Wednesday, June 27, 2018

B.A.A 10K (Boston)

My face is telling me that it was a successful race and the medal looks good around my neck.
Meb, it was an honor meeting you and sharing the course with you in Boston

"I also realize that winning doesn't always mean getting first place; 
it means getting the best out of yourself." - Meb Keflezighi

Every year, I make the trek out to Boston whether it is overnight or day trip. This year, I decided to participate in a running race. It was my first time running in one of my favorite cities. The B.A.A 10K is an annual race put on the Boston Athletic Association.The same organization that runs the Boston Marathon. The 10K race is one of three Distance Medley races during the calendar year. I was very happy to participate in a big event that supports an amazing cause. The event raised money for Brigham And Women's Hospital totaling over $200,000 from 560 runners.

The race started and finished in Boston Common. It was a down and back course through Commonwealth Avenue through Back Bay District. Miles 2-4 took runners through Boston University and Kenmore Square. Leaving Kenmore Square, the course returns to Back Bay and Boston Common towards the finish. Overall, the course was mostly flat and fast with a couple of small elevation gains. I enjoyed running in Boston and sharing the course with very elite runners was an amazing experience. The crowds lined up along the course were excellent.

I walked and jogged to the start from Boylston Street at 6:15 AM. Looking at the Hereford Street sign, it inspired me to think about an opportunity to run in the Boston Marathon soon. After stretching and a little jog to get ready, my thought was do not eat until after the race and hydrate prior to the start. 8:03 AM, the horn sounds, in excess of 10,000 runners are off in the eighth annual B.A.A 10K. The first mile, it was a little tough due to traffic congestion just exiting the start line. Despite that, I still managed just over seven minutes. 

After the first mile, the traffic started to thin out a little bit. I started passing runners one at a time. Two and a half miles in, I saw the front runners heading back towards Boston Common at the mile 4 marker. Des Linden and Meb Keflzighi in unison heading towards the finish. Back to my race, my splits were quick before the turnaround point (5K mark). Mile 2-4 were 6:25; 6:31; and 6:24 respectively. At the mile four mark, I made my only water stop to keep myself hydrated. 

Hitting the home stretch, miles 5 and 6 splits were 6:21 and 6:24 with the last 0.2 at 1:42. I started to slow down a little bit from Arlington to Charles street, final stretch. It was a rewarding feeling crossing the finish line in a little over 40 minutes (40:21). It was awesome shaking Meb's hand just after crossing the finish line. My finishing time was the quickest 10K I have ever ran. Thought I could break the 40 minute mark but was not quite there. How could I be upset about a personal best? According to the results, I finished inside the top 300 overall (283rd) out of over 8100 finishers. My checkpoint times: 20:22 (5K) and 32:22 (8K). The second half of the race was just under twenty minutes. As a runner, I am very happy with the progress I have made in a couple years. 

The only disappointment was not meeting Des at the event. Overall, the event was an excellent experience. Not too long after finishing the 10K, it inspired me to possibly sign up for the B.A.A Half Marathon coming up in October. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers, police, medical, and event organizers for making the experience a very positive one. I can't wait to come back for future events. Everyone did an excellent job making the race safe and fun. For the spectators, everyone was awesome cheering on all the runners along the course. Congratulations to all the elite athletes on their finish. Again, it was an honor sharing the course with you. 

Thank you Boston for an amazing weekend. Can't wait to visit again soon for another race. Safe travels and mindful running.


-MJ
I will be back soon to run the major race.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rensellaerville Ramble Trail Run


Great catching up with a running friend. Photo: Sarah Dobler

Saturday brought me to Rensellaerville for the 3rd annual Ramble Run trail race. It was a good opportunity to take my run off the pavement for once. I enjoy my normal training runs on the road, but there is something about running shoes making contact with terrain. This was my first trail race in almost four years. Currently, I am finishing up training for a 10K race coming up next weekend. An eight mile run was scheduled prior to tapering. Rensellaerville Ramble Run had an eight mile race so I decided to sign up for that. 

I never been to Huyck Preserve, race location site. But the area was beautiful and I couldn't wait to get on the trail. My objectives were to run at a controlled pace and stay focused on the course. With the course being marked very well, that made my objective more easier. It allowed me to stay focused on the course and not look back.

