Category Archives: running
Many of you know that I started doing Crossfit almost two years ago now and I love it. It’s totally addicting and fun and it pushed me to where I would never quite be able to push myself on my own. Some of you might also now that I have run three marathons. Baltimore 2012, New York 2013 and 2014. Well if you’ve never heard of a Spartan race it kind of marries those two passions of mine. It is a race but it is much more than a race. It involves treacherous obstacles that challenges you physically, mentally, and spiritually. If Crossfit is the sport of fitness than a Spartan Race is it’s proving grounds. Yes Crossfit has the Crossfit games but that is the elite of the elite. Anyone can sign up for a Spartan Race and really see what you are made of. From the average Joe to Navy Seals there is a Spartan Race for you. In Fact, I will be doing my first Spartan Race Super in two weeks at Mountain Creek, NJ Look for more to come when I recap that event in two weeks. Back to the Spartan Racing series.
The Spartan race was voted the # 1 obstacle race by Outside magazine. In a Spartan Race you can expect running, rope climbs, crawling, tire flips, mud, ponds, mud, hills, scaling walls ala Ninja Warrior, mud, carrying sandbags, mud, inverted wall climbs, barbed wire, fire,mud, and just general cool shit. It’s an adult playground to say the least. For some people this sounds like hell on earth but for people like me this sounds like a day full of fun. Where else can you challenge yourself to these extremes and put yourself in real world situations at the same time creating a bond with a group of friends that will last a lifetime. There is a saying that those who suffer together bond together. CrossFit does that for a lot of people and so does the Spartan Race. Get out of the gym and complete a Spartan Race with your buddies. Right now on the Sparta Race website they are offering a 15% discount with the code LABORDAY. If this video doesn’t get you inspired I don’t know what will.
Spartan race is also trying to promote a few upcoming events. First is the Spartan Race world championships which take place in Killington Vermont on September 20th. This will air on NBC Sports. Look on your channel guide to find an airtime near you. This is the extreme version of what you and your buddies will be doing but many of the same obstacles but done at a ridiculous pace and with more severe consequences. If you want to see some of the world’s most well rounded athletes doing crazy stunts while tackling a 14 mile course with elevations of 12,000 feet then tune in.
The other cool thing that Spartan Race is trying to do is a Spartan cruise. If you’re like me and fitness is your passion and your lifestyle than maybe you would want to go on a fitness based vacation. This cruise leaves out of Miami and you will most certainly have the experience of a lifetime. Anyone who is interested in the cruise can fill out the form below and you will be entered into a raffle for a free cruise with airfare included courtesy of Jerseystrong and Spartan Race. http://bit.ly/spartancruisegiveaway
The one thing that people ask me the most is what I eat. The last time I wrote a post about what I eat was over a year ago. I often will look for ways to improve my diet or make small changes to hopefully create some big results. In the past year I quit drinking Diet Coke completely and I have adopted a “eat real food” mentality with my diet. In my last post. Things I Eat, I spoke about how I really monitor my diet during the week and then on the weekends I let go a little bit. I still do that. Before you all think that I am crazy I am a man of habits and almost every Saturday morning you can find me at the Swiss Chalet in Morristown having coffee and donuts before I go for my run. I also have dessert with Saturday dinner most weeks. However, monday-friday I adhere to a strict calorie allotment and then Saturday is a cheat day and often Sunday Dinner is a cheat meal as well. I try to eat for fuel 80% of the time and eat for enjoyment 20% of the time. That being said I never eat anything that I don’t like. I look forward to eating and I really enjoy everything I eat but I save the things like sweets for my cheat days. One of the differences between what I eat now and what I ate then is my focus on eating real foods. Nothing from a box or a bag. Basically my motto is if it has a label it is a product and not a food. In that previous blog I listed things like frozen meals, fast food items such as Dunkin Donuts egg white sandwiches, chips and salsa, greek yogurt, and many other things that I no longer eat. My old mind set was that as long as I stay under my calories the food doesn’t matter. Now, I don’t think of food as a diet but as fuel for my lifestyle. I work out quite a bit and without proper nutrition that would not be possible. The other switch that I have made is my protein requirements. My goal is one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. When I wrote that last article protein wasn’t really a concern. Since I ran the NYC Marathon in November I have cut down on the running quite a bit and been focused more on CrossFit. I still run on the weekends but primarily focus on speed and hill work rather than distance. Nutrition is about abundance and not deprivation. In order to fuel my current workout style the protein is a major concern as well as good carbohydrate options around my workouts. Things that I have cut out of my diet completely (Monday through Friday) are cheese, milk, soda, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and anything processed. Because of my extremely busy schedule and time constraints I do buy frozen vegetables and pre-cooked proteins but I make sure to read the labels. Frozen spinach needs to have one ingredient only. Spinach! Not all of them do. There are a few items I will also buy in jars and boxes but I have a 5 ingredient rule. If it has more than 5 ingredients I don’t buy it. Another rule that I have is that I use spices to flavor food and not sauces. Sauces have excess calories and are often heavy cream or flour based. StoneWall Kitchen has a great Salsa Verde that I use a lot on all types of meats. It has only 4 ingredients which is a much better option than Tostitos salsa. Basically it is tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro pureed. Just how you would make fresh salsa at home. I buy Organic produce whenever I can and I am not afraid of fat. For those of you who follow me on Twitter (JoeLopez55) you know that I often write about how sugar is the enemy when it comes to diet and health and not fat. The worst thing for dietary fat is that it is called fat and people associate it with body fat. I eat butter and eggs every day and steak and avocados once a week. When I make vegetables I often cook them in bacon fat or use butter to flavor them. My macronutrient goals are 40% fats, 35% carbohydrates, and 25% protein. I am up 10 pounds since I ran the marathon on November 3rd but my body fat percentage has stayed the same. I want to lost about 3 percent body fat so I am in the process of making another adjustment and experimenting with some other diet changes but more on that another day.
Here is a sample day of eating for me:
5 eggs, 3 cups Kale, 3 slices Bacon, One Sweet Potato, 2 pats Butter, Double Espresso, Stevia
Protein Coffee courtesy of Sparta Nutrition Store.
Grilled Salmon no skin 8 oz, Salsa Verde, 1 cup of Spinach, 1 cup of pureed Winter Squash, 2 pats Butter, Double Espresso, Stevia
Homemade Chia Bar, Protein Shake 2 scoops Optimum Nutrition, 1 Orange.
Carbohydrates 175 grams
Fat 98 grams
Protein 189 Grams
Fiber 42 grams
Sugar 59 grams
The NYC Marathon was all that I expected and more. I had heard about the crowds and the noise level and the massive amounts of runners but you really can’t prepare for that unless you have experienced it. 2 Millions plus spectators who are loud and cheering for you like you are Derek Jeter. Every recreational athlete should get to experience that at some point in their lives.
My alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. but I shot awake at 3:30. I was quite anxious for the day to begin. Every meticulous detail was pre-planned from what I was going to eat to how I was going to put on my layered clothes to prepare for the waiting outside at Fort Wadsworth. Shower; Check. Water; Check. Body Glide; Check. I got my cup of coffee and had my oatmeal and hit the road to meet my ride to Met Life Stadium. Getting to Met Life was a breeze at 4:45 in the morning. There were hundreds of buses lined up ready to roll. As we got on the bus I expected a fairly short drive but instead it took us an hour and a half. The traffic getting near the Verrazano bridge was stand still. It was tough sitting down for that long but we were going to have to wait around anyway so I reasoned that it was better on a warm bus than out in the cold. When we got there the security presence was heavy. Metal Detectors and wands were used. Bib numbers had to be shown to anyone who asked and several people asked. Sleeping bags and even garbage bags which people planned on using to keep warm or to sit on were confiscated. When we actually got to Fort Wadsworth. The atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation. They provided coffee, water, gatorade, and bagels. I decided to have a bagel around 8:30 because it had now been 3 hours since I ate my oatmeal. There were people everywhere. I didn’t know at the time but they later announced a record number of runners. Over 50,000 would line up to attempt this year’s NYC Marathon. Most just sitting down, trying to rest as much as possible. Many waiting in the lines for the bathroom no doubt a combination of drinking water, sitting out in the cold, and just nervous energy. There were people from so many other countries wearing their county’s colors proudly. I noticed France, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Canada, and Germany just to name a few.
I tried seeking out people who had run NYC before to get some tips on how to manage the day. The Ford Wadsworth part of the day was like Christmas Eve as a kid. You just know something amazing is about to happen and you can feel it in the air. Finally at 9:00 they called wave 2 to the corals.
