Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: What a Year It's Been

Now that my final run of 2008 is in the books, it's time to reflect on my running in 2008. All in all, it was a great year for me. I only started logging my miles in June so here is a summary of my running since June:

Total Miles: 629.8
Avg. Distance: 6.6 miles
Avg. Per mile: 8:37
Total Time: 90:26:53
Avg. Time:57:07

I set new personal records in every distance I ran:
5K: 22:51 (11/09/08)
4 mile: 30:45 (2/3/08)
10K: 49:47 (5/26/08)
1/2 Marathon: 1:53:19 (5/4/08)
marathon: 3:55:08 (10/26/08)

Here are some other highlights:
  • I feel like this is the year I became part of the running community. I started doing my longs with a group to keep me focused. I started listening to running podcasts and reading running blogs. Even though I've never met any of the podcasters or bloggers in person, I consider them my friends.
  • I started my own blog.
  • I used my running to raise money for charity. I raised over $3,000 for a cause that is near and dear to me.
  • With my wife's help, I've paid closer attention to what I eat before, during, and after a run and during my training as a whole.
  • There's a co-worker of mine who signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in D.C.. He mentioned to me the other day, that I had some influence in him wanting to run beyond the 10K distance.
So what are my goals for 2009?
  • I'd like to be able to stay healthy through the winter so I can the New Jersey Marathon on May 3.
  • I would like to race more. I think I ran 5 or 6 races in 2008. While the NYRR races are great and well organized I'm going to try and support some smaller local races if I can. In my opinion, those races need me to participate more than NYRR does. Without good participation, many local races will stop operating. It happened to 2 races in my town.
  • Continue to focus on nutrition and overall good health.
  • Get faster. Doesn't every runner want to set new personal or course PRs? I'd love to run a sub-1:50 half marathon and a sub-3:50 marathon. If I'm good about my speed and hill training, I think it's possible.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday Run

What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday I was running through a small snow storm. Yesterday, my toughest decision was whether to wear a short sleeved or long sleeved top. I ended up erring on the side of caution and went with the long sleeved top. There was no question that I was wearing shorts. My goal for yesterday's run was at least 10 miles. I hadn't run double digits since MCM. Yesterday was the perfect day for me to start increasing the mileage. I didn't need to rush home, and the weather was great (temps were in the low 50s).

I met 2 other guys at Saddle River Park at 7:00, I started the run with gloves on. My fingers tend to get cold so I left them on until my hands warmed up. We started out slow and then started to pick up the pace. About half way through the run, my friends needed to slow down. One was having foot problems and the other hadn't run a in a while and needed to slow down. I went off on my own and kept my pace between 8:00 and 8:24. Even though I was running solo for a good part of the run, I didn't feel alone. There were plenty of runners out in the park. Almost everyone I passed either waved or said good morning. Clearly everyone was enjoying the good weather. I did 10.9 miles in 1:30:34 for a 8:18 pace. Mile splits and other details can be found here: Almost 11 in Saddle River Park.

At some point later in the day, I was looking at my run on MotionBased my wife peeks over my shoulder and tells me, "you're obsessed!" I played it down telling her that running is just a hobby. She says "no, you're obsessed!" I think addicted is more like it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Runner's Recipe of the Week

It's baaack! Things kind of went awry after the Marine Corps Marathon. I'm going to try my hardest to post a new each week. This week's recipe is one of my family's favorite weeknight dinners, Bean Burritos. Beans in general are an excellent carbohydrate rich food that should be a staple in every runner's kitchen. It's also a great alternative to the standard pasta plate. The November 2008 issue of Men's Health had a great piece called "The Magic of Beans." Here are the highlights of the piece:

Navy Beans: high in folate, a B vitamin that may reduce the risk of stroke and cognitive decline as you age

Garbanzo Beans: help reduce your levels of the hormone insulin, lowering risk of diabetes

Black Beans: the dark skins of these beans contain potent anti-oxidants for fighting disease

Kidney Beans: contain anti-oxidants that may help prevent hardening of your arteries

Pinto Beans: eating ½ cup daily can cut LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by 9 percent

Here is my family's Bean Burrito:

1 can black beans

1 can pinto beans (or kidney)

1/3 cup barbeque sauce (your favorite brand will do)

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp paprika

2 Tbsp cheddar cheese

1 flour tortilla

2 Tbsp salsa

1 Tbsp Sour cream

Mix beans plus spices and BBQ sauce together in a pot with enough water to cover beans. Bring to a boil uncovered, then simmer covered for 1 hour—check to make sure that the beans still have enough moisture for cooking. Assembling burritos: 1/2 cup beans 3 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese, 2 Tbsp Salsa, 1 Tbsp sour cream wrapped in a flour tortilla

Nutritional Analysis of the recipe can be found here. The next recipe I post will be a breakfast dish incorporating the leftover beans, B'Tayavon!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Run

My internal clock woke me up at 5:00 a.m. this morning and I seriously thought about getting out of bed and starting my pre-run routine as I would on Sunday morning. Then I thought better of it and went back to sleep. I can't remember the last time I got out of bed at 7:45. My wife had to work today, she is a dietitian in a long-term care facility. State regulations are such that there has to be someone from the management team in house at all times. Since we don't celebrate Christmas, my wife works every Christmas Day to allow those who do celebrate to be with their families. So with my wife at work and my daughter at a friend's house, what's a Jewish running addict like me supposed to do with himself? You got it, GO FOR A RUN!

With temps in the low 40's a put on my Addidas track pants and long sleeve tech shirt and drove over to Overpeck. When I got there I know I was in trouble. The were puddles all over the the running path. At first, I tried my best to avoid them but my feet were getting too wet. I then tried running in the parking lot but that too was soggy. I saw some people walking on the 1/4 mile so I went over there. The track was very slushy but there were no puddles. When all was said and done, I did 5.26 miles in 43:26 for a 8:15 pace. Not bad considering the conditions. More details of the run can be found here: Slushy Christmas Day 5+ miles on Overpeck Track.

I hope that everyone who was celebrating today had a merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Early Dismissal

Around 3:30 my boss comes out over to our group and says "What is everyone still doing here? Go home!" Knowing that my daughter was invited out for an overnight Chanukah party at a friend's house, and having plans later with my wife, I decided to put on my running gear and head outside for a run before going home. I wasn't sure what kind of condition the pedestrian paths on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges would be like, so I head down Maiden Lane to the East Side running path. I headed south towards the ferry terminal and made my way up the West Side to Stuyvesant High School and back. I finished the ~5 mile run in 44:34 for a 8:53 pace. I'm not exactly sure why I was so slow. I felt like I was running at pretty good clip. It probably had something to do with some slushy and icy patches where I had to slow down a little. I'm not going to worry about it. It felt good to get out there.

Happy Holidays!

The Evil Empire Stikes Again! Yanks Sign Mark Teixeira

It turns out that the discussions surrounding Manny Ramirez were all smoke and mirrors. The Yankees shocked the baseball world by signing first baseman Mark Teixeira to a 8-year $180 million contract yesterday. Brian Cashman proved once again why he is a great GM. He waited for the Sox, and Angels to drop out and then made Tex an offer he couldn't refuse. Hank and Hal clearly wanted to have star-studded team when New Yankee Stadium opens for business.

This is an awesome acquisition for the Yanks. They get younger and better offensively and defensively. Lee Jenkins wrote on yesterday that Tex should fit right in to the Yankees clubhouse. He's clean cut, professional, and plays hard every day and most importantly avoids controversy. Manny's antics would have driven Joe Girardi crazy. Bob Klapisch, from the Bergen Record, summed it up best in his Dec. 21 column.

