2/29/08

All you need to know about Marathons...

"A lot of people don't realize that about 98 percent of the running I put in is anything but glamorous: 2 percent joyful participation, 98 percent dedication! It's a tough formula. Getting out in the forest in the biting cold and the flattening heat, and putting in kilometer after kilometer. " Rob de Castella

To say the least, I am compiling this for future references on where to go to within my 50 marathons in 50 states. The tough courses look good, although if there is a state that I have done already, then that’s off my list. It’s just for reference later on in life. I got this in an e-mail which I can use. No worries, no problems. It’s worth the post.

Oh and by the way, my
Austin Marathon Post is up, so you can read the lengthy review of my race remembering….

My blog has definitely has been bothered by the fact of my position as Secretary for the Flyers. It just sucks, but I’m rolling with it. Expect that monthly for the rest of the year, where the last week of the month is going to hurt from my blog postings…


A Guide to Some of the Best Marathons in North America
By Jason Effmann Florida Sports Magazine

Picking a "best" marathon can be like finding a good piece of chocolate in a sampler box of candies: You either take the plunge--and possibly pay the price for it--or you rely on the advice of someone else who has eaten a piece before (or in this case, has done a particular marathon before). Here's our adavice on some of the best races in the country--all so you can match your tastes with a race. Now all you have to do is start training.

Best Rural Race: Napa Valley Marathon
You don't need to be a pretentious snob with a lifetime subscription to Wine Spectator to understand the appeal of Napa. The race is miles of pristine rolling countryside (mustard fields that will later be replaced with grapevines), with only the last mile in town. The fast course requires a Herculean effort between several municipalities, and has 1,300 volunteers for a 2,300-person race. Runners get a plethora of perks in return for their entry fees.
"I think the most important thing is we treat every runner like they're the only one in the race," says race co-director David Hill.

Best Small-Town Race: Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is a smaller city that thinks big. Its marathon offers prize money and has many of the same features of Chicago or New York, but without the crowds. Instead, you'll run by stately neighborhoods on tree-lined streets, albeit with a smaller audience.
"You get a lot more of the funky urban multicultural experience in Chicago," says Meg Daniel of Kennesaw, Georgia, who has run both. "In Richmond you get a little bit of everything else: the stately old neighborhoods, the quiet Zen-like tranquility of the river, and the historical in-town setting."
Plus, race directors entice marathoners with two dedicated "Junk Food" stops (miles 16 and 22), stocked with cookies, pretzels, Gummi Bears, soda and other sweets to keep runners on a high.

Best Big-City Race: New York City
The New York City Marathon is doing what the city has always done--embracing those from abroad. New York's field is comprised of a stunning 12,000 international runners, and the town welcomes them with some of the largest marathon crowds going (two million or so). The runners tours all five boroughs of the largest city in the U.S., and is one of only two marathons to garner national television coverage, which is why "big" doesn't really do it justice. Now that ING is ponying up one of the largest prize purses in marathoning, look out: New York's only going to get bigger.

Best Destination: Honolulu
Here's some running therapy for you: Think December. Think white sand, warm temperatures, the sound of waves lapping against the shore. Good. Next, visualize running in shorts while your friends back home are trying to find ways to keep their extremities warm. Now think fireworks over a pre-dawn sky, torch-lit roadways, Japanese banners, costumes and drums. Picture a long, dramatic uphill that will suck the wind out of your lungs, followed by a view that has a similar effect. The Honolulu Marathon is one of the world's greatest spectacles of running. If you're up for scenery and a wild time, this is the place.

Best Chance for a PR: Chicago
There are some obvious reasons why those seeking to catch lightning in a water bottle invade Chicago. The crowds are enormous, and no matter how fast you are, there's someone to run with. The course is flat, which means even pacing--the best route to a PR. But there are other explanations why people speed here. An underrated one is that runners can walk out of their hotels, across the block and up to the starting line in Chicago. In many other "fast" marathons, you sit on a bus for an hour or more, then anxiously kill time (outdoors) in a temporary village that is often as welcoming as Amityville. Chicago removes a great deal of the stress before a marathon by nature of its loop course, which means you run relaxed. And when you run relaxed, you run very, very fast.

Most Competitive & Toughest Marathon: Pikes Peak (Colorado Springs)
A race that began as a challenge between smokers and non-smokers, Pikes Peak has enough standing between you and the finish line without chronic emphysema.
"The joy of running the event is really overwhelmed by the agony of it," says Ron Ilgen, race director. "I was one of many who say while they're running, I'll never do this again.'"
But they just can't stay away. Keith "Curly" McKenney of Georgia finished just four minutes before the cutoff. "Standing thereI could only think of how well we had all done, and how I never wanted to do that again." This year, he'll attempt "The Double": the Pikes Peaks Ascent, Saturday, followed by the marathon (up AND down) on Sunday. If you think that's brutal, try volunteering. Twenty-two garden hoses are hooked together to transport water to the last aid station. Then there's the occasional snowstorm. It's a world-class mountain race, but it's still a mountain race. The point? Yes, you're a badass if you run it, but know what you're getting into before you decide to conquer Pikes Peak.

Most Charitable: Marine Corps (Washington, D.C.)
People can, and in fact are, raising money for charity at almost any marathon these days. Some have become destinations for charity groups; others are linked directly to organizations. Along those lines, Marine Corps staff have turned what used to be a sore spot for them (the difficulty of gaining entry) into a chance to do good: Raise money through one of their chosen charities and you receive a coveted race bib. So you can feel good about your race, even before the gun goes off.

Most Legendary: Boston
The Boston Marathon has taken quite a beating recently--by the weather, by the press, by the inability of anyone not born in the Rift Valley to win the thing. Sure, it's got some issues. Like the fact that the trip out to Hopkinton feels like a cross-country tour in your parents' old station wagon, the one with vinyl seats and without air conditioning ("We're on a pilgrimage to see a Moose!"). But this is still the granddaddy of them all--the one on every runner's wish list, either to run in or to win. It's a fabled course, steeped in history, and you feel its magnitude at the starting line. There's just nothing like Boston. And until you've suffered through the journey like the rest of us, there's a little piece of your running puzzle that's missing.

Best New(er) Race: Baltimore
Baltimore, seemingly rife with orange cones and potholes, was not in the running for "Most Scenic Marathon" on our list. But it's here because those in charge are determined to keep improving their race. Michael Shilling of New Jersey has run every Baltimore Marathon since it began in 2001.
"The beauty of this marathon lies in the fact that the race director and race management company listen to the runners," he says. "They have changed the marathon every year based on runner feedback."
That includes the course, which has been smoothed out since its inaugural year and starts and finishes at Baltimore's coolest feature, the stadium area that houses both the Ravens and the Orioles. Note the plentiful pre-race restrooms, top-notch expo, swank race shirt (Under Armour is the main sponsor) and lots of spectators.

Best Race at Altitude: Salt Lake City
Yes, the air is thin. Salt Lake City rests at around 4,500 feet. But the vociferous encouragement may make you forget that it feels like you're breathing through a straw. "This town took ownership of the race from the time it was announced," says Jeff Wilson of Columbus, Ohio. "They took the race as their own and made it special."
"Special" included a finish through the Olympic Plaza and boisterous crowds, in addition to a race management company that sweated the details.
"Great races combine a tireless service to the athlete with an attitude of fun," says Wilson, a veteran of 31 marathons. "We're all out there to celebrate the day, the sport and each other. The best (races) build on that."

Most Scenic: Big Sur
So you know that car commercial, where a sedan is knifing down a two-lane road high above the ocean with some overdone Led Zeppelin song cranking in the background? You know how your eyes drift from the car you can't afford, over to the dazzling view? That's Big Sur, a breathtaking stretch of Northern California coastline. And you, my friend, are going to see it at a much more reasonable speed. Because as beautiful as it is, the Big Sur Marathon is also hilly, and no place to shoot for a PR. Looking west, that won't matter much.
"Spending the better part of four hours watching the California coast is a pleasant way to spend a morning, even as the pain in my legs constantly increases," says Rick Swayne of Los Gatos, California, a regular here. Be sure to bring along a portable camera; you'll want to document your slow, painful, gorgeous journey.

