Friday, July 31, 2009

Aug. 25 Race to Support One of Our Own

Add this to your calendar among the many worthy races this summer and fall to raise funds for folk and charities: A JackRabbit employee, Greg Hamilton, is battling testicular cancer, and the store is coordinating a fund-raising race on Aug. 25 in Prospect Park to defray the mountain of expenses that aren't covered by insurance. Volunteers are also needed for the race, which runs on the sidewalks and trails of the park, rather than the traditional loop.

From an e-mail I got today:

"Greg Hamilton was diagnosed with testicular cancer in June of 2009. The cancer has spread, so he is currently undergoing four months of chemotherapy, and if that is not successful he intends to undergo major surgery to remove the cancer from every part of his body. Before the diagnosis he was training to run his first Ultramarathon, a 50 miler. Now, between the disease and the chemo, he struggles to climb the stairs to his apartment. His dream of joining the FDNY has been put on hold while he focuses all of his energy on getting better.

Greg is 22 years old, and has worked at JackRabbit since he arrived in NYC almost two years ago. As an assistant manager first in the Union Sq store and now in the Brooklyn store, Greg has helped thousands of people start running, get faster, and reach their goals. This is our opportunity to give back for all the support he’s given us over the years. "

Monday, July 27, 2009

Six Weeks Until the End of Summer

How the heck did this creep up so fast?

Six weeks from tonight, we'll be savoring the last bit of the Labor Day barbecue (or more likely, stuck in traffic in Connecticut or New Jersey). Yes, summer stretches on for a couple of more weeks, but some may already be in school.

Excluding tonight (and I already have, after walking outside from work and going "ewww, it's humid, let's get some ice cream"), there's six solid weeks of training, starting tomorrow and finishing up with a long run on Labor Day (or maybe the New Haven 20K?). 42 days of sweat, sweat, sweat.

Or, to put it more positively: 6 weeks of base building to gear you for that key summer race, whether it be the New York Marathon or the Fifth Avenue Mile.

So let's pound out some second-half-of-summer plans, shall we? Vacations always muck up some plans if you're in Greater New York, but let me toss out these as some delightful possibilities.

-- Race over the Brooklyn Bridge (if not on Aug. 2, then on another 5 a.m. morning when no one is there).

-- Get your cross-country legs on by traveling up to Van Cortlandt Park. The last two races in the VCTC series are July 30 and Aug. 13.

-- Smash your 5K record in Prospect Park. Aug. 5 and 19 are the last two races in this series, but September has plenty more.

-- Try a long run you've never done before. Search here at the USATF site to get some ideas.

-- Even better: See how many New York City bridges you can bag in one run.

-- Plot your vacation, and then reach out to the local running club to meet them for a run. (If you've never do this, it's worth it - guess what? Runners from Boston are just like runners from New York!)

-- Take the ferry out to Governor's Island.

-- Go for a run on the trails of Rockefeller State Park, or for a more challenging day, head up to Bear Mountain (easily accessible by bus or MetroNorth)

-- Go for a run at night when there's a full moon.

-- Hook up with the New York chapter of the Hash House Harriers.

Ackk, I'm running out of time. So let me hear from you - what do you want to do.

And of course, for inspiration ....

*** This version UPDATES and CORRECTS a previous mention about the starting day for New York students. One would think I'd know this ... geesh ... ***

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Youth Running Program

Registration for the Prospect Park Youth Running Club is open, with the next opportunity on Wednesday, July 29, at Bishop Ford.

The program is in its second year, for boys and girls age 6-13, and run by Sean Rice. According to an e-mail describing the club:

The goal ``is to offer the young boys and girls of Brooklyn an opportunity to experience the fitness benefits, joys of competition, and team unity of Cross Country and Long Distance Running through an education-based program. The participants of the program will have the opportunity to receive sport specific instruction from accomplished coaches and athletes in our community. The level of each athlete will be taken into consideration as we develop an individualized training and performance plan for the season. "

Some pretty awesome photos of kids smiling as they receive trophies from their efforts in cross-country and track!

