Saturday, March 31, 2012

2012 wurtsboro mountain 30k: race photos and results

we had some tough weather conditions for the wurtsboro mountain 30k this morning. despite the seemingly ever present rain as don and i drove to the race, by the time it got underway at 9 the rain had stopped - thankfully! still, we had windy, raw conditions.

i managed a 2:33:42, 8:15 pace, over the hilly course. for the first dozen miles i was on pace for a 2:30 finish, but the last 6.6 miles took their toll. even so, i finished a solid 3 minutes faster than the 2011 edition - and a even managed to finish ahead of my 2:34 at the boston blowout last weekend!

race report to follow. here are the race results from coolrunning.

Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 boston blowout 30k: race report

i didn't realize it had been 5 years since i last ran this race!  back in 2007 i ran the boston blowout 30k the day after the wurtsboro mountain 30k.  my 2:25 at wurtsboro was followed up with a 2:38 in fairfield.  the back to back 30k's weren't possible this year because wurtsboro was moved back a week - it's tomorrow, in fact.  aside from the passage of 5 years, another interesting fact i realized was that this was the first year in  a very long time that i ran all 4 boston build-up races and the blowout.  i did the complete 4 race series last year, but missed the blowout.

the blowout course is basically a 15k double loop.  it's a very flat course - with no notable hills to mention (a couple of dirt steps to reach the nominal trail section and some speed bumps here and there).  my time goal was a sub-2:30 finish - just over an 8 minute pace.  as it turned out, my 2:34, 8:16 pace, missed that target by a solid 4 minutes.  i ran the first loop too slowly, and even with a negative split for the second loop, a 2:30 finish wasn't in the cards.

even so, it was a fun morning.  before the race kicked off, the west point marathon team made jim an honorary member - and awarded him a framed team patch!  once we were officially underway, the weather was great.  despite predictions of rain in the days leading up, only the threat of rain hung over us in the form of heavy cloud cover.  there were a few drops toward the end, but for the most part the only weather-related issue were the heavy wind gust along certain stretches of the course.

my first 5 miles were pretty conservative, roughly 8:30's - a split of 42:28.  that was well off a 2:30 finish.  the next 4 miles average in the low 8:20's - and i reached 9 miles in just under 1:16. the 15k split was just under 1:18.  unless i picked it up, i was looking at a 1:36 finish.  i ran a somewhat inspired 7:43 for mile 10 and a 7:58 for mile 11, before a string of miles that bounced between 8:09 and 8:23.  my last mile was another 7:58 and i crossed the finish in 2:38:58 (officially, 2:34:01), for an overall 8:16 pace.

i wasn't too disappointed with that time.  given the easy first loop, it was unlikely that i could have made up 6 minutes on the second half.  however, i did manage to pick up two minutes with the 1:16 second loop.  all in all, it was a good day.  tomorrow, with what might be similar weather conditions, i head over to sullivan county for the wurtsboro 30k!

here are my race photos.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 boston blow-out 30k: race photos and results

it's been a few years since i've run the blow-out 30k, so i was glad to get back on this course. the weather, despite some windy stretches and the ever present threat of rain, was perfect for running. even so, i missed my 2:30 target by 3 minutes. my 2:33:58, 8:16 pace, included a negative split for the second loop.

here is my race report.  here are the race results from clubct.

here are a few more photos, posted on facebook.

Friday, March 23, 2012

"wordplay" documentary review

last night i watched "wordplay," a 2006 documentary on crossword puzzles and the people devoted to them. i a word - the pun may be intended - it was great.  i say this with obvious bias since i'm a crossword puzzle enthusiast.  on a train, or anywhere waiting, if i'm not reading a book, i'll be trying to work out a crossword.  it's funny that "wordplay" should have aired on thursday night, because the friday ny times crossword puzzle is typically bailing out point on with the times.  i'm solid monday and tuesday.  wednesday it's tough - and by thursday it's gotten to be a stretch with the clues.

so as i write this morning, i'm staring at a ny times puzzle that 90% incomplete - and i can only marvel at the contestants profiled in "wordplay" who manage to dispatch the weekend puzzles in mere minutes.  it's was amazing to watch these people at work.  the film itself centered on will shortz, the ny times crossword editor, and the american crossword puzzle tournament that he originated in 1979.  the second part of the documentary focused exclusively on the 2005 tournament held in stamford, connecticut.

it's may be difficult for the non-crossword puzzle junkie to believe, but the two day contest was exciting - from the pre-race socializing straight through to the amazing finish (it even included a saturday night "talent show").  the film profiled five participants, each of whom was a serious contender to take the championship.  what made this all the more fascinating were the excellent use of graphics - which literally brought the crosswords to life as the participants filled in the boxes.

the first half was equally as interesting - especially getting to see crossword "constructor" merl reagle at work putting together a puzzle.  it's essentially a reverse process - he comes up with a theme and then selects the main answers before working them into the grid.  once the major words have been placed, it's a matter of filling in the remaining boxes with the secondary answers.  the puzzle's difficulty is measured relative to how  tough (or tricky) the clues given are made.  the same puzzle (i.e. words) could be reworked with more difficult clues and the entire character would change.

one eye-opening example was the post-1996 election puzzle that incorporated the following alternatives: "clinton elected" or "bob dole elected" - with the 7 letter clinton or bobdole used when the election outcome was determined.  the filmmakers use of graphics to visualize the process - and interviews both with clinton amd dole - made this a great look behind the scenes (so to speak).  also surprising, interviews with assorted puzzle enthusiasts - including the (then) yankee, mike mussina, the indigo girls (both), and a very animated jon stewart - to name a few.

if you like crosswords - put this on your netflix queue!