Best Place to Feel Like a Movie Star: Los Angeles
Drawn to the bright lights of show biz like a moth to a porch light? You'll dig the 8:30 a.m. start (though some have complained of the heat). Love hearing people call out to you? The personalized bibs (with your first name in big letters) will be right up your alley. Dream of competing in a reality television show? Try crying at the end of a marathon in front of a grandstand full of beautiful people. Los Angeles makes you feel like a somebody.
"The city made such a big deal about it," says Kelli Picon of Greeley, Colorado, who ran the race in 2004. "There were posters all over L.A., Hollywood and everywhere else we went. We saw coverage of it on TV--it made us all feel very important."

Best Marathon/Vacation Combo: Vancouver, B.C.
It's about time somebody recognized our neighbors to the north. Vancouver, whose marathon is typically at the end of April, is a beautiful historic city with a British feel and plenty of entertainment for everyone. The race itself is a well-organized, athlete- and spectator-friendly race that gives you a jumpstart on sightseeing. Plus, the hills aren't so bad that you'll have to spend the rest of your vacation holed up in the hotel.

Best Race to Leave the Kids Behind: Las Vegas
Running is to Vegas as gambling is to the Vatican. Running means early mornings, carb-fests and sweat-drenched shirts. Vegas means sleepless nights, all-you-can-eat shrimp and sweat that smells like rum and Coke. Maybe that's the allure: If you're going to sacrifice your social life in the pursuit of endurance, you might as well celebrate the end of it all in Party Central. Tom Stieg of Washington state knows. He came up short of a Boston qualifier in a windy Vegas last year.
"I was so disappointed I didn't get to Boston, I headed right for Monte Carlo Brewery and just went crazy," he says. "I was there for the rest of the day, still in my running stuff." Some runners say they come for the fast course. We say they're bluffing.

Best Race with a Half Marathon: Flying Pig (Cincinnati)
Many people don't know that Cincinnati was once known as "Porkopolis," or that it houses one of the best rib joints in the country (a favorite of the late Bob Hope). In fact, pigs are ubiquitous in the 'Nati; even the statue commemorating the city's bicentennial has four winged swine on top of a riverboat's smokestacks.
Now, for the first time, the Flying Pig Marathon (purveyor of one of the best medals on the circuit) serves up a half-slab of marathon in addition to the full slab. It's a great addition for those who don't quite have the appetite for all those hills.

Best Race Off the Radar: Cal International
This marathon is actually pretty well known, if you live west of Boise. But Cal International is held in December, after all of the major fall marathons have come and gone. To many runners east of the Rockies, it never crosses their minds. Their loss.
Cal International is one of the best point-to-point marathons going. It runs downhill from Folsom Dam to the center of Sacramento, and is impeccably organized. Typically good weather greets runners, as does a varied course, a fantastic finish line and good crowds -- which makes Cal International a good change of scenery, or a great place to rebound from a fall marathon disaster.

Best Race That Lives Up to the Hype: Twin Cities
The Twin Cities Marathon lays claim to being the "Most Scenic Urban Marathon." Apparently, it's all true. Talk to anyone who has run it, and it's as though they've been hypnotized by the fall foliage and the pristine neighborhoods.
"I would say if you're going to run a marathon in a city, you'd be hard-pressed to beat Twin Cities," says Jesse Pagels of Chicago, who has run all the big ones. Twin's course traipses through stately neighborhoods, along the shoreline of the lake and on the banks of the Mississippi. But it's not just scenery that draws people: Twin's point-to-point course begins just outside the Metrodome, which means a cozy warm-up and plenty of restrooms. At the other end in St. Paul, the finish up Summit Avenue then down past the capitol is one of the most memorable in the country.

Biggest Bang for the Buck: Houston
Way back in the '90s, the HP Houston Marathon was having an identity crisis. They were losing elite runners to other races, and registration was stagnant even as marathoning was experiencing a second boom. Enter new race director Steven Karpas, a runner with a marketing and finance background. Exit prize money for elites. Karpas and the marathon staff plugged that money back into runner benefits and race technology. For $65, each entrant gets a training T-shirt, official race T-shirt, finisher's sweatshirt, finisher's beer mug, finisher's medal, finisher's certificate and a hot breakfast at the finish line. Houston also helped pioneer the art of tracking runners online.
"We wanted to grow our race, and thought the one way to do that was if runners were direct beneficiaries of the aspects of the race," Karpas says.
It's worked. Since 2001, the HP Houston Marathon has added a half marathon and 5K and has grown its participation to 18,000 total runners. The half marathon is the men's national championship race, but every runner feels elite in Houston.
"Lots of races claim they do everything for the runners," says Randy Moore of Minneapolis, who ran Houston last year. "Houston lives up to everything it claims."

For more on marathons, visit Marathon Mania.

2/28/08

Are you ready for Boston?

"My whole teaching in one sentence is: 'Run slowly, run daily, drink moderately and don't eat like a pig.' " Dr. Ernest van Aaken, German coach

Ahhh! My blog is suffering…usually at the end of the month now I can’t write much…but I’ll be short and sweet and to the point…wait? When am I ever to the point? Anyways, Boston is coming around soon, which means training and training means time and time…well I seem like I don’t have time at all this week because of the newsletter that I have to produce for my running team every month…that’s work! Sorry folks, suffering on the blog…but Boston is coming around the corner and you can certainly feel the pressure in the air…oh the atmosphere is going to be amazing! All these super athletes in one city, in one race…it’s amazing…what a feeling.

Why am I saying this? Because I just received in an e-mail a display from Boston that states: "Boston is ready for you, are you ready for Boston? "

This year Boston is holding the women’s Olympic trials for the USA marathon team…top 3. The men are set, where that occurred before the NYC marathon…now Boston!

2/26/08

Say good bye...

"I think there's only one sensible place for a person to be at 5:30 in the morning. That's in bed. And what am I doing? I'm out running. And I completely hate this. " Derek Clayton, Australian marathoner, first to break 2:09

"A Beautiful life"
a beautiful life
that came to an end,
he died as he lived,

everyone's friend.
in our hearts a memory
will always be kept,
of one we loved, and
will never forget.


As a day passes, this day is the day that lays my friend to rest in eternal peace. It’s not comforting at all as I awoke today still haven’t fathomed the fact that my friend is gone. I nearly broke down when I was showering this morning, but kept it in and maybe it would have been better if I had. The crazy part that always brings up within my head is that while we were little you never think about death or it doesn’t even come up in your head. Everything is a happy medium where really the only thing that you worry about is what’s your having for dinner that night that your parents are cooking for you or even how to tie your shoelaces. Life was simple. It just lingers the fact that he was so young when he died and that with the circumstances involved with how he passed, it was quite scary and still rather disturbing. Although there was a sign last night as I came back into the city taking the metro north back in. It was like a sign that he had wanted me to miss both the 4,5 and 6 trains…as they left when I was arriving down the steps, I could hear from across the platform a soothing electric guitar but a different kind of sound from a regular guitar. It was as a sign that mellowed me out a bit and I had always associated PC with music since we had sang together and went to Ireland with our Chamber Choir that the sound of the electric guitar was Gaelic and gospel…it was quite soothing waiting for the next train to arrive.

No running much this week, due to the fact of working on the newsletter that I have to pull out at the beginning of each month for the NYFLYERS. All good…my training is going to suffer for this…but all is well…

In these times of reflection, you think about the more important things in life, like life itself and family/friends. All the little things are not worth worrying about anymore...

RIP PC.


2/25/08

Life is too short…

"Running is a lot like life. Only 10 percent of it is exciting. 90 percent of it is slog and drudge. " Dave Bedford, English distance runner who occasionally put in 200 miles a week in training

In a sudden swift of a moment, things can change. You never know what moments you may have and that is the most interesting thing about life. To this day, I will always remember you my friend, PC. May you rest in peace and be free from all the evilness in the world. You will always be remembered in my thoughts, prayers, and memories.

Today as I had just about gotten out of work and rolled into my running clothes, I had received an e-mail from one of my friends with a morbid notation. Within the message, I had found out that my high school friend, PC had recently passed away. He was my age and I had known him since I was 5. We use to play soccer together and vied for the very same spot. Although this was the only time I had really had contact with him from growing up, our families knew each other and we would always keep in touch when I was in High School. But there was something else…I had sang when I was in high school for the men’s and Chamber Choirs. PC had also done the same and we were basically in the same section and were the same age and usually the only two within our age to sing. We traveled to Ireland together with our Chamber Choir during our freshman year and we grew upon that.

