Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bigger Marathons?

How big can you get?

New York Marathon guru Mary Wittenberg has indicated she'd like to expand the current race size, and the wave start may be precursor.

Other marathons may grow as well as more and more people participate in the 26.2-mile event. But in some cases, the roads simply can't handle the size of the race.

An interesting discussion in this morning's NY Times.

P.S. Aren't you glad the race wasn't yesterday? Latest weather forecast for Sunday, high of 50, with that threat of showers seemingly dissipated

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spectating Advice

Just got an e-mail from my friend J, who's running the marathon next weekend. In it, she mentions a few great spectating ideas, which I'm going to crib for this post, and add a couple of my own ...

-- Make sure your friends know what time you expect to run next Sunday, and just as important, *what time you start*. The wave start is going to wreak havoc on some planning (especially if you have people who are starting in separate waves.

-- Tell them what you're planning to wear. The more distinctive, the better. Give them some options (if it's cold, I'm wearing this, if it's pouring, I'm wearing this). Current weather forecast: showers, a high of 54, but that will change. If you've run the course before, and are comfortable with this concept, tell them what side of the street you're running on (this is especially important in Brooklyn, where the slightly different routes will have people running in different areas).

-- Give them some prime viewing locations. If you've got some really dedicated friends, get them up to the Bronx (the Bronx? They have a zoo there?) Getting that inspiration and support if you're hitting the wall around mile 20 is invaluable. Don't tell them to try to shout your name at mile 16 coming onto First Ave. It's a mob scene, lots of fun, but even if they can get a spot near the front, it'll be hard to see you.

-- Get some white tape and paste your name/nickname on your shirt. I've gotta say, I thought this was a stupid idea, until I realized that people were calling out the names of the people running next to me, and realized what kind of lift they were getting from hearing their names yelled by complete strangers.

-- Have your friends sign up for Athlete Alert, so they know when you've passed certain check points. Figuring most people have cell phones (including some of those running), so it's a good way to make sure folk are aware what's going on, especially if you're unexpectedly forced to stop.

-- Have a meeting point set near the finish; and then have a backup meeting point if it's a mob scene.

Anyone have other ideas?

In the News

Some random musings from my survey of the news this morning ...

- Strange question in the FYI column this morning in the New York Times:

Will I lose more calories if I walk the 6.1-mile Central Park loop clockwise or counterclockwise?

The answer, according to NYRR is no difference. But somehow I think the question begs another couple: Which way is easier? And does it matter where you start?

Most of the time, if it's not a race, I start in the southern end of the park on the East Side, though I've started multiple different places and I'd be hard pressed to say which direction I've run more frequently. But mentally, I think running counter-clockwise is probably a tiny bit harder. It may have to do with Cat Hill (the steep hill coming up from the boathouse).

Anyone have a preference?

- The New York Observed column this morning is kind of quirky, about the nicknames one gives to familiar, yet unknown faces, one sees while running in Prospect Park.

Favorite 10 Mile (Plus) Runs

What a beautiful morning. If only New York was this weekend (OK, it would have been a little bit chilly at the start).

One of the laments I've heard from my running friends and colleagues is the difficulty in finding new routes. I've posted a few of them over time, but will readily admit this has been lacking.

So, without further ado, let's get going.

This morning's adventure is elegant in its simplicity, has a bathroom about 4 miles into the route and one at the end. Essentially, start on the southern end of the Brooklyn Promenade, make your way over the Brooklyn Bridge, head down to the East River and run along the path there until you reach the Williamsburg Bridge (if you go about 200 yards past it, there's a bathroom - albeit one that's a bit skeevy - and water fountain), head back over the bridge, and then hug the water as you return back to your starting point. (The second bathroom, which isn't labeled on this map, is at the Pierrepont playground, about 100 yards from the starting point).

Why I like it: the Williamsburg Bridge isn't crowded, and you have a steady 1.5 miles uphill (not steep), meaning you have to work it as you approach from the East River. It's also a fairly scenic route, with views from the bridges, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and runs through Williamsburg, Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Run For Your Life

"Run For Your Life," the Fred Lebow movie, comes out on DVD on Oct. 28, and will be appearing at the Village East on Oct. 29. Info follows (from an e-mail I just got):

*** NYC Premiere & Theatrical Run begins this Wednesday, October 29th at the Village East Cinema (12th St. & 2nd Ave.)

*** DVD Release (with nearly an hour of extras) from Universal Home Video & Screen Media Films on Tuesday, October 28th

More info here ...