Hot, Hot, Hot

OK, admittedly it could be a lot worse. But it's dang hot in the sun out there today, and the forecast is for more of the same over at least the next 10 days. Certainly beats the rainy June that we had.

That said, a reminder as always to be careful and be prepared for the heat.

My long run today - which started unexpectedly at the Atlantic terminal because of the track work on the 2, 3 and 4 - was a relatively simple dash from Grand Army Plaza, over the Brooklyn Bridge, around Battery Park and back. With the run down Flatbush beforehand to meet some friends on time, it totaled about 12.5 miles. There was plenty of water along the way, specifically at Cadman Plaza Park, City Hall Park, Battery Park (Park generally equals water fountain, thought not all the time). And I still lost four pounds.

As much as I liked the scale reading (and I refrained from jumping on the Wii to get scolded by the Fitness program), the rest of my day was pretty much shot as I battled fatigue and chugged Gatorade.

Anyway, today's route ...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mmm, Free Gu ....

Back in the days, runners would be enticed by free beer. (One race shelled out a free half-gallon jug of pale ale ... to all ages! Heaven for a 16-year-old!)

But, it being the 2000s, we should be happy with what we can get. Including, that's right, free Gu, if you train in Prospect Park or Central Park at certain times and are spotted wearing some JackRabbit clothing.

The announcement from the JackRabbit Web site:

"... Anyone wearing the JackRabbit bunny - be it on a shirt, hat, backpack, sweatband in Central Park or Prospect Park will receive free Gu!

Starting this Sunday, July 19th and almost every weekend leading up to the NYC Marathon we will provide complimentary GU to anyone in the park between 9am and 12noon. We will be stationed at Engineers Gate in Central Park and on West Drive at the park entrance at Garfield Place.

Also, we've created a special technical JackRabbit NYC 'Skyline' Brooks shirt just for these supported runs. They're available at any of our JackRabbit locations and are just $5.

We'll be in Prospect Park every Sunday beginning July 19th and the following Sundays in Central Park:

July 19 Support, July 26 NO, August 2 Support, August 9 Support, August 16 NO, August 23 Support, August 30 Support, September 6 Support, September 13 Support, September 20 Support, September 27 NO, October 4 Support, October 11 Support, October 18 Support, October 25 NO."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Morning Tidbits

Results from the PPTC Speed Series #4 are here. The next one is July 22.

Registration for the Central Park 4-Miler on July 18 has closed, though the kids races are still open.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Long Island Running

For those of you lucky enough to have a place out on Long Island this summer, there are plenty of opportunities for local races.

Three places to check out:

The USATF-LI event calendar calendar

Greater Long Island Running Club calendar

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How'd Your Run Go Today?

It's a simple, innocuous question, and I usually answer it with the same stock answer. "Fine." It's not like anything ever happens on these daily runs ... or does it?

Think about it.

Getting outside and pounding out the mileage has the added benefit of seeing things that you might not ordinarily see, and certainly experience things not found sitting on the living room couch. It's not the exceptional all the time, obviously (though I have seen what purportedly was a dead body) ... but it's still enough to make me want to head out the door the following day. It's those little details.

And it helps to have fun people to run with.

The route of today's run isn't anything particularly special. From Grand Army Plaza, out to the Green-Wood Cemetery, around clockwise, back to Prospect Park to complete the loop, then on to Brooklyn Heights. About 10.5-11 miles, or thereabouts - not at an incredibly fast pace either, but then, it didn't need to be.

But, some of the run highlights:

-- a dead raccoon (blech)

-- almost getting smooshed by an MTA bus pulling out of the bus yard (thank you kind driver for stopping in time)

-- high-fiving a teenager who, along with his friend, looked like he was coming back from a party where he inadvertently fell asleep at 4 a.m. and was just getting home

-- a lively discussion about whether Michael Jackson was in fact buried in Green-Wood (a significant portion of my friends and colleagues are entertaining the prospect that he's not dead)

-- a helpful chat with a park worker at Smith and President about the time the park sprinklers would be turned on (apparently 80 degrees is a key temperature).