There are something’s in life that you will never grasp. You can only really reflect and move on. As I had tried to do with running it off at a very fast pace and allowing myself to realize a whole lot and reflect. You have moments like these where you feel lucky and re-evaluate your life differently. You think about the moments that you have shared and realize a whole lot of how that person had influenced you. You realize that when you were younger at the age of 5, nothing really bothered you…and you wonder then on, what your life line would be like…then confronting your timeline you look back and say, “wow, I feel lucky to be here” and see the deep fading of your friend just fade away…and you are left standing…

Life is too short. Life smart to keep yourself alive. Live your life to the fullest and really enjoy the moments you share with others. May you always live in our hearts.

RIP
PC.

2/24/08

Yoga for Runners…

"It used to be that I'd eat to run-and the more I ran, the more I needed to eat. But now I run to eat. I love to eat. " Tom Fleming

What a beautiful morning today was as it started out by me awaiting on line to get into the store of Trader Joes. I had a rather productive day from the get-go: the usual chores on a Sunday morning, minus the laundry aspect, but that will be next week. So grocery shopping, cleaning out the refrigerator and defrosting the freezer (this happens about every 4 months (so it needed to be done (the first week I moved into this apartment, this was the first thing I had done!) Anyways, after that I simply went down to Chinatown and got some groceries there and headed to work. I needed to head to work to work on this month’s newsletter that is distributed every beginning of the month and it’s crunch time. I can’t believe that this month is over already…what happened!

Anyways, so I had initially signed up for this class called Yoga for Runners, where one of the instructors for Practice Yoga, also located on 14th street between 7th and 8th, was teaching this class called, Yoga for Runners. I was amazed about the amount of people that showed up and sitting down late, I was seated next to a Harrier, whom were also invited to this workout session. We chatted a bit and Becca was definitely a runner due to the observances of the black toenail that she had on her foot. (I on the other hand have been lucky to not receive any black toes and still wonder how people get them) I have lost many of toe nails, but not black toes…

Anyways, E was the instructor whom did a very great job in the sense of control and teaching the positions out for the beginners. I on the other hand am a beginner, whom started just this past week and am still learning the positions and how important it is to move from one position to the next. She patiently showed the class each and ever position, although we had to stay in some positions for a long amount of time in some poses and that was very strenuous on the muscles. Although overall it was a very great workout. I still enjoy the fact of going to my after work sessions, due to the fact of two things: One: you feel like it is a thing that releases all of your pressures from work and everything from that day to release everything. Two: you feel somewhat accomplished during the day of the work week and a after the day is done, you get to go to Yoga…

But yes, I do think it’s rather more soothing going to a smaller class as well and I do like the instructor in both cases. But I like the one I had picked due to the flow of the positions. I got to try out the Crow Pose. I was rather impressed that I could do this and it was rather fun, but utterly exhausting. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish just by doing it and being aware of your own body.

I left feeling exhausted, although there were a bunch of NY Flyers there as well as the bloggers of: Runner 26 and NY FlyGal and many more. But yes, after that...went back to work and worked a little more...although I was exhausted and took a nap on my desk...

2/22/08

200th...

"I go by the axiom of training that Jumbo Elliott of Villanova used: KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid. " Marty Liquori

This is my 200th post...including the drafts that I still have to write on...NYC Marathon Expo, Chicago Marathon, NYFLY Awards Party, Austin Marathon, My take on Music devices and running, and many more that are still in my head...

Do I seriously look like a photographer? I mean while walking to work this morning I have in hand my yoga mat that I’m bringing to do Yoga for tonight’s class and IT’S SNOWING! Ok…maybe it’s Friday and maybe it’s SNOWING, which gets me excited about today, but there is this Indian gal who it walking up toward me (mind you I’m on 14th street) and she glances over and has a cell phone in hand. She glances at me like “I’m hot or cute and wants my number” (this is inner mind dialogue that is going through my head and then comes straight at me. She then asks to take a picture and I mean it’s snowing, so why not. So I do…and then walk my merry ways. A truck supply guy screams out at the gal, “Hey you want me to take a picture for you”…BUT in my own head, I’m thinking “what? Do I scream out niceness and scream out being a photography guy?” I mean I’m constantly being asked questions on different streets and what not…I mean some people ask questions to random people, but some people in their right mind profile the person that they are going to ask the question to. Weird huh?

Anyways, returned to my regular Thursday night volleyball sessions that start at 8pm (really 9pm after everything is all set up) which plays privately in a TBA location. But it’s quite intense where we play from 9pm to 1pm or 2pm…straight on games, where the level is quite challenging. It’s nice because I usually go for a 12-14 mile run before hand and then go there afterwards, my legs are completely shot afterwards but it’s a good feeling. Conditioning, good times and completely different muscle groups…that’s the best part though, since running you only use mainly your legs and certain muscles…incorporating a cross training sport or other things will keep you occupied on days off and the ability to strengthen your other body muscles.

2/20/08

Y-o-g-a! Yoga!

"Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win. " Tom Fleming's Boston Marathon training sign on his wall

Ok…today was my very first time going to Yoga. I have heard so many good things about doing yoga and how great it is to stretch out. It is also said to help you out in your abilities to run and be used in therapy. It’s a great way to get off of your feet and look within yourself. Not only is it therapeutically, it is also used for people whom are injured and helps with your confidence, your balance, your flexibility and your way of looking a things.

Well Yoga is all of these things where it’s a combination of reaching into your inner core and STRECHING. See, after the marathon I was extremely sore. Moving here and there, energy and my legs were on the slow burner. I am known to have a fast recovery time, but still, I needed the stretch.

I knew that my co-workers go on Monday nights and they had encouraged me to go with them…although I have never taken the bait due to Monday night’s being with my family in the Monday night group runs. So they go on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and those are perfect days for me due to my recovery days of running and it will give me a good time to stretch for an hour…not just stretching though…it’s very intense!

Well…not very intense, although very powerful in a sense of getting intoned with your inner body and the various positions that was accounted for allowed you to stretch and really feel the weight on your muscles (although maybe I was doing this wrong or maybe my muscles were sore, but it was hard doing lunges etc.) I was really impressed and had a hard time following everyone whom knew the positions, but got the hang of things later on. We even got to do the thing that Runner26 had said within her first times of positioning and sitting with your hands…very cool, but very difficult. (opps...never mind...she was talking about the crow lift...I dont think I can do that....YET!)

But overall, I think I’ll be doing Yoga from now on. I’ll fit them into my days off and rest days for running which brings my time to ZERO and be busy non-stop…

Catch me at Yoga Yoga on 14th on Wednesdays and Fridays…

2/18/08

Spring Cleaning…

"I eat whatever the guy who beat me in the last race ate. " Alex Ratelle, masters runner

Ouch! Aching here and there and everywhere…but never the less, I got some good rest and sleep after waking up at 4 in the morning in the past 3-4 days. One: to catch my airplane to Austin, Texas and two: to actually do the marathon. SO rest was in good order. I wake up with many of pains in my feet to my quads just aching…it’s what to expect morning after a marathon…{almost like guys have a special thing in the morning…(bet you didn’t expect that one!)} ok, ok…sorry, I’ll keep it G-rated from now on…

So I unpack, do my laundry which my bag is full of smelly clothes from the marathon (semi-dry…but already rinsed – learned that the first time – where you actually bring your clothes into the shower with you)…SO, I get back from doing my laundry and on with my shopping at Trader Joes…after that is all done…I decide to clean up my room.

Wait…it was exceptionally warm, although most people were dressed up all bundled up and all…was it just me that was hot or something. I went to the grocery store and laundry with my shorts on and a long sleeved t-shirt, but everyone seems to be bundled up…was I just radiating heat?

Anyways, so I put together another shelving unit for all of my clothes…this way I have a huge rack for all of my continually growing running clothes collection. I had been missing a pair of shorts for a while now and BOOM, there they were. It’s amazing of what you can find when you are Spring cleaning…especially since the weather was so nice it seemed like Spring!


Ok...like all my blogs, we're going in reverse order...Marathon update will come soon...

2/17/08

Austin Marathon

"You have to imagine that training is like a bow that you pull back as far as possible to shoot the arrow at an exact point in time. This can be dangerous. Sometimes you can't hold the bowstring back any longer. Or you can overpull it. " Uta Pippig

So waking up extremely early in the morning remembering before I went to bed how nervous I always get before a marathon. No matter how many I keep doing, no matter what the experience level I am, it’s a huge feat. Just think and sit there and think…you are running 26.2 miles. As I remember one person saying, “You are running more than some people drive in a day.” But it’s something to get serious about and not really joke around with. Yes, I still have fun during the marathon, but it’s something your mind can not fathom and even during the race your mind can not even fathom all of it at once…it needs to think in small portions.

