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

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…

___________________________________________________

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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My Self-Inflicted Marathon


Before you start reading this blog entry find yourself a comfy chair, preferably someplace massaged by air conditioning.  A tasty alcoholic beverage is always a plus.  So – all set?  Good…because you’ll be reading for a few minutes….

OK, for those of you just joining us – welcome.  I’ll give you a brief synopsis of the story line thus far:

  • I made a decision late last year to run one marathon during each calendar month of 2012 in order to generate interest and donations to The Dream Team Project  (www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project).  It’s a charity that I really believe in, for it combines my affinity for the Disney community, my love of running and my desire to help children that are battling life-threatening illnesses as well as their families.
  • The experiences have been wonderful and rough at the same time.  So far I’ve run one race in 27 degree temperatures, I’ve lost a tooth eight miles into another race while in the process of simply taking fuel, I’ve finished a race which provided sixteen miles of hills (which is odd, because the state of Pennsylvania looks so much flatter on a map), and I’ve finished two marathons in a week.  (I just re-read what I wrote, and I just called a shrink.  I need professional help.)  (And yes – I’ve known this for a while – but that last paragraph served as a self-intervention).
  • June’s marathon was scheduled for the weekend of the 9th and 10th in Lake Placid, New York.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the race due to personal issues.  (Let me translate that one for you: I was sick as hell and was having a hard time breathing.  Now I’m not the brightest bulb on Broadway – as a matter of fact I’m as sharp as a bowling ball – but even I knew that it wasn’t a good idea to attempt a marathon when I was in the middle of coughing up a lung).
  • I didn’t want to break my promise…so I needed to come up with another marathon to run before the end of June.  I searched the internet – no luck.  There was only one thing for me to do: just run my own race.  So I made the decision to run 26.2 on my own around Manhattan on Sunday, June 24th. (and let me put it this way: in the history of mankind, this was NOT the best decision ever made.)

OK – so now you’re all caught up.  I’ve attached links to the blog entries that described each race, if you’re interested in reading more about my prior races.

I woke up here in Manhattan Sunday morning at around 5am and, quite honestly, I wished that I could simply roll over and catch another four hours of rest.  I took a hot shower, got changed, and had a bowl of raisin bran (just recently determined that this cereal is the key for me on race day  and I’m pissed about that.  Why couldn’t it be Lucky Charms instead?  Marshmallows…sugar…a little leprechaun on the box…it’s breakfast perfection as far as I’m concerned).  This lovely meal was followed by some light stretching, where I simply waved at my toes from a distance.  I threw my hydration pack over my shoulder, and off I went.

I slowly walked west from my apartment to Riverside Park.  I really got lucky: the weather was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, low humidity and temperatures only going up to about 80 degrees at the height of the day.  I felt strangely relaxed.  I brought money with me, just in case I needed fluids while on the road, my iPhone was fully charged and ready to play music and snap some pictures, and I felt like I was as ready as I was ever going to be.  I made my way down toward the runners’ / bikers’ path that runs along the Hudson River, and stood for a few moments to take in the view.  This might be a nutso thing to attempt – but at least it was a gorgeous day to do it.  I started my watch, and headed south along the path.

Since this was a solo marathon – a so-called “self-inflicted marathon” as some referred to it – I quickly realized that it was simple to keep my pace under control.  Why?  Because there wasn’t a crowd of runners surrounding me that automatically drew out my inner Steve Prefontaine.  I find that, regardless of how many marathons I run, I always go out to fast because of the people around me.  I want to be able to say to myself as I run “hey – look at me – I can stay with these guys, no problem”.  Well the issue of going out too fast was not a factor this morning.  I took off down the path nice…and…easy.

About a mile and a half into my run, I passed the U.S.S. Intrepid – a wonderful retired aircraft carrier which now serves as a museum.  It is accompanied by a World War II submarine, The Concorde, and…as of July 2012…the Space Shuttle.  I took a moment to snap a couple of pictures, and then I waddled on.  My momentum was just beginning to develop.  My pace felt great.  I was truly in rare spirits.  But of course, me being…well…me, my mind went back to that first marathon I ran in 2005.  Mile 15.  The 59th Street Bridge.  Some seasoned marathoner saw me smiling and asked me how I felt.  When I responded in a rather obnoxious, over-emphatic positive manner, his reply was simple: “So you’re feeling good?  Reeeeally good?  Well don’t worry – that won’t last.”

