one Man of a Certain Age's journey to a healthier lifestyle

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Welcome to my fitness blog. I started running in early 2012, having set my sights on the Walt Disney World Half Marathon which I ran in January 2013. (You can read about that in my other blog). I intend to update this blog weekly with training progress and run reports. Please follow and join this blog (links below) for updates. If you want to share please feel free to, there are links to share via Facebook or Twitter below as well. You can also follow me on twitter. And please comment letting me know what you think!

My upcoming races: My recent races:
NYCRuns Central Park Half Marathon February 23, 2014 2013 Year in Review
Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon - DC March 15, 2014  

My Blogs Thompson Family Web (Travel, Disney and fun) The Runner of a Certain Age Blog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review

As the year comes to a close I reflect back on my first full year as a runner. I started running in the summer of last year with an eye on running my first race - the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January. After accomplishing that goal I ran several more 5k's, 10k's and Half Marathons, culminating with a Full Marathon in November. In this blog I will summarize my thoughts on the different events I participated in.

One thing right off the bat. I have also started doing a podcast - mostly for the fun of it. I have done a couple of episodes of the podcast that concurrent with posts in this blog but I've never really attempted to coordinate what goes in the blog and the podcast. I just sort of wing it (for better or worse). This time I decided to have the blog and the podcast compliment each other.

So, in this blog I will summarize the events I participated in and summarize some thoughts on each. In the podcast I will do a "best of" and "worst of" summary of the year. Hopefully this will be at least a little interesting! So, after reading this blog be sure to check out the podcast. Just click on the image below. Or listen to the podcast first. Whatever. Far be it from me to tell you what to do..

First, a summary of my year:

5k's 4
10k's 3
Half Marathons 5
Full Marathons 1

Run totals:
Activities 148
Miles 706.85
Time 164:19:01

And here is a summary of all the events I participated in during 2013, in chronological order (by clicking on the title of the race you can read my full blog entry):

Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Lake Buena Vista FL, January 12, 2013
This race will always hold a special place in my heart for two reasons. First, obviously, it was my first race. Second, it was specifically my first (of what I hope to be many) Disney races. For a Disney fan such as myself, running a race at a Disney park is an absolutely fantastic experience. To begin with, the shear scope is unlike anything else I've experienced as a runner. I suppose the NYC Marathon or the Boston Marathon are similar in that way, but think of this: the second largest event I participated in - the Route 66 Marathon - had about 7,000 participants between the Half Marathon and the Full Marathon. The WDW Half Marathon had about 25,000 participants. And that was the Half Marathon alone. Sharing this experience with so many runners who are also Disney fans is a very special experience, and I am thrilled that I was able to do this for my first race. I am really looking forward to my next Disney race - whenever that is.
Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon, Sleepy Hollow NY, March 23, 2013
OK, so my chiropractor is also a runner. He has given me endless helpful advice while keeping my back in alignment. So, after I ran the WDW Half Marathon I told him I had signed up for the Sleepy Hollow race. "Wow" he said, "I've done that race. it's a tough course! Very hilly!" Lovely. Only my second race and I was challenging myself with a notoriously tough course. I wanted to run the NYC Half Marathon but it was sold out unless you wanted to run for a charity. I thought of doing that but when I heard about the Sleepy Hollow race I decided to do that instead. After all, it was only about a half hour away! Well, it was a tough race. But you know what? I made it. And I did it in a faster time that I thought I would be able to. And while the course certainly is tough, it is also a beautiful course that winds through wooded trails and and along the historic Hudson River. I don't intend to run it in 2014 but I do think I will tackle it again eventually when I can better appreciate the course.
Bedford Hills Run for the Hills 5K, Bedford Hills NY, April 2, 2013
My first ever 5K. After the race i found myself thinking "what a civilized distance! It was particularly satisfying because, having lived in the town for many years, I had seen the signs advertising the event many times over the years. It was nice to actually run in it. It was also great seeing my chiropratcor there - who is a sponsor of the event.
Unite Half Marathon, Somerset NJ, April 21, 2013
My first half marathon that was not accompanied by a fear of not being able ti finish in time (other than the typical fear of injury). Organized by CGI racing, it was a very well run event. I heard a lot of folks complain about the hilliness of the course - having just run Sleepy Hollow recently I did not see what they were complaining about. The race went through the Rutgers University campus. Running on a college campus was in interesting experience. I'm surprised more races don't do this.
South Salem Races 5k & 10k, South Salem NY, May 27, 2013
I had originally scheduled to run a half marathon in New Jersey but it was cancelled. So I decided to do this race instead. Then I fractured by elbow the day before. You'd think maybe someone was trying to tell me something? Well, if so, I didn't listen. I did both races, sling and all. And I got a medal for it (sort of). I had signed up for a virtual half marathon which I intended to run that day. What with my arm I gave up on that, but the rules of the virtual race were such that miles I had already put in counted and I figured I deserved it!
Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon, Fairfield CT, June 23, 2013
Looking back, I'm pretty sure that the heat at Walt Disney World had made an impact on my time for that race, but the Fairfield race was the first one where I was consciously aware of the effect the heat had on my pace. Although the race was near the water, it was still in sweltering heat. I started the race with the intention of doing a PR, but after a while it was clear that was not happening. Ultimately I finished with no issue, but it was an excruciatingly hot event.

