Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 running year in review

another year in the books! seems like they keep getting shorter (faster?) because i've barely gotten used to the notion of 2011 and now 2012 has arrived - in the middle of a nice warm spell! in terms of running, 2011 has been mixed bag. i seriously missed my mileage target of at least 2,400 (a 200 mile per month average) with just over 2,230 miles (2,232.1). that total was more than 300 fewer miles than i've averaged for at least the last three consecutive years - 2,500+ (since i've began tallying the statistics).

the big drop off was in the second half of the year - a peak of 260 miles in july dropped down to 138 in august and then 127 in september. aside from the business travel (mexico and malaysia in september, then france in october), i really can't pinpoint a specific reason for the lower mileage. it wasn't until this month that my mileage crept back above 200 (204.1). i hope 2012 see a return to my old mileage levels.

on the race side, i actually ran 2 more races in 2011 than i did in 2010 (59 versus 57). the mix between marathons/ultras and shorter distances was pretty much unchanged. i ran 13 marathon/ultras in 2011 versus a total of 16 in 2010. my 2011 ultras (6), represent are half the number i ran last year, while marathons (7) just about doubled the 2010 total (4).

here are the 2011 racing stats:

59 races
783.5 race miles

ultras: 6
marathons: 7

15k-30k: 15
1-9 miles: 31

my most frequently raced distance in 2011 was a tie between marathons and 10ks, with 7 each. second place, with 6 each, was a tie between half marathons and 5 milers. the "first night danbury 5k" this afternoon, closed out the year on a high point, with 20:47, 6:42 pace :D

the low point of the running year came when the nyrr announced it would no longer honor runners who had completed 15 nyc marathons with a future of guaranteed entries. i don't want to end this post with negative karma, so i'll let that action speak for itself.

here's to hoping that everyone has a great 2012 - happy new year!

first night danbury 5k: race photos and results

last race of the year! went up danbury for the first night 5k which could have been called the last afternoon 5k (it started at 3, the afternoon... and, technically, was the last night of 2011, not the first of 2012 ;o) :D

as my race went, it was probably one of my best 5k's of the year - with a 20:47, 6:42 pace - it was well under my 22 minute target. i had run just over 22 minutes at the holiday run for toys two weeks ago, so my goal was a sub-22. the sub-21 was a belated christmas present :D

here are the results from greystone racing.

Monday, December 26, 2011

happy birthday henry miller - 120 years old in heaven today!

henry miller was born december 26, 1891, and died at the ripe old age of 88 years old on june 7, 1980.  it's hard to believe more than 30 years have passed since his death - the same month i graduated from high school.  at that time i doubt i had any inkling who miller was - it would be another year or so before i would read tropic of cancer and eventually become a huge fan of the man and the incredible scope of his literary output.  i like to think of him as a proto-beat - someone who would come to influence kerouac's spontaneous prose.

aside from the controversy over his lifestyle and the more pointed criticism that his work was merely obscene and pornographic (at best), the litigation surrounding publication of tropic of cancer here in the united states in the early 1960's was part of series of landmark decisions expanding the breath and scope of constitutionally protected speech.  it's hard to believe a brooklyn boy (proud denizen of the 14th ward - a/k/a williamsburg - during his formative years) could have such a profound impact on both literature and law.

during college i ran into a number of lit majors who were viscerally repulsed by miller - his work and the then (and perhaps still) current trope that he was a blatant misogynist.  it wasn't until years later (the 90's) that i read the first, of numerous, miller biographies.  he covered a lot of ground in those 88 years - and certainly collected his share of faults along the way.  but, going back to the final lines of tropic of cancer, from practically the outset of his literary career, miller offers something of an preemptive apologia:

"human beings make a strange fauna and flora.  from a distance they appear negligible; close up they are apt to appear ugly and malicious.  more than anything they need to be surrounded with sufficient space - space even more than time."

happy 120th birthday henrey miller :D

Sunday, December 25, 2011

merry christmas - 2011 :D

merry christmas everyone!

no snow this year, but plenty of christmas spirit in the air. we just opened our presents and, after cleaning up the wrapping paper, will get to work on christmas dinner! my brother and his family, as is our tradition, will come over this afternoon. my mom is already here, and will, no doubt, so be in the kitchen getting started - with katie as her assistant - on a ever fantastic lasagna!

