Saturday, November 28, 2009

Two Runs. One Week

What a fantastic week for running. Here in the northeast we have had unusually warm weather and the rain has not been to bad; it has fallen in spurts. If you time your run right you may stay dry and score a couple of races like I did: Philadelphia Half Marathon on November 22 followed by the Prospect Park Turkey Trot on November 26.

Running Philly was a blast although I travelled alone, ate alone, and toured alone. Eileen and Pam were the only friends who I caught up with; Pam at the expo, she was running the full marathon and Eileen at the starting line, she too was running the full marathon. I know Eileen finished well, just over 4 hours, which was her goal. Congratulations to Pam and Eileen for finishing another marathon strong.

My trip down began with a long solo drive to The Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. The traffic was heavy that day my friends like an old man sitting upon his throne. It took about an half hour to go around the block to find parking. Once the car was parked I checked into the hotel and hurried to the expo, picked up my packet and purchased a Philadelphia Marathon cap. The expo itself did not have much. Unlike San Diego, which had vendors galore and give away items, Philly was all about selling paraphenallia. Who needs those magnets that help you maintain balance while running? Sorry Lisa, just had to throw that in. Spy belts at every stand, but those are necessary. Buy one if you haven't gotten one yet. No GU or chew samples could be found. So, I caught up with Pam and her family on my way out of the expo and headed back to the hotel.

After making a valiant attempt to have dinner with some friends, I ventured out on the downtown Philly streets, hailed a cab, and told the cabbie, "650 S. 9th St." He promptly drove away from the hotel, and we trekked to south Philly (aka Little Italy). The destination was Ral['s. It is the oldest family owned Italiamn Restaurant in America. The food is out of the world. The setting fits its history. It looks like something from a mob movie, small store front, maitre d up front, and the dining rooms, three floors worth, packed with people. Baboo Bhat would have been proud to serve "all the people."

I was brought to the bar on the second floor to wait my hour to be seated as an individual guest. I leaned back against the wall and just watched the people around me. The bar tender was a cool guy; definetly part of the family. He chatted with the folks sitting on their stools doling out wine and mixed drinks to whomever. Large families surrounded most of the tables. Many having dinner before the big race. Young and old, kids and toddlers. This is an awesome place. I just love it here.

My name was called, "Bill! Follow me."

The maitre d and the wait staff called the head guest by name. It was a nice formality that made you feel as though you were an important guest. Being alone, it was special. i was a loser for being alone, but special because I was alone and being seated as a VIP. Well, in my mind anyway. I was taken to a section where there were three "couples" tables. Against the wall was a couple who seemed out of place for each other. The guy just sat and listened while "his date" seemed to have a problem living. I don't believe she had a positive thing to say all night; not that I was listening.

The couple on my left were cool. The big guy sat next to me. We faced the front of the restaurant. I didn't get his name. Yet I think I saw him in a movie once... His girlfriend had a heavy Jersey accent and was a blast. I spoke wth them during dinner. I ordered spaghetti with marinara sauce and a beer, Miller Lite. A cup of coffee and a canoli chased the spaghetti. It was a night to remmeber. I jumped a cab back to the hotel and called it a night. The cab coming out was ten bucks while the cab going back was 5. Hmm, who ripped me off, I wonder? Who cares, its Philly, Little Italy its to be expected. What a night.

Well, not much to do after returning to the room, so I hit the hay for an early morning and a second shot for an official time in a half marathon that didn't require jumping over stumps, sloshing through streams, nor running up hills. Just smooth city streets,

The Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon start together, in front of the art museum and winds its way through the city and quaint neighborhoods. I ran the first two miles with Eileen and my tunes of choice to begin the run was U2. I switched it up to Guns n Roses and then Jimi Hendrix. As I ran up through Drexel University, I moved on to AC/DC. Drexel University started a small hill climb uet I maintained a quick pace, it wasn't until mile 11 that I coukd no longer ignore the quad and knee pain. I slowed from an 8 minute pace tp an 11 or 12 minute pace unti; about 12.75 minute pace. I finished strong and completed the race 7 minutes faster than i ran the Cortland Leaf Peeper Half at 1:50:51.

After I crossed the finish line I promptly returned to my hotel, showered, and checked out so I could visit the Philadelphia Art Museum to climb the steps that Rocky Balboa climbed, to see the beautiful art work inside the museum, and then to see the statue from Rocky III.
I had never visited an art museum. So, I joined a guided tour of the Gorky exhibit. Interstingly you could see how his painting evolved over time; yet he stayed true to his abstract, cubist roots, Early on he used a lot of paint. Color rarely blended, and figures would fade into the flat, wall-lke background. By the end of the your his paint thinned, and he allowed the paint to flow into the painting. The study work where he prepped for big murals were the most spectacular. The vibrant colors and ideas were more stunning than the actual finished pieces, tome that is. Time ran short. I had to go. The Philly trip was great. I will never forget it because I successfully did all I planned without relying on anyone else.

I returned home to prepare for my next adventure which would bring me to Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Thanksgiving morning.

Wednesday afternoon I started my trip to Long Island with two of my four children, Paul and Anna. We made plans to visit my uncle and cousin on Thanksgiving day and then to visit West Islip, my home town, for a bagel and a short trip to the beach followed by a quick stop to grab 20 White Castles with cheese.

We made it to LI on Wednesday night, and I hit the sack promptly for an early wake up call to leave for Brooklyn. I just love running in events in other cities. It fantastic to experience other people and cultures, to see new streets, landmarks, and sounds. In Brooklyn, during this trip, my GPS took me in a different way than usual. I say countless of Orthodox Jewish folks walking the streets. They dressed in all black from head to toe except for a white shirt. All boys had long curls. in a way they reminded me of the Amish of Northern New York and Lancaster, PA. I witnessed hundreds of people, runners, of all ages, shapes, and sizes arriving by foot, car, bike, and train to Run the Prospect Park Turkey Trot. Its a nice 5 mile run around the lake in two loops, an inner and outer loop. There were about 1700 runners.

I decided not to worry about time like I do before every race until it starts. Then i get antsy and have to take off, but this time I had a plan. I took the first mile at 9 min/mile pace. I increased my pace at each mile and ended averaging an 8:02 min/mile pace and beat my time from the previous year coming in at 40:09. I was satisfied considering I forgot to take my usual 800 motrin although I did load up on Bio-Freeze. The weather was warm with some clouds and no rain. However, I will blame one girl who was slow near mile three who kept cutting me off from passing. if she would have stayed out of my way I could have made it below 40 minutes. It not me, but everyone else, right? I would never get in any one's way, would I? Well, ok, it was my fault and I accept full responsibility for nor not finishing under 40 minutes.

Once the race ended, all of us runners continued through the shute after having the chips removed from our shoes and headed for the Prospect Park Pavillion. Awaiting us were Brooklyn bagels, coffee, and hot chocolate. A bagel and hot chocolate never tasted so good. Oh, the prospect park Track Club gave us all a running cap to commemorate the run, running gloves, and a gold medal. Even after being delayed by that girl, I still pulled of a victory, i finished and felt good, and earned a GOLD MEDAL with a picture of a turkey. Oh yeah. You gotta love it. I can't wait until next year.

What else awaited me on this fine Thanksgiving day? My uncle, hearing that I was hoping to start biking gave me his old road bike; a Centurion Expert Iron Man bike. Old, but in good condition. I can't wait to start riding. I also met a young cousin of mine who runs for the Islip varsity X-Country team at the age of 13 and he is ranked in the top 5 for running in the town of Islip which consists of all the Town of Islip school districts. As a matter of fact, he runs a 19 minute 5K.

Then I visited my cousin Lisa and ended the night drinking wine, Tequila Rose, and beer with her husband and neighbors; I even gained another Facebook friend, Jee. So, long story short, these are two terrific runs. I hope to run them again, and i encourage all of you to leave your localities and run for a new adventure. take in the new restaurants and museums while watching the people. You can only win and feel good by the end of the day.

See you on the road.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Baldwinsville 16 Miler

Today was a Friday unlike any other Friday. It was the eve before the wine tour; the first wine tour of my life that would prevent me from running with the Team in Training tomorrow morning out in Cazenovia; it was the Friday where I would be pulled over and not receive a ticket. Now that is a funnier story than the Vaseline story. I had to run the 16 and Nick decided to run it with me.
He and I decided to meet at Baker High School in Baldwinsville and begin our trek up Oneida St to Budweiser Highway, aka 631, then down 370 to John Glen Blvd., and over to 57, back up to 31 and back to the high school. Darkness fell upon us while running 370. Aside from the headlights of the cars passing by at speeds which I'd rather forget, the darkness was blinding. The stars shone bright. What an awesome evening to run. The breeze was light and the air was cool. I remember saying to Nick, "It would have been a crime to not run tonight."
We didn't see any living wildlife on tonight's run like we saw last weekend. Last weekend showed us a coyote crossing the street about 100 feet in front of us; a cat that ran like a rabbit then darted into the woods, probably to be eaten by the coyote, and countless birds migrating south except for the beautiful Cardinal that landed on a branch to our left while approaching Horseshoe Island. No, tonight we smelled the aroma of a dead skunk, cow manure (which penetrated the nostrils and would not leave), and the scent of stagnant water among the brush of Onondaga Lake Park.
Once we reached route 57, Nick took his GU. This was just beyond halfway. At mile 10 I took some GU when Nick uttered the phrase, "I feel strong..." Memories from last week's run came back to me when he said those words and gained agreement from me until mile 12 where we both started to fade, and our dreams of planning a 4 hour marathon at Disney also began to fade. Yet tonight would be different. Tonight we would not fade. Tonight we would demonstrate to ourselves that we could achieve the impossible, a 4 hour marathon. We ran well. We ran fast, for us anyway. Until... until I fell on the edge of route 31. Like a good mentor, I carried the Gatorade on my belt and fell while putting Nick's bottle onto my belt. I slipped off the lip, twisted my ankle and landed on the rocky street. Thank goodness it was dark because I didn't realize the large amount of blood that drained down my leg from my knee until I got home. I bled so much that blood splattered onto my left leg, dripped onto my clean, white Adidas running shoes, and stained my socks on both feet. I sit here now, on my bed typing this story with a torn up right knee and a couple of band aids.
Normally I may feel the pain, but not on this day. I picked myself off the street; well, not exactly, Nick picked me up off the street. Nick watched me hobble a little while. Then we ran. We finished the run. Last week's run saw two tired runners. This night saw two motivated runners with a goal. To run 16 miles with in 2.5 hours. We did it. We pushed the limits of physics as we dashed down the gradual slope of Oneida street to Baker High School. It was 16 miles according to my premapped run. Yet, according to Nick's Nike Sports Band it was 17.4 miles or something. I will never live this down.
What is the secret to running without pain? Its easy. Lots of Bio-Freeze, compression shorts, and 800 Motrin. That is the recipe for successful pain free running. I still feel nothing. Tomorrow, I will feel nothing when the pain hits me since "red, red wine makes me feel so fine and keeps me rocking all of the time..."
So, I will see you on the road.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Weekend of Races

The last weekend of September saw two popular races go off on Sunday morning: The Falling Leaves 14K in Utica which includes a scenic run through the South Woods and the Strathmore Parks Run that includes an awesome hill top run around the reservoir and the water tower.

Sunday was a rainy day, and I am certain the ominous weather, especially in Syracuse, kept many runners away. However, if you chose to make the trip out to Utica the rain did not fall. The Falling Leaves Run was dry and fast. The temperature was cool and perfect for running. On the other hand, the Park Run, which commenced at 2pm, was affected by a continuous downpour. I stood by cheering the runners on for their last lap of Hiawatha lake and then for their final turn to the finish. All the runners were drenched.

Now with the details, as many as I can recall since I was neglect of duty and did not write immediately following either run.

I ran the Falling Leaves with my buddy Todd, and we met his neighbor Annmarie just before the start. Todd was dealt a bad blow. His race number, on a Sunday, missing Mass, was 666. That's not good. No one wants "that number". Yet he ran well and finished feeling good. Although its not a good sign to receive the "number of the beast" before a run, the good news was the T-Shirt. As in previous years, the give-away was a dark blue, long sleeve tech shirt with the Falling Leaves logo in orange . Very nice.

Like last year the race was staged from the Radisson Hotel on Genesee St. and offers the runners a nice venue for pre race and post race comforts, clean bathrooms and showers, and the usual bagels and refreshments. Before the canon fires to kick off the run, all stand tall, hats and hands over their hearts while a young lady sings our National Anthem. Soon, the canon fires and runners bolt across the starting line (U2s, Its a Beautiful Day rang in my ears as I started since any day running is a beautiful day) and begin the uphill run down Genesee St. to Oneida St. and a left on the Parkway to Valley View Golf Course. All is uphill, generally a gradual grade. Once into the course which follows the same route as the Boilermaker the elevation changes and veers off the Boilermaker route and heads into and up the trails of the South Woods. Here is where I took my first short sip of water.

The South Woods are a series of well manicured trails that wind upwards among tall trees whose leaves are a variety of colors. The inclines are sometimes gradual, but more steep. I hate hills, but love going down. So, running down the trails of the South Woods make the energy push up the hills well worth the struggle. The only caution of the South Woods trails are the wet leaves on the ground and the many turns that are tight. They remind me of the hills the Road Runner runs as he is chased by Wylie Coyote. The good news is there aren't any falling anvils.

Once the runners return to the bottom of the hill, they exit at the same water stop they entered on. Here I took a GU and some water for the final run out of the golf course and the home stretch from Park St. to Oneida, and the down hill sprint to the finish line on Genesee St. I felt good. I stayed with a couple of women who seemed determined to finish strong, and they kept me at a steady pace. As I turned onto Genesee St. the finish line comes into view gradually. Once its visible the slight grad decline begins. Your speed picks up. I picked up the pace passing the women and one guy just before the finish while listening to Billy Joel's New York State of Mind.

Todd ditched Annmarie about a 1/4 miles from the end. He insists that she told him to go ahead, but I don't believe it. He promised too stay with her. It must have been the "number" that drove him to abandon a friend just before the finish. Annmarie finished right behind Todd. Everyone had a good time and we can't wait for next year's run.

Regarding the Park Run, I only participated as a spectator so my scope is blunted, but I'll give a few highlights. I stood in the pouring rain wearing my black Mets cap, a blue running wind breaker to resist the water, and jeans. I was soaked by the end of the race. I stood by the "crossroads": the area where the runners entered back into the park to run their last lake loop before cutting across to the finish line stretch. There were many of my friends who run with Lake Effect, young kids, high school kids, older guys, and ageless women. It is great to observe all the varied runners, its very inspiring to this day.

John, a Strathmore resident and organizer of the run had one of his sons running. The young lad only runs this race and doesn't train that hard for it, but he always finishes the race. he looked great. Bob, who runs faster when he is not running with me, had trouble passing a young girl on that last loop, and, if I remember correctly, didn't pass her. She finished really strong. John, Brandi's husband, barely beat a young girl across the finish; rumor has it that he knocked her down inches before the finish and squeaked in by a nose. It can be competitive out there.

Ray said he didn't make it in time to register and decided to go home. he called me as I approached the park. He blamed traffic on 81. I think he was scared of the rain. Ray, if you read this, I want you to look at Brandi when you go into work and acknowledge her courage to finish the park run after she had already run earlier that morning at the Lube Run. She has guts and is an example to us all of true grit and determination. Congratulations Brandi and John for demonstrating a capacity to push each other further each time out.

All in all, it was a good day. In the words of Bono, "... a beautiful day."

See you on the road.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Burn Run

What a beautiful morning to run. Today's run was at 10:15AM. Thank goodness I left extra early. It took me 30 minutes to find the staging area. The map said it was off Kinnie Rd in East Syracuse, but it was actually off Chrysler Dr. I ended up asking one of those serious runners who pre run the course as a warm up where I needed to go; embarrassing to say the least.

My sense of direction is so bad that it cost me some time since I slowed down at the first turn thinking I was going the wrong way. I followed the arrow for the 5K and hoped it was the same course until later although I did stop before making that executive decision. I wonder if that is how George Bush felt when he stopped to think before making the call to move left on economic matters. I doubt it. Politicians aren't sincere as we runners who tend to think a little too much sometimes, hence the running. Gotta clear the head.

Alright then. This small item could be an account of the Burn Run, and it will be eventually, but I wanted to share with everyone a further development on my "new" run/race philosophy that I came up with on my drive around east Syracuse, lost in thought.

If you can recall a few posts back, I decided not to call races "races", but "runs". Running a race means pushing yourself to win. I am not going to win the race, but I win by finishing the race, hopefully feeling good and prepared to RUN another day. I will hold true to that first part of my developing philosophy; keep in mind that although enjoyment is a must, occasional personal best pursuits are necessary. That race will always be a fine character builder.

