June 23, 2007

3.5A @ FRGLPR; minimal WACs during EBLA

Wow. Where to begin? I'm so behind on posts and so out of time to do anything that it feels like an extravagence just to get this one done. This will be my last entry for some time, possibly the next six weeks. I am leaving Thursday morning for a 4 week vacation that is two days longer than I thought originally, so I'll only be back in NY for a couple of days before the second trip of the summer begins.

Let's look at the week.

Wednesday: 2 apples. Two miles. First run in two weeks, went out right after physical therapy for the achilles. Define irony: I'm in therapy for achilles tendonitis, but during the run everything hurt except my achilles. I swear, even my hair hurt. I was in so much pain. A couple of Tylenol really helped with that. Runs fall into two types for me: airway clearance or training. This was an airway clearance run, to be sure.

Friday: Ran before physical therapy. This run was MUCH better. Three apples. Still not long, same out-and-back in Central Park as Wednesday, but smoother, quicker, less walking, and no pain. The park was hella crowded. I hate the cars. Motorized vehicles that aren't parks vehicles should be banned in Central Park, permanently. Despite the crowding, everybody was very civil and accommodating. Tons of coughing on my end. Another airway clearance run.

Today: Marks the first time I've run two days in a row in months. Felt good, actually. Meant to get to the park in time to run two warm-up miles, but didn't realize the race started at 100th street, not at the 72nd street crossover, so I had a two mile hike before even dropping my bag off. I did TRY to jog the distance, but I think that will take some training; I was not ready to jog in pants, long sleeves, and with a backpack and only did a few hundred yards that way. Still, it was a brisk hike along the bridle path and I really enjoyed it.

The race was interesting. Everybody seemed very happy, very....gay. :) Pardon the joke. Yes, it was the Front Runners Gay and Lesbian Pride Run today. I didn't really care, I just needed a long run and I needed to notch another qualifier.

This was an atypical race for me, and I attribute it to the perfect early-summer weather we had: 57 degrees, 60% humidity (felt lower), and a steady, gentle breeze. The first mile sucked, of course, but not as bad as usual. It helped the race started on a downhill. I didn't push the pace this time; just content to jog the course and not push for time. I did strive for consistency and to make it up hills. I managed every hill except Cat Hill and over the whole course had only four or five Walking And Coughing moments (WACs). Maybe the acronym should stand for Walking Airway Clearance. Yeah. And maybe I'll start using EBLA (Energetic Bipedal Locomotor Activity) instead of "running."

It was a 3 apple run, definitely, but I'll bump it to 3.5 apples because at the end of mile 3, I slammed one of these:

This is a shot of Stok, which they have next to the creamers in the gas station across from me. They're new and I haven't tried them, but I grabbed two today, intending to use one as an energy shot to tackle Cat Hill with - I knew I'd need it and, hey, they're FREE. It's not hard to carry (lighter than gel) and it's not hard to swallow if you chase it with a gulp of water and I perceived some energy delivery. But I should have taken it at 2.5 miles, because the energy didn't come 'til just AFTER I'd walked the last third of Cat Hill. Fuckin' cat; got me again! Still, I finished the race feeling good AND with enough energy for a final kick. I got passed about a hundred yards from the finish by some woman and decided I could not let her beat me, so I cranked it up and made myself proud today.

I need more runs like this. It wasn't FAST, but it was fairly SOLID. I feel good about it and I felt good at the end, even though once the Stok shot wore off, I was so done for. Final time was 54:07, for a 10:49 pace. Not as fast as Japan Day's 4-miler, but I knew that would be the case. My lungs cooperated today and if they continue to cooperate, I should be able to get my times back down into the 10/mi range, especially as my legs are not having any problem with the current(ly limited) distances.

I'm taking my running clothes on my trips. I have to, of course, but I also hope to have some fantastic and interesting routes. I am not taking my footpod or heartrate monitor, so I'll rely on my watch and approximate distances based on 11-minute miles.

