Tuesday, March 31, 2009

april 2009 race schedule

april kicks off with a return to north carolina for the umstead 100 mile endurance run. it's a bit of unfinished business for me, since i dropped out of the 2008 run at mile 78 - ouch. too bad i just couldn't pick it up this weekend where i left off last year - ha!

the following weekend is another repeat from last year, this time on a much happier note; the bunny boogie in darien with katie. it combines recovery with father-daughter time :D

a pair of new events, back to back 5k and 15k, are on deck mid-month. both events are possible only because i got closed out of boston this year. it's the first time, after five consecutive trips, that my family and i won't be headed to boston for the marathon - ouch :(

last, but not least this month, is the sybil ludington 50k - and very old and dear friend (my very first ultra, actually). the race is undergoing a significant course change this time around. more on that news in a future post.

4/4 - umstead 100 mile endurance run - [dns]
4/11 - bunny boogie, 3m - [w/katie]
4/18 - bridgeport international run, 5k
4/19 - hudson valley 15k
4/25 - sybil ludington 50k
4/46 - where the wild things run 5k

hopefully, this schedule won't undergo as many revisions as my original plan for march did!

update: well, the first casualty of this month was my plan to run umstead. instead of umstead, i have pneumonia to deal with - how about that for bad luck to kick off a month?!

final update: in a last minute surprise, i added another race, "where the wild things run 5k" the day after sybil. in another surprise, i won the race - which, coincidentally, was my 400th race since i started running again in 2000!

plaxico burress due in court today on gun possession charge

plaxico burress is due in the manhattan criminal court this morning for a hearing on his gun possession charges. but the appearance should be over in minutes - without much news - according to plaxico's lawyer, benjamin brafman. as reported in yesterday's ny times, brafman said he and the prosecution have agreed to a continuance while discussions over a plea bargain are underway.

in a somewhat ironic twist, yesterday's ny times coverage included a detailed look at the typical disposition of similar gun possession charges. while burress may face some jail time the article suggested, it's hardly likely that the book would be thrown at him because of the mitigating circumstances. and the defense got a bit more ammunition (obviously a figure of speech - ha) when the giants management droned on last week about their efforts to keep plaxico's spot on the roster ready for him when he returns to the team.

but today's ny times blog leads off with this provocative title "the case for saying bye to burress."

stay tuned: i'll update this post later this morning with any new developments from the hearing.

update: as expected, the case was adjourned until june 15.

SHOCKER UPDATE: on friday, april 3, 2009, the giants unexpectedly released plaxico burress!

eiffel tower is 120 years old today!

the eiffel tower was official dedicated on march 31, 1889 - 120 years ago today. it's birthday present is a complete repainting! the project to apply the new coat of bronze paint will take at least one year, involve 25 painters, consume 6o tons of paint, and cost 170 million euros!

on a personal note, after new york city, paris is easily my favorite city. i've been to the eiffel tower a few times as a tourist (my best visit there was the climb up to the observation decks w/pat and katie). but my favorite memories of the eiffel tower involve - what else - running. the last trip i took to paris, in october, i managed a few nice runs along the tower during that visit. the ones at night were especially memorable.

Monday, March 30, 2009

2009 wurtsboro mountain 30k: race report

it was a tough start to the day that i'd run my 5th wurtsboro mountain 30k. i woke up to the sounds of rain outside my window - an eerie repeat of the start of last year's race. but luckily, by the time emmy got to my house the rain had stopped and it looked like it would be a great day to run! despite the improved weather, i really didn't feel that well. it felt like the onset of a head cold - an annoying morning headache and some nauseous queasiness - like a hangover, except i hadn't had anything to drink! after copious amounts of coffee and propel on the drive there, i convinced myself that i was okay enough to run.