As I made my way downtown along the river, I just found my rhythm and took in the sights: I passed several greenways which were literally extended over the water, I ran past Chelsea Piers (in the area of the city that my daughter is named for), and enjoyed the view of southern part of the island – the financial district.

As I got closer to lower Manhattan, I got the urge to wind through the streets and play the part of a tourist.  So I deviated from my planned course and crossed over the West Side Highway to get up-close and personal with The Freedom Tower.  This is going to be one gorgeous building when it’s completed.  I passed by Ground Zero – and area that still sends shivers up my spine.  I was in midtown that fateful day, and the sights and sounds of that horror are still vivid in my mind, just like I am sure they are in the minds of every other New Yorker – and everyone else for that matter.  I wanted to pass by the memorial reflection pools – but I was too early in the day, and you need a pass to get in.

Once I made my way around the Ground Zero area, I headed back toward the World Financial Center so that I could lift my spirits a bit by staring at luxury yachts in the harbor.  In the World Financial Center Harbor, the types of yachts moored probably have their own zip codes.  They’re huge.  I mean – HUGE.  One was so big that the stern actually acts as a garage for – you guessed it – a smaller boat.  When I grow up, I got to get me one of those!

Just south of the World Financial Center I passed into Battery Park.  I took some shots of the Statue of Liberty before heading past the Staten Island Ferry and beginning my trek up the east side.  I snapped a couple of shots of the Brooklyn Bridge as I approached South Street Seaport; however, it was here that I decided once more to deviate from my planned marathon route and check out a few more touristy locations before moving on.

I headed up Wall Street to the New York Stock Exchange.  Across the street from the Exchange is the location where George Washington took the oath as our first president.  I stopped my watch just for a moment to take a picture…and I hit the wrong button!  8.16 miles into my run.  Oy.  Now I’d have to start my watch up again, and make sure to run another 18.2 miles.  Just my luck.  I reset my watch, and continued on.  Snapped a shot of The Bull on Broadway before turning east and heading back on my original course.

I worked my way northeast from Wall Street, toward the Fulton Street Fish Market. I only got a few blocks north of this area when I realized – I should pass by City Hall.  So – I did.  (Deviating from my planned route once more!)  I then past the Brooklyn Bridge…and decided to run up Broadway instead of the FDR Drive along the East River.  So up Broadway I went.

As I worked my way uptown, I passed Union Square, the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street, and Macy’s on 34th Street.  It was then that I made another decision: I cannot be in this area without passing Madison Square Garden.  As I past MSG, the video playing on the jumbotron was showing great moments in MSG history.  I look up – and there it is.  1994.  Messier (one of my idols).  A good sign.

While in this neck of the woods, I also spun by The Empire State Building before heading back onto Broadway and up to Times Square.  I hung aright on 42nd Street, went past Bryant Park and Grand Central Station, all the way to First Avenue before finally turning north once more.

I ran past the United Nations and up toward the dreaded 59th Street Bridge.  Once under the bridge, I began to run the final ten miles of the official ING New York City Marathon course. It was at this point in the race that I decided not to look at my watch until I entered Central Park.  And…somewhere between 60th and 70th street I also realized that my legs were beginning to get sore.  Plus – I had run out of water.

The water issue was easy enough to address: just run into a store, buy a 20 oz. bottle and move on.  The legs, however – that was another story.  And I knew what was causing the discomfort.

In order to run around Manhattan and not get pancaked by trucks, buses, or crazy cabbies, you need to run on the sidewalks.  Well, New York City sidewalks are all made of concrete…and concrete has virtually no “give” to it.  Any other substance is easier to run on than concrete.  It was along the concrete of the West Side Highway that I first developed plantar facitis during the New York City Half Marathon in 2007.  I should have thought of this factor before beginning Manhattan waddle.  But…this is me we’re talking about.  Just about the only thing I use my head for is a hat rack.

