Brooklyn Marathon: Recap and Reflections

If running were a college class, this was my capstone. 26.2 miles. Looking at that number it seems ridiculous. Thinking back to it, it seems less ridiculous. I had logged 23 miles in  a day since I can’t count, but that was spaced over 2 runs that day, but eh. I was never a logical thinker.

I had 3 goals.

1) FINISH. I wanted this one, and a DNF wasn’t an option. At all. And I needed and knew I would beat the 6 hour cut off.

2) Dont shit myself. I’d seen this happen FAR TOO OFTEN working the Finish of the NYC marathon. I determined this was unacceptable.

3) If I checked off Goal 1 and 2? Gun for under 5 hours.

My attack plan was simple. Get good and loose, and build slowly. Gradually build to my best miles, and throw them down between miles 13 and 21, then grind to the finish.

A calm, controlled start would be key. And seconds in, it was clear that wouldn’t happen.

I felt TOO good while warming up. I was geeked up, but I was trying to stay within myself. I was bouncing around, hoping in vain to keep it reigned in at the start.

That plan was dead on arrival. The National Anthem was MAGNIFICENT, and it segued directly in to NO SLEEP TIL BROOKLYN and the crowd and the runners were singing along in the starting paddock and that as they say was that.

I threw down 9 pretty solid miles before I realized what I was doing, and then faced with the reality that I had just blew my strategy, I figured I’d press the ‘advantage’ and go as hard as I could and hope the reserves of determination to see this thing to the end would carry me through.

The revised plan was relying on hope. Hope isnt a strategy, as my left calf reminded me in mile 12.

Even though I’ve shed 50 pounds, I still need to drop another 20ish to be at the race weight I want. I was really wishing I had time to lose that 20 pounds as morning crept towards afternoon and I was still laboring. each lap was a 5k. and I was just mentally checking off the distance. Every 2 or 3 miles, I’d pull up and stretch out my calf. I stuck to my fuel and hydration targets, and when I got to mile 19 or 20, I KNEW I was finishing. Mile 23 was the last climb up Battle Pass, and when I broke it, I knew I was home. However, the 6th time up that hill took the last vestiges of what I had.

The remaining 3.5 miles were pure unadulterated hell. I’m accustomed to finishing strong. That wasn’t the case here. I was physically beaten. I kept turning over the engine and nothing would happen. I’d be able to almost… ALMOST get back up to my racing speed… and then the calf would lock back up again after maybe a half mile. The last 3.5 miles took 48:08. I was dead. Utterly dead. Compare that with my best race day miles which were sub 9:30, and you can see how bad the drop off was.

That said, I took off like I had a rocket up my ass when I saw that finish line.

Maybe it was the promised donuts and hot chocolate? :)

Anyhow, there were several takeaways:

I trained like this like I’ve never trained before. I followed a plan. I tapered. I did everything by the book for the most part.

There’s more training refinements to make though, more speedwork, more hill repeats.

Sticking to a damn race strategy would be nice too. Maybe a flatter course?

The training was way more intensive and longer than I anticipated, as was the recovery. I was completely dead for 3 days, I finally felt like myself his evening.

that said, the biggest takeaway was: i can handle 26.2 miles in under 5 hours. Big CHECK to all 3 goals :)

The outpouring of support and helpful advice was amazing, as were the heartfelt congratulations from friends, treasured running peers, and family. I was moved to tears more than once.

Now to get faster, stronger, and BETTER, and do it again.

the 2015 race calendar!

So, I’ll have a post up on my thoughts on my first marathon tonight, but this is easier so here!

My 2014 closes with a 5m turkey trot on Turkey day and a 5k on NYE because I LOVE HOLIDAY RACES.

Here’s what I have for 2015!

