Getting Schooled By the Wee Ice Mon


My poor performance during the Self Transcendence Marathon really left a bad taste in my mouth.  The injury wasn’t what got my knickers in a twist; instead, it was the way my race was going prior to twisting my ankle that frustrated me.  My head wasn’t in it.  I wasn’t prepared.  I just expected to show up, flip the switch and go.  I didn’t eat right.  I didn’t hydrate correctly.  I didn’t get enough rest.  I’m just lucky I remembered my pair of Brooks that day. 

 

If I really prepared well and then the wheels came off, I could have made my peace with the performance.  But knowing that I wasn’t ready to race – that was inexcusable.  I need to address this issue, because it’s becoming an ongoing theme as the year rolls on.  In order to address any problems that I experience in my life, I normally begin by doing two things…

 

First, I research the issue.  Like I’ve said more than a few times within this blog – Google is your buddy, so I first cracked open my laptop and hopped on the electronic superhighway.  I opened Internet Explorer, pulled up Google.com, and searched on the following terms for guidance:

  • “Tips For Getting Your Head Out Of Your Butt”
  • “How To Stop Being A Schmuck”
  • “Running For Dummies”
  • Keeping Up With The Kardashians (because the first three google searches failed to provide the necessary wisdom to correct my issues)

 

If studying / researching an issue fails to rectify the situation (and let’s face it – google wasn’t much of a pal), I simply go Old School.  WWMGD.  What Would My Grandparents Do.  Thinking this way normally gets me closer to issue resolution.  So I spent some time alone, and I thought about my childhood.

 

You may not believe this, but I can recall a lot of my early years.  Sometimes in great detail.  The summer of 1977 was one I’ll never forget – the Yankees were referred to as The Bronx Zoo by the New York press, Craig Nettles was my idol…and my parents got divorced.  Now hearing the way that last sentence ended, you might think that the ability to recall many specifics about one’s childhood brings with it a mixed bag of blessings and curses.  Well, for me, that’s not really the case.  My Mom (a.k.a, My Hero – which is a heck of a lot bigger than any idol) handled things amazingly well, where I began to realize that it would me and her against the world.  And backing her up were my grandparents – both of which I quote A LOT while I write.  For two people that never spent a day inside of a college classroom, they both had Ph.D’s in LIFE.        

 

I remember one evening during that summer very fondly.  I took the #12 Bus from City Island to Pelham Bay Station after school, and my grandfather met me at the bus stop.  We went into a cigar store on the corner (that’s what’s now known as a “bodega”, for all of you playing the home version), where my grandfather purchased my daily pack of Topps baseball cards.  We’d open the pack of cards as we continued on to our usual second stop on the walk home – OTB (that’s Off Track Betting) – and place a bet on a couple of racing going on at Belmont, Saratoga, or any of those other locations.  My grandfather would lean over, show me the racing sheet, and say “who do ya like?”  We never played the odds – we played the names.  He would read me the list of names running in a race, and whichever one made me laugh was the one we bet on.  $1 to win.

 

On this one afternoon he asked me who I liked, and then began to read off the names.  He stopped when we read aloud “The Wee Iceman”.  I chuckled.  He smiled…and that was one of the only times I ever recall that huge Dutchman cracking a grin.  “Perfect.  Good choice.  I’ll tell you about the Iceman later.  Let’s place the bet”.  We went to the window, and he’d let me hand the $1 bill over to the cashier and hold on to the ticket stub.  Sure enough – The Wee Iceman actually won!  My grandfather and I cleared $8, and cleared a chocolate ice cream cone.

 

We found a park bench in Wilkinson Park, just a few blocks from the apartment, and I went to work on my ice cream.  As we sat on the bench and I began to drip chocolate on my school slacks, my grandfather told me the story of the Wee Ice Mon.

 

“Joey, I’m glad that you picked that horse, The Wee Ice Mon.  Do you know you the Wee Ice Mon was?”

 

“He play on the Yanks?”

 

“Nope.  The Wee Ice Mon was the nickname of one of the greatest professional golfers ever – Ben Hogan.  Hogan was known to be one of the hardest working golfers – he’d be constantly practicing.  He had a real work ethic, and people respected him for that.  The other neat thing about Hogan was that when he played the game, he blocked out everything around him.  He went into a zone where the only things that existed were the ball and the course.  There were times where he didn’t even know his own score or where he stood in the standings; several times he only found out that he won a tournament when he arrived at the 18th green – the last hole of the match.  While in Scotland, the Scots saw this work ethic and pure dedication to the game…and they embraced it.  During the British Open one year, his caddy was quoted as saying “the man plays without fear.  It’s like he has ice in his veins.”  From then on, Hogan was called the Wee Ice Mon.”

