Archive for November, 2012

Still not totally “reconciled” a week after the ill fated canceled NYC marathon.

Still no resolution or word on what will be done for the 45000 runners who got little or nothing for their $250, not to mention those of us with non-refundable hotel/travel arrangements. Worse of all and more importantly, many of the storm’s victims are still without heat or power. Gas is a priceless commodity as well. That would be the negative side of the equation. Indeed, people are still suffering a huge loss in those areas. No win-win for anybody.

On the positive side, many runners donated, some traveled directly to the areas hit by the storm, and did good deeds, making a difference. The impromptu runs came together quickly thanks to the ever so connected world of social media. “Run Anyways” was an inspirational event, and I am glad to have witnessed it, and participate. More funds and donations were raised and collected there as well.

As I chose to run a solid half marathon effort, my recovery was quick, and I spent the transition week running with our weimaraners, and a few light bike trainer workouts. Even though training leading up to do the marathon certainly benefits my fitness that I can carry over, it was more run focused and endurance based.

Now that I have done a hard reset per EN protocol, I am all in with one singular focus, one goal: Cross the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid on July 28th, 2013.

37 weeks to go before the big dance.

This will be a very different season coming up. I love to do events/races. As a social athlete, I am in for the fun and excitement of the events. Over the next eight months, I will forgo many races that I might normally do. I have set my mind to follow the training plan, and not look to make exceptions to accommodate races that cause me to shift things around in the training plans, or require me to recover and not just train through them. This does not mean that I won’t do other events, but they will have to fit my training schedule, and not interfere with each week’s specific purpose. Each week from here on out, has a specific purpose, and necessary to achieve my goal.

As an Endurance Nation athlete, I have a season plan that takes me to the big day. Unlike what you may be thinking, it is not 37 weeks of ironman training. I chose to do Lake Placid, as it was designated as a EN team event, and part of the Master Season planned races. This means I will be working with the same goals as many of my fellow team mates, and draw upon the collective knowledge of the coaches and team members.

My 2013 season is broken down as follows:

  • 6 weeks of Bike Focused Plan- this includes running skills, heavy bike training no swimming. I picked this as I can make big bike fitness and time gains. Heading into winter, means cycle training indoors. Have to up my mental game.
  • 1 week reset, unstructured workouts as I feel
  • 14 weeks of Out Season Training. lot of work on getting faster, train to be faster. No swimming called for, but I will be looking for swim training/coaching on easy or rest days to improve my water skills. Weakest link, and I can drop a 2 hour ironman swim down to 1:40-1:45 maybe better than that. It will be a matter of when and where classes will be offered.
  • Mid April I will switch to 16 weeks of ironman training and begin adding endurance on top of the expected speed gains. I may attend EN training camp early June, as training on the actual course is priceless and critical to knowing where/when to execute race strategies.
  • Along with all this, I am focused on reaching reaching that 160lb weight goal, as I don’t want to haul around anymore of my fat butt than I have too.

Much of the focus will be similar to training for Ironman Syracuse 70.3. Of course it’s twice as long, and requires attention to all details. As before, Coach Rich & Patrick, my fellow EN teammates will have my back, and will guide me through the highs and lows, illnesses and or injuries should they occur. As much as I am in awe and intimidated at completing a 140.6 mile journey, I am excited for what I expect will be an epic day, and a experience that will be life changing.

So glad I waited a day to blog. Way too many conflicted thoughts, emotions, and a dozen ideas on blog titles. I’ll organize this in some order starting with arriving at Penn Station, to riding the bus home as I write this.

Continuing from my previous posting, I was contacted by my good friend Dave Figura of the Syracuse Post Standard, to do a quick phone interview about my trip to NYC for the marathon. By then the controversy was widely known, and front page news. He asked how I felt about it. As uncomfortable as it was, easy answer- “very conflicted” was my response.

Much like the impending election, people are starkly divided. “Mean Season” as I call it. It was bad enough with the hateful comments against runners, it became much worse though. The hate speech was followed by online threats of violence. Aside from claims that mobs would block the course at various points, threats of breaking legs with baseball bats, throwing bricks, tomatoes, debri, and sewage were highlights. A death threat was also made. Lot of claims that acts would be made to insure we never ran again. It had become “Mean Season” against runners who came to run in NYC. Marathoners had become scapegoats for the anger and suffering resulting from hurricane Sandy.

