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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.

 

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.

Returning to My Old Self

April 14, 2013 4 comments

The last time I posted an entry I was two months removed from my second and final arthroscopic hip surgery. Since that last entry, a lot has happened in my recovery.

In February, I struggled. Setbacks was the norm. But I overcame those setbacks.

Since those setbacks I slowly returned to my old self.

On March 12, I saw Dr. Bryan Kelly for my three month post-op follow up. To no surprise they were content with my range of motion and quick recovery. The only difference this time around was the amount of atrophy I sustained in my left hip. Dr. Kelly acknowledged I need to build strength and muscle. It was also on that date where I was cleared to return to the gym and resume a limited running plan.

Life is  good.

Since that date I have returned to the gym. With the exception of physical therapy, I ran once on my own. If you follow this blog you know how much running means to me. Just last week I signed up for a 5K sponsored by the company I work for. I am ready. But since the event is a week from this Wednesday, I will participate with caution. My body is not where I want it to be.

Hopefully July, I will have the stamina and strength I desire.

It is only April and already I am planning for three to five running events this year. I am excited.

To avoid injury I am actually learning new stretching techniques. My lower body is tight. And the last thing I need is an injury. I am using tools such as the foam roller, balance board and even a towel. Since the two surgeries I learned how vital stretching is for the success and overall health for an active individual.

I look forward to what my running future holds. After all, all I ask is to run in one marathon. Once I begin and end that 26.2 journey, I plan on retiring from long distant running. I just need to get through this year and next year. My goal is to run the NYC Marathon in 2014.

I am looking forward to this journey.

8 Weeks Ago

February 9, 2013 1 comment

The last time I submitted an entry I was preparing to return to the office after recovering from my second hip surgery. That was about a month ago. One month later I physically feel great.

Being diagnosed with femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) in the spring of 2011 has taught me a lot about my physical fitness and in a way about life.

Two surgeries later I have lot to look forward to. My hips have never felt this good in such a great period of time. Eight weeks ago I had my second hip surgery performed by Dr. Bryan T. Kelly.

The minute I woke up from my medically induced sleep I knew I would return to my old fitness levels in due time. Compared to my first surgery I recovered in a quicker pace. Now I am not saying I am ready to run. Would I like to run? Of course. Those who know me, know running is my drug.

But for now I am enjoying the freedom of being able to walk around without the assistance of crutches. Walking is something many of us take for granted. But being unable to walk can be a hindrance.

Eight weeks have gone. And slowly I am ready to return to the gym. I am basing my return off of last years surgery. I was cleared to return to the gym in March. Unlike last year though, I plan on mixing my routine. No longer will I focus my workout solely on cardio. I will do a hybrid of workouts ranging from cardio to swimming and yoga. This is something I look forward to.

Two weeks ago I met with Dr. Bryan T. Kelly for my six week follow up. I went in for the routine post-op x-rays and consultation. To my amazement he gave me one of the best compliments. After six weeks my range of motion was better than what any of us had expected. He joked, “I would love to clone you.” The thought about wanting more patients who quickly heal was a tremendous compliment from a surgeon who has done the same surgery on athletes and regular patients.

I credit my quick recovery to my workouts and the tremendous staff at STAR physical therapy. Jeremy Crowe deserves a lot of credit for getting me back to my feet.

My therapy has greatly improved my hips. Last year I did my therapy but at times took it for granted. In time I healed. But this time around, my mindset was on getting stronger and faster. In order to get there I need to stay focused on my physical therapy. Each visit to STAR I go with the mentality of doing better than the previous day.

And guess what…I do. I went from 10 seconds on the balance board to two minutes. I still can’t believe that. Balancing for two minutes is not easy. But focus is the key. And so is music. If you do not have your iPod, time will not be on your side. That’s just one of the many workouts I do at physical therapy. It feels great.

I do suffer from tightness but that’s why I stretch often at home and at work. If there was one thing I learned in the last eight weeks, it was the value of stretching. I not only stretch my hips but I also stretch my upper body and lower body. Apparently I am flexible. So I am going with it.

I am content with my recovery. But I could not have done it without the love and support of family and friends. If you are reading this I thank you. I would like to name each of you but I would need a lot more time. But you all know who you are. Whether you are my blood, my coworkers, high school friends, college friends or twitter friends. You know who you are. Gracias desde el fondo de mi corazon! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Eights have gone by. What do the next eight weeks have in store? Let’s wait and see.

Until next time.

Jorge

Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath

November 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Here I am almost one week removed from Hurricane Sandy. While this Superstorm cannot compare to the likes of Hurricane’s Andrew and Katrina, Sandy certainly rocked the foundation off of New York City and New Jersey. Never would I have imagined that a hurricane could travel with such ferocious velocity up north. This may be my ignorance but I have always associated hurricane’s as storms in warmer southern climate.

Never say never, I suppose. In the days after Sandy, New Yorkers and New Jerseyans have seen images of areas hard hit. From the devastation in Breezy Point, Queens to the destruction of my youth down the Jersey Shore. Those images will forever be etched in my head for a very long time.

