Monday, May 31, 2010

jim fixx memorial day 5 miler: race photos and results

this morning i ran the jim fixx memorial day 5 miler in greenwich. despite the hilly, loop course, this is a fun race to run. when katie was younger, she would run the kids half mile on the cinder track. today i missed my sub-35 minute goal (36:06) but was happy to get in four 6 minute miles just the same. mile 4 (where 3 decent hills lurk) took the sub-35 off the table when it took just over 8 minutes to negotiate the hills :(

a short race report to follow; here are the race results from threads and treads.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

long beach city manager's 10 mile trophy run: race photos and results

this morning i ran the long beach city manager's 10 mile trophy run on long island. it was a fast flat course and i enjoyed the race a lot. my 1:15:30 finish was slightly off the sub-1:15 goal i had for the run. the only negative to the morning was all the twists and turns the mapquest directions had us following from the cross island expressway to the race!

here is my race report; and here are the race results from finish line.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

edmund hillary and tenzig norgay climbed mount everest 57 years ago today

fifty seven years ago today, on may 29, 1953, edmund hillary and his sherpa guide, tenzig norgay, became the first men to climb to the top of mount everest. for this accomplishment, time magazine named him one of then 100 most influential people of the 20th century - and the queen honored him with a knighthood.

many climbers have summitted everest in the years since - most notably, last week the record for the youngest climber was set when a 13 year reached the summit! - but hillary led the proverbial way. he died two years ago, in 2008, at 88 years old.

Friday, May 28, 2010

pat and christopher mcdougall ("not running") at harvard :D

i couldn't resist posting this photo of pat and chris mcdougall ("born to run: a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen") from the harvard reunion this afternoon. pat, in the middle of her 3+ day 25th reunion extravaganza, stopped in to see mcdougall's presentation at one of the friday symposia. mcdougall was part of a panel discussion on "the craft of personal writing."

i though "born to run" was a great read (for runners and non-runners alike). there is no small irony in this little twist - i met scott jurek last march (and got to run with him in central park), who figures prominently in the book; while pat met the author of the book himself (in a decidedly non-running environment) :D

if you haven't already, check out "born to run" - a must for runners of every stripe (or should that be of every speed and distance?).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

happy birthday rachel carson - 103 in heaven today

rachel carson, a marine biologist by profession, was born on may 27, 1907 and died in 1964, at the young age of 56. but carson had already made her mark with the publication of her call to arms, "silent spring," two years earlier, in 1962. carson, at that time, was a well-established writer on natural history (her first major book, "the sea around us," had been published a decade earlier). "silent spring," however, made her into an environmental activist!

the books publication set off a storm of controversy in the united states over the use of pesticides. carson didn't advocate for a ban on all pesticides, only the most virulent forms. the upshot, almost a decade after its publication and in the wake of all the activism that ensued, was the ban on the use of ddt as a pesticide.

i've been a fan of rachel carson for years. from scientist to conservationist, to environmental activist pioneer, she was a legendary woman. happy birthday rachel carson!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ny giants and jets win bid for 2014 superbowl!!

it's official - the nfl owners voted late yesterday afternoon to hold the 2014 superbowl at the meadowland! the ny giants and jets submitted their joint bid for the game three weeks ago (competing against tampa and south florida). while the giants and jets were favored, it took 4 rounds of voting before they clinched a majority of the 32 votes.

superbowl XLVIII (48 for roman numeral challenged) will be the first time the game is played at at a "cold weather" location. the coldest superbowl (in 1972), in new orleans, had a game time temperature of 39 degrees. unless a rogue heatwave rolls into town, it's a good bet that an early february football game at the meadowlands will shatter that record!

as mayor bloomberg observed at the announcement yesterday: "if it snows, it snows. this isn't beach volleyball. it's football!" weather aside, one caveat worth noting - no home team has ever played in the host city superbowl. the giants will have to break that record too :D

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2010 brooklyn half marathon: race report

Despite an hour earlier start, the Brooklyn Half Marathon was still a blast. For some reason, the NYRR moved up the start up to 7 A.M. (and probably the earliest start for any NYRR race). The early start didn’t make pre-race logistics easy; but it worked out well to have the race finish earlier (instead of mid-morning). As always, Pat drove me to the start and then met me at the finish. In earlier years, Katie came along as well and they’d have brunch as I ran the race. Now Katie gets to sleep in!

Emmy and Hugo joined us for the commute to and from Brooklyn. The 2010 edition was my 8th Brooklyn Half Marathon - all of which, except for the most recent 2, were run from Coney Island to Prospect Park. I like this course much better than the old one. I had no expectations of racing it this year. My goal of a sub 1:45 finish was in line with a moderately paced recovery run. One of the funnier moments was in the starting corral when Emmy said, “let’s try for some easy 7:30 miles!” My fastest mile of the day didn’t come close (a 7:37 in mile 13).

