Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Look Back

As 2016 comes to its conclusion, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on a pretty good year. Hope your holidays were amazing this year, mine were excellent. If I have looked forward to writing this post for some time now, you know that it has been a pretty good time. Despite writing on a regular basis sometime in May, a lot of amazing things have happened and I want to share those amazing moments with you.

New Scenery and New Outlook
In August, I made the decision to relocate to another part of New York State along with a career change. Almost four months in, the change has been nothing short of spectacular. My outlook on life has been awesome and making small changes in my life have made me the person I am right now. I kept telling myself why this did not happen sooner. Something about being in a new environment that brings out a side in you that you never knew existed. Also, my parents moved to New Jersey because my father started a new job for a new company. It was stunning leaving a place you have called home for almost twenty seven years to relocate to a new place. I'm telling you, the change in scenery is scary at first. As time passes, the feeling becomes amazing and that perfectly describes what I went through. Talking with my parents during the holidays, they are loving the new environment and their new employers have been very supportive of them. It was beautiful celebrating the holidays in a new home and most importantly, spending quality time with my family.

Drug Free
This can fall under the new outlook topic but this is a tremendous milestone in my life. I completed another milestone this year but I'll get to that momentarily. A few days prior to Christmas in 2015, I made the decision to stop drinking alcohol completely. I have avoided other drugs too but struggled at first ridding myself of alcohol. As I am writing this, I have been sober for over one year and there is no going back. I have noticed small positive changes in my body physically and emotionally. Since getting rid of alcohol, I've fallen in love with two beverages: coffee (Deathwish) and water.


Sitting down with a good book
Undoubtedly, this year has been dominated by paperback books. Honestly, I can't tell you the last time I have read this many books in a year. I have read works by David Sedaris, Stieg Larsson, Augusten Burroughs, and many more. Never thought this would happen but I've started reading the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling. I would say to myself, this is a series I will never read and sure enough, three books in, I'm hooked. I'm still reading on a regular basis. It is nice talking to others who give me excellent recommendations on future readings.


Running
This year has been exciting for how much running I have accomplished. Four half marathons, a team relay race, and two marathons is the most races I have participated in since I started running a few years ago. I have really come along way since running my first 5K back in 2012. I participated in my first team relay race, Seneca 7 back in April. This event was so much meeting so many competitors and teammates along the route. The course was a total of 77.7 miles around Seneca Lake with teams of seven runners. Even though our team got disqualified, it was so much participating in that event and did some of my best running. Earlier in the month, I ran in the worst conditions for a half marathon. The event took place in Syracuse where there was almost zero visibility along with sleet, hail, and snow mixed into the challenge. Along with the races, it was awesome meeting so many runners during group days. I accomplished a personal best in a half-marathon race running in under 1:40 back in July at Saratoga Springs Spa State Park.

My biggest milestone this year has to be completing my first marathon race this year. Fittingly, it was in a city I have called home for several years. I was honored to have participated in the first annual Herald of Victory event in Binghamton on Memorial Day weekend. You can read my race recap here. Six months later, I completed my second marathon in Philadelphia. Not only was this the biggest race I have been a part of but I also accomplished a personal best time of just under 3:30. I can not wait to see where my marathon running journey takes me in 2017. Thank you to everyone for giving me a reason to fall in love with running. Yes it is very difficult to complete a marathon with all the training and preparation but it was all worth it in the end.

 I have to say that it has been a great year for running


Those are the biggest moments of this year but here are some other moments from 2016:

Podcasts. I have been obsessed with podcasts lately and it has allowed me to listen with an open mind. My most played podcast is The Joe Rogan Experience, which you can subscribe to on iTunes. I love the guests he has on the program ranging from educated professors to comedians. The show is very entertaining and you might learn something too. Other podcasts I've listened to are How To Be Amazing, Total Human Optimization, and No Meat Athlete Radio. I'm always looking for new podcasts to listen to so please leave suggestions in the comments box.

Watching a game in the Green Monster section at Fenway Park
Running in Central Park
More punk and hardcore shows
Working out in a gym/training facility
Deathwish Coffee

More writing. I've enjoyed writing on this blog a lot this year and looking forward to continuing into the new year. Thank you to everyone who have viewed the blog. Please leave comments and feedback. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for making this an awesome year for me. Good luck to everyone striving for a better life in 2017.

-Matt

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Philadelphia Marathon

Hello everyone, it has been a few weeks but I have been looking forward to writing this post for some time now. This past Sunday, I ran in my second marathon in Philadelphia. It was a beautiful experience not only being in my favorite city but getting the opportunity to run through sections I have never seen before. Almost six months ago, the time for my first marathon was over 4:08:14. Sunday, my time was just under 3.5 hours and I could not be any more happier with the overall result. While I am thinking of it, thank you very much to all the volunteers, event coordinators, Police, EMT, sponsors, and the awesome spectators on the course cheering. You were all amazing and made my race weekend very memorable. Here is my recap:

Saturday 5AM: Awake 

Drove to the Albany-Rensselaer station to catch the 7:10 AM train to Philadelphia. It was my first time riding an Amtrak train and it was a surreal experience. So glad I chose this mode of transportation over driving four hours alone. I put all my required tasks in my phone to keep me focused on the big objective. Yes it is a little odd but it truly put my mind at ease and made my day much less stressful. After a brief layover in New York City (Penn Station), I take another train to my destination.

Saturday 1:30 PM: Pre-Race

Arrive in Philadelphia and walk to my hotel which was about a mile and a half away. Wait is this real? 70 degrees outside and I'm walking around in shorts. Check into my room then walk to the Convention Center to pick up my race packet. After picking up the race packet, I walked around checking out the sponsors/vendors. The marathon had corrals/groups based on finishing times. I took the opportunity to change mine from Purple to Black based on my strong training for this race. I purchased CEP Compression Socks and Tailwind Nutrition through an amazing small business, Philadelphia Runner. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to wear the socks during the race because of the cold weather but my next run or race. The Tailwind flavor I picked out was Green Tea Buzz which had caffeine in it and it is also Vegan.