My wife Lee and I got into our hotel without a problem. Staying at the St James Hotel a 1/2 block away from Times Square, we could walk wherever we needed to go. We quickly noticed that midtown Manhattan appeared back to normal with the usual flurry of activity one expects to see in the big city.

Within an hour of getting in the city we made it to the Jacob Javitz Center for the expo. We were within sight of it when we learned of the race being canceled. No words to describe what I felt.

Lot of criticism to be leveled at NYRR and Mayor Bloomberg for not acting decisively on Tuesday. Yes it would have been lousy, but jerking everyone around as it was done is inexcusable, lacking in leadership and professionalism. The communication coming from (not) NYRR has been conspicuously delayed or non-existent.

The mood at the expo was as one might expect. Dejected, demoralized, sadden, would cover it. This would be on top of sympathy and compassion for the storm victims. Despite the hateful speech suggesting runners are selfish, we’re very quick to volunteer and will pay to run at a moments notice for a worthy charity.

Lee and I were here not only for the marathon, but to enjoy a mini vacation, by coming a day early, and leaving a day later. Plan ‘B’ switch to earning spousal approval units. At that point I no longer had any inspiration to run during our stay. Instead of recovering from a marathon before training for Ironman Lake Placid, I would move it up two weeks.

Lee and I would make the best of it, take in the city as best we could. We walked through Central Park on Saturday, checked out the museums, admittedly we ate very well during our stay.

Later in the day I learned of two events coming together for Sunday. One was a group to meet at the ferry terminal to run backpacks full of needed items door to door on Staten Island. The other was “Run Anyway NYC Marathon 2012” in Central Park. www.runanyway.net

To be honest, running backpacks to Staten Island was my first choice. I had brought a backpack, and it would appeal to me given my nature. Sadly I could not justify doing that given the risk assessment. I could not reasonably justify being subject to misplaced threats, bodily harm, or anger/rage while running supply drop offs in totally unfamiliar neighborhoods. A news flash Saturday morning said no unnecessary personnel, coupled with reports of random looting, violence and armed break ins. Not from the city, and not familiar with most of it. Sorry, but not only did I feel unwelcome, but threatened and at risk. Damn shame.

I decided to run with the group in Central Park on Sunday. My heart was no longer in it to do a marathon, given how I felt, it was out of the question to run four laps. Not a big fan of running that many loops anyway. In keeping best advantage of fitness/training with my ironman plans I would probably run 2 loops up tempo or 3 loops at long run pace.

We headed back to the expo late Saturday afternoon as I wanted to pick up a hydration belt for the self sufficient long run Sunday morning. We saw a lot of runners coming out with 2012 logo merchandise as we came in. Thought it was odd given the cancelation. Once inside we learned that it was 50% off, and 100% donated to the relief effort. Well done!

As I woke Sunday morning, the day ahead was still uncertain. Up until I left the hotel for Central Park, Lee and I were making the best of it and enjoying ourselves as we always do. We do travel well and it doesn’t matter much as to where here is. As to being a runner in NYC, it was a bowl of lemons and bittersweet.

As I got closer to the park, large groups appeared from all directions 10-20, even 80-100 runners in a group. Many in their country’s uniform. Reaching Columbus circle it was clear that I was witnessing a transformation, no longer a bowl of lemons. We would be intoxicated by the big apple being turned into hard cider. Lemonade? Maybe, but it was much more than that.

No way to know for sure, but there were thousands running in the park, I would say 8-10 thousand. Wolf packs, waves of 300-500 runners at a time would depart from the race finish line. Some running the park clockwise, most ran counter clockwise.The atmosphere was absolutely electric. Awe inspiring and truly epic, beyond what I had ever witnessed in a running event.

I decide to run a half marathon at an uptempo pace. I felt inspired, and mojo was at hand. The entire time was ran in a sea of runners, laughing, excited and cheerful conversation. Huge groups would stop and take pictures. The spirit of the marathon and the human spirit were both present here. No crying in your beer going on in the park. I believe with the huge groups from France, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Italy, Britain, that there are some empty villages back home. I heard many languages spoken, no clue to origin. I do know that it was excited and cheerful. I drew much energy from it and was uplifted from the experience.