1/24 Brrr-ooklyn Half
2/22 Central Park Half
3/15 NYC Half
4/15ish CPF Run For Parks
5/3 LI Half
5/15ish Brooklyn Half
6/22ish Qns 10k
6/28ish FRNY Pride Run
6/29ish Take Your Base 5k
8/15ish Keith Ferguson 5k
9/28ish Bronx 10miler

That’s a LOT of Halfs… and I finish the 5 borough series, so :D  October will be another half for fun.

November will be the Marathon, but will it be Chicago… New York… or ELSEWHERE?

DUN DUN DUN…..

Running Tips, Goals!, Race Recaps / 3 Ain’t Enough, I need 5.

You are a runner. If you put one foot in front of the other for time distance or just general well being, you are a runner. Let no one dissuade you from that fact.

There comes a point where, with anything you do, if you take any semblance of pride in it, through sheer repetition, you progress.

You are a runner the moment you decide to run. This week, I became a Runner. To me, there’s a distinction. I owe almost all of my progress to my friends who have pushed and prodded and raised expectations. I owe a lot to myself for demanding more of myself. I felt it when I was killing it, but I knew things had changed when people in the corral were asking my fat ass for advice!

I began this journey as some of you know when I leaned forward awkwardly in a chair and the 235 lbs of mass on my 5’6 frame tore a muscle in my back. When I began, I could not run a half mile without stopping. This past weekend, 19 months later I checked in at 197 lbs and ran the entirety of 13.1 miles (with the exception of the water stations because frankly, I cannot run and drink without choking like a buffoon). I am proud of my weight-loss and my speed increases. I can take pride in my nearly 40 lbs down. I take pride in a sub 8:00 mile. I have had to redefine my goals. Constantly. That’s the only way you improve.

Part of progressing is changing your routine. Part of it is increasing your familiarity with both technique and technology.

As my training has gotten more serious, my cache of gear I call upon has increased. I’m going to bullet point  a few tips I’ve amassed here, feel free to critique. It’s an evolving thought process and it’s all about learning through trial and error for me.

  1. Upgrade your armor – One of my favorite superheroes is Iron Man. Tony Stark is always tinkering with his gear, outfitting it for different mission requirements. You should do the same. I have 4! Pairs of running shoes I work in to a rotation. I have calf sleeves, arm sleeves, camelbaks, fuel belts, arm pouches and so on. Depending on your distance, or your objective, you may need to tweak your load out, just like you would in call of duty. Know what you need pre-, during, and post-.
  2. hydrate – nothing cute here. Hydration isn’t a race day thing. It’s an all the time thing. Week of, Month of… you need to be hydrated or you are toast.
  3. Sleep is your Lazarus pit – Know your body. You will need rest. Get your sufficient compliment of rest. Runners need more rest than most.
  4. Schedule – this pains me the most. I am a dog chasing a car. But strategy to your training, and a plan, is key if you want to improve.
  5. Bear Down – Cross-training is great. It’s wonderful to stay fit. However, when it gets to race season, have a goal and hunker down. You don’t want to get hurt dicking around at the gym a few weeks before you run your target event.
  6. Cross train! – yes, it completely contradicts 5. But when you aren’t bearing down on an imminent race? Give your knees and ankles a break. Swim. Bike. Climb. Lift things up and put them down!
  7. Goals – That’s what’ll drive you. Find a target. Set a parameter for it, and move towards it. If completed, set the next goal. If you fall short., evaluate what needs tweaking and double down.
  8. Be Flexible – some days, running conditions will suck. Some days, your body will suck. Don’t be afraid to tweak as needed.
  9. Eat Right – Nutrition is part of the deal. It’s all bullshit if you don’t clean up your diet to some extent.
  10. Learn from your success and your missteps – I don’t like the term failure. You aren’t competing in the Olympics or heads up vs the elites. You are competing with yourself. In my case? I’m outrunning who I became and chasing who I was. That’s all. Some days you make more progress than others, but learn from everything.