(I just got "Spirit of the Marathon" from Netflix, so will be using that for running inspiration, just as soon as I can get my kids to stop watching "Sleeping Beauty")

Daylight Savings Time

And if you didn't have enough to worry about: Daylight Savings Time ends on ... Nov. 2.

The good thing about it: You get an extra hour to sleep (spring ahead, fall back ...)

The bad thing about it: I feel bad for the runners who don't realize this and show up at their transportation an hour ahead of schedule.

This Year's Lance Armstrong?

Two years ago, when Lance ran for the first time, the running community (OK, my small subsection of the running community) was outraged at the amount of attention being focused on some cycling guy, who wasn't even training properly.

Would be break 3 hours? I remember entering a pool, missing his time by at least 6 minutes (on the slower side).

It reminds me of the year that P Diddy ran (and in fact, I think I almost crossed paths with him that year ...). You get so focused on someone else, or maybe the media does, and then it snowballs. Ulimately, it comes down to the fact: the marathon is a goal distance and a goal race for a lot of people, and New York is one of those must-do races.

Last year, Katie Holmes was the focus. (err, maybe my focus.). This year ...

I'm not sensing any outrage or massive support for the "celebrity" racers this year. Brandi Chastain? Kerri Strug? Hope they do well.

As for the pros, you can pick how they do in this pool being run by the NYRR, with the winner getting a Toyota Prius. (An aside: Running? Betting? Maybe it'll make people pay enough attention to the best runners in the world). If Paula hadn't run Beijing, I'd like her to win again, but I'm wondering if she'll be recovered enough.

One Week From Now ...

Many of you who read this blog will be sitting, hopefully relaxing, filled with somewhat nervous thoughts about the race the following day. You'll be thinking about the weather, how you'll handle the key points on the course, your start (I actually think the wave starts will make things go smoother, albeit completely muck up spectating plans), and how exhilarated you'll feel as you exit Central Park to run the final stretch on 59th Street (before heading back in).

So, for the next seven days, let me offer you advice, ideas, thoughts, mostly from other people as they get ready for the BIG RACE.

(An aside - every one of my friends who knows I'm a runner ask me if I'm running New York. Every year, without fail. It's what they know, not the cross-country slogs in Van Cortlandt or the countless of local races throughout the tri-state area. So, for all its problems and frustrations, let's give it it's due ...).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Getting It Right

Nice to see Nike and the organizers of the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco doing the right thing.

I've been slow in blogging on this, but Arien O'Connell, a fifth-grade teacher in Brooklyn, ran the fastest time at the marathon last weekend (Awesome race, I might add). Yet, she wasn't the first person to cross the finish line.

Confused? Welcome to the world of elite running.

Back in the day, everyone started at the same time, and the first person to cross the finish line was the winner. Now, with electronic chips and elite starting times, the rules have changed. Only those running in the elite race could win.

O'Connell didn't push to get in the elite pool. Her time of 2:55:11, done within the general population of racers, was faster than anyone in the race. But because she wasn't an "elite" runner, she wasn't eligible to "win."

Now, to be fair, race strategy is dictated by who is running with you, so there's no guarantee she would have won if she was in the elite group. But, still ...

The solution: Co-winners of the race, and no elite start next year.

See the article from the New York Times here, which has a photo (so if you see her running in Brooklyn, say "howdy.")

There's mention, btw, at the bottom of the article, that the elite start at the NYC Half Marathon (also sponsored by Nike), might end up changing as well.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who Is Marcus Garvey?

It's a question that came up today during my run of the last 10 miles of the New York Marathon. A training run, purely, since I won't be participating in the extravaganza in two weeks (except as a spectator).

Four of us, part of a larger group that did the run, carved away from others because of speed, traffic light timing and the simple fact that we've been running together for so long this year. Only one of the four is doing the marathon, so we were there to get our own 10 mile runs in, calm any jittery nerves, and tease her (and each other) as we wended our way through the streets.

It's one of those runs that in itself isn't overly special, except that it was. It *is* the last 10 miles of one of the most famous marathons in the world, and it was done with some friends, which made it all the more special.

The route itself is pretty straightforward - from the Queensboro Bridge on 59th Street (just after mile 16), you just head up 1st Ave., cross over the Willis Avenue Bridge, do a left-right-left combination and cross back into Manhattan on the Madison Ave. Bridge. From there, it's down 5th Avenue until you enter Central Park, with a slight detour around Marcus Garvey Memorial Park (hence the question that came up during the run.)