Speaking of Vegan, congratulations to all the plant-based athletes who finished the marathon on Sunday. It put a big smile on my face seeing signs along the course who run for amazing causes.
After picking up my race materials, I headed back to the hotel only to get caught up in a big protest against President-Elect Donald Trump. Got back to the hotel and did a nice workout with some weights. It has been some time since I picked up weights and it was a great feeling. After relaxing a little bit, I walked around downtown looking for some eateries to get my carb-loading in full effect. First, was a pizzeria called Slice for a broccoli rabe and vegan mozzarella piece made to order. Walked around the corner to Hip City Veg for a Cheese Steak. You have to get one if you are in Philadelphia. Relax, it was 100% Vegan and plant-based. Also, I ordered a small side of Quinoa Chili and Sweet Potato Fries with Sriracha Aioli. Got back to the hotel to eat this big pre-race meal and it was absolutely delicious. I would recommend Hip City Veg to any Vegan out there looking for a great place to eat in Philadelphia. Went to bed early so I can be ready for the big race.

 This is my carb-loading meal. Don't judge me.


Sunday 5AM: 2 hours until race time

Awake after a good nights sleep and getting really excited to run. It was a little disheartening in terms of weather though going from seventy degrees to thirty with 40 mph gusts of wind. I was not going to let that deter me from my objective. I found eating a small meal before a race really helps, in my case, a peanut butter sandwich with a banana. Get on the hotel shuttle to take runners to the starting line (Benjamin Franklin Boulevard) and get stretched out to acclimate myself in these tough conditions. I did not have too many expectations, ok there was one, to set a personal best for this race.

7:10 AM: Horn sounds and the race is begins

We were the fourth group to go off after the Elites and I got off very good. My pace was very consistent and smooth through downtown. My shoulders got tense during a couple parts of the race especially at mile 4. I did not get water until mile 6 to avoid runner congestion. Did not use a port-a-potty until around mile 12. One of my favorite cheering sections was South Street and Chestnut Street, getting spectators energized and hearing them yell out your name. I knew getting into University City section would be a challenge in terms of elevation changes. So, I used this opportunity to conserve my energy through Fairmount Park to have a strong finish back at the Art Museum. The first half was very good in terms of pace and stamina.

The true test was a beautiful run along the Schuylkill River on Kelly Drive. It was relatively flat for a simple down and back portion of the course. It has been almost six years since I have been in this section of Philadelphia, up to Boathouse Row. I did not see the leaders coming back until miles 15-16 so it was not as embarrassing. Most runners stated that reason for not liking this race. My objective was to have a strong finish once I hit the turn around point in Manayunk. Speaking of Manayunk, the cheering section was the best cheering section on the course and the energy was just off the charts. Thank you very much for making my race much more enjoyable. I didn't push very hard the last six like I wanted to but I decided to not be gassed before the finish line. You have to listen to your body and know your limits. The mindset changes over the course of a long run and that is a beautiful thing about running.

10:40 AM: Finish Line
As I approached the finish, my objective was to crossing the line with more energy and spring to my step, compared to six months ago. I was hopping around a couple times and arms raised in the air, getting the crowd into it and achieving a personal best time of 3:29:25. After getting a medal put around my neck, it really hit me that I'm not only a runner but I'm a marathon runner after completing my second one. I can't wait for my next race coming up sometime next year. After loading up on post-race fuel and getting my bag from the check station, it was back to the hotel to stretch,change clothes, and re-hydrate for the long trip home.

Caught the 1:30 train to New York to catch my breath and reflect on an amazing weekend. I had the chance to talk to a wonderful couple across the aisle who also completed the marathon and reflected on events leading up to race day. It is really amazing what you can learn from others when you are surrounded by other like-minded people.

Waiting for the 5:15 train home, I went to another amazing vegan eatery, The Cinnamon Snail, next to Madison Square Garden. It was an early dinner and dessert but it was very delicious.

Smoked Sage Seitan Burger and Pumpkin Ciffron donut

Got on the train and got back into Albany after 8 PM. It was nice seeing my house-mates congratulating me when I returned home. I wanted to write this yesterday, but I simply had no energy to get into detail. Philadelphia, you have been amazing as always. Thank you for being an awesome city. Ok, I am upset that you ripped up Love Park especially running by it before mile 1 marker. Despite that, I still love you.

I would like to thank everyone that was involved with race weekend. Carb Boom Energy Gels, GU Energy Gels, Lara Bar,  and Tailwind Nutrition for powering me through the entire race. Once again, thank you to all the spectators, volunteers, Police, and EMT for making an amazing day safe and memorable. Let's see what 2017 brings for challenges and goals. Thank you readers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Moving and Tapering

I wanted to do this update a couple days ago but did not have the energy to write this post. This past weekend, I was helping my parents clean out the old house so they can get stuff moved into their new home a few hours away. Also, I got a 13.8 mile run in Sunday before coming home later that day. It was a beautiful run not only with the weather but the ability to keep an excellent pace. My confidence is very high right now and would love to keep it that way as the marathon draws closer. With less than three weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon, I am done with the long runs and have started tapering. I'm still going to run three days a week but the runs will be much shorter. As I am writing this, I ran approximately 12km this morning at a 6:47 pace.

My method of travel to Philadelphia? It will be my first time riding a train in my lifetime so this will be an eye-opening experience. Sorry that this is a short blog post but I promise my marathon recap will be in greater detail. Until next time everyone.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Massage Rolling and Training

Since it has been over a week, I figured it was time for another post about my training. The training has been going pretty good and starting to see amazing results. Still running three times a week but there was a slight change in the schedule. My longer run is on Saturday but since it rained heavily, I decided to do it the next day so I was more refreshed. I felt some pain in my stomach during the run but I pushed through and did very well. If you are wondering, I did eat right after stretching. My paces for the three runs were 6:46 (6 miles); 6:40 (4.82/7.76km); and 6:46 (12.05). Very confident in my progress and can't wait to put that to the test in Philadelphia, 26 days from now.

