Monday, September 27, 2010

Race Report: Newport Liberty Half Marathon

When I signed up for the Newport Liberty Half Marathon in Jersey City, NJ the goal was to pace a friend to his first sub-2:00 half marathon. His training was progressing well throughout the summer and into September and I thought he should be able to accomplish his goal. A few days ago he texted me that he just finished a 7.2 mile run at an 8:30ish average pace. I thought to myself "he has this in the bag!"

Heading to the race, my friend was not feeling confident. The first 2 days of Sukkot followed by Shabbat just ended. This means 2 things 1) no running for 3 days and 2) taking part in many festive meals with large amounts of food usually served with wine or scotch. I told him to trust the work he's put in and that I would run all 13.1 miles with him to get him across in under 2 hours.

Everything was going well for the first 4 miles. We were on a consistent 9:05 pace and everyone was feeling fine. At mile 5, my friend mentioned that he wasn't sure if he had it today and that I should go ahead and we'd catch up at the finish line. I felt bad so I asked him one more time if he was sure I should go ahead before I took off. He told me to go, so I did. After pacing at a 9:05 pace for 5 miles, I knew I couldn't PR so I took off at a comfortably hard pace. Liberty State Park offered some amazing views of The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Lower Manhattan. It was not hard not to look around and enjoy them. We exited the park between miles 10 and 11and I tried to pick up the pace even more since we were back on wider streets. The wind started to pick up when we made the turn towards the waterfront. Rather than fighting it, I maintained my effort until I made the final turn towards the finish line. I crossed the line 1:54:38 (8:45ish avg. pace). I'm happy with the effort considering I spent 5 miles pacing at 9:05.

As for my friend, he finished in 2:02:35. He came close to accomplishing his goal. I think with a little more training and attention to nutrition and hydration he'll finally be able to run his sub-2:00 half.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Old Race Bibs Make Great Sukkah Decorations

Four days after Yom Kippur is the festival of Sukkot. One of the primary requirements of the 8 day festival is to eat your meals in a Sukkah. The Torah says:

"You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt." (Leviticus 23:42-43).

We eat in a temporary structure so that we remember how our ancestors lived while traveling through the desert after their exodus from Egpyt. Some Torah commentators give another reason for eating outside. They say that we leave the comfort of our homes to remind us that ultimately G-D is our protector. Just like He protected the Israelites in the desert, so too He protects us in modern times. of the fun parts of preparing for the holiday is to decorate the sukkah. Usually, our sukkah is decorated with plastic fruit, wind chimes, and some projects that Lil Ansky made when she was younger. This year, I added a more personal touch to the sukkah by hanging some old race bibs.

Chag Sameach!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yom Kippur 5771

Yom Kippur begins tonight at Sundown. It is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Starting tonight at sundown, I will be spending the next 25 hours fasting and in synagogue praying. It is customary before Yom Kippur to ask forgiveness for any wrongdoings I committed during the past year.

In that spirit....Please forgive me for anything that I may have to done to hurt, embarrass, or upset you. I will try to do better in 5771. May you be inscribed for a year of health, peace, and prosperity. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Fruit Fail

One of the many customs of Rosh Hashana is to eat a "new fruit," meaning a fruit that has recently come into season that we have not had the opportunity to eat yet. For many years my parents would buy figs or dates. Other new fruits included star fruit, guava, papaya, persimmon, and pomegranate. So after we made kiddush (the traditional blessing over wine) and hamotzei (the traditional blessing over bread), my mom brought out the new fruits for 5771. We usually play a game and try and identify them. No one in the family, not even my dad who is a biology teacher succeeded. The first one looked like this:
Can you guess what it is? Give up? It's a Mamey, also known as a memey sapota. It is grown primarily in Mexico and other Central American countries. When ripe it's taste most resembles a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and maraschino cherries. Unfortunately for us, this mamey was not ripe. It was impossible to peel and slice. When I bit into it, it was chalky and tasted like bathroom spray.

The second fruit looked like this:
Any idea what this one is? It's a quince. A quince is a relative of the apple and pear and mainly found in Asia and the Mediterranean. Unbeknownst to us, a quince is not eaten raw because of it high tannin content. It's best used in jams, jellies, and preserves.

I give the Paramus Fairway Market  for showcasing exotic fruits that can be used as new fruits for Rosh Hashana. However, I also blame them for this year's new fruit fail. If you're going to showcase exotic fruits that most of have never seen, it would have been nice to include some signage about how to pick a ripe mamey or let us know that the quince should not be eaten raw.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 Years Ago Today

19 hijackers took control of 4 planes. The hijackers flew 2 of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Ailines Flight 175 into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center. American Airlines Flight 77 was flown into the Pentagon. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, PA.

I exited the A Train station at Broaway-Nassau St. as I usually do to what I hoped to be a fairly routine day at the office. As I got closer to the street I noticed a large group of people congregating on the corner looking up at a burning WTC tower. As we all stood there in shock, a 2nd plane crashed into the 2nd WTC tower.

