Sunday, July 30, 2006


That's how it feels to have two whole days off work! Saturday was the first day I did nothing for my job since July 4. Yay! Sunday, I just feel lazy.

Erin and I had a fantastic vacation day to a Le Refuge Inn, a B&B on City Island, off the coast of the Bronx in the Long Island Sound, which you can get to by subway! We were treated to the owner's room and had a fantastic dinner. I had escargot, peppercorn-encrusted steak and creme brulée -- yum! Erin had . . . Who cares? Did I mention that I had escargot, peppercorn-encrusted steak and creme brulée? YUM! We met another couple from the B&B. They were taking their first vacation from their daughter in the 2 years since she was born and the four of us hit a bar for martinis before dinner. (They were $2.25 EACH! Can't get that in Manhattan!) Unfortunately, husband had a few too many and passed out before dinner. Finally, we were treated to fantastic views of Eastchester Bay, Pelham Bay and the Long Island Sound -- assuming we were willing to walk the staggering distance of 2 blocks across the island. And it was really nice for Erin and me to be able to spend some time together for a couple days since we've both been stretched a little thin over the past month. Of course, when we got back the first thing we did was go get Italian ices from Ralph's. I guess no matter where you go, there's always something you'll miss from home.

At the B&B, Erin was interviewed by News 12: the Bronx -- "As Local As Local News Gets". (Note: this is a pay link! BOO! News shouldn't be for pay.) The station was doing a story on the B&B we were staying at and we were accosted for an interview on our way in -- after we'd been walking around antique and ice cream shops for for the better part of 2 hours in 95˚ heat. All sweaty and gross and just perfect for dinner-time television. Erin did very well on the interview. I, on the other hand, was completely tounge-tied. The interviewer, although an otherwise attractive woman -- about 5'10", slender, athletic build -- had about 10-12 6" long black hairs sticking out of her neck. Every time I was asked a question, I deflected to Erin because I was totally afraid I'd do a Freudian, "This place has great beard . . . uh, I mean bread. And I love the hairs -- chairs, I meant chairs." We apparently got airtime in the Bronx last night at 7.

Otherwise, the weekend's been really relaxing. A very nice way to spend the anniversary.

Me with Eastchester Bay in the background

Erin, chilling in the "nook" in our room

The Lobster House

Me looking cool

Erin showing off

Pelham Bay

And, the week-in-review. Saturday, did what I call the 5 bridge run. This is a very challenging 17.8 mile loop that I recommend for anyone who needs to run an 18-20 flat run (i.e., run this loop instead of the 20). I left it about 1/2 mile short for only 17.2 miles. That was plenty on a hot, hot, hot Saturday morning. As of today, we are at less than 3 months to the MCM. On the one hand, it seems like it's so close. On the other, my god there's a lot of training left to do!

5.0 miles9.0 miles5.0 miles10.33 milesRest17.2 milesRest46.53
8:56/mT: 4 mile
8:19/m7:46/m -- 8:08/m -- --

Thursday, July 27, 2006


So, I must be becoming acclimatized to the warm weather. Whenever you look at the weather at 5:30 a.m., it's 80 degrees with 82% humidity and you think, "Gee, that's not so bad," then it must be August! Six days of running in a row are down. I have to say that I'm glad that's over. Despite the strong pace for today's BS Run (80:15 for 10.33 miles, 7:46 pace) I could really feel the fatigue of the past week. Start to finish. But it's good to have moved some weekend runs because now I know that I can definitely relax over the weekend. Erin and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary (today!) by going to a B&B Saturday night. Now, over this weekend the last things that would be acceptable would be for me to (i) get up Sunday morning at the B&B and leave to do a run or (ii) me not going running but being cranky because I missed my goals. And since I'm a spaz, the second possibly's too much of a risk to not plan for. I don't want to be a jerk and ruin things, so a little fatigue now's well worth it. And Saturday, we're going to have bubbly, dinner and relax! Fantastic.

Weird stuff's been happening in my neighborhood. I know I've mentioned neighborhood composition a lot, but again . . . it's older ethnic Italians, hipster spillover from the East Village, blue collar Puerto Ricans and Orthodox Jews. With this mix, it might not be surprising to learn that there aren't a lot of people out running at 6 am. In fact, in the last 2 weeks, I've seen exactly . . . 2 (between my apartment and the Williamsburg Bridge.) So, when I started regularly running in the neighborhood in March (treadmilled through the winter) I was something of an anomaly. People out gave me looks that ran the full spectrum from complete indifference to incedulity that some skinny, sweatty, white kid with no tattoos or leather was running through the neighborhood. However, now that I'm a regular that's all changed. Today marks the FOURTH time in the last two weeks that I've been stretching out in front of my apartment after a run and some older gentleman's come by to offer encouragement. I've gotten thumbs up, "good job"s, and "way to go"s. All have been from older men -- well over 60 -- often either overweight or having some other ailment, e.g., one was walking with a cane. The whole thing's weirding me out a little bit.