Aside from training, stretching has been very important to me whenever I take part in a recreational activity, such as running. My habit is to always stretch before and after a run to prevent long term injuries. I decided to take it one step further by purchasing a massage roller. A massage therapist highly recommended it to me after running the Saratoga Springs Half Marathon back in September. After putting it off for a couple weeks, I decided to purchase one at Target for about $20 and it has been a great investment. The company that made this product is Gaiam. I've tried other massage rollers before that were not very comfortable on my legs or did not get results. Maybe it is because I'm not a big fan of hard plastic rollers and it was too expensive. The one I purchased is very simple to use with discs that can be arranged in numerous ways contouring to your body. It would've been tough to use a foam roller on a wooden floor so I opted for a massage roller instead. It is easy to use and can be taken on the go for your next running event. The rubber plastic discs are forgiving on the body and reach sore spots easily. If you do not have a massage or foam roller, I would highly recommend purchasing one to save you troubles down the road.


 Restore Adjustable Massage Roller

Sunday, October 16, 2016

About Time

Influential music in my life

If you are anticipating a marathon training update, here it is and it is going to be short. I ran three days the past two weeks. The first week was 7.56 miles, 6.2 (10K), and 3.1 (5K) with the pace under seven minutes in that set. The next week was 10 miles, another 5K, and 11.94 miles with the pace under seven minutes again. Running three days a week has really helped with my speed work and my confidence has grown as the marathon is about one month away. I will continue this trend for the next two weeks until November starts so I'm fresh for Philadelphia. That is my running update.

Last night, I witnessed an amazing show in Clifton Park. Pennywise played their About Time album in its entirety along with some of their classic songs and a couple of cover songs. They covered Ben E. King's Stand By Me, doing a great version of it and Bad Religion's Do What You Want. How did I hear about Pennywise? My aunt had a copy of Spin Magazine in 1998-99 with an advertisement promoting their latest CD. A couple years later, Pennywise released, Land Of The Free? that included my favorite song Fuck Authority. Now this is 2016 and they are still a tremendous influence on my life. Every single piece of music they have made has been nothing short of amazing. If you are a big punk/hardcore lover, this band should be at the top of your list.




All the bands that played with Pennywise were very impressive. I have become fans of Unwritten Law, The Runaway Kids, and Strung Out after that show. It felt like a Vans Warped Tour show with only a few bands but the way it is suppose to be. All the fans in attendance were into the show whether it was sing-alongs, crowd surfing, and pitting. You know a show is going to be great when the guitarist of the opening band runs off stage and joins the circle pit while in sync. Wish the show could've been sold out but the attendance was good overall.


Check out The Runaway Kids on Facebook




Strung Out Facebook


Along with the amazing show, I prepared some sweet dishes that were simple and delicious.

Brown Rice with Chickpeas, Edamame, and Avocado

Sweet Potato Chili

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Get Still and Be In Touch With Nature

Listening to a podcast last week, Aubrey Marcus, founder of Onnit gave listeners five tips to live a healthy and prosperous life aside from diet and exercise. One of them was getting out in natural habitat and exploring what the land has to offer. After a nice Sunday morning walk with my cup of coffee and bag of pastries, I decided to take a day trip to Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Why Stockbridge? If you are an art lover, I would recommend visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum. It was truly an eye opening experience viewing all the amazing pieces of art work on display. Having no cell phone to distract you also helps you get in touch with your sights. I never understood why people bought cameras to museums. The main purpose of artwork is to stimulate your visual senses so you can remember pieces and sharpen your mind. It has been a very long time since I've been to an art gallery or museum. Norman Rockwell is one of my favorite illustrators/artists because he does an amazing job describing the American way of life in the twentieth century. Even to this day, his work is very influential among other artists. It was difficult absorbing all that information but it was an amazing experience. Pictured on the right is Norman Rockwell's studio.



After the museum, I drove through the scenic roads of Massachusetts to Jacobs Ladder to hike the Appalachian Trail.  The weather was not not all that great but it held up for my six mile trek. The terrain is rough and narrow in certain spots but not too difficult. I would definitely go on another hiking trek in the near future. Be prepared with the weather by packing all the essential gear: proper clothing to cover your body, footwear, and back pack. Even for a short hike like mine, packing food is important along with a bottle of water to stay hydrated and energized throughout the trek.



 On the Jacob's Ladder Trail
 That's me out there getting in touch with nature. Can't wait to explore more of the Appalachian Trail.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

New Era in Binghamton Hockey

It has been about a week since the news broke about Binghamton will be losing their longest running franchise, the Binghamton Senators. Even though I live a couple hours away now, it was sad to hear the news but I'm not surprised. The rumors have been circulating for months and Executive Vice President of operations, Tom Mitchell confirmed those rumors on Monday. The AHL team will be relocating to Belleville, Ontario after Ottawa Senators owner, Eugene Melnyk purchased the team. It is becoming a recent trend of NHL teams owning farm teams and plus Yardmen Arena underwent a massive upgrade.

My thoughts on what has transpired? Obviously, I'm sad to see the franchise of 15 seasons leaving Binghamton but at the same time, it makes sense logistically. Lately, that has been the direction of most AHL teams especially in California as of late. Massive renovations and upgrades attract new and existing fan bases. Simply, Floyd L. Maines Arena could not keep up with the newest trends. I can't even call it by its new name. I always refer to it as Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. So many memories of going to hockey games including my parents taking me there when they were the Binghamton Rangers in the early 1990's. A few more memories would be watching the Senators win their first conference title on home ice, two Calder Cup Finals games in Binghamton for the first time since 1982, their first Calder Cup Championship followed, then a parade downtown, and watching them raise the banner on opening night of 2011-2012 season.

I admire Tom Mitchell's dedication of keeping the American Hockey League here in my hometown. Yes it is difficult when franchises move but there is always a new day when the hockey tradition has not lost a step since 1973. Looking at the possible NHL affiliates, it looks like it could come down to the New York Islanders; New York Rangers; and New Jersey Devils. There is a good chance it will not be a future Las Vegas NHL team because of logistics but it will not be ruled out. The New Jersey Devils look like they are staying put in the capital district and they are still under contract even though attendance has been lackluster. Personally, it comes down to the Islanders and Rangers. If I had a choice, I would like to see the New York Rangers affiliate come back to Binghamton for the first time in 20 years. Not only does it make sense logistically but the future looks uncertain in Connecticut regarding term agreements. We'll see what happens. I just want to say thank you to everyone who was involved with the Binghamton Senators: players, front office, writers, arena staff, and most importantly the fans. I wish I can be there for the farewell season but I'll be thinking of you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all your hard work and dedication keeping the spirit alive.

