Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What I Won't and Will Miss

I don't know why it takes losing someone to fully appreciate them, but that is how I feel today about Nora Ephron. Sure, I knew all about her movies and could recite almost every line. But I wish I had known Nora Ephron the person, and I definitely wish I had met her as a fellow journalist for decades. Her list of "What I Won't and Will Miss" is so good, I think everyone should try that out. Here is mine.

What I Won't Miss

Losing loved ones
Monday morning
Poison ivy
Republican vs. Democrat
Gridlock traffic
TV commercials
Shoveling late-winter snow
Going up a waist size
Running up hills
One-second attention span of social media
Overuse injuries
Book rejections
Poverty and hungry children
George Washington Bridge $12 toll highway robbery
Opening and closing our pool
Cancer everywhere
Tip jars
The color pink, with apologies to those who love it
Pro athletes who are jerks
Standing in line
Starbucks coffee
Tucking my shirt in
That magical way your hair disappears
College tuition costs and the whole system
Cramped flights and middle seats
No retweets, Likes or comments
Racists and bad people in general

What I Will Miss

Our kids
Running around Central Park
My English Bulldog King Bingley
The first snow
Cold beer
Upper West Side
Oatmeal with berries
England pubs
Finishing marathons
My house
Our pool on the hottest days
The common fight to end cancer
How it feels to help someone
Reading a great book
Tinkering on my workbench
Classic movies
Running friends as we support each other
Believing in yourself
New shoes
The smell of freshly cut grass
Making love
The Beatles
Indiana Hoosiers basketball
Red wine
"Free Bird"
An ocean with my toes in the surf
Cape Cod
Learning new things
Living on Earth

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mezamashii: The Most Brilliant Run Of My Life

Mezamashii is a Japanese word that means "brilliant" and looks like this:


@MizunoRunning is on a quest to deliver more Mezamashii – more ecstatic, electric, wind-in-your-heart running. More brilliant running. And along the way, someone who best describes a recent brilliant run is going to win a pair of Mizuno running shoes.

I just found out about it on my friend Michelle's blog. She's @nycrunningmama to those of us who follower her on Twitter. She has all the details there on how to enter, and make sure you follow @MizunoRunning as well.

First, let me tell you how I entered the competition...because papa needs a new pair of shoes to train for the ING New York City Marathon in November!

Mezamashii for me was in May of 2009. I arrived at the start line of the New Jersey Marathon when it was dark, giving a small box to a race organizer for safekeeping until later that day. I then ran 26.2 miles entirely in the rain, and I still get emotional when I think of how I felt for every one of those miles. I knew that at the end of that race my life would change. It is Mezamashii in every way, propelling you forward like you are flying, oblivious to the pounding torrents. At the Mile 25 fluid station I stopped and a whole group of volunteers handed me that little box and then told me, “What are you waiting for? Go propose to her!!!” So I did. I ran that last mile along the shore with some tears mixing with raindrops on my face, and then I saw her up ahead at the finish line, waiting for me. I crossed the finish line, no idea what my time was. I got down on one aching knee, and asked Lisa to marry me. She jumped on me, and I then bore the weight of two on one wounded knee, but somehow it was OK because it felt like it would feel in the future as a couple, carrying our weight together. She was so embarrassed by the official race photographer’s and videographer’s presence, but it was so perfect, and we lived happily ever after. My next Mezamashii is going to be in a pair of Mizunos, I hope!!! (I need new shoes.) 
You have already seen what the moment looked like.

You know what Mezamashii means, in your own special way as a runner. Please join Michelle in entering that competition. I hope I win but most of all I hope we all share really great stories. From what I have seen so far, that is no problem! Great blog, Michelle!

Giveaway Details:
  • Contest will run from Tue, June 12, 2012 through 11:59pm EST on Mon, June 18, 2012
  • Winner will be selected and announced on NYC Running Mama on Tue, June 19, 2012
  • One reader will win an invitation to the Mezamashii Project (which includes a free pair of shoes of their choice valued at $149.99 or less)
  • Open to US Residents Only
  • Winner has until Fri, June 22, 2012 to contact me before a follow-up winner is selected
  • Winner will be chosen via
For more information on the Mezamashii Project, click here.

How marathons use social media

The New York City Marathon's Facebook page posts a daily question for those of us running the race in November. I understand the rationale, having experience putting a sports league into social media and building high-volume accounts from scratch. We're 144 days out. They just want to engage now, create a conversation, get people involved, and then when the numbers build up, pound the products and services.

But today was a good example why it would be a greater benefit to read DAILY TIPS from on-staff or consultant experts rather than ask questions. Here is what they posed:

Today's Question: When you are training for the ING New York City Marathon, do you have a stretching routine? Do you just hop out of bed and start the run? What's your warm up? Tell us in the comments!

I did just that, and then it occurred to me that I am serving as one of their experienced voices, basically doing their work for them, because I like sharing what I have learned after nine marathons or ultras. I wound up reading a bunch of comments from people who would say, "I just start running," or "jumpstart with fresh brewed coffee and go!" Are you serious? That had no value to me as a NYC Marathon entrant. I guess you get to click and  amass other commenters as Facebook friends if you really want (not me). Here's what I would have rather seen when I opened my Facebook app on my iPhone this morning:

Today's Tip: How to stretch at the start and end of your training runs.

Then that should link to a page on that gives experts' stretching routines complete with videos and/or photos. Use content from the people holding this event or the webinar. Or just ask me because I know. In 2007, I ran my first marathon (NYC) with Team for Kids. One of the benefits of running for charity was having elite coaches and team training runs. I learned most of what I know now from that summer, and that includes how to stretch. Never stretch cold muscles before a run. Get at least 5 minutes in, I usually run a mile. Then I do dynamic, or active, stretching. I stretch the hammies, achilles, quads, IT bands. Torso twists, arm circles, sometimes I break out Tae Kwon Do stretching from my black belt coursework. I end with high kicks as I run in place, front and back, then 10 or 15 jumping jacks, so I am sweating and then I am off. After I run, I do more cooldown stretching, easy does it. Foam roller before and/or after. I even have favorite stretching posts -- a massive London Plane tree along the bridle path in Central Park, a fence next to a railroad depot on my trail course in Piermont (NY), etc. So much to talk about with stretching!

Since that's what the NYC Marathon race organizing body taught me, I wonder why they aren't using their social media platform to give daily training tips like that, from their own coaches. I know there are training programs to purchase, so perhaps this would cannibalize that service. In any case, it's what I crave, and I don't want to pay for it (see: NYC Marathon entry fee).

It made me think: What is your favorite social media usage by marathons?

The best I have seen so far is the Virgin London Marathon, and they are so good that I actually got value by being rejected in their lottery. Here's how: I decided to run the Paris Marathon the preceding week instead, but I continued to receive my regular London Marathon emails. They were awesome, too. They gave good tips, and my favorite part was their "Be Inspired" quote, which I would always then tweet on @Marathoner.

I also like how they provided marathon training music packages, for those of us who jam and run.

So because I continued to receive email blasts along with social media interaction from the marathon that rejected me, I was doubling up as the Marathon de Paris fueled my preparation pretty well. I give NYC Marathon credit for at least having a social media presence several months out, because for a while I was wondering when Paris was going to finally update their Facebook, Twitter and website with anything relevant. Then I started to receive emails like this:

That's more like it! "The tip of the day." MERCI, BEAUCOUP! It is so natural because as a marathon runner you are in that daily world of training and focus, and wanting to gobble up tips and inspiring quotes and important info.

I started this year with the Miami Marathon in January, and the best thing they delivered was a PDF with Ryan Hall training gameplans. Their @RunMiami account was outstanding, and I loved their user-photo competition after the event. The @MarathonParis Twitter account was tremendously helpful -- especially to a foreigner, speaking in any language -- once the event got within a couple of months out. It means so much when you are panicking that your finish time did not show up on the race app, and the race's Twitter account can give you an answer of relief very quickly to put you at ease. I consider responsiveness crucial to a marathon social media there for me and have multiple people involved.

NYRR does email as well as any race organizer, and the @nyrr and @nyrrnews accounts are pretty good, along with ancillary accounts. But their NYC Marathon account should move beyond questions...starting to get old, even though I try to jump into the comments. Just give me expertise and motivation as I dive into the gruelling summer to come. Last year was like a century ago, it doesn't matter, habits change in weeks, so don't go by whatever cycle was used in 2011. Fire me up and quit the questions!

I am interested in hearing other runners' favorite marathon social media usages, including links to those accounts. I find that they still are helpful to others even if you don't run them, and I find that even if you get rejected in a lottery, you can benefit by what they should be sending to their database users.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy National Running Day

I RUN . . .

Wow, that is a hard one. First of all, it's not really a question, it is more like the Preamble before your own Constitution as a runner. It is a noun and verb, and there are so many ways to complete the sentence, subject and predicate. Today is National #RunningDay, and I claimed my badge at by following the noun and verb as follows:

I needed one more character space to submit my original answer, which was: To Live Long For My Family. On Dec. 1, 2006, the year I lost my Dad, I traded a box of KOOLS for a box of ASICS and turned to running instead. My goal was to run a marathon within one year, and I ran that 2007 New York City Marathon for my Dad and for my three sons. I ran because I wanted to live long.

Now it is National Running Day in 2012 and I am starting my training for another New York City Marathon. It will be my 10th marathon or ultra. Nothing has changed. Along the way I met my future wife Lisa and proposed to her at the finish line of the 2009 New Jersey Marathon. I RUN for my family, to be healthy and there for them for many decades to come, the best I can do.

It is why I keep putting one running shoe in front of the other on some of the toughest miles during my training runs or races, why I count backwards from 100 when I am running up Cat Hill at Central Park, why I share this passion and commitment with so many other runners.

I RUN to live long and free, to always have a purpose and get the most of every day of life, my own person, going places and discovering and appreciating, forever. And to get lots more medals.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dumb Race Pics

The scorchtacular runners @ericasara and @RunForGlitter started a tumblr called SERIOUSLY UGLY RACE PICS, and my favorite part is that it takes me a really long time to sort through a lot of personal choices to submit. Seriously, it reminded me that in 2007, my first full year of going from smoking to marathoning and changing my life, I created a Dumb Running Pictures photo album on MySpace, back when it was relevant. It was actually an important moment for me, because in that instant of sharing it with a lot of other runners I realized I can be humble and poke fun at myself, and I knew  my running friends would relate.

They have just basically done the same thing here. I love it. So in going through my original Dumb Running Pictures album I am going to take out my clear-cut winner and STILL CHAMPION, by an ear:

It was the 2007 Scotland Run 10K, a New York Road Runners event in Central Park. Man I just look like the dumbest runner ever to wear running shoes. There is nothing like sorting through your Brightroom pics a few days after a race and looking for that one actual flattering shot and then Photoshopping the hell out of it and sharing it with others to present yourself as the studliest runner on the planet. I can show you tons of fatty pics to go with ones where I looked ripped. I'll submit more on the tumblr but for now this one wins. You?