Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas

A few Christmas indulgences I'm enjoying this holiday season:
  • Sleeping in, followed by lounging till noon
  • Strong French press coffee with cream and sugar
  • A steaming stack of pancakes swimming in a sea of syrup
  • Mimosas
  • Roughhousing with squealing children
  • Second helpings at dinner
  • Third helpings at dinner
  • Apple pie for desert
  • Second helpings at desert
  • Thirds...
  • Super secret family recipe "Spider Cookies"
  • Copious amounts of red wine
  • Egg Nog with spiced rum and nutmeg
  • Watching "A Christmas Story" over and over and over again - interrupted occasionally by checking in on the Yule Log.
Happy Christmas!



"I have not been afraid of excess: excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit."
-W. Somerset Maugham

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Black Friday

I don’t often comment on current events but I feel compelled to opine on the appalling and wasteful death which occurred at the Walmart store in Valley Stream, N.Y. last week.

I wish to extend my condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Jdimytai Damour. I am hopeful you find some solace knowing this terrible loss has brought the meaning of Christmas into sharp focus – regrettably by underscoring what the season is not.

Walmart is not to blame for this tragedy nor is the mall security, the police or the media. Every rabid consumer queued up at that Walmart is to blame for the death of Mr. Damour. If you were there and did nothing to quell that roiling crowd you are an accomplice to murder.

I have been in similar situations; masses jostling, pressing and fighting to gain entry. It is a dangerous scenario and one that prompts, nay, demands rational thought.

For those who made the choice to huddle outside the doors of that store on this truly Black Friday, rational thought failed. Instead, wild, ignorant, and destructive lust ran wild. And for what?

On November 28th a man was killed in a rush for cheap DVD’s and those who stormed the doors are culpable.

It is, I hope, the nadir of our shameful consumerism.

"I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed."
-Jonathan Swift

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Restorative Power of Running

Though it has been said thousands of times – and more eloquently than I could hope to conjure – I still feel compelled to comment on the benefits of running.

Too numerous to count are the times I’ve been energized, uplifted and centered simply by jogging a few miles. Running has transformed me from an overweight smoker into a lean and mostly healthy person. Fitness, pride and increased confidence are but a few of the returns on my running investment.

Running has helped me cope with loss and has also brought new friends into my life.

Of course, there are the set backs… Heel spurs, knee pain, Achilles tendonitis and other overuse injuries. But these hardly register when compared to physical and emotional benefits of running.

So onward I run – through my fatigue, aches, pains and foul moods - always the better for it.

Love life, engage in it, give it all you've got. Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.
- Maya Angelou

Saturday, November 01, 2008

22 Minutes

Registration for the Nautica New York City Triathlon opened last night at midnight.

It sold out in 22 minutes.

I'm in! And it just happens to fall on my birthday...


"We do as we are; we become as we do."
-saying

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's Left

I had high hopes that I’d be well into my training for the ING Miami Marathon at this point. But I looked at my checkbook and what’s left isn’t enough for the entry fee … let alone the flight and a hotel.

After stretching, strengthening, foam rolling, icing and resting what’s left in my left knee is soreness.

Weeks into an effort to pull my athletic self together I found my fast on the back half of a 10 miler. I also found that my Achilles’ Heel is actually my left achilles tendon.

I’m not sure what’s left but I’ll try to make it right.

Today, you have 100% of your life left.
-Tom Landry

Friday, October 17, 2008

5 Great Years...

...and still running strong!


"He whom Love touches not walks in darkness."
-Plato

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Header

Quite clearly I have updated the header image of my blog. The image is of the Triboro Bridge in New York City at sunset and was taken with my Blackberry.

The bridge also happens to be in my backyard.
Almost every run passes under it and some over it.

"Those who can, build. Those who can't, criticize.''
-Robert Moses

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Animal Inside

That little voice has been calling out to me during workouts lately. That base, instinctual urge that drives athletes forward to the next challenge.

Visceral. Primal. Unrelenting. And impossible to ignore... That voices dares and taunts me:

"go further... go faster... go... now!"

What choice do I have?

"Be a good animal, true to your animal instincts."
D. H. Lawrence

Saturday, September 27, 2008

To London!

So long Big Apple. Hello Big Smoke!

I depart for London shortly... Sure, for work, but I'm not complaining. Will my next run be in Hyde Park? The Regent's Park? Along side the river Thames?

