Trying Out Virtual Racing

There isn’t a weekend that goes by where I don’t run. Of course some weekends, I even race. However with winter having NYC in its grip, I haven’t run a race since Thanksgiving and that is a long time for me! Last week, I once again looked at the New York Road Runners website hoping there was something sooner than February 4th that filled my needs. They have a half marathon coming up this weekend, The Fred Lebow Half Marathon however I don’t think I am half marathon ready yet.

The lack of races made me look at something that I had overlooked and flat out ignored on their website, their virtual racing series. Virtual racing is basically a fancy name for “do it at home” racing. This particular race was a 5K distance. The way it works is they give you a length of time to complete the distance. In this case, it was two whole weeks and at any time during those two weeks, you can run the 5k and track your run using the Strava Application, which is a free download. Once you have run your race, your time gets uploaded to the Strava site and NYRR then throws your time into a pool of all of the other runners running the virtual race and they rank you by time. No traveling on your part. You can do this in your neighborhood!

I took part in the virtual 5k and allow me to break down the pros and cons of this type of race and maybe it will help you decide whether this is something you want to part take in.

PROS:

  • There is no traveling involved and no schedule to adhere to. You don’t have to worry about commuting to the race or driving to it, or being stuck in traffic or even parking! Just strap on your shoes and go.
  • This particular race was free. Free is always good!
  • You can run this race wherever you want. No need to deal with a hilly course if you don’t want to. Just pick out a flat course and fire away!
  • No dealing with crowds

CONS:

  • For me, there is no adrenalin rush of the crowds, the spectators or even the starters gun. It was me hitting my watch and just saying “go!” lol
  • I don’t know that the timing on a Strava app can be that accurate. I enjoy the fully automatic time of most races.
  • It was a pro above, but for me its also a con – you can run this race wherever you want and get away with a much faster course for the distance than what you may usually run. I chose to run the 5k on a track for example. No hills at all. Is that cheating? There were no rules against that! I think by being allowed to do this, it discredits time, placing etc.

PERSONAL TAKE AWAY:

Look, I ran the race because I was desperate to run a race. I ran it on a 400 meter track. I don’t think I have ever run a 5k on a track (lol). This presented a flat course with no hills. Guess how I ran? Personal record for 5k by 8 seconds (22:31 to be exact). Strava app says I PR’d but do I count it? If you are looking for a good workout and looking to see how that workout compares to others, then this might be a good “race” to run. Another thing I wasn’t a fan of and this may be isolated to New York Road Runners, they actually tried to charge for a variation of this race. As this was their first virtual race of the year, they have an incentive, that if you ran 6 of these virtual races, then you automatically qualify for next year’s Brooklyn Half Marathon. The catch however is that if you want these races to qualify for the half marathon, then each virtual race costs you $20. That’s 6 races at $20 each and ending up costing you $120 to qualify for a race that you will pay another $100 for. I’m sorry but that is just not for me. I have no problem paying a race fee when I get the full experience, the adrenalin, maybe a medal and a fully automatic timed race. But $20 for me to run in my neighborhood to be timed by a free app – I just can’t justify a fee for these.

Will I run these virtual races again? I don’t know. I guess it depends on how my race schedule looks at the time. I enjoy racing for the full experience. The commuting. The buildup before a race. Having to use the bathroom countless times before entering a crowded corral with thousands of other runners. Hearing the national anthem before the race, hearing the starting gun, then having all of these other runners push me along the course. Finally, nothing like coming down the home stretch of a race with spectators cheering you on. Thats the race day experience for me!

Anyways, I thought I would share my “virtual” experience with you. Have you run a virtual race? What was your take on it?

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 as “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.org  (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 to gradually increase my mileage as I prepare for the 2018 United NYC Half Marathon. My goal for that half marathon is to run 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 in 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 with your body 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.  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!

Display Your Pride For New York City!

Happy Monday to all!

New York City has just gone thru one hell of a cold spell. The temperature has not been near freezing for over a week. Wind chills have had it feeling below zero for quite some time. Still, I have seen so many posts on social media of people running in this cold weather.Seeing this is quite inspirational. It shows a drive and determination that you just don’t see in too many place.

I myself ran a 5k on New Year’s day in zero degree weather. New Yorkers for lack of a better term can be crazy at times with their running. For me, it has to do with a very busy schedule so my time to run is limited. That being said, whenever I plan on getting a run in, I hold myself to that no matter what it is doing outside. For others, as well as myself, there is a great sense of pride to running in New York City. That can also be said for the hundreds of thousands that flock to New York City each year to run races here.

With all of the above in mind, I had an idea to make accessories and shirts with the hashtag #irunnyc on them. For me it is one of my favorite running hashtags. I’m proud to be from New York City and I love running thru out the streets of New York! I have had several runners, both from New York and from out of town express the same pride. I’ve started a page on this blog that has a few items on it that display the hashtag. I am hoping that you will give it a visit and check it out. If you do, check back often as  I will be adding more things from time to time. If anyone has something that they would like to see with the #irunnyc hashtag on it, let me know and I will try my best to make it happen! If nothing else, I will have fun wearing some of these items over time to some of my upcoming races!

For now, be proud of your city and display your pride with #irunnyc accessories and apparel!

Here Comes 2018!

