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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.

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Damon Runyon 5K

August 12, 2012 10 comments

I did it.

I ran the Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium this morning. It was my first experience in competitive racing. Granted this was a run/walk for fun and to raise money for cancer research, but heading into this I did see this as a competition. In hindsight that was a big mistake. Nevertheless I am grateful for the opportunity.

Earlier in the week I received an e-mail from the Damon Runyon group with my assigned heat and time for the 5k. They assigned me to heat #4, which started at 10 AM. Each heat got underway every 20 minutes beginning at 9 AM.

Heat #4 At The Damon Runyon 5K

Waiting outside Yankee Stadium

The way the organization placed runners in their respective heats were based off the running time the participant provided upon registering for the event. To be placed in heat 4 was a nice assignment and the weather certainly made the run much smoother. It was nice to enter a venue that, while fairly brand new, still has history. Yankee Stadium is a venue that stands on its own. And as a loyal Mets fan, even I had to be impressed with the new Yankee Stadium.

The last few days I have prepared myself for this event. Of course preparation has been ongoing since last month. Within the last week I kicked my cardio up ten fold. Yesterday, I took an unorthodox off day on Saturday. It was nice to relax, get errands accomplished and prepare for the race.

This morning my father and brother accompanied me to Yankee Stadium. The ride their was peaceful and quiet. A nice conversation broke out between my father and me during the ride. It was ideal. The quick ride from New Jersey allowed me to calm my nerves. Bonding with my father was great. We rarely get to bond nowadays.

After arriving at the stadium, my father and brother wished me luck. They headed to a designated area for family within the stadium and I headed into my assigned heat. For the interim I stretched and turned the music on iPod up. As the first four heats were allowed to enter the concourse, we were greeted by a few guests.

Guests Addressing The Runners

Michael Gargiulo (WNBC anchor), Loraine Egan (President & CEO Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation), Ron Blomberg and Mickey Rivers (Former Yankees) addressing the runners

 

As media partners of the run/walk, WNBC anchor Michael Gargiulo participated in the event. I am sure he did well. Alongside him was the President & CEO of the foundation, Loraine Egan, who announced to the crowd a total of $715,000 has been raised. Above them were two Yankee greats, Ron Blomberg and Mickey Rivers. They all had kind words to the crowd. Above all they wanted us to have fun and to remember why we were doing this. The message was loud and clear. We were running for cancer research. Many were also running in memory or in honor of someone who was stricken with the disease.

I ran in honor of a colleague. She was stricken with breast cancer last year. Her journey was painful. For months her presence was sorely missed around the office. Upon her return she returned a fighter. A year after her diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I am happy to say she fought it and her cancer is in remission. I pray for her continued and constantly improving health.

The first three heats were on their way. Heat four walked into their positions. We received our instructions from a volunteer. Then the countdown begun. I did my best to get my Garmin watch ready, but the GPS system would not properly work. I presume the thick walls in Yankee Stadium obstructed the GPS. Regardless, I did have a magnetic strip strapped to my shoe. Within a day or two I will receive my official time.

Well as the volunteer counted down to zero, we all were ready. We counted as well. The second we uttered “zero”, we were on our way. The Yankee Stadium Concourse was our first trek. We had to run the concourse twice. From the moment I started I knew I was off. But I refused to stop. My problem? When I run alone I tend to pace myself, but running in an event like this I raced to out beat others. As I struggled in my first race, I did not allow that to deter my goals of finishing the race running. I refused to walk.

After completing two rotations around the concourse, we went down into what I call the bowels of the stadium. That was an interesting run. As I ran I got to see many retired numbers on a wall. Along the way I was able to touch #23 (Don Mattingly). Two rotations then it was the moment of truth…I ran along the outfield wall and along the backstop for two rotations. What a dream come true.

How many get to say they ran along the outfield and the backstop at Yankee Stadium? I was mesmerized. I caught many runners in awe. Most stopped running to enjoy the view. I admit the thought crossed my mind; however, I was on a mission. I continued with my run. As I ran towards home plate, I spotted my brother and father sitting in the Delta Suites. They waved, I waved back. But not for one second did I stop. Seeing them there was special and memorable.

Can you spot me?

Can you find me? I am easy to find.

After the second rotation it was a long climb to the upper level. The challenging part of the run was climbing 64 steps. Very exhaustive. Again, while I was a bit slow, I refused to stop. Upon reaching the top I picked up where I left off. I ran. It was exhaustive but I pushed myself.

Another stair case made the journey arduous but I sensed the finish line. After running around the upper level the easiest part of the race occurred. We had to run down ramps. At that point I gathered my strength and managed to feel great. At the last ramp I saw the finish line ahead. To my joy and emotions I crossed the finish line.