Have any suggestions?


"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
-Samuel Johnson

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Your Vote

I am counting on
your vote!





"In politics, an absurdity is not an obstacle."
-Napoleon

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Edukation

One, Two, Three, Four, _______ ?


"We need education in the obvious more than investigation of the obscure."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hello Betty!

Two years ago my wife got me the world's most amazing birthday gift. Last year she did it again by sending me to trapeze school.

Lightning has struck thrice!

We spent the weekend in the Hudson Valley, at the foot of the Shawangunk Ridge; home to some of the most renowned mountain climbing on the East Coast. The Gunks are a part of the Appalachian Mountains and the cliff face reaches 300 feet in some areas.

Oh yeah... we went mountain climbing! How COOL is THAT!?!?!?!?


Our guide was fantastic - a very experienced (and certified!) climber who made this adventure possible and safe. If ever you're in the Shawangunks and are in need of a climbing guide, Nick Farley at The Gunks Guide should be your first call.

While The Gunks offer some very difficult technical climbs. We stuck to the novice climbs, starting our first ascent on a route named Betty.

Betty may be a beginners climb but she ain't easy... It's about 150 feet of vertical cliff (though we only went up to the first pitch at about 75 feet).

"Belay on?"

"Belay on!"

Ready to climb?"

"Climb away!"

And up I went...





And down I came...


The views at the top are fantastic!






After a few ascents we moved over to a more technical climb called the RMC. This is a relatively short climb but requires navigating under and around a large overhang and shimmying across a narrow ledge in a sitting/squatting/squished up sort of way.

To wrap up the day we headed back to Betty where we set up my first reppel - basically a controlled solo decent. Way cool!

After climbing mountains all day one works up a might appetite and a thirst only an ice cold beer can quench - or eight! Behold.... the Beer Garden from the Gilded Otter in New Paltz, New York.


Yeah... it's true. I have the coolest wife there ever was.


"A gift, with a kind countenance, is a double present."
-Thomas Fuller, M.D.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Salomon XT Wings

A few weeks back I was contacted by a marketing firm asking if I'd like to be a featured blogger in the XT Wings Challenge.

The basic premise is simple: they send me a pair of Salomon XT Wings shoes and a Nokia camera phone. In exchange I wear the shoes, complete a "challenge" and document the process with the camera phone.

We're working out some kinks with the phone and the "challenge" still but I did want to comment on the shoes (pictured above).

The XT Wings are solid running shoes for softer surfaces such as trails or a track. They are light, durable, responsive and the speed laces are a pretty cool feature. These shoes are not really ideal for running on the street of Manhattan though... Unfortunate because this is where I do most of my training. At 180 pounds, I like a little more cushion around the heel.

Salomon also sent me a fantastic technical shirt. This jersey is extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear. The stitching is almost non-existent so you can say goodbye to chaffing. It wics well and has a front zipper for added ventilation. It has quickly become my favorite running shirt.

Thanks to Salomon and Nokia for sending me the schwag!

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."
-John Wanamaker

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nautica New York City Triathlon

I ended my past post by borrowing a campaign slogan from Nike; well, I did it.

Yesterday I swam 1500 meters in the Hudson River, biked 40 kilometers along the West Side Highway and then ran 10 kilometers through Central Park in the Nautica New York City Triathlon. My total time was 2 hours, 49 minutes and 59 seconds.

The day started at 4:00am where I made some final bleary-eyed preparations and headed out into the already hot pre-dawn morning. After setting up my transition area I set off to the swim start where waves of athletes had already begun their journey.

Queued up on the starting barge, I dropped into the water and awaited the starting horn. The horn sounded and in an instant the water roiled as we jockeyed for position in the strong river current.

Look! Do you see me?

It wasn't long before I was stung by my first jelly fish. By the time I finished I'd been stung on my hands, feet and a rather strong sting on the back of the neck that's developed into a nice welt.

Needless to say I was delighted to finish the swim and rather glad for the protection offered by my wetsuit!

My official swim time was 28:50.

Thank God that's over!

The transition area was about 400 meters from the swim finish which explains the kinda long T1 time of 7:57 but once out on the bike course I opened up a devastating can of speed, cruising through the course in a time of 1:17 -- an average speed of about 19 MPH.

