Friday, November 8, 2013

The 2013 New York City Marathon in Brief

Last weekend was the New York City Marathon as most of my readers are likely aware. This whole week I've been hoping to put together a race report but things have been far too busy at work and at home to allow me the time to do so. Normally, in such a circumstance, I would just say, oh well, I'll get to it when I get to it and the blog can go unupdated a bit longer.

This time around, however, I feel that that the marathon was simply too momentus to go unmentioned. Why? you may ask. Did you re-qualify for Boston? No. Did you set a new PR? No. Did you at least see a celebrity, or something? Again, nope. So then what made it such a noteworthy marathon? I can almost hear you shouting. The answer (with photos), after the jump.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Haikus: 2013 NYCM Edition

It's been a few weeks since I posted haikus, I know, but what better excuse to bring back the beloved tolerable tradition than the New York City Marathon? No matter what the race, if you're a runner and your city hosts a marathon it's hard not to get excited about it, but for those of us in New York there's something really special about marathon week.

I'm so happy to share my city with folks from all over the US and across the globe. On Sunday, no matter what our differences in training, speed, or shoe choice, we'll be coming together to do something much bigger than ourselves. During this whole runup to race week I've been chuckling at this year's slogan "26.2 MILES MAKE IT A RACE, YOU MAKE IT THE MARATHON." It's defnitely more than a little hokie but when you think about it, it is the runners that make the New York City Marathon what it is, a celebration of diversity and the community building power of running. Maybe WE do MAKE IT THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON.

From my instagram
And now, some haikus!

The Expo
Sampled powerbars
Tried new electrolyte drinks
Maxed out credit card

Athletes Village as POW Camp
Bodies all around
Lines for bathrooms, lines for food
Trying to stay warm

The Queensboro Bridge
Silent climb farewell
Crested now downhill you sense
Manhattan-sized crowds

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You're Halfway There: Queens and the NYCM

The New York City Marathon may run through all five boroughs, but it doesn't give them equal facetime. In fact, the majority of the race is run in just two boroughs, Brooklyn, with roughly 11 miles, and Manhattan, with roughly 8.5. Staten Island gets next to nothing--runners leave Richmond County as soon as the race begins--and the Bronx gets barely over a mile of love. While the Queens section may be short, it comes at an important point in the race.

*  *  *
Just before the halfway point, runners begin crossing the Pulaski Bridge which links Greenpoint in Brooklyn to Long Island City, Queens.  Named after Kazimierz Pułaski, a Polish commander who fought in the American revolution, the bridge spans Newton Creek, one of New York City's two Superfund sites. Though the bridge is an uphill, it's not terrible and runners can distract themselves with the sweeping views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline to the left. There are few spectators, however--they're not allowed on the bridge.

Once across the bridge runners make two quick rights, one onto 48th Ave, and then another onto Vernon Boulevard, the heart of the Hunters Point neighborhood of Long Island City. The area, which takes its name from British sea captain George Hunter, is dominated by low-rise brick and clapboard buildings, many over a century old.

This portion is largely flat and as runners make their way south towards the looming Queensboro Bridge, the bars, restaurants, and bodegas that line the street give way to industrial buildings. At Mile 14 it's time for another turn, this one right onto 44th Drive just after passing the tiny Gordan Triangle Park, named in honor of an LIC local who was killed in World War I.

One Court Square, better known as the Citibank Building, dominates the horizen and pulls runners along. The 50 story tower, completed in 1990, is the tallest building in New York State outside of Manhattan and it serves as an excellent visual marker. As runners move towards it, the street's character changes from industrial to commercial and soon the course passes under the elevated tracks of the IRT Flushing Line.

By the time runners reach the towering Citibank Building, it's time for another turn, this one onto the two-named 25th St/Crescent Street. It's now a short three block trek to Queens Plaza South  where runners are greeted by a mass of humanity, many of whom have taken the subway to the Queensboro Plaza Station to cheer. It's a good time for runners to soak in the enthusiasm because the next portion of the course may seem rather desolate.

Runners now make a left onto the Queensboro Bridge, arguably the toughest portion of the course. Starting just before Mile 15 runners begin a more than half-a-mile climb, reaching the crest of the bridge just before it passes over Roosevelt Island. Now it's on to Manhattan.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Marathon Week is Queens Week

Last year this blog brought you Bronx week. Well this year in preparation for the 2013 New York City Marathon, and in conjunction with my NYRR social media responsibilities, I'm bringing you Queens Week, a week dedicated to New York City's largest borough.

Like the Bronx, Queens gets short shrift in the marathon. Runners spend only a couple miles running through New York's most diverse borough and with adrenaline running high as Manhattan approaches, it's easy to miss some of the sights.

I'll be highlighting some of what's on the course and some of what's near the course so that both runners and spectators make the most of their time in the city's second most populous borough.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

News About NYCM and Some Easy Runs

Those of you in New York may have seen last month that New York Road Runners was looking for social media correspondents for the New York City Marathon. Well, I applied and was accepted! What does that mean? It means that next week I'll be covering marathon related stuff in--drumroll please--Queens.


Why am I covering Queens you may ask. It's simple. The marathon runs through all five boroughs and Queens needed some love too. Although I live and work in Manhattan, my apartment is just a few blocks from the Queensboro Bridge and I do almost half of my runs in Long Island City so it made sense.

What does this mean for you, my dear reader(s) (maybe there's more than one of you)? It means that next week, leading up to the marathon, I'll have a bit of a Queens focus. If you want to get the most out of the experience, follow me on twitter (@soharunner) on on instagram (dparks2111).