Once inside the corrals the nerves started to come. Last minute bathroom breaks because we were less than an hour from starting the world’s greatest race. Now was also the time to shed the layers of clothes I had on over my race outfit. It was a cold day and the wind was harsh at times but to be honest I am not sure if I noticed at the time. I kept my hat and gloves on for the first part of the race only to shed them around mile 5. As we made our way towards the base of the Verazano for the first time I really got a sense of how massive this was. TV Cameras were everywhere and there was a stage set up where Mayor Bloomberg had just wished all of the runners good luck. Someone sang God Bless America and did a great job but I have no idea who. Then before I knew it The cannon fired and Frank Sinatra Sang New York New York.
The first mile was up hill to the crest of the Verazano Bridge. You really couldn’t open up too much because the see of people around you. On the sides of the bridge two NYPD choppers hovered what seemed like 15 feet away. Everywhere you looked left, right, front, or back there were runners. It somehow worked. They start you based on your predicted finishing time so most of the people round you should run at around the same pace as you. When you look at the overhead shots of the bridge you think you would feel claustrophobic but that really wasn’t the case.
Brooklyn was my favorite part of the race. Everyone talked about First Ave but Brooklyn was unique in so many ways. The energy was super high and the people were enthusiastic throughout. Each section had it’s own flavor and made the long trek through Brooklyn lots of fun. There were DJ’s and bands and MC’s keeping the crowd going. One of the best tips I received was to write my name somewhere on my body because other runners and people along the route would shout out, “Keep going Joe” , or “nice job Joe.” Some of my favorite signs that people had were the girl with a Friday Night Lights Jersey holding the sign that said Clear Eyes Full Hearts, the popular catch phrase from the TV show. Another guy had a sign that said Chuck Norris never ran a marathon. Run now, Beer Later was another one that I liked seeing. Brooklyn for me was the highlight of the race. It was still early enough where I felt good and I was cruising on adrenaline. The only downside was the strong winds mostly in my face which at the time I didn’t pay attention to but the combination of my adrenaline and the winds would maybe come back to haunt me later on.
The second half of the race started as you crossed the Queensboro Bridge onto First Ave in Manhattan. The Queensboro was quiet and the first half was uphill until you crested and then started down onto the street. When I made the left onto First Ave you could see all of the people lining the streets. It was not quite as loud as I was told it would be but certainly First Ave had the most spectators. They were holding signs and ringing cow bells and just cheering for their family and friends and even people they don’t know. The marathon is a day where all the good it seems comes out in people. Yes their are the elite runners with their tiny bodies running superhuman times. To me the marathon is about the 99% of the runners who go into the day knowing they have no chance of winning.
Around Mile 18 is when things started to go down hill for me. I started to feel a slight twinge in my hamstrings. I knew if I continued to stride like I wanted to I might cramp up. I have never felt that in my hamstrings while running. Usually it was my calves or my hip but this was real. I made a conscious effort to slow myself down and decrease my stride in order to not blow out my hamstring. The shorter strides make for more ground time and more force being pounded into your legs. By mile 20 it was over for me. I was shot. I had hit the wall. This was not my first marathon but I had never felt anything like this. I struggled slowly from 20-23. I hardly even remember going through the Bronx and up into Harlem. By the time we crossed back into Manhattan and into Central Park I felt as if I was going to die. Every part of my legs were failing me. My calves, my hips, my quads had seemed to take over for my previously ailing hamstrings. Miles 23-26.2 were a slow crawl at best. I even walked. I walked and ran back and forth through Central park. Each time I stopped I wanted to cry because I could see 3:45 slipping away but more than I just wanted it to be done. The marathon had beat me. My previous marathons I didn’t walk at all. Now I was walking through water stops and even in between. People were passing me left and write. Having Joe written on my shirt helped me in the beginning but now I didn’t want people to know my name. Other runners were trying to encourage me. “Almost there Joe”. Spectators were trying to help me but it was of no use. I just could not make myself run.
