Monday, December 15, 2014

Top 11 Runs of 2014

Here were my top 11 @Marathoner runs of 2014:

1. 100th Race. Finishing the Brooklyn Half at the ocean was a nice opportunity to look at the big picture, breathe deep and smile really big. Then it was straight to No. 101.



2. 5K PR. The Turkey Trot may be a "fun" run for some on Thanksgiving morning, but for me it was a chance to finish a 5K for the first time with a number that started with a 2. A big deal for me! And it happened in Evansville, Indiana, where I grew up. I had a pacer on this one, which brings me to Rachel, our 19-year-old dynamo who took up running this year, so that's another reason this one meant a lot -- great to have someone to train and race with!



3. Running a mile with Ryan Hall. I was asked by ASICS to be part of the first ASICS LA Marathon Blogger Challenge, and that meant a long list of perks, the best of which was running toward Malibu alongside the ex-Olympian during a 3-mile shakeout group run and he and I trading wedding-engagement stories the whole way. He proposed in a lighthouse btw. This is him in the blue jacket and me next to him in the gray ASICS tee.



4. ASICS LA Marathon. It was a scorcher, but it was cool cruising through Rodeo Drive and meeting a couple English Bulldogs there, and then of course hanging with Deena Kastor after the finish line.



5. Meg's Miles. Last January 18, we came together as a running community to run in the memory of Meg Menzies, who had been fatally struck by a drunk driver while on a training run for the Boston Marathon. Let's remember her -- and the importance of running safety, even though she did everything right -- as the anniversary approaches next month.



6. Hamptons Marathon. I struggled pretty badly with a right hamstring strain that required 19 PT sessions, but I list it here for a couple of reasons. One, it was a beautiful course and a family experience, as Rachel ran her first Half there. Two, I used it as a substitute for the NYC Marathon and that meant not dealing with one of the worst cold-wind days in NYCM history. Rach took this picture in the med tent after I finished:



7. 9+1 and 4-Borough Qualifiers. I qualified for the 2015 NYC Marathon by running at least 9 (I did 10) scored NY Road Runners races with one volunteer assignment -- the "9+1 guarantee." I also ran the minimum four NYRR borough races -- Manhattan Half, Brooklyn Half, Queens 10K & Staten Island Half) to qualify for the United NYC Half next March.



8. World Series 10K. I work for Major League Baseball, and that meant working my 20th Fall Classic. Before Games 1 and 6 of the Giants-Royals series at Kansas City, I ran the loop around the Kauffman Stadium-Arrowhead Stadium complex. I Live For This.



9. Fastest Mile of my Life. I turned in a 7:46 PR in the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile, easily the fastest I have run a mile in my life. Hope you can do that at my age!



10. Boston Marathon World Run. This is not the Boston Marathon, but it was as close as I could get. Race organizers allowed you to run anywhere to pledge money for One Fund Boston, and you then get a finisher certificate, formalizing your participation in the actual Boston Marathon at least on the outer fringe. I did this by inventing my own marathon entirely within Central Park, and it was really challenging because of the hills (and solitude).



11. ASICS Storm Shelter Gear Review Run. You know those days when you are "between" in gear selection? I minimize those days by buying the right ASICS gear, and that was the case on this day. I went to Paragon Sports in Manhattan before a long run in freezing and drizzly weather, knowing I would heat up but needed to stay dry and warm, and the Storm Shelter was the answer. Runs are special for different reasons, and this one was special because of new gear.



...and for my Least Favorite Run of 2014:

The Color Run at All-Star Week. I think they're dumb. Let's keep running like it's a run.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Celebrating 8-Year Runnerversary

If there's one thing you should never forget to do as a runner, it's celebrate. Apparently I can't put my hands down when I run. I just passed the 8-year mark since I traded a box of KOOLS for a box of ASICS and I celebrate it every day. If it makes you happy . . .

Friday, December 5, 2014

ASICS Electro Jacket For Today's Space Age


I completed the #Orion 4:24 Flight Test Challenge in 17 miles, and in case you missed this original blog post you can see all the whys and whats below. I followed NASA's Orion mission in a few ways. One, there was a splashdown: It rained the entire 4 hours and 24 minutes, and alas I finally started landing in splash puddles around the NYC Financial District's uneven pavement at the 1:30 mark. Two, I did a first transit of Central Park after parking at 105th and Central Park West Drive, and then proceeded across 42nd Street to the West Side and then completed a large elliptical orbit of the Manhattan island. But most of all, I wore the latest in today's Space Age Gear.