I'm also happy to report that I topped 40 MPH on a few of the downhills.


Yeah, love that!

Does this thing go any faster?

T2 came and went in a blur, in and out in 2:29. Unfortunately things were about to slow down.


At this point in the day, the heat (91 degrees and humid) and my lack of proper training caught up to me. My time for the 10k was 53:13 or about 8:33/mile.

Not looking so hot... Despite the heat.

YES! I see the finish line!

All in all I am really pleased with my performance and feel I did well given the lack of proper training. I'm toying with the idea of doing another Olympic distance in the late summer; and actually training this time!

I also want to pass along my most sincere thanks to Jared, Tony and Suzanne for coming to cheer me on (and for the great photos! Thanks guys!). And also to Salena and Jack who are the best support crew a guy could ask for!

On a tragic note, I wish to extend my condolences to the family and friends of Esteban Neiva, whose race and life were cut too short.

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it"
-Helen Keller

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hudson Valley Triathlon

I remember reading somewhere (I think it was the Iron Kahuna on the "Get Your Geek On" podcast) that you cannot call yourself a triathlete unless you do at least one tri a year. Thankfully I got that minimum requirement out of the way last Sunday by completing the Hudson Valley Triathlon hosted by the New York Triathlon Club.

My race performance was acceptable despite a really pathetic training schedule - I'm running, at most, 20 miles a week, I've been in the water 4 times this year and have spent even less time on the bike. Despite this I somehow managed to run a decent race.

I'm actually rather pleased with my swim. I was as comfortable as I've ever been in open water and I swam within my untrained ability; though my heart rate was well higher that it should have been.

I finished the 0.3 mile swim in 8:04.

Heart ready to explode, I jumped onto the bike and immediately faced the most difficult climb of the course - a quarter mile climb at a 45 degree angle. Augh!

The rest of the course was great... Rolling hills and speedy descents! I finished the 18 mile course in 59:02, averaging a little over 18 miles per hour.

Unfortunately the run starts up the same murderous hill as the bike and I was feeling some fatigue. I turned in a disappointing time for the 3.5 mile run - 29:10 a pace of 9:43.

I finished in 30th place overall and just a few places out of an age group award. Race results are here.

The real up side of this race is twofold. First I am all fired up about triathlons again. Second, is that I am now confident enough to tackle the Nautica New York City Triathlon this weekend.

"Just do it."
-Nike

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Crystal Ball

My new job is intense and I am enjoying the challenge - meeting new people, facing new opportunities & new obstacles.

There have been a few 12 hour days already which isn't that cool but the team I am working with seems great; they're bright, energetic, positive, hard working and fun loving.

The stress of starting a new gig, long hours and a head cold that just won't quit have sucked the athlete right out of me. I've run maybe twice a week these past few weeks.

No big deal, right?

Wrong! I'm doing a sprint triathlon tomorrow and in an inexplicable twist of fate I'll be doing the NYC Triathlon next week after all (see prior post).

ZOIKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've not trained seriously since the NJ Marathon in May.

I'm looking into my crystal ball and I can see that I am doomed.


"The future - you shall know when it has come; before then, forget it."
-Aeschylus

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Betwixt

I find myself betwixt and between employers, having wrapped up my tenure with Sherman’s Travel on Thursday and poised to begin anew with Travelocity tomorrow.

When I started with Sherman’s Travel I was the fourth employee and we were squeezed into a tiny and dismal office with a view of a sweatshop, a brick wall and an alley. Three and a half years later it’s a multimillion dollar business with a huge online presence and a terrific magazine (the office has a nice view too).

It was a great experience being a part of a start up company, to be an active participant in its growth and its successes. But when a good opportunity comes a knocking… well you’ve got to answer the door.

So on this weekend I find myself betwixt and between employers - nervous, but also excited by the opportunities ahead.

“Know thine opportunity.”
-Pittacus

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Race Deferred

Entry to the The New York City Triathon opened at midnight on November 1st and sold out in 9 hours. I was one of the first people to enter and I have the t-shirt to prove it.

Turns out I've got a family function that very same weekend and will have to defer the race until 2009. Rather than be disappointed I'll revel in my 2009 guaranteed entry deferral status and the fact that I don't have to get up at 2am next time around.

