Sunday, December 6, 2009

Miami Marathon, Marriage and Magic

Before reading on, help my friend Alyssa Milano get over the $25,000 hump with her very worthy initiative that you can find here. I guzzle perfectly clear Poland Spring water every day -- even started a water-guzzling challenge for myself -- and you cannot take that for granted as a human on this Earth. No more filthy drinking water for Alyssa.

Big events coming up in life, as I am training for the Jan. 31 Miami Marathon and then will marry Lisa two weeks after that. I am looking forward to 2010!

Today I celebrated my third anniversary of quitting smoking cold turkey and replacing it with water and marathons. My first race in that bold, uncharted territory back in December 2006 was the Joe Kleinerman 10K. I remember that feeling of making it all the way around Central Park with limited stopping. I remember how good my body felt later that day, and how much it made me want to run more -- which puts me here on the verge of my seventh marathon.

I remember those start-line words that day from Mary Wittenberg, head of the New York Road Runners and ING NYC Marathon. She told us runners in that Joe Kleinerman 10K field: "Start easy and finish hard!"

That is what I did today. Mary started us again, the morning after a wet snowfall. She noted that we were blessed with "great weather" and I agreed. It could have been one of those fun-run mornings, but they were able to clean the Central Park perimeter road and it was sunny and felt like high 20s.

I am starting to get my fitness back little by little and this finished off a good training week for me. I still would like to lose 10 or 15 pounds by Miami. Today I called upon something I learned from my Team for Kids coach when I was training for the 2007 ING NYC Marathon. We were training on hills and he taught us to count backwards from 100 whenever we came upon a big incline -- and to never look ahead at the ascent of the hill but to look slightly down. I did that most of this race. I literally counted backwards from 100 seven times, and each time there was a slight gradient in the oval I would resume counting. Whatever it takes!

Training on your own makes it easy to occasionally have walk breaks. Running in an NYRR pack pulls you like a magnet as you stay with other runners naturally, without thinking about it. It was a great day. My time was nowhere near my 10K best, but it was 1:06:51, with a 10:46 pace (9:13 is my PR pace). My first Kleinerman was 1:18:40. Today as I ran I also thought about that first race and how it felt, how much I didn't know (like that you are supposed to wash your running gear), and what feels best to me is not only knowing what I am doing to help my own life but how many people I know have been inspired along the way to run because of my own reports through blogs or whatever. If you can inspire one other person to run, congrats.

I really have to thank Mary and the NY Road Runners organization. Not only for this particular race (and being able to squeeze in), but for making my life better. I haven't blogged in quite a while but I want to say how wonderful NYRR is and urge anyone around here to be part of it. What a life-changer it has been.

I also liked the protein shakes after the finish line today, up on the 102nd Street Transverse. And I especially want to thank the two English Bulldogs who let me pet them on the walk back to my car, just before leaving the park. For some reason, every time I have a great run, I see an English Bulldog. I love them.

Big times are up ahead. After today's race, we just decorated our first Christmas tree in our new home in the NYC suburbs.

We are figuring out how to get everyone here for the Valentine's Day wedding and we are figuring out where to go for our honeymoon. I am also trying to figure out how to train up here and then make it through that Miami 26.2 miles with no breathing/asthmatic issues, as I've been known to encounter when going from snow to South Florida humidity. In 1997, I worked the World Series and was sitting in snow in Cleveland for Game 5 and then was in the humidity of Miami for Game 6, and during that game I had to go to ER and get on a breathing treatment. Hoping that goes smoothly, will carry inhaler.

Let's go with this adventure. Smoking days are so forgotten. I'm a runner.