I am nearly packed and nearly ready to go. All my thoughts are turned towards this trip and I am awaiting only a single part for my bike and it will be ready to go. The saddlebags are already packed as are 70% of my things. I'm waiting on clothes at the laundry (the running clothes as a matter of fact), so I should be able to do a complete pack and test-mount tomorrow.

My only remaining worry is a nagging abdomenal problem that has been affecting me more and more lately, and is impacting the quality of my sleep, work, and play. The pain is centered in my upper right abdomen, in both the front and rear. It feels like I've been impaled, when it's at its worst. I ran Friday with this pain and I think the running helped. This pain has a tendency to come on about 2 a.m. and keep me from getting any sleep. That screws up my effectiveness at work and how I feel about running. The pain came last night. Of six hours spent in bed, I slept for two. Now maybe you'll understand my willingness to down a Stok straight while on the run... I hope 11,000 miles in the saddle doesn't exacerbate this pain.

June 10, 2007

aborted long run

Zero Apples.

Perfect day to run, really - cool, cloudy, light breeze. Had 7-9 miles planned, but had to abort right after I started.

I seem to have a very tender Achilles right now. I noticed the pain beginning Thursday and Friday, but didn't think much of it. Didn't have any pain this morning, so I put on the shoes to go run. A quarter mile from home, I started having sharp pain in my achilles, where it attaches to the ankle bone, and before another two blocks went by, the pains had become shooting pains. I'm used to running through other kinds of pain - a LOT of other kinds of pain - and so take Tylenol before I run and things are fine. But the Tylenol wasn't helping with this and the pain was the kind that says "stop." The walk home wasn't too pleasant, either.

So now what? Could I have strained this tendon on Wednesday after my run, when stretching? My tendon calms down if there's no weight on it or just standing, but walking or running is causing the pain and if I PINCH it, especially down at the heel - holy shit! I don't know what's wrong - I'm icing it right now as a general precautionary measure, but I really don't know what to do about it. I don't want to go see the doctor.

I will try to get up early and put in five miles before going to work tomorrow and hope that my tendon feels a lot better by then.


Okay, a little digging around on the web suggests that my perpetually tight hamstring and calves might be one of the problems here. Yes, this achilles thing is on the left side, where 80% of my injuries happen anyway, and I've been exceptionally tight the whole last week, even though my stretching regimen is the same daily stuff I've been doing all along. Hm.

June 9, 2007

The Future of the New York Road Runners

I went to the Women's Mini 10K today as a volunteer. I saw a few running and blogger friends before the race and saw one after the race, who looked quite distressed, but admitted she'd put in a good effort. Given the heat and humidity, I think good, solid effort (rather than a new PR) are all that anyone could ask. (Except for the Mercury Master who proclaimed excitedly after crossing the finish line that she'd shaved 5 minutes off her 10K PR and that makes two weeks in a row she's set a personal best.)

Anyway, it was a good experience, volunteering. In the first half of the race, I stood at 86th street and, along with police, generally kept idiots from doing what idiots are wont to do. This was a great chance to see the very fastest runners just after the first mile of the race, once they've found their stride. The second half of the race, I stood in the finishing corral area and directed runners to go get their chips clipped, which frankly was not their first inclination - everyone wanted WATER. I don't blame them. Except the water was out the corrals and out the side. Bad placement, frankly. The water and food should have been immediately after the chip-clipping. Period.

Several people thanked me for volunteering. It was no big deal; I wasn't going to run in this humidity anyhow, even if I could have joined the race. But something has to be done about the layouts of the finish.

This brings me to the subject du jour: communicating with the higher-ups. It is generally the feeling that NYRR members have little or no input into the organization as a whole. For some time now, NYRR has been a social club on paper only, having transitioned to a corporate structure long ago, currently having as it's public figurehead Mary Wittenburg. (I saw Ms. Wittenburg speak today at the volunteer's brunch; her thank-you speech could have been much, much shorter, but it is her style to sort of ramble out her speeches. I hope she gets better at it.)