I told Emmy that an 8 minute pace was probably all I had today - and I wasn’t going to push it in the Park. As it was, a 1:45 goal was a solid 8 minutes off my 2009 finish. We ran the first crowded mile together in 8:02, then Emmy took off (and ran a 1:38 for 3rd in her age group!) when the pack thinned out. I averaged 8 minute miles for the first loop of the park (24:03) and then slowed down a little during the second (24:27) before heading out of the park (mile 7, in 56:39).

Ocean Parkway was the highlight for me. I loved clicking off the (mostly) alphabetical string of avenues as we headed to Coney Island. At first I was a little off as we crossed over the Prospect Express and entered via a southbound ramp (instead of running on via the northbound side). Mile 8 was my slowest of the race (8:26). Since I felt great, I took the opportunity to a string of cut-downs for the final 5 miles (8:20, 8:06, 7:52, 7:42, and 7:37). Still, I missed 1:45 by a whopping 35 seconds (so much for taking it easy in the Park)!

At the finish I met up with Emmy, Hugo, Eliot, Ilana, Greg, and Eric. There was a bit of confusion trying to find Pat, but thanks to Eliot’s cell phone, we tracked her down. While we ran the race, Pat took a decidedly unscientific poll of the finishers and whether the earlier start time was a good or bad twist to the race. Overwhelming, the earlier start time found a receptive audience (perhaps because it was done and over with at that point)! I too, in hindsight, think the earlier start worked.

The Brooklyn Half was the second (after the Manhattan Half) in the Grand Prix Series. Next up is the Bronx Half in August. The last time I ran all five to complete the Series was in 2005. Hopefully, on I can make the remaining 3 and complete the it for 2010!

Here are my race photos.

Monday, May 24, 2010

brooklyn bridge officially opened 127 years ago today!

the brooklyn bridge officially opened to the public on may 24, 1883 - 13 years after construction had begun. here is a brief description of that day, from wikipedia:

"The opening ceremony was attended by several thousand people and many ships were present in the East Bay for the occasion. President Chester A. Arthur and New York Mayor Franklin Edson crossed the bridge to celebratory cannon fire and were greeted by Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low when they reached the Brooklyn-side tower.

On that first day, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Emily Warren Roebling was the first to cross the bridge."

the brooklyn bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world, and has become symbolic of borough of brooklyn. in a coincidence, the brooklyn half marathon was held just this weekend. i, together with thousands of runners, made our way to brooklyn for the race - some of whom may even have taken the brooklyn bridge to get there :D

Saturday, May 22, 2010

2010 brooklyn half marathon: race photos and results

another brooklyn half marathon is in the books! this was my 7 (or 8th?) bklyn half, and the earliest start (7 a.m.) of any one of them. despite the great weather for racing, it was a recovery run for me. i finished in 1:45:35 - just over an 8 minute pace. as always, pat drove me (along w/hugo and emmy) down to the start and then met us at coney island.

here is my race report; and here are the race results from nyrr.

and a few more photos posted on facebook.

Friday, May 21, 2010

rolling stones "exile on main st." reissue: cd review

this week saw a major pr blitz as the rolling stones reissued "exile on main st." on tuesday. in addition to the remastered double album, the reissue includes a second disc with 10 "new" songs. i watched mick jagger on the larry king live show tuesday night. aside from the actual interview, the show aired clips from the forthcoming documentary, "the stones in exile" - which premiered at the cannes film festival last month and is set for u.s. release in june.

so what's with all the "exile" hoopla? the album is great - it was number 7 on the rolling stone magazine list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. but is it the best rolling stones album (as if such a subjective call could be made)? while "exile" is the stones at their creative peak, their two previous albums, "let it bleed" and "sticky fingers," are just as good - if not better. even jagger hasn't been the biggest fan of "exile."

while the myth has been built up that "exile" was the product of stuffy basement sessions at keith richard's rented mansion, "ville nellcote," in the south of france (nice) during the stones' self-imposed exile from the english tax laws, the truth is a more prosaic 3 year arc from 1969 t0 1972 (during which the stones released "let it bleed" and "sticky fingers"). "exile" included material recorded in los angeles and england, as well as the nellcote sessions. the myth evokes place, the reality focuses on production.

the new material, a 10 song bonus cd, includes "exile" era instrumental tracks that jagger recently wrote lyrics for and then added the vocal overdubs. the juxtaposition of a 66 year old jagger against the almost 40 year younger version on the original material is apparent. the new vocals, on 4 songs ("plundered my soul," "following the river," "dancing in the light," and "pass the wine") from the second cd, stretch the concept of the "exile" reissue. while the base tracks (instrumentals) are period, the vocals are anachronisms.

i got much more enjoyment from the cleaned up original albums, sharper sound and deeper bass. it's hard not to enjoy the fresh sound of old classics. "exile on main street" was a release that took a while to warm up to (maybe because it was a double album, a lot of material to digest). but the incredible breath of sound, from out and out rock straight across blues, gospel and jams, make it an outstanding (if eclectic) collection of stones material.

