Sunday, May 31, 2009

2009 brooklyn half marathon: race report

2009 was my seventh time running the brooklyn half marathon. 2009 was the first time the half ran in the reverse direction, from propect park to coney island. the new course included two loops of the park, before it ran down ocean parkway to the finish. in a coincidence, i first ran the brooklyn half in 2001. that year bad weather moved the start off the boardwalk, which necessitated a second loop of the park to correct for the alteration!

luckily, the second loop of prospect park came at the start of the 2009 race - and not the finish. it's best to get the hills done and out of the way early, rather than later. as in years past, pat drove us (emmy, rob, and me) down to the start and then met us at the finish. in a change from the past years, katie slept in and skipped the race. also, in another last minute change of plans, don couldn't run the race. so we had two fewer people in the car for the trip.

pat dropped us off right in front of the baggage trucks. almost instantly we lost rob, as he made his way to the porta-johns. just as quickly, emmy and i met up with bob. bob is running 50 races in one year to celebrate his 50th birthday. in the process, he is using the experience to raise awareness and money to fight childhood diabetes! as i dropped off my bag, i spotted chris. when i said hi to him, i mistakenly put my bag on the wrong truck! luckily, i found it with no problems at the end of the race.

in one of the coolest race moments, just inside the park was the v.i.p. tent. emmy had gotten an email from the nyrr inviting her (and a guest) to visit it. the greatest part of that perk - the no wait porta-john! i also grabbed a small bottle of red grapefruit juice - which emmy gave me way too much grief for drinking just before the start. who could have imagined pre-hydration would be so complicated!

it was an crowded walk over the start on center drive. we were in the second corral, and we had given rob a little grief earlier because he had a first corral bib for this race. while we waited for the start, mary wittenburg (who would jump into the race herself) walked up and down offering the runners salt packets! i didn't think the heat was that bad - but better safe than sorry. the brooklyn borough president announced that the field was 11,800 strong. i said a hi to tom just before the gun went off.

the first mile was, as expected, slow and crowded. it also included one fairly sharp left turn off the main drive (which we would bypass the second time around - when we did a full loop of the park). mile one took 7:36 - and would set the tone for a conservative pair of loops. while i didn't have more than a sub 1:40 finish in mind, it seemed that i'd have to make up the time on ocean parkway because running a 7:30 pace in the park was tougher than i'd though (mainly because of the volume of runners on the course).

on the south end of the first loop, mile 4, emmy and bob caught up with me and we ran together for a mile or so. bob had taken his camera with him and snapped that very cool picture of me in race action :D he also snapped a shot of a runner dressed as zorro! given the sun and heat, dressing in black didn't seem the way to go - in my opinion. but then again, i'd never run a race wearing a cape - so what did i know?

my five mile split was 38:04 - just slower than the 7:30's i wanted to run for the first half of the course. emmy once again caught up with me on the southbound leg of the second loop - we weaved in and out of traffic together as we made for the park exit and moved over to the prospect expressway. free of the crowd, i ran mile 7 in 7:02 - my fastest mile of the half. i was right at home on ocean parkway and looked forward to working my way up the alphabet as we moved closer to coney island.

except for a quick psyche out with newkirk and parkside avenues coming way too soon in the alphabet, i mentally ticked off each approaching letter on ocean parkway. i ran sub 7:20's on this stretch, and my split for the second five miles was 36:28, for a cumulative 1:14:32 at the ten mile mark. with just a 5k left, i dropped the pace down to sub 7:15's and ran a 22:21 for the last 3.1 miles. the last mile (primarily on the boardwalk) seemed to stretch out endlessly! but i was in for a neat surprise just before the finish!

i heard pam shout out my name! there she was, with pat alongside her, cheering just before the mile 13 mark! how cool was that?! pam had driven ilana and eliot to the start, and then met up with pat at coney island. they went for some coffee at dunkin donuts, then waited for all of us to finish the race. i was very happy with my 1:36:53, 7:23 pace. while it was well off my personal best for this race (1:30:15 and 1:30:34 in 2005 and 2006, respectively) - it was a decent improvement from my 1:39:38 in 2008.

in the finish area we did some serious socializing. at one point our little group included the following characters: pat, pam, emmy, rob, chris, bob, ilana, eliot, frank, and maggie! earlier i had said hi to fellow taconic teammates tom (who won his age group!) and bob. the only two people i didn't see were mike and al, both with pptc. even factoring in the crowded park at the start, the general consensus was the revised course was great!

here are my race photos.

happy birthday walt whitman - 190 years old today!

walt whitman was born may 31, 1819 - 190 years ago today! he died at the age of 72, in 1892. today, he celebrates himself in heaven, while we celebrate his 190th birthday here on earth. whitman is easily my favorite poet (handily, but nevertheless narrowly, beating out allen ginsberg for that honor). a well worn copy of "leaves of grass" is probably one of the oldest books in my library (amazingly, it beats out the equally dog-eared pocket poets editon of "howl" by a couple of years).

whitman was born on long island, grew up in brooklyn (his family moved there when he was 4 years old), and died in camden, new jersey. a true local boy in every sense of the word. he had a series of occupations during his life. aside from writing poetry, he was also a working journalist (having covered the civil war for the "brooklyn eagle") and essayist.

he self-published "leaves of grass" in 1855 - and revised the poems throughout his lifetime. the copy most read today is the so-called "deathbed" edition. at the time, the book was considered obscene by contemporary society. the above photo of the young whitman was the frontispiece of the first edition. the photo on my blog's sidebar is of the (very) mature walt whitman (also an iconic image).

today, whitman is often considered the father of "free verse" - and none other than allen ginsberg himself followed in the long line of poets who claimed to fall under his influence.

celebrate walt whitman today!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

2009 brooklyn half marathon: race photos and results

what a great day for a race! the 2009 brooklyn half marathon is in the books! short version, finished in 1:36:53, a 7:23 pace. rob and emmy finished in 1:37:52 and 1:38:23, respectively. pat drove the three of us down to prospect park and then met us at the finish in coney island. the race had a huge - 11,800 starters - turnout!

here is my race report.

here are the race results from nyrr.

here are my race photos:

pre-race: me and bob

pre-race: chris

bob and tom

rob, chris, and me

pat and emmy

me, chris, emmy, bob, and his banner!

bob and ilana

chris, pam, and emmy

frank and maggie

emmy, pam, and eliot
emmy, rob, and pat - last picture before car ride home :D

Friday, May 29, 2009

june 2009 race schedule

i just pulled together my race plans for june and the coolest part of the schedule this month is having found three races to run with katie! we've done cook your buns and the greenburgh mile many times in past, but the brand "new" new canaan one miler on a mid-june saturday night looks like too much fun to pass up.

except for the nipmuck trail marathon and the "new" suffolk community college foundation 50k the following week, all the races this month are short distances - 5 miles or less (including a pair of one and three milers). the 2009 norwalk summer series kicks off with the 3 and 5 milers this month. plus, the tuesday night waveny park summer xc series kicks off this month and i'd like to get over there for at least one night this month.

last, but not least, i'm still on the fence about the fairfield half marathon. chances are better than 50/50 that that i'll run it. but even if i decide to skip the race, i'll still head over to jennings beach to cheer on my friends!

6/7 - nipmuck trail marathon
6/12 - cook your buns, 3m
6/13 - norwalk summer series, 3m - [w/katie]
6/13 - new canaan mile - [w/katie] - rescheduled until 6/27
6/14 - suffolk cc foundation 50k
6/20 - greenburgh mile - [w/katie]
6/21 - rowayton father's day fun run, 4.4m
6/24 - summer solistic 15k (training run)
6/27 - norwalk summer series, 5m
6/28 - fairfield half marathon

update: katie and i skipped the new canaan mile and i didn't run the fairfield half marathon after all. but i did add the rowayton father's day fun run and summer solstice 15k to the schedule. the summer solstice 15k became a training run when we got to new paltz 40 minutes after the start of the race!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

a quick look a the "reversed" 2009 brooklyn half marathon course

many thanks to pam, who took the time to map out the revised - reverse direction - brooklyn half marathon course!!

now we can get a quick, virtual, look at the route and elevation before the race on saturday!

the reversed direction (prospect park to coney island) is a first, and it should be fun (weather permitting) to finish on the beach! while two loops of prospect park is challenging, at least the hills will be done and out of the way before the dash down ocean parkway!

note: on may 18, minor revisions were made to the course start and finish points (but no change to the basic route). check the nyrr course map for the final version.

here are some pictures from the 2009 brooklyn half marathon.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"the freewheelin' bob dylan" released 46 years ago!