So having laid out my clothing items during the night before, which usually falls under a customary thing. You usually do some same exact things before a marathon from checking the race course and reading the informational packet booklet that they give you to laying out your clothes to make sure you have everything in order, so on race day you just have to wake up and go down the line of things that was laid out the night before.

Waking up at 5am to get ready, eat a bagel, smoosh down 2 banana’s and quench my thirst with Gatorade are some of my rituals. All that and of course doing number TWO, which I think many runners have a ritual about as well, but then again that can be described in a later time. So I was greeted by my friend waking up for me to bring me down from her place to the start in the downtown area. The race was to begin at 7am and I was to quickly get ready. I saw many people huddle around the heating units provided outside at the prestart. I was well prepared for the cold in the morning, although I did not think that it was going to be that cold (since the day before the rain cooled the area down and with Texas weather, it changes on the dime.) I had my new NY Flyers Jacket, another throw away T-shirt, my race singlet and sleeves (gosh I love sleeves now.) I was going to meet up with all of my other Flyer friends whom were going to race that day as well, but the timing soon became short and I had to get to the start of the race. I stripped down to my t-shirt, sleeves, singlet and shorts and the rest of the stuff went into the bag.

As I passed many people, passed a mariachi band playing as well and made it toward the start of the first corral. There I saw NC, CM and JE…all the flyers that were running this race. NC, CM and I were allowed to go to the Elite start due to our previous times, although we chose not to go in the private pen. We didn’t need that, plus we rather start out slower. The start of the race was pretty fast as I tried to stay with the sub 3 hour group. It was fast paced and I knew I was going to catch up with them later on, so I let them go. I suffered from cramps (regular – air cramps) and knew at the start it was going to be a long race. Nothing was effecting me really, just the cramps on the sides as I paced myself. You can see air blowing out of people’s mouths as warm air and moisture blew into the haze of sun that had just risen…it was rather intense and at the start already there were rolling hills. As you go out of the city then turn back around and head back into the city, you fall back into pace. You go through the crowds as the sun hits you and greets you to say good morning. You warm up quickly and by the time you head back out of the city, your at mile 6. The half marathoners are with you and they are half way through their race. You head onto a highway and I remember hearing this whistle out there like an annoying car alarm. There was a lady that was tooting and it was quite annoying! But as I left, that’s where it really sucked. More rolling hills and they got worse and worse…I catch up to JE who had gone out fast since he wanted to break his PR in the half or really had a HUGE goal in mind. I thought he was crazy for choosing this course to PR in since I knew it was hilly from the start. I saw a speedometer for cars passing by to check their speed limit…although today there were no cars, there were just runners and where the speed in my group fluctuated from 11-13 miles per hour…very fast. I stayed behind this gal that was tall and had long legs, I had been following her since mile 4, since we had passed the 3 hour pace group and led our own paces…although by this time, the 3 hour pace group had caught up to us again and were rolling at a faster pace…the climbs were treacherous and I can only remember thinking why did I choose this race to do and how not in shape I had been or how I can make it through this marathon because my legs were beat. As the half marathoners and full marathoners split, the 3 hour pace group just sped away at mile 10. They were gone and I had no energy to go at their pace. I needed to focus on my own pace and own race. I said good bye to my goal for the year (knowing full effect that I would not be able to reach it since my training was up and down and I had been effected by the flu 2 weeks before) I had to run my race at this point and my legs were feeling somewhat fatigued by the hills. It was only 10 miles into the race and I had to make it though 16 more miles. The course was then again more and more rolling hills…I kept on remembering telling myself or asking myself when this would be over, it was torturous and I enjoyed hills, but I was not in the mood for that day to run rolling hills. The up and down motions really killed as I felt a blister on each foot by mile 10-13, where my running and psychological aspect would greatly be effected by this.

As I rolled on…Literally ROLLED with the rolling hills, I had tried to take pictures of the more scenic areas, but later on it became pretty much just residential buildings. I was looking forward to mile 19-20. This is where my friend KL, (and twin! – we share the same birthday) would be with her boyfriend. The rest of the race would be a blur to me with many bands playing here and there and some encouragement from people hanging out from their houses with a beer in hand. (Side note: there was a DJ out in the very beginning of the race with speakers blasting out music as a lady came out with her robe and towel over her hair screaming at the kid to turn down the music at 7am in the morning. I passed and didn’t see the outcome of it, but she was threatening to pull the plug on the fellow…)

So as I finally arrived to the street in which my friend lived, I waved at them to say that I had arrived, they got up and I quickly stopped on over and told my friend to hurry up! Haha…I was running a marathon here! I took a picture of them with me as I had perfected in college, although just recently perfected in marathons when I stop and take pictures with my friends. (sorry Kimmy, Chicago didn’t work out – bummed about that still!) So yes, there were these gals on the side as well laughing at me wondering how I can do that. Anyways…6 miles to go left till I finally end. I said my good bye and shortly caught back up to the group that I had been running on pace with.

As the miles got shorter, the course got slightly easier on the feet. We passed through more neighborhoods as the sun started beaming and warmed up to 60-70 degrees from the 40 that we started from. We passed by University of Texas as I saw their stadium up front and personable…only 2 miles left to go and I knew that I would not reach my goal. That was long gone. The stadium was monstrous though. I would have to compare this to the coliseum in Rome…but even bigger and more modern. Ok…this is where most people would be serious and start running. I didn’t really. I took my time and ran my pace because I had really nothing left. I passed CM along the way and she asked me if I was ok. I wondered why thinking I felt ok, but just a little slow and off paced, eating a bunch of Jelly Belly Blues because this is what I only had left after taking 2 GU’s and nothing else…and nothing was offered along the race course. But as we entered the city once again, I can familiarize of where and when I would sprint and finish up.

Uh! People along the sides of the course were saying…only 4 more blocks. 4 BLOCKS? Now how big are these blocks? Are they like avenues in NYC which go on forever? Or are they streets? And what is up with this huge hill that they stuck at the end of the marathon? Seriously! But after that hill it was smooth sailing (but that was a rough hill!) As I came in toward the City Hall building, and saw JE, he ran along side of me as I was going at a faster pace than he wanted to go at the end and really started to turn it up at the turn into the shoot of 2 blocks. Boy…those two blocks equaled to being about 300 meters and I had nothing left.

Finished with a good time after the long accountable day…and in the end my pictures can tell you about the race itself.

I got my finishers medal, while a person slipped it over my head and then the medal just dropped to the floor. The medal was so heavy that it unhooked and then someone gave me another one, so two ribbons for one medal. I was exhausted and talked to JE after the race…as CM came along and then I saw NC! Holly cow, she was done? I wasn’t expecting her to come out so early since at the start she had stated that she had not trained for this. Her time…was amazing (let’s just say that if she was a guy, she would qualify for Boston in my age group!) Unbelievable!


See pictures
Read about it...

2/16/08

Day off…

"If you run 100 miles a week, you can eat anything you want-Why? Because (a) you'll burn all the calories you consume, (b) you deserve it, and you'll be injured soon and back on a restricted diet anyway." Don Kardong

So what do you do before a race, when you arrive early and had already gone to the expo? Usually during marathons, I would arrive at the city, see the city for the day, go to the expo I would wait for the Saturday before the race to spend in at least 3 hours at the expos due to my sister and I always trying everything out and all the vendors are usually there on the last day.

But I had neither to actually work with. I had gone to the expo the day before and I did not have my sister as a companion. But I was in Austin, Texas and I had been lucky that my cousin, RK, from Dallas, whom I don’t usually get to see very often due to the distance, had come to Austin to see me. It was a great gesture and I was very happy to see him.

The day was cold and rainy and it was not the very best weather to hang outside in. Some friends of his and I met up at a pool hall and we just chatted. We hung out afterwards at a coffee shop, then they had offered to go to this beautiful public park which you can literally see the beautiful downtown sights of Austin and the huge school of University of Texas. I was very much amazed at the size the campus had over the city. They had brought me back to my friends place and I settled in, getting ready for the big night ahead of excitement, nervous-ness and a little anxiety.

Running a marathon is a huge deal. No matter how many times you actually run it, you get scared. You literally are running for 3+ hours or more, your body goes through intense pains and highs and lows, it’s a great accomplishment, but I do not take it lightly at all.

