Friday, November 26, 2010

Race Report: Rockland Road Runners 5 mile Turkey Trot

Could not have asked for a better start to Thanksgiving. The weather was great. Overcast and temps in the high 30s. The Rockland Road Runners 5 mile Turkey Trot is a new race for me. In 2008 and 2009 I ran the Dick Meighan Memorial Run in Upper Saddle River, NJ. My friend MB is new to running who has been extending his distance after several successful 5ks.On the way up to the race I told MB that I run with him and get him across the finish line of his first 5 mile road race. He said I should run my own race and try for a new 5 mile PR (current 5 mile PR is 36:55). I told him that Turkey Trots are about having fun and that there will be other opportunities to go after a new PR. Today was not that day. We came through the first mile in 9:34. I paid attention to MB's breathing to get a sense of how he was feeling. So far so good. Our mile 2 split was 8:50, much quicker than expected because of the long downhill. Between mile 2 and 3 I could sense that MB was having some problems, his breathing became more labored and he started to lag behind me even though I was running at a 9+ minute pace. Just passed mile 3, I turned around and MB was pretty far behind me. He told me to go and finish at my pace. I took off and hammered the last 2 miles, 7:40, 7:05. Once I finished I made my way back to the final straightaway and waited for MB. I cheered him on as he ran towards the finish and congratulated him after he crossed. He said he felt good but the last mile was tough. we grabbed some post race refreshments and then headed home.

This race left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling for the rest of the day. It was great to see a close friend who is new to running finish his first race at a longer distance. Congrats MB and keep it up!

Thank you to the Rockland Road Runners, the volunteers, police and EMS for a great race experience. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

Several co-workers of mine have asked me this week if I celebrate Thanksgiving. I was surprised by the question. I've always considered Thanksgiving an American holiday. I'm sure in it's original form Thanksgiving has more Christian themes but over the years it's become more of an American holiday. Giving thanks is not an unusual concept in Judaism. We give thanks every day in our prayers, we give thanks after we eat a meal, and we give thanks during all Jewish holidays. Eating a festive meal is also not uncommon, being able to watch football at the same time is. Joking aside, here are some of things I am thankful for:

  • Living in the United States: I am thankful that I live in a country that allows me to practice my religion openly without fear of persecution. I thankful that I can express my opinions in the spoken word as well as in writing on this blog, Facebook, or Twitter. 
  • My Family: I am thankful for a loving wife and daughter. They are my biggest fans and support me unconditionally.  They may not understand why I would want to go out and run 20 miles on a brutally cold Sunday morning in February but they always ask "how was your run?" when I get home.
  • Friends: I value all of my friendships. My friends outside of running remind me every day that running is only one part of life. To my running friends, thank you for your support, encouragement, and overall positive energy. To those that I've been fortunate to meet in person and run with, thank you for the company. To those that I have not yet met, I hope that our paths cross soon.
  • My Coaches, Jeff and Diane: Thank you for helping me unleash my potential. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with the running community via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and your live show. Thank you for coaching athletes of all abilities.
  • Race Organizers, Volunteers, and Public Safety Officials: Thank you for putting together great races that I look forward to racing year after year. Thank you for braving the same conditions I do to make sure I have a great race experience. It's not easy standing out there for hours on end in the extreme heat, cold, rain, or snow to point us in the right direction, to hand out cups of water, to put a finishers medal around around necks, to keep us safe. This is a good place to mention that if you are running a Turkey Trot sometime over Thanksgiving weekend, please thank the volunteers for taking the time out of their holiday to make sure we have an enjoyable experience. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Balancing Running with Work, Family, and Observance

Last Sunday, I was a guest on the Geeks in Running Shoes podcast. On episode 17, Jason was talking about how difficult it was getting his miles while working full time, going to school, and having a family. While co-host Ray does not yet have a family, he is in school full time and often works long into the night studying and completing assignments.

Jason and Ray wanted to pick my brain and find out how I balance my running with work, family, and my Jewish Observance. Here are some of the tips I shared on the show.

1) Find that part of the day where you can run consistently: for me it's early in the morning before work. On most nights I am in bed at 10:00 and up at 5:00. I am usually out the door by 5:30. During the week, this affords me a solid hour to run before I need to be back in the house to give Lil Ansky breakfast and for me to shower, get dressed, and go to work. On the weekend I might start a little later but always before Lil Ansky wakes up. For those of you with kids, you how hard it can be to go out for a run once the kids wake up.

Early morning works for me, it may not work for everyone. For some of you, the evenings might be better. For others lunch time might work. The point  is find a time during the day and stick with it.

2) Run to work or school: If you can, leave a bag of clean clothes, towel, toiletries at work or school the day before and run to work the next day. You'll find it invigorating and the endorphins are better than a cup coffee. Lastly, you can show off at work or school by saying that you ran there that morning. 