I will nonetheless be engaging in fierce competition on the weekend of the NYC Tri. In lieu of swimming, biking and running I'll be partaking in a whole different set of multisport... Basketball, Hula-Hooping, Water Balloon toss and the the ever popular and hotly contested Jump Rope competition.

To get into shape for the Hula-Hoop and Jump Rope contests, I've recently signed up and begun training for a sprint triathlon on July 13th.

Hopefully this training will be enough to prepare for the cut-throat competition.

Hopefully.



“Action expresses priorities.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Some blog entries just don't need words...


"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."
-Mark Twain

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Anti Monkey Butt

And now, the the second installment of WTF?


"Junk is the ultimate merchandise. The junk merchant does not sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to the product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise, he degrades and simplifies the client."
-William S. Burroughs

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

8 Great Reasons

A few reasons why this mornings bike workout rocked:
  1. It was my first ride of the season (for shame!)
  2. Averaged just shy of 20 MPH
  3. The sound my bike shoes make when I clip in is hot (or is that haute, or perhaps hawt?)
  4. Keeping pace with, and in several cases, passing vehicular traffic
  5. Soaring heart rate pounding up Harlem Hill
  6. My half grin / half grimace that comes only with hard effort on a bike
  7. The wind roaring in my ears
  8. Dropping guys on ludicrously expensive bicycles (“nice bike, you should learn how to ride it”)
  9. Because 8 great reasons isn't enough, seeing my good friends Yvonne and Eddie running over the 59th Street Bridge
  10. And one more for good measure... I found chain grease in my ear. Sweet!

"While the fates permit, live happily; life speeds on with hurried step, and with winged days the wheel of the headlong year is turned."
-Seneca

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Slacker

I've been a complete slacker on the blogging front... The good news is that I've had several great runs this past week, I've been to the pool to get some laps in and I just got Billy* back from the shop.

Things are totally looking up!

There's also some big news on the horizon for me.... stay tuned.

Much, much more to come....

"Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones."
Seneca

*Billy is my bike

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What's Your Sand Wish?

I often see unusual things in my day to day life. Sometimes the things I see are terribly funny.

I'd like to begin sharing some of these in a new series called "WTF?"

Behold... the first entry:


"A man occupied with public or other important business cannot, and need not, attend to spelling."
-Napoleon Buonaparte

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Isaac Newton Was Wrong

In my last post I referenced Issac Newton's First Law of Motion. Issac, I'm afraid, is wrong.

Well sort of... Since the marathon I’ve done a bike work out, two swim work outs and managed to pepper in a few runs. For the past five days however life, or “unbalanced forces” in Newtonian vernacular, has conspired against me.

At least twice I’ve gotten up early, dressed for a run, stepped outside and then promptly returned to bed. I’ve brought gear to work thinking I’ll run the 10k home after work. I’ve begged myself, promised myself and loathed myself out the door for a run but:

It’s cold.

It’s raining.

I’m tired.

The baby’s crying.

I need a little extra push. I need a little inspiration. I need some cosmic force to strike a new balance and set me back in motion.

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
Jack London

Monday, May 05, 2008

The New Jersey Marathon

I’ll spare you the suspense and cut right to the chase. I ran a new personal best of 3:27:42 an average pace of 7:55 per mile. I finished 169th out of 1700 finishers.

While absolutely delighted with this result this race was not about the numbers…

When my son was born in October I took a two-month, sleep-deprived, hiatus from running. So signing up for the New Jersey Marathon was my way of kicking myself in the pants. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t permanently regress into a non-runner. Obviously I had a time goal in mind, but, I did this particular race for the training regiment more so than the thrill of crossing the finish line.

I have only praise to heap onto The New Jersey Marathon. The race was well organized and well executed. The course was flat, fast and interesting. The community support and volunteers were abundant and enthusiastic. The one minor complaint I have is the race website... it’s amateurish, not very navigable and doesn’t do the race justice.

Weather was a major concern for me going into this race. The conditions the night prior were cold and very windy. The forecast called for thunderstorms on race day. Thankfully conditions were much friendlier when the starting gun went off – cool, overcast and dry with the exception of fog.

The starting chute was as humane as I’ve experienced and I was able to line up toward the front along side runners of comparable ability.

I clicked off mile one in 8:20 (inclusive of a quick biologically necessary pit stop). Mile two fell in 7:30. Knowing I was setting myself up for an Icarian fall I eased up for mile three and settled into a more sustainable pace of about 7:50/mile.