The question now becomes does getting Tex make the Yanks the hands-down favorite to not only win the AL East but also win the World Series. Steve Phillips said on SportsCenter last night that while getting Tex is a huge improvement for the Yanks, they are neither a lock to win the division nor the World Series. As I said when the Yanks signs CC and A.J., baseball is a marathon not a sprint. There are a lot of "ifs" that go into predicting the outcome of a baseball season. I'll refrain from doing that. For now I'm going to enjoy this acquisition.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Running in a Winter Wonderland

Woke up this morning around 5:30. When I came downstairs to get dressed I some pitter patter on the air conditioner. I prayed that it was not rain, luckily it was just sleet. I went through my pre-race routine and left the house around 6:45. Because of the weather, I decided to stay close to home and run in Votee. Usually I run to the park, but because of all the snow, I decided to drive. Last thing I needed was to get hit by car that was sliding on the road. The town does a pretty good job making sure the walking/running paths in the parks are plowed so when I got to Votee, there was light coating of snow on the path. When I started the run, it felt like it was sleeting. About 1.5 miles in, it changed to snow. The rest of the run was very peaceful. I love the sound of my foot striking fresh snow. I decided not to push myself too hard, both in pace and length of the run. I did 7 miles in 58:54 for a 8:23 pace. You can view the run details here: Snowy 7 in Votee.

Here are some pictures:
Photobucket I had to my glasses off about half way through the run because they were covered in snow and I couldn't see.

Photobucket This is a picture of the local community/recreation building.

We'll see what old man winter has in store for the rest of the season, but so far so good.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Don't Forget to Vote!

Only 4 days left to vote in the poll about running with a group of people. Only 3 of you responded. I'm interested in your thoughts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Pair of Aces: Yankees Introduce CC and AJ

It's finally official! Today the Yankees formally introduced a pair of aces, CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. CC (short for Carsten Charles) will wear #52 and A.J. (Allen James) will wear #34. I wanted to share my thoughts about both pitchers.

There's no doubt about it, CC is up there as one of the top pitchers in baseball. He is a workhorse, averaging about 7.2 innings per start last year with Cleveland and Milwaukee. He is that pitcher the Yanks have needed for a while now. No offense to Chein-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Phil Huges, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain,or Mike Mussina but none of those pitchers scare me. CC is the guy at the top of the rotation that make opposing teams say "oh s*&$! CC's Pitching! He's the guy that you want on the mound in a game 7 of a playoff series. At 28 years old he makes the team younger. My concern this: he's a big man with a lot of innings on his arm. With that said, he must be doing something right because you never hear him spending a lot of time on the DL. Milwaukee getting eliminated in the first round of the playoff last was probably the best thing that happened.

A.J. Burnett is coming off his best season in a while, winning 18 games in Toronto. Many experts have said that when he's healthy, he can be overpowering. The key for him is staying healthy. Unlike CC A.J. is someone who has spent a lot of time on the DL. He said at the press conference today that when he was younger he threw hard to impress people and he paid the price for that. He said that he's learned a lot about himself and his body over the years. Will he be the pitcher he was last year in Toronto or another Carl Pavano? Stay Tuned.

Personally, I would have been happier signing Derek Lowe instead of Burnett. While not as overpowering as A.J., Lowe is consistent. You know what you're going to get with him.

The rotation definitely looks formitable: CC, AJ, Wang, Pettite (hopefully), and Joba (I think he should be in the bullpen). Nothing is in the bag, baseball is a marthon (there's my running reference) not a sprint. More about the Yankees later.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keeping Things Interesting

Since I was unsure of this morning's weather, I packed my bag with both outdoor gear and indoor gear. As I was doing this, my wife, knowing that I might have to run inside today, asked me if I enjoyed running on the treadmill. The TM bores me to death, even if there's something good on TV. I would much rather go for a run in sub-freezing temperatures than run on the TM. If you are forced inside, there are ways to keep it interesting. My wife is used to seeing people walking or running at the same pace on the TM. so these are 3 examples I gave her on how to keep things interesting if you're ever forced inside on the TM

1) Progression Run: this is the workout I did today. I started my run at an 8:20/pace for the first 2 miles. the next mile I ran at an 8:00 minute pace. the last mile I ran at a 7:53 pace followed by 5 minute cool down. I wanted to do a 5th mile at a 7:45 pace but time didn't allow today.

2) Intervals: If you can't get out to the track, you can use the TM to simulate your speed intervals. Start with a 2 mile warmup and a comfortable pace. You can then do 400m (1/4 mile), 800m (1/2 mile), or 1600m (1 mile) intervals just as you would on the track. Make sure you recover enough in between intervals.

3) Hill Training: The TM is also great for simulating hill training. One of my favorite hill workouts (courtesy of Men's Health Magazine) on the TM is run at pace slightly slower than your 10K pace and do the following:
  • 1st half mile at 1% incline
  • next half mile at 2% incline
  • next half mile at 5% incline
  • next half mile at 2% incline
  • next half mile at 8%. If you can't do this right away, don't worry. Try and build up to it.
  • next half mile at 2% incline
  • next half mile at 5% incline
  • last half mile at 2% incline.
Feel free to extend the distance of the run by following the same pattern. If the speed feels easy, by all means increase the speed.

Feel free to share your favorite TM workouts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Run

I had to get out early because of other life obligations. My wife is a Lia Sophia jewelry consultant on the side and she is showing her wares are 2 different synagogue boutiques today. I was also running a program in our synagogue today so I had to be showered, dressed, and out the door by 9:15 a.m. Fortunately, there were 2 other friends who needed to run early. We met at Saddle River Park at 6:15. The first few miles were slow because we were running in the dark and there was some ice on the paths. Once it got light out we picked up the pace on the way back to the Dunkerhook parking lot. We took a short break at the parking lot to pick up some more runners. Knowing that I was under some time constraints, I decided to do 8 miles total. Others in the group were running between 10 and 12. Here is a link today's run: Early 8+ Miles

I put a poll up the on the blog about how other runners deal with group runs. If you don't run with a group but run with one other person, please reply based on that experience.

I'm hoping things calm down soon so I can start getting some quality double digit long runs in. I think sometime around Christmas is when I would need to start the training cycle for the NJ Marathon. I would hate for other life obligations to be the reason why I can't run a spring marathon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chancin' It

This morning when I left the house at 5:20, it was raining and quite mild out, probably close to 60 degrees. I started cursing the weather gods because it would have been the perfect chance to take my morning run in shorts. I started my trip to the office resigned to the fact that I'll be running on the treadmill this morning.

I got off the subway and lo and behold, it wasn't raining. I thought to myself, this can't be true, the weather gods are just playing with me. I'll start out for my run and the skies will open up forcing me back inside. I decided to chance it. I changed into my shorts and long sleeve tech shirt (I probably could have worn a short sleeve running shirt) and ran towards the Brooklyn Bridge. For once the weather gods were on my side. I was able to get my run in outside and not get rained on.

Since I can't get a good Garmin signal downtown, I've been using my Polar 200SD. The functionality is similar to the Nike+ system where you attach a footpod to your shoe to measure the distance. According to my Polar, I ran 4.83 miles in 36:51 which comes out to a 7:33 pace. According to MapMyRun the Brooklyn/Manhattan Bridge loop is 4.63 miles. That translates to 7:49. At some point, I'll go to a track an recalibrate the footpod.

The forecast is for rain tomorrow as well with much colder temperatures. Maybe the weather gods will be cooperate again.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I expected snow on the ground this morning when I woke up and had planned to run locally in Votee. To my delight there was no snow and temps were in the mid-30s. I got in the car and drove out to Saddle River Park and once again met up with my new friends that I met last week. One of them told me they planned to run slow today so he pointed me in the direction of the park that I did not see on last week's run. Because of other obligations, I did not have that much time run so I planned on 6 or 7 miles today. My route took me around 2 ponds, past a small waterfall, and some very peaceful wooded parts of the park. I finished the 6.4 mile run in 52:30 (8:11 pace). If you're interested you can view the run details here: 6+ miles in Saddle River Park

They forecast rain a few days this week. That might move my morning runs to the treadmill. I don't mind snow or cold weather but I always get sick when I run in the rain. One of my goals for the winter is to stay healthy so I can train for a potential spring marathon. If that means moving a few runs inside so be it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

An Extra Day Off

Today is one of those days where I would wake up at 5:00 and head out the door around 6:00 for a quick 7 or 8 miles before taking my daughter to the bus stop. Last night I was feeling very tired and run down so I decided to go to bed early and not run this morning. I'm not regretting the decision, clearly my body was telling me not to run today.

