10/29/08

A final Farewell...

It is amazing how much you can progress week after week, month after month, year after year if you allow for gradual training increases." BOB GLOVER, The Runner's Handbook

When truth becomes reality it really hits you hard. I met up with my family this morning at the funeral home from last night’s departure from them all. It was a bitter night and we all had dinner after the wake. The parent’s table didn’t eat much since all 5 children from my grandfather’s children (including my mother) didn’t eat much due to the sorrows that they have. But today was a new day and I guess it was fitting that it was raining and cold. Weather is truly interesting when it comes down to the natures of moods.

I met up with my family as I walked from subway to the funeral home. Went inside and put on the apparel garb that is traditional to Chinese style funerals. It has been seriously hard for me to grasp that my grandfather is gone, although to me I had been there to see his last breathe and witness that he was not there with us no longer, he was a spirit and his soul was taken away from his body and gone to the heavens of what he believed in the Buddhist religion of where his spirit lays.

He was over us, looking down I bet and I know that he was there. Today was different though, my grandmother was to come and see him and pay her last respects to him. She has Alzheimer’s and the family had to reach a decision on whether to let her know where my grandfather was. At her frail state, we never knew which direction she was to feel or even would she remember. She has forgotten almost all of us now and doesn’t recognize us at sight, but remembers us by name when we tell her who is standing in front of her.

But yes, it was ok though, on Monday they told her that my grandfather had passed and she probably didn’t take it in, but she took it better than all the rest of us. She said:

If he had to go, then he had to go…

It’s a bit upsetting, although it probably means the very best of things in life. Life goes full circle and you have to take it in that direction with everything. With life, comes death and dealing with it is just emotions and memories. You have to keep your emotions from getting the best of you and in some cases this is what I did…or tried to do today.

As we burned some of the items, we quickly made more and different items as well. My cousins (Dad’s brother) came. They were use to the whole funeral functions due to our other grandfather passing away two years ago. (Maybe this was the reason why I started running or started being on a running team.) But anyways, the shop that created these figurines and “types of utensils did not have gardening equipment. My grandfather loved gardening. He was out there all the time in summers heat, winter, fall, everything. We looked at this skin with his makeup and it looked as if he was in the summer’s heat and summers sun getting a little burnt orangish red. So we decided to just make as many tools as we can think of. We though of just creating these tools out of paper, which would later be burned so it will get to him in the heavenly earth of elsewhere.

Time passed by, and each of my cousins took turns burning the pieces and we went up to say good bye to my grandfather during periods of times. The band played it’s final harra and then it was the concessional. Other people said their final respects to my grandfather and our family and as they went, we got closer and closer to our final good byes. My sister and my cousin from Holland was in front of me. As I was paired up with my other cousin from Holland as well. I saw my sister gasp a little, and this is when I finally broke. I broke down in tears, all my emotions ran and flowed out of my system. I could not hold on anymore, where all day I had rejoiced, cheered, smiled and was ok, trying to cheer everyone else up…but it was my final good bye. I had been there when he had passed. I had been there when he gave his final touch and communication to me and Gua Gua, we were the only last two that said our good-byes to him. I had known that he was not with us anymore and knew that his spirit was overhead looking down at us, but it was sad just saying goodbye for the final time and not being able to see him anymore.

Sure we have pictures and our memories that we will always have of people, but deep down seeing someone in physical form is always a benefit, a plus. It was just a moment that I could no longer handle in my emotions and it got the best of me and I just buried myself uncontrollably in my cousin’s shoulder and whepped.

We got into our cars after the casket was taken and made it up to New Rochelle, where the Need for Speed relay always passes through. There lays my other grandfather not too far from the hole in which my grandfather was to be. We did this other ritual walk around in a circle up on the hill (due to the fact that Asians think that it is better to be up on a hill rather than be below the hill due to superstition…) and said our goodbyes with the lasting of his spirit in the wind…brightened the sun for a while and then as we came back…the rain started pouring. My mother said that grandfather was looking after us and that he had secured us from the weather since he was always worried about our lives…he was selfless, always looking after others, always caring about others rather than himself.

He was a true inspiration and a true soul. I am only glad that I have his genes and wish to grow of the man that he was, the talents that he had and the enjoyment of laughter and spirit that he consumed. I loved my grandfather…

Big Marathons, Already Packed, May Still Grow
By JULIET MACUR
Published: October 28, 2008
Having run the New York City Marathon 32 years in a row, Dave Obelkevich has a simple approach to navigating the increasingly clogged course.

“I just pray,” he said, “and hope not to get mowed down.”

Such is the experience for many participants in the sport’s glamour races, like the marathons in New York, London, Chicago, Berlin and Boston. Bursting with runners, those races appear to be at their saturation point, with several fields hosting more than 35,000 competitors. Some of those events have doubled in size from a decade ago.

Still, race directors are looking for ways to make their 26.2-mile races even bigger, while somehow maintaining a safe and enjoyable experience for runners.

To ease congestion on its five-borough course, New York is implementing a new starting system this year, when more than 39,000 are expected to compete. Recreational runners will begin the race in three intervals, 20 minutes apart.

The race director, Mary Wittenberg, and New York’s deputy mayor for economic development, Robert C. Lieber, have discussed expanding the field. More than two-thirds of the runners come from outside the tristate area, bringing the city more than $220 million, organizers say.

Lieber said he could envision at least 50,000 runners in New York’s marathon.

For the 57,665 people who applied to run in last year’s New York City Marathon but were denied entry, that may seem like great news. It would be a disappointing turn, however, for many runners who already find big-city marathons unmanageable.

Liam Mycroft, a 50-year-old tax auditor from Dublin, is a veteran of 22 marathons, including the Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Boston, Winnipeg and Rotterdam races. He ran the London Marathon twice, the last time in 1998. But never again, he said, because of the crowds.

Some streets in big-city marathons, like London’s aptly named Narrow Street, were clearly not fashioned to handle a sea of 70,000 sneaker-clad feet and the 35,000 runners attached to them, Mycroft said.
“You’re running in some places that there are some really tight bends, so you’re almost walking the first three miles and you don’t really get going until six or seven miles in,” he said. “It’s a fantastic, brilliant experience to run toward Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, closer to the end of the race. But when you’re still weaving around people, it’s annoying and not very much fun.”

Bigger fields mean more challenges for race organizers. As the number of entrants increases, so does the number of volunteers, police and medical workers, said Carey Pinkowski, the executive race director for the Chicago Marathon, which caps its registration at 45,000.

“Could we take 60,000 participants? Sure,” he said. “But that’s not a simple process. Right now we’re at a number we feel very comfortable with.”

Race directors in Boston and London say it would be impossible to add more runners to their already crammed courses.

In 2002, the Boston Marathon had 16,939 entrants. It then relaxed its race standards for runners 45 and older, and the field grew to 25,283 this year. And that, apparently, is the maximum the course could handle as it winds through eight cities and towns, the race director Guy Morse said. The field size for 2009 will be limited to 25,000.

“You are a victim of what you accomplish,” Morse said. “We want to be as big as we can be without compromising the integrity of the event. There’s a breaking point, and you may not know what that is until you get there. We don’t want to find out.”

Mary Pardi, 38, from Falmouth, Me., competed in the Boston Marathon in April, and said she ran shoulder-to-shoulder with other runners through Mile 18. She said she was “up on lawns, weaving in and out of people and wasting a lot of energy,” because the course was so packed. She failed to reach her goal of finishing in under three hours, crossing the line in 3 hours 3 minutes 44 seconds.

“I think they should make the standards a little harder because people are getting in better and better shape,” Pardi said. “But, no matter how hard it is to qualify, I think there will always be 20,000 people running it. Everyone wants to run in Boston because it means you are the best of the best.”

The attraction of running in a big-city marathon, where the course passes famous landmarks and goes through boisterous neighborhoods, has increased the demand for spots in races like the London Marathon. It already has 118,500 applicants for the 2009 event in April. About a third of them will be accepted.
David Bedford, the race director, said in an e-mail message that London was considered a marathon that many “want to do at least once in their lifetime.” He added that participants simply find ways “to cope” as they made their way through gridlocked parts of the course.

Although London organizers feel as if their race has reached its limit, New York officials are looking for their race to grow.

The wave start being used Sunday in the New York City Marathon is intended to ease crowding at particularly jammed points, like near the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Mile 8) and the Willis Avenue Bridge (Mile 20), said Wittenberg, the race director.

She said that she and other organizers have studied video, photographs and data from computerized timing chips on the runners’ sneakers to assess bottlenecks on the course. The start is an obvious point of congestion, but the finish area is also a problem because runners gather to reunite with friends and families.
Race organizers and city officials have discussed altering those two areas to expand the field.
“The No. 1 driver to get bigger is that more people can run the race and there is more economic impact,” Wittenberg said. “We think it makes sense just as long as the quality of the experience remains high.”
Pointing out that New York had more finishers than any other marathon last year, she added, “We want to be the biggest marathon, but never at the cost of being the best.”

