Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: The Year In Review.

So as it began in January with a so-so performance at the Lebow Classic, it continued with another frustrating outing at the Bronx Half in February. The year was gearing up to be a mediocre sweat fest and a forgettable one at that.

March started off a little hopeful when I set a personal course record at the always frigid Coogan’s Run…And yet all I could (and still think of) was that 7-year old kid that beat me.

I went to my first ever NYRR club night, and the very next day (March 8th) was my first run with my first-ever local club, the Forest Park Road Runners. From that point onward, there would be a lot of friends and wonderful memories made, such as the events (not all even running-related) that I would be a part of.

Of course, there is more to this story which was the next day (March 9th) and where really the story of the year kicks off.

Still overweight and all, I somehow managed to put a big hurt on the 15K Colon Cancer run, and shattered my record for a 15k by nearly 5 minutes.

This trend continued. On April 18th, and at the TGL Classic, I set a course record for the 4miler by posting a time of 29:23 for a pace of 7:20. Not surprising, since I had logged over 200 miles in training in that month alone. I was tearing up the roads, the track, the trails, the everything. Maybe this is why on April 28th, I not only did a personal record in the 5 mile with a pace of 7:23, but it was also nearly 5 minutes faster than my previous record. The only blemish to the Alley Pond race was the fact that I was outsprinted in the final mile and lost a 3rd place trophy. Considering that it was raining fairly hard, this was some accomplishment for me. More to come however…..

May started off with a furious assault. The Long Island Half-Marathon, known for it’s fast and flat (yet sometimes boring) racepath, had been the source of PR’s for me in the last few years. This time around, I obliterated my record. Posting not only a personal record for the half-marathon, but my time of 1:43:52 seconds would prove to be a major accomplishment since that gave me my first ever sub-8 minute per mile half-marathon.
In fact, I had ran the last 4 miles at an average pace of 7:39 per minute.

By now, I had logged nearly 800 miles. Within my distances were several new runs, such as the Reservoir Loop around Central Park. Yep. I had never done that before, believe it or not.

In addition to running, I also helped out at our club’s own race in Forest Park that month. I was a course marshall, but I also was taking pictures of everyone too as they ran by. Then of course, there were the non-running events that took place in my life this year.
Too numerous to mention, and perhaps too private as well. I will say this though, 5 rock concerts in one year ain’t too shabby.
May also marked my first ever, out of state race. In fact, it was my first ever international run, The Ottawa Half Marathon. A gorgeous course, and great fans, marred only by the fact that I had little sleep, and more booze than I cared to admit. This would be the last race, where I would ever neglect my sandman again (well, almost!)

June was a complete knockout punch on the roads. I had 4 straight weeks of 50 miles or more. I fulfilled my obligation by participating as a course marshall for the woman’s only mini-marathon. However, it was the next day, June 8th where I would accomplish a feat I had not done in 23 year: A 3rd place trophy finish at the Quantuum Feet 5K run.
I thought I would die after the run though, as I nearly blacked out, and actually peed on myself near a tree after the finish line.

This month also marked the month where my rotating sneaker logo caused a stir amongst those who felt that they were going in the wrong direction. And again I say, wha??????

I started July with a 16 miler in Port Washington as well. On July 13th, I did my best 10k ever (if we discount my teenage days). I posted a final of 48:40 for a pace of 7:50 and came in the top 16.7% of the entire race.

I was not chosen for the Nike NYC Half but came back from Connecticut on the 27th to see my friends run. The images of that one runner laying on his back completely unconscious just 100 yards from the finish still haunts me!

At 80 degrees, that’s exactly what I thought would’ve happened to me at the Corporate Challenge run at Jones Beach. Instead, and AGAIN, I shattered my personal record for that distance by running it in 25:11 for an unbelievable pace of 7:12. Only my 6:40 pace at the JFK 5K run the year before would be better. Our company did not win anything, but I did come in 1st place, and was featured in the online company newsletter. Unfortunately the “heavy hitters” were not running today, so I have to wait to prove myself next year…..

August was a complete tumult of events. Most people would just look to survive, and yet I somehow managed to thrive.

One non-running event that is too big to overlook had been my decision to move from Kew Gardens to Long Island. I spent 2 weeks housesitting for a fellow club member who was vacationing with her children in California. During that period of time….
I did a 20 mile run across 4 beaches, and in 80 degree weather, no less, with my buddy Scott. I was hurtin’, but I did it. This was followed by a 90 minute session of Bikram (hot, 107 degree Yoga). I thought I would die, but did not.

The true test of the entire year might instead have been the last weekend in August.
I started August 29th nice and early in the AM. I go to pick up Scott and before long we are hoisting 130 boxes plus furniture from a storage facility to a moving van, and from a moving van to my new apartment. I did not finish until 11pm, after I took Scott home and came back to collapse in my dark and hot apartment. Thank God I didn’t have any races the next day......But I did have 2 races on Sunday.

This would be the first, and perhaps the last time I ever do this. Move, and then less than 30 hours later, run 2 races. The first race was the Manhattan 14.2 run. It was from the most northern tip of Manhattan to the most southern tip. A few hours after I finished that run, I was headed back towards the city to Randalls Island, where we would be running the Nike Human Run. It was the worst organized race ever. And yet……
I got a personal record for the 10k (second time this year for this distance). Not only did I get a PR, I obliterated my last personal best. My time? 46:52. For a pace of 7:33 per mile. That is how I finished up my month of August. And then I went to work the next day.

September was a month of new awakenings, and new roads to run over, now that I was an “long guy-lander” and all. On September 21st, I traveled to Philadephia for their Half-Marathon Distance Run. Amidst the threats from Philly Fans, and caloric overloads from their cheesesteaks, I managed to again break another record this year. The Sub-8 Half Marathon in Long Island back in May was short lived. My time? 1:42:53 for a pace of 7:50. Another record. I finished in the top 16%

The following weekend was our club meeting, and I decided to do a 20 mile run.
And as a result of it, I sustained my first injury of the year. Great.
Thusly, my half-marathon a few weeks later in Hartford, CT, did not bode too well for me. It was one of my weaker races, and it further aggravated my left knee.

October 19th was my first ever “blue line” run with Dominic and his men. It’s essentially the last 10 miles of the NYC Marathon. The psychology of running through the Bronx without cramping paid off some dividends. However, between that, and all the blogging and hyping, I was not 100% and I knew it. I tapered much too early thanks to my knee.

Which led to mistake #2. Self-Doubt. And that leads to….a 3 hour workout at the gym the Wednesday before the marathon which leads to a ….. pulled right calf muscle.

My 7th running of a Marathon therefore would not be without its heartbreak and courage after all. You all should probably read the blog I posted for it someday, but I’ll give you the short and sweet of it….I ran with severe cramping in my afflicted right calf from Mile 8 to the finish line…….And I set my personal record for time in the Marathon. 4:08:19.

November and December I have taken it much too easy. My calf is great now, but my knee was (and is) still of concern. I went and got an MRI done. Looks like PT will be in order to start 2009 off. Heh. Didn’t stop me from running in a full Santa Claus outfit with 2 hours of sleep and bourbon in my bloodstream though. No personal record for that, other than perhaps an honorable mention for bravery and foolishness (and not necessarily in that order).

Yes indeed. There were many records that fell this year. This was without doubt, my finest year of running ever. Not bad for an old goat like me, right?

Health-willing, God-willing, I will have a good year in 2009.

Peace and Love, and to all a Happy and PROSPEROUS New Year. Let’s hope this horrible economy recovers soon!

- Blogrunner.

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