"ventilator blues" is probably the most atmospheric, in terms of bringing you down to the steamy days in the basement. but there are so many underrated classics mixed in; "loving cup," "shine a light," "casino boogie," and "rip this joint." and then there are the more familiar cuts, "tumbling dice"and "happy" that punched through the fm airwaves. classic stones from their golden years.

for a die-hard stones fan, this is a must get. for everyone else (namely those that already have the 1994 remastered version), stick with what you've got. and then check out the documentary on the big screen next month.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

packet pick-up for the brooklyn half maathon at nyrr club

i went to the nyrr club this afternoon and picked up my bib, d-tag, and shirt for the brooklyn half marathon. it's race number 2 in the 5 borough grand prix series. normally the brooklyn half is one of my favorite races. but the nyrr unexpectedly moved up the start time to 7 a.m. from the more reasonable 8 - argh! i'm not looking forward to the earlier start.

i don't have any particular time goal in mind for the race. my legs are still pretty beat from last weekend, so the miles are probably closer a recovery run at this point. but, the half will be my 6th race toward the 9+1 for the 2011 nyc marathon. with any luck i should be able to finish under 1:50 (and may even take my ipod along).

while the early start is a drag, the course is awesome. i prefer the reverse direction (to the traditional coney island to prospect park route) and am looking forward to running on the streets of brooklyn again!

update: here are some pictures from the race.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

american craft beer week: may 17-23, 2010

american craft beer week in underway! congress gave the celebration quite a boost yesterday when the house passed h.r. resolution 1297. it reads, in part:

[T]he House of Representatives supports the goals and ideals of American Craft Beer Week, as founded by the Brewers Association;
recognizes the significant contributions of craft brewers to the economy of the United States;
and encourages beer-lovers of the United States to celebrate American Craft Beer Week through events at microbreweries, brewpubs, and beer stores across the United States to appreciate the accomplishments of craft brewers.

(emphasis supplied).

i did my small part by having a seasonal sam adams (a noble pils) at a business lunch this afternoon (and should add a few more craft beers to the list by weeks end) :D

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

joe strummer's mysterious disappearance and the paris marathon

it was 28 years ago today, may 18, 1982, that joe strummer of the clash resurfaced after a self-imposed "disappearance" from his band and fans. it was initially drummed up as a publicity stunt by the group's manager, bernie rhodes. but strummer felt guilty about the charade and genuinely "disappeared" - and didn't bother to tell rhodes (or his band) his whereabouts.

strummer left london and lived in paris with his girlfriend, gaby salter. in april, 1982, strummer (and gaby) ran the paris marathon. it wasn't strummer's first marathon (he ran london the year before) and wouldn't be his last (he'd run london again the following year). strummer reappeared from his self-imposed exile on may 18, 1982 - shortly after the release of "combat rock."

as for some of his paris marathon details (from a 1999 magazine interview):

Q: Didn’t you once run in the Paris Marathon?
Joe: Yep. I ran three of them.
Q: Correct me if I’m wrong but is it also true that you never trained for any of them?
Joe: You shouldn’t really ask me about my training regime, you know.
Q: Why?
Joe: Because it’s not good and I wouldn’t want people to copy it.
Q: Don’t make me beat it out of you.
Joe: Okay, you want it, here it is. Drink 10 pints of beer the night before the race. Ya got that? And don’t run a single step at least four weeks before the race.
Q: No running at all?
Joe: No, none at all. And don’t forget the 10 pints of beer the night before. But make sure you put a warning in this article, “Do not try this at home.” I mean, it works for me and Hunter Thompson but it might not work for others. I can only tell you what I do.

spoken like a true punk rocker :D

Monday, May 17, 2010

"3 days at the fair" 24 hour run: race report

the inaugural "3 days at the fair" was a series of multi-hour races that kicked off with a 48-hour run on friday morning and ended with a 6-hour version on sunday, at the sussex county fairgrounds in new jersey. i signed up for the 24-hour run - my fourth 24-hour race in the last few years. my goal was relatively straightforward, reach 100 miles over the course of the day. unfortunately, after a solid start (50 miles in 9:43), i hit the wall during the second half. despite 14+ hours to run another 50 miles, i managed only 40 more in 13 hours. i finished with a total of 90 miles in 23:06:11 - well off my goal. that's the short and sweet version!

now for the details. emmy and i carpooled to the race. the sussex county fairgrounds are just over an hour from my house and the 9 o'clock start time made driving the logical choice. we arrived at 8:15 and could see the 48 hour runners on the course as we found a parking spot and set up our gear (chairs and drop bags). the heavy wind gusts that greeted us when we got out of the car were a tip off to how difficult the first few hours would be. after the very first loop, both of our chairs had been blow over!

for a relatively small field, there were plenty of familiar faces. meredith, ray, steve, in the 48-hour race. susan, fred, shiran, and byron in the 24-hour race. the race director, rick, set us up with our "live" bibs - the timing chip was already attached on the inner side. the course was an 0.86 mile paved loop (with a small stretch of gravel) - and the course was well-lit (so we didn't need headlamps during the night). there was a lap sheet to convert the laps into mileage - and hourly results were posted. i kept 5 loop splits on my watch, along with the splits for 50 miles and 100k.