The goal was 3:45. 8 minutes and 35 seconds a mile. I can do that. Maybe go 8:15 because I would slow down later on but still doable. But something inside of me just says go as fast as you can. Looking back I am not sure if it was the wind in my face or my too fast pace but I crashed and I crashed hard. My first 10 miles were about a 7:40 pace. I just didn’t trust myself and my training to slow down. For some reasons I always have in the back of my mind that no matter how slow I go in the beginning I will still hit that wall later on so why not go fast now. I should know better than that. For someone reason I just can’t seem to make myself do it.
|16:40||– 1:02 (11%)||7’49″/mi|
|24:36||+ 0:07 (-2%)||7’56″/mi|
|32:11||– 0:21 (4%)||7’35″/mi|
|39:42||– 0:04 (0%)||7’31″/mi|
|47:05||– 0:08 (1%)||7’23″/mi|
|54:41||+ 0:13 (-3%)||7’36″/mi|
|1:02:26||+ 0:09 (-2%)||7’45″/mi|
|1:10:17||+ 0:06 (-2%)||7’51″/mi|
|1:18:12||+ 0:04 (-1%)||7’55″/mi|
|1:26:23||+ 0:16 (-4%)||8’11″/mi|
|1:34:24||– 0:10 (2%)||8’01″/mi|
|1:42:35||+ 0:10 (-3%)||8’11″/mi|
|1:51:03||+ 0:17 (-4%)||8’28″/mi|
|1:59:27||– 0:04 (0%)||8’24″/mi|
|2:09:35||+ 1:44 (-21%)||10’08″/mi|
|2:17:16||– 2:27 (24%)||7’41″/mi|
|2:25:53||+ 0:56 (-13%)||8’37″/mi|
|2:34:44||+ 0:14 (-3%)||8’51″/mi|
|2:43:59||+ 0:24 (-5%)||9’15″/mi|
|2:53:07||– 0:07 (1%)||9’08″/mi|
|3:02:46||+ 0:31 (-6%)||9’39″/mi|
|3:13:01||+ 0:36 (-7%)||10’15″/mi|
|3:24:58||+ 1:42 (-17%)||11’57″/mi|
|3:36:04||– 0:51 (7%)||11’06″/mi|
|3:47:25||+ 0:15 (-3%)||11’21″/mi|
Those last three miles were the most painful thing I have ever done in my life. Not just physically but emotionally I was beaten. I wish I could say I picked it up and crossed the finish line feeling great but I limped across that finish line. Yes, in the video I put my hands up but to be honest I was just happy it was over. I was shocked to see that I actually had PR’d. I had beaten my previous best marathon by more than 2 minutes. I said that I was done with marathons after this one and at the finishing line I was sticking to that for sure. It was pure torture. It wasn’t until today when I read a NY Times article that I was able to get some perspective on the whole thing. They interviewed a guy by the name of Greg Cass. He is a very good but sub elite runner.
“That is both the gift and the curse of the marathon,” Cass said. “When you finally get it right, it’s the product of 30 variables that you have maybe 50 percent control of. When you get it wrong, you try to analyze all 30 of those variables. It’s nearly impossible to figure out exactly what went wrong and how to make it better next time. But that’s the goal. To take a look at what happened and go back to the drawing board. And, if it’s in the cards, to give it another go.”
If you told me 5 years ago that I would have run 3 marathons I would have never believed you. That is the magic of the NYC Marathon. 99% of the people running have no chance of winning. It is only you against yourself and everyone wins. Just by starting the race and doing the training and having the courage to finish was I able to see myself do something so amazing. Am I really done with marathons? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just chasing something that will never happen which is the perfect race. I am definitely not running one next year. I want to tackle some shorter races and try to get faster. Maybe I will do some obstacle races because those seem like a lot of fun. I want to throw myself into CrossFit a little more and see where that leads me. I plan to get on that as soon as I can walk again. One thing is for sure that for the rest of my life I can tell people that I ran the NYC Marathon.
This was a strange week. First of all a heat wave hit NJ.
As you can see this heat wave was no joke. 95 degrees every day with high humidity. My strategy was pretty simple. Drink abnormal amounts of water all day long. Run at night usually around 7:00 p.m. When running I make sure I bring water with me. I love my handheld amphibian water bottle. It cradles my hand and I don’t feel like I am going to drop it. My other secret weapon is my cool towel. You may have seen this towel advertised on TV. You wet it, rinse it, then snap it and it cools around your neck. I just tucked it into my neck under my shirt and it was nice and cool on my neck.
For two of my runs on the hottest days I went to Loantaka Park which is a paved trail with a lot of tree cover. That kept me out of the sun. My times were pretty good considering the heat. I made a point to run flat routes this week. It also helped me that this was a scale back week. For my long run I scaled back after two weeks of progress. Last weekend I did 7 miles and this weekend only 5. What does everyone else do during a heat wave? Tell me in the comments.
Tuesday: 3 miles easy pace and 9 mile bike ride.