As I pile each and everything up into little piles for the next day, after eating two pasta dinners, I’m in bed reading the course chart not to get excited before I got to bed, because then you will psych yourself out and not get any sleep the night before. So I calmly put the course map away and read the local newspaper about running…who am I kidding…I was exited and very nervous!

2/15/08

The Expo…

Right after I got out of the plane I was on the watch for Public Transportation to get into the city. I needed to roam around the city for a while and await till my friend gets out of work. Austin was amazing as I roamed around just making my way in and out and getting use to the humid air. I was famished since I had missed breakfast and going into lunch and it was 2 or 3. I stopped in at a restaurant and ordered me some good old TEXAS Chicken FRIED STEAK with French fries and Mac and Cheese. Boy, I could have gotten the buffet with some mixed greens, but didn’t understand the waiter and just went with it…

As I engulfed my meal (well think, I got a Philly Cheese steak in Philadelphia and had to get the local meal in Texas…) But boy was it filling and sticking to your ribs…As I was done with lunch (since I don’t’ like eating by myself and rather looked over information that I had received in what my next call and where I would go next before the Expo opened at 3pm…I traveled on the Dillo as they called it (the free trolley) with different colors. There I took one all the way south of Austin, thinking it was going to make a loop and go around back into the city…it did not. The lady driver told me that it was the end of the line and I had to walk myself and my bag back to the city. (this was not so bad, but my bag was bulky and I ended up walking for about 2-3 miles) This was good because I ate the fried steak before and had to walk it off and went into stores and what not…so after that I found myself to go straight to the Expo, since the time had ticked. Once there I found my way into the right line, where they had regular numbers and numbers with an H…So having my confirmation ticket which displayed my number…which was the lowest number out of any race I have done ANYWHERE…the number displayed #55. Which was ridiculous! Since all the elites were 1-50 and the regular people start from 51, I was not worthy of having such a number at this race with not enough training.

I had submitted my PR time for the marathon from my Philadelphia Marathon and did not believe that I would get lucky to be in the “pen” which housed 51-300. I toured the Expo to get a few things here and there. I came out with many things that I did not need but bought because I am like that. I’m a sucker for expo’s and running gear. They did not have a whole lot of free stuff, where my sister and I would go wild just going to every single booth and trying out free stuff, but I got a free Live strong tech shirt and a really bright florescent yellow dri-quick hat that is really obnoxious! I love it! I was really impressed about the soaking socks which keep your feet dry. I was going to by 3 pairs, but thought otherwise.

Anyways, I made myself out the door to not get strongheld within the expo and the rain had finally come down and it was pouring. I finally made my way to the Dillo and toured around going to Northern loops of Austin around University of Texas. Talked to a few people whom were doing the marathon from California and they thought this course was easy! Wheew…were they in for a surprise! I finally made it into downtown and then got onto a bus and out to the burbs where my friend lived.

The Flight...

Waking up for the first flight out of JFK airport was exciting, grueling waking up at 4:30 am to get a flight at 8am…although there was no stoppage at all from place to place, except waiting for the A-train to get me to JFK. After that, I had to get on line, get my ticket from the Jet Blue counter and then find my way to the terminal. Straight on in to the plane and not even sitting down to wait for the person to call the flight.
As I sat in my seat and flying across the United States, I nap for a while, then REALLY have to pee…so I wake up, but the gal next to me had fallen asleep. I tap her on the shoulder, but she did not awake…so I stayed there…in my mind, “ok, you can wait it out and just stay here for a while”…later on passes and I await for her to wake up…she semi-wakes up, but then falls back to sleep. I try another time and tap her on the shoulder, she still had not woken up…by this time I just want to just hurtle her and just make it to the aisle. I just don’t want to do this, because then my crotch or my butt will be at her face and then if she awakes, then that would just look bad. So finally I tap her multiple times and wait for her to wake up. She did and I went to the bathroom and finally let loose! Wheew that was a close one. I only felt bad afterwards when she was not going back to sleep, but we chatted for the remainder of the trip to Austin as well as off the plane. She was a professor at Columbia College and a student getting her PHD and also planning her wedding in Austin, Texas.

First time at the expo alone…

Ok…it has appeared to me that this is my first marathon out of the 7 that I have done already that I am going alone to.

Marine Corps: Sister & her friend, Ben
Outer Banks: Sister & her friends, Tracy and Chris
ING Georgia: Sister
Vermont: AD, my high school buddy
Chicago: Sister
NYC: JT
Philly: JG, JM and ES

So Austin…you top the list, this should be interesting…although rather not as exciting since it has been a tradition that my sister and I would go to every station and try out the foods and spend like 3 hours at the marathon expo in Chicago…it’s just fun to go with my sister and she will be very much missed. But I’ll just have to move on and be a grown up…

I’m growing older…well not really! Wish me luck, I’m going in folks!

2/14/08

Happy Valentines Day - Spectator Guide to Austin Marathon...

"If the furnace is hot enough, it will burn anything. "John Parker, author of Once A Runner



A very special Valentines to you too....So getting ready for Austin Marathon I read upon some course materials for the spectators and this is what I have found from a play by play of mileage...boy...this really is not going to be a fun race... but we shall see...

Temperatures for Friday to Sunday in Austin Texas:
Friday : Cloudy with occasional Showers, High 59, Low 40.
Saturday: Thunderstorms. High 46, Low 42.
Sunday: More clouds than sun, windy. High 64, Low 39.

The first 17 miles of the marathon climb a total of 304 feet (or 18 feet per mile) in a stairstep fashion that allow your legs to use a variety of muscle groups and allow you time to recover with downhill and level running surfaces. The final nine miles drop an average of 33 feet per mile.
This race route gives the runner an opportunity for more downhill running over the second half of the race. Race route favor athletes who have prepared with some hill running in their training and plan to run even splits or negative splits. Estimates by our elite athletes suggest that the race route produces a total handicap of about 3 minutes. They characterize the course as an “honest course”.

Mile .5/5: “Start Me Up”/”Come Down Easy”

The start line itself will be a fine spectacle, with a fireworks display, Chinese dragon dancers, Japanese drummers, and, oh yeah, an estimated 13,000 excited runners. Still, in order to keep the start clean for the runners, spectating at the start might get a bit crowded. A great option is to head down to the intersection of Barton Springs and Congress, near the giant bat weathervane, or to the intersection of Riverside and Congress. Here, you’ll be able to see everyone from the early leaders to the last runner, all in the span of about 20 minutes or less. Then, you can hop west on either Barton Springs or Riverside to South First Street, to catch the runners coming back down from their early hill climb, at mile five. If you want the most ideal nugget of advice to shout to your runner all day, you can give it right at the start, and it’s this simple: “Don’t go out too fast!” The excitement, adrenaline rush, and press of thousands of runners all inspire poor judgment in these critical early miles. On this course, which climbs about 200 feet in almost two miles right off the bat, going out too fast can be disastrous.

On the flip side, at five miles in, runners will be coming off the long downhill, which can be just as disastrous if taken too quickly. Here, you can encourage your runner to relax and get into their normal pace. From here, you can walk back across Lady Bird Lake on the pedestrian bridge, and check out the runners and the gospel choir at 2nd and Lavaca.

Mile 5.5: “No-ways Tired”
Whether you’re hanging around the start/finish area for the entire morning, or watching the start and then moving on, the intersection of Lavaca and 2nd is a great place to grab coffee, hang out and watch the runners go by, inspired by the fantastic The E.M. Franklin Male Chorus of the St. James Missionary Baptist Church.

At this point, the runners will be coming out of the early hills, and finding their pace and settling into their rhythm. The half marathoners are now over a third of the way done and should know how their day is going to play out. If they went too hard at the start they are going to be
feeling it soon, but the relative flatness of the course at this point and a little gospel music should keep them holding on a little longer.

Mile 7.5: “For Those About to Rock”
Right on Upson Anyone who spends any time at all running in Austin is probably familiar with The Rock, a common meeting point for runners and walkers just West of Austin High and under the Mopac bridge. By this point, the pack will really start to show some separation. Half marathoners will be just past their halfway point, and starting to feel the effects of those early hills, but with more hills to come (and steeper ones, too) there’s no time to complain.

Mile 8.3: “The Long Road”
The length of Lake Austin Blvd. is a popular stretch of road for Austin runners, connecting downtown and the running pearl that is Lady Bird Lake to jam through the challenging hills of West Austin. Athletes will be settling into a rhythm on this long and flat road, before heading into the hilliest portion of the course.