In the meantime, running is going well post-Chicago. I took several days off last week and have been doing short runs roughly every other day. I'm hoping to get in one longish run this weekend and then call it good. I'll definitely be taking it easy next weekend when I run New York, the goal will just be to have fun. Hopefully, as a social media reporter I'll have even more incentive to enjoy myself and the marathon.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Great Day in the Second City: My 2013 Chicago Marathon Race Report

Last fall, in my ninth marathon, I finally broke the elusive 3 hour mark. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, finally meeting a goal I had set for myself three years earlier. After the glow wore off, though, I found myself adrift, directionless. I decided to make sub-3 my goal for Boston in the spring just to see if I could do it again but then a hip injury took any chance of that away. After a struggling through the finish in April, all I wanted was some time off from training.
Spring turned into summer and still I resisted setting a schedule: it wasn't until the second week of August that I completely committed to a plan for Chicago. Although I did every workout on my calendar, I didn't feel the same level of motivation I had in previous training cycles and was unsure what my goal for October really was. I worried that the running bug had left me. Fast forward to this past weekend and even on race morning I was full of self-doubt. In spite of a full calendar of summer races, I hadn't PR'd at a single distance in 2013 and going into Chicago I wondered if my days of improvement were over.
A great sign at Niketown
Though I was unsure of my own prospects, there was plenty to look forward to in the Windy City. My girlfriend was also running, her fifth time doing Chicago and her tenth marathon, and hoping to BQ. Her parents were supposed to fly out to cheer and spend the weekend with us, but unfortunately on Thursday her dad had to be rushed to the hospital with what turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. It gave everyone quite a scare and though he was released over the weekend, her parents were obviously unable to join us.  This meant that as we prepared to leave our hotel room at 6 a.m. on race day, we knew that the only friends and relative who would be watching would be doing so via electronic updates.
Even with the enhanced security, navigating the starting area was relatively easy and by 7 a.m. we had check our bags and it was time to part ways and head to our respective corrals. I was in Corral A along with my friend Helen and her boyfriend Alex, both also from New York. They were running with a sub-3 goal which sounded good to me so we agreed to meet in the corral by the 3 hour pace group. Unfortunately, it was far more crowded than I had expected and as the clock ticked closer to the 7:30 a.m. start, I couldn’t find them. Finally, just when I’d given up hope, I spotted Helen and managed to make my way over to her and Alex before the gun went off.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Marathon Packing List

Packing for a marathon certainly doesn't seem like rocket scienceyou need shoes and running clothes, duh!but somehow each time I run a marathon out of town, I panic and stress about what to pack. Seriously, if you could see my google history, each April it's filled with searches for "marathon packing list." Well, I finally put together a fail safe list of my own and I figure, I can't be the only one who worries about what to bring. I figured I would share it with you.

Obviously, you should customize this for yourself, but hopefully this is a useful start.

Race Gear
_ Running shoes
_ Socks
_ Singlet/shirt
_ Shorts
_ Arm warmers (depends on the weather)
_ Gloves (depends on the weather)
_ Watch
_ Body Glide
_ Sunglasses

_ Breakfast for marathon morning (I bring the food with me so I don't have to hunt around for it)
_ Gels (x5)
_ Gatorade
_ Salt (caps or packets)

For the Athlete's Village
_ Large garbage bag (x2) (for sitting on and possibly for wearing in the event of rain)
_ Throwaway sweatshirt/t-shirt/hat
_ Tissues (for your nose or in case the bathroom's out of TP)
_ Sunscreen

General Clothing
_ Extra shoes
_ Flip-flops (for post race)
_ Comfortable clothes for post-race
_ Compression socks
_ Normal clothes for however many days you'll be gone
_ Extra socks (you can never have too many!)

_ Band-Aids (because you never know)
_ Pepto (because you never know)
_ Tylenol (because you shouldn't take ibuprofen before a marathon)
_ Chap stick
_ Deodorant
_ Nail clippers (a good thing to have in case you get a last minute hang nail or something)
_ Any medications you take
_ Toothbrush (because according to Runner's World, poor oral hygiene can affect your race!)

_ Bib pick-up information
_ Phone
_ Phone charger
_ Packing tape (great for reinforcing your checked bag)
_ Permanent marker (in case you need to write your name on your checked bag or other items)

There's obviously plenty of stuff you could add to this list but hopefully this gives you a good start!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Taper Time

It's hard for me to believe it, but two weeks from today I'll be leaving for Chicago to run my 11th marathon. (Why didn't I stop at one? One has such a nice ring to it, doesn't it?). That means I've begun my taper, sort of. I always feel like the first week of the taper is a rip off. Yes, you've reduced mileage to about 80% of your peak, but often it's not that noticeable.

I go into the three-week tapeI always take three weeks, though some folks do twothinking that I will instantly feeled refreshed and ready to go. The truth, that first week is still difficult. Your legs are still tired from you last week of real training and if you're tapering correcly, while your mileage has dropped a little, you're still keeping the quality and intensity of your workouts relatively unchanged.

Since I'm sure I'm not the only person in America who is tapering for a marathon right now or will be doing so soon, I figured I would offer a few words of wisdom. While this may be especially valuable for someone who's training for their first marathon, veterans may benefit from what I'm about to say as well.

Photo courtesy of
The taper is a serious mind f*$%. No matter how many marathons you've run, no matter how well your training went, when it comes time to taper you will experience some degree of self-doubt. Did I log enough miles? Are my shoes the right ones for the marathon? What's that weird pain in [insert body part]? These kinds of questions are normal but you have to ignore them. You've put in the work (I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here, you did train for this, right?) and now it's time to trust yourself and your training plan.

Keep it simple. Don't try anything new during the taper. Now isn't the time to try some new workout you just heard about: it's not going to make you faster at this point in the game. Now isn't the time to try to make up for a missed long run or to start cross-training. Stick with what you've been doing all along, just allow for a gradual reduction in mileage. Nothing you do in the two weeks before the marathon is going to improve your running, but it can hurt it.