3) For most of us, running is just a hobby: Unless you are getting paid to run or to train someone, running is something we enjoy doing, but it's not the most important in our lives. On the show, I told Jason and Ray that family and religious obligations ALWAYS come before running. I've blogged before about my observance of the Sabbath on Saturday and my observance of Jewish holidays. Those are days for me to go to synagogue, to reflect, and to spend time with family and friends. Running is off limits on those days.

4) Bring your family to a race: most local races have runs of various distances for the the kids. This is a great way to expose your kids to your hobby and get some miles in. Last Sunday there was a 5k to benefit Lil Ansky's school. I offered to run the 1 mile with her but she wanted to run it solo. I made sure to be there at the final stretch to cheer her on. Once she finished, she mentioned she wanted to do another one. This time of year is a great time to get the family involved. Many turkey trots are family friendly. It's a great time to put the competitive juices aside and have fun.

We spoke about other topics as well. If you haven't listened to the show you can download it here or from iTunes.

What works for you that allows you to balance running with work, family, and other obligations?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Race Report: Westfield Garden State Plaza 5k

Yesterday was the 6th annual Westfield Garden State Plaza 5k to benefit the scholarship fund at Lil Ansky's school. The course hasn't changed, Almost 2 laps of the mall parking lot. I know not very exciting. I didn't think I was in shape for a PR so the goal was to race well and finish strong. I made the same mistake I make in most 5k I've raced. I went out too fast and I faded at the end. I finished in 22:26, about 30 seconds slower than my 5k PR.I think it's safe to say that the 5k is now my nemesis race distance. I cannot race a 5k well. Plain and simple, it's too fast and furious for me. I cannot get my legs turned over quickly enough to race it well. I'm a distance guy. I need to time to settle into my race pace. There's no time to do that in a 5k. 

After the 5k, there was a 1 mile run. I offered to run with Lil Ansky but she wanted to run it solo. She finished in 10:58. I am so proud of her. In car ride home she mentioned that next year she wanted to run the 5k. Many local races have races for the kids too. It's a great way to get kids into running. Once spring arrives, I will definitely be on the lookout for some more races for Lil Ansky to do. I think there's a future runner in the family.

Question: What is your least favorite race distance?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New York City Marathon: The View From 86th & 1st

The New York City Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart. For those of you that don't know, the 2007 New York City Marathon was my first marathon. Immediately after finishing my first 26.2, I knew I had become addicted.I knew that I would want to run another marathon (I've run 3 marathons since NYCM 2007). For quite a while, I was not the biggest fan of New York City. It was a place I come to work and couldn't wait to go home to New Jersey. September 11, 2001 changed that. We all know what happened that day. The way the City came together that day and in the aftermath of the worst acts of terror on American soil made an everlasting impression on me. I appreciate the City in ways that I didn't think possible The 2007 New York City Marathon solidified that feeling. The volunteers, the crowds, and my fellow runners reminded me why NYC is the greatest city in the world. 

This past Sunday was no different. I had trouble sleeping. I woke up a number times throughout the night afraid that I was going to miss my alarm. My body thought it had to run a marathon that morning when in reality all it had to run was 1:15 in HR zone 2 with 3 minute surges every 20 minutes. I had some extra pep in my stride. I ran 8.87 in 1:15:47 for an 8:33 average pace. One of the best runs I've had in a while.

I got into the City around 10:00, about an hour after the elite women started their race. 1st Avenue was quiet and peaceful and few spectators lined the sidewalks. A few minutes later the lead wheelchair racers are flying down 1st Avenue. The few spectators that were there cheered them on and screamed words of encouragement. I saw youngish gentleman with 2 prosthetic legs fall. With the help of guides, he picked himself up, brushed himself off and continued his 26.2 mile tour of New York City. Everyone cheered and clapped and urged him to keep going.  Disabled athletes are inspiring. They do not let their disability get in the way of doing what they love.

After the wheelchair racers came through, a few people around me asked me if the elite women came through yet. "Not yet, but soon" I replied. Then we saw it, the police escort, the lead car, and the lead pack. I spotted Shalane Flanagan comfortably tucked in the pack. I would later find out that she would take 2nd in her debut marathon. Last year's winner, Derartu Tulu was not in the pack. She ran by a few minutes after the leaders. It was not her day.

Then it was time to wait again. More spectators filled 1st Avenue. They were anticipating the elite men. They were expecting to see world record holder Halie Gebrselassie and  last year's New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi at the front of the pack going stride for stride. I was shocked when I didn't Geb or Meb in the lead pack. I saw Meb and Ritz running together about 30 - 40 seconds behind the leaders but where was Geb? I learned from an iPad holding spectator next to me that he dropped out of the race at mile 16, which is just before entering Manhattan from Queens. Meb would finish 6th and Ritz 8th.

