Friday, November 24, 2006

"Everybody dies alone."

- Graffiti under the East Stimson St. bridge. Yes, I know what it's from.

Distance: 4.5 miles
Duration: roughly 38 minutes
Time: 2.30pm
Weather: 59 degrees and sunny

Futuritual (171 BPM) - dj steveboy
"A half-hour of primal tribal grooves, then we pull the stops out with trance, breakbeat, and drum & bass to sail you over the wall."

Don't do this. (But be sure to scroll all the way through it.)

O! The calories! No, I did not need seconds last night, who does. And running on a reuben and a milkshake was also a bad idea. But the weather is perfect and the Hocking was so inviting, I could not help myself.

I have been going over in my head how many things I learned in the past year. Earlier blog entries include my concern that I was always thirsty - I stepped up liquid intake and those complaints stopped. Obvious in hindsight, but it's not like I'd never run before. It's just that I'd never run so much before.

Dishing out Newports to the runners on Bedford.

I was resigned to running in pain, with shin splints which, by all available advice, would not subsided until I ceased training. Other advice taught me how to work through them, and I just don't have them anymore. The internet is truly an amazing and helpful thing. I thought it was only good for porn (though it is awfully good for that.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I'm the same boy I used to be

Distance: 3 miles
Time: 3pm
Weather: 39º rainy

Sausalito Summernight - Diesel
Don't Be Shy - Spektrum
Call On Me (Filterheadz Remix) - Eric Prydz
Wild Wild Life - Talking Heads
Magical Trevor (Happy Hardore Remix) - Weebl

It is cold and wet, and we are making preparations for Thanksgiving, my true finish line. Running once a week will not do, but now that I can longer whine that "if I don't run, I'll never make it to the end of the New York Marathon!" it's difficult to justify the time. That, and the weather sucks.

So, before too much time gets away, let us all bask once more in my greatest athletic triumph !

Join me on the Verranazo-Narrows Bridge ...

Friday, November 10, 2006

brightroom Events Photography

Just couldn't keep my head up. Who cares, now I have proof.

Where did Daddy train?
Plainfield, VT
Niagara Falls, NY
Cleveland Heights, OH
Athens, OH
St. Paul, MN
Cleveland & Lakewood, OH
London, UK
New York City, NY

Too bad Chicago isn't on that list, but hey, what fun.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What happened next.

Distance: 1 mile
Time: 4:30pm
Weather: 63º sunny

The ING NYC Marathon is an extremely well-planned event ... until you cross the finish line.

It is strongly recommended that ou walk at least 20 minutes after the race, so your blood can redistribute itself and you don't cramp up and have a heart attack and die and everything. Unfortunately, once you cross the finish line, you meet a wall of other runners, funneled into a fenced-off road, shuffling their way along as hundreds of new runners pile in behind you.

You get your medal. They hand you a bottle of water. They give you a cup of Gatorade. They hand out those thin metallic blankets (you are hot and sweaty, but now cooling rapidly on a shady thoroughfare - remember, it's fifty degrees) and a tab to close it. They clip off your chip.

Shortly after getting my blanket, I began getting very emotional, thinking of see ing my wife, my children, at the family reunion area. And then I started feeling faint. What could be the matter? Then I realized I wasn't getting enough air. I went from four and a quarter hours of heavy exertion to a near-standstill (I wanted to be briskly walking so badly) and I wasn't taking in enough air. I looked to my left and saw all of these guys - men as fit as me, or better - lying on the ground, being assisted by medical personnel holding their feet up. I did not want to pass out. I began breating as steadly, but as fully as I could. I held my hand before my eyes for something to focus on (thank you, Louis Colaianni.) I did not pass out.

The UPS van that my personal bag was in was perhaps the longest walk from the finish line. I gather my items, fished out the complimentary Tylenol 8 hour and took it. I walked out to 77 St. to the family reunion area for people with a last name beginning with "H." I walked up the street, searching for my boy, my girl. I pictured a tear-felt reunion, Z. running towards me with O. following after.