So, after about 14 miles of running on concrete, my legs sent a telegram to my brain.  I believe it was worded as follows:

“To: Brain.  STOP

From: Legs.  STOP

This hurts.  STOP

Concrete sucks for running.  STOP

If you keep this up, you’ll be sorry.  STOP

So – STOP.  STOP”

I was more than half way to my goal, however.  So – I mentally tossed the telegram into the garbage can located in my cerebrum (that’s where I also store other useless data such as my memories of my favorite F Troop episodes, batting averages of the 1977 New York Yankees, and other odd factoids gleamed from countless visits to the American Museum of Natural History), and soldiered on.

By the time I hit the Willis Avenue Bridge, I had already stopped into one small store for a bottle of water.  It was on the corner of 116th and First Avenue.  The gentleman behind the counter saw me, looked at the bottle of water, and asked the simple question:\

“so it looks like you’re running far today”.

“yeah – I’m trying to finish a marathon.  Running for a charity.”

He paused before taking my money. A rather confused / stunned look crossed his face.

“Wait”, he said, “seriously?  A real marathon?  By yourself?”

“Yeah – I have about 9 miles to go.”

He asked me about the charity.  I quickly described what The Dream Team Project does.  His response lit me up.

“Your money is no good here.  Take the water.  You want anything else?”

Now it was my turn to be stunned.  “No – you are way too kind.  Thanks!”  And I continued my waddle northward.  As I made my way to the Bronx, I silently promised myself that I would pay that simple act of kindness forward.

I crossed over into the Bronx with about 7 ½ miles to go.  I had deviated numerous times from my simple route.  I was starting to tire a bit.  And the ache in my legs began to transition to pain.  I started to worry about the plantar facitis coming back.  I chose to ignore it.  I’ll worry about this nonsense when I’m done.

I crossed back into Manhattan, and followed Fifth Avenue to Marcus Garvey Park.  Around the park I went (FYI: I LOVE HARLEM.  There’s something about that neighborhood with all of those turn of the 20th century brownstones that makes me smile), and turned right back onto Fifth.  Up the long incline that I knew so well from past marathons.  Into Central Park at the Engineer’s Gate.  It was at this moment that I checked my watch…and saw that it had died!  I thought I charged the thing!!!  Now I was mad.

I waddled down Cat Hill and across the 72nd street transverse.  The statue on the west side of 72nd street in the park was going to be my finish line – but first I needed to complete one more center loop of the park.  So – up to 104th street.  Then across the transverse.  Back down the east side drive and past the Engineer’s Gate once more.  Past the Boathouse to the 72nd Street transverse once more.  As I turned right to finish, the doubts were rattling in my head – what if all of the deviations from my plotted route caused me to come up just short of 26.2 when I measure it out on MapMyRun this evening?  I cannot come up short, I told myself.  So….I VERY SLOWLY added on one more inner loop.

I finally crossed my pre-planned finish line.  Done.  As I waddled home, I felt content with the effort.  I needed to ice my legs and hope that my old nemesis (plantar facitis) didn’t decide return.

And speaking of returns – I had wondered all day long why The Tool decided to sit this race out.  So I asked him as I sat in the ice bath.  His response was simple:

“Dude, you were running alone.  There was no audience to witness my handiwork.  And think about it, doorknob: you decided to run one solo.  Not the brightest move ever made.  I just figured that you were doing my job for me.”

The little schmuck was right.  Not the brightest move ever.  Hydration was an issue.  Running on concrete was an issue.  The sun was even an issue (I, once more, forgot to use sun block.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am the Wile E Coyote – Super Genius of running…only without any real speed whatsoever).

I logged on to my computer to find out how far I ran.  When I was done mapping my route with all of the twists and turns, the total came out to be just a fraction more than 29 miles.  So I pushed past marathon distance simply because I didn’t know I was doing it at the time.  I gave myself a tour of the city that I love.  I was sore, but I kept my promise…and that – to me – is what really mattered.

_______________________________________________________

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:  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, you can do it by visiting the secure donation page here Make-A Wish-Foundation   Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page

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Double Duty


Wednesday morning began with a relaxing five mile run that doubled as a test run for my newest running gadget, the Salomon hydration pack. As I mentioned in my prior blog post, I was thrilled at the outcome.

