August 31, 2006

I am almost photogenic

Finally! Some not-half-bad pics of me running where I don't look a) like a complete retard, b) like a sweaty corpse, c) like I'm in pain, or d) like I'm walking. Or like a sweaty, retarded member of the undead who's walking because he's in pain.

These are from Sunday's half-marathon. I really like the third one; I actually look like I'm enjoying myself.

The following is a photo of a woman I have started to say hi to. I see her at every single race and have run into her in the park on mid-week runs. I don't know her name, but I'll learn it next time maybe. Older racers are rare enough, and African-American racers even more so. She's a walker, but damn fast one. Much props.

In related news, the Boomer Esiason Foundation has started Team Boomer, a US Track & Field-registered athletic team. They are hoping to attract a number of area runners to join the team and, at the very least, run the NY Marathon with their shirt on. I am a little divided on this, for personal reasons, but with one very obvious and public one: you can barely read the "cystic fibrosis" part of the shirt, while the "BOOMER" part of the shirt is painfully loud and clear. If I'm running for CF, the shirt I'm wearing had damn well be clearly spelling out what it's for. Well, I've passed along my thoughts on the matter. No worries: I'm running the NY Marathon with or without affiliation. The Cystic Fibrosis Running Team is already an entity and I'm signed up under that team with NYRR for every race I run.

August 30, 2006

just some thoughts

I've appreciated the response to my post about the NYC Half Marathon. Some people disagree with me and I expected that. My feelings about the course are based only on my limited experience with NYRR races - I've simply come to expect better organization from them. Had this been anywhere else, I'm sure I wouldn't have thought twice about it. I DID remember one more gripe about the music: where was the New York, New York theme?? They crank that tune at the start of at least half their races but didn't play at THE NYC Half-Marathon? Or did I just miss it?

I've added a couple new blogs to my Bloglines. (I'll eventually get around to adding my subscribed blogs in my sidebar, but that's not high-priority.) Lia's blog, From Mile to Marathon, currently chronicles her efforts toward her first half-marathon, being run this September 3rd. Go Lia! Everybody drop by her blog and give her a shout out for luck. Looking forward to her race report.

Incessant Ramblings is a more general-life blog from a new runner, but has plenty of entries about her climb toward her first -yes VERY FIRST - road race, a 5K this upcoming weekend. Then, next weekend, she'll be tackling a 4-miler in Central Park. I'll be out there cheering you on!

The weather here has been grey and rainy, drizzly crap and does not feed into any motivation to run. We're supposed to get a one-day break from the crap tonight and tomorrow, so I hope to get out for that five-miler I didn't run yesterday.

August 28, 2006

A swift recovery

I have been so sore today! Not as sore as after Nashville, though, and for that I'm thankful. In fact, run-wise, the whole race was better than Nashville, though I liked Nashville's race more. Make sense? I didn't end up in excruciating pain at the end of Sunday's 13.1 miles. Hell, I wasn't even hobbling. And though there were water-blisters and a rubbed-raw taint (oh, I didn't share that detail before?), I feel better overall than after most of my other half-marathons. So there's that.

Also, I am now 100% certain that I have a perfect night-before dinner and pre-race breakfast and routine figured out. I've got fueling and hydration figured out. None of that was even a question yesterday. Nothing extra, nothing omitted, no mistakes there. It does mean I'll have to be a freak about the pre-race prep when I do away races, but that's life.

I wish I could say I hopped out of bed this morning and ran six miles, but that would be a big fat lie. In fact, I didn't have time to do a run today, having spent twelve hours working at two different studios. And tomorrow isn't looking much better, but I'm hoping for at simple five-miler in the evening.

Legs are still a bit achy, and I will make an appointment to see the sports doc, but I'm not as concerned about my legs not getting me to November 5th as I was before Sunday.