Normally, I’d have kept better track of my splits but my watch battery died on race day morning. My trustworthy Timex training partner exhausted its last electrons while sounding my 4:00am wake up call. Literally, the watch flat-lined to wake me up.

It was around Mile 18 that I began to fatigue. I was okay from a cardiovascular point of view but was waning mentally and my legs were feeling some pain. I was also carrying a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders (personal note: incorporate upper body strength training moving forward). My poor mood was exacerbated when a group of three runners I’d passed at mile sixteen caught up to and then passed me at mile twenty-one.

At this point I connected with a runner doing his last leg of a relay (The NJ Marathon consists of a marathon, a half-marathon and a multi person marathon relay). His fresh legs and positive conversation helped lift me from despondency and carry me to mile twenty-five and a big finishing kick.

Ultimately the New Jersey Marathon was a giganterrifenormous reaffirmation of my commitment to running and a healthy lifestyle.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jared, LuAnn, Jessica, Eamonn, Susie, Joe and Sharon. Thank you all for coming to the race and cheering me on. Your being there helped me pull me through to the finish line.

A big sweaty hug to Salena for her support, tolerance and love.


Early in the race and feeling good.

Hitting my stride

The three I passed at 16

The big finish

An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Sir Isaac Newton

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Zoiks... It's Almost Go Time

The New Jersey Marathon is almost here! You're going to do great!!!

The New Jersey Marathon is almost here! You're going to fall apart!

You've trained so well -- almost 600 miles since you signed up for the marathon on December 31st!

You didn't do much speed work... Did you???

Four long runs of over 20 miles. Now that is dedication!

It would have been a good idea to do a test run at marathon goal pace.

You've lost over 10 lbs and have rediscovered you abdominal muscles! You'll run a personal best for sure!

Abs, huh? Last I heard you needed legs to run a marathon and yours are wicked sore.

Just a few easy runs this week. You'll toe the line feeling fit, fresh and fast!

Weather.com is calling for heavy rain.

Accuweather.com is predicting cool weather with overcast skies -- perfect marathon weather!!!


"Man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe"
-Euripides

Monday, April 21, 2008

Over Golden Gate

At the suggestion of 13akbal, I headed out for my first run in San Francisco along Market Street, to the Embarcadero and the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was a great run through San Francisco, along the Embarcadaro, the Piers, Fisherman's Wharf and to the Golden Gate Bridge approach. 8 miles out was a little more than I had anticipated and there was no way I was doing a 16 mile out-and-back. But I couldn't stop.

Something compelled me over that bridge... At one point I actually said aloud to myself:

"Oh to hell with it. You'll figure out how to get back to the hotel. Just go for it."

The views were amazing. I'm very glad I kept going.

Here's my route. I ran over the bridge and back but then took a taxi back to the hotel.

These photos don't do it justice but...






"All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire."
-Aristotle

Thursday, April 17, 2008

San Francisco Treat

Rudyard Kipling once said that the only drawback to San Francisco is that "Tis hard to leave."

I shall soon have the opportunity to see for myself. And I am rather looking forward to it.

I'll be in 49er country on business for the better part of next week. While there I am hoping to take in a few of the sites, a few good meals and explore the city by running through it.

Any suggestions on running routes and tasty restaurants?

"Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
Bible, Daniel 12:4

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Run through New York City in Photos

Inspired by Phil, I decided to document a run in photos. The course takes me from Midtown Manhattan, across 34th Street, up 1st Avenue, Over the 59th Street Bridge and finally ending at the Triborough Bridge.

It was more of an exercise in exercise than an exercise in creativity so please forgive the poor composition and quality of the photos - they were taken with my Blackberry.

I enjoyed doing this... Hope you do as well!


The Empire State Building as seen from 34th Street.

A taxi goes by...

Looking up Park Avenue at the Met Life Building.

$5.00 to go to Queens... A great deal at any price!

The United Nations Building.

Looking up 1st Avenue from the 59th Street Bridge.

Queens in all it's glorious splendor!

View of Midtown Manhattan from under the 59th Street Bridge.

Looking back on Manhattan from across the East River in Astoria.

A tired Josh under the Triborough Bridge.


"To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, 'There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer."
Ansel Adams