 

I’m paraphrasing, of course – I cannot recall the entire conversation, but that was the gist of it.  What I do remember, however, was what he did afterward.  My grandfather stood up, hovered over my seated frame, looked down at me and said “Joey, remember something: if you wanna be good at something – I mean REALLY good at something – then you gotta work hard.  If you wanna be the best though – you gotta outwork everyone else.  Work hard, just like school.  Every day.  And when it’s game time, get focused.  If you make a mistake – if ya have a bad day – shake it off.  Be like the Wee Ice Mon.  Focus on what you’re going and the score will take care of itself.  Got it?”

 

“Yup.  Got it.  We gotta go Grandpa, Grandma is going to wonder where we are.”

 

He grabbed my chocolate-stained hand and we headed home.  But as we got to the front door he looked down at me and said “Now Joey – did we bet on a horse?”  To which I responded “What horse?”  He grinned and said “…asta my boy”.

 

WWMGD?  What Would My Grandparents Do?  They would tell me that I need to work harder.  They would tell me that I have lost my focus and that I’m letting a poor performance affect my training attitude.  I need to act more like the Wee Ice Mon – I need to train harder and immediately forget the workouts or races that didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. 

 

I need to get to work. 

 

______________________________________

 

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

Monday Morning Motivation


Nothing amazing can happen if you give up. So don’t. Don’t ever give up on your goals and good things CAN and WILL happen. Fight the good fight…with all your might.

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You don’t get today back – so make it count.

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Marathon #8: The Self Transcendence Marathon – PART 2


“OK…let’s get this shoe off and see what’s going on in there…”

 

“You sure that’s a good idea?  Can we just wrap my ankle and get me back out there?”

 

“Absolutely.  Now let’s see…”

 

Off came my shoe.  Both of us watched as my ankle began to swell.

 

“…..wow” was all the attendant could manage to say.

 

“..ummm…yeah…wow.  Now could you tape this thing up, quick?”

 

“….oh sure.  Okie dokie, here we go.”

 

…and with that the attendant began to wrap my right ankle pretty tight with pre-wrap and athletic tape.  This was the first time in over 20 marathons that I actually felt crappy enough to stop into a medical tent for help.  As the attendant quickly turned the tape around my foot, I kept muttering the same thing over and over to myself…

 

“This is about par for the course today.  Some days it’s better to sleep in and watch TV.”

 

“Sorry – what did you say?” responded the attendant – a very nice young man that was eager to help, he tried to make me comfortable on this hot and humid day.  His efforts were appreciated and respected…but in vain.

 

“…nothing.  I was just whining like a mule.  Thanks for the neat work.  I’ll stretch this out and get back on the course”.  I needed to finish what I began.  I didn’t come this far to fail.  I’ve begun 20 marathons before today.  I’ve finished what I started all 20 times.  I may gotten sick at times – I even lost a tooth once – but I always managed to cross the finish line.  It’s never pretty…but they don’t hand out style points along the route.  Just grit your teeth and push on – that’s my mindset once the clock starts.  At times I think that is REALLY a dumb thought process – but it’s the only one I’ve come up with thus far.

 

As I sat on the grass under the medical tent slowly stretching my ankle and trying to loosen it up enough to get in motion once more, I thought back on the day’s events up to this point……

 

I drove from Manhattan up to Rye, New York – about 45 minutes away, across the Tappan Zee Bridge – at around 4:30-5am.  I arrived in the Rockland Lake State Park parking lot at about 5:15am, only to find that I was the only car in the lot.  There were no street lights, so the parking area was nearly pitch black.  I sat in the car, wondering if I was in the right place.  Sure enough, within minutes I noticed another up pulling close by.  It was a brand new two-door black Porsche.  An older gentleman exited the sharp vehicle and walked up to my car door.  “Good morning.  Do you know where to go to pick up our bibs?” he asked.

 

“No – I’ve never run this race before.  I wasn’t even sure if the race was today, based on the turnout.  Why don’t we check out the park – maybe there’s a registration area already set up.”

 

I got out of the car, grabbed my backpack, and we began walking toward the park itself.  I introduced myself to the gentleman, and he mentioned that his name was Gene.  He wore a very light white running jacket and carried a small bag which I was sure held the customary necessary marathon day items: dry clothes, a small towel, body glide, etc.  When we got the park, we quickly noticed the marathon signs.  Everything was clearly marked, so we made our way toward the registration tent.

 

We picked up our bib numbers, wished each other good luck, and looked for a quiet place to sit and prepare for the 7am start.

 

The lake itself is a gorgeous area.  The marathon would consist of nine laps of the three mile path that runs around the lake.  A very flat course, it would be home for the next several hours as I waddled around the asphalt. 