Besides, we are having a bunch of people over for Shabbat dinner tonight so there is a lot of cooking and preparation to be done in a short period of time. Shabbat starts around 4:15, that's when I need to make sure everything is ready to go. Since Shabbat starts early, we like to have friends over for dinner. During the summer months we have company for lunch. Tonight's menu is:

Yellow and green split pea soup with barley and rice
Moroccan spiced carrot salad
Homemade humus with toasted pita chips
California roast
Confetti chicken
Asparagus terriyaki
Roasted potatoes with garlic, onions, and olive oil
Trader Joe's Harvest Mix cooked in chicken stock

Do you think I have enough food?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

2009 Plans

I started to give some thought to my 2009 plans. My plans for early 2009 revolve around me running the NJ Marathon on May 3. I haven't signed up yet but I'm leaning in that direction. I'd like to able to enjoy my summer with my family and not have marathon training on my mind. I'm going to start the training cycle and then make a firm decision once I know what kind of winter we're in for.

Here are some of the winter races that I'm looking forward to:
1st Day 5K - Fair Lawn, NJ

I will be on vacation on Jan. 25th so the Manhattan Half is out of the question.

Gridiron Classic on Feb. 1 - this is one of my favorite races. Nothing like starting Superbowl Sunday with a 4 mile race then chowing down later in the day watching the big game.

Bronx Half on Feb. 8.

Coogan's Salsa and Blues - I like this race because it's was nice to run a short distance race outside of CP. I also don't have to drive to the race. I can take bus over the GWB and the walk to the start.

Beyond that, I'd like to try and get my 9 races and 1 volunteer in for 2009 to get a spot in the 2010 NYC Marathon.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Runners are the Friendliest People

Today I finally decided to explore Saddler River Park. I left the house a little later than usual, around 6:30 and noticed some white stuff falling from the sky. "Is that snow I asked myself?" I knew it was supposed to rain later in the day but I didn't hear anything about snow. I'm OK with running in the snow so I continued on. I arrived at the park around 6:45 and was happy to see other runners getting out of their cars and stretching. One guy asked me how long I was going. I told him between 8-10 miles around an 8:30 - 8:45 pace. He saw I was alone and not familiar with the park so he offered his and another buddy's company.

We started out and I got to know my 2 new friends and take in my surroundings. It was as if I was the only runner in Bergen County that didn't know about this park. There were runners of all paces running through the snow saying good morning and offering other words of encouragement. Even though it was an out and back, I did not feel like I was running in circles. That's what was driving me crazy about running in Votee or Overpeck. There were only so many times you can run in circles. The entire park trail is 15 miles, has year-round bathrooms, free of cars, and plowed when it snows. What more can you ask for? If I decide to train for a spring marathon, I have a feeling that most of winter long runs will be in this park.

Oh yeah, there's a run to talk about....most of the run was in the snow. Around mile 5 it began to change over to sleet and footing became a little slippery. We ran 8.08 in 1:08.17 for a 8:27 pace. You can find all the run details here: Snowy 8 miles in Saddle River Park.

At the end of run, I gave my e-mail and cell phone number to my new friends. They asked me if I wanted to join them for breakfast. Unfortunately, I had to decline due to family obligations. They told me they are usually there every Sunday at 7. I asked that they keep me posted and mentioned that I look forward to seeing them next week.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Race Report: Dick Meighan Memorial 5K Thanksgiving Day Run

Today's race was in Upper Saddle River, NJ and was my first Turkey Trot since I started this crazy hobby 4 years ago. I arrived at the Cavallini School around 8:15, parked the car and headed into the school gym to pick up my number and chip. A chip timed 5K? Who ever heard of such a thing? I put my race shirt and knit hat in the car and started to warm up. I can't believe I never ran this race before, this year's race was the 10th anniversary of this race and unbeknowest to me, quite popular in Bergen County. Many of the Jr. high school and high school cross country teams show up and compete against each (as if the regular meets aren't enough). About 20 minutes before the start, I hear the race director announce that this year's race reached record participation, approximately 1,600 runners. This is by far the biggest 5K I've run. Most of them have a few hundred runners at the most.

As for the race itself, the course tok us through some lovely residential areas of Upper Saddle River. The first 3/4 of a mile was uphill but we were immediately treated to a nice downhill. The rest of the course was mainly flat with a few rolling hills thrown in for good measure. I wasn't exactly sure when to start my watch because I never saw a timing mat at the start. Anyway, according to my Garmin I finished the race in 22:53 for a 7:20 pace. My official time was 24:00 for a 7:43 pace. I'm not sure if that's the gun time or not. I ran a much better race today compared to the Westfield Garden State Plaza 5k. There was a lot of weaving in and out but I did manage to run negative splits. You can check out my Garmin splits here: Dick Meighan 5K Turkey Trot .

On a personal note, I wanted to thank everyone for reading. I truly have a lot to be thankful for this year. I made an extra effort today to thank all of the volunteers, both civilian and public servants, for helping out. In general, I try to thank the volunteers and race organizers becuase without them our favorite races would not happen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Morning Run

I was finally able to get outside for my morning run today. I went out a little bit before 7 and headed for the Brooklyn Bridge. I am used to the bridge being packed with tourists taking pictures in the middle of the day. I was amazed at how empty the bridge was in the morning. There some people who were walking to work but for the most part it was me and other fellow runners getting their miles in before the daily grind. I came back to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. When I showed my ID to the security guard on the way in, he asked me to see it again. He's not used to seeing people come into the building at 7:40 in the morning dressed in cold weather running gear. I simply told him "just trying to get some miles in before work." He appreciated that and wished me a happy Thanksgiving.

Now that I have more cold weather running gear, I hope to get outside in the morning more often. It was very invigorating. Tomorrow I will be running a Turkey Trot and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with family.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Who is that Masked Man?


No, I'm not about to hold up a 7-11 and the only thing strapped around my chest is my heart rate monitor. I wear the mask in sub-30 degree weather to help with my asthma. I've found the wearing the mask warms the air before I suck it in. Sucking in extremely cold air triggers my asthma and makes it difficult to run. I do occassionaly pull it down because it is kind of restrictive but it definitely helps me in the cold weather.

Oh yeah about the run.... I headed to Votee without any real distance in mind. I just wanted to get out there and see I how I would do in the cold. In the end, I ran 8.14 miles in 1:05:47 for an 8:04 pace. I'm really looking forward to my Turkey Trot on Thursday. I've running park loops for a while now, it'll be nice to get out on the road.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Thanks to everyone who commented on my "What to do" entry. It's comforting to know that I'm not the only struggling with this issue.

This past Wednesday and Thursday, I woke up at 5:00, was on a bus into NYC at 5:30 and in my building in lower Manhattan at 6:45. I grabbed my sneakers and toiletry case from my cube and headed up to the gym. Wednesday I ran 4 miles on the TM at an 8:00/mile pace and Wednesday I ran 5 (also on the TM) at the same pace. I also made sure I was home before bedtime so I had some family time before my daughter went to bed.

One of the perks of my job is that I have every other Friday off. Today was one of those days off, so I woke up at 5:00 this morning and was out the door before 6:00 for a nice brisk 5.25 miles at a 7:50 pace. I was home a little after 7:00. That left me enough time to hop into the shower and put my daughter on the bus. She loved having me home this morning.

I've always been a morning person so for now I'm going to stick to the early morning routine. The running late at night thing does not wok for me. My wife needs some gym time too and she is not a morning person. Now if I can only find some inexpensive cold weather gear so I can outside before work. I can't stand the TM! Also, I'm itching to run the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun comes up. Too bad I can't a get a Garmin signal downtown.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What to do?

