5 Ways To Keep Your Runs Interesting

Cheers to another day my friends! I have gotten a few messages from folks who have started running recently who are struggling to stay motivated in their new journey. It’s new to them and what is still fresh in their heads is how much they have always hated running. Further, if they haven’t run a race yet, they may not have had the opportunity to witness the positive enthusiasm that running can bring to keep them motivated during their workouts. So this morning I thought I would share some ways that can keep running interesting. For me I can’t say that running is ever boring for me, even after all these years. Maybe the reason it isn’t boring is because I call upon some of these every now and then to “keep things interesting”! Here are just a few of those!

Run with headphones. Whether they are wired or bluetooth, running with headphones is a game changer. I have a few playlists that I fire up when I go for my runs. For me it’s 90’s alternative since that’s what I was listening to in high school when I first picked up running years ago and quite frankly, I still love those tunes too! But I have a few other playlists too, like some old school hip hop and another with latin vibes. But music isn’t the only thing you can listen to. Podcasts have become favorites of runners, or maybe even a newscast. All of these can and will make your run go by a lot faster!

Some songs from my 90’s/Alternative Rock Playlist

Mix Up Your Running Routes This is one that I like to do a lot. Let’s be honest here, if you are running the same route over and over again, this will get boring. I always say that running can lead you to be a sightseer whether it’s when your travelling or even in your own neighborhood. Take a look at your runs, if you’re doing the same ones over and over again, mix them up please or consider changing the length of your runs if you must use the same routes.

Track Your Runs. There are a number of running apps out on the market today that track your runs from your phone by use of GPS. I am a fan of Map My Fitness & Strava, but I must say that Strava is quickly becoming my favorite. These apps have information that keeps me wanting to come back and run again and again. One of the reasons Strava is becoming my favorite is because of all the info they give you out of just one run. They will calculate portions of your run and compare them to similar portions you have run before and tell you how you compared to those. Further Strava is quickly becoming another community but solely made up of runners, which means you can follow your friends and compare how you do. I always say numbers can tell a story and Strava’s stats tell you your story while keeping you motivated. Map My Fitness is always coming up with challenges to keep you motivated and thats part of the reason I continue to use them as well as Strava!

Just a few of the stats from Strava that keep my running interesting!

Run With A Group. This is something that I personally had not tried until this week. I’ve always run alone in my neighborhood but since creating a facebook group for the United NYC Half Marathon, I’ve met a lot of runners online in preparing for that race. Some who live close to me, and when I say close I mean New York City (lol), expressed interest in running as a group to prepare for our race in March together. I ran with the group for the first time this week. We had 6 people in the running group and it was an awesome experience. I’ve always heard that group running is fantastic but it was hard to vouch for that without a group to run with. I highly recommend that if you need a change a pace in your running, find a group or even just a friend and go for a run with them. While your chatting away, those miles will trickle by with ease!

Good chats, good friends and good running within a group!

Mix Up The Type Of Runs You Do. Running doesn’t always have to be about going out and running the same distance. As I mentioned up above, the same route can get boring but also the same type of run can get boring. I always like to get a track workout into my routine if not once a week, at least every other week. This allows me to do intervals on the track which in turn help me build my speed. Hopefully most people have a community or high school track near by that they can have access to. If so, I encourage a track work out! Other times, I like to go find a decent sized hill by me and just run up that hill 10-20 times. This will no doubt challenge you but it will be different from your usual run. Plus hill work will make you a stronger runner in general and that is always a plus when running a race! Tempo runs are also a good way to mix things up. Tempo runs involve running portions of a long run much faster than other portions. For example on a 5 mile run, running miles 1,3 & 5 easy but cranking it up for miles 2 & 4. These are just some ways you can mix up the type of runs you do.

When you look at the above, in my opinion, running can indeed be fun! Like with any other task if you do the same thing over and over again you will naturally lose interest. I’ll update this from time to time when I find new ways to keep running interesting. Want to be updated – follow my blog!! lol

Have a great Thursday everyone!

Recovery After A Half Marathon

Happy Monday morning!

In looking at my social media feeds this past weekend and even last weekend, I noticedΒ a lot ofΒ folks completing half marathons. Yesterday I was thrilled to see so many people I know completing the NYRR Fred Lebow half marathon. The weather in NYC was perfect for a half marathon and I am hoping a lot of people achieved personal records!