I still carry that image with me. It's that image that still causes me to freak out when I see low flying planes. It's that image that still causes me to freak out at the sound of fireworks. Every day as I commute to and from work via the Lincoln Tunnel, my heart races praying that my bus makes it out safely.

It is because of that day that I make an effort to tell my family how much they mean to me and how much I appreciate them. It is because of that day that I try to do more acts of kindness and be a better person.

Never Forget

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shana Tova! aka Am I Ready For Rosh Hashana?

 That's the question Michelle asked me today. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Well, the meatballs are made. Mentally and spiritually I'm definitely not ready."

Michelle: "How do you get ready mentally and spiritually?"

Me: "Honestly, I'm still figuring it out myself."

See, the Jewish High Holy Days begin tomorrow night. That's right Rosh Hashana begins tomorrow night at sundown. The High Holy Days are thought of as a time for introspection, to renew one's relationship with the Creator, and to think of ways to improve in the coming year (5771). To help get us in the "mood" we start saying Selichot prayers at least 4 days before Rosh Hashana to start asking forgiveness for our transgressions in 5770. During the 2 days of Rosh Hashana (Thursday and Friday), I will spend more time than usual in synagogue asking G-d to forgive us and to pray for a successful, healthy and peaceful new year.

Not all Jews observe the holiday like do. Some simply don't work and spend time with their family and/or friends and talk about all of the happy, and, not so happy moments of 5770. For those that must work or can't make it to services, JewsOnline is streaming all important High Holiday services on it's website. 

So to answer your question Michelle, no, I'm not ready! You would think that after so many years of observing the holiday, I would know exactly what to do to prepare. But I don't. The day to day aspects my life take over and BOOM! next thing I know it's Rosh Hashana. I don't have much time now. All I can do is concentrate on my prayers, hope to be inspired by the Rabbi's sermon, be kind to others, enjoy quality time with my family, and hope that a favorable fate is sealed for me on Yom Kippur.

May 5771 be a year of peace, health, happiness, and prosperity!
Shana Tova U'Metukah! (that's Hebrew for "have a happy and sweet new year.")

Happy Belated Blogiversay

I'm a bad blogger! For the 2nd year in a row, I missed my blogiversary. RunAnskyRun turned 2 on September 5.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

The theme of Labor Day weekend 2010 was family time.

I've been nudging my dad and brother to come with me to a Yankee game for a while.Well our schedules finally aligned and we were able to go to Sunday's game against Toronto. Also joining us were Lil Ansky and my niece. My dad really enjoyed spending time with his two sons and two granddaughters. We brought food from home to avoid eating too much junk but it's hard to avoid it all together. We all shared a bag of popcorn, my brother and I had a beer each (at $9.00 per beer it's hard on the wallet to have more than 1). Later in the game, Lil Ansky and my niece shared a helmet cup ice cream. Despite the Yankees loss we all had a good time.

Mrs. Ansky had to work, so I had Lil Ansky all to myself. I decided to run long today. My assigned run was 2:15 in zone 2 with 3 minute surges every 20 minutes. The run was going really well until my right hammy tightened up about 1:45 into the run. I ran a few more minutes so I'd be closer to home and stopped at 1:51. I don't think it's anything serious but I spent some time tonight on the foam roller and stretching it out.

Lil Ansky and I had a lazy morning at home. I had some "grown up" stuff to do, pay some bills, take care of some synagogue business, etc...Finally after lunch, we decided to go out and enjoy the beautiful weather and play some mini-golf. We went to a "Joizy" themed course in Paramus and a blast. Here are some of our favorite holes.

Lady Liberty
 George Washington Bridge
Jersey Shore, no Snooki or Situation here. The next hole was the "Boardwalk" hole complete with sand and amusement games.
"E-Zpass" heading back on the Garden State Parkway to North Jersey from the shore
Abbot and Costello hole, both were born in NJ. Abbot in Asbury Park and Costello in Patterson

Because it was such a nice day, the staff allowed us to play a second time for free. Today would not have been complete without a visit to the local ice cream truck. It's nice that they pointed out which of the products were kosher.They know their customers.

Fortunately for me, this one was.

I hope everyone enjoyed the unofficial end of summer.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Totals for August 2010

Total Number of Runs: 19
Total Distance: 109.62 miles
Total Time: 15:20:26

Average Distance: 5.77 miles
Average Time: 50:01
Average Pace: 8:40/mi

August was a weird month. I finally got my asthma under control but I also got sick and it took me at least 10 days to fully recover. I ran, not raced the Bronx Half Marathon and had fun doing it. September will be challenging because of my holiday "season." Not including Shabbat, there are 6 other days where I won't run. I am running the Newport Liberty Half Marathon on September 26. I am not too worried about missing additional days since I am racing this for a PR. Rather I'll be pacing a friend to what should be his first sub-2:00 half marathon.