The latest development concerns talking with others post RUN or when meeting people; and asking them about their RUN. My first reaction after a race is to find a friend and ask, "What was your time?" Not good. Such a question pushes us back into the race mentality. Its places running value on time rather than participation. Let's rephrase the question, "great run don't you think, Joe. How did you feel as you approached and crossed the finish line?" That would be a more appropriate RUN question for those of us who RUN to stay motivated for running three or four times a week to stay in shape while age creeps in among us.

However, if Joe says he felt great during the RUN and that he hoped it was a new PR for him, then its ok to ask, "What was your time?" Time questions reinforce our self esteem for personal accomplishments or make us feel unworthy of running with others. While the "participatory" questions reinforce the accomplishment to RUN again.

I know, Boyd has gone commi-lib and is singing Coombya. No I haven't. I just want people to run. Its not about the fast gal or guy. Its about having fun, staying fit, and running another day. The biggest attraction of the Lake Effect Run Club is its "inclusive" orientation. No man, or woman, left behind. Run fast or slow; it doesn't matter. Just keep running. I met two ladies this morning who were doing just that. Today's 5K was their second. They had finished the Arc 5K and have goals to keep running. They made excuses about walking some, but who cares. I am so happy to see them run. I am even more excited about them having a good experience to want to run again.

That is what inspires me. Seeing someone's will defy the body by pushing themselves to where their mind makes the body stronger. Soon, these ladies' bodies will be pushing their brain to persevere to complete new distances unheard of. That is running. There is no longer racing. Racing is about winning an event. Running is about achievement. And its the achievement that brings us back to the road.

Ok, back to the Burn Run, a fitting name. The run was nice. the staging grounds around the fire station was a perfect setting. The refreshments, including cold Coors Light, bagels, oranges, bananas, and water were scattered at stations inside and outside the firehouse. The finish line was smothered by people cheering in the runners, 5Kers and 5milers.

The course started out from the corporate park passing two large fire trucks with an archway of balloons that acted as the passage way to Kinne Rd. A quick right followed by another quick right took us up a virgin road, newly paved and smooth. It lasted almost a mile when we made another right onto Kirkville Rd back toward Kinne Rd. At the intersection was the only water stop, about 1.5 miles into the RUN. My first mistake was passing this water stop thinking there would be another. There was no other.

Kinne Rd had some homeowners outside cheering, but not many. Most spectators, as usual, stayed at the finish line. I always hope for local homeowners to participate, but like most people they do not get involved.

We all ran up Kinne Rd to Chrysler Dr and ran up toward new Venture Gear. The 5K turned right onto Sanders Pkwy while the 5milers continued to the Fly Rd turn around. This was the hardest part of the RUN. We were in direct sunlight, it was hot, and there were no water stops. I wanted to pack it in. My plan was shot. I planned on having a GU and a water chaser somewhere near 2.5 and 3 miles. Oh well. To keep my mind off the pain of dehydration, I started clapping and cheering on the runners who had already reached the turn around and those I passed after reaching the turn around. it was nice to root them on. All responded with a smile, except the leader. The leader never smiles. The leader typically stays in a zone. I don't believe the leader has any fun. he may even have no memories of the race other than he won. Big deal.

I reached the finish and was met by my buds, all of them finished the 5K strong and are looking forward to running again. We shared a beer, laughs, and discussed our experiences of the run. I met up with a guy who passed me at the turn around, and he thanked me for cheering him on. He even visited the Lake Effect web site and plans on running with us soon. So, in all it was a fine RUN. Hooked up with 5 friends, met 6 new people who I hope to call friends, and ran a PR for a 5 mile RUN, 38:37 or 7:44/mile. I am satisfied and can't wait to run again.

See you on the road.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The ARC Half Marathon

Since I ran with TNT on Saturday morning, I missed the start of the ARC Half Marathon and was able to catch the lead 6 or 7 runners on their return to 370 back to the park and then I raced home, showered, and made it back for the finish.

Mark was the first person I recognized near the finish line. He looked tired, but his pace was fast, and he was in “the zone’. I actually jumped out and yelled, ‘Mark. Way to go.’ He didn’t even notice. He ran awesome- under 2 hours.

Then came Kristen, followed closely by Pam and Margie. They too were hauling. Kristen used the ARC as a TNT training run since she will be running the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco. I think she ought to do the full. She is very near being ready. She looked good. Great stride and nice pace. I shouted out to Pam to catch Kristen who was less than 30 seconds ahead. Funny thing, Pam started the race late and still finished strong and below the 2 hour mark. Unreal. I ran with she and Margie one morning at the park. I stayed with them for about 2 miles until i had to slow down. Those ladies are fast and run like they have never heard of “resistance”.

Michelle was next. She came in right about 2 hours. She looked strong and her pace was good. A few months back she did think she could finish the Boilermaker, but she did. Now she can’t stop running. I love talking about her runs and what she plans on running next. Good run.

Erin and Bob came through next, I think. If I screwed up the order don’t kill me. I’m doing my best. These 2 looked like they were having the time of their life. Neither looked tired; both were smiling and barely sweating. This was Bob’s first half. his knee held up and he finished just over 2 hours. Erin,finished much better than last year and looks ready for the Marine Corps in October. She also finished just over 2 hours.

I saw Debbie and Bill finish too. Debbie and Bill looked good. I had forgotten that they were running the ARC. Seeing them surprised me.

Well, congratulations to all of you. I love watching the runners. All of them, especially you guys that I know, inspire me to keep running. We all share the aches and pains of running, yet we all realise there a good days and “bad” days. (Not really, Any day you can run is a good day.) I look forward to running with y’all again soon. Next Sunday is the Burn Run in East Syracuse: a 5K and a 5 Miler. I’m gonna do the 5 miler.

See you on the road.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Monster Marathon & Half Marathon

