Sunday, May 31, 2009

Running Off the Cheesecake

This past Friday and Saturday I celebrated the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot. The holiday celebrates the Jewish people receiving the Torah (Jewish laws and observances) from G-D on Mount Sinai. One of the customs of Shavuot is to eat dairy foods. One reason for this before the Jewish People received the Torah their meat was not ritually slaughtered. Once we received the Torah all meat had to be ritually slaughtered. Since the Torah was given on Shabbat (Jewish day of rest) and it is forbidden to slaughter on Shabbat, we had no choice but to eat dairy food. I actually love the holiday for that reason. Most meals on Jewish holiday are centered around meat so I look forward to a change of pace. Shavuot dessert is usually cheesecake. Since I only eat it once a year, I almost always overindulge helping myself to at least 2 helpings.

With is as background, I was looking forward to my run this morning. Today I was aiming for 8 miles. I woke up to overcast skies, cool temps, and low humidity. A perfect morning for a run! I stuck with what I've been doing since my marathon, run for fun. I took the Garmin with me but paid no attention it. I ran a longer version of the route I ran last week, so there is one extra hill I had to climb. My legs felt good on the hills and I again able to recover on the flats. Once I creasted the final hill on made the turn onto Palisades Ave., I started to pick up the pace to see how my body would react. My body handled the increase in pace just fine. I finished the 8.36mi run in 1:06:40 for a 7:59 pace. Map and splits can be found here:Local 8+ miler.

I pretty sure I'm fully recovered from my marathon. My plan was to go back to Nike Speed in June. I will have to put that off until the second Wednesday in June. I scheduled a dentist appointment for this coming Wednesday. I will make sure to run on Wednesday since it's National Running Day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Over 2 Bridges and Through Chinatown, to Bubby's Place We Go

I had to stop by my Bubby's (Yiddish for grandmother) place on the Lower East Side before work to help her out with something. G-d bless her, she is 97 years old and still lives by herself, gets around, and is sharp as a whistle mentally. She has a visiting nurse service come 3 days a weeks to help with laundry, showers, doctors appointments, etc.... other than that, she does everything on her own. I incorporated the stop into my morning run today. I did my usual run over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, but instead of taking a left off the Manhattan Bridge to go back work, I took a right and ran down Canal St. to East Broadway and then a left on Clinton St. When I showed up in my running clothes, Bubby asked me why I wasn't dressed for work. I told her that I run before work and I ran to her apartment. She exclaimed "you ran from your house (in NJ)!" I chuckled and told her that I ran here from my office. I did what I had to do, and after turning down multiple offers for food (what Jewish grandmother doesn't offer their grandchildren food?), I got on the subway (if I had more time I would have run back to work) and started my day.

Bubby is an amazing woman. She was born on the Lower East Side and has spent all her life there. I can't even imagine the types of experiences she's had. So much has happened in 97 years. As she is the only living grandparent I have left, I truly enjoy the time I get to spend with her.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Running and Other Goings On

Sunday: woke up at 5 and started my usual pre-run routine. I think I finally found pre-run eats that works. I had an english muffin with peanut butter. Sunday was one of those days where I just ran for fun. I had a route in mind and I did take my Garmin but I didn't pay any attention to it. The route I ran was 6.67 miles with 2 decent hills and 1 smaller hill. My legs felt stong going up the hills and I was able to recover quickly on the flats. I finished the run in 53:58 (8:04 pace). Map and splits can be found here:Local 6+ miles.

Later in the day my parents and my brother, sister-in-law, and niece came over for a BBQ. I grilled up some juicy steaks, made some corn, baked some fries, my wife made a great crunchy salad (which I hope to share on this blog), and enjoyed fruit salad for dessert. Only thing missing was beer.

Monday: Late Sunday afternoon, my daughter was invited to sleep over at a friend's house Sunday night. My wife and I enjoyed some quiet time at home. I was a little bummed becuase had plans been made in advance I would have been able to run the Ridgewood 5k. I didn't register becuase my wife, who is a Registered Dietitian in a nursing home, had to work today, so I supposed to be on daddy duty all day. Since there was no race day registration, I couldn't participate.

