Can't believe it takes all weekend to post this.
I did the Prospect Park Turkey Trot on Thursday. At least, that was my intention. I jogged up to the park and around the lake to get to the check-in area only to find that they'd run out of numbers. They'd even used up some old bibs from a few years before. Seems like everybody wanted to come run.
So I ran as a bandit. I didn't use the water tables (had my own hydration with me as usual) and I didn't cross the finish line, so... not really a bandit I guess. I did use the energy of the crowd to pull me along with them and strove for continuous, steady mileage. The only breaks I took were while waiting for the race to start (did a little stretching) and had to walk about half of the big uphill. And that was it. I left the pack where the course turned east near Pritchard Square, and I just headed home. Mileage came to 8.4 for the day, so I'm feeling really really good about that and about the continuous nature of the run.
However, I didn't run yesterday (Saturday), when I know I should've taken advantage of the nice weather. I need to kick the running back into high gear (at least medium gear) and get in a couple of good ten to twelve mile runs before the Manhattan Half, which will be sometime in January.
Now that the marathon is over, I'm planning some new running goals. One is to finish the 5 Borough Challenge - a half-marathon in all five boroughs. Scheduling has prevented me from doing this before, but I'm making an extra effort this year.
Another goal is to run the NY Marathon again, this time with an actual training schedule, actual speedwork, and run it for time, not just to enjoy the event and finish. To that end, I've taken a close look at the number of qualifying runs I did this year and figure that if I do all three remaining qualifiers in December, plus volunteer for the midnight run December 31st, I should just squeek in my qualifications for NY 2009. This means no more sleeping in on weekends for the next month.
The rest of Thanksgiving Day was productive. Got some bills paid, put up my holiday decorations. I'm not really into decorating for the holidays - I'm kinda just doing it for the neighbors, you know, but I did add some cheap round silver ornaments to the garlands this year. Looks nice. Total investment this year on decoration: $3.
And for you who will spend the rest of the month trying to get your Christmas shopping done: I went out on black Friday to pick up my sister's gift, and then finished up on Saturday at Union Square for my other sister. My shopping is DONE, and as of 6 p.m. today, the gifts are all wrapped and as many of them are ready to ship as I have boxes for.
I wish I could talk about the gifts, but my family reads this blog, so... SELF-CENSORSHIP. Isn't it a bitch?
The new orthotics are driving me crazy. Well...not crazy, but they're making my joints hurt. I have knee, hip, and lower back pain that I think are caused by the new orthotics. I'll give it one more run in them (tomorrow's Prospect Park 5m Turkey Trot) and if it doesn't feel better, I call the doctor on Monday and see about getting them massively adjusted.
I'm also having some of that old gall-bladder like pain and neck pain. Is this what happens when I finally have a chance to relax a little? I come unwound and fall apart?
Only in Brooklyn, folks, can you find BROWN Skittles! That's right, Mars, Inc., at some point, thought it a good idea to put out a chocolate-flavored line, which ended up on the shelf at the dolla' sto'.
If one didn't know any better, one might mistake these for rabbit pellets:
For the good of the general public, I have gone ahead and eaten some. In order of light to dark:
- Vanilla: not so good, actually.
- S'mores: Not bad, a little chemical-y, but not bad. Think I'll have s'more.
- Chocolate Caramel: I can see how someone thought these tasted like Chocolate Caramel. Someone whose tastebuds were, perhaps, horribly scarred in a cheese-grater accident.
- Chocolate Pudding: Pretty close, kind like chocolate Neko Wafer. I prefer chocolate FUDGE pudding, though.
- Brownie Batter: The best of the lot. But are they made with real Brownies?
So. If you're a chocolate lover, you might venture into this dark corner of Mars, Inc.'s Secret Lane of Hidden Shames, if only to be able to claim to your grandchildren when you're old, "yeah! Skittles used to come in kinda-chocolate-flavored brown-colored variety!", thus convincing them you're senile, with "and I ate them!" convincing your grandkids you're a danger to yourself and probably others and maybe it's time to put you in a home.
Ah...Taste The Rainbow®, the sepia-colored Rainbow.