That’s all I have for tips. When I began this, I wanted to run a 5k. I would never want to run a Half Marathon. I ran that 5k, then a 5miler, then a 10k, then a 10miler, then my first half. Then another. Then my first weekend set of back to back races. Then I ran my third half this past week and have my fourth looming in a few days. 2 Halfs in 6 days.

This week was about leveling up and seeing what I’m capable of. I wanted to run a PR in a Half. I PRed by nearly 40 minutes, at 2:16:08. This week, we’ll go harder, knowing I don’t to need anything in reserve for a race the following week. I want sub 2:10. I’m building towards a Sub 2:00, eventually. I went out Tuesday night and notched another goal: A sub 30 minute 5k. Not official, watch timed, mind you, but I’ve transitioned from hope to belief.

In November I tame my first marathon. I will run more. I will run my hometown race, one of the most prestigious in the world, the NYC Marathon, when I have a shot at a sub 4:00. Until then, I warm to the task.

My goals as they stand now:

  • A sub 30 5k in a race.
  • A sub 2 hour half.
  • Completing my first marathon then putting myself in position for a solid NYC Marathon eventually.

To that end, my race calendar for the last quarter of the year has been hectic. 5 events in 3 months to celebrate 31!

Where I’ve been and where I’m going:

October 5th: City Challenge fun obstacle course. Been working a lot on endurance and flexibility via DDP Yoga and some of the November Project Family’s tips and it’s coming home to roost. Next year I hope to nail all the elements and be ready for a tough mudder. Clocked in around 47 minutes. The rope climbs required me dealing with heights, the wall climbs required me to use my ass to smack into the wall and coerce myself over with toosh momentum. The kettlebell swing was no thing thanks to Ms. Denver there and there was similar ease for the sandbag and water jug carries. The bear crawl was stupid. Im a badger, not a bear.

October 12th: PRd a half, STATEN ISLAND! 2:16:08. I was 2 seconds off an even split.  Basically murdered this race and got over being a drama queen about my results being initially lost by NYRR (then recovered!).

October 18th: THE BALTIMORE HALF. Yayyyyy.

November 16th: the Brooklyn Marathon. Oh God.

November 27th: prospect Park Turkey Trot.

Bonus, Desert for a great year of running: December 31st: New Year’s Eve 5k.

Three wasn’t enough, I needed 5. Catch ya next time.

What 3 PRs in one week looks like

Welcome to the new look here. This blog is now for my fitness thoughts.
Everything else (Hockey, Comics, Wrestling, Assorted Nerd-dom) will be at Friday Night Tights, whenever Kevin, Marc and I get back to writing. Soon, yes?

Anyhow: Welcome to RunBklyn. I’m your resident snarky asshole and host.

This journey has been humiliating, trying, and the most rewarding thing in my life. I’ve made many more great friends who have helped me along, pushed, prodded, tricked and cajoled me into doing things I never thought possible.

This weekend marked one year since my first race, which was an abject disaster. It was the Take Your Base 5k, and I finished, barely… in a horrific 47:48.

The important take aways there were 2 fold:

1.) I could gut my way through an awful lot of pain, more than i thought I could overcome.

2.) I was way more out of shape than I thought. As the song goes. “I didn’t know I was broken until I wanted to change.”

So I got serious. I joined a gym after telling my Soul Elephant I would never. She was right. I doth protest too much. I have since switched gyms and joined a rec center too, and began consulting a personal trainer… so. yeah.

My diet is still not where it should be, but it’s improved a ton.

My endurance is better, and I’m leaner. I’m down 25 pounds from where I started, and half way to my goal of 185.

I’ve run a dozen or so races this year, always challenging myself. Recently, I’ve made a serious breakthrough, aided by my endurance and a better understanding of my own strengths and limitations.

So, there was the Take Your Base 5K this weekend. And the day before was the Pride Run, a 5 miler in Central park, and the tentpole event of Front Runners New York, the LGBT Running club in NYC of which I am a member. I HAD to do this race. It was so me.