When in doubt, rest. If you find yourself questioning whether you should do an easy 5 miler because you're tired or you legs hurt, take the day off. This doesn't mean you should blow off all of your scheduled runs, but taking an extra rest day here or there isn't going to hurt. If your body is telling you to rest, listen to it. Wait until marathon day to fight the voices in your head telling you to slow down or stop.

Do something that isn't related to running. Especially during the final week of the taper, you need a distraction. If left to your own devices, you would probably think about your marathon until your head exploded. That's not good for anyone (read: you or the people you interact with on a daily basis). Is there a book you've been wanting to read? A series on Netflix all your friends have been telling you to watch? An apple pie you've been meaning to bake and FedEx to me? Now is a great time to do one of those things.

Lastly, Visualize success. Whenever you have any doubt, just picture yourself crossing the finish line looking good and feeling strong. Running 26.2 miles won't be easy, but you've trained for this and if you believe you can succeed, it will make it much easier to run a good race.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Blog Spotlight: Running Dog

This may be the closest thing to advertising I've done on this site. I know that many of my readers are affiliated with or at least aware of the team I run for, the Dashing Whippets. DWRT has a pretty good presence on the web--the team started back in 2009 because one of the founders, Rich, works for Meetup and had a free Meetup to use. The team has also had a Facebook page, a Twitter account (@dashingwhippets), and an Instagram account for quite a while. What DWRT has not had was a blog, that is until a couple weeks ago.

We recently launched a team blog with pieces by various team members. It spotlights races, workouts, and the personalities that make up our team. With several hundered members and workouts in both Brooklyn and Manhattan, it's difficult to get to know everyone so this blog is helpful in that respect.

It's definitely still a work in progress but if you're looking for another way to waste time at work additional interesting running commentary, it might be worth checking out. I expect it will continue to evolve over the coming weeks and months as the team tries to get a feel for what people are interested in reading.

Oh, yeah--I guess it would be helpful if I told you where to find it. Here's a link:

Monday, September 23, 2013

A 5th Avenue Mile Race Report

This weekend I had my final long run before my Chicago taper; I also had a race...on the same day. or the past four years, I've run NYRR's 5th Avenue Mile. It's always a ton of fun, getting to sprint down 5th Ave and then watching your teammates and pro runners to the same. Unfortunately, the race always falls during fall marathon training which means there's always a long run to do on the same weekend. Some years--like this year--it's doubly unfortunate because the mile falls on a Sunday.

Last year, with the race on Saturday, I was able to do my long run the following day. This year, I opted against going into the race with tired legs so I took Saturday off.* Of course, last week was my peak week of training, so one measly day of rest didn't mean all that much. I even had two weekdays last week with over 15 miles--not exactly a recipe for a solid mile time.

I knew going into the race that I wasn't in the best shape for short speed. While last year I practiced the mile several times leading up the race, this year I hadn't done any speedwork at faster than half marathon pace in over a month.

Also going against me was the fact that I raced the previous two weekends. Knowing all of this, I set a modest goal for myself of running a sub-5:30 mile. (Four years ago, I ran this race massively hungover and still managed to eek out a 5:25 so I figured sub-5:30 was realistic).

I didn't get to do my usual warm-up because I didn't get back into the city until an hour before the race and had to cab to the start. I did manage a couple strides and a couple form drills, but that's a far cry from the 2 to 3 easy miles I usually like to do first.

Feeling less than warm-up, I made my way to the packed starting area for the Men 15-29 heat. I managed to get relatively close to the front but didn't seen any teammates.

When the gun went off, I took off, trying to avoid slower runners in front of me while not tripping up faster runners trying to pass me. The race is market every quarter mile and the first 400m are downhill. I looked at my watch--1:17--I could have been pleased, but instead I was concerned. I was sure I needed to slow down in order to finish standing upright. 

The second 400 contains the only real uphill on the course. The combination of the incline and my worry about my pace meant I reached the 1/2 mile at 2:45. This was a little too close for comfort if I wanted to break 5:30.

I got my legs to move a little fast, but not much. With no real recent speedwork, I simply couldn't find a higher gear to shift into. My team was cheering at the 3/4 mark, which helped mentally but didn't give my legs a boost. I ran the third 400 and the final 400 1:22 a piece, meaning my finishing time was 5:29. It was my slowest time on 5th Avenue, but given my lack of specific training I feel pretty good about it.

The hard part came after the mile when it was time to run 19 more miles. Thankfully, several of my teammates also had long runs to do so I had company the entire way. I actually finished feeling pretty strong, but I am definitely ready for my taper!

*Full disclosure: I spent Saturday helping my girlfriend's parents move, so while I didn't run, it's hard to count that as a total rest day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Good Weekend

Here it is almost the weekend again and I'm just getting around to writing about last weekend! It was a great two days running-wise, though, so I figure it's worth recounting. (Plus, let's be honest, I didn't have time to come up with any poetry for this week).

A beautiful sight in my inbox!
First, on Saturday I got my Boston confirmation email from the BAA.  Last Friday, Boston Marathon registration opened for people who had met their qualifying standard by five minutes or more. Thanks to my time at Philly last November, I was in this camp for the second time.* I can't say this made me any less nervous--I spent most of Friday afternoon constantily checking my inbox--and when the email finally came in, I did a little dance breathed a sigh of relief.

My heart goes out to all of you who registered this week and have to wait until this weekend to find out whether or not you're in.

On Sunday I ran the NYCRuns Narrows Half for the second year in a row. Last year I ran it as a tune-up for New York and ended up surprising myself by finishing 12th overall and winning a 3rd place age group award. This year I wasn't expecting to do as well but I really wanted a flat course as a tune-up for Chicago so I decided to return.

The Whippets (runners and cheerers)
In addition to allowing me to practice racing on a flat course, the half forced me to get up at an unholy hour let me practice waking up at 4:30 a.m. for an early race. I will likely be waking up at 4:30 for Chicago, which also starts at 7:30, and New York, which doesn't start until 10.