Lieber, the deputy mayor, said he would not mind if the race was both. He scoffed at those who said the race was too crowded.

“That’s baloney,” he said. “It’s all about how you set it up.

“We’re not going to go from 39,000 to 50,000 in one year. It will happen over time.”

Obelkevich, who has competed in the race every year since 1976, finished his first New York City Marathon in 1974, when there were 527 entrants. He shudders at the thought of the race growing any larger than it is right now. Even so, he said he would not turn his back on it.

“I’d never think of skipping it,” said Obelkevich, 65, a retired music teacher from Manhattan. “What other race do you run with hundreds of other people helping you through the tough miles? Where else will you hear 26 bands along the course playing the theme song from ‘Rocky’?

“Now that I’ve got this streak going, I just can’t skip a year. Even if I broke my leg, I’d do it on crutches.”

10/27/08

Alzheimer's Design of a stamp...

"The challenge and the energy running requires may be a selfish one, but it actually motivates me to be stronger in my relationships." JOAN BENOIT SAMUELSON

For designer, Alzheimer's stamp taps personal pain
By Steve Hendrix The Washington Post

Monday, October 27, 2008
Mark Gail/Washington Post

Ethel Kessler, designer of the new Alzheimer’s awareness postage stamp, said the project was “one of the most emotional projects I’ve ever worked on.” Kessler’s mother is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

WASHINGTON - Ethel Kessler is used to squeezing big ideas into tiny spaces. As one of four art directors contracted by the U.S. Postal Service to create stamps, the Bethesda, Md., designer has produced hundreds of peel-and-stick commemorations of subjects including American choreography, the Chinese New Year and love itself.

But when it came to reducing the vast and tragic issue of Alzheimer's disease to a 1-inch canvas, that was tough. Because that was personal.

Kessler's mother is in the later stages of Alzheimer's. And it was just as the designer began working on an Alzheimer's awareness stamp three years ago that her mother began a steep decline, stopped recognizing her daughter and had to move to a nursing home.

"It's one of the most emotional projects I've ever worked on," Kessler said the day her Alzheimer's stamp was officially released. "I'm not even sure my mother remembers my name now. She hasn't said it in a long time."

Kessler's design portrays an elderly woman wearing an expression of soft emptiness, a hand laid comfortingly on her shoulder by an unseen companion. It's that loving touch from behind that stems from Kessler's experience, the recognition that Alzheimer's strikes not only its victims but their families.

"The whole notion of caregivers is critical," Kessler said. "They provide the care that Alzheimer's patients need to live, and they suffer a terrible loss of their own. It took us 10 or 15 false starts before we finally figured that out."

David Failor, the Postal Service's executive director of stamp services, said officials looked at dozens of designs before Kessler provided one that fully captured the serene menace of the disease.

"It's about being able to tell a story on this little piece of paper," he said. "Ethel is just very good at that."

The Baltimore-born Kessler has designed more than 200 stamps for the post office since she became one of its outside art directors 12 years ago. Her studios, Kessler Design Group, are lined with images familiar from the daily mail: a bright and graphic Hattie McDaniel, the first black to win an Academy Award; a brilliant underwater coral reef; a sheet depicting paintings and images of the civil-rights movement.

First-class art, in the most literal sense.

"How in the world do you fit the civil-rights movement on a stamp?" Kessler asked with a laugh at the central challenge of her craft. Her answer: "Very carefully."

In that case, she found some of the most powerful paintings, sculpture and photographs from the segregation era and cropped them to work on an extra-small scale.

"Stamps are not just a reduction of a larger image," she said. "It becomes a new iconic image itself."

A citizens advisory panel decides who and what will be honored on our envelopes each year. Kessler's job is to take those topics - as varied as Irving Berlin and America's national parks - and make them work in thumbnail dimensions.

Her first step is to research the topic, seeking to understand the subject well enough to boil it down to its essence. For Alzheimer's, she contacted the National Institutes of Health, various advocacy groups and some of her friends who have parents suffering from the disease.

When Kessler finally hit upon her idea for the Alzheimer's design, she asked New York artist Matt Mahurin to draw the portrait. He used his aunt as a model and his wife's hand as the caregiver's.

"He was nearly perfect on the first sketch he sent," Kessler said. "That's part of my job: knowing of virtually every artist and illustrator out there."

Kessler also created the 1998 breast cancer awareness stamp, the first stamp used to raise funds for an outside cause. It was another personal issue for the designer, who won her battle with breast cancer in 1994.

The Postal Service has sold more than 1 billion of the breast cancer stamps, and those, plus her many other tiny works, surely make Kessler one of the best-selling designers of all time.
Her work is widely available and currently sells for 42 cents apiece.

10/24/08

Volunteering for the NYC Marathon

"Training is like putting money in a bank. You deposit money, and then you can take it out." FRED LEBOW

I got my volunteer location in which I had been asking for...which should be an interesting day on race day....since I have signed up for two locations for volunteering.

2:30am wake up
3:30am at NYRR and then busing us to the start.
4:30am at Staten Island handing out bagels and then back to NYC at 11am...

Go to 18 mile marker - 92nd and 1st...from Lincoln Center...cross town and then back over to the finish line...LONG DAY AHEAD!

It's still very weird when I went out to the Monday group and had seen my Flyerville friends. They had been keeping up with the news and had offered their condolances, which I really do appreciated. I just have to go through some tough times in my life and enjoy the good ones. Memories, that's all you have left in some ways...I rather run a marathon right now than endure this other pain inside.

But...anyways...life goes on...

Dear Brian,
Welcome to the ING New York City Marathon 2008! Thanks so much for volunteering! We've got a spectacular week and race day planned, and we are incredibly grateful to you for helping to make it all possible for our 38,000 runners. On behalf of New York Road Runners, I wish you a fantastic marathon experience.Below are details of your assignment(s).

Job: Staging Area (Staten Island)
Location: Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island (volunteer bus from Manhattan available)
Supervisor: Jessica Hall
Date: 11/2/2008Time: 3:30 AM
Orientation: Orientation
Date: Orientation
Time: Notes: Vol. Bus: East 89st and 5th Ave.
For car directions and return info, see insert.
Please bring photo I.D.

10/20/08

Just keep busy

"For me, running is a great way to jump-start my day, boost my energy, and have a few minutes to plan and prioritize my schedule." MICHAEL DELL

It kills me not to run or be able to run. As a strong advocate of cutting thing up and not following the rules, I am staying on this strict NO-RUN clause. Why? Because JM will absolutely kill me if I did not and so will some other people. I had to cut my August month of rest short and that was because of some major races that I had thought I was critical to be at…but of course the Flyers on the team had me covered already. So this time around, since I am not running NYC Marathon, I will stick with my strict no-run clause and try to let all my injuries subside. I need to get ready for next year’s races, for this year is done and over with. Some races I may/may not do. It’s winter, I tend not to hibernate, but tend to run a whole lot more sluggishly due to the dangers and frigid cold that comes with the glories of winter: snow, frost and crisp air. My lungs tend to freeze up during this time and I am forced to take my asthma inhaler before or after my runs.

It kills me not to run due to the factors of my last few postings where things are different now. I came back to the city last night since there is nothing more that I can do and my family was around, but I need to stay clear and focus at some tasks at hand. I like to keep busy, keep my mind off of things and work. I’m a workhorse and I tend to enjoy myself more when I don’t have to ponder about different things. I know it’s weird and harsh to say, but that’s just how I am. I have to go about with the normality’s of my life and just keep pushing until the day that I finally say goodbye. That’s just how I am and in all cases, my laughter and smile sometimes hides the real me, which is hurting inside. I tend to shrug it off and whenever there is pain, laughter or a smile tends to bring me back up. The happiness in life is something that tends to hold me together and sometimes I try to be strong and not think…but memories is what brings me back, because that is all I have now.

With that all said, I go down to my grandparent’s basement. This is where all the magic had been done. My grandfather use to cook amazing things down in his little kitchen area. It was separate from the regular kitchen and his little laboratory. We (E, me and my sister) use to play down in the basement when we were little and had the most ridiculous types of stories from hide and go seek to just exploring. My grandfather use to scold us a little for being down there, but often times he would be down there with us and just laugh along with what we were doing. He was a funny man, just laughed all the time and made sure that everyone was ok. He was so care free and such a loveable man, it’s so hard to see him go. I walk down and see the areas that he once traveled, up and down the stairs during Thanksgiving, where he use to have the turkey in one oven downstairs and he would roast filet mignon and a chicken in the ovens above. He was a crazy cook and our thanksgiving dinners would be an amazing masterpiece for an army. These are just one of the things that we will dearly miss about my grandfather this coming thanksgiving and we all know that inside…he was the heart and soul of our families thanksgiving and his food and personality will definitely be missed. (sorry, I can’t stop crying while typing this…)

I stroll over some pictures that are hung up near a shelf. Most of all these pictures are of special moments in our lives. In many pictures my grandmother and grandfather look so young, so active and vibrant. It was just so sad because of the facts that my grandmother was the fragile one, we totally skipped over the fact to watch over my grandfather due to the facts that he was always the stronger one, the wiser one, the one whom always cared about others. He always had a great personality, a smile so warm that he can make anyone happy. I can only try to be that man that he was and will always try...It was just so sad to recollect all of those memories. I cried while standing there, I just couldn’t believe he was gone. I will truly miss him.