Wednesday evening found me back in Central Park, mentoring marathon hopefuls for the New York Road Runners’ Team For Kids. A relaxed four miler around the bridal path with the beginner’s group was a fantastic way to end my day.

Each time I run with this group of soon-to-be first time marathoners, I get to hear more of their reasons for taking on this challenge. To one runner, it’s a goal that she had set for herself that meant a lot to her. Another runner was so motivated by the scene on Fifth Avenue last year, watching marathoners fight their way through the last ten kilometers of the race, that he resigned himself to stepping off of the sidelines and putting himself through the hazard the following year. Yet another runner wanted to help New York City children live a healthier lifestyle.

Everyone has a story. And that’s what motivates me to keep coming to each practice. It’s feels great to get a moment to ask each nugget (ok – truth be told I’m a Battlestar Galactica nerd – and, for the uninitiated, on the show they use the term “nugget” to represent new fighter pilots. It’s not a derogatory term – it’s just a real nerdy way of saying “rookie”) (doesn’t it sound cool? Say it with me – using a slight Bronx accent – NUGGET. Now remember to curl your top lip juuuust a bit like Elvis whenever he said “The King luvs ya, baby”. Perfect. OK – let’s move on…) “so tell me – what motivated you to take on the New York City Marathon?” I watch their eyes get a bit wider. A smile cracks each newbie’s face as they eagerly share their motivation for this tough endeavor. I get to see how fired up each of them are to attempt this. It’s fantastic to witness.

BUT, even better than witnessing their excitement throughout this training program is the feeling of satisfaction I get as a Team For Kids mentor. Being able to tell them all about my dumb mistakes made during prior marathons in the hopes that they’ll learn from my errors provides me with a true feeling of satisfaction. There’s nothing better than helping someone else achieve a true life goal.

Some days don’t suck at all.

_____________________________________________________________

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!

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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Wild About Wednesdays!


Wednesdays.  Oh how I love Wednesdays. 

 

(OK that sounds like a…well…dumb way to open a blog entry.  I know this.  You know this.  But work with me – it gets better.)

 

Why do I love Wednesdays?  Well I’m glad you asked. Let me explain.

 

I’m the kind of person that is – for like of a more eloquent term – not-very-bright.  When God was passing out brains I thought He said “trains”, and asked for a really long one.  My rather meek level of intelligence is very clearly illustrated in the way I run.  Whether the training schedule calls for a five mile tempo run, hill work, or the weekly long run…I run every day at the same exact pace. 

 

Seriously.  The same exact pace.  And that is SLOW.

 

I began getting impatient with myself and my lack of progress.  The way I was looking at it, I felt like my inner Kenyan would be released at any moment.  However, he never has shown his really, really fast face.  This has been the case – I’m not kidding – for YEARS.

 

Nope.  That’s not a typo.  I said YEARS.

 

So just recently I actually stopped expecting this transition to a fast runner to simply happen, and I began researching HOW to MAKE it happen.  So I cracked open a book – an actual book with pages, words, and wisdom contained within – and began to research how a runner actually gets quicker over time.  What I learned made me knock my head against the wall repeatedly until Baci (that’s my awesome puppy) (and the name is Italian for Kisses) (they tell me she’s a poodle / shitz-tsu mix…but I say that’s bullshit because her attitude and feistiness screams paisan at me) (I am digressing – see: not the brightest bulb on Broadway) began to growl her very clear disapproval at my rather juvenile behavior.

 

According to what I’ve read, advanced / elite runner run 70-80% of the time at a pace that is 60-90 seconds per mile slower than their race pace.  That other 20-30% of the time, they do speed work that really makes them push themselves to the limit.

 

WOW.  I am doing this all wrong.

 

Whenever I go to practice with Team For Kids, I always feel the pressure of trying to show my coaches and team mates that I can clip off 5-6-7-8 miles at a 9 minute pace.  When I’m done, I feel great…for about an hour and a half.  The next day, I feel like my legs have no juice in them.  So I begin running slower, I watch others fly by me, I get self-conscious and off I go like a bat out of hell.  And so the cycle continued, with me always running as hard as  could.