Running With Confidence and Great Fuel

Look at that excitement. That's confidence right there!


That has been the theme for my marathon training for several months. In the past, it was difficult to follow that keynote but for yesterdays run, it was very important. It started a couple days prior to the longest run training run, 21+ miles. Crazy as this sounds, I was really excited about this particular run wanting to end the peak training on an excellent note. After running 21.26 miles in 2:35:15, I was very happy and surprised with the result. I was expecting to run a little over 3 hours but it was almost 30 minutes quicker than expected. My run was very smooth and did not tire very easily at a 7:18 pace.

As far as what to eat and drink prior to running, I simply stick with toast and a banana to prevent running on an empty stomach. For hydration, simply enough water (in my case it was a full bottle) and some Coconut water to get electrolytes in my system. I don't like to load up on a lot of food prior to a run because chances are, you are looking to replenish right after a run anyway. After my long run, my post race fuel consisted of oatmeal with a banana, coconut water, water, a Kind Snack Bar, and Primal Strips Vegan Jerky.

I use to eat Clif Bars whenever I did a long run but they were so heavy, rich in filling, and hard to absorb while running. Lately, I've fallen in love with Kind Snack Bars because of the lighter portions and fewer calories. The flavors consumed and purchased are Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Nut, Roasted Jalapeno, Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, and Dark Chocolate Chili Almond. An even better bonus is that it's made with non-GMO ingredients, excellent source of protein and dairy free options. Thank you Kind Snacks for fueling my workouts.

It has been several years since I had a piece of jerky, way before my vegetarian period. One day, I went to Healthy Living Market and Cafe in Saratoga Springs for a couple treats. All of sudden,  I had a craving for vegan jerky. After walking around looking for it, I found it next to the checkout lines. Primal Spirit Foods makes meatless vegan jerky and let me tell you, they were delicious. Excellent source of protein, non-GMO ingredients, vegan, no preservatives, and no artificial colors. It is a perfect portion for one serving size and you can not taste the difference with regular jerky. The only three I have tried are Thai Peanut, Mesquite Lime, and Hot & Spicy. All three were very good so it is difficult to choose a favorite. If you forced me to choose, it would be Mesquite Lime. After finishing all three, I will make another trip to the market to restock.

My advice to all runners is approach every training day with confidence whether it is short or very long.  The Philadelphia Marathon in November is fast approaching, exactly seven weeks away. Obviously, I will share my experience with everyone once the event has concluded.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Change is good

Currently, I'm wrapping up training for the Philadelphia Marathon coming up in less than two months. I can't believe the big day is getting close. Last week, I ran three consecutive days for the first time since my High School track and field days. Honestly, I was not sure what to expect or how my performance would be but it was worth a try. Let me tell you, it was the quickest running I have ever done in my life. My paces were between 6:30-7 minutes running 8,4 and 3.1 (5K) respectively. 6:34 is the fastest mile in under one hour of running, about 52 minutes to be exact. After doing those three runs, I kept asking myself why I didn't do this sooner. Now, I will incorporate them more into my run after this weekend. My goal is to get a 21 mile run in to get my confidence going and then focus on shorter runs to keep myself in running form. I've been focusing on distance and not on speed for several months only running twice a week. It will increase to three days a week to prevent burnout.

Now Playing: Check out the Onnit Podcast!

I told you I would get back into making my own dishes. The most beautiful thing about cooking is the ability to experiment and make so many variations of one dish. The possibilities are endless.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Saratoga Palio Half Marathon

This morning, I completed my seventh half marathon and second in the beautiful city of Saratoga Springs, New York. It was beautiful running weather and honored to run for a great cause, The Melanie O'Donnell Foundation. In my previous half marathon, not only did I set a personal best but it was the fastest 13.1 miles I have ever ran. My goal was to set another personal best. Unfortunately, I was about 3 minutes slower than my July race. I had to stop at mile 8 to use the bathroom which cost me a minute or two. Would it have helped me PR if I did not stop? Not entirely sure. Despite that, I walked away pretty satisfied with the result and knowing it will be a very nice tune up for the Philadelphia Marathon coming up in two months. It was beautiful running through downtown and through the state park just up the road. Thank you to all the volunteers, road marshalls, and race coordinators for making this a safe and exciting race. The last time I spent time downtown was almost three years ago when I went to a wedding reception. It was pretty sweet walking around after the race.

Not sure if it is just me but it was difficult falling asleep Saturday night. Race day anxiety? We'll never know. I was just happy to be running in another race. Woke up at 6 AM to get ready for the day making the best of a tough situation. Before races and long runs, I do not eat a very heavy breakfast. I limit it to fruit and grains, banana and toast with a peanut butter spread. After you finish a race, what is usually waiting at the finish line? A nice spread of post race fuel (bagels, fruit, and beverages). Today was a nice post race recovery because Purebred Athletics offered free massages to runners. I took full advantage of it and felt a huge sense of relief afterwards. It was nice getting out meeting new runners and seeing familiar faces again. I saw Jenna who was watching her brother run in the same race cheering us on. I talked to Alaina, a college classmate I have not talked to in several years. It was very nice to catch up again. Running races has really helped me break out of my own shell and be more socially engaging.

I'm exhausted and now it is time to start a new work week. Until next time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Blood, Sweat, and No Tears

So far, the change of scenery has been nothing short of amazing. I kept telling myself, why I didn't relocate sooner. It is pretty sweet waking up on a Saturday for a long run and the trail is right out your front door.

