Monday, May 6, 2013

One Month in Tony Horton's Kitchen!

If anyone knows anything about me, its that: (1) I love to eat and (2) I can eat put away rather large quantities of food at one time- such is my struggle with nutrition. I try to eat well, but cannot sustain it. If I eat healthy for dinner, an hour later, you'll find me raiding the snack drawer. Since taking up running in 2010, I have not lost (nor really gained, thankfully) a single pound. 205, give or take, is where I reside. The true testament of how much nutrition dictates your weight, so much more so, than excercise does.

So, enter: Tony Horton Kitchen, a (relatively) new food delivery service by fitness guru, Tony Horton, the creator of the ever popular, P90X. THK provides healthy prepared meals and takes the guesswork out of nutrition. One month ago, I took the plunge. Why? While dealing with an ankle injury for more than 2 months (starting Dec '12), at which time I did very little activity, I ended up putting on about 10 pounds. I knew with my track record of eating and nutrition, even with the ankle issues resolved, there was very little chance of taking those 10 pounds off without help. I also knew if I didnt take these extra 10 pounds off, it would likely lead to another injury. This seemed like the perfect time to give this a try and get my nutrition in order.
I also looked at how much I was spending on food. For the "flexitarian" plan (which includes chicken, fish and some beef) is $180 per week for the 5 day plan, $252 for 7-day, which rounds out to $36/day- which is the most expensive of the 3 plans (others being Vegan and Vegetarian). Some will look at that and completely jump out of their skin and say it is too expensive. While true for some, have we all taken a magnifying glass to how we spend on food? Adding up how much I was spending on eating out, ordering in, groceries and lunch during the work week, the amount I was spending was shockingly close to how much THK would cost. Realizing this, the decision to take the plunge was a no-brainer. Ultimately, the cost may be a bit higher, but that was something I was willing to pay for: convenience. No prepping meals. No trips to the grocery store (ok, less trips).

The other angle is: this is your health we're talking about here. We spend all this money on ourselves to make ourselves look better (clothes, gadgets, etc). Why not spend a little on our health?

Onto what you're probably most interested about- the actual food. Let me tell you, no one could be more skeptical about this than me. One who could easily polish off a pie of pizza on my own, wondering if Tony Horton could provide a meal that could satisfy my seemingly unsatiable appetite? And keep me full until the next meal? No easy challenge.

The first delivery arrives on a Friday evening and its packed really well (did I mention its free shipping? a 25+lb package, shipped free? no way!), with ice packs still frozen! After putting all the meals in the fridge, I excitedly tear open what would be Monday's dinner (since I already had dinner plans) and quickly take the leap. Heating is simple- either by microwave, oven or stovetop- I chose stovetop; once that's done, you're ready to go. Directions also indicate that you can "spice to taste". My usual aresnal of spices: any combination of salt, white pepper, garlic powder, chili powder and black pepper.

First meal: Lentil Soup with Plantains. What? Where's the meat, Tony Horton!? You've got to be kidding me! Ok, fine, I trust you Tony. First taste, hmm, okay, its not bad. I'll admit, a little bland, but doable. Though it wasn't terrible, I totally wouldnt have minded a burger or steak. But you know what, it really wasnt quite as bad as I thought it would be. The thing was, though I wasn't hungry anymore, I was nowhere near what I would normally consider as "full", which, again, for those that know me, is- until I cannot eat any more. So that is where my skepticsm was. The "testimonials" on the website and some commenters on their facebook page (most which are women) all said that the meals would leave them "stuffed". The meal definitely did not leave me "stuffed", but to my surprise, I was not starving (but was a little hungry) when I went to bed. Whew.

For the next day (Saturday), I decided I would do all of the following Friday's meals. Thought it would be a wise idea to try this out on a day where I had nothing else planned, so I would be home. Less temptation to run out to grab a bag of chips. Or Twinkies. Or a doughnut, mmmmm, doughnut.

Breakfast was Mixed Vegetable Egg White Frittata, which is essentially a veggie egg white omlette. I chose to heat this one up via regular oven, and it left the outside a little crisp and dry, while still leaving the inside not quite as hot as I would have liked. I added salt and tabasco to this. I normally dont mind veggies, but I was just not a fan of one of the ingredients, I want to say its the onions, since that is my least favorite. All in all, again, not great, but not bad. I did supplement with coffee and a handful of cereal. Level of fullness, on a scale between 1 (least full) and 5 (most full), I'd say I was a 2.

