It’s been a long time

Posted: March 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s time to get back into blogging. I have the New York half marathon tomorrow. I promise a full recap. This is for my mom, my wife and daughter, and everyone who has supported my training. God speed to me.

Triskaidekaphilia

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

On September 4 I completed my first half marathon (see entry the hampton half for more).  Let’s be clear, it was a thirteen mile run, not an official race.  As previously discussed, I wanted to enter an official race, but my schedule and desire (or lack thereof) to pay registration fees, did not jive with the rest of the New England/Tri State running community.  Hence, I designed my own course, raised money for a worthy cause, and ran.  I don’t know why I feel so defended about it.  I end up rhetorically explaining, perhaps qualifying, the run to every soul that I talk to about it.  Perhaps I should wait and see if there is a challenge to the validity of the race.  After all, thirteen miles, is thirteen miles, whether run solo or in an official capacity (not to be confused with the Feast of Maximum Capacity).

OK, I feel better getting that off my chest.  I wish I had a worthy blow by blow (or puff by puff) account of the run, but by in large, it was uneventful.  That is not to say that it was not rewarding or challenging, but in the end I felt completely prepared, and was rather happy with my effort.  Regardless, after my olympian (!) description of the Spartan Race, anything recent to that will pale in comparison, but I shall do my best.

I most definitely behaved poorly the week prior to the run in terms of taking it easy.  I was over zealous at the gym on Tuesday, leaned more towards aggressive than moderate on my run Wednesday, and spent my spare time Thursday and Friday spreading about 15 yards of mulch.  I was behind most of the week on my hydration.  My shining moment was a pasta dinner Friday.  Yay me.

So going into Saturday, the day of my race, I was sore, and tight, and wondering at which point I would strain my chronically ailing right hamstring and have to walk.  Note that I did not say pull out; I was prepared to finish this thing by hook or by crook.

I felt oddly good Saturday morning, and was even able to motivate myself out of bed, get dressed, hydrate, eat, and get out the door before 8 AM, my proposed start time.  Of course, despite having done suitable distance during my training, I questioned every heel strike and stride for the first few miles.  Was I running too fast, was I running to slow, would I make it?  Around mile four, I started to settle into my groove, which I have discovered is about how long it seems to take me to warm up for long runs.  Up to that point, the biggest highlight was finding a snapping turtle shell by the side of the road.  I found a suitable road-side stash for it, and continued on.

The first seven miles of the course were essentially uphill, with about 300 feet of elevation from mile 2 to mile 7.  I don’t know if that is a lot, but I certainly felt the gradual climb, and looked forward to my Forerunner beeping (or more so bleeping) that seven mile, to mark my ascension to the zenith.

Honestly, from there it was all downhill, both geographically and figuratively.  Well, I guess it was uphill figuratively, in that after cresting the final climb, I was able to light up the afterburners and cruise the next six miles rather uneventfully.  One of my friends met me around mile eight to send me good luck beeps with her car horn.  Apparently she put signs up along the route wishing me luck, which I regretfully missed.

I was greeted at the “finish line” by my wife and daughter, who brought me post run nourishment and fluids.  The run was an overall success, and I honestly felt fine at the end, which leaves me to wonder if I could have run it faster.  I finished in a little over 2 hours, which I am content with for my first run of that magnitude.

Having vowed that I would never train for a marathon, I now go back on my word.  The long days will certainly be longer, but I hope to make up a little for that by being faster.  The current plan is to run the Mowhawk Hudson marathon in 2011, assuming my work schedule and the Jewish holidays do not conflict.

Onward and upward!  Next stop, the Rugged Maniac!

Race Day!!

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

Here we go. What was supposed to be an easy week of workouts, has turned out to be a little more active than I planned. I missed my Monday gym workout, so that was moved to Tuesday. I have a way of getting carried away at the gym, and combined with a moderate run the next day, left me a little sore in the ol’ gluteus maximus.

Then I had 10 yards of mulch delivered. It’s a great workout, shoveling, hauling the wheelbarrow , dumping it, spreading the mulch, repeat. However, with a big run coming up, maybe it wasn’t the best workout to choose on top of the others. Oh well. There’s nothing I can do about it now.

So let’s get down to the important stuff. I will be running this route, getting out somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00. I’m hoping to finish in just around two hours. Please feel free to cheer me on anywhere along the way.

To make it easier to find me and follow my progress, I will be running real time gps tracking software on my iphone. The following links can be used to see where I am:

On your computer: http://www.instamapper.com/ext?key=5351219129414491646

On your mobile phone: http://mobile.instamapper.com/ext?key=5351219129414491646

I’m finishing even if I have to crawl. Then off to a celebratory meal at Jakes.

See you at the finish. Wish me luck.

This is for you mom.

Spartan Race

Posted: August 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

Aroo! Aroo! Aroo! I chanted with 249 strangers in the 11:00 AM heat of the Spartan Race in Brooklyn, NY. Off we raced to face a task that was simultaneously Herculaen and Sisyphisean. For those who I have not inundated with my experience already, the Spartan Race is a 5k (3 mile) race, with 12 obstacles. These obstacles, or challenges, range from crawling through mud under barbed wire, to scaling inclined walls greased with lard.

I trained hard for this race, acquiescing to the knowledge that I had not idea what to expect. I approached the start line with the courage of Ares, but by the finish, I felt more akin to Epimetheus, seeing much of the race in hindsight, as well as my mistakes and small defeats.

The race was held at Floyd Bennet Field, at the tip of the borough of Brooklyn. I was encouraged by the rather flat geography. The race organizers, however, were as devious as Hermes in finding ways to create both height and elevation to the course and break up the seemingly level terrain.

The start and finish juxtaposed in a small,sun scorched field, reminiscent of something you may find in the imagery of Tennyson’s Ulysses. Roughly the size of one and a half american football fields, it was bordered roughly to the south and west by parking lots. To the east lay a long berm, about 8 feet hight, that traversed the length of the field, and concealed the treachery that lay beyond it. To the North was moderately dense woodland, from which I could see emerging the survivors of previous heats.

From there, the visible obstacles were a serpentine path along the berm, an inclined, greased, rope wall, a mud crawl under barbed wire, and an incarnation of Atlas wielding a pugil stick, reminiscent of American Gladiators. I was able to get some ideas as to how to tackle each, most importantly the inclined crisco wall.

Most people early on were grabbing the rope and trying the climb up. This proved the be a cumbersome strategy at best. The best option appeared to be to run full speed, and try to run up the greased obstacle as far as possible, and then grab the rope, or if you’re lucky the top of the wall, and pull yourself over. The greased wall became somewhat of my Ithaca, my final goal, as Ithaca was for Odysseus making his way back from Troy.

I had adorned myself in a red mohawk, kilt, and Jagerman t shirt.

The adrenaline surged in my veins as the minutes ticked away to the start of my heat. I had no idea how to pace myself, so it was all a complete guess. I tried my best to stretch and warm up as the various elements of my pre race shake began to make my body tingle. There were only a few minutes left. The “King” of the race was giving us all a speech. I could not hear a thing. Then, with a chant of “Aroo! Aroo! Aroo!” the race had started

Odysseus indeed. It was as if the race itself was my own personal, anguished odyssey. The first obstacles were the serpentine run up and down the berm, followed by hurdling about twenty jersey barriers. Competitors were already dropping out at this point. Next came some running to a wagon filled with hay, and the more running to both four foot, and eight foot walls. I felt like Odysseus competing in the pentathlon on Scheria.

After the eight foot wall the run took me to a climb over a cargo net, and then into twisting, turning paths through the woods. Amidst this maze were two barbed wire crawls. Making my way through the second of these crawls, I was sure that the finish could not be far away, but as if someone had opened Aeolus‘s bag of winds, I was left to plod through more, seemingly endless woodland trails.

Finally the forest fell away, and I was sure this finish was near. Unfortunately all that lay before me was more hurdles, and a run to a giant pile of wood to climb over. I looked across the plain to a line of runner, certain that it was the next heat. To my dismay, I realized that it was my heat turning back to the next obstacle.

The finish was so near, but I had to first horizontally traverse a wall with chunks of 2 by 4 nailed to it. The problem was that competitors in front of me were not going as fast, and I lost my grip and fell off. This resulted in 30 pushups, and the challenge of crossing the wall again. After an uneventful spear throw, I only had three more obstacles in front of me.