I hugged my grandmother upon my return upstairs, while she gave me a look like I was my grandfather I think. I could only wish I could represent my grandfather to my grandmother in many ways. Due to the Alzheimer’s disease, we still have not had the heart to tell my grandmother that her husband had passed away. I know it is mean, but my grandmother is a frail women and the family will consult with each other on when if we should at all to explain to my grandmother that her husband has passed away.

Gua Gua, which I called E for as long as I could remember (in Chinese this is the word for brother, but I should have called him Buew Gua, but never was able to say it, so we just called him Gua Gua, since it was easier) but Gua Gua took me to the bus stop. There I waited for the bus to take me back to the city and wallowed in tears as I cried myself to sleep and wished that the day did not happen.

10/19/08

A rising spirit…

"If you can train your mind for running, everything else will be easy." AMBY BURFOOT

I woke up this morning after a long night of waiting. Picking up my sister and going to the hospital to visit my grandfather for the second time that day was numbing. My sister just cries and cries, like waterworks, where she actually lost her contact. I could not watch, it’s a funny memory now, when you think about it, but it’s a lasting impression. My sister and E’s sister never got the last reactions of my grandfather that us, boys had. We eat dinner at my parent’s restaurant that night since my sister has not seen my parents in a long while and then we go home to rest up for another day…

Morning passes and we are woken up to a phone call summoning us to go to the hospital right away. My grandfather has been struggling with his breathe and now it is more apparent. Loss in feeling in his limbs, we only prolong the inevitable. The doctors come in and explains how the morphine that they are about to give will help him relax and breathe easier. It is not the normal doctors, it is not the normal nurses as well that we have seen and been greeted by each day.

Some will say that when you pass to the other side, you visit the very loved ones that you care so deeply about. We phoned our uncle who had been with my grandmother at the time and told him that his father, my grandfather had passed away at noon. He told us that our grandmother had a tear in her eye and I am guessing that it was my grandfather who had said good bye to my grandma.

I will forever remember that sunny beautiful Fall day where you can see the trees just change colors in the background. My grandfather’s breathe slowed down so much (E and I suspected that the morphine relaxed his body so much that he just gave up. He had no need to struggle anymore and he pretty much left peacefully. He slowed his breathe with every minute passing and then finally the very last one.

My mother cried in hysterics, she had lost her dad and I had lost my grandfather. You just remember all of the great memories that you have in your mind. The moments, funny or sad or anything that you have, you just find yourself alone. You wonder what types of family events are going to be lost without that person being there. For my family, Thanksgiving will not be the same without my grandfather, he was the one and only person year after year who cooks the turkey, roast beef, fried rice, chicken and other types of goodness that makes Thanksgiving for what it is. We will have to do something different this year and it will truly be different without him.

You realize a whole lot about yourself when someone of your loved one passes, you realize the great genes that you have that makes you, you and how that up keeping is held within your family. Family ties and different mannerisms of one word that signifies our upbringing and that is: RESPECT.

My grandfather was a great man…a tribute to him and what he had sacrificed to allow my family to be where they are today.

10/18/08

Movement to no movement…

"I was born to run. I love to run. It's almost like the faster I go, the easier it becomes." MARY DECKER SLANEY

After I arrived at the hospital with E and his fiancé last night, I have now become more comfortable with seeing my grandfather. We stayed there for quite a while and held his hand. Both E and I had gotten some good responses from my grandfather as he had recognized our voices and squeezed our hands tighter than we would normally be squeezed. It was good to have that reaction and good to hold on to his hand and get a reaction from that. When we told him that we were leaving, you can see the reaction of him being restful to him having a little more hypertension in his breath.

When we left, my mother came and stayed the whole night. When we arrived this afternoon with E’s sister and found my mother still there. She had still not eaten lunch and my mother is now the one that I have been worried about. It’s a scary thing with all this and I am fearful that my whole family is taking a toll. It’s well worth it, although we are just waiting for all the members of our family to be together. It’s scary, life and death, joy and sorrow…

We stayed a while as my mother left for work and we were to go back with E’s sister. I have been use to the hospital now and this time around there was no response from my grandfather as you talked to him. Complete night and day and I have been lucky to have almost the final responses from my grandfather. That will always be with me and I will remember it. It’s sad really and in actuality both of my grandfathers have made a sacrifice to allow the freedoms of me and my family to live in the US. Remember I am one of the first generations that are born in the US…there are many things you realize about yourself when your elder leaves and there are many things you realize and similarities that you have, certain characteristics that you have never noticed that lays within them that you have. I know, it’s called genes…but you never do realize this…

As we leave the hospital, E’s sister, R leaves to go back to Albany. We pick up groceries and then head on over to pick up my sister who is coming in from California. We head on back to the hospital again, the second time that day to visit my grandfather. I hope that there is some kind of response, some kind of movement or gesture. My sister will lose it and she is a ball of emotions. I know this and can’t even be in the same room as my sister. I leave before she loses it and just is in tears, it’s one of my weaknesses that I have in life. I don’t handle situations very well, especially when they are a bit awkward to me. We stay a while and then say our goodbyes for the night. I fear the worst and am prepared for the worst. I can only do that now and really prepare myself for the full one set of this upcoming week.

In many aspects, I rather be running a marathon right now. A marathon is easy to me, it is rather enjoyable and relaxing and in some ways, I picked a very bad month to stay away from running. The release I get from running is in a ways my release from life. My own time of escape and own time for self evaluation. I think a whole lot when I run, think about everything in my life and I will only imagine what will happen next…

Family is the most important thing in my life. They are the person of who I am today, they are the people who will always be there for me. They are those who know me the best. In times like these family will always be first, and I know that all those friends out there will be there for me in the end as well. I thank you all for that.

I look out the window, pray and think…

10/17/08

Bus stop…

"Putting miles in your training log is like putting money in the bank. You begin to draw interest on it immediately." HAL HIGDON

Why do I feel like I am doing this all over again?

Uh…de ja vu…

Last night I had seen my grandfather who currently does not look good. I am fearful to say that I am very glad that he is a wonderful man and the smile that I always show on my face is the one that he always has on his. I have never seen my grandfather so scared in his life. I have never seen my grandfather cry. It was a first for many last night and in front of his eyes I could not cry. I was not prepared as much as I thought that I should have been and could not believe how much he has aged from a week ago. I had seen him after my race while I was in Newport and my cousin had picked me up after the race and my grandfather was his jolly good self. He voiced to us about moving his plants out of the sunlight and he was so concerned about his plants and flowers. I honor the man. I honor my other grandfather who had recently passed away two years ago as well…from again Cancer.

I slowly take my hand away from my grandfathers and go to look for my cousin. I turn the corner and tears are wallowing in my eyes. I walk over and down the hallway and stare out the window to only find emptiness and just letting all my emotions go. E had told me to prepare myself and I was not prepared for what I had seen. Pean had told me not to cry in front of my grandfather and I sort of didn’t. I couldn’t believe that I was here and at this time, my grandfather was the stronger one and it just happened so sudden and all so fast.

I walk back after wallowing in my sorrows, and found E with some food. He knew that I was not ready and saw though my blood shot eyes. I stayed a while and then had to go. I held onto my grandfather’s hand and it felt good to just hold on. That sense of security is just there, but the smile and happiness that I have is always through him and some of that stubbornness that I have as well comes with the genes. My grandfather is as stong as an ox and really takes in the pain. In some ways I would believe that I get the qualities of knowing how to cook through both of my grandfather’s since both of them were chefs.

My father drove me back to the bus station and I let a little go as I ride all the way home to NYC.

But today, I’m on my ways back to Jersey for the weekend. Instead of a bus towards Boston (which I was suppose to have a good time with my high school friends: AD, TJL and SC) I find myself on a bus now to Jersey again for the second time in two days. I will be spending time in Jersey all weekend. May my grandfather be in your prayers tonight.

10/16/08

Visiting Hours

"Training is principally an act of faith. The athlete must believe in its efficacy: he must believe that through training he will become fitter and stronger." FRANZ STAMPFL

I guess I have not been myself lately due to the major mood swings that I have encountered with my family. I have gotten word for the past two weeks now that my grandfather, who which is married to my grandmother with the Alzheimer’s Disease (the one I run marathons for) and takes care of my grandmother, he was diagnosed with liver and kidney cancer.

Little words and even actions are rambling through my mind at the moment as I am still shocked and really upset about just how transparent we could have been. What I really mean is that all this time my family has been worried about my grandmother and we never even would have thought there was anything wrong with my grandfather. It’s just so sad. Doctors say that he is on a day to day basis and anything can happen at this point. All I want to do is just run and just deal with it in that way…although now I am handling it in a different manner. Life is tough, life is precious and life is strange in many ways.