There is no question that when you set out to conquer a half marathon, especially if it’s your first, adrenalin and euphoria will push you to achieve wonderful things. Running a half marathon is no easy feat and while some may think it’s something they can’t do, hard work and motivation will push you to the finish line along with the adrenalin and euphoria I mentioned before. But what about after the race? What about when your medal is hung and there are no more crowds, cow bells clanging or music playing? When it’s just you, and your sore muscles?

sorelegs

Just complete a half martathon? Listen to your muscles!

Since today is the day after a big half marathon here son New York City, I thought I would post some suggestions about half marathon recovery.

  • Hydrate and rest– Sure you drank a lot before the race and during the race but your body will still needs to replenish its liquids. You lost slot of your electrolytes during that half marathon. Therefore look for liquids that contain a lot of electrolytes. Gatorade and coconut water are perfect for this. Also, try to increase your fruit and vegetable intake, you will need the potassium that they provide. Further, your first day after a half marathon should be about rest. Unless you are an experienced runner, avoid running the first couple of days after. Your body needs to recover from the impact of 13.1 miles.
  • Diet.During these important next couple of days you will need to have a well balanced diet to fully replenish the nutrients you lost during the race. Meals that includes a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and monounsaturated fats are ideal after the in the days after a race. I like to go with roasted salmon with quinoa and garlic mashed potatoes. Coincidently, I like this before a race too! (lol) A little Greek food is always a plus for me. I enjoy some pork kabobs with cherry tomatoes and onions and a lemon cucumber dressing with rice.
foamrolling

Foam rolling is a great way to help sore muscles recover!

  • Listen to your muscles. There is no question that there will be sore muscles to deal with. Whether it’s your hamstrings, quads or calves, spoil them rotten the next couple of days. Ice them. Invest in a foam roller and massage your muscles. If you don’t want to invest in a foam roller, get a friend or loved one to simply use their hands. If you want to splurge, seek out a sports therapist or a masseuse for a deep tissue massage. Do any of the above that suits you but please don’t sit there and let your muscles ache!
  • Walk but don’t run. While running the day after is not recommended because of the impact on your legs, do go for a walk to stretch the muscles and get the blood flowing.
  • Need more to stay active? I understand that some of you just don’t like the couch or that your body just needs a workout as a mental escape from it all. I’m kind of like that myself! (lol) Go ahead and cross train in the first few days after a half marathon if you must. But if you do. work muscles you didn’t use in your half marathon. Stick to upper body work or something that is low impact on your legs. I find yoga can aide in flexibility right after a half or full marathon. Also if you can gain access to a pool, running or walking in a pool is really helpful. Cool water helps muscles recover and there is zero impact on your legsΒ in the pool.
  • Running again I know, you just crushed a half marathon and you want to run again. I would hold off on any running until about day 3 after your race. If you recall in the last week or 2 before your half marathon, most people tapered their miles and ran less. If you were training at 10-13 miles, you reduced your runs to much less mileage. Well now after your half, my approach is to “reverse taper“. Go very short on your first run. 2-3 miles is ideal. As you progress over the next two weeks, keep “reverse tapering” and increase your mileage to 4-5 miles then 6-7 miles until you are back in your routine. The idea is to ease your legs back into the running routine while they recover.

Keep in mind that the above are just suggested ideas that can help you recover after a half marathon. These have worked for me in the past as well as others I know. Thankfully, I have never seen any long term effects of injury after a half marathon. However if you have pain, not just soreness, after your half marathon, seek a professional doctor’s advice. In a couple of weeks it is normal to have soreness but definitely not pain. The most important thing is to listen to your body and respond to it with the appropriate treatment. I cannot stress how important this is.

But lets think positive! If all goes well and you recover well and get back into running, don’t be afraid to put that next race on your calendar! Remember complacency can work against you. If you are pleased with your first half marathon results, make a goal to run faster and most importantly a smarter race. We can always improve. Challenge yourself, because the challenges you present yourself will reward you. Comfort never rewarded anyone!

Congratulations to everyone out there that recently completed a half or a full marathon!