They were nowhere to be seen. I got my cellphone out of my bag. My wife said they were caught in the park, there was no way to get to where I was, not with any speed. Could I head up Columbus Ave. to 85th Street?

So I did. My dry, warm clothes were with them. I shuffled down Columbus Avenue, glassy-eyed and shivering, like some homeless guy. Except everyone I passed was saying "Congratulations!' and "Great job!" People leaned out the windows of their cars to wish me well. The homeless don't generally get that.

Before dinner, I took a nice long shower. Each foot had a large, painful blister where my corns are. And though I never believed I had any use for any kind of Body Glide or Vaseline - never having suffered any kind of chaffing when running 18 or 19 miles - I now knew what is was for, and where.

As Brooke Shields said in The Blue Lagoon, I was bleeding. Down there.

This evening I took my first recovery run. I felt I could go forever, the evening was so beautiful. But after a half-mile, I knew this was not the case. But at least I know now that I will be a runner for life.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New York you make it happen

Saturday Night

Freaking out about my chip situation, I decide to head back to the Expo at the Javits Center. After waiting over a half hour for the shuttle in front of the Hyatt, a guy from Chicago named Joe and I jump a cab and get to the Expo. They are tearing everything down around when we arrive; compared to the excitement of the day before it's weird, it's like something is over, not beginning.

As it turns out, now both chips are registered, I could use either. I decide to use theirs, I don't know why.

That night I have dinner with two old college friends, Andrew F. and Missy H. Andrew buys me a pasta dinner at this great Italian place across the street froom where he works. Andrew designs props for the American Airlines Theater, after dinner he gave us a brief tour of the set of Heartbreak House.

I stop off at a market for extra food; a banana, pretzels, the odd energy bar, and a way too big bottle of water. Back to Coop's place, I lay out my gear, pack my bag and get in bed around 9.30.

Race Day

I don't sleep much at all, I wake up every twenty minutes. At 3.50, ten minutes before my alarm goes off, I get out of bed, clean up and suit up. I hate to consume anything when I first wake up, but force myself to drink a pint of water and eat a banana. I kiss my wife good-bye, say I'll see her on First Avenue, and head for the subway.

I chew a bagel on the way to the subway station. As I wait for the 6, other guys show up in running gear and their "official" bags. We were each given a clear plastic bag, the only bag, we are told, we can take to the starting area. No bags inside of bags either, it's obviously a security thing. We're all like, hey, and hi, and have a great run. But not very loudly.

By 5 am there's a line up us walking up 42nd street towards the library, and there are at least twenty busses waiting for us. After all that fretting about my bus pass, they never even check. They just want to see that we have numbers, there's no way they could see the small lettering on them that says if we have a pass or if this is the right pick up area. Whatever.

I have a great conversation with a guy from Toronto (sorry, I forgot your name) who ran the Cleveland Marathon last May. He kept saying really sweet things about our city and I kept biting my tongue from running the place down because we all do that.

Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island

I am there before dawn, maybe the sceond bus there. Looks like a refugee camp. There's even experienced runners who have brought sleeping bags so they can just crash until start time. The only thing I missed was a scarf, otherwise I was relatively warm. I spent four hours pacing, having two small cups of coffee, eating another bagel, and another banana, trying to read the Sunday Times with gloves on, going to rest room as strenuously as possible. When I tried sitting to read my body temperature dropped rapidly and so I got up again and just kept moving.

I even got in line for a massage. I didn't really need one, but it was something to do. She worked my back, I get tense in my shoulders a lot and my lower back hurt from all the pacing. By now the sun was up and I sat and worked on my red shirt. I wrote PENGO in block letters on the front. On the back I wrote:


with a heart and a star. They got me to this place, I wanted to take them with me.

The people from different countries amazed me. Close to the start I met a young man named Matt from London. This was his first marathon, too - and he came from London. For his first marathon. So did I. Cool.

In my corral (the 20000 - 20999 corral) I found the 4:00 pace guy. I was going to follow the 4:15 pace team, but I'd already met this Londoner so I stayed there. Regardless, maybe I could pull off something like four hours, and maybe this was a big mistake, but whatever, I'd just let some people pass me first.

