Got My Fill Of Turkey Trot

Its the Friday after Thanksgiving and I hope that everyone got their fill of turkey, pie and family! I know I got my full of all of those, but I also got my fill of “Turkey Trot”. As I referred to in one of my previous posts, “Turkey Trots” have been popping up in so many towns here in New York that it has become pretty easy to find one and to participate in one. The one that I ran, the Garden City Turkey Trot, took entries pretty much right up until the 10:00AM start of the race. When they were all said and done, close to 4,000 participants took part in the 5 mile race thru the streets of Garden City. A big salute to the committee that organized the race as they not only put on  successful race, but they also gathered food for the local food pantry so that no one went hungry on this special day!

For me, this was the second year in a row that I participated in the race. Last year I ran the race and ran my fastest race pace wise that I had ran in 2016. In 2016 I completed the course in 38:39 (roughly 7:35 pace). What would this year have in store? I went into the race not being sure how I would do. I had not run a road race since the Staten Island Marathon back in the beginning of October. Since then I had cut back my running a bit. In turn, I have been increasing the amount of weights that I have been lifting at the gym. I’ve been strengthening my quads a bit more and my hamstrings and of course my upper body as well. Also adding to my uncertainty about my results Thursday was that my pace on my training runs had not been faster than 8:00 per mile in weeks. Lastly, it was a pretty frigid morning with the mercury barely getting above 32 degrees but the show must go on!

At the Start Line Of The Garden City Turkey Trot!

My first mile was a bit congested traffic wise. A lot of folks were up at the front of the start that probably didn’t belong there but its Thanksgiving, everyone is just thankful for running today! First mile was not bad. Clocked a 7:13 for the first mile. I vaguely remember my first mile in my previous year’s run being around 7:15 and I thought that was pretty fast. I did go onto slow down my mile pace over the next few miles. This year was going to be a bit different.

Mile 2 had its share of uphills after mile 1 had included down hills. As such when my split for mile 2 came in, I knew this was going to be a different day. My split was 7:12 for mile 2 with uphills! Mile 3 included the longest uphill of the race. My split for mile 3 was 7:13. That 3rd mile drained me a bit and I was eager to see how I would be after the 4th mile. A water station was set up in mile 4 but I declined it because I tend to splash when I take water at water stations and it was too cold to be wet!

In that mile, we passed by a large group of spectators that naturally gave us a boost. They accomplished their job. My split for mile 4 was 7:07. When I looked at the cumulative race clock as I passed by the 4th mile marker it was under 29 minutes and that was the race clock which meant my time was likely faster since I started a little bit behind the start line. At this point I thought to myself, unless I took a bullet in the last mile or collapsed, this was going to be a PR!

Then I set my eyes on a woman who was in front of me the whole race. The distance between her and I was consistently between 10-15 yards. She likely never saw me but some how every time I sped up, so did she. With about a half a mile left, I decided to end the song and dance between this lady and I. I blew past her but with a half mile left, I can tell you that the weight training I have been doing kicked in. I was afraid that I started my kick too early but my arms believe it or not helped to increase my strides. My quads helped keep my stride steady. With about a hundred yards left, my GPS mile split was announced in my head phones. 6:59! Damn – broke 7 minute on my lat mile split! Cumulative time was 36:12, more than two minutes better than last year! I couldn’t believe it!  I was exhausted after this race but I felt great! I didn’t envision running this fast at all but I will tell you that the weight training indeed helped. The legs felt stronger and pumping the arms led to longer strides down the stretch which undoubtedly led to a fast final two miles. I’ll say one final thing about this performance – it was fast for the distance but it was also fast period. My 5k split and my 4 mile split were both faster than I had ever run all out for either of those distances. Crazy right?

This race was not just special because of my time but also because of a couple of other factors. First, if you see my Under Armour Map My Fitness stats up above, I burned 723 calories. Guess who was having pie Thanksgiving night with zero guilt! Haha! But what really makes this race special is that my wife ran it. My wife is new to running and admittedly is not ready to tackle the distances that I do. As such, we don’t run together as she would rather I run ahead. I would want nothing more than to run with her but as I always tell lot of folks, run your race, not anyone else’s. Further my wife is an asthmatic, but let me tell you, that being an asthmatic does not stop her from running. As I have mention so many times, she has set out a goal to increase her mileage while controlling her asthma. She did a 5 k earlier this year and then we did a 4 mile run together in June. On Thursday she had signed up for the shorter version of the 5 mile race which was available, the 1.5 mile fun run. She was going to do this with my youngest daughter but when the weather was too cold, my daughter bailed and opted for staying in a warm bed on thanksgiving morning. This gave my wife the chance to take on the 5 mile race. An opportunity had presented itself and she seized the moment and crushed it. This is an amazing feat for her and I was ecstatic about being there to witness it. In a year she ran a 5 k, a 4 miler and a 5 miler. I had mentioned to her running a 10k earlier in the year and she gave me the look of “No way”. After Thursday I mentioned to her that she is just over one mile away in distance from that 10k and she couldn’t believe it. Her progress this year is truly an inspiration for people that say “I can’t run”. Oh yes you can!