 

Just a few minutes before the start of the race, the field of approximately 500 runners from all over the world (the race’s founder, Sri Chimnoy, was a very spiritual man that found  inner peace through running – and he became a leader/guru that many throughout the world looked up to) began to line up for the starting gun.  I noticed Gene in the crowd, wished him good luck once more…and then it hit me.

 

That racing shirt he wore.  It was red, white and blue.  He was a 50-stater (he’s completed a marathon in all 50 states).  Then I saw the back of his shirt where, in gold glitter writing it simply said “X 8”.

 

My jaw dropped.  Literally.  I needed both hands to put it back in place without biting my tongue.

 

Gene completed marathons in all 50 states….8 times.  Incredible.  I spoke to him very briefly before the race began, and promised myself to catch up with him at some point during the day to hopefully be regaled with tales of his exploits.  Before I knew it, the horn sounded and we were off.

 

The first thing I learned about myself as I began my nine laps was that, as a marathoner, I require a constant change of external stimuli: the scenery needs to change as the miles tick along.  If I am required to run the same path, in the same direction, over and over again…I very easily lose focus on my objectives.  This happened to me at mile 14.

 

The second thing I learned about myself piggy-backs off of the first thing: when I lose focus on my objectives during a marathon, I also lose focus on what I am actually doing at the present time.  This became evident as the leaders came by me along my left side between miles 14-15.  Two bicycles ringing their bells informed us back-of-the-packers that the leaders were coming through.  We automatically moved the far right-hand side of the path in order to give them room to pass.  As I moved to the right, I failed to pay attention to what I was doing…and my right foot landed on the outer curve of the pavement, turning my ankle something fierce.  Fortunately, I caught myself before I fell – but the damage was done. 

 

At first, my right ankle felt tingly – like the pins and needles you get in your arm when you sleep on it the wrong way.  That got me worried.  I’ve rolled my ankle before.  It hurts, I ignore it, and then it doesn’t hurt anymore.  This was different, however.  It hurt, I tried to ignore it, and it kept hurting more and more.  It felt as if The Tool had repelled down from my shoulder, belayed on to my right running shoe, whipped out a tiny hammer and starting pounding away at my ankle like a damn coal miner. 

 

As I tried to keep my momentum going through a weird combination of waddling and hobbling along the right hand side of the path, I could only think of my Freshman Year football coach at Fordham Preparatory School, Mr. Austin.  I was new to the game of tackle football, and was quite frankly scared of taking a hard hit.  The first time I dropped back to pass in a team practice wearing full pads, I took too long to go through my receiver progressions and WHAM.  I got blasted from behind by Ruben, one of our linebackers that REALLY knew how to play defense.  It took me a moment to get up, and Mr. Austin walked out onto the field and asked me “Are you hurt or are you injured?”  I asked him what the difference was.  “If you’re hurt, I’m going to tell you to get your ass up off the dirt and into the huddle.  If you’re injured, I’m calling an ambulance.”

 

I decided that I was hurt that day.  I decided I was hurt today as well.   

 

I got myself around the lake to the medical tent, where I decided to have the foot checked out.  I have four more marathons to go in 2012, and a “Dopey” Marathon weekend coming up in January, so I cannot afford a real serious injury that crushes my chances of achieving my overall goal.  So I arrived at the medical tent and, as I mentioned earlier, he nice attendant taped me up. 

 

I got back out there, but to say I was broken for the day was an understatement.  I began a slow jog and mixed in a lot of walking throughout the final 11-12 miles of the marathon.  I wish I could say I gritted my teeth and ran the rest of the way.  I would have loved to do that.  But I wasn’t strong enough.  It hurt too darn much and the heat and humidity sapped my energy levels from the outset of the race.  It was a rough day – but one that I learned a lot from.

 

I learned that I need to train myself to be stronger mentally.  I need to focus myself internally and pay attention to what’s going on with my body as I run.  I now think of this as “running in the moment.”  Forget that last crappy mile you ran.  Forget all of the other stuff going on that has your head tied up in mental knots.  Get out there and run in the moment.  Focus on your game plan for the day.  Focus on your stride.  Your arm swing.  Your breathing.  In short: dial in to the moment.  For me that means no more running whilst listening to AC/DC, Eminem and Rush.  Oh crap.

 

As I grabbed my backpack and headed toward my car, I saw Gene finish.  What a cool guy.  I did a google search and found this VERY cool article on him – I want to share it with you, because this is one very special man.  (http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2012/07/28/sports/doc5014696dd3d99867763186.txt?viewmode=fullstory).

 

When I got home I tended to my ankle and hoped that the swelling would recede.  I prayed for no broken bones.  I have worked too hard and come too far to have an ankle injury place this year-long effort in jeopardy.

 

…as it turns out, I heal pretty quick.  My one saving grace, I guess!

 

Thanks for taking a moment to read my blabbering!  Remember – you don’t get today back…so make it count. 