Instead, I woke up late (6:30, instead of my usual 5:00). My plan was to run a shorter route so I didn't need to go through all of my pre-run rituals. I did eat 2 Fig Newtons and drank some water. I left the house just before 7:30. Again, I took the Garmin but did not pay attention to it. I decided to push a little harder today since I was running shorter and a flatter route. I ran 4.42 miles in 34:10 (7:44 pace). Map and splits can be found here: Memorial Day 4.4.

We enjoyed another BBQ with friends. The host cooked up some chicken, burgers, hot dogs, there were also assorted salads, and brownies for dessert. Again the only thing missing was beer.

I love these long weekends. No big plans, just quality time with family and friends. Tomorrow is back to the grind.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Thoughts on Memorial Day

Memorial Day in the U.S. is known as the "Unofficial Start of Summer." Families and friends get together for barbecues, go the beach, take advantage of sales at the malls, and enjoy a day off from work. Very few of us take the time to realize what Memorial Day is all about. It's a time to remember those who have given their lives protecting our country and to thank living veterans for their service. We see coverage on TV of the President laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but how many of us go to Memorial Day observance in our town? I admit, I'm just as guilty of this. I went for run, I'm enjoying the time with my family, having a barbecue, and playing poker with my buddies.

When I was studying abroad in Israel, I remember observing Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron) in Israel. It is so much different. I forget the exact time it occurs, but at some point during the day a siren is sounded throughout the country. People literally stop what their doing and pause for 2 minutes to remember the soldiers who have given their lives to keep Israel safe from their enemies. I was on a bus to Jerusalem when the siren sounded. Everyone on the highway stopped their cars, got out and observed a 2 minutes moment of silence right there on the highway. It's a sight that I won't forget.

I think the main difference between how Americans and Israelies observe Memorial Day is this: In Israel, there is mandatory military service. At the age of 18 every boy and girl are required to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Every Israeli knows a soldier that has given their life or is currently serving in the IDF. Here in the U.S. it is a lot less personal. Speaking for myself, I don't have anyone close to me who served in the military. Whatever you are doing this Memorial Day weekend, please take a moment to remember those who served and are currently protecting this great country of ours and if you see a veteran of any war, please thank them for serving.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sticking With What Works

Since I am still recovering from the NJ Marathon, I thought I'd try getting my miles in during lunch time. I realized yesterday, that it simply was not working out. Wokr kept getting in the way, and when I did managed to sneak out,I constantly felt rushed, and my favorite lower Manhattan runnig routes were crowded with tourists, and other people escaping from their offices during lunchtime. This morning I woke up at 5 am, caught the bus to the Port Authority, and then the subway downtown. Today was was one of those picture perfect mornings in the city. The temperatures were cool and the skies were blue. My legs took me to the Brooklyn Bridge. I was so happy to be back on the bridge. There were no tourists trying to line up the perfect picture, no power walkers, and very few messengers on bicycles. Just me, some other runners, and some great views of the city.

Later in the day a co-worker mentioned that I've been walking around with a permanent smile on my face all day. Even though I was bening pulled in every direction at work, I told him I was in a great mood because of my run this morning.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's Next?

A lot of people have been asking me if I'll be running a fall marathon this year. The answer to that is "no." Why not? You may ask. The are 2 reasons: 1) I think my wife and daughter would kill me if I told them I wanted to start training again. Now that my marathon is over, I'm looking forward to enjoying the summer with them. For the past 2 years I have not enjoyed the summer with my family because every Sunday was dedicated to training and recovery. My family is so supportive of me and my hobby (OK, it's more like an obsession). I owe it to them to be around and enjoy the summer as a family. 2) The Jewish holidays in the fall, all come out on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday is already off limits to me, but what this means is that there are 4 consecutive Sundays in late September and early October what I will not be able to get my long runs. That are way too many Sundays to miss in the middle of a fall training cycle.

So the question still remains....."What's next?" Here's my tentative plan:
  • I'm going to use the rest of the month recovering from the NJ Marathon and building some solid base miles. I also just want to run for the fun of it. No racing, training plans to follow, etc... just run because I enjoy it.
  • I hope to return to Nike Speed in June. I am missing the track workout but I know I need to recover.
  • I will be running with a group from work in the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge on June 11.
  • Barring any family Father's Day plans, I hope to run the 10th Annual Father's Day Against Prostate Cancer on June 21.
  • After that, my next race won't be until October 18 when I'll run the Inaugural Asbury Park Marathon Relay. I'll be running it as a team of 2 with Allen G. We will be running against 2 other teams of co-workers as a friendly competition.
There you have it. Isn't it amazing how I can take the time to plan our running calendars so far ahead but can't do that for the non-running part of my life?