Speaking of a long run, I did two within a span of six days. It is the longest total distance I've ever ran in my life. The first run was twenty miles and the second one was just under nineteen. I was very surprised with the results from the first one but it was very rewarding. I finished in just over three hours. I compared it to a similar run back in April, and the difference was very staggering. I took almost forty minutes off. The second one was good but my body was totally spent at the end. I was upset that I decided to cut it short instead of doing twenty. Getting home late and rising early will take its toll. With the Philadelphia Marathon almost two months away, I have been very pleased with the results. I will be running a half marathon in Saratoga Springs on Sunday for The Melaine Foundation. That race will be an excellent tune up for November. This past weekend, I got to bond with one of my roommates, Otto. We really hit it off when he was asking me about running. His advice and words of encourage were very helpful and I will keep that in mind when running in future races. Enough of the running, lets dial it back a little bit.

Sunday, was a celebration of one of my favorite bands, Sick Of It All. They are celebrating thirty years as a group and I really commend them for their pride and dedication to New York Hardcore. All of the music they have created has been very good and the band members are very friendly. Thank you for everything you have done. Your live shows are always a great time and you are built to last. I love you very much Lou, Pete, Armand, and Craig.

"We are playing the same set as New York City except there are no balloons. I know I was looking forward to the fucking balloons."- Lou Koller

Check them out: 30 Years
  
One of my favorite songs on their most under rated album:


Not going to lie, I am having recipe withdrawl so I'll get back into that soon.



Monday, September 5, 2016

New Is Better

A lot has been going on in my life since my last post. New area, new job, and new outlooks on life.

I relocated to the Albany area a couple weeks ago intending on transferring to another office for my previous employer. At the same time, I got offered a full time position as a Sterile Processing Technician at Saratoga Hospital. I ended up accepting the full time job and I'm very proud with where my life is going right now. I really loved what I did at my other job but I couldn't pass up the long term objectives that came with Sterile Processing. I stayed at my cousins house along with her boyfriend until I found a place to get myself situated. I really can't thank them enough for making the transition much more easier. I've been living in a new place for a few days now and the change of scenery is already having an amazing impact on me. I kept telling myself why I didn't move up here sooner. Along with the awesome place, it is even better having running trails right out your front door. The homeowner has a few books by David Sedaris and I was almost ecstatic. I wish she was there to see my reaction in person. Now for some fun adventures.

I went to a Boston Red Sox game a week ago, Sunday night, at Fenway Park. If you have never been to a game or never seen the ballpark, you will be absolutely amazed. Not only is the ball park iconic, the fan atmosphere is second to none. That was my fifth game and my first time standing in the famed Green Monster section. The view was absolutely spectacular and one of the best in all of baseball. All the fans I talked to at the game were friendly, energetic, and fun. If you do make it to a game, make sure to stay for a rendition of Sweet Caroline. It is always a tradition at every home game prior to the bottom of the eight inning. Reminds me of SUNY Oswego Men's hockey games during 2nd intermission. Even though the game was hard to watch, I always have a great time at the ballpark and will always go back every year. Now, my next goal is to get inside the Green Monster along with a picture someday. Before the game, I had brunch at an amazing restaurant outside Boston called Walnut Grille. The vegan and vegetarian options are excellent for brunch and dinner. While walking around Fenway, I stopped at an amazing vegan dessert place called Fomu, which specialize in dairy free ice cream and desserts. While I was at the game, I had to get my veggie hot dog and veggie burger because it is the way to go. Sorry, no Fenway Frank for me.

How can you not deny my excitement and that beautiful face. After all, it is a pretty amazing place.

Iconic

 One of the best views in all of baseball. If you get a chance to be up there, you can not say no.

 The picture speaks for itself.

This past weekend, I was at a wedding for my cousin and it was a great time. It is the one time where I can dance and be myself socially. I danced for a few hours and never took my suit jacket the whole night. Even my father was amazed. Congratulations Torey and David on your marriage. I am glad you made me a part of your big celebration. When you put two like minds together, even if they are weird, you are bound to have a lasting relationship. It was great catching up with the family, meeting new people, and catching up with those I have not seen in some time. To cap off the amazing weekend, I went out on the boat with my family at their camp in Union Springs. Thank you Miranda for making me put family first. It was an amazing time.

After little sleep and no food, I went out on a twenty mile run to keep pace with my marathon training. Within the first five miles, I knew it was going to be a very successful run. Even I was very surprised as the run concluded. My run took just over three hours exactly with just over nine minutes as a pace. I compared it to my first one back in April and the results were staggering. I took nearly forty minutes off this run. Over the past few months, I have been very pleased with my results getting ready for my second marathon race. Less than three months until the big day. That is all I have right now for an update.

It is has been amazing turning a new leaf that is blowing in the wind leading me on this incredible journey. The future is going to be great. Until next time, thank you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thursday's coffee update

It feels very strange writing on a Thursday morning instead of every weekend. Yesterday, I did a 13 mile run to get back on track with my training regimen. Even though my time was a few minutes slower, I was very happy with the results since it was over a week ago that I ran. Less than four months until the Philadelphia Marathon and I almost can't contain my excitement. It's pretty amazing how far I've come in less than four years.

Speaking of excitement and Philadelphia, This Is Hardcore Fest takes place August 4th-7th at the Electric Factory. Its been a couple years since I've made the trek down to the best hardcore music festival in the country. I'll be down there Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. I'm excited for all the bands that are playing this festival including those I haven't seen in several years and others for the first time ever. Joe Hardcore and his entourage do an amazing job every year putting on a great show and he knows how to take care of his audience. Philadelphia is going to be an amazing time and can't wait to see everyone stage-diving and losing it during the sets. My only regret is not going sooner and every year he has put it on since 2006. Every time I have gone, it has been nothing short of amazing. The hardcore scene is awesome and the city is great. If you want to know more, check it out. I'll have another post when the festival wraps up.