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 3 miles and Crossfit
Friday: 15 mile bike ride
Sunday: 5 miles
Week 1 of 16 weeks of training was interesting to say the least. Of course we are in the middle of a heat wave here in NJ so 95 degree temperatures with 80% humidity felt like a kick in the stomach. I am loosely following Hal Higdon’s marathon program. When I first looked at week 1 my thoughts were this is going to be easy. I am in pretty good shape after having never really stopped running since last year’s NYC Marathon was canceled. The only thing I need to start doing is log more miles and run more often. In the “Off-Season” I typically run once or twice a week and usually on the weekends. With this program the miles and the pace don’t scare me but the 4 days a week I need to get used to.
The plan: Week 1:
Tuesday 3 miles easy pace. 8:40 a mile. This turned out to be no problem. The heat wave didn’t kick in at this point yet.
Wednesday 3 miles easy pace. 8:41 a mile. Crossfit at night. Again no problems here.
Thursday. Bike ride 12 miles
Friday was supposed to be another 3 miles run but I ended up not doing it. My wife misplaced something which led to a 4 hour search that ended at 9 oclock at night but that’s a story for another day. Turned out to be an off day.
Saturday was where things got dicey. The heat wave kicked in. Even at 9 a.m. it was already hot and very humid. I decided to join the Morristown Running Company’s group run. I have done this in the past and enjoyed it. They do a 5 miles run and my plan was to do another mile on my own after for the 6 I was supposed to run. Keep in mind I just ran 7 miles last weekend at about an 8:30 pace no problems. At about mile 3 I literally felt like I was going to puke. It was a brutally tough run. All types of things are going through my head now. Things like I am too heavy. I am 8 pounds up from this point last year. CrossFit and biking is just too hard on my legs. I was able to gut out 4.5 miles at a 9:30 pace but I had some thinking to do. I can’t remember the last time my pace was over 9 minutes a mile. Maybe Mile 23 of the 2011 Baltimore Marathon.
Sunday. 3 miles still super hot and humid and I finished at a 9:04 minute a mile pace. That is still slow and my legs felt heavy but it wasn’t quite as bad as the day before.
All in all I am going to forget about week 1 and chalk it up to unusual heat. I went back and looked at last July when I was training for NYC and it seems like I ran at night more often. 7 or 8 o’clock right before the sun goes down so I may try that for some cooler temperatures. Week 1 is in the books and already the mental battle begins. But I still have a smile on my face because it is summer and most of my days are spent like this.
Normally I don’t talk politics on this blog but yesterday’s tragedy happened at a sporting event and a sporting event which I have grown to love. I doubt that the terrorists choose this event because of the fact that it is a marathon and more likely just a large crowd and a target rich environment. I do think that there something very American about a marathon. The symbolism is there for everyone to see. All you need is your own body and you own hard work and you too can run one. The are no elites performing by themselves while everyone else watches. People like me get to run on the same course and have the same feeling as the best runners in the world. I played baseball in college and never once did I get to pitch to a guy Ike Josh Hamilton or Miguel Cabrera. In the Marathon field you can compete with the best in the world on an even playing field. In America this is the dream right? If you work hard and put in your best effort you too can compete with anyone no matter their background or upbringing.
Maybe the terrorists didn’t care that it was a marathon but I do. In my experience Runners are usually the nicest and most caring people in almost any recreational sport. It is a sport that is individualistic in nature but also community based. Runners tend to run together and share experiences through social media and blogs like this one. I have never met a runner who wasn’t willing to share a tip or a new training method or a new pair of sneakers that they love with another runner. The Charity money that comes out of these races alone should give you and idea of hat kind of people runners usually are.
From this will come good as it always does. The next few major races will be a little scary but I am sure as runners always do they will band together to show that they are not afraid and they will raise more money than ever for the victims of this tragedy. We as runners from the elite to the recreational will do what we always do when we need some time to think. Go for a nice long run and finish feeling better than ever and ready to take on the world one step at a time.
In honor of all of the victims at the Boston Marathon.
I am now 6 weeks into CrossFit. I decided to take measurements before I started which would help me determine just how effective CrossFit was for body composition and overall fitness. While I knew that CrossFit felt different than what I was previously doing I didn’t quite know how much change would occur in just 6 weeks.