Katonah 5K Road and Trail Race, Katonah NY, September 7, 2013
Another local event, this was one I decided to do last minute. My training called for 6 miles on that day, so I ran the course twice essentially. This may have sounded like a good idea until I got lost and made it back just in time for the start of the race! This was also the first race I did that billed itself as having "trail" components - although technically the Sleepy hollow race did as well. I'm not sure I'm a trail running sort of guy, but it's a local race so I'll probably do it again.
Electric Run NYC 5K, Brooklyn NY, September 27, 2013
This was my first (and to date, only) "fun run" (a race with no timed element). And boy was it fun! The "Electric Run" series has events all over the country. They are known for their electronic music and large light displays. It was especially fun for me because my wife and daughter joined me. In 2014 we'll be looking out for other fun runs like the "color runs" and maybe "zombie runs". A lot of fun.
Rock and Roll Providence Half Marathon, Providence RI, September 29, 2013
My first Rock 'n Roll Competitor event definitely will not be my last. Well, OK, that's pretty much a non-statement considering that when I ran it I had already signed up for the Brooklyn 10k. Still, you get the idea. The RnR races are well organized, with good courses that offer far above par in-race entertainment. Plus they offer very cool medals for participating in multiple events. I have to say, purely in terms of enjoying the actual race itself, this Providence race was second only to the Disney race. This was a great event!
Rock and Roll Brooklyn 10K, Brooklyn NY, October 12, 2013
This event had a triple whammy of goodness. Whammy number one - it was another RnR race which, as I have established, are very fun events. Whammy number two - It was in the beautiful Prospect park in the awesome borough of Brooklyn. Whammy number three - and the best of all - I got to run it with my daughter! Who could ask for more? I think this just might be an annual event.
Route 66 Marathon, Tulsa OK, November 24, 2013
All this work all year, all this training, came down to this: my first full marathon. The experience honestly was not what I had hoped - the weather was bitterly cold which not only impacted the race but also my hopes to socialize and maybe meet people before and after. Also I had gone with the intention of getting together with my brother which also did not happen. Still, this is a very well organized race with one sweet medal! And as they say, you never forget your first. I also got a chance to see a new city and state, which I always enjoy. Tulsa is quite a charming city. Of course marathon and half marathon courses tend to show off their host cities, and this was certainly true for Tulsa. Running along the river and through the university were highlights.
NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 10K, Roosevelt Island NY, December 15, 2013
My last race of the year and I was able to do it with Natalie! Cold cold COLD! And slushy and sloppy. Still, a very nice course and easy to get to. Also my first race with NYCRuns - I am planning to do their Central Park half marathon in February. This may become another annual event.

All in all, a pretty good effort for my first year I think. I was able to mix in lots of different types of race including a fun run, 5k's, 10k's, Half Marathons and even a Full Marathon. I am hoping for 2014 to be even a bigger running year for me. Next time I will delve into my plans for next year.

Until then, keep running!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 10K Roosevelt Island NY

 Listen to my podcast in which I talk about running the 10K!