This is the first time where I've really had a conflict balancing running, work, and family. I recently took on a new position (more hours but not more $) at work that will most likely prevent me from running during luch time. I decided the best way for me to make sure I keep running is to leave my house around 5:30, get to my office around 6:30, run (either outside or on the treadmill) until 8:00, shower and be at my desk by 8:30. Before I took this job, I made sure my daughter was up and fed before I left the house around 7:00. Now, I will not be able to see her in the morning. She was very upset when I told her I wouldn't be with her in the morning. It broke my heart. My wife supports this idea knowing that she will be taking on additional responsibilities in the morning. She also knows how much running means to me and doesn't want to see me give it up. Ain't she great?

Anyway, if anyone out there is dealing with similar issues I'd be interested in reading about how you deal with it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Change of Scenery

Before I went to bed last night, I made sure to catch a weather forecast so I would have an idea how to dress for this morning's run. The meteorologist forecasted temps around 50 at 7 a.m. With that in mind, I laid out a pair of shorts and my Addidas 1/4 zip long sleeve shirt.

When I opened the door to my house around 6:00 a.m., I felt a lot colder than the 50 degrees forecasted the night before. I immediately went upstairs and changed into my Under Armour tights. I felt good about the wardrobe change and headed out the door at 6:15.

I really did not want to run in Votee Park today. I've been there so much recently that I needed a change of scenery. So I went to the Henry Hoebel Area of Overpeck Park in Leonia. Like Votee, Overpeck has a 1 1/4 mile running path and as well as standard 1/4 track. The path is pancake flat and offered a little more in terms of scenery than Votee.

I ended up running 7.09 miles in 55:39 which averages out to a 7:50 pace. As you can see from the run summary, I did a much better job with pacing. After a warm up mile, I manged to keep the next 6 miles between 7:41 and 7:53.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Be Prepared

I had planned to run outside today during lunch. Unfortunately, the weather gods did not cooperate and it started to rain. Usually I would go up to the fitness center in my building and run on the treadmill (or is it dreadmill?) but I did not bring any indoor running stuff with me. I already leave a spare pair of shoes and toiletries at work, why not a t-shirt and shorts?

Lesson learned.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Race Report: Westfield Garden State Plaza 5K

Today was the 4th annual Westfield Garden State Plaza 5K to benefit my daughter's school. It's been 2 weeks since MCM and I ran 3 times last week after taking the week off after MCM. Last year the race fell out exactly 1 week after I ran the New York City Marathon. At the time, I set a PR for the 5K completing the race in 23:21.

The weather this morning was absolutely glorious, temperatures right around 50 and sunny skies. The course was pretty boring, 1 1/2 loops of the Westfield Garden State Plaza parking lot. I tried to get close to the front knowing that there were a lot of inexperienced runners who would sprint at the beginning and then bonk out about half way through. The horn went off and I went off at pretty fast clip. I hit the first mile in 6:37. I knew right away that I could not maintain this pace for 2.1 more miles. Once again, I slowed down and hit the second mile in 7:15. I thought I could keep that up for the last 1.1 but my legs started to feel heavy. I hit the 3rd mile in 7:31. I crossed the finish line in 22:51.

Even though it is a new PR, I feel like I didn't run a good race. This is the 2nd time (MCM being the first) where I went out too fast and had to slow down. I should be playing it safe at the beginning and have something left at the end for a fast finish. This is something that I'll have to work on during the rest of fall and through the winter.

Anyway, here are the final stats, courtesy of Bestrace:
22:51 (7:22/mile)
5/20 in 35 - 39 age group
41/134 overall

After the 5K was 1 mile fun run. My daughter is always bothering me to run with me. Usually it's after I've come back from a Sunday long run. This was a great opportunity for me to join her. Beth took full advantage of the run/walk method by running really fast and then walking. I must say I was very proud of her for sticking with it. When she came to the finish line, I told her to finish strong and she took off and crossed the finish line running not walking and of course, with a big smile on her face.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's Next?

Now that I've started running again (granted, it's only been once since MCM), I've started to think about my fall and winter running plans. Here is what I'm thinking:
  • I will be running a 5k this coming Sunday, 11/9, to benefit my daughter's school. I'll post a small race report after the race.
  • Depending on my Thanksgiving plans, I hope participate in this Thanksgiving Day 5k race.
  • I'm seriously thinking of running a spring marathon in 2009. The Jewish high holidays are all on Saturday and Sundays in 2009 beginning in mid-September and ending in mid-October. That would be 4 Sundays lost during the prime of training.
    • My fear is I don't know if I can train for a marathon during the winter. I'm not so concerned about the cold temperatures, I'm more worried about snow and ice. That can seriously ruin any hopes I have of running spring race.
  • With the help of my wife, I'll continue to focus on nutrition. Both of us strongly believe that one of the reasons I recovered so well from MCM was because of the increased focus on nutrition.
  • My weekday runs will probably be forced inside on the treadmill. I only have 1 set of good cold weather gear. Good cold weather gear is so darn expensive.
  • I will also love to sign up for the January New York Running Class Session.
What it comes down to, is I have a lot of fears when it comes to winter marathon training. I would love to hear everyone's tips for successful winter marathon running.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Went out for my first run since MCM. The soreness in my legs was pretty much gone by Wednesday but I wanted to give myself a full week with no running.

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. today in a great mood and headed out the door a little after 7:00 a.m. I ran from my house to Votee Park, ran 2 loops (~1.2 miles each) and then ran home for a toal of 3.38 miles in 28:37. I had no pain or soreness in my legs. After a bowl of oatmeal, I headed outside to take down my sukkah. I finished just in time to see Paula Radcliffe blow away the women's field and Marilson Gomes dos Santos make a late move to win the men's race of the ING New York City Marathon.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Runner's Recipe of the Week

It's been a while since I put a recipe up on the site. My wife felt compelled to put one together despite me having a few more MCM-related entries to compose. While training for the marathon, my wife encouraged consumption of high carbohydrate foods in the last week for progressive carbo-loading. One of the foods that she made (doubled the recipe, actually) was a classic Jewish dish, noodle kugel. What is a kugel, you might ask? Well, it is a casserole of sorts that always involves some sort of starch, oil, and eggs or vegetable, oil, and eggs. This noodle kugel, in 1 cup portions (cubes), became compact little noodle bricks that I could easily take anywhere without the fuss of containers (which you need for loose pasta). The only downfall, she had to encourage me to eat additional carbs such as bagels and loose pasta in order to meet the 70% intake of carbohydrates per day in that last week. But, the fat and protein in the noodle kugel is better for your glycemic load, and research is showing that slowing down the absorption process of carbohydrates is overall better for your health. If you consume too many carbs without the buffer of fats and proteins, you could develop fatty-liver—definitely something that you do not want to have!

Classic Salt and Pepper Noodle Kugel

Yields 5 servings

12 ounces fine noodles
4 Tbsp canola oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Cook fine noodles as per package instructions (boiling water, about 5 minutes). Rinse and drain noodles. Put noodles in a bowl and mix in oil. Set aside to cool about 15 minutes. Add beaten eggs, salt, and pepper. Pour mixture into a greased 9x9 inch baking dish and bake at 375 for approximately 45 to 50 minutes or until top is brown and crisp.

Click here for the nutritional analysis.

B'Tayavon! (that's Hebrew for enjoy!)

New York vs. MCM

Martin, over at Running Ramblings, mentioned on one of his recent shows that he would be interested in what I thought about the New York City Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon. Here are my thoughts:

The New York City Marathon expo had a lot more to offer than the MCM expo. The first thing I noticed about the MCM expo is lack of "official" MCM products. There was a decent selection of Men's and Women's running shirts, shorts, jackets, socks etc.... but not much beyond that. At the NYCM expo, I remember purchasing a teddy bear for my daughter and a bell for my grandmother (she has a bell collection). I also remember seeing snowglobes, books, shot cups, etc.... The only non-running items I saw at the MCM expo were pint glasses and coffee mugs. There were also running "celebrities" at the NYCM walking around and at various booths. For example, Bart Yasso, from Runner's World, was hanging out the RW booth. At MCM he was only at the "expert booth" at scheduled times.

"Official" T-Shirt:
The thing I like about the NYCM shirt is that it was a long sleeved tech shirt. I run in it quite often during the fall months. The MCM official shirt is a non-running mock turtle neck. I definitely can see myself wearing it on a Sunday afternoon with a pair of jeans. But part of me thinks that a tech shirt should be given out at all marathon expos.

