The Road To 26.2

March 28, 2014 Leave a comment

**Writer’s note – This entry was typed on the night of Wednesday March, 26.**

 

It is 9:52 in the evening and I am still in my work clothes. Typically I am in my pj’s and in bed. But after the evening I had I am celebrating.

If you have followed this blog since 2011, you know I aspired to run in the NYC Marathon. But two hip surgeries since 2011, put those aspirations on hold.

Since undergoing two hip surgeries in 2011 and 2012, I never thought this day would come. Last December, as I prepared for my first Christmas without the use of crutches, I had the opportunity to register for the 2014 NYC Marathon lottery. Granted the lottery gave me a small glimmer of hope, but it was a chance I needed to take. I knew if I did not earn a spot through the lottery, I will have a shot by joining a charity.

On March 26, runners from all over the world waited for a response from marathon officials, myself included. I waited and waited. It got to the point where I periodically logged on to my G-Mail account. And while on the website, I would constantly hit “F5″. Imagine how one little entry can make one person anxious. I was anxious. I was nervous. I was on the edge.

My anxiety took me to new heights. My workout this evening was slow and painful. I meant that in a metaphorical way and not in a literal way.

The hours and minutes passed and up to that point no response from the New York Road Runners.

By the time I got home I logged on to my NYRR profile account. To no surprise I received my answer. I received the standard “Thank you for registering, but you did not earn a spot” line. Again I was not surprised but I was disappointed.

While I expected disappointment, I knew what I had to do. The next opportunity I had to gain an entry is through a charity.

Low and behold, I searched the list of charities participating in the marathon. Two stood out. One was for cancer research and the other was for military support. After thinking it over, I decided to join Fred’s Team. Fred’s Team is a charitable organization that raises money for Memorial Sloan Kettering and goes toward cancer research.

So here I am. I am raising money for cancer research. The moment to train starts now.

See you at the finish line, November 2.

To donate please click here — http://mskcc.convio.net/site/TR/FredsTeamEvents/Freds_Team?px=2669493&pg=personal&fr_id=2150

In the coming weeks and months I will blog about my journey and training. Let’s do this together.

 

New Year, New Me?

January 12, 2014 Leave a comment

Happy (belated) New Year’s. I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.

So why did I title my blog entry as “New Year, New Me”? Well…for starters I entered the new year without the use of crutches. My medical history has prevented me from starting the new year healthy. Two hip surgeries later, I feel great.

And as I enter the new year pain free, 2014 will be a defining year for yours truly. In 2010, I was at my healthiest and strongest. Upon feeling healthy and vowing to never look back at my old 250+ pound self, I decided I wanted to run the NYC Marathon in 2012.

Fast forward to 2011, I felt my body breaking down. Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) was the cause to my malaise. My hips hurt. My confidence shattered. And my desire to run in the NYC Marathon in 2012 was in question.

Enter Dr. Bryan T. Kelly in the spring of 2011. His experience in arthroscopic hip surgery has been mentioned in this blog countless times over. But once again I must state, we approached this head on. One option given to me was to alter my activities. Running and working out has become a constant fixture in my life. While I stopped working out for six months at the discretion of Dr. Kelly, my confidence was not completely deflated. And my dream of running in the marathon was not dead. The dream was and to this very day remains ALIVE.

Two hip surgeries later I have never felt better. My hips no longer ache. The running path is clear. I am now running without worries or fear. Today I prepare for my toughest and most probably task, the NYC Marathon.

Training has not been kind to me. But I recently realized I was the one to blame. For instance my cardio lacked intensity. I became too complacent. The monotony of using the elliptical machine five days a week mentally drained me. On the first day of the month, I decided to mix my cardio. I re-included the use of the spin bike, the treadmill/running path, stair master, etc. It truly feels like 2010.

My goal between now and the NYC Marathon (November 2) is to mentally and physically prepare myself for the grueling 26.2 miles of fun. Yup fun.

