Friday, October 30, 2009

And so the story goes...

I wrote this post last year prior to the NYC Marathon and with it right around the corner again I thought why not repost the story. I remember this day back in 2006 like it was yesterday, and so many amazing things have happened in my life since that first moment of inspiration.

I was running in Central Park at 5am this morning thinking about many random things in my life as usual. I ran by Tavern on the Green with set up for The ING New York City Marathon finish in full swing and it brought me back to what got me started on what many refer to as this "running thing". This "thing" which has become a very important part of my life began the morning of the 2006 NYC Marathon. It has always been one of my favorite days in the City as everyone comes together with tons of positive energy. If you have not been to NYC for the Marathon I encourage you to go even if you don't know anyone running.

I was sipping on a Bloody Mary in my girlfriend Tani's apartment watching pre-race stuff and getting primed for a big party on 1st Avenue. There was a story about some lunatic who was about to run his 50th Marathon in 50 days. Of course this lunatic was Dean Karnazes and his story would amaze me and eventually inspire me to get off my ass.

I ran NYC back in 2001 basically on a dare from a friend and participated in a number of adventure races a couple years later but at some point other than a weekly softball game I really stopped getting out there. After seeing Dean on TV and reading his book Ultramarathon Man I became somewhat obsessed....fine completely obsessed as Tani can attest. First with his achievements and then with creating my own. I told Tani, if this guy can run the way he does I can certainly run a few miles a day. And so it began..... Just a few miles at a time at first but rather quickly I became seriously engaged with pushing myself.

During the next 2 years I ran a number of 4 and 5 milers, ran up the Empire State Building twice (never again), ran 3 half marathons (Central Park 2008 1:40 pr) and 2 more ING NYC Marathons (2008 3:28 pr). I had also signed up for my first Ultra, The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k DC which was cancelled in 2008 due to a hurricane. As fate would have it we did get to meet Dean for the first time so that was cool (see photos).

This year I ran the The North Face 50k at Bear Mountain and The North Face 50miler DC and will be at the Stone Cat Marathon Trail Race in about 3 weeks. Even Tani caught the bug with a couple of 4 milers and her first 10k this year at Bear Mountain.

Now several thousand miles and a couple hundred Bloody Marys later I am training for my first 100 miler, the Moab 100 on March 27th in Utah. I have become friendly with many new people during this journey, David, Scott, Aram, Tony, Debra, Steph, Amy, Kristen, Pete to name a few. And I have the sense there will be many more. I have also become actively involved in my chosen charity the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. I was informed yesterday that I am the first MMRF Ultra Distance Runner and look forward to continued work with them in their new Run Your Own Race series.

Thank you......

Dean for putting yourself out there...

Tony for taking an interest and helping to get me ready...

David for being a friend and running many, many early mornings with me...

My Family & Friends for supporting this "thing"...

My boys Jared & Kyle for getting excited every time I go further...

To my girlfriend Tani, for supporting the 4am alarms, the hours and hours of training, the running books I read, the diets the powders the gels, the dozens of pairs of smelly shoes all over the place, the ever changing gear I buy, my passion and for being the best "pit crew" anyone could have.

But mostly thank you for being a great step-mom, becoming my wife and mother of our child (coming Feb 2010). I love being "out there" with you.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Your butt is a running muscle"