For what it's worth, these are produced all year and the BEST:
Times are getting bad, and I'll be putting "security system" ahead of "new siding" on the house improvements list. I'm going to stop short of putting bars on windows, though, until actual incidents warrant that. Still, I think it wise to have a security system, it will lower my insurance, and I'll be able to record my stoop area, find out who is leaving all those damn takeout menus on my gate...and prosecute them. >:)
There is a silver lining to all the belt-tightening. Sure, the buses and trains will be getting more crowded (going from sardine-can-like density to something dense enough to collapse into a black hole) and more expensive (the MTA is raising rates AGAIN - though the monthly card is still the best deal around), but it also means that a) there's more police presence in the subway stations, b) there are more small vehicles and fewer large vehicles on the road, and c) the city is getting aggressive about ticketing people for parking and moving violations. Blocking the box wasn't a moving violation until YESTERDAY!! I just hope the traffic foot cops will enforce the law. All it will take is a quick scan of the VIN barcode, and five seconds later they can hand the driver a ticket. He can't get away. I love it! Unfortunately, the city keeps offering me a "settlement" on a parking ticket I got a few months ago. I'm not clear what parking law I broke or even if the ticket is mine. It was completely illegible except for the date and ticket number and was stuck between my seat and gas tank. I can't read what the violation is, what the VIN is, nothing. By law, an illegible ticket is invalid and ultimately that's how this will settle out. Until then, the city keeps pushing me to just pay it, whether or not I'm pleading guilty!
Now, though, I don't drive as much because a lot of what used to be fair, safe, and free parking for motorcycles is no longer free, due to replacing parking meters with Muni-Meters. It seems to me the city would encourage people to ride motorcycles and scooters by setting up free two-wheel-only parking slots. All they'd have to block off, currently, is one car space every third block or so; that's all! And by the way, scooter-boys and scooter-girls: parking that thing on the sidewalk is not legal and the city will eventually start issuing tickets for that to you, too, just like they do to motorcycles. There's no cure, though, for how much of a tool businessmen in suits look like mounted on candy-colored Vespas. It makes me want to tip you over only a little less than the douches on recumbent bicycles in the park.
It's a beautiful route this time of year, if you ignore the traffic. It turned out to be a really GOOD run for me; which is to say, consistent. Well...more consistent than usual.
You can see from the chart that while the run wasn't perfectly continuous, there was very little walking. Dips show points I was actually stopped, for whatever reason. Only one section shows where I did some walking halfway up the second major climb of the run, about 30 minutes in. I'm happy enough with this. I need a lot more running LIKE THIS.
After getting home, I put on jeans and immediately left to go back around the park - this time on my bike. My front end has some internal damage that has to be fixed before the bike is completely safe to drive again, so I took it to Brooklyn Harley. Halfway back to my house (walking), my alarm went off: it was time to call in to Talkshoe.com and join the Runners Roundtable. This week's chat was about the NYC Marathon and several of us were invited to join the call and weigh in with our opinions. Spiffy.
Thanks to my iPhone's mute button (and probably a little editing by Steve, this week's host), you won't hear my coughing in the recording. Probably a good thing. I was a little surprised as we were all hanging up after recording the episode that my cough was suddenly quite persistent. After all, I'd had a "good lungs" day so far, with minimal sputum production during my run and that was quite light in color. In fact, I'd been thinking of calling my doc and asking to do some PFTs in the next couple days just to more firmly establish my baseline.
But then toward the end of the call, and for about fifteen minutes after, my cough changed and so did what the cough produced: blood. :( Not a huge bout of hymoptosis, but enough to make me wonder what I did JUST SITTING THERE to cause a bleed. Is it this Energy Rush drink I've been drinking lately? I got a bunch of samples at the expo - you pour some powder into a bottle of water and there you go. Lots of vitamins. Too much?
Oh, and by the way, in our expo goodie bags was a pack of Emerald Nuts cocoa-roasted almonds. These are GREAT. Will have to buy more of these.
It started out easier than the run two days earlier, but was still pretty hard to get going. I had a lot of pain throughout the run, but most especially through the fourth mile. I'm experiencing tendon soreness in my right foot and leg. Perhaps it is related to twisting my knee in the marathon, or just breaking in the new orthotics. I don't know. Tomorrow, I'll put in my regular Wednesday run and see how it goes.