We began to move, and I took off the black sweats I'd gotten at Unique Thrift. I would be wearing my Asics all-weather black cap, glasses with a strap (not sunglasses) Lands Ends black long-sleeve tee, red Under Armour shirt, black Under Armour shorts, black running shocks and my Asics gels. I had gloves I planned on ditching. One last pee and we headed for the start. I was also wearing my iPod, had two GUs pinned to my shorts, and a tube of Carmex tucked into my waistband.

All my gear choices turned out to be perfect.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

I reach the start line roughly six minutes after the gun goes off. My headphones are off, I am saving that for later. Just the thrill of, well, finally being here. I was nervous for a fraction of a second back on the bus, now, after hours of waiting, I am just happy to be moving. The sky is cloudless, the weather is mild, it is going to be a beautiful day for running.

Already there are men relieving themselves, over the edge of the Verranano-Narrows Bridge. I just don't think that's right. Over the next four plus hours, I will see guys just letting it go over bridges, through chain link fences, anywhere really. I also seeing amused photographers taking pictures of small groups of guys, pissing into parking lots.

Good-bye Staten Island.


Brooklyn was amazing. And very, very long. After a two-mile bridgem we would be in the Borough of Kings until the race was half-over. Shortly after we arrived, we were greeted by large, large crowds of cheering locals. When I saw a guy holding a sign reading FINISHING IS YOUR ONLY F*CKING OPTION I knew it was going to be a good day.

There were Irish runners wearing big green hats, a guy dressed as a rhino. a surprising number of Norwegians in the pack, Dutch runners with matching orange jerseys sporting questionable cartoons of Africans with big lips, a guy dressed like the Statue of Liberty, and, so they tell me, Bobby Flay.

For most of Brooklyn I enjoyed the ambient sound, the bands playing every couple of miles. I drank at maybe every other station, sometimes water, sometimes Gatorade. I forced myself to drink even when I didn't want to, necessarily, though I found as I was drinking, that I really did.

Whenever I took long runs during my training, I would feel terribly drained after a while. I attributed this to a lack of something in my system. At five miles, I took my first GU, right before a water station to wash it down.

10K split: 0:57:33

By seven miles, I began to wonder if we were in Queens yet, and had to remind myself that that wouldn't come until mile 13. I tried keeping the bouncing balloons held by the 4:00 pace captain in sight, but needed to take a leak (at an actual port-o-john) and spent a few miles trying to catch up. I was going much faster than I should have. By the time we reached Queens, I lost them for the rest of the run.

I began getting that drained feeling before the Half-Marathon, and worried I hadn't packed enough to eat. They warn you not to pick up anything not at an official table, which is a shame, because there were kids with small water bottles, old ladies with orange slices, guys with bananas. I took a Twizzler at one point, because I thought that was good luck, until I remembered I never chew Twizzlers thoroughly enough. I had my second GU, this one with caffeine in it. I knew there would be a PowerBar Gel station at mile 18, and hoped I would last until then.

I had read on some message board that you shouldn't put your name on your shirt, that it gets annoying after a while. Everyone else said to do it. Well, I didn't write my name, I wrote my nickname. And I gotta tell you, I never got sick of perfect strangers yelling "Pengo!" at me. That was a big boost, and whenever I needed it, I moved from the center of the street to one of the curbs.

Queensboro Bridge

A steep incline, luckily I read in one of the magazines that there is a stunning view of Manhattan if you look to your left. I did, and it was. It was breathtaking. It was one of several moments during the run I almost, but didn't, burst into tears. God, I love that city.

Choice track: Such Great Heights - The Postal Service

Earlier in the run I was concerned I was dressed just a little too heavily. Maybe I didn't need to his thermal undershirt, at least not in the bright sunlight and 50º weather of Brroklyn. But the two miles on the lower level of the Queensboro Bridge made me grateful I had it on, that was brisk.

Choice track: Winners - 7 Seconds of Love

As we headed down the bridge descending into Manhattan, I said possibly the only thing out loud I had said to that point. I said, "That's a lot of people."