my lap target was 117 - which corresponded to 100 miles. 59 loops equalled 50 miles (50.61) and was my short term goal. i started off feeling good and ran the first 25 loops in 5 loop splits that ranged from the low to mid-40 minute range. during laps 30 through 60 my 5 loop splits slowed to the mid-50 range. my 50 mile split (loop 59) was 9:43:19 - but by that time i was starting to feel the fatigue catch up to me. i had been taking a lot of fluids (mostly ginger ale, vitamin water, and plain water) to offset the dehydration from the sun and wind.

but all that liquid took a toll on my appetite. most of the time my stomach was full of soda and it contributed to my lost desire to eat (as hard as that is to imagine - or for me to write it, in retrospect). despite tons of great food (burger, hot dogs, pizza, pasta, quesadillas, to mention just a few of the excellent choices) i couldn't face the prospect of eating much of anything. what really saved me during the late night and early morning hours was the hot broth! i took a cup out with me on many a loop (as much for warmth, as nourishment) during those hours.

the poor nutrition strategy showed up in my 5 lap splits, which had now slowed to well over an hour (between 1:05 and 1:30 for laps 60-90). despite the progressive slowdown, these laps (half walking and half running) were still fun. marge, who had come down to volunteer, wound up running at least 50k - mostly with emmy, but a solid chunk of hours with me as well). the highlight of the early evening was the incredible fireworks display that took place adjacent to the course just after 9:30 saturday night! the low point was traversing a stretch of the course populated (polluted) with party goers sneaking smokes (and there were a lot of them), also on saturday night.

my personal low point came in the wee hours of the morning. loops 90-100 seemed to take forever (and were almost entirely walking). both 5 loop splits clocked in at 1:45+ each! but, as the sun rose, my spirits picked up and i did my last 5 loops in 1:27 - and reached a total of 105 laps in 23:06:11 (90.07 miles). at that point i called it a day. i think it was the earliest time of the morning (8:30) that i celebrated the end of a race with a beer (sierra nevada pale ale)! susan won the women's race, and emmy took second. shiran won overall and byron took second place. rick awarded them some incredible local pottery for prizes!

all in all this was a fantastic event. rick, his family, and the many volunteers put on a great weekend. even the scorekeepers were awesome (correcting my lap counts at least twice during the day)! while i didn't reach my hundred mile goal, i'm still very pleased with my mileage total. plus, in addition to seeing plenty of old friends, made a few new ones too!

all "done" :D

here is emmy's race report.
here are my race photos.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"3 days at the fair" - race photos and results

what a tough 24 hours it's been! "three days at the fair" is a series of races that began on friday with a 48 hour run and, at 3 a.m. sunday morning, kicked off a six hour run! in between were 24 and 12 hour runs! i ran the 24 hour race (along with emmy) that kicked off at 9 a.m. saturday and concluded this morning at 9. i logged 90 miles in just over 23 hours (23:06:11) and emmy ran 87 miles and took second place in the women's race!

it was such a great time; here is my race report.
here are the complete race results (all events).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"3 days at the fair" 24 hour run

just a quick update: heading over to new jersey for "3 days at the fair" for the 24 hour run! the festivities kicked off yesterday, with the start of the 48 hour run. this morning the 24 hour participants join them (including me). tonight we'll be joined by 12 and 6 hour runners as well. there'll be quite a few familiar faces taking part in all the various distances!

all the races end tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. - phew!!

if you're nearby, come on over! volunteer, pace a few loops, or just cheer on the runners!

here are the race photos and results.
here is my race report.

Friday, May 14, 2010

katie's lacrosse team finishes season 11-3-1

the girls junior varsity lacrosse team just finished the last game of the season (an away game that they won). they finished the season with a fantastic 11-3-1 record! at one point the girls had an 8 game winning streak - which ended with their third loss on tueday. great job girls!!

katie still has a few more weeks left of field hockey camp before summer. and, very new to the mix, the track coaches are offerring post-season "speed" workouts at the track for all sports teams (kicking off next week). this is a great excuse for her dad to sneak over to the track and start running some intervals of his own!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

ny giants and jets bid for the 2014 superbowl game!!

yesterday the giants and jets teamed up in a bid to bring the 2014 superbowl to the meadowlands! eli manning and mark sanchez were on hand to add a little star power to the announcement. while not quite a long shot, it would have been an outright hail mary if not for the backing of nfl commissioner roger goodell. a superbowl at the meadowlands would be the first one held at an outdoor stadium during the winter!

also bidding are tampa and south florida (classic warm weather sites). the decision is expected in two weeks, on may 25th, when the owners vote on the choice. if none of the three bids receive three quarters of the votes (24 of the 32 owners), the city with the fewest votes is dropped. the winner will then be decided by a simple majority of the second round vote.

go meadowlands!!

