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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.

 

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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.

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.