Don’t be afraid to plan for your next big race!

Fred Lebow Half & NYC Marathon Tidbits!

Well my friends we made it to the end of another week! The weather is supposed to be a lot nicer in the NYC area this weekend so if you have been thinking about getting out to start running, this weekend is a good time to start with warmer weather in store! Saturday should reach close to 50 degrees with Sunday seeing 45 degrees.

If the weather doesn’t inspire you to get out then, maybe the runners toeing the line this Sunday will in Central Park. On Sunday the New York Road Runners club will be holding the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Marathon in Central Park. 2 and a half loops of the standard loop in Central Park will be run. As of now the race is sold out so there will be lots of runners conquering the 13.1 miles on Sunday. What is more inspiring than having a sold out half marathon in the middle of January! A big salute to all of the runners running the race on Sunday and don’t forget to smile for Fred when you cross the finish line!

This Fred Lebow half marathon pays homage to the late great Fred Lebow who is the founder of the New York City Marathon which of course has become one of the most famous marathons to run in the world. He founded the marathon in 1970 and was one of a handful of 55 runners that took part in the inaugural NYC marathon. In 2017, the NYC Marathon hosted about 55,000 runners while turning away much more than that who just couldn’t be accommodated. Lebow went onto complete 69 marathons in his lifetime and doing so in 30 countries before passing away in 1994. Today aside from his legacy of creating a great marathon, he can be remembered for some of his quotes:

The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama, competition, camaraderie and heroism.

As the Fred Lebow half marathon is run this Sunday, earlier in the week, the race Lebow founded opened up its lottery to accept runners who wish to run the 2018 version of the TCS New York City Marathon. This year’s marathon will be Sunday, November 4th. This race has become one of the hardest races go get into. I was giddy when I received my acceptance into the race earlier this week and had to post something about it! I know however that not everyone will be so fortunate. It has become so difficult to get accepted into this race, that last year, only about 16,000 runners were accepted via lottery. Close to 100,000 applications were received in the lottery. That means only 16% of runners were accepted via lottery!

So if 55,000 runners make up the race- where did the other 39,000 come from? Here are some other options for you to explore if you don’t like the 16% odds via lottery.

9+1 program. For me this is the easiest and most assured way of getting in. It is also the one that requires the most work. It simple. This is the option I opted for last year and how I qualified this year. How to do it? Run 9 NYRR qualifying races and volunteer to work one and you automatically qualify for the following year’s marathon. That won’t get you into this year’s marathon, but you are assured to be in for the 2019 marathon.

Then there is the endless list of charities that you can run for in the marathon. Each charity has a number of spots reserved in the marathon however, you will be asked to raise money for that charity. Usually the amounts that you must raise are over $2,500 and that might be daunting for some.

If you are reading this from another country, you are in luck! If you plan a vacation to New York City from another country, there are guaranteed spots reserved for several runners that are willing to book a vacation to NYC. The vacation must be booked with one of their approved tour directors. More info on that can be found here.

Then there is luck for really fast people. If you are an elite athlete, you will likely get in. But if you are not elite but still fast, there is hope for you. There are time qualifications by age group in the half marathon and full marathon. If you have run a time for one of these races faster than the time qualifiers then you are in luck! To qualify for the 2018 marathon you will hAve had to run the qualifying time in 2017. To see if you were fast enough, check out the time qualifying standards here!

If none of these apply, I’m sorry but your just going to have to sit back and wait for those lottery results! I got turned down for 4 years in a row before I went the 9+1 route. I pray that none of you have to wait 4 years to get in. Lottery results are expected to be announced on February 28th. Close to 60,000 are expected to toe the line this year.

Fred Lebow is surely smiling from above at what his race has become!

Teaming Up For A Cause!

First off, I just wanted yo start the day today by simply saying THANK YOU to all the folks who have chosen to follow this blog. Whether you have been with me from the beginning a few months or ago or recently joined. Today isn’t a milestone or anything for this blog. I just felt like recognizing all of you who read this because to be frank, interacting with you all here and on social media makes this all the worth while!

