Friday, June 29, 2007

Contest 2, Belvedere Steps and Mini HS Reunions

This'll be a quick one, because I've got to get to sleep -- we've got an 11-miler tomorrow at 8am, and I've been "spring cleaning" aka dumping the entire contents of my room into the living room, hosing it all down, and putting it all back. For some reason I have trouble cleaning when Laura (my roomie) is home -- she would say I have trouble cleaning in general, and she's right. When I do clean, I go all out, and I need the living room to be the storage closet. Laura is out of town until Sunday morning, so I've got tomorrow afternoon to get it all back together.

For the person who had trouble finding the link to my Fred's Team page, here it is again: I know there's a way to post it as a footer, but I can't figger it out. Oh, well. It is always at the bottom of the page.

Can I tell you something that's supremely annoying? Of course I can. I have been sending out letters to people with the thank-you bracelets, and they're all starting to be returned to me by the Post Office. Seems that even though the letters weigh under an ounce, the bracelet makes the letter odd-shaped and therefore, it can't go through the "machine" and is returned for more postage. So your lesson for tonight is...funny-shaped letters need extra postage!

Thursday evening was our inagural Belvedere step workout. Up the steps, down the steps. Jumping, hopping, running. You can see the sets on the sidebar. It doesn't seem like a lot of time spent on a workout, but let me tell you, the step workouts are more brutal than the long runs. They are super intense. I took some pictures but I'm too lazy to post them right now -- I'll do it the next day or so. Did I mention it was RAINING? AGAIN? LIKE IT DID EVERY TUESDAY, THURSDAY AND SATURDAY LAST SUMMER? NOOOOOOOOO!

After the workout, we had mandatory carb replacement at P & Gs, a great bar on 73rd and Amsterdam run by my friends Holiday and Steve. Check it out if you've got the time. It's a great old bar, and we had some pitchers of beer and good conversation. I stuck around after the team broke up for the night because Holiday told me that some folks from high school would be showing up later that evening. So I stuck around and we had a great time. These folks, Joey and Jessica, were more Holiday's friends in school than mine, but I knew them. People in my high school tended to hang out with people in the grades above and below them as much as they did with their own grade.

Let me say a couple of things about my high school friends. One, we are remarkably well-preserved. Two, we clean up real good. Joey I remember as being the tough guy stoner punk. Now he's a philosophy professor. My theory is that we got it all out of our systems in high school -- the drugs, the drinking, the sexual experimentation -- you know, the stuff that makes life worthwhile. Once we hit college, everyone around us was going, "Wow, let's get drunk and stoned and all the things we couldn't do when we were at home!" and we were saying, "Been there, done that, I want to do something new, like attend class and maybe learn something."

Speaking of high school, today I met up with Howard Shiau and gave him his contest prizes. We had a chance to chat for a while before I went out for today's run. It's so hard to believe that the people I grew up with have children. I still see us as 17 year olds. In my mind we didn't get any older and yet we still managed to live life, get married, have kids, careers, etc. Is it just me, or does everyone feel like this? I'm curious. Leave a comment on this post and let me know.

And before we get to the contest, would you all please just take a look at my time for a 4.35 miler? Did I run them at an average pace BELOW a 9 minute mile? With nobody chasing me?

Since I promised I'd post the contest tonight, without further ado...


All are welcome to play contest #2, even you, Howard. We'll start having contests and such for donors only coming up later in the summer.

Rules are the same as last time; that is, I make up the rules. The prize is a secret. I know what it is, though (not a t-shirt.)

I'm tired, so this is an easy one:
What is the Engineer's Gate, and what is its significance to this blog?

Send your answers to me at

nighty night,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Contest 1 Results, and Training Begins Apace

The latest editions to the Fred's Team Hall of Fame:


Total as of today...

hold onto your hats...


I am awed by your faith in me, and your commitment to fighting cancer in all its forms.

Without futher ado, let's pick the winner for contest #1, the fountains of Central Park. The question was, how many real fountains (not drinking fountains) are there in the Park, and as a bonus, name them.

The correct answer is... EIGHT!

Sophie Loeb Fountain
Bethesda Fountain
Burnett Memorial Fountain
Cherry Hill Fountain
Conservatory Garden Fountain
Untermeyer Fountain
Honey Bear Fountain
Dancing Goat Fountain

(everyone forgets about the Dancing Goat Fountain, which is a little thing by the cafe and not noted on many of the Internet sites.)

There are three fountains outside the Park; the Pulitzer Fountain (opposite the Plaza,) the Columbis Circle Fountain (between the Park and the Time Warner Center, in the traffic circle) and the Maine Monument Fountain, the one right outside the Park on 59th St.

My source: Central Park 2000,

And the winner is...


Howard wins the t-shirt of his choice, plus a bonus prize of my choosing (don't get too excited, I'm not very choosy when it comes to prizes!) Let's hear it for Howard!!

Contest #2 will post on Friday.

So let's see, since Bares I've been getting back into training with a vengeance. We had a 9-mile run on Saturday AM, and I did very well in my speed workout at the gym, as you can see from the sidebars to the right of the posts. I already feel like I'm getting faster. Well, we shall see soon enough -- I signed up for my next batch of races, which are shorties (6 miles and under.) I prefer longer, slower races -- I'm built for endurance, not for speed. But I'll push myself a bit on these races and see where I'm at. Being that they're coming up fairly soon I probably won't have to put in a huge number of miles before the race, and one of them is on a Sunday.

We had our first Team hill workout yesterday. Ahhh, Cat Hill, the bane of my existence. The biggest problem with Cat Hill is that every charity team in NYC does hill work on Tuesday nights. And they're all at Cat Hill. It can get really crowded. It's like a crazy, sweaty assembly line of runners plodding up and down the hill. One group kept stopping halfway up the hill and standing in the middle of the rec lane (I'm not being snitty, it was part of their workout, even their coach was stopping there.) Supremely annoying. Since the Park was still open to traffic when we began, the bicyclists also needed to use the rec lane. So I could either veer to the left and crash into the runners, or veer to the right and get hit by a bicycle. Such options!

Anyway, six repeats at a constant pace, with a minute or less between to rest (because it was hot and muggy.) This is why I have to train for the training! Exhausting, even if we only did 25 minutes. Eventually we'll build up to multiple sets of repeats, and also train on the Great Hill (that's the one at the northern end of the Park.)

Thursday is the first infamous step workout, at the new and improved Belvedere steps -- they closed the area for renovations last summer and just re-opened it a couple of months ago. It's beautifully done, all repaved and scrubbed up. And it wouldn't be Fred's Team if it wasn't threatening to rain Thursday night. Our motto last year was, "You can't TRAIN without RAIN." Actually our motto was "Strong Like Ox, Stubborn Like Mule" and there may have been one more in there, but I'm old and don't remember things anymore. My mental hard drive is full of '70s song lyrics. Anyway, last summer it rained every single day we trained for a month. Every day. From drizzles to deluges. Marathon Day made up for it by being beautiful and sunny. But it looks like we're in for a repeat. Egads!

More Friday. Congrats, Howard, and thanks and love to everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Broadway Bares, Fred's Team Kick-Off, and CONTEST #1

Oh, mah Gawd, there is SO MUCH to get through today, best of all giving a shout-out to ALL THESE AMAZING PEOPLE:

and NANCY DORE, who was the eBay winner of the Vera Bradley bag.

Total to date:


A lot of little donations, all adding up to make a difference.

That being said, I wonder if any out there would like to issue a "challenge grant" -- in other words, you tell me "I'll donate $1000 -- or more -- if you (fill in the blank)" that (blank) being something like raising a certain amount of money in a week, or a month, or hitting a training goal, or a time in a race (which are monitored with chips so I can't cheat.) I'm up for a challenge. Apparently a marathon is not challenge enough.

Speaking of challenges, THE FIRST CONTEST is coming up at the end of this post!
OK, lots of ground to cover, both figuratively and literally. First off, "Broadway Bares." If you read the last post, you know a little about it. If not, in short, it's the annual strip show benefitting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the service organization founded, and funded, by the performing arts unions. It was an AMAZING show this year!! There were over 220 dancers this year, the numbers were great, and best of all we raised almost $750,000!!! I was on my feet for nearly 18 straight hours on Sunday, and ate little more than a bagel, a brownie, a piece of chicken, and lots of vodka. Lots. On the downside, it's sad just how disgusting Roseland has become. Not that it was ever spankin' clean to begin with, but there were these red pasties from last year's show STILL STUCK ON THE STAIRS. And there was, I kid you not, the same dead roach from last year in the bathroom stall. And it was a monster roach, palmetto bug size. Far be it for me to ask them to push up their annual sweep, but you know, they have PATRONS coming in, and this is how they choose to showcase their venue? So sad.
One of the highlights of the evening is, as I mentioned earlier, the rotation, aka go-go-dancing for tips. During the rotation for the second show, someone wrote a check for $10,000 and stuffed it down Chris Seiber's shorts (I think it was Chris.) If there is anyone out there who would like to write me a check for $10,000...well, if I must...I was never much of a dancer...but if that's what it takes to get a $10,000 donation, pass me the g-string.
Tonight was the kick-off party for Fred's Team, at MSKCC. Eileen Begg, the Team coordinator, was the "emcee," and there were a few speakers -- the race director of the Chicago Marathon (who made it sound so good a bunch of us were thinking hmmm, maybe next year...) one of the chief researchers at MSKCC who is also a Fred's Team member, our coach Jeff Rochford, and two of our Team members, Aubrey Barr (namesake of the Aubrey Fund, where your support money goes,) and my friend Matthew. I won't mention his last name to protect whatever shred of privacy he might have left, since we all know how good I am about asking permission from people before quoting them.
A few thoughts about the evening to share. First of all, I didn't know -- or didn't consider -- that one of the major challenges with pediatric cancer is that the medication and treatment you give adults can't just be given in smaller doses to children. They need their own specific protocols. But most of the research efforts -- and dollars -- are focused on adults, and that is why Fred's Team is so crucial to MSKCC.
The other thing I want to mention is Matt's speech. This August will mark his 2nd anniversary as a cancer survivor. He was treated at MSKCC, and it is so hard to believe that two years ago, he could barely walk two steps. He spoke so movingly about what Fred's Team and MSKCC meant to him that I don't even know what to say about it, except that I am honored to be running alongside him. Well, alongside him for the brief moment he laps me. He finished last year's marathon -- his first, mind you -- in 3:03. One year after cancer treatment. If anyone is ever in need of motivation to do anything, one need only look to Matt. It reminded all of us just how important this really is, so much bigger than running a marathon. We are, all of us, blessed. The Team, and those of you who support the Team. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

And now, without further ado --

This contest is open to ALL readers of this blog, Fred's Team runners included, regardless of whether or not you have donated to my Team effort. Here are the rules:
-I make up all the rules

That's pretty much it.

The winner of this week's contest will have a CHOICE of prizes! Either:

A NYRRC Marathon T-shirt (size XL)

OR an official Fred's Team shirt (either S, M or L)
(this is the front) (this is the back)

These shirts are new, by the way.

Here's how it works: I'll give you a question, and the email address to send your answer to. If there is more than one correct answer, those names will be put in a hat and the winner drawn at random. If the winning entry also had the bonus answer correct, they'll get some other prize that I need to figure out.
Easy, simple, here we go!
QUESTION: How many fountains -- not drinking fountains, but actual fountains -- are there in Central Park?
BONUS PRIZE: Name them!
Contest ends June 27 at 10pm.
Send your guesses to me at

Friday, June 15, 2007

Broadway Bares this Weekend!

Today's shout-out:
making the total for the Aubrey Fund as of today

I am blessed to have people like you in my life, dear readers, who support me in my effort to help the Aubrey Fund and Fred's Team, be it financial or spiritual. Thank you.

Tonight needs to be a quickie, because I've got a weekend of naked people ahead of me. Yes, Broadway Bares, the annual strip show at NY's famed Roseland Ballroom, with the proceeds benefitting Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, the service organization founded, and funded, by the entertainment community. BCEFA provides grants and funding for AIDS service organizations across America, not just for the entertainment community. There are a number of special events that BCEFA does every year to raise money, such as the Easter Bonnet competition, Gypsy of the Year (a Gypsy being a chorus person, since "back in the day" they led the nomadic gypsy life) Broadway Bears (that one is actually teddy bears dressed up by celebs and auctioned off) the Flea Market, and, of course, Bares.

It's a crazy, crazy weekend, culminating in two shows on Father's Day, at 9:30pm and midnight, because really, what dad wouldn't want to stand in a packed, dirty, stinky old ballroom at midnight and watch 260 dancers get as naked as the law allows? (My dad went. Twice. ) There are a dozen or so original dance numbers featuring Broadway's best dancers, and since it's a strip show, that's how all the numbers end up, and there's straight strip, gay strip, drag strip -- something for everyone.

The highlight of each show is the end "rotation," where the dancers come out on stage -- there are three long runways jutting out onto the dance floor -- and they basically go-go dance for tip money. It's called "rotation" because when they added this to the show, Jason Opsahl was the rotation MC, urging the crowd on, pointing out the dancers, and every few minutes he'd shout "ROOOW-TATE!" and everyone would move to a new runway, so everyone in the crowd could see all the dancers, and the dancers had more people from which to get tips. Jason sadly died of a brain tumor in October of 2002, but, and this is the thing that makes me happy and breaks my heart at the same time, they have a recording of Jason saying "ROOOW-TATE!" and even though there's a new rotation master (usually Chris Seiber) that's what they use to move the dancers. During the rotation the SMs usually help the dancers "unload" their tip money into large bags set off to the sides of the stage. After all, there's not a lot of places for them to hold money. That doesn't prevent people from making sure they get their bills in there. I've pulled money out of places only doctors should be exploring. But it's all for a good cause.

On a side note, Target matches all the tip money made during the rotations, and they have always been very supportive of BCEFA and the Actors Fund, so PLEASE SHOP AT TARGET!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

For Sale on eBay - Vera Bradley bag

Short post:

Shout-outs today to

I did 4 repeats of Cat Hill with no rest periods in your honor. At 6:00AM.

I have an item for sale on eBay. It is a Vera Bradley "Metropolitan" tote and all proceeds from the sale go to my Fred's Team effort. Here is the link:
If you are a Vera Bradley fan, please bid away! If you know a Vera Bradley fan, please send them to the site.

More anon...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Two Race Reports, and Why I Should Listen to My Own Advice

Not one, but two races this weekend to share with you!
But first...

Total to date:

Thank you all so much. I am eternally amazed and grateful.

So, two races. The first was a women's only 10K in Central Park. This is normally sponsored by the Legacy Foundation, which runs a women's smoking cessation program called Circle of Friends. Not so this year, it was a "plain old" 10K. I was sad, because as a non-smoker of over 14 years I liked the Corcle of Friends sponsors. I even appear in a promotional video for them, because the first year I ran it, I wore a sign on my back that said something like "1992 - pack a day smoker, 2004 - runner" and they pulled me aside after the race to film me talking about not smoking.

73 degree heat and 79 percent humidity, that took a toll. I've run this race before, and it's either way too hot and humid or, like last year, unseasonably cold. Boy, I hate humidity. How do southerners do it?

Anyway, this is one of those races where it's an uphill finish (it's the same finish as the marathon) and I hate it! For those not familiar with this area of the park, there's a big hill right before Tavern on the Green. Normally, the clockwise 10K races finish on the hill, but this race starts out of the park, and to maintain the proper distance you finish on the bottom of the other side of the hill. The effect of that is, you round the corner, and instead of seeing the finish line at the top of the hill, you see -- the hill. Where did the finish line go? Then you pass the 6 mile mark and still -- where's the finish line? You can't see it until you get to the top of the hill. So discouraging! Between that and the heat I had nothing left for a finishing kick. My 6th mile was an 8:32, but I think that last .2 was another hour. Finish time -- 55:44 and my first negative split, amazing because the second half of the race is much more uphill.

Sunday was a 5K run benefitting Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (home of Fred's Team!) and their cancer survivors program. It was down by the Hudson Piers, where they've created a bike/run path along the West Side Highway (it's safer than it sounds!) I ran with my friend Greg, who lost his brother Tim to cancer last year. Greg used to be a runner, but hasn't really laced up in a couple of years. He was happy to have me there to pace him.

First of all, let me say that there were OVER 1500 people there, both survivors and their friends and family. AMAZING!! Those who were survivors wore shirts with a yellow portion of the logo; friends and family shirts were orange. So many yellow shirts!! Greg wore a shirt with his brother's picture on the front, and on the back -- he had offered to the people who sponsored him, if they would like him to run in honor of their friends/loved one, to please send him their name. He received 60 names. So, on the back of his shirt, an iron-on list of the names he received.

