Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's Sad How a Bad Meal Can Ruin an Otherwise Great Day

This afternoon Mrs. Ansky, Lil Ansky, and I had tickets to see Mary Poppins at the New Amsterdam Theatre. The show itself was definitely Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The one negative had to with the seating. Seriously, who designs these theatres? It was worse than flying coach.

After the show, we headed back home for dinner. We don't eat out much so we decided to try a new kosher place in my town. Mrs. Ansky doesn't want me embaras anyone so I'll rant in general terms. We had to wait over an hour for our order to be completed. When we finally got our food, it really wasn't that impressive. We've had bad experiences before but the owners made up for by comping us desserts or by passing around finger foods while we waited. Nothing here. Just a lot of frustration. It bothers to me no end that owners of kosher restaurants feel like they can get away with bad service just because they are offering another kosher dining option in the community. This particular establishment just lost a customer.

Not My Best Run

It's funny how things can change in the span of a week. Last week, I set a new half marathon PR on a tough course. Today, I didn't have my best run. I knew I was in for a less than stellar run when I had some GI issues before even leaving the house. I decided to run in Saddle River County Park. This is one of Bergen County's (NJ) largest parks with almost 16 miles of car free running paths. I knew I was in for a less than stellar run when some GI problems delayed my leaving the house by half an hour.

Coach Jeff has been helping me putting together a training plan that will get me to the start line of the Pocono Mountain Marathon in tip-top shape. Today's long run call for a zone 2 heart rate run with 3 minute pick-ups every 20 minutes. I wanted to run in where there were no cars so I wouldn't be hindered by stopping at red lights and other issues cause by bad drivers. I got to the park, and that's where fail #2 took place. I turned on my Garmin and saw the words "battery low." Really? I must have forgotten to charge it before I left. Without a watch, I had to guesstimate when to start and stop the pick-ups. There were some lingering GI problems and I think I overdressed. I should have gone with 3 layers instead of of 4. I ran 9 miles in 1:20 (8:53/mi). Thank you to you everyone that helped me find a silver lining and offered words of encouragement. It still amazes me how many of you offered kind words when I haven't even met you. This is what training is for. I'm going to have bad days but the only day that really matters is May 16.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Speedwork with SpeedySasquatch - Week 2

SS promised the gang an easier workout since all of us ran the Manhattan Half Marathon 2 days before. There were fewer of us this week as some decided not to do speedwork. Fortunately, EG and EH were there to pace me. The workout was pretty simple, 1mi warm-up followed by 6x3mi "surges" with 2 minute recovery in between.

It was the ideal recovery workout after a hard effort on Sunday. The surges were just enough to get the blood pumping but it wasn't overly taxing on the body. Once again, the three of us worked together during the surges to run a comfortably hard pace we could all maintain. With 10 seconds left in the last surge, EH showed off her finishing kick. That girl's got quite a kick. Turns out we got some good mileage in last night, 7.06mi in 1:04:09. This includes the warm-up, cool-down, and 2 minute recoveries.

Next week SS promised a painful workout. I think I might have a doctor's appointment or some other previous obligation.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Race Report: Manhattan Half Marathon

The Manhattan Half Marathon is somewhat of a coming out party for the New York City running community. We've recovered from our fall racing season, got past the holiday season, signed up for our spring "A" races, and have endured running in some frigid temperatures. We come out to assess how our training is going as we get deeper into our spring training schedules.

My goal for today was simple, to run a sub-1:50 half marathon. I felt like I had it in me. I've been running well and I thought I could run a good race. AC, EG, and I decided that we would run together. It was an overcast morning with temperatures in the mid-30s when the horn went off. The 3 of  us chatted about our spring marathon plans, the Yankees, The Phillies, football, and just how more fun running these races are when you run with company. Before we knew it, we crested Harlem Hill for the second and last time. As we approached mile 10, the clock was at 1:25:xx. My sub-1:50 was still within reach but it was going to be close. We picked up the pace over the last 3 miles. As we made the final turn towards mile 13, we saw Speedy Sasquatch, already done with his race, on the sidelines offering word of encouragement. We finished with an official time of 1:48:46. A new half marathon PR by about 4 minutes. I can't say enough about my running buddies . We worked together, slowing down when the pace got to quick, pushing the pace when necessary, and had good conversation. I envision running many more miles with these great ladies as we progress through our training. Here are the official stats from today:
Official Time: 1:48:46 (8:18/mi)
Overall Place: 1979 out of 5441
Gender Place: 1555 out of 3297
Age Place: 324 out of 660

Congrats to everyone that ran today. I know a bunch of people that PRed at today's race. That can only mean that everyone has been taking their training seriously so far. The Pocono Mountain Marathon is exactly 18 weeks from today. Bring it on!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Run Ride...Inspire: Sarah Stanley's 2010 Project

It's an honor and a privilege to help Sarah Stanley spread the word about her 2010 project Run Ride...Inspire. Between March and August 2010 Sarah will run, ride, or a combination of both, at least 50 miles in every state. The purpose of the project is to raise awareness of childhood obesity and to support Fitness Forward.

While I have never met Sarah in person, I have exchanged e-mails, shared comments on Facebook, and tweeted with her on Twitter. Sarah uses social media to inspire and motivate people in ways that I didn't think were possible. She's offered words of encouragement when my training wasn't going so well and wished me congratulations after a race. I hope to finally meet Sarah when Run Ride...Inspire comes to the NYC/NJ metro area.

Run Ride...Inspire will kick off on March 8th in California and finish in mid-August on her home turf of Washington, D.C. While she runs and trains for events in all 50 states, Sarah will share passion for healthy living and inspiring others get active. To get involved, check out

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm a Proud Dad!

After growing her hair for a good portion of 2009, our daughter finally got it cut tonight. She will be sending 8 inches of her hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program that uses hair donations to make wigs for women and children fighting cancer. Mrs. Ansky and I are very proud of her.

Before :


 4 locks of hair ready to help cancer patients

Speedwork with Speedy Sasquatch

Tuesday night I met up with a small group in Central Park for some mile repeats led by NYC-based Twitter coach Speedy Sasquatch (SS). He informs his followers via Twitter that he is in the park every Tuesday night for speedwork and invites others to join him. I've been itching to start doing speedwork again and the Nike speed session that meet at Paragon Sports every Wednesday night have not started up yet. SS told us that we'll be doing 4 mile repeats at a "comfortably hard" pace and that we should aim to run each repeat within 10 seconds of each other. I grouped up with EG, AC, ES, all of whom I had met before at previous tweet-up runs and a new to me runner-tweeter, EH. We decided that we would aim for a 7:40 pace. We were all surprised when we saw a 7:20 split for the first mile. The pace felt hard but at the same we were able to have short conversations. We stayed on pace for miles 2 (7:19) and 3 (7:13). About half way through the last mile, EG and AC started pushing the pace, I went with them and we finished in 6:59. Boy did it feel good run fast again.

After the workout, we all commented on how much fun (did I just say that mile repeats were fun?) we had doing speedwork with a small group. Many of us have done group speedwork with much larger groups in the past with mixed results. I started out with the NYRR running classes. I enjoyed the workouts but I felt that the coaches weren't that interested in how your training was going. The Wednesday night Nike Speed workouts worked for me but like I said they haven't started up yet. Tuesday night's workout was a lot fun. We all worked together and it was more interesting doing them in Central Park than doing 1600s on a track.

My 18 week training plan for the Pocono Mountain Marathon starts this Sunday with the Manhattan Half Marathon. I'm looking forward to these weekly workouts with SS, I think I'll really benefit from them as a gear up for May 16.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


 Those of you that know me, know that I observe the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat) from sundown on Friday through Sundown on Saturday. What do I do during this 25 hour time period? Shabbat is a time for me to put most weekday activities aside and spend some time in synagogue and with family and friends. I do not drive on Shabbat; I walk to synagogue. The computer is turned off, no e-mail, no Facebook, and no Twitter. It's a time when Mrs. Ansky and I have to talk and catch up after a busy week and when I can spend quality time with our daughter without her worrying about missing "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody" or "Hannah Montana." Every so often, we get together with friends and eat good food (prepared before Shabbat since cooking is forbidden), enjoy each others company, drink good wine and good scotch (single malt, of course). I also don't run on Shabbat, it's, in the most literal sense of the words, a day of  rest. I sleep late (wake up around 7:30 instead of 5:00) and I nap in the afternoon.

Most importantly, Shabbat grounds me, it slows me down, it keeps me honest. I helps me realize that running is not the only important thing in my life.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shoes for Haiti: Something I Suggested To Mary Wittenberg

We are all saddened by the devastation in Haiti and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected.

Mary Wittenberg, CEO of New York Road Runners Tweeted the following this morning "can hardly breathe thinking about Haiti. we r sending race tshirts & supplies. Will keep you posted on how we can help runners help."

