Saturday, May 3, 2008

Pre-Race: Long Island Marathon.

It is time. To kick butt? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Originally, this was to be a full marathon and my first such marathon outside of New York. Injuries in Feb-Mar prevented it from becoming a reality. Perhaps I could try it? But without having had any long runs in several months (Like 16+), I'm not going to chance it.

My day started by going to a Holy Communion (photo above). I took a ton of pictures and felt like I was back in my old days of doing videos. Afterwards, we went to get my running number. The Mitchell Athletic Complex was a lot emptier this year than last. I changed my entry to a half-marathon (awh shucks), and decided to do a little shopping. With all the stuff I already owned, it was no surprise that I came out with just a couple of pairs of socks. Truthfully, shorts would have been nice, but everything was either small (not there yet) or extra large (hopefully will never be there again!).

Ileana, surprise surprise, bought some nice running outfits. She's been begging me to train her. I thought I was, but perhaps I need to be a little more intense, so I am going to try morning sessions starting this Monday. By the way, the Long Island Marathon is very symbolic because it kicks off my 6 month training for the NYC Marathon. So Monday it is.

Today's number pickup would have been blaise had it not been for something amazing. I've written blogs about Dominic who was the owner of the Quantuum Running Shop in Queens. I've also written about Jose Aguirre, the 60-year old phenom, who works at the Super Runners Shop at Grand Central Station in NY. And then, while I did not write about him, Gary Muhrcke, who is not only the founder of the Super Runner's Shop, but is also the 1st ever NYC Marathon winner (back in 1970), and who was in the movie about Fred Lebow.....was on hand. In fact, they were all on hand. And they were all together in the same booth. It was an overwhelming experience for me. I've spoke to both Dominic & Jose separately and did not know that they knew one another. But when I saw Gary, that was definitely a moment that will be cherished forever.
Here are a few pictures of us below:

A little bit about each of these men. From the left is Dominic who had previously owned the Quantuum Runners Shop in Fresh Meadows, NY. He now owns a New Balance Store in Huntington, not far from where I work. I used to run with his running club too on Tuesdays. Dominic sometimes would keep pace with us on bike. I think he once mentioned to me that if I can outrun his biking, that that was a true test of being speedy!

Julio Aguirre second from the left, is a true modern-day senior phenom. Go to the website and click on Member Results on the tab on the left. Then enter his name in. What you will see it utterly spectacular. Just last year alone he won 19 races and placed 2nd in 4 others in his age category. Since 1992, he ran in over 400 races and has won in his age category over 200 times. When I worked at MCI at Lex in NYC, I used to visit the Super Runner's Shop frequently. Whenever I saw him there, we always had a great conversation over any arbitrary question. So today was no exception. I asked him whether he was a morning or a night runner. He told me he runs all the time, any time, and in any weather. He told me that he runs when the snow is to the top of his calves (as he pointed there on his legs). When I asked him about how much I would love to have the gift that he has, he cited speed work. Speed work is vital. Looks like I will be going to the track soon!

Now for Gary Muhrcke. The gentleman standing next to me. Gary is a legend. The man won the NYC Marathon in its very first year in 1970. The Marathon then consisted of several loops around the Park Drive of Central Park. There were 127 competitors. There were only 100 spectators. With all of its hills, it was easy to see how only 55 runners (less than half) crossed the finish line. Gary led the way and won the race in 2:31:38. To put this into better perspective.....My fastest race ever was the Stroh's Liberty Run on May 25, 1985. The race was 3.1 miles (5k). My average pace was 6:02 per mile. I was 20 years old. The race course was mostly flat. At the age of 30, Gary ran nearly 9 times farther than me (26.2 miles), over non-stop hills, with sub-standard running gear, no crowd support, and he did all of this at a pace of 5:48. Incredible!!!

Nearly as incredible is the story about how Super Runner's Shop was founded. In 1976, at the age of 36, Gary Muhrcke, started to sell running shoes. He did this from the back of a van! He was a firefighter, but his love had always been running. Both he and his wife Jane, are still the #1 providers of the most comprehensive line of runner's footwear and gear this side of the Hudson.

If you didn't before, now you know now the honor it was to see them all together under one roof. And as far as I am concerned, the photo op with them was the cherry on the cake.

After we finished up, we headed up for the NY Ravioli factory to get pasta. We were going to eat them tonight, but when you are very close to Umberto's in New Hyde Park, you've just got to stop in, say hi.....and stuff your face!

Going to bed now.....My 1:44:58 at the LI Half is my distance and course PR. I hope I can do well tomorrow!

1 comment:

DebbieJRT said...

knock'em dead tomorrow, Alex!!!