My friend at What You Do Not Know Because You Are Not Me often regales me with his running adventures. Since some of his runs are a lot longer, he sees a lot more.

Anyway, here's today's route.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quick Update

Long week on the work front. But I've raced twice in the past 7 days - in Staten Island and in the Prospect Park speed series (no results yet), so no complaints. Definitely starting to see some of the summer doldrums -- even some of my favorite blogs aren't being updated frequently (ohh, wait, pot calling the kettle black, I guess.)

This weekend, the NYRR has one of their supported long-distance runs, ranging from 6 to 20 miles in Central Park. These runs are especially great if you don't have anyone to do long runs with and/or want to set a certain pace. These are a little earlier in the season than previous years, though there are plenty of halfs (or longer) to help in your marathon preparation. I seem to recall paying $5 to $7 for them - if you haven't signed up, though, it'll cost you $15 for race-day registration (and you don't even get a T-shirt!) The next one is Aug. 1.

There's also a race in Central Park on Saturday, a 5K, for those interested.

Here's an admittedly incomplete list of some upcoming races:

July 11, Ladder 5 5K, (XC) Staten Island

July 14, Party with a Package 5K, Hoboken, NJ

July 16, VCTC Cross-Country 5K, Van Cortlandt

July 18, Run for Central Park, 4M, Central Park

July 22, Al Gordon Speed Series, 5K, Prospect Park

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Endurance Challenges

You think running a 20-mile workout is tough ...

Consider the The Death Race from today's New York Times... and a report from the Western States 100 (canceled last year because of fire, back in its full glory this year). The second is a great read because it gives a sense of what ultrarunning is all about, both the good and the bad.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ohh, The Places I Haven't Seen

Sometimes, you (I) just need a wakeup call. Such as ... one of the fundamental reasons for running:

To explore places that you haven't seen.

In looking back at my running log over the past few months, I've noticed a distinct lack of new places. A lot of Brooklyn Bridge/Prospect Park/treadmill adventures. Not a lot else. Close to, though not quite, a running exploration rut.

So this past weekend was a refreshing splash in the face of doing things that weren't par for the course. Forgive me for this occasional personal interjection into the blog, since it raises an important lesson for me (and perhaps for you as well).

Saturday: Pepper Martin 5-Mile Race in Staten Island.

Let me say: What a friggin' fantastic local race (results are here). This is the perfect example of a community-supported road race (dozens of which take place in Greater New York every year that don't involve loops of Central Park).

This isn't meant to be a diss at New York Road Runners. The amount of races and support they offer, whether it's in Central Park or somewhere in the boroughs, is wonderful. But there are a ton of differences. And we/you/I need to appreciate what else is out there.

Some highlights:

-- The pre-race setup. No having to get into corrals. Or be in line for the race 15 minutes (or more) before the start. This was a fun local race. Yes, a pain to get to - I had a ride, though you could take the Staten Island Ferry and a bus - but well worth the effort.

-- The course. I knew there would be hills (it goes up Forest Avenue to a park, loops around it, then heads down). Knowledge and actually running them are two vastly different things. I'm sure I could find hills like this in Brooklyn - though it reminded me more of the Harlem Hills in Central Park (or those coming off the water near the George Washington Bridge). I didn't have a chance to even drive the course beforehand. Sur ... prise! There's a reason why my mile splits for miles 2 and 4 differed by a solid minute, even as I hit my goal race time.

-- The volunteers. Except for part of the course in the park, where no water stops were allowed, there were water stops, it seemed, every half mile. Small cups, half of which went on my head, half of which I tried to ingest on the fly. Thank you to all, including the kid with the Red Sox cap I inadvertantly almost tomahawked as I tried to get the cup from him.