CrossFit preaches a Paleo diet which is the eat like a Caveman approach. All organic meats and fresh veggies and fruits only. No processed foods, no carbs, no sugars, no beans, and no dairy. I didn’t quite adopt the Paleo diet completely but I am slowly trying to get there as much as possible. What I have done is increase my protein intake dramatically. I was always focused on just the number of calories that I eat and trying to keep that number to help me maintain my weight. I wasn’t necessarily focused on what foods I was putting into my body. This diet helped me lose 90 pounds and it also helped me maintain that weight loss for 7 years. However, in the last 6 weeks I have been attempting to get a good 40,30,30 split. 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fat. My goal now is to get 200 grams of protein a day and also particularly after a CrossFit workout to have a a protein shake with 40 grams immediately after. I stopped eating cheese, yogurt, and bread which were staples of my diet for a while. I still use Saturday and Sunday Dinners as cheat meals. I allowed myself to to eat whatever I wanted on these days. I used to eat a lot of fast food which was light on calories. I often ate dunkin donuts flat bread egg whites and things like that. Now, I am basically eating salads, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and a lot of Think Thin protein bars which I love. I also eat edamame and dried peas and lots of fruit.
My workouts these days are CrossFit twice a week, one other day a week at regular weight room which is mostly abs and core and 2 runs a week consisting of 3-6 mile runs. In about another month my runs will becomes more frequent and also more intense as the weather gets better. I am running the NYC Marathon this year so I decided to only do CrossFit twice a week so that I have enough time to train for that.
So just 6 weeks into CrossFit at only twice a week:
My weight went from 188-192. I gained 4 pounds. If I was just using a scale as my measuring tool I would not be happy. But let’s look at my other measurements.
My neck went from 15 to 15.25
My waist went from 37 to 35.5
My Hips went from 40 to 39.5
My Body Fat percentage went from 22-20%
My Chest went from 44 to 42.75
My Chest and Shoulders went from 52 to 52.5
And the most amazing number is my thighs went from 18 to 22.5.
I gained 4.5 inches in my legs in 6 weeks. Wow! I knew Crossfit was very leg heavy and I could feel my legs becoming stronger but to gain 4.5 inches was crazy. If you look at all of my numbers everything went down but my shoulders and my legs went up. This is reason number one that you can’t just use a scale as your measurement tool. I can’t wait to see how these numbers continue to change as I get more and more into my CrossFit workouts and also as I start to run more in preparation of the Marathon. The latest research shows that CrossFit increases Vo2 max which will help my oxygen uptake and I think if I take care of my body and recover properly I expect great things from my marathon times. So far CrossFit is a success and I am very happy with it.
These are the articles that received the most views in 2012. I always love getting feedback and seeing the number of views for my articles so keep it coming in 2013. This year I had people from all over the country contact me about my articles. I am always humbled and honored that people take the time to search me out for advice about health and fitness. JerseyStrong was viewed in 60 countries worldwide. In the month of December my articles for Stack Media made me one of the top 10 most viewed on the platform. I sincerely hope everyone has a HEALTHY and happy new year!
Of course there are other articles that were not the most viewed out there in cyber land but I think you should still check them out.
I was also featured in Men’s Health Magazine this past year so this article was probably the most viewed overall because it reached millions of people worldwide via Men’s Health Magazine. I included the link in my blog post. If you haven’t seen it yet check it out.
For those of you who read my previous blog entry. Holiday Gift Ideas for the Fitness enthusiast. (Tested and Approved) You know that I recommended this sweatshirt as one of my 12 best gifts for the Holiday season. This sweatshirt by Under Armour is the most comfortable sweatshirt I have ever worn. The charged cotton material makes you feel like you are wrapped in a blanket and the Storm technology keeps you dry. I can wear with a pair of jeans and sneakers on a cold day or while I am on a run. At first I thought I wouldn’t like having a zip up hoody because it feels more like a jacket than a sweat shirt but the elongated look made me look slimmer than the cut off look of a pullover. The bottom of the sweatshirt has a cuffed ribbing that you can wear flat instead of having to fold under like a normal pullover sweatshirt. This even allows you to wear a jacket over the hoody which many hoodies are too bulky to try. The hood liner is super comfortable and sports a waffled look that is comfortable to wear. It has front hand pockets that are lined. This sweatshirt is even great for wearing while going on a run in the winter months. It kept me dry while the snow was falling and I had no problems staying warm.The material is designed to deflect moisture. This is a do all sweatshirt with style. Under Armour has a whole line of hoodies just in time for the winter months. Bottom line, the Under Armour Charged Cotton Storm Full Zip Hoody is a must have this winter.
It seems like it has been a long time since the NYC Marathon. A lot has happened and a lot did happen over the two weeks before and after November 4th. I am going to try to give you an idea of my emotions, thoughts, and opinions leading up to and after the race.
Monday October 29th. “The night of the storm”
Monday night’s Hurricane Sandy was one of the craziest nights of my life. I can’t even comprehend being anywhere near a class 2 or a class 3 hurricane. Hurricane Sandy started as a class 1 hurricane and was actually downgraded before it hit land. I have never in my life seen or heard wind like that. The sound was frightening to say the least. The wind started to pick up around 4 or 5 p.m. and continued throughout the evening. At around 7 o’clock I got up to let my dog out before it got really bad outside. I opened the French doors into the backyard and Wrigley stood there and gave me a look like what are you crazy.
I then brought her to the front of the house where we have an overhang and she could go behind the bushes and underneath the overhang. She quickly went and came back in. As I was closing the door and giving her a treat for going to the bathroom outside there was a loud BANG and the lights went out. After scrambling for a flashlight I made my way upstairs to do a quick scouting report and here is what I saw in our bedroom.
That night we spent in the candle light worried about more damage and double checking that everything and everyone stayed safe throughout the storm. I wish I could say that I got a good night’s sleep in but between the wind, the hole in my roof and being worried about the safety of staying in our house I didn’t sleep much at all. We called the Fire Department and they came over in the middle of the Hurricane to make sure we were safe. I was amazed at how brave they were just walking down the streets and shining flashlights on a dark street to find our house. They surveyed the scene and informed us that there was no wire damage or any other damage other than the structural damage from the tree in the backyard which is now on the house and poking into our bedroom. They gave us an option of staying in a shelter nearby. We declined and the firemen left I am sure to help out plenty of other people affected by Hurricane Sandy. That night the little sleep I did get was on the floor downstairs away from the potential of falling trees. When we finally woke up at daylight we immediately went outside to surveyor our property and the neighborhood and just check out everything. It was amazing the number of trees and wires that were down. Driving around the roads were so damaged that you could hardly get anywhere. Here is what my backyard looked like the next day.
The next day was spent checking on my family and moving sections of tree logs out to the street while the tree guys climbed and sectioned the huge tree off of the house. The following week I didn’t work once. I was busy searching for emergency supplies, trying not to freeze without heat even when the nights dropped down into the 20’s. The entire week was nothing but a blur. To say that I was thinking about running a marathon would be a lie. I had no contact with the outside world. I had no Television. We don’t get a newspaper delivered. My only contact with the outside world was through twitter and facebook. Around Wednesday I started thinking about the Marathon and social media only made my marathon week a nightmare.
When you are training for a sporting event the week of the event usually is crucial. Maybe not physically but mentally. The whole week is about getting yourself in the right place mentally to run 26.2 miles. The plan was to get a lot of sleep and to be very strict with my diet. The Hurricane ended those two plans very quickly. I planned on doing a 3 mile run on Thursday followed by a 1 mile run on Saturday. I was able to to my 3 mile run on Thursday but my body just felt terrible. I was cold and I just could not warm up. I felt like I had lost all my athletic ability. My diet was out of my routine and I was starting to worry about putting on some weight before the race. At this point I really had no idea what was going on in NYC or anywhere to be honest with you. When I eventually started looking at twitter and following the search NYC Marathon I quickly learned that things were not ok in parts of New York City. One of the first things that I saw was Mayor Bloomberg announcing that the marathon would go on. Then the president of the NYRR talked about how the course was not effected at all and the race would go on as planned. They said that there would be some changes to the schedule leading up the marathon with a few events being canceled. Mayor Bloomberg even said that he expected almost all of NYC to have power by Sunday. That was the only thing that I knew about NYC and the Hurricane. To be honest I was a bit surprised that the Marathon was expected to go on as normal but listening to the press conferences it seemed as if there was not much to effect the race. I didn’t exactly feel like I was primed for the race but as far as I knew at that point the race was on so I needed to get ready quickly.