The first item on my checklist is to lose the weight I gained from the two surgeries. In 2010, I weighed 150 pounds. Three years and 15 pounds later, I do not want to weight 150 pounds, but I sure as hell do not want to weigh 165 pounds. In the coming weeks, I plan on finding a personal trainer. I also plan on going for more runs. But of course that last item is contingent on the weather. I do not mind running in the cold, but when a “polar vortex” hits the area, my limbs mean more than a run in the park.

Is this really a “New Year, New Me”? The answer is simply “no”. For one I am not keen on resolutions. Secondly, I met my goals in 2009. And now that I am healthy, “it’s go time”.

Stay tuned. I will go through a lot of peeks and valleys.

 

2014 or Bust

November 3, 2013 3 comments

The 2013 ING NYC Marathon came and went. And needless to say, I was jealous. But then again my jealousy began the moment I entered the Marathon Health Expo at the Javitz Center earlier this week.

The NYRR organization welcomes all the participants to the Marathon Health Expo.

The NYRR organization welcomes all the participants to the Marathon Health Expo.

I should have ran in my first marathon today. What would have been three years in the making has to be put on hold until next year. The final chapter in my 100 pound weight loss is to run in the NYC Marathon. Unfortunately, two congenital hip conditions postponed those aspirations. Two years and two hip surgeries later I am healthy and ready to begin my journey.

I have come a long way to just stop and permanently end this dream. Truth be told the NYC Marathon has been my obsession since 2010. And no medical condition or any obstacle will come in my way. I have overcome a lot before undergoing two hip surgeries, so what is one more year…right? Patience is a virtue. And my body is a temple.

At the start of the new year I will begin my training. I am giving myself 10 months to prepare for the race. Through the grace of God and the support of my family and friends, this destiny I will share with them. My glory will be there glory.

I race not to finish first or last. I race because I am happy and able. I do not take one thing for granted.

With that said between now and next years NYC Marathon be prepared for blog entries about my training and some surprise entries.

By the way if you are wondering how I am sure about running in the 2014 NYC Marathon well let me give you a crash course on guaranteed acceptance:

  1. 9+1 — A member of the New York Road Runner’s (NYRR) organization must participate in 9 NYRR qualified events and volunteer in one event in one calendar year.
  2. Joining an NYRR sponsored charity.
  3. Entering the general lottery. Registration for the general application process will take place on December 2, 2013. Winners are generally notified late spring.
  4. Winning one of 44 spots in an NYRR contest. I entered the contest earlier this afternoon. 22 winners will be notified on November 5, 2013. And on November 22, 2013 another 22 winners will be notified.

I immediately crossed item #1 off my list. There is no way I am joining NYRR in 2014. The chances I win either #3 or #4 are slim. I would be surprised if I won either. My best bet is to join a charity. Ideally I would like to join a charity that supports our military.

My off season started after the Rock N Roll 10K last month. But that does not mean I am not working out.

My goal...my motivation. 2014 or Bust!

My goal…my motivation. 2014 or Bust!

Rock N Roll

October 13, 2013 1 comment

Yesterday I participated in my final competitive race of the year. Out of the four races I have participated in this year, the Rock N Roll New York 10K is the longest race I have participated in.  The 6.2 mile event, now in its third year, is yearly held in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. I am no stranger to the park. Earlier this summer I ran in the MLB All Star Game 5K and last October I ran in the Rock N Roll 10K. The course is nothing like Central Park.

The course is not as “hilly” or “steep” as Central Park, but it is close to it.

Over the course of the week, I was concerned about the reported rain storm set to hit the New York area. I have never participated in a competitive race in the rain. How would I prepare? Do I participate if there is a downpour?

As the weather lingered in my mind, I continued to prepare for a 10K. My training heading into Saturday was lack luster. But I gave it my all.

My favorite part about an upcoming race is claiming my racing bib. Runner number 5335 was ready and hoping the weather would cooperate.