Anyway, this'll be the last post until next week because of this weekend's trip. Bye all. Have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Maybe there was something to that Easy Run

Yesterday was an "easy" day, replacing a "rest" day because Erin and I are going "out of town" for our anniversary this weekend, and I've rearranged the schedule. By "out of town," I mean that we're leaving Brooklyn for a B&B in the Bronx, which really seems like it's a different country. It's going to be fantastically fun, but the travel is revealing my inner spastic-ness, in that I immediately rearrange the training schedule. As Ryan, who's also shooting to BQ (but in Chicago), and who's running the same schedule as me (but a week ahead) put it: "I'm finding that I'm not only committed, but borderline compulsive about keeping my training plan." Yup. That's it in a nutshell. I'm such a spaz.

Today was 9 miles with 4 at tempo. I expected this to be really tough, since it'd be my fourth day running in a row, something I haven't done since several weeks before marathon training began in earnest. It was tough, but not awful. Most of the difficulty was in congestion on the track (really, do you need to walk 4 wide across the inside three lanes on a turn? Is that really necessary?) and a headwind into the near turn, although there was definitely some residual fatigue from Sunday's 15 miler. Despite challenges, the tempo was in 26:39 or 6:40 average pace. Perfect. The worst part of the run though was during the easy portions -- the 5 miles of warmup/cooldown that I did on the McCarren Park 2/3 mile dirt loop. At the north end were two bums, passed out on the park bench laying on top of each other. No problem except I passed them 4 times and I think the smell was worse each time. The last time through, I'm not sure what happened, but one of them was laying on the ground. Don't know if the one on the bottom decided he didn't like being smothered or if the one on top just rolled off the bench and couldn't get up.

By the way, remember a few weeks ago the post that mentioned the Orthodox Jewish man running in dress slacks and an oxford on the Williamsburg Bridge? I was browsing some Flyer photos during a break yesterday and apparently someone else noticed him at a race. Honestly, this is the guy. I remain impressed.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Photo Run #1

I've been toying with the idea of a photo-run, where I take pictures as I run around, almost since I started the blog. Since I've rearranged the schedule to take away a rest day and replace it with an easy run, I figured today's a good day for the experiment since the camara will force it to be a really easy run. The route's the Williamsburg Bridge O&B. (Note: the photos are in reverse chrono order) Hopefully this'll be a recurrent feature.

Early morning commuters

East River from the Williamsburg Bridge, heading back to Brooklyn

Good morning Chinatown!

More commuters on the J Train

East Village from the Bridge (Erin points out that the lamp is somewhat phallic.)

Bridge's tower

Halfway across the Bridge; speaks for itself

Although it looks like just a fence, it's really a shot of Manhattan

Oy Vey!

The worst part? Where the path goes out of sight is only about 1/2 way up the bridge.

Statute in square at base of Bridge in Brooklyn

Bank, with the Williamsburg Bridge's pedestrian walkway passing in front.


Driggs Ave

More Graffiti, I'm not really sure what it's supposed to be

Left over Italian flags from the World Cup (as if this blog doesn't already have enough photos of Italian flags).

The start, right in front of my apartment.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Race Walkers?

For a change of scenary (and since I needed to head into the City for work anyway) I decided to do today's long run in Central Park. I'm super bummed to have missed JW's Ventillator Run, but with the L train on the fritz, I wasn't willing to travel 3 hours involving multiple trasfers and shuttle buses for it. Bad timing.

So, when I arrived in the park, the Metropolitan 15K Racewalk Championship was in progress. Now, I've seen a lot of silly athletes in my life. Runners with silly strides, arm motions, butt wiggles. Runners in silly outfits, but more often bikers in really silly outfits. I've even seen runners with silly arm swings and butt-wiggles in super silly biker outfits. However, I've never seen anything quit like racewalking. It has the silly arm-swing, a super-silly butt wiggle (especially for the faster, uh . . . walkers) and some fantastically silly racewalker outfits. If any of you remember the episode of Malcolm in the Middle where Hal becomes a racewalker, there was actually a guy dressed like THAT! Of course, any sport where the average age at a Championship event appears to be pushing 60 has got to be somewhat silly . . . or possibly shuffleboard.

The best moment was when a guy with his kid in a jogging stroller, stops to deal with the kid. He pulls into the race-walking course to avoid getting hit by a runner or cyclist while he's playing dad. A race official runs up and yells at him. At this point, the closest racewalker was in sight, about 1/2 mile away -- at least 4 or 5 minutes. Guy says, "I'll be done long before they get here." But race official won't let it go and yells at him. Dad starts jogging away, but flips the guy off on the way. Weird. I guess that race official had the power go to his head. Lest you be outraged, the kid was oblivous to all of these shenanigans and looked to be having a great time watching the people in the park. He waved at me as I ran by. I waved back.

So, the run. One full loop (6 miles), one lower loop (5 miles) and the Middle 4 (4 miles) for a grand total of 15. This was hard. I know I've said it before, but Central Park's a hard place to run. On a good note, it was only about 70 degrees when I got started and was raining slightly, but that didn't quite make up for the difficulty of the terrain. Oh, well. It'll toughen me up for later, I suppose. Time was 1:58:45 (7:55 pace).

4 down and 14 to go! Second week in a row over 40. Legs are starting to feel fatigued now. Most runs, they don't feel quite fresh, but I don't know how much the crazy-a$$ work loads been inhibiting recovery and how much is related to actual training.

Rest8.0 Miles5.0 Miles10.33 milesRest4.0 Miles15.0 Miles42.33
- 7:177:547:49 - 7:027:55 -

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Tour Spoilers Present

OK. The title's fair warning. If you're in the U.S. and you're waiting on the primetime coverage of Le Tour, this post has spoilers and you might want to wait until tomorrow to read it. If you can't wait (I know my readers are so rabid.) then I've put the Tour section in RED.

So, I'm going to have to quit talking about the Tour. After the ups and downs this week, I'm glad it's about over cause my heart can't take it. After falling 8 minutes on one stage, regaining 7.5 the next day, and then a transition stage, the whole Tour for Landis came down to this morning's time trial. Everything clicked for him today, as he finished a solid third, took a 1 minute lead over Pereiro and is positioned to cruise into Paris. I was watching while trying to get some work done this morning, but didn't get a lot done because once Landis went through the first time check 1s down on Honchar (who won the time trial earlier in the tour) but only 10s ahead of Periero, the tension level was too high. Although Landis slowed over the course relative to Honchar, Pereiro slowed more. You could tell the relief in the post-race interview. The bonk aside, he just out-raced the field. Do you think that the rest of the world is getting pissed about Americans winning the Tour?

OK, I've been in the office waaayyy too much in the past few weeks. We went to a firm-wide happy hour on Wednesday. One of the partners says to me, "So have you done any cool summer stuff . . . oh, I mean . . . nevermind, you've been at the office too late for that." Then, at the weekly associate's meeting, our liason to the Partner's Committee is asking about assignments, going around the room, "what do you have going on?" Like that. He gets to me, and says, "OK. I know you're really busy. Moving on." However, as good news, I finished up a project on Friday. This means I'm only now being pulled in 4 directions at once instead of 5! No rest for the wicked. Last night, I left early . . . 8:30 p.m.

I did 4 miles today in McCarren Park. These are always weird runs for me, because on the one hand, they should be easy. The route's pancake flat and 2/3 of it's dirt, as I make four 2/3 mile loops around the park. On the other hand, because there are no hills, at my normal effort I run it at about a 7 minute pace (Compared with the 7:45 I run for 5 miles when the Williamsburg Bridge is part of the route.) But, the route's so much easier, that it's not really a tempo run. It's strange how huge a role terrain plays in time. Hopefully, 40s/mile faster on no more effort is a good sign, since the Marine Corp Marathon is pancake flat.

I'm not going to give the detail on the last week's runs that I missed posting because of work, other than to say that my 10 miler on Thursday involved a new route because the police had the Manhattan Bridge blocked off. I'm calling it the B.S. Run because it's a loop of Lower Manhattan that passes, among other sites such as the AMEX, the NYSE and the N.Y. Stocking Exchange, the Wall Street Bull. A nice "flat" route that only involves about 3 miles of climbing because of only one bridge, it's significantly easier than the BMW Run that I'd planned. At 7:49/mile (with really "dead" quads), again, it's amazing what a big difference a change of terrain makes.

Thursday 10.33, 80:48 (7:49/mile)
Saturday 4.0, 28:07 (7:02/mile)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Easy Does It

After arriving to work on Monday to hear, "See Senior Partner. All hell's broken loose," from the secretary before even a hello, my rest day Monday wasn't really all that restful. Tuesday didn't really improve things. So, despite several requests from Erin to go to the Philharmonic's performance on Central Park's the Great Lawn, I was really in no mood. I was in such a funk that I really thought that I'd strangle the first person to look at me cross-wise, and with the amount of wine I expected to be present, that'd probably happen way too quickly. In short, I was going to be absolutely no fun. Besides, despite its being a relatively short day, the concert started at 8 and I didn't leave the office until 8:30 anyway. (We'll go for sushi this weekend to make up for it, E)

So, I hit the gym for my tempo run (at 90 degrees at 8:30p, outside was not happening) that I'd skipped that morning with the theory that beating up some miles would be better than taking out my bad mood on someone else, like Erin when she got home. And after hammering out 8 miles, with 4.25 at 6:45 pace I felt much better about myself. It's good to accomplish goals and that's one of the nice things about running. Everything else may be a whirlwind, but I can meet at least one goal. So, hopefully that feeling of accomplishment will carry over into the next few days.

Another benefit to last night's run was that it made today's easy run really an easy run. Today's route was the Billy-burg Bridge O&B, for 5 miles in 39:30. However, with only 12 hours off since my T-run, I really had no desire or ability to run it much faster. So, it was squarely within (okay, a little faster) "easy" pace. It was . . . pleasant. Of course, the fact that it was only about 70 degrees I'm sure contributed immensely to my good feelings towards today's run.

In other news, yesterday was huge for Le Tour. The route finished on L’Alpe d’Huez, probably the most famous climb on the Tour. It was on this climb where Lance actually passed Ivan Basso (who had a 2 minute head start!) in a time trial in 2004; it's a stage in which reputations are made. Anyway, this year wasn't a time trial, but when the peloton exploded on the lead-in hills it created numerous opportunities for strategy amongst the leaders, as rider after rider from the breakaway group dropped back (while recovering) to meet up with and pace their gc men. A strong finish amongst some young riders who hung on after the breakaway (giving some return morale to Team CSC after the disastrous disqualification of Ivan Basso), fantastic team strategic riding, jockeying for position and time amongst the g.c. leaders and the claiming of a 10s lead over Pereiro for Landis to reclaim the Yellow Jersey, just a fantastic race.