Having this blog and having my social media pages has allowed me to meet some great people in the running world. Almost every day, its ether new conversation with a runner I had never known before, a new story I learn about someone, a new product I try from a company or in today’s instance, a new charitable cause that I learn about. If you have read this blog then you very well know that thru my running I am not only looking to inspire people and increase awareness to running, but I am also looking to increase awareness to charitable causes. A couple of months ago, I wrote about how I came across the app Charity Miles and how I decided to raise money for “She’s The First” via any of my runs that I complete whether it was a training run or a race. This time I am taking a bit more of an aggressive approach in helping a cause.

Many people always tell me that I have too much energy. My wife implores me to sit in the living room on the weekends because I am always running around doing things around the house instead of resting or spending time with the family. I can’t help it (lol). That’s how I am! I also know that many people sometimes just need that push or motivation just to “get things done”. Many times, my posts will reach people and give them that boost of energy or inspiration needed to put a nasty spell behind them or to just simply get with it and do something to make themselves better. I have learned over the past year or so, that my posts, or the posts of other similar minded people cannot help certain people who are more than just stuck in a rut. They are diagnosed with depression. The National Institute of Mental Health defines depression asΒ “a common but serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working”. The mood is so severe that it can last long periods of time. One thing is to be diagnosed with it. Another is to rid yourself of it and that can be difficult for some.

Recently I was approached by the organization Depression2Extinction.orgΒ  (D2E) about becoming an ambassador for their cause. I found their organization appealing because of what their mission is. Rather than focus on the diagnosis, they would rather let members share their feelings and emotions and help those with depression cope in the co-creation of a unified world. As a relatively new nonprofit organization, they are turning to runners like me to help raise awareness for their cause and their organization. My aim with this blog is to help as many people create better versions of themselves. I know that depression is serious and I am in no way an expert in that field. However if i can create awareness to an organization such as D2E, then I can hopefully help some folks struggling with depression to cope a bit.

In the next week or so I will likely come forth with more details of how I will be helping D2E. I may be reaching out to the running community for help on my venture and I hope that many of you will help.

Runners are blessed with an ability to have strong will. Many people don’t like to run. Heck runners themselves probably have minor doubts when we go out for that first half mile or even full mile! But our minds push us to overcome. Lets not forget to help those around us who may need hope for whatever reason!

Keep running and keep helping my friends!

Listening To Your Body

Happy hump day my friends!

I am a firm believer that in order to reach any of your predetermined goals, you will have to push your body to do things that it never has before. Sometimes that means forcing it to do things that may not be natural or may even hurt a little. You all know the old saying, “No pain, no gain” right?

A good challenge for yourself whatever your level of running is, can always be a good thing. For those starting out it can be just running a mile without walking. For more advanced runners it could be breaking 2 hours for a half marathon and so on.

Since the beginning of 2018, I have pushed myself toΒ gradually increase my mileage as I prepare for the 2018 United NYC Half Marathon. My goal for that half marathon is to runΒ my personal best which would be under 1 hour and 51 minutes. A great day would be to break 1 hour and 50 minutes! In the midst of doing that, as many of you have read, it has been frigid in New York City. In my mind, I know what pace I will have to run at the half marathon in order to meet my goals. I also know that right now given the weather in New York City, it’s difficult for me to run that pace. Icy conditions, wind and more layers of clothes than I prefer, are just making that pace close to impossible.

As is the reaction for most people in cold air, my breathing in the cold weather is not optimal. Further, the turnover in my legs right now is just doesn’t happen as fast. There is truth in the fact that the cold air does drop the temperature in your legs slightly lower to the point where the blood does not circulate as fast and they tend to feel a lot more sluggish than in warmer temps. Maybe its that or maybe its mental or maybe it’s the tights I am wearing but I am definitely feeling slower in this cold during my training runs. I’ve come to accept that this will have a direct impact on my pace in this weather and to be honest, that is perfectly fine! For me, right now, there is no need to push the body and risk injury my pulling a muscle. A couple of weeks ago, I felt soreness in my calf when I tried to go full tilt. No need to risk a calf injury. Instead I can focus on increasing my distance which is what I have been doing.

My pace isn’t as fast in this cold – but its ok!

