Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Experience: 2015 NYRR Washington Heights 5K

I used to scoff at this race. It's a 5K. I mean, who cares right?

It's not even worth getting my clothes sweaty to go out and run 3.11 miles.

Then we had a baby and everything changed.

I ran this race today for the third time. At this point in the year I'm usually close to peak if not at the top of a training schedule for a spring marathon so I would usually tack on a bunch of miles afterwards and it's a nice way to get in one of my 9+1's to qualify for next year's NYC Marathon.

But then we had a baby and everything changed.

So when I got up this morning, after being on vacation in a tropical locale for a week, and the temps were in the 20s, and my training has been in the dumper, well, let's just say that I thought about going back to bed. Oh, and even though I thought about it for a hot second, I decided there would be no extra miles after the race.

The thing about this race is, even though it's a short distance, it's hilly. And it's in a section of NYC where I never run. And I've learned over the years that the 5K distance is a pretty decent way to judge what kind of shape I'm in.

Spoiler alert, I'm in terrible shape (see multiple baby statements/excuses above).

But I went out and tried to have some fun. I need to find the fun in running again. This winter has been brutal with the record snow falls, the record low temps and my record lack of running. In order for me to enjoy the sport, I need to remember why I started in the first place.

I run because it makes me feel like a fucking warrior when I'm in good shape and can dig deep to finish whatever I've started.

So this morning I took the train up to Washington Heights, ran up the hills; ran down the hills; ran the loop in Fort Tyron Park; ran up the hills; ran down the hills and crossed the finish line.

Did I PR? Nope.

Did I I feel great at the end? Nope.

Did I finish the race? Yup.

Did I feel okay? Yup.

Did I find my mojo? That's going to take a little more time to figure out. But if I keep doing what I did this morning. And add miles. And be consistent. And stretch. And go to the gym. And eat right. Well, then answering that last question becomes easier.

I packed the GoPro with me this morning and snapped a few pics. I love how dramatic the trees look with no leaves and the pale winter sky as a backdrop.

Race leaders leaving Fort Tyron Park as I'm entering (they're about a mile ahead of me).

There are bands and musicians spread around the entire course. These guys were an awesome percussion trio.
You can just see the Hudson River on the other side of the runners and Jersey beyond that.

I wish I could capture how clogged the streets were with runners. Alas, this is as close as I was able to get. 
I ran into Mary Wittenberg (Pres and CEO of the NYRR) just after mile 3 when she jumped in to cheer on the runners.
And here's me and my son four days ago. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

In Need of Some Inspiration

It's been a LOOOOONG winter. While we're not getting hit as hard as Boston, NYC has been pretty miserable.

I've not been the most, shall we say motivated? person when it comes to donning a pair of kicks and heading out to the park to run in circles for hours.

At this point of the year, I'll usually be signed up for two marathons, one spring and one fall with an additional fall race to be name later.

Since I've been slacking, I told my wife that I would make a decision about a spring race after I see how I do at the NYC Half next month. If I stick with my current training plan, it's looking like my next big race won't be until NYC in November (my 9th).

So for inspiration I looked into my archive and came up with my two favorite race videos.

The first, from my first and only (to date) relay race last summer. I was excited to be chosen to be part of Nuun's Hood to Coast team. Here's what it looked like:

And the second, my all time favorite race video. I made this during the NYRR Brooklyn Half last year. I really think it's my best video work.

Hope this offers you from inspiration as well!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Product Review: Puma Ignite

I think we can all agree that treadmill running is kinda awful. I mean, there’s a reason we call it the Dread Mill.

But what if you were to run on one outside?

And what if that “outside” was in the middle of Times Square?

You’d be into it, right?

So when I was given the opportunity to run on a treadmill in the middle of Times Square in order to try a new pair of kicks, well, I jumped at the chance.

Puma, a brand I don’t have much experience with, launched its newest running sneaker, the Puma Ignite to much fanfare!

Picture this, something like 25 treadmills, a DJ, loud music, huge crowds (I did saw Times Square) and some purple and pink sneaks.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t psyched about the color scheme but when I slipped them on and started to run, I quickly forgot about the colors.

It was as if I was running in slippers, that’s how comfortable these kicks were.

