October 2009 Archives

023 Poland Spring 5M: 30:28

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M31 40 54 51 13 30:28 6:05 30:19 124 70.3 %


After Saturday's poor performance I was ready for battle out in Central Park. The Poland Spring 5 Mile Marathon Kick-off is an exciting race as it marks the last event before the marathon!

Saturday night I made my Shrimp Fra Di Avlo again and again it rocked! I as in bed by Midnight.

RACE DAY

PolandSpring2009-4.jpgI awoke at what seemed to be 6:30AM, but the light didn't seem right. (I work for a watch company so I wear wristwatches) so I checked one and found that it was in fact 7:30AM! My 'smart' clock turned back the Fall Time a week early. Robots. I was meeting Ed, Jim and Ed's neice Amanda at the bandshell at 8 so I had to hustle.

I rode my bike up to CP and found Jim at the spot. We locked our bikes up and he took off. SIDENOTE: Jim is running the marathon next week, so he was doing a training run on his own. He was trying to time his run to coincide with our finishes and as you will see, he did a pretty good job. I found Amanda and Ed down by the start and we gave the usual fist-pound of good luck.

I jumped in my corral kind of late so I was at the very back of the Blue Bibs.

As the gun went off it took me easily 7 seconds to cross the start line, meaning, I was stuck in the pack and had work to do. For some reason I like this. Similarly to when I used to drive and had to 'bob-n-weave' through traffic.

I took the left flank and started cruising just as I noticed this jacked-up guy with a tribal necklace and red shirt running at my pace. I decided to run with him. Our first mile was like 6:30! No good. We started to pick up the pace as the crowd thinned.

As we hit mile 3 I was just getting into the groove and feeling it. I also had my brand new racing flats on and was in heaven! (They have no heel really, so it keeps you pushed forward on your toes and mid foot, which is a run philosophy I believe in strongly. Ask me about it one day.) I had passed my pace buddy by this point and was trying to make up for lost time on mile 1.

Around mile 4 I was coming up the hill past the Boathouse when I heard "Yeah, go Baker!" It was Elizabeth (or Ms Ritz as many of you runners know her as) and I ran over and we high fived! Thanks Elizabeth. I actually really needed a push at that point and having people cheer you on boosts your energy. 

Then, at mile 5 as Im rounding the south end to start gearing up for my finish who do I see? Robert, who was volunteering, yells "Go Baker!" Awesome, another running buddy! But then, the jacked guy I was pacing earlier passed me! Now, I would like to say that I am non competitive at times, but its so hard to control. How could I let this guy pass me after I passed him, illogical. Pushing on, he had an easy 20 yards on me and I was hurting.

As we started our approach to the finish by Tavern on the Green I saw Jim sidelined yelling at me! By this point there were 3 people between me and the jacked guy. I leaned forward on my tippy toes and started my sprint. (the feeling is similar to watching football drills where they are running through the tires with knees high, toes pointed down) I was cruising and I felt no pain, I was passing eveyone picking up speed along the way, with 2 meters to go I passed my guy!

The end sprint is by far my favorite part of racing. The problem is, saving up a little steam at the end for that kind of a finish... it doesn't always work out as planned. I finished in 30:28 which was fine by me considering my previous day's race disaster!

PolandSpring2009-3.jpgPolandSpring2009-2.jpgJim ran down and gave me a high five, he was going to do anther lap and meet up with us around the time when Ed was finishing (like I said, he had the math down!)

PolandSpring2009-1.jpgAfter the race I was looking for the Medals that Jim said we get after this particular race... no dice.
 
I grabbed a water and headed to the finish to wait for the gang. Ed had not run a race in around 3-4 weeks (since the Grete's Half Marathon) because his knee was being problematic, so I wasn't sure at what time he would finish. He had said earlier that he was going to complete it, even if he had to crawl! Nice.
 