"the freewheelin' bob dylan" was released on may 27, 1963 - 46 years ago today. it was dylan's second album, following the release of his self-titled debut album a year earlier. except for two covers, all the material was written by dylan himself. it was a sharp contrast with the first album, where all but two songs were covers.

"freewheelin' bob dylan" includes the iconic masterpiece, "blowin' in the wind" - probably one of dylan's most famous songs. the album also includes the classic "a hard rain's a-gonna fall" and "masters of war" (a song which is tied with "joey" as my all-time favorite dylan tunes). aside from dylan's version of "masters of war," i love bob weir's cover of it with ratdog (and eddie veder's take on it as well)!

the cover art is also iconic, with dylan on the streets of greenwich village with his then girlfriend, suze rotolo (it was actually taken just in front of the apartment they were currently living in). the backstory to the photo shoot is told in rotolo's recent biography/memoir, "a freewheelin' time: a memoir of greenwich village in the sixties."

so take the time to listen to some bob dylan today :D

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 pioneer memorial 100 mile trek: race report

15th biennial pioneer memorial 100 mile trek
memorial day weekend, may 23-25, 2009
queens, new york

day one: kissena park
day two: alley pond park
day three: crocheron park

it's hard to believe that 2 years have flown by since the 14th biennial pioneer memorial 100 mile trek was held in 2007. this memorial day weekend, with a slight modifications, we ran the 15th edition of the trek. the major difference was a reversal of the order in which we ran the different parks. in 2007 we began with crocheron park and finished with kissena park. also, in 2007, a separate 50k race was held in conjunction with each stage of the trek. this year only one 50k race (which itself was a switch from a planned 6 hour run) was held in conjunction with the first day of the trek.

those were minor changes. the biggest difference was the absence of running legend ted corbitt. in 2007 he started off each day of the trek with backgrounds of the ultrarunners that particular stage honored. then he spent the remainder of each day supporting the runners out on the course. his presence was missed this weekend. this edition of the trek was run in ted's honor. in an incredibly gracious act, ted's son, gary, gave richie some of ted corbitt's more than 700 medals, which he in turn hand picked to distribute as individual finishers awards.

day one: kissena park

in 2007 the trek ended at kissena park. this time around the first 33.333 miles of the trek would be run at kissena park. after a long first loop, the course consisted of 23 laps of the park. each lap of the park included two significant hills. since the "queens 50k" race was held in conjunction with this stage, the field of runners was decidedly larger than it would be for the succeeding two days of the event. i drove down to kissena park with emmy and rob. this was a repeat for rob, who ran the first day of the trek in 2007 (and would run the 50k this year). it would be emmy's first (and my second) multi-day event.

richie's pre-race instructions included a reminder to keep our bibs safe after the race. we would reuse them for each day. since i was the only one who forgot his bib (and needed a replacement) in 2007 - i thought that announcement was especially for my benefit! it wasn't, richie assured me - phew (and i didn't have any problem keeping tabs on it this time around)! both the trek and 50k race began together, although different start lines were used to adjust for the individual race distances. in addition to rob, chris, byron, al, and barbara were running the 50k.

after an initial long loop of 15:44, i ran the next 10 laps (1.42 mile loop) in just over 11 minutes each. the most memorable part of this portion was the small army of neighborhood denizens practicing tai chi on field at the top of the second hill! the second noteworthy item was the powerful wind gusts that blew dust and plant particles through the air in huge clouds. i coughed a lot during the first 10 loops.

things quieted down significantly when the wind slackened off and the tai chi practitioners called it a day. my next 9 loops slowed down from average 11 minutes each to just under 14 minutes. by loop 20 my time had slowed to 15 minutes - and i ran the 21st and 22nd loops with emmy at just over 16 minutes each. in a final burst of energy i knocked off the 23rd and last loop of the day in 12:17 - to finish in 4:54:06, an average pace of 8:50 per mile. that was good enough for second place, behind phil, for stage one!

day two: alley pond park

this day began with serious fog covering the city as emmy and i drove in to alley pond park. i kicked off my morning with a second day of dunking a peanut butter sandwich in my morning coffee for some pre-race nourishment. aside from feeling a little tired, i had no aches or pains to speak of - everything was in good working order for day two of the trek. the only noticeable difference in layout from 2007, the staging area had been move further down the park road (very conveniently located adjacent to the field house).