Lunch is where it picked up a bit. Italian Vegetable Lasagna with Beef Ragu. FINALLY! Some "real" food! THK uses brown rice pasta here (quinoa pasta other times), since they are gluten-free. The tomato sauce was really good and really tasty, with ground beef (grass-fed) in it. All I added was crushed red pepper. The only thing I disliked here was that there wasnt enough! Again, I was no where near "stuffed", but was a solid 2.

Dinner that night was Black Eyed Pea Minestrone Stew. Not much is different here- flavor was decent, added some salt and white pepper to liven things up a little. And again left me at about a 2.

With the "flexitarian" option, your meat is included for lunch and is usually chicken or fish (cod, salmon are the most common). Thankfully, I'm a big fan of fish. If you're not, this will not be for you. A lot of the dinners are stews/soups or similar. That may be by design, so you're not eating as much for your last meal of the day. That initially was not enough, but after the first week or so, its been plenty.

My favorites are definitely the pasta dishes and most of the ones that include fish. The apple strudel for breakfast is great also. Least favorite so far (and thankfully only had it twice in the 4 weeks)- veggie purees. It was probably the consistency, but c'mon THK, I'm an adult. Feed me solid foods! I felt like I was eating baby food. It was very hard to stomach. The other thing is that a lot of the dishes (usually the dinners) start to taste the same, but can be helped by adding different spices. Considering a lot of the dishes use similar ingredients, this is not entirely a surprise. Thankfully, I dont require much variety in my meals. If you do, this may be a problem.

I am supplementing a bit, mainly at breakfast. For the "non-frittata" breakfasts, I will add egg whites to supplement. Also need my morning coffee (with cream and sugar, yes, bad, I know!). As mentioned above, I do a bit of running, and most of it is after work. Since I'm eating lunch around 1pm, and runs start a little before 6pm, I do need a little snack. I've been going with fruit (banana, strawberries, apple, etc) or a Larabar, or almonds. Sometimes also a PM coffee (again, with cream and sugar). Some meals will allow me to go straight through without a snack, but is not common. And keep in mind I'm only supplementing in the PM on the days I run, about 2-3 days a week. After a run, I'll have a recovery shake- protein powder, sugar, salt, water.

The Bottom Line
So after 4 weeks of THK, how has it helped me? Here goes:

(1) the 10 pounds I needed to lose? Yea, GONE! (214, 24% fat, down to 203.4, 21.5% fat)

(2) Portion control. This is what was hardest for me, but also means its had the greatest impact. If the food is there, I'm going to eat it. If I'm not full yet, I'll keep eating. This eliminated both- and thus, the weight loss. I feel like I can eat more, but I cant (since there isnt anything left!). It defnitely doesnt take as much as it used to to satisfy my hunger AND keep me full until the next meal.

(3) Decreased cravings. No desire for a chocolate chip cooke from Pret, a Twinkie, or a doughnut (mmmm...doughnut...)! But notice I said "decreased" and not eliminated. I do still treat myself once in a while (even Tony does this!).

(4) I no longer think about food. I defintiely went from "Live to Eat" to "Eat to Live". I'll admit, that first day (listed above), I was thinking about food, ALL DAY. All that was on my mind was when the next time I got to eat was. As the days, then weeks went by, I thought about food less and less, to the point where I dont even wonder when my next meal is.

(5) Detox. Since I'm on the 5-day plan, there are still 2 days where I need to fend for myself. Sometimes, old habits will sneak back and I'll either over eat, or eat bad foods, or both. I find myself wanting to get back onto THK meals to get my body back in order.

You're not getting 5-star restaurant, gourmet chef type food here. What you are getting, is "Delicious, nutrient-rich meals delivered to your door"- which is gluten-free, dairy-free, and organic. It started off shaky for me, but my body did need time to adjust (you dont undo 30 years of bad eating in a day!). These meals won't knock your socks off, but you know what? If this can transform the nutritional mindset of a 6 foot, 200+ pound guy, with an enormous appetite - this will work for you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Back to Square One

It been nearly 6 months since I last updated. SIX MONTHS! Where has the time gone? Well, its been a rough last 3 months, as I've been dealing with lingering ankle issues since the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half in December. An issue that required me to take a DNS (did not start) for the Rock n Roll USA DC Half. Having taken a little over 2 whole months off, its as if I have never run, EVER.