Mile 10: “You Can Go Your Own Way”
At this point, the half marathoners split away from the marathoners, continuing straight on Enfield into a last challenging stretch of rolling hills. Marathoners will be turning on Exposition, entering double digit territory soon and this is where choices such as apparel, nutrition, and hydration really start to prove their worthiness. For the leaders in 2007, this is where the fleet would make their move.

The split will also be a signal to the half marathoners that their race is just about over and that they need to dig deep and focus on the finish line. They have a couple of brutal hills still ahead and will need all the cheerleading they can get as they enter about a mile of relatively quieter neighborhoods with less crowd support.

Mile 12 (1/2 Course): “Running Up That Hill”
With barely over a mile to go, the half marathoners can smell the finish, but they’re bushed, and still need your support, having just come off one of the most challenging hills on the course, and heading up another long, slow incline. In fact, the ideal would be to park, grab a cup of joe, and walk three blocks west to encourage runners up that hill. Here, you can play coach a bit, telling runners to keep their heads up, keep their hips under them, and to move those arms. Remind them of what they’ve already overcome, and that one more hill can’t beat them down.

Mile 11.2: “Into the Great Wide Open”
With one last, steep, definitely not-petty hill, the marathoners are ready to put the early miles and the hilliest portion of the day behind them. The challenge for them now is to relax and once again find the pace they want to settle into for the vast “middle miles” of the race that open up before them.

Mile 15.5 - “The Road Goes On Forever”
Great Northern is a perfectly-straight, seemingly-flat mile-and-a-half begrudgingly accepted by local runners as a familiar staple of Austin distance racing. Some begrudge it more than others. Here, marathoners are already settling into the difficult middle miles of the race, where the hills are past, and it just becomes a matter of holding pace and grinding out the miles. To make matters worse, Great Northern features slight uphill grades that trick the eyes, but not the legs. And looking ahead, it does indeed seem to go on forever. As psychologically important as this stretch is, it’s also easily overlooked by mobile spectators. This is a nice place to surprise your runner when they really need it.

Mile 17: “Mama, I’m Comin’ Home”
The runners are now coming out of miles of neighborhoods, off the vast expanse of Great Northern Blvd., and they’re about to enter another stretch of neighborhoods. Just a bit further down Northcross Drive, at Burnet Road, is another good place to accumulate a swell of support
before the runners head back into neighborhoods. Here, the runners have now hit the northernmost point of the course, and will start turning around and heading back home to collect their finishers’ medals. But they’ve got a lot of miles left, and “the wall” looms just ahead... There’s plenty of parking nearby at the mall, if you’re coming from outside the loop, and some parking inside the loop, as well.

Mile 21: “Don’t Stop Believin’”
At mile 21, the marathon journey goes past UT's intramural fields. There’s “just” 10K to go, but here, momentum starts to get hard to come by, and some people will be hitting the wall.
There is a State parking lot nearby so parking should not be an issue, and the runners really need some support. Most first time marathoners will be in new territory here as each step takes them further than they have ever run at one time. There are 10 kilometers left in the race and for the
competitive elite runners this is where the real race within the race begins. Keep your eyes open and you will probably see some jostling for position and tactical moves designed to put competitors off their game.

Mile 23: “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother”
"It felt like an elephant had jumped out of a tree onto my shoulders and was making me carry it the rest of the way in.” - Dick Beardsley
Most marathoners encounter the infamous “wall” somewhere in the mile 20-23 range. It has something to do with adenosine triphosphates and glycogen depletion, but all anyone really needs to know is that it’s where the runner’s sense of energy and fun drop off dramatically, often with little warning. This is one of the toughest points in the race, both physiologically and
psychologically, where marathoners do battle with the fatigue, and often, with doubt and uncertainty. Here, some runners will become walkers. Crowd support is one of the few over-the-counter remedies. Your cheers of support for runners will help lift their spirits, and hearing their names called might snap them out of their white-line fever delirium. Unless you've been there yourself it is hard to imagine that someone who has just run 23 miles might harbor thoughts of quitting “so close” to the finish. The truth is that after you have 23 miles in your legs the thought of another 3 feet can be too much to bear. Tell the athletes to trust their training, to dig deep, and to stay focused. By all means, don't tell a runner she is almost there until she can actually see the finish line. Just... don’t. Also, by this time of the morning, watching all that running is probably making you hungry. This is a good place to grab a snack, and you’ll just be three miles from the finish, making it possible to see the average marathoner and still have time to head to the finish.

Finish: “Home Sweet Home”
The half marathon and marathon courses come back together just before mile 26, at 15th and San Jacinto. From there, the motley crew will run side by side, in divided lanes, up one last hill, then will pick up one last boost with the 11th Street downhill and the sounds of the crowds lining the stretch to the finish at 8th and Congress, in front of the historic Paramount Theatre. If you have an athlete in the race he or she is going to go through a chute and be corralled through the finisher's village. There they will be given their medal, finisher's shirt, food, drink, and an opportunity for medical attention. It may take a while for them to get all their things together and make it out the other side. AT&T will have a large tent in the area for fans to watch highlights, check status, and generally celebrate the event. Make a plan beforehand on where to meet your athlete and be patient as they make their way. At this point in the day, they’ll really want to see you, but may not be inclined or able to walk a long way to do it...

2/13/08

Last Run…

"I like running because it's a challenge. If you run hard, there's the pain - and you've got to work your way through the pain. You know, lately it seems all you hear is 'Don't overdo it' and 'Don't push yourself.' Well, I think that's a lot of bull. If you push the human body, it will respond. " Bob Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers general manager, NHL Hall of Famer

So tonight was my last run as I strolled up to the park, first stopping at Urban Athletics to grab my Flyer’s Jacket and then onto meet with the group. I met up with JK and Nic, who are running for TNT, these were the gals that I ran on Thursday morning runs as they prepared for their first marathon/half marathons. I also met up with DG whom had come to pick up his Flyer jacket as well. We chatted for a bit, since he was on the executive board with me. Then finally I went to the group run where I found the TNT people again and my group. As we started out, this was my first run all week since it had snowed and it was rather chilly. I didn’t want to risk freezing my lungs, so I stayed in and rested my legs…so last runs usually have a lasting impression on me. As the first group went off, I ran along with JM and we discussed and had a good chat. We discussed about the Bronx Half since we both ran together and well at the very end at 0.6 or so, she had let it all out…on me! It was ok. I’m all good for it, although we’re not going to make this happen during her marathon. She’s training for the National Marathon and I had agreed to finish the last half with her. She’ll make it there, just needs the confidence to continue on and she will get to the finish line…

So as we rounded out the course of Central Park, she resided to going back to her office and I trucked along. I didn’t think I was going to catch the first group, but I had made an impression on how good I felt, so I busted into some speed to test out my legs and see how I felt. It felt good, and ready to go to Austin, although we’ll see when the marathon actually hits home at mile 20. I caught up to the first group right at the end and beat them out to the line….ready or not, here I come Austin.

2/12/08

Lloyd’s Chinese New Year Celebration…

"A coach can be like an oasis in the desert of a runner's lost enthusiasm. " Ken Doherty
No running today and it snowed!!! (Cancelation of speedwork...which I had been debating on going to anyways since my marathon is this weekend...no cause for injury!)
I have been a Flyer for about 2 years now and this event tops the cake on ethnic celebrations, I think because it’s my celebration as well. To celebrate Chinese New Year, LH throws this Chinese New Year celebration for all the non-Asian people to celebrate our wonderful culture. I was amazed to find out how many people had signed up, but actually seeing the people there was truly amazing. It really amazes me about how many people from my running club are ethnically diverse and of course it’s also a reason to see people in their normal clothes on a winter day.

I got my regular Chinese new year celebration dish that I had not gotten on Thursday, which was the real Chinese New Year…and it was fabulous! You have to eat rice cake during the new year because well it symbolizes the beginning of the new year…also I guess I’m so use to tradition and well when I had been a kid, we would always go to my grandmothers house and celebrate as one big happy family. Now, as we are adults, my parents had a Chinese celebration in the city with my grandparents and my aunt and uncle who were in from Amsterdam, but no sister.

It was a great dinner and a great party. I mean Lloyd really did it up and I give him a whole lot of credit (also feeling bad that I interrupted him while he told everyone about the fable in how the rat was the fastest)…

But I was surprised to see other people there as well who were friends of Flyers, such as KC, who I had talked to at the Philly marathon at the end of the race and was gunning to qualify for the US women’s Olympic Trials in Boston at the Houston Marathon. She missed it by 45 seconds…uh! Utter pain, I know that feeling but that must be hurt 10 times more, but still it was her PR. I was truly amazed and I wanted to pick her brain in how she trains…although she was telling me her horror story about flying out to her marathon…uh! I hope that does not happen to me!