Speaking of Landis, the guy may be my new hero for this interview quote, provided courtesy of Zeke:

"Everybody wants to say, 'I couldn't win because of this or that,' " he says. "To my way of thinking, it doesn't matter if your goddamn head fell off or your legs exploded. If you didn't make it, you didn't make it. One excuse is as good as another."

Landis takes a sip and leans forward in his chair. "There's only one rule: The guy who trains the hardest, the most, wins. Period. Because you won't die. Even though you feel like you'll die, you don't actually die. Like when you're training, you can always do one more. Always. As tired as you might think you are, you can always, always do one more."

Tuesday: 8 miles in 58:30, 4.25 at 6:45/mile.
Wednesday: 5 miles in 39:30, 7:54/mile.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Week in Review

With a 70+ hour work week in the bank, this week missed some run specific posts. Here's the review of the past few days. After a much-needed rest day on Friday, I went for a shortie 4 miler on Saturday. I didn't mean for it to be a tempo run, but with the day off and finally being mostly recovered from last weekend's race, it turned into one. I saw I was on 6:50 pace through 3/4 of a mile, slowed down because it was supposed to be a recovery day. But when I hit the 2.1 mile turn around at 15:15 and still didn't feel like I was putting in that much effort, decided to roll with it. Final, 4.1 miles, 7:02 average pace.

Saturday afternoon Erin and I met a co-worker and her boyfriend to see Superman Returns in Imax 3D at Lincoln Center. Imax rocks! 3D . . . not so much. The movie's fun and moves well, it really doesn't seem like you're there for almost 3 hours. On the other hand, I never realized how much of the plot of Superman revolves around getting big objects in position to fall so that he can catch them. And, it's impossible for the movie to have any dramatic suspense. The guy can't die! So, you pretty much know how it's going to end. (BTW, Spacey is a really good Lex Luther)

Anyway, when we arrived home from the movie, the week caught up with me . . . and hard. Despite plans to go out, I was asleep on the couch by 7:30 and had moved to the bed for the night by 8. I even missed Team Phonak and Landis inexplicably give nearly 30 minutes to Oscar Pereiro in Le Tour, allowing Pereiro to catapault from 42d to First! HUH? You've got the yellow jersey and you give a dangerous competitor (Pereiro finished 10th to Landis's 9th last year) both 30 minutes and the G.C. lead? It's . . . bizarre. Sunday's stage featured a horrendous crash. In a six man break-away, the fourth and fifth riders hit some loose gravel and lost control. Verbrugghe (fourth) slammed the guard-rail at 35mph and went flying; Canada (fifth) hit the ground at 35mph and then got hit by the sixth rider, Kessler, who himself then hit the guardrail and went over in a full somersault with his bike. Kessler managed to regain a bike and continue to the finish. Canada and Verbrugghe each broke limbs; Canada also broke his collarbone and Verbrugghe had horrendous cuts from his encounter with the guardrail. Just horrific.

Sunday, after 11 hours of sleep I awoke actually feeling refreshed. I met the Flyers in Van Cortlandt Park for a 15 mile trail run. Despite being directionally challenged and the heat challenged, we still managed to make it back in 2:15:00. Afterwards, I spoke with Coach Joe about my Bronx Half Marathon. He tells me that my shivers were signs of moderate heat exhaustion, "not quite where we'd be concerned about you having a heat stroke yet, but still a concern." Uhhh... and the term "heat exhaustion" sounds so innocous. He also pointed out what I found weird -- when you're overheated you feel cold? Apparently. No wonder that race was so awful.

Here's the week. First week over 40 miles. I'm pretty pumped about that!

Rest8.1 miles4.1 miles10.25 milesRest4.1 miles15 miles41.7 miles

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rushed and Tired Legs

Short post today for two reasons. One, this morning's 10 miler's left me a little pressed for time. Two, with work having picked up, I don't have all that much to write about. My days since the Fourth have gone thus: Get up, drink two big glasses of water, run, stretch, blog while cooling off, shower, get dressed (hopefully ironed the night before), work until 10, come home, iron (hopefully), go to bed, rinse, repeat. Since I've been at work more or less from 9a to 9:45p for the last week (with the exception of the Flyers HH last Friday) haven't really had a lot of time for exciting personal things. And, although work's been really interesting over the past few weeks, as a lawyer I can't really blog about it. Bummer.

On to the running. My legs are literally fried. This week added a Wednesday run to the schedule to bring the total to 5 days of running per week. Although I was doing 5-6 most weeks in the spring, for marathon training I'd initially dropped it to 4 with the overall volume being the same and each run being a longer workout. Now, I'm reintroducing more workouts to increase overall volume. The upshot (downshot?) of all this is that today was my first time running three days in a row in about a month. Add to that the lingering fatigue of the abortive Bronx Half Marathon, the really annoying DOMS that followed on Monday and Tuesday, 13 hour work days, and a late night last night with some wine (It was my birthday!) and I was dreading today's run. Absolutely woke up this morning thinking, "Do I really, I mean really, want to put myself through this?" But I reminded myself that I needed to try out my new MP3 player Erin gave me for my birthday ("It's small so you can run with it." Thanks Hon!) so after about 15 minutes staring at the ceiling I managed to roll out of bed and go.