Half-marathon split: 2:00:17

First Avenue

Outstanding. First Avenue, deep with people, for miles. Bright and sunny again, heading uptown. My family was supposed to be waiting for me at 81st Street, but I started looking for them much earlier, on the west side of the street, looking for the SpongeBob Squarepants sign I got them from the expo. I missed the "official" banana station looking for my wife, but - I kid you not - I almost slipped on a banana peel.

Choice track: Future Sightings - I Am the World Trade Center

They were right where they said they'd be, Coop was holding the sign, which read "Go Go Pengo!" or I never would have seen them. I leaned over to kiss my wife and little girl, and headed off again. And then I got really, really tired. It was only mile 17.

I had used the iPod intermittently, but relied on it more heavily to keep my spirits up. I snagged a PowerBar Gel, and then a second one for later.

Choice track: A Little Less Conversation - Elvis Presley

I have no idea whether it is a boon or a curse to be familiar with the geography and relative distances of Manhattan in this situation. I knew I was racing into the hundreds, and that after a brief swing through the Bronx, it would still be a long way back to Central Park.

The Bronx

On the Willis Avenue Bridge we were greeted by a Scots drum and pipes band. Not as many people to see us at the Bronx, maybe the feel slighted being such a short part of the route. I was feeling distress in my abdomen, couldn't tell if it was just all of the synthetic protein and carbs or all the fluid I had been taking in, or just gas. I stopped at another port-o-john, which was a big risk. I tried keeping my legs moving as I pee'ed - that was a very good idea - and then got back on the road.

I applied lip balm ever few miles, I never lost the lip balm. I still had the gloves I'd tucked in my waistband.

And then we were back in Manhattan.

Fifth Avenue

I mostly listened to the iPod through Harlem and on toward the Park. The family was going to cross over and meet me there - at first my wife had said she would see me on the avenue, and then she changed that so I wasn't sure where I would see her. So I began looking well up the street. It was a good thing, too, another distraction.

Remember; I had never even run 20 miles before. The one time I tried it I fell slightly short, going from Cleveland Heights to Lakewood. Once I did hit 20, in the Bronx, I thought, well, from here on out I have no idea what I am capable of. I tried to drive any notion of what it was going to feel like stopping, of finishing, of having the medal, of seeing my kids again, out of my head.

Choice track: Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae

We crossed into Central Park. After another half mile or so, I found my family again. I wasn't stopping this time, I was just happy to see them. The last two miles were ridiculous. I can't say they were impossible, I didn't slow down any more than I already had (LOTS of people passed me on Fifth Avenue) I just kept going, not too slowly, either, it just didn't seem like it was ever going to end.

Final track: It's My Life (Vocal Mix) - Liquid People vs. Talk Talk

Remember, these tracks are at random, and this one was next. I listened to it a lot during my training, one of those songs from my teenage yeras that was playe so much it lost meaning at the time, but has creepingly gained meaning in the time since. And the artist who was Talk Talk now goes under the name Liquid People and "remixed" this track, which means he mostly put a thudding beat under it that makes it incredible to work out to. It was exactly what I needed at that point in time, reminding me of all the work I'd put into this. I just shut everyone out except for the deafening cheering that came through.

Out to south end of the park, and then back in, I headed to the finish line. There was no feeling of overwhelming exhilaration then, just relief.

Finish time: 4:15:28
Overall place: 16,838 (out of 38,368)
Average pace: 9:45

Sunday, November 05, 2006

To the Five Boroughs

Unofficial time: 04:21.09

Deduct roughly five minutes for the time it took us to get to the starting gate.

I did it. I ran the New York Marathon. And as God is my witness, I will never do that again.

Not that I'm not proud and thankful, or that it wasn't just simply amazing. It was just so hard. All of it, the training, everything.

But let's not go there yet. I ran the f*cking marathon. On my feet. Running.

Details soon.


From the NY Times:

Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong finished his first marathon in a hair under three hours. Armstrong crossed the finish line 2:59:36, easily making his goal of finishing within an hour of the men's winner.

"That was, without a doubt, the hardest physical thing I've ever done," Armstrong said after the race.