August 27, 2006

I am done. I quit. (NYC Half-Marathon race report)

Today, August 27th, 2006, was the first-ever running of the NYC Half-Marathon, which could be the little brother of the Grand Dame herself, the NYC Marathon. Not everyone realizes that NY is one of the few major cities that doesn't have a concurrent half-marathon on marathon day. This simplifies things tremendously, I'm sure, but it leaves a hell of a lot of people out in the cold. So NYRR teamed up with Nike and birthed this bastard of a race. Now, what you are about to read is my reactions to all of it: the pre-race, the race, the run, the post. But I want to be very clear about this: Some of my critique has to do with my run and some to do with the race. And the two have gotten very different reactions from me today. I have not, until now, been able to separate the run from the race with such decisiveness.

There were a few bloggers set to do this race. Moz writes briefly about the race and will add some more later (congrats on your PR, Moz). Chelle hasn't yet written up her report. I'd be curious about their reactions to the small expo, held at Nike Town, where we had to go to pick up our numbers. Personally, while I was wowed by Trump tower and the Nike Store, I was a little turned off my the commercialism. Why is it so goddamn hard to test out some of the Nike+ shoes? And the STORE...geezus H. Let's face it, running has become the "it" thing for the upper classes these days and the whole face of running shows it. It's not about sweating and grunting and pounding out miles, it's about looking prim and pretty (even the boys!) while jogging three or less. I know - I'm being unfair, especially seeing as how I came to running late enough to be considered part of this fad crowd. But I don't feel a part of them. I am not pretty when I run; few of my photos are worth ordering a copy of. I am uncoordinated, awkward, and sound like a steam engine in bad need of repair. Looking around at the store and the people and the race t's, I was more than a little turned off. I had to wonder when this sport became so elitist and GAY. Judging from the (admittedly good quality) crap on sale at Nike Town, the effeminate runner is the model runner. And the tech t's... I mean, poweder blue?? They were the same ones as at Chicago's Nike RunHit Remix, but with different graphics.

Anway, packet pickup was fairly short and I saw Janet, the volunteer coordinator, but didn't speak to her...she was busy punching stuff into her laptop, as usual. (Janet controls race entries; it's a shitty job.) (Oh, and they didn't actually cap the race at 10,000 - there were well over 10,000 there.) The goodie bags were perhaps not worthy of the "official NYC half marathon" and the fact that we had to use the clear plastic bags instead of our regular own rucksacks or backpacks or whatnot was laughable. 10,000 entrants is not enough to worry about such security precautions!

At 4:45 this morning, I left the house to walk to the subway. As it happens, I ran into my neighbor, Mark Bernal, the one who ran Boston a while back. He was just coming home from the bars! Obviously, Mark wasn't running the half. On into town I went and got to the park while it was still dark. The start area was setup as best they could, considering they set it all up right there at Engineer's Gate. That was a mistake. It left no room to maneuver, walk around, warm up, etc. Baggage was over on the street and you couldn't hope the wall to get directly to the corrals. Port-a-johns were up on the bridal path - and boy were they pungent! - and it was damn difficult to navigate that area, too. Very unpleasant.

I'd brought my nike thing to tick off the miles with and got it started just before I crossed the start line. The Nike thing worked well for the first seven miles - until the rain started. After that, I couldn't get it to pick up my sensor's signal, or something, and so the distance meter started to fall behind. By the time I exited the park, I'd just shut the damn thing off. I also took off the pace band I was wearing as I wasn't really paying all that much attention to the mile splits. Fuck it. I was running this race like I would a long, steady run.

As far as THAT goes - the run itself - it was VERY GOOD. I am proud of the run I put in today. I finished the race in just under 2:13, coming in at just over ten-minute miles. Had the start not been so goddamn congested, I think I could have done this in precisely 2:10, which had been my goal. I came close enough and managed to turn in my second-fastest time out of my six halves. I am very pleased that the run was solid, evenly paced, that the hills in the park presented no challenges to me. In fact, at the end of the race, I even ran back up the West Side Highway, to see if I could find Crista (the mercury masters runner) or James Lou (bells guy) and run them in to the finish line. I got well past the 800-meter sign before I gave up finding them. They just weren't that far behind me. So I ran back to the finish line a second time. Total mileage today: a little over 14. Yippee.

The course and the finish are both sucked balls.

First off, if I'm a New York resident - and most of the runners were - why in the hell would I pay five times the normal entry fee just so the first seven miles of the race can be along the exact same Central Park loop I run every weekend anyway?? While familiarity definitely helped with the calmness and the strong, steady run, it was also boring. Second: water stations were oddly placed, not evenly spaced out. I had my beef with that, as well as putting them right next to the 5K and 10K mats. Geezus, it's hard enough navigating walking/sipping fools without adding in rain-slippery mats to the mix! And third: don't even get me started on the stupid fucking string quartets! WTF? I want electric guitar, sax, trumpet, drum kit, sounds with energy, not fucking string quartets!

The course got better - more interesting - once we left the park. We ran down seventh ave to Times Square - which was really pretty awesome - and then cut over to the West Side Highway on 42nd street. Once on the West Side highway, things got boring again - and rough. The entire length of that last four or five miles is concrete! Talk about your training for the Marathon's run uptown after 59th street bridge... Due to the rain, there weren't a whole lot of people out cheering, but I'm not sure massive crowds could have been accommodated anyway.

The finish chute was fine, but it really pissed me off to have to fight my way through another fucking gauntlet to go find the baggage area, which was really quite far away, hard to find, not labeled. Listen, I LIVE here. I don't WANT water, nasty-tasting Gatorade, green apples, frozen popsicles, or even the oddly-shaped finisher's medal. I want a shortcut out of this madhouse so I can pick up my bags and get home! It was just completely badly laid out, bad signage, and an inadequate number of volunteers at the end. (Well, actually, an inadequate number of volunteers to run the race. I am also under the impression [though I could be wrong] that there weren't a lot of med stations, either.)

This is a half-marathon that could've used a lot more time in the planning stages - like another year. It is a poor route, poorly staffed. Other people will have different impressions, I'm sure. Hell, it might all have been peaches and cream for our out-of-town visitors, but for a NY runner, I was expecting a lot more quality. A better route would have been to start in Washington Square Park, run straight up Fifth Ave, hang a left at the Apple Store and enter the park, run the loop and exit the park at Columbus Circle, then run down Broadway to finish at the Battery. While the run still has to incorporate the park for distance, it's two miles less of the park, and the other eight miles of the run are really in the middle of the city, with a lot more landmarks to see - Flatiron Building, Macy's, Washing Square Park, Union Square, Times square, the landmark stores along Fifth Ave, Columbus Circle, Astor Place, Canal Street, City Hall, etc.

A couple last thoughts about the run itself: while the day was nicely cool and cloudy - no danger of sunburn - the rain sucked. It's been worse before, but mesh shoes mean wet feet real fast - and that happened about mile five for me. The foot damage is a riot: blisters on every single toe and the bottoms of both my heels. The other thing about this run is that right in the middle of the rain, I quit. I was absolutely done with the running, the training, the bullshit, all of it. No more running for me. I decided to withdraw my entry from the NY Marathon and hang up the running shoes; it's simply far too much trouble and sometimes too much misery to be worth it. Obviously, I didn't stop running this race right then - I'd never quit in the middle of something - but this I vowed would be my last race and possibly even my last run.

What a freeing thought that was. No more worries about training; no more doubts about my sanity. But of course, things turned around. It stopped raining and I eventually dried out mostly. While the run didn't get a whole lot better, it didn't get any worse either. And by the end of the race, I guessed I had a few more half-marathons left in me. But I tell you this: whoever's job it is to contact the National Weather Control Service had better goddamn be dialing up a sunny day for November 5!

August 23, 2006

catching up

As you can see, it's been awhile since I updated on my runs. First, let's look at 8/15's chart:

This was the 5-miler I ran in Chicago. You can clearly see the dip in pace where I was at the halfway point and trying to turn around, but getting a little lost. I am pleased with the end of the run, right at a 10:00 pace.

