Monday, June 30, 2008


Hell with that "Basic Marathoner" training schedule I cited in the previous blog. I just looked on the New York City Marathon site and I am bumping up to the "Competitive Marathoner" schedule. That one's for me. This is the page I am printing out and keeping with me these next 18 weeks:

I just did 27 miles as my final Base Week, so jumping up to 32 this week is OK. Plus, I run 6-7 miles on a pretty standard basis because I love to run around all of Central Park. The other one called for 4-milers out the wazoo; my frequency will just have to increase. I'm ready for it. I am part of the Big Cat running team. I am not a little tiny baby kitten sucking milk out of an eyedropper.

My goal is 4:50 and I have some serious ass kicking to do. It is going to hurt, but no pain no gain. I only live this one life and I am going to push myself to the limit. My work habit ain't no habit, man, I do it on purpose; I push myself to the limit so my talent'll surface. Yeah, that's right. Here we go.

BTW, welcome to any new Twitter friends. I am @marathoner over there. My contact info is right here and I also am responsible for MLBlogs and my community blog is right here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Start of NYC Marathon Training

130 days 18h 12m 52s

That is how long until my third 26.2 mile journey of discovery. The 2008 ING New York City Marathon is scheduled to start on November 2 at the base of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and this time I will be ready. After building up my base recently, it is now time to officially start training.

I finished that event in 6:08 in my marathon debut last November, landing each right step on a different area for the last 14 miles due to excruciating plantar fasciitis pain. I had tried to compensate by crosstraining at hotels while working the entire month of October on the road for our Major League Baseball postseason, but I felt ill-prepared for what I would face. Although ecstatic about just finishing, I looked forward to progress and in April I ran a 5:21 in the hilly St. Louis Marathon, which included my best Half ever. So my goal now is to go from 6:08 to 5:21 to 4:50.

Here is my plan of attack, and I ask that my marathoner friends feel free to offer any suggestions as appropriate. I am driven.


I just got off the phone with my local sports medicine doctor's office in Manhattan, and made an appointment for 9 a.m. Thursday. I have three issues to monitor:

(a) There is a growing issue with my right patellar tendon area, tenderness just below the kneecap. I have been icing after I run. Last night I ran around Central Park late after work, and came home and iced it. It ached really bad after the icing. I can tell that at my present "base pace" I could be headed for knee trouble.

(b) Left Achilles tendon. This is the same problem I had leading up to the St. Louis Marathon. It never went away, so it was chronic. During that run last night, it was daggers at about the 2.5-mile mark, and a few times it made me want to stop, though I didn't. I don't want to push it to the brink of rupture, so I also need to have the good doc show me how to manage it. (I hope I don't get a layoff.)

(c) Weight. The last week I have been trying to eat smarter, and still I squeezed in a PB&J sandwich and milk just to apparently piss myself off. I was just raised that way. I can't survive just eating almonds. I am trying my best, and I am drinking water constantly, and I know I should eat a little something every few hours. Eating late is my biggest problem due to my schedule, I think. This is the area where I drive myself crazy and I will do my best, but right now I am carrying too much weight and I would like to drop at least 10 as fast as possible. I have a ton of nutritional guidance including from my athletic sons; hopefully I can be strong in this area. I often suck really bad in this area.


I am not running with Team for Kids this year, so I'm on my own somewhat. I am going to use one of the training schedules that are thankfully posted on the NYC Marathon site. This is the one I will follow:

There are other plans from which to choose, suiting many different levels. You should take a look at this page for yourself.

My base right now is just fine for the start of this. But again, it might be affected by whatever the doctor has to say Thursday so stay tuned.

Bob and Shelly Glover are the two authors of the Runner's Training Diary that I use, so I am very happy to follow their plan. I know that many thousands of other NYC Marathoners follow it so I'm in good company. It has all the speedwork breakdown I will need to know as well.


Time for me to get serious about my NY health club membership. I will use the Xpress Line with its eight machines to work all the major muscle groups. That will help me avoid the natural wear that otherwise happens to the joints, causing knee and hammy trouble. I was doing this before the STL Marathon and I know it made a difference; my quad lift was much better in that race. That is where I will work the core as well, and as usual I will bail off in the middle of many runs onto the grass of Central Park and just do crunches, side-ups, planks, leg lifts/etc right there under the sun to sweat and hopefully lose more weight.


If it's like last year, once again I will deal with a tough (one I love!) October schedule, where I am constantly traveling and at ballparks for the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series. Last year I got lucky with a World Series sweep in Denver. This year's World Series starts on Oct. 22. If there is a Game 7, it would mean that my travel day is Friday, Oct. 30 (Expo day). And if I'm on the West Coast (let's say the Angels are Game 7 home team and I return from L.A.), there will be some jetlag to go along with the obvious challenge.