So, who was Marcus Garvey? One of the most influential black leaders in the early 20th century ... and more. One of the great things about New York is the history nestled everywhere in the five boroughs, and so often, with everything else going on in life, it's so easy to ignore things that you see every day (or in this case, at least once a year for the past several years).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Other NY Marathon Bus

Just stumbled across this on the Brooklyn Road Runners Web site:

"For those of you who are running the NYC Marathon, BRRC will again this year, have a bus leaving from 15th st and PPW, at 6am. To reserve a spot on the bus, contact Steve Bonal at 917-238-9447. The fee is $20 for non-members, $10 for members."

For those of you (Brooklyn residents) who are taking a bus to the marathon, I'd urge you to consider the PPTC or BRRC buses if it will save you time and give you an extra hour of sleep before the race.

You will spend a few hours sitting around in Staten Island anyway, so this may make the journey and time spent before the marathon a little more palatable. Yes, you had to pay the money to NYRRC, but it's worth writing that off (and sending them a note about it).

Get to the 'Point 5K Results ...

in Greenpoint, are here. Still looking for the Bed-Stuy 10K results ....

Brooklyn's Foot Locker 5-Borough Challenger

Danielle Hansen, 44, a "running mom" and a member of the Prospect Park Track Club, is this year's representative in the five-borough challenge, according to this blog entry.

Hansen will run with the four other borough representatives for the first 13.1 miles of the November race before racing to the finish. If like other years, the marathon telecast will showcase the start of her race and provide periodic updates.

Hansen ran a 1:43:21 on Sunday at the Staten Island Half.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What Is the Hardest Half?

This question comes up all the time, in various forms or fashion. Today, being Staten Island, I got the question: Is it harder than Brooklyn? And what's the hardest half?

Being the ultimate equivocator, my response: It depends. I haven't run Queens, so can't comment on that, but Staten Island remains my favorite half. I like the combination of rolling hills and flat parts, I love the volunteer and spectator support.

Is it the hardest half? Well, let's think about weather, elevation, your personal shape, etc. Personally, I think running the Bronx half in the dead of summer has been the most difficult in terms of conditions/course/etc. of my races. Then again, while Brooklyn is "mostly flat,'' try competing in sub-freezing temperatures with a headwind. And we're all familiar with the Central Park hills, esp. those in Harlem (and the familiarity helps a lot - I know how to run Central Park, albeit not always with the best results).

One way to look at it is to consider the number of people who finish under 1:30, and then create a percentage based on the overall finishers. (This method has a *ton* of flaws, not the least that Staten Island, because it's the closest in time to the New York Marathon, loses a lot of runners.)

That said, for illustrative purposes only, let's take a look at how the half marathons stack up:

Staten Island: Oct. 12
Finishers: 3624
Sub-1:30: 182
Percentage: 5.02

Queens: Sept. 14
Finishers: 3,059
Sub-1:30: 81
Percentage: 2.65

Brooklyn: May 3
Finishers: 5,832
Sub-1:30: 351
Percentage: 6.02

Bronx: Feb. 14
Finishers: 3,265
Sub-1:30: 164
Percentage: 5.02

Manhattan: Jan. 27
Finishers: 4,994
Sub-1:30: 272
Percentage: 5.45

So based on this, one could argue that the Queens Half was the hardest this year, and Brooklyn was the easiest (or put another way: You had a lot better chance running a faster time at Brooklyn than Queens this year).

Knowing from colleagues about the number of turns on the course, and recalling the weather: 73 degrees, 87 percent humidity, according to the Web site ... Queens this year definitely has an argument for the being the toughest. (And Brooklyn racing conditions were pretty sweet).

As mentioned above, there are tons of holes in this methodology - you'd need to take a look over time, use runners that had the same level of physical fitness, compensate for weather, etc.

It's open for debate, as always. And congrats to everyone who completed at least one of this year's Half Marathon Grand Prix (once a list surfaces for the Brooklyn residents who knocked out all five, I'll post it).

Chicago Marathon Finishers

Formatting on this is going to be a little off, I think, but here's a list of the Chicago Marathon finishers who are listed as being from Brooklyn.

