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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 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.

I Am Ready

July 12, 2013 2 comments

It has been close to ten months since I last ran competitively. That road has taken me from the highest of highs. However, I cannot say I have seen “the lowest of lows”.

Since I last ran the Rock N Roll : New York 10K in October, I had my second and final arthroscopic hip surgery. The recovery had some setbacks. But those setbacks were expected.

After my second surgery I began planning the races I wanted to participate in 2013. Three of the races I considered were three races I participated in 2012. My first 2012 race was the Damon Runyon 5K race at Yankee Stadium. Due to embarrassing circumstances, I did not complete the race. I did, however, receive my medal. The medal is nice but I have it hidden. I did not deserve it. After discovering why I did not complete the race, I promised myself to race the event in 2013. That race is scheduled for August 12. I will be there.

The second race I vowed to participate is the Tunnel to Towers 5K. This is by far a race that I am passionate about. I am running for our first responders and men and women serving our country. Many of whom do not return the same. By raising money I am helping their families. I am helping wounded veterans. I am doing my best to give back. This race is not about medals or recognition. It’s about giving back. And I am doing just that. This race will be penned onto my calendar each year. Rain or shine I will participate in this event.

If you want to help in this cause, donations could be made at the following link, http://www.t2trun.org//campaign/display/profile.do?campaignId=15986. I am on a mission to raise $1,000 by August 1. I am almost there. Can you help?

In October I am registered to once again participate in the Rock N Roll 10K at Prospect Park. This race is a race for me to enjoy. There is no back story to it. Similar to the Tunnel to Towers, this race will penned onto my calendar each year.

However, I am scheduled to race in my first 5K of the year tomorrow. In 2012, the New York Mets were awarded the All-Star Game. I am a big Mets fan. However, what made me excited about the All Star Game were the festivities leading up to the midsummer classic. One of the festivities is a 5K race benefiting a charity. This year the charity benefits Superstorm Sandy relief. As a proud New Jerseyan, my home state was decimated after Sandy. I helped out in every way possible last year. I am humbled and proud for the cause.

This race will also be my first competitive race since last October’s 10K in Prospect Park. Am I nervous? I am not as nervous as I am excited. Physically I feel great. While I am not at a 100%, my body is more than ready. I have been preparing for this since Dr. Bryan Kelly cleared me to return to the gym.

I cannot wait. My running gear is ready. I am about to buy some songs of iTunes for my iPod. Now where did I place my Garmin watch?

While I search for the watch, please wish me luck. It’s (almost) go time!

Stay tuned for my final results tomorrow.

Jorge

 

Tunnel To Towers 5K Run

September 30, 2012 2 comments

It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I am hours removed from completing my second 5K run. The outcome of this run was dramatically better than my first run. I can actually say human error was not a factor. The course was straightforward. And all that stood in my way was the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel which spans 1.7 miles.

Start Line

I was one of 30,000 runners/walkers participating in the Tunnel To Towers

Unlike my first 5K all 30,000 runners started at the same time. Once Mayor Rudy Giuliani counted down from ten, we were on our way. As I mentioned all runners started at the same time. In most races runners are placed in heat positions. While I suspect the Tunnel and lower Manhattan cannot be closed for too long, I worried about accidentally bumping into someone. The fear of injury lingers. But I then thought an injury can happen at any moment. I continued.

As I approached the tunnel, I was not thinking much. I had my iPod blaring punk rock songs. In a way I was enjoying the view. After I crossed the toll booth, I entered the tunnel. Thankfully I am not claustrophobic. Running inside the tunnel felt weird. These are tunnels one is accustomed to going through via a bus or a vehicle. Plus I expected pollution to permeate the tunnel. My ignorance. I thank the city for ventilating the tunnel.

While inside the tunnel the air smelled like potpourri. Speakers were placed along the course. Music blared inside. While I had my iPod on, I cannot tell you what songs played. Sorry.

As I ran on the right side of the tunnel, I was then kindly directed to move to the left. I wondered why. But then I discovered some of the wounded first responders and veterans participating in the event. We truly take a lot for granted. And I honored them by thanking them.

In the distance I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I was in Manhattan. The tunnel felt a bit steep. I was slowing down. I felt winded. After exiting the tunnel to left were army cadets holding American flags, and to the right were 343 of New York’s Bravest, FDNY. They were holding banners in honor of the 343 FDNY members who perished on September 11, 2001. Their sacrifice is a MAJOR reason why I wanted to participate and raise money for first responders. I continued to run and in the distance was the under construction One World Trade Center (aka Freedom Tower).

I was overcome with goosebumps. The loud chants from the FDNY gave me my second wind. I ran with a purpose and proceeded to the right. I extended my hand they extended theirs. I thanked them for keeping us safe. They have a tireless job. But their job is not thankless. I proceeded to Lower Manhattan via the West Side Highway. When I ventured through the highway who do I happen to see? My father and brother.

Jorge Running

I found my brother and father along the West Side Highway. Very Memorable.