As a larger organization, there's a structure to the responsibilities and who executes them that is nearly impenetrable. This is not to say that it doesn't do what it does very well - few organizations run races so well - a particular achievement considering that NYRR stages 55 races per year, including one of the world's biggest marathons.

But, the average member has no clue how to drop a note in the suggestion box, so to speak. But there are board meetings and there are meetings members may attend and vote on whatever topics are up for such a vote.

My concerns about NYRR rank somewhat higher than finishing area layouts, sometimes. For instance, I am concerned about two things right now: a) that runners are perpetually in danger when running the streets and sidewalks of this city because drivers do not obey the existing laws, and b) that NYRR is about to re-incorporate.

NYRR incorporated as a not-for-profit in 1979, as a type A NFPC under section 201 of the NFP Law (or L-NPC 201 as it is noted in legal texts). This means it was incorporated as a social club, primarily. The NYRR board, in reflection of its many charitable activities, wants to re-incorporate as a Type B Corporation under section 201. This means it will formally shift from being a social club to being a charity, and the change includes dropping Club once and for all from the title of the organization.

I have mixed feelings about this move; more importantly, I have a vote. AND SO DO YOU IF YOU BELONG TO NYRR. My concerns are that this will give NYRR freer license to exclude actual members from any special consideration in race entries. It's hard enough to get into the Marathon, and the Half-Marathon has no way to get in for an average runner like me except by lottery. This is something I am deeply dissatisfied with. Another concern is that it may tip the organization more in the corporate direction like other Type Bs, including inflated salaries for their board members and executives. Race fees jumped enormously this year and I wonder how much of that is going into inflated salaries rather than race support or - to bring this back to the subject at hand - charitable activities.

On the other hand, we already conduct some very concrete charitable activities and perhaps this change will support that. The races will continue and that's the bottom line for me, personally, since those races motivate me to keep running.

One more concern is NYRR's abilities to get involved politically. I've done some research and Type B corporations are disallowed from "significant" lobbying activity and disallowed from political activity altogether, or they lose their tax-exempt status. But that same research seems to indicate that lobbying the City for better enforcement of existing laws is not within the scope of the "lobbying activity" or "political activity".

I want NYRR to step up to the plate and communicate with the City on more than just the logistics level. All of our dealings with City Hall, the police, and the MTA have to do with the Marathon and other races; I think its time to look at the day-to-day accommodation that runners in this city experience - or don't. This will fit in particularly well with the mission statement that NYRR exists in part to promote public health. It is a logical extension of that to increase pedestrian, runner, and bicyclist safety on our sidewalks and streets.

So I'd love to go to the NYRR meeting, and vote for the reincorporation. (Still mixed feelings, but this is probably a good thing in general for NYRR.) I'd also like to submit new business to the board and ask for the formation of a committee that can lobby for the enforcement of existing laws (Type B NFPs may be prohibited from lobbying for new laws or changes to the law unless they meet requirements under IRC 501(h), and NYRR may very well qualify.) and to publish an opinion in support of the Mayor's congestion pricing plan (which looks like it could easily get state approval).

As for stricter laws and actual changes to existing laws, I guess I'll have to form my own Type C corp and a political action committee; something I don't have a clue how to do. But I can go to City Council meetings..... :)

As for the NYRR members meeting this June 28th, I am, unfortunately, already out of state at that time and won't be able to attend, so I'll be voting by proxy. NYRR MEMBERS, PLEASE DON'T FORGET TO VOTE AS WELL. If you must vote by proxy, either for or against, download this pdf and mail it in.

I'd like to leave you with this little tangential thought concerning congestion pricing: go for it, go for it, go for it! Despite what I'm about to quote I hereby publicly state that I am willing to pay lower-Manhattan entry fees even for motorcycles if it will reduce the traffic on our overburdened streets! Still, I love this quote from Dr. Horodniceanu, who was traffic manager for the city once, from a New York Times blog article about congestion pricing in Manhattan:

Steven A. Schwimmer: i keep hearing about car charges and truck charges - what about motorcycle?