Breezy Point, Queens lost 110 ten homes due to Hurricane Sandy. A six-alarm fire was reported in the area the night Sandy’s fury affected the metro area. Unfortunately due to flood waters, first responders were unable to get through to contain the fire. By 11 PM, the water had receded enough where responders can get to the fire. But at that point it was too late. The fire had quickly spread. And after hour the media speculated as to how many homes were engulfed. On Tuesday, it was discovered 110 homes were destroyed by the fire. As of this writing, there were no reports of casualties, just minor injuries.

Breezy Point, Queens/A Fire destroyed 110 Homes

New Jersey was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. If you lived along the coast, the area along the Jersey coast would be devastated. First there were reports that pieces of the Atlantic City boardwalk was ripped apart from the strong gusting winds. At that point, I thought the only damage the shore would sustain would be minor damage with pieces of the boardwalk ripped off. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, I saw aerial shots of Seaside Heights. I could not believe what I had witnessed. The mainstay of Seaside Heights was its amusement park along the boardwalk/pier which sat on top of the Atlantic Ocean.

Once Sandy had left the area, videos came in. The next image hit me hard. The roller coaster which sat above the ocean was now floating in the Atlantic Ocean. While the shore is associated as a summer destination, during the off peak months the area is inhabited with long time residents year round. Unfortunately, they were told that the shore area was severely affected and there was significant damage.

Seaside Heights

Seaside Heights, NJ – The site of where the amusement park used to be.

I am a lifelong New Jersey resident. And if you ask anyone who knows me well, they will tell you how passionate I am about my home state. New Jersey is part of my identity. I have a lot of pride. Whether I am supporting my beloved New Jersey Devils or driving along the New Jersey highways, I love my home state. While I do remember the Jersey Shore and its points from my youth, my heart completely crushed when I visited Hoboken yesterday.

It was a cool Saturday afternoon. I had just left the barber shop. Instead of heading straight home, I opted to walk into Hoboken for the first time in a week. I knew the town was hit hard. I have seen the news reports, and I do have friends who ultimately evacuated. But I wanted to see the damage.

The first thing I discovered as I walked through the Jersey City/Hoboken border were the puddles of water. But as I walked into Hoboken, I saw area residents draining water from their residence with a sump pump. I then smelled an odor that was not fresh. The water more than likely was sewage which seeped in during the storm. The flood waters caused many area residents to throw away many personal belongings. The image of piles of peoples lives crushed me. The area reminded me of  scene straight out of a movie.

Hoboken Debris

Hoboken Residents Cleaning Up in The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

As I walked further into town, I noticed how my frown was turning upside down. I noticed that residents were for the most part optimistic and upbeat despite the damage. Some were out and about walking their dogs. Others were helping their fellow neighbors. Merchants were providing residents with free hot meals. Outside of all the bad I have seen or heard about following Hurricane Sandy; I have seen the good in people following this storm.

A Local Merchant Giving Hamburgers to Hoboken Residents

A Local Merchant Giving Hamburgers to Hoboken Residents

There is still good left in this world. And I will pray for those who are displaced in the New York and New Jersey area.

This morning I visited my gym in New York City. The gym I frequent in Hoboken was temporarily closed due to damage from Sandy. Knowing that I traveled to the gym I visit during the week in NYC. After arriving in New York City, I noticed runners all over the area. For some reason I forgot today was Marathon Sunday. But due to the storm and overwhelming pressure, the City of New York decided to cancel the annual event.

As a runner, I was happy for the cancellation. But I do believe the cancellation was three days overdue. The city canceled the event on Friday, two days shy of the event. If you have followed me since day one, you all know my initial intention was to run in the 2012 event. But my hip condition forced me to delay my intention. Had I joined this years marathon class, I would have opted out. There was no way I could have participated in good conscience.

The starting line of the NYC Marathon began in Staten Island. One of the hard hit areas in the five boroughs of New York City was Staten Island. Not far from the start line, at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, are areas with no power. Bodies being found in homes. Residents were without food and warm shelter. That’s just some of the issues I had with the city and the New York Road Runners Club in the days after Sandy.

But after my workout, I walked to the finish line in Central Park. I discovered the athletes who traveled from near and afar came into Central Park and held their own run.

Runners Partaking in Their Own Race

Runners Partaking in Their Own Race in Central Park

 

While I commend each runner for doing so, I commend those who wore their running gear into Staten Island to volunteer and provide residents with hot meals and helped with the recovery.

I leave you with this…
– If you want to help with the recovery, please visit your local charitable organization and donate non-perishable foods, blankets, diapers, clothes, etc.

– To make a donation to the American Red Cross please visit their website.

– To make a donation to the American Red Cross through a text message please text REDCROSS “90999” to give a $10 donation.

– By phone you can call : 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767)

– In New Jersey an organization called the Ergo Group are mass producing special t-shirts with proceeds going to helping “Restore The Shore”. To buy the shirt please visit their website.

If there are non-profit organizations in the NY area who are producing merchandise with funds going to NYC, I will update the blog.

Please help.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.