The run was ok, even though half-way through the upslope on the Brooklyn Bridge I was beginning to wonder if I'd make it. I listened to Bloc Party's Silent Alarm for the first 30 minutes, but then realized that I was probably going too fast for my legs. So, at a light I switched to the much more mellow Plans by Death Cab for Cutie, which was perfect. Erin and I saw Death Cab in concert a few months ago at the Hammerstein Ballroom with Franz Ferdinand, a great concert band that's also fantastic for fast running. Obviously, they were out of the question today.

Wednesday: 4.1 mile Pulaski Bridge O&B, 31:22 (7:39/mile)
Thursday: 10.25 mile BMW run, 81:30 (7:57/mile)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Remove Foot from Mouth

Boy, my neighborhood really showed me who was boss on Sunday. When I got home from work on Sunday the first thing I saw (and heard!)was a cement truck sitting in the intersection covered in green and red balloons with an immense Italian flag hanging out the window, blasting its horn. Then, flying up Graham Ave was a pickup truck loaded with people, including an Italian Granny sitting in the back Clampett-style waving her own Italian flag (twice the size of she) and what appeared to be a bottle of Chianti. The entire neighborhood was draped, soup to nuts (or to give a little shout out to the festivities, ab ovo ad malum, even though that's Latin), in Italian flags. Flags from windows and on vehicles and on poles attached to the buildings. People waving flags in the streets and from their vehicles. Reminded me somewhat of when Kentucky won the NCAA basketball championship when I was in college, although this was decidedly less "riot-esque." Turns out the neighborhood can both have large parades and has people who care about the World Cup. My mistake.

When I got home, my landlady was out on the stoop with her sisters, husband, and lots of younger people (kids? neices and nephews? i nipoti?) Apparently, this hoopla had been going on for several hours. She'd informed Erin that we live in an Italian house and today we'd better be Italians too. When Erin got home I learned she'd been running around the neighborhood with the camera. Turns out our local Italian bakery had closed off its block and set up a giant big screen for the game and the whole neighborhood was out. (By the way, if you want gelato, it's totally worth the trip to Brooklyn to go to Fortunato Brother's.) Here's some of her pictures.

Today's workout was 8.1 miles. When I woke this morning, it was clear a tempo run wasn't happening. My hamstrings were so tight that I was just hopeful they'd loosen up enough that I could do the whole run. Strangely, as I was climbing over the Williamsburg Bridge, my legs continually loosened up and I felt stronger as the run went along. Of course, that's how the Bronx Half Marathon was supposed to go! Oh, well, I guess it was a rebound. The route was across the Williamsburg Bridge O&B, with 2.5 miles at the McCarren Park track (wanted to switch to the softer surface). I'm calling it 8.1 in 63:15 (7:49 pace).

I also realized that I was so annoyed with my Half Mary results that I forgot to put up last week's week-in-review. Here it is:


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bronx Half Race Report

I suppose that it's possible the Bronx Half Marathon could have gone worse for me. For example, if the subway derailed on the way home. Or maybe if a gang turfwar had broken out at mile 8 and I'd been shot -- actually, that might have been an improvement. Before you go any further, I should warn you that this will be a whine-fest, pity party that will likely bring your mood down below my black toenail. If I were you, I'd stop reading and go find a happy blog. If you like train wreck stories, read on. . .

It all started when I woke up at 5:10 to get ready. I was out of cereal. I always have cereal before a race. It's a thing. It takes me over an hour to get to most start-lines and I need to be fortified. Oh well, I can adapt. I went to the Bagel Store (yup, that's it's name) across the street for breakfast and then caught the train. So far so good. The L comes and I'm into Union Square. The line I'm needing has three trains, the 4, 5 and 6. The 4 will take take me to the start. As I'm walking through the station, I notice that people in front of me are suddenly running. It's the 4! Despite a mad sprint towards the platform, I don't make it and the doors slam in my face. Ten minutes later, the 6 arrives. Now, for you non-New Yorkers, the 6 is the local train to the 4's express, stopping at about 4 stops for every one the 4 stops at. Plus, it will only get me about halfway to my destination. However, I know they're running on the same track because of weekend work below 42d Street-Grand Central, but that once I get to Grand Central I should be able to switch to the 4 Express. I take the 6. When I arrive at Grand Central, I detrain and hang out for another 15 minutes before the 4 comes. It's going to be tight, but at this point I'm still thinking I can make the start with time for a warmup. However, when they announce the next stop, I discover that there's no express service. It was really nice of MTA to NOT put that on the weekend service advisory. This might be a problem. I change into my shoes and pin my number en route because I realize I won't have time at the start.