Number of Participants:
NYCM is much bigger than MCM. NYCM has about 35K+ plus finishers whereas MCM had only 18K+ finishers this year. Aside from the first few miles, I did not feel as crowded in DC as I did in New York. I was defintely able to settle into a good pace at MCM. Granted, NYCM was my first marathon and I didn't know as much.

Start/Runner's Village:
I loved the fact that I wasn't stuck at the MCM runner's village for 3 hours before the race. There were people walking off the Metro at 7:00 - 7:15 for an 8:00 start in DC. In NY, all runners must be at Fort Wasdworth, Staten Island by 7:00 a.m. for a 10:00 a.m. start. That's a long time to be sitting out in the cold before a race. With that said, the NYCM race organizers did a good trying to make the atmosphere in Staten Island festive for the participants by supplying live music.

The start of NYCM was absolutely dreadful. It took me at least 30 minutes, maybe a little more, to cross the start line after the gun went off. At MCM, I crossed the start line within 2 - 3 minutes.

I'm no expert but from what I've been told, NYCM is a tougher course than MCM. The first mile of NYCM is uphill on the Verrazano Bridge. The other 4 bridges, 1st and 5th Aves. are tough as well. The were 2 hills early on at MCM and the cruel uphill finish at the end. Other than that it was mostly flat. However, there were certain parts of the MCM course that did not have much to offer visually. MCM made up for it with the miles on the National Mall. Yes, running through NYC's diverse neighborhoods is cool but I have pictures of me running on the Mall with both the Capitol and Washington Monuments behind me. The NYCM course doesn't take you past any landmarks.

Crowd Support:
NYCM wins this hands down. There was not one part of the course where the crowd was not 5 or 6 deep. New Yorkers embrace the marathon and come out to party. There were many parts of the MCM I felt I was running in a small town 5K or 10K where there were only a handful of people cheering the runners on. Even on the Mall, where I expected tons of people, the crowd support was sparse.

Finishing Area & Finisher's Medal:
The finisher's chute at NYCM was terrible. Shortly after crossing the finish line , things came a complete stop. There's nothing worse than having to stand still right after running a marathon. I don't remember how long I waited to get my heat sheet, medal, food bag, and my clear plastic bag from the UPS truck but it must have been a good 30 to 40 minutes. I didn't bother to wait on line for the finishers photo because there was nothing special about it. All it was a photo with the typical New York Road Runners backdrop. At the time, I thought the NYCM finisher's medal was nice. It will always be special since it was my first marathon.

I thought the MCM's finisher's chute was pretty efficient for a big marathon. Things didn't come to a complete stop after crossing the finish line. I immediately recieved my heat sheet, water, Powerade, and food bag. My only complaint about the food bag is that there was no bagel in the bag as advertised on their website. Right after that a U.S. Marine awarded me my finisher's medal, which is much bigger, heavier, and nicer than NYCM's. Unlike NY, I waited for the finisher's photo at MCM. I barely had to wait to have my picture taken in front of the Iwo Jima memorial. One more thing, there was no wait for chip returns at MCM because a disposable tag was used.

Final Thoughts:
Despite the crowds before, during, and after NYCM, it is still a race that every marathoner should run once. You probably won't PR at NYCM but it's one big party for 26.2 miles.

While MCM disappointed in crowd support, it certainly made up for it with the course and the Marines. Lastly, MCM is a race you can race to acheive a PR, I did!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

33rd Marine Corps Marathon: October 26, 2008

Race day begins with my alarm going off at 4:20 a.m. I was surprised that I actually slept Saturday night. I remember the night before the 2007 New York City Marathon, I hardly slept. I got out of bed, trying my hardest to be quiet so my wife and daughter would not wake up. I took my race day stuff into the bathroom and started to get ready. I left my friend's house in Rockville around 5:10 a.m. and drove to the Twinbrook Metro station. When I pulled into the lot around 5:20 there were already a few cars parked in the lot. The Metro platform was not crowded but those that were there were clearly running MCM. I struck up a conversation on the train with an older woman who told me that she would be running her 62nd marathon.

I exited the Metro at Pentagon station around 6:15 began the hike to the runner's village. On the way, I couldn't help but to be in awe of the Washington Monument all lit up against the dark sky. This picture doesn't do the view justice but it was the best I could do with my cell phone.

After going through a security checkpoint where the Marines were inspecting our clear bags for any illegal items, I settled in at one of the tents in the runner's village. Around 7:15 I took my final pit stop and then headed over to the UPS trucks to drop off my bag. The Marine who took my bag said "Good Luck, Sir" and with that I headed over to starting corrals.

I was surprised how quickly I was able to cross the start line. Based on my chip and clock times, there is only a 2 - 3 minute difference. I waited at least 30 minutes last year in New York. I wanted to try and run with the 3:50 pacer but because of the crowds, it was not meant to be.

Before I go on, let me apologize in advance if I get the names of places or streets wrong. I am not from the D.C. Metro area and was not really paying attention to street signs.

The first memorable moment came around mile 4 when I hit Key Bridge and saw the spires of Georgetown University poking through the morning fog. As I made the turn onto Canal Rd., I saw the lead pack tearing up the course on the other side of the street. During training, I took gels every 6 miles, so I passed the water stop at mile 5 hoping there would be another one around mile 6 or 7. This was my first mistake. The next water stop did not come until mile 8. I sucked down a gel and some water and headed into Georgetown. At this point I looked at my Garmin and saw I was averaging 8:30/mile. I didn't think I'd be able maintain that pace for 26.2 so I decided to slow down to around a 8:40 - 8:45/mile pace. The atmosphere on M Street and Wisconsin Ave. was quite festive with lots of support from the crowd. I then ran past the Kennedy Center and began the approach to Hains Point. Even though I took a gel at mile 8, I wanted to stick to my every 6 miles plan so I took my next gel at mile 12 to get back on track.

Since this was my first MCM, I did not know what to expect in Hains Point. Everything I read described HP as this dreadful part of the course. I think that had to do with where HP was in the race. In previous MCMs, HP was in the latter parts of the race. This year, the race organizers made a change and we entered HP around mile 12. The crowd support was almost non-existant and there wasn't much going on in terms of scenery. I ran on knowing that the National Mall, with all of it's monuments and musuems, was just a mile or so away.

This is the part of the race I was looking forward to the most, and it did not dissappoint. The crowd around the Lincoln Memorial was great supportive. It was exactly what I needed after HP. I arranged before the race to look for my family around mile 17, which was at Ohio Drive SW and Buckeye Dr. When I ran by, I did not see them. I tried not to get disappointed and I took in the Washington Monument, the National Gallery, and the Capitol.
For future reference, I'm the one in the white shirt with red sleeves.
Photobucket Photobucket

I got to Mile 19 near the Air and Space Museum and guess what I started hearing? "THERE HE IS! THERE HE IS!" As I got closer I saw MY WIFE AND DAUGHTER. I stopped (probably for a little to long) for a kiss from both them and this picture:

It was exactly the mental boost that I needed knowing that the bridge, and the final 10K, were only a few minutes ahead. The Marine in background had a smile on his face as this was going on. As I started running again he gave me a big OORAH! Mile 20 was the beginning of the bridge crossing back into Virginia. For me, this part of the race was absolutely dreadful. The surface was uneven and it felt like I was, if a may borrow a phrase from campaign, "on a bridge to nowhere." At some point on the bridge a TNT (Team in Training) coach started running with a TNT runner. I heard him say "Just focus on you upper body. Move your arms and run tall. Don't worry about your legs are feeling." I tried to heed this advice myself, but at mile 21 things started to go downhill. My left foot started to tighten up pretty badly. I had to stop for a good 4-5 minutes to stretch it out. I took another look at my Garmin and saw that I had enough time in the bank that if I slowed my pace I could still finish in under 4 hours. I decided not push the pace but to enjoy the last 5.2 miles.

The last mile took us past where we started a little under 4 hours ago. As we past Mile 26, everyone saw what was coming next. The CRUEL uphill finish to the Iwo Jima Memorial. It wasn't a long climb, just 2 tenths of a mile, but it was steep with a hairpin turn thrown in for good measure. I saw the clock on top of the finishing chute read 3:57, I had done it! I hadn't looked at my Garmin to get my unofficial time but I knew I had it. I got my water, Powerade, food bag, and heat sheet from the Marines. Then came a moment that will stick with me for a while. A member of the U.S. Marine Corps put my finisher's medal
around my neck and said " Congratulations, Sir! Job well done!" I simply replied "Thank you for your service." I made my way over to the Iwo Jima Memorial to have my picture taken.

On the way to the family meet-up area, I picked my USAA commemorative coin. My wife and daughter were delayed a bit because of the crowds at Rosslyn Station. We finally met up and after some hugs, kisses, and this picture:


To wrap up the race here are my 5K splits and some other stats courtesy of the MCM website:

Overall: 3370/18281
Gender Place: 2664/11129
Division Place: 494/1994
Age Grade: 53.1%
5K: 26:49
10K: 53:30
15K: 1:20:47
20K: 1:47:36
Half: 1:53:49
25K: 2:14:24
30K: 2:42:58
35K: 3:11:53
40K: 3:42:02
Finish: 3:55:08

We got on a very long line to board a Metro at Rosslyn Station. After about an hour we finally got on a crowded Orange Line train. On the way to Metro Center I struck up a conversation with a finisher who was active military. He told me that he ran a satellite marathon in Fallujah last year. Something about that really humbled me. Military life is so foreign to me. I simply thanked him for his service.

We finally got back to Twinbrook Station around 2:40 p.m., drove back our friend's house, said goodbye, packed up the car and started the drive back to New Jersey around 4:30. The trip home took a lot longer than the usual 4 hours. There was construction on I-95 in Maryland, and 2 accidents on the NJ Turnpike. While in the car, I massaged my quads and calves with The Stick. It really helped because my legs were not as sore the next day. We also stoped at a bunch of rest stops so I could get out of the car and walk around. Every rest stop we stopped at, it was easy to pick out other MCMers who were doing the same thing. Some, including me, had their medals around their necks others were wearing running clothes and stretching. We all offered congratulations to each other. We finally made it home around 10:00 p.m.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that my 3:55:08 was a PR besting my 4:21:57 at the 2007 New York City Marathon!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pre Marine Corps Marathon Weekend

I know that I already posted my time last night, but I figured I would fill you all in what my family did the weekend before the race.
Thursday, October 23, 2008:
My family drove down to Rockville, MD Thursday night (October 23) after work. We got to Rockville around 11:00 p.m. settled in and went to sleep.
Friday, October 24, 2008:
We planned out our day so we could get some sightseeing in and hit the expo. My daughter really wanted to see the White House but tours are only available for groups of 10 or more. So we decided to get tickets for the public tour of the Capitol. We had some time to kill before our tour so we went across the street to see the U.S. Botanic Gardens. We saw plants and flowers from different climates including tropical rain forests and deserts. There was also an interesting exhibit about medicinal plants. After the gardens, we headed over to the expo to pick up my race stuff. Even though it was around lunch time when we got to the armory, there were few lines at the bib pick up tent. After picking up my bib we headed into the armory to pick up my t-shirt, goody bag, and to check out the expo. Sadly, I didn't win one of the super-sized goody being advertised. After I got my t-shirt and goody bag we walked around the expo for a bit. I bought 3 things:

I didn't have any throw away pants for the start so I bought a pair of Sport Shell pants for $8,
a stick of bodyglide for $6, and a MCM Brooks Running shirt for $34. .

Official Shirt

Brooks Shirt

We hopped back on the Metro for our 2:30 tour of the Capitol. The public tour features the Rotunda, National Statuary Hall, and the Crypt. Had I known ahead of time, I would have contacted my representative and requested tickets for the gallery tour. After the tour, we hopped back on the Metro to Rockville and got ready for Shabbat.
Saturday (Shabbat), October 25, 2008:
We woke up Shabbat morning to dark skies and lots of wind. As the day went on the rains came and throughout the rest of the day I kept saying "I hope it's not like this tomorrow." Our friends kept reassuring me that it will pass and that race day will be great. I tried to focus on eating and relaxing. towards the end of the day, around 5:30 I was going out of my mind so I went downstairs to the basement where we were sleeping and started to get my race day stuff together. I pinned my bib to my shirt, attached my "D" chip, packed my clear plastic bag with my post race stuff. After the kids were asleep around 8:00 p.m., my wife said "I don't think you've eaten enough today!" I said "OK" and prepared another hearty plate of pasta with marinara. I topped it off with a bowl of cookie dough ice cream with chocolate sauce. Around 10:00 I set my alarm for 4:20 a.m. and went to bed.

The Capitol

The Rotunda

View of the Washington Monument from the steps of the Capitol

Picking up my race packet

To be contiued........

Sunday, October 26, 2008

OORAH!: Ansky Runs MCM

I wanted to post a quick entry about MCM tonight. I will post a more detailed (with pictures) race report later in the week.

Overall MCM was a great experience, I finished in 3:55:08. My goal was to finish in under 4 hours, so I am thrilled that I was able to accomplish that goal. There is no question I was much better prepared for MCM that I was for NYC in 2007. My wife has a lot to with that. She really focused on my nutrition and made sure I was well nourished in the weeks leading up the race. Aside from a blister or 2 on my feet and what I think is a bruised or cracked rib (more on this in the detailed report), I have no major aches or pains.

More to come later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Packing Up

I am all packed up and ready to go. Tomorrow night after work my family will get in the car and drive down to our friend's house in Rockville, MD. I always get nervous before I travel. This time around I'm doubly nervous because of the race. I know that I'm well trained, well nourished, and healthy but I keep asking myself, especially during the taper, "have I done enough?" My wife is great, she keeps telling me not too worry and that I've done this before. Just pretend it's another long run, except this one you'll be doing with 20,000+ other people and you'll be running a little longer than you have.

My bag is pretty much packed. I packed different clothing for different weather conditions, my shoes, socks, hat, sunglasses, GU, Albuterol, throw away clothing, clothing to change into post race, my Garmin, band-aids for my nips, extra safety pins, and my e-confirmation card. Without that I can't get into the expo to pick up my race packet. Did I forget anything? Please let me know before Thursday evening.

I hope to hit the runner's expo early Friday morning and then do some sightseeing with my family. Maybe a tour of the Capitol or a museum. My wife and daughter will probably do some more sightseeing along the Mall on Sunday before I run by there. I'm looking forward to a relaxing Shabbat with our friends. After Shabbat, I'll make my final race day preparations and try and get some sleep.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

1 Week to Go

I woke up this morning at 5:00 hoping to get out around 6:00. I looked outside at my thermometer and saw it was right around 40. I went upstairs and grabbed my Addidas ClimaWarm long sleeve tech shirt and Swix gloves. I puttered around the house trying to get myself motivated to head out in the cold. Finally around 6:20 I said enough is enough and I headed out the door. The initial blast of cold air hit me like a ton of bricks. By the time I reached the friendly confines of Votee Park, I was warmed up and feeling great. Suddenly is wasn't so cold.

I really did not push the pace today. I ended up running 9.47 miles in 1:19:05 which averages out to 8:20/mile. There was a time when I thought 8:20/mile was pushing the pace. Now it feels easy. I'll probably do a few shorter runs during the week before I head down to D.C. Thursday night after work.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Apologies

I had hoped to include some "What Ansky is Eating" entries during my taper. These entries would detail what I was eating including nutritional analysis. That has not happened. Between work and the Jewish holidays neither my wife nor myself has had much time work on this. I also wanted to apologize for not putting recipies on the blog as frequently as I had hoped.

