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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.

 

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.

2012 Rock N Roll : New York 10K

October 13, 2012 2 comments

In what turned out to be a bitter sweet morning, I started and  completed my final race of the year. The Rock N Roll : New York 10K (RNR) was indeed my final race of the year but it was also my BEST race.

In the days leading up to the race I had one issue after another. Last week I sustained a minor injury that forced me to decrease my training. Last Sunday, I slipped hurrying down the escalator, while trying to catch my train. I landed on my butt and bruised the back of both knees. The injury was not too disconcerting but I acted cautious. Between Sunday and this morning’s race, I worked out two days. The back of my knees were sore and bruised. But the extra time away from the gym allowed me to rest the knees.

I woke up this morning with so much enthusiasm. At five this morning I got up out of bed, showered, dressed and stretched. While I am used to running a 10K on my own, the event was my first 10K and it was also my first race in cold conditions. The cold weather forced me to change my wardrobe. Instead of wearing running shorts, I wore sweat pants. I underestimated the wardrobe issue. Thus I live and learn.

My brother was kind enough to get up and drive me to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. In all of the races I participated I had a great support group. My biggest fans were the members of my family. Starting with my parents – they have provided me with all of the love and support. They have seen an overweight male with no athletic bone in his body, to a healthy male with a passion for running. Their love and support has been special. My siblings are the best. My older brother became my official photographer. His great photography in each race has been great. But most importantly, his decision to see me run will always stay in my heart. Luis you are a great man and a great brother. I couldn’t have done it without you. My brother and sister have always cheered me on even if they were unable to attend my races. They are great. I love them all. Thank you for the support.

My biggest fan, my father, was unable to see me race. I spoke with him yesterday and unfortunately he told me that he was unable to attend due to the flu. It hurt him to say that. But I really understood. His health was far more important than a race. On Facebook this morning, I dedicated my run to him. I know he wanted to be there. Dedicating the race to him was a no brainer. The medal I earned dad is half yours.

Preparing for the race

Preparing for the Rock N Roll 10K

My older brother, Luis, woke up early to drive me to Prospect Park. We left our residence in Jersey City around 6-ish. He was happy to drive me to the Park in Brooklyn and cheer me on. It’s the little things I that makes me happy.

Upon arriving in Brooklyn, our next step was finding parking. After a few minutes, finding a spot was not as bad as originally thought. We found a parking spot and began our way to the starting line. As the night sky made way for daybreak, the starting line was filling up with participants. Weeks before the event the organizers put participants in corrals (heats). Based off my submitted time, I was placed in the middle of the pack (Corral 6). Although RNR gave me an estimated completion time of one hour. After reading the estimated time, I had motivation to beat the time.

About 715 this morning, the organizers announced that each runner proceed to their assigned corral. I said good-bye to my brother and made my way to the corral. He wished me luck, hugged me and I proceeded to my corral. As we waited for 15 minutes, I was mentally preparing myself for this challenge. Music was blaring from the stage, music from iPod was blaring. My thoughts spread out. I stared to my left, then I stared to my right. I prepared my Garmin watch. I allowed my mind to wander as I mentally focused on what stood in my way.

Thousands of Runners Participated in the Annual RNR 10K

PreRace

After the national anthem was sung. Each corral started their race in intervals of one minute. It was our time to run. The minute the announcer counted down to 10, we were on our way. I started my Garmin watch and started my 6.2 mile journey. Weather wise I did not feel the cold weather. Adrenaline took over and started weaving other runners. Moving ahead was a great tactic.

The view at Prospect Park is similar to Central Park. I felt at ease. However, I did realize the park is not as steep as the loop in Central Park. But then again the RNR course was not a loop. Overall I enjoyed myself. I surpassed other runners. Other runners surpassed me. I saw runners of all types of races, sizes and athleticism. I even saw runners dressed in early Halloween costumes. Talk about a fun event.

After 3 miles, I was getting a bit winded. But I marched on. Prior to the race, I felt intimidated. All week I was fixated on the course map. I have done a 10K on my own around the Central Park loop. The map for the Prospect Park 10K seemed a bit too intimidating. Add on top of that, I asked other runners what was it like to run in Prospect Park. Needless to say, I received mixed reactions. With that said, my apprehension deepened. The only way I could ease that apprehension was to actually run the course.

Well here we are, 3 miles in and I feel a bit winded but great overall. For those wondering I had one song on my iPod playing on a constant loop. The song “So Jersey” by The Bouncing Souls played over and over along the course. I rocked out. And even at times I pointed in the sky when lead singer Greg Attino sings, “Don’t forget we’re all one family”. That line gives me the energy to continue.

After getting familiar with the streets of Prospect Park, we rounded for the home stretch. Breaking into a sweat, I knew I was getting close. The joy of completing was unbearable. For a moment I lost focus. I began to slow down, but immediately I regained my composure. Mile 5 soon turned into Mile 6. I was two tenths of a mile away from completing the race.

In the distance I saw the finish line. And similar to the Tunnel to Towers event, I began to speed up. That finish line was mine. And I could taste victory. For an instant I heard my heartbeat. 100 feet turned into 50 feet, which turned into 40 and so forth. I was closer to my ultimate goal. And just like that, I crossed the finish line.

I did it. Unofficially I completed the race 51:20. I set a new personal best. I was overcome with joy and emotion. Running on one good surgically repaired hip all summer long allowed me to do this. After stumbling a bit, I grabbed a bottle of water and two banana’s. I then received the best medal I have received to date.

Rock N Roll New York

I Ran 6.2 Miles For This Medal.

Three races have come and gone. From embarrassment, to patriotism and to redemption, I did it. I accomplished what I set out to do. One bad hip did not stop me from achieving this moment. While today’s Rock N Roll race was my last race for 2012, I am far from retired. I have more juice and energy to race more events. My ultimate goal is to conquer the NYC Marathon. I hope to get that opportunity in 2014. But for now I am enjoying this moment and preparing for my next surgery.

For those keeping score at home here are my final numbers:

– I completed the race in 51:16 (OFFICIALLY).

–  Out of 4171 runners, I finished 606th.

–  Out of 322 male runners between the ages of 30 and 34, I finished 91st.

–  Out of 1412 male runners (overall), I finished 419th.

– Pace : 8:15 (That’s a borderline pace. But it’ll do.)

I could not be happier and prouder. Thank you all for supporting. This is not the end…this is only the beginning. Stay tuned for more entries. Just because I will not run competitively until next summer, means I will give up on the blog. The fun is about to start.

Until next time…THANK YOU.

Jorge