The route began gradually uphill on Pond Hill Road. Then, the course took a left turn on Ordway Trail to the Race Track Trail circle. I conserved my energy as much as possible following runners for a couple minutes at a time. Once it got quiet, I ran solo for a good portion of the race. I could hear someone behind me coming down the hill but never passed me. After the race, I talked to the runner who finished behind me. He told me that I beat him on the hills. With the elevation changes and gain, I conserved my energy as much as possible and not get flustered mentally. It was a struggle somewhat with the hills but I told myself to keep pushing and do not stop. Miles 2-5 had drastic elevation changes with steady climbs. Consumed an energy gel (Huma) just after mile 3 and right before the water/aid station at mile 4. It was interesting hearing the banjos play along the course a couple times. Once I got beyond mile 5, the course began its descent towards the finish.

Mile 7, the course switched to the trail off of Pond Hill Road, Lake Trail. Ran on a few makeshift bridges and slightly jagged uphill towards the finish. The race ended back where it started on the road. Crossed the line with a time of 1:07:25 good enough for fourth overall.

All in all, it was a very sweet experience. I definitely want to do another trail run in the future. The volunteers, sponsors, and event coordinators were wonderful. Met so many amazing people at the race. I was very fortunate to run for a great cause. Sorry this is not a well detailed recap. Still have a lot to learn from the race. Until next time.

Happy Trails
-MJ

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Vegan Five One Eats #7 (New York City)

Sunday morning brought me to the Lower East Side/ East Village section of New York. In a few hours, I will be taking a walking tour around the area with a guide that has numerous stories over the years about punk rock. But first, it is time to find a restaurant nearby serving delicious vegan food. How about Organic Grill on 1st Avenue? That sounds wonderful.

I heard about Organic Grill through social media posts, most notably John Joseph (Cro-Mags). All their menu items are vegan. However, not all of them are gluten free and nut free. If you have allergies, make sure to read the menu before ordering. When I arrive, brunch was being served. Before entering, I took a look at the menu posted on the window. On the regular menu, I noticed a sandwich created by John Joseph himself. It is called the John Joseph Jackfruit Sandwich. Around 11:30, I was able to get a small table in the back close to the kitchen. If you have a group, I would highly recommend getting reservations, especially on the weekends. It is a small establishment and not too many tables.


The sandwich contains Jackfruit with barbecue sauce; aquafaba mayonnaise; and kale slaw on a potato dill bun. It was delicious because the filling was almost falling off the bun and it was not dry. This is my second time have a Jackfruit sandwich, Organic Grill did an excellent job. Prior to the visit, I never had Kale Slaw before. That's what I forgot to do, put it on the sandwich instead of eating it as a side dish. Either way, that was terrific.

Looking outside, it is starting to rain. Luckily, crowds are not rushing in during brunch. That gave me a little extra time to pass before the walking tour began. After the meal, I received the check along with a comment card, in the form of a post card. I took the opportunity to write, "John Joseph and Rich Roll sent me here. Awesome food and excellent service. Will return again soon." Leaving the card on the table, I noticed an older man walking around talking to the patrons. That must be the owner, Vladimir. Moments later, the owner noticed my card and we instantly struck up a conversation. I told him about how I found out about his establishment. Then, he gives me a copy of John Joseph's, Meat Is For Pussies. Thank you very much for the book Vladimir. I really appreciate it and can't wait to start reading it. He took a picture of me with the book and sent it to John Joseph himself.

This is the first vegan restaurant where the owner talked with me. I really appreciated Vladimir getting to know patrons personally. Our conversation was wonderful and we could've talked longer. More patrons are shuffling in and need my table. Along with the excellent staff and service, thank you very much for making my first trip to Organic Grill a memorable experience. Of course, I will return soon. Hopefully, I will bring more friends with me. What should I get next time I visit? Maybe the Waffle Burger or Green Machine Burger.

Until next time, healthy eating and prosperous living.

-MJ

For more information, visit https://www.theorganicgrill.com/
You can also find them on social media @organicgrill

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

New Jersey Marathon

“Confidence is not some nonphysical quality snatched from the spiritual dimension and installed in the mind. It is the feeling that arises when the body’s knowledge of itself is in harmony with a person’s dreams.”  – Matt Fitzgerald

After seven months of training, marathon weekend finally arrived. The day before the race, I stopped by the Pace Team table to meet the members and suggestions on running an efficient race. At first, I was very ambitious. Well, over ambitious to be exact. Based on past race performances, I was getting faster and stronger. One problem, the races were smaller distances. I understood that I could not run under seven minutes over the course of the marathon distance. A pacer asked me, what my previous time was (Vermont City 2017, 3:37:15). He recommended I run with the 3:30 or 3:38 pace group. After that discussion, I agreed that running a 7:00 mile/ 3:05 pace group was going to be a difficult task. The pace team gave me some excellent advice but I went against it slightly. Result of being over ambitious, a term that will be used several times over this recap.