The station closest to the start is out of service. I'd allowed time for a walk to the start, but apparently not enough. The roads up in the Bronx don't follow the train tracks or a grid. We weave east, west, south at one point, I think? We walk past a parking lot of Verizon trucks, and the storage yard for Subway trains. And dog shit. It's everywhere. Like every three sidewalk blocks. (Not city blocks, but blocks of the sidewalk.) So, foul -- at least when Brooklyn has a Half, the train drops you off near the start, which is on the Ocean. This is a dump.

So, with all my delays, instead of arriving 30 minutes early, I'm at the baggage check at 5 minutes to start! At this point, my stomach starts gurgling and growling like Thomas' during a long run after burrito night. I run toward the facilities, but see that we're decidedly undersupported. There's like 3 lines to the Porta-johns with about 80 people in each. This is a problem, but after the start gun goes off, people suddenly start moving more quickly (and a few ditch the line). So I get to the toilet. I walk in and the first think I notice is that there's no t.p. Great. The next thing I notice is that someone has left a full pack of tissues next to the hole. Things could be turning around. Then I notice the "present" on the seat. Apparently, someone missed and left a nice 6" high, slimy brown pile sitting on the side of the seat. I'm not really even sure how that's possible! I mean, if you apply ass to seat, it's pretty hard to miss. I decide maybe I don't really need to go the the bathroom after all.

So, I finally get to the start after the last of the walkers have gone through. There's a NYRRC race official yelling us to the start. "Come on people. Hurry. Let's move." I mean, at this point we've already missed the start by several minutes. What's the rush? I chat with a guy near the start to fish out if he'll plow through the crowds with me. His target pace is 7:15 (he'd spent over an hour looking for parking) which I thought was too slow. Little did I know.

There was no clock at the start, so I don't know how long I'd missed by. I looked at my watch at the first mile marker. . .8:12. Hmmm... It seemed like I was going faster than that, even with all the weaving I'd had to do and having to jump from the road to the sidewalk and run around shrubberies and toys sitting in front of stoops. But who can judge pace when no one around you is going faster than a 10:00mm? I should be flying past them, even at 8:00mm. But I figure I'd better speed up. As I approach mile 2, my watch reads 8:17. Now wait a minute! I'm looking at the time, not my splits! I'd forgotten to hit my watch! Arghhh... I switch it over. I missed the first 2 water stops because of the crowds of people stopping. Actually, I dart to the far side of the road, but still nearly have nastly collisions from people stopping to walk across the race route to get a drink. Oh, this is going to be a long run. . .

Miles 2-6 were pretty uneventful. I was feeling more tired than I should have been, but my watch said I was hitting between 6:50 and 7:10. A little off the pace, and I felt I was working a little harder than I'd have liked, but I'd been through a lot this morning. And I got to cheer for slower Flyers as I was passing them. At 6 miles, I was still feeling ok enough to pose for a picture.
At about 6.5 miles, I caught John Ward, who organizes the trail runs that I sometimes do. He said I was looking good and I believed him . . . stupid, stupid, stupid. At about 8.5 miles, I started feeling cold. I mean, cold and shivering. It was freaky, although I thought perhaps it was just having dowsed myself with too much water. I definately couldn't hold my 6:50 pace anymore. By 10 miles, my quads were cramping. Slowed some more. At 11 miles, my chest started to feel tight and I was having problems getting air. And I was really feeling cold. It was actually kind of frightening and for the first time ever, I stopped and walked through a water stop in a race between miles 11 and 12 to try and recover a little poise. I trudged through the last 1.1 miles in a daze. Nicole said she yelled at me near a turnaround in that stretch, "but you didn't look up." Ward caught me with a little over 1/2 mile to go. I was really just trying to survive the march back in. To finish off the festivities, after I made it back into the City, I grabbed a shower at the New York Sports Club before going into the office (yup, had to work this afternoon). When I pulled out my clothes, my singlet I'd thrown in the bag after the race had soaked my "clean" pants through right in the crotch. Perfect. Great ending to a big FUBAR.

My gun time was 1:44:50; my chip time was 1:38:43; a 7:32 pace. Which is 30s off my PR pace I set on half as much training volume back in March. It's also 17s slower than the pace I'll need to maintain for 26.2 in October to get a 3:10 marathon finish. Finally, its over 2 minutes slower than my first half in the Flying Pig Marathon, a race I was admittedly undertrained for. That's disheartening. The silver lining is that my watch time for the last 11.1 miles was 1:26:22, which means that those first 2 miles (when I was trying to get clear of the crowds) were at 6:10 pace despite the weaving. That's good news because it means that the last 4 miles of this race were a true bonk and not a reflection that I'm can't do this. So, hopefully this disaster is just a blip. (And, I've added my PR times to the sidebar so I could feel better about myself.)