There was one problem. I had tickets the night before in PHILADELPHIA for round 1 of the NHL draft and the opportunity to meet a great many friends at the event. I had to be there, too.

The thing about me is… there are very view ideas too ambitious for me to not take a shot at. I would see the Islanders pick at 5, and after my friends teams picked, I’d depart, grab a bite, and get to bed before tearing ass out of Philly at 3am.

the best laid plans…

It all started according to plan, despite nightmare traffic down to Philly. I met TheActiveStick (FINALLY!), my trio of favorite Caps people, and even got to say hi to Mr. Mullet. We checked out after pick 21! All good.

I was mid cheesesteak bliss with the dearest of friends, Ginger, when we were informed the Isles made a trade. My heart was racing. My beloved team was hockey-ing. They traded up back into the first round to select the biggest lightning rod in the draft, Mr. Josh Ho-Sang. My GM then went defiantly on TV and challenged the media. He was rolling up his sleeves (I had no idea we’d come out guns blazing in Free Agency). This geeked me out too much to sleep. A late night stop at Wawa and I had my pre-race snacks, good to go.

In the wee hours, I bid Ginger adieu and tore ass back up I-95. My car shimmies when it goes 80, but apparently purrs like a kitten at 105mph.

I swung by the office, got the last of my race gear I forgot, and got to Central park to stretch and get mentally ready.

The thing about New York Road Runners organized races is yes, they are insanely expensive… but they are in-arguably among the best organized in the country. What an awesome event.

Mile 1 was me repeating mistakes of my past, coming out guns blazing in 10:43, which is pretty damn fast by my standards. Mile 2, i pulled back and had to scale stupid ass Cat Hill, and it took me 11:55. This is where knowing the Park came home to roost. I knew if I saved it then and now, I’d have more gas in the tank on the downhill that was looming. Mile 3 I turned it back on, 10:56, Mile 4, i was winded, the sleep deprivation was probably a factor… 11:35. I took stock of where I was, saw that with 1 mile to go a PR was in reach and I went for it despite a final uphill that seemed intent to break me. 11:20. 57:05. a 5 mile PR by 12 minutes. I take that. I pondered what tomorrow would bring.

Since my foray into running, I had never attempted 2 races in 2 days. This seemed dumb, I wasn’t ready for this. I wouldn’t have attempted it, but my hockeymom hoodwinked me into thinking she was doing both. How could I say no to one of my mentors? Jerk.

So as I was stretching and pestering her and the kids, I pondered what I’d have left. She’s a cheetah, but she’s nursing a bad injury and pushing the stroller, so I tell her I’m taking off and going for a PR.

My legs were heavy. this was a dumb idea, but what the hell. 11:01 opening mile. not bad by my standards. 2nd mile, i crank it up and get in at 10:51. Third mile i close at 11:13. Interestingly enough, my per mile is faster on what i percieved to be dead legs? Okay. This 5k is a PR too, by just short of 8 minutes, and an improvement of nearly 14 minutes over the same race the previous year. I’m ecstatic.

On the way home i’m glowing over the phone to soulmmate elephant, and she says try a speed trial of a mile. Do It. I point out that November Project’s PR day is this week, and what the hell, I will.

November Project is a fitness community unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of. Hockey Mom dragged me along, and I quickly felt like I belong. It’s such a wonderful experience, and assuredly responsible for my increase in stamina, to a large degree.

So, I feel like shit for the Wednesday NP workout. I’m dead. Legs aren’t firing. I’m cramping. I shut it down early. I will do that during training. I WILL NOT quit a race if I can walk, but I will shut down a training run or session to prevent a serious injury. I was pissed. I told hockey mom. I was angry at myself. I drove to work to check on the staff for a bit, hydrated, and stewwed at myself. Then I walked to the track in my park, in 91 degree heat with a humidity percentage of Satan’s Asshole in the air and decided I was PRing this mile. I got the watch ready to go… then grabbed more water. It was fucking hot. Was this a good idea? No, my legs were DEAD. But what the hell, I’m a stubborn asshole. Away we go.