 

According to what I read – that was a mistake.  I need to shut out the nonsense and the pseudo peer pressure and just stick to a smart game plan.  Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays: I’m running 60-90 seconds slower than what I want my race pace to be.  That should result in my legs being able to recover quicker.  Saturdays are my usual weekly long runs – so I’ll run close to my race pace (10 minutes per mile – I want a 4 hour 20 minute finish in NYC in November) and get myself used to the right rhythm.  And Wednesdays – oh baby Wednesdays – THAT is my speed work day.  That is when I can run like a lunatic and push myself hard. 

 

And that’s why I LOVE WEDNESDAYS.

 

Steve Prefontaine – a famous runner from the 1970’s which all runners simply refer to as “Pre” – once said that “My only pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die.”  I think I took Pre’s words a bit too seriously.  I need to run SMARTER – not harder.

 

Oh yeah – P.S.: I tried out my new Salomon hydration pack this morning along the bridal path for about 5 miles.  I’ve got to share my thoughts on this one.  So check back in a bit for a quick review!

 

Until next time!  Great long-term habits begin with a simple decision at the outset: the decision to get out there and get in motion.  I don’t care if it’s down the block for a walk or a 10k run in the woods.  Motion creates emotion.  You don’t get today back – so back 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

 

Oh Yeah – I Feel Like Elvis


So I come home from work Tuesday evening…and there it was.  Sitting at my front down.  A small cardboard box.  Oh yeah – my new toy had arrived, right on time.  I had been looking forward to this all…day…long.  CHRISTMAS.

I ordered the Salomon Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab Pack for my Sunday run around Manhattan.  It looked so darn cool in the pictures, I was betting that I’d feel like a rock star in this thing.  I pulled the box apart.  Quickly.  Grabbed the contents and began to examine it.

It….looked….cool.  Small – but cool.  This pack comes in 2 sizes: extra small / small and medium / large.  OK, so I’m usually an XL.  I was worried about this thing arriving and looking like it would only fit one of the Lollipop Kids.  I threw on a technical shirt and put the pack on over it.  It felt snug.  Not tight – just snug.  There were no buckles or latches in areas where serious chaffing could result during a long distance run.  There were several zipper pockets in easy to reach areas, which were big enough to store GU packets.  There were two sleeves on the shoulder straps which could hold 16 ounce water bottles (or an Iphone and/or other small crap I want to lug with me), and the reservoir held 50 ounces of water (or Captain Morgan – depends on my mood).  The design maximizes the available space.  The material is incredibly soft yet it appears durable.  The water reservoir is housed in a very light material which is designed to keep the water cold for a longer period of time.  And there were two small elastic straps that go across the chest to minimize the bouncing motion of the pack while I run.

All that….and it looked cool.  Just really…really cool.

This morning I couldn’t wait to find out how the pack felt while I ran in the park.  So I threw it on and went out for a light five miler.  It didn’t feel like the fabric would irritate my neck as I ran.  The pack was designed to fit snug on the runner’s body so that the water and contents did not bounce around.  After five miles in this thing – I can confirm that Salomon hit a home run with this thing.  It was EXTREMELY comfortable.  The shoulder straps did not screw with the way I swing my arms as I run.  By the time I finished my workout, I felt like buying this product was money well spent.

This damn thing made me feel like Elvis.  I was rockin’ and rollin’ along the bridal path.  One note, however: I only ran 5 miles in it.  I need to put in 26.2 on Sunday, and I cannot be distracted by chaffing under my arms or along my neck from this thing.  So I am worried about trusting this product without first truly training in it.  I am 90% sure I’ll use it Sunday.  90%…not 100%.

I’m sharing this for one simple reason: I highly recommend only going on long distance runs in clothing and equipment that you’ve trained in.  One of my mottos that I really believe in: train it and THEN trust it.

Until next time!  Great long-term habits begin with a simple decision at the outset: the decision to get out there and get in motion.  I don’t care if it’s down the block for a walk or a 10k run in the woods.  Motion creates emotion.  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

“Are you SERIOUS?”


OK – I couldn’t wait to share this one.  So I was listening to a conference call slightly past lunchtime today.  I hadn’t eaten anything, so I was sort of cranky.  The topic that required a group pow-wow was quickly and efficiently handled by the participants, and all that remained was sharing common pleasantries prior to disconnecting and continuing my normal work day…and, of course, the basic question that stems from this is “…so what’s everyone doing this coming weekend?”