Comparing his marathon experience to his cycling success Armstrong said, "even the worst days on the tour, nothing was as hard as that. Nothing left me feeling the way I do now." Armstrong said he shins started hurting around mile 12 or 13, and his legs felt heavy as he ran through Harlem. With three miles to go in the race, Armstrong said he stopped caring if he could meet his personal goal of finishing under three hours, the pain was so intense.

See? Me and Lance. We know what's up.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Don't Nod and Dream

1 Day to NYC Marathon

Distance: 3.56 miles

Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand
Brand New Colony - The Postal Service
Pump Up the Volume - M/A/R/R/S
Everybody Everybody - Black Box
It's My Life (Vocal Mix) - Liquid People vs. Talk Talk
Hips Don't Lie - Bamboo (2006 FIFA World Cup Mix en Espanol) - Shakira

Around the corner from Coop's apartment on 3rd Ave. and down East 81st Street 'til it dead ends at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The up Fifth Avenue, past the Gugenheim (unfortunately scaffolded) and up and around the Reservoir and back. A brisk early morning run in Manhattan, and a route I took for several days in 2004.

Can I do this? With New York City as my backdrop, the answer has to be yes. My only concern right now is what I will do with the four to five hours I will be spending at the starting line, between sixish and ten.

And how to dress. If today is any indication, I will have no problem wearing my long-sleeve thermie under my red shirt (look for the red shirt!) my black hat and black shorts. I have a cheap, black sweat suit to toss, and gloves I don't like that I may tuck into my shorts if I think I may need them later, or toss by the side of the road.

This morning I had caffeinated GU, a PowerBar "Triple Threat" and Gatorade's noxious power-juice drink. I felt GREAT.

We are getting ready for a relaxing day in the City. My girl is watching Mary Poppins and the boy is diddling with an Elmo phone. The wife is making calls.

Mary Poppins was on tv while my wife and I were preparing to go out to dinner on New Year's Eve, 2001. We were in Niagara Falls. She was pregnant. Three months later our first child was dead.

Shortly thereafter I quit smoking. I dropped a lot of weight. Our subsequent, living children have made me even more obsessed with staying in good health. I have had kids late enough, I want to see as much as I can before I am done.

I've been running since I was 12. My dad was big into running in the late 70s and early 80s, you know, when it was all the rage (at least, from a pop culture stand-point, more people run now than ever.) We are not an atheltic family, of my two brothers and I, I think I was the only one who tried to engage in team sports. I tried softball, I attempted basketball, I was very bad at it and as a result I generally hate playing team sports. In college I would grit my teeth and smile whenever anyone suggested a pick-up game, and pray for it to be over, the way someone else might groan and grudgingly play Scrabble. Hell, I hate watching team sports, and I only sit through them for the beer and funny commercials.

My father was never much of a help. I like to imagine that if either of my children expressed the mildest interest in joining me, I would do what I could to bring them along. In fact, I already have, on the trip here my girl brought up a couple of times the day we ran together. We'll do that again soon, if she wants to.

What if my father and I had had one conversation about running? Anything about it, anything at all. Some pointers, some encouragement. Maybe I might have learned something.

I tired a couple races back then, I usually petered out after a mile or two. 5Ks weren't popular yet, they were all 5 milers, and those are long for someone who doesn't know what they're doing.

There was a girl I had a crush on in 7th grade, and we would make dates to "go running" at the track at the Bonnie Bell headquarters in Westlake. We'd run a mile and then walk the rest, with me listening to her go on about whoever it was she was stuck on that week. I think it was those experiences, more than anything, that gave running any significance in my life.

In 2003 I suddenly made myself a promise to do a marathon before I turned 40. I announced this intention at my 35th birthday party. But I didn't know where and when I would do this, until a cousin of mine actually ran the 2004 New York Marathon. And I realized, oh, if I am going to run a marathon, I need to plan to run a marathon.

I may have been better suited to do this back then. So many physical complaints, so busy, so much attention diverted from my wife, my kids. But this is the year, and I won't be attempting this any time again in the near future.