I also managed to recruit several teammates to run this year which made waiting for the start a lot more fun, even if none of us ended up racing together. We couldn't have asked for better weather either: it was in the low-50s with clear skies and a very light breeze.

How did the race go? I ran fairly even splits, averaging a 6:32 pace for the race which led me to a 1:25:38 finish. That was about thirty second slower than my time from from last year.

I felt good the good the whole time, though I wish I had been able to push myself a bit more. Honestly, I'm not sure what kept me from going faster. Part of the issue is that there was a long distance between me and the runners ahead of me. After the first 5 or 6 miles, I couldn't even really see them. I also had a very comfortable lead on the runners behind me. (I won't have either issue at Chicago). Without no one around to really "race" it was all too easy to settle into a steady relaxed pace.
Somehow my time was good enough for a 5th place finish and a first in age group award (I'm guessing all the faster runners were in Philadelphia this weekend). I've come in second or third before, but I think this might have been my first AG win.

My teammates also did very well: we had two big PRs, one teammate finished 3rd overall, and another also placed in her age group. Certainly not a bad showing from my team!

After the race I had brunch with my friends Jeff and Michelle (of Tiny Kitchen fame). If I didn't feel like a winner when I crossed that finish line, I sure did after eating their delicious cooking.

After such a great weekend, I have a feeling I'll be back at this race again next year.

P.S. A shout-out to my friend Emily who posted all the photos from Sunday.

Horsing around after the race.

*The first year that the BAA introduced the new staggered registration, they kept the old qualifying times. That meant I needed a sub-3:05 to be in the BQ-5 camp, last year I was in the BQ-3:** camp so I had to wait until the second week to register.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Wonderful Run

Last night I had one of the best runs I've had in a while so I decided to write about that instead of any poetry or song lyrics this week.

Since moving to Sutton Place I've stopped running in Central Park as much. Whereas before I was just three uptown blocks from the uncrowded northern end, now I'm several avenues and a full mile away. This may not sound like much but at rush hour it often just doesn't feel worth the effort when I've got the East River Greenway and the Queensboro Bridge mere blocks away.

MCNY: Vintage shot of the reservoir at night
Well, last night, for no good reason, I decided to do an unstructured run in Central Park. Traffice be damned, I made my way across town and entered the park at Merchants' Gate by the Maine Monument. This where the marathon enters the park so it's one of my favorite spots. Rather than run on Park Drive as I do every Tuesday, I opted for the Bridle Path and its soft packed dirt.

I certainly don't take advantage of the Bridle path enough, especially in the fall and winter when, because the path is unlit, it's hard to use before or after work. After snaking my way northward through spotty drizzle, I decided on a loop of the reservoir. I actually can't remember the last time I ran the reservoir but it has some of the best views of the Midtown skyline, especially at twilight when all of the buildings are illuminated. The threat of a more forceful rain seemed to have kept the tourists at bay--I had the loop almost to myself.

During my return trip, lightning began to pick up. At first it was alsmot indistringuishable from the lights on 7th Avenue coming from Times Square. As I head east, however, I could see large bolts over the river. It was incredibly impressive, to see mother nature outdoing the lights of Manhattan. The skies did eventually open up, but somehow I made it home just in time to avoid the worst of it.

I have absolutely no idea how far I ran last night, but I know I felt mentally restored when I got home. I also slept like a baby. If only every run could feel that good.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Another Friday with Mumford


Because of all the positive feedback the lack of negative feedback I got after last week's attempt at tailoring a Mumford song to running, I've decided to try my hand at again. (I thought about doing another band, but figured since I have this great GIF, I might as well get some extra mileage out of it--pun intended). I'm kind of surprised how easy it was to change the lyrics of this particular song, "Hopeless Wanderer." Also, if you haven't checked out the video, do yourself a favor and click on the link.

Without further ado, here's my take:

Marathon Runner

You had a voice
You signed up for this race by choice
For this one day you have trained
But the distance now seems so far

You did not work for this in vain
But you must remember there will be pain
So set out with a plan, a steady pace
Twenty-six miles, the distance you will race

So when your foot's on fire
But it’s too soon to tire
Don't stop, give it your all
Run steady and controlled
You will not hit the wall
You will run your road

But you run far, you run far
'Cause you’re a mar—a—thon—er
And you run far, you run far
'Cause you’re a mar—a—thon—er

You've passed the halfway point
 There's a dull ache in every joint
 But tell yourself that all is fine
 No doubt in your head, now is the time

You did not work for this in vain
 And you mustn't concentrate on your own pain
 You trained alone in the cold
 Now, hang in there, hang in there and be bold

So when your foot's on fire
But it’s too soon to tire
Don't stop, give it your all
Run steady and controlled
You will not hit the wall
You will run your road

But you run far, you run far
'Cause you’re a mar—a—thon—er
And you run far, you run far
'Cause you’re a mar—a—thon—er

You will cross, you will cross ev—er—y finish lin*e
You will cross, you will cross ev—er—y finish lin*e
Every finish lin*e

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Song Lyrics with Mumford & Sons

Since it's the Friday before a long weekend I figured I would try something new. Instead of the haikus I usually do on Fridays, I've selected a song and replaced its lyrics with running related ones. My apologies to Mumford & Sons but today's selection is "I Will Wait" which I have unfortunately cleverly rewritten as "I Will Run."

