Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I Am A Rock Star!!

As of the writing of this post, there's something wrong with the Buckeye Outdoors site, so that's why you can't see the training on the sidebar. I did about 6 and change on Monday at 6am (ugh,) it took 58 minutes. I went up to the reservoir, did a loop of the bridle path, a loop of the res, and home. Not very hilly, but shady. Didn't really push it too much, it was already extremely humid. Today I was too tired to go out early, and my legs are still aching from the weekend -- not the run, but taping out the floor for the play I'm rehearsing. Since the show is on a turntable, it's actually two sets I had to tape instead of one. I will take pictures today and post them so you know what I mean. Lots of squatting. My inner thighs got a good workout, and they were still not happy yesterday AM. Fortunately, if that's the right word, those muscles don't really come into play when you run, so the run wasn't too bad. Anyways, I need to miss the Team workout tonight because I've got class, so tonight, after school, I will hit the gym for either a quick (but intense) treadmill workout, or a bike ride.

The real reason I'm posting early is to let you all know about a great running podcast that I listen to, called "Phedippidations." It's entertaining and informative. Steve Runner (aka Steve Walker, his real name) features scripted (and non-scripted) bits with his family, gives advice and information, profiles famous runners, and at the end of each podcast, race and progress reports from listeners. I think all the episodes are great, but I might call your attention to Episode 107, "Junk Miles," which features a shout-out to a certain runner from NYC training for Marathon #2 as a member of Fred's Team...

I am a rock star, people!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Joys of Napping, among other things

Oh, good gracious, I've been more than a little remiss in reporting back to y'all.

No names for the honor roll since the last posting, alas. Click here to go to my Fred's Team webpage if you would like to become one of my sponsors and join the amazing Honor Roll of people who can imagine a world without cancer, and are working towards that goal.

It's been one of those weeks, you know. Between school and training and prepping for rehearsal (I'm rehearsing CORPSE for the Cape Playhouse) there hasn't been a free moment. Well, I lie a little, there has been a few free moments, and I've been spending them sleeping. I guess I am at that point in my training where I absolutely must get at least 8 hours of sleep a night if I am to be any good the next day. For example, Tuesday. After what I thought was a decent amount of sleep the night before (7 hours,) I got home from school at 3:00, sat down on the couch and started planning out how I was going to spend the afternoon until it was time for the Fred's Team workout, "Okay, I'm going to put in the laundry, make these phone calls, do this paper -- zzzzz." Out like a light. And if you take a look at the previous post, the view out of my window isn't any better. When you can nap through demolition, you can nap through anything.

And while I'm on the subject of being remiss in posting, apologies in advance -- for the next two weeks, because I'm rehearsing during the day, I'm switching to night school (just for the two weeks) and that means that the training sessions I miss because of school and work I'll need to get in either ass-early in the AM, or after 9pm. I'll do my best to blog, but there won't be many hours left in the day. More power to people who can do things like this on a long-term basis -- balance a job, a family and school (or some other time-demanding equivalent, like marathon training.) Heck, my brother went to law school at night while balancing a full-time job, a family with two children under 3, and being orthodox on top of that, which means even more obligations than your average non-observant person. With all that, he just graduated summa cum laude. At least someone got the brains in the family. I would say if he can do it, I can do it, but you know, for two weeks I can do it, not much more. I'm too old and bitter.

So if you've been wondering why my training log hasn't been updated, they're back. I wasn't shirking, I promise, I was trying to update them on the school computers, and they wouldn't let me enter new workouts. That Buckeye Outdoors site is something else, a great way to log any kind of sports activities. Click here to check out their site for yourself, and you can view my whole training log there, too.

Tuesday was a speed workout at Riverbank State Park, up on 145th St. It's a beautiful area of town -- I meant to bring my camera, but I plum forgot. It's got a park, lots of great waterfront a la Riverside Park, a rink, a gym, a cafe, and a football field with a padded track around the perimeter. Almost makes you forget you're sitting on top of an active sewage treatment plant. Next time we're up there I'll take some photos, so you'll see what I mean. The only problem with the park is that during the summer and fall the football field is turned over to soccer, and there are at least 5-6 games of varying levels of organization and competence happening at the same time. So in addition to dodging walkers and small children on the track, we're also avoiding errant soccer balls. And no, you don't win anything or get to go home early if you get hit.

It was a good speed workout, if a little muggy. A one-mile warm-up followed by four miles of one fast lap, one slow lap. I tried to stay comsistent, and was glad to see that my fast times were all under 2 minutes (best time 1:52,) which is about 10 seconds faster than my pace this time last year. I varied the water breaks so that I sometimes took them every set (fast/slow) and sometimes every two sets. I didn't rest any longer than a minute, and it's funny, I notice that I ran a faster fast lap after a break, yet I feel bad about breaking. I guess I need to figure out how to balance the need for a break to refresh vs. the need to push when tired. I think I need the push. But that's me.

This past Thursday was our last Belvedere step workout for a while, next week we will shift to the stairs near Riverside Park, where we trained last year after they closed the Belvedere steps for renovation. It's about the same amount of steps, but there's also a hill component, too -- at the top of the steps there's a hill that you can go down instead. Last year we did all sorts of variations of up the steps/down the hill, up the hill/down the steps, etc. etc. Can't wait to see what this year has in store. It's actually more fun than the Belvedere steps, don't know why. Maybe because the area is a little more "park-y."

Friday, instead of some mileage, I had a pilates core workout at Longevity Health. I told you, that place is your one-stop shopping center for all things wellness. Click here, you won't regret it. Anyway, Dr. Margolin thought it would be a good idea to strengthen my core more than I have been doing at the gym, he says it will help keep my hips more in place and support my back. And it is part of the chiropractic package (I'm telling you, people, check them out!) I thought it would be gentle stretching and some ab and hip work, which it was, but boy was I sore afterwards. Lots of similarities to what I was doing in PT a couple of years ago, but more focused on the core than on the back. Rick the trainer was very patient and helpful (I've met him before at Broadway Bares -- he was a performer last year, and this year he was part of the Longevity gang that comes and gives the performers and crew free massages, chiro treatments, foot massages and acupuncture during the dinner break) and I think that it could really help me if I stick with it and do the exercises correctly.

And today -- Saturday -- what a freakin' day. I had to get up at 5am and out the door by 6:15am for a 15 miler. I needed to start early, because I was seeing the BEEHIVE runthrough in the rehearsal hall (the Cape show that's about to travel up to Mass. and begin performances) then I was going to help Dan (the other SM) pack out the rehearsal room and tape down the floor for my show. You can see my general thoughts on the sidebar. I deliberately went slower today so I wouldn't crash as hard as I did last week, which did work, this run was not nearly as much of a struggle. It got very humid and I started fading around mile 12, but I think I was holding back because I was able to sprint across the street at the light after the run, I'm usually completely spent. Unfortunately the pace meant no post-run rest at all -- I showered, downed some Endurox, then headed over to the rehearsal hall with a laundry cart's worth of stuff, then stayed there until 6:00pm dealing with CORPSE stuff. Because foolish me -- I forgot that I'm not taping one set down -- it's TWO sets (it's a big show with two complete sets.) Plus there's all of my stuff, and Dan's stuff, to sort through so I can see where I'm at. I was going to hit the Kinko's for a round of Xeroxing (why I didn't do it three weeks ago is beyond me) but I could barely see straight. And now here I am, writing to you.

So I've got to get up early tomorrow and drag myself to the rehearsal hall and see if I can get in and finish up. Ah, well, maybe tomorrow there will be time for a ... nap!

PS: I haven't done the drawing for the gift certificate yet, I will get to it soon, I promise!!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More For the Honor Roll, Today's 14 Miler, and Don't Call it a Mall!

The Honor Roll is back in business!

Please welcome the following people to the Fred's Team honor roll:

Kathleen and Lynn Emrich
Michael and Erin Amico
Amy and Eric Pot
Robert Swanson (aka "Robert from Chicago")
Shaun Colledge

The grand total so far:


Words fail me. Thank you all so much.

Want to join the honor roll by donating to my Fred's Team effort? Please click here.
This week's contest is open ONLY to those who have donated, and it will be in the form of a raffle. I will put all your names in a hat and pick one. The winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift certificate -- a real prize! So if you'd like to be included, and you were thinking about sponsoring me, now's the time! Raffle will be held on Friday night, July 27.

Can I show you all something? Check this out:

Pretty, huh? No, it's not where we ran. It's the view out my living room window. Ten seconds of history: Extell Corporation bought out as many buildings as they could on W. 57th and 58th Street in Manhattan, to construct what has been referred to as "Time Warner Jr." with shops on the bottom, hotel in the middle and residences on top (TW Sr. being the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle -- don't call it a mall! Remember when it was the Coliseum? Sigh...) They came to our building with an offer, but the offer was so low that we refused. So all the buildings around us are being systematically destroyed. Monday through Friday, from 7am to 6pm, the noise and dust is unbearable. But at least the weekends are quiet...oh, excuse me, at least the weekends WERE quiet. I return home today from my 14-mile run (more on that in a moment) to discover that the site was up and running. On Saturday. Many calls to 311 and the Dep't of Buildings later, we just found out that they did indeed get a permit for Saturday work. So much for napping after a 14 mile run. Why run at all, if you can't nap? I'll tell you, I've actually gotten to the point where I can nap through the demolition as long as the TV is on. But I was looking forward to a little bit of quiet today, I need to get some steno practice in. Guess not.

Did you say "14 miles?" Why, yes I did. We did a 14 miler along the Hudson River, a welcome change of pace from the Park. We started at 72nd St. ran up to 82nd and back, down to the Holocaust Museum in Battery Park City, back up to 82nd, turn around and back to 72nd. The weather was beautiful and there was a lovely cool breeze off the river. Right now I'm going to say that 10 miles is my wall. Getting down to the museum was no problem, but I lost steam about halfway back, around mile 11. I had to take a couple of walk breaks to work out the hip -- oh yes, big news -- NO PAIN IN THE BACK!! It moved back into my hip, where it belongs. Well, it doesn't belong there, but I'm used to it there. Apparently it IS one or the other. See, I knew running was a pain in the ass, and I have the proof.

Random running celebrity sighting while running today -- Gina Gershon! And if you don't know who she is, go to your local video store right now and rent "Showgirls." It's worth it. I see celebs all the time -- this is NYC and I'm in theater, but it's always strange to see one running. The only famous face I've seen on the run is NYC Gov. Elliot Spitzer. I used to see him all the time in the Park (before he became Governor,) I called him my inadvertant running buddy. Now he's mostly in Albany.

In other training news, Wednesday I did a triple-whammy massage/chiro/acupuncture to get the kink out of my back. Seems to have worked. They also have pilates and core training there (Longevity Health, your one-stop wellness shop!!) and my chiro recommended I do a core training session next week instead of the massage, so that's what I'm going to do.

Thursday, evil evil steps. Jeff had us do sets of 6 instead of sets of 3. I substituted other evil options every time he had us jump or hop. The hopping I think pops my hips out of place, which is what keeps landing me in the chiro's office. And the jumping -- I can't land lightly on the balls of my feet when we jump, and it shakes up my spine too much, and I've my share of back surgery and would prefer not to revisit it

A young boy would really be enjoying the view out my window right now, it's like Bob The Builder - LIVE:

Look how the pile has shrunk!

Friday was a treadmill run at the gym. And in a strange and slightly sad bit of Kismet, guess what was playing on the TV when I got there? That's right, "Rock of Love." Sigh. Well, at least I got to see how it ended. Can you believe they kept Tiffany? Oh mah Gawd!

And that brings up up-to-date on the training portion of our show.

As for the rest of my life, school continues apace -- I'm still at 130, I ALMOST passed the q&a a couple of days ago but missed by 5. Grrr! And, ahem, just got my notary test back -- and PASSED! Hooray! Ahh, the test was easy, that's why you see notary signs everywhere. Still, it's over and done with.

Sounds like the construction folks have knocked off for the day, so I'm going to get some practice time in. Tomorrow's Shea Stadium 5k was cancelled (DRAT!!!!) but I'm going to spend the night at my parents' house anyway, so I've gotta get this in before I jet.

Have a good week, y'all, and we'll talk soon!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Aching Back, "Rock Of Love," oh, and some running!

No new honorees for the Wall of Fame today. The total, alas, remains the same. If you would like to learn more about Fred's Team and donate to my Fred's Team effort, please click here (look, I figured out how to make a hyperlink!)

My dear friends, the event I dreaded has already arrived. I had hoped to forestall it until the end of the summer, but it was beyond my control. I'm sad, but resigned to my fate.

Yes, my friends, I can no longer tolerate hard liquor.

It's a regrettable side effect of training. Not that I'm a big boozehound, but every once in a while I do enjoy me a nice martini (gin is OK but I prefer a good vodka, straight up with a twist of lemon, please!) There comes a point in marathon training where I guess you get fit enough that it becomes harder to process liquor. This happened last year. First the hard liquor went, then about a month before the marathon the beer went, too. No fun!! I thought I had a few more weeks before the hard liquor got to be too much. Alas, not so. I was out with friends a few days ago. I haven't had a strong drink since Broadway Bares, so I ordered a martini -- and could barely drink half, and that was AFTER I watered it down. So sad.

Back report: The pain has localized to one spot on my back, just above my right hip, but it's exquisitely annoying and really hurts when I twist, which I am wont to do (I'm a twister, I confess.) I asked Dr. Margolin about my theory that because I'm built slightly out of alignment, when I run IN alignment, I hurt myself. He said that while it's the running that is screwing up my back and hips, that there may be a grain of truth to my theory. Does this mean I get to run all shlumpy now? 'Fraid not. Anyway, he suggested I see someone else at Longevity who can help me with core strength exercises, so I'm going to do that next week. In the meantime, I agreed to let Dr. Rubenstein (acupuncture) beat my ass with a spoon when I'm done with my Cape Playhouse gig mid-August. For real. I can't remember the Chinese name for it, you get whapped with a spoon. It relieves tension. Or something. As of this moment all is well. Today's treatment was very intense, and right now everything is a little sore. The pain spot is still "painy," but I think once things calm down it might feel better. Fingers crossed!

Training -- Monday I rode the bicycle in the gym, I thought it would be good for the hip. Gym biking is so dull. Even having the TV there doesn't help. There's something inherently wrong with watching TV while exercising, don't you think? But it does help distract from the hamster-on-a-wheel feeling. While biking, I watched the Bret Michaels show on VH1, "Rock of Love," where 20 women -- and I use that word reluctantly -- vie to be his babe.

Now, I'll admit, I watched both seasons of "Flavor of Love" as well as "I Love NY" and "Charm School" and yes, I did want to wash my eyeballs out after some of those shows. "Charm School" I found to be somewhat redeeming, it was as if VH1 wanted to do another sleazy "FOL" knockoff but forgot to let Mo'Nique in on the joke. If you saw the reunion show, like I did, you might have actually gotten a little misty-eyed, like I did, yeah, I admit it, watching her fight to get through to one particularly stubborn girl and her mother.

So anyway, "Rock of Love." Bret Michaels -- surprisingly articulate, and oddly juxtaposed with him talking about sex and etc. in much-bleeped terminology. The women -- mostly dancers (not the Broadway kind,) only 2 with their natural breasts (by their own count,) and boy, do they like to party. It has all the ingredients for a brain-shrinking good time, but there's something missing. Dare I say it, it's just not sleazy enough! I don't think I'll be following this one, though if it happens to be on, I might not turn it off so fast...

Oh, yes, running. Last night was supposed to be a Cat Hill workout (at 7pm) but when we got there, it seemed like every friggin' team in NYC was there. It was literally an assembly line of runners going up and down. Plus which there was a concert on the Great Lawn, so there was a stream of people crossing the street at the top of the hill. So Jeff ordered us up to the Great Hill, at the north end of the park. I prefer the Great Hill, but I was not prepared to head up there. I was seeing a show after the workout ("To The Contrary," at the Midtown International Theater Festival. This being a festival with limited venues, the show started at 10:30pm.) I didn't have a metrocard or money, and I needed to get home by 9pm to clean up and head back out. For a Cat Hill workout at 72nd Street, no problem. For a 102nd Street workout, it would be a 40-minute walk home, we weren't going to get started until closer to 8pm, and I figured this workout would take 40 minutes or so. Fortunately, when we got there, Jeff said we'd only do two repeats of the Great Hill. Unfortunately, he said because we were only doing two, we needed to charge up the hill, and also charge on the slight downhill (for those who haven't had the pleasure, it goes downhill from W. 102-110, then back uphill as it goes east, then there's a little bit of a downhill at around 106th back to 102nd, then it's flat as you head back west.)

Two seconds of past history -- last year Jeff had us do 8 repeats of the Great Hill, saying, "One repeat is a mile." Well, as it got later and later and the sky got darker and darker, it became clear that was no mile. By the time we finished, it was pitch black outside and we all laid out on the back of a splintery flatbed truck that was parked on the transverse, spent.

So last night, Jeff says, "Two repeats, that's 1.43 miles each."

8 miles, 12 miles, what's the difference?

Much love, and check out this week's contest in the previous post!!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

New Contest, Trauma and Triumphs, plus Many Shout-Outs!

The latest members on the Fred's Team honor roll:

David and Janet Sachs
Max Von Essen
Arthur Allan Seidelman
Michael Hall

Total to date:


I am continually honored by your commitment to join me in the fight to eradicate cancer in all its forms. MSKCC's motto is "Imagine a world without cancer." With your help, we won't need to imagine it, we'll be living in it.

Not to take anything away from the Sachs family, but let me point out that the other three people who joined the Honor Roll today -- Max, Arthur and Michael -- I've worked with them all in my "day job" of being a stage manager, and let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to hear Max sing, or get to work with Arthur or Michael as a director, or Max as a performer, jump on that chance as fast as you can.

In fact, all of the theater people who have so generously donated to my Fred's Team effort are among the best in the business, and I'm not just saying that because they've donated. I have been blessed to have worked with some of the nicest, most genuine and immensely talented people in the business, so let me call them out here. If you ever see any of these names in your Playbill, you are in good hands:

Peter Haig. Kathy Voytko, Grace Gonglewski, Bill Irwin, Curt Hostetter, GR Johnson, Michael Polak, Russell Treyz, Kim Russell, Jim Semmelman, Andrea "Spook" Testani, Jill BC DuBoff, Michael Clarkston, Maggie Horkey, Greg Vreeland and Greg Kordick (Gregs V & K work in TV, not theater, but it counts!!)

Okay, lots of stuff to get through, but first, without further ado,


and this one will be open to all:

Fred's Team raises money for the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. WHO IS AUBREY?

Email your answers to mgcontest@earthlink.net

Contest ends Friday, July 20. Contest 3 results are at the bottom of this post.

(FYI, next week's contest will be a raffle for donors only, so if you are interested in donating to my Fred's Team effort, please click on the link to my Fred's Team site at the bottom of this page!!)

Onto the running portion of the show: The bad news is, my back is still bugging me. Fortunately, as I said before, it's not the original injury acting up, but unfortunately, it's a whole new one. I had mild scoliosis growing up -- the hazards of being 5'10'' in 5th grade -- and it was never corrected. As a result, my hips are perpetually a little out of alignment, and running sends them further out of whack, causing problems further up the spine. Sometimes I think because my body is naturally out of alignment, when I force it back into alignment by using good running form (which I have been working hard on, because it was my savior after my last back surgery) things actually go more awry. Then again, what do I know? It felt much better on Wednesday after a trip to the magical Drs. Margolin and Rubenstein, so I made up my Tuesday speed workout on Wednesday and did the evil step workout Thursday, substituting running up 1 step at a time instead of jumping or hopping (both of which aggravate my back.) Friday was an easy 4-miler. Sore, but good to go.

I woke up this morning, however, in almost as much pain as I had on Monday. I laid on the heating pad and stretched it as much as I could both at home and once I got to the Park. We were doing a loop of the Park, and then running the "Park to Park" race, another full loop. 12 miles total. I didn't think I was going to be able to get through it. I knew I wouldn't damage my back any further by running, but I knew it wasn't going to be pleasant. But you know me, glutton for punishment, so I went out, thinking I'd do about a 9 1/2 minute mile pace for the first loop and evaluate myself and see if I was up for the race.

It was hot today, and not too humid, so even though my back was bothering me the rest of me felt fine. Jeff, our coach, had timed our start times so that we finished the loop and went right into the race, but I was a little faster than I thought I'd be, so I had a couple of minutes to stretch and evaluate. I felt I had enough in me for #2, and indeed I did, at least for the first few miles, which is the Great Hill down and up. I like the Great Hill (ask me that after we do the infamous 8 repeat workout later this summer, I'll tell you a different tale!) and the first mile was slow anyway because of the usual backup of people starting the race in the wrong pace group. But once we got to Mile 3, the sun started coming out, it started steaming up, and I started praying for a water station so I could take a quick walk break.

As bad as I felt, I did manage one "perceived" triumph -- and by perceived, you'll see what I mean in just one second. At mile 5, I stopped at the water station and lo and behold, right in front of me was Jeff. Now, I know that he started the race after I did so his ultimate finish time was faster than mine, but I immediately ran over to him, said "I know your time is better, but for one shining moment I can say I passed you!" and took off. My glee over this carried me the last mile and a bit (a 10K is 6.2 miles) for a 58:40 finish. Thank you, Jeff, for allowing me my delusions of speed. As he said, whatever keeps you moving (or words to that effect.) And the adrenaline was a wonderful thing -- for a while, at least, my back felt not as crampy.