 

The alternative to listening to your body is listening to that bad alter ego of yours that tells you to sit it out and do nothing. We definitely do not want to listen to that! Take pride inΒ stepping up to the challenges or goals that you would like to achieve but listen to your body. The road to your goals is yours alone and if you have to alter the process a bit because your body is telling you something that is perfectly fine.

My wife recently took up running in the past 6 months. She has never been much of a runner as she is asthmatic. In doing some reading on her behalf I found that asthmatics can run, they obviously have to watch their breathing and try to avoid cold air. Her near term goals are to run a 10k and she is working towards this still. But I told her that there is no rush to get there. At times her breathing has been hampered in the cold. At times her knee has bothered her. All things to take seriously and to obviously listen to the body. Still that doesn’t mean its time to go back to the couch. She’s altered her running workouts to work on cardio at the gym on the elliptical and has focused on working her core and some strength training also. When your body talks back, it isn’t the end of the world. Just listen to it. Cooperate withΒ your bodyΒ by altering your workouts, maybe take an off day or two and your body will reward you in return!

There will be obstacles in every road no matter who you are or what level you are at. No one is immune to them. Β How you handle them will determine your outcome. So if your body talks back to you don’t get discouraged – it happens to all of us!

Stay positive and keep moving towards those goals!

Stay focused no matter what obstacles may come!

New Year, New Goals, New Lesson Learned

Happy New Years to everyone out there!

The new year is here! If you were looking to put a resolution in play, well now is the time! I know I have been preaching that for some time and I am hoping that many of you will take me up on a change to get up off the couch and to start running. If not running, then something better than sitting on the couch! I will get into the New Year’s resolution thing however another day!

For me the new year will not bring about too much change in terms of a workout routine. However, that doesn’t mean that the learning stops. On day one of the New Year I already learned a valuable lesson and I was kicking myself when I realized it. On New Year’s day the gym that I belong to, Lifetime Fitness, had a themed “Commitment Day” for its members. For me, that is another way to get people to make a New Year’s Resolution. To commemorate the commitment day, they encouraged their members to run in a 5k run. It wasn’t considered a race because they didn’t time it. Running geeks like myself of course, chose to time it.

The temperatures of course were very frigid as New York City may never see above freezing ever again. I am convinced that my Christmas decorations may stay on my lawn til March because they are frozen in the ground. The mercury was at 11 degrees this morning at race time with a windchill of 0, zero, zilch, nada. My gym, in an effort to promote all of their classes and programs, had a wacky idea to do a pre-race warm up in the gym that consisted of an obstacle course of sorts. There were close to 100 runners this morning and I think everyone of them in unison told the gym instructors that they did not want to do a pre-race obstacle course? in the gym. Who wants to work up a sweat and then step out in 0 degrees? Helloooo???

When we assembled in the gym and gave them our gracious response of “No thank you”, we were whisked outdoors to the starting line. By the time I put on my hat, gloves and fired up my music and GPS, they were starting the race. Off the racers went and I hit start on my Strava app. As I did that, I dropped one of my gloves. After picking it up, I put my phone away and set on my way to try to keep up with the lead pack. The cold didn’t bother me too much on this race. I wore three thin layers, the bottom one being an Under Armor cold weather shell, tights, hat and gloves. I was fine with just that.

After settling into a comfortable pace and listening for my first mile split, I realized that I forgot to start my Under Armor Map My Fitness App. That’t the app that tells me my splits in my headphones after each mile. That’s the one reason that even though I have discovered Strava, I still use the UA Map My Fitness app. To my knowledge I do not believe that Strava does that as well, but if they do, someone please tell me how to activate that! Pissed off now that I couldn’t find out my splits, I decided oh well, its not really a race, its just commitment day. That’s when I realized that there were only 6-7 people ahead of me in the race. Aaaannnddd just like that, this became a race!

In a 5k there really is no time to pace yourself. The more I run 5k’s the more I realize that you are pretty much running hard almost the entire time. In the process of making this a race, I ended up tweaking another calf in the last mile of the race and had to slow up a bit. I managed to finish 5th overall in the race. Mark those words because I will not finish better than 5th l year!