According to Puma, the Ignite “features its most responsive foam ever.  You put the energy in and the Puma Ignite gives it back. “

Here’s what I can tell you from a tech perspective:

1.  ENERGY RETURN - Full length IGNITE FOAM midsole’s PU blend offers high rebound cushioning

2.  STEP-IN COMFORT - IGNITE FOAM provides instant comfort where you need it most

3.  LONG-LASTING PERFORMANCE - ForEverFoam is used in the heel to disperse impact and provide extra durability

I’m looking forward to a long run in these kicks, I can easily see myself running a 13.1 in my new purple and pink kicks.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of PUMA.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Product Review: Asics Gel Kayano 20

I've done my share of shoe reviews on this blog. It's kind of a no brainer for shoe companies to contact me and ask my opinion given the name of my blog.

Usually what happens is I get contacted, agree to review the product (or not), wear the shoes for a day around the city to break them in, go for a run and then write up what I think.

It's a formula that works. By wearing them around and breaking them in, one run is pretty much all I need to form an opinion.

But, what I'd really like to do is wear the shit out of the kicks and see how long they last, how my knees and hips react when they have 250+ miles on them, what the treads look like and how beat up they look.

Well, I was given that opportunity.

Back in July Asics sent me a note and asked if I'd be interested in trying a pair of its kicks. I had never owned a pair before but I know a lot of folks that are dedicated Asics wearers and was very interested.

I was given a code and told to head over to the website and order any pair I wanted (and while they paid for the shoes, opinions here are my own).

If you're given the opportunity to wear a pair of Asics, what are you going to go for? The heritage brand, right? I ordered up a pair of Gel Kayano 20.

At first I was taken aback by the retail price ($139.00) but when I got them and finally slipped them on my feet, I understood why.

There's a reason Asics has been making this shoe for 20 years. They're pretty damn great. They're sturdy, good looking, well designed and (here's the kicker) lasted me well over 300 miles. It's been more than five years since I've had a pair of kicks go longer than 225 miles for me without experiencing some consequences (hip or knee pain, etc.). 

When I put the Gel Kayano 20 on for the first time, they already felt broken in -- a friend mentioned that she doesn't break them in before she runs in them, I've made that mistake before to my detriment. So I wore them to work for a day before my first run. From there, I stayed smart, my first run was a 10K, then a five miler, back to 10K until I finally ran a 13.1

Once the 13.1 was under my belt, I was loving the way they felt and decided this was the pair in which I would run the NYC Marathon. 

There's a lot of marketing speak on the Asics site about these kicks, the FluidFit uppers, the Heal Clutching System, something called the Guidance Trusstic System (which according to Asics, This Trusstic System® integrates Guidance Line® construction for enhanced gait efficiency while providing midfoot structural integrity.  

Courtesy of Asics

Um, okay, but do they make me run faster? (That's a joke.)

While I commend Asics for adding a ton of R&D and technology to the 11.3 oz strapped to my feet, for me it all comes down to how they feel when I run.

The strongest endorsement I can give a pair is that I want to wear them for a marathon. 

I wanted to.

And I did.

And I wasn't disappointed.

I've been rotating through a few different shoes since NYC but I will, without a doubt, be back to Asics soon enough.

As a side note, my Asics have 320 miles on them and they're still going strong. I'll Tweet when I finally retire them. 


Monday, December 1, 2014

Finding Time to Run With a Baby in the House

If you read this space, you know my wife gave birth to our son four days before the NYC Marathon. 

I would tell you that we're both overjoyed with parenthood, that our son, who is perfect, is the fulfillment of all our dreams, that each day dawns with the glimmer of anticipation for what's to come and ends with a satisfying sigh as we smilingly gaze, arm in arm at our son who is peacefully sleeping in his crib.

If you have kids, or know someone who does, you know that what I just wrote is complete and utter bullshit. 

My son is one month and one day old today. And while we love him, our days are not so super joyous right now. We're learning the ropes and just getting through each and every 24 hour period.

You know what I've learned in 32 days? Here's the short list:
  • I've learned how not to get pee'd on while changing his diaper
  • I've learned to wait an extra five minutes after he's finished nursing to change said diaper lest I have to change it again right away (which is easier than say, cleaning the changing table, the wall, the floor, and my clothing that he just pooped all over)
  • I've learned I can function reasonably well on four hours of sleep (night after night after night after night)
  • I've learned that if I really want to, I can make a decent dinner every night for my wife
  • I've learned that FreshDirect has incredibly good heat and eat meals
  • I've learned that an item available on Amazon Prime can be the difference between a fight and a loving gaze from my wife
  • I've learned that marathoning sitcoms at 3AM is a lot different when you have a fussy baby who won't go back to sleep
  • And I've learned that, so far, my wife and I are capable of keeping our son alive and reasonably happy.
What I haven't learned is balance. 