Oddly enough, no pain in my right hip today, I guess it's either the hip OR the back. And also a little disturbingly, the bionic foot started acting up, but I should have expected it. I've been reading about the "Pose" method of running -- I'll explain it badly but semi-accurately, it focuses more on the falling aspect of running, so you're moving yourself forward by pulling one leg up, falling forward and stopping yourself by putting the other leg down. This is not the first time I've read/heard/thought about running as basically being controlled falling, when I first started running that was the image I had in my mind, and it makes sense to me. Apparently this method of running is also less stressful on the back, so I've been trying to adopt more of this idea back into my running. This involves landing on the balls of your feet instead of your heels. The ball of my right foot being the site of surgery #2, it should come as no surprise that it would hurt after a repeated pounding, so I had to lay back. Most of what I have read says to expect foot and calf pain while adjusting, and I know that I'm not going to hurt my foot, so I'll try it for a while and see how it "does" me.

All right, enough about me. Oh, wait a minute, this IS about me. Just a smidge more, then. So anyways, my times were good, not great. Slower than I'd like, but faster than I expected. You can see them on the sidebar, or view the whole training log by clicking on the link that says "View my complete training log" and seeing the results for July 14.

Moving on:

CONTEST #3 results!

The question was -- who, or what, is Team Hoyt?

Team Hoyt is the father/son duo of Dick and Rick Hoyt, who have been competing as a team in road races, marathons and triathalons for over 25 years -- a feat made all the more remarkable when you consider Rick can neither walk nor talk, due to an accident at his birth. When they run, Dick pushes Rick in a wheelchair. When they bike, Rick's wheelchair is attached to the front of the bicycle. When they swim, Dick pulls Rick in a small (but stable) boat.

From the Team Hoyt website: http://www.teamhoyt.com/

In 1975, Rick was finally admitted into a public school. Two years later, he told his father he wanted to participate in a five-mile benefit run for a local lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Dick, far from being a long-distance runner, agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair. They finished next to last, but they felt they had achieved a triumph. That night, Dick remembers, "Rick told us he just didn’t feel handicapped when we were competing."

And that's how Team Hoyt began. Since 1977 they have racked up an amazing record of (hold onto your hats) 942 events, including 65 marathons, with a marathon record time of 2:40 -- done when Dick was at least 50 years old (can't find the backup on that stat yet.) A real story of determination and love. I encourage everyone to check out their site.

And the winner is...


Gotta think of a good prize for you. I'll email you with a choice.

PS: Jay Fischler's prize for winning Contest #2 -- he took what was behind the curtain instead of the shirt -- was a gummi steak (like gummi worms, only it's a steak) and a key-chain calculator. (told you to take the shirt, hee hee!) Just letting you know the caliber of what's behind the curtain, folks!!

Okay, off to lay on a heating pad. Have a good weekend!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

First Injury of the Season

I am not at tonight's speed workout.

Monday morning I woke up unable to bend. My back was absolutely killing me. For the life of me, I can't figure out what happened. If I hurt myself during the Saturday workout, why did it wait until Monday to manifest itself? As the proud owner of a herniated disk (for which I had surgery two years ago) anything involving back pain sets off the alarm. I did all of my PT exercises, and even ran on the treadmill, which didn't aggravate the pain any but certainly didn't feel too good. Anyways, I think it's more of a muscle strain than a disk thing, since it's responding better to heat than to cold. It's also higher on my back than my surgery site. Unless, of course, I've developed a brand-new problem...but I'm looking at this through a half-full glass. I'm also, amazingly for me, going to try that "ounce of prevention" thing and that's why I'm taking an extra day off. It's also 86 degrees out, and my loathing of running in the heat is well-known.

I am paranoid that skipping one workout is going to destroy any momentum I've had. I know it's not true, but I feel it nonetheless. So even though I'm in the a/c splendor of my home, I feel terrible. But I know in my heart of hearts I'm doing the right thing by taking an extra day off. Therefore, nothing too huge to report today.

In other news, I'm taking the notary public test tomorrow morning. Should be fun.

Oh, did I tell y'all? Two seconds of background: I sent Mayor Bloomberg a letter asking for a Fred's Team donation. Well, a couple of weeks ago I got a call from his office letting me know that the Mayor did get my letter, and wanted me to know that he already donates to Memorial Sloan-Kettering and to Fred's Team in general. So there ya have it. But I thought it was cool that I got personalized service.

Short and sweet. I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow, and no matter what, I'll be at Thursday's workout. Until then...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Red-Letter Running Day, plus Contest Results and Contest #3

Join me in acknowledging the latest members of the Fred's Team honor roll:

Total to date:


I am truly blessed to have you wonderful people support me.

We start off with contest #2 winner. As you may or may not recall, the question this week was...what is the Engineer's Gate, and what is its significance to this blog.

The answer: The Engineer's Gate is the entrance to Central Park at 90th St. & 5th Avenue. All the main entrances to the Park are called Gates. Why, I know not. There are no swinging gates or anything, it's just an entrance. Maybe it's because it's a break in the wall that surrounds the Park. Anyway, that particular gate is located a block from the New York Road Runner's Club, and is nicknamed, "The Runner's Gate." There is a statue of Fred Lebow, patron saint of NY runners and the Fred behind "Fred's Team," at this gate.

So, there ya go. And the winner is...

Jay, you have a choice of prizes, as I am feeling magnanimous. Prize #1 -- the NYC Marathon t-shirt (size XL) from contest #1, or...you can choose prize #2 that's hiding behind the curtain...
Please e-mail me and let me know.

Contest #3 is at the end of this post, which is coming up soon, 'cause man, I'm beat after this morning's 13 miler.

So we're at half-marathon distance (almost, 13.1 to be precise.) And alls I have to say about this morning's run is -- WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT TIME?? Yikes!! Of course, me being me, my thrill over that time is overshadowed by my not-so-good last 4 miles. It got hot and humid and I wilt like a delicate flower in the humidity. I had to take a couple of walk breaks, and my right ass bone -- there's no other way to describe it, it's like where the top of the thigh bone meets the ass cheek -- was getting sore and twingy. So those ended up being 10-minute miles. I know, poor me. Now, there are some people on our Team who make running look effortless, like Michelle. I am convinced she doesn't break a sweat. I wish I could run more like her, not necessarily the speed (because she's fast) as much as the effortlessness. I do try to enjoy myself when I run, enjoy the journey, but I'm not sure it shows in my stride. I'm not trying to show people, "Look how I enjoy myself!" but to have a nice, easy stride, moving forward, not struggling. That kind of thing. I have really been working on this, especially this last week.

Today, for the first time ever, I finished alongside Michelle. That meant a lot to me, and Michelle, if you are reading this, your encouragement and compliments just about made my year.

Today was also a red-letter day because I had my first ice bath of the training season. For the uninitiated, an ice bath is exactly that -- you sit in a tub full of ice cubes and cold water. It helps to reduce the swelling in your legs (it also numbs you up so you don't feel the achiness as much.) I keep on my shorts, add a sweatshirt and hat, and drink hot coffee while I'm sitting in there. It's a special little slice o' hell. The first time my roommate Laura came home and caught me in one, I thought she would never stop laughing. It is a rather unique look. I will shame myself by getting a picture next time.

Okay, off to get my hair cut, at long last, so I leave you with...
open to all!!

Question: Who -- or what -- is Team Hoyt?

Send your answers to me at mgcontest@earthlink.net

Contest ends Friday, July 13, at some point in the evening.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Training Thoughts, Paging Dr. Rock, and Photos!!

The Fred's Team honor role is extended to include the following amazing people:

Dr. Gregg Rock
Callie Kramer
Kimberly Tate Brown
Raymond Tsao
and my Team total to date:

Words of gratitude are not adequate.

