Sunday, June 8, 2008

23 years, 2 weeks, 5 days and 1.5 hours later.....

New York City is known for having unbearably hot and humid summer days. It's interesting when you think about it. On the map, the city is on the 40th parallel. You would never think that we could compete with high temperatures with cities the likes of even say, Miami. Yet even here, and even now, 2 weeks before the Summer has even started, we're all melting from the torrid sun and the unbearable humidity.

Runners are about the nicest group of people that you can find on the Earth. We run for charities, and are always friendly and willing to help anyone out. I can't think of any enemies that we might have, sans one. And that's the same entity that can also be our best friend too. And that's "Mother Nature"

The temperature reached 96 degrees today. With the humidity also being excessively high, the 'real feel' temperature was 105. A record.

Today was also Quantum's 9th Annual Road Race. I don't even know Dominic's last name, but this is his run. Dominic's one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He now owns a running store in Huntington, Long Island. I think it's a New Balance store, which I also think he co-owns with legendary Marathoner Gary Muhrcke (see my LI 1/2 Marathon pre-race blog, pictures of both of them at the expo).

Now, I am sure Dominic had wanted more than the 119 people that ran. A local race with close to, or over 200 people, is usually a success. But since Mother Nature did not coooperate, it was a good sized race, all things considered.

In fact, the mercury reading on NY1 this morning at 6am read 82 degrees already. By race time, it was 87. That was one degree shy of the hottest race I ever ran in, the Nike Run Hit Wonder in Aug '05.

No matter though. Most of the hardcore runners showed up. Bonnie, Pauline and Carol, who had braved Mother Nature's "mini-wrath" yesterday in Central Park, decided they wanted a second helping of even more heat today. I gotta hand it to them. Two races in two days. And with all this oppresive heat too. Now that's what I call showing some cohones!

Team Forest Park: (from left) Brian, Jack, Pauline, Carol, Scott, Alex, Bonnie, and newest member Stella! Frank Gerrity was also onhand. He videotaped us. Frank, if you see this, let me borrow that flash card and I'll upload it on YouTube for our website!!!

The other groups were there as well. There was the usual healthy showing from the Alley Pond Striders. In fact their Prez, "POTAPS", was there too. And just like our President, who does a great job at supporting his peeps, Gerry does an admirable job too, I must admit.

But let's cut to the chase, shall we? I suck in the heat. My average times go up by over a minute, whenever the temperature is over 70 degrees. Want examples? Okay. You got it. Nike Run Hit 2004. It was 84 degrees. My pace for that 10k, was 9:44. The 2006 NYMets Run To Home Plate. It was 81 degrees. Pace? 8 minutes 31 seconds per mile. And last year at the Long Beach Memorial 10 Miler, I completely collapsed and had to walk 2 of the last 3 miles. Pace? 10 minutes, 47 seconds.

I don't know why I ran today really. Perhaps I didn't want to let my team down, or maybe it was just that I was sick and tired of always bowing out of races because of "Mother Nature".
Either way, I was actually preparing for this race all this past week, with the hopes that the 'weatherquacks' would be wrong again. Not this time though. They were dead on with their forecast

Lisa Gonzalez (left), of Quantum helping out. Umm...No relation, I think.....

Today, I dressed up like a clown. I had the lightest pair of running shorts I had in my arsenal. The American Flag ones. Eeeghad! Between that, my sunglasses, and the blue head 'Buff' I had under my Nike Dry Fit (which made me look like some retarded camel jockey), I think I definitely stood out from everyone else. Scott told me not to worry about looking ridiculous however, because he said that I look ridiculous even before I put all that stuff on. Must have been the haircut. Jack, who also noticed my hair, added to the jocularity by telling me that it's a good thing I got that cut AFTER the women's mini race yesterday, or else they would have turned around and ran the other way. LOL.

Kids sing the National Anthem just moments before the start of the race.

If there was anything that I remembered from my amazing run last year at JFK, it was that I needed to run around a little bit before the race, to get my blood pumping. Kissena Park has a lot of nice soft grass, which made the exercising easy. Smooth, easy-listening tunes from the likes of Korn, Rob Base, and Daft Punk didn't hurt either....

Alex at the starting line.

Alex & his silly getup.

The race started a few minutes after 9. Scott and I had talked about doing an average of about 7:45 per mile. At least that was the plan, anyway. I mentioned to Scott about lineup placement, because all too often, I've seen races, especially short ones, go down the drain for me, simply because of being too far back in the pack at the start. Then again, there were only 120 people. Then again, I am a lunatic.