By the time I was running across the top of the park and then home, I was doing much better.
I need to take a close look at the next few races, especially when the Manhattan half will be, and get geared up for that. I hate to think that I'm going to lose my long-distance fitness, but if I'm going to turn my training around and concentrate on consistency and speed and perhaps try to break my half-marathon PR this year, I need to get a real schedule put together, including cross-training and weights.
But...I got over it. Got to the bank, deposited a check, and the mile home was much more reasonable, if not yet fabulous. Needless to say, I was surprised and dismayed at how hard this really was.
I'm supposed to go on a run with a partner tomorrow in Central Park, a brief run. Frankly, I'm hoping we only do the lower 1.7 mile loop. There's a 4-mile qualifier on the 16th I'll probably do, perhaps as part of an 8-mile long run?
So. This is kinda getting out of hand:
There are seven pairs of tennis shoes sitting there. Let's see what all these pairs are for:
Those two pairs of New Balance 902s I bought shortly after my last pair of 901s wore out. I've been with 901s since I began running; but about 18 months ago, New Balance changed the model - and all of a sudden, I couldn't run in the 902s. I thought it might have been THAT PAIR, so got a different pair, slightly larger. No dice. Each pair has about 15 miles on them and I can't seem to find anybody who wants them. I may just send them to Shoe4Africa.org. I'm not made of money, but these shoes aren't doing anybody any good sitting here.
The next pair in the picture are the world-famous shoes that helped me run my world-famous record-breaking run at the world-famous New York City Marathon! OK, so maybe only one of those three things is actually world-famous, and the only record I broke was just how slowly I can finish a marathon. But those are the shoes. I don't like them much. They're OK, but definitely not in the realm of being loyal to this model. Through two pairs, I've been less than thrilled. They don't get me hurt, but they don't exactly help, either.
The next pair is the pair I did most of my training in and may have actually been the pair I wore in St Louis, but I think that's two pairs down. Hard to tell, since both pairs have Team Boomer themed laces, meaning I bought them to be seen in public. This pair wasn't bad, but I have thoroughly worn out the soles.
Pair #5 in the picture is my oldest pair of all seven and are now my paint shoes. They are Brooks Adrenaline G7s, the best running shoe they've ever made, in my opinion. They are too worn out for running, but are comfortable as hell. And thus worth keeping around.
Pair #6 is in a similar vein, in that I wore them out, but being G7s, they are too comfortable to toss - this pair lives in my motorcycle saddlebag so I can change out of my boots when at rallies and such.
Lastly is my next-to-newest pair, though the pair with fewest miles on them. After I wore out the older G8s - and was seeing sports therapy to get fixed up from hip flexor strains - I went looking for a new model of shoe to try. At that point, I had five weeks 'til the marathon and figured if I wore them for a couple of long runs, they'd be broken in. Well, one week of wearing and one long run later and I ditched them. They messed up a tendon on the top of my left foot and that has STILL not healed - it's part of what slowed me down in the marathon. Any of my running shoes aggravate that tendon right now - only my rather flat dress shoes give me no pain. How ironic. I really liked this pair of Nike Zooms though because I could use the Nike+ system with them, they feel very good while walking around, and are lighter than the G8s. I wish it could have worked out. The shoes that replaced them are the G8s I ran the marathon in.
I don't know when I'll find another model of shoes that a) I like and b) don't get me injured. In the meantime, I feel like I should winnow down my ever-growing heard of athletic footwear.
"What the hell was I thinking?"
This was what I was thinking during many miles of this race. "Race" I should say. From my point of view, way at the back of the pack, this looked a lot like the Bataan Death March, only a whole lot more fun. Oh, wait...it's the trudge to the baggage trucks AFTER the race that is deemed the "death march".
Okay, let me start over in a lighter vein.