i had planned on heading over to tibbets brook park for the relocated holiday marathon races.  but it getting late and i may have to get my miles in on the post road instead.  given the number of calories in plan to consume today, i really should be running a marathon - or a decent long run at a minimum ;O

have a great holiday!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

happy festivus :O

happy festivus everyone! i doubt frank costanzs would have decked out his aluminum festivus pole with lights, but it does give it a certain holiday spirit :D

as a huge seinfeld fan i've watched in amazement as the constanza (anti-) holiday tradition has grown and taken on a life of its own. it's yet another in a long line of example where seinfeld scenes have become part of the vernacular - soup nazi's, stella, art vandelay, marine biology, architects, yadda, yadda, yadda - to just skim the surface!

so here's to festivus - the holiday for the rest of us :D

Thursday, December 22, 2011

happy winter solstice - 2011 :D

happy winter solstice! winter officially arrived at 12:30 this morning here on the east coast - and today is our shortest day of the year. it doesn't seem like winter. except for a handful of cold weekends, we've had a great run of above average temperatures for the last month or so. and it's probably a good bet no white christmas is in the cards for us this weekend.

i'm not keen about the arrival of winter - it's my least favorite season - and the frigid weather it will ultimately bring.  running during the cold weather months is hardly my idea fun - especially when temperatures dip into the teens and below.  but, run we must!  on the positive side, surviving winter gets us to spring :D

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 norfolk pub 10 miler: race report

saturday was my 4th consecutive time running the norfolk pub 10 miler - billed as new england's toughest ten mile road race. with two grueling climbs, somewhat inconveniently located in miles two and eight, it is a challenging course.  toss in the usually frigid weather conditions, norfolk's nickname is the "icebox of connecticut," and it can seen like a very long ten miles.  this time around the weather was fantastic - decidedly above freezing with 34 degrees at the start, and dry conditions.

at last year's race i had made a note to consider trail shoes because of the sloppy ground conditions - mainly packed snow.  so this year i wore my trail shoes - and should have stuck too regular road shoes.  while there were traces of snow littered around the parking lot, the roads themselves were free of it.  while i was fine wearing shorts, i did wear a vest over my two tech shirts.  i probably could have done without it after the first couple of miles, but given the occasional gusts of wind, i never felt overheated.

my time goal was a straightforward 1:20 - an eight minute pace.  my times have been all over place, with a 1:20, 1:15, and 1:25, respectively, for the prior 3 races.  as it turned out, i barely squeaked in under 1:20 - but managed to run a negative split for the second half.  given that i walked a decent portion of mile 8, i was amazed at that outcome.  here are the first half splits:

9:04  16:41
7:56  24:37
7:58  32:36
7:24  40:00

when i looked at my watch and saw 40 minutes for the half way split i wasn't too optimistic about the 1:20 finish.  mile 8 would easily be another 9 minute mile - but i'd get most of it back on the downhill in mile 9 (which is retracing mile 2).  here are the second half splits:

7:39  47:40
7:51  55:32
9:41  1:05:13
6:55  1:12:08
7:38  1:19:47

7:59 pace

i was so annoyed with myself for the walk breaks in mile 8 - and getting passed by a few runners to boot - that i really let it rip for the downhill in mile 9.  i only got away with it this year because the road was dry!  in prior years, this stretch would often be packed snow - or melting, slushy snow.  but my happiness at the sub 1:20 was short-lived.  when the results were posted i was 10th in my 5 year age group!  that so many 45-49 year old men finished ahead of me was sobering stuff :(

but, thankfully, the high point of this great event is turning in your bib tag for a beer (berkshire ipa) while waiting for the awards ceremony at the local pub!  that took the sting off pretty quickly :D  all in all, this was another great time in norfolk - and count me in for the 2012 edition (although that one will probably revert back to the typical frigid race conditions).

here are my race photos.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011 holiday run for toys 5k: race photos and results

despite the chilly weather, there was a fantastic turnout for the holiday run for toys 5k in fairfield this morning. with so many familiar faces, it was more of a social event than a race. just to list a few: emmy, kate, tom, andi, bob, brian, john, ronnie, gail, jeff, jim and marty!

i had no particular time goal in mind. after yesterday's 10 miler in norfolk, i was more than pleased with the 22:26, 7:14 pace, over the road and trail course. but the best part of the morning had to be the post-race food - soup, to be specific!