Update: and, the 2014 superbowl goes to the ... meadlowlands!! woo hoo!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"bukowski: born into this" movie review

After I watched “Barfly” last week, I was moved to add “Bukowski: Born Into This” to my Netflix queue. It arrived in yesterday’s mail and I watched it last night. Charles Bukowski is not an easy character to like - and his work (poetry or prose) is equally hit or miss for most people. But the 2004 John Dullaghan documentary is well worth the time (running just under 2 hours), regardless of your personal view of Bukowski. In fact, the decidedly upbeat take (there are no critics in this film) puts his helter-skelter life into a chronological span and makes Bukowski into an almost forgone creation of a horrible childhood and his beat early lives.

Charles Bukowski is difficult to put into a neat literary cubby hole (dive bar, seedy hotel, better choices). For a man of prodigious literary output, he never broke into the world of mainstream academia (or publishing, for that matter). The Bukowski of this film comes across as equal parts Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson. And, lurking in the background is Herbert Huncke - the proto beat. Huncke was a petty criminal, alcoholic, and junkie. He’s the guy, from whom Kerouac first heard the term “beat.”

Late in his life, and after repeated pleas from Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs, Huncke started to write (albeit sporadically). He eventually penned his autobiography, “Guilty of Everything,” that cataloged his wayward escapades. Bukowski shares many parallels with Huncke (who died in 1996, two years after Bukowski, at 81). Bukoswki also followed in the footsteps of Henry Miller - who quit his job at Western Union to strike out as a writer. Miller’s penniless decade (the 1920s) produced his first novel, “Moloch, or, This Gentile World” (published posthumously) which chronicled his horrible years at Western Union.

To quit his dead end job at the post office, Bukowski was offered a stipend of $100 per month from his future publisher, John Martin. Shortly afterward, Black Sparrow Press (created just to publish Bukowski) released “Post Office,” Bukowski’s first novel - and a thinly disguised autobiographical piece of his years at slaving away at the mail sorting operations of the post office. It was John Martin’s unwavering faith in Bukowski that paved the way for him to become a full time writer - unencumbered by a day to day job!

Bukowski himself, in a fantastic piece, related how important it was for him to keep an “ember” of his writing alive deep inside of himself - regardless of the drudgery of any job he might be working to stay alive! That way, if he ever got published (and this was during a period where his mailbox was constantly filled with rejection slips), he could fan that ember back into a flame. For a guy who prided himself on ruthlessly striping metaphors out of his writings - that was a classic! Bukowski wrote every day - publication (and getting paid for it) was the gravy.

As his fame increased during the early 1970s, from readings, publications, and a weekly column (“Notes of a Dirty Old Man”) in an underground newspaper, his writing took on even more life is art spin. “Women” followed his debauched ride through the legions of groupies that sought him out. “Hollywood” followed on the heels of the filming of “Barfly” - in which he had a tiny cameo. “Barfly”/”Hollywood” could have been life imitating art, imitating life - since Bukowski penned the screenplay for the movie!

I was fascinated by his take on the film - and it wasn’t a positive one. He thought Mickey Rourke was a “showoff” in the role of Chinaski (Bukowski). In a remarkable vignette, Bukowski actually “read” the lines that he thought Rourke had overacted! He (Bukowski) would never had shouted upon entering a bar - if anything, an understated growl would have been enough. Had he lived long enough, Bukowski would probably have loved Matt Dillon’s lower key take on Chinaski in “Factotum.”

Check out this documentary. “Bukowski: Born into This” won’t disappoint.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

1000 miles logged for 2010... so far :D

my run this morning (6 miles) inched the total miles for 2010 over the 1000 mile threshold. standing alone, that's a relatively empty bit of datum - but a fun milestone to note. it doesn't seem like i've logged that many miles, especially since i've hardly averaged more that 50 miles a week during the winter and early spring!

more that forty percent (415) of the miles were logged over 21 races. three quarters of the race miles (307+), came from just 6 ultras and 2 marathons. the remaining miles (108) come from other races (25k or shorter). that leaves just under 600 training miles - the bulk of which represent daily training runs between 6 and 8 miles.

more meaningful numbers, for me, are weekly and monthly mileages within a given training cycle. in that respect, while i've been averaging just over 200 miles per month this year, my weekly mileage hasn't been as consistent (hovering, on average, around 50+ mpw). between the lousy weather and a busier than normal schedule, i haven't been able to log 60+ mile training weeks on a more consistent basis.

with the spring semester now finished, and some nicer weather just around the corner (fingers crossed), i can get back to some higher mileage weeks. but, more importantly, it's time to get back to the track and start running intervals! as a rule of thumb, a good training week for me includes 5-10% of the miles as speed work (either at the track or a short road race).

Monday, May 10, 2010

2010 long island greenbelt 50k: race report

Despite my fourth Long Island Greenbelt 50k, it seems unlikely that I’ll finish this race without going off course at least once! My first time on the course (2007) set the high water mark of four missed trail blazes. In 2008, my trail navigation skills improved and I only went off course twice. And, in 2009, I got lost just once. It seemed that the progression was working in my favor. This weekend, however, I still missed a blaze and found myself off course during the first outbound leg. But I’ve gotten ahead of the story.

