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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.

 

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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.

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