Whenever I hear this question, I refrain from detailed responses whenever I have a full marathon planned for that coming Saturday or Sunday.  Why do I bite my lip?  I have absolutely no idea.  I guess I suddenly hear my little Irish grandmother’s voice echo in my head, “don’t let anybody know your business!”  (to which I always replied to her whilst she was in her 90’s: “Grandma – what POSSIBLE business would you have that you need to keep a secret?”)

I guess part of me is a bit embarrassed about trying something like this.  Twelve marathons in a calendar year is a bit much – I know this.  But I really believe in the mission of the charity that I am trying to generate additional interest and funding for, so it’s worth the bumps and bruises that comes with the challenge.  And what if I fail?  I think that’s the elephant in my head.  What…if…I…fail.  So I find myself biting my toungue in public when leading questions such as “so what’s everyone doing this coming weekend?” are posed.

So, of course, the basic responses were provided by several people on the call.  “I’m going to the beach with my kids”, “I’m having a BBQ at my place”, “I’m visiting family”, blah, blah blah.  I kept quiet.  Inevitably, the question gets bounced to me, but the tone changes.  The following is a transcript…

“…and Joe – what about you?  What are you up to this weekend?”

“Well, I’m going to spend time with my daughter, do some running, and …”

I get cut off immediately…

“….OOOOHHH.  Joe’s running this weekend.  What else is new.  Pray tell – how many miles are you putting in?  Because it can’t be another marathon.  No way.  Not one that’s twenty something miles long.  I mean – maybe he’s running one of those shorter marathons – but not one of the longish ones.  No way.”

See that last paragraph?  That was really said.  By an actual person. In public.  I cannot make that up – I’m not that clever or creative.

OK folks.  I am uncomfortable about talking about what I’m trying to accomplish because I know it sounds pretty…well…OUT THERE (to borrow an old 1960’s term – and FYI, The Fonz rules).  And I know I need to be able to talk about this attempt at 12 marathons in a year because I want to help The Dream Team Project.  But when someone uses the term “pray tell” embedded within a statement that drips with even the slightest amount of sarcasm….well….all I can say is IT’S ON.

OH IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG.

IT’S ON ‘TIL THE BREAK OF DAWN.

You know how each of us has a switch within us that, when flipped, we go from zero to pissed in 2.3 seconds?  Well whenever someone mixes together a witches brew of sarcasm and nonsensical jibberish, tosses in a dash of “pray tell”, lets it simmer on a low flame for a couple of seconds and then attempts to serve it to me with a side of fries, a siren goes off in my head.  This siren, of course, awoke The Tool (who only works on odd weekends – so he now wants time and a half), who quickly appeared on my left shoulder…with a crap-eating grin on his face and a small cord of rope in his hand.

The Tool prceeded to tie one end of the rope to the top button of my dress shirt, and tied the other end around his waist.  He then began to repel down my back until he got to about my mid-spine area.  Apparently, that’s where my switch was located.  He hung there, the tiny 4 inch schmuck, waiting for the person on the phone to attempt to serve up a dessert of chocolate-covered wise cracks topped with added stupidity.

He didn’t have to wait for long.

“Well…I’m running with my team on Saturday, and then I have a race on Sunday.”

“What kind of race?  On of those longish marathons, or the shorter, 4-5 mile ones?”

….The Tool reached for the switch.  I could feel him about to throw it. 

“well…no.  I am running a full marathon on Sunday.  That would be one of the longer ones that you referred to.”

That one just came out naturally.  Crap.  If that tiny schmuck flips the switch, it’s gonna get ugly.

“YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS!  OH PLEASE.  WHO ARE YOU KIDDING?”

Her voice actually got loud.  People must have been wondering why the heck this person actually cared so much about what type of race I was running on Sunday.  I know I did!

She continued.  That was a mistake.

“YOU JUST RAN ONE LAST MONTH.  THERE’S NO WAY YOU CAN RUN ANOTHER SO SOON.  NO…WAY.”

That last short sentence was said with added penache.  That last sentence was also the cue for The Tool.  Flip.

