Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Video: NYRR's 2015 AirBnB Brooklyn Half

I wrote a pretty comprehensive review of my experience of the race here. And once again for fun, I carried a GoPro and shot some footage to document the race.

This year I was having trouble coming up with a decent ending. Every time I tried to "close" the video, it was just falling flat. So I did something I never do. I added a post to the DirtyOldSneakers Facebook page asking people to post their end of race photos for a chance to be included in my video. And you guys did it!

I am so grateful for everyone who uploaded their photos.

Thank you for reading this space, thank you for following me on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. I have a lot of fun writing this blog and creating race videos and while I'd do it even if no one read my words, I feel like I've made more friends and created a little running community on these pages.

So without further preamble, I give you my 2015 Brooklyn Half Video!

I would love to hear what you think . . .

NYRR's 2015 AirBnB Brooklyn Half - My Experience

This past Friday night, I set my alarm for an ungodly hour, fed myself a carbohydrate-rich meal and closed my eyes earlier than a 45 year old man should.


Well, for the seventh year in a row, I was signed up for the Brooklyn Half, the largest 13.1 in the United States!

I love this race, it's essentially a run down memory lane for me in that, as a young child, my grandparents and uncle still lived in the borough. Not to mention, nine years ago when I officially got my shit together, got healthy and started running, I lived in Park Slope, with Prospect Park as my home turf.

So when my alarm went off at 4AM, I jumped out of bed and got ready for one of my favorite race courses. 

If you read this space, you know that my running this year isn't what it has been in the past. The addition of our son has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. 99.99999999% of those changes are good, in fact great. That one microscopic change that isn't great and that I'm trying to work around is my running schedule. It's only been 6.5 months and I'm still trying to find my routine. I know it's out there, I just need to grab it.
My beautiful wife and smily son!
But I digress. I mean, how can I not, look at those faces?

Okay, so at 5:15 I take a 45 minute train ride with thousands of other runners and I know I've already messed up. See, when I race, I like to get there early. And I mean, like an hour early. I like relaxed travel, no crowds on my way to the corral and the use of facilities without an hours long line. But when I looked around and saw how many runners were already on the train, I knew I was going to arrive a lot later than I wanted.

The Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the Brooklyn side of the East River.
I run and check my baggage so I have a dry shirt to put on after the race and run to get into my corral and into the bathroom line. Luckily, I see my buddy Dan who is already on line and jump in with him and his friend Sam. We chat it up for a while and Dan, who has his sights set on a specific time leaves us to go find his pace group.
Me, Bobby, Sam and Dan
I nervously watch and wait for the race to begin. My goals are not lofty for the 2015 running of the BK Half. I want to cross the finish line and I want to get some good footage so I can create a good video. And I had a lot to live up to as I really think the video I created from last year's race is my best one to date.

This was also a special race in that Mary Wittenberg, who for the past 10 years served as president and CEO of the New York Road Runners announced her resignation earlier in the week. She would be leaving the organization after the Brooklyn Half. Saturday was the last time we'd hear her pep talk before the race and her cheerleading on the course as we closed in on or passed the finish line.
Mary Wittenberg cheering for runners after crossing the finish line after the 2013 Brooklyn Half.
I won't comment on Mary's impact on the running community in NYC and the world, or her impact on me personally (I'm working on a full post dedicated to that). Suffice it to say that it has been game changing and that is no exaggeration.

The Race
At 7AM the final race instructions are given and the gun goes off. It's with not just a little anticipation that I wait for the 4,000 runners in front of me to start their race so I can get going.

When I first started running the BK Half, it was two loops inside Prospect Park followed by a 5.5 mile run down Ocean Parkway to Surf Avenue where we run up onto the Coney Island Boardwalk and through to the finish line.

In my opinion, one of the better ideas the NYRR has had for this race was to make that first loop of Prospect Park a circumnavigation of the OUTSIDE of the park followed by a loop IN and then on to Ocean Parkway and Coney Island.
One recognizable landmark on the course is the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch at the edge of Prospect Park
There is really only one hill along this course and it comes at around mile 5. Once you're out of the park, it's almost flat as a pancake, with one downhill and a tiny bump getting from Surf Avenue to the Boardwalk. It's really the perfect race to go for a PR (that is, if you're trained well, eat right and don't have a 6.5 month old at home).
Here's another digression 
Now, the bummer for me about Ocean Parkway is that, while flat, I need to work to stay out of my head. As you run south, runners pass streets that follow the alphabet from A to Z. So, unless I work at it, I can easily get stuck in my head and concentrate on which letter I'm on and how much time I have left. Not the best way to get through a race.