Giving Something Back

I received an e-mail last week that a friend of some people who I sometimes run with was putting together a 5k run to Benefit Tori Lee. Tori is a 5-yr. old diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and needs to undergo chemotherapy for the next two years. When I saw this e-mail, I thought "this sucks, it's bad enough when an adult has to endure chemo, but a 5 year old! No way! Children should not have to be put through something like that" I sidelined my plans on running 6 miles today and made the short drive to Englewood to participate in this run. There was no certified course, no official times, just people coming out to run or walk 3.1 miles and making a donation to the Tori Lee Foundation.

My friend JH came down from Riverdale to particpate. He's been trying to break the 25:00 mark in a 5k so I offered to pace him. The splits and how I felt during this run really don't matter the only thing that mattered about today's run was that I was able to support a good cause and JH was able to run a sub 25:00 5k run.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Review: "Running from the Devil"

About a month or so ago, TK sent me an advance copy of "Running from the Devil" by Jamie Freveletti. Ms. Freveletti has an interesting background. She is a trial attorney, martial artist, and runner. She has crewed for an elite ultra-marathon runner at 50 mile, 100 mile, and twenty-four hour races across the country, and both practices and teaches Aikido.

I love a good thriller. Some of my favorite authors include, Daniel Silva, Brad Thor, Steve Berry, and Brian Haig so it goes without saying that I couldn't wait pick up Ms. Freveletti's debut novel. The book starts out with Emma Caldridge, a chemist at a Miami cosmetics company. Emma is on her to Bogota, Columbia to research a new plant for a potential product when her plane is hijacked and crashes into the Columbian Jungle. Emma is thrown far enough far the crash site to go undiscovered by the guerillas who take the survivors of the crash hostage. I don't want to give away too much of the book, but what ensues for the duration of the book is Emma, and eventually Cameron Sumner, a secret government agent, following the hostages and helping to secure their rescue. Like any good thriller, there is a consipiracy involving something Emma has in her possession that other people want.

Here are my thoughts on the book: for a debut novel, I liked it a lot. Like the authors I mentioned above, "Running from the Devil" had its share of high tech weaponry, covert missions, and conspiracies. What I loved was Emma was able to use her training as an endurance athlete and chemist to survive in the jungle. In fact she reminded me of McGyver who was able to survive and get out of trouble with a roll of duct tape. Emma uses her training as a chemist to nourish herself and to nurse Sumner back to health. One of my favorite parts was when Emma, covered in mud to fend off mosquitoes, had an encounter with the guerrillas. The guerrillas were scared off because they thought Emma was "El Chupacabra" which with the Latin American equivalent of big foot.

Now for my dislikes....there were parts of the book that read like a school kid wrote them. Also the way Emma and Sumner escape the their encounters with the guerrillas is very repitious. They get captured, take advantage of a small opportunity, and make a run for it. I also found it hard to believe that the guerrillas could figure out where in the jungle Emma and Sumner were hiding.

All in all, "Running from the Devil" is a solid debut novel. It has its flaws but it also had many good points as well. "Running from the Devil" is now available at your favorite bookstore. Hopefully her 2nd novel novel will feature Emma Caldridge was well. I'm a huge fan of books that feature a recurring character.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Watch Where You're Going!

I usually don't do this, but something happened to me during my lunch time run today that I need to rant about.

I'm running south on the South St. running path towards the Staten Ferry Terminal enjoying the nice weather. A lot of people are out running, walking, taking pictures, etc.... Just past Wall St. I notice a guy who is paying more attention to his Blackberry than to the people around and approaching him. I kid you not, I almost ran this guy over. I really didn't care who this guy was, I yelled "watch where you're going!" Thank goodness we avoided a collision but something about this incident really pissed me off. Seriously people, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Take your eyes off of your Blackberrys, Ipods, & cell phones and look up otherwise something bad will happen.