This time, there is another big challenge. I will be working the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. I leave Aug. 5 to get there in time for Opening Ceremonies, and will depart on Aug. 22, the day after Closing Ceremonies (and men's marathon, which I can't wait to watch). I will be going everywhere the U.S. Baseball Team goes, buses to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, other events, wherever they choose, so those Olympic athletes will dictate my schedule. While I am there, I will try to adhere to the above training schedule as religiously as possible. I have been told about the occasional "black air" as pollution is worse there than anywhere on the planet, but others have told me that it clears away for extended stretches. I will deal with the schedule and the air, and I will deal with a full day of flying one way and a full day of flying the other way, and unless something changes it will be hello middle seat for me on both of them (knees).


I have the tunes to rock the bod with the pod, but papa need a new pair of shoes. The Brooks Glycerines I bought for the STL Marathon have been gold, at least as far as I can tell (knowing the knee is barking). The woman who sold me those correctly discovered that I have high arches, which no one bothered to check before. That made a difference. I might get the same ones, but I am tired of green, and I am up in the 300s with them now. I need to rotate shoes. I am good on other equipment, a closet full of the right gear. I need more GU, lots of GU.


I already have a reputation as that guy who dances across marathon finish lines. No one else does so I guess I am 2-for-2 and officially the solid gold dancer of the marathons. I am undecided on what song to dance across the NYC Marathon finish line to this time, so it's TBA. I am open to suggestions. Last year, in honor of my TFK lime green racing singlet, I danced across the finish line to Peaches & Herb's solid gold classic Shake Your Groove Thing:


I just know that this is going to make a huge difference in my second New York City Marathon. I know what to expect. I am not going to stop at a pay phone booth on the street in Brooklyn this time and call my Mom collect or stop to pet an English Bulldog for five minutes (that put me over 6 hours!). I am going to "chunk it" and focus on 10-10-10: 10 miles, 10 miles, 10K. I am going to stay in the middle of the streets, rather than last year when I hugged the right shoulder so that I could high-five 1 million kids (seemed like it)...that saps energy.

There is a long way to go, but I know from last year that 4 months flies fast. Especially when you factor in one month spent in China and one month spent working the MLB postseason. That's half of my upcoming training, so that tells me right there that I have my work cut out for me. I will be disciplined, I will try my best to eat right and keep guzzling oceans of water, I will remember that not long ago I was smoking cigarettes and lifeless, I will have the heart of a champion.

Please come along for the ride and leave comments and tell me what's up in your world, too. It's time to train for the New York City Marathon!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Fight Against Prostate Cancer 5M

That's Abe Weintraub. He is 98 years old. I was standing immediately to the left of this photo, one of the remaining participants in the Father's Day Fight Against Prostate Cancer 5M race who stayed around to watch the best thing in life.

I will start from the beginning.

It was another Father's Day weekend alone for me and I was determined to make the most of it. I spent Saturday hanging out at South Street Seaport, enjoying their raw bar on the NYC harbor. Way out on the horizon I could see the Verazzano Narrows Bridge connecting Staten Island with Brooklyn, and I imagined again what it will be like in November to run over that with 39,000 others. It rained off and on. I just took it all in. I had my backpack with me, I finished off a tilapia sandwich and Heinekens and then I headed uptown.

On Saturday night, I closed my favorite Starbucks at midnight, spending 4 hours working on letters for literary agents as I continue my pursuit of a bestselling book franchise. I watched the world go by around me.

I got up at 7:30 the next morning early and did same-day registration at Central Park for the 8:30 Father's Day race. It would start on the west side of the park at about 67th Street, and it would go clockwise around the park, excluding the hilly mile on the tip-top. Before the start, I stood in a line with other men to get a PSA test. That blood test was the best thing I did this weekend. I want to be 98 one day and still racing in marathons.

I tore the race up, for me. It was 173-trillion percent humidity. I was soaked just at the start line. I tried to conserve the first two miles so that I would have a strong kick at the end. I like to remember what experts have told me. NYRR director Mary Wittenberg once said at the start of my first-ever race, "Start easy, finish hard." And I remember what my Kenyan friend told me recently, "Train hard, race easy." Add it up and I just felt like I was going to be prepared for this. I pushed myself at times that I wanted to let up, and I finished in :49.45. It was two minutes off my time at this event last year, but factoring the humidity I was thrilled.

Then I listened to the live band and I won another raffle. That is where they huddle hundreds of runners at the awards ceremony and start calling off bib numbers and giving away prizes. I won a Scotland Run raffle last year. Now I won four passes to Playland in Rye, N.Y. Two years, two raffle wins. I am lucky. During that raffle, the emcee announced to everyone that a man named Abe Weintraub, 98, was out on the course and had just passed the 2-mile mark. Everyone gasped. It was hard to run today if you were in your 20s. So imagine being 98 years old, and traversing hilly Central Park in a running singlet, determined that you are going to get around to a finish line.

I stayed to watch that. But it was even better. First we had the kids races. I was watching 3-year-olds sprinting to the finish line -- the happiest sight of all. It was so pure. You know what I watched? THEIR FORM. I wanted to run exactly like 3- and 4-year-old kids were running. No one ever has told them to run some different way. Just stand back and watch them run. That is how we do it, people.

Then the bigger kids raced, up to 100 yards away, up to age 11 or 12. Most of the people had gone home by the end of that. But dozens still remained, and I was there with them. There was no way I was going to miss this. Then someone announced at the finish line that Abe was 10 minutes from finishing.

We waited. And then in the distance you could see the bright optic yellow race singlet of 98-year-old Abe Weintraub. He was accompanied by a few family members, including his son on Father's Day, and by one woman who was in tears, obviously a relative, maybe a granddaughter. Abe walked the whole way. He didn't need to run. That was the most wonderful thing. And then the NYRR officials did something beautiful. They brought out the finish tape that the winners break. Abe walked right through it, and we applauded as loudly as we could.

There were a lot of watery eyes. You didn't have to know Abe. I don't know him. They walked him over to one of those park benches where I took the photos of the plaques. Abe sat down. He was happy. He was smiling. I walked over by the area where he was sitting, and as I walked by, we exchanged looks and we each smiled at each other. I clapped and said, "Nice job, Abe." He waved.

I don't know if I'll ever see Abe again, but I know that I will never forget him.

I went home, and my boys called me on my blackberry. We talked for an hour or so. Ben was telling me about his back-to-back days of football practice. He is going to be a junior in high school, and right now he is playing first-string safety and wide receiver on the JV. I asked him what he likes best, and he said, "tackling." We talked about good tackling form -- I just want him to be careful and not tackle head-on. He is doing so great, so strong, so responsible. Josh is going to be a high school freshman, and he told me how he just poured in 30 points in a basketball scrimmage. He is trying out for the high school freshman basketball team, and he listened to Dad's advice on shooting his way out of a slump. "I did it Dad and it worked," he said. I think he will make it. Matt and Amanda were at the lake, and I was glad to hear that they were just chillin' -- a couple of Dean's List students who will be back on campus this fall and need some chill time now. Just think of how you have your whole career ahead of you, with so much responsibility, and how valuable it is to enjoy these moments now before the real world comes into play.

After that, I thought about myself, missing my boys and being without my Dad anymore, and I was feeling pretty sad for myself. I didn't feel like writing anything that day. But I think that in those moments you learn to just keep going forward, and you look for things that make you stronger. You appreciate an Abe Weintraub, finishing a race at age 98. You see homeless people begging you for money and you stop and appreciate how fortunate you are that you have shelter. Then you go to work, and an agent emails you and says he's not the right one for you but it looks like you're on to something. Then you go to sleep, you wake up, you wait for your PSA results, and you realize that you are living and even though it is not a perfect life, it is the one you have and you had better make the most of it.

Abe has.

UPDATE: I actually later found myself in video. WABC was the sponsor and had a live finish cam and you can see it on their website now. For me, it's in the :45-1:02 minute version. Good luck if you can find me, but I appear from about 6:50 to 7:09 on the timestamp. You can enlarge the video. I am on the right half of the screen, wearing a royal blue shirt and dark blue pants, blue hat. I pumped my fist as I crossed the finish line, with the gun clock showing I think 52:15, and the giveaway is when you see what looks like a white wristband on my right arm. Know what that is? It's the bandage they put on my arm after they took my blood for the PSA test. I forgot I even had it on throughout the race. The funny thing is, when I was at the raffle, I looked at my arm and wondered where it went. Then I realized watching this video that when I pumped my fist at the finish, it must have made it fall down to my wrist area and the bandage was just clinging there. Then it fell off. Ha.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

7 Miles on Siesta Key

Today I celebrated my one-year anniversary as a member of the great Big Cats Running Team. This has become a tradition in my life obviously, so once again I found myself running on a beach in Florida and having "the best day ever." It was the perfect way to celebrate one year in "the club."

The day after our 2007 MLB Draft at Disney World, I ran on Cocoa Beach and watched Atlantis blast off. That same day I traded messages with Bob (El Tigre Blanco) and he inducted me into the Big Cats as Mark aka Monster Cat. I had to choose the cat name. I was No. 82 on the rolls.