My friend Ryan sent me this article. Enjoy

October 27, 2009
The Human Body Is Built for Distance
Does running a marathon push the body further than it is meant to go?
The conventional wisdom is that distance running leads to debilitating wear and tear, especially on the joints. But that hasn’t stopped runners from flocking to starting lines in record numbers.
Last year in the United States, 425,000 marathoners crossed the finish line, an increase of 20 percent from the beginning of the decade, Running USA says. Next week about 40,000 people will take part in the New York City Marathon. Injury rates have also climbed, with some studies reporting that 90 percent of those who train for the 26.2-mile race sustain injuries in the process.
But now a best-selling book has reframed the debate about the wisdom of distance running. In “Born to Run” (Knopf), Christopher McDougall, an avid runner who had been vexed by injuries, explores the world of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, a tribe known for running extraordinary distances in nothing but thin-soled sandals.
Mr. McDougall makes the case that running isn’t inherently risky. Instead, he argues that the commercialization of urban marathons encourages overzealous training, while the promotion of high-tech shoes has led to poor running form and a rash of injuries.
“The sense of distance running being crazy is something new to late-20th-century America,” Mr. McDougall told me. “It’s only recently that running has become associated with pain and injury.”
The scientific evidence supports the notion that humans evolved to be runners. In a 2007 paper in the journal Sports Medicine, Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard evolutionary biologist, and Dennis M. Bramble, a biologist at the University of Utah, wrote that several characteristics unique to humans suggested endurance running played an important role in our evolution.
Most mammals can sprint faster than humans — having four legs gives them the advantage. But when it comes to long distances, humans can outrun almost any animal. Because we cool by sweating rather than panting, we can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals. On a hot day, the two scientists wrote, a human could even outrun a horse in a 26.2-mile marathon.
Why would evolution favor the distance runner? The prevailing theory is that endurance running allowed primitive humans to incorporate meat into their diet. They may have watched the sky for scavenging birds and then run long distances to reach a fresh kill and steal the meat from whatever animal was there first.
Other research suggests that before the development of slingshots or bows, early hunters engaged in persistence hunting, chasing an animal for hours until it overheated, making it easy to kill at close range. A 2006 report in the journal Current Anthropology documents persistence hunting among modern hunter-gatherers, including the Bushmen in Africa.
“Ancient humans exploited the fact that humans are good runners in the heat,” Dr. Bramble said. “We have such a great cooling system” — many sweat glands, little body hair.
There is other evidence that evolution favored endurance running. A study in The Journal of Experimental Biology last February showed that the short toes of the human foot allowed for more efficient running, compared with longer-toed animals. Increasing toe length as little as 20 percent doubles the mechanical work of the foot. Even the fact that the big toe is straight, rather than to the side, suggests that our feet evolved for running.
“The big toe is lined up with the rest, not divergent, the way you see with apes and our closest nonrunning relatives,” Dr. Bramble said. “It’s the main push-off in running: the last thing to leave the ground is that big toe.”
Springlike ligaments and tendons in the feet and legs are crucial for running. (Our close relatives the chimpanzee and the ape don’t have them.) A narrow waist and a midsection that can turn allow us to swing our arms and prevent us from zigzagging on the trail. Humans also have a far more developed sense of balance, an advantage that keeps the head stable as we run. And most humans can store about 20 miles’ worth of glycogen in their muscles.
And the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the human body, is primarily engaged only during running. “Your butt is a running muscle; you barely use it when you walk,” Dr. Lieberman said. “There are so many features in our bodies from our heads to our toes that make us good at running.”
So if we’re born to run, why are runners so often injured? A combination of factors is likely to play a role, experts say. Exercise early in life can affect the development of tendons and muscles, but many people don’t start running until adulthood, so their bodies may not be as well developed for distance. Running on only artificial surfaces and in high-tech shoes can change the biomechanics of running, increasing the risks of injury.
What’s the solution? Slower, easier training over a long period would most likely help; so would brief walk breaks, which mimic the behavior of the persistence hunter. And running on a variety of surfaces and in simpler shoes with less cushioning can restore natural running form.
Mr. McDougall says that while researching his book, he corrected his form and stopped using thickly cushioned shoes. He has run without injury for three years.
Join the discussion at

Sunday, October 25, 2009

MMRF Annual Gala

I began running to help raise money for Multiple Myeloma research nearly 3 years ago in support of a dear family friend Anita. I never knew if my runs were really making a difference but I wanted to do what I could. This little known disease with NO CURE seemed to have little support for research. While I never thought about stopping I wondered why more was not being done. This year Anita introduced me to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). I only wish we had found them sooner.

Earlier this week Tani and I were invited as guests of the MMRF to their annual fundraising event by Alicia and Jane who head up the Marathon/Half Marthon Program. I don't know that we were expecting much going into this event, just another black tie fundraiser (we have been to so many). But since this is a cause we have been supporting for several years we thought it was important to go. So we did...and we are happy about it.

Scott Hamilton was the MC and did a great job. His dedication to cancer research is clear. It was the presentations of Kathy Giusti, Hoda Kotb and Boomer Esiason showed us and the other 1,100 people in attendance how relevant the MMRF is to its mission and those of many other foundations. First, as the largest fundraiser for Multiple Myeloma research they have raised $120 million and 93% of those funds are used for just that. The dedication of the MMRF and its supporters has led to great strides in extending the lives of those fighting and to one day finding a cure. More detail on results are here. In addition they consult with other foundations and share there findings which have benefited many other research programs.

The speakers.....