Runner Age Gender Finish

Garcia, Bruno 27 M 3:06:49

Clausen, Adam 26 M 3:13:41

Towle, Scott 30 M 3:22:48

Quarfordt, Erik G 33 M 3:23:32

Remy, Steve 41 M 3:24:29

Casaburri, Teresa 27 F 3:36:12

Ha, Theresa 27 F 3:38:12

Derman, Jeff 37 M 3:40:00

Scott, Todd W 30 M 3:43:22

North, Matthew 29 M 3:44:11

Calabrese, Alexis 21 F 3:46:52

Macnerland, Nathan 24 M 3:48:00

Ogrodowicz, Mark 50 M 3:53:39

Kraszewski, Andrew P 25 M 3:55:23

Reiter, Lisa 34 F 3:55:24

Kasmarcak, Jeremie 26 F 3:58:30

Cordes, Jill L 38 F 3:58:58

Rogness, Jill C 26 F 4:02:39

Thomas, David 28 M 4:03:13

McKeon, Kevin 51 M 4:04:06

Maynard, Roger 46 M 4:05:34

Caruso, David 36 M 4:07:17

Benn, Bradlee A 33 M 4:07:59

Capece, Carol 30 F 4:25:24

Rajan, Sonali 25 F 4:27:24

Lucas, Chris 26 M 4:28:56

Gallagher, Mary Katharine 46 F 4:29:58

Roberts, Robin N 32 F 4:30:46

Lemus, Luisa F 31 F 4:31:24

Cesare, Patrick 45 M 4:32:43

Amori, Amy 30 F 4:33:21

Bullock, Amanda 24 F 4:34:55

Collier, Casey O 27 F 4:36:33

Dodge, Catherine M 30 F 4:38:56

Wille, Patrick J 31 M 4:38:57

Wharton, Emma 35 F 4:40:54

Antler, Ashley 28 F 4:43:29

Latoszek, Tadeusz 53 M 4:46:21

Zellmer, Stacie K 22 F 4:46:36

Breyer, Melissa 43 F 4:50:23

Bwerinofa, Rumbidzai 34 F 4:51:39

Felker, Brent T 34 M 4:53:16

Foster, Yvonne 27 F 4:53:43

Chattoraj, Kathleen A 37 F 4:54:14

Harker, Kristen M 25 F 4:55:33

Krissoff, Sarah R 30 F 4:56:34

Lee, Chang B 42 M 5:00:04

McCullough, Kat 26 F 5:06:18

Kravitz, Avi 30 M 5:08:07

Hanford, Daniel L 39 M 5:08:52

Ortiz, Carlos M 67 M 5:12:28

Bocker, Jennifer M 35 F 5:12:45

Rosenberg, Bryan 26 M 5:20:14

Ausmus, Brittany A 26 F 5:29:41

Koram, Antoinette 26 F 5:31:00

Lass, Randi 41 F 5:33:54

Leng, Jennifer 27 F 5:39:14

Farber, Seth J 45 M 5:41:49

Durka, Ralph 11 M 5:48:11

Ashok, Anu 27 F 6:20:50

Navarrete, Benjamin 60 M 6:31:59

Sunday, Kirk 32 M 6:46:29

Rizzo, Mike 39 M 6:51:16


Staten Island Draws 3,600

It was hot in Chicago and hot over on Staten Island, which attracted more than 3,600 runners in the year's final Half Marathon Grand Prix entry. Some Brooklyn performances of note:

* Taylor Delhagen, 23, of Brooklyn Road Runners finished fourth overall, and took top honors for Brooklyn with a 1:12:34.

* Beth St. John, 26, led the way for Brooklyn women, putting in a 1:26:02, good enough for second female. Sarah Foster, Emily Sanderson, Helen Dole and Sarah Scott also finished in the top 12, the last three members of the Prospect Park Track Club.

*Ezekiel Usher, 52, won his age group with a 1:25:39. Will Abrams, 51, finished just behind him with a 1:26:03, the top performance by a PPTC runner.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chicago Marathon Tracking

It's unlikely that we'll see the kind of hot, humid weather at the Chicago Marathon tomorrow that caused problems last year, with the forecast in the mid-60s and low-70s (though still a bit warm for my tastes.

To follow individuals, click here and sign up - you can have splits delivered to e-mail, pager or cell phone.