Saturday came and the weather held its own. It was cool chilly October morning. I arrived a bit late. By the time I arrived the corral/heat I was assigned in had taken off. Heat 5 was off and running. I was corralled with Heat 6. As the clock counted down, I mentally prepared myself for a 6 mile journey.

The M.C. counted down and as he uttered “1”, we were off and running. The East Lake Drive was congested with all types of runners. At first I though to myself, I am not going to finish with a good time. Last year I finished the race with a time of 51 minutes and 16 seconds. From the start I was in trouble. And unlike my last race, my health and pace was not in question. Would I get through crowd?

Upon finding room along the East Lake Drive, I was able to break free. And as we hit the arch in Prospect Park, I was off. I broke away from the rest, hit my strides and never looked back. 

 

At the half way point of the race (5K) I ran a near record pace. Could I keep it up?

Not once did I feel out of breath nor body tightness. Unlike the previous three races, I mentally and physically felt prepared. I would also attribute my good health to my chiropractor and massage therapist. Without their treatment the day before I would probably not have felt 110%, at the end of the race. I owe them a great deal.

When my body aches during a run, I am generally looking at my Garmin watch. That is never fun. Fortunately, during this event, I rarely viewed my watch. I was on my game.

As miles three turned into mile four and five, I knew I was running on a record pace. Question is what would my final time be?

Only one way to find out, keep on running. As mile 5, ultimately turned into mile 6, I felt the euphoria from the crowd. I turned my jets on. I pointed at the sky. And in the distance I saw the finish line. I was doing it. I felt great. Crossing the finish line was my goal. I was 6.2 miles away from my second consecutive Rock N Roll medal. Low and behold, I did it.

I crossed the finish line. Unofficially I broke my record. I finished the race in 51 minutes. WOW! I did it. My hips, knees and back felt great. I collected my medal. The medal was worth the run.

Ultimately, when the event organizers posted the official results, I was in shock to discover that I completed the race with a time of 50 minutes and 51 seconds. A new 10K record was met. I beat my old personal best by 25 seconds. Amazing.

Ending my running season at the Rock n Roll 10K is a fitting tribute to why I run and why I love running. Where do I go from here?

My off-season has begun. However, that does not mean my training ends. No. No. No. I decided earlier today to go for some outdoor runs during the winter.

In 2014, I plan on participating in the same events. However, my ultimate goal is to participate and complete the NYC Marathon in 2014. Unoffiically, “Destination 2014″ is underway. One year from November, I will run in the one race I have dreamed of since 2010. My goal is to train. Get lean. Develop a runner’s body. And most of all, stay healthy.

Hang on to your seats the fun is about to get underway. Another successful running season has come and gone. Wait for 2014. We will have some fun.

 

Tunnel To Towers 5K 2013

September 29, 2013 Leave a comment

This morning I participated in the annual Tunnel to Towers 5K in New York City. Unlike last year, participants coming from Manhattan had to arrive between the hours of 6AM and 730AM for the free ferry ride to Red Hook, Brooklyn. Last year those who missed the ferry at 730AM (ie, me), were provided with a bus ride to the Red Hook. Unfortunately, the organization would not provide the bus service. With that said, getting up earlier than usual on a Sunday would be the way to go.

My brother and father dropped me off at Pier 11 a little before 7AM. I walked to the pier on this cool September morning along with other participants. I waited a year to once again participate in the Tunnel to Towers 5K. Last year I officially completed the race in 26 minutes and 5 seconds. Would I be able to match or best that time? Only time would tell.

As I boarded the ferry I thought about the possibility of besting my personal time. I reflected on what I have accomplished up to this point. Setting a new personal best was a goal. But I also thought about the previous two races I have participated thus far this year.

Thoughts of grandeur was on the plate as the sun began to rise over the East River. The perfect start to what would be a perfect day was on the horizon.