Now though, I need some advice because today's subpar run has left me in a quandry. Tomorrow's a rest day, but Tuesday I'd planned to convert my scheduled threshold workout to a recovery run in light of the race. But with the bonk, I don't know whether the treat today's Half as a non-event and push through the threshold run or keep my planned recovery run. Thoughts from "real runners" out there?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Beauty Rest

Wow what a waste of a day! I guess three days of not getting home from work until 10p finally caught up with me, because I really can't imagine that two beers last night at the Flyers happy hour would wipe me out quite this bad. I slept in until about 10:30 this morning, about 5 hours later than normal. I then went into the city to pick up my race number for tomorrow's half marathon. I'd scheduled a 3 mile shortie today, so I figured for a change of scene and to take advantage of the (relatively) flat terrain, I'd run the 2.5 mile bridle path and part of the reservoir loop while I was on the UES and kill two birds with one stone. I'm calling the workout 3.5 mile in 25 minutes (7:26mm), although I forgot to turn on my watch so I don't really know. I felt really fast and fluid today though, so that might even be conservative. I hope I didn't leave tomorrow's race in Central Park today. After getting home and having lunch, I'd planned to hit the books because I have a lot of work to do this weekend. But, like I said, I guess the week has caught me because I was asleep before 2 and didn't wake up until Erin wanted me to go with her for dinner around 6.

At the HH last night, I was talking with Pat about his bagpipe band. Apparently, a few weeks ago they were playing in the Filipino Day parade and . . . huh?????? Why were the bagpipers hired for the Filipino Day parade? Is this just like, "all the other parades have bagpipers; we should too" or what? Speaking of parades, there was one in Williamsburg today. I don't know what it was for, but the entire "menagerie" consisted of a tubaist, a trumpeter, maybe 5 other people and the two police cruisers escorting the "parade." Parades like this seem to happen all the time in Billy-burg. I'm going to include one when I write my book someday because the scene during the four minutes it takes them to pass my apartment each weekend is so ridiculous.

Also at the HH, I discussed how work is interfering with my hobbies, such a marathon training, with several people, including a couple other lawyers and NY Flygirl. Of course, most of us don't have the luxury (because it really would be a luxury) of taking off immense amounts of time to train like some people can, nor should we since the hobby doesn't pay the bills. Although, it is tough and can be immensely frustrating when pressures interfere with personal goals, overcoming these roadblocks will make success all the sweeter. (Warning: I'm on my first training cycle with a "real job," so I'm talking out of my ass here.)

Enough serminating! I've got to let this hobby go for a while. My homework's not going to do itself. And besides, the rebroadcast of Le Tour de France is on OLN right now. I'm so glad the World Cup's almost over, who cares about soccer when the Tour's on! Floyd Landis moved into second in the overall classification in today's time trial.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wash Out

After the fireworks, tired people on the way home.

Central Park from the Top of the Rock

Erin and me before the fireworks on the Top of the Rock

Before I get into the post proper, do any of you out there have nipple issues while running? If so, I'd love some suggestions. It's not so much that they hurt, but that I feel like a chump with a bloody singlet. I'd just prefer not to look incompetent.

I started my run in the rain this morning and it was fantastic. Overcast, 60 degrees, light rain, you couldn't ask for better weather. Especially when, after about 3 miles, the rain moved out and I was left with 60 degrees and light breeze. Ah... On the downside, I've never been stopped by so many stoplights! First it was Rodney, then Roebling, then I was stopped on Delancey (both exiting and reentering the Williamsburg Bridge), Grand, N. 6th, Rodney again . . . For the record, that's about 75% of the lights I passed on this run. Must have spent 2-3 minutes waiting on lights. Anyway, today's run was 8.6 mile out-n-back that included 10 striders and took 65:15 (7:35/mi). Legs felt much fresher than Tuesday although still a little fatigued, but with two easy days coming up they should be at about 85% or so by Sunday.

There's a double meaning to today's title. Yesterday I was welcomed back to the office after the holiday with some projects, which had been sitting quietly like pomegranates on the countertop, exploding in the same way that a pomegranate will spray everything within 15 feet when you cut into it. Despite all that, I still figured some long days and some weekend work would get things stabilized. Then (and here's the washout) while in a "we've got to put out a fire" meeting, Senior Partner says to me, "Jon, I want you to work with me on X deal starting tomorrow." I, of course, did what any junior associate would in that situation. So much for July . . .

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Feels Like DC

The Fourth of July greated me with 85 degrees and 85 percent humidity when I went for my run at 6:30 this morning. For awhile, I was having flashbacks to summers in Washington, where that was the temp/hum. for any given morning. This was the first time time in a long time that I've actually been able to feel the air as I'm running pushing back against me. Well, I guess that's not quite right because a headwind always pushes back. Let me say, this is the first time that I've felt still air pushing back it me. Heading down First Ave in Manhattan was like running through sludge. Adding up the heat and humidity with the 17 mile run on Saturday and weightlifting yesterday makes for a tired set of legs. Despite everything working against it, today's run was still a solid 94:58 for 12.05 miles (7:53/mile). (I added a lap around the track to the route on the map to get to 12.)

I may have also exacerbated the tiredness of my legs by changing the schedule to frontload my mileage this week, so I can get a couple light days leading into the Bronx Half Marathon on Sunday. I'd originally been scheduled for 8 today, 10 Thursday and 5 Saturday. I've changed it to 12 today, 8 Thursday and 3 Saturday so that I have a mini-taper going into the race. Not really sure how it's going to go, but since my legs probably won't be fully charged and it'll probably be oppressively hot, I'll be happy if I hit close to my Half best of 1:32.