The race will also be broadcast on the Universal Sports network starting at 9 a.m., in case you're back from your morning run and aren't running the Staten Island Half, Bed-Stuy, or the host of other races in the area tomorrow.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Marathon Bus Reservations

For those of you running the NYC Marathon and not planning to trek into Manhattan for one of the NYRR buses (a somewhat slimy move by them, including that as part of the registration fee), PPTC is still running a marathon bus from Brooklyn and is taking reservations from non-members.

From the PPTC Web site: Non members will be considered after Sept. 26th on a first come first, served basis. Non member cost is $15.

For more info, e-mail:

Or mail: PPTC P.O. Box 150658 Van Brunt Station Brooklyn, NY 11215-0658

Unclear yet if there's a second Brooklyn bus out there - anyone know?

Support Your Candidate ... and Other Thoughts

** JackRabbit Sports has Obamathoner and McCainathoner T-shirts on sale for $20. Oddly, the one candidate on the ticket who does actually pay attention to running, Sarah Palin, doesn't have a shirt (though maybe they can make one from the New Yorker cover this week.)

** The Atlantic Antic is tomorrow (Sunday), which means Atlantic Ave. will be shut down for several blocks in Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn for part of the day - something to keep in mind as you're planning your runs, as it may be a hassle crossing against the massive stream of traffic.

** Don't forget the Miles for Midwives 5K in Prospect Park tomorrow at 10 a.m. Again, the weather should be great.

Cars in Prospect Park

If you haven't already seen, check out the latest on the move to restrict cars in Prospect Park (the idea that cars can drive in a park seems contradictory.)

I'm sympathetic to people who have to negotiate that part of Brooklyn by car - the few times I've driven there, I'll readily concede that it's a mess. But weighed against the greater good -- it's a park, people!, and residents of all ages use it -- I'm thinking that less cars, not more, is a good thing.

Huge caveat, I don't live in the areas around the park that would see an increase in traffic because of any changes to Prospect Park traffic. But maybe there's an alternative out there.

Anyone who lives in the potentially affected areas *and* runs/walks in the Park want to weigh in?

Running Movies Out on DVD

Just in time for the holidays, two of the running-related releases during the past year are making their way onto DVD.

"Spirit of the Marathon," about runners at the Chicago Marathon is being released on Oct. 7 (in Chicago Marathon week to boot).

Not to be outdone, "Run for Your Life," the Fred Lebow biopic, comes out Oct. 28 (and there's that New York race the following weekend ... what was it called?)

Wasn't able to catch either of them at the various theater screenings, so am eager to see how they turned out -both got great reviews.

My favorite running move of all time remains "Chariots of Fire" - and am glad that you can see it on demand on Netflix now. (My wife cringes at the music.) And for all the wonderful scenes in the film, my favorite remains the closing credits, when they are running along the beach -- that, for me, captures what the essence of running is.

Your favorites? And why? (And don't be shy - we've got holiday gifts to think of ...)

Hot Cider, Baby!

This, hands down, is my favorite time of the year.

Cooler temperatures, cross-country races galore -- and the Red Sox in the playoffs, crunching the opposition (I do feel sorry for Mets fans, who seem to have taken over the suffering that I had to experience before 2004).

It was the first night that we've really needed the blanket (and even the road crew idiots who decided to jackhammer street corners at midnight didn't spoil the night's sleep ... too much)

This morning's run: Crisp, 50s, smell of fall in the air, some leaves on the ground. And best of yet, after a 10-mile saunter that took us through Dumbo: Hot apple cider at the farmer's market at Grand Army Plaza. Awesome (even though I had to pay $1.50 today, rather than the $1 a year ago).

Oh, and did I mention: FOUR WEEKS TO THE NEW YORK MARATHON!!!!

Everyone getting psyched?! Even if you're not running that particular race, it's hard not to start getting excited.

A number of folk did a status check at today's Grete's Gallop in Central Park. And could these conditions be any more perfect? More than 3800 runners finished the race - the results are here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Random Numbers

Some numbers that came to mind during my morning run today ...

Number of people in Brooklyn Heights/Dumbo running at 5:45 p.m. in the AM: 10

Number of people wearing headphones: 5

Number of rats seen during my two-mile run (shudder): 6

Number of times I reconsidered running in Brooklyn Bridge Park, near the bushes: 7

Number of restaurants with a killer aroma at that time of the morning: 1 (the name is Almondine)

Number of years this blog has been publishing: 1

A thanks to all of you who take the time to read my occasional missives, and I hope that I've been able to help in some small way.

Onward with year 2 ...