“Well you’re right. Sunday isn’t a race.  I’m actually running a marathon by myself.  That would be 26.2 miles.  Around Manhattan.  It’ll take a while, but I’ll get it done – the traffic lights will screw with me a bit, so my time will not be too great.  However, I’ll finish.”

“ARE YOU SERIOUS???”

“Yup. And I appreciate your unfliching support.  When I hear commentary like you just spewed, I use it as fuel.  So thanks for filling my tank for Sunday.  I have to ask: whenever you’re in a restaurant, does the waiter come over to your table after the main course has been served and say ‘Is anything alright?’”

Ahhh.  That felt good.  The Tool climbed up the rope, hopped back on my shoulder, and I actually gave the little bastard a not-so-high five.  Today he wasn’t my enemy – he was simply my adversary.

The call concluded with the sound of several loud chuckles and gaffahs ringing the background.  Leave ‘em laughing.  George Burns taught me that one.

On a serious note: I am a little nervous about Sunday morning.  I mean, other races have turned my stomach a bit before the gun went off.  This one, however, has my stomach in knots.  I am afraid of shutting down.  I’m afraid of not completing it.  I’m afraid of failing.  I know I can do this – but that fear of not giving my absolute best simply because I’m not running in a pack is what’s unique about Sunday.  But believe me – the cause is worth the effort.  The Dream Team Project is very special – it helps bring joy to kids suffering from life-threatening illnesses, and a brief reprieve for their families.  If you’re reading this, please take a moment to click on the link below.  It’ll provide more details on the charity and its mission. 

Well, I just needed to vent – so thanks for listening (I mean, reading).  Have a fantastic evening!  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

The picture is of Fred Lebow – the man to helped found the New York Road Runners and the New York City Marathon.  I need to pass this statue twice during the last 10k of my marathon on Sunday.

It’s Like Christmas…Only Different


So here I am, clicking away on my laptop late on a Monday night, looking forward to tomorrow.  Why, you ask?  Well, not only am I planning to shoot out of bed and get my miles in…but my order from an on-line running store is due to be delivered.  A new Salomon hydration pack.  80 ounces of water.  Pockets for everything.  A snug fit, yet a coooool look.  OH YEAH.  I am the running equivalent of Tim the Tool Man Taylor.

 

I’m hoping that you remember Tim Allen’s TV show from the 1990’s, Home Improvement.  He played Tim The Tool Man Taylor – a Bob Villa wannabe that could do no right on his set when it came to things that were sharp, gas-powered or otherwise remotely hazardous.  He would let out several funny-sounding grunts which sounded like a Santa Claus hopped up on biscotti and Kahlua as he spoke of such manly things as a turbo charger, muscle cars and really loud motorcycles that go 180 miles per hour.  He loved the concept of “More POWER!”  For instance: he once figured that if a tractor mower that was powered by a small 2 cylinder gas engine was cool, just imagine how awesome a V-8, turbo-charged model would be!  So…..he builds one…..then tries it out…..only to lose control and go motoring through the garages, living rooms…and ultimately a neighbor’s swimming pool.

 

Well folks…I am the running equivalent of Tim The Tool Man Taylor.  Right after I decided to run a marathon this Sunday morning solo, I went on-line in search for gadgets that would make me feel like an alpha runner as I waddled around Manhattan.  I found…

 

…a headlamp with a halogen light on it that was so strong I could signal passing ships on the Hudson River at 5am.  HO HO HO!!!

 

…I identified running shorts with a secret zipper pocket just big enough to store a VISA card.  Too bad that by the time I get finished with all this shopping, I won’t need the secret pocket because the VISA won’t have enough credit left on it to pay for a cab home from Battery Park.  (ho ho ho, though, out of respect for the James Bond-looking shorts).

 

…I found tablets that turn a bottle of water into a healthy, electrolyte drink that tastes like Pepsi.  HO…HO…HO!!!

 

…there were cool looking technical shirts that were specifically designed to protect against raw nipples, HO HO HO HO HO!!!!!  (Yes, ladies, we get raw nipples from long distance runs too – this is a G-rated blog so work with me here), water bottles that are so eco-friendly that they actually help heal the ozone layer, and energy gels that taste like tiramisu from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx….say it with me….HO HO HO HO HO!!!!!