In all it was a great event, of course though we had our own clickish table where our usual social group (Runner26, PB&C, NYFLYgal) (JM, NC, SR, NK) sat together and chatted. It was nice and it was an amazing event thanks to Lloyd.

For more information about Chinese New Year.
Oh and really Runner26, I wanted to give you a hello...but really never noticed me giving you the look of death on Saturday morning when I saw you running along. I had said hello! Well maybe in my mind, because I was seriously hurting after the long mileage and just recovering...SORRY ABOUT THAT!

2/11/08

The start of a taper…

"The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank. "Dr. George Sheehan

A marathon? What’s that? I mean my body has been totally off and to top everything, I just have been recovering from the FLU. The taper as one calls it is not in my vocabulary book for running. But maybe I am getting a little smarter…could this be where I am recovering from my 30 miles this weekend to take it easy this week? Or is it because I just had plans with some co-workers to get dinner with a good friend? Or was it just because it’s too cold outside to run? Well…I’ll pick the last two of the three.

I’ll be smart about not running for the next couple of days leading up to my Austin Marathon, which looking at the weather in Austin. ABSOLUTELY amazing. 70 degrees, warm, although I just peeked at the video on the website to see the scenery…not so much greatness of a pretty city of Austin…not digging the marathon route already. Maybe it’s because I’m not too thrilled about doing this race since I have been training in cold weather…we look at this race as a pre-warm up to the prestigious BOSTON marathon in April.

2/10/08

A weekend recap…

"It is true that speed kills. In distance running, it kills anyone who does not have it. " Brooks Johnson

Ok, so getting up early in the morning at 5:30 on a Sunday is suppose to be fun? Well, for a race that is in the Bronx and a challenge that runners try to do each and every year within the series of what I call the 5 borough half marathon grand prix series which goes through each borough of NYC. Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. I have completed the series in my first try, the second time? Not so lucky where my best friend had a wedding on the fifth and final one and I had to go up because I was in the wedding party, so I missed it. That’s what a true friend does through I guess.

So, waking up early in the figid cold to run outside for a good 2 hours is not a happy combination. Why do I do this? I always ask myself these questions as I wake up, leave for the subway station and right before the start…but afterwards, your fine! I couldn’t sleep the night before as I kept waking up. Maybe I was just antsy to get this race started? Maybe I was afraid I was going to not wake up? Or maybe I was just getting really antsy for my marathon that was coming up in the following week. I ruled on the fact that I just was thinking I wasn’t going to wake up…because I really try not to get too excited about a marathon…I mean really, what is there to get excited about? You are putting your body through such pain and torture of 26.2 miles…

So let me recap Bronx for you. The Bronx is not the greatest one in the series. I mean I rank this one the least favorite out of the 5 because it has changed in the past 2 years that I have done it. It use to be in the summer (July) where it was SCORCHING hot. Then they changed this to being in February last year and it was FREEZING cold…they left it in February and still it’s FREEZING cold. So I pick up my bib number and head on over to Lehnman College where they opened the college for people to stay out of the cold. Not so lucky this year, where they closed off everything and did not allow people in. GREAT! I was about an hour early and that meant I had to stay out in the cold? Not cool. I pick up my phone and one of my Flyer friends, GW, had given me a call to say that he was in his car and if I wanted shelter I could crash. I took his offer…stayed in there for a while and started out to the start (dropped off baggage) and was ready to roll. I had planned on running with JM for the entire race because of my marathon the following week and I should not strain my legs to save up all I could for the big race. I had a great time, running and chatting the whole time. I mean I was going at training pace (8:30 m/mile) and my heart monitor was telling me that I was going at 145. I usually train at 155 heart rate and usually close to a 8 to 7:30 m/mile pace…it was good to take it easy though and this was my first ever race that I had done so (throughout the whole race). I’m slowly learning to take races as an ease and really have fun with them instead of racing all of them together. After the race was over, met up with ST, whom was a surprise because I had just ran with her yesterday and she was questionable about running. But it was good seeing her out.

Rode the subway home, had some unexpected surprises while getting groceries at Chinatown and on my way home…after that, got back into bed and took a nap again. It was a good relaxing weekend…although I had run about 30 miles, but it was a good napping weekend.

2/9/08

Tired...

"Running helps me be more productive. I'll be running until I'm an old lady."Claudine Schneider, Congresswoman

After not running for more than 8 miles for a whole week, the hurting of my flu has driven me to weakness. I have finally fallen and have felt the aches and pains in places that I have never felt before. I no longer feel invincible, the ways in which 12-14 miles had no real effect on me. The time that my body has taken to recover from the flu, I really never anticipated for this long. I knew though that I needed to test out my body for the anticipation of my marathon in Austin, Texas. I knew that I had signed up for a half marathon coming Sunday although was using this one as a training run for next weekend’s showdown in a test of tales for my body to endure 26.2 miles.

So like every Saturday morning, I wake up early only to run a few miles (say 12-14 on a good day) and see what the weather is like. This gets me up, get’s me going right into the weekend. I dare not sleep in…but find that I need to just get up. So it was not bitterly cold on Saturday morning, it was chilly, but ok. I raced my way up toward Central Park, meandering my way though streets although I was huffing and puffing. I had a rough time doing a regular 6, then met up with a small Saturday group to find ST there.

The group let me catch my breath before heading out again on another 6 mile adventure. ST and I chat about almost anything during our runs together, she usually steps up my game on a regular run as she calls it “speed work” for herself, I just try to keep up with her all the time and we go pace for pace around the loop. But today, I was huffing and puffing, allowing her to do most of the talking as we go through her daily rounds of how work is, her wedding plans and how her hubby (JH) is doing. She tells me that it’s less than 100 days till her special day and well…there is tons and tons to do! I believe her, only recollecting the day that she first told me that she was engaged! How quickly time flies by. As we do our rounds, I find myself really dragging behind, although I try to stay with her. I stop at Engineers gate to try to pick up my number at the NYRR, although I had been an hour early and find myself going home rather than staying an hour to pick up my bib. I rather do that on race morning, than to waste an hour.

Took the subway home, stopped by at the farmers market for apples and then took a hot shower…and went back to bed for a nap. This weekend was going to be a restful weekend.

2/8/08

Nice guys finish last…

"Only think of two things-the report of the pistol and the tape. When you hear the one, just run like hell till you break the other. " Sam Mussabini, final advice to Harold Abrahams prior to the 100 meters in Paris, 1924

So, this is the last of my posts about my dating life. Yes folks the great tale of the NY Post meet market has now ended. After a well earned skipping day of training for a date with Amanda…I have been rejected. The date went perfectly fine, we chatted over sushi and went over to Magnolia’s bakery and shared a cake for dessert. I we walked and chatted and awaited for the bus to bring her back to her apartment. Where did I go wrong? I knew something was up when I was the person that was doing most of the chatting and the chemistry was just not there after tonight. It’s alright, there are more fish in the sea and we’re gonna go back into training mode again.

As I received my “friendly” rejection letter of “I think we’re better as friends” type of reaction. Why am I always the type that is better as friends? What is it about me that is so darn friendly? Although friend is better than anything and I’ll take that any day. But I ran it out on the west side highway after work. I needed my stress relief of the whole week to be eased by a more calm and peaceful run that will allow me to ease my pain. Hey I have to start focusing here, I have a marathon coming up in 9 days and I am totally not ready. The flu had something to do with my energy drawn out of me and this whole week I had been feeling as though I had been sleepy during work. But the weekend is here and I can finally nap when need be.

I came back to work, after my run, which clearly eased my dating pain in questioning myself, reassuring myself as though I was unique in many ways. This is what I have to offer and if a person is not satisfied with what I have to offer, then well I can not do anything about that. This is the attitude in which I had been thinking to myself finally after the run was over.

To another day of running…to another day of being the nice guy…

Nice guys finish last…

2/7/08

Happy New Year! & Two surprises…

"Great people and great athletes realize early in their lives their destiny, and accept it. Even if they do not consciously realize the how, the where, the what. "Percy Cerutty

Well….first thing is first: GONG HAY FAT CHOY! (Catonese) Or Gong Xi Fa Chai (Manderin)

Both mean the same thing, Happy New year in Chinese. Where I would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year in the Year of the Rat.