the alley pond course required 33 loops of 1.01 mile loop of the park. it also had two significant hills, the first short and steep at the start, the second long and gradual on the other side of the park. a park sign called the loop (or at least the portion that climbed the first hill), the "alley pond adventure trail" - a sign i didn't notice until that stage had been completed! the idea of an additional 10 loops (albeit on a shorter course) from the 23 we ran the day before at kissena park was somewhat discouraging.

nutrition-wise, aside from the pb sandwiches i dunked in my coffee each morning, i stuck with just fruit (watermelon, honeydew, and the occasional piece of cantaloupe) during each stage. i also grabbed a few of giant-size gum drops and jelly beans every now and then. but today, thanks to emmy, i added some s caps half-way through the course for a sodium/potassium boost. the s caps really helped, and i'd use them again the next day as well. for fluids i stuck with water (and occasionally, soda). i also took a container of iced tea with me everyday, which i'd rehydrate with at the end of the stage.

i broke the task of 33 laps into thirds to make it managable. i ran the first third (11 loops) in a sub-9 minute pace. it took 1:35:29 to run the roughly 11 miles. the second third, loops 12-22, went by in a 10 minute pace. i reached roughly 22 miles in 3:27:14. the final third started off with my pace slowing down to an 11 minutes a loop, only to see the final 5 loops speed up to 10 minute miles. i finished day two in 5:24:10, a 9:45 pace, again in second place, behind phil. my two day total of 10:18:16 worked out to an average pace of 9:17 for the 66.66 miles.

day three: crocheron park

the third and final day was graced with perfect running weather! unfortunately for me, i was hardly in condition to enjoy it. during the late stage of day two i felt my feet starting to swell a bit and i was worried about blistering. luckily, i avoided any blisters, but the swollen feet carried over to day three. i probably should have switched my larger trail shoes for the extra breathing room because my regular new balance were tight - and i'd pay the price for that stubbornness by mile 20!

today's course was probably the most demoralizing because we had to run 34 loops of the .97 mile park road (after an initial long loop). luckily, however, there was only one significant hill on this loop (and we had to climb that hill to reach the staging area to have our laps counted)! in a major break from the previous two days, i decided to wear my ipod on the course. before the start, richie handed out the 2 day score sheet. i had a solid 28 minute lead over my nearest competitor for second place.

my only objective was to run a conservative race and hold on to second place. even though i carried my ipod, i didn't start using it until 10 loops into the race. i had my ipod with me the first two days, but didn't use it. the first 10 loops (including the long first one) went by in 1:26:11 for roughly 10 miles. at this point i put the ipod on shuffle and focused on getting in the next 10 loops. while the first 10 went by at an 8 minute pace, the second 10 loops slowed down to a 9 minute pace.

i reached 20 loops in 3:03:44 - which included a quick stop in the woods to relieve myself. the next few loops would prove the most difficult of the trek for me. over the last 5 or so loops blisters had finally formed on my toes and i loop 21 the one on my left pinky toe popped - and filled my shoe with that gnarly, not fun wetness. while annoying, it wasn't about to slow me down (although i did find myself favoring my right foot now). more annoying was the need for a bathroom stop - and during loop 23 i pulled into the field house to relieve myself. that loop took 12:08:11 - and was my slowest time around the park.

to make up a little of that lost time i ran the 24th loop in 9:29 - and then began my countdown to the finish! the next 6 loop averaged just over 10 minutes each, and i finished 30 loops in 4:46:01. with only 4 more loops to finish stage 3, and the trek itself, i picked up the pace. at this point i switch the ipod from shuffle to the b-52's "funplex!" the final 4 loops went by in 8:50, 9:05, 8:39, and 8:21 - for a finish of 5:21:06. despite the burst blister and two bathroom pit stops, i finished 3 minutes faster than the day before (with no bathroom stops or burst blisters).

it was my third day with a second place finish! cumulatively, over the 3 days of the trek, i ran 100 miles in 15 hours, 39 minutes, 22 seconds, for an average 9:24 pace. this was a dramatic improvement over my 2007 result (where i finished 3rd overall), when it took me 17 hours, 10 minutes, 52 seconds, for an average pace of 10:19 per mile, to run the 100 miles. phil took first place overall and alicja was the first woman finisher! emmy took third overall for the three days!