The next run, the one where I had such abdominal pain, looks like this:

The parts where I had to slow and walk for awhile are painfully evident. It was a crappy run and it shows in the jaggedness of the chart.

The next run is also a little jagged, but it was much more pleasant. I did it last Saturday and it was with Lora of LoraRuns blog. Lora is an east-coaster-turned-Chicagoan and it was great to meet her and run with her and her crowd of runners-in-training. It was a slow run, but I think I needed it, since it was the most pain-free run I've had in a while. I also appreciated being picked up and dropped off at my hotel. I'll be glad to run with Lora anytime.

Unfortunately, there is then a lag of four days with no running. Once I got back to NY, my body just crashed. I slept fourteen hours on Sunday, due partly to getting in at after midnight and partly just needing the deep sleep. Monday was little better but things were getting busy again at my house and I literally could not leave because I was waiting for several packages. Tuesday morning was scrubbed when I woke up with terrible abdominal and kidney pains on the right side. I took some Aleve and tried to sleep, but that wasn't any use, so I tried to get some work done and that wasn't happening either. Finally, around 1, the pain went away, but then it was too warm to go run, not to mention that I was once again stuck waiting for a package I couldn't afford to miss. (This is a recurring theme in my life, in case you haven't noticed.)

But TODAY was different! I got up a little early and got out the door at my usual pace - about an hour from waking to running. I stood at my gate looking in both directions. Which would it be? the flat 5-miler I haven't run in a couple of months? Or the hilly 3-miler? Come on, Mr. marathaner, do the right thing. The 5-miler it was.

I was pleased that the route I'd mapped out months ago with my GPS matches right up with my Nike thing. AND I'm even further pleased that it didn't take three miles to get into the groove today - only two. It was a good, solid run, with only a couple of hunched-over coughing breaks. You can see the pauses in the dips in the chart.

Overall, it was a good pace and I'm plenty happy with today's run. I have questions as to why I have these coughing fits that slow or stop me when in training, but can run through them in a race. I haven't figured it out. But then, a 10:00/mile pace is often a challenge in training... but I seem to complete most races at a significantly better pace with, I feel, a non-commensurate increase in effort. I don't get it.

Well, we'll see what the next couple of months bring. I'm signed up for six different NYRR events, each for different reasons. At some level, anything that gets me out early and in the park along with other people running long distances is a good thing. Some of the races are short, including the Fifth Avenue Mile, so I'll have to plan the long run for either before or after the race.

My next step is to take an hour and seriously re-examine my training schedule after this weekend's NY Half Marathon. I feel I'm on the right track as far as distance long runs goes, but need to get my overall mileage up - that seems to be the real challenge this time around. I am also going back to the sports doc and therapy after the half marathon - that will help. I so want to do this right and get to the starting line Nov 5 in good shape, ready to run a good race, but my training isn't panning out the way I'd hoped.

August 18, 2006

grey, rainy limbo [updated]

I had a difficult run yesterday morning. I left the hotel just as the sun was coming up and started off south toward some museums. Right away I was hit with pain in my right abdomen. I endured it for almost four miles, but did cut my run short. It was too much to take and I had to walk to keep the pain down. 11:30 pace. :( I think it's this damn traveller's diet - no consistency in the foods when I'm on a trip. I haven't moved well in a couple of days and I'm not talking about the running kind of move, if you know what I mean!

I'm taking it easy tonight (going to bed in just a couple of minutes; it's only 9 oclock here) and have tried to eat foods today that I know my body can handle. I'm supposed to meet Lora tomorrow morning for a run. Unfortunately, I'm doing it as a squeeze play: We're starting the run at 7:00 and I really need to be back at the hotel, changed into travel clothes, packed, and checked out by nine a.m. I'm meeting my boss for the next several hours afterward before another friend comes to pick me up and take me to the airport.

I went out last night and cheered for all the runners to the Nike RunHit ReMix. About eleven thousand runners strong; it was far too late for me to sign up and besides, I have to take it easy on these knees and legs until I can get back to therapy, so no unscheduled runs. Instead I made up a couple of signs to cheer on the runners with. I stood out on the course where it goes through a pedestrian underpass, with about 400 yards left to go, and cheered on the runners through a megaphone. I like to think I spurred a few people to pick it up at the end. The following pics are not necessarily in order, and I'm too lazy to correct them.

It's been raining here most of today, but I hope it lifts by tomorrow morning. I'd really like a nice six or eight miles. gonna have to toke up on Ibuprofen and caffeine to do it, tho. gotta get an appointment with the sports doc.

August 15, 2006

5 beautiful miles in Chi-town

So I'm in Chicago for a little bit and this morning I got up with the sun and went for a five-miler along the lake. It was quite an adventure and I'm glad I had the Nike thing to tell me when to turn around. There's really some nice buildings, parks, and public art here in the fancy part of town and I especially enjoyed the mild weather. Lots of joggers were out as well as cyclists. Seems to me the joggers and cyclists here have learned how to share the narrow paths a lot better than the Central Park joggers & cyclists, who can have quite a bit of animosity toward each other. didn't see that here today.

The five miles was slow, I thought, but as I am still hurting from Sunday's long run, I took it easy. Oddly enough, the Nike thing seems to think my pace was just about the same and that I even set a mile PR (at least the iPod thinks so...but with only four runs in its memory, the mile PR is probably just under a 10 minute mile). Chicago isn't truly flat, there are some very mild hills - the stairs up and over the river were probably the steepest part.

Lora left a comment on my previous post, so I emailed her and she called me and yadda yadda yadda, I'm going to join her running group this Saturday morning and put in seven or eight miles. Sounds good. I think eight is the max I want to run - nine at the most - so that I can save my legs a bit for the following weekend's NYC Half-Marathon.

I am worried about the leg pain I've been having for the last couple of days and I think I will have to get back to the doc and back to therapy when I get back to NY. It is very important, too, that I get my orthotics evaluated and modified if necessary. I can't afford to lose miles in this second half of marathon training to injuries that I can prevent now!

Oh, and my boss and I had dinner tonight at a place called Quartino. AWESOME. A+. We are planning on eating there again before we leave town.

August 13, 2006

I am encompassed by failure

Ever have one of those weeks? It seemed like I couldn't catch a break. I was surrounded by failure on all sides, not only failure by others, but by myself as well.

Failure by others...well, many examples, but perhaps the ones that aggravated most were that it took Staples three tries to deliver the right desk - and I was all the time waiting for the desk so I could move all my files and desk items from the old apartment. The other thing is that my all-in-one printer failed - completely. It died. I get on the phone with warranty support and find myself in India. Not only that, but over an hour and fifteen minutes I was transferred to FIVE different departments. I finally hung up with the understanding that a new - or at least working - printer was on its way. What arrives? A new power module for the printer and that's all! And guess what? The printer STILL doesn't work! I'm so mad I can't see straight.

Then there was my own failure. Despite constant work and getting only six hours of sleep each night, I couldn't get everything done that I needed to this week in the new house. There are simply too many things to do. I did make a lot of progress upstairs, including the refinished tub and improved shower and sink plumbing and whatnot. Well.... I could go on and on, but this is a running blog, not a Myspace page.

So. I failed in running, too. I got in only two midweek runs, both shortened. Out of a week that should have had 18 to 24 miles of midweek workouts, I got in a whopping six. And the thing is I felt terrible the whole week. The moving was taking its toll on my muscles and energy and even these few short runs were awful. As of yesterday I was really getting upset with myself and the way things are going.

But perhaps today's long run will break the cycle and turn things around. I don't know why it is, but for the weekend long runs, I find it almost easy to get up a couple hours earlier than normal and get to the park and do my thing. I really like the whole ritual of it, I suppose. Get up, pee, eat some breakfast...yadda yadda yadda. Make sure I've got HEED, Recoverite, powersnot, Enduralytes, ipod...yaddayaddayadda. Train to Central Park, walk to Boathouse, use facilities, stretch yadda yadda yadda.... You get the picture. I was up at 5:30 this morning and finally running at about 7:30. Good timing. I did everything right physically, including over-hydrating the night before and making sure I got my Enduralytes and Hammer Gel going on a good schedule.

And you know what? It paid off. Like it almost always does. Today's 12 miles weren't the fastest I've ever run, but I wasn't trying for speed; just a slow, steady twelve miles. I was really enjoying the moderate temperatures and sunshine. I took very few breaks of any kind; just pitstops for more gel, one for stretching, and one to figure out what the hell was going on at the pool.

Turns out, there was a triathlon about to happen! When I passed the pool at mile two, they hadn't yet started. By the time I was running my fourth mile, I was being passed by some very buff men and women on some very fast bicycles. I reversed my roiute when I got to bikers' bench and took some more Enduralyte and Hammer Gel. I was still good on HEED, much to my surprise. While running clockwise (against the flow), I enjoyed watching the cyclists pound out their 12 miles. Up about mile nine, I got into the marked off section where the athletes were doing a 5K leg (I think this was a sprint tri; I'm not sure). It was awesome to be running with all these gifted athletes. It was quite an education. I grant I'd already put in nine miles, but these guys were fast, even for a 5K. On the other hand...some of the back of the pack athletes were still on bicycles and sort of struggling along. They had higher numbers.

It was a particular treat to be able to stave off one of the athletes as we hit one of the steeper, longer harlem hills on his return leg. I could hear him right behind me and he would have passed me except we hit that hill - and my pace remained good and strong and I guess he had to slack up a bit. Anyway, I kept the lead until the crest of the hill, shortly after which he passed me. I assume he was using the downhill to lengthen his stride and get some time saved, and I wasn't bothering to vary my pace much.

Overall pace for the day was 10:20 miles. One of my miles is up in the 11:something range and that threw a lot off. Most miles were just shy of the 10:00 range and I'm happy with that. Amazingly enough, my fastest mile came in mile 10 - the Harlem Hills - where I punched out an even 10:00. Maybe the racing boost helped!

I'm a little sore in a couple of joints and I'll have to keep an eye on that. I'm taking ankle weights with me to Chicago to get back to my TKEs in earnest. But I experienced no real tightness in the park and that is a good sign. Also, I didn't hit the wall, like last weekend. The gel and enduralytes and HEED paid off. Total run time: 2 hours, 5 minutes. To PR at the NYC Half-Marathon, I need to lose over 40 seconds per mile...but somehow I think that's possible. After all, MOST of my miles were 10:00 or thereabout anyhow and I wasn't pushing the pace, like I do in a race. I believe I have a good shot at tying my PR or even beating it by a couple of minutes, if everything goes right. Well, we'll see.... it's two weeks away.

August 7, 2006

I am sore in a good way

NYFlyGirl left a comment that completely puzzled me ("nice job-way to smash that PR!!"). That is, uuntil I looked closer at my spreadsheet and re-sorted the pivot table (why the pivot table can't sort itself and spit out the PRs page correctly I'll never know). As it turns out, yesterday's five-miler was the first 5 mile race I've run since my VERY FIRST road race, a Turkey Trot in Prospect Park two years ago. It seems like forever... But can that be? Sure there've been a lot of 4 milers and 10Ks, but I guess a 5 mile race is pretty rare. And yeah, I did PR. Heh. Still, I've got to get faster than a 9:40 pace if I'm going to break 2 hours at Staten Island in October.

My quads are killing me today. Fortunately, I have plenty of opportunity to move and squat and bend and stretch and lift with them and work out the kinks, since I'm still continuing the moving process. This involves numerous handyman type jobs and a couple of trips to Home Depot. I am proud of my electrical and plumbing skills; we'll shortly see if my painting skills are up to snuff. By the way, bathtub resurfacing proves it: you really can shine shit!

One of my tasks today was to get to Home Depot and pick up various items, including four pallets that will go in the back of the garden for the shed to sit on. I rented a truck there to get them and all my other stuff home with. I have found that the two people running the tool rental desk at Home Depot are the only non-retards in the store - they approach things intelligently. Faced with two customers needing the same truck - one of whom had pre-loaded the truck in hopes of "claiming" it before handing over the credit card - they asked where we were going and how much stuff we were delivering. I won: I'm less than a mile away and had one trip to make. The other guys, who spoke no English, had also overloaded the truck with fifty 60-pound bags of sand and concrete. the truck can only handle 1500 pounds. The Home Depot gods made them unload the entire truck and hand it over to me, whereupon I loaded up my stuff, dropped it off at home, and had the truck back in 30 minutes. Then, for the second time, they had to reload the truck with quickcrete. One of the rental employees was standing watch as I left by bicycle, probably to make sure they didn't overload the truck again. Sometimes, not being a retard has its privileges.

Tomorrow will have to be another early-rising day. I have to get in six miles before 8 a.m. I am expecting two deliveries and these aren't the kind you can just leave a note saying "leave between door and screen door" or anything. It's nice that Staples delivers furniture for free, but their delivery policy is pretty strict.

August 6, 2006

I am getting there. Hope & Possibility 5 miler

One step at a time. One thing, one item at a time. It is such a long process and I have so little energy to spare.

That's how I feel about moving. (Special thanks to Charles, Wayne, & Melissa who helped with the big furniture today.) I'm almost done; just some leftover stuff to sort out. I'm not moving anything I'm going to sell or discard.

One step at a time - the long long road to fitness - it's all about training. And apparantly I AM getting there, much to my surprise. Having foregone the marathon long training run #1 yesterday, I opted to go run the Hope & Possibility 5 miler today. I'd moved to my new digs Friday night and had been feeling bad for the last several days. Saturday morning, I felt good for the first time in a while, but not 100% And, somehow, I felt a lot more motivated by the thought of a more democratic run - and one that I could finish - rather than a bunch of elitist marathon trainees all running 20 miles while I'd be dropping out at 11 or 12. Turns out it was a good decision.

I put in a 6-mile loop as a warmup before the race. The six miles were good - damn good. Steady, even pacing except for a handful of coughing fit slowdowns, but picked up easily. Legs were good to go, even eager, from the very first step. No pain. Lungs cooperated nicely. Weather was also cooperating. In fact, I could hardly believe how well the run was going. I wound up the loop arriving at the race start line a full ten minutes earlier than I'd planned. That was a surprise in itself, since I didn't feel like I was pushing it that hard.

Unfortunately, that left a good 20 minutes before the start of the race - time to cool down too much in the legs. I'd ended the loop drenched in sweat and made sure to ditch my shirt and pin my race bib to my shorts. It was quite refreshing breezing through the park shirtless. I saw one other runner I'd classify as shirtless - a woman. But while other women were wearing sports bras at least, she was her bra. Not the same woman from a few months back, believe me. How odd.

Anyway, the race started well and I had time to take in the sights of all the Achilles participants, which included a heavy contigent of Iraq vets whose limbs were exploded off in the war, and the vets' supporters and families. In fact, a number of people wearing the olive drab t-shirts were kids - running the whole 5 miler! And man those little humans are fast. Anyway, I was amazed at how many guys run on prosthetics, especially those large hook-shaped spring ones built specifically for running. One vet, as a matter of fact, was on TWO of them. It took me some time to catch him; I was deeply impressed.