A very festive “Hello” to all of my readers out there! I decided to take a few days off for the holidays and I have to say while I enjoyed it with family, I cannot help thinking about my running and getting my racing started in 2018. Even though I took off from this blog for the holidays, I have managed to get out for a few runs. It has not been easy I will admit that. As I am writing this post the temperature outside feels like 4 degrees with a pretty stiff wind. However every time I do complete a run, it always feels great and that’s something I hope that all of you who have been doubting a run in this weather can experience!

The weather was very cold by me this week!

While it has been difficult to take that pivotal first step for each of my winter runs, I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by a great group of runners who have pushed each other to continue training for the 2018 United NYC Half Marathon despite the cold weather! Many of these runners are from all across the country. The temperature in some of these states has consistently been colder than NYC and yet they continue their training. There are stories of “come backs” from injuries and different setbacks along with relentless efforts to conquer personal race goals in 2018. As I am seeing these great runners in this group, I have developed a short list of objectives that I am choosing to serve as guidelines for myself to take my running and my overall well being to the next level. I wanted to share those with you as we approach 2018 because I firmly believe that anyone can apply these to their personal journeys. I hope you enjoy them and better yet, use them to guide you in 2018!

Surround Yourself With Winners

I am not saying to go out and find people who win races, but people who are strong minded and aim high to achieve and meet personal objectives. As I mentioned above I’ve been fortunate to be part of a Facebook group of motivated runners. That is the type of group you want to surround yourself with. But that’s not all. Sometimes you also need to limit the time around people who will do the opposite. You know the type – the ‘nay’ sayers. Those that tell me “your crazy”, “why run, just walk” or some other absurd negativity. These are also the type who might get you to do things that might otherwise pull you away from the things you really need to do. You truly become a product of your environment so make that environment the “winners”.

Everyone in this pic belongs to my gym – a couple are trainers. All of them have that positive energy around them! Find those winners!

Consistency is Key

My next objective for 2018 is to remain consistent with my running journey. The same notion can be applied to anyone out there. Whether you want to be a runner or you are aspiring to be a fashion designer or any other thing that you are passionate about, it has to be on your mind ALL THE TIME and you always have to strive to be better at it. Life has its ways of being very busy at times and I know I am guilty often of using that as an excuse to not get out and run or have a work out. So this year one of my main objectives is to keep the consistency as much as possible and work at avoiding busy schedules and conflicts coming up that keep me from my consistency. In my first objective that I described above those ‘winners’ that you should be surrounding yourself with will not allow you to fall into the temptation’s or conflicts that will keep you from your consistency. This is another reason why you should strive to surround yourself with positive influential people who will not tempt you to do things that could be destructive to your goals. A perfect example for me are the several friends who have gotten me out the night before crucial training runs or better yet, a night before a race day. You can always find a reason to “have to” attend a party or a happy hour. But when you are focused in on a goal, you have to maintain yourself as the number one priority. Those positive influences also will understand if you say no to a night out of drinking. Better yet, they may never even pose the invite to you. That will inevitably help you stay more consistent on your objectives.

I enjoy a good cigar from time to time, but I have to learn to save them for post race only!

Challenge Yourself

Last year I started to run several races. I was fortunate that I had several personal bests during a lot of my races. However several of those personal bests were simply because it was the first time running those distances (lol)! I had never run a 5 mile race before. Never ran a 10k before. Never ran a half marathon before. I hadn’t run a mile all out since senior year in high school! Therefore now in 2018, the floor has been set. I can continue to allow ‘father time’ have their way with me and allow myself to age and use that as an excuse for not getting faster, or I can push like I haven’t before and try to best those times I set in 2017. As I mentioned above, the cold weather has been tough to train in. While my longer term training plan at the moment is geared towards the half marathon that I am running in March, mentally I am also looking at a race that I have in a couple of weeks. That race is a 10k in Central Park. I only ran one 10k in 2017 so my objective is to beat this time. I really don’t want to make any excuses about cold weather being a factor. I will be disappointed if I don’t PR at my upcoming 10k. This is the challenge I present to myself. These are the challenges you should present to yourself if you want to continue to improve yourself!

A pic from the only 10k I ran in 2017. Must run faster than 51:16 in my upcoming 10k!

Accept Your Mistakes, But Learn From Them.

This point is something that I did a lot of in 2017. I ran tangents on race day horribly in 2017. There were races where I ran so much more in distance that I swore my GPS was wrong. I cannot do that in 2018. That partying that I did before race day? No mas. Can’t have that repeat itself in 2018. Lack of consistency? It can’t happen either. We all know where we have failed or hit a bump in the road. Allowing yourself to accept those mistakes is fine, but allowing them to happen again is a no-no. The only way to improve yourself is to understand why you made a mistake, fix it, and don’t allow it to happen again. New mistakes will happen in 2018 and you will have to devote time to work on those mistakes. We don’t have time to keep dwelling or re-visiting the mistakes of 2017!

I’ve been saying for weeks that I cannot wait for 2018 and I’m excited even more for it now! I also can’t wait for the weather to get warmer, but I don’t know when that will happen. I do know that 2018 is just days away. If you haven’t decided on a way to make yourself healthier or to simply create a better version of you, obviously now is the time. The gym’s may be crowded and everyone will flock for that healthier food next week at the supermarkets but don’t let that deter you from starting the process! Use my 4 guidelines above to work at the better version of you! And like I always like to say, when all else fails, get up out of your seat and GO FOR A RUN!

I want to thank all of you that have been reading this blog this first year of its existence and wish you all a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year!

Running away from 2017,

Cesar

Happy New Year my friends!