pre-race registration was one big social. after i picked up my race bib and said hi to myriam, i met up with don, jill and kate. todd was there with his two boys. christine and joe were there. barbara was there. and i finally had a chance to meet up with a fellow runners world forumite, rina. at the very last minute, emmy decided to run the race - instead of her original plan to volunteer (and use the weekend to taper for umstead)! i think her decision turned more on getting the pink wurtsboro 30k race cap ;D

as we lined up for the start, i briefly thought about racing it. i quickly nixed that idea because i wanted to bounce back quickly and, like emmy, rest up for umstead next weekend. a 2:30 target seemed like a decent middle ground. but, even so, i had no intention of pushing the first 3.5 miles - straight uphill (for almost a 1000 feet of elevation gain). i knew from experience that making up some lost time on the downhill was very doable.

still, i was pretty disappointed at my 3 mile split of 27:35 - and 4 mile split of 36:08 (9:02 pace with the benefit of a downhill slope in last half mile)! dennis and rene were manning the water station at mile 4. my 9 minute pace was a solid 30 seconds per mile slower than what my perceived pace was (and well off the 8 minute pace i wanted to climb those miles at). the next mile, 5, was an easy 8:04. myriam was there at the intersection taking pictures of the us as we made a left turn on the course. todd and his boys were at the 6 mile aid station.

i reached 8 miles in 1:06:39 - with the pace now a more realistic 8:19! the next few miles, following alongside the river, is my favorite stretch of the course. i reached the 15k half way mark in 1:16:42, an 8:13 pace. i was slowly working off the "extra" 4 minutes i spent getting up the mountain. but i would need a decent negative split for the second 15k if i planned to hit my 2:30 target. so i readjusted my pace downward, to 7:45 miles.

i reached the half marathon split at 1:45:39, an 8:04 pace. this was a rolling, albeit beautiful stretch of the course. at two points along this stretch - heading into 16 miles - there were two dogs running free on the course. the first, a tiny thing running alongside the runners, was pretty innocuous. the second, near a horse farm(?) - was a big as a horse and scared me to death. that was NOT fun. i flew by mile 15 (uniquely canine assisted) in 2:00:07, my average pace now down to a flat 8 minutes a mile.

dennis and rene had hopscotched over to the mile 16 aid station. and as i neared mile 17, todd was getting in a few post-volunteer miles as he ran the course in the opposite direction. my last 3 miles were all sub 7:40's and i finished up in 2:27:46 (a 7:56 pace). i was very pleased with outcome, especially happy with a negative split for the second 15k - 1:11:04 (a 7:37 pace). except for the half mile stretch where i felt seriously compelled to outrun - at least mentally - the wolf dog that roamed the course, i tried to maintain a sub-7:45 pace.

after the race we had pizza and 6 foot subs waiting for us - an awesome post-race spread. emmy went back out to run another 1.4 miles, don iced his knee, while kate and i took some pictures as we waited for the awards. plenty more socializing - and here is quick plug for a new race that todd and his club (orange runner's club) are putting on next month - april 19 - the hudson valley 15k (which by his own description is "challenging"). count me in.

the next day, don, jill and kate ran a second 30k in fairfield, the "boston blowout" - incredible! on sunday, i ran a 4 miler with my daughter (it doesn't get any better than that for me)!

check out kate's race report and photos.
check out emmy's photos.
check out my race photos.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2009 scarsdale 15k and 4 miler: race photos and results

just back from the scardale races. katie ran the 4 miler, finished in 41:40, and got a third place age group award!! woo hoo!!

despite the raw, wet weather conditions - it was a great time. sue and her boys were there. john was there. fellow taconic road runners art and bob h., were there. other friends, at the risk of leaving someone out, included, noonie, anton, joe h., joe g., bob a., and tom.

links to the results posted below.

here are my race photos:

pre-race: sue.

pre-race: john and art.

katie, taking on the "hill."

katie, done!

john, me, and bob.

d.j. and marcus.

me and joe.

me and anton.

here are the 15k results from the rec. department.
here are the 4 mile results from the rec. department.

here are some photos from the 2008 races.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

2009 wurtsboro mountain 30k: race photos and results

just got back from my fifth wurtsboro 30k - finished in 2:27:44 (unofficial), a 7:56 pace. in addition to the race, it was quite a social event. aside from myriam, the race director, and the sullivan striders who put on the event, and at the risk of leaving some out, the following friends ran today: emmy, don, kate, jill, christine, barbara, and rina. todd was there with his two boys, and they manned the water station at mile six.

here is my race report.

here are the race results from coolrunning.

here are my race photos:

myriam and her registration team.

don, emmy, todd, and kate.

jill, don, and rina.

jill, don, and kate.

joe and christine.

finish line.

post-race (what's left of 3+ six foot subs)!

jill and don.

jill, emmy, and don.

kate, in action.

rina, picking up her ag award.


me, barbara, jill, kate, and emmy.

don, me, emmy, and kate.

how much post-race pizza i ate will remain a secret ;D

here are photos from the 2008 wurtsboro mountain 30k.

from the archives: 2007 wurtsboro mountain 30k race report

while my 2008 wurtsboro race report was posted on this blog, together with the 2008 wurtsboro race photos, in my pre-blog days i would generally post race reports on various forums (runners world, kickrunners, and even earlier coolrunning).

since i'm heading up to wurtsboro this morning, thought it would be fun to post the 2007 race report.

when i get home this afternoon, will post the photos and a race report for the 2009 edition!

Wurtsboro Mountain 30K
Saturday, March 23, 2007
Wurtsboro, New York

The Sullivan Striders’ Wurtsboro Mountain 30K was the first of two 30K road races I ran this weekend. I’ll write up The Boston Blowout 30K, held on Sunday in Fairfield, CT, separately. This was my third time running Wurtsboro Mountain, and it’s easily one of my favorite road races. In the prior two years it was held the week before Boston - it worked as my last long run before the marathon. Since it was moved up a few weeks this year, it was the day before the Blowout, so some of my friends and I just decided to run both, back to back.

The race was somewhat of a social event. I drove up the night before with my friend Emmy. We stayed at with her brother Todd, and his wonderful family, at their home on Wolf Lake. This year, we had a pre-race dinner at a local Italian restaurant with Myriam, the race director, and Todd, a friend of ours whom we had hadn’t seen since the Escarpment Trail Run last summer.

The race itself, as the name implies, is somewhat vertically challenging. It begins with an approximately 3.5 climb of 940 feet. That’s the challenging part of the course. Go out too hard and fast, and you risk an agonizing 15 more miles. But after mile 4, the course is relatively downhill for the next eight miles. This is a great stretch to recover, pick up the pace a little, and reel in the miles. From mile 12 until the finish, the course is basically rolling terrain, with one or two minor climbs (relative to the climb at the start). Weather can also be a factor on the course. Last year it was cold, damp and we had snow flurries. This year it was in the mid-30's at the start, and sunny. A bit windy, but a great day to run. It was a pleasant surprise from the weather forecasts that had predicted a chance of light showers.

In the morning, we met up with Don, Kate, and Rob. This was also Don’s third Wurtsboro race. He and I are also members of the Sullivan Striders. Emmy, Kate and Rob were back for their second races. The next morning, we all planned to be in Fairfield for the Blowout. This morning, my primary objective was to use this race as a hard tempo run. I would run the second one at an easy pace, adding a few more miles afterwards, and treat it as my weekly long run. The next weekend was the Metropolitan 50 miler in Queens, NY. Rob also planned to run the 50 miler next weekend. It would be his last hard effort before the McNaughton 100 miler. Emmy planned on running the Kurt Steiner 50k, held in conjunction with the 50 miler. Then an easy weekend (a mini-taper, so to speak) before Boston.

My time objective for Wurtsboro was to finish in under 2:30, slightly better than an 8:00 minute pace. This goal was well below last year’s target of 2:20 (and actual finish of 2:18). But since I had no intention of taking the hills hard given my other running objectives, it was a realistic goal. In fact, my slowest mile of the day, mile 3 in 9:38:49, and my overall split of 34:30 for the first four miles - roughly an 8:38 pace - had me a little concerned that the 8:00 pace may have been a bit optimistic. But I had eight relatively easy miles ahead of me - and I decided to make the most of them. The next four miles, in fact, were a series of progressively faster splits: 7:48, 7:27, 7:23, and 7:09, respectively, for an eight mile split time of 1:04:19 - an 8:02 pace. Right on target.