Monday, March 19, 2012

a pair of weekend 10 milers

this weekend's running consisted of a pair of 10 milers. it wasn't what i had originally planned on, which was a trip down to van cortlant park for the st. patrick's day marathon races. i doubt that i would have run the full marathon distance, more likely just the half. but that plan was shelved (marathons at van cortlandt park in general) when no permit was forthcoming from the parks department. that controversy was the subject of a different post.

on saturday morning i went out for an easy 10 miler over a very challenging (read hilly) course. it's actually a 9 mile loop that i like to run on the weekends, with a quick mile out and back to bring it up to 10 miles. it was that last out and back mile that was the only one on the run to come in under 8 minutes - and barely at that with a 7:50! the entire run took me 1:26:32, for an 8:32 pace.

my recovery consisted of a trip over to zachy's (one the greatest wine stores out there) that afternoon for a huge german riesling tasting! certainly an inspired choice for st. patrick's day :D  that night was a more traditional st. patrick's day celebration.  between dishes of corned beef and cabbage, i drank mostly irish whiskey (a major detour from my traditional favorites of beer, wine, and martinis - in no particular order).

as would be expected, i wasn't too excited about the prospect of another 10 miles the next morning.  in a concession to my less than enthusiastic state of mind, i opted to run on my easier (but relatively boring) post road route (way less climbing).  but strangely, after a somewhat lethargic first two miles (in the high 8:20's), i  got a burst of inspiration.  that may have been due to the signs hastily put up alongside a stretch of the approach to the library parking lot: "warning, keep away: bees!"  that risk was certainly a first for the post road :O

despite the lackluster start, i managed to drop my pace down to the low 7's - and had a 6:50 mile nine - treating it now as a tempo run.  amazingly, even with the first two miles, i ran a 1:15:20, and averaged a 7:32 pace for the entire 10 miles.  i must admit that i was surprised with that outcome - i had only wanted to run 8 minute miles and finish with a sub 1:20 (balancing out the prior day).  but i'll take it :D

Sunday, March 18, 2012

no st. patrick's day marathon... the sad, seeming demise of free holiday marathons :(

the seemingly implacable impasse between the parks department and the holiday marathons over the use of van cortlandt park has scratched yet another free holiday marathon from the calendar. with the cancellation of the st. patrick's day marathon, that brings it to three straight (after the new years and valentine's day) marathons that could not be run at van cortlandt park. it's actually four straight because the christmas marathon was relocated and held at tibbets brook park in yonkers,

whatever the reasons for the continuing impasse - and the laundry list of grievances is apparently endless (you can read the holiday marathon statement) - there's plenty of blame to go around.  that's not really the point, however. what matters is that if the holiday marathons are to resume at van cortlandt park, adults need to show up and work out the problems (regardless of how big, small or intractable they may seem).

it's unbelievably frustrating because after a year of incredibly fun races we're left with nothing going forward.  unofficial fun runs through van cortlandt park just aren't the same thing.  luckily, there's plenty of time to work something out before the easter marathon - and, hopefully, it will return :D

Monday, March 12, 2012

jack kerouac 90 years old in heaven today!

jack kerouac was born 90 years ago today, in lowell, massachusetts, on march 12, 1922.  i posted on the occasion of his 89th birthday, last year (can a year have flown by that quickly?).  this year, however, some really big news is worth reporting - his classic autobiographical novel, "on the road" has finally been filmed!  at some point this year "on the road" will reach the big screen and we'll have the opportunity to see it.

in the meantime, here is the official trailer:

the film is directed by walter salles, who also directed "the motorcycle diaries," another fantastic road epic!

happy birthday, in heaven, jack!

girl scouts celebrate their 100th anniversary today!

on march 12, 1912, juliette gordon low established the first girl scout troop in savannah, georgia. during the subsequent 100 years more than 5 million girls and women have participated in girl scouts, with over 3 million currently involved in the scouting program!

i'm a huge fan of scouting (both boy and girl) - having participated in boy scouts (and explorer scouts) for most of my teen years.  the family tradition was kept up by katie, who has been a girl scout since her days in elementary school.  one highlight of her scouting career will take place later this month, at the county center, when she and the other recipients will receive their gold awards!