I did a mile, with no walk breaks. I ran a whole mile continuously, a feat I’d only managed once before. And I did it in 9:44. I FINALLY cracked the ten minute plateau. And comfortably. I sat next to the track drining all my water and cackling to myself. I sent the Elephant a picture of my watch, and got an all caps reply, rare for one so composed. She was beaming. I felt accomplished.

I bite of more than i can chew. I plan, I come back and take another crack at it. I fall down, but I dust myself off and get back up. I’m more resilient than I ever thought possible, and I’m getting better every day.

THREE PRs IN A WEEKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!

Oh and the softball team is 2-0 and my ERA is a fucking 2.50. DEALING!

Catch up with y’all soon.

13 miles in Brooklyn: Passion and Pride

this goes here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhqyZeUlE8U 

Goddamn, I love that song. 

 

I am a firm believer that people don’t change. They mask what they are, but they don’t change. Brooklyn hasn’t changed either, nor have Brooklynites. 

I’ve always been a straight shooter. I don’t believe in sugar coating things. It’s not my way, nor is it the way of my home, my borough, my people. 

Brooklyn, though it’s now trendy to associate it with Hipster facades, isn’t that. Nor was it the dystopian shithole it was made out to be in the spike lee joints of the late 80′s and early 90′s (Crooklyn, anyone?).

Brooklyn IS everyone. It’s complex. It’s simple. It’s everything to everyone. I could wax poetic about my home for days, weeks, months. I was born here. I’ll die here.  As the warrior poet Taz once remarked “Brooklyn Born, Brooklyn Bred and lord willing one day Brooklyn Dead.” 

That’s the ‘Borough that’s thorough’ in a nutshell. There’s a civic pride here unlike anywhere else. You may not understand it, but you aren’t supposed to. Does the crowd of your local sports team just sing song the name of the locale they play in for the duration of the game? This is where you say #Brrrrrrrroooooooooookkklllyyynnnnnnn.

I’m a runner, I’m a Brooklynite. 

Thus, this race, the Brooklyn Half, spoke to me. My buddy BestWorst had helped me build my distance up to where I was not actually sweating a Half Marathon distance. 

It was amazing to see 25k+ participants in the blocks for a half marathon. This was easily the largest race I’d ever partaken in. It stretched from the perimeter of Prospect Park to the boardwalk of Coney Island.

It was phenomenal to enter the corral repping the colors of Front Runners New York and talk with a bunch of those folks and feel a kinship with NY’s only LGBT running group. 

speaking of kinship: I’ve determined BestWorst and I may have been seperated at birth. 

 

In the 2 hours, 53 minutes and 13 seconds it took me to traverse the course, I had a lot of time to think about various things.

Firstly, I reflected on friendship. BestWorst (who was also running this race) and Kat (who wasnt because she had other race and grown up obligations) essentially saved my life. I am forever in their debt. They took an unmotivated schlub and brought me back into the land of the living, reinvigorating my natural passions for hockey and softball by supplementing them with passions for stuff I swore I’d never care about: excercise and running. 

BestWorst took this weekend as an opportunity to remind me of every promise I’d defiantly made to her and since broken: “I’ll never join a gym, that’s stupid.” “I’ll never run a half marathon, that’s stupid.” Seeing her reaction to actively doing both with me was pretty wild. She reveled in it, frankly.

The leg strength has been the biggest source of my running heading in the right direction. The Arm strength is pretty much for vanity (and softball, which is a mere 3 weeks away!). But those were the first two muscle groups i targeted. I should have started with the core as BOTH my mentors told me, but im a buffoon and have the listening skills of roadkill. 