Carpe Diem: Live your life to the fullest, don't feel afraid to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. Life is short and you will never know what will happen.

I’m on a bus now…going to go visit my grandfather and hope for the best that everything is ok. That’s all I can do…HOPE

10/14/08

$40 bucks!

"Running is a way of life for me, just like brushing my teeth. If I don't run for a few days, I feel as if something's been stolen from me." JOHN A. KELLEY

So day three of my recovery for a whole month of rest and I need it. I worked on some of the Flyerville newsletter to get it primed and printed before the edited versions come in from JM. I’m going to try to make this as easy and quick of a turn around for JM as possible due the fact that she should enjoy the moments leading up to the marathon and the moments of the marathon…Stress be gone!

I went out with Pean and my gimpy leg was dragging all over the place. Yes, I do have a limp still from not soreness, but form the actual tightness of my legs and IT band. I know, I know it was stupid, although I am very surprised about how well I had done and could not believe how I did that…

Seriously, I am human and now it is rest time. For recovery I still have not drank yet, which is very weird and I am walking with some gimpiness. I drag my leg as I imitate Quazimoto from the Hunchback of Nortre Dame and I walk next to SA.

“Do I embarrass you?” as I walk right next to her…

Umm…yes, get away! Was the only answer that I have heard and then my leg drags…

I end up dragging it some more and then as a crumpled newspaperish feel to my leg dragging on something, I figure that I had dragged over some dog shit or something. I turn over my foot…$20 bucks…what?

Wait a minute, I look over to the side…another $20 was on the floor as well, crumpled. Whaoooh!

Nice…I checked around to see if anyone was around to maybe be an “honest” guy, but there was no one…how did Pean not notice that…she was ahead and then I caught up to her…I told her about my discovery and she thought I was joking…

See…this is all to my gimpiness…

10/11/08

ING Hartford Marathon

"Learn to run when feeling the pain: then push harder." WILLIAM SIGEI

I slept like a log last night, but right before I had gone to bed the feeling of uneasiness came over me. I was scared. The type of scared feeling that you get when you are right about to take a test the next morning and you are unprepared. The feeling of wanting the night to never end and morning to never come, this is how scared I was. It is not unusual though I always get scared before marathons…

Morning arrives and I attend to my piled clothes that I had laid out before. Something about today really did not feel like a marathon morning. It may have been a true sense of how I had felt about this marathon, where I am injured, I have been tapering for the past 3 weeks or just the fact that my motivation for running is just not there. The segments from Reach the Beach to now have really been dampening, but the show must go on.

I attend to my clothing, leave the hotel and see how the weather was due to the night before was a bit chilly and knowing that the day will be sunny and warm. True fall weather and the seasons are definitely changing.

AD and I left our hotel about an hour before the start, we made our ways through the marathon village, which was a whole lot better than the expo. We walked around and acted a little silly with the blaring music to get people moving. The pre-bathroom and bagging area would be missed on this race due to my friend having my bag afterwards and the hotel being so close to the start.

15 minutes before the race…I start to strip down into my singlet and race shorts. I stretch a bit and then I am wished by AD: GOOD LUCK. (The best line was when AD asked me if she should stop talking to me and my reply to her was, "AD you don't have to stop talking to me, but just go over there (pointing to the crowd direction)" - which I didn't even hear her question, basically I just wanted her to stand over to where the crowd was...) I settle in with the front of the group as I am part of the “elite” start and had felt ashamed of this due to what my performance may have been for this race. I mean, my number was 46 for god sakes and I should perform better than I was feeling due to the multiple injuries leading up to this point. But I am going to do this race and I stuck with that. The start got crowded due to people just merging from the park…There was really nowhere to go and in some parts pretty poor planning on bottle necking. The anthem was sung, the race was about to begin and the sun was shining into our eyes.

The race started at a faster pace due to the fact that I was in the front and I had let the front runners just shoot off. I would need to acclimate to the fact that I had not ran the whole entire week and this was my first race, run even, since the last half marathon. I went out pretty quickly but settled in and slowly paced myself to a regular run. Touring around Hartford a little while and then heading out to the suburbs where 18 miles of the race would be held. 2 Miles go by and then we are over to East Hartford where the bridge was somewhat of a killer. Off of the onramp, you can see the front runners already ahead about a mile, then pure flatness for parts of the course. It was not too bad and the course showed some challenging hills in the beginning, but not really as challenging as some races that I have done in the past. It was because I have not ran in a while and even the smallest hills were challenging to me. By mile 5, I knew that it was going to be quite a long run for me, I needed to just hang on and relax a bit. Things were not really settling in as I had expected and all the gloves were off at this point. I was just doing this run as a “long run” and as a “fun run” but I have never been in this position before…especially when it was a race or even a marathon. By this point the half marathoners had split with the marathoners and the stream of people started to stretch out. I needed to control myself and just enjoy things. By Mile 10, the 3:10 group had caught up to me. There was a large group of them, hungry runners as all of tehm wanted to make it into the prestigious Boston as I had wanted in the past. I knew that feeling, although I also know that you really can’t rely a race you have worked so hard for in the past 4 months to one person or a few people that are leading the pace group. You have to run your own race and almost feed upon them to be ahead…or if you are behind, you have to surge to know you have it to pass them in the end. I simply let them go right by me, as I knew that this race was not going to be a Boston Qualifier and I rather run and race another day than be stupid to gun for something that was not capable. I was already stupid to even do this race and I know that, but I am what I am. We see the lead pack run by and then the lead women and then more and more people. Mile 11 was the turn around point of the race and then proceed back to where you had come from. So in some essence you know what you are dealing with. I made quite the quick turn around and a very tight way around the cone where my legs somewhat tightened.

That was stupid.

I proceeded on my way back and looked for other people as I had known that RD was in the race. I kept an eye on the people on the other side when RS, a flyer had called out my name, I acknowledged and proceeded on. Then a blond haired female had called out my blogger title name (CRAZY BANDANA) and I was shocked a little, astonished a bit, but this was not the first time that this has happened. I was a little weird out and wished I had know who it was… But the other time was in Boston when I was in the Expo and a person from California had spotted me and told the person next to them that I had taken pictures during all of my marathons, little did I know that this was not going to be the first time that people read my blog.

I’m toughing out some mileage and the person in front of me is this weirdo that is slapping everyone’s hands on the other side and then goes over to the crowds to slap their hands. I think it’s annoying for the runner’s in back of him due to him having so much energy to do this. I find him very weird also, but he was in front of me and I could not complain on that. For him it’s more of a motivation purpose to keep going and mentally to survive in that aspect and influence other people, but I found it annoying. In my mind, I am like, ok this guy has to go down. He is zipping ahead of me though and I guess it works for him, but he was just getting really annoying. He zips along…and then crash. On the side of the road and I just go by him. I know it’s mean to say, but…in my mind I am thinking….”what a loser!” I know I’m mean, but someone had to say it…

Anyways, I trek on and by mile 16, I finally find my groove. The hurting is less apparent by this point and I move on. I track back to my marathon pace and it feels good. I surge and have enough energy to move on. 10 miles to go and I think I can hold on for 10 miles. I find these two females that had passed me and they way ahead of me. I surge and try to catch them, but my legs are not moving that quickly. The race course quickly turns to some trails as we pass Mile 20.

Ok 6 more miles to go.

One of the ladies trails the other and then the other female who is representing Aquafor, is gone. I can still catch up to the other one. The trails are off and there is some twisting and turning. Mile 21 rolls around and we are back on the bridge heading back to downtown Hartford. The cheering increases as I am thinking we have some 5 more miles back in the downtown region…but it was such a tease. The race course leads back into the city and then back out again to add in more mileage and back around a beautiful park, but not so beautiful at this point. A mile 22, I am done, hurting and completely exhausted, all I want to do is just finish this race. Up and down hills and my legs are done. I have never felt so much pain during a marathon and I just had nothing left. Completely done with my system and all I am looking for is the month of rest that I had promised myself…Almost done. A red headed gal blows past me and I am just trying to keep up…She’s gone and I only meet up with her until the end. (but later on find that she is part of a RELAY team and of course she would blow by me.) But yes, my tight calve feels as though I have a knot and I could feel this big ballooned ball just churning up. I move on, continue till the end. Up and down hills some more and then back towards the city towards the Capital building near the park. Slowly I can see that there is about less than a mile away. Surge…nothing. SURGE…still nothing. All day these surges have not happened and my legs are just not responding. Then, finally towards the end, they finally go and I cruise on toward the finish (taking pictures along the way of course.) I can hear along the way about people commenting about me taking pictures along the course.