Now that Thanksgiving is over and you know that the holidays are looming in December. Resolve for the next few weeks to get up and get out and burn some calories. Go for a run. If not start with a walk with a light jog. Remember, something is always better than nothing!

United NYC Half Facebook Group

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March and the United NYC Half Will Be Here Before You Know It!

 

The calendar says that it is only November but I already have the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon on my mind. I ran the 2017 version of the race earlier this year and while I know I have not run the full New York City Marathon, I can tell you that the United NYC Half was a lot of fun and I was very impressed with the organization and promoting done for the race.

This year, they have decided to change the course up and make this a true New York City Half Marathon. In previous years, the race was run exclusively in Manhattan. This year, the race is starting in Brooklyn, and going over the Manhattan Bridge and into Manhattan up the east side, thru Times Square and ultimately ending in Central Park. Many people have expressed their excitement over the new course as it gives the race a mini feel of the New York City Marathon.

New Course Starts The Race In Brooklyn & Ends It in Manhattan!

 

One thing that I do remember about the 2017 NYC Half was the vibe that I felt days before the race at the expo, before the race on race day and of course during the race itself. I realized running this race, that there is a strong running community out there. When you come across another runner, you can usually engage in lots of conversation. Soon you find that some of your concerns, your excitements and other feelings that you thought were unique to you, are actually shared by other people.

So in the spirit of the running community, I decided to start a Facebook group that is dedicated to the 2018 version of the United NYC Half. The group is closed but just request to join the group and you will be allowed in. You can find that group here – 2018 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. I started this because I remember getting ready for the race and not knowing what to expect, not knowing where to go, not knowing what to wear and so many other things. Now as a returning runner, I still have questions running thru my head about this race. Clearly this group can serve as a benefit to any runner so hopefully I will see you in the group if you are indeed running the race.

The group belongs to all those running the race, its not just my group. If you have a question or comment – fire away! Hope to see and meet some new faces running the 2018 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon!

MarathonFoto Always Captures Great Shots!

Time For A Plan

Don’t Be Afraid To Assess & Plan!

 

 

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about my own workouts. I want to run to maintain my stamina for my upcoming races but I also recognized that I needed to start lifting weights again to regain muscle that I have lost due to a lot of running. I have an interval training class on Wednesday’s that I love to take because it is probably my best all around workout of the week. Its right in the middle of the week and I don’t want to give that up. It’s getting difficult to juggle everything so I think it’s time to plan my workouts.

This same scenario could very well be happening to any of you out there but with different things to juggle. I didn’t even factor in home life in my initial paragraph above! Don’t be afraid to admit that you may not be planning your workouts right. For a while, all I did was run almost everyday. In the summer I was running 6 days a week. I lost ALL of my muscle. I don’t want to do that again. So I have to be mindful of that. I started to implement lifting again and my running hasn’t suffered too much. I haven’t gotten faster but at the same time, I’ve gained my muscle back. I don’t want to lose my stamina however because I have a half marathon coming in March and while I have lots of time for it, the NYC Marathon looms next November.

In order to plan your workouts though, you need to have a goal in mind. If you have been reading my posts you know I love to talk about goals. Setting them and achieving them is the only way to go. I see so many people go to the gym walking on the treadmill for an hour reading a books Ok- kudos to you for coming here to the gym instead of sitting on the couch, but will you achieve your goal doing that? I’m not sure?

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Equipment From My Interval Training Class – Part Of My Plan!

 

Sometimes your goals might require more time than you originally thought. Don’t be afraid to incorporate family into your goals to help you with your time management. Sometimes your only going to be as successful as your support team. If you have a family, be upfront with your spouse or your kids about your goals. Explain to them that you need to get to the gym, or go for a run “x” number a times a week. I am fairly certain that they will be more than willing to work with you since at the end, this will only benefit your health!