I was ready, or at least I thought I was. I had some nervous moments heading into this race, but had managed to get those under control. Race morning presented no surprises and was exactly as I expected it to be: basically a commute to work. I got up at 5:30, took a shower, shaved, did some nebulized Albuterol and Aztreonam, sucked down a dose of Advair 250 (a mis-fill by the pharmacy and my secret weapon for a "good lungs day"), and headed out the door at 7. I got to the Staten Island ferry by 7:45 and took the 8:00 ferry over. The bus ride to the staging area was short and covered much of the Staten Island Half route. The walk to the orange athlete village was also short. I didn't actually find the main athlete village; I just kind of stopped in a large street near some non-smelly portajohns and camped out for 90 minutes. At about 45 minutes, the first wave was called and the guy next to me got up and left, leaving his sleeping bag behind, which I promptly took over, which was much easier on my butt. I had brought only items to eat, drink, and read before the race as well as items I'd be taking with me or planned to discard before the race. I had no desire to put a bag on the trucks and have to go find it after the race. This turned out to be a good call.
Wave 3 was finally asked to round themselves up and I joined several thousand other confused people crammed into an area almost at the orange balloons. I never actually saw a corral. At some point, we heard a cannon, and about ten minutes later, we started walking. We emerged into the toll plaza, rounded some buses, and started walking a little quicker. A minute later, we were crossing mats and we were off.
The Verazanno is really no big deal, as hills go. It is a mild slope, though long, and I trotted most of it, stopping to stretch about 2/3 of the way up. This should have been a clue that I had to stretch that early. Hm.
I'd worn some disposable outer clothes - a blue paper jacket I'd picked up from the start area two years ago from some other runner (recycling! yay!) and Tyvek pants I'd purchased at the expo. I got rid of the blue jacket pretty quick, and my own hoodie sweatshirt followed at 1.5 miles. Shortly after the 5K mark, my legs were warm enough and I ripped off the pants. Now I was in hat, gloves, shorts, two shirts, and a singlet. Felt pretty good and though my pace was slow, it was about what I held during my last two twenty milers.
at 5.5, I stopped at my house to rid myself of my cotton t-shirt (leaving only long-sleeve tech t and the singlet) and to pee, grab a full bottle of hydration, and my flask of power-snot. Turns out I forgot to grab my gloves again (having taken them off to pee) and cold hands were a problem through the rest of the race. But not so worrisome as to make me turn back.
I got going again and immediately saw my friend Jerry Cahill at 21st street cheering on the Team Boomer runners. The rest of Brooklyn was a nice jog, really, though I noticed I began struggling a bit at mile 8 - much earlier than I thought I would be. I enjoyed the last of Brooklyn, though I managed to douse the back of my shorts and legs with some of my gel when I didn't get my flask closed quite right, and eventually found myself in Greenpoint. My only thought was, "holy shit, I'm in Greenpoint. I've got get out of here!" I trotted to the Pulsaski bridge and walked to its crest.
Shortly thereafter, I found myself thinking, "holy shit, I'm in Queens; I've got to get out of here!" and did my best to make that 5k my shortest.
Finally came the 59th street bridge. This, too, I walked most of the way up, but had always figured I would. It really isn't the big deal I'd been afraid of, and had I had better training and more prepared to really RACE this thing, I think I would have tackled it with gusto. It felt very similar to the Manhattan bridge, frankly. Coming off the bridge was great - I really loved the downhill and put in a good mile of running, probably my only fully run mile of the race. However, this put me at mile 16 and here's where the problems began.
The water stops along the way have tables along both sides of the route. For fast runners, say the first couple thousand, this isn't a problem; but by the time the back of the pack gets there, it's a block-long minefield of waxed paper on wet asphalt - as tricky and dangerous to navigate as a Baghdad road. Those little discarded cups seem to WANT to get underfoot. If that weren't enough, the drying Gatorade and smooshed-out gel packets turn the last 40 yards of these water stations into a rat-trap like surface intent on grabbing a runner's feet and holding them fast to the blacktop. To the 34,000 runners in front of me responsible for this mess: thanks, assholes. (kidding, kidding ; i keed because i love :D )
Actually...by the time I got back to Manhattan, the volunteers had raked most of the cups up and were breaking down water stop tables - *sob* am I really that slow??
