Friday, April 27, 2007

iPod Friday 2

Time for some tunes again… Mashups may have peaked in popularity a bit, but you’d never know that at MashUpTown. There you can find up-to-the-minute mixes of the most unlikely tunes you’d never think would go together, as well as links to other groovy mashup websites. So check it out and find some crazy mashups that will make your life a little crazier.


And good luck to those folks heading out to the New Jersey Marathon and Half Marathon (that means you, Bambi!) this Sunday. It might be warm, but at least it should be dry, either way, be careful out there. We hear it’s flat, so let us know if that’s true or just race propaganda!

New Jersey Marathon

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fate’s Black Skillet Slaps Runners Upside the Head

What was with last week? After reading about a smattering of running injuries discussed on running blogs, and finishing a 2-hour run on Sunday that felt pretty terrible starting after the first five minutes, we were wondering which planetary configuration was causing all this. (Of course, it’s nothing we did!)

Saw a running friend sitting on a park bench in Central Park yesterday. A veteran of last week’s Boston Marathon of Driving Wind and Rain. Gave us a rueful look, and just said ‘Boston Marathon’, which pretty much explained why she was convalescing. Her look said ‘Turn Away! Turn Away!’, a command we silently obeyed. Anyway, we wonder if her shoes have dried out yet…

And everybody seemed to be having muscle blow-outs, or joint problems… and maybe the welcome change in temperature in the northeast, going up 40 degrees in 2 days didn’t help. All the rain had at least kept the tree pollen down, so allergy sufferers can now celebrate the tradeoff between wet and dry weather.

Well, it has to get better, and now that spring seems to be here, we can only hope. One bit of advice:

Take it easy, people!

Friday, April 20, 2007

iPod Friday

Well, the trusty iPod has gotten us through many a long training run. And this is said with a straight face after going on and on about runners wearing headphones in races. Runs OK, races, no. And watch your volume, you might not be able to hear those bikers and other folks who don’t see you. But you see them, right?

Anyway, we thought we’d share some of the music spots we’ve found on that gold-durn intra-net the young ‘uns keep talkin’ about. Maybe we’ll share regularly. And not websites by Eastern European kids sharing entire albums, either (that’s kind of illegal, and bad form, too). Who knows, you might hear something new and go out and buy it for your player to make that tiresome 17th mile a little more inspirational.

So below is a link to one of my favorite ‘oldie’ blogs, Born Again 80s. Fittingly, it’s the re-recording ‘Everybody Wants to Run the World’ by Tears From Fears from so long ago that we don’t want to even think about it. Head on over to Fexy’s place to take a listen, and enjoy…

(Born Again 80s)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Race Roundup

Quite a weekend for running, lots of news…

Boston Marathon
As anyone who lives in the northeast knows, Sunday’s weather was horrendously wet. Going outside was like standing in the shower with your clothes on. So the forecast for Monday in Boston and the marathon was for 40 degrees, big wind gusts and heavy rain; wind chills in the 20s.

Sunday afternoon CNN reported that the BAA would make an announcement about whether or not Boston would be canceled. Yeah, right. The only way they’d cancel the marathon would be if an asteroid was heading for Hopkinton AND Bruce Willis was unavailable.

So on Monday morning, after surfing around several hundred cable channels, we actually found live coverage on the new-to-us Versus channel, including announcers explaining dumb stuff we all knew already and an amazing number of commercial breaks… Funny how slow world-class runners look when filmed running towards a moving camera. For a minute, it makes you think, ‘gee, I can run that fast, that looks pretty easy’. Uh huh. You couldn’t run that fast if your pants were on fire.

Anyway, the rain poured, the wind stopped and started again and again, the temperature started to drop, and it seemed very unpleasant from our vantage point on the couch and accompanying bag of potato chips. Glad we didn’t train for Boston this year! But we still felt sorry for the 20,000+ runners dealing with all that rain and wind on Heartbreak Hill. Which just reminds us that on race day, anything can happen. You can train and train, but you have to remember that on some race days that PR ain’t going to happen. Besides doing the best you can, you really have to be philosophical about how well you do and how some things are uncontrollable, and to see the experience as part of a bigger picture. Easy for us to say on some snarky blog, but it’s true. You can push yourself, but that doesn’t include beating yourself up.

Well, it ended up as the slowest finish in 30 years, so the weather really did make a difference. We’re glad it at least started earlier so everyone could get home sooner for a bowl of soup and a nice, hot cup of coffee. If you ran Boston, or have run Boston, God bless you.

Brooklyn Half Marathon
The course is too hilly at the end, but the weather was spectacular Saturday morning. Thank you, Jesus! The predicted 6000 runners actually turned out to be 4900, but since the race started on the Coney Island boardwalk, the usual traffic jam at the start was much better than recent races in Central Park. Can’t get too cranky about it all, especially since the weather 24 hours later would become so dreadful.

One thing though: we’d just read an article in Runner’s World about a study of several runners and how fast their starting pace affects finish time. In other words, do you start out slow and pick it up, or start out fast and keep or increase the pace? Turns out the runners who started faster finished sooner than those who ramped up to the same pace. With that in mind, we started fast. Perhaps a little too fast, since on the last 3 miles of rolling hills we slowed down an extra 10-15 seconds a mile. But we were happy with our finish time, it was our best half marathon time in six years. So should you always start out fast? Depends on the distance… and no sprinting, just keep a steady pace that you can maintain without getting too winded. Anyway, try it out sometime. And maybe don’t read running articles right before races!