I finally run towards the finish line and then thinking in my head what I should do with this finish…I run, twirl around and cross the finish line. AD was close to the finish line and she said that the announcer said, “Brian Hsia to the finish line and crosses does a pirouette” I kid you not. But it was the funniest thing I have ever heard…

Overall…very glad with my time, I knew it would be really tough to come even close to a 3:10 and BQ. I found that opportunities are won and lost, you just have to take them or leave them and deal with what situations you may have. My legs are tired, my mind is tired and I have raced a lot of races this year. I am exhausted…and I could not ask for a better time than what I had performed. If there was another chance to really do well and advance my time, I may say that this maybe the course to do it in without the injuries that I had had.


Pictures... Enjoy!

10/10/08

Hartford

"Learn to run when feeling the pain: then push harder." WILLIAM SIGEI

Early wake up call to get to Hartford today and went on my adventure: Metro North to New Haven and then from New Haven taking a Bus (Amtrak) to Hartford. Left my New York Apartment door at 7:30 am and arrived in Hartford a little after 11:15ish.

What to do now? My hotel: Holiday Inn Express was literally right across the street from the train station. The start and finish lines are literally right across the street from me…well a 5 minute walk. It’s absolutely marvelous!

Ok…so put my things down and checked e-mail. I was surprised about how many people had wished me luck….I was amazed. I always get such a thrill from all the Flyers when they care so much…and I do appreciate it.

So I went on my ways to venture out into the city and explore Hartford. I was on a mission to get Gatorade and get a bagel. I had already packed up banana’s which was a smart thing. So…I venture and see the city for a couple of hours, while I wait for RD to come in from Amtrak and go to the expo together. Walked around, got all my things and just enjoyed the foliage and took tons of pictures.

I checked out the park at the very end which was where the start of the marathon was going to end. This was across from my hotel that I was staying at and I totally missed it when I started on this adventure. So, I came back around and figured by this time I would get some lunch, eat at the park and then wander some more. I saw the finish line and envisioned that this was my last marathon and I just had to finish this marathon. I saw the many people working hard to get this event done and basically envisioned myself being done at this point.

RD gave me a ring, she had arrived and I was to meet her at her hotel, the Hilton which was right across from the expo. The Hilton had these card keys that had the logo of the ING Hartford marathon, the whole lobby was decked out in orange and RD was psyched. It was her first marathon and I could not blame her. All she had to do was just finish and enjoy it because she was going to be doing NYC in a month with an Achilles member. I had told her that she was lucky that she chose to do Hartford before NYC because if she had reversed the order, she would have thought that Hartford would be lame. (Not lame, just a different marathon when you go from small town to big city – NYC is none like any other)

After straightening out many difficulties with the room (she had reserved two queen sized beds and she had gotten one king sized bed) and switching rooms, we decided to venture to the expo. The small expo where we roamed around, got our shirts and bib numbers and went to every booth. It was fun, after that we just roamed around the city…and then it happened…

RD remembered that when she switched rooms she had forgotten to take out her Ipod from the charging plug in the bathroom where she had placed it in the beginning, then she switched rooms and forgot to take out her ipod…so we frantically went back to the hotel, thinking nothing could happen to it. It has got to be in the hotel…or in the room for that nature. We went to the front desk and then they went through many processes due to the fact that they had just placed another guest into that room…RD coud not take it anymore, she went straight up to the room and asked them.

WHAT? Your telling me that it’s not in the room? You have to go to housekeeping now?

Uh, I went to the lobby, sat down and then let RD take her time and run through the motions with many people…I sorted my stuff that we had gotten in our goodie bags and then RD came back. She still had not found it, she was going to rip some heads off…so we return to her room and low and behold…

IT WAS IN HER ROOM…ALL THIS TIME!

Oh my…oh my, she apologized to the many people and then finally rested. I stayed there till a little before dinner time and then went back to my hotel for an hour before dinner. I was to have dinner with her and her aunt and friend…and AD was to join us as well. AD is the Colorado friend who is in close relations with SR, a flyer runner and friend. Long story straight, she was one of my best friends from high school.

We go to dinner, AD was late and the waitress messes up my order. RD and her Aunt straighten things up and I am fed double portions…and then my second meal I order as I go out the door for my second dinner. Second dinners are becoming my ritual during marathons due to the meltdown that I face during my first two marathons. I only stumbled upon this due to the fact that I had two dinners to attend when I was at the Vermont Marathon and low and behold…I BQed that next day. I don’t know what it may have been, but I consistently do that now and it has become a ritual in my mind that it works.

After dinner, AD and I roam around the finish line park. It was chilly and I just don’t know what it will be like tomorrow morning before the race. AD and I catch up as I eat my second dinner in the hotel room…I reside to making sure that everything was in order for the next day and finally stretch before I head to bed. I slept like a log even though there were people partying outside at a local bar in back of the hotel. Awaiting for this marathon to begin so I can be done with my running season.

10/9/08

Stocks drop 700 points…like my running…

"There is an itch in runners." ARNOLD HANO

Stretch. Roll. Massage.

Shaved my head this morning, so I can be oh so fast on Saturday...but no mohawk...sorry folks!

That’s all I can do from here on in. My final days are up with 2 days in counting and I’ll be taking off on Friday to go up to Hartford. Funny that. I had been planning (with RD who will now be going by Amtrak) on leaving pretty late to be able to sleep in and be all rested…but no.

Plan was to escape the Amtrak expensiveness and travel up by Metro-North:

The Journey:
Grand Central to New Haven and then switch to a bus to Hartford

Savings from Amtrak to The Journey - $49 - $66 vs. $18.50 + $11 = $29.50

(as now I look at the regular bus fares from Greyhound and see that it’s $35…stupid me)

I was fine a couple of days ago, then look today and was like…WHAT? All sold out? Oh man, I find a frantic morning in looking for earlier trains of buses out of Hartford and my eyes set on the train. For some reason, I wanted to go by this adventure due to the fact that I had no clue of how I was to make it back home. My friend, AD will be driving me back home now to Somers (home home) since she is a teacher and will be coming back home till Monday for Columbus Day.

But yes, secured my spot on the journey and will be waking up at the crack of dawn on my adventure to Hartford, CT. I’ll be there early to walk around the city and enjoy myself as I usually do for every marathon. Meeting up with RD when she arrives in Hartford and scoot on over to the Marathon expo…

Well…here is the map and elevation chart…wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

Going home to pack, then sleep, then ready to go!

10/8/08

Wheew…

"Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner." NOEL CARROLL

After work is done today, I’m on a rollercoaster to catch up in my bloggin’ ways and hopefully be ok. I have missed out on the past 2 months in bloggin’ and I apologize to those fans out there who consistently check up and see how I am doing…if I don’t talk to you or you just read my daily shenanigans I have not done much running for that matter due to injury and total meltdown after the Reach the Beach relay race which I ran 4 legs and a total of 26.2 miles.

So…you want to know the abridged version of what you have missed for the last 2 months:

June 22_The Fairfield Half…

July_
4_ Fourth of July

August_
11_It’s like Marathon depression…
16_Tolerance of Pain…
17_Yasso 800_Thursday_ bit in the ass!
18_Underwear Run
19_Called Apparel – Work and sport: what happened at work…
21_Monday Group Run – Back to basics
22_Step on_ Ahhh SHIT: vomit, poop and rained on…
23_Stretch! – Calves…Summer Streets
31 – Human Race

September –
9/6 – Mind Body Fitness games – Points Race – No memory!
9/11 – Reach The Beach
9/21 – 5th Ave Mile - Volunteer
9/27 – 24 hour coverage – NY Philharmic
9/28 - Newport
9/24 – Mets game w/Jamie
9/26 – The Kail
9/30 – New Jersey Marathon

October_
10/1 – Sign Up Miami Marathon
10/2 – 46
10/4 Norweigen Run
10/6 – Focus Group

Oh yeah…and I’ll be running in the Hartford Marathon this weekend. Yes, I know. I’m the hypocrite speaking. My word is no longer valid in any way… but I do know my body and what it can handle...after this, I'm taking off...I have accomplished all I need to accomplish for this year.

To say and to do something is completely different when you are not in a spot and a predicament. I know that I can run 26.2 miles…at what pace and what kind of pain? I have no pain as of yet because I recover pretty well and have been stretching. For the past year or so, I have been waking up to pain and have dealt with it. It was a reoccurring on and off again…but I can do this and I will not bitch anymore than I need to. I'll go out there and compete and to the best that I can do...yes, it I was going to give anyone else a recommendation, i guess I should switch my ways of telling them that it's up to them...


I will be off for a whole month after this marathon, as Hartford is my 5th and last marathon of the year. I am finally listening to friends and family to STOP…and rest my legs so I can walk when I am older…

Anyways, to brighten up the hilariousness, Bright Room sent me pictures of the Norwegian Half this weekend and I guess I had received these kids pictures as well since the kid was the same number as I was in the Kids race…

Ahh, I love kids…
But I'm guessing their parents really didn't appreciate my pictures....hahah!

