needless to say I am pretty excited about the trip. My parents, my brother and his wife, my cousin (a Chicago Hash House Harrier) and Salena and I have rented a house on the beach and are all primed for a good time.

To be sure, there will be plenty of booze and food but I am also looking forward to running on the beach and exploring a new area on foot. I am also looking for a road race, of any distance, in or near Beaufort/Morehead City, NC between June 28th and July 4th. If you know of anything please let me know.

In honor of the occasion I am taking a pirate name. My brother, The Ubster, found this site which is very helpful in determining your pirate moniker.

Henceforth (or at least the next couple weeks) you may call me Bloody John Vane.

And who be you??? Arrr!!!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What a hack!

Hack, cough, hack, spit, sneeze, wheeze... repeat.

Such has been my life for the past week or so. It all started last weekend down at the big Family Reunion in West Virginia with a magnificent allergy attack of epic proportions. Let me just say it's awkward spending time with the in-laws when every third sentence is interrupted by a major sneeze epidemic.
"Uncle Joe! Great to see you! How are you doing?"

"Great Josh! Glad you could make it down again this year! How's your running coming along?"

"Pretty good Uncle Joe... I am about to start training for the New York Mara.... New York Mara.... AAAHHHHCCCOOO! AAACCCHHHHOOO!! AAACCCHHHHOOO!!! AAACCCHHHHOOO!!!! AAACCCHHHHOOO!!!!!"

(pregnant pause)

"Excuse me Uncle Joe. I need to find a tissue, someplace to wash my hands and a drink to replace the fluids that I am loosing through my nose. I'll catch up with you later."
Absolutely miserable, but pretty funny too. Ah life...

On returning to New York the allergies promptly turned into a nasty head cold, complete with the sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever and sinus pressure that God put NyQuil on this planet for. With the exception of one nice 9 miler on Tuesday I didn't get much running in this week. I had hoped to get in a couple of runs this weekend and I shall. It will just be a little more challenging because I am shooting a short film this weekend and will probably have a couple of long days ahead of me.

The good news is that I am feeling much better and my voice has that sexy, deep and raspy quality that most late night DJ's would kill for.

Note to self: rerecord the greeting on the answering machine and cell phone voicemail.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Jump Rope King Robbed of Crown

Greetings from Morgantown, West Virginia! Yes, this New York city boy has found his way south of the Mason-Dixon line but I've not forgotten my running shoes. More on that later.

I'm in Morgantown, WV for my wife's family reunion - a splendid affair complete with deviled eggs, potato salad, hot dogs and cheap beer followed by fierce competition in activities such as hula-hooping, free throw shooting, water ballon tossing and the ever popular and hotly contested jump rope competion. The latter of which I was robbed of a championship title by my sister-in-law. I think I shall appeal to the judges on the grounds that my one-legged 180 turn should have earned "double style points" and that I should have earned additional points for even attempting the airborne toe touch. Surely that move has a higher level of difficulty worthy of bonus points! Regardless, I am lobbying the appropriate family members to add an 800 meter foot race for next year. I shall crush the competition!

Morgantown is also home to West Virginia University, a school I did not attend and know really very little about. I do however happen to be lodging right next to the WVU Track and have been taking advantage of that fact. The track is VERY hard, basically a 400 meter concrete oval painted blue. Since the Womens Track Team has produced 2 Olympians, 3 NCAA National Champions and 18 All Americans I suppose blue is a good color for a track...

Alas, I must sign off and attend another family gathering! I'll see you back in New York.

Go Mountaineers!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dean Karnazes Is My Hero

I recently finished reading "Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner" and have to admit to being blown away. Dean Karnazes is absolutely amazing!

Don’t get me wrong, Karnazes is no Steinbeck and "Ultramarathon Man" is certainly not the great American novel. It is however thoroughly entertaining, utterly inspiring and has even nudged me to eat a little more healthily from time to time.

This is not just a book for runners. The themes in "Ultramarathon Man" can be applied universally - anyone who's ever faced a monumental task will appreciate Karnazes story. That said runners (marathoners in particular) will have a special appreciation for this read. I found myself laughing out loud at things most non-runners would find appalling (e.g. lost toe nails, blisters, and creative use of superglue).

The tale follows Karnazes' life as a runner as boy in the mid seventies to his more recent feats of extraordinary endurance as an adult.

I would like to share a few of my favorite passages from the book. This first takes place as Karnazes is running the Western States 100, a 100 mile foot race through some of the most remote and rugged mountains in the country. This quote comes as Karnezes departs a checkpoint, 55 miles into the race.
"I found myself alone again on the trail. It was just after 5:20PM, and the next checkpoint, at Foresthill, was six short but tough miles away. Just one 10K, I thought to myself. When I reach Foresthill, I’ll have covered 62 miles. From that point, all I have left is a marathon and two back-to-back 10Ks."
Breaking the race down into smaller, more manageable chunks is a brilliant strategy but come on! A marathon followed by two back to back 10Ks after having already run 60+ miles... That is insane! I love this guy!

Another quote comes from The Relay – which is a 199 mile team relay from Calistoga to Santa Cruz, California. Note that this is a TEAM relay. Karnazes did the entire thing himself. Alone. Nonstop.
“The human body is capable of extraordinary feats of endurance, but it has protective mechanisms to prevent total annihilation. Typically the system will shut down before physical destruction occurs. Blacking out is the body’s ultimate act of self-preservation. When you’re teetering on the edge of coherence – which running 185 miles can induce – stepping over the edge becomes a very real threat. One minute you’re running, the next you’re in the back of an ambulance heading for the ER.”
Okay, so obviously I am pretty impressed with this guy and his book. It's a great read and I highly recommend reading it. I also recommend you take a look at and support his next feat - The Endurance 50 - 50 marathons in 50 States in 50 consecutive days. All I can say is wow, I am in awe.

I leave you with a few additional links and one final excerpt from “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner." This qoute comes from 185 miles into The Relay.
“Dozens of team runners began catching up and passing me on the narrow road to Santa Cruz. Few had any idea I’d been running for the past two days straight as they grunted encouragement while blowing by me. People of all walks of life passed me – young and old, experienced runners and new recruits. Periodically some hotshot speed demon, bent on turning in his fastest leg ever, would rocket by me without so much a nod. A hundred miles ago, I might have been tempted to chase him. But after running the equivalent of seven consecutive marathons nonstop, my ego had been sufficiently tempered, and being passed wasn’t the least bet demoralizing."
Dean Karnazes website.
Interview with Dean Karnazes on NPR.
Interview wiht Dean karnazes on A Trail Runners Blog.