I felt pretty good at eight miles - the climb up the first four miles seemed like a distant memory - so I decided to push the next four miles as well since they were either downhill or flat. It worked well: 7:17, 7:01, 7:12 and 7:15, for a 12 mile split time of 1:33:07. Myriam had been hopscotching the course in her car, taking pictures, handing out gels, and cheering on the runners. At mile twelve, Emmy’s brother, Todd, worked as a volunteer and also cheered us on. It was at this point that I should have cut back my pace - the first significant rise of the final third of the course loomed at the 20k mark and, more importantly, I needed to save something for the next day. But, we’ve all been there, done that - didn’t do what we should’ve done.

Instead of cutting back to 8 minute miles, my pace bounced between 7:39 and 7:47 for the next five miles. Then, in mile 18 the rolling hills finally pushed me back to an 8:03. And I was starting to feel beaten up by this point. The last 6/10th seemed to drag on. I managed to bring it in just under 2:25 with a 2:24:55 finish. Six minutes slower than 2006, five minutes faster than my goal. I certainly had mixed feelings about that result. My concern was whether pushing the pace for the last third of the course would make running the 30K the next morning unbearable. Aside from that nagging concern, I was very pleased with the result.

At the finish, I waited for Emmy and Rob, and then changed into some dry clothes. Emmy went back out on the course for another 1.4 miles (she loves those round numbers). Rob and I went to look for Kate and Don. Then we all headed inside to the school cafeteria for some well-earned post-race food. Once again the post-race celebration was outstanding. They had pizza, six foot subs, and donuts - just to mention the things I ate. Yum! At the awards ceremony, Emmy finished 3rd overall, Kate took second in her age group, and Rob was third in his age group.

Next, stop, Fairfield.

Friday, March 27, 2009

what happened to the 2009 nyc half marathon?!

with the brooklyn half marathon date still NOT finalized (albeit still tentatively scheduled for may 30), the nyrr has quietly taken the new york city half marathon off the race calendar!

the 2009 edition of the nyc half had already been moved back a month, from the end of july to the end of august. now that date (august 30) is suddenly vacant on the nyrr schedule!

not one word about the removal on the main page? what gives?? is this just a scheduling issue (with a new date in the works) - or is the race itself (after 3 successful years) now history??

for an incredibly popular race (and one that raises significant sums for charity) there will be many disappointed runners if the event is cancelled.

say it ain't so, nyrr!

stayed tuned: i'll post updates when we get word from the nyrr about the race.

big update: mary wittenburg just posted this update on nyrr facebook page:

"We are finalizing the date for the NYC Half. Due to some conflicts, the date will not be August 30. Expecting to finalize by the end of this week.

If we have an option, share your thoughts - what's better - mid july or mid august?

very best, mary"

stay tuned ...

and the new date is (drumroll)... sunday august 16, 2009!
more details to follow (in the meantime, check out matt's post)....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

gregory corso - the last beat - would have been 79 years old today!

gregory corso, l'infant terrible of the beat generation, would have been 79 years old today, march 26, 2009. born right here in new york city (on bleeker street, amazingly) he was the last surviving member of the "original" beats. corso died from prostate cancer in 2001. gregory corso came the closest, of any other self-styled member of the beat generation member (other than, perhaps, herbert hunke), to that holy trinity of kerouac, ginsberg, and burroughs.

it was corso who preceded ginsberg and burroughs to paris in the late 1950's - and introduced them to the wonderful accommodations of the "beat hotel" on the smallest street on the left bank. ginsberg wrote a portion of "kaddish" when he lived there. burrough's delved into his infamous cut-up technique (of which corso also tried, but rejected) the above photo is of corso in his tiny garret at the beat hotel. again, it was none other corso himself who "stole" jack's girlfriend in keroauc's "the subterraneans."

