There are others

Looks like there are indeed other runners in this world that take the music they run to very seriously. I've always thought about analyzing what BPM works better during different parts of a run, but unfortunately I don't have that information on my music.


Found the ceiling

I was in the mood to test my limits and the limits of the treadmill this morning. On the schedule I had a three-mile recovery run plus four sprints (although I ended up doing four miles and five sprints).

I was really rocking the sprints, easily doing nine mph and 9.5 mph. So I kicked it up to 10 mph for the last sprint. I was feeling really good at 10 mph, so I pushed it up to 11. That felt good, so I thought, "let's find out what this baby can do." I started increasing the speed, but once I hit 12, that was it. The treadmill maxed out at 12 mph.

At first I thought that was pretty wimpy. I really thought that the speed would just keep on going up--that there wouldn't be a speed limit on the machine. But then I realized that 12 mph is a 5:00 min/mile pace and that you really shouldn't be going much faster than while on a six-foot long strip of rubber. Really at that speed you're asking to trip, fly off the machine, and smash into the wall.

Lesson of the day: the treadmill maxes out at 12 mph--don't get too fast.


Yeti courant: a gym carnies FAQ

Gym carnies is an irregular series about the curious characters and intriguing individuals that people my local gym.

After every gym carnie profile there are always a bunch of questions left lingering out there about how much I stretch the truth and “what would happen if you did X to such-and-such gym carnie?” Here I answer those questions and provide much needed hilarious updates on the various gym carnies profiled to date.

Q: From Laura regarding FOM: You should totally take his machine someday and see what happens.
A: Funny, that thought never crossed my mind until Laura brought it up. Let’s see what happens when you throw a wrench into the works. One morning, not too long after I wrote about FOM, I went to the gym for a tempo run and saw FOM on the elliptical. I thought “this is my chance.”

I sneakily went behind his row of ellipticals and straight for his treadmill—even though every other treadmill was open. I kept one eye on FOM as I started running to see what his reaction would be. Low and behold when he finished on the elliptical he turned around and saw me two miles into an intense looking run. He walked over to the treadmills, but he knew that there was no way I was getting off the machine any time soon. He took one long look at the treadmills, put on a pouty old man face, and walked away defeated to the stair climber on the other side of the gym. Victory!

Since then, FOM has returned to his machine and I have kept my distance. I figure messing with the mind of an old man is just not right. The good news is that he’s been able to keep his gas in check (or is it in cheek?) when on the treadmills.

Q: From Dean regarding FOM: Runners are notoriously profligate farters.
A: This, from personal experience, is absolutely true. However, you have to keep in mind that first, I don’t really know if FOM is a runner. Sure, he wears a Long Island Marathon t-shirt from the 80s, and yes, he does walk on the treadmill—but neither of those really necessitates a runner. Second, and more importantly, is that in truth I have only assumed that it’s FOM who has been fumigating the treadmill rows with farts. While I’m on the treadmill I have my iPod going full blast and people are moving all around the machines, it still could just be a coincidence and not a causal relationship.

That is, until now.

People, I have concrete confirmation that FOM is a free-wheeling gym farter.

Just this week I was stretching after a run next to the abs workout equipment. Here I am recovering from a brutal tempo run and then out of nowhere FOM plants himself on one of the captain’s chairs next to me. I’m thinking: “this is odd, FOM never comes to this part of the gym; something must be going down.”

It’s just him and I in this corner of the gym, there is no one around for at least 40 feet. He has his usual headphones plugged in and is crunching away. I have put away Liam Garu and stretching out my IT bands, when I notice FOM pause and take a sideways glance over the rest of the gym. You know, the type of look you take when you’re tired. Well, in this case it was also the type of look that surveys the surroundings and sees only the punk kid that stole your beloved treadmill once and decides it’s ok to let not one, but two of them rip.

Yes. It was pffffffft followed by a squeaker that did a diminuendo through two octaves.

I couldn’t believe it. I stopped mid-stretch out of amazement and took a nonchalant glance at him. He was staring away off into the distance, guilt written in invisible ink all over his face. I couldn’t hold it in any more and walked away. FOM had his revenge, but I was laughing the whole way home.

Q: From Kevin regarding Yeti: Good luck hunting the elusive yeti. You may just catch him one of these days.
A: I have confirmation that Yeti is indeed a runner and not an anomaly of my gym!! Toward the end of training for the Newport Marathon last fall I was on a recovery Wednesday morning run. I took the normal route that I take on Wednesdays to the park and back. Halfway through the run I saw a runner approaching. He was tall and had excellent form. And I thought, is that Yeti—the Yeti? As he got closer I could make out the spandex clothes, the Brooks shoes, the holier-than-thou sneer—it was him! Absolutely and for sure I was looking at Yeti running! I reached down to my pocket, but remembered that I left my phone at home. There would be no picture.

And I think there will never be a picture. I must have scared Yeti off because since then I haven’t seen him again: running or at the gym. He has completely disappeared—perhaps returned to the frozen tundra to be with his peoples. What was strange about this sighting was that I have run this route about 30 times on Wednesday mornings. Never before have I seen Yeti on this run--the stars must have aligned to appease me for this one fleeting moment.

Q: From Nitmos regarding Miguel: God bless you, Miguel, for bravely standing at your post through the assault on your senses.
A: Yet another gym carnie that I have scared away. I overheard Miguel talking to one of the friendlier gym patrons while I was in the bathroom stall (really, where else would I be?). He told the gym patron that January 15 would be his last day, he was going back home to Colombia for a new “business opportunity.”

Now, I think we all know the real reason why Miguel left the gym. There are only so many times you can force a smile on your face when someone is spoiling your good work. Everyone has a breaking point, and once Miguel realized that my Marathon training wasn’t just a onetime thing—that not only was I doing it again, but I was doing it twice this year—I think he snapped. But I do think going all the way to Colombia is a bit excessive. He could have just gotten a different job in the city.

By the way, I learned that Miguel’s name is actually…Jose. I will miss you Miguel-turned-Jose. The new guy isn't quiet the same.

Q: From The Laminator: What's perplexing to me is how your gym manages to fit all those carnies under one roof...there must be a max occupancy violation in there somewhere.
A: Well, there is some truth in this. There does appear to be some limit to the amount of eccentrics allowed in my gym, which I presume is why some of them go away (not only Yeti and Miguel, but Boobie has altogether disappeared as well). They have to make space for the new carnies that are coming in, lured by the New Year’s discount membership.

Something that I’ve also noticed is that I have yet to write up any of the female gym carnies. It is not for lack: there are plenty of women at my gym and I am an equal opportunity parodier. I think the next couple of gym carnie write ups will focus on the gentler--yet equally odd--sex.



So I'm not volunteering today at the Half-Marathon Grand Prix race in Manhattan today. Honestly, it is way too freaking cold. I don't know how they got any volunteers for this race. Actually, I'm wondering how they got people to sign up for the race. Sure I'm one of the crazy ones who will (apparently) go running no matter how cold it is, but yesterday I was at a local sporting goods store. While standing in line to buy a box of Clif Shots I overheard a couple of runners saying how it is insane to go running the frigid weather we've been having lately. From this survey of three, it looks like only 33% of runners would even consider running outside in below freezing temps.

Anywho, I will volunteer at races later this year, but when the temps aren't in the teens. I've been using this time to take advantage of my neighbor's wi-fi (which hasn't shut down all morning...yet) and writing a couple of posts for the week.

In other news, I've now had a couple of runs with my Forerunner 405--Fenny. It's been great not having to worry about mapping out long runs, it's made getting out there on the weekends easier and quicker (especially now that I've been without Internet for two months, damn you Time Warner!).

I thought knowing my pace would be a help, but Fenny is kinda sketch about it. Like yesterday, for one example, I started my run by going over the Queensboro Bridge. The bridge rises 100+ feet, so it's not an easy climb, but I know I wasn't doing 14:00+ min/mile like Fenny said I was doing. Then, I looked at my run today and while the pace and speed are pretty consistent for most of the run, there are places where the speed spikes to 20 or 30 mph--which I'm pretty sure is impossible.

Also, there's the issue with elevation. Once again with yesterday's run there was one point that the first time I ran through it was logged as 200ft, the second time I ran through there? 100ft. I guess that's just the margin of error on the GPS?

Any one else have experience with these two anomolies?

BTW, Flyers26: thanks for the heads up on locking the bezel. When I started the run I thought I had locked the bezel. However, at one point I looked at Fenny saw a screen I had never seen before. I spent a good couple of minutes figuring out how to get back to the right screen and then locked the bezel immediately afterward.


General update

This was supposed to post yesterday. But due to my neighbor's wi-fi freaking out when I hit publish, I didn't make it. So enjoy the slightly delayed post.

No theme to today's post, just want to get a couple of thoughts out.

First, yesterday was a rather amazing day. I felt tingles listening to the speeches and seeing the truly massive crowds gathered for the Inaugural. (Just to put things in perspective 1.5 million people is roughly the population of Manhattan. Wow.) But perhaps what will stick in my memory the most is this segment from The Colbert Report where he points out that the question of the day to African-Americans was "did you ever think you'd live to see this day?" At which point the African-American reporter (a goatee bearing Tim Meadows) says that he's selling t-shirts that say "Yes, I did think I'd live to see this day." Genius. Now where can I get one of those t-shirts?

On the running front, I'm thinking of volunteering at the NYRR Half-Marathon Grand Prix Manhattan this Sunday. The only thing holding me back is that it will be about 15 degrees when the race starts. If I was running it, I'd be fine, but I froze my butt off when Wifey and I volunteered at the NYCM--and that was in the 40s. There's also the 6:30 call for volunteers (ouch!).

Also, I'm feeling a gym carnies post coming up, but I'm trying something different this time around. You'll see soon enough. Heh heh heh.

One last thing: I think I'm settling on the DC, New Hampshire, Flying Pig combo for the spring. Now I have to make travel arrangements and update the blog labels.


10 in sub-10

I need a medal after Saturday’s run. Not only was it the first double digit run of the year, but it was also under 10 degrees during the whole run. Officially, it is the coldest I’ve ever run in, and doesn’t that count for a CPR (Coldest Personal Record)?

In the past I would have just done the run on the treadmill, but my weekday runs have all been on the treadmill and the weekend long run is my only chance to break out of the gym’s confines. Also, part of it was masochistic: I wanted to experience what running in sub 10-degree weather felt like.

I bundled up wearing: a long-sleeve base layer, cotton t-shirt (just for insulation), technical sweater, a running jacket, running pants, long socks, gloves, skully, and neck warmer. The only skin that peeked out from the all black garb was my nose and the tops of my cheeks—so I basically looked like a running ninja.

I rode the subway into Central Park instead of running the neighborhood (it’s difficult to run anything more than 5 miles in my hood). I guess sitting on the subway for 15-20 minutes will do a lot to lower your body temp because when I got out at Central Park it felt like the friggin Arctic. I quickly rushed through stretches and entered the park, but in the time it took me to stretch and walk to my normal starting place my hands and feet had lost any semblance of warmth they had.

The first two miles were rough. The neck warmer was actually a big help and kept my face warm so that I could use my exhales to warm up my hands. My feet, however, were not so lucky. Within a few minutes they were completely numb—damn these shoes built for warm weather! I tried pounding the floor harder, that didn’t do anything. So I tried scrunching up my toes every time I kicked up my feet, it order to rub some warmth into the shoes. I just needed something to warm up my feet until my internal furnace started cranking.

By Mile three I was good. All my extremities were warm and non-frost bitten and I was finally getting into a decent long run pace (~9:00 min/mile).

There was one funny thing about NYC runners that I learned on this run: no matter how cold it is, someone will be wearing shorts. I didn’t think it was even possible to run in the weather in shorts, but half way through Saturday’s run I saw the lone runner in shorts. His legs were bright red and it just looked painful. I was too flabbergasted to even throw some witty comment his way.

Toward the end of the run I passed by the CNN LED screen that you can see from Tavern on the Green. It was 10:33am and a desolate nine degrees. When I passed by again two miles later it was still nine degrees. So. Freaking. Cold.

Actually, it was so cold that icicles formed on my head! Yes, icicles--as in the plural. At first it was just a little chunk of ice that I thought fell from a tree and melted onto my hat. But when it grew back I realized that sweat was dripping down from my hat onto my glasses and the icicles would form in the little space between my glasses and my face. I thought that there was just the one icicle that I could see out of the corner of my eye. But when I snapped a picture later, apparently I had a whole colony of icicles hanging out on my head, plus a clump of ice covering my headphone. This must have been why that woman was staring at me so oddly at the end of my run:



The weather report for Astoria for this morning:

Even at 12 noon today it will feel like seven degrees out there. Seven. And then, if you add the fact that I'll be running and I'll be wearing paper thin layers, it should feel like -38 out there. My South Florida roots are telling me this is a bad idea. A very bad idea.

Normally, I would skip today and just go out tomorrow. But tomorrow it will be snowing--and snow in the city usually turns into rain, so it'll be freezing rain. Great. So today actually turns out to be the better option because there will be sunlight and no snow.

Sigh. Time to suck it up and just get out there.


Wrench in the works


Today I was going to write about the surprisingly good run I had on Sunday and how happy I am with Fenny so far--but, there is now a bigger issue on the horizon. It looks like my beautifully laid out race schedule for the first half of 2009 is scrapped.

Let's start with Little Rock. I called my friend who is going to grad school there. Turns out that she has a convention to go to for the whole weekend of the race and she won't be in town. So while we can crash at her place for the weekend, it would really defeat the whole purpose of going to Little Rock in the first place.

Then there's an issue with Wilmington. May 17 just so happens to be the same day that my younger Godson is having his first communion in Miami. And while I'll be in Miami in early August to see my new niece/nephew, I'd still want to go in May for the communion.

Right now, I'm considering the following races:LinkI'm pretty much convinced on the National Half and the Flying Pig, but at a loss for the April race. Thoughts, comments, suggestions of other races are appreciated!


Harry Potter's harry potter

I've been thinking about going to see Equus for a few months now. I was intrigued by the premise of the show: a 17-year old boy blinds six horses and is checked into a psychiatric hospital. And the facts that Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) was playing the boy, Richard Griffiths (of other fame, but also in the Harry Potter movies) was playing his therapist, and Kate Mulgrew (of Star Trek: Voyager fame) had another role in the play--it was an awesome opportunity to see all these actors in a rare stage performance.

Oh yeah, and this play has gotten some attention because Daniel Radcliffe is completely buck naked for about 10 minutes.

It's been a while since I've seen a play, but this one was really good. We had cheesecake at Junior's (soooo good) afterward and spent the whole time talking about the play. It was well acted (for the most part) and really well staged. The way they created the horses was incredible. If any one is in town the next couple of weeks, this would be a great play to see (without the kids).

And by the way, the hot chick was totally buck naked too, but apprently no one in the press caught that during the previews. (It's ok, Wifey was right next to me.)


First long run of the year...

...will be tomorrow. Anyone else up for 8 miles in Central Park at 8:30ish? Although I warn you that it'll be my first run with Fenny, so I'll be distracted the whole time (and cold...oh so cold).


Kicking off 2009 right

Training for the 2009 racing season has officially begun!

I kicked off the my training for Little Rock/Great Bay/Wilmington this morning with a three mile tempo run. It's been almost three weeks since my last run, so this morning's run was surprisingly difficult--which is always how training starts, right? You look down the barrel (i.e., your training schedule) and think "What the hell am I doing? There is now way I can do this again." And then little by little you relearn how to run and how to turn over your legs and how to breathe properly. Then, after a while you find even an eight mile tempo run isn't that daunting and a 16 mile long run is just a "morning stroll" before brunch. It's like a little rebirth at the start of every training season.