On Sunday December 15th I ran in the NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 10K on Roosevelt Island with my daughter Natalie. This was the second time Nat and I did a 10K together, having previously run the Rock 'n Roll Brooklyn 10K last October. As far as this race goes, all I can say is...






The fact is that, for me, as with most running is a mostly lonely pastime, Admittedly that's one of the things I enjoy about it - getting out there all by myself and getting lost in my reverie as I chug along mile after mile. Still, on the occasions when Nat is around and we can go running together, and especially on the (now) two occasions that we've done races together, it has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. We don't even talk all that much, Nat listens to music and I listen to podcasts, but just having someone along to share the experience makes all the more memorable.

Nat and I both use the "run/walk/run" method and we do intervals of 40 seconds of running and 20 seconds of walking. We use the same iPhone app to pace ourselves, and what we do is we synchronize our timers so that we are told when to switch between running and walking at the same time. We always say we must look funny because, without a word, we both start running or walking at the exact same time.

OK, so some specifics about this race:

Getting there. I have to say that this was a bit of a pleasant surprise. The race was on Roosevelt Island, a tiny sliver of land off Manhattan in the middle of the East River. Driving to Roosevelt Island is inadvisable and parking there can be a challenge so we decided to drive to Manhattan and take the Tram to the Island, parking near the tram station. Now, the night before the race the weather was nasty and about 4 or 5 inches of snow had fallen. it was questionable whether the race was even on. Be we got an email at 7 on Sunday morning informing us that the race was on. We hit the road about 7:45, with the race start scheduled for 10:00. On the one hand I wanted to leave enough time, but on the other hand I didn't want to get there too early because we didn't want to have to hang around in the cold. That said, i was worried about the roads so i wanted to leave plenty of time. It turned out that the roads weren't too bad and we got there by 9:00 (despite the fact that I inadvertently put an address in Brooklyn into the GPS, which we realized soon enough that it didn't cause a big problem). We found a parking space just a few blocks from the tram (which is like a large cable car) and were there by 9:15.

Pre-race. The race organizers suggested getting your bib a day or two before the race, something we were not able to do. Still, getting our bibs the morning of the race was no problem at all. My only complaint was that the tent where you needed to go to get your bib was in a field which was covered in snow so it was difficult to avoid getting your shoes wet. There was another tent so you could pick up your "swag" - in this case a nice hot chocolate mug (in keeping with the theme of the race). Nat was disappointed that there was no shirt, which is what she wanted. They had shirts to buy but they only took cash and I didn't have any on me. I was able to contact the race organizers and arrange to buy a shirt later.

On that subject, a quick word about the race organizers. For various reasons (such as my losing my driver's license during the race) I have had the occasion to have more email communications with the NYC Runs folks than any race I have ever run before. And the folks from NYC Runs have been nothing but helpful. I can't say enough good things about the folks who engage with the participants.

Anyway, as I mentioned it was a cold day so that last few minutes before the race it was tough to keep warm. After checking our bags we actually discovered an apartment building with an open lobby where we could hang out and stay warm for a few minutes. Surprisingly there were only about a half dozen other racers who had discovered this as well. We stayed there for about 10 minutes then headed out to the starting line just before 10:00.

The course. The 10K course was, essentially, 2 loops around the island (like I said, Roosevelt Island is small). We started near the tram station, headed north on the west side of the island, looped back south on the east side, and then completed another loop once we reached the southernmost point on the island. On the northern part of the island there were a couple of points where the course got particularly muddy and slushy. Having gone through it the first time, we weren't too thrilled when we looped around and headed back through the same section! Still, much of the course was very pleasant, with a lot of it being along the river. On a nice day this must be a spectacular place to run with the river along side and the Manhattan skyline on the other side.

The snow and slush slowed us down quite a bit, but still I was pretty pleased with my performance. Nat had to slow down a bit so her old man could keep up. Still, we came across the finish line together, happy for having accomplished another race together.

Post Race. After the race we picked up our bags with no problem. They had stations set up where you could get hot chocolate, but neither Nat nor I are big on hot chocolate so we skipped that and just headed back. The cold weather was not exactly conducive to hanging out. Too bad, because it looked like a pretty location. I am going to keep my eyes open for races on Roosevelt Island when the weather is warmer. And I am seriously thinking that I will to the Central Park Half Marathon that NYC Runs is having in February.