I met runners from British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Oregon, Washington, Spain, and enjoyed our conversations.
With the more casual fun run feel to event, everyone was taking advantage of the camaraderie, and the beautiful sunny blue sky day

According to my fancy GPS watch, I ran my half marathon in 2:12:35. 2nd fastest this year for me. Solid up tempo pace workout. Legs feel pretty good today, and I’ll switch to ironman training this week.

Volunteers out along the course brought out their own supplies of water, bananas, etc. spectators were cheering all around the course. The event was a social media creation, no NYRR here.

We would learn later in the day that in fact a large group of runners shuttled supplies to those in need without incident. Glad that it turned out that way for the better good. I did in part help with donating sweats and a set of heavy thermal underwear. A collection site was set up near the finish line.

Regrets? Yes. Bitter sweet? Yes. Being this would have been my 10th marathon, it was not my first rodeo. Would have liked to done 26.2 miles as a old fat guy, but it is now more important for me to focus on 26.2 during Ironman Lake Placid as an old guy minus another 24 pounds.

It is uncertain whether I’ll come back to revisit the NYC marathon to complete my bucket list, especially in light of NYRR handling of the crisis, the haters, pulling up of the welcome mat. Running an epic event in Central Park gets added to my unexpected completed items list.

I am uplifted and grateful for those that put it all together on Sunday, the thousands of runners for their celebration and sharing of joy, human spirit, and love of putting one foot in front of the other. I understand that many did in fact cover the 26.2 miles! I thank each and everyone in the park that morning for a treasured memory.

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Before I try to sort out this tangled mess of thoughts in my head, I’ll start with this:

No problem or circumstance I face, or turmoil I experience compares or rises to the significance of those lost during the storm, left homeless, or left with countless difficulties in the wake of Sandy.

There, one complete thought in order.

Like many of my fellow marathoners, I started training over 16 weeks ago. To be specific, I started a week post Ironman Syracuse. Many miles, just now into my third pair of running shoes. Many solitary 2-4 hour runs with all the customary power bars and GU gels.

Since my return to running/ triathlons, I put the NYC Marathon back on my bucket list. Not to set a PR, but to run in an epic event. The largest in the world. This would be my 10th marathon Like many, I felt personally violated and affected by 9/11. I comment on it every anniversary. In my own way I feel connected to the big apple. I got in for the 2002 NYC marathon, but withdrew due to a month with the flu that September. Lost my mojo after that and stopped running until 2010.

With that said, I certainly feel for the storm victims. I am not indifferent nor uncaring. Over the years I donated to help in natural disasters. Yet I read over and over again how selfish we runners are, and that we should boycott the event. The haters and negative speech are out in full force.

The week leading up to today as I ride the bus for the next four hours had been nothing else other than stressful (please refer to opening thought for perspective). Granted not as stressful as dying or watching my home be destroyed. Never the less, everything was up in the air until yesterday afternoon.

Running the largest marathon in the world in the greatest city on the planet is not cheap. Keep in mind all of this is not refundable, not deferrable, nor redirected to charity, etc. A hotel anywhere near the race -big bucks. $700 for my stay in city. $255 race fee. Big deal on deferring to next year, I would have to cough up another $255. Seriously, $510 to run a marathon? I did get credited on train tickets to buy nonrefundable bus tickets.

The mayor has made the decision to go ahead, and yet as a paying participant I/we are made to feel unwelcome in your city, that we are selfish. No problem taking my money or dismissing the fact many of us view this as a life event, not just a run. It is estimated that 300 to 350 million dollars pour into the city for the marathon and through those running it as charity fund raising teams. NYRR is coordinating a fund with 26.2 million dollar goal for the relief effort. Does this not help the relief effort, the victims?

As I ride towards the city, I have great difficulty enjoying our mini vacation. Up until now the entire racing season has been one memorable event after another. Very uplifting and mojo was at a all time high. Right now, no mojo. I hope This perspective changes before I cross the bridge Sunday morning.

For the first time this season, I am over stressed, conflicted and not well rested for what is for me, a life bucket list item and was to be a highlight of a wonderful season. I am certain that I did the work and earned my spot on the start line, not so certain where my heart will be.