Thanks to Boris and my friends at the ASICS Meatpacking District Store for selling me an ASICS Electro Jacket, waterproof and featuring a hood that allowed me to pull it over the bill of my cap and thus have a virtual umbrella for insulation the entire long run. It was solid rain the whole day and I had started out with my base-layer ASICS Fleece Half-Zip, but the old circa-2006 Mizuno rainjacket I brought was too warm and lacked a hood. I had an urgent need here, so after an hour of running I zoomed into that store and dropped $100 for the quick swap then returned to my run. As you can see from the photo here, I was able to pull the hood over my ASICS cap and that gave me that umbrella effect for my run. Actually, I was able to pull it over the entire bill and tuck it under for a snug fit. I felt some sympathy for other runners who sloshed past me on the path around Manhattan, most of them inappropriately attired. It was a challenge, having to dress warm enough, stay dry, and have moisture management for what eventual was a 17-mile long run. That's one of the hardest gear calls you can make.

The Electro Jacket also has a really cool internal red LED spiral light that goes into flash or solid mode, good for a dark and stormy day in the city. The hood tucks into a rollaway pocket with velcro when not needed.





The metallic heathered fabric with Teflon durable water repellent finish causes light moisture to bead up and roll away. Indeed, it kept me perfectly dry for this long haul around NYC.

Seriously, if I was on Mars with this sometime in the 2030s, when the #JourneyToMars is realized thanks to Friday's original #Orion Flight Test, anyone looking at me would think I am pretty solid NASA with the Electro jacket. I am going to suggest this one to my friend Nicole Cloutier, of public affairs at NASA, who unfortunately is sidelined by a broken ankle, so I wish her all the best in returning to running soon and hope she takes my ASICS tip!

Original Post: The #Orion 4:24 Flight Test Challenge

Here was my original post, for anyone still interested in running this on any day...

I invite you to join me anywhere on Earth to run for four hours and 24 minutes on Saturday -- or any day that works better for you. Let's call it the #Orion 4:24 Flight Test Challenge.



I happen to love space and rocketry. When I was a boy, I eagerly bought rocket kits at our hobby store in Evansville, Indiana, and took them home and spray-painted the long tubes and hung them on my mom's laundry clothesline in the basement to dry. Then I assembled them and took them to a clearing field with a large battery, hooked them up and watched them fly.

This morning, I got up early and sat transfixed in my living room watching the live UStream broadcast by NASA of its historic #Orion Test Flight to face trial by fire and start our long journey to Mars. It is an exciting time. Today's flight featured two orbits of the Earth, including a long second elliptical orbit in which two burns of the upper stage rocket booster took Orion 3,300 miles above our planet to apogee. It was great to see the dramatic views again, and my favorite point on the entire PERFECT operation was the rocket camera showing Florida's coast getting smaller and smaller at launch. I also really enjoyed the livestream itself, getting to "know" host Brandi Dean, seeing the mission control personnel, relating to the intricacies because of sensational work by NASA's multimedia team. I was, indeed, "on board."

As I sat there in fascination from start to finish next to my English Bulldog King Bingley (who snoozed), marking the time and comparing the speeds (somehow) to running, I felt determined and destined to do something on my own as a celebration of what the incredible team at NASA and its partners have done to return our excitement. Since Orion was able to do all that in just 4:24, I've decided to run for 4:24 and see how far I go. It will be cold and rainy at Central Park the whole way, but whatever. Orion just made it through the Van Allen Belts and then its plasma heat shield made it through re-entry. Besides, I am running the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11, my training has been subpar lately, so this will be an important long run for me. Just like a flight test. (Or is it test flight?)

On June 8, 2007, I did a training run on Cocoa Beach while I was in Florida to work the MLB Draft. I stood in the water barefoot watching a sweet sight: the Space Shuttle lifting off beside me. I am glad I was there, because the previous Space Shuttle flight I observed up close was in 1986, when I stood on top of our Miami Herald building in West Palm Beach, trying to make sense of the Challenger explosion. Here was me geeking over the 2007 liftoff.