My wife is a saint. When I do muster the energy to go for a run, she always encourages me to do so. But I haven't really figure out how to be consistent. But I know what to do in order to get on track. I guess I just don't want to admit it.

See, I'm late to the game. I'm 44. And while parenthood is a young man's game, having your first baby at 44 means I have a lot of friends who have already been through it. Some actually have teenagers in the house. This all means that I have a huge knowledge base from which to learn.

The best piece of advice I've been given so far (running wise) is that I need to make running a priority. 

When I first started running eight years ago, I would set my alarm for 4:45AM, do my workout and then have a full day.

And while the thought of waking up at 4:45 in order to be in the park running by 5 is nauseating, I don't see any way around it.

So who's up for an early run in Central Park?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Staying Fit While Injured Just Got a Little Easier!

Last week I attended a preview of the Zero Runner by Octane Fitness.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. A zero gravity treadmill? Some sort of new gym torture device? 

None of the above.

I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the room to sign in and Tara, the marketing person for Octane Fitness knew exactly who I was – actually repeating some of my story back to me – this wasn't lip service. This was a company that sought out a group of people who they really wanted to reach, whom they thought would benefit from their product and whom they were seeking help with to get the word out.

We listened to the requisite marketing speak, the R&D, the background of the company, the former professional runner, the older, injured runner who wasn't able to run anymore (until he got on the Zero Runner that is). But as a marketer myself for a living, what I was most impressed with was the research this company has done on its consumer.
Carrie Tollefson talks to about how she trains on the Zero Runner

I've been exposed to a lot of small companies as a blogger and I can tell you that 80% of them have no idea who they are marketing to. Octane Fitness does not have that issue. As Proctor and Gamble would say, they know who their "Who" is. I'm not going to get into it, but suffice it to say, the research has been done.

So if you fit one of their profiles (and if you read this blog, you do), this product is for you.

At first glance, the Zero Runner looks like a fancy elliptical. But it's not. The machine mimics actual running but reduces the stress on your body by removing the impact. Runners actually use the same muscles as they do in outdoor runs, with a full range of motion and at their pace – there's no belt to help you along. Whatever pace you run outside is the same pace you'll run on this machine.

It takes a while to get used to, and as one of the speakers stated, if you stop thinking so much, it becomes easier to run on it. I tried it and while I'll never be a huge fan of an indoor running apparatus, I can tell you that I enjoyed it.

Because it felt like running.

And because if I was injured or recovering from a big race, I can see how it would be helpful.

And you know I'm a fan of the numbers -- anything that I can measure, I like to record and look at when I'm done. What I liked most about the machine is what they call Stride Tracing which is built into the Zero Runner Smart Link app. Explained by them, The Zero Runner also features stride tracing so runners can monitor the health of their gait throughout workouts. This way, they can ensure that form isn't compromised so that they are as strong at mile five as they were at mile one. It's literally a chart that shows your gait over the course of your run so you can see where and when it changes and train to keep it consistent. 

Brilliant! How has no one else thought of this yet?

Check out more about the Zero Runner here or on Octane's social sites Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Octane Fitness.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm Rededicating Myself!

My son was born in late October.

He's perfect in every way. He's cute, he's healthy and while he wakes up a few times a night, he's a champion sleeper! The only downside is that he's made me lazy. Champion sleeper or not, I've slacked on running since he was born.

Yeah, I ran the NYC Marathon the four days after he made an appearance, but since then, I've run a total of four time.


That, my friends, is not enough.

So here I am saying it in public, posting it on the Internets for all to see and judge, I am getting my ass back into it!

I will run four to five times a week. I will do my best to cross train at least once. Regardless of the amount of sleep I get, I will drag my lazy ass out of bed and run before I go to work.

With you as my witness, I hope to make this happen (starting two days ago - which puts me on a roll already).

And no better time since I'm in the throes of the Men's Fitness/Shape Magazine Blogger Challenge! East v. West (to see who can log more steps/miles in a month).

Our challenge this week? Tack on an extra 20 minutes to a workout, run or training session to increase overall steps and distance travelled.

Challenge accepted (follow our progress here).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Men's Fitness & Shape Magazine’s Fitbit Charge Blogger Challenge!

It's on!! It's a coastal showdown! It's time to show those warm-blooded west coast wussy's what the east coast is made of!!

I'm kidding of course.


Here's why I'm all fired up. Men's Fitness and Shape magazine have joined together to challenge 10 east coast and 10 west coast bloggers to test out the new Fitbit Charge. And your humble writer is one of them!

Each team will track total distance and steps taken to compete in winning the title of the most active coast!