But wait..I'm skipping the Bronx. Now, to be honest, I thought I'd run the entire Bronx mile because, let's face it, it's the Bronx. But I had a pleasant surprise. The Bronx greets you with carpeted running surface over the Willis Avenue bridge, then a huge giant jumbotron with a live shot of you entering the Bronx. And the crowd support in the bronx, even this late in the race, was really very good, especially compared to northern Manhattan crowd support. (The "wall of sound" that the 16th mile is legendary for is, for us at the back of the pack, more like a low, neighborly "fence" of sound, similar to the finishing chute at any major race.)
Coming back into Manhattan was nice - I've never explored the neighborhoods up there and I was impressed with the nice houses and plenty of trees. It was also a pleasant surprise to see how quickly we got to the park - or maybe it just seemed quick, as my sense of time was clearly dilated. The splits tell one story, but I swear I thought I was turning faster miles than that.
I had some phone calls to make at this point in the race, coordinating with some people and those calls got made. I loaned my phone to some girl around 105th street. She'd been walking for half the race and was sure her mother was frantic. So it was nice to be able to help someone out. I met up with my people coming into the park at Engineer's Gate, trotting in and looking good (I think) and then proceeded to pick up my overall pace for the rest of the race. I walked a little in the park, but not much. I REALLY took advantage of going DOWN Cat Hill for once and started passing a lot of people. It was at this point that I saw Larry the Lighthouse ahead of me. I've already posted about that, so I'll not belabor the point, but will include this email exchange from last night:
Me to Larry:
Good job today Larry! I sometimes consider you my arch-nemesis,
seeing as how you've managed to beat me in so many half-marathons in
central park, but today, you helped pull me along in the last few
miles and spurred me to a strong finish. Thank you!
Larry to me:
That is awesome Chris! Your email made my day. I am really happy that I helped you finish strong.
I hope your recovery is going well. I am sure I will see you soon.
Yes. Yes you will, Larry. Hopefully at the Manhattan Half.
Anyway, I got in touch with my people again, sucked it up and ran the last half mile in, passing Larry at the turn into the park and, believe it or not, making it up the hill to the finish line, picking up my pace to pass some people and turn in a strong finish for a 5:50:12.
The finishing chute is about what I expected. I got my medal and race blanket, picked up a bag of food and water and Gatorade, and ended up jumping a fence to get out of the park the shortest way. Caught the E train and went home, where I took the most hideous ice bath of my life and reveled in the miracle of hot water. I note I wasn't as SALTY as I've been in training runs.
Okay, here's the basic thoughts on this race. 1) I didn't train as hard or as well as for my first marathon, though I did put in a LONGER training schedule and two 20-milers, whereas I had only one 18-miler under my belt for my first marathon. I gained endurance, but lost speed, in general. This was clear by how I felt DURING the marathon and AFTER. When I began the race Sunday, I very early made the decision not to listen to the podcasts I'd been accustomed to. Rather, I decided to try to enjoy the race the same way I'd enjoyed the NYC Half: don't worry about time, just have a GOOD time. I listened to the spectators and runners around me, chatted with people, and, as always, ran what I could, walked what I had to. So, in general, I enjoyed this race a lot more. And the upshot is that I am nowhere near as sore today as I was after Cincinatti.
I didn't get a PR out of this - far from it - but I got a lot of great memories and new friends around the world, which I'll come back to in a minute.
I took Endurolytes with me as well as Tylenol. I took an Endurolyte every five miles, which I'm sure kept the cramps at bay - total success on that point. I took two Tylenol before the race began, I don't know that they had any real effect.
At mile 16 or 17..remember those treacherous water stops? Well, guess what? I didn't watch close enough and was trotting right on through and zip, I slipped on a cup. I didn't think much about it at first, but by 18 my right knee was killing me and I was thinking not only, "what the hell was I thinking signing up for this race?" but also, "I may not be able to finish this one. If I see a med tent I'm stopping and having them look at it." Well...I took my last two Tylenol and by mile 20, entering the Bronx, my knee was feeling better, as were my right hip flexor and left whatchamacallit (a tendon at the top of the foot), which had both been bothering me from mile seven or eight. And so things went. Pharmaceutically, I think I nailed it. Hydration was also good, as was fueling; no problems on those counts and I didn't really hit a wall. I was as tired by the tenth mile as I was at the 25th. Ridiculous, yes, I know, but there you have it.