As I honored the FDNY (pictured behind me), I was touched and excited to see my father and brother along the route. I will never forget that moment. While I wanted to stop and take pictures, I am very competitive. I had to run. So I did the next best thing, I gave them a cheesy pose. I love it.

I moved on along the waterfront Esplanade heading a few blocks north. We runners were greeted to music by a high school marching band and local residents clapping and cheering.

Running along the Esplanade for a few more minutes, we headed east toward the West Side Highway. In the distance were local residents and tourists cheering. FDNY and NYPD were there to provide support. I spotted the Finish line. At this point I ran on all cylinders. Picture Rocky running up the steps as he trained for his fight with Apollo Creed. Yup, that was me. I drowned the music and heard the spectators cheering me on. Awe inspiring.

I crossed the finish line. After 25:43 (unofficially) I was elated and proud of what just happened.

The party was getting started. The event sponsors provided runners with samples of great products and fruits. The organizers provided food and a concert from the “Lt. Dan Band”. The band is fronted by actor, Gary Sinise. Obviously the band name was inspired by Sinise’s character from Forrest Gump. Sinise travels with his band in hopes of raising money for his foundation and the Tunnel To Towers Foundation. Their hopes is to raise money for wounded veterans. Very noble.

Lastly, this sandcastle was the go to area for everyone. Enjoy.

Sand Castle

This was the go to spot for every runner, and supporter.

For the record my Garmin watch did not provide me with accurate GPS information. Apparently, I lost a signal while running inside the tunnel. The watch, however, provide my accurate time. Major points.

To those who donated to the cause, I sincerely thank you. Let’s do it again next year.

My Next 5K

September 29, 2012 2 comments

You : Where have you been?

Me : What do you mean?

You : You have been M.I.A. since your first 5K. You have a lot of explaining to do.

Me : *sighs* You are right. I do have a lot of explaining to do. Where do I start.

***Flashback Sequence***

Two days after the Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium, I discovered that I did not finish the race. I refuse to point fingers, but in actuality I am to blame. The course was not your typical 5K (or 3.1 Mile) race. To complete the 5K a participant had to run the through certain levels around Yankee Stadium more than once. While I started the race a bit too eager, I ultimately made up my time. But as I neared the end of the race, I had to run from the Grandstand Level to the main level through their ramp. As I approached the main level I noticed a fork in the road. At the center of the course stood a sign. The left side said, “Finish” while the right said something that I still cannot make sense of.

Now I am not saying the organizers or volunteers are to blame. I blame myself because I was focused on the finish line. And instead of asking I crossed the finish line. I bet you are asking yourself, “Yeah so what?” Well it turned out the sign I could not make out was to tell me that I had to run through that portion again. Once I completed that portion a second time, then, I can cross the finish line.
Unfortunately, I prematurely crossed the finish line. I received a medal that I did not deserve. While the medal was nice to receive, I have yet to leave it out for others to view. My goal this year was to run the event as a competitor and participate in the same event for fun next year. Well after receiving a “DNF” (Did Not Finish), I am too embarrassed and proud to allow that to happen. I have come too far to allow that to happen.

With that I am putting the Damon Runyon 5K on notice for 2013. Watch out Yankee Stadium, Jorge will redeem himself.

With that embarrassment out of the way, I can now discuss my next race. Tomorrow morning, I am participating in the 11th Annual Tunnel to Towers 5K race. I am excited and elated about participating in this wonderful event. Last year, while unable to run due to femoroacetabular impingement, the area’s local CBS affiliate (WCBS) aired the event from beginning to end. As media partners WCBS interviewed participants, first responders and everyone in between. I vowed to myself on that rainy, overcast September morning to run the event in 2012. I never imagined to myself that I would actually run the event one year later. Despite discomfort in my left hip, I am very passionate about selecting running events.

The Tunnel to Towers event is one of those events I am passionate about. Now in its 11th year, the organizers dedicated the event to Stephen Siller. Stephen Siller was a member of New York’s Bravest. He was a member of the FDNY brotherhood. On September 11, 2001, Stephen had just ended the late shift. While  heading to meet up with his brothers for a game of golf, he heard on his police scanner that a plane hit the World Trade Center.

Upon hearing the news, he returned back to the firehouse and picked up his gear. Heading to Lower Manhattan proved to be a big obstacle. The city closed the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel among the other local bridges and tunnels. He picked up his gear, which totaled close to 60 pounds, and ran to Lower Manhattan via the tunnel. Sadly, that was the last time he was seen or heard of. He became one of the many first responders who gave up their lives to save the lives of others.

His memory continues to live today. And because of that he has been immortalized with this 5K run from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to Lower Manhattan. I am running to honor the memory of the many first responders who give their lives each and every day to help keep us free and safe.

I am ready for the race. I am ready for the challenge. But as I run I will honor those who keep us safe.

If any first responders are reading this blog entry, this is for you.

I thank you.

Tunnel To Towers Bib

Bib # 14864 (ie Me) is ready

Until next time, hopefully tomorrow. See ya. Wish me luck.

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.