Hoda who most of us probably know from NBC spoke candidly, with appropriate and necessary humor about her battle with Breast Cancer. From diagnosis, through her mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and enlightening encounter with a stranger on a plane (Ken) who helped her understand the importance of embracing this experience as part of who she is. Her thoughts on eliminating what does not matter in life was a nice touch and hysterical (referencing many things including her ex). You could feel her experience fill the room and it made us realize how important it is for celebrities to share these experiences with us all.

Which brings me to Boomer. His story of fate is inspiring and his honesty, passion and humor commanded the room's attention. We know of him as an NFL quarterback and knew something of his story with his son Gunnar's diagnosis years ago with Cystic Fibrosis. What we did not know was how generous he is of giving his time to many causes. While he is understandably dedicated to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis he was not there to self promote. Tani and I had great appreciation for his selfless support.

Kathy (Founder) who is being treated for Multiple Myeloma painted a picture we can't forget. She spoke of her to do list which includes many things all the way to her daughter's wedding someday. Many of her to dos have been done and there are still many to come as her list grows. It seems to me this list never ends, because as Kathy said you can never close the book on Multiple Myeloma. There is NO CURE in case you forgot.

Kathy, Hoda and Boomer...thanks for sharing, your courage is empowering.

We also want to thank Alicia and Jane for inviting us. The evening gave us hope and knowledge that our efforts are making a difference. We look forward to continuing to help MMRF through the Marathon/Half Marathon Program. The program guarantees entry to 100s of runners at various marathons around the country with a commitment to raise funds for research. There will be 104 such runners next Sunday at the ING NYC Marathon who raised $500,000 this year. We are setting up a cheering zone on the west side of 1st Avenue at 87th Street so come out and help support the runners who have worked so hard for this great cause.

If you are interested in other races there is also a Run Your Own Race Program where you can set up your own fundraiser through any race you choose as I did this year and will be doing again in September 2010.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Runner Tracking Error at Chicago

Below is the apology and explanation for the "malfunction" of the runner tracking last week at the Chicago Marathon.

Dear Runner Tracking Registrant, is aware of and has looked into the malfunction within the electronic runner tracking system that caused many updates to populate later than anticipated during Sunday’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon. For this inconvenience, we sincerely apologize.
In reviewing the situation we found the issue was the result of technical difficulties with the system that caused significant delays in reception of messages by registered users. has identified the cause of the problem and has taken measures to ensure it does not happen again.
It is important to note that the issue was in no way affiliated with Verizon Wireless, the sponsor of the Marathon Runner Tracking program, or the technology they provided to the event. has been part of the running community for more than a decade and nothing is more important to us than the events and runners. Our mission is to enable people to find events that improve their quality of life and then facilitate their participation. When we fall short of that goal, we not only let the event and runners down, we let ourselves down.
Again, please accept our sincere apology. We greatly value the running community that trusts Active to provide reliable technology and services. We are committed to making sure your next experience utilizing this service is as seamless as possible.
Dave Alberga
CEO - The Active Network

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chicago Marathon

A quick congrats to my friends Kristen and Tony who both ran today. It would have been nice to follow them throughout the race which is what I thought the tracking I signed up for last week was intended to do.

I received a 10k update for Kristen around 10am and thats it! (A freind of Kristen's received a 10k update on Monday LOL)

I received the following updates for Tony:
1/2 at 11:18am
10k at 1:50pm (1.5hrs after finish)
30k at 5:07 pm (4.5 hrs after finish)
30k at 5:52 pm (5hrs after finish)

What is the point of offering the service? Now that I got that off my chest....

Great job guys. Kristen and Tony finished around 4hr45min and 3hr44min respectively and had a great time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

2nd Annual Paine to Pain

Today was the 2nd Annual Paine to Pain 1/2 Marathon Trail Run in Westchester County NY. This loop course beginning at Paine Cottage in New Rochelle and ending nearby on the New Rochelle High School track boasts the longest trail race in all of Westchester County. If anyone knows otherwise let me know because the only other trail runs in WC I know are Leatherman's Loop which is held annually in April on the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation and I believe they held a 10k at Rockies this year.

Anyway I want to congratulate David, a good friend of mine and frequent running buddy at Rockies. He completed Paine to Pain today in "just" under 2hrs (finishing strong top right and w/family post race below).
David's report on the race is as follows: The course, primarily on trails but for a few road crossings and the first and last half mile was relatively flat. It had a sufficient number of aid stations and was well marked, but for some reason people around him kept making wrong turns. Fortunately for them David was kind enough to set them straight. Part of the run went down the side of the 18th hole at Saxon Woods and then along the side of the Hutchinson River Parkway. "Not a very scenic" but it was a good time. Thanks David.

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