-- The post-race setup. Bagels, watermelon and grilled hot dogs (I managed to eat two, including one before 10 a.m. I'm not Joey Chestnut). Mmm. Mmm.

-- The awards ceremony. Endless, because there the age-grade categories were in five-year splits, and they gave out tons of trophies. Awesome.

This race had more than 500 people finish. I shudder to think what would happen if it topped 1,000, given the resources and the wonderful volunteers. (No race chips. Shocking). But the uniqueness completely tops a lot of the cookie-cutter stuff we're all getting accustomed to. It's worth thinking about before we resume the grind to get the 9 New York Marathon qualifying races.

Sunday: 7 1/4 miles, including a trip to Ft. Greene Park.

Today was supposed to be a recovery run. In fact, if my balky knee was complaining, I was pretty sure I'd be spending it inside in a low-key workout in the gym. Thankfully my running friends convinced me otherwise.

Part 1 of the run was spent in Prospect Park, very specifically doing a loop that included the trail part of the loop (no, you can't run the entire park by stepping off the curve, and you most definitely have to watch out for the horses, but worth doing).

Part 2 involved a run down Vanderbilt, ultimately reaching Fort Greene Park. And then, after a loop there, heading down Fulton to get back into Brooklyn Heights.

What was notable here was the second part of the loop. I've been so ingrained into heading to Prospect Park taking a very traditional route (Court to Union, or Clinton to Carroll/President), I've neglected other routes. I walk down Fulton all the time, especially on trips to Macy's (please bring back the fireworks to Brooklyn). I didn't quite think about extending that into a run that heads elsewhere, and hitting a park that, with a nice variation of hills and trails, is a worthy addition to the running route list.

I'm posting a map, that, while most likely not the exact route I ran, is a good example from the park ...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Five-Mile Festivities on the Fourth

The best way to honor America's birthday? Try a road race. The 31st annual Pepper Martin race takes place on Staten Island in the West Brighton neighborhood - the five-mile race starts at 9 a.m.

Directions are on the application. For those of us without cars, you can get there by taking the Staten Island Ferry and the S48 bus.

Results from last year's race, courtesy of Staten Island Runner, are here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Training Season Arrives

And of course, it's raining. Again.

While you have the work week start of summer (Memorial Day), the official start of summer (June 21) and the end of school start of summer (for New York public schools it was June 26), the Fourth of July weekend generally means to me that it's time to kick it in for summer training.

For some of you, it's going to mean targeting some specific summer races. For others (including myself), it means scaling back and getting our bodies ready for the fall road races/cross-country/marathon season - or some combination.

I look at the next two months as getting the body strong. Working out the muscles we might not have previously. Getting the solid distance base in, with minimal speed. Doing some plyometric workouts at the forgiving Cadman Plaza park's artificial turf. Running hills off the East River. Using the local gyms (and, dare I say it, the Wii Fit) to tone the body.

I've been playing around with the different races upcoming on my personal calendar (and I'll help you do this with a posting of some races for the next half of the year this weekend). But it's time to figure out what I (you) want to do, and start planning out the workouts, and the races. The New York Marathon is less than 18 weeks away


Oh, I forgot, I'm most likely running Philadelphia, less than 21 weeks away


OK, enough whining. The rain has stopped for now. And doubtless we'll get some of that heat and humidity. Nine weeks (10 weekends) sit ahead of us to get some quality runs in. I'm going to use the Fort Hamilton/Prospect Park/Van Cortlandt speed series. I'm going to head out to the track in Red Hook for some workouts. I'm going to plot out some nice long distance runs to explore parts of Brooklyn I've never seen. I will run over a lot of bridges, and complain about the water fountains that aren't working ... or simply aren't there.

And hopefully take some of you along with me for the ride.

Let's get started.

(Err, after I deal with the burning smell on the kitchen stove.)