final thoughts

at the end of third day, richie brought in chinese food to close out the event (we had pizza on day two and sandwiches on day one). there was a bittersweet feeling at coming to the end of this edition of the trek. in the past it was held ever other year, but richie announced that it would probably be another 5 years before the 16th trek would be staged. the logistics and resources needed to stage a multi-day event, across multiple locations, can't be overstated.

even with that bit of sad news, the 15th edition closed on a high note as richie had on display numerous awards that ted corbitt had won during his illustrious lifetime. he also talked about ted's role with b.u.s., the local ultrarunning community, and his accomplishments. in addition to our awards for the trek, each finisher received one of ted corbitt's race medals. this was a highlight of my weekend. the medal i received was given to ted corbitt at the metropolitan aaa 20km championship race held in yonkers on may 5, 1957! he ran a 1:14:34 and took second place in that race!

27 runners lined up for the 15th edition of the trek, 24 finished. let's hope that when the 16th edition is scheduled (whether 2 or 5 years from now), twice that number line up!

photos from day one (kissena park) of the trek
photos from day two (alley pond park) of the trek
photos from day three (crocheron park) of the trek.

here are emmy's trek photos.

Monday, May 25, 2009

2009 pioneer memorial 100 mile trek - day three, crocheron park: photos

day three in crocheron park is done, and the 2009 pioneer memorial 100 mile trek is in the books! 27 starters, 24 finishers!

my day three time, 5:21:06, a 9:37 pace for the 33.4 miles, was good enough for second place. my cumulative 15:39:22, 9:24 pace for the 100 miles was good enough for second place overall, behind phil (who took first place each day)!

here is my race report.
here are the official results.

here are some pictures from day three:

richie, giving the pre-race briefing

me feet, a little worse for the wear :(

me, done!

our scorekeepers!!

grant and phil

emmy, in action!

alicja, lydia, and nick









phil, overall winner - and awards for each day!

alicja and phil (ruth in background).

here are pictures from day one of the trek.
here are pictures from day two of the trek.

memorial day 2009

today, may 25th, is memorial (decoration) day. it's the day set aside for us to remember all the men and women who died in the service of our country.

"Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May[.]"

so today, take a moment to remember them.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

2009 pioneer memorial 100 mile trek - day two, alley pond park: photos

day two of the pioneer memorial 100 mile trek, held at alley pond park (bayside) queens, is in the books! i finished in second place for stage two with a 5:24:10, 9:45 pace. cumulatively, for the two days, i'm in second place overall with a combined time of 10:18:16, 9:17 pace, for the 66.66 miles.

tomorrow is the third, and final, day: 33.33 miles in crocheron park (bayside) queens.

here is my race report.

here are some pictures from day two:

1.0123 mile loop of the park, with 2 significant hills.


emmy, pre-race


here are pictures from day one of the trek.
here are pictures from day three of the trek.

happy birthday bob dylan - 68 years young today!

bob dylan (robert allen zimmerman) was born 68 years ago today, on may 24, 1941 - and he's still going strong! his newest album, "together through life," was released less than a month ago to great reviews. it was his 33rd studion album (and without counting live and complilation albums, is in and of itself a prolific output for a musician)!

for a music icon that broke through in the early 1960's and reached superstardom by mid-decade, he is still relevant and a force in music (and culture) 4 decades later!

"Dylan has won many awards for his songwriting, performing, and recording. His records have earned Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards, and he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2008, a "Cultural Pathway" was named in Dylan's honor in his birthplace, Duluth. In 2008, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his 'profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.'"

aside from his music, i've always been fascinated with his connection with the beat generation (influenced by kerouac, friend of allen ginsberg).

happy birthday bob dylan!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

2009 pioneer memorial 100 mile trek - day one, kissena park: photos

day one of the pioneer memorial 100 mile trek and queens 50k, held at kissena park (flushing) in queens, is in the books. i was second overall for stage one with 4:54:06 - an 8:50 pace for the 33.33 miles.

tomorrow is another 33.33 miles at alley park (bayside) in queens.

here is my race report.

here are some pictures that i took:

pre-race: al

pre-race: alicja and emmy

post-race: richie (on the right) and phil (third from left)


barbara, about to head out on her last loop.

post-race: alicja and grant

post-race: emmy, chris, and frank

post-race: grant and rob

post-race: rob, nick, barbara, and emmy

post-race: alicja and frank

here are pictures from day two of the trek.
here are pictures from day three of the trek.