Well, I made it down and back from the Monster Marathon and Half Marathon in the Virgil Forest: A Runners Story.
Where do I begin. That I am not very bright and need to think more before I act. This Labor Day weekend has a several nice races: the Skaneatles 4 miler, the Marcellus Parade 5k, and the RnR Half Marathon in VA Beach. I have friends running in all of those. However, unlike my friends who think logically and sanely, I found a run on the Lake Effect Run Club web site; it was the correct distance that I wanted to do as my weekend long run, it is considered "the most difficult on the east coast" so it posed a challenge. I had to do it; besides, how often are the warnings as bad as reality?
A side story of such a time. It was 1997, I was in Lancaster, PA at the Lancaster Brewing Company. I ordered wings and beer. What wings did I order? You got it, Euphoric Rush. The waitress advised against it. Yet I got them anyway because waitresses always believe wings are too hot. Why should I accept the warning? I can eat anything, I love hot wings. Long story short, I ate two wings, my entire mouth, tongue, lips, and throat were on fire, My face went numb. The beer didn't cool the burning and the water was just as ineffective. I was in pain. I don't think I could feel my face for 3 hours. I don't order wings with special names anymore. I stick to either the mild, medium, or hot. Euphoric Rush is not in my dictionary.
So, now you can appreciate why I did not heed the warning on the Finger Lakes Run Club registration form. I told myself it cannot be that bad. I figured I was gonna be running on roads, maybe a nice clean trail for a short while to enjoy nature while trudging up a a few nasty hills that I could run up slow and speed down; I love going down hill. Boy was I in for a shock.
Runners went out in groups of three by age. The older runners went earlier while the younger runners went later. I think the marathoners went first followed by the halfers. I was a halfer, and my start time was at 8:57AM. Mind you, I was there at 7AM. I had a while to wait. My phone had no signal, my XM wasn't working properly, and I ended up just sitting in my car bored out of my skull.
8:57AM arrived, and guess what? I didn't notice. I started a minute late. I took off down Rt 392 and turned left on a gravely road passing a ski lift. Soon the arrow told me to turn into the woods. Yeah, into the woods. I stood there blankly talking to myself. I said a few choice words and entered. I immediately crossed a small creek and started my 1000 foot ascent. I started out running. Then I jogged slowly. Then I walked up the hill climbing over fallen trees, stepping on rocks, trudging through mud, and tripping over rocks and roots. Did you know that the body moves forward faster when tripping and falling face first than running. Yeah, its true. I stumbled my way up this steep incline that was more like a hike or a mountain climb than a run. The first half of the 13 miles I fell twice. The first time was a beautiful head first slide. If I were running the bases at Citi Field the fans would have stood and roared for a successful steal of home. But instead, I fell amidst the silence of the trees and a cool summer breeze. The second fall I don't remember. I must have recovered quickly.
At the 3.5 mile mark there was a water station. The 1000 foot ascent was over. I reached into my shorts and pulled out my first GU (I have a pocket in there. Get your head out of the gutter.). I choked down the Lime flavored GU and chased it with water. I took a few fresh berries the little girls picked while their mom gave us water, Gatorade, and cookies... The berries were delicious. The GU hit the spot. The next 3 miles through the forest were challenging although I started to get a handle on when to run, when to walk, and when to duck and move.
There was mud the entire way. My shoes were covered. I smiled and laughed a bit when I thought about how clean and dry my shoes had been before crossing the initial creek. I even had to give up listening to music on my Zune because it distracted me from paying attention to my footing. I stopped once Rush had finished belting out Tom Sawyer. What was ahead of me? Well, there were two bee hives to be passed. There was a narrow muddy path with crags along a 30-50 foot abyss of rocks and water. that was a nice feeling. I didn't really think about falling into the abyss until a reached it again on my return run after the turn around.
Oh, the turn around. That was nice. I arrived at the turn around after entering an area of forest that was DARK. It reminded me of Fangorn Forest from The Lord of the Rings, and it was just as treacherous. More mud and flowing water that was ankle deep. My feet were wet and my legs covered in mud. But the turn around was nice. I hung out for at least five minutes talking to the family that provided refreshments and, always my favorite, Twizzlers. It took me a long time to reach the turn around. I would pick up twenty minutes on my return run. I must have gotten better at making decisions and conserving my energy for the obstacles I met again and again. It sounds better in Latin, etiam atque etiam. Don't you think so?
Although I picked up twenty minutes on the return run, I fell three more times. These falls were beauties. The third fall was a nice header. I fell gracefully, rolling over to my side, landing on my right shoulder and hopping back onto my feet quickly. The fourth fall occurred after I gathered too much confidence and started running to catch a guy in front of me. I tripped on a root and fell. My right knee, the ligament below the knee cap, hit a rock. That hurt. At first I thought I may have sliced it. But no blood flowed. I injured that part of my knee before. It bleeds like a sieve. I raised myself up, brushed off my knee and carried on. The fifth fall angered me. I made it down the big hill. I get to the bottom of the 1000 foot hill, I start down a small dip to cross that little creek I crossed to enter the forest, and I fell down the dip to the waters edge. I could see the gravelly road; light at the end of the tunnel. I hit the road and made a nice pace to the finish. Ending time 3:01:10. If I would have started on time and not hung out at the turn around, I could have gotten under three hours. Oh well, the time doesn't matter. I survived without injury.
What did I learn from the Monster Half Marathon? I learned that I love running on the road. Nothing beats the streets. I'll take dodging an occasional car over dodging trees, rocks, creeks, and bees any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I learned that running in the forest is a run of patience and respect. The runner must be patient and accept that he may have to loose time to prevent injury and to be aware of his footing while at the same time respecting the nature he has the privilege of running within. It was cool. I felt like an Indian boy running down his pray for supper or a soldier making a dash toward his platoon warning them of an oncoming Vietnamese ambush. And while in the dark of Fangorn, I could imagine running beside Legolas and Aragorn when searching for Merry and Pippen.
All in all, it was fun even though I didn't even get a T-Shirt. I don't think I would do it again, definitely not run the full marathon. I can't wait to run Marine Corps and Philadelphia. Pavement, God bless America for cities and grocery stores.
See you on the road.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nike Sport Band and a 13 Mile Run

Today started early for a Saturday: clock went off around 6am. I did not want to get out of bed, but I made a commitment to run early, before the rest of the crew, with Erin. Our plan, to run 3 loops around the lake and the water tower; it actually ends up being 3 around the water tower and 6 around the lake. Who cares anyway.

To bottom line the run, Erin and I did complete the 13 miles. We stopped at the Fire Barn for a few refreshments and to chat with the new arrivals; Bob who was busy, as usual, lending a hand setting up the cafe and Ray who was meeting and greeting, I think Mayor of Syracuse is in his future.

Well, Erin and I weren't the only early arrivals though. Erinn (2 "n"s is correct. Its not a typo.), Maryann, and John ran early too. They agreed, the earlier the better for completing the run and avoiding the peak of the summer heat and humidity. The other runners who arrived at the appointed time were Debbie, Melissa, Bob, Ray, Chris, Lauren, Todd, and Tony. I cannot recall everyone else. Sorry. There were many. Open bathrooms were a good discovery to all the runners even though a Strathmore resident opened their home to any runners who needed to use a restroom. How kind is that. I want to live there. Great park and friendly people.

Aside from completing our 13 miles, Erin and I were on a mission to discover if her Nike Sports Band was functioning properly or if it was just her short stride that caused its inaccuracies. So, I wore her sports band, a pretty pink and white, and placed the transmitter in my shoe while Erin wore my sports band, a manly black and red, and placed the transmitter in her shoe lace pouch.

The results are in: Erin's sports band read 2.98 while I wore the band, and my band read .06 while she wore my band. Erin actually was the problem. Either their is a height limitation, or her stride is a little short, or maybe she moves her arms too much while she talks. It could be anything. However, I do not think its the pouch. Next run I will use the pouch, and we'll see what happens. Erin. on the other hand, is sticking to her theory that it matters if the transmitter is in the shoe rather than on the shoe with the pouch. What do you think; am I gonna be correct and Erin mistaken? Or is it the other way around?

There was another story. It escapes me right now, but I'll make another post if I can remember.

The cafe was awesome as usual. Plenty of food and drinks for everyone. The hospitality demonstrated by the Strathmore Community Association has been great and deserves our thanks. Let all runners who read this and all of us who participated in the training tuns register for the Fire Barn race for September 27.

The cafe will be down for the remainder of the summer, yet the association will continue to provide cold drinks for the runners for our Saturday or Sunday runs.

See you on the road.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Running Onondaga Park

Awesome run yesterday morning. I think we had 11 runners out that fine, hot, and humid morning. Yet, we were prepared. Bob and I ditched a 32oz bottle of Gatorade w/promotional cups at the entrance to the reservoir loop, but I don’t think anyone had any since the bottle was full at runs end. All the runners stopped for a brief cool down at the Fire Barn where Bob brought water bottles and a jug of Gatorade with ICE; maybe the ice was the kicker.

Erin’s Nike band still doesn’t work, and its not because of her short stride or height deficiency. I think its her speed. Don’t say anything. Shh.

The course is a must for anyone looking to run short or long. Starting at the Fire Barn at Summit Ave we loop around the lake going down a slight grade and leave Onondaga Park near the pool and head up hill to Geddes and run the reservoir loop and then the water tower loop. After coming down the hill we run an open field through a parking lot and turn on Arden and follow the Mountain Goat blue hash marks and return to the Fire Barn to run one last Hiawatha Lake loop. That is just about 4.2 miles, Two loops gets you to almost eight and a half miles. Can’t wait to run it next weekend.

See you on the road.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Team In Training for Disney and AZ RnR Marathons

Its been a while since my last post talking about my varied experiences while training for the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. Now a new season begins. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is recruiting for the winter season. There are two fantastic, flat marathons and half marathons to train for in January: The Disney Marathon and the Arizona Rock n Roll Marathon.

This season I have been selected as a non-fundraising mentor. I get to run with more new folks, meet a new coach, Kim, who seems awesome and help the participants achieve their goals. I can vouch for the wonderful experience I had running and fundraising for the Team in Training last March through June. I met new friends and learned about many personal stories, which motivated me to persevere, that touched my heart regarding those people, our friends and family, who suffered, died, and survived blood cancer.

I can say in all honesty that my Team In Training experience last season was one of the most impactful and meaningful things I have ever done. It took me well outside my comfort zone by honoring my friend's sister Jane, who has multiple myloma cancer and asking my friends, colleagues, and relatives to support my run. While raising funds for Jane's cause, I took on others' who have or have had blood cancer on as honorees. On all my runs I thought about Jane and the others whose stories I learned and used them for motivation to carry on.

If I hadn't known their stories, I would have dropped out of the race for sure. At mile 14 I wanted to drop dead. I thought about Jane's and the other's stories while running and thought about how small my "pain" and 'discomfort" was in comparison to theirs and had no choice but to finish the marathon. By mile 21 I wanted to drop, but I didn't because I could not let them down. I promised to finish.

As I blogged about my training runs, and thought about each supporter who donated funds to LLS my commitment was strengthened. Each time I saw a supporter or a running mate, they asked me about my training and pushed me onward. While I was in the corner of Jane Spellman and the many others with blood cancer, my friends, family, and colleagues were in my corner, rooting me for success.