while corso was involved in their lives, he was a serious poet in his own right. while it was ginsberg who often laid claim to having "discovered" corso and his work - and ginsberg did a great deal to promote his work - corso was a voracious reader (his favorite poet of all time was shelley) and writer (to the point where he composed his own epitaph). his most recognized poems were probably the late 50's "gasoline" and "bomb" - but his cannon of material was much more diverse and extensive.

late in his life gregory corso was the subject of a feature length documentary; "corso - the last beat." while researching it, the filmmakers made an astonishing discovery - that gregory's mother was still alive and well (who corso believed had been dead since his childhood). that led to their reunion and reconciliation!

happy birthday in heaven - gregory corso!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"howl" seized by custom officials as obscene, 52 years ago today!

on march 25, 1957, customs officials seized 520 copies of allen ginsberg's poem "howl" that had been imported from the london printer. in the subsequent obscenity trial brought against lawrence ferlinghetti, the owner of city lights bookstore and the book's publisher, judge clayton horn ruled that the poem had "redeeming social importance" and was therefor not obscene.

not only did the government's embarrassingly heavy-handed effort at censorship fail, but it garnered the poem and allen ginsberg incalculable publicity which, in turn, fueled sales and interest in the work and author. "howl," the obscenity trial, the release of jack kerouac's "on the road," publication of william s. burroughs's "naked lunch," and it's own obscenity trials, were milestone events of the "beat generation."

the effort to censor and suppress "howl" was part of a much larger censorship effort that raged during that period and extending into the 60's. outside of the beat authors, censors targeted henry miller's "tropic of cancer" - which was subject to multiple trials, in multiple states and even resulted in an arrest warrant issued in BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, for none other than henry miller himself!

these works weren't obscene - but the efforts to censor and suppress them were!

a book on the "howl" trial, "howl of the censor" was written in the wake of the decision by the lead counsel for the defense, jake erlich. a more recent retelling of the story is in bill morgan's book, "howl on trial: the battle for freedom of expression," published in connection with the 50th anniversary of the poem. now the trial is slated to be made into a film!

if you believe free speech battles are a thing of the ancient past, consider the irony of this sad bit of very "recent" news:

in 2007, on the 50th anniversary of judge horn's landmark decision, ferlinghetti (among others) petitioned pacifica radio to broadcast a live reading of howl to commemorate the anniversary of the events. pacifica radio's wbai declined because it feared (rightly so?) the large fines and sanctions that could have been imposed by the fcc - as a consequence of that exercise of FREE SPEECH!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

joe strummer "let's rock again" documentary review

last night i was pleasantly surprised to find the joe strummer documentary, "let's rock again," on the sundance channel. the short film (clocking in at just one hour), focused on strummer's last project - his tour with "the mescaleros" - before his untimely death in 2002 at the very young age of 50. "let's rock again" is the perfect coda to the more detailed look at strummer's life and art (including his time with the clash), "joe strummer: the future is unwritten."

the documentary provides only a thumb nail sketch of the his years with the clash. "let's rock again" is primarily a look at strummer's tour, with the mescalaros, of the united states and japan to support the band's second album, "global a go go." it was filmed over an 18 month period during the tour, by his close friend, dick rude.

in addition to excellent concert footage, it's a behind the scenes look at the gritty details of touring and promoting an album. the insights into the mature ("mellower" but no less intense) joe strummer are fascinating. my favorite part of the documentary took place on the atlantic city boardwalk. watching strummer hand letter his own concert flyers (on the boardwalk, with a mailbox as writing stand) and then personally distribute them to the wary passing tourists is simultaneously sad and inspiring!

strummer was one of rock's most celebrated front men and is, here, reduced to restarting his career - one fan, one concert flyer, one radio interview, at a time. the band rehearsals, the backstage goofing around with the band personnel, and the live performances themselves, are serious examples of a man with a renewed mission. strummer never lost sight of what it was about - always the music.

don't go into this film expecting another take on the clash. "let's rock again" is about the rebirth (after a decade in the wilderness) of joe strummer. knowing that his death is minutes around the corner made the film all the more urgent and, in the end, tragic.

it's an inspiring film - don't pass up the opportunity to check it out.

here is the trailer:

world tuberculosis (tb) day 2009

today, march 24, 2009, is world tuberculosis day.

here is the a snippet of the press release from the international union against tuberculosis and lung disease:

"Paris, 24 March 2009 – World TB Day, which is observed on 24 March each year, marks a major turning point in public health history.

