Saturday, August 6, 2011

Busy Month!

Eeek, I've had a busy month of running and multisporting, but I haven't been updating my blog.  So here's a quick rundown of what I've been doing since my last post.

1. PRIDE RUN (June 25th)

The 30th Annual Front Runners New York Lesbian & Gay Pride Run was on June 25. This, of course, is my running club's premier event of the year.  It was made even more special this year because it was held the day after (in fact, less than 12 hours after) the New York State Legislature approved same-sex marriage. It was a huge time for celebration, among Front Runners, among New York's LGBT community, and among everyone who ran the Pride Run.

As is our club's annual custom, the night before the Pride Run, we gathered at the Stonewall Inn for an informal happy hour.  Except this year, all of New York City also came to Stonewall.  Christopher Street was lined with news trucks, and several Front Runners were interviewed on NY1 about their thoughts on the historic vote.  Mikey and John MacConnell's picture made the front page of the Daily News. Thousands had descended upon Christopher Street to celebrate gay marriage.

Needless to say, I had a bit to drink that night (and by "bit" I mean "lot"), and was not in tip-top shape to run a five-miler.  But, I powered through it, and managed to run a 32:08, or 6:26 pace.  I think, technically, that counts as a PR.  But that has more to do with the lack of 5-milers in my race history than with how good that race was.  Since I have a 10k PR of 39:41 (6:24 pace at the 2007 Joe Kleinerman 10k), I feel like I can't have a real 5 Mile PR until it's at least at a 6:23 pace.  But, considering I was drinking and celebrating till the wee hours the night before, I was very, very pleased with my time.  Also, the course included Harlem Hill, so I think I would have done much better if it was just the normal NYRR 5-mile course.  Anyways, it was a great race, not just because of my time, but I got to run it with my club and in celebration of a historic event.


Over July 4th weekend, Mikey and Rachel and I headed down to the Jersey Shore for another crazy weekend full of multisporting fun.

On Friday, we all ducked out of work early and took the Seastreak Ferry to the Jersey Highlands, and then  biked the 7-8 miles down to the Long Branch Beach.

Once there, we joined up with the Sandy Hookers, who have a weekly Friday night swim in the ocean.  It's not a workout or a clinic, as I had originally thought, but a chance to just swim in the water for and hour or so with a lifeguard watching you.  I really enjoyed it. It was a good chance to swim in the ocean without the stress, crowding and competition of a race, but still be able to get in a good swim.  Hopefully I'll be able to make it out to some other ocean "fun" swims later in the summer.

Then on Saturday, Mike, Rachel, Alison, Tom, Cindy and I went to Bradley Beach to do the Jack Wright Ocean Mile swim.  I finished in about 33 minutes, which I was really happy about especially since I wasn't wearing a wetsuit. It was Cindy's very first ocean mile swim, and Rachel got an age group award.  So a good day was had by all!

Later that day, Mike, Rachel, Cindy and I joined up with Mike and Dave and George to go on a bike ride.  George took us on a nice (but hilly!) ride around the Navesink River.  Then I led the group up to the Henry Hudson Bike Path where we rode along the bayshore.  After that, we rode up to the tip of Sandy Hook, and I headed back down to Asbury, making for about 50 miles of riding for the day.  Then, of course, I had to go on a run, so I did eight miles to the end of Belmar, NJ on the boardwalk and back.  So, 1 mile swim, 50 miles bike and 8 miles run.  Not bad.

Sunday saw some torrential rains down on the shore, so my original plan to go on a 70-mile bike ride with Mike and Dave was thwarthed.  But instead, I went on an 18-mile run to look for a bike path that I knew to be in the area but hadn't yet discovered.  After getting a little lost, I did manage to find the Edgar Felix Bike Path, a 5.4-mile stretch from Manasquan, NJ to Allaire State Park.  I didn't get a chance to run very much of it, but I made a note to check it out the next time I was able to bike.

So, sure enough, the next day, Rachel and I checked it out.  And I really liked it!  It's about 8 miles south of Asbury, about a mile inland, so the ride there is mostly along Ocean Ave. Once you get on the bike path, you feel completely removed from the hustle and bustle of the Jersey Shore.  It's so tranquil and quiet.  A lot of the path is through farmlands. We even saw a couple of deer! My favorite part, though, is this rickety little wooden bridge that you go over. It's farms all around you, and then all of a sudden, as you're crossing this bridge, you're directly on top of the Garden State Parkway, with its many lanes of highway zooming underneath you. Really cool. It was a great bike ride, a really fun way to cap off a wonderful weekend of multisporting. Thanks to Rachel for joining me!