______________________________________

 

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

Marathon #8: The Self Transcendence Marathon – PART 1


July rolled into August, and the days just seemed to melt into each other. Let’s face it: it was probably due to the daily 280 degree temperatures combined with the 1,500% humidity that hung over Manhattan for weeks at a time. Daily runs in the park became sluggish, and my focus on any particular day’s running goal was discarded soon after the first mile. (Note to my fellow runners: if you are training for an event – have a plan for your daily workout before you leave the house and begin running. Trust me: you’ll get more out of each session).

August’s marathon was scheduled for August 24th at Rockland Lake State Park. Nine laps around a 3-mile route that hugged the water. I knew it was going to be a flat race – but the benefits that the outline of the course provided were negated by the heat and humidity. I was worried about the weather for this one, for I know exactly how the heat and humidity affects my running efforts:

  • I usually start a marathon at a pace that is quicker than my normal long training run pace. Why? Because I’m psyched up and, although I know that I must control my pace early on and hold back, I do not. My brain tells my legs to get moving because “today is the day that I set a personal best”. That’s the message pounding through my dense cranium. And do I argue back, saying “no, you dummy – start slow, and then get quicker as the race goes on”? Nope. Why? Because I’m an idiot. (Note to all Nuggets out there: start off SLOW. Seriously. So slow that it becomes difficult to hold yourself back from running faster. Starting slow will allow you to finish strong. The marathon is all about self-control. I have none.)
  • On hot and humid days, the heat saps my energy quicker than normal. I, being an idiot, do not compensate by taking in more fuel or making sure I ate properly the night before. Two smores pop tarts should get me through it all – that’s how I’m wired. Well all I can say is that I’m an electrician’s nightmare. (Nuggets: take your fuel seriously. Give it some thought. Have a plan for the days leading up to Marathon Day. That way you have gas in the tank for miles 20-26.2. I’m lazy, and my poor results recently are evidence of my failure to properly plan.)
  • As things heat up during the race, my programming also tells me to drink more. Well I am betting that I usually overdo it. I see Gatorade and I take a cup. Or two. Am I thinking about budgeting my drinking properly? Heck no. I just see free Gatorade being given away and I just have to help myself to free samples. I know that I need to follow a specific gameplan for fueling and drinking during a race in order to give myself the best chance of finishing strong. But do I follow directions? Nope. I just show up, eat a pop tart and run. Oh yeah: and then I whine about my lousy performance on this blog afterward. (Again, Nuggets: HAVE A PLAN. Plan out your fluid intake well before race day. Use your long training runs to figure out how much water you need and when you need it. Drink too little – dangerous. Drink too much – also not good. HAVE A PLAN. I cannot stress this enough.)
  • I’ll usually get through the first 13-14 miles feeling pretty solid in the heat. Then the wheels come off quickly and violently. When the wheels come off I usually get nauseous, mainly caused by an abundance of Gatorade sloshing around in my otherwise empty stomach. I try to fight through it…but I never succeed. The crash is complete when I stop shuffling my feet through a water station and begin to walk. All positive momentum is lost…and I become broken. I’ve heard that term thrown around at a few marathon expos over the years, and that one word really sums up the moment. (Ok Nuggets, this is a big one: do not let the marathon break you. You begin the race filled with nervous energy, excitement and positive vibes. Then, as you close in on the last 10k of the race, those feeling wane and you’re left with quiet desperation. At this point, it’s easy to listen to The Tool inside of each of us and say “hey, let’s take a break here”. TELL THE TOOL TO SHUT UP. His goal is to break you. DO NOT LET IT HAPPEN. I’ve let it happen A LOT – and I regret it each and every time.)

The weather report for Saturday included a high temperature of 88 degrees with 85% humidity. After dinner the night before the race, I followed my regular routine of laying my race clothing out and packing a backpack for post-race. Over the past couple of months, I’ve begun to feel the effects of a very full running schedule – my legs feel like bricks, my energy level is low, I am healing slower after long training runs, and I am even losing my mental focus. I had no idea what to expect of myself when I began this quest back in January…I’m learning as I go on.

As I went to sleep the night before the marathon, I realized that the stars were not well-aligned for this one…

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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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Monday Morning Motivation


Release your inner Rocky.  When your workouts – or life in general – knocks you down, you get back up.  You’re a winner and that’s what winners do.

Take the punches that road dishes out.  Take the road’s best shot and keep moving forward.  And never lose sight of the fact that you have what it takes to win the fight.

 

You don’t get today back – so make it count.

 

Monday Morning Motivation


Today’s motivational moment is regarding dedication.  Achieving your goals takes desire, dedication, determination and discipline.  You have all four of those qualities within you.  Simply call upon them and expect the most of yourself.

Remember: you don’t get today back – so make it count.