Originally, the injury was in my right ankle. Took x-rays and an MRI and went to the Ortho (the same guy that did my surgery back in 2004). When all was said and done, he didnt' have a diagnosis for it and really didn't and couldn't do anything for me. This is why I dont go to doctors! Anyway, the pain eventually subsided enough where running was not bearable. The only other problem? The LEFT ankle has now been the issue, and is still bothering me. Its been lingering for a while now and there are bad days and worse days. The only thing that has really helped it along is KT tape, so I highly recommend it for any nagging injuries you may have.

So in the past month, I've just been trying to ease my body back into training mode. Starting with short 1.7 mile runs (once around the small southern loop in Central Park), then slowly increasing that to twice around the loop in CP. Yesterday was my first run without taking a break in the middle somewhere, FINALLY. Hoping to finally rebuild the base, so I can get into more focused training, since I have the following events rapidly approaching:

4/28: Run as One (4 miler)
5/30: Wall Street Run (3 miler)
6/1: Ride to Montauk (Century Ride) **(see below!)
6/12: JP Morgan Corp Challenge (3.5 miler)
6/16: Gold Coast Tri (Spring Distance- 750m swim, 11.5 mile bike, 3 mile run)
6/23: Run of Champions (5k)

And all this to be capped with the Olympic distance Tri again in Maine! Happy training.

**I will again be riding to Montauk to help support Team Viscardi! Please click here to find out how you can support!

Monday, October 1, 2012

September Training Recap

Fall is here and that can only mean one thing....cooler running weather is here! And with that, I am happy to report that Half training is in full swing and going pretty splendidly. Yes, I said "splendidly". For the month, I did 3-4 runs per week. Usually a hill session, long run, and either an easy run, tempo, time trial or race. Long run is up to 7 miles (doing 8 tonight), but the pace is not where I'd like it to be yet. Probably a combination of (a) the weather, though cooler, is still not as cool as I'd like it; and (b) I'm still carrying over some extra poundage that I gained from not training in the summer. Need to work the diet to correct that one.

I've even been to the pool a couple times, since its emptier now that summer is over. Spending only about 30 min each time, going about 1000-1200m, but in the end, I'm glad I got in some cross training. Volleyball has now started as well, so that will cover me (cross training-wise) while the pool is shut down for the next 3 weeks for maintenance.

Two races to report about- The Fitness Magazine Mind, Body, Spirit Games (aka 4-miler in CP) and the ever popular 5th Ave. Mile. Showed some improvement in the 4-miler over the previous Back to NFL run, finishing in 39:10 (9:48 pace). Again, I'm going to chalk it up to the cooler, less humid weather. But happy with the result as I was getting back into the swing of things. The following week was the 5th Ave. Mile. Not really sure what to expect, but was almost certain I wasn't going to match last year's 7:32. After going out SUPER hot, more so than last year I feel, I was almost completely gassed after the first quarter mile! So I pretty much chugged along for the remaining 3/4 of a mile and actually finished 3 seconds better than last year for a time of 7:29! Completely surprised myself, so I was happy with that finish.

The Rock n Roll NY 10k is now less than 2 weeks away and Urbanathlon less than a month away! Those will probably the last 2 races before I head back to Vegas in December to tackle the "Strip at Night" again. And I'm hoping for a MUCH better outcome this time. Also hoping for a better organized race. Time will tell.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rev3 Tri, Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Hard to believe it has been over 2 months since my last post which was on the Ride To Montauk. I'm now two triathlons removed and we're almost into September.

Anyway, this past Sunday was the Rev3 Tri in Maine! Overall, it was a great race by a great organizer. As for my performance, thats another story (more on that later). When I registered, I failed to realize that the race date, being at the end of the summer, meant that most of my training would be in the dead heat of summer. And if theres one thing I cannot do, is function in heat and humidity, thus rendering my training for this Tri to almost zero. So much so, that at one point, I had decided (almost officially) that I wasnt going to do the race. So with a little less than a month to go (after watching an episode of "Extreme Makeover: Weight-loss Edition", where the guy does an Olympic distance Tri at 300+ pounds), I again changed my decision, and then crammed what should be at least 3 months of training into 4 weeks. I squeezed in whatever running I could, running on the cooler, less humid days, ignoring the bike (again!), and well, trying to swim (saying the FMCP Aquatic center gets "crowded" during the summer months is a severe understatement). Thankfully, I went on a cruise 2 weeks prior to the race, and was able to run on the ship, and swim at the beach while in port. Let me just say, running on a ship in the middle of the ocean was a unique experience.

So then, how did I do, you ask? Well, to that, I respond with, "Hey, I finished!"....hah! Out of 300 Olympic distance athletes, I came in 290th. At least I wasnt last! Final time was 3:44:42 (40:54 swim, 1:36:47 bike, 1:16:22 run), which is slower than I had anticipated. I was hoping more of the 3:15-3:30 range. But thanks to my lack of training, this is my result. 

The swim was actually not too bad, considering its usually the one I am most concerned about, especially this time not having gone the 1500m distance- and yes, I was nervous if I could even make it, and went in having a "lets just survive this" mindset. The waters were chilly, but since I wisely rented a westuit from the good people of Rev3, it was not an issue, and probably even made this portion easier.The most difficult part of this was my inability to swim in a straight line, no matter how frequently I sighted. I felt like I swam double the 1500m distance because I was zig-zagging so much. This definitely added to my time and sapped some energy. It also didnt help that my goggles were completely fogged up, making sighting that much more difficult. Though compared to DC, this was much less chaotic, since it was an ocean swim (read: A LOT more room to swim) so we werent all going in the water one on top of the other.

So after what seemed like an ETERNITY to get to shore, I'm finally out of the water, unzipping the wetsuit, and making the .3 mile jog to transition. T1 actually goes along without a hitch until, after I go my bike shoes on, I realized I forgot to take the cleat covers off, AGAIN (I had also done that the NYRR Tri). So I had to bother with that for a few seconds before I was out on the bike course.

Bike course was not TOO much of an issue, just a little hillier than anticipated. It also wasn't "fast and flat with a couple of rollers" as they had advertised.  It actually was mainly all rollers, with a couple flats. Had some aches and soreness during this leg, mainly from not biking since the Montauk ride, but otherwise, I think it went well (asides from being passed by 50 and 60 year old women, doh!).

T2. Off the bike, back into transition, slip on some socks, my running shoes, shorts, visor and off I go! What did I forget? My gels. ARGH. I had gone too far to go back. There would be gatorade on the course, so I was just going to go with that. Otherwise, I think it was a pretty successful T2.

So onto the run I go, temps in the mid 70s at this point, it feels, okay. And just okay. Mile 1 marker came rather fast, and turned out I did it in 9:30 (which was WAY too fast), and it showed the rest of the way. After that first mile, I had to go into a run/walk, as I was pretty much out of gas at this point. Nearing the halfway point, both quads start tightening up big time. I spot a port-o-potty, and since I needed to go since the swim, and the fact that my quads could use a break, I made the pit stop. Back on the road, the quads would tighten up again 2 more times, each one calling for a quick stop and stretch to alleviate. Then once again, on the final stretch, I felt it. Just before returning to the crowds, I stopped to try to stretch them out again, so I could run through the finish strong. I reach the finish chute, and there it was, my legs, seconds from cramping up into big huge knots, all I could do was fight through it. Made the final turn just before the finish arch, found my adoring wife waiting for me, grabbed her hand and trotted through the finish together! All the while, the crowd is cheering you on. The PA announcer shouting out, "Ben-Jammin'!" to acknowledge me. What a rush. What a feeling. Though I didnt come close to breaking any kind of records, it was still a wash of emotion that I just completed an Olympic distance triathlon. OLYMPIC Distance!!

So looking forward, I would LOVE to do this race again, but would need a better training strategy, because training in the summer heat just is not an option for me. Anyone with ideas, I'd love to hear it! 'Till next time!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ride to Montauk Recap!

Game day! Finally! I don't think I have ever been so anxious than I was the 24-48 hours leading up to the ride. I could have used to vallium to calm my nerves down!  It was a 4:30am wake up call, since check in started at 6am for me, and there would be some travel time to get to Babylon. I went through with my usual race day nutrition routine, which was a bagel, banana and 20oz. of water. Packed up all the gear and loaded up the car and we were headed off to Babylon train station.

It was a cool (almost chilly) sunny morning. We arrive to Babylon around 6:30am to find it rather buzzing with activity already. I check-in my bag, grab a route sheet, and use the port-o-potty. Change into my bike shoes, and I'm about ready to roll. Still debating on whether I wanted to join the escorted ride, I finally decided against it, said good-bye to my loving wife, and rolled out with a few other members of Team Viscardi.

This first leg was from Babylon to the Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue, which would be a little over 20 miles. For some reason I thought it would be closer to 30. It was a pretty uneventful 20 or so miles, just had more lights and intersections than I would have liked (because that meant having to stop, and still being a "newbie" to bike shoes that clip in, each stop was a small adventure!). Toward the end of this section, the competitive, i-cant-do-anything-just-for-fun part of me takes over and I decide to pull away from the group. Surprisingly, another Team Viscardi member I was rolling with decided to follow me. And since I thought this section was longer, I was very surprised when I arrived at the Blue Point Brewery (around 8:30am) much sooner than anticipated. My original plan, before ride day, was to spend AT MOST 10 minutes at each rest stop. I quickly realized that was not going to happen. Between people hanging out, grabbing food, and the lines for everything (food, water, gatorade, potty), my desired 10 minute max became a 30 minute stop.

This second leg, from the Brewery to Westhampton Church would be about 30 miles, just around the midway point for the 100-milers. A large group of Team Viscardi decides to roll out together, now 9:00am, so we are out in full force! I try to hang around for about the first 5 minutes, then again, that i-cant-do-anything-just-for-fun side takes over and I decide to just break away from them, otherwise, I probably wouldnt finish until after 7pm! So I'm keeping it around a 16-17mph pace, when conditions allowed of course, and I couldnt help but start to think, will this catch up with me later? But I didnt care, I just wanted to keep going. Nearing the 50 mile mark, and close to the next rest stop, I'm really starting to feel it. I'm starting to get tired, my legs are burning, and worst of all, my butt hurt!  I was able to ignore it knowing the rest stop was near.  So as I approach the rest stop, around 11am, my original plan of "no more than 10 minutes" at the rest stop was out the window. I knew I had to stay a while, let my legs recover and get some fuel in me. So I pulled in, set my bike down, and just shook my legs out and stretched out for a bit. Took my bottles to refill and grabbed a banana. I really didnt want anything else to eat, fearing it my come back to haunt me. I found a bench to just relax on, just to recover a little.

So, from here would be another 25-ish miles to the Water Mill, the next rest stop. Now around 11:30am, as soon as I leave the rest stop, I feel a tightness in my right leg, almost like it was about to cramp. I try my best to pedal and stretch at the same time (I'm sure it was a site to others). I also downed some water and gatorade. It does finally subside and all was well, UNTIL....the WIND. This next section was, in one word, HELL.  There was a slight headwind all day, but this stretch on Dune Rd, for about 5, 6 miles, were the worst. I was literally going about 6, 7 mph. My legs were so on fire, that I stopped to stretch out and rest. This is where I started thinking the worst, that the fast start was catching up to me and that I may have to be SAG-ed to the end! So we finally turn onto Ponquogue Bridge to catch a nice break with the wind at our backs, and a nice downhill on the second half of the bridge. From here, it wasn't all bad, very scenic, then around 1:30pm, I arrived at the Water Mill. This was the imfamous stop with PIE. PIE!! I badly wanted some, but again, knew that it would come back to haunt me later. Refilled my water and gatorade, used the facilities, laid down for a bit, and most importantly, downed a small packet of salt. Money.

Around 2pm, I was back on the road, and it would be another 30 miles to the finish. I knew since I made it this far, no amount of pain or soreness would stop me from getting to the end. I'm not even caring about how nice the scenery was around me was at this point. It was, lets get the heck to Montauk!! And that is what I did. Trying to keep it around 15mph where I could, and if my legs let me, I was finally got to the final 15 mile stretch that led to the lighthouse. Here, is where it got fun. The first 5 were fine, but the final 10?  Lets just say there were a couple of hills. A couple of Cadillac mountain type hills!! At the END!! That was just wrong. So I push through the first one, levels out, I'm tired, I slow a bit....get to the next one. Same thing. Finally, not far from the end, is the biggest one. Fortunately, there was a big downhill just before it, so I was at least able to gain some momentum up this last one. It carried me to about 1/3 of the way up, before I was in my lowest gear already. As I'm going up this hill, I couldnt help but think that I'd rather just get off the bike and run!! Too bad I only had the bike shoes. Then the next thought, that as soon as I get to the lighthouse, I was going to just chuck the bike and not want to see it for a while (too bad I have a Tri in less than 2 weeks!). So, finally, over the hill, I see the line of cars, trying to enter the park. I know I'm close. You start to see the crowd, they're cheering. I'm getting emotional. Yes, emotional. Nearly choked up!! I'm rolling through and I see Ahmee, Lillian and David cheering me on as I roll by. I made it. 108 miles, and 9.5 hours since I left Babylon, I made it to the lighthouse in Montauk!!!

I was completely spent. I'm not sure I've ever felt that kind of fatigue before. That kind of burn in my legs. It was still settling in that I did that. I biked over 100 miles. And all for a great cause! Montauk....THE END.

Thanks for your support!

Just a quick and warm "Thank You" to those of you who contributed to Team Viscardi's Ride to Montauk!

It was a hard fought and might I even say brutal 108 mile ride from Babylon to the lighthouse at Montauk, but was well worth it to support a great school and a great cause. Although completing the ride was no easy task, neither are the lives of these children who attend Henry Viscardi School.

If you've been meaning to support but haven't, there is still time. The School's fiscal year ends on June 29, so you can still contribute until then.  You can do so in the following ways:

(1) "pledge" to support me on the ride (choose this option so I know that you contributed!). You will receive and "invoice" in the mail:

(2) make a general donation to the Henry Viscardi School (**be sure to select “Team Viscardi/Ride to Montauk” on the Restricted Gifts drop down menu**):

To learn more about Team Viscardi, Henry Viscardi School, or Abilities!, please go here:

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me:

Click here for a full recap of the ride!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

JPM Corporate Challenge Recap

This post is brought to you by Team Viscardi's Ride to Montauk! We are TWO days away from GAME DAY. You can still support the team. To learn more, click here.  I'm going 100 (actually, its 108 now) miles.

So last night was the annual (36th apparently) JP Morgan Corporate Challenge. It was my 4th year doing it, and it seems there are improvements every year. I must say, they finally got it right this year. Not only was it corralled (which they started last year, I believe), but they ENFORCED it. I mean, really enforced it. On top of that, they wave started, so that there was about a minute between corrals being released. This resulted in a well spaced out, not very crowded race. Never did I really feel impeded by runners ahead of me. Dont get me wrong, there was still a little elbowing in the beginning (normal for all races), but the one thing missing this year? WALKERS. Every year, without fail, there would be walkers in front of the runners, no matter how much they tell the walkers to start in the back. Kudos to the organizers this year. And to top it all off- Tech shirts!

So, it was a 7pm start, and we get to the park around 6:20pm. Drop our stuff off, get a quick drink and off to the start corrals. After a very lively 20 minute wait, which included a cheery warm up routine led by some instructors from Equinox, the starting horn went off for the Red and Green corrals (1st and 2nd). I was in the yellow corral, which was next (now, I will shamefully admit I "fibbed" my estimated finish time as to start in a better corral). My pace as of late has been in the mid-9min/mi, so my best guess is that I was mixed in with -8-ish min/mi people, maybe even slightly faster.  The horn goes off for my corral and off we go. Immediately I see that this group is pacing faster, obviously. And I said, what the heck, let me pace with them. I'm actually doing pretty well through the first mile, which included the 2 biggest hills (though not big in general) of the course. It was a humid night, so within the first mile, sweat was already starting to pour off of me. Lovely, right?  Half way through is where the faster start affected me. There was a water station, so I wisely took some.  I back off for about the next mile. I was glad to see that I wasnt the only one who "fibbed"! Others had already started walking. So I'm just pushing myself to just get to Cat Hill (going down!), to regain some energy before the final kick. I've never been so happy to get to the top of Cat hill. Finally go down, allowing gravity to do its thing and reach the boathouse, then the turn back onto the 72nd transverse. I see the finish line, and then a fellow teammate about to pass me. I go into a full out sprint (as does he) and we both dash through the finish line. My final time was 32:56, for a 9:25 pace, improving from my 34:12 (9:46) last year.

Overall, good race, good company, and most of all- well organized. Never thought I'd say that about this race!

Pre-race photo (don't ask me why Matthieu is "hiding" behind the pole)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Celebrate Israel Run Recap

Roughly two days removed from the Wall Street Run, it was time for another one- The Celebrate Israel Run, a 4 miler through Central Park.  I did the inaugural race last year and thought I'd do it again, mainly because it was my big PR and what earned me my 9:19 bibs. Was I able to achieve it again?

Another 8am start means up at the crack of dawn at 5am. Completely "unprepared" this time around, I didnt have my bagel, bread anything. Had to settle for 2 nutri-grain bars that were lying around the house as my pre-race nutrition. Seeminly not good already. So I take the 6am train into Penn, and after a lengthy wait for an A train, finally get to the park just before 7am. It was a cool crisp morning, with temps in the upper 50s and plenty of sunshine.

So after waiting about an hour, the race finally is under way. I sort of told myself that since I biked about 20 miles the previous day and did the Wall Street Run on Thur, I was going to take this one easy and not push too hard. But who am I kidding, I dont know the meaning of "taking it easy", plus, this was my PR race last year, I wasn't about to give up the opportunity of trying to do that again! Moving along, all is well, course is not too crowded, and overall uneventful. Approach the water station around the midpoint, and had thought about grabbing some, but ultimately decided against it to save time.

Get to the last mile, and admittedly, I'm lumbering. Definitely feeling the previous day's biking taking its toll, but still, I'm trying to push through. Just trying to pick people to follow and focus on a this point, so I dont slow too much. Made the turn back on to the 72nd transverse, and it was time to kick it up. A swift sprint to the finish and that was it. Did I PR? Sadly, no, final time of 38:11 (9:32 pace). Finished last year in 37:19 (9:19). But the peculiar part? 38:11 is the exact finish time for Japan Day run just 3 weeks ago!  Now, if thats not interesting enough, it wasn't until I went to update my Race Results that I noticed: Not only was this result the same as Japan Day, my time for Wall Street this year was IDENTICAL to my finish at last year's! So I guess if anything, I'm consistent. I got a kick out of this, as I dont think anyone could do this if they tried!

So we're only 11 days away from the Ride to Montauk. Theres still time to contribute, go here. 100 miles. I hope I survive. Following that will be the NYRR Sprint Tri on June 30. Then it'll be quiet until the big event, the olympic distance Rev3 Tri in Maine. 'Til next time!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wall Street Run Recap

Last night was the American Heart Association's Wall Street Run. A 3 miler through the financial district in downtown NYC. This was my second time doing this race, and I must say this year seemed to be better than last. Overall, a good, fun race, with picturesque views of the water during twilight. And great weather to boot, 76 degrees and clear, and most importantly, low humidity.

With a 7pm start, we arrived at the starting "corrals" at around 6:30pm. I put corrals in quotes because it was really just a starting area, and does not have the traditional corrals of other races, which separate you by your bib number. But this year (I dont believe they did it last year), they did place signs so that you can line up where your estimated pace is. That worked well, as I noticed I was not impeded as much as last year, and did not seem as chaotic.

The start is delayed a few minutes, I believe they were still clearing the roads. The start of this one is interesting because we make an immediate right turn, and if you get caught on the inside, well, you're slowed to a crawl. I tried to stay near the middle but somehow got caught in the crawl anyway. Out of the jam and was on my way. It was pretty uneventful from there. I was really thirsty though, since we were standing around for about 30 min, and I really did try to curb my water intake an hour or 2 before, so avoid having to go to the port-o-potty! There was only one water station, so I patiently waited for the 1.5 mile marker for that. I'm trying to take in the views of downtown, when I nearly roll my ankle due to the uneven streets. So from then on, as much as I wanted to admire the views, I kept my focus on the road in front of me, to avoid anything that will seriously kill my ankle. Thankfully nothing did for the remainder of the race.

So we arrive at the esplanade so I know the end is near. Its still fairly crowded at this point as the route narrows and I'm trying to plan my kick to the finish. Unfortunately, with too many people in my way, I was not able to go into a full sprint, so I just cruise through the finish. Final time of 28:50 (9:37 pace), I was hoping for closer to 28:30 (and would have if I could have gone into my kick!), and really WANTED closer to 28:00. But seems my pace has been pretty consistent for these shorter distances. Still trying to come close to my 9:19 PR from last year. Well, I'll have another shot this Sunday at Celebrate Israel. Until then!

A quick post-race photo

Friday, May 25, 2012

Swimming, Biking, Running...Oh My!

Going to cover a little bit of everything today, since it seems like I havent done that in a while. Heck, I haven't even really been posting!

Events Update
So I've finally registered for the NYRR Sprint Tri (400m swim, 13 mile bike, 5k run) on June 30th. I was falling into my trap of "I want to make sure I'm ready, then I'll sign up"- which we all know will eventually never happen. So when I saw that it was nearing capacity, I jumped on it. One month to train.

Speaking of Triathlons, in a bit of sad news, the DC Tri, which I did about a year ago, has been cancelled for this year. Whats more is, it appears the race itself will no longer exist! This makes me sad since, although I was not signed up for this year, I was hoping to do it again in the future. It was very well run, very organized. And it was my first Tri, so it has a special place in my heart. RIP DC Tri!

I've also signed up for the Celebrate Israel 4-miler in Central Park. I felt I needed to do this one again, since this was not only my 4 mile PR, but my overall pace PR as well.  Not that the course is any different from any other 4 miler organized by NYRR (Japan Day run was the exact same course), but its just that it was this race last year where I got that, so I felt I should give it another go for another big PR.

And just to highlight again, I'm also signed up for the Rock 'n' Roll NY 10K, which is October 13th, in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. As well as Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half (again!). This will total 3 Rock 'n' Roll events this year, meaning, not only will I be receiving medals for each individual event, but an additional one for doing 2 and then 3 races! Thats 5 medals in all, score! Easily amused, I know.

Upcoming Races/Events
A couple races coming up, the American Heart Associations' Wall Street Run (3 miles) on Thursday, May 31 and the above mentioned Celebrate Israel run on Sunday, June 3. I did not realize that they were only a couple days apart when I signed up! I guess it'll be similar to the Healthy Kindey/Japan Day weekend. Except its not back to back. That was rough!

And on Saturday, June 16th, will be the Ride to Montauk with Team Viscardi! Please click on the link or the link above (Support my Ride!) for more details on how you can support this very wonderful school for disabled children. I will be doing the 100 mile ride (my first one, yikes!). Though not a race, I would like to complete it in or around 6 hours. That is my goal. Okay, maybe 6.5 hrs. I dont have the ability to do things, "just for fun". Its either all out competition, or not at all. Even if I'm just competing against myself.

Oh yea, then theres training...haha. So I finally renewed my pool membership, and went back for a swim this past monday. It went alright, but I kept getting impeded by other swimmers, to the point where I completely lost count of how much I swam. I think I totaled about 800m that night.

Biking will probably be contained to the weekends. The weather has been poor as of late too. Not really sure when the last time the sun was out. I'm doing decently, and can maintain 80rpm fairly easily now on flats. It actually wasn't as fast as I thought it was, so I guess it means I'm in decent shape....

So my goal from now until the Sprint Tri in June 30 is to focus on speedwork. I started this week. I did 2 runs, with hills this past Tues and then intervals last night, which was distributed across the 5 mile loop in CP. Started with a 10 min warm up, then 1 minute at about 80%, with the last 15-20 seconds going almost full out. Walk for the next 60 seconds to recover, and then 3 minutes of easy, light jog, with the final minute back to about my 4 mile pace. Lather, rinse, repeat. Finally, did a cool down for the final mile. The challenge in doing it this way, especially in CP is the inclines and declines. Doing it based on time, it always seemed the "speed" portions of the intervals landed on the downhills, which, well, made them a bit easier. Perhaps I'll have to go the other direction next time I try it.

So, thats whats up for the next month or so for me. Lots coming up, and lots to do. 'Till next time.