Ok…so I had received to my amazement a response from the NYRR from the Stair Climb an elegant reply:

Hi Brian,
Don’t worry, we don’t black list runners. Hope you are feeling better and will apply next year.
Good luck!
Best regards,
Laura C. Sala
New York Road Runners

This letter made me feel so much better, but still bummed that I could not do the stair run up, but knew that I would be hacking up half a lung like last night’s run.

The second was my AT&T Austin Marathon registration card that I had received via e-mail. The number on my registration bib is what I was the most surprised about. I have never…NEVER received this low of a number in my lifetime (#55), except for my 6 person wide lane assignments on the track. But truthfully, I’m not going to go fast! I guess this is what you get for having a fast time and earning the close position of being a sub-3 hour marathoner…but I’m soo close!

Live another day, dream another night and run to be injured free.

A week and a half till Austin…am I ready? Hells no…

2/6/08

nice night...

"Running helps me stay on an even keel and in an optimistic frame of mind." Bill Clinton
7.75 miles in one hour…

Yup, I think I’m back folks…well don’t count those chickens before they hatch just quite yet. I have been coughing like crazy while out there and this is my first go around in 2 weeks. Yes, you heard me right. I have not ran since I had been sidelined or sidelined myself after that long weekend of 30 miles. It’s not that I had not wanted to, it’s because I had a huge undertaking of delivering my newsletter to my running club and that was hard enough always leaving work at 10:30pm to get home, eat dinner and go to bed…and be in bed by 1am…

It was tough and tacking on my new dating life that runs along side of me like I do not know what to expect…life is weird right now. I have no clue how to take this position and well it makes me nerveous…I mean even more nerveous than taking on a marathon (which I have in 2 weeks in counting or less than that!)

Arg…anyways, I have decided to take this Austin Marathon run as a friendly run to myself. We’ll see whatever goes is whatever goes and it’s really tough to train during the winter time, granted that this winter was rather warm like today 60 degrees with a shorts wearing weather…ahhh mighty fine….and seeing Texas for the first time…well that should be exciting! Looking real forward to the warmer weather and well…seeing my twin! (my twin is a gal I met up at RPI, where we were in high school doing this architecture program, we both learned that we had the same birthday, same year and well…we called each other twins ever since…we also went to RPI afterwards…)

2/5/08

First time, listen to your parents...

"Mind is everything: muscle - pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind." Paavo Nurmi

Brian is still sick, getting over it and still thinks he's super human...in his mind....

Although Brian is getting smarter (or just plain depressed that he hasn't run in a week and a half and doesn't feel like he "needs" to run anymore). So the game time decision was a no brainer...

Brian did not run this morning up the Empire State Building. Brian is not stupid (Brian is just stubborn) but...for the first time, Brian listened to his parents and did not run.

Brian is depressed....

And a message to the Empire State Building Director at the NYRR…

Hey Laura...

Unfortunately, I did not make it to the Empire State Building run this morning. I have been sick for the past few days due to the Flu and have trained pretty hard for this event. (really not true, although with my marathon training this is true) I didn't want to exhaust myself on the course having previously done the other stair climbs and knowing the fact that you have to be 100% to have your legs and lungs working.

I wanted to tell you that I just did not flake out and would love the opportunity to do this stair climb again, knowing the fact that there is a limited number of people that actually get chosen for this event. I know that this is also based on a lottery system and is based on a chance system. I just don't want to get black listed from this event in the future because of my illness.

Sorry that I could not attend, although I find that this is the best move for me and the safest.

Thanks again for the opportunity.

2/3/08

The Post Says....

So...after waiting patiently for the Post to post up on the web or print it's newspaper up for the Sunday weekend POST....

Finally, I receive my long awaited review of what A had to say about me, the restaurant and the DATE...

February 3, 2008 --

AMANDA, a 25-year-old marketing manager, likes athletic, confident guys who can handle her take-charge demeanor. So she chose sweet Brian, a 26-year-old architect, to join her for tasty tapas and seductive Sobieski Secret vodka cocktails, a favorite at Spanish fusion restaurant Rayuela in the Lower East Side. Their connection was more sugar than spice, but a little old-fashioned romance is a nice change of pace, si seƱoritas?
He said:
I arrived early, ordered some wine and tried to loosen up. Fortunately, Amanda arrived early, too. Rayuela had a great date aura, with chic candles and couches. Our conversation naturally flowed toward our travels. Amanda lived in Spain for one semester and told me about her adventures in Europe.

I let Amanda order, since she had done her research. We decided to share everything and it was delicious. We felt like celebrities, with the staff and other diners curious about us. Amanda's composure impressed me.
We exchanged many stories and had a lot in common. She mentioned discussing the date with her worried mother, and said she chose me because I was "safe" and looked kind.

I felt comfortable with Amanda , almost forgetting we just met. She made eye contact, listened to me, and at times I lost my train of thought while looking at her beautiful eyes and smile.

Later, I wanted to make sure that she got home OK, so I took the subway with her on a roundabout route. I e-mailed her the next day to make plans again. Overall, company, food and atmosphere were fabulous. Hopefully she felt the same.

She said:
Like many first dates, my dinner with Brian had excitement, some awkward pauses, but mostly good conversation. We were quickly seated at a cozy table upstairs. Brian had an easygoing, friendly smile that put me at ease.

Over dinner, we shared a mix of appetizers and a mouthwatering dessert. The conversation flowed. As usual, I asked a lot of questions. In retrospect, I wish Brian asked more about me, but maybe he was just being polite.
When the photographer came, we were amused by the attention from other tables. I felt like a reality-TV star!

Brian and I have a lot in common. We're both first-generation Americans who grew up in Westchester. He's an avid runner; I like running too, but shorter distances. He loves to travel, and we discussed our time abroad.

Unexpectedly, he has two tattoos. Brian laughed at my quips, which I appreciated.

The best part of our date was the conversation. We talked for three hours! I'm not sure how we'd be as a couple; I think I'm louder and more outspoken than him, but first dates are tricky! Plus, it can take me a while to warm up to a guy. So who knows?

Meet-o-meter
4 HEARTS I'll die if you don't call
3 HEARTS Definitely maybe, baby!
2 HEARTS We're better off friends
1 HEART I'd rather kiss my super
NO HEARTS It's not me, it's you!

He said4 HEARTS
"I felt comfortable, almost forgetting we had just met."
She said3 HEARTS
"The best part of our date was the conversation."

2/1/08

I want to hear from you...

"Anything is possible, but you have to believe and you have to fight." LANCE ARMSTRONG

Unedited:
Congratulations to all the new members whom have won their respectable positions and recognition to all the other candidates whom had ran for office and put up a hard fight. Also, a very HUGE recognition to Eric Stadnyk for his amazing accomplishments on such beautiful layouts on the newsletters, he has set a very high bar for me to reach. I hope I can live up to his reputation, but he never told me how much work was actually involved…and I think my races and times will take a hit from that.

A look back at the temperature of this month, we all thought that winter had finally came with below freezing temperatures, then the warm air a week later with unseasonably spring like temperatures allowed us runners to wear shorts, YES! Shorts during January, who would have thought! Old man winter came back and once again, we’re putting back our tights and winter clothing back on again.

“I want to hear from you,” should have been my slogan this year while running (not literally, but election wise). Look out for some writing topics that I shall post up on the “Flyer Forums”. We want to hear from the entire membership, anyone is welcome to write an article. On that note, I wish you happy running and hope to see you all at the awards gala!


Edited:

Editors note:

Congratulations to all the new officers who have won their respectful positions and recognition to all the other candidates who ran for office and put up a hard fight. Also, a very HUGE recognition to Eric Stadnyk for his amazing accomplishments and such beautiful layouts on the newsletter, he has set the bar very high. I hope I can live up to his reputation, but he never told me how much work was actually involved…and I think my race times will take a hit from that.

A look back at the temperatures this month, we all thought that winter had finally come with below freezing temperatures, then the warm air a week later with unseasonably spring-like temperatures allowed us runners to wear shorts, YES! Shorts during January, who would have thought? Old man winter came back and, once again, we’re putting our tights and winter clothing back on.

“I want to hear from you,” should have been my slogan this year while running (not literally, but election-wise). Look out for some writing topics that I shall post up on the “Flyer Forums.” We want to hear from the entire membership, anyone is welcome to write an article. On that note, I wish you happy running and hope to see you all at the awards gala!