10/6/08

Norwegian Half Marathon

"I always run alone, away from phones and stress. Running is a major part of my life because it keeps me sane." MICHAEL ROUX, JR., Executive Chef, Le Gavroche, London

Waking up this morning with the cold brisk air, I did not want to run, especially since I had been really exhausted lately. Knowing I had to get out of bed and just go to the race because the only reason I was doing this race was because it was a teams race. Our team was so close to win it all, and by speculation, we only needed to get ahead of the Reservoir Dogs to claim the prize. But we are in a friendly competition with the Res Dogs, we practically are very similar in clubs when it comes down to choosing between running clubs. Not many clubs can really say the same...many are totally different in style, running ability and personality. But yes, it’s very friendly competition since I got to know a few of them from Reach the Beach.

Anyways, get out of the apartment and move on to central park. It slowly feels like I am warming up to the weather due to the many layers that I have on. I was prepared to wear sleeves, although it felt warmer as I stripped down to my running gear. Ate my 2 banana’s, bagel and drank Gatorade, should be all set. I see PBJ as he was running extra before the race. I huddle around some other flyers like AP, who is super psyched about points races. He of course is one of the magnificent runners on our team and I am amazed.

I stretch, converse with both Res Dog members and NY Flyer members...then head to baggage with CM, who I always looked up to when I as a beginner distance runner along with NC. Both I would try to catch up to at half marathons and would always start behind them and try to catch up to them. That was two years ago and I have matured as a distance runner, but still they are not far behind. I make my way toward the blue start, although side tracked by some ravishing Flyers - Runner 26, CC (a good high school friend of mine who joined up with the Flyers), DG & LG and JT. Runner 26 was concerned about me and asked me why I was out running (probably reading from my last entry of injury) but I had told her that I was out here because I needed to run for the team. I would try to do what I can to be the last guy in scoring, but we shall see what happens.

I was not too far away from the starting line. Geez, I don’t want to get sucked into running too fast out of the gate. I see PD, SK, JE, JD and JM...All fast guys where I will try to keep up with them. The gun went off and I was off, this was the first time I had ran since my last half marathon last Sunday and I had been off the whole week. Running injured is not the greatest thing in the world, but you just have to stretch it out and keep on going.

The beginning miles were difficult, I had to get myself into a rhythm and stay with my stride. I calculated in my mind how I would be able to keep pace with people and just settle in. A half marathon is a long race and I needed to cover myself and just get though it. Mentally I needed to be at a comfortable point where I can just trudge through it. I needed to get ready for my next marathon and a half marathon is a good way to judge, but not a week before. I saw J at the bottom of Central Park and was not at all expecting him. I really showed my emotions that I did not want to be in the race, which he had told me later on that I looked like crap. I moved on, it has been a while since I had raced in the park and this was a whole lot different from last week’s Newport run which was flat as hell.

I stay behind JE, who was in my age group but has been off for the summer due to triathlon training. He had been a great addition to our team and it’s really good to see that my age group has some great members within it. Of course CD, who I run with on my Monday group runs, is a huge competitor of mine and so now DF, who is a cousin of SH and is a great addition to our team (he is the one that I have to watch out for later on since he is so young and has such a natural talent). Anyways, back to the race…

I had set my strides and got use to the hills once again. They had been a bit painful at first, since I was not use to hills as much as I wanted to be, but I knew I needed to save myself for the next loop…I make my ways toward JE at mile 5, as I pass him right at Engineers Gate. I tell him to keep his sride and pace, not go any faster than he wanted to and expend his energy. I offered to get him water and if he needed anything at the water station since we worked together. But I knew how he raced, he goes out fast and settles in, but sometimes a little too fast. We raced together in Austin, where he had really gone out quickly for his half marathon and I had caught up to him as I was doing my full….but anyways, I quickly made my way up and left him as I needed to focus on the second loop at hand.

There was a constant runner that I had been running with, a female, of course (it just so happens to be that way all the time) but she was a great competitor as we swapped leads about every half a lap. She pummeled the hills as I slepped up them. My achiness started a little, as I can feel my legs a little worn down but had to keep going as what I thought my team needed me, but later on I find that the BIG 5 were there and really I could have rested this one out.

I see BC taking pictures and I thank him for that, because we usually take pictures together (he usually takes the top portion of Central Park and I usually go down to 72nd Street and do my thing over there)…but it’s always good to see him or any Flyer out there cheering another teammate on.

I look at my time and really bear down to my grips on just finishing the race. I have points where I surge and try to keep my surge at a pace where I wanted to be at…Sub 7’s is what I needed to not really prove, but to just see if I can withhold. I see the portion of the bottom half where at a certain point and a certain light post I will really surge, then when I find myself at the opening of the park, I will surge another time to finish up at Tavern on the Green…famous for the end of the New York City Marathon. I finish up and see already the Big 5 already done, and I was glad that I didn’t have to score for the team with such a par race of mine (which was a good race in the end for me not at 100% and feeling more like 60-70% of my abilities)

In the end, I see SR, who I had bumped into just yesterday getting my race bib at the NYRR. It was quite a coincidence lately to see her at races and she had told me the most ridiculous stories of her race, WHICH SHE GOT A PR by the way…I was amazed. She was hilarious where she had told me that she passed RB and as she did, he was like: “SR what are you doing up here? I never see you up here?” and also, “SR watch out, I’m going to be talking a whole lot and spitting a lot as well!” I think that made my morning!

But yes, she told everyone about her PR as she had every right and deserved to do so. I was amazed as we saw a bunch of other Flyers and she was rolling and wanted to spread the word about her great accomplishment. It got really cold and started to rain a bit as we made our way out of the park and caught up…in all it was a good race and a good day. I just have to watch out for SR now, she’s gunning after me!

Former Duluth resident Goucher wins 10-mile road race championship

"Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head." JOE HENDERSON


Former Duluth resident Kara Goucher seized the lead three miles in and ran away with the U.S. national women's 10-mile road race championship this morning in the first event on the day of the Twin Cities Marathon.

Goucher, who is in the midst of heavy training for the Nov. 2 New York City Marathon, covered the 10 miles in a course-record time of 53 minutes, 15 seconds.
It was also the fastest-ever 10-mile time for a woman in Minnesota.

"Oh, good," she said when informed that she beat the former top time by former Olympian Janis Klecker. "That's a really big honor."

Goucher, 30, took the lead from Team USA Minnesota runner Katie McGregor near the 3-mile mark, when both slowed slightly for water. McGregor, 31, who has won this race five times previously and set the former course record of 53:48 two years ago, finished second in 55:04.

"It was just one of those days I just really couldn't get it going," McGregor said. "She pulled away, Obviously, I'd have loved to have the race she had."

Goucher, who logged a 23-mile training run just six days earlier, said, "I thought I was going to run faster. Really, I think my legs are pretty dead. If I would have tapered down, I think I could have run two minutes faster."

Goucher expressed confidence that she'll be ready for New York City, where McGregor will also be competing.

10/3/08

Human Pinball

"There is nothing quite so gentle, deep, and irrational as our running - and nothing quite so savage, and so wild." BERND HEINRICH, Why We Run: A Natural History


So after work, I decided to go up to NYRR to get my bib and shirt. I would be able to see my friend JK, who has amazed me since the beginning from running for TNT and not being able to run 3 miles to being able to accomplish a marathon and is SO into running and multi sports that sometimes she has more enthusiasm as I do. I make my way towards Union Square and when transferring subway cars, I hear my name or see a familiar face. It was SR. She works as teacher near where I had lived on the east side and I have not seen her since summer time due to the fact that she is now “boring” SR and responsible due to her waking up early and not having the summers off. She was a teacher and earlier in the summer she had all the free time in the world.

I had met SR though the running club as we had run together on Thursday group runs when TW was still in town. TW, BS(or as I like to call him: PB&J) and SR were all very good friends. TW left for Kalamazoo, Michigan and we miss her dearly. But SR and I ran together on these group runs just chatting about our daily lives and work and how the day went. I always recall her telling me about a kid that kicked her in the head

I had been really ecstatic over the fact that she had been racing again, since her injury of the IT band and had been out about 9 months and made a huge come back in the Team Champs race. We were lucky to get onto the subway as I got tossed and crunched from the doors as I held the door for SR to get into the subway first. The doors just nabbed me in the front and nabbed me in the back as I felt I was a human pinball.

We grabbed seats at 42nd Street and we chatted all the way up to 86th street. It was good to catch up. Good to hear that all was ok and good to see SR again on the roads, running.

We made our ways toward NYRR and we laughed all the way there…SR is hilarious!

Anyways…grabbed our numbers and I guess we’ll see each other at the race tomorrow…



Wild in the Streets

By BENJAMIN CHEEVER
Published: October 3, 2008


Crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Donald Arthur took the hand of his companion and “slid it under his jersey, telling him: ‘Feel my heart. Your brother is here with us.’ ”



He was not speaking figuratively. Fitzgerald Gittens, 25, had “died in a spray of gunfire” in August 1996. His heart was now powering Arthur, a 50-plus racewalker, who had persuaded Gittens’s brother to join him in the New York City Marathon.


The story is anomalous, yet Liz Robbins is right to include it in her new book, “A Race Like No Other.” The New York marathon transcends identity in a sometimes ghastly process that leaves the survivors ecstatic.


The logistics of this Brobdingnagian event require that athletes be at the Fort Wadsworth start on Staten Island hours ahead of time. Thousands — many shrouded in garbage bags for warmth — while away the time in line at 1,515 portable toilets. The race itself is several bridges too far, since the 2,000 calories of glycogen humans ordinarily store in the liver and muscles are gone after 20 miles. Few will die, although Pheidippides, the mythical first marathoner, did just that. As did 28-year-old Ryan Shay during the Olympic marathon trials held in Central Park in 2007. And yet when the twin 75-millimeter howitzers start this year’s ceremony of endurance on Nov. 2, the 40,000 or so starters will have been selected from more than 100,000 masochists.
Now the world’s largest marathon, the New York race was initiated in 1970 with a pickup group of 127. More than half of today’s runners come from overseas. The city takes in an estimated $200 million. So far 750,000 have come, Robbins writes, to “outrun their demons and their diagnoses” on a “day full of epiphanies.”



“It’s like a Cecil B. DeMille movie, because it’s on such a huge, epic scale,” says Alberto Salazar, who won the race three years in a row during the 1980s.


Robbins, a sportswriter for The New York Times, has packed her book with scrumptious details. It’s widely known that a statue of the marathon’s co-founder, Fred Lebow, which stands at the East 90th Street entrance to the park, is moved annually to Tavern on the Green, so that his bronze likeness can see the finish. It’s less well known that Lebow’s family had objected to the graven image, and that “the night before the statue was unveiled, Nov. 4, 1994, a rabbi had to chisel a chip between the statue’s left forefinger and thumb, thus making the likeness an imperfect representation of God’s creation.”


While the book recapitulates the 2007 strategies of top runners like Martin Lel of Kenya and Paula Radcliffe of England, Robbins spends more time with slower but no less colorful participants. Pam Rickard, the mother of three and a recovering alcoholic, had kept in shape on the stairs of the Roanoke City Jail in Virginia.


Known as “Barbie” by the other prisoners, Pam eventually won respect by holding Bible classes in her cell. On marathon day she “wears a special white T-shirt, on which she has painted in red the words to her favorite hymn: ‘It Is Well With My Soul.’ ”


Harrie Bakst was told he had adenoid cystic carcinoma when he was a college senior. His shirt has these milestones printed on the back:
3/21 — Surgery.
6/5 — 33rd and final radiation treatment.
11/4 — 26.2.



A sweat junkie myself, I’ve covered the five-borough course 10 times under my own name and three times under somebody else’s name, borrowing bibs from others who had registered but decided at the last minute to forgo the ordeal. I also volunteered once to pass out finish medals and was enjoined not to give more than one to each person. “Because you’ll be asked.” And I was. If the written word still has any force, then this book could take on talismanic power, like the medal or the Mylar cape that ­every finisher receives. It might even become — who knows? — more valuable than a T-shirt, and people will do anything for a T-shirt. Or that’s what Fred Lebow said.


Benjamin Cheever’s most recent book, “Strides,” is a personal history of running.

10/1/08

Amy D...

"Every day, I stop halfway through my run for five minutes, look around, and enjoy the surroundings. I'm reminded of why I do this and why I love it so much." ANITA ORTIZ

AD was an amazing distance runner, who actually got me into distance running. I have never been a distance runner, and only used distance (5K and Cross Country) to actually train for my sprinting. During high school AD made it to states in Cross Country and I still remember to this day that I did not go. I couldn’t because I was applying early decision to my school and had to make up my portfolio on the fly…weird huh? I had stayed up that entire week and I tried to get everything done in time, but no cigar. I was so frustrated that afterwards, I mailed in my submission and took a run. This was on my usual routine hill workout in Heritage Hills, where I guess this got me loving hills so much. My mentality, was that with sprinting you have to enjoy hills, if you trained on hills and sprinted up hills, you would do better when the race was on flat ground. Get it?

The sun was shining low and sun set was glistening on the autumn leaves. I just sat there on the side of the road, just thinking. Somewhat crying, somewhat frustrated and somewhat just in content. I wanted to go up and see AD, but it was a no go for me since I had not slept in days…
Skip to college, where AD did the Boston marathon for charity…the Boston marathon? You know you’re doing the Boston marathon as your first marathon right? That is crazy! People would just die to get into the Boston marathon and she is doing this for her first race? Oh wait…I was in college back then and I didn’t have a clue about what the Boston marathon meant to so many distance runners. All I knew was that the Boston marathon was just another marathon, like the NYC marathon. Anyways, I am pretty sure that I supported her and was calling her right before her runs or right after sometimes when she talked about those Newton Hills. I didn’t have a clue about what she was talking about really when she was running all those miles. When she told me that she had ran 20 miles that day, I was like, WHAT? Are you kidding me? Ok…AD really enjoyed running this marathon, although one thing stuck out when she was done with the race, she told me that her parents went to take her out afterwards and she was just so tired, so tired that she didn’t eat anything. I think she threw up after the race as well, but I need to confirm with her. She must have really enjoyed it so much that she did the same thing the very next year…I think that is what happened…So I guess she got me into marathon running in general and told me how fun it was, so I had to try it out!

And that’s it…to this day, AD and I talk and chat over a bunch of stuff. I’m still waiting for her to do another marathon with me…that would be fun. Although she was there in many of my marathons this year alone: Steamboat Springs and Hartford. I think she will be running with me on the last mile in Boston…well…if she trains! Boston and New York are my fun marathons this year…
Should be fun!
FRIENDLIER Reusable goody bag with cups made of corn.
By JAN ELLEN SPIEGEL
Published: September 26, 2008


AS a road race, the ING Hartford Marathon can’t hope to compete with the likes of its powerhouse neighbors in New York City and Boston. But in the race for environmental awareness — Hartford is the one to beat.

When the marathon steps off Oct. 11 — with about 10,000 participants across several events and another 20,000 watching — it will be part of two pilot projects that showcase Hartford as one of the premiere “green” sporting events in the nation.

Beth Shluger, the race director, said the greening of the marathon began about four years ago after United Technologies Corporation became its title sponsor (ING took over that role this year). “We were just brainstorming,” she said. “What can we do to set Hartford apart from the other 40 marathons that you can run in the fall in the country?” It was United Technologies, she said, that suggested going green.

“I thought it was a great idea,” said Ms. Shluger, who created the race 15 years ago and is also the executive director of the Hartford Marathon Foundation, which organizes several races around the state. “What we’re supposed to be about is the ultimate in health, and now we were going to go even further.”

Going further turned out to be at once easy and challenging. Case in point — water.

After surveying the 2006 Bushnell Park finish line detritus of nearly 10,000 discarded water bottles, Ms. Shluger figured there had to be a better way. She went to United Technologies’ cadre of mechanically minded volunteers and said, “Whatever you can come up with.” What they came up with was a “bubbler,” which debuted at the finish line last year. It is lengths of PVC pipe with 40 classic push-button water fountains, connected by a pump to a tank of fortified water.

“I guess that’s what made us rock stars,” said Ms. Shluger, who has fielded some 50 inquiries about it from races held as far away as Zimbabwe.

She is still stumped, however, by how to handle water on the race course. Compostable corn-based cups are used for nonrace purposes, but Ms. Shluger found them too slippery and dangerous to runners who typically run right over discarded cups and spilled water at the water stations. So it’s still paper cups. “We need someone to build a new mousetrap or something,” she said.

It was the bubbler and Hartford’s long-standing environmental practices like forgoing plastic foam providing local and organic food and turning over excess food and discarded clothing to shelters that earned it one of 15 spots in a pilot project by the Council for Responsible Sport. The non-profit group is trying to establish an environmental certification system — similar to the LEED certification system for buildings — for sporting events.

“They’ve impressed me with the depth that they’re going into this,” said Jeff Henderson, executive director of the Council for Responsible Sport and a race director himself. His group will be at the race monitoring Hartford’s environmental initiatives.

Volunteers will be posted at recycling bins to make sure items are deposited properly.
Medals will be bulk-wrapped instead of put in individual plastic bags with rubber bands. Running shoes can be donated for recycling in Nike’s shoe recycling program, which turns them into sports surfaces. The title sponsor ING will plant 26 trees along the race route.

Goody bags will be made from reusable materials, costing about $14,000. The bags used last year cost nothing. Over all, it is costing 7 to 10 percent more to “go green,” Ms. Shluger said.
Runners are being asked to donate money to offset a marathon foundation donation of $5,000 to NativeEnergy of Vermont, which invests in clean energy projects.

A second pilot project at the race this year involves the Heatsheets manufactured by AFM Inc. of Petaluma, Calif. The material of the thermal wraps, once nonrecyclable Mylar, is now a low-density polyethylene that can be made into lumber and other items. Hartford is among six races helping determine the best way to recyle the material in the Heatsheets.

“Hartford is really one of the pioneers in this,” said David Deigan, chairman and chief executive of AFM. “They have been going way, way further than others to make a green event.”