From that point on Twitter exploded with negativity and misinformation that that I have never seen for any event before. First of all let me start by saying I thought the marathon should have been canceled. After it wasn’t and the reasons were given I thought ok it’s on and I am going to run. Mayor Bloomberg and the NYRR’s said that they expected everything to be as close to normal as you can get. Let me say that I think Twitter is a great thing. It can give voice to a group of people against a corporation who otherwise does not care what one individual thinks negatively about their business. If an insurance company rips off a customer in the past that customer could complain and no one would care. Now, if enough people Tweet to that company directly it will effect their public relations and the company does have to respond because it can effect their bottom line. In this case I have no doubt in my mind that Twitter shut down the NYC Marathon with 47,000 runners and 4 million spectators. Whether or not that was the correct thing to do is up to your opinion. I think it was the correct thing to do. I think the race should have been canceled earlier than it was. What bothered me was the reaction and the negativity and the mis-information about the race. People from Minnesota were talking about how runners were going to be running past dead bodies during the race. People from Chicago were saying that public transportation was being used when in fact the NYRR had said that they hired private transportation to shuttle runners to the starting line. Others were talking about throwing things at the runners because the runners were being so selfish for running a race that brings 350 million dollars into the city and keeps business profitable that just spent a week with no business whatsoever. There were literally thousand of tweets per second regarding the NYC Marathon with 9 out of every 10 being negative. Some people were saying that the runners should run right to Staten Island and help the people in need (which they did) after the marathon was canceled. Meanwhile 98% of the people I am sure did little on their own to raise money or to physically help out the victims of Hurricane Sandy. This type of Fake Outrage is what makes Social Media a potential negative because misinformation becomes fact very quickly and it just snowballs until someone responds to the mob’s demands. Fake outrage is so easy when all you have to do is write a 140 character tweet. If you had to actually leaver your computer and do something then there would be less outrage. The thing that bothered me the most was the fact that people were complaining about food, water, and resources being used for the marathon instead of going to people in need. This seems like a valid complaint which I agree with . What bothered me was that the Knicks played to a sold out Madison Square Garden that same weekend. They played on Friday night. Forget about waiting until Sunday for everything to clear up. Not one tweet about resources being wasted at Madison Square Garden that night. On Sunday the New York Football Giants played at home. The stadium was full and there were ambulances, police officers, food, EMT’s, and plenty of other “resources” being wasted on the same day that the marathon was supposed to be run. They even held a pre-game ceremony with “first responders” to honor them and their service. Why were they there for a glorified parade which many people called the marathon. Shouldn’t the same people who were so active on Twitter have been outraged about the Giants game. Again, this is all fake outrage. It is so easy to click Like on your Facebook or to retweet something without even checking the source. Social Media shut down the NYC Marathon.
After nearly a week of reading this reaction on twitter I was so stressed out with what to do about the race. I had spent months training for this marathon and did I really want to waste all that training. On the other side did I want to run if the race and the media was totally negative about the race. A marathon is supposed to a positive experience. A symbol of mental toughness and the ability to overcome any obstacle. I wanted the full NYC Marathon experience where you come off of the bridge on First Ave to a roaring crowd and a wave of positive energy. Did I really want to run a marathon under these conditions. Everyone of my friends who I asked for their advice had said that I should do it and don’t listen to all the chatter but many of my Facebook friends also liked a status that said cancel the NYC marathon. It was probably one of the most stressful weeks in my life. This was supposed to be my second marathon for the second year in a row. I had said that this would be it for a while. If I deferred that means I would have to do marathon training for three consecutive years because this year I did everything but the race. Who knows what next year might bring? I could get injured or I could just lose the motivation and the desire to compete with my previous best. At this point I was honestly torn. On Friday might after a horrible week in which a tree fell on my house and I had no power and all I had read online was that marathon runners were selfish and spoiled. Friday night I was 90% sure that I was going to defer to next year.
A lof of friends offered their condolences when the race was canceled and I think they expected me to be more upset about it. My response to them was the same. I was glad that the decision was taken out of my hands. My mood immediately changed and it was as if a huge weight was removed from my shoulders. I have always been a guy who enjoyed the process of building up to an event. I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with credit or praise. When I was coaching baseball I enjoyed the practices much more than I did the games although my teams always had good records. When I was a player and I pitched a good game I would usually not want to emphasize the good performance but instead think about the next day’s practice. I have now completed training for two marathons and that experience in invaluable. Don’t get me wrong I loved the feeling of finishing a race and I did have a time goal in mind for New York. I was not just looking to finish. If the NYRR allow me to compete again next year I am going to be there the first Sunday in November and hopefully feeling the wave of positivity entering onto First Ave about to finish my third marathon.