Add to that, the mantra that got stuck in my head this year wasn't helping to get me to the finish line. Repeating "Over Fed and Under Trained" is not the best motivation - at least it isn't for me.

That said, this year Ocean Parkway had a special surprise in store for us. The weather all morning had been humid. Not like "swimming in soup" humid but enough to make me uncomfortable. Right as I reached mile 10, the sky opened up and poured down on us for almost 20 minutes.

For me, this couldn't have come at a better time. I love running in the rain and it was exactly what I needed to cool off and finish the race.
Looks like I wasn't the only one happy that it started raining when we hit mile 10
As I said, my goal this year was to finish the race. And I did it. Was it my best race? Far from it. Was it my worst? Again, far from it.

I was happy to cross the line, grab my medal, eat a few hot dogs from Nathan's Famous (another throw back from my childhood - in fact, my parents' childhood) and get on the train for the hour and 30 minute ride home, where I got to see . . . you guessed it, these faces

Here are a few more shots that I captured on the course:
Just past the Arch
Heading down to Ocean Parkway
Passing the world famous Cyclone
Just past the finish line
Did you run this year? How'd you do?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Video: 2015 Red Hook Crit

Last night, I was conspicuously clean shaven and wearing a baseball hat while surrounded by skinny jeans and beards that would make a Lumberjack jealous.


I've been hearing about the Red Hook Crit for as long as I can remember, a bad ass bike race in Brooklyn that draws participants from all over the world, this race is no joke.

And I finally went to watch it.

GoPro and iPhone in hand, I pieced together this mishmash of both the women's and men's final races.

It. Was. Awesome.

Let me know what you think (none of this footage was sped up).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Photo Essay: NYRR More Half Marathon

I went to the Park on Sunday with the GoPro to be inspired by 7,500 women running the More Half Marathon.

I wasn't disappointed.

And, I got to see Deena Kastor cross the finish line minutes ahead of everyone else! She's UNREAL (pics at the end).

Here's a little of what I saw.

Deena Kastor in the final three miles (in pink)
And she wins for the second year in a row!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Keeping the Afternoon Snack Healthy

I've been having an issue at the office in the last few weeks. 

Around 3PM, I become RAVENOUS! And it's super easy for me to drop by the receptionist's desk to grab a few (read: up to 6) "bite sized" candy bars for a quick sugar fix in order to stave off becoming hangry and being a dick on my next conference call.

I figured it was time for me to do something about it before I gain even more weight. 

As part of the blogging network I belong to, I was given a gift certificate to the VitaminShoppe to shop and tell you about my experience. 

Win/win, right? I mean, I needed to find a solution to my problem and, well, this store carries all sortsa powders bars and potions to help stave off hunger. AND, I wasn't being asked to tell you I had a good experience, I was asked to just tell you what my experience was, and if nothing else, I try to be as honest as possible and true to my own beliefs in this space, so I signed up.

Here goes.

While I have been very interested in nutrition since I've become an athlete, I've really concentrated on what I call, on-course nutrition. That is, what I consume while I'm running or cycling, or the week leading up to a big race, etc. It's always been situational. That's not to say I sit down and eat a pint of ice cream for lunch on an average day. I stay away from processed foods, don't drink soda, watch the sugars and snacks (although the occasional cookie may be he death of me) and make sure I get a good mix of protein and complex carbs, but that's about where my knowledge base ends.

All this to say I went in with a lot of questions and, if I were to be super transparent, not a lot of expectation. 

I was pleasantly surprised. When I walked in, I was a little overwhelmed. The store was PACKED to the ceiling (literally) with bottles of vitamins for everything, powders for everything, bars for everything and drinks for everything.

Where do I start? It was actually easy, the super friendly woman standing behind the counter was more than willing to spend a full 30 minutes with me as I explained everything that was going on, told her half my life story and made her watch a slideshow of photos of my son (hey, I'm a new dad, if you talk to me for 10 seconds, you're gonna see some pics).
5.5 months and already sitting up, a genius, right?
After the slideshow, we got down to business. She walked me through a number of different protein bars, pointing out the differences in nutritional value and ingredients. I've always been a little skeptical of bars as I think some of them are really just disguised candy bars. I walked out with a handful of different bars to try and will go back for a box once I decide which is perfect for me.