Seriousness and Limitations?

"The most beautiful motion is that which accomplishes the greatest results with the least amount of effort." PLATO

Unedited:
Are humans supposed to run a 3:43.13 Mile (Hicham El Guerrouj)? Are humans supposed to run a marathon in 2:04: 26 (Haile Gebrselassie) at a 4:45 minute mile pace? Do runners keep progressing to an obsession that they need to find the next best thing to test their bodies to the very limits?

Runners find the question of “what is the difference between a runner and a jogger?” a very touchy subject. Some would say that a “jogger” is someone that does not take running very seriously. Those who run every once in a while, never very fast and NEVER enters races. I recently also got an answer quoting the late Dr. George Sheehan, Runner’s World Columnist and running philosopher, the difference was a signature on a race application (yes, back in the day, you had to fill out race applications by hand or mail it in.)

So as runners, do we take running to another level (other than just jogging)? Do we train to satisfy the pure craving of our mental state in a pure addiction of running?

As runners we tend to run for many reasons. Some may simply join the NY Flyers for the social networking of approximately 650 members, while others may simply be joining to purely race for the team. Yes, many of us are in for all of the above. We, as a team, provide a very diverse membership from people to paces and we should be proud of this nature. We are not a team that strives to contain the very fastest runners in NYC or try to fly in members or extend memberships to runners just for team races. We are runners who appreciate running for what it simply is. Running.

As a running group we offer many different amenities for our runners from group runs to speedwork, we post our personal bests and provide a marathon training program. We provide all these for our members to help them succeed in their individual goals or individual aspirations in running. But an individual, it is up to that person to find what they are looking for in running.

Some runners would that try our very best to succeed. Running to them may not be just for fun, but to obtaining a Personal Best in all the races they do. They may train to the very limits: running high mileage, adding in tempo runs and doing speedwork. We train in below freezing weather to torrential downpour to even heat exhaustion, we push the envelope against mother nature, where sometimes these are very dangerous conditions. Some will push their thresholds to far exceed what their minds can actually take. Some will push through injuries where they know that they should stop, but risk it because they need to do it to satisfy their goals. Are we simply addicted to running?

While running in the 24 hour (27 hour in our case) relay of Reach the Beach relay race this past month, I learned many things about myself through this experience. The relay was to be a fun experience for all those who had joined. Think about it, you run with a ten other runners, of all different levels and capabilities, packed up in a van and keep running for 24 hours. Weather permitting some ran in cool New England weather, while others ran in the rain or in the sun. We all had to run in the pure darkness, where you had to run with a safety vest, blinkers and headlamp. Our team had to run more than the usual where many members had to run a totaling the mileage as much as a marathon distance and no less than 15 miles through the rolling hills of New Hampshire. The experience and scenery was a breathtaking and the team performed even better than expected.

Maybe it was the exhaustion or lack of sleep, the mileage that my body has taken over the trip. I looked at each of these legs and raced them for my own time. I am the type of who I had explained above as a serious runner. I am a runner who is an absolute hypocrite in dishing out helpful information, but too stubborn to even listen to my own advise. The real question is: Do I take running too seriously? Many teammates even approached me saying that I had my “game face” on and they could not even talk to me before the race because I looked too serious. I raced my second to last leg of the race, which equal to heartbreak hills in the Boston marathon to steep downhill’s like the San Francisco Marathon and by the end of the run, I was cooked. Mentally I reached my limits during the run to the point where I needed to smile to keep a positive attitude. If I had not done that, I would have lost my mental state and broken down and even considered stopping. I had reached the wall, but I had a reason to continue and those were my teammates.

I had raced all 4 of my legs, I had reach the wall and I had the ambition to continue. I was there because I wanted to race. In the end, I had been frustrated at some of my teammates because some did not push themselves to there limits. But why was I frustrated at them? I realized I was wrong and only frustrated at myself for losing perspective of this whole trip all together. This trip was to have fun, enjoy the experience and be with your teammates. In the end, I realized that running is not everything; but still deserves a pedestal amongst our priorities.

A self evaluation had brought me to come up with five good pointers in running:
1) Balance - You need to balance in life. Running may bring the social, exercise and volunteer aspect, but there is also work/school, other friends and family and other activities.
2) Exercise – We all run to keep in shape, right?
3) Competition - Competition is good. Though, keep in mind, we are not professionals. Keep a good clean, fun and healthy sportsmanship will be more rewarding in the end.
4) Happiness - Know that running brings you happiness, if this does not, then why do it?
5) Healthy - Keep it healthy: Always listen to your body (and friends) sometimes you are blindsided by your goals. People end up continuing and making injuries worse rather than preventing an injury that can be avoided.

We, as runners, all have our hopes and dreams in our running ambitions. We all know that we are limited in what we can do, but we can always improve. Many of us take running to a serious manner, but in the end we need to keep a good perspective of running and everything else in life.


Edited:
Are humans supposed to run a 3:43.13 mile like Hicham El Guerrouj? Or a 2:03:59 marathon, like Haile Gebrselassie just accomplished, at a sub-4:44 minute-per-mile pace? Do all runners obsess until they find the next way to test their bodies to the limits?

Some runners find the question, “What is the difference between a runner and a jogger?” a very touchy one. Some classify a “jogger” as one who does not take running very seriously (e.g., those who run every once in a while, don’t run very “fast”, or don’t set out to achieve specific goals, such as improving one’s pace or increasing distance.) I recently received an answer quoting the late Dr. George Sheehan, former Runner’s World medical editor and running philosopher, who suggested the difference between a runner and a jogger was a signature on a race application. (Yes, back in the day one filled out race applications by hand!)

So, as members of a “running” club, what level do we take running to? Do we train to satisfy a craving? Are we addicted to running?

We tend to run for many reasons. Some of you may have joined the NY Flyers for the social network of approximately 650 members, others for the group training runs or to find running partners, while some may have joined to race for a team. And many of us are in it for all of the above—runners who simply appreciate running.

We, as a team, represent a very diverse membership of people and paces and we should be proud of this. We offer many different amenities for our runners, from group runs to speedwork, to personal bests on the Web site to the Marathon Training Program. We provide all this for our members to help them succeed in their individual goals and aspirations in running. But, as individuals, it is up to us to define what we are looking for.

Some runners try their very best to succeed. Running to them may not be just for fun, but in order to obtain PRs in all the races they do. Some train to the very limits: running high mileage, adding in tempo runs, and doing speedwork. Some train in below-freezing weather, torrential downpours, and dangerous conditions threatening hypothermia or heat exhaustion, pushing the envelope against Mother Nature. Some will push their thresholds to far exceed what their minds can actually take, or push through injuries when they know that they should stop, but risk continuing because they need to satisfy their goals.

While running in the 24-hour (27-hour, in our case) Reach the Beach Relay race this past month, I learned many things about myself. The relay was intended to be a fun experience for all those who had joined. Think about it: 10 runners of all different levels and capabilities, packed into a van, running over 209 miles throughout the night. We encountered cool New England evenings, nippy mornings, rain, sunshine, mountains, and sea. We ran in pure darkness, decked out in safety vests, blinkers, and headlamps. With a smaller than ideal team and individual’s mileage totaling just under 15 miles to a full marathon distance, we lived the rolling hills of New Hampshire. The experience and scenery were breathtaking and the team performed even better than expected.

Maybe it was the exhaustion, the lack of sleep, or the mileage that my body tackled over the trip. I had looked at each of these legs and raced them for time. By the end of my last leg of the relay—which felt equal to Boston’s Heartbreak Hills and San Francisco’s steep downhills—I was cooked. I had reached my limits, to the point where I needed to make myself smile to keep a positive attitude. If I had not done that, my mental state was such that I may have broken down and even considered stopping. I reached the wall, but I had a reason to continue. And that was my team.

Many teammates have approached me in the past, saying that they can not talk to me before a race when I have my “game face” on. Yes, I am the type who would be classified as a “runner” above, usually too stubborn to heed my own advice. I guess the real question is: do I take running too seriously?

Reflecting on the experience, I’ve come up with five new credos for running:
1. Balance: You need to balance. Running may bring the social, exercise, and volunteer aspects to your life, but there are also work/school, other friends, and family activities to appreciate.
2. Exercise: We all run to keep in shape and relieve stress, right?
3. Competition: Competition is good. Keep in mind, however, that we are not professionals. Good, clean, fun, and healthy sportsmanship will be more rewarding in the end.
4. Happiness: Running should bring you happiness. If it does not, then why do it?
5. Health: Always listen to your body (really) and don’t be blindsided by your goals. It doesn’t make sense to injure oneself doing an activity to keep you healthy!

I participated in the Reach the Beach relay because I wanted to race—but I nearly lost perspective of the trip altogether. The purpose was to have fun, enjoy the experience, and be with my teammates. In the end, I realized that running is a priority, but it’s not everything. Know your limitations, strive for balance, and don’t take running too seriously. Running brings happiness. That should be enough to make me smile.