Start of the race. Sort of like the BQE without the vehicles.

Scott J. Siegel: MLRM (Mean Lean Running Machine)

The guy's airhorn didn't work. So, he just yelled "Go", and off we went. Here are pictures of the race and of the team. You'll see them all in this blog.

The whole course was in Kissena Park, cool, but the first part of the run was over pavement that was broken in several places. Scott ran to my left so that he could see our pace off my Garmin. I think we were running a bit fast though. After a quarter-mile we were running 6:36. After 8/10ths, it was 6:51. We both did the first mile in 7:06.31. Awesome, right? Mother Nature who, right??

And they are off. No not the Belmont. But at least I hope I am Da'Tara and not Big Brown!

Team Forest Park (from left): Scott, Alex, Jack, and Bonnie

I still don't know where the hell I ran around. All I remember was some tennis courts, a big lake, and then a steep downhill, a small mini turn and back to do it all over again. Here's a picture of me at the half-way mark:

It was after the half-way mark however, that the huffing and puffing became noticeable to everyone in the 11365 zip code. Shit! I start sounding like Jimmy Connors during a fifth set at the US Open. Grunt after grunt, snarl after snarl, it was clearly obvious, that I was gasping for air. The heat had taken over me like a virus. I was like a car with a busted thermometer. Overheated and out-of-control!

Our Prez crossing the half-way mark, and with good reason for being upbeat.

Carol at the halfway mark. She's going so fast, the photo is all blurred!

Mary cheers on as Bonnie happily crosses the half-way point.

Pauline shows the "peace" sign as her "feets o' fury" are burying the competition!

Scott meantime, deciding logically, that I was out of control, just let me go ahead. I guess I was like a hamster on a wheel, I just didn't know when to slow down. Steve Prefontane ran like this everytime. Man he must have had a good stomach for this! I ran as hard as I could, with no regard to my internals. Bad. Stupid. Bahhhh!

But alas, there may have been a reason for it after all. Remember Alley Pond Classic? I'll spare you the extra sauce, and just give you this first ->
My oh my....Robert Rossen....You showed up!

Just as I was dying, ready to rip the Buff that somehow was holding my fried brains in under my cap, Rob, in his amazing style, suddenly appeared in my rear view window. He did this at Alley Pond, and here he was again, to stick the fork in me. Me=Dead Meat ready for placing on a nice Pier 1 Import plate.

Francisco Martinez, 38, wins the race by breaking the tape in 17:06.2. Nice!

Rob is an excellent runner. He beat me but good in Alley Pond. Now I had to compete not only with Mother Nature but him as well. Ugh.

When I saw him passing me at around the 2 mile mark, I almost did a double take. I could not believe it was him. As dead as I was, something deep down inside (perhaps it was that dirty P word-Pride?), brought me back to life, if only for a little while longer. I guess I was afraid that any chance I had at a trophy was going to go to hell if I let Rob stay ahead. Another repeat of Alley Pond. I didn't know if I was even 1st, 2nd, 3rd or beyond, but it did not matter, I had to do something about it.

With all the force I could muster, I just dug in as hard as I could. I couldn't even feel my neck baking anymore, because by now, the dizzyness had set in, along with the nausea. I would not allow my feelings of fatigue and anguish take over however. "Refuse to lose!", as the old saying goes...

I pulled ahead of Rob, but against conventional wisdom, I actually did look back a few times. I remember having done this the last time, and he caught up a 2nd time and passed me for good back at Alley Pond. Maybe he will again. But at least not for today, I had hoped.

But, and as I later would find out from him, Rob wasn't feeling so hot for the race and was not on his "A" game. So, fortunately, I was able to stay ahead of this worthy runner, finishing up at just shy of 23:00 minutes. A 7:25 pace in the end. By far, the best hot weathered run I've ever had in my either of my lives as a runner (both now, and as a young adult).

Crumbling towards the finish!

Diggin' hard....

Man, I was definitely grunting here.....

"This ain't no party, This ain't no disco, This ain't no foolin' around!"

Right after finishing, I can't recall what happened during the next series of events. Truth is, I was hurting so bad, that I seconds from passing out. I was contemplating not bringing this up on my blog, but since I'm brutally honest about practically everything, it's only fair to bring this next interesting note up. According to Ileana, who took photos of all of us crossing the finish line, she said that after I crossed the finish, that I wobbled around and found a tree not too far from there finish. And there, I relieved myself (number 1). I honestly don't even remember this. And that's pretty frightening because I was still standing and had not blacked out. But that should give you a sense of how wiped I was. I was like in a zombie state. George Romero would have taken me in his next Dead movie, no questions asked. Come to think of it, I do remember losing some control (of my bladder?)...OMG..... Jack blasts across the finish line!