The race went on and all I'd had to eat so far was some yogurt in the morning and a whole bunch of HEED, of which I was now out. With a mile and half left, I believe I hit the wall, for the first time ever. It was as if Obi-Wan Kenobi had suddenly managed to disconnec the power couplings. I think I even heard that distinctive, falling BWOOOOooooooop sound. And just like that, I was running on empty. My pace fell off, though I managed to keep going without having to walk. And, too, I picked it up a little bit in the last quarter mile. But still, my last mile split was atrocious. I should have brought my Hammer gel!

Results: 631st out of 1289, 48:23 net time, 9:41 pace. Not too many other races in my record with a pace that good (Last one was my awesome Staten Island Half) and my age graded percentile was 44.8%, my third-highest ranking ever. In short, this was a DAMN fine performance and though I wonder how it would have turned out had I run the five-miler first and the six-miles last, I don't regret my decision - it shows me what I can manage even after an hour of running already completed.

So. I need to get more disciplined about my running schedule...but I'm realizing that running six days a week just isn't possible, maybe not even five days a week. I can only handle so much mileage. But if I can keep up six-mile runs during the week and keep lengthening the long runs on schedule, I'm going to have a fine experience at la marathone.

August 5, 2006

now I've heard everything

How come I haven't heard of the 3100 mile race until now?? And get this: it's right here in New York, and it's almost done. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the runners are already through with it as of this writing.

We've been hearing all kinds of press on Dean Karnaze's Endurance 50, sponsored by North Face, taking in 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days - all organizes, all official, and all timed. Turns out, this is not a unique enterprise. Some guy named Sam is also doing it and is doing it right now.

I'd also like to point out a blog I stumbled upon, 28-year-old Angie's blog and especially her inspiring entry on completing her first ultra.

Apparently there is a whole world of ultrarunners out there that I have only been marginally aware of - but it appears to be growing, fast. I know Beast is considering an ultra for his next big goal. And if I don't get absolutely crippled doing NY Marathon, perhaps a 50K isn't out of the question for me...

August 2, 2006

I am humidified

The last three days have zipped by in a blur. Too much travel; too much load-in; too much unfamiliar hotel food. I ended up crashing yesterday at a little before 9 p.m. and didn't get up until after 8 this morning. Then it was off to a production meeting, then to the airport....

Let me back up. Got to Nashville, finally. Didn't get up and run Monday morning, using it as a rest day. Load in went for about 12 hours. (It is somewhat cool to see this large set I've been designing for four months finally become reality; but still, corporate shows are soulless.)

I did get up at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in order to go run. I decided to step outside - the REAL outside - for my run, instead of the available treadmills. (Gaylord Opryland is a large and amazing hotel - you can go outside to go to the convention center and not be outside, but rather in one of three giant atriums, complete with millions of plants of a stunning variety, a river, waterfalls, and islands.) So I got out before the sun came up and it was:

Yes, 76 degrees, 87% humidity. It was like walking into the proverbial sponge. Nevertheless, I managed to snap out a quick 5K before I absolutely had to be back for a shower, therapy, and resumption of load-in. I felt I kept up a good pace and wish I could confirm that, but, unfortunately....

MY NIKE THINK BROKE! I don't think it's anything I did, but rather the airport's x-ray machines. Or something. All I know is, my bag was searched by the TSA on the way to Nashville, and it was a royal mess. And now my iPod can't find the Nike accelerometer on my shoe. :( Guess I'll be headed back to the store to see if they'll replace it.

Didn't run this morning, obviously. Hell, after two solid days of being on my feet, I could barely get out of bed this morning, much less contemplate running. I can't believe how much my legs hurt, from the toes to the knees. And it's not like I was one of the crew running around with screwguns and heavy scenery - I'm the designer: it was my job to walk around knowingly and keep an eye on things. Literally. If something came up that needed tweaking, I was to direct that tweaking. There's lots of on-site tweaking, and some of it was quite creative and really energized the crew. Well...I'm glad I'm done. Can't wait to see the pics of the show.

And tomorrow, I get to tech a show I've only seen one stumbling run-through, in a space I've never been in, with a light plot I didn't design, with a magic sheet I don't even have right now. Yeah, we'll see how that goes.