I did it. I received my medal. Reflections of adversity crossed my mind. The past was just that, the past. The weight loss, the countless surgeries were minor obstacles. At this point, I finished. I was exhausted, sore and elated.

 

At the finish line with my medal.

My next race is scheduled for September 3o. The Tunnel to Towers 5K race is on my mind. Training will resume the day after tomorrow. Scheduled off day is in the works.

I owe a special thanks to those who supported me in this endeavor. To those who donated thank you. Your donation will go towards to cancer research.

Until next time. Be safe and well.

In Two Weeks…

Welcome to the dog days of summer. In three days we welcome a new month. As soon as you know it, schools will re-open, summer slowly turns into autumn. Cooler weather also allows many to run at any point of the day.

I enjoy the later months as I am currently preparing myself for three races. On August 12, at Yankee Stadium, I will run the Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium Run/Walk For Cancer Research. For the last two months I have trained hard for this 5K (3.1 Miles) and the subsequent races I am participating. As I prepare for my second hip surgery this December, running the NYC Marathon is out of the question. However, running two 5-K races and one 10-K race in a matter of three months is reasonable. After all I did receive the blessing from my surgeon and physical therapist to get out there and run.

Just a final reminder Tuesday (July 31) is the last day I can collect donations for the charity. Up to this point I collected $330. I am appreciative to those supporting me and most importantly the cause. But I would definitely like to collect more. If you have not done so please click on the link to donate. And if I may please pass the link on to your friends.

http://runyon5k2012.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1013719&supid=361569785

As I prepare for the race my hips feel great. My right surgically repaired right hip feels great. I have minor discomfort, which is expected since I am less than eight months removed from surgery. Earlier this week I began the journey to my second surgery by requesting and receiving an injection in my left hip. The injection, which took less than a half hour to complete, localized the discomfort in my lift hip.

Prior to the injection, Dr. Andrew Collins, documented the range of motion of my left hip. After experiencing some discomfort in various angles, he was ready to commence the procedure. In order to precisely get into the hip joint he used a “live x-ray” called, a Fluoroscopy machine. After locating the joint, he applies an anesthetic in the hip area. A few minutes after that, the needle was inserted into my hip joint. Three different anesthetics and an anti-inflammatory cortisone were used.

The only discomfort I felt was the initial pressure in my hip joint. The whole time on the table I observed Dr. Collins and even looked at the image of my hip. We even had a brief conversation. Upon completing the minor procedure he once again documented the range of motion in my hip. To no surprise (from experience), I was pain and discomfort free. He wanted me to stay off the hip for at least 2 to 3 days. Initially I wanted to refrain from working out for 3 to 4 days. But after thinking it over, I am active. The procedure occurred on a Tuesday, I returned to the gym on Thursday. I felt great.

With the injection out of the way and both hips feeling strong, I can now prepare. Preparation for these three races is crucial. To some these races are minimal. But to me these races will show how determined I am. There is no stopping me.

While I have a total of three races in three months to worry about, my main focus is on August 12. I am excited and nervous rolled all into one ball. Hell, I even purchased my first apparel for the race. What is it? Well I am going to keep you in suspense.

In preparation I have taken my workouts to another level. This morning I did an hour and a half of cardio. Typically I spend the whole time on one machine. Today, however, I spent the whole time between two cardio machines. First, I spent an entire hour on the spin bike. After re-discovering the spin bike I surely missed the workout. Again the hips felt great. Sweat streaming down my face made the workout well worth it. Once I completed the spin bike I journeyed to the elliptical for a 30 minute workout. I did not get intense with the workout. But rest assured I worked my butt off. I felt great. To cap off the morning/afternoon, I had a session with my personal trainer. We kicked ass. He complimented my look. According to Mitch, I look a bit leaner. I do not see it but I am humbled by his comments.

I am ready. Let’s do this.

Race Season

July 4, 2012 3 comments

I last posted an entry back on June 10. In that time a lot has happened. Let’s see, on July 2, I celebrated my 32nd birthday. I completed my sixth year at my current place of employment. My New Jersey Devils came close to making a historic run in the Stanley Cup Final. I continue to make strides in my health. But right now I am happy to announce that in the time I last submitted a blog I registered for three races.

That’s right. I registered for 2-5K’s and one-10K. Each race will be one month apart beginning in August. I look forward to the challenge. Seven months ago I had arthroscopic hip surgery to correct my abnormal right hip. While I do not have the ideal look that I want, quite frankly, I feel great. I have even lost the post-surgery weight. But as I prepare for my next surgery (December 17), I want to run.

I enjoy the treadmill. But quite frankly I want to competitively run. I have no expectations on winning. I just want to start and cross the finish line in a reasonable time.  By crossing the finish line I will win. It will show me that no one obstacle can stop me. I overcame weight and health issues. Neither of which slowed me down. They may have temporarily prevented me from being active, but I take all adversity head on.