April 29th, 6:45 AM Sunday morning, I arrive for the start at Monmouth Park in Oceanport. After stretching and dropping my bag off at gear check, it is time to take my place at the start line. Just after 7:30, the horn sounds and the runners are off. As the race began, the rain stopped, clouds started to open, and the temperatures gradually increased towards the fifties. Mile 1 started off really good with a 7:23 pace. Mile 2, I had to make an unexpected detour but got back into the race quickly. At around the 10 kilometer, I caught back up with the 3:15 pace group and held up for the next seven miles. Maybe it was the cheers from the crowd that got me going in the early portion of the race.

Around the halfway mark (13.1 miles), I was losing the 3:15 group falling slightly behind. This is where I started to slow up. My original plan was to run 7:15 miles the first half and pick up the pace slightly in the second half of the race. That all changed with about ten miles to go. Being over ambitious was catching up with me.  I wanted to pick up the pace as planned but my body would not allow it. I never looked at my watch once because the times were posted at each mile marker. I was looking forward to running on the boardwalk portion of the marathon course. It was awesome hearing the spectators and volunteers cheering all the runners on. As I approached the final 10 kilometers, I was on pace to set a personal best.

The last 10 kilometers were my slowest (miles 20-Finish) hitting at least eight minute miles. I felt a brief period of sadness running on the boardwalk. Despite feeling a small pull in my right quad, I carried on towards the finish line. Getting closer to the finish line, my emotions changed because it turned out to be a pretty good day.

Finishing on the boardwalk was an awesome feeling. Definitely a nice change from the hard pavement on all marathon courses. My final time was 3:24:01, inside the top 300 overall, and a five minute personal best. Overall, it turned out to be a wonderful day. I met a so many wonderful people and heard so many inspiring stories. The course was awesome and the spectators were wonderful. Thank you very much event organizers, sponsors, pace teams, volunteers, law enforcement, and medical staff. New Jersey, you were awesome. Finishing my fourth marathon was a tremendous success along with a wonderful experience.

The beautiful feeling running a marathon is learning more about yourself every time you step up onto the course with other runners. It has given me an excuse to travel to different states and meet so many people along the way. For all my readers, my one piece of advice is do not go into a big race over ambitious. Plans usually change over the course of the run. Always be prepared to make adjustments.

Until next time, get outside and lace up those sneakers. It is a beautiful day.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Code Blue 8K (Blue Needs You)

Amazing run for an excellent cause

On Saturday, I ran an 8K race in Saratoga Springs sponsored by Shelters of Saratoga and Fingerpaint. It is an awesome feeling running for a great cause. This particular race was raising money for a homeless shelter in Saratoga Springs during the winter months.

This was my second time participating in this race. With two weeks left in marathon training, I figured this would be a nice tune up race before the marathon in New Jersey. Last year, I ran this race in 32:39. My only objective was to do my best and not tire.

At 8:31 AM, the horn sounds and the runners take off. Heading up the first turn to Lake Avenue, I was very surprised to be inside the top 10. Even though this was just under five miles, I wanted to settle into a comfortable pace even if runners were closing in. I had one runner stay with me for the first mile.

For the first two miles, I only had a few runners pass me. Again, I did not panic because I was running a comfortable pace. The hills on Warren Street and East Avenue were tough and the winds did not help much either. Despite that, I felt very comfortable on the course. For the last two miles, it felt weird running solo in a race. Other times, I am use to running with other competitors. Back to the race, it was great hearing the volunteers and spectators cheering me on.

My final time was 32:01, nearly forty seconds faster than last year. That was good for eighth overall and 2nd place in my age group. I was definitely very pleased with my time and my splits were consistent. That was a very competitive group including the top three in my age division, finishing inside the top twenty. Congratulations to all the winners and runners who came out for a great cause.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the event organizers, sponsors, volunteers, spectators, and law enforcement for making this a safe and pleasant race. In four years, this event has seen an increase in runners and that puts a smile on my face. Whether you are competitive, social, and/or recreational, running for an excellent cause feels tremendous.