I thought about this for a minute and suggested back in a Tweet that with the Manhattan Half Marathon coming up on January 24, a drop box should be set up at the race site where old running shoes, t-shirts, and other items can be collected and sent to Haiti. A bunch of fellow runner-Tweeters liked the idea as well. As of this writing, Ms. Wittenberg has not replied to back to me.

So my suggestion is this:
1) If you live in the New York City area, please send a Tweet to Ms. Wittenberg (@mary_witt) and to New York Road Runners (@nyrr_daily), post something on NYRR's Facebook page, and send an e-mail ( to NYRR. Maybe if enough people contact NYRR, our collective voices will be heard and we'll see a box where we can donate not only old shoes, but old race shirts, and other items that are taking up space in our closets can be dropped off and donated to the relief effort.

2) If you live outside of the New York City area, by all means, feel free to contact NYRR, especially if you've ever lived in NYC, ran in NYC, or ran the New York City Marathon. If you are running a race in the next few weeks, please reach out to the race director and suggest setting up a box where donations can be dropped off.

Lastly, help me spread the word by re-posting this on your blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bridge Run

Last night I asked Mrs. Ansky what, on the surface would be a very innocent question, "Where should I run tomorrow?" She replied, "why don't you run to the Bridge?" I thought, hmmmm that's an interesting idea. I was getting tired of some of my usual local routes so this would definitely be something different. I did this run once before in August 2009 when I ran to Yankee Stadium.All I could think about was the one mile doozy of a hill that is Fort Lee Rd. between Broad and Fletcher. I haven't run that route since that Sunday in August. In fact, I asked myself a bunch of times if it's really necessary running a hill with such a steeep grade. Seriously, I know that hills have a place in marathon training but is it really necessary to incorporate a hill with a maximum grade of 9% into any of my training routes? The jury is still out on that, but who am I to back away from challenge?

It was another cold morning, albeit much less windy than last weekend. I layered up, 3 on top, 2 on bottom, double gloves, my trusty smortwool socks, and my Under Armour ColdGear Hood. The first 3.5 miles were uneventful. I ran at an easy pace so I could conserve energy for what was coming. As I'm going up the hill I got strange some strange looks from folks out walking their dogs and from people driving. They're looking at me thinking this guy must be out of his freaking mind! It's 15 degrees out and he's running up this hill for fun? Meshuga I tell you! Maybe I am, but I kept going, one foot in front of the other. I finally reached the top and after I few more rolling hills, I'm at the entrance to the George Washington Bridge. For a minute I thought about running over the bridge but I looked at my watch and realized I had to get back. I took the above picture, took a gel, and headed home.

As the old saying goes, what comes up must go down. In order to get home I had to run down the same hill. Easy schmeasy right? Wrong. Go down a hill that steep too fast and you'll fall right on your face doing some serious damage. I took it easy and made it to the bottom without incident. I purposely threw in one more hill towards the end of the run to get myself ready for the Manhattan Half Marathon on January 24. Chances are there will be some hills in the later miles and I wanted to get my body used to that feeling.

When all was said and done, I ran 11.88 miles in 1:42:41 for a 8:38/mi pace. My fastest mile was 8:15 and the slowest 9:57 (going up the hill). Here is the elevation chart to get a better idea what I was faced today.

Lastly, congratulations to everyone who ran down in Disney today. I know the weather was unusual, more typical for for the Northeast than for Florida.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Junk Miles vs. A Bad Run

I missed my morning run this morning. I'm not exactly sure why. The only thing that comes to mind was I didn't sleep particularly well and didn't feel like dragging my ass out of bed at 5:00 a.m. Instead, I tossed and turned in bed for a good part of the next hour when I started to get ready for work.

I brought my running stuff with me to work so I could run some tempo miles on treadmills in my office's fitness center. I set the TM to my usual tempo pace (around 7:50/mi) and hoped for the best. Everything about the run was wrong. I had a hard time focusing, my running podcasts were not enough to distract me. I felt like I had to rush so I can get back to my desk on time. The miles I ran today are not going in my log. I'm considering them junk miles and ignoring them.

I tweeted about it later and received a bunch of replies saying "Well at least you did something, which more than most of America is doing."

Which brings me to my question: Is there a difference between a bad run and "junk" miles? Are junk miles ran better than no miles ran? 

Please comment.