Then it got fun. First the local elites started trickling down 1st Avenue. I saw Brad and Kate, coaches from Wednesday night speed at Paragon Sports. The first of my friends that I saw was Dr. Lam. New York was his victory lap and homecoming after breaking 3:00 in Chicago a few weeks ago. He stopped to give me a high five and ran on. I had so many friends running the race that I knew I wasn't going to see all of them. Turns out I didn't see any of them after Lam. Not Elyssa, not Amy, Carlos, Joey, Erika, Sharon, Maria. Where was everyone? I realized that, because of the wave start, not everyone started at 10:00. I had to leave at 12:30 which meant they probably haven't hit Manhattan yet. Before I left, I managed to spot Bobby Flay. The only thing that differentiated him from the other 45,000 runners was the word "Bobby" on his bib instead of a number. Bobby would finish in 4:01:XX.

Even though I didn't see as many friends as I would have liked, it was still an amazing day. I had so much fun watching from the side. Spectating at any marathon is fun. If you haven't watched a marathon from the side, I highly suggest you do.

Congratulations to all of the finishers!

Did you think I wouldn't take any pictures?
I was standing next to a group supporting runners from Austria

The calm before the storm 1st Ave. at 10:00 am
Wheelchair Racers

Here's the aforementioned disabled runner who would fall, get up, and keep going
Lead women's race car. Just north of mile 18

Elite Women
Lead Car for the Elite Men. I was a few blocks south of mile 18
Meb and Ritz
2004 New York Marathon winner Hendrik Ramaala
Local Elites
Runners in Central Park. 2 miles to go

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Look What I Picked Up at the NYC Marathon Expo

A pair of size 12 of Newton Terra Momentus. Last Thursday I went to the New York City Marathon Expo at the Javits Center with 2 goals: 1) to catch up with some friends and 2) to try on some Newtons and hopefully make a purchase. I'm happy to report that I accomplished both goals. An impromptu Tweetup was arranged at the Newton booth for 6:00 p.m. It was great to see Elyssa, Daniel, Carlos, Lam, Brandon (who was working the Newton booth), Neil, and TK.

I tried on both the Sir Isaac and the Momentus and decided on the later. Brandon explained that both the Isaccs and the Momentus were build on the same chassis. The only difference is that since the Momentus is a trail shoe, it is sturdier and has a closed upper which will keep my feet warmer and drier. I was a bit skeptical buying a trail shoe but Brandon also explained that they run great on the road and on trails. I did notice the difference in weight but I liked the sturdiness of the Momentus over the lighter Sir Isaacs.

I plan on transitioning to the Newtons over the winter so I can be fully transitioned by the time I need to start training for my spring marathon. There will definitely be more written about once I start the transition. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kansas City Part II

On my second day in Kansas City, Coach Jeff assigned me an "embarrassingly slow" run. Coach always says you need to teach the body to run slow before you can fast. Let me tell you something, running "embarrassingly slow" is not easy. These are the types of runs to work on form. It also afforded me the chance explore more of KC without having to worry about heart rate or pace.

My conference started at 8:15 so I didn't feel comfortable running in the dark in an unfamiliar city. After the conference, while most of my colleagues were rushing to the bars for happy hour, I rushed back to the hotel and changed into my running gear. Ryan couldn't meet up with me so I went to the 2nd best source of finding the safe and easy running routes, the hotel concierge. The Westin Crown Plaza was well prepared for my request. I didn't have to ask, the conceirge saw me dressed for a run and handed me this:

That's right, they handed me a handy dandy turn sheet with a 3 or 5 mile route. He then said, that I could also run through the Power and Light District and down to the banks of the Missouri River. It was an easy route, basically and out and back on Grand. The Power and Light District has a lot of nice sports bars and restaurants as well as the Sprint Center, which at one time was rumored to be the new home of the New York Islanders. Once past the Power and Light District, the run down to the rive was through a mainly industrial district with lots of warehouses. Once I reached the river, I turned around and ran back the same way towards my hotel. 

I still had about 20 minutes left on my run so I decided to run the paths around the National World War One Memorial.The Memorial itself sits up on a big hill and I saw several runners doing hill repeats up there. It was a beautiful setting to finish up the run. The sun was setting, the Memorial was lit up, and the view of KC was amazing from the top of the hill. 

This is what I love about running, you can do it just about anywhere. All you need are some shoes, a shirt and shorts/tights and you're set. It's a great way to explore a new city. Business travel is not a regular part of my job if I need to travel again, I will not hesitate to bring my running gear and use Twitter to reach out to my fellow runners.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Totals For October 2010

Total Number of Runs: 13
Total Miles: 98.42
Total Time: 14:56:48

Average Distance: 7.57
Average Time: 1:08:59
Average Pace per Mile: 9:06

October featured my "A" race for the fall, the Paramus 10k. As I wrote in my race report, it's a bit unusual for an "A" race to be something other than a marathon or half marathon. I knocked my 10k out of the park setting a new PR of 45:22. The other highlight was meeting up with Ryan while I was in Kansas City, Missouri for work last week. If you find yourself in a new city, I whole heatedly recommend using social media to reaching out to fellow runners. What better way to explore a new city than with someone that lives there. 

Coming up in November: a 5k to benefit my daughter's school scholarship fund and a 5 mile turkey trot on Thanksgiving.