Monday, November 28, 2011

Lil Ansky's First 5k

 A few weeks ago I was deciding between 2 Turkey Trots, the Dick Meighan Memorial 5k in Upper Saddle River, NJ or the Rockland Road Runners 5 mile Turkey Trot in Congers, NY. I ran Dick Meighan in 2008 and 2009 and enjoyed the race both years. I ran in Congers last year primarily because it was my friend's first 5 mile road race and I wanted to be there to support him.

Lil Ansky (she's 10) popped in during a conversation I was having with Mrs. Ansky about which race to run and said "I'll run the 5k with you Abba." (Hebrew for Daddy). And with that, the decision was made. Lil Ansky would be running her first 5k on Thanksgiving. A big part of me was excited. I love running with Lil Ansky. We had a great time at the July 4th 2k and the Labor Day 1 mile. But part of me was also concerned, she really hasn't run much since school started. Between holidays, homework, and extracurriculars there is no time for running. Regardless, she was excited and I was excited for her.

Race day came and Lil Ansky was ready to run. The race shirt was a long sleeve tech and they had kid sized shirts available. She got a kick out of the antics of the local cross country teams. Many of whom dressed up in costumes and all of whom were chanting their school fight songs. We lined up towards the back and we were off! We started off running very easy and we chatted with other parents running with their children, many of whom were also running their first 5k. We walked when Lil Ansky needed to walk and when she was ready to run again, I picked out a landmark and said let's run to that landmark then we'd walk again. We always walked the uphills and ran the downhills. I kept encouraging her and telling her she was doing a great job. There was one last hill before the downhill finish. We stuck to the plan and walked up the hill then ran the rest of the way to the finish. A volunteer gave a medal to Lil Ansky which we later found was a piece of chocolate wrapped in gold foil. What a great idea!

Despite my constant words of encouragement, I think Lil Ansky felt like she let me down because it took her so long to finish. I told it didn't matter how long it took. What mattered was that she finished and that she had fun. When she answered yes to both of those I told her "mission accomplished!" A little later in the day before going to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner, she asked when the next race was (maybe this one). That's when I knew she had a good experience.
Post Race. Proud dad with his 5ker

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bandit Report: Inaugural Brooklyn Marathon

As a regular listener (and infrequent guest) of The New York Running Show, I've heard Steve talk about the Brooklyn Marathon from its infancy. Over the past year there have been many discussions on the show about the need for not only more road races in the NYC Metro area, but more specifically another marathon. Steve's NYCRUNS staged several races this year but on Sunday, his dream finally became a reality.As race day approached, the newest marathon on the racing scene was featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Friends who saw either piece asked me in synagogue on Saturday if I was running in Brooklyn. "Kind of, sort of" I answered.

When Joe tweeted a few days after running the New York City Marathon that he was considering running the inaugural Brooklyn Marathon 2 weeks later, I thought he was joking.As the days went on, I would learn that he was serious. NYCM didn't go exactly as planned, and he wanted another shot at running a quality marathon in 2011. I am not in marathon shape but I really wanted to support Steve as well as be part of an inaugural race. I decided I would pace Joe through half of the race. Amy and several other Twitter friends caught wind of this and soon, Joe had his own entourage for the race. I finally met fellow New York Running guests Frank and Emmy. Emmy ran the NYRR Knickerbocker 60k (that's 37.2 miles) THE DAY BEFORE!

I didn't want to register for the race because then I would have a DNF on record. I already have one of those this year, I didn't want another. Which means I ran a part of the race as bandit. I made sure to bring my own fluids as it's bad etiquette for bandits to utilize the aid stations. The horn went off around 8:15 and the inaugural Brooklyn Marathon was underway. We kept the mood light and the miles were flying by. Newly minted ultramarathoner, Claire was out there cheering her head off. She ran the 60k the day but decided to take Sunday off from running. At one point Steve was driving around in a van and yelled at Amy and I "looking good bandits." Robin jumped in for a miles before falling back to support Sam. After our 3rd full loop, Amy and I peeled off. I know that Joe had a secret plan to get me to the run full distance with him. "C'mon, just one more loop" he was saying. I wish I had it in me to run the whole distance. It was a beautiful day and I was having a great time. I ended up running a little over 14 miles with Joe and left the park in a great mood. I found out later that the rest of his race did not go as well. He encountered some stomach problems but thankfully other friends were there to pick him up and he was able to finish the race strong.

Steve gets a HUGE congratulations on the Brooklyn Marathon. I'm sure there were things that went wrong along the way but  none of them were evident to the runners (or bandits). All of the runners I spoke with were having a great time, the volunteers were great, and the weather was beautiful. Maybe next year, I'll run it 3 weeks after Marine Corps.
Joe and I around Mile 9

Friday, November 18, 2011

Race Report: Monson Memorial Classic Half Marathon

Mike has been trying to get the Anskys up to Amherst, MA for Shabbat for quite some time. Our families became fast friends after spending Shabbat together in Burlington the weekend of the Vermont City Marathon. A little while ago, he tweeted about a local half marathon on Nov. 13. Since Friday was Veteran's Day, I thought it be the perfect weekend go up and visit. The Mrs. and I were both off from work and with Shabbat starting early, we didn't mind Lil Ansky missing a day of school. After Shabbat Mike and I took a tour of the course courtesy of Google Earth. He ran the race last year and pointed out to me where the hills where and where the flats and downhills were to pick up the pace.

The race had an unusual 12:00 p.m. start. Mike said it was to give time time for the black ice to thaw. I joked that if that were the case, then New Englanders were a bunch of sissies. New York Road Runners starts all of their race early in the morning, even in the winter. Being that the race was in a small New England Town, I thought the 12:00 p.m. start had more to do with church than black ice. In any event, I didn't mind it. The late start allowed me to sleep in and to enjoy breakfast with the family. The late start also allowed me to run in short sleeves rather than long. It was 55 degrees when the horn went off.

It's been a while since I toed the line in a race so my only 2 goals were to have fun and finish strong. I've had some setbacks the past few months, culminating with deferring the Marine Corps Marathon. I was looking forward to running a race just for fun with no time goal pressures. The first 7.5 miles were mostly uphill. I should mention that my Garmin lost it's charge before the race even started (not quite sure how that happened) so I ran by feel and recorded my splits with a basic Timex stopwatch that Mike had brought with him. This helped me relax and enjoy the incredibly scenic course. None of the hills were particularly steep, there were just a lot of them. What goes up must come down right? The second half of the race was mostly downhill. I picked up the pace but did not hammer them. I wanted to have something left in the tank for a strong finish. I finished in 1:48:37, definitely not a PR but that wasn't the goal. I accomplished what I wanted to, I had fun, and I finished strong. Overall, the race was well organized. There were plenty of volunteers on the course showing us where to go. The course was not closed to traffic but the Monson police did a great job keep the runners safe. My only complaint was there was no Gatorade on the course. There was water but I could have used the electrolytes. Here are my race splits:

8:29 (last 1.1 miles)

 Running and finishing this race did a lot for my psyche. I feel like I finally found my running mojo again. I have a few fun things planned to close out the year then I will start thinking about spring 2012. I'm also hoping that now that I've found my running mojo, I'll also get my blogging mojo back. It's been a while since I posted primarily because there hasn't been much to write about.

Mike ran a great race finishing around 1:40. Since he finished before me, he was able to shoot this short video of me racing towards the finish.
 Here are some race photos: