Monday, April 27, 2009

Where I Run (Las Vegas)

This was the second time I've been in Las Vegas. The first time was fifteen years ago on vacation for a few days. I went on business (yes, business) this time attending the National Association of Broadcasters convention. (Not to bore you with the details of my job but I work in the web broadcasting department for my company and we wanted to see what was new and exciting for the future).

Having been ill the previous week, I was bound and determined to keep up with some of my training when I was in Las Vegas. I thought I was going to have a chance to swim but, the pool was too small to do laps at the Las Vegas Hilton (where I was staying) and the water was too freakin' cold!!!! So, I ran about 3 miles every morning I was there around the Hilton complex.

At the very bottom of this entry are two videos of my 'Where I Run' series I am doing. Granted, I don't run in Vegas all the often (as a matter of fact, this was the first time). But, thought it might be interesting. I am enjoying doing these series and probably need to upgrade equipment if I continue doing more of them (video camera phones are ok but I know they are not the best. But, very convenient to take along).

I got back Thursday night and the heat followed me home as it has been in the 90s (F) over the weekend. Feels like summer already. Friday night I did (2) 12 laps plus (2) slow, medium, fast laps in the pool. Saturday, I rode my bike (thanks Mitch!) 8 miles to get used to it. I didn't have a chance to run the borrowed road bike. It's much easier to ride than a mountain bike. And, Sunday, I ran 6 miles around Lake Galena in the morning. I should say I ran/walked in. It does feeling I will never get my stamina back. Patience, Joe, patience. Just keep at it and it will return.

Anyway, along with the videos, below are some pictures from my trip. I had a chance to walk 'The Strip' on Wednesday night. Hope you enjoy.

(Notes: I kind of made this decision before, but I won't be participating in the Broad Street Run this year. I've been focusing on my tri training and, truthfully, never had a chance to get in some longer runs for the event. I just didn't think I was ready for it. )

(above: Las Vegas Hilton where I was staying. Barry Manilow was appearing there for a permanent show. Could have bought some Manilow water from the Manilow store inside but decided to pass on that.)

(above: A statue of Elvis Presley outside of the Las Vegas Hilton. Elvis had an eight-year exclusive run in their showroom. 837 consecutive sold-out performances, entertaining some 2.5 million people. As the plaque states: Elvis, the king of Las Vegas.)

(above: The Flamingo Hotel at the corner of West Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Blvd.)

(above: The Paris hotel on 'the Strip'.)

(above: The Bellagio Hotel)

(above: The Bellagio Hotel and the start of the water fountain show that begins every 15 minutes)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Leaving (for) Las Vegas

I leave for Las Vegas in about an hour's time so this will be a very short posting.

Last week's tri training hit a bump as work became the priority and I came down with a bad case of allergies. In truth, I made my friend's and spouse very happy as I was speechless. My allergies affected my ability to speak. I wound up with a sore throat and dizziness for three days straight. Believe it or not, the thing that got me feeling better was a weekend trip to Massachusetts where, I guess, the pollen I'm allergic to, didn't blossom yet. As soon as I got back yesterday, it hit me again and felt dizzy until today where the rain has helped keep the pollen down.

I am promising myself that, though I will be busy in Las Vegas, I will find the time to get out there and go for a run and do some swimming. I don't want to fall too far behind. I had some momentum going for me and I don't want to lose it. I hope to take some pictures and maybe a video or two of where I run. Hope to have it all posted by Friday.

(Notes: As I am writing this, I know a few people still out on the Boston Marathon course. I know they will finish so I want to congratulate them and all Boston runners. I wish I could be out there one year.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Flat is Good

So, what's the difference between Pennsylvania and New Jersey? I am sure there are some funny answers to that questions from both sides of the river. But, for me the difference between Pennsylvania and New Jersey is....about 1 minute.

This past Saturday, I ran the 14th Annual Gloucester Township Scholarship 5k in Clementon, NJ. The race was about and hour and fifteen minutes from my house and, when I woke up, it was pouring rain. Now, you are asking yourself, what the heck was he thinking when he entered this race? It was for a good cause. It was in support of a friend.

You see, a few months ago, a work colleague of mine, decided to change her life. She would get up early every morning and hit the treadmill for a half hour or so. She decided to start to eat healthy. Finally, after all this time on the treadmill, she decided she wanted to do a 5k. She asked me and a few other colleagues at work who also ran, would we participate in the race with her? She picked the date and place. It was my duty to show for the race.

Let me tell you, a few hours after I woke up, it started to pour. No matter. I've raced in rain and cold before. Just gut it out and call it a day. Besides, as much as staying in bed on a day like that seems comforting, it would not have been worth it considering the harassment I would have experienced from my colleagues for not showing up. So, off I went to New Jersey.

When I got there, I met up with my colleague. Her family was there to support and cheer her on. Having done 80+ races, you forget how exciting that first race is. She was confident but nervous. She was asking me a lot of questions. I told her, don't run for time just for the fun of it. You will notice the difference between running by yourself and against others. And, you'll be surprised how fast the race really is. It will feel like forever when you are out there but, after the race, you'll wonder where it all went.

So, why is there a minute difference between Pennsylvania and New Jersey? Every race in the Bucks County 5k series, there is a hill. And, you can't get away from it. Because that's the topology of the land. You may be having a decent time in a 5k, only to have it shot down by the hill. However, this course was advertised as flat and fast. And, it was. South Jersey doesn't have the hills as where I live. There was some inclines on the course and some wind gusts knocked you over a bit.