The following weekend, it was back down to the Jersey Shore for some more Front Runner multisport fun.

Saturday was the first ever Jersey Pride Triathlon.  It was organized by Doug and Moira of the Sandy Hookers Triathlon Club, and FRNY made it a targeted quarterly out-of-town race.  About 45 Front Runners participated in the race, which was a 300m swim, a 10 mile bike and a 3 mile run.

It was a good race for me! The swim was so short, it was over before I knew it.  I had a really fast bike ride for me, with an average 19.4 mph, and my run was 6th overall!  And, to my surprise, I ended up getting third in my age group!  Wooohoooo!  My first award in a triathlon!  (And yes, there were more than three people.)  So excited!!

Here are my splits:

Swim Rank  38
Swim Time  8:32.9
T1 Rank    26
T1 Time    1:17.8
Bike Rank  17
Bike Time  30:50.2
T2 Rank    37
T2 Time    50.2
Run Rank   6
Run Time   19:34.2

Total Time 1:01:05
O'all Rank 11/140
Age Rank   3/13 [although something seems sketchy about the guy who finished 1st in my age group (4th overall). Did he really do a 3 mile run in about 8 minutes?]

After the race (well, actually after breakfast which included a couple of complimentary beers at the Brickwall Tavern in Asbury Park), Rachel, AJ, Matt, Dave and I went on a 70-mile bike ride.

This was the ride that I had wanted to do the previous week with Mike and Dave.  It took us down the shore to Sea Girt, then West to Manasquan, through the Edgar Felix Bike Path to Allaire State Park, on a country road (Route 524) then a busy highway (Route 537, ugh, will have to avoid that next time), to the Henry Hudson Bike Path in Freehold, which we stayed on for 27 miles until we hit the Atlantic coast again, and then 12 more miles back to Asbury.  It was a great ride, except for that part on 537, and a great way to see some of the interesting scenery in Jersey.

My favorite part of the ride happened around mile 15. As we were going through New Jersey farm country, I turned to Rachel and said, "Oh, we should stop if we see some blueberries."  Not 10 seconds later, she saw a little farmstand on the side of the road selling fresh blueberries! We all immediately pulled over. Not only did they have fresh blueberries, but peaches and nectarines and corn too! The corn was so sweet and fresh we were able to eat it raw!  We got some more to take with us for the rest of the trip. MUCH better fuel than Clif Bars!

But then we had a minor catastrophe.  Matt got a flat tire.  And he didn't have any spares with him.  And he was riding a hybrid bike so none of our spare tubes could fit his bike.  And we were about 28 miles away from Asbury. It was Saturday, at about 5:30 pm, and we had no idea where we were.  We were kind of kind of screwed. But fortunately, I was able to pull up a bike store on my phone, about three miles away, that was open until 6pm. So I made the trip and picked up a couple of tubes for Matt. Crises averted, and I think Matt learned a very important lesson that day.

Sunday, after the tri, Dave, Alison, Rachel, Mike, Holly, Cindy and I did the Avon Ocean Mile.  I think I did about 33 minutes again.  It's all kind of starting to blur together now. It was Holly's first ocean mile swim.  Woohoo!


I had missed signing up for the Run for Central Park 4-miler on July 16, so instead, I decided to do a 5k at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey with Michael O, Mikey B, Michael S and Steve.  It's a flat and fast race, on the runway of Teterboro Airport, but the temperature that day was HOT. Over 80 degrees, and a cloudless sky. Add to that the fact that there were no trees to provide shade on the runway, and I wasn't thinking it would be a particularly good race.  Plus, I had gone on a 10-mile run the day before with Jillian, so my legs weren't super fresh.

One thing I didn't like about the race was that there were no starting corrals, or even any signs to designate where people of a certain pace should stand.  So even though I was way up near the front, there were people all around me who clearly weren't going to be running very fast.  One guy, in this race with over 800 runners, stood ten feet from the front of the starting group with a baby stroller! Seriously?!?! That guy was an idiot. Both he and his kid would have gotten crushed and seriously injured had a race official not pulled him out about 30 seconds before the starting horn went off.

So, anyways, the start went off, and I spent about the first quarter mile or so trying to get settled in and work my way around all the slower people who were in front of me. Finally I did. The course is an out-and-back with one main turn near the start and a sharp turnaround at the halfway point. At mile 1, I saw that my time was 6:15. Ugh. I felt like Was running much faster. When I got to the turnaround, people started slowing down, drastically. I was picking people off one by one, all these people who just started going out way too fast. My split for the second mile was 5:45. REALLY? Holy crap, this meant that I has averaging a 6 minute pace! If I could just maintain the 5:45 for the next 1.1 mile, it would be a huge PR!

Needless to say, the mile markers were quite a bit off. But I did finish in 18:57.47 or 6:06 pace. A NEW PR and an all-time AG% high of 69.15!!! Wooohooo! The last time I PR'd in the 5k was in February 2009, with a 19:17, or 6:13 pace. And not only that, I ended up getting 3rd in my age group too (out of 50)!! And I got to score some nice bling.  :-)  Sanderson got 1st in his age (17:48), and Steve got 3rd as well (18:10). The two other Mikes also ran great races. So it was a super successful race by all!

Later that afternoon, Steve and I took the ferry down to the Atlantic Highlands again, and rode down to Asbury for the second installment of the Long Branch Sprint Tri series. It was to be Steve's first triathlon. And he was pretty nervous about the swim. So Saturday afternoon we hit the beach in Asbury and went for a quick swim in the ocean.  We went out as far as we could before the lifeguards started whistling at us to come back. I think it helped both of us... it's always good to play in the open water for a bit to get comfortable before a race.

I don't remember a whole lot about the tri.  The swim was pretty uneventful. I think I did pretty well on the bike, although I don't have my splits because (1) I messed up my stopwatch, (2) my bike computer died on me mid-race, and (3) the timing mat at the transition area for some reason wasn't turned on. Arrgh. Another annoyance is that I had to take a pee break after the bike ride, so I lost precious seconds then. And that must have been the exact moment when Steve came biking in because when I hit mile 1 of the run, I saw that he was only 45 seconds or so behind me.

I tried to hold him off for the next three miles, but he finally caught up to me in the last mile. I was able to stick with him, though, and in the end we both had the exact same finishing time of 1:50:58. It's kind of nice that we had the same time, though, considering our different strengths. I think we were able to work off of each other and push ourselves a little more knowing that the other was right there. So I was pretty pleased with that race.    Plus, I beat my time from June by almost 3 minutes.  :-)

After the race, an interesting thing happened on the way to ferry from Asbury. It's about a 14 mile bike ride, and Steve and I realized that we didn't really leave ourselves enough time to make it. But we had to get back to the city in order to make Rachel and Derek's birthday party, so we didn't really have a choice. So Steve and I started flying on our bikes, he was in front, and I was drafting off of him. For most of the ride, I was less than a foot away from his back tire. It was kind of scary to be going that fast and that close to him, but it really did make me feel like I was being sucked into his vortex of speed. It was pretty cool. We had two miles that were faster than 24 mph! The ride to the ferry was probably faster than my bike in the triathlon. Wow.

5.  SUNSET & SUDS 5K (JULY 21)

The following Thursday, a bunch of Front Runners showed up to Riverside Park to run the Sunset & Suds 5K, organized by Urban Athletics. I was pretty much just interested in the free beer afterwards. It was humid and gross. I stopped at the water station four times to pour water on myself. And I was about 50 seconds off of my 5k time from just five days earlier. Ugh. Not a great race.  But all things considering, I'll take my 19:48 and 11th overall (still 9 seconds faster than my time in Coogan's).


OK, so this past weekend, I went to California with a bunch of other Front Runners to run the San Francisco Marathon. This was definitely not a targeted race for me. In fact, I felt completely unprepared for it. Up until about a month ago, I was planning on doing the Half. But I figured it was silly to go to the other side of the country just to run a half. So I switched my registration and kind of just went for it. 

Because of all of the triathlons I've been doing, I think my marathon training has suffered a bit. So I kind of viewed the marathon as a way to jump-start my training for the Mohawk Hudson Marathon, on October 9. I had a goal of finishing somewhere between 3:20-3:30. Secretly, of course, I wanted to do a sub-3:20 and negative split. That, of course, did not happen.