So feel free to run with me, wherever you are -- for four hours and 24 minutes. While you are running, occupy your thoughts with how far the rocket just went, how easily the capsule landed, how efficiently everything went and how great our future is for humankind. One day we will know from investigating Mars how to better handle our own planet, and we will have other places to dwell in the stars.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Shower Pill Body Wipes Giveway and Gear Review

a Rafflecopter giveaway
We have a gear review from Rachel and a nice holiday giveaway here today. Our friends at Shower Pill were kind enough to send samples of their extra-thick athletic body wipes, so we're going to give away a box of 10 individually wrapped wipes here.



The wipes are awesome for me because I am always so busy and sometimes don't have time to take a shower. Sounds pretty gross but it's true. I tried the athletic wipes after a run when I had to get right to class and I got right into my jeans and felt great. The wipes dry really quickly and make it easy to get out of workout clothes and into regular clothes. It's obviously not a replacement for a shower but it is definitely perfect when I squeeze a workout in during the day and don't have time to shower!! I would absolutely recommend these for anyone who exercises in the middle of the day or for someone who doesn't have time/access to a shower right after exercising. - Rachel

In addition to entering our giveaway above, please note that from now through December 31, 2014, you can save 10 percent on a $9.99 box of 10 at showerpill.com or on Amazon by using the code: runner10

Giveaway Rules:
- The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, December 11. Winner will be announced on @Marathoner on Friday, December 12.
- Winner has one week to claim prize (I will contact you as best I can via email or social media) before a follow-up winner is selected.
- All entries will be verified
- Winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter and are based on the number of entries received. Remember to use the extra chances on the Rafflecopter entry to improve your odds!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Fitness Tips from Michelle Lovitt

ASICS Fitness Expert
Michelle Lovitt
From Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve, holiday traditions will bring us cherished memories of a lifetime . . . and some real challenges on the training front. ASICS & Pear Sports Fitness Expert (and 2014 NYC Marathon finisher) Michelle Lovitt is kind enough to share these important tips entering into this holiday season so you can make the most of a wonderful time of year and stay within your fit lifestyle.

Ready? Here goes:

1) Drink plenty of water before and after a meal. Water will not only help you feel more satiated it will help increase your metabolism and help your body burn calories more efficiently. Keep in mind that the increase in calories burned is modest, however the water keeps your body hydrated and functioning properly.



2) Don't drink your calories. If you partake in holiday festivities limit your alcohol (and eggnog) consumption to no more than two glasses. Drinking caloric beverages daily not only dehydrates you but also packs on unwanted pounds with extra calories.



3) Use smaller plates. Less chance of over-indulging if you can't fit it on your plate.



4) Don't skip meals to "save" calories. Eat small meals throughout the day and you will be less likely to overindulge later.



Thanks again to Michelle for sharing these helpful tips! As a celebrity trainer in the LA area, she specializes in weight loss and body sculpting. You can follow her @MichelleLovitt, visit her site at michellelovitt.com and get her fitness plans and workouts via the Pear Sports app. And if you want to know how to fuel properly in the days and weeks leading up to a marathon, see the tips she shared here last February before the ASICS LA Marathon.


How do YOU plan to balance training and celebrations during the holiday season? Please feel free to share any tips you have as well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ASICS Holiday Wishlist

I dropped in on my friends at the ASICS New York City Meatpacking District Store this afternoon and bought the new PR Thermal 2-N-1 Beanie reversable knit cap. I'll get plenty of use out of it as I start training through another tough NYC winter, this time for the Walt Disney World Marathon scheduled for Jan. 11. It's just $18 and a huge addition:



While I was in the ASICS store, I also took a barrage of photos of ASICS STUFF I WISH I HAD. Let's call it the ASICS @Marathoner Holiday Wishlist. If Santa wanted to drop any of this stuff under my Christmas tree or in a stocking next month, hey you're the jolly mon. Here are a dozen items that especially caught my eye on the "guy side" of the store, with links on asicsamerica.com.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

110th World Series 10K



Hello from Kansas City! I am working my 20th World Series, and this morning I put on my new ASICS GEL-Kayano 21s that ASICS sent me to review, and got in a glorious run before all the wildness begins between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals, which you can watch on FOX with Game 1 at 8 p.m. ET. The Harry S. Truman Sports Complex in Jackson County is shared by the Royals and the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs and it is massive. Which makes it also ideal for training runs for an @marathoner like me.