I'm very happy to establish a routine cooking a dish once a week. You really learn more about yourself when you are in the kitchen making healthy dishes. This is what I made on Monday:

 Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce and Tomato Relish

I would definitely make this dish again in the near future. That's all for me because I need to get caught up on more reading. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Saratoga Springs pace and catching up

Been home for several hours coming from an exhausting but amazing weekend. I ran in my sixth half marathon in Saratoga Springs and it was an awesome result. I took a couple minutes off of my personal best going from 1:43 to about 1:40. Despite the miserable weather, it was a very enjoyable run through Saratoga Spa State Park and the course was very flat for the most part. The course was not overwhelming and you do not have to deal with so much vehicle traffic compared to most races. It was organized very well and hopefully will have more participants in the coming years. Thank you 3C Race Productions, the Strong Serve organization, and all other participants who made the event possible. I would definitely run this race again in the future and it was one of the best I have participated in.

While I was in the capital region, I got to catch up with an amazing friend I have not seen in almost five years. Me and Jenna went to Browns Tap Room in Troy and talked over an amazing meal. I still can not get over that it has been so long since our last get together. We also reminisced about eating at the same place six years ago Thanksgiving weekend. It was great going back there even though I do not drink now. I was impressed with selection of vegetarian and vegans options available. Jenna told me that the establishment just hired a new chef to do a complete overhaul of the menu. Even though it was my first time in the restaurant in some time, I was very pleased with the atmosphere. If you are in Troy, NY, definitely check out Browns-Troy Tap Room. Next time on my trip to the area is brunch at Cafe Madison and doughnuts at Nibble Incorporated. Thank you Jenna for those excellent recommendations and I can't wait to get together again soon. Lets not wait another five years. Now, it's time to start a new week.

That's me all soaking wet from the rain but very happy with the end result

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Books, Philosophically Built, and another half marathon

Hope your Fourth of July was amazing like mine was. It has been another very productive week and I couldn't be any happier. I got two books from the library written by legendary New York Mets players: Dwight Gooden and Mookie Wilson. I finished Doc A Memoir and learned so much about this amazing pitcher after reading his book. He is now a bigger influence on me for quitting drugs and alcohol all together and he is still fighting today. Keep up the good work Dwight. I'm glad to see he is still alive and doing much better. Hopefully people in similar circumstances to his can learn from him and always surround yourself with positive-minded people. Hopefully I can meet him one day and talk to him about the obstacles he has had to overcome. He will be in an upcoming documentary on ESPN July 14th called Darryl and Doc. I can't wait to hear their about their memories and tumultuous relationship as professional ball players. I just started reading Mookie: Life, Baseball, and the '86 Mets yesterday. I will let you know how that book is when I am finished.

Friday was another workout day at Philosophically Built. As Blake likes to call it, Challenge Friday. I got on the board again by completing two challenges. The first one was five minutes of clean and jerks with the 12kg kettle bells. I was able to do fifty-five in that time frame good for second rank. The other challenge was reverse lunges with 16 kg kettle bells. Despite struggling at the end, I was able to do 24, good enough for the top spot. Look whos getting stronger! I can't wait to get back to work on Tuesday.

This Sunday, I will be running in another half marathon to get tuned up for the big race in November. This will be in Saratoga Springs and I can't wait to have a great run and maybe beat my personal best of 1:43. It has been almost three years since I have been up that way but I am excited to be up there again visiting my friends.

It has been awesome cooking my own meals again and spending more time in the kitchen. The dishes I have made so far have been excellent.

 Home made veggie burgers


 Szechuan Tofu and Green Beans

Monday, June 27, 2016

Work out, Read, Run and repeat

Aside from the busy work schedule, it has been a pretty productive week.

I will be going into my third week of working out at Philosophically Built with Blake. I really enjoy the exercises that he is having me complete everyday. On Friday, I successfully completed two more challenges to get my name on the board. One was doing one hundred steel mace swings in about 4:30. The other one was a similar exercise but using steel pins doing the club throw challenge in a little over three minutes. Everyone that I have met at the workouts have been amazing and awesome to be around. Keep up the good work. Besides the amazing workout challenges, my upper body strength is improving greatly through increasing weights on the bench press.

Along with working out, I got introduced to some amazing supplements from Onnit such as Shroom Tech Sport. This supplement has aided me tremendously getting through a workout and long distance runs. You know what else is amazing about it? The supplement is vegan and GMO free. I avoid supplements containing fish and dairy products. If you are looking for those types of supplements, I would highly recommend checking out their full line of supplements.
 
Besides working out, I have been reading a lot of books lately. As of today, two books were finished within two weeks: Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked by David Sedaris. Known for his witty humor, he has become one of my favorite authors as of late. I've read seven books and have only one title left to read: Barrel Fever. Audiobooks? Don't bother asking unless you accompany me on a long and tortuous road trip across America. Favorite book? Good luck getting an answer out of me because all of his works have been very good. I was very upset that I missed his reading event at Binghamton University back in April. I am bound not to miss an appearance when he comes to the area again. 





It has been amazing getting back into excellent running form. I'm currently preparing to run my second marathon November 20th in Philadelphia. Running twice a week and working out a few days a week has been very beneficial physically, mentally, and emotionally. It has boosted my confidence tremendously and given me extra energy I never knew existed. I can hear Blake in my ear saying, "Someone's getting stronger!" Sunday, I ran 15.5 miles through Johnson City and Binghamton. The first five miles my pace was the slowest I have ran in a while (nine minutes plus). After a brief stop, I was able to find more speed and lower the pace to where I was very comfortable (8-8:30 per mile). Sundays are one of my favorite days because I look forward to completing a long run and always challenging myself to get faster. Always have a variety of places to run in your area and don't settle for the same spots, especially if you are training. It is refreshing to get acclimated to changing environments and scenery to make running more enjoyable. In July, I will participate in the Saratoga Springs Half Marathon race. I'm want to get a few tune up races completed before November so I am better prepared for the Philadelphia Marathon.
 
Changing gears quickly, I got to do Stand Up Paddle Boarding while I was visiting my family at their campsite. That was one activity I have always wanted to do after seeing so many pictures, advertisements, and people raving about how fun it is. I'm going to take that on again once the opportunity arises. Good night everyone.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Shattered gym-phobia dripping in sweat

For the past week, I've been working out with a personal trainer, Blake Hickey. He owns a fitness academy called, Philosophically Built. One week into the workouts, I have to say it has been an amazing experience. I get excited each day I arrive at the facility ready to take on the days workout. In addition, Blake shows a lot of enthusiasm and energy working with his clients helping his clients, including myself, achieve goals. Keep up the good work and congratulations on picking up five more clients yesterday. 