Rest assured I am working hard to earn all of the trust that you have placed in me by contributing to Fred's Team on my behalf. For example, look at the time I made today (July 4) on a 6-miler. 51 minutes. As I say on my training log (it's on the sidebar to the right of the posts) I actually mapped my route on Google maps to check the mileage. The only thing I don't time on the runs are water stops. I do stop the clock for that. But it's not like I'm napping between water stops. I'm only there for 30 seconds, a minute max.
I did a couple of further breakdowns, just for grins and giggles: From my house, to the reservoir, around the bridle path and to the fountain on the south end -- 25 minutes (3 miles) One loop around the reservoir (just over a mile and a half) --13:50. And from there home (just under a mile and half) -- 12:11. Granted that this last mile and a half is mostly downhill. There were some points, like the stretch from 79th to 75th where I realized that I was (for me) going really, really fast. But still, that taps out to an average pace of 8:30 per mile, which is my race pace, not my "pace" pace. I was pushing it, but not to the point of being too uncomfortable.
I guess I'm so skeptical about my improvement because I feel like it happened overnight. Yes, I know, I've been training for a while and do indeed expect improvement, but I expected to see it more incrementally, you know? Like every week shaving about ten seconds off my time, as opposed to all of a sudden I'm a minute per mile faster. Look, I ain't complaining. I love that I'm getting faster and able to maintain a faster pace over longer distances -- which is what this training is all about -- it's just odd that it happened so all of a sudden, is all I'm saying. I suppose I could equate it to dieting, another topic I'm well-versed on. You can weigh yourself every day for 4 days and not see the scale budge, and then on the 5th day BOOM you're 5 pounds lighter. Instead of dropping a pound a day as you would expect.

I need to take a moment to thank a special donor, Dr. Gregg Rock. He's my podiatrist, and did the bunion surgery that is enabling me to run this year's marathon. If you've got foot needs, he's your man. Plus he's a runner himself, I got his name off the NYRRC website, so he's great with athletes and athletic people who want to get back on the road ASAP. Pre-surgery, my right foot would start to ache at 3 miles, and by 10 miles it burned with the fire of a thousand suns. Let me tell you how much fun marathon training was with that. Five weeks after surgery I was cleared to begin running again. Five weeks! I have been putting this foot through its paces, no pun intended, and there is no more pain. It's thanks to him that I'm able to run again, so I shamelessly asked him to donate to my Team effort, and he graciously did so. And though he didn't ask me to do this, I will happily shill for him. Dr. Rock is the best, and I heartily recommend him. He's located in midtown Manhattan, and his office number is 212-397-3111.
We've hilled twice now, and we've done our first step workout. Man, I hate step workouts. Or to be more specific, it's the hopping and the jumping I don't like. I was never a good hopper and jumper as a child, and I'm no better now. I brought my camera to the last step workout, which I was wary of because a) it was raining, and b) I didn't want it to get stolen, which seems silly because we're leaving our bags at the bottom of the steps, and yet someone tried to walk away with my raincoat even though I was standing right there. We'll finish up today's post with some pictures I took at the last step workout. They're not too great, but YOU try taking pictures while running up and down the stairs!

Overcast, cloudy, storms threatening -- must be time for a Fred's Team workout!!

These are our coaches, Jeff (in the Fred's Team shirt) and Annie (in the blue pants,) along with Lynn and I believe that's Emily in the yellow. If not, let me know and I'll correct the caption. They're smiling because we haven't started yet!

My nemesis awaits...

My attempt at an action shot as I'm running down the steps, I held the camera in front of me and just snapped the picture.

About halfway through the workout. Nobody seems to be smiling now...hee hee!

I know I bitch and moan about the step workouts, but I do take a perverse pleasure in them. I will bring a camera to a Cat Hill workout and get some action shots there, too.

More anon!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Saturday's Long Run, and a word about Contest #2

The Fred's Team honor role now includes the following amazing people:


is the total. I am amazed.

Taking a well-deserved day of rest after yesterday's 11-miler, but I wanted to post a) to thank y'all who donated this week, and b) to brag about my AMAZING TIME. We did our long run yesterday morning -- a full loop of the Park, followed by a 5-mile loop. We did the Great Hill part twice and cut off at 72nd Street, which oddly I prefer to cutting off the Great Hill and doing the lower part twice, even though it's flat. Glutton for punishment, I guess. I thought I was going maybe a little faster than usual, but I felt good and I even had enough left in me for a finishing kick, which is that little extra "oomph" of speed to make you look really cool when you cross the finish line. Not counting the water stops and the trip to the bathroom (because despite using the bathroom not ten minutes before we began, I needed to go again almost immediately) I ran 11 miles in 1:40:50, which averages out to about a 9:10 minute mile. For me, holding that pace for that long without having somebody chasing me with a pickaxe is astounding. It's proof that all the pre-training training, and the actual training, is starting to pay off! If this keeps up, as we get closer to the marathon I might just have to predict a finish time...

PS: Contest #2 closes Friday, July 6. Forgot to mention.