I blame Jeff and Daniel. Friday night, we went out to town. We hit three gaybars (Badlands, The Cafe, and Trigger). I had way too many beers, and then vodkas. It was not good. Then Saturday, Jeff and I went on a three mile run with the San Francisco Frontrunners, and we did a lot of walking around town and standing on our feet. 

By Sunday morning, I was already worn out from the weekend. The race started at 5:30 am, so we had to wake up at 4:00, and walk the 1.8 miles to the start. We should have just taken a cab. By the time we got to the start, I had only about 10 minutes to spare, and I was running around looking for the bag check and getting stressed out with the disorganization of the race. 

So I made it into my corral with about two minutes to spare. I decided to run with the 3:20 pace group. From the very start, it seemed like it was a little fast for me. The group was doing 7:37 miles, but it felt just a bit more challenging than I thought it should have felt. But I hung in there. Pretty soon after the start, I saw Manja, who was also running with the 3:20 group, so we hung together for a while.

The first couple of miles were pretty flat. It surprised me but I don't think the roads were closed. There were a couple of people just, like, out for a jog in the middle of the marathon course and a random guy on a bike. So that was weird.

Mile 2.5 was the first big hill, at Fort Mason. I've run up this hill a number of times before when I've come to San Francisco to visit my brother, and it's a steep hill! Luckily it wasn't too long. And it was followed by a downhill too. That's when I figured out that the pacers were running even splits, since I fell way back going up the hill but caught up with them on the downhill.

Around Mile 4 I could see the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was really high up there. I was dreading climbing the big hill to reach the foot of the bridge. Miles 5-6.5 were just up, up, up.  First up to the foot of the bridge, and then uphill on the bridge. Ugh. As I going down the other side, though, I got to see the leaders. And in about 5th place, I saw Brad from FRNY. That was pretty cool to see him way up front. I shouted out to him and then felt very cool for knowing someone so fast.

So there was a turnaround at the end of the bridge, and I got to run uphill again. At this point, I was already getting sick of the hills. Not good at mile 8 of a notoriously hilly race. The run back was made a little easier as I got to see many other Front Runners coming in from the opposite direction. Cenk, Richard, Alex, Tomer, and then Jeff, Daniel and Anthony were all running together (they cheered pretty loudly for me, someone commented that I had a fan club).

So then we're off the Golden Gate Bridge, and going through the Presidio, and guess what... ANOTHER FRIGGIN HILL. This one was so long and so steep. I was starting to feel really discouraged. Thankfully, I made it over it and out of the park. But then miles 11-12.5 was another hill leading into Golden Gate Park. And then one you're int that park, it's really hilly inside, and and you have to run like all these loops in different directions and we're in there for seven long ass miles. Oh my god, I couldn't wait to get out of that damn park.  I started losing the 3:20 pace group around mile 16 or 17. And then at Mile 18 Manja flew past me, like he had this awesome shot of energy or something, and just left me in his dust. So, yeah, that was kind of discouraging.

By the time I exited the park at Mile 19, I had practically lost sight of Manja. And so I decided to take a bathroom break and try to refocus myself. Mile 20 was down Haight Street. It was really steep but downhill so it was pretty scary running on it. A ton of people were flying past me because I was to scared to run fast on it. You can see all the way down into Lower Haight and I couldn't stop thinking that if I tripped and fell, I would roll all the way down to the bottom. So I was treading lightly.

And then, at around Mile 22, came the most wonderful moment of the race. I was feeling like crap at this point. Running like 20-30 seconds off of my target pace. And all of a sudden I hear, "DAAAAVVEE LIIIINNNN!!!!" And there was Audra, in her Front Runners jersey, screaming her head off for me. And she was surrounded by people in clown wigs! And I was just completely overcome with emotion. It was really great to see her, and she came at the perfect time in the race for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you Audra, for being there!

After that point, the last four miles were brutal, but I powered through. At around Mile 24, I set my goal to finish in under 3:25. So I pushed really hard those last two miles. To be honest, I think I wanted to run faster just so I could finish and stop running sooner. I was so miserable. And then finally I saw the finish line, and I gave everything I had to get there, and I finished in 3:24:12. 

Oh my god. That was hard, it was so hard. And I was so glad it was over. My body felt destroyed, but I was so happy I finished. And even though the time wasn't my "A" goal, it was in the range of what I wanted, so I was pleased.

Afterwards, the boys and I celebrated our victories with my favorite post-marathon treat: a nice, juicy cheeseburger and a beer. It was definitely well deserved.

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