I'm going to continue for the next month working out there and getting very valuable advice and experience with different training techniques and exercises. Philosophically Built has crushed my "gym-phobia" that I have been carrying around for the last few years. If you get a chance to get trained by an Onnit instructor like Blake, take advantage of the opportunity because the workouts are amazing. It is very rewarding ending each workout dripping in a lot of sweat.

What is Onnit exactly? Well my friends, it is an amazing company dedicated to total human optimization. You can get amazing advice on diets, strength training, and conditioning along with an amazing line of food and supplements to enhance your mind and body. I found out about this amazing company through Joe Rogan, host of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. I met Blake at a fitness expo during the Herald of Victory Marathon weekend and we discussed Onnit in more detail and got introduced to some of the workouts that I have used during my workouts. That was my first time getting introduced to kettle bells and steel mace bars. Those have been my favorite pieces of equipment and will have to invest in some to use on my own. The great benefits of working out is you can never stop learning and always challenge yourself each day. Your reward will pay off in the long run. Also, there are endless opportunities to improve your mind and well-being.

Yesterday, I took on the kettle bell squat challenge. In five minutes I did 102 squats using two 12kg kettle bells beating out two other challengers. My goal is to complete a couple more challenges before the month is over. I'm always enjoy a challenge especially when it comes to workouts and learning new ones along the way. So thank you Joe Rogan for introducing me to an amazing brand that you really care about. Also, Blake for challenging me, pushing me, and believing in my potential. I'm really excited for what the next month has to offer. Everyone that I have met at the workouts, you are all amazing. Keep up the good work.

Check out Philosophically Built to get started.

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Post Marathon recovery and the little victories

That's me, completing my first marathon ever. 
It was a truly amazing feeling and a remarkable accomplishment.


It has been one week since I ran my first marathon, Herald of Victory. Again, thank you to all those who participated and volunteered making it an amazing experience. Despite all the hardships, I thought the event was very successful and hopefully will be an annual event for years to come.

Right now, my recovery from the race has been very impressive. I've gone from a nauseous state post race to an energetic mindset in one weeks time. To get back into a routine, I did a 10 mile run close to home even though the weather was a little questionable. After feeling light rain drops within the first mile, I was debating about cutting the run short. Once I got passed the first mile and the rain let up temporarily, I continued on with my run. Ten miles later, I was very happy with my goal even though the time was a little slow. It is the little victories like that that keep active people going and gain more confidence from it. In between that time, I used it to do some exercising focusing on legs and lower body. After working all week, I exercised in the park nearby and make it a habit any chance I can get. It down poured one day but since the park had pavilions, I finished my workout with the help of a picnic table. Don't use the weather as an excuse not to work out. I was very happy to get those workouts completed while I was at the park.

Be proud of those little victories that you accumulate along the way in your journey. It will benefit you greatly in the long run.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Herald of Victory



It is hard to believe that 3.5 years ago was my first road race. Since then, I have completed several races including five half marathons. Serious running has transformed my life socially, physically, and mentally. You will be amazed at what you can learn from other runners who have similar aspirations or conquered challenges. Training for a big race consumes so much time but in the end, the journey to finish is well worth it. If you would've told me a few years ago that I would be run and finish a full marathon, I would have laughed at you. On Sunday, I added another life accomplishment, Herald of Victory Marathon. I was elated and overcome with joy when I crossed the finish line in a little of 4 hours. Checking the results earlier, I was 11th overall and 3rd in my age group which is a complete surprise for me.  It was amazing hearing all those cheers from the crowd and volunteers throughout the course, which kept me going. Hearing fellow runners describe the course as brutal and tough gave me more confidence and pride with my accomplishment.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers, sponsors, first aid station workers, photographers, musicians, and law enforcement/course marshalls for making this race safe and enjoyable. Also, thank you Anthony for running with me for most of the race helping me dig deep for that extra strength and excellent job finishing your fifth marathon. Most importantly, thank you Jenna Jenks and Matt Gawkors, from Confluence Running from all your hard work putting this event together. Having 250 runners participate in a first time event is a big step. Both of you should be very proud of what you accomplished and I'm hoping that it will get bigger for years to come.

Even though Binghamton does not receive a pretty reputation, I'm very glad to see more races being created in this area and most importantly making running enjoyable for everyone. A majority of the events are done for charitable purposes so definitely take advantage of it while you can and most importantly, have fun. Since I've resided in the area for most of my life, I'm glad that I picked Binghamton to run my first full marathon. I hope that event returns next year and I was very honored to be a part of the first time event. Awesome job to all the participants in the 3 person relay groups and Ride For Life 26.2 cyclists.

Right now, I'm at a loss for words but I can't wait for Philadelphia in 6 months and need to invest in a serious training program. The primary reasons why I love running are it keeps me energetic, the desire to take on new challenges, and the people that you meet along the way. My advice for anyone looking to run whether it is serious or for fun, start small. As I stated earlier, training consumes a lot of time but in the end, the goals are very rewarding.

Thanks again to everyone that helped me in reaching a tremendous accomplishment. You are amazing and really appreciate the support. Can't wait to see the photos.

Support local business: Confluence Running

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Times Stud Muffins

I was a little hesitant about creating a post today but after what has developed with the Binghamton Mets the last few days, I really could not resist. Let me start with the Binghamton Mets.

Back in April, the organization opened up a contest to the public to pick the new name for the team starting in 2017. Over 1,500 ideas including me were submitted. This past Tuesday during a home game, the six finalists were revealed. Let me tell you, I shook my head in disbelief and chuckled a little bit. The six names are as followed and I'm not making this up: Timber Jockeys; Bullheads; Gobblers; Rumble Ponies; Rocking Horses; and Stud Muffins. Yes, the last one is not made up. These names belong on T-Ball and/or Recreational Softball team jerseys, not on professional baseball uniforms. Stud Muffins should only be named for an all Male-Revue group.