Pretty, huh? Several blisters, one separating toenail. Not too bad, as these things go.
Here's the important part: TEAM BOOMER ROCKS!!! Really, no shit, we rock.
Pre-race: I manned the Team Boomer table at the expo on Thursday, which was great fun and I was glad we were finally representin'. After all, I've been seeing those Cystic Fibrosis Trust singlets for so many years - and now we've got our own American CF team doing their thang. Woot! I also ran into NYFlyGirl - third year in a row - who by the way ran an amazing 3:44:14, a 14-minute PR and, I believe, a BQ. Way to go!!!
Friday, a little more with Team Boomer. Also met up with some other people who listen to Phedipidations podcast. Very cool meet-n-greet. After that, I wandered around and picked up my Tyvek pants, some new running gloves (the ones I'd forget at my house), and got my running watch fixed. At this spot, I ran into Beast, and though I'm unsure how he did, I'm sure he pounded out a 4-hr or so marathon.
Saturday night: joined a pre-race dinner exclusively for Team Boomer runners. I didn't stay long, as I wanted to eat my own food before the race, but it was nice to meet some of the other runners and Boomer Esiason himself.
POST-Race: Great after-party for Team Boomer, had my second Guinness of the night (got started on that at home!) and met a very amazing woman, Monica Hendrix, who had just run her 6th NYC Marathon. She is an EMT for FDNY and happened to be mere steps behind a man who collapsed on the 59th street bridge. She began CPR and SAVED HIS LIFE. I mean, I'm sure that's a daily event for her, but the coincidence that she just happened to be right there when she was needed most just boggles my mind. And she's a runner for MY TEAM.
We also have many other amazing runners on Team Boomer, including Gerard Perlberg, a coach and author.
I want to wrap up with the real highlight of my entire marathon experience: meeting all the great runners from two other Cystic Fibrosis-fighting teams during the race. I met several runners from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust (United Kingdom) before, during, and after the event, and a couple of members of the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland. And both teams had at least one runner WITH CYSTIC FIBROSIS out there on that course, whom I met. I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE!
The last member I met was early this morning, as I was leaving Tavern on the Green, having purchased a little finisher's gear. This man was accompanied by his wife and kids and as we chatted he asked who I was running for. I smiled and said myself; I have CF. He then introduced me to his little girl - I hadn't even noticed her at first. She looked the very picture of health - I would never have guessed she's got CF. I was amazed. As we parted, I said congratulations to him and to her, I asked her to take care of herself. I hope ... well, I hope I could be seen as a good example there. Hey, kid...I'm 37 and I have cystic fibrosis. And yesterday I finished a really good long run. Please take care of yourself.
I ran with this singlet on:
I ran so many of those miles in memory of people who have died of this stupid disease and some of those miles I ran for myself. But I realized as I left that CF Team runner and his little girl behind and headed for the gym that I really ran all that for her - for the future of CF - so that maybe her life is a little better and a little longer than anyone's expecting. Good luck, kid.
Well, NOT TODAY! For the last five miles, I'd catch up to him, get outpaced, rinse, repeat. But finally, as we made the turn from Columbus Circle to enter the park, I passed Larry. And realized that if I could just hold on and keep jogging to the finish - a mere 500 yards up the hill - that I'd actually beat the fucker, for once. AND I DID. (Of course, I found him after the finish and thanked him for pulling me along.)
Between passing him and finishing, I had only two thoughts, both of which were a little overwhelming: 1) "Wow, this may be just my hometown race, but I'm about to finish the world-famous New York City Marathon!" and 2) I really, really, really, really, really, really, really want a Guinness right now.
And so, after getting home, ice-bath, hot shower, and popping blisters, I am sitting here wrapping up this entry and enjoying my Guinness. And in a few minutes, I'm going to an after-party at Mr. Dennehy's for Team Boomer. Woo-hoo! More Guinness!
|Event:||The ING New York City Marathon|
|Latest Results at 04:21:37 PM:|
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