Anyhow, this leg strength kept me painfree for the duration of the race. i need to build my stamina to take a crack at a sub 2:30 half, but I think I can, and if Thomas the Tank Engine taught me nothing else, belief is the first and hardest step.

I thought about how far these friendships brought me. It was a year ago this month I ‘ran’ my first 5k. It was putrid, painful and I sucked. Now? I’m reasonably certain I can get under 35 minutes for a 5k. That may not sound like much to you, but it means the world to me. In addition to seeing times go down, I’ve seen my distance go up. I can now comfortably handle a half marathon and will before the year is out, tackle my first marathon. This is because I believe in me and what I can do, that’s what every step is built on. That improved self worth and faith doesn’t happen however, without a bedrock of belief from others. These two ladies, Kat the HockeyMom and BestWorst both believed in me when I didn’t want to. I was doing this whole running thing to get better at sports I care about. Now it’s the sport I care the most about (granted, talk to me in 3 weeks when I’m on the rubber and yelling about a strike call i wanted). That belief was a trust, in what they saw being something better. And I’m not at the end of the road yet, because, and this was a hell of a revelation: There’s always another mile to add on to the journey. It doesnt have an endpoint. All you need is a starting point. I had mine, with a friendly push out the door.

 

The second thought that came to me, around mile 8 or so was HOME. The realization that I would pass my house around mile 11. The Brooklyn-ness of the entire ordeal was amazing. The omnipresent Brooklyn Dodger hats. The attitude. The old adage about home never leaving your heart was coursing through my veins. This was magical to me. It also brought things oddly full circle to me, as I ran past the prk i worked in for eons, then my house, then my gym, and ended exactly where that first 5k had a year ago. How far I’ve come… and how far I still have to go.

 

Brooklyn will never, ever be what they say it is. It will always be my home. it’s why i am who i am. everything about this weekend recharged me. The friendship, the fun, the food. Brooklyn is part of New York City, yes, but Brooklyn doesn’t survive because of that. New York does. New York’s heart may be Manhattan and that’s great for them. But Brooklyn is her legs. And the legs feed the beast. 

 

Brooklyn, I love you.

 

PS: BestWorst is my hero and i love her. 

 

 

3 favorite quotes

I’m going to give you 3 of my favorite quotes, and only one of them is from a comic book. I’m as surprised as you.

“Every boy, in his heart, would rather steal second base than an automobile.”

-Judge Tom C. Clark

“I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.”

- Walt Whitman

“They made a fool of me, Balder. They laughed at me. Everybody laughs at Skurge. Hela, Mordonna, even the Enchantress I love. They all laugh at me. Except You, Balder is too kind to laugh at Skurge. But when they laugh, I hurt inside. Maybe even I die a little. Now I think I am dead already. “

- Skurge, in Thor 362, as he decides to make his stand at Gjallerbru.

 

Enjoy.

BST Hosts Utica in second annual YOU CAN PLAY day this sunday 1pm

Look at it this way, what are you doing this sunday that’s more important than supporting a great cause?

You Can…. join the hockey bloggerati and the LGBT community in Bridgeport as your RED HOT (12 of last 14!) Bridgeport SoundTigers host the Utica Comets this Sunday (1PM Puckdrop) for the second annual YOU CAN PLAY night (or afternoon in this case).

Here’s the YCP website if you are somehow familiar with me and my blogging adventures but not with them(?): http://youcanplayproject.org/ 

Festivities will kick off at noon with a q&a panel. Be there.

You can watch future Islanders before they learn to get injured and blow 3rd period leads!

You can watch future Vancouver Canucks learn how to dive… that’s a RIOT!

You can support a great cause. And you should.

Because… If You Can Play, You Can Play!

Support YCP and LET’S GO TIGERS!

 

 

 

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE:

http://www.soundtigers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?&ATCLID=209411220&DB_OEM_ID=22700