Without further ado, here it is:

I Will Run 

The gun went off,
Right on time,
And I hoped to start my race,
This tight corral,
These legs of mine,
Won’t cross the line for minutes more,
But I don’t care,
Gonna run
And I don’t care,
Hang in there,
And I will run, I will run this race
And I will run, I will run this race
Find my stride,
Moving now
Well, now I’ve slowed, with a cramp,
This really sucks
And I feel spent
This side pain just won’t relent
But I will run, I will run this race
And I will hold, I will hold this pace
And I will run, I will run this race
And I will hold, I will hold this pace
The second half,
Seems too long,
It hearts my feet and heavy heart,
So focus in,
And squint my eyes,
Tell myself, try not to die
But I don’t care,
Gonna run
And I don’t care,
Hang in there
Look ahead
Finish isn’t far
Ignore the clock
Give all that’s left
‘Cuz I will run, I will run this race
And I will hold, I will hold this pace
And I will run, I will run this race
And I will hold, I will hold this pace

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Boston Registration: Some Thoughts

I feel like I've been waiting since April 15, from the moment it was confirmed that a bomb had gone off at the Boston Marathon finish line, for details about registration for this year's race. Yes, I had planned to run in 2014 already, but the events this year instilled in me a new sense of urgency. Well, after several months of suspense, the wait is over.

Today, the BAA announced details for this year's registration. It will open on September 9th and follow the same procedure used the last two years, i.e., fastest register first.

As most runners know, over the course of the past few years registering for Boston has become nearly as much of a challenge as qualifying. In 2009—the first year I registered for the race—it took just over two months for Boston to sell out. Prior to that the race never sold out before the spring. In 2010, the race sold out in just 8 hours, catching almost everyone—including the BAA—off-guard.

In 2011, they instituted a rolling registration process (the same one they’re still using), and in 2012, the BAA slashed qualifying times by 5 minutes across the board. Registration for the 2012 race closed after 11 days, while registration for 2013, under the stricter qualifying standards, remained open for several weeks.

This year it seems pretty clear that there will be significantly increased demand for the race. The field is usually somewhere around 25,000 with approximately 21,500 to 22,000 of those spots open to qualified runners (the rest go to charities). This year the field size has been increased to 36,000, close to the event’s record 38,708 registrants for its centennial in 1996. With around 5,000 spots going to runners from last year who were unable to finish, there will be roughly 31,000 spots left over.

Given the number of repeat runners Boston tends to have year over year, it’s likely a good number of those roughly 5,000 folks who’ve already registered would have been part of the field anyway. The point is, I think the expanded size of the field may be enough to absorb a lot of the increased interest in this year’s race. I’m sure it will sell out earlier than last year, but it seems likely that everyone with a BQ-5 or better will be able to get in and likely plenty of folks who've met their general qualifier standard.

A final thought on this post. When I ran my first BQ back in 2009, I needed a 3:10.* I managed to eke out a 3:09:55 and felt like death. I was so spent and convinced that I would never run faster that I almost didn’t register for Boston (thankfully, I did—two days before the 2010 race sold out).

Of course that pessimistic me at the finish line of the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon was wrong. I’ve trained harder for each subsequent marathon and I’ve seen my times steadily improve. Why am I saying all of this? Because to any of you who may not get into this year’s race, I say keep up the hard work. It won’t be easy, but you can get to Hopkinton too. When you do, hopefully I’ll be there to show you the shortest port-a-pottie lines.


*Technically I needed a 3:10:59 because of the 59 second grace period the BAA used to offer, but I really want a sub-3:10.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Haikus

Ah, Friday! It's easily my favorite day of the week. Why? Because you have the weekend just hours away, with all it's promises of greatness. This week I've got a race on Saturday so that means no shenanigans tonight (though, let's be honest: with my long runs on Saturday mornings, Fridays are usually pretty tame). Regardless of how things actually turn out on Saturday and Sunday, they look great from Friday.

You've got a pretty good reason to love Friday too; Fridays mean haikus. You're welcome.

In Need of Refreshment
All the gatorade
Thirsty! Give it to me! And
No one will get hurt

Oh, You're Still Here
Black toenail lingers
Months it's been there on my foot
Barefoot minutes; it's gone

The Midrun Runs
Should not have eaten
Salad for lunch--big mistake
Midrun bathroom break!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

An Update and Some Changes

You may or may not have noticed, but I haven't blogged in a while. Life has been somewhat busier as of late both at work and outside of it. Perhaps the biggest piece of news? I've moved! I'm keeping the url the same for my blog--who knows, maybe someday I'll be back in Harlem--but changing the design and header to fit my new address.

Not from New York and have no idea where Sutton Place is? Sutton place is one of Manhattan's smaller neighborhoods, with its boundaries running roughly from E 59th Street south to E 53rd Street from 1st Ave to the East River. Still doesn't mean anything to you? You can just call it Midtown East.

What does this change mean for the blog? I'm not sure--it's not as if I've been posting regularly (it's been over a month!) so I wouldn't expect any radical differences...yet.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Haikus: Look What the Whippets Drag'd In Edition

Here it is again, Friday! I had every intention of doing some posts this week, especially after a very successful Saturday of cheering for the women running for the Whippets in the Mini, but somehow the week slipped away from me. The women did a great job and so did the cheerers! This weekend it's the guys turn to run in the Portugal Day 5 Miler while the women cheer us. Since this is my first real race back I'll be interested to see how I do though I'm not expected a whole lot.

Enough about me, it's time for some Friday haikus!

This photo came from May Wittenberg's Twitter!!!
Whippets Mini Cheer Squad
Tall women, what the--!
Those aren't ladies, too much hair
Must be men in drag

Rainy Day Motivation
Pouring rain outside
Solo I would stay indoors
Run with friends, get soaked

Decisions, Decisions
Red, yellow, green, blue--
Too many Gatorade types
I'll just drink water

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Haikus: Mini Edition

Somehow we've made it through another week. I don't know about you, but I always find that the first full week after a holiday seems to drag on forever. I've got a big weekend planned:

1) Tomorrow I'll be cheering on my female teammates at NYRR's Mini 10k. They'll return the favor at the Portugal 5 Miler next week. To keep things interesting, the men on our team made a friendly wager with the women about who'll have the better cheering. I'm not sure who the neutral arbiter will be though I'm not expecting a close contest.