I encourage anyone who dreams of running a marathon or a half marathon to step outside your comfort zone and make a commitment to join the Team In Training. Run with 1000s of other runners and walkers who dare to make a difference with their hearts, minds, and legs. Once you cross the finish line, you become the hero to blood cancer victims, their families, and to all those who supported the cause. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Please visit or come to our information meeting on August 5 at the Liverpool Library at 6:30pm or August 10 at Dewitt Town Hall also at 6:30pm.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Utica Boilermaker

All righty, the Celtic Harp was awesome. had a great time with the gang and the sun burned me like a cow being branded by a red hot iron.

With that all said, this was my first Boilermaker. I ran half the race with Erin and Brandi. We stuck pretty close together until erin asked “to blow the race out.” I think that’s how it went. I paced us up to make up for lost time fighting the thousands of runners from the start to the Valley View Golf Course.

To reach the starting line we waited ten minutes. To run at the beginning, we ran on the sidewalks and grass along the side of the road. Many folks could have broken a leg if they weren’t careful; well, maybe sprained an ankle. The good news was that from the start to the finish, the streets were alive with the sounds of spectators. Water was plentiful, as was the ice and ice pops. I sucked on an ice pop after reaching Champlin Ave. It hit the spot.I also choked on a small piece because i was breathing too heavy. thay would have made for a good headline in the morning paper, “Runner Dies: Exfixiated on Ice Pop”

Well, back to my story, I heard Erin tell me to pace us up so we could achieve a 9 min/mile race. So I started the pace.

As I picked up the pace, Erin and Brandi stayed with me. A few times they saw opening among the other runners and passed me. At mile 5 or 6 we took a GU and were separated for the last time. I outran them I discovered after I crossed the finish line. Erin really is a driver; I have no idea how I received the “drill sergeant” nick name. I’m all about being one with the other runners. I looked all around me and couldn’t see either one of them, so I ran on hoping to catch up with the fleet footed Erin and Brandi.

I pretty much took off. Turned onto Genesee St while “Gonna Fly” filled the warm air. Ran up Sunset to Burrstone Rd. This was awesome. The streets were opening up. I hopped onto the median and ran up to Utica College. i figured this was a good opportunity to text a friend about where I was in the run. Feeling good, I turned onto Champlin to a throng of cheers, water, and ice pops. I texted again. I was having a blast.

I ran as fast as my injured legs would take me. i do not believe anybody passed me on this part of the course; yet, i still saw no signs of Erin and Brandi. “They,” i thought to myself, “must be done already.” there is no way I could have out run them. They are both sooo competitive.

As I approached the last tenth of a mile on Champlin my hamstring tightened. I was forced to slow down for a while. I made the next right and headed that long last mile for the finish line. Up a short hill. Many folks shouted out, “Hey San Diego.” I was wearing a San Diego Track Club singlet. I saw the finish and took off again. I entered the shute and finished the race. My pace was good. Much better than I expected since I was ditched by my friends and very scared running alone in a strange city.

I’ll leave a commentary about the after party and post race events tomorrow.

Check out our times and yours under the Results Tab. See you on the road.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What I learned From the Marathon

Well, my first marathon is over. I finished it. I didn't accomplish the time I wanted, but I completed the race. My goal was 4 hours. I finished in 4:36:15. Not bad, disappointing however at first.
What did I do wrong? I was charged up at the starting line. I've never seen so many people at the start of a race before. I was in corral six and there must have been 20+ corrals. I felt great and out ran the 4 hour pace group and paid for it by mile 14. I recovered some at mile 17 and died a few miles later and struggled through calf cramps, thirst, and old fashioned tiredness. By the time I faked strength crossing the finish line, I was in the medical tent being treated for cramps, dizziness, and de-hydration. What a mess.
What did I learn about running a marathon? First, its not a race. I am not winning any awards so why should I kill myself trying to beat others or set a PR time? Its about finishing. Its about finishing and feeling good. Its about finishing, feeling good, and running without injury. I definitely injured myself during the marathon. By running too quick, I ended up straining my hip-flexor muscle and exacerbating a hernia which required no treatment before I ran and now does. Just great!
Second, don't over train. I ran 20 miles two times and increased my avg. mileage over 50 miles/week. Too much. By the last 2 weeks, I was shot. I struggled with fatigue and leg muscle soreness, not to mention the nagging knee pain above the kneecap. I needed to get an emergency massage to work the knots out of my left leg. If only I would have listened to those who ran before me, and the physician who warned me of possible pitfalls. Follow the training schedule from your coach or the training schedule from Runner's World. I printed both of them out, from my coach and Runner's World, but I didn't really "look" at them. I followed the concept of "run how you feel". That idea may work when running short, but for training for longer distances it may cause you damage when you feel good early. Go slow, its not a race. The best advice I received was from the TNT Binghamton Coach who said, "If you feel comfortable running a marathon then slow down more." That is good advice to follow; run "uncomfortably" slow for the first 10 miles or so and pick up the pace gradually over the next three and lock in for the last half to post a good time or to feel good by the end. When running a marathon, I realize now, the last half is when it really begins.
Third, Do not race. This point cannot be repeated enough. Avoid calling any run "a race." If you're anything like me, there is no way you can ever win a race, not to mention a long race such as a marathon. Leave the winning to those who actually train to win. Draw pearls from them when they talk about running, but don't try to be them. Be yourself. Have fun.
I read in the recent issue of Runner's World that runners ought to run a 5K every week while running only one of them for a fast time each month. My thought would be to run whatever short distance (10 miles or less) you want each weekend and once a month run a 5K for a PR. The 5K is short and fun. It shouldn't kill any of us, who run regularly, to run a 5K fast as a "personal challenge" not a competition against the pack.
Fourth, rest a few weeks after a marathon; its ok. I ran a few days later. It wasn't a good idea. Since San Diego, I have ran about 9miles/week for the last several weeks, but with pain. There are a few schools of thought on resting after a marathon: one says to take a day off from running for every mile ran; a more generous approach is to NOT RUN AT ALL for at least 2 weeks; and the other, and most liberal, is to "return to running short distance if you are comfortable." Which one do you think I followed. The former. I have not healed fully, yet this morning a felt pretty good. I did take 4 ibuprofen before though.
The only time I didn't feel pain is when I loaded up on the ibuprofen, which, according to a the "Rock 'N' Roll Marathon" magazine, "Do not take non-steroidal anti-inflamatories the day before and the day of the race. These otc meds have been shown to be a risk factor for hypoatremia, a serious medical condition that results when there is an abnormally low concentration of sodium in the blood." Great, I was so scared after reading this that I took Tylenol instead on race day. Believe me, Tylenol isn't as good, to me anyway, as ibuprofen for muscle aches that you want to ignore when running. Next time I will risk the "hypoatremia".
I'll bottom line this now. I learned to listen to the advice of those who have run before me. Follow the most draconian advice regarding rest, max 30 days for a marathon. You can survive for a month without running. If you start binge eating from boredom, pay a friend to slap the fork from your hand, lock the fridge, and remove the microwave. In my case, ask your local grocery store to remove peanut M&M's from the shelves. Run don't race. If you're anything like me, "you ain't winning anyway." Just have fun. My biggest thanks is for my friend who helped me discover this most important fact while we ran Paige's Butterfly Run a couple of weeks ago.
See you on the road.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Paige's Butterfly Run 2009

This morning my son Brandon and I travelled into Syracuse and ran, for our 2nd year, Paige's Butterfly Run. This is a race that raises funds for Children's Cancer and Upstate Medical University. This year's race had over 1,000 runners, double from last year.

We met up with several friends of mine from the Lake Effect Run Club and all our running friends. There is something about a race which just brings out the competitive juices. Regardless of the aches and pains I may feel, I always feel well. from the moment I picked up my packet I could feel excitement. Brandon and I ran to the car to drop off our goodie bag and race day tee and returned ready to run.

My former colleague, Mike, came in from Albany to run with his friend Tony. Mike started running a few months ago after losing 32 pounds. I couldn't wait to see him. We even had a picture taken together after the race.

I ran with a friend for the entire race while Brandon ran with his friends and improved his time over 2 minutes from last year; not bad for a kid who does little to no training for races. he likes this one race. I hope I can get him running more often, it would be nice to travel and run a big race with him.

The best part of the race is when we enter the barge canal area. there is a nice paved walk among the trees and the water. We come out in Franklin Square and run back up toward Franklin St. This is the halfway point. A quick stop for some water and the race winds down Park Street and returns passed NiMo and the finish line awaits the speedy, the wearie, an the "glad its over crowd." the most important part of running is not the time, although its fun to compete against yourself and friends, its just the running. By running a 5K race your doing something that most people don't do. That is moving and being motivated to move (run) again.