I did the first mile in 7:44. At that point, it started to show there were only 54 runners in the race as we started to spread out a bit. I saw people ahead of me but not worth challenging to catch up with them. So, I settled into a comfortable pace at that point. I knew there was someone behind me but far enough away that I didn't consider him a threat to my pace.

At around the 2.75 mile point of the race, there was an incline you had to go up before making a right and heading for the finish. As you ran up that incline, you were running right into the wind. I felt I was running in a vat of tapioca up that incline. I made the right to head for the finish and suddenly, the guy behind me who was not a threat was on my shoulder and started to pass me. I looked at him and decided he wasn't in my age group but I'm going to make him earn the fact that he passed me. So, I sped up a bit. He answered the challenge and beat me. I ran a 25:18 to his 25:17. And, if you look at that time, it's almost a minute faster than the New Hope race last Sunday. In reality, I didn't think much of it afterwards as I wanted to cheer my friend in.

I waited for her with her family. We saw her coming around the corner and her kids began to get excited. As she headed to the finish, her family and the rest of us were cheering her in. She had done it and in great time for a first time out. The proud look on her family's collective faces was something to see. They were so happy. She was so happy. And, the rest of us were very proud of her as well. It was worth the trip just to see that.

Well, I stuck around for the award ceremony. As it turns out, I placed second in the Clydesdale division (200+ pounds). There were 5 Clydesdale participants in total. And, they were all 10-20 years younger than me. And, the guy who beat me? Yep, it was the guy who passed me at the end. As it turns out, all the awards were the same if you finished first, second or third in your division so I wasn't too bothered by that (I keep telling myself). And, for my colleague? Yep, she won an award the first time out. I was glad for her. I told her that doesn't happen everyday but, nonetheless, she should be proud of the award and proud that she went out there and ran the race. We all are.

(Notes: Congratulations to my alma mater, Boston Unversity, as they won the NCAA Ice Hockey men's championship on Saturday night in overtime against Miami (Ohio) University. A great game as the Terriers (BU) had to score 2 goals in the last minute of the third period to tie to send into overtime. Also, good luck to the Boston marathoners next Monday. I know you will do well. I got a road bike from my fellow Blue Dawg, Mitch, who has lent me the bike for my upcoming triathlon. I want to thank Mitch for helping me out. I appreciate it.
RIP, Harry. Yours was a truly legendary voice!!!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Return of the Mini-Cam

Well, my triathlon training is going well so far. I've been pretty good about swimming twice a week since early March. I was able to get out on the bike around the neighborhood for a 5.75 mile ride. Not bad considering I haven't been on a bike for years. I also am riding a mountain bike which was a Christmas present from my wife about 7 years ago. I hate to give it up but I also know I'm at a disadvantage using it for a tri. Not sure what I'm going to do.

One of the advantages of training for the tri is the cross-training its letting me do. My miles are suffering a bit but, having said that, I look forward more to getting out there and training again. I've been able to do 34 laps in the pool for a half hour. My goal is to do 16 freestyle laps without stopping, which is approximately the length of the swim portion of the race. So far, I'm up to about 8 laps of freestyle, 2 laps of breaststroke, and then back to 8 laps again, and on. After the half hour, I do 2 full-out laps of freestyle with 2 laps of breaststroke to cool down. I know it doesn't sound like much but it's a big step for me to where I was in early March.

Since I've done all this cross-training in the past few weeks, I was interested how I was going to do in the NewHope-Solebury Spirit Run 5k this past Sunday. It was a beautiful day. Temps were in the low 50s (F) and not too windy through the race.

I felt really good for the first two miles of the race. Actually, I was surprised I felt this good. I certainly felt better than I did in the Central Y 5k two weeks ago. But, the last mile has a few hills and I continue to struggle on hills. It is strange because I feel I'm back to my previous fitness level when I run on flat or downhill but, reality sets in when I run up hills (Patience, Joe, patience). (I also have to mention that in my non-competitive year, I did beat Chief and Eric in this race. Just mentioning it. Eric was injured so I give him credit for running the race at all.)

For this race, I decided to pull out the ol' mini-cam. I thought it was a good time to take some snaps along the way and show you parts of the course. There is a video, produced by TZ Sports, that shows the start and entry onto the track for the finish of the race. (I posted it on 'Last Race' on the right hand side of the blog.) If you look closely, you can see me crossing the start (look on the right hand side about halfway through the start. I'm tall with a yellow shirt) and coming onto the track (I'm the zombie-like runner, shuffling his feet. You could have caught me, Chief!). Hope you enjoy.

Because of my recent lack of miles, I'm having second thoughts on running the Broad Street race this year. I really haven't run more than 6 miles in any one training run. I haven't had time to put in that 8 and 10 mile run. I've been focusing so much more on the tri training and the 5ks that Broad Street has been more of an afterthought.

My company's deadline to enter as a team member is this Wednesday. Doesn't mean I can't sign up later (just not for free :-) ). So, I'm a bit on the fence about it right now.

Enjoy the pictures below. (The start of the race on the New Hope-Solebury High School property.)

(Going down Ferry Road into New Hope)

(Steve White ahead of me in the race. (But, not for long. :-) ).

(Making the turn from Ferry Road to Main Street in New Hope. The Delaware River is in the background.)

(Around the two mile mark on West Mechanic Street)

(The finish line in the background on the New Hope-Solebury High School track)