Sunday Morning Sunrise

Sunday Morning Sunrise

The 10 minute ferry ride to Red Hook, Brooklyn was the perfect calm and peace. I stared around the deck and noticed the smile of other participants. Some were mentally preparing themselves for the 3.1 mile race. Others were laughing and enjoying the ride. We all were ONE. We all participated to support the foundation. This race was to honor Stephen Siller and his 342 brothers in arms who sacrificed their lives to save those inside the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. This event is my way to give back and say thank you. This year I was able to raise a total of $675 for the charity. I know the money would go to good use. I could not have done it without my supporters.

Participants mingling on the ferry ride to Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Participants mingling on the ferry ride to Red Hook, Brooklyn.

This year the organization expected a total of 30,000 participants (runners/walkers) for this yearly event. While the number is a major success for the organization, I am (along with other runners) not thrilled with everyone starting at the same time. The lack of starting heats are a recipe for disaster. Accidents can occur if a runner collides with a walker.

The starting line was packed with thousands of runners. For a 5K, you would have thought it was the NYC Marathon. But, in my opinion, the Tunnel to Towers event may actually rival the biggest running event in the world. I am honored to once again be apart of the race.

The Starting Line

The Starting Line

The race itself was not my finest. Yes, I said it. All of the excitement, anticipation and build up backfired on me. I truly blame myself. The race began the second Mayor Rudy Giuliani blew his horn to start the race. I started out at a good pace, then my dumb self decided to pick up the speed. Yup, I outpaced myself. My downfall had quickly begun. As I entered the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel) I was losing speed. The tunnel is a bit steep, but that did not stop me last year. I was winded. But I fought on.

After 1.7 miles in the tunnel I exited the tunnel and entered Manhattan. Whatever I was feeling at that point went away at the site of the FDNY who held banners of the 343 men, who gave their lives on September 11. Living in this area my whole life, 9-11 crushed the area. But as a whole we were resilient. 12 years later the area is on the verge of being complete with the addition of the new 1 World Trade Center.

With the emotion of that day in my mind, I gathered my strength and high fived the FDNY and thanked them. How can I not honor those brave souls?

After passing the first and only water station I was once again beginning to slow down. But I REFUSED to prematurely end the race. In the distance I saw my supporters. My father and brother were cheering me on. They know how to get me going.

An awkward picture of me my father took earlier today.

An awkward picture of me my father took earlier today.

Despite being winded I was still having fun (see photo above).

The race was winding down to its final moments. I struggled but random strangers cheered me on. In the distance I saw the finish line. The race was moments from ending. I somehow drowned out the crowd and drowned out the discomfort. I gathered whatever strength I had and crossed the finish line. Unofficially I finished the race a little over 26+ minutes.

After crossing the finish line I went straight to the “wellness area”. I had a physical therapist stretch my lower body. Geez did that feel good. The therapist complimented me on my flexibility. Stretching is key. And I refuse to never go a day without stretching.

Hours later since the race, I am sore. And yet I am in great spirits. While the race will not be my best race I am proud of everything I have accomplished.

And now my focus is on to the Rock N Roll : New York 10K in Brooklyn on October 12.

I will be ready. Bank on it.

See you October 12.

:::ADDENDUM:::

More than 24 hours has passed since I participated in the Tunnel To Towers 5K. And despite my malaise, I finished with a good time. Quite frankly, I am shocked.

I never expected this!

I never expected this!

To finish the Tunnel to Towers 5K in 25 minutes and 55 seconds is a major accomplishment. I shaved 10 seconds off my course best. Despite being winded I finished the race. I am proud of everything I have accomplished. Out of 1,062 runners who purchased the running chip, I finished 70th. Among men, I completed the race in 43. I am humbled.

Damon Runyon 5K

August 25, 2013 Leave a comment

I am a week late with the Damon Runyon 5K recap, but hey, better late than never. Right?

On an overcast Sunday morning, I participated in my second consecutive Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium. And unlike last year I have every reason to be happy – lightning did not strike twice.