I hope I never stop running. I want to be one of those wiry old men who jog slowly up the street, past your house. And I want to run one marathon. I'll do that tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Friday, November 03, 2006


We are in New York. The past twenty-four hours have been ... difficult. Everyone - the wife, the kids - were ill yesterday morning, and very unhappy about the idea of taking a weekend trip to New York. The suggestion was made that I go alone.

That would have totally blown. I don't think I could make it to the finish if I didn't know my family would be waiting for me at the end.

Anyway, by the evening things had turned around considerably, and the family was on.

Putting the kids to bed, packing, getting the house prepped for the housekeeper ... watching The Daily Show, these things take time and we were in bed by midnight to wake at 4.30 for an 8.30 flight. God am I tired.

I have been to the ING NY Marathon Expo at the Javits Center and back. When I was almost there, I realized I had left my chip back at the apartment. I could have just gone back to get it, which would be enough of a pain. However, when I received my registration materials, they read that I did not have a bus pass to Staten Island for Sunday morning, without which getting to the Starting Line would be, well, impossible. So I was concerned about getting to the Expo and getting a bus pass.

I chose to just get a new chip, to put down a deposit for a new one when I got there. What this mean,s however, is that I won't know if I am in the database until tomorrow, maybe Sunday. Maybe I won't find out until the race is over, and not even know if my splits are registering.

Listen to me. "I won't know if my splits are registering." Who have I become?

But I did. I got the new chip. They must be experienced at this, after all, there was a stack of cards for people who had also shown up without a chip. But it's the kind of thing I worry about.

And what did I learn next? I DO have a bus pass. Says I don't on my registration, says I do on my bib number (which is what is important.) Geez.

My number is 20368. Check out the Athlete Tracker at the ING NY Marathon website on race day to keep track of my progress. If my splits are showing.

UPDATE: Send me your email address, and I will add you to my list of people who will receive automatic updates on my progress.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Marathon Prep

Everyone in the house is ill. My nose cannot stop running. The forecast is 45 degrees and partly cloudy. I have disposable sweats and gloves (which I need to wash) but do not plan to carry a bag. This has confounded me, the idea of carrying a bag, like a small fanny pack, fills me with dread, so I haven't even gotten one. But I will be hungry long before we hit the mile 18 gel packs.

I was concerned whether to go with glasses or sunglasses, and luckily it would appear the weather will not require sunglasses. Contacts are out, I do not want my eyes to get dry and they can give me vertigo. I've never had a problem wearing glasses on long runs, not even in rain. And my new hat works fine, it's black, so, again, the weather works with me, it won't act as a solar collector. It also keeps sweat out of my face pretty well, and has a small visor.

Tomorrow we fly to NYC early, which affords me time to get to the Expo to register tomorrow afternoon, when it will be hideously crowded, instead of Saturday, when it will be impossibly crowded. I need to register, get my bib number, get a bus pass (I thought I had already signed up for one when I registered way back when, but apparently I hadn't, regardless, they have no record of it) and sign up for a pace team.

A pace team is headed by an experienced marathoner who will get you there in plus or minus two minutes from the time you choose. That means I'll be locked in to a finish time, but after all of this training, I believe it is reasonable to assume it will take 4.15. Remember; the goal is to finish.

I need to remember to bring:
All running gear, every conceiveable conbination.
Registration info (arrived in the mail last week.)
My ChampionChip.
Official Handbook.

I run three miles later today. Two in Central Park Saturday morning. And then Twenty-six point two miles through all five boroughs of New York.

UPDATE: Okay, here's the big question, iPod or no iPod?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Treading water

Thanks, Gina.

4 Days to NYC Marathon

Distance: 4 miles
Duration: roughly 36 minutes
Weight: 167.5 lbs. (Mmmmm ... candy ...)
Stretches: yes
Drink: Gatorade "Rain"
Meal: spaghetti
Time: 3pm
Weather 48º cool & overcast

Betta Change (161 BPM) - dj steveboy
"Smooth & steady wins the race—but fast & steady can't hurt, especially when we let 'er rip in the last 15 minutes."

Yep, bagged on the no-tunes thing. I'll just deal with that Sunday.