2) After the Mini I'm going camping! I haven't been camping in ages so this should be fun. I just hope I can find a Chinese joint that will deliver to my tent.

Anway, enough about my weekend. Here's your Friday haiku fix.
Last year's Mini. Photo credit: SeeNancyRun
Running in the Rain
Cold, wet, skies gray, run,
Summer changes perspective
This is heavenly

A Classic Race
Women running fast
No men to steal their thunder
The Mini 10K

A Running Hazard
Loose, flapping, each step
Comes closer to falling off
Good bye big toenail

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Hello out there in the blogosphere! I'm sure my two or three readers have been wondering what happend to me (or maybe you've moved on to better blogs?)...

Well, since my last post I have participated* in two races:

1) I had the chance to pace some teammates to sub-1:29 PRs in the Brooklyn Half. The weather was surprisingly good for running--with coolish temps and overcast skies--but poor for a post-race day on the Coney Island boardwalk. Naturally I made up for this fact with a bottomless mimosa brunch. 

2) I ran the AHA Wall Street Run, mainly because the course goes right by my office and it would have been silly not to have done a convenient race that supports such a good cause as one of my 9+1 for next year's marathon.

I've also signed up for several races (as indicated on the right side of my blog). These include the BAA 10k in Boston in June, the Houston Half in January, and this year's New York City Marathon.

Perhaps more importantly than all of the above, however, is the fact that I've started training again. For the past two months I've been taking things easy while I continue with PT. This didn't mean I wasn't running--it just meant that every run was done at a moderate pace. My hip is bothering me less and less so last night I did my first real workout and...the hip didn't hurt!

I'm going to be careful about easing back into training but for now I feel extremely fortunate to say that I'm back in the saddle! Although training for Chicago should theoretically start next week, I'm going to concentrate on shorter speedwork training for several weeks before moving into marathon mode. With a handful of NYRR races coming up this summer, I want to put some pep in my step before I start sapping it with long marathon pace runs.

All that is to say, if you see someone trying to do speedwork along the Hudson River and you think it's me, you might not be halucinating.

*Saying I raced  them would be a big stretch.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Haikus: Random Thoughts

I'm slowly easing back into running after three weeks of PT and things are really looking up. After some seriously crappy weather earlier this week and a minor cold, the sun is out today and I can almoste breathe through my nose again. In other words, it's hard not to love the world on a day like today. Hopefully this week's haikus put a smile on your face at least half as big as the one on mine!

How to Avoid Traffic
Buses halting, slow
Subway crowded, misses sun
Run to work commute

That Weird Time After the Marathon
Sleeping in, no alarm
Drinking daily, staying up late
This sucks--running missed

The Traveling Runner's Conundrum
Suitcase almost full
Shoes, socks, shorts, two wicking tops
Where to put my "clothes"?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Boston Strong: My 2013 Boston Marathon Race Report.

Now that several weeks have passed, I'm finally ready to share my Boston race report. This report ends with me crossing the finish line because I don't think there's anything I could say that would meaningfully add to what's already been said or that would acurately reflect the shock and horror I know we all felt at 2:50pm on Monday, April 16. I would, however, like to encourage anyone who has not already done so to donate to the OneFund to help those most affected.

A Wonderful Weekend

Although I was having serious doubts about my marathon preparedness in the two weeks before Boston(mainly due to the time I took off for my toe and my persistant hip bursitis), as the weekend approached I found myself in full marathon mode. While my hip didn't feel 100% during my Friday shake-out run (my first run in a week and a half), it felt better than I had expected. Friday night I packed while watching Spirit of the Marathon, something I do before every single marathon. Although I tried going to bed early, I didn't get a great night's sleep, waking up well before my alarm.

The drive up to Boston was relatively uneventful, a little traffic but nothing crazy. After checking into our hotel (which had an awesome lobby display), I headed to the expo with my entourage--but not before picking up this year's marathon jacket at the Marathon Sports on Boylston. I was sporting my 2010 jacket when I went to pick-up my packet and on the volunteers said, "Welcome back to Boston. You already know the magic of this race." I could not have put it better myself. After sampling every energy bar known to man, saying hi to some teammates, and pondering why Kahlua was one of the exhibitors, we headed to the next logical place--the Lindt store!

That night we had a wonderful dinner at Trade in Boston's Financial District. I didn't take pictures of any of the food but all of it was delicious. My favorite dish? Probably their mushroom and fig flatbread with gorgonzola and sage.

Sunday was another packed day. I got up early at went to mass at a small church downtown. Every year I make time for mass before the marathon and it's always wonderful. The priest offered a blessing for the runners and afterword I had strangers wishing me luck and shaking my hand (I was wearing an old race jacket so it was obvious I was running). Next up, I did an easy shake-out run through Beacon Hill and along the Charles. By that point I was starving and it was time for my standard day-before-the-marathon breakfast: pancakes! These weren't just any pancakes, either. They were topped with caramelized bananas, walnuts, and loads of Vermont maple syrup.

After breakfast I had just enough time to prep my clothes for the next morning before we headed to Fenway where we got to watch the Red Sox dominate the Rays. The coolest part of the game, though, was when they introduced a handful of wounded veterans who were also running the marathon. It's impossible not to feel inspired when you get to share stories like theirs.

For Sunday's dinner we went to Restaurant Dante in Cambridge, the same place I ate last year. For marathon weekend they always offer all-you-can-eat homemade pasta so it's hard to beat. After that we called it an early night and I was in bed by 9.

Waiting to board the bus.
On race day I was up by 5:30. I did some last minute prep and met my teammates by Boston Common at 6:30. It was awesome having such a big group this year! We chatted it up on the bus which helped to pass the time. Once we got to the Athletes' Village we didn't actually have that much time to chill before they called us to the corrals.

The Race

I had several teammates in my corral hoping to go under three and my initial plan was to run with them. It was somewhere during the first downhill mile, however, that I knew my hip wasn't going to let me. I didn't feel too bad, but I could tell this was no day for a PR and if I tried to push it too much I would regret it later. It was a bummer watching my teammates pull ahead but I was confident I was making the right decision.

The first few miles of the course went by quickly (first 5k in 0:21:56, a 7:04 pace) and I was soon in Ashland, passing the point where I'd begun my long run just three weeks before. Mentally, this was helpful because I knew the next 23 miles would be fresh in my memory.

As I passed through Framingham, I hit the 10k in 43:40, a 7:02 pace, and was feeling pretty good. Around mile 7, I did the obligatory form check in the windows of Hansen Electrical Supply and was pleased to see my gate looked normal. I still had some hope that I could pick things up later in the race and maybe score a Boston PR (currently a 3:04 from 2011).

Spotting team photographer Atsede
Entering Natick, there's a quieter stretch of the course but that was okay by me. I had slowed a little since by the 15k (1:05:42), my average was a 7:03. Shortly thereafter the course takes you through downtown Natick, one of my favorite parts. It's always packed with people--probably the biggest crowd you've seen so far on the course. This always gives me a boost and on this day it was no exception.

Leaving Natick, I knew the next landmark would be Wellesley College. Last year, I was going slow because of the heat and actually stopped to kiss some coeds but this year, I didn't want to lose any time so I just enjoyed their yells. I crossed the 20k in 1:28:02, bringing me down to a 7:05 pace. By now I was pretty sure I was only going to get slower as the race went on but I didn't really care. I love the stretch through Wellesley, with all it's little shops, cafes, and great crowd support. Hitting the half in 1:32:56, I decided the most important thing was to make sure I enjoyed myself over the second 13.1.

I saw a CPTC runner and chatted with her for bit which was a welcome distraction. That took me through the 25k in 1:50:24, now a 7:07 average. Between miles 16 and 17, by the Newton-Wellesley Hospital, is the PowerGel station. Somehow two runners got tangled up here and one, a woman from South Africa (according to her singlet) went down pretty hard. I saw her pick herself up and keep running but she was scraped and starting to cry. I tried to offer her words of encouragement since I know (from my second marathon) how disconcerting it can be to wipe out on course.

Before I knew it, I'd made the turn onto Comm Ave and the infamous Newton Hills. As with last year, they didn't seem so bad since I was no longer gunning for a particular time.  
Good thing too since my 30k was 2:13:07, now a 7:09 pace. As we approached Heartbreak Hill, I had a runner ask me if we'd gotten there yet--I assured him, he would know by the crowds and the signs when we'd crested the final hill. Sure enough, the folks of BC had their inflatable arch reading "The Heartbreak is Over."

I knew the race was pretty much downhill from there--a great feeling! Unfortunately, my hip was starting to bother me as I passed the 35k in 2:36:08, a 7:11 average. I now starting playing a game in my head: If I slow to 7:30, I can finish in xx:xx:xx; if I slow to 7:45, I can finish in yy:yy:yy; if I slow to 8:00, I can finish in zz:zz:zz. I made a new goal for myself, beating my 3:20 time from last year's sweltering race.

I thought I could pick it up some, but wanted to save something for the final mile so I tried to simply stay on pace. I knew my family and friends were waiting near mile 26 and I wanted to look good for them--this thought really kept me going. I also used the landmarks, like the Citgo sign and the Pru looming in the distance to draw me in. Once I got to the 40k in 2:59:33, a 7:14 pace, and crested the mini hill I was pretty sure I could at least finish under 3:10--the random goal I settled on for the final miles.

Post-race, around 2pm
Turning onto Comm Ave again I could feel the exciting. The crowds were packed thick along both sides of the course and I managed to spot some friends just before the dip under Mass Ave. I turned onto Hereford and began scouting for my cheering squad who I knew would be on the left hand side. Sure enough, I spoted them and they spotted me. I gave them a quick shout so happy to have caught them and to have had their support.

Finally, I made the turn onto Boylston. At this point, I gave what I had left as I watched the seconds slowly piling up on the finish line clock. This may not be a long stretch, but it seemed to go on forever, finally, I hit the finish, throwing both arms up in air! I had finished my 4th Boston in 3:09:35, a 7:14 pace.

As the wonderful volunteers put the heat sheet around my back and the medal over my head, I felt like a million bucks. There's no doubt in my mind that Boston is the greatest race in the world and I hope to have the privilege of running it many more times.

Friday, April 19, 2013

An Exhausted Update

I had really hoped to post a race report today. I've got it partially written and I thought finishing it and posting it would be a good exercise for me. Given everything that's happened overnight and still happening in the Boston area, however, I'm going to hold off a bit more. I'm just too exhausted mentally and emotionally to finish the report.

What an emotional rolercoaster this week this has been.

I have one haiku for you and I'll be back next week.

Never expected
More than sore legs, black toenails;
Terrible--pray for Boston

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I'm Okay

Just letting readers know that I'm okay and so are all of my friends, family, and teammates. Thank you all for the concern.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ready to Wing It

Note: With Boston only days away (3 to be precise), I'm going to be doing a countdown to Boston series as I did last year. In the final days of the taper, it's hard to get my brain to focus on much other than the upcoming race, but with plenty of Boston-related topics, hopefully I can at least keep the blog interesting.

It's finally here, Boston Maraton weekend. Just three short days and a drive to Boston stand between me and the race. I'll be driving up tomorrow morning and hitting the expo in the early afternoon. My whole weekend's pretty much planned out--dinner reservations made for Saturday and Sunday and tickets purchased for Sunday's Sox game. The only thing that's not planned out? Monday's race.

I did an easy run today and thankfully the toe didn't seem to bother me (though it did get kind of bloody). Unfortunately, I'm still having some issues with my left hip. I have no idea how this is going to affect me during the race, especially during the latter miles, so I'm just going to have to wing it.

Despite a pretty successful training cycle, I really don't konw what's in the cards for this race. Maybe my hip will cooperate and I'll be able to run and intelligent race for a Boston PR. Maybe it's blow up half-way through and I'll end up limping to the finish for a personal worst. I don't actually care--either way, on Monday I get to run the Boston Marathon. I couldn't be happier!

While you wait with bated breath to learn my fate, enjoy a special Friday haiku:

Fenway early game
Drunk Bay Staters in the streets
Boston marathon

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pre-Boston Freak-Out

I had hoped to have a few nice posts this week talking about how well I'm handling my taper and the final few days before my next marathon. I assumed I'd be talking about the near-zen state I was in, offering wisdom on how you too could achieve such bliss. Well, that sure didn't work out.

First, on Sunday, I dropped a dog bone on my foot, splitting the nail on my right second toe (the one next to the big toe). I had taken a couple days off to deal with a nagging hip injury but this ensured that I won't be running before this weekend at the earliest. Thankfully, a doctor's visit yesterday confirmed that it's only mangled, not broken.

Next, there's the little matter of race temperature. After last year's fiery inferno, I know that no matter what, the weather in Boston will be much better. For most of this past few days (every since we entered the 10 day range) it looked like we'd have a race day high in the mid- to low-50s. Now, however, the temps seem much more in flux and all of that flux seems to point up! Realistically, this shouldn't be too big of a deal, but right now my racing mind is imagining the worst.

What's the point of this? I guess it just goes to show that even after 9 marathons, each time I approach the starting line I still get nervous. Of course, there's plenty of excitement mixed in there with those nerves and I know that come race day I'll have a blast, but for the next four days, there's going to a lot of freaking out--my apologies in advance!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Countdown to Boston: Friday Haikus

Note: With Boston only days away (10 to be precise), I'm going to be doing a countdown to Boston series as I did last year. In the final days of the taper, it's hard to get my brain to focus on much other than the upcoming race, but with plenty of Boston-related topics, hopefully I can at least keep the blog interesting.

Just one more full week to go before Boston, which means I'm starting to deal with all the usual taper madness. No many matter how many marathons I've done, it's impossible for me not to begin second-guessing everything over the final days. As such, this week's installment of haikus is dedicated to some of the stresses of marathon tapering. Enjoy!

How I feel right about now

Can't sit still at work
Can't sleep, can't focus--what's wrong?
Oh yeah, marathon

Want to eat a horse
My whole body seems broken
Taper has set in

Did I train enough?
Logged the miles, stuck to my plan
Hay is in the barn

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Countdown to Boston: A Different New Balance for Boston

Note: With Boston only days away (12 to be precise), I'm going to be doing  a countdown to Boston series as I did last year. In the final days of the taper, it's hard to get my brain to focus on much other than the upcoming race, but with plenty of Boston-related topics, hopefully I can at least keep the blog interesting.

Last year New Balance offered some awesome limited edition kicks for marathon weekend that turned out to be my favorite expo purchase. This year, the Boston-based shoe company is offering another exclusive, but with a very different take on the Patriots' Day race.

The funny only-in-Massachussetts (and Maine) holiday has a close association with Paul Revere whose midnight ride (he was joined by the less-celebrated William Dawes) to Lexington on April 18, 1775 presaged the next day's Battle of Lexington and Concord.

Okay, the point of that historical digression? This year, New Balance has decided to kick it pre-revolutionary style with their shoes.

Instead of offering sneakers covered in lobsters and other Hub emblems, they're offering shoes perfect for a midnight ride. That's right, this year's limited edition 890s glow in the dark! They also feature a homage to Paul Revere on the back. I think they're pretty cool looking, but I don't feel the same need to splurge for a pair since I stocked up on the 890v2s when my local running store had them on clearance.

What's your take on this year's shoe?

Photos from

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday--Bad Haikus

Spring is finally here in New York and I'm slowly coming out of hibernation. Does that mean I didn't run all winter? Of course not! But it does mean my fingers were too cold to type and my brain was too cold to think creatively. Thankfully, it's warm enough to at least allow me to type--no guarantees my brain has thawed yet. In the spirit of spring, here are some Friday haikus for you. Enjoy!

Early Spring Afternoon, Central Park by Willard Metcalf

Running Nutrition
Chocolate, mocha
Sounds like a delicious treat
Too bad it's just Gu

Nature Calls
Really got to go
Public bathrooms still all locked
Look I found a tree!

The First Week of the Taper
Sixty done this week
Thought my taper had begun
Fewer miles my @$$!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Little Toilet Humor

With the Boston Marathon just over three weeks away, I made my annual sojurn to the Bay State for a final long run on the course this past weekend. As they have for the past five years, the folks at Saucony were kind enough to sponsor a porta potty along Comm Ave in Newton (right near Heartbrake Hill).

Phote from twitter user darrenrovell
I definitely remember taking advantage of their facility last year but I don't remember much else about it (probably a good sign, since one doesn't usually want to remember an indvidual potty break). This year, however, Saucony seems to have stepped up their game. Not only did they have a great slogan on the outsite of their plastic john, but they had a whole list of "dropped" slogans inside.

I wish I could remember them all, but here are a few I do that made me laugh my @$$ off:

Hope it's not another zero drop!

Bet you wish you weren't a barefoot runner now!

They don't call it 'Fartbreak Hill.'

If you're out on the course the next two weekends, do yourself a favor: even if you don't have to go, make a pit stop at the Saucony porta potty. That toilet humor should give you enough chuckles to help get you through the final 7 miles.