On a side note, less than two weeks until the New Jersey marathon. With my running garnering confidence, I can not wait to get on the course and see what is possible for the future. Until next time, run for a cause and I hope you are achieving all the goals you are striving for.
-MJ
Look at that concentration. Photo: Cathy Duffy

Monday, March 26, 2018

Garden State 10 (New Jersey) Half Marathon Challenge

Photographer: Unknown. Photo by Elitefeats.

Hello Blogger world. Yes, it has been over two months since my last post. Now that it is the end of March, I am getting very excited for racing season again. At the time of this writing, there is one month left until the New Jersey Marathon. But first, I need an excellent tune up race to get my prepared. This past weekend, I ran in the Garden State 10 challenge. It consists of two races: 5K and then a 10 mile race. As part of my marathon training, I had to run twenty miles total (longest run).

Began the morning with two warm up miles to ease my nerves and collect my thoughts. The original objective was to run the 5K race at a conservative pace (around 7:30). My main focus was running the 10 mile race at a slightly quicker pace.

The first part of the Half Marathon Challenge was the 5K race. It started off great with a 7:09 first mile. Not sure if I was running slow, so I decided to pick up the pace a little bit. The last two miles had negative splits of 6:49 and 6:17 with the last .14 at 0:46. According to my watch, I set a personal best with a 6:10 mile. My official time was 20:59 with a 6:45 pace. I finished in the top 40 overall with a third place in my age group. It gave me a little time to re-hydrate and keep my legs fresh. Now, it is off to the start for the 10 mile race.

I started off very strong collecting off some runners. Around mile 3, the field started to spread out. I ran solo from five kilometers to just past the ten kilometer mark. At the ten kilometer mark, I was under 42 minutes and starting to tire slightly. It did not go according to plan, but I decided to move forward. As I crossed the finish line, I was surprised to see my time, 1:09:17. My pace was slower than the 5K race, 6:56 but it was hard to get upset about that. Checking my watch, I was very surprised to see my splits. It ranged from 6:31 to 7:09. I finished inside the top 50 overall with a fifth place in my age group. It was a great day and I could not be upset about the final result. With the marathon approaching in one month, my excitement is building by the day. I definitely do not photograph well during the races. Watching the video, my form looked horrendous.

Some of the best medals I have ever earned. Thank you to everyone that put on an amazing race.

Thank you Garden State Track Club; University Orthopaedic Associates; EliteFeats; Free Runner Photos; Owyn; Magic 98.3; volunteers; fire safety and law enforcement officials; and race directors for making this an amazing race. I had a great time running in New Jersey. Can't wait to do it again next month.

Happy Running
-MJ

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Vegan Five One Eats #6

On Friday, I made the trip to Farmer's Hardware Saratoga restaurant. The day before, they hosted an Impossible Burger tasting party previewing the new menu item. I was not able to attend but I was in the area the next morning. How did I hear about Impossible Burger? Social media. Don't be fooled thinking it is a meat patty. Looks can be deceiving but you'll be surprised. The patty is made from plant ingredients. For some time, it was disappointing that the Impossible Burger was not in upstate New York. But that all changed a couple weeks ago.

Albany Times Union posted an article promoting Farmer's Hardware tasting party. Even though I could not attend, I stopped in the day after to see if it was on the menu. Guess what? It is on the menu permanently. It is a little pricey but that is not going to stop most of you, including myself.

I ordered the burger with lettuce; tomato; pickles; and sauteed onions on a toasted potato bun. My side dish was vegan sweet chili chickpeas. Took one bite of the burger for the first time. What are my thoughts? WOW! It was absolutely delicious. The salt and pepper cooked into the patty brought out the flavor. It feels like biting into a regular burger except that it is plant-based. I've had other vegan burgers including Beyond Meat and Lightlife. After that meal, I would give the edge to Impossible Burger right now.

Make sure to stop into Farmers Hardware in Saratoga Springs to order the Impossible Burger. According to the website, they also serve it at Lost Dog Cafe in Binghamton, New York. Don't see it in your area, DEMAND IT. If you would like to know more about Impossible Foods, check them out here. Get out and search for amazing vegan food. 

Happy Living
+ MJ

You can not deny this deliciousness