Fred's Team was also well-represented, chief among us was Aubrey Barr, namesake of the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research started by Fred Lebow in 1997 and the fund Fred's Team raises money for (you can read Aubrey's story at It's pretty amazing. I gave her one of my rubber bracelets that I made for all you sponsors (yes, beans are spilled, that's what they are. I will send one to all sponsors, if you want one now send me your address!! I promise to email you all to get those addresses!)

Greg wore his brother's Ipod and listened to it on shuffle as he ran. And for somebody who claims to run maybe once every other week, I thought he'd want to mosey along, but his competitive streak came out. It wasn't an official race but they had a start/finish clock and I timed the miles out of curiosity. After I told him his first mile was 9:30 he started booking, and we finished the second mile in under 9:00. We both finished with a good kick at around 27:30. I was so proud of him! The run meant a lot to him and I am honored that I was allowed to share it with him, especially since he is the Greg I mention in my letter, and responsible for me getting my priorities straight (see "A Wake-Up Call," the previous post.) I'm waiting for my friend to email pictures to me. When I get them I'll post them.

What a lovely way to honor and celebrate the lives of those affected by cancer!

In other news, because it can't ALL be about running, I'm sure there's a saying somewhere along the lines of "those who can't do, teach" that has to do with following your own sage advice. Here's why: I believe that you should never do something with a cat that you would not want to do for the rest of the cat's life. For example, my first cat, Frankie -- she liked to sleep in the bathroom sink and I thought it would be funny to turn the water on one day while she was hanging out. Well, she loved it, and from then on would only drink from the sink.

I thought I learned my lesson with my next and current cat Spot, now 15 -- an old lady in cat years, who has started to get kitty Alzheimers (yes, cats do get dementia, believe it or not.) I have been very careful not to do anything with her that would drive me crazy for the next X number of years, except for the fact that I literally feed her by hand. She prefers to eat out of my hand, especially when my roomate Laura's cat Ming is lurking about. It's been 12 years now, and they still barely tolerate each other. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago she was hungry, but because Ming was in the kitchen she wouldn't eat. She just sat on the other end of the kitchen, sulking. So I shot her a nugget of food across the floor (it's dry food, of course!) Now she will eat a couple of mouthfuls, then sit across the room and wait for me to wing the rest of her food to her. I guess it is possible to teach an old cat new tricks, or to put it another way, it's possible for an old cat to develop new and annoying habits.

OK, dinner time. More anon.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

A Wake-Up Call

First off, the latest round of amazing people:

Total to date:
I am amazed and know not what to say, except thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I'm not going to give a race report today, you can see it on the sidebar. I'll post a full report after tomorrow's race. I need to say something to y'all, and the report can wait for another day.

The past few days have been a real wake-up call for me. I am doing a benefit next weekend for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS ("Broadway Bares," I talked about it in an earlier post.) There are about a dozen original dance numbers, and at the first rehearsal of each number a representative from BCEFA comes to thank everyone and give them some more information about the organization. My first rehearsal for Bares was also the first rehearsal of a number. At the end of their presentation, they read a couple of letters from clients who have benefitted from the services. I must have heard these dozens of times in the past, but this time, as soon as Michael started reading the letter, I broke down sobbing. We're not just there to put on a dance show, and sometimes we forget that. Hearing those letters makes you realize just how much your effort means.

It's the same thing with Fred's Team. I think my attitude has been, yes, it's for a good cause, but I'm here to run a marathon. Until I received a letter from my friend Greg, who lost his brother to a brain tumor last year, and is running the MSKCC Rock and Run tomorrow in his memory. Many, if not all of you, have read my most recent missive that featured a portion of that letter, and thank you, Greg, if you're reading this, for allowing me to share it (even if I did send a bunch of letters out before I thought, "I really ought to ask him if this is OK." It is.)

It's a facile thing to say, oh, cancer affects everyone. But it does. It's been in my family, I've lost friends, my friends have lost loved ones, I have two nieces (and a third TBA on the way) and it would devastate me if any of them got cancer...and yet, I still needed to be reminded that there's a reason I'm putting myself out there that has nothing to do with my ability to run 26.2 miles. Maybe it's because last year it kind of was all about me, and I'm not negating the importance of the Aubrey Fund in all of that, it meant a lot for me to be able to raise that money for MSKCC, but it was more about celebrating myself and my recovery from surgery. Well, been there, done that, got lots of t-shirts.