Tori Lee is a 5-yr. old diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and needs to undergo chemotherapy for the next two years. Fellow runner, Maria Thornhill, organized a 5K benefit run/walk in Englewood, NJ on May 17th. The race day logistics have been finalized, however participants – 200 to be exact- are desperately needed or else the town of Englewood will cancel this event. Englwood, NJ is no more than 10 minutes from the George Washington Bridge. If you have the time, please try and come out. Cost of the race is $25 with 100% of the proceeds going to the Tori Lee Foundation. Here are the details:
5/17 – Sunday
6:00 - 7:40am Race Day Registration/Bib Pick-up @ NYSC, 34-36 South Dean St., Engelwood, NJ. Click here for a map and directions.

7:15 – 9:30am NYSC Trainers Activities: Fitness Assessment, Blood Pressure, HR Monitor, Body Fat, Balance Test, etc.

7:30 – 7:45am Pre-Run Exercises & Warm-Up

8:00am 5K Run/Walk Begins

8:05am Pulse Entertainment, Massage (courtesy of the Academy of Massage Therapy), food, etc. Trainers Activities’ continue with Kettle bell Introduction, Outdoor Spinning & Balance Board

8:15- 10:30am Kids Fun Time (soccer games, hula hoops, face painting, tattoos, etc.)

Free Babysitting from 7:30am – 9:00am.

Baggage drop off area at the club.

If you cannot attend the race but would like to make a donation, you can make checks payable to: Team Tori Lee Foundation and mail to:

Tori Lee 5K Benefit Run
Att: Maria Thornhill
New York Sports Club
34-36 South Dean Street
Englewood, NJ, 07631

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On the Road Again

Went out for my first run since the NJ Marathon last Sunday. What a difference in the weather! This morning is was clear, breezy, and temps were in the upper 50's. I took it very easy. Ran from my house to Votee Park, did 1 1/2 loops of the park and ran home via State St. and Windsor Rd. My legs felt good and the pain that I felt in my left knee last week was gone. Total distance was 4 miles in 34:36 (8:39 pace).

When I got home, I was happy to see my wife still in bed. Our daughter woke up on her own and got her own breakfast so her mom wouldn't have to get out of bed early on Mother's day. I took a quick shower then went out to get my wife her favorite coffee. Our daughter and I showered her with cards and a small breakfast in bed.

I am very thankful to have my wife in my life. It's not easy being the wife of a marathoner. She's so supportive of me and of my running. I'm a very lucky man.

Friday, May 8, 2009

NJ Marathon in Picutres

Somewhere along the course

Right around mile 25

Less than a mile to go. Determined to finish

Gun time: 3:53:37
Chip time: 3:52:54 a new marathon PR!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Update

Now that my marathon is in the bag, I hope to providing more regular fantasy baseball updates. Here it goes for this week:
  • I'm currently sitting in 6th place in a ten team league with 50.5 points. First place has 65.5 points.
  • I moved out of the cellar this week powered by Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez and Joe Mauer, who is fresh off the DL.
  • Mike Aviles wasn't working out at 2nd so I dumped him and picked up Orlando Hudson. I was surprised to see him on the waiver wire so I grabbed him.
  • Ryan Theriot and Denard Span have been pleasant surprises. Both are off to a good start and are also part of the reason I've moved up in the standings.
  • On the mound, I've put together a patchwork rotation while Brandon Webb, Dice-K, & Chien-Ming Wang are still on the DL. My starters are Volquez, Lowe, Volstad, Cain, & Jurrens. All are pitching pretty well right now. I'll have to drop some some players when Webb, Dice-K, and Wang are activated.
  • In the bullpen, I picked up Andrew Bailey (RP, OAK) and Jason Frasor (RP, Toronto) to help lower my ERA and WHIP. Both are solid middle relievers who have helped. Trevor Hoffman is also off the DL. He's looking pretty good picking up 2 saves with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.50 WHIP. Joakim Soria has 6 saves and is looking like the top flight closer that we was last year.

Hopefully things will continue to improve.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

NJ Marathon: Official Stats and Some Final Thoughts

Chip Time: 3:52:54 (8:54/mile)
1st half: 1:54:17
2nd Half: 1:58:37

Overall Place: 538/1726
Gender Place: 424/1020
Age Group Place (M, 35-30): 95/194

My only complaint is in regard to the buses. They were not at the central parking area when they were supposed to and we had to walk 3 blocks in the rain to catch the buses back to central parking after the race. I know that the race directors cannot control the weather. However, the race organizers should have adjusted their plans and have the buses in front of the hotel after the race.