Last year I woke up to the sound of heavy rain outside the window. Luckily, it stopped on the drive down to Plainview. We had muddy conditions, but no more rain during the day. On Saturday, it hadn’t begun to rain yet - despite a forecast that rain would arrive overnight. I drove to Long Island with Emmy and Noonie. While there were occasional patches of sun, it seemed like the rain was never too far off. To me, it's always preferable - mentally - to kick off a race in dry conditions (even if the rain is only minutes behind). Luckily, no rain at the start - just humid conditions.

I had a sub-6:00 finish in mind when we set off at 7:30. The first part of the course is a 1.8 mile out and back on the roads, leading back to the trail head. It took me 15:44 and I was drenched in sweat as we entered the trail! I thought it would be less humid on the trail, but no such luck. The trail has a number of road crossings on the 7.8 mile stretch north to the Cold Spring Harbor turnaround. The bulk of is very runnable trail. However, the last 2+ miles, from the Route 108 to the turnaround is where all the serious elevation change lurks.

Including the brief out and back, I reached the Cold Spring Harbor in 1:34:47 - slightly off pace for a 6:00 finish. It included a half mile detour I took with 3 other guys, when we collectively missed a blaze! I got back on track (so to speak) for the inbound leg, with a 1:21:03 and first half split of 2:55:50. During the inbound leg the rain arrived. I felt a few drops just before Stillwell Field, and then the heavens opened (with some thunder too). The storm didn’t last long - just long enough to soak my shoes and socks. But, by the time I returned to the trail head, both had dried out.

On the outbound leg of the second loop, the rain made another appearance. This time it wasn’t as loud, or long - it was just long enough to get my feet wet again. Both storms knocked down the humidity, so running conditions improved in their wake. There were a couple of muddy patches during the second loop - messy but not dangerous. My second outbound leg took 1:26:19, for a cumulative split of 4:22:09 - well on target for a sub 6:00 finish. I just needed a 1:30 inbound leg back to the trail head and I’d make it back to the clubhouse in plenty of time.

But that outcome wasn’t in the cards. By the time I crossed Route 108 and had the gnarly climbs behind me, my time cushion had all but evaporated. I kept moving, but had no leg speed left to push the flats. I reached the trail head in 1:41:52 - a full 15 minutes slower than the outbound leg - and still had half a mile of roads, back to the finish. That small stretch took 3:22 and I crossed the finish in 6:07:36. Well off my target, but good enough under the circumstances!

Instead of baseball caps (as in years past), finishers each received a drawstring bag. Afterwards, there was plenty of food - in the way of six foot subs! And plenty of socializing too. By early afternoon, the sun had come out and it had warmed up considerably. Just a few of the familiar faces: Emmy, Noonie, Nick, Richie, Grant, Eliot (his first trail ultra), Marge, Susan, Alicja, Jay, Lydia, and Lucimar. And a couple of new ones too, Joel and Elik (his first ultra)!

Here are my race photos.
Here is Eliot's Race Report.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

eliot's 2010 long island greenbelt 50k race report: guest post

wow! and double wow is probably more appropriate!! after he knocked off his first 50 miler at lake waramaug just two weeks ago, eliot ran his first trail run (at any distance!) yesterday, on the long island greenbelt trail. it wasn't just any trail run - but a gnarly 50k, with 3,000+ feet of elevation change (most of which is inconveniently crammed into the northern 2 miles of the double out and back course)! congrats eliot!!

here is his race report!!

Losing it …. Again – The Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50K – May 8, 2010

Another first for me …. perhaps, another first of many. Just two weeks ago, I lost my ‘50 miler’ virginity to the Lake Waramaug Ultras. It was my birthday …. candles, cake, singing, hugs, kisses, etc. Even with the rain, it was like the perfect night on the town! Yesterday, I lost my ‘trail’ virginity to the Long Island Greenbelt 50K. This was more like the back seat of a Chevy. I’m not saying it was better or worse …. just different.

It would be a humid, damp day with temperatures getting into the 70’s. A few thunderstorms popped up, but we were protected from the rain with the cover of trees. By the latter part of the day, the sun was breaking and the winds were kicking up which you only felt in the last stretch on the roads to the finish at the GLIRC clubhouse. The 50K course was two ‘out and backs’ from Plainview along the northern section of the Greenbelt trail to Cold Spring Harbor. I looked at my Garmin post-race not for my pace, but for the elevation changes. There were about 3,000+ feet of total ascents & descents over the course of the 31 miles, and it felt like the concentration was all on the north shore.

I never thought I would ever run trails. Like many, I’d sprained my ankles on occasion growing up but a right ankle fracture (when I was in my mid-twenties) really made me always second guess the strength of them. But hey …. I’d give it a shot. So, with every measured step, I carefully tried to place my feet; but, even despite this care, there were at least a dozen times that my ankles and/or knees sent a ‘what-the-f…’ message to my brain. I was very apprehensive on the trail. I think this was causing me to sweat more than the physical exertion of the climbs. My ankles held up nicely, but I saw ‘stars ‘a few times whenever my right big toe caught a root or rock. It would bother me the entire day and I‘m sure that toenail is a goner. You must pick up your feet …. always.