The greased wall, that I thought would be a touchstone proved to be more so of a Scylla, to the barbed wire mud pit that was indeed Charybdis. Like Odysseus before me, I prevailed these two monsters, and enduring a couple blows of the brutes’ pugil sticks, I crossed the finish line.

It was an incredible experience. One that I have learned from, and one that I plan to build on. In October, I have the Rugged Maniac, a similar obstacle race, in Southwick, Mass. I have registered for the Tough Mudder, in May 2011, a seven to twelve mile race of similar design. Hopefully, I will get my chance to do battle with the Spartans again (the complete irony being that my High School mascot was the Spartan).

After party was great with free beer from long trail, and goodies from Muscle Milk, and Red Bull.

Perhaps the best part was traveling home mud spattered, in a kilt, and sporting a mohawk. For the most part, no one seemed to notice.

I scored a pizza from the Pepe’s in Manchester, Connecticut on the way home. A well deserved trophy.

I had all the best intentions to make it out to a Yacht Rock night at a local club. I was too tired. Smooth music can wait for another day.

Apropos of that, Keep the fire.

Race day

Posted: August 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

It’s a little overcast on the upper west side. I’m about to have my proatmeal, and get ready for the race. I’ll let you know all about it. Wish me luck.

We are…

Posted: August 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

…Family.  Last weekend my parents arranged for a photographer to take a family photograph up at their pond side retreat in the Berkshires.  Honestly, I don’t remember having an organized family photo before.  I guess you can count weddings and bar mitzvahs, but those family photos are a product of the event, and not the event itself.  The shoot went relatively well, my 19 month daughter failing to cooperate for the entire group photo.  I can’t really blame her, considering that there were various lawn ornaments that demanded her attention, as well as the landscape gravel that lends itself well to being thrown in the pond.

I had not seen one of my brothers in a year, and unfortunately the time I got with him was far too little.  Perhaps it is my nature, but I never feel like I’ve squeezed enough out of my time with people.  I definitely felt this way with my brother, him with three little kids, and me with one, it is difficult to find quality time.  That, and my work schedule for the weekend did not help.  This has weighed heavily on me this week.

It’s all about family though.  Whether it be ties of blood, or ties of friendship, we need to all take all the opportunities we get to savor our times together.  You never know when any time together can be your last.  Cat Stevens would be so proud of me.

Two days to go to the Spartan Race.  Stay tuned.

Last weekend could not have been bookended any better. It was a delicious weekend sandwich.  A ten mile run on Saturday morning, and karaoke on Sunday evening. It was the perfect way to begin and end this first weekend of August, or any weekend for that matter (although I don’t know if I’m keen on running 10 miles in January, for instance).

Ten miles was the goal.  Leading up to this run, the most distance I had every completed was nine and a half, and that was only because I got lost, and had to run a mile and a half extra.  In fact prior to this year, the most I had ever run was seven and a half miles, two years ago, and before that five miles when I was seven.  Yes, there was quite a gaping hole in my physical fitness for a long time.  My oblivion of slovenliness.  I had willingly run nine miles the week before in the ninety degree heat, and had barely survive.  It felt like too much, and pretty much after five miles into that run, I felt awful.

Needless to say, I had quite a bit of trepidation around adding a mile to what had a week before been a difficult distance.  At least I was smart to start early, and remove the temperature factor.  Additionally, I brought along some Gu in an attempt to bolster my intra workout nutrition.  I drove my wife crazy the night before, obsessing on my run as the focus of the morning, getting up, and getting out of the house on time.  I plotted out this course on daily mile.

I had trained my legs pretty hard the day prior, so I had that going against me, and I felt it as I eased into the first mile.  Quantity, not quality, i.e. speed is my mantra for distance, and perhaps my own passive aggressive way to make myself feel better that I am so slow.

I put the first mile behind me feeling rather good, and turned my attention to the next half mile which was a moderate climb.  As that drifted by, I began to settle in and was feeling surprisingly good.  My mind began to wander as it often does in my running meditations, and the silly words of Dr. Seuss drifted into my head:

We'll find something new to do now.
Here is lots of new blue goo now.
New goo.  Blue goo.
Gooey.  Gooey.
Blue goo.  New goo.
Gluey. Gluey.

Gooey goo for chewy chewing!
That's what that Goo-Goose is doing.
Do you choose to chew goo, too, sir?
If, sir, you, sir, choose to chew, sir,
with the Goo-Goose, chew, sir.
Do, sir.

The Gu in this case was chocolate outrage.  Brown not blue, and I did not have the pleasure of enjoying it with a migratory water fowl that subsists entirely on it for diet. My obsession to this point was maximizing my performance with proper intra exercise nutrition. In this case the Gu.  Fortunately, despite the above reference, the run was going well, and I had not encountered chicks with bricks, Luke Luck, or any tweedle beetles.  At a little under 5 miles, I sidled over in front of the Opa Opa Steakhouse, to open my little packer of carbohydrate and caffeine goodness.  The brownie batter like constancy and taste were surprisingly delicious and tolerable during strenuous exercise.  Note to self is the design some sort of carabiner system so I don’t half to stop to access my Gu.Lift off.  I don’t know if it was indeed the Gu, but I felt the best that I ever had.  I’m sure the cooler temperature had something to do with it.  The next 5 miles literally flew by, with an ease and speed of running to the point that I was worried I would run too fast, and not pace myself properly.  That point never came, there was no bonking, just smooth running.  I crested one of the last few hills, invoking Seals and Crofts, as a summer breeze wafted over me, indeed making me feel fine.

I finished the run, 10.3 miles, in 1:40, approximately the same time that it took me to slog through 9 miles a week before.  I was able to run the last third of a mile at a 8:12 pace, which for my ponderous bulk is fast.  Thank you Gu.

House work, a visit from my mother in law, grocery shopping, a visit to my parents, and a two year old’s birthday party filled out the next thirty some odd hours, and then it was time for some karaoke.

Karaoke is highly represented as one of Jagerman’s 57 herbs and spices.  It has slowly evolved from a cautious undertaking after a few Jagers, to a welcome, organized, practiced activity completely sober.  Yes, I practice my karaoke, I work on pitch, note progressions, and design alternate melodies for notes out of my range.  Despite that I remain mediocre.

Faux hawk in full effect I set out to the Paradise City Tavern in Northampton.  I had considered my black leather pants, but went instead with black Agave jean, Gibson shirt, and the Tul Star “chili boots”  (a reference to a pair of boots Homer wears in the Simpsons episode El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer). Karaoke starts at 22:00, so it’s always an extra effort on a work night.

I sang four songs, with a fifth that sat in the queue at kept getting bumped at the end of the night.

I opened with “Bad Romance”, by lady Gaga.  I had been under the impression that they did not have this song, as I wanted to sing it last time and was told it was not available.  I actually planned on singing “Poker Face”.  I probably should have stuck with “Poker Face”.  “Bad Romance” was more like “Bad Singing” on my part, but I stood stall through it and was a trooper.  Not my finest hour. A “C” performance for sure.  My friend told me that at least I hit the high notes.

I bounced back with “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon, which I had performed once before about a year ago, and that was a satisfying rebound, definitely in the “B” range.

A couple Jagers later I was back up with “Dream On” by Aerosmith.  I had never tried this song prior to being inspired by Neil Patrick Harris and Matthew Morrison’s rendition on Glee.  I truly thought it was out of my range, but with a few small tweaks, I owned it a few weeks ago, and really owned it last Sunday.  Definitely my new go to song.  Keep that one in the repertoire.  Solid “A”

My last song felt solid, but forgetful “Eyes Without a Face” by Billy Idol.  It went off fine, but maybe too boring for karaoke.  a solid performance, but not enough umph in the song.  Maybe it just felt anticlimactic after my previous song.

I really wanted to sing “Dre Day” by Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg, but it kept getting bumped and bumped, and the hour was getting late (or early depending how you look at it) and it was time for Jagerman to go home and sleep.  Next time we’ll see Long Beach and Compton together.

Truly a great weekend.  I glossed over the creamy middles. While they were delicious, the bread on this sandwich was really just outstanding.