so to girl scouts everywhere - here's to another successful hundred year run!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012 taconic road runners st. patrick's day races: race photos and results

at the last minute, because i was still in recover mode from a nasty little chest cold that had taken hold of me this week, i decided not to race the 10k. instead, i paced john for the 2 miler and then emmy for the 10k. except for some windy conditions on part of the course, the weather was perfect for running. i ran a 16:40 for the 2 miler, and a 47:10 for the 10k.

here are the race results for the 2 miler.
here are the race results for the 10k.

here are a few more photos posted on facebook.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 boston build-up 25k: race report

the boston build-up 25k in norwalk caps off the 4 race boston build-up series. it's probably the toughest (read seemingly unending hills) of the progressively longer courses. that said, it's definitely a fair course - there are some decent runnable stretches - and even a few downhills. i've run it many times over the last dozen years - and, somewhat inexplicably, it's easily my favorite of the series.

except for my 2:09 last year (i ran the 2011 edition the day after the colchester half), i've usually managed to get in under 2 hours. so i set my target at a sub-2 hour finish (basically a 7:43 pace). that may have been a stretch: plan b was to just maintain a sub-8 minute pace. i wasn't too sure about the 7:43 pace because i had only managed a 7:45 the colchester half last weekend. but i was game to try.

despite missing the marker for miles 5, i reached 6 miles in 46:26 - a 7:44 pace. that wasn't an auspicious start because there was a decent climb through miles 7 & 8 (which took me 16:23, an 8:12 pace). even with the slow last two miles, i bounced back in with a 7:43 mile 9 and a 7:33 mile 10. with a 1:18:07 for 10 miles, the 7:48 pace was way too slow to squeeze in under 2 hours.

i ran a 7:51 for mile 11 and i could feel myself starting to fade. the next two miles crept above 8 minutes, with an 8:04 and 8:05, respectively. at this point i was still confident of keeping my overall pace under 8 minutes for the 25k distance. but just when you think you've got it under control, the gods may have other plans for you! in what can best be described as hitting the wall, the last last 2.5 miles seemed endless!

not only did i slow down (any semblance of leg speed suddenly escaped me), but i was easily passed by at least a dozen runners during that final stretch. the splits for my last 2.5 miles were 8:14, 8:25, and 4:09, respectively. that 20:48 for the final 2.5 miles worked out to an 8:19 pace. on the bright side, even with the slowdown over the final 4.5 miles, my overall average pace, 7:55, was below 8 minutes for the 2:02:56 finish.

finish time aside, i still enjoyed the race, together with all the pre- and post-race socializing that went with it :D

Sunday, March 4, 2012

2012 boston build-up 25k: race photos and results

i had mixed results at the boston build-up 25k this morning. i missed a sub 2 hour finish by almost 3 minutes, with a 2:02:57 - but the 7:55 pace was solidly under my 8 minute target. i had run 7:40's thru the first 10 miles, then slowed a bit for 11 and 12. but it was the last 3 miles that told the tale because i hit the wall (so to speak) and was passed by at least a dozen runners during the last 5k :(

still, it was almost 7 minutes faster than my finish last year (that said, i had run the colchester half the day before the 2011 25k... yesterday was an easy 6.5 miles).

here are the race results from clubct.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

march 2012 race schedule

with all the rain we've had for the last two day, march is off to a soggy start. but i'll take wet and (relatively) warm over snow and cold any time! hopefully things will have dried off by sunday, with the fourth and final boston build-up series race on deck - the 25k in norwalk. together w/last year series, this will be the first time i've done the entire 4 race series in consecutive years! typically i make it to 3 (and sometimes only 2) of the races.

new for this month will be an effort to get back to the track! there are two track meets on my radar: one in brooklyn, on the 10th, put on by the north brooklyn runners at mccarren park, and the second at the armory, put on by the front runners on the 23rd (a friday night). i'd like to run a mile at either one, if not both :D

in between those dates are a pair of st. patrick's day inspired events. i'll head back to fdr park (a few short weeks after the freezer 5 miler) to run the taconic's 10k on the 11th. the following weekend is a return to van cortlandt park for the st. patrick's day marathon. in a welcome sign, the parks department will let the free holiday marathon series resume (albeit with some minor strings). we owe some serious thanks to the van cortlandt track club for getting them back!

the unofficial close of the boston build-up series is the 30k on the 25th. it's "unofficial" because those results aren't factored into the 4 race totals. regardless, the 30k in fairfield is the flattest (dare i say "easiest" despite the length) of the 5 race courses. for those left with a little extra energy after 18.6 miles... there's the spring equinox 8k later that afternoon :O

finally, on the 31st - seemingly a week later than it's traditional date - is the wurtsboro mountain 30k. this is one of my all-time favorite races, and the winter season wouldn't be the same without it. while getting to this race is something of a chore, it's definitely worth the effort. the sullivan striders put on a fantastic event, year after year.

here's what it looks like so far:

3/4 - boston build-up 25k
3/10 - nbr track meet
3/11 - trrc st. patrick's 10k
3/18 - st. patrick's day marathon
3/23 - front runners track meet
3/25 - boston blow-out 30k
3/31 - wurtsboro mountain 30k

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