In keeping with the spirit of starting the year, I'm also laying out my goals--running and otherwise--for 2009 in no particular order:
  1. Log 1,000 miles for the year. The problems with my IT band early on in 2008 set me way back--I got in about 890 miles. But so far I'm in great shape and have three races on the calendar. One thousand miles should be totally doable this year.
  2. Get presents for family members' birthdays. It's not really a matter of needing to buy something for someone, it's more a matter of showing my family that I'm still thinking of them even though I'm far away. I got better at this during 2008, but had a hard time with the people who don't need anything and buy everything they want (ahem, parents).
  3. I want to be happier in my job. My job has taken a turn toward the crapper pretty much since October and I need to fix that. Not sure what that means just yet, but stay turned.
  4. Get more involved in the running community. This is two-pronged. First, I need to get back with the group runs (which I stopped doing over the summer because the heavy mileage didn't go well with the late start on hot summer days). Second, I need to volunteer more at NYRR events.
  5. Move to a new place. From what I'm hearing, even the housing market here in NYC is softening. Although we probably won't be able to buy a place, we are going to keep looking for a new apartment since we can hopefully negotiate a deal by moving.
  6. Become an uncle. Well, this isn't a goal that I have much control over. It's more my sister's job. But the good news is that she's already two months pregnant! The little guy or girl right now is about the size of a lemon or orange or some other citrus fruit, but by late July we'll have a new member to the family.
  7. Run at least five races. I want to do some serious damage to the 50 state goal this year. Right now I have three races lined up for the first half of 2009 and I should be able to get a Fall Half-Marathon and Marathon on the calendar. If all goes according to plan I'll be more than 20% of my way to completion by the end of the year!!


New year, old problem

Time Warner has continued to drop the ball on our Internet. Apparently they didn't come on December 19 because of the blizzard. Then they didn't do the work on December 30 because it was too dark when they got here. They have now rescheduled the appointment to fix whatever is wrong with our wires to January 16. Good thing I don't work from home.

Fortunately, one of our friendly neighbors has an unprotected network that we are tapping today.

Taking a look at my blogroll I am never going to get through the 300+ entries on it. So I'm doing it: I'm marking all as read and starting anew with tomorrow. Sorry guys, but let's be honest, you'd probably do the same thing.

To be fair I should at least provide a brief recap of what's been going on in sRod land the last month and a half (besides the Time Warner debacle)? Here goes:
  • Went to California, specifically: San Francisco, Sonoma, and LA. It was a great trip, although we didn't see enough of San Francisco or LA, and I didn't drink enough in Sonoma. There is plenty to go back and see when I run the San Francisco Marathon...someday.
  • My uncle came to town with his girlfriend and their respective children. We ate and walked all over town--probably the best weekend I've had in a long time.
  • We have mice! I can handle bugs, but mice and rats disgust me. Uck. As we were making dinner one night I caught one of the little f!ckers scramble across the entrance to the kitchen out of the corner of my eye. So far we've killed two of them, but we're convinced there's more. No idea why they're showing up now, but it's definitely not making a case for us to stick around with our lease running up in March.
  • Went to the in-laws (in North Carolina) for Christmas. We gave wifey's little brothers a trip to Atlanta to see the Georgia Aquarium and have dinner at Medieval Times for dinner. The Aquarium was stunning, but felt surprisingly small for being the largest in the world. Medieval Times was fantastically cheesy--we all had a blast.
  • We went to Middle-Of-Nowhere, WV to meet up with my family for their New Year's ski trip. It was great to get the whole family together--even if we were so remote a location that the nearest decent grocery store was over an hour away. I skied every day, bolting down the slopes like a pro--you would never know that I grew up in Florida! I can't wait until our ski trip over President's Day with our friends.
  • My parents gave us a Wii Fit and a Garmin Nuvi (i.e., a Garmin for your car...yes, they make those). My aunt gave me cash for running clothes (sweet!) and my sister gave me money to take running classes with the NYRR (super sweet!). I don't even know what to do with all this holiday goodness!!
  • I should have probably reviewed all my 2008 goals at some point, but I'm pretty sure I missed them all. So let's avoid that subject.
  • I returned the rental car from our trip this morning. When I noted down the mileage I realized we drove about 2,100 miles from December 23 until January 4. I think that is the most I've ever driven in a two week period.
  • And what about running during all of this? I haven't at all. And while I feel most people would welcome this break after an intense Summer and Fall of running, I really miss training. I feel all disorganized and ungrounded without the daily running. The good news is that I already put together my training plan for my upcoming races and the 2009 training season starts early--early as in tomorrow. I'm supposed to cross-train tomorrow (yeah, I'm trying out Monday cross-training), but I'm giving myself a break as I ease back into the work flow. But running starts in earnest on Tuesday with a Tempo run. Woo hoo! Only ten weeks until Little Rock.

And now you're up to speed. Off to bed and to get back to work tomorrow.