here are the results from hi-tek racing.

here are the rest of my photos, posted on facebook.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 norfolk pub 10 miler: race photos and results

the norfolk pub 10 miler certainly lives up to its billing as "new england's toughest ten mile road race!" it was my 4th time on the norfolk hills - and my first time running the normally frigid race in shorts (thanks to the relatively mild 34 degrees at the start). they had a huge turnout - almost 140 finishers.

i hit my 1:20 target with a 1:19:48 finish (just squeaked under with a 7:59 pace). i was more than pleased with it, taking 5 minutes off last year's result. i actually ran a negative split for the second half.

here is my race report. and here are the race results from greystone racing.

here are the rest of my photos, posted on facebook.

Friday, December 16, 2011

christopher hitchens, polemicist extraodinaire, dead at 62: rip

christopher hitchens died at the tragically young age of 62 last night. while the cause was pneumonia, it was a complication from the stage four esophageal cancer that he was diagnosed with in the summer of 2010. hitchens was a prolific writer and speaker - the ultimate contrarian in seemingly all things. in almost a characterture of the outlaw literary style (a barely tamer version of hunter s. thompson - basically sans pharmaceuticals) he was self-professed hard drinker and chain smoker. it was only in his later years that he tamed the drinking.   this is an extended quote form his memoir, "hitch-22" -

"I work at home, where there is indeed a bar-room, and can suit myself. But I don't. At about half past midday, a decent slug of Mr. Walker's amber restorative, cut with Perrier water (an ideal delivery system) and no ice. At luncheon, perhaps half a bottle of red wine: not always more but never less. Then back to the desk, and ready to repeat the treatment at the evening meal. No "after dinner drinks"—​most especially nothing sweet and never, ever any brandy. "Nightcaps" depend on how well the day went, but always the mixture as before. No mixing: no messing around with a gin here and a vodka there."

ironically, the book tour for "hitch-22" was cancelled because of the cancer diagnosis and the need to begin the chemotherapy.  eerily, the book - which i read during that summer of 2010 - opened with hitchen's recount of how he dealt with the false news of his death.  encountering your very own obituary is probably equal parts hilarious and bone-chilling!

i've been a huge fan of christopher hitchens for decades - easily since the late 1980's.  over the years i came to see him as a cross between the wordsmith william safire, erudite william f. buckley, and street fighter norman mailer.  i'm sure a few more literary strains could be teased out of him - not the least would be his own favorite, george orwell. 

but in a sense, hitchens life was practically the definition of orwellian - starting off at the fringes of the radical left and, in the last decade of his life, becoming the scurge of the left when he officially parted ways in the wake of the terrorist attacks of september 11th.  ironically - again that reoccurring motif - as recently as 2009 he was voted one of the 25 most influential liberals in u.s media (ranked 14th)!

but the breath of his ire was astonishing - having labeled henry kissinger a war criminal, bill clinton a rapist, mother teresa a fraud, ridiculed reagan, hillary clinton, and princess diana to highlight just a handfull.  but he saved his best for god himself, when he published "god is not great" in 2007.  hitchens proudly confronted  his impending death an unrepentant atheist.

it is a very sad day when we lose such a fascinating and engaging person.

rest in peace christopher hitchens.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 taconic rr couples relay and pancake breakfast :D

i've run this relay many times over the last few years - and somehow i managed to miss a turn and get lost on the roughly 1.8 mile course this morning! even with that little detour, i still had a great time :D  in anticipation of all the bacon and pancakes i'd manage to eat, i ran 4 miles before the relay and then ran the course (correctly) afterwards :D

here are the rest of my photos, posted on facebook.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

warlocks play first concert as grateful dead at fillmore east, 46 years ago today!

on december 10, 1965 - without formal billing on the small ad taken out to promote the event, the grateful dead took the stage (as part of the "and many, many others") at the fillmore and played as part of the second fundraising appeal for the san francisco mime troupe.  the dead had begun the year as the warlocks - and as the legend goes, jerry found their some to become iconic name, "grateful dead" by thumbing thru the dictionary after they had learned another band had already been going by the warlocks.  the rest is history, so to speak. 

no set list survives for that first concert.  and, one caveat in using this date as the "first" - the dead had previously (december 4) played at a ken kesey acid test under their new moniker :D

so listen to some dead today!