Salina Kosgei on APM's "Marketplace"

I am a regular listener of American Public Media's "Marketplace" podcast. It is a recap of the day's financial activity plus a few special interest stories. Every so often, they run a segment called "Working" where "Marketplace" brings the listener into the life of worker in the global economy. This month's segment featured 2009 Boston Marathon Champion Salina Kosgei. "Marketplace" correspondent Jon Miller traveled to Kenya to catch up with Salina shortly after her win in Boston. The link below has Jon's reporter's notebook as well as the audio segment from the podcast. Enjoy!

Marketplace from American Public Media | Marketplace and Homelands Productions | Working

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gearing up

I woke up this morning to howling winds and very cold temperatures. It was 19f with a real feel between 1-4 (depending on which weather site, TV weatherman you listened to). I had some serious concerns about going out in such brutally cold weather, but I drew inspiration from Stubborn Triathlete's video of her 16 miler in Fargo, ND where it was -18f. She didn't give a shit if her eyebrows frosted over, all she cared about was getting her miles in.I thought, if she can run 16 miles when it's -18f outside, surely, I can run 8 or 9 miles in temperatures right around zero. So with that, I geared up and prepared for battle.

Most of you that run in cold temperatures know that the key to survival is wearing layers. The body does generate heat when you run so you want to feel slightly cold before you start running. I decided to go with 4 layers on top:

Layer 1: Under Armour Coldgear Compression Mock 

Layer 2: A basic Long sleeve tech-shirt

Layer 3: My Trusty Road Runner Sports Velocity Thermo 1/2 Zip

Layer 4: My Nike Fleece 1/2 Zip

I like wearing some layers with zippers. This way, if you warm up, you can lower the zipper to cool off. When you start feeling cold, just zip up the zipper. 

On bottom I wore 2 layers of running tights. First my Under Armour ColdGear Legging

Then my Adidas Adistar Long Tights

To keep the hands warm, I wore 2 layers of gloves. The Craft (on the left) are thin, and the Swix, (on the right are thicker)

On my head, I wore my Under Armour ColdGear Hood

.I love this piece of headwear. You see a lot of NFL players wear these when playing in cold weather. This hood is a technical balaclava/neck gaiter. It's very thin but it keeps all parts of the head and neck warm and dry.
Last but not least, the feet got my Smartwool PHD Running Socks

I can't say enough about these socks. Wool is not a material associated with running gear. But these bad boys kept my feet and toes warm and dry. If you do not have a pair of Smartwool socks, I suggest you get some.

I had a surprisingly good run. There is no such thing a flat run where I live. At some point I will have to tackle a few hills. My slowest mile split was 9:08. This came on one of the later miles which was uphill into the wind. Not fun. I did 9.33 miles in 1:20:10 (8:35/mi). When I got home, I stripped everything off and put on some dry and warm clothes. I made myself a cup of hot tea (I'm not a coffee drinker) and started my recovery.

Call me crazy, insane, meshuga, whatever but there is something invigorating about completing a run in such harsh conditions. I don't know what the rest of winter will bring, but if this is the worst Mother Nature has to dish out, I think I can take it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Race Report: Fair Lawn Sunrise Rotary 1st Day 5K

When I ran this race last year, I set a new 5k PR (22:46, 7:20/mi). Well guess what? Exactly one year later I set a new PR on the same course (you'll have to keep reading to find out my time). I didn't expect to set a PR today. I've had some good runs recently but I didn't feel like I had a PR in me today.

The 11:00am start allowed me to sleep in a bit (woke up at 7:30 instead of 5:00) and enjoy a leisurely morning with my daughter. After some pre-race logistics, we were off. I usually have a hard time racing the 5k. I either go out too fast and can't hold the pace or I go out too slow and have to speed up at the end. At the first mile marker, someone was calling out splits. As I came through, the marshal called out 6:53. I thought to myself, here we go again. I run a sub-7 first mile and have to slow down. I came through mile 2 just as the marshal called out 14:00. I slowed a little but nothing to worry about. As I'm approaching the finish line, I see the clock reading 21:47, 21:48, 21:49..I started an all out sprint desperate to achieve my sub-22:00 5k that alluded me last year. I looked down at my Garmin and I saw 21:55 and a 6:57/mi pace. I had finally done it!

I stuck around until the results were posted thinking I might have a shot at an age group award. There were maybe 200 runners and based solely on appearances, it didn't look like there were too many in the 36-40 group. I ended up finishing 4th in my AG, missing 3rd by 10 seconds. I was briefly disappointed but got over it. I had finally raced a 5k well and set a PR at my first race of the new year. Hopefully it's a sign of good things to come.

Happy New Year!