Were these names submitted by third graders? My idea, Parlor Cutters, did not make the final six and that is embarrassing enough. If that is the best we can do for team names, Binghamton baseball has to be very proud of themselves. Reading the paper for the last few days, the bombardment of negativity has not subsided and does not seem to be letting up any time soon. Even the national media is laughing at Binghamton. It was mentioned in an episode of Around The Horn on Wednesday and it has made the rounds in newspapers around the country.

My message to owner John Hughes is I appreciate the enthusiasm of ringing in a new era for Binghamton baseball. Mistakes will happen and you are allowed to change or have a do-over. These final six should be scrapped and reopen the contest. Another suggestion would be to keep the current name for at least a few more years until you are settled on a new name. My only question is who is the Marketing Director for the Binghamton Mets? If I was in their shoes, I would have not picked any of these six names. I've been reading the editorial viewpoints on this subject for the last few days, most notably today where one page is dedicated to the new team name. Looking through the letters to the editor, I  found a couple that should be finalists: Binghamton Speedies and Binghamton Twilights. Those are based on two iconic staples: regional chicken sandwich and acclaimed film maker.

Despite the negative feedback about the name change, I am still behind baseball staying here in Binghamton for many years to come. The owner and marketing team need to go back to the drawing board and get the team fiasco in order.

Enough of the name fiasco, in one week, I will be participating in my first marathon race here in Binghamton. Today, I did my final Sunday tune up including running some of the course and I feel extremely confident in my pace and stamina especially after doing about 15.8 miles. What are my current emotions? Excitement, confident, and happy. My running has drastically improved this month and looking to carry that same momentum into the race on Sunday.

Until then, keep it real.

Matt

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Stand up New York

Just got back from a weekend trip to New York City. The primary reason was attending Black N' Blue Bowl at Webster Hall. This was my second time going and it was amazing. All the bands that played were great. The one big highlight was everyone going crazy for Billy Club Sandwich when they performed. Now that is a New York Hardcore show right there. My friend Jesse booked them to play in Binghamton about five years and unfortunately they had to cancel. Now, I'm very happy that I finally got to see them live. I'll have to see if I can dig up that flyer because it was suppose to be their first ever show here in upstate New York.

Another one would be seeing Hazen Street for the first time and Madball performing tracks off of Demonstrating My Style for the 20th anniversary celebration. That album was on my mind lately because I was debating whether that album or Set It Off was the better album. I love both albums but DMS is the better one but only by a slight edge I spoke to Joe "Cuz" Cammarata and Freddy "Madball" Cricien towards the end of the show, thanking him for putting it on and really appreciated all the hard work they did. Joe then told me that he has a lot of surprises up his sleeve for next year. After hearing that, I told myself that I have to come back here next year. My only regret is not going to more New York City shows when I was younger and having the opportunities to do it. How did I get to the city? I'm cheap and efficient punk so the bus is the way to do it. I love taking the bus down there so I can explore the city including punk rock/hardcore shows. It is great seeing all the bands that have been around for a very long time getting back together and doing what they love, keeping the spirit and pride of hardcore alive.
















Billy Club Sandwich bringing down the house on their 20th anniversary.

 American Nightmare







 During two change overs, trailers were played for an upcoming film NYHC: New York Hardcore Chronicles The Film. The film will be coming out in December of this year. There is also a book by written by freelance music journalist Tony Rettman that focuses on decade 1980-1990. I think I read a PDF rough copy of the exact same book about five years ago. I wish I still had it but the published version will be the icing on the cake. It is on my wishlist of books to read so don't bother asking me for a review. However, if you want more information on where to order the book and view the trailers for the upcoming film (December 2016), I will post them for you.




Here is the flyer I was talking about. Thank you Billy Club Sandwich for coming back in 2016.



Enough of the hardcore life for a moment. Another goal for this weekend was to get a run in while I was in the city. I was able to do that by running 12 miles at Central Park and it was a very strong run. I thought I was slow but was surprised at the time I accomplished. As I stated in the previous post, my running is drastically improving and I'm becoming more confident now that the marathon is two weeks away. Met up with my sisters for food before I headed back home. All in all it was a very fun weekend and I can't wait for my next trip back to the city. I'm getting for excited for a couple days of This Is Hardcore Fest in Philadelphia coming up in August. Until next time, keep it real.





Sunday, May 8, 2016

May 2016 and what's ahead

I started this blog in 2009 and regret putting it off for seven years. Today, it is a perfect time to start fresh and give you an update.

In three weeks, I will be running in my first marathon race and the excitement continues to build. I've been training for several months and going into this month, my running has drastically improved. After each run, my confidence continues to grow and there is no intention of letting up now. Last week, I ran my fifth half marathon race in Binghamton. Even though the weather was less than perfect, the cheering crowd came out and cheered us all on. Not only did I take five minutes off my personal best, but hearing cheers throughout the run gave me a lot of positive encouragement going forward. Despite the personal setbacks, I feel amazing and that is not an understatement. I'm really starting to discover myself for the first time in a few years along with an energetic and positive mindset and lifestyle. Along with running twice a week, I also workout 4-5 days a week.

Being a serious runner the last few years has been a very positive experience. You never stop learning and you get very valuable feedback from individuals who are highly experienced in long distance races. Also, you build lasting friendships with those who have similar aspirations/achievements. I meet so many new people at the races and group runs and it is one of the benefits of being a serious runner. I would like to continue running for a very long time and can't wait to accomplish something that I would never think of doing on May 29th.

Earned. Not Given.
 Advice? Anybody can do it. All that is required is committing a lot of time and managing it very well. Writing a fitness journal and a planner is very beneficial progressing towards your goals. If you are just beginning, start small and steadily increase your distance runs over time. That is the beauty of running, you learn and continue to grow as you progress. Join a running group and socialize with those who have accomplished what you are working on. Support local businesses and participate in local races that are in your area. The internet is an endless source of information. Heck, that is how I found out about the races and through word of mouth. It is very encouraging to find more races being created that are fun and for the serious runner in anyones life. Most importantly, be yourself and don't let anyone tell you it can't be done.

"Dig deep for the strength that you seek."-Madball (Born Strong)