If my calf had not started to bother me, I might have finished third. First and second were well out of reach so my calf made no difference there. Crossing the finish line in 5th, I was eager to see my time, since I was not getting my splits from the Under Armor app. I took my phone out of my running arm band and Strava looked back at me with nothing, zilch, nada. Seems as if when I dropped my glove at the start of the race, I actually didn’t start my Strava app either. Pissed off is not even the word. I was pacing back and forth at the finish line like a mad man. 3.1 miles out the window and quite possibly a PR out the window. Although I don’t know if this time would have counted since it was not officially timed.

When it was all said and done, I looked on the bright side. I woke up on New Year’s without a hangover, I ran a 5k on new year’s day to start off the year on the right foot, and I got a medal for my troubles. Two valuable lessons however were learned. Never start a race without switching on my Map My Fitness app an never start a race without switching on and ASSURING that Strava is on. I don’t care how many seconds I lose at the start, not having your run tracked might be the most frustrating feeling in the world! Oh well at least the lesson was learned on the first of the year! Hopefully never to be repeated again!

As the weather continues to remain cold, I have to say I am getting used to this cold weather running. Anything north of 30 may be a heat wave for me! If you are from the east coast, how are you getting along with the cold weather? No matter where you are from, how was your New Year’s?

75 days til the United NYC Half for anyone running that!

2017 – My Running Year In Review

As Christmas approaches this weekend, it is soon time to bid the year farewell! I came back to running in 2016 for health reasons but 2017 was the year that I came back to racing. It has been a challenging, rewarding and yet fun year for me as far as my running goes. With that said, I thought it would be a good idea to summarize my year and the races I ran. Hey if nothing else, I know I can always come back to this post and read about my year if I ever get bored or want to compare future races! Sure one can just go to this link and see my results, but that doesn’t tell you any of the highs and lows of those races!Β  You can stop reading here if you don’t want to read recaps of my 2017 races, but if your intrigued, settle in for a bit of a long read. They were almost all New York Road Runners races but that’s ok because it got me qualified for the 2018 NYC Marathon!

March 2017 – United NYC Half

No matter what happens for the remainder of my running life, the United NYC Half will be a special one for me and one that I will likely want to run again and again. After being turned down for the NYC Marathon for 4 years straight, I was accepted into the United NYC Half on my first try! While the race was run in March with snow on the ground, I didn’t care. I was excited to run my first half marathon and this one didn’t disappoint. The first two miles were frigid but as we made our way thru Central Park, by mile three I felt wonderful. As we left the park to start mile 8 on seventh avenue, I will never forget the energy of the crowd and how it propelled me to my fastest mile of the race. I belted out a 7:46 mile in the middle of the race! From there the crowds on the West Side highway kept me smiling as I enjoyed my first half marathon thoroughly. I finished that day in 1:54 (8:44 pace) and completed my first half marathon. This race would set the stage for several more races in the year!

June 2017 – JPM Corporate Challenge, NYRR Retro 5 Miler, Queens 10K, Achilles HopeΒ  Possibility 4 Miler

Ok, June was a busy month! When I ran the NYC Half in March, I ran it just because I got picked in the lottery. When I picked up my bib however in March, I learned about the “9 +1 program” that NYRR had that would eventually qualify me for the NYC Marathon. I didn’t really pay attention to the program until April however. By then, April and May NYRR races were mostly filled which meant I couldn’t start accumulating races til June. Before I could run my next NYRR race, I would run the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge with my company. I’ve run this race many times over the years but usually casually with my co-workers. In 2016 I ran pretty decent but I knew I could go faster because the course was way too congested! In 2017 I decided I would line up much closer to the start than I did in 2016. What a difference that made. The course is still congested but no where near what I dealt with in 2016.Β  I ran a 26:45 that day (7:38 pace). Never ran that course that fast or even close to it. Had me feeling positive about what was coming later that weekend – the NYRR Retro 5 Miler.

The NYRR Retro 5 miler is more of a laugh than a race! So many people were dressed up in retro outfits from the 70’s and 80’s! It was like a time warp back to those years. I thought it was fantastic lol . The course was the 5 mile course in Central Park that included Harlem Hill. My ankle was a bit sore still from the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge that I had run a few days before so I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be. Still 40:55 (8:11 pace) was ok with me! My time and the several crazy outfits I saw that day made the race very worthwhile for me!