Once MCM is over, I will be sure to post regular recipes. For now, I'm enjoying my taper. I hope to run 8 - 10 tomorrow and then enjoy the last 2 days of the holiday. Thursday night it's off to D.C.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Food Fest Part I

Many of the Jewish holidays involve gathering with friends or family and enjoying large festive meals. Tonight ended the first 2 days of the festival of Sukkot. The unique aspect of Sukkot is that the festive meal, weather permitting, is eaten outside in a sukkah. A sukkah is a temporary structure built outside of the home that serves as a reminder of how the Jewish people dwelled in the desert during the exodus from Egypt. When I have a chance during the next few days, I will try and post some pictures of my sukkah. With the holiday starting so late this year, many of our friends we nervous we would have to eat side in cold weather. I was also concerned about getting sick. Fortunately for us here in NJ the weather was great and it was not uncomfortable to sit outside.

I was also fortunate the the holiday falls out during my taper. It is not in the spirit of the holiday for me to run so I did not feel as bad losing out on some miles. At sundown tonight the prohibitions of the holiday were lifted and I was able to run. Since it was dark, I went to the only place in town where it's safe to run at night, good ole Votee Park. I did an easy an easy 6.56 miles just to get out and work off some of the extra calories I consumed during the holiday.

The next week is going to be quite busy between catching up on work, and 2 more days of holidays next Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, it's down to D.C. next Thursday after work for MCM. It's hard to believe MCM is 10 days away.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Going Loopy

As you can see Friday's run:

and today's run:

were very similar. Votee Park is largest park in my town. It's not particularly scenic or challenging. I run there when I want to keep my runs simple and close to home. What I like about is that there are year-round port-a-potties available which makes it a good and safe place to run in the winter.

My biggest concern during my taper is getting to MCM healthy. I've put in the miles so I know I can cover the distance. So many of my friends have been coughing and sneezing. Yesterday in synagogue the sounds of sniffling were just as common as those of prayer. I've been taking extra vitamin C, trying (I emphasize trying) to get to bed early, and reduce the amount of stress in my life. My wife is also adjusting my diet to include more foods that strengthen my immune system. Extra fruits and veggies, and red meat, etc...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Preparing for a Day of Fasting

From sundown tonight until sundown tomorrow night, I will be observing Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. One of the main requirements of the day is to not eat or drink. We are to spend most of the day in synagogue acknowledging our tansgressions and asking G-D for forgiveness.

A question I hear over and over again from co-workers and others who have never fasted for 25 hours is "how do you prepare for a fast?" Over the years, I've figured out what and how to eat the day before the fast. Now that I'm a runner, I've noticed many similarities between the way I prepare for a fast and the way I prepare for a long run or marathon.

It may come as no surpirse that the main component of a pre fast meal is is complex carbohydrates. A group of Israeli doctors studied 5 men and 8 women between the ages of 19 and 64, all healthy. All spent their fasts indoors and staying mostly in air-conditioned rooms. The researchers wanted to know whether the discomfort of a food-and-water fast could be influenced by the composition of the pre-fast meal, and if so, what basic nutritional components would promote the easiest fasting. Their findings, summarized below, were published in the September issue of the Israel Medical Association Journal.

They found that the protein-rich meal created most discomfort and side effects during the fast. Weight and blood pressure decreased at the end of the fasts that followed each of the three types of meals, and heart rates increased after the high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals but not after the protein meal. There was a 40 percent increase in blood urea nitrogen and more excretion of sodium and creatinine after the high-fat meal and least after the high-carbohydrate meal.
Water is better conserved when one eats a meal high in complex carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, beans, and other pulses. When protein breaks down, however, more water is excreted as urine to eliminate nitrogenous metabolic products from the body. (source article: Jerusalem Post, September 25, 2001)

Now that I've mentioned some scientific findings, here is how I will be preparing for the fast:

During the day:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • I ate a substantial breakfast of cereal , fruit, and whole wheat toast
  • I will eat a light lunch in order to save my appetite for the pre fast meal
Pre Fast Meal:
  • Challah bread
  • Chicken soup (a Jewish meal would be incomplete without Mom's chicken soup :) ). Soup is also very hydrating and fills you up.
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Small Chicken breast
  • Assorted steamed veggies
  • I will finish the meal off with a small piece of mom's angel food or sponge cake
Since I am not a coffee drinker, I do not have to worry about caffeine withdrawal. If you do drink coffee, you should start cutting back a few days before the fast. Also, do not drink alcohol with your pre fast meal since alcohol causes your body to get rid of water.

Lastly, I wanted to briefly mention the post fast meal. The key here is not to eat too quickly. I usually start with a glass of orange juice. The tradition in my family is to eat cold noodles with cottage cheese. My dad and wife like to include to cinnamon.

May 5769 be a year of peace, prosperity, and good health.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Runner's Recipe of the Week

My wife and finally got around to posting a new recipe. Things have been kind of busy on the home front. I hope to post a new recipe each week but bear with me if that doesn't happen. The Jewish holiday "season" is in full swing so my schedule is a little erratic. Just to review the 2 previous recipes. The first recipe was a real 'stick to your bones' type of recipe--Ansky's Noodle Meat is good as a hearty main dish for dinner. The second recipe Peanut Butter Sesame Noodles was meant to be a side, or a snack with a piece of fruit. Now, it's time for a lunch-time treat. The following is a good recipe to use left over chicken, or to make from scratch. A fresh new chicken salad recipe: Chicken-Tarragon Salad Wraps.

I wanted to put in a recipe that is good for both carbohydrate loading (thus, the wrap--whole wheat wraps are full of good solid healthy carbs) and with a balance of fat and protein to keep with the whole philosophy that my wife and I am trying to espouse: it is not just about the carbs, it is about keeping your immune system fed while you train. If you get sick, then you may as well throw away all of your training. You could even miss your marathon all-together depending upon when you get sick. These sandwiches are good for replenishing after long runs.

Chicken-Tarragon Salad Wraps


1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 3)
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 Cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce

6 (10 in. diameter) Whole Wheat Tortilla Wraps

Bring large saucepan of salted water to boil. Add chicken breasts; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; cool.
Mix celery, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, onion, tarragon, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl to blend. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch cubes; stir into mayonnaise mixture. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)
Arrange wraps. Divide salad topped with lettuce amongst wraps. Roll salad into wraps. Slice in half and serve.

Click here to access the nutritional information and receive more information on this refreshing recipe.

Rain Delay

Today's run is being postponed by rain. No make up date has been scheduled. I know most runners enjoy running in rain but this runner does not . In the past any time I've run in the rain I've gotten sick. With MCM 3 weeks away I need to focus on staying healthy. I'll get some shorter runs in during the week before Yom Kippur which starts on Wednesday night.

Let the taper begin......

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday Night's Speed Workout

Since many in the group will be running Grete's Great Gallop this Saturday, Coach Bob decided to take it easy on us. Tonight's workout was a 4 mile tempo run. We began on East Drive at Engineer's Gate, ran down to the 72nd St. tranverse, across the transverse and up West Drive to the 102nd St. transverse, across the 102nd St. transverse and finished up where we started on East Drive and 90th St.

The battery on my Garmin died during the run so I don't have a workout to upload to I did hear the coach call out 29:11 as I finished the run. This translates to 7:17/mile. Clearly, I ran this faster than my tempo pace. I guess I felt then need to make up for 2 days of not running. With 3 weeks before MCM I'm feeling pretty good. I'm looking forward to a solid 15 miler on Sunday and an enjoyable taper.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Race Report: ING New York City Marathon Tune Up

Today's race was pretty simple, 3 counter-clockwise loops of New York City's Central Park for a total of 18 miles (at least according to NYRR). I left my house around 5:30 and got to the Upper East Side around 6:00. After circling for parking for about 15 minutes, I gave up and headed to the West Side. After another 10 minutes of circling, I did something that I have never done for a NYRR race, park my car in a lot. I got to the start on East Drive and 102nd with about 15 minutes to spare. I checked my bag and headed to my assigned corral, yellow.