I worked the Draft against yesterday at Disney, and this morning I headed over to Siesta Key in the Sarasota area. It is listed commonly as one of the 10 best beaches in the entire world, something I just found out from my friend who is our former VP of Marketing at MLB and whose brother lives five miles from Siesta. I went first to the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, and the man there gave me the map below. He and the woman there both told me to park at one of the yellow-highlighted parking access areas, so I parked at No. 5. He also circled the Siesta Public Beach Access main area, which is more toward the middle of the key. He told me that Siesta Key is 3 1/2 miles long and "it should be perfect for you to go out and back and get in seven miles." And he was a Cubs fan, so naturally we then talked for a while about baseball and he gave me his card.

I wore my new Nike shorts and blue tech shirt that I bought the day before at the Premium Outlets Nike store near my hotel at Disney. I had stopped and bought four powergels at a local GNC, and I downed one of them right before the run and put the other in my pocket. I swallowed two of those little salt packs you get from a typical fast-food joint, and drank a lot of water in advance. I also had stopped and bought a Coppertone Sport spray. I had no idea that you could now get suntan lotion in a spray, and I was amazed at how well it worked.

After parking at 5 Access, I walked out onto the expansive and incredibly white beach and down to the Gulf of Mexico and proceeded to run south.

It just feels so good it's amazing.

It was 11 a.m. The temperature when I started was 89 or 90. Humidity was high as you probably know of a typical June day in Florida -- quick rain later in the day because it just evaporates all day. My first concern was that I didn't bring my Nathan's Fuel Belt, so I was wondering how I was going to stay hydrated. I didn't want to die of heat exhaustion/dehydration at age 48.

Once I got down to the Siesta Public Beach Access area, there were lifeguard stands, and I stopped and got water. Then I asked a lifeguard if there was any other water on the beach, and he said no. Like, tough dude. He was an idiot and should be fired. Fortunately standing nearby was an elderly gentleman who lived on the key, and he told me to just go up to any condo building and use their shower station or hose that is typically there before you enter a pool. He pointed especially to a tall white-and-blue building down the way. I wound up making that my go-to place on the way there and back.

I proceeded to run through thousands of beach-goers. I was dodging kids building sand castles. I was leaping over tiny rivers of water stretching from the Gulf. For the most part, the white sand was packed pretty well. It was far better than at Cocoa. The slope is more radical on the Atlantic side. Here is wasn't too bad.

I had my Nano Red with me as always, but most of the time I tucked the earpods into my sportband so that I could hear the surf. I really wanted to appreciate this. At times I would find myself just running like usual, focusing on form and one foot in front of the other, and then I would remind myself to really soak this all in. I don't get many chances to do this lately. I asked one woman laying there, "Whatcha readin?" She said something-Picault, and I came home and realized it was the NYC Bestselling paperback Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picault. I was just making conversation. It was nice to see all the people enjoying themselves. I always wonder about their circumstances, what they do the rest of the year. I heard one man tell another man, "...and they can tax that to the maximum allowed..." Talking shop.

I ran the 3 1/2 miles to a dead end on the south point. Funny thing happened there. I looked around, and it was a complete carpet of seashells. THAT'S where they go. So many people were looking for shells along the way, but the surf takes them into that corner at the end. Then I turned around like Forrest Gump at Santa Monica Pier and started running north again.

At this point it was a constant detour to a condo that had water. At one point I took my shirt off, hosed it down, wrang it out and put it back on. I had the other powergel at the halfway point. I constantly soaked myself. My nice Brooks Glycerins were all soaked with salt water and covered in sand. I probably am ruining them. I'll have to get a new pair. I didn't care, though. This was just a dream run. My right lower kneecap area hurt much of the way, but I am dealing with it and not making a big deal about it. I wound up icing it while I was driving back later.

When I got back to the 5 access area of the beach where I had started, having run 7 miles, I stripped down to just the Nike shorts. I went into the Gulf of Mexico and just had a blast. I was bodysurfing. The turquoise water, resulting from the pure white sand, was gorgeous. Nice moments.

Then I got a bite and headed back up I-75 for I-4 and back over to Orlando. Then I spent the rest of the day poolside. I then flew back to NYC, a great trip accomplished. Our Draft was unbelievable, magical. Soon I will be back in the rush of making this book franchise happen, following my current leads and continuing to refine chapter 7. For this brief shining moment, I got to just exhale, celebrate my Big Cats anniversary, and continue to build my own little tradition of running on a Florida beach. Thank you, Siesta Key.