 

My computer provided me with the distance runner’s version of soft core porn.  And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better…..there was the Salomon hydration pack.  It was the Ferrari of hydration packs.  It would make me faster just by adding to my alpha-maleness.  It was black, with cool lettering.  Pockets everywhere.  A water bladder that not only keeps water cold, but it magically flavors it to taste like Captain Morgan.  It even enhances the reception on my cell phone, it comes with one month of free cable TV, and it can read me bedtime stories (if I ever had trouble sleeping).  THIS….WAS….A….NECESSITY.  Within minutes, one was purchased via the magic of wireless internet and available credit (those fools at the bank will never learn…hehehe).

 

If Elvis were a marathon runner (and he is, folks – I have run with The King several times), and he was planning a run like mine next Sunday, he would buy this hydration pack…and I bet it would make Teddy Bear sound even better.

 

So this magical product will arrive at my doorstep tomorrow.  I keep clicking on the link provided on my confirmation email, which bounces me to FedEx’s website.  It shows me exactly where my beloved hydration pack currently resides.  Somewhere in Tennessee as of 10:02pm.  For some reason, I think that if I keep clicking on this link every 15 minutes, the hydration pack will be drawn to my laptop like some sort of runner’s magnet.  For some reason, this concept….well….sucks.  It doesn’t work.

 

So now my evening turned into Christmas Eve.  I have to go to sleep and wait for the Jolly Ol’ Fed Ex to show up and ask for my electronic signature tomorrow morning.  Don’t kid yourself: I’m leaving cookies out, along with a glass of Soy milk (because, if you believe some of the websites out there, Saint Nick is lactose intolerant).

 

Oh crap…I am working all day tomorrow.  What if they indeed require a signature?  Something tells me I’m screwed…..

 

Until tomorrow, friends!  Here’s hoping that your Tuesday is fun and productive.  Get out there and get into motion.  Get in some exercise.  I don’t care what form of exertion you choose – just break a sweat at some point today.

 

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

 

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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

 

Some Monday Morning Motivation


While sitting on the train this morning heading to my office, I began to think about how particularly unmotivated I was to get out of bed. I didn’t want to place my feet on the floor, because that would officially break the current illusion running through my head (I was sitting in a category 4 suite on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship, out on the veranda, looking out onto the Caribbean while drinking a glass of Ridge Montebello). So….I resisted the urge to begin my day at 4:45. I’ll give myself 15 minutes. 5am turned into 6am. And just like that, my Monday morning run was just like French & Indian War – history.

So here I am, sitting on a New Jersey Transit train heading to work, feeling a bit blah. Oh sure, the sights and sounds on this train are enough to provide slight amusement – there’s a dude walking around wearing a cape (that’s not a mis-print – he’s actually wearing a CAPE), another guy chowing down on a sausage & peppers hero at 7:30am, and a couple chatting about their raucous Saturday night – out loud – for us all to enjoy (I learned that stiletto heels do not work incredibly well with overly-long bell-bottom jeans…apparently this combination, when mixed with grain alcohol, can result in a trip to the ER at 3:30am). Be that as it may, I sit here feeling…well…blah.

I’m not sure how many of you deal with a lack of motivation on Monday mornings. I hope I am not solo in this experience. So what I’m going to try to do each Monday morning is to send out a very simple blog entry that I’ll refer to as Monday Morning Motivation. I hope it puts a smile on your face…and I also hope that it helps you put your feet on the floor and kick off your week by getting a bit of simple exercise in. I don’t care whether it’s a 5 mile run or a couple of sit ups and push ups. All that matters is the motion – because motion creates emotion.

So I’ll kick off my Monday Morning Motivation with a simple quote from one of my favorite people in the whole wide world: Mary Darcy.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are probably right.”

Pretty simple idea, right? The ability to accomplish anything is a matter of commitment, effort, and the right mindset. I hope today and this week bring you success in whatever you are doing!

…oh yeah. You are probably wondering who Mary Darcy is. Well – she was my grandmother. A 4’10” wiry Irish lass that was sweet as sugar…but took crap from no one. You’ll find that I quote her a lot, because she was a font of useful information. She lived in a time period that included the invention of the automobile to a time where the Hubble Telescope showed us what our Milky Way galaxy looked like. Pretty wild, huh?

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