Iraq (Boston) Marathon
Over the weekend, over 300 American (military) runners fought heat and a sandstorm to finish a marathon in Iraq as an homage to the one in Boston. Next time you complain to yourself about how bad it is on the race course you’re on, remember what these folks went through on theirs. Enough said.

Paris Marathon, etc.
Our favorite marathon saw much warmer temperatures than in Boston, and a winner from Qatar, of all places. Kind of refreshing to hear about a winner from a country you wouldn’t think was even represented. Not too far away, at the Rotterdam Marathon, the warm weather (25°C or 77°F) was a big factor, so apparently Europe got hot weather for all their races on Sunday. Only one runner finished below 2:10 in Rotterdam, so there you go.

Anyway, nice to see the race schedule pick up in a big way, even though the weather sucked during the marathons. With all of this activity going on, maybe more non-runners will have learned a little more about what running is all about. Guess there’s a silver lining to any nor’easter cloud.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Boston is Next Monday

Just letting ya know.

God bless anybody encountering Heartbreak Hill. And God bless the organizers, it now starts at 10 AM.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Open Letter to Fellow Runner, 4/10/07

Hello Fellow Runner,

You saw me running on your right earlier today on Central Park Drive. I was the guy going about 20 seconds per mile faster, because I saw you ahead of me for a little while, getting closer and closer as I gained on you. And as I passed by, you took one look and picked it up so I couldn’t pass. That’s OK, I understand if you just wanted to pick it up, and felt competitive and all that, but you might want to be a little more cool about it. Don’t inch over to my side just to edge me off the road, you should be a little less obvious about getting rid of ‘the competition’. Plus, if you’re going to pick it up because you can’t stand the thought of being passed, then keep it up. Don’t zoom forward to make a point about how fast you are unless you’re sustaining that zippy pace; I know my easy run pace, and it’s pretty consistent, and constantly moving by you as you slow down and then you zooming ahead every 2 minutes is just annoying. So do me a favor: run faster if you like, but do it. And if you’re not, let me go by.

In the immortal, poetic words of Dolemite:

Move over and let me pass,
Or they’ll be pullin' these hush puppies
Out yo’ mother-f**kin’ ass.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Headphoning It In

Don’t get us wrong, listening to tunes through headphones can make a long, grueling run much more pleasant. We’d lose our minds if we were forced to run on a treadmill without some music to relieve the boredom.

However, headphones in races is more popular than ever, and it amazes us how many people have to run with headphones in short (5K-5 mile) races and beyond. Training with tunes is one thing, but it can be downright dangerous for you and others when you can’t hear the rest of the race pack around you. The New York Road Runners ‘strongly discourages’ headphones, and makes you sign a waiver acknowledging this (and other things) when signing up for their races.

That said, the USATF (USA Track and Field) organization has just banned headphones in all USATF-sanctioned events. That includes a few marathons and smaller races; in any case, those of you who wear headphones and need to hear the theme to ‘Rocky’ played over and over again during a race may need to start getting used to racing without, before other organizations follow suit. Besides, you might make a new friend running in a race, enjoy the scenery more, or perhaps be able to concentrate a little harder on that race PR. So save your tunes for that lonely training run, and put them away for that important race.

(USATF Press Release)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Last Sunday's 10K

The annual Scotland Run was last Sunday morning, and the traffic jam seemed like the largest ever. 5700+ runners had to spend the first third of a mile jammed into half a lane of Central Park Drive. After ten minutes of slow, unplanned jogging, even the slower runners started dashing under the orange tape barriers, beginning a free-for-all that finally subsided after another 10 minutes. Those of us who wanted to end the race in a moderately respectful finish time found ourselves frantically making up for the extremely slow start. We have to share the park drive with bicyclists and non-racers, that’s for sure, it’s just the race routes the organizers choose make that harder than ever.

So now we’re sore, and just getting over the unexpected speed workout during the last 4 miles. Glad the NYRR used chip time, not clock time in the final tally, but it just makes us want to move up near the front (which is unfair to faster runners) or just skip these races (which leaves us wanting). We know the NYRR is aware of all this, but like the NYC Marathon, races here are getting too big to control.

And heard behind us in the lineup before the race, a runner asked another runner ‘How many miles is a 10K?’ Really, we know running is a democratic sport, and we’re glad to see participation, but honestly... if you’re going to sign up for a race, get a number, etc., respect the sport enough to figure out what distance you’re running. 6.21 miles, Einstein.

Grumble. Well, at least the weather was seasonal. Unlike this morning, when it snowed for a few minutes in the park!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Commercial Run

Before putting together long-winded notes about spring races, etc., we thought it would be funny to link to Bacardi’s ‘sort-of homage to the New York City Marathon’ commercial from last year. We’re not sure what it all means, salmon running upstream and such.

But we were in the commercial (Satan in one of his more inspired ‘extra’ work jobs), actually, along with about two hundred extras pretending to be runners and sprinting through Manhattan. Take, after take, after take, over three days in areas of the city that the marathon doesn’t even think about. Many of the runner/actors in the commercial go by too fast to recognize (including yours truly), except for an unpaid cat in a window.

Oh well, it was a very expensive commercial with a vague idea about what the marathon is all about. Then again, what does liquor have to do with running a marathon? Don’t answer that!

(Bacardi & Salmon)