On that day in 1882, Dr Robert Koch of Germany identified the bacillus that causes tuberculosis, an infectious disease so devastating that it was then known in Europe as “the white plague”. It took another 60 years before antibiotics rendered the disease curable; and even today, with effective treatment available, the World Health Organization reported there were 9.2 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths in 2006. World TB Day was launched in 1982 to mark the 100th anniversary of Koch’s discovery.

Countries around the world use marches, street theatre, murals, media workshops, government briefings and other events to educate people about the symptoms of TB; build awareness of the need for resources, including new TB diagnostic tools and drugs; and celebrate the survival of those who have recovered.

For organisations such as the 89-year-old International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), World TB Day serves an important purpose. “It’s a reminder to everyone that the fight against tuberculosis is ongoing. It hasn’t been won yet,” says Dr Nils E Billo, Executive Director of The Union..."

take the time to read the full text of the release.

the slogan this year, "I am stopping TB" is a repeat of 2008. it's the second half of a two-year campaign that began with world tuberculosis day 2008.

do your part to help "Stop TB."

Monday, March 23, 2009

giants gm jerry reese said team will take plaxico back, if...

a week before wide receiver plaxico burress is due in court to face gun possession charges, the giant's general manager jerry reese, at the nfl owner's meeting yesterday, said that the giants would give plaxico a second chance if certain conditions were met. the most obvious condition, one would imagine, is that plaxico avoids conviction and jail time on the criminal charges (but they'd probably settle for the avoidance of jail time).

the more interesting condition, as reported in today's daily news coverage, it that plaxico must agree to "play by the same rules" that apply to his teammates. this condition (which to most professional would go without saying) was positively jaw dropping (at least for me):

"Reese, who said the legal process is what's most important for Burress now, said he and Tom Coughlin and the rest of the organization are "on board" with the plan to allow Burress to return as long as he agrees to play by the same rules as the other players on the team. That means showing up on time, not skipping treatment sessions and being responsible.

Reese made it clear that Burress has signed off on that stipulation in the conversations they've had."

that the giants continue to engage in this sideshow is very sad. the giants have spent the off season bolstering their already solid roster of defensive players - which is always great news. but the giants have NOT made any moves to find a NEW wide receiver that can take the place of plaxico burress. even if burress walked away from the gun charges scott-free, he still faces the league sanctions (whatever they may be).

plaxico may play few, if any, games in a giants uniform in the 2009 season. hopefully, by draft day(s) the giants management will have snapped out of this long running delusional dream state and decided to make a new wide receiver the top priority for the team!

anything short of that objective is pure fantasy!

update: days following the adjourned march 31 hearing, the giants officially released burress from the team!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

nyrr colon cancer challenge 15k and 4 miler: race photos and results

just got home from volunteering as a course marshall at the colon cancer challenge races. a bunch of friend ran in today's races. to mention just a few: tom and michael in the 4 miler; followed by emmy, maria, ilana, pam, and sal (pacing an achilles track club member) in the 15k.

here are some race photos:

pre-race: toby warming up.

start of 4 miler.

start of walk.

start of 15k.

a familiar face attempting to direct traffic :D

michael, post-race.

tom, post-race.

emmy and maria.

ilana, pam, and emmy.

pam's very special message.

me, ilana, and pam.

fran, me, maria, and emmy.

emmy collecting her first place ag award!

live post-race music!

here are the 4 mile race results from nyrr.
here are the 15k results from nyrr.