That brings me back to my personal plan. Going into this weekend, I need to get at least one long run in. I have a 5 mile race on thanksgiving and I haven’t really put any runs in over 4 miles in a couple of weeks. This weekend, I have to put in at least a 4 mile run. I can’t forget about weights as I mentioned, so this is how my week is going to go – I hope!

Sunday – 5 Mile run (tempo pace)
Monday- Weight training (gym)
Tuesday(AM) – 3-4 mile easy jog
Wednesday- Interval Training Class
Thursday – 5 Mile Race
Friday – OFF
Saturday Weight Training (gym)

A plan can happen to you. Just give it some thought. Find a goal and work towards it. Know that you CAN DO IT!

 

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Stop Wishing – Conquer A Goal!

My Obsession With Vanny

This is what makes cross country what it is!


For absolutely no sane reason, cross country running is something that has stayed with me for some time now. It is the type of running that I do the least of because sadly there aren’t too many cross country style courses by where I live to run on. But yet when an opportunity presents itself to run it, I jump at the opportunity to do so! 

What is cross country running you ask? No it’s not running from east coast to west coast! And it’s definitely not road running! It’s for the most part trail running, occasional grassy patches and lots of brutal hills with unstable footing at times. In short, it’s misery for those that have never run it. I think the reason that it has a special place in my heart is because when I first did any type of organized running in high school, it was the first type of race I ran. 

The Infamous Back Hills Of Vanny

The course that I ran the most was the famous course at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, affectionately known as Vanny to many “harriers” or cross country runners. The New York Times wrote up a great piece about the course a few years back. The article describes the many facets of the course that I fell in love with as a high schooler. 

This Saturday, I go back and visit my old friend Vanny. For the last few years I have been paying Vanny an annual visit as I run the alumni race that is part of my former high school’s city championship meet. For me it’s not only a chance to run a cross country course that to this day I still admire, but it’s a chance to see some old coaches, and cheer on my alma mater. 

As I go back each year however it’s a continuous challenge that i’ve set for myself.  To put this challenge into perspective I recall how in high school, my best time on the course was under 15 minutes for the 2.5 miles course (4000 meters). Keep in mind I ran that course four years straight each weekend from September thru November. When I returned to the course for the first time since high school back in 2009, I didn’t know what to expect. I went into the race that year with a mentality of “whatever happens, just happens”. Well when I crossed the finish line, the clock read 23:32. I just looked at the time, laughed as it was almost 10 minutes slower than high school and then hit the floor because my quads and hamstrings were shot from scaling those hills for the first time in 22 years. It was quite a scene and quite a memory now that I  look back on it. 

The serenity of Vanny makes it very deceptive!

So I’ve gone back 4 of the last 5 years to challenge Vanny again:

2012 – 21:45

2013- 21:10

2015- 20:30

2016- 19:30

I return to visit my friend Vanny again this Saturday. While I can tell you that as I am typing this that I feel confident that I can run faster than last year, I have to remember that we are talking about cross country here, especially Vanny. What if I twist an ankle in the “Back Hills”? What if I hit a ditch on the grassy flats? What if I didn’t train on enough hills and they destroy me again? What if I take a tumble on the steep and fast down hills. 

This is what I love about cross country. The fact that there are so many different variables makes it even more challenging. Just when you think you are ready, you just never know what might happen!
As I go into my “date” with Vanny, I can’t help but remember an old saying one of my high school coaches used to tell us :

“You’ve never lived until you’ve died in the Back Hills of Vanny”

That saying is true as it’s known by a lot of New York City runners. I’ll let you know on Monday how my date with Vanny went!

What Races Are You Running?

What Races Are You Running?

As many of you probably know by now, I am a big believer in setting goals thru running. It is one of the many reasons why I still run at 42 years old. When lots of men are pondering miniscus knee surgery or “fill in the blank” surgery, I have decided to keep pushing my body because of the goal fulfillment aspect that comes with running! For now, I can say that I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve been back to running now about three years, two of which have been serious years. For full disclosure, when I say serious, for me it simply means that I am actually tracking my time and monitoring my progression. That is as far as serious goes with me!

Come Join Us At A Starting Line Near You!

You likely have also read my insisting that you all give a race a try once again, simply for the notion of setting a goal, working towards it and hopefully finding some physical, mental and emotional gain from it. I’ve gotten questions however from people who arent runners such as “Where can I find a race by me?” or “I am looking for a race that is a certain distance but can’t find one?”. Therefore I have decided to start a section of this site that is dedicated to races in and around the New York City. Call it a race calendar of sorts that folks can reference should they need a race to run that suits their skill level, or lifestyle. Maybe you wake up on a Friday and decide, I have nothing to do this weekend, where can I run a race? Maybe my page can help you!