I think we all know who's going to win this one, no?

You can see each costs progress on a live tracker on both Shape and Men's Fitness respective websites.

And I know we're only a few days in. But, ahem, look who's out front already:

Make sure you check in every week and enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win your own FitBit Charge! One winner will be announced each week.

Week One Challenge:
This week, we've been challenged to take our workouts outdoors and discover new trails and hiking spots. With the Polar Vortex in full force, this is a bit more of a challenge than I was prepared for but I'm up for it if for nothing else than to show the west coast who's boss :-)

Keep an eye on my Instagram for my updates on this challenge!

This post is sponsored by the Shape/Men's Fitness FitBit Charge Challenge.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Post Marathon Blues Are a Real Thing

So you've spent the last 18 weeks of your life preparing for and training to run 26.2 miles.

It's all you talked about with you friends and family, you changed your eating habits, you changed your social life, you woke up earlier on the weekends than you do on weekdays to get in your long runs. You waxed poetic on neutral vs. stability shoes, you talked about the nuances between using nip guards vs.  BandAides, and you dreamed about that one speed session you had at the beginning of your training that set the stage for a perfect race day.

The day came, you got up at the crack of dawn, followed your plan to a T and crossed the finish line. You then regaled in the kudos you received far and wide. You wore your medal around town. You posted myriad pictures on social media of race day, wearing your medal around town, or even, ahem, your new baby boy wearing your medal. And you relived race day with your running group talking about different aspects of the race, the crazy weather, the crazy naked guy at mile 18, the hills, the hills and the hills.

And then, all of a sudden . . .

It's. Over.

Now what?

For me, Post Marathon Blues sets in around 7 days after the race when all the hullabaloo end. I no longer need to wake up early on the weekends. I find myself with hours and hours of awake time not feeling sore or reliving a great (or awful) training run. I no longer get the endorphin rush from a speed work session or the satisfaction of completing a 20 mile run (or a 75 mile week).

And my friends and family are so sick of hearing about the race, they run in the other direction when they see me coming.

So how do I deal with it? I sit down with my laptop, pull up Google and find another marathon to participate in. Don't get me wrong, I live in NYC, possibly one of the greatest running cities in the world and thanks to organizations like the New York Road Runners and NYC Runs, I'm already signed up for 13.1s, 5-milers and 15Ks through March.

But I need to be training for something that my body is going to hate me for in the short term (but love me in the long).

I need a new goal. I need to be pushing myself and looking for reasons to wake up early, strap on my kicks in the dead of winter and go out for a run in the snow.

In short, I need another marathon.

My advice to you? Find another race ASAP. It doesn't have to be tomorrow, it can be in six months, or even a year. But give yourself a reason to eat 10 pounds of pasta; a reason to go out and buy a new pair of kicks; a reason to strap them on and get your ass back out into the Park (or wherever it is you train).

Nothing beats the post marathon blues like starting the cycle all over again.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Video: 2014 TCS NYC Marathon

Last Sunday I ran my seventh NYC Marathon.

My 7th marathon in my home town. I can easily remember going to Central Park on Marathon Sunday, standing there watching in awe of the runners going past the 72nd Street Transverse. I had mixed emotions. At once I was impressed by the display of endurance, tenacity and, to be completely honest, the crazy.

I remember telling a friend that one day I would be one of those crazy people -- but I didn't really believe it.

Yet here I am with seven NYC Marathons along with other iconic races under my belt (including Chicago and Boston). And I've actually become one of those people who has a list of races I want to run around the world.

But I digress -- before I even start.

The 2014 TCS NYC Marathon was a rough race. Weather predictions for the week leading up were getting worse and worse. We ended up with wind gusts of beyond 35 MPH which, for some reason never seemed to be a tail wind. It was like the universe was working against the runners. From the very start, crossing the Verrazano Bridge, I had to hang on to my hat, literally. And there were a few times that I actually thought the wind was going to blow me off the bridge.

I'm not going to get into a play-by-play of this race - suffice it to say that my goal this year was to cross the finish line. And that's exactly what I did.

I love my hometown race because it's a 26.2 mile party. The energy in the City that crescendos on Marathon Sunday is unlike like anything I've experienced in another race city.

If you're a runner, you HAVE to experience this race. Period. Full Stop.

As usual, the GoPro was in my hands and I captured some of what I hope was the essence of the day. You be the judge.

Do I have the marathon blues after this race? It's hard to think about, watch my race video to the end and you'll see why I was more excited than ever to reach the Park and get back home.