The good thing about running counter-clockwise is that you hit Harlem Hill for the first time early on while you're still fresh. After Harlem Hill, the rest of the first loop was pretty uneventful. I got to mile 6, the end of the my first loop in 50:44. I took my first GU and asked myself if I was going to fast. I felt pretty good and prepared myself to conquer Harlem Hill for the 2nd time. This time it felt a little harder. I crested the top of the hill and enjoyed the downhill that followed. The crazy thing about Central Park it is not flat. It is quite hilly on all sides of the park. I got to mile 12, the end of my 2nd loop in 1:42:10. Once again, I took water and my 2nd GU and prepared for my last climb up Harlem Hill. This time it felt really hard. I slowed my pace and kept one foot in front of the other. The last climb seemed like an eternity but as with previous 2 climbs I got through it. The last significant hill before the finish is Cat Hill on the East Side beginning at the Boathouse. Like my 3rd time up Harlem Hill I slowed my pace and told myself "don't let Cat Hill beat you." Just after Cat Hill was the 1 mile to go mark. I started to pick up my pace and headed towards the finish.

I crossed the finish line in 2:36:06 which averages out to 8:40/mile. I have to say I really surprised myself today. I beat last year's time by 20 minutes! My Garmin had me running 18.36 miles which would average out to 8:30/mile. Even more strange is that when I uploaded the race to, the distance for the race was 18.89 miles Why is there such a difference between the actual distance, Garmin, and In any event, I've been walking around the whole day full of confidence. With 27 days until MCM, I can say with the utmost confidence that I'm ready.

Now I can slowly taper down and enjoy the Jewish holidays with my family and friends. The Jewish New Year begins tomorrow night. I will be spending a lot of time in synagogue Tuesday and Wednesday reflecting on the past year and praying for a successful 5769. May the upcoming year be full of health, prosperity, and of course good running.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Yankee Stadium 1923 - 2008: Some Final Thoughts

Most die hard Yankee fans can remember their first game at Yankee Stadium. For some reason, that moment eludes me. I would like to share with you some other memorable moments:

  • I was at both the last World Series game and the final game at the Stadium. Unfortuately, the Yankees did not win game 6 of the 2003 World Series vs. Florida. Josh Beckett pitched a great game resulting in a World Series title for Florida and World Series MVP honors for Beckett.
  • I was also at the last no-hitter at Yankee Stadium. It was a combined no-no pitched by 6 Houston Astors pitchers: Oswalt, Munro, Saarloos, Lidge, Dotel, Wagner) on 6/11/03. Final score of the game was 8-0 Houston.
  • Even though the Yankees lost, Game 2 of the 2001 ALDS was memorable in the sense that it was my first time back at the Stadium after 9/11. I remember vividly the hightened security and the police snipers spread above the stadium.
  • Without a doubt, my most memorable game was Game 5 of the 2001 ALDS. The Yanks won the game 5-3 and won the series 3-2. The Yanks became the first team to win a ALDS series after dropping the first 2 games at home. Jeter made an unbelievable catch in the top of the 8th inning.
  • My daughter probably won't remember the exact date of the her first game, but I took her this year on June 22, 2008. The Yanks won the game vs. Cincinnati 4-1. Andy Pettitte got the win and Mariano Rivera got the save and Ken Griffey Jr ht a home run. I remember her reaction when she saw the field for the first time. She simply said "WOAH!" Rain delayed the game for an hour and we had to leave during the rain delay.
  • There were also so many memorable games against Boston and interleague games against the Mets.

Having been to some of the new stadiums I realize the need for a new building. The concourses are too narrow, there is not enough legroom, it lack many of the modern features that newer buildings have, etc... Lastly, a world class team deserves a world class facility.

There wil certainly be many changes in store for the Yankees during this offseason. It's strange not planning my evenings around Yankee playoff games. The good thing about the baseball offseason is that it's during the winter when I cut back on my running. I'll have more to say then.

But for now...there are just over 29 days left to MCM.

Thursday Night's Speed Workout

Last night's workout was pretty simple: 6 x 400m (1/4 mile) intervals on the 102nd St. Transverse. To make it interesting Coach Bob decided that we'd run the intervals starting on the West Side of the cutoff and finish on the East Side of the cutoff. This way we'd be running uphill. After each interval we'd recover by jogging slowly back down to the West Side of the cutoff.

Becuase of the cloudy weather, I had a hard time picking up a signal on my Garmin during the warmup from the school to the transverse. Once we got to the trasverse, I was able to pick up a signal. The data displayed reflects the 6 intervals and the cooldown back to the school. Here are the splits for the intervals:
#1: 1:33
#2: 1:30
#3: 1:29
#4: 1:28 (Coach John said after this interval that #4 is almost always the fastest)
#5: 1:31
#6: 1:29
Cooldown back to the school 1.3 miles in 11:33.

Since it's 1.3 miles from the transvers to the school, I'll assume it's also 1.3 miles from the school to the transvers. Total miles for last night: 5.7 miles

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yankee Stadium 1923 - 2008: The Night in Pictures

The Marquee outside the Stadium

The sun setting on The Stadium

Next Year's Home

Exterior of the new Stadium

1922 AL Champion Pennant

Reggie and Randy Maris

Paul O'Neill! Paul O'Neill!

Andy on the mound

Mo on the mound

Final Score

Yankees saluting the fans

The most famous corner in sports

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yankee Stadium 1923 - 2008: The Final Game

After the pre-game festivities, there was still a game to be played. I'm not going to bore you with an inning-by-inning recap, I'll just mention some of my favorite moments and some trivia.

Andy Pettitte started the game and got the win. It was nice to see him on the mound for the final home game since he was so instrumental in helping the Yankees win 4 World Series titles and 6 AL pennants. The Yanks fell behind 2-0 early in the game but then went ahead 3-2 thanks to a 3-run home run off the bat of Johnny Damon. After Baltimore tied the game at 3, the Yankees went ahead 5-3 courtesy of a 2-run home run off the bat of Jose Molina (more on this later). Andy gave up a hit in the top of the sixth and that's when manager Joe Girardi came to the mound to make a pitching change. Andy walked towards the Yankee dugout to a standing ovation. He waved his cap to the crowd and came out for a curtain call. Jose Veras, Phil Coke, and Joba Chamberlain, held the Orioles scoreless through the 8th setting the stage for the 9th.

During the 7th inning stretch Ronan Tynan treated the crowd to his moving rendition of "God Bless America." I love listening to Dr. (he's a physican by trade) Tynan sing. He doesn't sing at every game only "special" games like opening day, playoffs, and of course for the final game. If you've never heard him sing you need to hear him.

Everyone in the building knew who was coming in to close out the game and the Stadium. As soon as the first chords of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" came over the PA system, the place went crazy. It was so loud that we could barely hear the music. For those of you who have never been to a Yankee game when Mo comes in this is a must watch. For those of you who have, well I hope you share the same feeling that I do....THIS NEVER GETS OLD.

There were a bunch of people in my section, myself included that thought it would be awesome if Metallica showed up at the Stadium to play "Enter Sandman" live. That would have made the evening beyond perfect. Wishful thinking.

With 2 outs in the 9th, Girardi took Jeter out of the game. He left to a standing ovation and also came out for a curtain call. If you're curious, Wilson Betemit replaced him. In classic Rivera style, the game ended on a weak grounder to first. That's when New York's finest swarmed the field with hundreds of police officers. Most were on foot but there were some mounted on horses as well. For the most part, the fans behaved themselves. There were 1 or 2 idiots who thought they could outrun New York's finest. NYPD simply smothered them and walked them off the field in cuffs.

This is where things started to get emotional. The fans started singing along to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York." A few minutes later, with the entire team gathered on the pitcher's mound, the Captain, Derek Jeter took the mic and addressed the fans

After the speech, the entire Yankee Team took a lap around the field and saluted the fans. No, they did not pull a Wade Boggs and get on horses, they walked around field as a team. After a few more minutes of "New York, New York" we decided to leave. I gave my seat a few taps and left the section. We stopped at a few spots in the stadium to take pictures and finally left Yankee Stadium for good a little after midnight.

Now for some trivia:
Last home run: Jose Molina
Last hit: Jason Giambi
Final out: Brian Roberts
Last strikeout: Aubrey Huff (thrown by Joba Chamberlain)