Brian gracefully crossing the finish line.

Pauline storms across the end for a third place finish in Females 40-44.

Carol huffs and puffs toward a well-deserved finish!

When I got to the grassy area by the staging area, I basically grabbed some water, a banana and a bagel. I poured the water all over my body. Ahh good. But I still was hurting. I repeated this process over and over. I think I must have emptied like 10 bottles of water over me. Even after everyone had finished, I was still not right. I felt excessively lightheaded, and my upper stomach felt horrible. In fact, I think I would have booted if I wasn't so weak to perform the service. Glad I didn't though. Not a nice visual (as if the tree thing I mentioned before I actually laid down for a few seconds, but that made it worse, so I got back up. And stayed up until I began to recuperate. I actually took some salt with me from home, and it worked wonders.

About 20 minutes or so after the race had ended, I finally got enough energy to make it over to the final results. I saw my name and then I saw 4th place. 'Here we go again' I thought. 'Will I ever make it out of 4th?'. But then I refocused my dilapidated vision, and I saw something that I have not seen in 23 years, 2 weeks, 5 days and 1.5 hours. And that was that I was about to win a trophy because I had actually finished in 3rd place.

I didn't even bother looking at the rest of the list, because I was growing feint again. My body was really on thin ice (or perhaps, hot coals, the more appropriate comparison). I walked back to our group on the grass. They were talking about the Fame diner. "Cool. We can go there", I thought. Ileana saw the smile on my face and told everyone that I was feeling better. Well I was happy. But I still felt like shit.

It took awhile for me to find Ileana, after I had finished. I had not realized that she was still taking pictures. Again, the room was spinning. I also couldn't find Rob, and was almost beginning to think that the heat made me hallucinate. He actually found me later on during the ceremonies, so I guess I wasn't that far gone. LOL.

The winning women (from left):
1st Place:Theresa Juva, 24, of the Alley Pond Striders (23:22)
2nd Place:Fran Kraus-Schmidt, 52, of Oceanside, NY (25:02)
3rd Place:Christina Reinle, 27, of Bellerose, NY (24:06)

Now, I am going to try to not be immodest about this (and if I have been, then I apologize). So rather than give you any rah-rah about how great it is to have acquired some hardware at today's race, I am just going to include a few photos, and finish off with saying that, for me, running a good race is special, but running it with good friends is extra special. The only reason why I have been gunning so hard for hardware is because I just wanted to relive, if only for a brief moment, the excitement of winning something, the way I did when I was younger and had the 'gift'.

Then: Gunning (and smiling) towards the finish at the Stroh's Liberty Run, May 25, 1985. Not only did I finish 3rd, but with a time of 18:43 (pace 6:02), I came in 28th overall for what was the fastest race I have ever run. It was the last time I had won a trophy too.

Now: Me (left) collecting performance-based hardware for the first time in 23 years. Wow!


Bad news: My Nike Dri-Fit cap got clipped. Took it off my head, and left it somewhere in the park after the finish. Now it is Gone Baby, Gone. Oh well, cap for a trophy? Sure, why not?! :-)

Jack was unable to attend, but the rest of us capped off the race, with a nice breakfast at the Fame Diner, across from St. John's.

My next race is a NYRR sponsored race. It's the WABC Father's Day 5 Mile Fight Against Prostate Cancer Run, another fine charitable reason for running. My 10 year old is signed up and she is going to do the Kids Race. I'm always excited to see her run, and am really looking forward to a lot of fun.

After that, I really don't have a lot of races in the horizon. My lottery entry to run in the NYC Half was a dud, so my next race is the Corporate Challenge in Jones Beach on the 29th of July.

This is okay though, because I need to start focusing on longer training runs anyway. I may start venturing out to other areas, like I did last year. Scott mentioned about possibly being able to do a run from his home in the Rockaways through to the Belt Pkwy (along the water) and finishing off after the VZ bridge. There's also a 14.2 Mile training run in Manhattan on the Aug. 31st that starts at 7:30 in the morning. I may do that one. They give out medals. Mmmmm....Medals....


Carboman said...

hey there! i've added your blog to my NYCM blog. It's at

Good luck in your training!

DGA said...