So why am I putting myself back out there? Because I love running marathons? I confess, I don't. The training is brutal. Give me a nice 10K any day. A friend of mine said to me, after her first 5K, "I can't imagine how you run a marathon, I huffed and puffed all my way through the 5K." My response was, "I huffed and puffed all the way through the marathon. The only difference between you and me is that I was too stupid to STOP after 5K."

What I say on my Fred's Team page and in my letters is true -- seeing the children outside of MSKCC last year cheering us on, when we should have been at MSKCC cheering THEM as they face much bigger challenges, played a big part in my decision to run again this year. Because when you see them, it hits you -- this isn't an abstract concept anymore. You are helping those people right there. At a post-marathon reception at MSKCC, one of our Team members, who works at MSKCC and for years helped coordinate getting the children outside on the day, spoke movingly about how much Fred's Team means to them.

Greg's letter was a real smack in the head. It made me realize I'm not running the marathon to prove I can, I proved it last year. And I'm not running it just because I like my Team members (I do, a lot!) or because I like marathon training (I don't, a lot!) It's because my friend Greg lost his brother. It's because another friend, a survivor, has a foot-long scar. It's because there are people on my Team who had cancer, and now they run marathons. It's because an old friend lost his daughter over 20 years ago and still grieves. And it's because everyone has stories like these, both inspirational and devastating, about friends, family members, even themselves. This isn't just "a charity" I'm running for -- it's my friends, my family, the children at mile 18, who need the support to battle this deadly disease, and the physicians and scientists who are working to provide it.

Me running a marathon won't cure cancer. Me explaining why I am running a marathon -- to celebrate the hard-won battles of cancer survivors, and to ensure a future where these battles will no longer be necessary -- will. It is my hope to inspire you to support not just my effort, but the efforts of everyone involved in the fight against this disease.

MSKCC's slogan is: "Imagine a world without cancer." And thanks to the generosity of people like you, I can.

More anon,

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

We begin, as always, with shout-outs:
Total to date:


I wasn't going to post until after the weekend, but today was one of those days where you'd never have predicted this was going to happen, you know? Nothing huge, just bizarre.

So I'm in computer class, and I get called out by a woman named Patricia. She tells me, "They're doing a photo shoot for Barnes and Noble using some of us, you want to do it?" Apparently this has been in the works for a few days, but someone dropped out at the last minute. Well, I look like poop, but OK. Why not?

Here's the deal: Barnes and Noble publishes a magazine that they put in their college bookstores that have logo clothing and so on. The graphics design firm that creates this magazine is located in the same building as my school. One thing led to another, and the next thing I know, I'm sitting in Battery Park, wearing a Carolina sweatshirt, tossing a football , and later sitting on the grass eating a Dove chocolate bar. Not the way I was expecting to spend my afternoon!

My haul for the afternoon: the sweatshirt, a Clemson t-shirt, a padded laptop computer sleeve, a set of headphones, the chocolate bar, a pair of Crocs (believe the hype, they are comfortable) a day planner, and a $25 B&N gift card.

This weekend, two races -- the NY Mini 10K in Central Park on Saturday and on Sunday I've got the inaugural Rock and Run -- Celebrating Life Beyond Cancer, a benefit for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. MKSCC is the home of FRED'S TEAM and the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research, so I am thrilled to be running in this event. You can read about Fred's Team and MSKCC by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

Oh, and if you want to see more about Broadway Bares, the benefit I'm working on, click this link: I highly recommend the "promo video," it is gorgeous. No, for real. And I promise I'm not in it!!

Must go study for a test now (the way I was supposed to be spending the afternoon.) More after the weekend races.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Jewish Guilt, or Runners Have No Manners

First off, it's SHOUT OUT TIME...
thank you so much!!


If you visit my Fred's Team website, you will see that my stated goal is $2500. In reality, it's $5000, but it's one of those things where if you pledge it, you have to raise it, and in case I can't raise it, I can't afford to donate that much cheddar. I haven't sent out all my fundraising pleas yet, and you may recall I can get pretty persistent once I start (!) but at the same time, because I'm in school and not working I don't have the kind of access to people I did last year. But slow and steady, may not win the race but it'll get you across the finish line just the same. So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all you lovely people out there reading this, and supporting me.