Dr. Horodniceanu: I do not believe the city should bother with charging motorcycles and scooters. At this point, there are relatively few of them and they’re not a significant problem. Many of them provide a delivery service that, in the past, was done by cars. In fact, we should start providing on-street parking for motorcycles and scooters, as London does.

Okay, how much do I love that? Not only does he recognize that 2-wheeled vehicles aren't worth charging because there aren't currently enough of them, but that they're a benefit to reducing congestion and should actually be encouraged. Yes, yes, and yes!

June 6, 2007

Apple rating system

I've been thinking that maybe I should start rating my runs in terms of Apples, say...with 5 Apples being outstanding, and 0 Apples being my very worst disaster-type runs.

Today's West Side Highway run was a total of 4 miles, but was only 2 Apples. I just couldn't breathe. No, sorry, make that, "I just couldn't fucking BREATHE." I have no idea why my breath was OK last weekend, but I couldn't keep my wind up today. In a total reversal of my usual running pattern, mile one was pretty good, only one short bit of walking and coughing, and it just devolved from there. By the time I passed 34th street on my way back (one mile left), it was as much walking as running. The coughing in the first three miles didn't help. I was bringing up all kinds of phlegm and it just sucked, especially since it was windy. Yeah, my aim was pretty off today. But in mile four, it just came down to running out of oxygen. Try running while holding your breath and you'll see what I mean. By the end of the run, my lungs hurt and I was wiped out. All I can think is What The Fuck?

The silver lining is that my legs were good to go. Even after spending all day yesterday in dress shoes, my legs really weren't all that tight, they loosened up well, no pain... amazing. So because of that, this run was 2 Apples instead of 1.

I did have ample opportunity to critique the driving skills of my fellow New Yorkers. What a miserable bunch of idiots we've got. It's as if the laws and the rules of the road were suspended today. Hell, it's like that every day. I think it's time to start a letter-writing campaign to the city council - it's time to up the ante, get a lot stricter about violations, stricter about qualifying for a license at all, institute mandatory written and driving tests every five years, and institute HOV rules for the island of Manhattan. The mayor's congestion pricing plan? Oh, yeah, two thumbs up. Hey, I'll be subject to paying more for my commute on my motorcycle and I'm STILL all for it! But we've got to go a lot further if we want to safeguard pedestrians and cyclists.

Before I go, once again, my shoes are awesome. I am so in love with the Adrenaline 7's. Also, I am going to go be a volunteer at the Women's Mini 10K on Saturday. Guess I'll put in my long run Sunday morning. Won't have time before the volunteer thing Saturday, and they feed us after, so... :)

June 3, 2007

Japan Day!

OK, real quick here, since I have to go strike a show.

Today was the first ever Japan Day - another nice 4-miler in Central Park. I tried to get there early to do 4 miles warmup, but only had enough time for two miles. And what slow miles they were. First mile was 13 minutes, though granted, it was uphill the whole way. I'd chosen to go backward along the route and turn around at the 3rd mile marker, so I knew what I was getting myself into. The second mile was much better, a 10:20 with only a smidgen of walking - cause it was downhill the whole way.

The race itself was pretty good. I'm on a roll with runs that don't suck. I wasn't fast, but I turned in my fourth-best time for this distance, a 42:27. Some walking, not much. I was pleased with my performance given the diffucult hot and humid weather. Everyone was sweating like mad, and nobody seemed too prepared for the heat. In fact, one runner collapsed about 1/4 mile short of the third water station. This section is a difficult mile anyway - all the elevation gain from 102nd street to about 80th. It was a hard mile for me, too, with it being over an 11 minute mile - but I made up for it in that last, easy fourth mile. I even had enough energy for a mild finishing kick, keeping one very loud fellow from beating me.

Didn't go visit the Japan Day festivities set up in Rumsey field. Somebody decided to block off the usual rear entrances and by the time I was around the field and passing the front entrance, I decided I'd had enough of Central Park for the day. Blocking off the rear entrance was a bad decision on the organizers' part.