Around 54 minutes he came cruising through looking like everything was okay. He had said that it took 7 minutes to get to the start and sure enough his real time came back as 46:52! This is a record for him and not bad considering as he was coming off an injury. Amanda was right behind him with a time of 47:03.

Amanda, Jim, Ed and I shared some good stories about the race. In general, we were all pretty excited that we beat the guy in the banana suit. It was a great day for a run.







022 Nike Human Race 10K: 43:16

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M31 216 43:15 6:59


The Nike Human Race's concept is that everyone around the world runs together at the same time. Very conformist, but I like it.

Friday night I spent being a homebody. A few friends called and invited me out- but it sounded potentially dangerous. Dangerous, like, I would oversleep. Instead I decided to make some Shrimp Fra Di Avlo from scratch! My buddy Ahern has cooked it for me a few times and it really has some power in it the next day during a race... therefore it has become my ritual. It turned out really well and I saved enough to make some for Saturday night, as I had another race Sunday.

BD_Nike_1.jpgRACE DAY

The race started at 8AM in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. I was to run it with my friend Soo Young, Soo Kueng (they are twins) and 3 of their friends. We had said that if it was raining we would bail.

I woke at 630AM and was pretty excited to maybe sleep in, so I texted Soo Young "It's raining, guess its off." She replied with something like "Really, you're not running? We are leaving soon." Damn. Last time I didnt run because of weather conditions I never heard the end of it, so I texted back "see you in 30!"

I jumped on the Q which was running very late, so late in fact that the 1 hour ten minutes I gave myself to get to the start would dwindle down to 5 minutes by the time I got to the race.

Sitting on the train headed to BK I could make out lots of other runners because we had to wear the stupid Nike dry fit shirts. (They never make them aerodynamic and it feels like youre running with a sail on). At Canal, this gal got on and sat next to me. She had on 'the gear' and I knew she was part of the movement. She kept glancing over at me and I took it to mean maybe she wasnt sure what stop we were to get off at. As Prospect Park approached she looked my way and said "Is this our stop?" "No, one more." I told her. She smiled and said, "Youre Jeff Baker's older brother arent you. I grew up in the same town in Virginia as you and went to your High School. My name is Amira." Holy cow small world! I knew her brother! Gotta love NYC for stuff like that. We chatted and walked to the start, gathering her pal Alan along the way. I bid farewell and made my way to baggage drop.

As I got there I saw that it was mayhem! A school bus with crowds around it, you had to actually enter the bus to drop gear off. Do I wait? Just then the announcer says "2 minutes to the start!" Oh really? I ran (with my backpack) up to the 6 minute miler area and ducked into an area 50 yards back from the start. The gun went off right after and we started the run.

I was trying to break free of the crowds but I was way back in the thick of it all. It wasnt until mile 2 or 3 I was able to get some breathing room and open up.

This was my first 'crappy' race in a long time. Here is why... picture this... I have on an oversized red shirt, a backpack full of various items (extra sneakers, extra track pants, extra jacket, extra shirts, iphone, change) in case of rain? I also didn't have time to change out of my track pants so I was wearing them, and underneath were my running shorts. I was a mess.

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To shed some positive light on the situation, it turned out to be a beautiful morning in Prospect Park, the trees changing color... it was the epitomy of Autumn.  

Miles 4 and 5 I had my usual "I should just walk the rest of the way" feeling I get during a bad run. I did not, however, succumb to these ideas. I finished the race with a sprint and as I neared the line I heard taunts from the announcer regarding me running with a backpack. Whatever... I love attention, anyway you cut it.

I walked up to the finish to wait for my friends. Soo Young and Saemi were first out of the group. This was Soo Young's first official race and she did great! The other 3 gals met up with us then we went in search of food! We found a cute diner and had a fun breakfast together, parting ways after.

I attempted to enter the closest subway I could find to make my way back to Manhattan, BUT, all the subways were messed up today. So I had to walk 20 blocks to GAP (Grand Army Plaza)! Thank you iPhone for your guidance; Brooklyn, lets get it together will ya?  




021 Little Silver 5K: 17:40 - 3rd Place

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M31 7 3 3 2 17:40 5:40

The Little Silver 5K Classic takes place in the Red Bank area of NJ. Mike (of the 'Dad Posse') and his family moved there recently and had invited us ('Dad Posse' and their respective families + baker) out for the race and a BBQ.

Ed was picking me up in the early afternoon Saturday to head out so I used the morning to go for a 30 mile bike ride around the city. It was a beautiful day and for once, i wasn't anxious about leaving the city as I normally get, I was genuinely excited to get out for the weekend!

Ed and his wife Annelise picked me up around 3 to head south. I sat in the way back with their eldest son Jack, who is also a runner. We chatted about our race strategies for the next day, also having a deep discussion regarding LEGOS and which theme set was best. The younger two, Isabelle and Ben, were sound asleep for most of the trip.

Mike and Kara live on a very cute street with their two children Kelly and Kevin. As we pulled up, droves of neighborhood kids were running and playing in the yard. We exchanged 'hellos' and then immediately got a tour of the new house, which is quite a beautiful place. Jim and Lisa arrived shortly after with their two daughters Josephine and Elizabeth.

They have a big backyard with a deck (and had a cooler of Coronas), so we planted ourselves there. The kids were down in the basement playing and having a blast. All the kids range in age from 4 to 9 and I must say, are very well behaved and quite an adorable little bunch.

Mike and Kara have a fire-pit (which rules) so we helped all the kids make s'mores. After the kids ate, the adults sat down to an amazing meal prepared by Mike and Kara. Later in the night I found myself sitting at the kitchen bar with the guys as we 'Carbo-loaded' on beer for the race. SIDE NOTE: why is it at every gathering people always gravitate to the kitchen? I've seen this many a time. Around 1-1:30AM we decided it best to get some sleep.

RACE DAY

At 6AM the kids started stirring, and therefore so did we. We had coffee and a big breakfast spread of bagels, bananas, muffins and yes, my Chia Seeds. We got the kids ready, tagging them with their race numbers, and then heading out for the local High School.

It was brisk with a fall chill in the air. The first race was the kid's 1 Mile. Jack and Kelly ran this one and did great! In fact they were probably top 10! We had 30 minutes before the 5K and we were all hanging out chatting. I spent most of the time fake 'Star Wars' fighting Ben (the 4 year old) which was a workout in itself.

By now it had warmed up to 60-65 degrees and the sun was out. Perfect running conditions. We all made our way to the start. Jim, Lisa, Annelise, Mike and myself were the adult runners. Ed still has a sore knee from the Half-Marathon the weekend prior so he sat this one out.

LS_Start.jpgAt the front of the pack I was hanging out with a group of 3, 6th graders who were really funny. Some jerk behind me told them "You kids better watch out, if you're not fast you'll get trampled." They looked worried so I leaned in and said "Don't listen to that fool, you will be totally fine!" I mean c'mon buddy, it's a local race, not Olympic Time Trials.

As the gun went off I immediately jumped in behind a guy who I pegged for some serious competition. We were flying down the road, I was flanking him to his right side. This guy was very fast and had a serious stride. Nearing the first turn (the course was one big block, and ended on the track at the HS) he sped up and I thought  "No way can I keep this up." I backed off and caught my pace. As we took the turn I glanced to my left and saw that we had put some distance on the rest of the pack.

little_silver_front.jpgI ran the first mile at 5:24... whoa momma.

It was right around this time I heard footsteps coming from behind, coming fast. This kid in a Tri-suit passed me, blazing down the course. On the back stretch the lead man had 1 minute on me and then the 2nd guy had 30 seconds on me, a serious distance in a 5K. I always kept my eyes locked on the number 2 guy, pressing forward.

As we neared the High School I could hear cheering and got pumped! I was very tired and was seriously looking to end this race.

I hit the track and started around my final 300 meters, people screaming. I knew there was a guy behind me, but I wasn't sure how far back. It was then, that a spectator yelled, "He is like 30 yards behind you, you got this!" I thought "Thank you helpful spectator." As I took the top curve I could see him in my peripheral, I also knew, if he was going to make his move, it would be now.  I picked my pace up to a sprint as I entered the straight away. To my right were all the kids... Jack, Kevin, Kelly, Ben, Elizabeth, Josephine and Isabelle (Kara and Ed too) yelling and cheering me on! I waved and got a burst of crowd energy, finishing in 17:40, a personal record.
LS-finish.jpg I grabbed a water and headed up to the finish to cheer on the rest of the gang.

The first one we spotted was Mike. He cruised by in great form and also finished with a PR!
LS-mike.jpgLS-jim-Annelise.jpgNext Annelise, Lisa and Jim came running around. They all made it in under 30:00 which was a PR for the gals. Jim had run a serious 20 miles the day before so he wasn't out to set any land speed records.

After we finished there were  lot of high fives and excitement. As they announced the winners I heard my name "Christopher Baker, hailing from New York City! Third Place overall!" They gave me a trophy and some gift certificates! SIDE NOTE: Why was this important to me? This was the first trophy I had ever won. To much disbelief, no, I had never run Track in High School, nor played on any sports teams. I was an artist (still am) and only in the last year or two have become interested in competing. Just ask my brothers... they will say something like 'Yeah, he's bad at sports'.  

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The younger kids had races after us. You have never seen anything cuter than 25, 4 year olds running a 50 yard dash with smiles on their faces! All of them ran in their respective age groups. Jack really did well in the 220, which is 1/2 of a lap. I think he came in second or third and was really cooking! He has real potential to be a serious runner as he gets older! In fact, all the kids looked really good out there so we might have a young running team on our hands. All the kids get medals and a cookie (I unfortunately, did not get a cookie).

LS-kids.jpgWhat was so great about this dynamic was that all of us were feeding off of each others accomplishments. The adults cheering the kids and vice versa. No 1 race took precedence over another, all were of importance. Everyone came out feeling great and having a really fun time. Its so crucial to have a group of people that supports you, especially in a competitive environment like that.

Before leaving, we spent the early part of the afternoon at Mike and Kara's having a delicious lunch (I had Kara's chili which was superb!) and playing in the backyard with the kids. Thanks for having us over Mike and Kara!  












020 Grete's Half Marathon: 1:25:00

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M31 27 96 91 14 1:25:00 6:29 154 69.6 %

Friday night was my friend Brian's birthday party at Bowery Electric where he and his band were scheduled to play. I brought my friends Robin and Cathy, and as were casually hanging out at the bar a woman came up to us. She looked vaguely familiar. She looked at me and said "Hi. You swam under the Brooklyn Bridge didnt you?" "Um holy crap yes I did!" She was like "You're the goggles guy." Anyone who hasnt read my recap of the Brooklyn Bridge Swim should know this, she is the only person I talked to the while event took place, and the conversation took place treading water under the Brooklyn Bridge. So if I didnt have friends around me witnessing this coincidence I wouldnt bother telling anyone as it's too freakin crazy!

I was home by 11, in bed by 11:30. My vegetarian diet is still in effect and I ate some rice and beans for dinner. So far so good.

RACE DAY

the next morning I had a healthy serving of Cafe Bustelo (as usual) and some irish oatmeal. My roommate Becky was doing the race as well so she hit the Bustelo too. Its addictive, just ask her.

I rode my bike up to Marissa's apartment and we walked over together to meet Jim and Ed of my "Dad Posse".

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Today at the Half-Marathon many people were Beyond Defeat.

"Beyond Defeat represents the will and drive to never give up, no matter what challenges you face. It is the acceptance of the challenge. All of us are Beyond Defeat, we just need to rise to the occasion."


Ed was going to do the 1.7 Mile run earlier, but decided he would be up to the challenge of a Half-Marathon (13.1 wholesome and tasty Miles). Ed has never run a a Half, in fact he may have only run 5 or 6 miles max in a race (Ed excuse me if I'm mistaken) so this was a big milestone, a milestone that earned him bragging rights.

Marissa had never run a Half either (aside from our early morning pre-work 14 miler in June) so this was a big race for her also. I think its funny that she told all her friends she would be finished in 3 hours as she runs like a 7:30-8 minute mile.

The beauty of a Half-Marathon (or one of the many at least) is that the next time you run a race that is, oh, lets say 3 Miles, it seems like nothing!

We all gave a fist pound and then made our way to our respective corrals.

Up in my area I found Robert, Antonio and Rick. We were chatting and got pumped about the race. Antonio had done a 7 Mile warm up! Insane! Once again, a fist pound and then the gun. We were off.

The first few miles are always hardest for me. I think Im just built for the distance or something, I dont get into the swing of things until the pain wears away. I kept thinking to myself, "Wow, I have to do this route 2 times. Seriously?"

As we hit mile 5 and were roughly back at the Start line I was in my groove feeling the enjoyment of the run. My mind was constantly on Ed and Marissa though, always wondering where on the course they might be and how they were doing.

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I was now in a thin group of runners, most of them representing the various teams like The Harriers, Front Runners, Urban Athletics etc. It kept me wondering why our group doesnt form a team. One stand out I would like to give props to is a girl that blazed past me who was named Kate. She killed it and I could not keep up.

As we cruised over the finish line I thought to myself... "One more lap, that's all."  I was also very happy once I was done my second round on the Harlem Hills at the top of Central Park. From that point on I knew there were no more crazy inclines to worry about.

When I hit Mile 11 I saw that the clock said 1:11! This excited me as it meant I was on target to hit my 1:25 finish time. Who knew? (SIDENOTE: that's also a lot of elevens, good luck perhaps?) I had set this goal as my last Half (the Brooklyn Half) I completed in 1:28 and change.

It was right at this point that this gal who had been flanking me the last 3 miles blew past me. I tried my best to keep up, but she always had 30 yards on me... until the end. As we rounded Columbus Circle and started approaching the finish I mustered up my strength for a sprint. How? No idea as the last mile my legs were burning. Everything gets a bit blurry and surreal when I sprint, you almost forget you're running. I managed to pass that gal and 2 others on my finish, clocking a 1:25 flat. I love the competition for some reason. I congratulated her with a "Nice run Speedy." She returned the compliment, all of us being totally winded and red-faced.

Grete-2.jpgI went to the finish and cheered on Robert, Antonio, Jim, Elizabeth (my new friend by way of Robert), Becky and Marissa. Lots of high-fives were exchanged.

Marissa, Jim and I stayed and waited for Ed. We watched as in the distance we saw his trademark orange running hat. His head was down and he was pounding out the last 200 yards of his 13.1 Mile run. We were pretty excited for him to say the least and as he cruised over the finish we made some serious noise! Ed, his head still down, turned at us with the funniest look, as if to say without words "This sucks!" After a drink of water and some cool down time his attitude turned to excitement at his accomplishment. I remember (or Ila can recount my similar attitude after my Marathon "I will never do this again!") Fat chance.  

We all parted ways and Marissa and I headed to her apartment. Once there Colette and Dan gave us a warm welcome. Colette made us some "life saving" pasta which was so refreshing. We hung out with young Grant for a little while as well but I had to leave as I had to get to Jason and Mary's wedding by 3.

I stayed out dancing til maybe 11 when my mind and body told me it was system shut-down time. What an amazing wedding, Jason and Mary are quite the couple.

What a day. Like I said, a lot of people were beyond defeat today.  
 

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