Erin and I are planning to head up to the Top of the Rock to watch this evening's Fourth of July festivities. Hopefully, I'll have some photos up later, but (in addition to the photo below) here's some teaser photos from The Gothamist.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Seventeen Weeks to Go

Man, it's a scorcher today! Ninety-six in the shade. Despite the heatwaves rising form the street, when I woke up this morning I knew that I had to do a least a short run today, or I wouldn't be able to walk tomorrow.

Near my apartment in Williamsburg is an Italian ice shop. The shop's not like those shacks that they have in the suburbs, oh no. This place is a rented out storefront filled with rows of coolers of Italian ice and sherbet. You order from these highschool girls at their summer jobs at a walkup window on the sidewalk. The treats are really great as they're mixed with real fruit. My wife got a cheesecake sherbet cream ice last week that actually had graham cracker crust in it!

Nevertheless, I was convinced for the longest time that this place had to be a mob front. I mean, who rents out a storefront on a business plan that can really only produce revenue in the summer? What do you do when it's December and you can't sell ice-cream? This place doesn't have any other offerings. I eventually decided it couldn't be a mob front because it's a chain that exists all over Brooklyn, Jersey and Florida. Anyway, mob front or not, the place is a godsend in this heat. Erin and I went shopping today (I was going to expand my tanktop collection for summer workouts, but ended up dress-shopping for three hours instead) and after traipsing all up and down 14th Street to the west of Union Square, I definitely had to hit up some of Ralph's Italian Ices when I got home. Erin had already gotten Tasti D'Lite, the pseudo-healthy ice cream for the perpetually weight obsessed.

Today in the hot I did an "easy" 3.33 miles, in McCarren Park so that I could run on dirt after yesterday's long run. "Easy" is in quotes because I felt really great once I'd gotten warmed up and ran the distance in 24:15 for about a 7:17 pace. So much for a slow recovery day! The first week's down on my MCM training. Only 17 to go. For the first week, the total was 36.7 miles. Not the most I've ever done in a week, but a solid start to the marathon buildup.

7 miles + 10 strides
52:05 (7:26/mi)
9.4 miles
62:30 (7:43/mi)
17 miles
2:16:00 (8:00/mi)
24:15 (7:17)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Oh Deer!

Before reporting today, I recommend this post by NYFlyGirl. I'd seen it before and it still makes me laugh.

Today I met a group of four Flyers and some folks from the Van Cortlandt Park Track Club for a carpool trip up to Hastings, NY to run along the aquaduct. After rolling out of bed at 5:10 so I could hit the train by 6:00, I arrived at VC Park at 7:15, 30 minutes early. So, I decided to hit the bathroom. I was actually really surprised because under the stands at the VC track is a full locker-room that looks like it hasn't been modified since around 1960. After walking down a long hallway, I entered a bare room with about eight rows of wooden benches -- nothing else. The showers were minimalist, just a tiled-floor, cement block room with a line of shower holes. That's really all they were, holes for water to come out. It was a far cry from the self-enclosed showers with curtains (and provided shampoo, etc) at the New York Sports Club Do we really need to be that modest in the locker-room? It's silly. The doors to the toilet stalls were actually made of wood and had draw bolts. If I could see in grainy black-and-white, this would have been just like a historical documentary.

After I met the group, we carpooled up to trail. In a totally unplanned segregation, the VC Track people went out for a 10mm pace beginning with the short loop, while the Flyers went out for a 9 mm pace beginning with the long loop. OK, no offense, but beginning with the short loop's really dumb because you've then run 7.5 miles and get to look forward to 9.5. If you start with the long loop, when you finish you've only got a little more than a 10K to go. Wut-ever. Running such a mental sport already that you don't need to give yourself any psychological hurdles. Anyway, despite a bathroom stop, we met the other group back at the start where we switched loops.

The highlight of the run was when we came up on two deer standing in the trail. That would have been cool enough, but then they charged us before turning off into the trees. The charge induced a little nervousness in the group and I definitely heard a "Please don't have rabies" from someone behind me. But any nervousness was well worth it since these animals turned off the trail less than 10 feet away. Fantastic. Also, we were treated to outstanding views of the majestic red rock cliffs overlooking the Hudson and the river itself.

This shot of the cliffs was taken from the George Washington Bridge, which we didn't drive over today. The photographer's site is here. Unfortunately, the view from the GW doesn't really do justice to just how impressive the Hudson cliffs actually are.

On the way back, we were driving through the City and treated to a view of a different sort of wildlife. A biker passed us as we were waiting at a light to change so we could turn onto First Avenue. I'm not really sure what the guy looked like, because I was too fixated on his finger's being jammed up his nose to the second digit. And, when we caught up to him a block and a half later, it was still there! Where's the manners these days? If you think about it, it really takes a lot of effort to pick your nose for almost two blocks while biking through Manhattan. I was just thinking, "Don't crash, dude. You'll kill yourself!"

Well, on to the training summary. Trails rock for several reasons. First, it's almost always cooler in the trees than out in the sun. Second, the roads and sidewalks that we normally run on are horrendously bad for the legs. Although I ran 17 miles today in 2:16 (8:00 pace), I feel about the same in my legs as if I'd run 8-10 on the pavement in the City. Don't get me wrong, I'm more tired overall. But a lot of that is due to the early start. And my legs still feel fresh enough that I can go short tomorrow.