When I run, I see so many people of different shapes, sizes, and ages. I cannot believe some times who is running. Those who struggle and finish motivate me to persevere to finish and run longer. It is a goal we all share, to defeat the struggle. Running is more mental than physical after a while. In the beginning your legs can go while the mind whines. After running for a year, the legs whine sometimes while the mind perseveres and whispers, "We can go further; keep going." That is what its all about. Running to finish and running to stay fit.

See you on the road.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rockin & Rollin in San Diego

I flew out to San Diego with the Team In Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society early Friday morning after the fund raising was done, and the training "complete". However, like Luke Skywalker, I was improving, but I was "not a marathoner yet.

I was unable to run much for the two weeks prior to the marathon because of over training. I didn't follow the instructions of my coach, experienced friends, and friend physicians who know best (like a good mom always knows). But I didn't listen. I ran 13 hilly miles two Saturdays prior and an additional 10 hilly miles that same Sunday. Guess what? Knee pain shouted from my left knee, my left calf screamed, "no mase" and my right thigh throbbed now and again. The best advice I followed came from my MD friend who DEMANDED, two days before leaving, to go for a massage. She gave me the number of A Touch Above to have Candie give me my first ever massage.

I felt strange going to a massage parlor; oops, today we call them salons or spas or something. Candie brought me to the room where I actually had to take my pants off, weird. I was uncomfortable. the lighting was dim; the earthy sounds were soothing; the "touching and rubbing", in the words of George Costanza, was good. However, there was no "moving" nor "shifting". And there was NO RAYMOND. Thank goodness. Candie worked my left thigh well. The knot came out. Although a little sore, my leg felt much improved. By the time I arrived at the airport Friday morning, the pain was gone.

Well, I arrived at the airport by 4:30 am on Friday morning. I met Maura Donovan first followed by Erin and Lisa. And just before boarding, I met Jackie, from Sacketts Harbor. All four gals are great. Then I met Harland Bigelow. He was my roomie and the coach of the Binghamton contingent for Team In Training. Gretchen and Dawn, I met formally in San Diego while Tim arrived with his wife later that evening in San Diego.

We landed in San Diego before 10:30 am. The plane was actually ahead of schedule. Check in was smooth; we were able to go directly to our rooms, unpack, and meet in the lobby to walk to the convention center for our packet pick up and running expo.

Beside the beautiful weather that greets visitors stepping from their plans, San Diego has another fabulous characteristic-- a large population of homeless. They are every where. they do not hide. The city actually seems to promote homeless living. I like to refer to the homeless of San Diego as urban campers. They carry "top of the line" luggage and back packs. They push well manufactured aluminum carts that carry all their belongings: sleeping bags, pup-tents, buckets, extra clothes, or whatever.

These urban campers are part of the culture there. They just plop down. Many sleep along the marina, camping out next to the aircraft carriers. At least 30 or so urban campers chill out while the city provides them with port-o-potties for added comfort. I think I saw Whopi Goldberg coming out from the plastic blue bowl one cloud covered morning a year ago. However, on this brief stay, I witnessed a homeless/urban camper lounging under a palm tree next to the street car stop while his buddy slept under another tree. Early morning is another time seeing urban campers drinking their morning coffee and reading a novel sitting on a street car platform bench. I really wanted to ask him what he was reading. Maybe it was Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

We made it down to the Convention Center and picked up our packets; how exciting. My bib number was 8235. I grabbed my light blue tech tee, the official Rock 'N Roll Marathon San Diego shirt and purchased a cap before entering the EXPO. Wow, all the vendors and all the people. It was incredible. I had one more item to find after buying a hat in the pick up zone, I needed to find the expandable waist fanny pack. There it was! Found it and bought it. I was done making purchases until I saw the HALO.

The Halo is a head band that not only wicks sweat and water away from your face, but it has a rubber seal that prevents any sweat or water from rolling down into your eyes. I had no choice; I pulled out 12 bucks and bought it. The Halo works. During the race, I had no issue wiping sweat from my eyes. My eyes never burned; my vision stayed straight. Even when I poured water over my head to cool down for relief, not one drop of water reached my face. Unbelieveable!

We, Maura, Lisa, Erin, Kim, and I, headed out from the convention center and went to lunch. We ate at a place called Dick's Last Resort. It reminded me of the pld days at the Dinosaur BBQ where the waitresses when the waitresses were nasty. Our waitress referred to me as "high maintenance" because I could not decide what to order and was forced to order last. I asked for the bacon cheeseburger, well done. You'd think I asked for the moon. A well done burger, who'd ever order such a dry piece of meat? I would. There is no way I'm risking some stomach issues two days before the longest run of my life. It was a good burger. I returned to my room and counted that lunch as dinner also. I hit the hay around 10:30 and woke on Saturday, refreshed, near 4 am. I was ready to take on the day.

Saturday was uneventful except for the Inspirartion Dinner. The Inspirartion dinner was just that. We were honored to have John "the Penguin" Bigham as our MC for the evening. he introduced us to a Leukemia Survivor who had raised over $103,000 and was running the race. She spoke to us all about her story. her Story, like so many others began "On a day just like today." She was diagnosed with Leukemia and survived by successful treatment. Two years later her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor; he too has survived by being in remission. Soon after her husband went into remission, their son was diagnosed with leukemia. her battle contuinues and she wins everyday by caring for her family, running, and raising funds which are desperately needed to promote innovation in the fight against cancer.

I thought about those who supported my run in honor of Jane Spellman and their personal stories regarding friends and family, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who fought the good fight. Some of them winning and some of them llosing, but loved and missed nonetheless. I would remember those stories as I ran. I would think about the physical pain they endured during and after treatments and the mental stresses they endured during the process. How could I fail them. Being uncomfortable after running 14 miles with an end only 12 miles further is nothing compared to having cancer; nor is it anything comapred to the losses felt by their friends and family. I carried on for them, for you. I finished because I had to, just as you and they had to go the extra mile.

So, What about the race itself? Well it was just like any other day. We all met in Maura's room at 4 am and grabbed a bite to eat. I had some Cytomax, the official drink of the RnR marathon and a half bagel with peanut butter. I do not like eating before a race for reason gastrointestinal. However, I didn't eat during the race either which I probably should have. My friend Maryellen, an experienced runner, TOLD me to eat during the race; she advised a bananna or a protein bar. I don't usually eat during races, and I didn't this time either. The only item I ate was an Otter Pop handed to me from a little boy as I ran past his house while we ran through a San Diego neighborhood. That ice pop gave me a nice boost. I wish there were more.

The race started at Balboa Park. I moved from corral 8 to corral 6 to run with the 4 hour pace group. The gun sounded and off we all went; the marathoners, half marathoners, and the relayers. Approximately 20,000 in all; Over 16,000 running the full marathon as individuals. I stayed with the pace group, which was led by an experienced marathoner from the San Diego Track Club, for a few miles. But I felt good and started to pace ahead of the group. I ran fast through downtown. I didn't realize how quick my pace was until I hit mile 14 and met my first physical challenge although I had slowed some for the group to catch me.

Some highlights of running through the city was meeting up with a man named Jim from Ithaca. We chatted Mets baseball for several miles which helped me forget about the pace group and actually believed that I could finish the race at this pace. Then there were two homeless, urban campers, who were streetside cheering us on. One, a bearded fellow, was yelling out, "Go team." While another, a female camper I remember screaming one early morning last year, was quietly standing alone at a corner. Her eyes cheered us on. I chuckled because I will never forget her from last year; she hadn't changed a bit.

Then there were the smartalicks who stood on the road's edge telling us that we weren't going to make it, that running a marathon is just too hard. By the time I hit mile 14 these charcters didn't make me very happy nor comfortable about finishing the race.

Then I started a conversation with a guy named Ryan from Newport Beach. This was his first ever race, a marathon. Amazing. He too had a goal of 4 hours, but I fell back after running beside him for several miles when I walked through the same water stop where the pace group caught me, passed me, and finished w/out me.

I recall passing the half marathon finish line; it was just a short right turn into a parking lot. The half marathon is not an official race for the San Diego RnR marthon except for members of the Team In Training who elected to run the half. This year was a trial run for the half. In 2010, it will be open to all runners who would like to run a half. Opening up the half to everyone may increase the race size from 20,000 to 25,000. Next year will also see a slight change to the marathon course since the MCRD, where the finish has traditionally been, is going under renovations. Therefore, the finish line will need to be relocated and the route changed.

As we chat about the finish line, that reminds me of the pain I experienced over the last 4 or so miles. I needed water. The Cytomax was not cutting it anymore. The more tired I got, the more disgusting it tasted. My legs ached, my knees were sore, and I was hot. I started walking through the water stops. I drank a little water and then poured a second cup of water over my head. My sneakers were drenched; my feet were wet. I only wanted the agony to end. I ran passed a band that played Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline". I sang along and shouted out the usual chorus associated with the tune. It brought back memories from Shea Stadium where the crowd would always rise shouting out, "so good, so good, so good." I had an extra bounce to my step, for a little while. I needed water. I asked a spectator if she had water. She did. She passed me a stainless thermus of water, and I chugged. I thanked her. She was a life saver. Soon after, around mile 24, I saw another woman who had a large cooler beside her, and I asked her for some ice. She had some. I ran at least a mile chewing on ice. Being refreshed and cooled down at the same time. She, too, was a life saver.

What would any of us do without occaissional help from a friendly stranger. That is what we all were during this campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, helpful strangers. The people who receive our gifts most likely will not know us, but they may receive the benfits of our labor for them. That is true charity. Giving without reward. Thank you again for supporting me and Jane. Toghether we all made a difference even if we don't realize it. Thank you.

As I approached the last mile of the race I was greeted by Maura Donovan from LLS. She asked me, "How are you feeling?"

I replied, "Terrible, I need water."

I continued running and entered the MCRD. The Marines were marching. The last band was playing and encouraging us runners forward. A couple of turns and there was the finish line. Each side of the road lined with cheering fans, shouting, whistling, and clapping. I could see the finish line camera which would be recording the finish line live. I had to look good. I reached down, picked up my pace, ran taller, raised my hands and crossed the line. I made it. Wow! Now I could collapse.

I did just that, visiting the medical tent after getting my marathon medal and a bottle of water. The med tent raised my legs and gave me a fresh bottle of Cytomax to revive my system. Soon after I could walk for a little while to get my hands on some puffins and a foil blanket. and head for the Team In Training tent. On the way I stumbled a few times a required assistance. The last to aid my aching legs were two young ladies who caught me as I stumbled. They balanced me and helped me stretch out my cramped calves until I could walk again. Once I made it back to my feet I found the TNT Tent and received my 26.2 Team In Training Pin, a PBJ, and a couple of MGD64's.

I swore that I would never do this again. Running a marathon is too painful. Yet, by dinner time I decided it would be fun to try again. Next time will be different. I'll follow the advice of those who have gone before me. I will not overtrain, I'll eat better duringthe race, and go slower and increase my pace after the half marker. I guess its like having a baby. The pain is always forgotten once the babe is in your arms. The marathon is just fond memories like the time I actually accepted an icecream stick with vasoline on the tip and licked it a few times thinking it was some form of energy gel. I tossed it because it had no flavor only to hear a shout to another runner from a road side medical tent, "Don't lick the stick." Great. I licked it, but tossed it. Thank goodness I didn't eat it. I found out later what it was. That's funny.

So, if all goes well, I will run again. I hope to run another in the fall and then Disney in January. My only problem is that I currently have a strained hip flexor and a hernia that needs attention. according to my physician who I saw yesterday. Great. I hope this doesn't ruin my plans. I'll find out July 1st after meeting with the surgeon.

See you on the road.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Team In Training Weeks 15 and 16

Week 15 was a busy week and weekend for me. I awaited a Tuesday morning phone call to discover whether or not my sales position was going to be maintained, and I also received my first ever root canal on Thursday Friday afternoon. Both events were painful although not as painful as my knees have been feeling over the past week.

While the Team In Training ran long down in Cortland this week to pull the CNY and Southern teams together for the first time, I ran 13 with my buddy Mike who took me on a long hill run from Wegmans in Fairmount, through Tipp Hill and up several old brick stairs that lead to the Burnet Park Zoo. Afterward, I raced home to prepare for my oldest son Billy's graduation from SUNY Oswego.

The 13 miles on Saturday at 5:30am were tough. Mike and I met up with three lovely young ladies. Mike and I ran separately once we got going since our distance was a bit longer. At the outset the run was gentle. The miles were flat until we headed toward Bellevue Ave when the road tilted upward. Hills bother me, but I usually manage them well enough to keep running. However, this morning caught me walking at the top of a few hills. I may have run too fast. Mike led me up a stair case that led into Burnet Park Golf Course and then to a long abandoned road heading out toward the zoo and back up hill behind the high school. We ran passed Arc of CNY and hit the stairs running up into the Burnet Park Zoo parking lot. Those stairs killed me. I walked a little afterward. From there I finished strong over the hills of Tip Hill and back to the Wegman's lot where we started.

The run was uneventful for the most part except for the down pour of rain from Avery Ave back to Wegman's. The rain was cooling though, but made for an uncomfortable ride home.

Sunday was a lone run around the village of Baldwinsville. I started from the high school parking lot and ran up Oneida St. and out Sixty Rd. to 631 to Smokey Hollow and down 48 back into the village; that part of the run is 4 miles and relatively flat. Its a quick run from 48 to the village 4 corners since its a nice grade down hill. It felt great.

I turned left at the corner blowing past the B'ville Diner and turned right onto 370 with the aroma of Gino and Joe's Pizza. I ran down 370 to "Budweiser Hwy" and ran up hill back up to 31 and into Aspen Springs, more up hill running. The down hill side of Aspen Springs is nice and easy. Once out of Aspen and Lamp Post, I head onto 31 and a few back roads back to 370 and turn right toward the VFW and down Woods which leads to the river.

At the river at the bottom of Woods, I noticed that the cinder river trail had been extended. Although it was roped off, I beelined for the cinder path and ran uncharted territory. As I stepped onto the freshly laid path I thought about the fund raising efforts I and many others have been doing over the past 4 months on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and could only think about the uncharted territory the once healthy people who have blood cancer chart now, everyday, and the researchers who chart new boundaries in their attempt to cure and hopefully arrest an insidious disease to either save or prolong a life that is precious to all of us, especially to the family members who care for the people, our friends, who have blood cancer. My thoughts go to the moms and dads who worry and wait about the fate of their children as the days and years pass wondering, "Will my child survive another day?

No one knows for sure if any of us will last another day, but for most of us the strike against us is usually poor choices-- bad diet, no exercise, and carnal vices. People with blood cancer do not make a bad choice when acquiring this disease; no, they just visit the doc one day and BOOM life has changed rapidly.

So, this is my last plea before the race on May 31st to ask for your support. We are only $700 away from our goal of $4,400. Please visit my donation page and support my run in honor of Jane Spellman at Your help of any amount is appreciated and may help today or tomorrow. I do realize times are not easy. My company just let go of many reps this past week. However, if you are able, please step out of the comfort zone and help us attain what seems to be an insurmountable goal. Thank you very much.

Now for the final send off. The race is just eight days away. Last night the Team In Training crew met at Green Lakes Park to have a pre-race get together. We had hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, pretzels, chips, and assorted beverages. My favorite was a noodle salad with almonds and sunflower seeds. It really kicked.

I brought my daughter Anna and her friend for the cook out. They had a good time riding their scooters on the walk next to the beach. I chatted with a contingent of folks and received my race day singlet and my Bib number came in the mail before I left for the park; it is 8235.

Before I sign off, I would like to extend a great thanks for all those people who made the training runs possible: Maureen and Paul, my mentor Tim; my Saturday running mates Charlie and Joel; all those who cheered me in on the long runs: the previous mentioned and Matt, Tara, Yvonne, Kim, Missy, Ryan and Kristen, Cooch, Kristen, Erin, Heather, Jennifer, Megan, and Mary. The walkers who made me feel fast and encouraged us runners onward and upward as we ran by; Maura and Alexius for making a good presentation on a cold night at Meltzer's Bicycles to help push me to join Team In Training while my buddy Tom convinced me to make the actual commitment for his sister Jane.

I also want to extend a BIG Thank You for all the volunteers who sat in the cold over the winter and the hot sun as the weather warmed to bring us runners necessary refreshment on all of our Saturday morning runs. Thank you all. It was always a wonderful sight to see you guys waiting for us. The brief conversations and encouraging words meant more than you will ever know. Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who signed in online or sent a donation in support of my run in honor of Jane Spellman. I cannot thank you enough nor can I truly express what it meant to me to receive such generosity. I never expected it. My job was easy because of all of you. I also want to thank Amylin Pharmaceuticals for stepping up and matching donations from fellow Amylinites.

I would also like to mention all those Lake Effecters from around CNY who ran with me every week during the week to keep me running. I had a lot of fun running the Shamrock and Mountain Goat training runs and races with all of you. I can't wait to get the 26.2 over so we can run our next race and prepare for our next long run this summer.

Stay posted, I'll complete my post upon a safe return and hopefully a completed race. Wish me well.

See you on the road.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Week Fourteen

Week Fourteen was a joyous run from Ryder Park in Dewitt where running 20 miles was the goal. Although I already completed a 20 mile run a few weeks ago with great difficulty, this second 20 mile run was much easier, but equally as tiring.
The Team In Training met at Ryder Park next to the Dewitt Town Hall. Interestingly, there was another group, First Time Marathoners, who met in the lot next to us. I would guess that there must have been over 50 runners training for a half marathon or a marathon this fine Saturday morning. Running is definetly a popular sport, something I didn't realize until I started running.
Well, the Team In Training took off down the Erie Canal cinder trail just after 7am. Maureen set up seberal water stops which were approximately 2-3 miles apart. Thank goodness for these water stops. When I ran my first 20 miles alone, I did not have water stops. I had a few bottles on a belt that ran out too soon and needed to be refilled. Being alone didn't make that solo run any easier either. However, this morning we had water and company. So let me thank, as best as I can, the volunteers who gaves us runners an oasis along the roads and tarils of Dewitt: first there was the self serve water stop at N. Burdick St followed by another stop at Minoa Road handled by Carrie. By mile 5 or so was Theresa and her son along Saintsville Road where we ran along the railroad tracks, and the many bicyclers training for their racing season; man, they are fast. You could hear the tires humming as they appraoched from behind. Then came Marybeth at Poolsbrook Road. She was just a little too comfy lounging under the shadow cast by the hatch of her Ford Escape. And once inside the canal park again, just before the 10 mile turn around was Jennifer with her mom giving us water, Gatorade, and ICE POPS; awesome! Thank you very much for getting me and the others through our 20 mile run. The breaks were necessary since the sun was strong and the road hot.
For me the road was lonely until reaching the water stops and then the finish. I started running with the Charlie and Joel along the canal; then we ran 4 abreast once Missy joined us, blocking the path. If we were NASCAR we would have caused an accident for sure. I found myself alone once I passed the first manned water stop and the others stopped for refreshment. I ran alone from tha point on. I eventually caught up to Denise along Poolsbrook Road, running slow and comfortable.
I truly admire her perserverance to finish each week. She has a comfortable pace. She says its about 12 min/mile. She seems embarassed by it, but I think her pace is just what the comfort doc ordered. Going slow builds long term endurance and may be a safe guard against injuries as the body adapts to more miles. As I pass her I always have a desire to run with her and slow down to enjoy the rn more. Yet, I always run by. Running to finish the distance and try to stay below 10 min/mile. It shouldn't matter; I'm not going to win anything. Its me against the road.
For the people who struggle each day with blood cancer, its them against the disease. They look ate each hour, day, and year as a battle to perservere, to overcome obstacles we can't even imagine. Their family and friends are their water stops; their small breathers, so to speak, to gather strength for more time and healing. So, help us runners help them in their battle and visit my donatin page:
After running by denise and encouraging her on while she encouraged me, I continued up Poolsbrook Road passing horses, miniature horses, peacocks, and sheep. Its beautiful along Poolsbrook Road. Then we entered the canal park again to reach the 10 mile turnaround and return the way we came. I passed the final waterstop and caught it on the return from the turnaround. It was here that I took my first gel pack and carried a Bomb Pop with me on my return from the canal park to Poolsbrook Road.
The return run was uneventful except for stopping to remove the gravel from insdie my shoes and seeing a very large turtle cross the trail as I neared Ryder Park running along the old garbage dump. This was the largest turtle I have ever seen outside of captivity. It had to be at over 12 inches long if it were a foot. In the words of George Costanza, "the sea was angry that day my friends, like an old man returning soup at a deli," he continues, "I approached the big fish. Whoa, big fella." I thought of that exchange between Jerry and George and laughed out loud. Literally, a real LOL.
I ran to the finish and received cheers for making it back. I smiled and wabed at the other TNTers who waited for us 20 milers to return. It felt great. I can't wait for the 26.2 which awaits me in San Diego in a few weeks.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Team In Training Week Thirteen-- The Mountain Goat Run

Week 13 was something special. The mileage was significantly lower than our previous runs which climaxed at 18 miles for the group, and 20 for myself. This week we ran the Dunn Tire Mountain Goat Run in downtown Syracuse, NY.

The Mountain Goat Run is one of two major runs in Central New York, with the other being the Boilermaker in Utica. However, what makes the Mountain Goat special are, as the name suggests, the HILLS. The race begins at Clinton Square on Clinton St. and ends in Clinton Square on S. Salina St.
Before the race began I met up with the Lake Effect Run Club crew at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument that makes Clinton Square identifiable. It is also the home of the skate rink during the winter and the location of the Jerry Rescue monument from the days of the Underground Rail Road. We started the race and headed up Clinton St. and then up toward the reservoir on Stolp, the first killer hill that needs to be taken slowly. If you're not comfortable with hills and go to fast, you will run out of steam early and the next 8 miles or so will be painful. Although I separated from my buddy before reaching Stolp, I took the hill at a comfortable pace preparing to enter Onondaga Park where the second hill awaits.
Once in Onondaga Park, the runs is flat until the reaching the backside and a climb begins, not very long, giving the runners an opportunity to look out to the Syracuse University Hill across the city. Mount Olympus, the Carrier Dome, and Crouse and University Hospitals make for a spectacular scene. It is breathtaking. On this side of the park, I caught up two my running mates from the Team In Training, Charlie and Joel. However, once the peak is reached, the first large down hill run begins, and I took it fast just as I planned. Anyone who passed me on Stolp now was behind me after descending toward South Ave.
On the turn toward Kirk Park, I accepted a couple of Gel packs which I used later and took my first water stop. It came just in time to re-energize my legs for the climb up Colvin, the BIG ONE. At the second water stop I sucked down the gel pack and chased it with water. Turned onto S. Salina and headed for Colvin Ave.
Colvin Ave. is a double segmented hill. At first its long and gradual. Then it plateaus before becoming a steep, short climb to Euclid Ave. and the Manley Field House. Several runners sped passed me, but I remembered the words of a good friend I ran this hill with over the winter. She told me to take it very easy because once you get near the top, the runners who passed you will be dead as they near Manley. She was so right. I began passing runners on the last segment and reached Euclid Ave in good shape. As a matter of fact, I caught up to another friend on this flat part of the run which leads us to Thornden Park for the final hill.
Euclid is the calm before the storm. Euclid is flat and comfortable. The streets are lined with onlookers. The distance is more than halfway, maybe 6.5 or 7 miles. I felt good. I ran the yellow line; I held an even pace hoping to come into Thornden Park with enough energy to climb the last hill and finish strong.
Thornden Park was tough, but I made it to the top, passing the water tower which had been part of the old Mountain Goat route. I took my second gel pack and water before leaving Thornden Park for a fast descent on Madison and then Irving. I flew down these hills like it was nobody's business. I received encouragement from a friendly face. It made me feel good. She shouted out, "Hey Bill Boyd, How do you feel?"
I shouted back, "Great!"

I did feel good. I reached E. Genesee St. and headed for Columbus Cr. and Jefferson St. The finish is near. Once turning onto Jefferson St., you can see the Armory. It seems like that is the end, only about a 1/2 mile to go, but one more turn onto S. Salina and the spring for the finish line commences. I saw the finish banner and three of four runners ahead of me. I told myself I could beat these guys. I took off, gradually increasing my pace until I passed them and crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 25 minutes, and 56 seconds.
I did it. I finished my first Mountain Goat. I bumped into a friend in the shute who volunteered to remove time chips and another friend who finished 5 or so minutes before me. She looked refreshed and ready to run again. I was bushed and ready for a Powerade, bagel, and water.
The Lake Effect Run Clubbers all met up again at the monument in the Square. We had refreshments, listened to music, and shared our race experiences. What a blast. Now I look forward to running the San Diego Marathon and the Boilermaker in Utica.

Although I am writing of my running experiences during my training for the marathon, its important that me and you do not forget why I started to train for the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. I run am training and running for Jane Spellman. She is the sister of my best friend Tom Belinsky. Jane was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer 4 years ago. She has undergone many therapies including a kidney transplant and a bone marrow transplant. I do thi in honor of her and her family hoping to bring a smile and hope. Your donation to support my run is actually supporting people like Jane Spellman who hope and pray for a cure.
I hope you may find it in your heart to support Jane Spellman and donate on my Leukemia & Lymphoma Society donation page at:

Your donation will be greatly appreciated by me and Tom, but most importantly to those who have been diagnosed with blood cancer.
Thank you for your support.