update:  instead of listening to early dead as i ran today, i opted for their final show at soliders field - yikes!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

captain lawrence brewing - cuvee de castleton release :D

our trip to captain lawrence for the release of cuvee de castleton (along w/barrel select cherry and barrel select rasberry) was preceeded by a 2 hour (12 miles) run at rockefeller state park. the park was a 5 minute drive from the brewery, and we arrived just after 10 for the 10:30 opening - only to discover that all the numbers had been pulled! with none left, it meant we wouldn't get to buy any of the new releases!

but, with plenty of beer to taste while we awaited some form of divine intervention, we decided to stick around and see what happened. and just like miracle tickets at dead shows - yes this stuff does happen! - a complete stranger offered me 2 numbers (259 & 260) - but immediately asked for the second one back when his girlfriend wanted it!

regardless, because like charlie's golden ticket into wonka's factory, anthony and i could get in the door. even with the limitations (2 per person for barrel select, 4 for the castleton) we could each get a bottle of the barrels selects and 2 of the cuvees. as it turned out, by the time we our number was called, they had sold out of ALL the barrel select - but, we each got to purchase 4 bottles of the curvee!

while i was happy with the curvees, i had really wanted the barrel selects (especially the cherry). then, again, sometimes fate just happens - anthony found someone in the tasting room that would sell us a barrel select at cost!  so, amazingly, i managed to buy a barrel select chery after all.  what a turn of events :D

Saturday, December 3, 2011

morning run at rockefeller state park

this morning emmy, anthony, and i, ran 12 miles at rockefeller state park, early enough so that we could then head over to the captain lawrence brewery in time for the 10:30 release of a new batch of sour beers :D

but, before the beer, we had to traverse what could mildly be called an adventure trail. despite signage to to wise, we found ourselves on trails that were decidedly affected by recent weather conditions - so there was a fair amount of bushwacking to be done :O

Friday, December 2, 2011

jackson browne jams at zuccotti park

yesterday, when i got to the office i heard on cbs radio that jackson browne would be a zuccotti park that afternoon to play a few songs. the first thought that came to mind was "did zuccotti suddenly get re-occupied?"  no, but it did sound interesting.  while i couldn't make it down there - nor would i have wanted to deal with the crowds - crosby and nash played a couple of tunes there in early november.

since zuccotti park is just 4 blocks south of my office, i went and checked it out at lunch time.  it was a very small scene.  browne, and the members of "third eye blind," were stationed in mid-park, with roughly a hundred or so people circled around them.  there was no amplification - just their acoustic guitars and voices.  that made listening to the music, for anyone outside the immediate circle, practically impossible.  the din of everyday nyc bustle drowned out the sound.

i inched my way close enough to catch snippets of songs - and some of the obligatory social commentary.  but, given the impossible listening conditions, i only stuck around for 3 songs before i went back to the office.  while it was certainly a nice gesture, the "jam" wasn't a worthwhile experience - if you were intent on actually trying to listen to jackson browne, or third eye blind.  but it was a great excuse for a midday walk :D

Thursday, December 1, 2011

december 2011 race schedule

it looks like december will be a month of short distance races, topping out with the norfolk pub 10 miler. i had planned to run the roxbury marathon on the 10th, only to discover to my chagrin that not only was the race itself full (130 runners) but the waiting list was also closed (50 more runners w/fingers crossed)! wow!

while roxbury had been on my to do list for years, it was never an event that "sold out" - since it was basically a low key, local affair. be that as it may, i'll run the pete mcardle xc 15k in van cortlandt park that weekend - which itself is a plan b race because the taconic couples relay isn't being held this year!

so it seems that the only constant on the december schedule is the norfolk pub 10 miler - one of my all-time favorite races.  it's a haul to drive up to norfolk (the "icebox" of ct), and face a challenging (read, hilly) 10 mile course - but the post-race festivities at the pub are worth it (including a free beer w/you bib tag) :D  the following day, it's back to ct again for a holiday 5k in fairfield - another great local event.

on christmas day i may try to sneak down to van cortlandt park for the holiday races.  last year i couldn't, but there may be room to squeeze in a 10k before settling in to cook our christmas day dinner :D

here's how it looks so far:

12/11 - pete mcardle xc15k
12/17 - norfolk pub 10 miler
12/18 - christmas holiday run 5k
12/25 - christmas day 10k

as always, if you're at any of them, say hello!