Did you look at the right side of the page? They are called "sidebars," I think, and they're courtesy of Buckeye Outdoors, a site that caters to all your obsessive training-logging needs. I thought it would be neat to put my training schedule and race records up. It will certainly keep me training, knowing that people will be checking up on me. The one that reports on races just gives a race countdown, doesn't report the race itself. Ah, well.

So today's race was both a really good one and a really bad one, all in one. The good part first -- even though it was a hot and humid day in NYC (my two least favorite conditions to run in) and even though it was 8 in the morning, I managed to clock what was for me an amazing time for a 4-mile race -- 35 minutes and change. I was not expecting to do that well in the heat, and I frankly felt pretty good most of the way, not too winded or anything, although the sprint at the end did leave me a little queasy for a minute or two.

And the bad part? To sum it up, here's an excerpt from the email I sent to NY Road Runners when I got home:

I want to bring up an issue that I know you are all aware of, but I feel I need to add my voice.

About half a mile into today's Japan Race, I almost crashed into a pack of three walkers,
as well as the people also trying to avoid them. As I made my way around them I muttered,
"Start with the walkers, dammit!" One of them said something back to me, but I didn't catch
it. They weren't Galloway runners on a walk break, they were walkers. I felt bad about
snapping at them. It was the wrong way to react, but it was in the heat of the moment, a
bunch of people almost got hurt, and I got mad. And it's spoiling a race that was one of my
best, I set a PR.

(A "Galloway runner" is someone who follows the Jeff Galloway marathon (or any race) training plan, which involves periodic walk breaks.)

The letter goes on to talk about the problem of people not lining up at their proper pace time and creating dangerous situations because folks are wiping out trying to pass them.

I blither on:

These races are getting more crowded, and while I'm glad that so many people are
discovering running, they don't have any understanding of race etiquette. Do you think
there is some way to teach these people a little running etiquette, to make these races a
safer, and less frustrating experience for everyone else?

And then I list a couple of suggestions about how to try to accomplish that.

Anyway, I totally over-reacted, I think. Which is eating at me in the same way that every mistake I've ever made eats at me constantly. Jewish guilt -- nothing like it. Except maybe Catholic guilt. Or (insert religion or ethnicity of your choice) guilt. I feel bad, I do, in a lot of ways it ruined the race for me, and I ought to be really happy. In that kind of heat, it was a personal record, and I can't believe my last mile was an 8:13. For me, that's like the freakin' wind. There are some people who talk about running a "nice easy 7-minute mile pace." I couldn't run a 7-minute mile if I was being chased with a pickaxe.

But back to my guilt. It's so funny that this happened, because I listen to this running pocast called Phedippidations, and there's a web component and a Google group (oh my God, I really AM a running geek!) and the last podcast was about RUNNING ETIQUETTE. I was on the message board, reading about people's race gripes and such, and I posted about something my Team coach saw at the last race -- there was a woman who had clearly lined up with the wrong pace group and she was creating a bottleneck. Someone accidentally bumped her as they went past and she said something nasty. Well, this guy turned around and went back to the slow runner and YELLED at her, "If you don't want to get bumped, line up with your own pace group!" And there I go and do it. And even though I'm sure it came and went for those walkers, and even though I'm probably not the only person to mutter something to them, it upset me that I behaved like that. So that's why the cloud of sadness looms overhead.

Bizarre side note: There are some, for a lack of a better word, "interesting" people who come to these races, like Larry the Lighthouse (remember him?) Today, as I was walking to the race, I saw a guy walking with his lady friend. I noticed him because he had an enormous afro and was wearing a colorful shirt, he sort of looked like the Crab Man for you "My Name is Earl" watchers. He was also smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. At 7:30am. So, a few minutes later, as I'm heading to the starting line, there he was again -- with a RACE NUMBER. He was in the race! AND HE BEAT ME! I ended up next to him in the finisher's chute. I almost said something to him but he started retching (wonder why?) so I moved away.

There's more, but this is a long entry and I've got to go to rehearsal. I'm doing "Broadway Bares," the annual strip show that benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. I must have done really bad in a past life to get myself involved in all these charitable events. I really do enjoy them, though. I'll sneak a mid-week report in and give y'all the down-low on school, races, and repercussions.