My Next race in June was the Queens 10k. This race was part of the NYRR 5 borough series, just like the United NYC Half was. I was particularly looking forward to this race because it was situated in Flushing Meadow Park, a park where I used to do a lot of training runs when I ran track in High School. That and the fact that the course ran in front of Citi Field, home of my beloved Mets, had me excited for this race! Someone however should have reminded me the night before about how excited I was for the race. I ended up partying the night away the night before with some friends. Way too many beers! I got to the starting line with a bottle of gatorade, a hangover and a lot of beer burps. In my starting corral I accidently let a small burp out and the lady next to me said to me smiling “someone had a good night last night”. I just shook my head and proceeded to pound the pavement for the next 6.2 miles with my head throbbing for most of it. By mile 4 the hangover was gone, but the lack of sleep kicked in. I managed to run 51:16 (8:15 pace)but I know I could have done better. I want this race back, which will likely be the reason I run it again in 2018!

My final race in June was the Achilles Hope and Possibility 4 miler in Central Park. I enjoyed this race because of all the inspiring athletes that run this race. Blind people, people without limbs, people with several disabilities, all of them running and completing 4 miles. Truly awesome. My wife is asthmatic and while that isn’t a disability, it can create difficulties when trying to run. She ran this race and conquered it. For me inspiration was all around me. I remember pushing hard because of that. It resulted in my fastest race pace of the year up until that point, 30:34 (7:39 pace). The race was a feel good race and I commend NYRR for the job that they do with this race year in and year out.

July – NYRR R-U-N 5K

I had to take a couple of weeks off after a busy June but I found myself back in Central Park on a Thursday night for a 5k. I hadn’t run the 5k distance since the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge a few years back when it was a 5k course. Since I started running frequently, I was eager to see how I would do. I recall the first mile of the race and how I thought the pace was super fast. Well I was right. My GPS told me I ran the first mile in 6:52. I was baffled at how that could be. I went back and looked at the course and it was because the first mile was pretty much all down hill. It all made sense now lol . In Central Park, whatever goes down, has to come back up right? Well it did! I would inevitably slow down and finish my 5k at 22:39 (7:18 pace). Not upset with that one bit! I think my previous 5k time was in the high 24 minute range. By the end of July, I was really starting to like these NYRR runs!

August – Percy Sutton Harlem 5k

Well after not running a 5k in many years, I would do two of them in back to back months! This time I was off to Harlem where I frankly hadn’t been in many years. Since I hadn’t been there in years, I made the mistake of driving there for this race. With the lack of parking in the area, I found myself scrambling for parking. I ended up parking at a meter about 8 blocks away from the start line. Race was at 8:30am. I parked at 8:15am. You could say my race started as soon as I finished putting money in the meter. I got to the start line with 2 minutes to spare before the start. I barely checked my bag in before the start. No bathroom visit. No stretching. And there goes the horn for the start!Β  I remember running the first mile and I was sucking wind. I didn’t get to jog, or stretch and a lot of the first mile was up hill. As we zig zagged thru the streets of Harlem I took in the sites and was excited at how diverse and vibrant the neighborhood was. Before I knew it we were heading back towards the starting line. You know those uphills towards the beginning? Well now they were become some serious downhills! Great crowds on hand for this race had me pumped the whole last mile. Finished the race at 22:41 (7:18 pace). Just two seconds slower than the 5k I ran in Central Park a month ago! Damn it why didn’t I get a good warmup in!! That would have definitely been a PR! Oh well, save it for another day I guess!