Here I am on the Fourth of July, preparing for three races and preparing myself mentally on the challenges that lie ahead.

With that said I would like to discuss why I am running each race.

On August 12, I am running at Yankee Stadium (yes, this is coming from a Mets fan). While the venue is great, the reason why I am running is why I selected that race. The race: The Runyon 5K: Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium Run/Walk for Cancer Research.

To me this race was a no brainer. Each of us at some time in our live have known someone who was affected by cancer. In 1946, journalist and playwright author, Damon Runyon, passed away from throat cancer. Upon his death media personality and colleague, Walter Winchell, established the Damon Runyon Cancer Memorial Fund in Runyon’s honor. For you NY Yankees fans, the team has a long and storied history with foundation. “Joe DiMaggio was a member of the Board in the 1950’s and Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle were supporters.” Runyon himself began his career as a baseball journalist.

I am running this event to raise money for cancer research. While running the course at Yankee Stadium be a once in a lifetime thrill, I want to run for those that have been affected by cancer. I ask you, my fellow readers, to please donate whatever you can to this charity. Please click here to donate.

After the Damon Runyon race, I will prepare for my second 5K. On Sunday September 30 I will run The Tunnel to Towers 5K. The run will begin at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and conclude at the World Trade Center site. This event was created to honor the life of Stephen Siller who passed away on 9-11-01. On that day, Mr. Siller, an FDNY fire fighter, took 60 pounds of equipment from the tunnel to the World Trade Center after the city closed the tunnel in response to the terrorist attacks. With 60 pounds in tow he ran from the tunnel to site and unfortunately passed away. His act of heroism will never be forgotten.

Last year as I prepared for my first surgery, I remember watching WCBS tv covering the event on a rainy Sunday morning. I vowed to myself to run this event. I never expected to run this event this year. Living in the NY/NJ area, 9/11 affected everyone. In a way we all knew the victims. It hurt us to see the area closed off. It hurt to see families look for their loved ones. It hurt me to see the families hurt.

This year I will do my part to honor those who lost their lives on that day. Most importantly we honor the responders who gave their all to search for victims. The event raises money to support our everyday heroes. Funds raised go to help fire, police, and military heroes. I am honored and privileged to run for this cause. Can you help? Please donate by clicking here.

I would greatly appreciate all the support and donations. Remember I am not doing this for me. I am doing this for cancer research and our everyday heroes. God bless them all.

My last race will take place on Saturday October 13. This event will be held in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY. On that day I will run called the Rock N Roll : New York 10K. I am looking forward to the event. Autumn will hit the air. Cooler temps will probably mean a better running time. I would like to run the course a few times before the event. Have I run 6+ miles before? Well of course. I ran the loop around Central Park twice, with the most recent coming yesterday. Yesterday I ran the 6+ mile loop in 58 minutes and 6 seconds. I will talk more about this race in later entries.

For now I am focused on training for the 2-5K races. But most importantly I want to raise enough money for the charities. Please help.

Thank you for your time. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Jorge

 

Running for a Cause

April 6, 2011 1 comment

While my aspirations for the 2012 Marathon fizzled, albeit temporarily, I decided to utilize this blog as a way to keep myself motivated and to explore upcoming events that could help others. And in this case, I want to promote an upcoming event a friend will participate in. On April 17th she will take part in the 25th Annual Lincoln Tunnel 5K Challenge.

The 3.1 mile challenge begins in Weehawken, New Jersey and ventures through the Lincoln Tunnel ending on the NYC side of the tunnel. The event entering its 25th year raises money to help support the Special Olympics of New Jersey. As of this writing the event has raised over $120,000. The support to the Special Olympics goes a long way in helping children and adults with disabilities “develop fitness, demonstrate sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympic athletes and the community”. In New Jersey alone there are 21,000 athletes preparing for competition in 24 events. The money raised from this challenge helps fund year round training in each of the 24 events.

The organizers expect up to 3,500 participants. One notable participant is my friend Nelsy Payano. She is running in the event as part of team Inspiring IRIS. IRIS is an acronym which stands for Intelligent, Respectful, Independent, Successful (Men & Women in our families is the race we can all win).  She has been an avid runner but now will participate in a challenge that will allow her to give back. She has her running shoes ready and will run for the Special Olympics. However, she needs your support. Please help support her team. Every dollar earned, as mentioned previously, will help the Special Olympics of New Jersey.

To donate to Inspiring IRIS please click here.

Did you know New Jersey was awarded the 2014 Special Olympics USA National Summer Games? In the summer of 2014, over 3500 Special Olympic athletes from across the country will participate in the games.