Outside of that, the race was well organized. Thank you to the volunteers who were out there in the rain and wind handing us Gatorade, water, and food along the course. There were plenty of fluid stations, port-a-potties, and other food items (pretzels, M&Ms, gummy bears, etc...) at the start and along the course. The spectators that did brave the elements were energetic and offered support to all of the runners. I know I've said this before but I need say it again. Races big and small would not be possible without the many of volunteers involved. Us runners were not the only ones braving the elements on Sunday the volunteers were out there as well. The next time you run a race please do not take them for granted and thank them.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Totals for April

Before I share my race report from the New Jersey Marathon, I'd thought I'd share my totals for April:

Total # of runs: 11
Total Distance: 101.8 miles
Total Time: 14:16:11
Avg. Distance: 9.3 miles
Avg. Pace: 8:24/mi
Avg. Time: 1:17:50

Not a bad month considering it included my marathon taper, some days off to rest an aching calf, and a bunch of non-running days because of Passover. The highlight of the month was my run to work.

Race Report: New Jersey Marathon

Race morning began with my alarm going off at 3:00 a.m. I needed to be at Monmouth Park early to catch the shuttle to the staging area. Everything went smoothly until I got out of car and looked for the shuttles. Where were the shuttles? What I did see was a sizable line of runners and supporters waiting for the shuttles. Around 5:45 a huge caravan of school buses pull into Monmouth park ready to shuttle everyone to the start. What was an orderly line turned into chaos as everyone tried to get on a bus. I secured my seat and off we went.

After a stop at a port-a-potty, I headed inside the host hotel to find Dailyrunner who picked up my bib and chip the day before. I dropped off my bag and headed outside to the start area. An announcement was made that there was going to be a 15 minute delay in the start of the race. I took the time to seek out Julie, author of the blog Raceslikeagirl, who was running the half marathon. We chatted for a bit and then I went back to find the 3:50 pacer.

The race finally started a little bit before 8:00. The NJ Marathon is a double loop course with the start and finish on the promenade adjacent to the beach. The loop is mainly through neighboring residential areas. The beginning miles went by pretty quickly. I had no problem hanging with the 3:50 pacer and, at the time, thought I'd be able to finish the race with him. I stuck to my plan, hydrating starting at mile 4 and taking a gel every 6 miles. My wife and daughter didn't make the trip down with me so it was nice seeing EN, a friend from Nike Speed, just before the half. Hearing his words of encouragement pumped me up. We finished the first half in 1:54:17, right on pace according the my pacer. Soon after we started the second loop, which by the way did not play any Jedi mind tricks with me, the rain started to pick up. For a while it was still refreshing but around mile 20 it started to get heavier and really started to bug me. Soon after that I run through a few puddles and my shoes started to feel like a ton of bricks At mile 21, my left knee started to hurt. I think it had something to do with the uneven road surfaces and twisting in ways the human body is not meant to twist in order to avoid puddles. At first it was bearable but at mile mile 23 I had to take a 2 minute walk break. I hated taking a walk break with only 5k to go but I was really hurting. The walk break did the trick, I got a second wind when we made the final turn towards the finish. EN was there with less than a mile to give me one final push finish. I finished strong and crossed the line in 3:52:54 (8:54 pace). Unfortunately, I did not run a negative split. My second half split was 1:58:37. Considering the problems I was having with my knee and shoes, I'll take it. I got my finishers hat, medal, and refreshments and made a beeline for the bag check where a dry and warm set of clothes awaited.

3:52:54 is a PR for me besting my 3:55:08 I set at the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2008. Every race has it's own challenges and surprises. With the NJ Marathon it was the weather. Setting a PR in less than perfect conditions is definitely cause for celebration.

Lastly, congrats to Dailyrunner on achieving a BQ after almost 5 years of trying. Check out his race report on his blog (linked above).

NJ Marathon is in the Bag!

Unofficial time: 3:52:57. I don't know what the exact pact because my Garmin had me running 26.78 miles. The time is PR for me by about 2 minutes. I'm happy with the result considering the lousy conditions. Stay tuned for the race report.

Thank you again for your word of encouragement and support.