To start things out I nearly canceled my participation in the 5K. Two weeks before the race while on a walk in Hoboken, I twisted my left ankle on uneven pavement. The injury was not as bad as I thought. I was able to put weight on the ankle. When I got home and inspected my foot, I did not sustain any bruising or swelling. That alone was a positive. But to be on the safe side, I opted to miss a few days of working out. For those who know me, I have a long history of twisting/rolling each ankle. With a race looming I did not want to take any chances.

For the two weeks, I rested the ankle. I rehabbed the ankle. But being antsy after four days, I decided to return to the gym. The ankle felt good, a bit weak, but nevertheless it felt good. Hopping on the elliptical my first day back, I did not miss a step. Sixty minutes is all I needed. In sixty minutes my mobility felt good. That was all of the testing I needed to do.

While the ankle felt good, I did not overdo the training.

Race day came. I was excited. At that point I was preparing to participate in my second race this year. In July, I ran in the MLB ASG 5K at Prospect Park. Heading into this race I knew for a fact a personal best was out of the question. However, considering last years circumstances, a course record was going to be had. For those that are curious to know I received a “DNF” (Did Not Finish) in last years Damon Runyon 5K. I prematurely completed the race. After discovering the “DNF” a few days later, I vowed to run the event in 2013 and redeem myself.

Arriving at Yankee Stadium, I lined up in my assigned “heat”. Quite frankly to be assigned in heat 2 is a major accomplishment. Of course, the assignments are based on the designated time the participant provides to the organization during the application process. In prior races I have been assigned in Heats 4 or 6. To be assigned heat 2 was a step in the right direction. And at the same time I felt pressure to complete the race at a decent time.

Heat 2

Heat 2

As the first four heats walked inside the main concourse of Yankee Stadium, we were greeted by the press and a couple of speakers. I met one of the best sportscasters in the NY area, WNBC’s Scott Stanford. Scott Stanford made his mark on being the affable yet humorous sportscaster in the NYC market. And when he is not on the air in NYC, he is also a play-by-play commentator for WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

Scott Stanford and Jorge

Scott Stanford and Jorge

After meeting him, he went up the steps at Yankee Stadium and welcomed the runners to the Fifth Annual Damon Runyon 5K. He informed the crowd the organization raised a total of over $730 thousand for cancer research. The organization is a reason why I wanted to participate.

The first heat made its way to the start line. As I stretched, I mentally prepared myself. One thing about me that some do not know, I am competitive. I do not run to win. But I surely do not run to finish last. I give my all. No matter the race. No matter organization, I run to finish.

After heat 1 rounded the 100 level concourse, heat 2 soon lined up at the start line. I get into a zone. Preparation is key. One of the organizations speakers started a countdown. As soon as he said “1”, I was on my way.

Unlike last month’s race, I felt great. I did not feel winded. I did not want stop. My ankle even felt great. Nothing was going to stop me.

After rounding the 100 level’s twice and head to the bowels of Yankee Stadium. A dream for any baseball fan is to run on the same field as their favorite ball players. And while I am a die hard Mets fan, I received the opportunity to run along the warning track and backstop at Yankee Stadium. This is the same field the New York Yankees won the World Series in 2009. No other ball park comes close. And that is coming from a Mets fan.

A Dream Come True

A Dream Come True

Once the dream come true came to an end, the real challenge of the race began. Participants had to run along the bowels of Yankee Stadium and begin their long climb to the 200 levels. A 103 stair climb is the first obstacle. After the 103rd step, I felt fatigued. Nevertheless, I trekked on. Running the length of the level, I came across another stair case. Unlike the last stair case, participants had to climb 64 steps. Upon completing the 64 steps, the participant had to run the length of the 300 level.

Fatigue was setting in. But I knew my body would allow me to continue. I continued on. Slow and tired, I eventually made my across the 300 level. I received my second wind after going down a number of ramps.

By the time I reached the bottom, I refused to prematurely finish the race. And hey, the organization plastered what to do next on the ground. I continued to the right. And climb a total of 119 stairs between to the 200 and 300 levels. Yup. This was not your conventional 5K.

I had nothing left. I wanted to stop at that point. But the end was near. I ran down the ramp. And stayed to my left. I crossed the finish line at 26:47. 26:47? I was shocked to read that. Considering the amount of steps I climbed, I was two minutes and change off my personal best. I could not be any happier.

Unlike Last Year, I Earned This Medal

Unlike Last Year, I Earned This Medal in 2013.

Out of 2,559, I finished in 133rd place.

I enjoyed the moment. But I moved on. Now I am focused on the Tunnel to Towers 5K on September 29. It will once again be an honor to run that event.

Until then…see you.

Brooklyn here I come.

 

A Personal Best

July 14, 2013 6 comments

More than 30 hours have passed since I participated in the MLB All Star 5K Run. And while I am sore all over, I feel great. After having hip surgery last December, I re-joined the competitive realm of running.

The MLB All Star 5K Run was a treat.

As I made my way to my assigned “heat”, I noticed the stage was filled with baseball greats and representatives from the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Club. Mascots from the baseball world greeted runners with high fives and photo opportunities. Sadly, I did not get the opportunity to get a photo opp with Mr. Met. Oh well there is always Citi Field.

Prior to the horn, a young girl was chosen to sing the National Anthem. The girl had a beautiful voice; however, she was nervous. She stumbled. Despite that she continued. As she continued to be nervous, all of us (runners), joined in the singing. We helped her through it. After she sang, “…And the home of the brave”, we all cheered her on. She did a great job. And that is one moment I will never forget.

Once John Franco blew the horn, we were underway. I crossed the start line and ran with the crowd. Getting out of the gate I felt great. After one mile I ran a surprising 7:55.

With one mile down I felt motivated to keep up the pace. Unfortunately, that was short lived. With humidity rising, my lungs began to tighten. I was short on breath. Nevertheless, I continued. My biggest mistake, similar to any of my previous races, I did too much too soon. I am in a race and not in a sprint. Hopefully, I will eventually pace myself as I train for the NYC Marathon in 2014.

Struggling and wanting to stop, I carried on. What motivated me to go on was the long road I took to get to the present. I did not have two hip surgeries to prematurely end this 5K. Then as I continued I began to observe the crowd. They were there to root for their runner. That motivated me to continue on.

After reaching the final mile I smiled and proceeded to the finish line. Funny when you hear people cheering that makes you want to finish on top. And once again as I saw the finish line up ahead, I gather whatever adrenaline I had left and crossed the finish line. I thanked the heavens for allowing me to not only run but to complete the race.

Unofficially I completed the race with a new personal best of 25:30. I was proud of the results…unofficially. I met up with my father and brother, both of whom have supported me from the very beginning. With sweat running down my face and my shirt drenched in my sweat I high fived both of them. And began to stretch. Now that was the way to celebrate. Stretching has been a key cog since my second surgery.

Later that day, I logged on to the NYRR website and found my official results. I officially finished the race with a time of 25:34. That’s right I set a new personal best. I beat my old personal best by 31 seconds, which was set last September at the Tunnel to Towers event.

Here are the results:

- Out of 4,754 runners, I finished 1,151st.

- Out of 2,434 men, I finished 876th.

- Between the ages of 30 and 34 a total of  500 men completed the race. I finished 207th.

Overall that was not too shabby. Thoughts?

Heading into the event I expected to complete the race between 26 and 28 minutes. To set a new personal best my first race back is a humbling and amazing accomplishment.

I am already looking forward to my next race. Damon Runyon 5K you have been put on notice. Unlike last year, I will complete the race.

For those wondering, I woke up sore from head to toe. But I still managed to get to the gym this morning and do some cardio. Afterwards, I stretched like never before. It was all fun.

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