She also suggested hemp hearts. After walking her through what I eat most days for lunch, she felt my lunchtime protein intake needed a boost (which would help push the munchies back even further). I love hemp hearts, they're packed with protein and Omega 3 & 6, have a great nutty flavor (perfect on salads) and help make me feel more full.

Lastly, she suggested adding a protein shake as a mid-morning snack. Again, I went the hemp route - all natural and easy to digest. I had a bad experience with Whey protein recently and needed to stay away from the soy-based products.

I'm walking away a happy camper! 

Oh, and if you go in before 5/9 all Vitamin Shoppe brand and BodyTech items are buy one get one 50% off!

The take from my first spree! 

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Vitamin Shoppe.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Photo Essay: NYRR City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks

Last Sunday almost 9,000 people came out and ran the four mile inside loop in Central Park. I wasn't signed up for the race and didn't Bandit, but I did show up with my GoPro looking for some interesting people.

I think I captured a few, but I'll let you be the judge. I also got some great footage and am piecing together a video which will be live soon.

In the meantime, pictures galore!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gear Review: Timex Ironman One GPS+

As part of a blogger network I belong to I was chosen to take an early look at the Timex Ironman One GPS+. As a gear junkie, I couldn’t have been happier to be part of this. I’m always looking for the next big thing, or that metric I can record on my runs that I don’t get with my current gear.

Overall, I’m pretty psyched about the unit, it has all the features you would expect in a GPS watch but also included a few innovative solutions as well. The display is bright and easy to read in light and dark. While running, I was able to record my real time pace, average pace, splits (calculated automatically) overall time, heart rate (Bluetooth HRM is an up-sell option), etc. There are other run options, but those are my go-to’s.
Super bright display is easily seen day or night
I love that I can upload my runs to Strava (integrated in my settings) directly from the watch wherever I am. There’s a built in modem, which means no need to be in front of my computer or phone to get the run up and start getting those kudos!
Motivation hits you right when you start up the watch!
There is also a live tracking feature so my wife and family will no longer need to stand on street corners for hours to cheer me on in marathons. They just download the app, watch my progression and pop out when I’m near by. Pretty cool. I have a feeling we’re going to see this feature in more GPS-enabled devices in the coming year, but Timex has it now!

Additionally, if for some reason I DNF, there’s a way for me to contact my peeps and let them know where I am so they can come meet me and bring me sugary products. Could come in handy on those rare occasions when I bonk and feel like I can’t take another step.

But here’s what I really liked about the unit. There’s a 4GB, built in MPS unit where I can load my music and listen with Bluetooth-enabled headphones. I love a solution that helps me cut down on the amount of stuff I need to carry on a run, even if it’s just a small iPod. One less think I need to think about, you know?

There were a few things that I wasn’t thrilled with. 
  • The touchscreen didn’t always react as fast as I would have liked and not at all while I was wearing gloves.
  • In order to use the watch, you need to pay for a data plan. And while only $40/year, you still have to pay for a data plan, know what I mean?
  • It was kind of big (about the same size as the Garmin 910). I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I kept noticing it while running.
I did compare the GPS recording to my current GPS-enabled watch and they were almost dead on in synch. Not an easy feat as I start my running on local NYC streets before I hit Central Park (think tall buildings in every direction blocking GPS signals). The watches found Sat. signals in comparable times and tracked about the same which means they had virtually the same strength GPS signal. Again, no easy feat in NYC.

Like I said, overall, I’m pretty psyched about the watch, if you’re looking for a GPS-enabled device, I give this a thumbs up!

Pausing for a breather while doing my best DC Rainmaker
wearing two GPS-enabled watches to compare recording
This post is sponsored by FitFluential.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Photo Essay: 2015 NYPD vs. FDNY 5 Mile Run

Saturday was the 38th Annual NYPD vs. FDNY 5 Mile Run.

I happened to be in the park on Saturday and caught some of the runners on my GoPro. I love the way the park looks as a backdrop this time of year, the bare trees are super dramatic, the sky is super blue and the colors the runners are wearing really pop.

Standing on the sidelines of a race is a completely different perspective. I loved seeing the diversity of people, it was truly inspiring!

Here are a few of the best shots: