Friday, November 21, 2014

Welcome to New York

Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you
It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat
The lights are so bright, but they never blind me.
 - Taylor Swift, Welcome to New York

Call it fate. Call it destiny. Call it coincidence. Call it whatever, but with this being the first song on Taylor Swift’s recently released album, it seemed as though my trip to New York City for the Marathon was meant to be. The stars truly aligned for this one, as just days before the race I was asked if I wanted to go up to Under Armour’s official launch of their new shoe, the Speedform Gemini, at their Brand House in Soho the Thursday before the race. Naturally, I said yes. Then they asked if I wanted to run the race. I initially declined, citing my lack of running due to my nagging Achilles injury.

“Don’t worry – you can just run with Chris McCormack.”

Exsqueeze me? Baking Powder?

Chris McCormack – as in one of the greatest triathletes of all time – and I get to run with him?

Without thinking, I said of course. I mean, I haven’t run longer than 14 miles in 3 months, but I could get through 26.2, right? If my Achilles wasn’t going to cooperate, I could always call it a day when I got back to Manhattan. I mean, the chance to hang out with one of my triathlon idols alone made the trip to NY more than worth it. And to get to line up with him at the start of the world’s greatest marathon? Psshh. To not do it would be like saying to Peyton Manning, no thanks, I can’t play catch, my shoulder hurts.

I made my way up to the city on Thursday, and found my hotel in Chelsea. It was insane. I definitely did not fit in – but I did my best. I dropped off my stuff and took the subway down to the Brand House for the shoe launch. The store was incredible, and I got to meet and chat with a few cool people – Team UA’s Nick Arciniaga, who I got to meet two weeks before at Baltimore, and Josh Cox. Josh was really cool and naturally (awkwardly) I mentioned I run the BMoreRunning Twitter account – he wasn’t creeped out and even paid me a nice compliment. We talked about Desi Linden’s chances for Sunday and as we did, who walks into the store: Kate Upton and Justin Verlander. Yeah, I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

After the event, I kicked it with UA’s own John Ealy, Sean Sharpe and Britany Williams as we cranked a few slices of pizza. And watched early Halloween revelers stumble up and down the street in front of the hotel. That was just Thursday.

Friday came and the nice weather had vanished. In its place was cold, grey and wind. I met John to go for a shakeout run – which ended up being 6 miles at an effort that felt faster than what I could run for a half marathon right now – and we finished at the expo. Since our entries had been sent in just a day or two prior, we weren’t even in the system. I was certain I was going to get stuck in the 4th wave, so I was pleasantly surprised to see I was in Wave 1, and in the first corral of the Green start. We ran back to the hotel, and then I headed back over to the expo because I wanted to meet a few people…

First up, the Oakley booth to meet the #1 ranked ITU triathlete in the world, Gwen Jorgensen. Gwen recently earned her first World Championship on the heels of one of the most impressive seasons in ITU history. And, as I later found out, former track club teammate of our own Amy Horst. Rather than ask nerdy questions, I asked more RM-like questions. She was a great sport and played along, as did her husband Pat. Like I did with Josh Cox, I made sure to let Gwen know that I run BMoreRunning, and she knew it too! As an added bonus, I also go to meet Ironman legend, Greg Welch. You cannot be serious.

I finally left them alone and snuck up to the Asics booth. Most people were waiting in line to get their personalized race split tattoo, and nobody was waiting in line to talk to Sara Hall. SARA HALL. I went up and, keeping with the trend, said I run BMoreRunning (in case you’re wondering, I run the very small time, modestly humorous BMoreRunning Twitter feed). Sara was exactly what I expected – an absolute stunner and beyond nice. If you haven’t been following, she’s raced really well this year.

On my way out of the expo I decided to head upstairs. That was new this year, and it was kind of strange – not really booths for selling, more of a small tour of the boroughs through which the marathon runs. But in the back I noticed the unmistakably effervescent voice of one Kathrine Switzer. Kathrine THE Great. After she finished her talk she welcomed people at her little booth. I went up to meet her – she hugged everyone – and she goes “you look familiar…” I said unless she remembered passing me at a race, probably not. She continued “you’re really fit – you must be a triathlete.” That’s when I was like “hey girl, I’m staying at the Dream Hotel…”

All this activity and it was only 3pm! I was hungry so I went to a Potbelly, then walked around Times Square. Yes, I realize how tacky it is, but I love it. I can’t remember the last time I was there so I enjoyed my little trip, and of course snapped a pic of New York’s best pizza. Then it was time to meet Brennan, so I walked back to the hotel.

I kept forgetting that it was Halloween. In the 10 years I’ve lived here, this was the first time I missed Halloween in Fell’s with Mike. Even the first year I ran NYC (2008) when Halloween was a Friday and the race was Sunday, I made it out for a bit. That year I was lucky to have a bunch of friends come up to watch me run, and of course they went out in the city for Halloween. I associate this race with Halloween. Naturally, I told Brennan we had to go out, costumes or not. After dinner we went back to the hotel, where they looked at us like “what are you doing here?” (there was an unreal Halloween party at each of the hotel’s 3 clubs that night)

We walked outside and around the corner saw a red carpet and some paparazzi. It was Heidi Klum’s Halloween Party. Crazy. Not too many “celebs” rolled through, but we did stick around for Heidi’s grand entrance. Then it was off in search of places we were more at home. We made it out pretty darn late. Good thing we didn’t have a race in two days...psyyyyyyche!

Saturday we woke up to rain. And it was cold. If the race had been that morning, there was no way I would have made it. I had intended on going up to Central Park to watch the NYRR 5k, but with the weather and 3 miles away, I opted to sit in the hotel room and follow on Twitter. Gwen Jorgensen won in 16:03 – the day before she said she didn’t think she’d run faster than 17 minutes. Must have been my pep talk. It rained all day, and we didn’t have much to do, so we just waited out the rain before getting a (very) late dinner at Chelsea Markets. Back in the hotel, the party was bumping again. I told Brennan we should just hang out in the lobby all night until it was time to go to the race.

My departure time with the UA Team was 5am. Way, way too early. Fortunately we got an hour back from DST, but it still meant a 4:30 wakeup. Went downstairs, lobby still jumping. Man, what was I doing running a marathon? After a few days mostly kicking around the city, it was time to get down to business. It was also time to get to meet Macca. He’s a larger-than-life character, and his excitement was contagious. We get on the bus just after 5 and we’re across the bridge and in Staten Island before 6. Yikes. It was so cold and windy, we had no option but to sit on the bus for as long as we could. All Macca wanted to hear was Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” so we blasted that and a few other pump-up jams on the warm bus. We finally headed out to the start line around 7:45, the whole UA squad.

I’ve raced New York on 3 occasions. The first year the conditions weren’t that bad – temp was upper 40s, maybe high around 50, a little overcast with glimpses of sun. But the past 3 years, weather has been the main storyline at NYC. 2012 canceled by the hurricane. 2013 temps in the mid 40s and strong headwind for most of the day. 2014 even colder and windier. For me, an annoyance but not a big deal. Up front, though, a game changer. One of the most stacked fields in race history saw the slowest winning time in 20 years, and America’s great, Meb Keflezighi, validated his Boston win with a 4th place performance. UA’s Nick Arciniaga finished 10th. On the women’s side, a great battle as Mary Keitany, who hasn’t raced in 2 years after giving birth, roared back with an impressive win.

For me, I knew based on my fitness that I had 16 miles in me, tops. I navigated Chris McCormack successfully to the start line, where we bumped into his buddy Tim Van Berkel (7th at Kona this year). We all started together, but after a mile those two were having too much fun weaving in and out of people and I backed off. The wind on the bridge was next level. So bad they had to move the wheelchair start to the other side of it. Once off the bridge it wasn’t as bad, and I hit mile 3 in 21:44 – not bad! As I turned right and the courses merged I hear “DDUUUDDEEEE!” Look behind me, it’s BRENNAN. Amidst all those people and starting in different corrals (he was on the top level of the bridge, I was on the lower deck) we bump into each other. Crazy!

We ran together for miles, ticking off 7:15 after 7:15. Around mile 5 I spotted the maroon hue of the Falls Road singlet – it was Meg McNew. Only 3 of us running New York this year and somehow we all converge on the course. It was a thing of beauty. I was running with my phone (note: I would never do that in my own race, but this opportunity was too awesome) so I grabbed a shot of Brennan and Meg. B and I stopped at mile 10 for a quick bathroom break, and got back. Around 13 (1:38, with the 2 minute stop) is when I started not feeling as comfortable, and by 14 Brennan took off to see what he could do. That took the wind out of my sails, and I struggled to climb up the Queensboro Bridge, and coming down the other side was even tougher. I hit 16 and made it onto 1st Ave but was slowing fast. Sara Spears said she was going to be at 82nd so that was my goal, get there. I made it there, didn’t see her or any of her friends, and then I took a little break.

The wind was really strong on 1st Ave, and I knew I was in for a long 10 miles. I climbed the bridge into the Bronx around mile 20, and as I turned the corner I saw it: a Dunkin Donuts. I was really, really hungry and knew I needed some sustenance. I had money on me, so I darted in real quick. People in line couldn’t believe I was still in the race and let me cut. The DD employees gave me my donuts for free. I ate one, then walked back out on the course with the other. People around me were cracking up. It was a funny moment, but 100% necessary. It brought me back to life.

Normally you’d think “just a 10k left, I can suffer through that” but man, was I moving slow. No 8 or 9 minute miles for me, we’re talking 12s. I didn’t care, I had enjoyed my day. The tailwind push was the only thing that got me up the incline at Central Park. I turned into the park, shuffled the last 2/10th and crossed the line in my slowest open marathon ever: 4:12:46. Ouch.

I kept shuffling to get through the line faster, and ran into the CFO of my company. Completely random. Walked out of the park with her and then went to find my brother and Brennan. Brennan had gone onto negative split to a 3:11. That kid is incredible. A half ironman and two marathons in the course of 4 weeks. We also heard that Michaela Courtney ran 3:12, and Meg McNew, who was sidelined most of the year as she came back from surgery, held on for a 3:38. The Under Armour guys ran well, but I did laugh when I saw that Macca and Tim went out in 1:29 and finished at 3:44. Had I know that I would have just kept running with them! Me, my brother and Brennan walked 30 blocks to his car, then swung by the hotel to get our stuff before heading back to NJ. Leaving the city after a weekend like that was a little sad, but boy was the view sweet – the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty never looked so good. Fueled up with some pizza and headed back to Baltimore. It was quite possibly the greatest running experience of my life.

Rather than post pics throughout the blog (it was long enough), here's a link to my NYC Marathon Weekend pics on Flickr.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

No Mediocre

As per usual, time has gotten the better of me over the past, oh, 3 months – and as a result I’ve done a pretty poor job posting race recaps. And then, once you’re a few weeks behind, it’s hard to get back on track. Consider this post a catch up from the end of August through October!

Ironman Louisville was the week before Labor Day. 3 of us went, 1 of us survived. The summer had been so mild until that week, when the temperature and humidity skyrocketed. I knew it would be a tough day for me, so I adjusted my plan accordingly. Dehydrated and overheated, I called it a day at mile 14 of the run. I don’t think I could have done anything different and had a better result, just wasn’t my day. Mike Mashner was the unfortunate recipient of a senseless take-down on the bike. Triathletes tend to be piss-poor bike handlers (but they all think they’re Eddy Merckx) and Mike got wiped out 70 miles into the bike. He made it to the run, but called it a day after the first lap.

So that left Terry Decker, and in his first – and possibly only – Ironman, he endured a long, hot day to finish in 14:06:02. His wife Molly was there to greet him at the finish, along with my parents and brother, who had come out to watch. If just one of us had to finish that day, we were glad it was TD!

September came, and Labor Day weekend saw Conrad Laskowski and Graham Peck run the USATF 20km Championship, held in New Haven (CT). Once again heat was an issue, but the pair finished 28th and 35th, respectively. Graham went onto run the Twin Cities Marathon a month later in Minnesota, where he crossed the line in 2:28:31. Great time, for sure – but it wasn’t enough to knock himself off the Top Times leaderboard for the year as he ran 2:26:36 at Boston. Two sub 2:30 clockings in a year, incredible. Unfortunately, that would be the last Graham would run for the fall, as a likely stress fracture has sidelined him since. But boy, was his run glorious.

Not to be outdone, Conrad ran the Chicago Marathon a couple of weeks later, where he ran a 9+ minute PR of 2:27:14. He thought he might have a 2:26 (or faster) in him, so he went for it. Can’t be mad at that. In the same race, Amy Flashenberg ran a big PR and truly fantastic 3:50:17. That’s something to write home about! Other notables from Chicago: newcomer Lisa Uible ran her first marathon, finishing in 2:50:59. Not a shabby debut. And maybe the toughest person around, Trisha Feldhausen competed just a couple of months after fracturing her skull. She had a cone around her head like a dog all of August, and was only able to start running a few weeks out from the race. Amazingly, she ran 3:22:44, which isn’t far off her PR.

Hopping back to Twin Cities, Chrissie Ramsey ran one of the greatest performances of all time – surely one of the top races we’ve ever seen – as she ran a 5 minute personal best of 2:39:31 and finished 7th in what served as the USA Marathon Championship. Simply incredible. I talked to Chrissie the other day and sounds like she’ll be running the USA Half Marathon Champs in Houston, followed by a little marathon in Boston.

Megan DiGregorio runs – and wins – a lot of races, but one of her best of the year was her win at the Parks Half Marathon, where she ran 1:23:37. She then went onto run the Wineglass Marathon, where she finished in 3:06:59, but was left pretty banged up and, like many of us, hasn’t been able to run much this fall.

Another first timer in the world of Ironman was Jackie Range. She was originally planning on doing Louisville, but when Chesapeakeman was absorbed and became Ironman Maryland, the timing and proximity was more palatable for Jackie. The swim was a little tough, but favorable wind and not obscene heat made for an incredibly quick bike split and enabled her to drop a great run to finish her first IM in a jaw-dropping 11:07:42.

You want to see what busy’s like, have a look at Brennan Feldhausen’s fall: first he tackled his first half ironman at the Waterman’s Tri. He blew it out of the water. Swam fast, rode fast on a seriously windy day, and had one of the fastest runs of the day to finish under 5 hours and finish 27th overall. Two weeks later, he jumped in the Baltimore Marathon as his long run. Two weeks out from the NYC Marathon he wasn’t looking for anything big, but realized that if he was going to run a marathon he sure as hell better make sure he gets something out of it. Running a 3:05:xx or slower would have been a waste of time. It probably wasn’t easy by the end, but he finished right on 3 hours and made sure he knocked out a qualifying time for Boston 2016. With that he fired a warning shot right across the bow of the SS Arjun: pressure’s on. Brennan wasn’t finished there – two weeks later he lined up on the Verrazano Bridge – but more on that later.

So many people ran an event of the Baltimore Running Festival, but a highlight was how our Ladies’ team did. Featuring Carly, Emily Shin, Suzanne and Emily Hurley, the team formerly known as “Shorties on Your Left” wiped up the competition, thanks in large part to Emily Hurley’s blistering final leg. We had a lot of great team performances, and in the half marathon I was particularly impressed by Michael and Kayla Hughes – two “non-runners” who trained for and nailed their first half marathon!

We have a lot of triathletes (and people who occasionally dabble in triathlon) and over the years we’ve seen some incredible performances. Getting a win at an iron distance race is a big deal, and at the Beach2Battleship Triathlon in North Carolina, Alyssa Godesky did just that. Swim times benefited from a rather generous current, but a good day is a good day. Alyssa came out of the water just a couple of minutes behind another local pro, Suzy Serpico, who extended that lead a little bit on the bike. Alyssa’s bike split was a distance PR, and once she was on the run, it was go-time. She burned up the pavement, cutting into Suzy’s lead with each stride, ultimately taking the lead somewhere around mile 15. She went onto record a marathon personal best 3:26:16 – 5 minutes faster than her open marathon best – and won the race in a scintillating 9:22:57. Wow.

At the Columbus Marathon, Nicole Wilson finished 23rd in a PR 3:03:57 (23rd really?? That’s a competitive race!) In the half marathon, Dustin Meeker ran a terrific 1:09:09 for 10th – not far off his personal best set there last year.

The Downs Park 5 Miler has become a fall favorite, and our guys usually clean up there. This year it was Steve Febish claiming the win and keeping it in the family with a season best 26:51. Sean Caskey was just behind in 2nd at 27:24, and Nick Klastava ran a fine race at 6th in 28:27.

And because we love the race so much, shoutout to PJ Anderer and Bryn Burkholder, who kept the Oktober Lauf Fest Half Marathon tradition alive. Unfortunately no cuckoo clocks, but I believe Bryn won some kind of weather thing. To see the full list of Purple Drink Athlete of the Week winners and more results, click on the "2014 Spreadsheet" on the right hand side.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2014 RM Classic 5k


September 30 - The 6th Annual RM Classic 5k was held on the track on the last day of September. It was a great night for a race, and apparently a great night for a black-tie donor dinner on the grounds of the private school. The race start was delayed while I dealt with an *ahem* issue regarding our use of the facilities, but we were able to finally get started a little before 7pm. Despite a request to sing the National Anthem, I felt we were better not drawing any further attention to ourselves and just get the race going.

In a display of symbolic unity, we all wore bib #1 (thanks Pete for hooking up the bibs!). With 31 runners on the line it was by far our largest RM Classic event - or any manufactured race of any kind - in team history. With 10 women competing it was also the largest and most competitive women's field we've ever had. I felt there was a good shot we'd see meet records go down.

Up front, the trio of Dustin, Conrad and Graham rolled in unison, gobbling up the track with each stride. To keep the race honest, we put up a prime for first one to 1600m. From my vantage point on the opposite side of the track I saw Dusty speed ever-so-slightly to scoop it up. Smart racing. He and Conrad eventually separated themselves from Graham (who was racing a marathon a few days later!) and ultimately it was Conrad who successfully defended his 2013 title in 15:17, a little ahead of 3-time champ Dustin at a new track PR of 15:25. Graham came through at 15:36. Steve Febish ran a mostly solo race, finishing at 16:07, and then there was a group of guys between 16:27 and 16:41, including a great race by Dan Miranda.

Maybe the performance of the meet belonged to Jon Miller, who broke 18 minutes for the first time! (17:57)

The ladies' race was a little different than the men's, with newcomer Lisa Uible leading wire-to-wire and just narrowly missing the MR (18:08) as she crossed in 18:09. She's running Chicago Marathon this weekend so I can't imagine her marathon training lent itself to great 5k racing!

Megan DiGregorio, who was racing Wineglass Marathon on Sunday, was a distant 2nd at 18:43, and Emily Hurley even further back, finishing 3rd at 19:10. But from 19:27 we saw four more girls break 20 (Sara Gladfelter, Nicole Wilson, Suzanne Andrews and Meg McNew), and RM record holder Eileen Fleck (20:06), Sara Damiano (20:21) and Lillian Pinault (20:43) all had terrific races as well.

Thanks to Andy Sovonick (timing), Denise Knickman (splits), Bryn Burkholder (photography) and spectators that included Nate and Natalie Brigham and Becky!

Link to photos on Flickr

6th Annual RM Classic 5k
September 30, 2014

1. Conrad Laskowski 15:17.46
2. Dustin Meeker 15:25.06
3. Graham Peck 15:36.80
4. Steve Febish 16:07.53
5. Sean Caskey 16:26.39
6. Jason Farber 16:29.01
7. Dan Miranda 16:33.55
8. Ed Aramayo 16:41.47
9. Joel Gladfelter 17:18.40
10. Tom Stack 17:21.03
11. Jon Miller 17:57.67
1. Lisa Uible 18:09.82
13. Jeff Rumbaugh 18:17.00
14. Mike Mashner 18:25.86
15. Brennan Feldhausen 18:42.67
2. Megan DiGregorio 18:43.00
17. Terry Decker 19:07.37
3. Emily Hurley 19:10.04
19. PJ Anderer 19:15.37
20. Matt Franco 19:19.96
21. Ryan McGrath 19:26.03
22. Louis Foudos 19:26.92
4. Sara Gladfelter 19:27.79
5. Nicole Wilson 19:28.79
6. Suzanne Andrews 19:54.71
7. Meg McNew 19:56.27
8. Eileen Fleck 20:06.88
9. Lillian Pinault 20:21.07
10. Sara Damiano 20:43.24
30. Joshua Greenberg 21:48.56
31. Pete Mulligan 22:37.67

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thursday Night Runs at the WTC

A year or two ago, there was a decent group that met at the WTC for Thursday night runs at 6:30. They were quicker paced runs, looping along the Canton waterfront and up the hill to Patterson Park and back to the Taint where we started. I am going to attempt to bring these back, starting this week, for anyone not going to the O's game. Cheers. PJ

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Merica Mile 2014


Baltimore, MD - On Thursday, September 11th, four Baltimore runners celebrated America and patriotism by running one mile around Patterson Park. At 7:15pm, the group stood before a lowered flag and proudly sang the National Anthem.

The temperature was still in the mid 80s at start time, but we were treated to one of the most awesome skies ever - captured in the above photograph by Ted Stevens, who happened to be walking his dog through the Park at the time.

From the gun, Ed Aramayo and Graham Peck darted ahead of myself and PJ Anderer. Before the race, we had serious doubts that our aggregate time would be better than 24 minutes. But in the Merica Mile, anything can happen. Ed eventually dropped Graham and blazed to the finish in 4:57. Graham, on his 15th mile of the evening, managed a 5:07. PJ and I ran together the entire way, before I was able to hold him off, 5:45 to 5:48.

The first Merica Mile was held on the track at TNT two years ago, and we didn't hold the event last year. But rest assured, this race is here to stay. We'll find a way!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

6th Annual RM Classic 5k Registration

The 6th Annual RM Classic 5k will be held on Tuesday, September 30th at Gilman School in Roland Park. The event will begin at 6:45pm, so plan your warmup accordingly.

There will be prizes for Top Male and Top Female. There will also be random prizes and giveaways from PowerBar courtesy of PowerBar Team Elite member, Graham Peck.

Event Records:

Male: 15:06 (Karl Dusen, 2009)
Female: 18:08 (Eileen Fleck, 2009)

You can register for the event here:

RM Classic Registration

6th Annual RM Classic 5k
Tuesday, September 30
6:45pm
Gilman School

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#Trendsetters

YO, T - you still read this? You started a trend! Better get this included into urban dictionary too:

"I did a #Baptiste HARD before my race boiiii"

http://www.runnersworld.com/fun/runners-sleep-in-portable-toilets?cid=socMOT_20140827_30543716