My plan for this race was to hang back with Emmy. Haha …. hang back, right! As it was my first Greenbelt and first trail, for that matter, and after reading Frank’s blog about how easy it was to get lost, I thought that it was a good plan. I also had the pleasure of running with her friend, Noonie. The slight problem with the plan, however, was that these were two accomplished road and trail runners (both ran Boston a few weeks back), so it wasn’t easy for me to stay with them even though they were taking it easy. When we got back to Plainview the first time, I was physically spent (perhaps, I still had some residual fatigue from Waramaug in me), so I told Emmy and Noonie to go ahead for loop two. My challenge with ultra-running with others is getting into my non-rhythm …. I like to take walk breaks whenever I feel the need, sometimes even on ‘downs and flats’ while most runners never waste ‘downs and flats.’ Despite this, it was a good strategy to run with Emmy and Noonie as I felt more comfortable on my own for the second loop having been through it already.

Man …. you really gotta focus out there! Without the luxury of a tour guide, you need to pay attention to the trail blazes, ribbons, markings and your footing. Very different than road running where you can go into ‘auto-pilot’ mode during long stretches. There is no visiting La-la land on the trails, for if you enter it …. be prepared to do a face-plant on the ground! So, at the end of a trail race you can be physically and mentally fatigued. On my own, I only managed to get lost two or three times when I lost the trail, so I backtracked and since I didn’t know how to read the double blazes (turn right or left?), I waited until I saw someone running out or back and proceeded. [I should have paid more attention during Nick’s intro.]

I eventually hooked up with another runner named Darren. He was from Long Island and ran the trails regularly. The heat/humidity of the day was causing his problems …. he was starting to cramp and lock up. Just wasn’t his day, but it sure made mine. We walked up all the inclines and ran the downs so he could stretch out his muscles. Because I wanted to stay with him, I ran the ‘downs’ and started to feel more confident with my footwork while watching his footwork. He also gave me a trail blaze reading lesson for the next time. Haha. Darren and I crossed the finish together in 7:37:31 (unofficial). It was great seeing Emmy, Frank, Noonie, Grant and many of the other crazies at the finish. Many thanks to Nick and the volunteers for such a well-run event!

Happy Mother’s Day!

happy mother's day 2010

happy mother's day to all mommys out there! in my immediate family... my mom, pat, and mother-in-law, joan. plus my sisters-in-law, amy, andrea, and rosemarie!!

today, we're heading down to brooklyn to have lunch with my mom.

happy mother's day!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

2010 long island greenbelt 50k: race photos and results

my fourth long island greenbelt 50k is in the books. i only went off course once (what's an extra half mile?) and we had two thunderstorms (evenly spaced at one per loop). i finished in 6:07:58 - well off my finish time last year, but well ahead of my first two greenbelt races (2007 & 2008). i missed my 6:00 goal by a few minutes, but was still pleased with the outcome.

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

here a few more photos, posted on facebook.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"barfly" movie review

last night "barfly," starring mickey rourke and fay dunaway, was on t.v. - a rare showing! it's been a few years since i've seen it; and even longer since i first watched it in a theatre (1986)! it's about a brief slice of charles bukowski's life. more often seen (on sundance and via netflix) is "factotum" - yet another take on bukowski life, made almost 20 years after "barfly," that stars matt dillon. while "factotum" was based on bukowski's short novel of the same name, "barfly" was written specifically for the screen by bukowski. in brief, bukowski was an infamous skid row denizen, and just happened to be a poet and author (and alcoholic).

"barfly" is great film and has stood the test of time. mickey rourke completely inhabits the bukowksi character, "henry chinaski," in both body and soul. it's hard not to compare rourke's chinaski with matt dillon's version in "factotum." both give great performances, with dillon taking on a longer arc of chinaski's life in his film. "barfly," in contrast, takes place over a few days of an older chinaski's life. while chinaski is the singular barfly of the title, fay dunaway as "wanda" is dead on as his fellow bar room patron/bedroom partner.

bukowski wrote some great dialog for the film. the opening exchange between wanda and chinaski as they sit on bar stools immediatley grabs you. wanda asks he "hates people?" chinanski, pausing for effect, says, "no but i feel better when they're not around." while chinaski looks like an alcoholic, looks like he belongs on that bar stool, wanda looks out of place there. make no mistake, she's an alcoholic as well, but appears to be a much more well-heeled one (just down on her luck at the moment). their edgy relationship is undermined when a literary magazine editor shows up (after employing a private detective to locate chinaski).

"tully" played by alice krige, manages to pay chinaski $500 for a story of his she plans to publish. however unlikely, she also brings chinaski home, gets him into bed (after she willingly gets drunk), and offers him the use of her guest house to write "in peace." chinaski accepts the booze and the one night stand, but skips out because he "can't breath in a high class." while the attraction to chinaki is iffy business, tully's despair at his rejection is downright implausible. but, as chinaski is buying rounds for his fellow barflies at the "golden horn," tully tracks him down again.

since he's there with wanda - and she's already smelt tully's perfume on chinaski when he stumbled home late that morning - the inevitable battle royale between these two women is set. before the violence actually unfolded, chinaski remarked that each of them only knew him briefly, and that "this is surreal" truly captured the moment! wanda vanquishes tully and all is well again. which in turn means that chinaski is about to head into the back alley for his penultimate fight with the bartender (frank stallone). the film ends as the door closed on the bar and the characters went about their ordinary lives again.