In the meantime, I am reaching out to some of you that do run. What races do you have coming up? I would love to include them on my race calendar as a point of reference. Let me know what you are running in the comments section or as always, you can email me at catrunsnyc@gmail.com !

Lets get out there and conquer some races! Check this race calendar often as I plan on updating it constantly!

Don’t let mind tell you that you can’t run a race- YOU CAN!

A Marathon Of Inspiration!

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Shalane Flanagan Wins The Women’s Race! (photo credit USA Today)

The 2017 installment of the New York City marathon has come and gone. I must say that there were so many great emotions for me personally during the last week because of the marathon and I didn’t even run the race! From the race week activities, to just visiting the finish line and to hearing the stories of so many friends that ran the race, it has been a great week to just take it all in.

When the race finally began, I decided to “watch” the race for the final time hopefully in some years to come. I literally say on my couch from about 9am until 2pm which is when channel 7 ended their coverage. I was engulfed by all of the stories coming across the broadcast. One of the ones that really got me emotional was the story of Beverly Ramos, an outstanding female runner from Puerto Rico, who completed her marathon  training in Puerto Rico after the wrath of hurricanes Irma & Maria had left the island in shambles. With the suffering that her country was enduring, Beverly pushed on and was determined to run the marathon. Her interviews on the broadcast were pretty emotional. She may not have finished as well as she would have wanted but she came to New York, competed, and is likely going home to Puerto Rico a champion. 

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In his final race, Meb collapses at the finish line (photo credit – NY Daily News)

Then there was the story of Meb Keflezighi. Most of you probably know it. The storied American marathoner is calling it quits after this race. For a while, he teased us all a bit during the marathon as he ran with the lead pack and he may have even taken the lead once or twice. Nevertheless, the 42 year old marathon legend would finish in 11th place in his 11th NYC Marathon. Adding more suspense was that he collapsed right after the finish line. He was fine, just exhausted from giving the marathon that he loves so much, all that he had left in his body. He will be missed on the NYC marathon scene, at least by me.

Shalane Flanagan talking to children before the start of NYRR Percy Sutton Kids race in August.


Then of course there was Shalane Flanagan. Oh how she has lifted so many young girls spirits. Being a youth amabasador for New York Road Runners club, Shalane was a favorite for alot of kids on Sunday, including my 7 year old daughter who got to meet her back in the Percy Sutton 5k in Harlem back in August (see my pic above from that day!). Shalane was at the starting line for the kids races that day high fiving all of the kids before they sprinted to the finish line. Fast forward back to Sunday’s marathon, watching her with my daughter from the couch was pretty awesome as she broke the tape to become the first woman in 40 years to win the New York City Marathon. Hoisting the American flag with a huge smile on her face was not only a much needed proud moment for Americans but INSPIRATION for so many young girls. 

Then there was the fun aspect for me to track some celebrities from my couch with the New York Road Runners app. I got a kick out of watching Kevin Hart go out at sub 3:30 pace only to see him cramp up and finish in 4:05. I remember thinking “man Kevin Hart is going to CRUSH this”, but this is the marathon and it will test you! I also saw Tiki Barber and Prince Royce run a steady race and I am hoping that when I run the marathon in 2018, I can at least run faster than the three of them did!

 

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Peg Trager from Minnesota Finishes on Crutches (photo credit – Mike Waterhouse)

However none of these stories hit my heart and soul like the ones that ABC News 7 posted on their website earlier today. I ask you all to give this article a read and take some time to read the stories of the runners WHO NEVER GAVE UP. These aren’t experienced professional runners or folks in tip top shape. They came to this race wanting to finish. When water stations were empty and abandoned and when people no longer lined the course to cheer them, they continued. When nightfall fell they didn’t waiver. When their bodies told them “No mas”, their mind and their spirits told them to continue. Read these stories, they all finished the race! This is why running is SO POWERFUL and why it is my wish for all of you to experience the power of overcoming something you didn’t think you could do and being proud of it! Once you read these stories, if only one of you will get up and make a vow to make yourselves better, then my mission was accomplished for the day!

Always believe in yourselves just like the 50,000 plus that crossed the finish line on Sunday did! If your up to it, join me and let’s crush the 2018 NYC Marathon ir any other race together!