September – 5th Avenue Mile & Bronx 10 Mile

I cannot say that I honestly trained for the 5th Avenue Mile. Sure I did a few workouts leading up to the the race on the track, but they weren’t really speed workouts. They were more of doing 3 or 4 mile runs on the track with maybe doing a few laps at full tilt. Screw it. Lets go run the mile anyways! After seeing heat after heat go off before mine and seeing the energetic crowds get behind the runners, I was anxious to start my race. As opposed to my last race in Harlem, I got a good warm up in here. The bag check is near the end of the race. Which means you have to walk or jog a mile to the start lol. Ok so warmup was done right this time! For this race, it was the closest I have ever been to the actual starting line. I think there were only two people in front of me at the starting line. The horn went off and I tried not to get trampled! The first quarter mile was swift – definitely not what I am used to. I think the clock said 1:15 for the first quarter mile. Umm that’s 5 minute mile pace if you aren’t keeping track!Β  In the 2nd quarter mile I slowed down particularly because it was uphill. I believe my half mile split was 3:00. As we got to the top of the hill, I could see the finish line. In all of the races I had run so far this year, whenever I saw the finish line, I would start my kick. This time however, it didn’t register in my head that I was still a half mile away from the finish line! Needless to say I hung onto dear life to finish that race as I was gassed. That last quarter mile hurt man! Mile time – 6:12. Hey, I haven’t run a mile all out since High School. I’ll take it! This was a very fun race and one that I would totally do again!

The Bronx 10 mile was a race that I was preparing for. Aside from the Fifth Avenue mile, I had been building up my miles gradually knowing that I had the Staten Island Half Marathon coming up in a few weeks. This race was a perfect training run in my prep for the SI Half. I remember the forecast for this day being very hot. The race however was early enough that I figure we would escape the heat. The course was an “out and back”. Pretty much 5 miles up the Grand Concourse and 5 miles back down. Remember that heat that I thought we would escape? It showed up for the 2nd half of the race! For the first time all year, I fell the effects of the heat. I stopped a lot for water during this race. I want to say 6 or 7 times. Some times it was just to dump the water over my head. I have to say it worked because I found another gear in the last three miles. Each of the last three miles were under 8:00 with the fastest one being the last mile at 7:36. Final time 1:21 (8:08 pace). I gotta say, the crowds were great in the Bronx! Even though I hate the Yankees, I guess it was kind of cool crossing the finish line literally right in front of the stadium. The Bronx 10 mile was my favorite medal of the year. Something about the red and black ribbon – nothing to do with the Yankees!

October – Staten Island Half Marathon

The year started with the United NYC Half in March. Only fitting it ends with another half marathon. This time in Staten Island. The only thing I know about Staten Island is where the Staten Island Yankees play. Lucky for me, this is pretty much where the race started and finished! The only thing I wanted out of this day was to be faster than my half marathon in March. Starting the race I felt decent. We were pretty much going down hill. Mile one was 7:46. Whoa – slow down Nelly, we got twelve more of these miles! At about mile three, some drizzle started and so did some hills. By mile five the hills had flattened out and we were running along South Beach. That’s when the skies decided to open. I have run in rain before, but never like this. It was a torrential down pour. The type that if you happen to be caught in it, you run for cover and hide anywhere until it slows up. I’m in mile five however of a half marathon – where the hell was I going to hide?!? That rain came down so fast that it was running down my face and I was literally gagging on it. My shoes were soaked and I could feel them getting heavier. At around mile nine, the rain decided to stop. But someone decided to put a huge half mile hill at mile nine. I was depleted after that mile I tell you. I hadn’t struggled that much thru a mile ALL YEAR. I wanted to stop. I felt slow and my GPS agreed with me – mile nine split was a 9:02. What? a 9:02? I don’t think I had run that split in any of my races – not even the March half marathon. I have to admit, when I heard the split for mile nine I kissed a PR for the half marathon goodbye. I took one more GU gel in mile 10 and hoped for the best. Mile ten 8:27. Mile eleven 8:02. Ok – here we go. Remember how I said the beginning was down hill? Yup – we are going to finish this miserable day going up hill. After mile eleven I had started to look at the cumulative clock and started calculating if a PR was possible. It still was, but I didn’t factor in a mile long up hill. That last mile was tough. It hurt. Further, because of all the water in my shoes, my insole had started shifting. I knew it was all out of place in my shoe, I could feel it. But the end of the race finally came, and it read a happy time at the end –1:51 (8:31 pace). When I finished I didn’t know how it was possible. Not with all the hills and not with all the rain. I guess the work from March thru October simply paid off. Crossing that finish line also completed my 9th NYRR race. The NYC Marathon was finally going to be mine in 2018!

What a year is all I will say. Running is amazing for just these reasons. In this lengthy post, I had no teammate to run with me. No one to toss a ball to or run for me. This was all me. That’s one of the things I love about running, no one can do this but you! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it againΒ  – can’t wait for 2018!!