"barfly" isn't available on netflix, but if it come on, don't pass it up. in the mean while, put "factotum" in your queue - it's also a fantastic film!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

carol king & james taylor "live at the troubadour" review

james taylor and carol king's newest release, "live at the troubadour," is a trip down memory lane, for the two of them - and fans as well. this performance was recorded in 2007, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the troubadour, a west hollywood venue that hosted many of their early concerts (together with the likes of elton john, the eagles, and joni mitchell, among other notable artists to have played there). what was intended as a "one-off" reunion (and included members of their original group), instead turned-into a world tour. the album release (together with a dvd of the performance) just kicked off their tour.

as expected from two of the most prolific and successful song writers, the fifteen song set list is heavy with their major hits: "so far way," "carolina on my mind," "it's too late," "fire and rain," "sweet baby james," "i feel the earth move," and "you've got a friend." but taylor gets in a few old chestnuts ("blossom" and "machine gun kelly"), while king performs a couple of songs she wrote for other groups ("up on the roof" for the drifters and "will you still love me tomorrow" for the shirelles). it's an impressive mix of songs. despite the co-billing however, only one song, "you've got a friend," is performed as a duet.

still taylor and king play as old friends - and it's difficult to image that almost 40 years have elapsed since they last played together in the early 1970s. there's an intimacy to the performance that goes beyond two seasoned musicians playing side by side - they genuinely like each other. that mood is certainly enhanced by their original band mates on stage. as taylor introduced them ("the section"): "... still alive and at the top of their game." the trio includes, danny kortchmar (guitar), leland sklar (bass) and russell kunkel (drums).

the chatter between songs is also fun. right after "blossom" carol king noted that as she prepared for the tour, her brain didn't remember the song. but when she played it, her fingers and heart did. taylor recites the familiar story of his drive down to visit his newborn nephew as the catalyst for "sweet baby james." and, for their duet on "you've got a friend," taylor noted how much he was moved by the song when he first heard carol perform it. then, taylor added, he didn't know then that he'd perform it every night, ever since!

this is a must get for any taylor or king fan!

here is the set list:

so far away
machine gun kelly
carolina in my mind
it's too late
smackwater jack
something in the way she moves
will you still love me tomorrow
country road
fire and rain
sweet baby james
i feel the earth move
you've got a friend
up on the roof
you can close your eyes

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"boogie man: the lee atwater story" dvd release

"boogie man: the lee atwater story" had a 40-city theatrical release in 2008. i reviewed the documentary after it was shown in new york city. the following year, it was shown on pbs as part of the frontline series. yesterday, the directors cut version was released on dvd. bonus material includes deleted scenes and additional interviews (plus and msnbc interview with the director).

i watched the bonus material first. in fact, i watched the entire dvd before pulling up my old review to see if my impressions had changed in almost two years. i still think "boogie man" is a must watch for any political junkie. atwater was one of the most important political operatives during the last quarter of the 20th century. atwater was a major force during the politcal campaigns of the reagan/bush years. if you didn't live through these years, this documentary is a great primer.

my intitial take on the documentary still holds true - there were too many important people in lee atwater's life that did not appear in the film to make this a comprehensive look at the man. that said, the cast of character assembled to tell the tale did an admirable job presenting the good and bad of the atwater story. some of the most enjoyable interviewees were with eric alterman, tucker askew, roger stone, and mary matalin. alterman, both on screen and in the deleted scenes, comes off especially sincere (since he and atwater were on opposite sides of the political spectrum).

the most unwatchable interviewee was howard fineman. his ugly remark that, 'life has a way of getting even with you in the end" was so grossly inappropriate and mean spirited that i almost turned off the dvd! it's so pathetically facile to fall back on lame cliches like that one - but to utter it out loud (and for the record) ... shame on you howard fineman. atwater himself alluded to sun tzu's "art of war" - getting inside the head of your enemy, when he said, "now cancer used it on me." a far more nobly expressed sentiment.

all in all, atwater's impact echoed far beyond his death in 1991. his protege, karl rove, was instrumental in the political career (in texas and nationally) of george w. bush. and, politics aside, it was fun to see the musical ("blues") side of atwater's life given some coverage. last but not least, you gotta love all those 1980's running scenes :D

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

katie's late afternoon lacrosse game :D

what a great afternoon to be outside! when i got home from work today, instead of going out for a run, i drove over to white plains to catch katie's lacrosse game. the irony of watching the game at the white plains high school track wasn't lost on me.

years ago, when i was a member of the westchester track club, that's where we did our wednesday night speed workouts! and, in those days, katie was young enough to wait for us to finish the workout in the bleachers with her barbie dolls :D

the girls won the game :D