110 Ashburn Farms 5K – 18:21

This is the 4th year in a row that I have said I wanted to run a Turkey Trot. The three years prior I have failed, mainly because of two factors… they aren’t close by my family’s house and we drink too much the night before. This year Abbe and I were determined to make it happen! We arrived at my brother’s house the day before and had a pretty chill day aside from wrestling and chasing my two young nephews around. For dinner… beer and pizza! Were we drinking? Yes. We were also very determined. My youngest brother Jeff made a bet with me. If I didn’t do the race I had to take a shot of Jameson at 10AM and also owe him $5. If I ran it, the bet reversed itself. RACE DAY Abbe woke up at like 5:30 or something crazy. I slept until 6-6:30 since we didn’t have to leave until 7:15AM. It was a very cold morning, but the sun was shining and looked to be ideal running conditions. We arrived, checked in and had 30 minutes to spare, so we sat in the car to keep warm. I drank more coffee because, well, I love coffee. I saw a guy wearing an Ironman NY hat and thought, ‘I wonder if I know him?’ We hit the bathrooms, got a warm up in and went to watch the 10k crew start. Although it was a local race, there were some legit looking runners. As soon as the 300-400 or so of them dispersed the 5k group lined up in the corrals. Abbe and I were probably the oldest runners by 10 years or more up in the front. It was like the entire high school track and cross country team came out. Acne and racing flats everywhere. I looked off into the distance for a second and was kind of proud of my home town for breeding such serious runners. The gun went off and we blasted away. I had no immediate plans other than to finish the race and not take a shot at 10AM, so I was just plugging along. The front runners were thick as thieves and maybe 50 deep as we ran down neighborhood streets. One thing I picked up from young runners is that they don’t know how to pace nor do they no how to dress when it’s cold out. So many clothes creating drag, my nightmare.... read more

109 Bronx 10-Miler: 1:04:38

10 miles is a fun distance because it’s right on the brink of ‘not fun anymore.’ Abbe and I took the ol subway uptown into the Boogie Down Bronx and had loads of time to spare. Looking back on the 70 degree weather we had, I am completely jealous. We found some of the Gotham City Runners crew, chatted, then set off for the corrals and a quick warm up. I saw my friend Rachel, then Ali and Jess all prepping. This race was the weekend before our wedding so my mind wasn’t really set on a PR, I just wanted to have fun and see what the legs could do. The gun went off and the large pack of front runners took off. I have no idea what pace we were doing, but it was pleasant. I juts kind of… well… ran. At mile 3 or so I decided to pick up the pace. I was feeling fresh and had nothing to lose. I pushed forward, now passing the groups I had been running with, leap frogging between people. The course was an out-n-back, so I got to see a lot of friends on the ride home. Everyone from the likes of Abbe to Maura, Tara, Kate and Beth! Not much more to report other than getting fired up and running the second half faster than the first. I felt great right up to about mile 9, then I was like, ‘Okay, time for breakfast.’ Sex/ Age Bib Overall Place Age Place Finish Time Pace/ Mile AG % M36 135 92 21 1:04:38 6:28 69.92% At the Finish I hung with Tara, Kate and Craig before Abbe and Ali rolled up. We took the subway back to the Upper East and had breakfast with Maura, Bojana and Brian.... read more

Central Park History – Running Tour with Nelson Aspen

This morning, instead of doing our normal Tuesday speedwork, my friend (and Gotham City Runners teammate) Nelson Aspen and I decided to do a historical Central Park run. I would also interview him to discuss his new book, our mutual love of running, and New York City. We took off, running down the west side in awe of the fall foliage. NA: Look at these colors! I really think this week is peak fall foliage here in Central Park. So tell me about these ‘spikes’ we are hunting for around the Park? CB: Well, when The Commissioners Plan of 1811 envisioned their master grid plan for the city of Manhattan they needed someone to survey the land. That man was John Randel Jr. Over the course of 10 years Randel would traipse through the wilderness of Manhattan dropping markers everywhere an Avenue and Street intersected. Central Park was conceived 50 years after the grid plan, so some of his markers are still here! We ran on, admiring the fall weather. CB: How many marathons have you run again? NA: Twenty. I might even have a few more left in me… CB: Really! That’s exciting. What was it that got you started? I mean, you lived in New York City in the early 80’s, did you just start out here in Central Park? NA: ‘Laughing’ Oh no. You didn’t run in Central Park back then. In fact, you really didn’t go into Central Park back then! I didn’t start running until I moved to L.A. in 1990.  And only then because I saw a flyer there advertising a trip to run the Honolulu Marathon if you did some fundraising. So I did it! CB: Wait, a (basically free) trip to run a marathon in Hawaii? Oh right, back then the running craze didn’t exist right? NA: Exactly! I did that race 3 times in fact! (Running up Diamond Head every morning at sunrise is something every runner should experience!) Just then we were arriving at the location of the first Grid Spike. I had found this one on my own about a year ago. We admired it for a moment, noting how precise it was as we looked off at the cross streets. Pretty hard to imagine Manhattan overtaking The Central Park. Continuing on… CB: How was your weekend? You were in L.A. right? NA: Yes! It was hectic. But I always manage to squeeze in a few runs to... read more

108 Princeton Half Ironman – 5:29:24

Princeton 70.3 was to be my ‘finale’ of the season. Due to getting married, my fianceé (Abbe) said I could not race a full Ironman this year. It would prove to be an exciting race for many reasons. I was racing it with my friend Doug, this being his second Half Ironman. Joe and Amy were racing it under my coaching guidance. Finally, my friend Susan was attempting her first Half Ironman and I was ‘kind of’ coaching her on things triathlon. New York City was attacking Princeton by way of triathlon! Doug picked me up at 1 and were at check-in just before 3, much easier than Eagleman! It was a giant field in a giant park. Overall, it was pretty unremarkable. We checked into our hotel and linked up with Susan and Erik. We needed some carbs and downtown Princeton was the plan. It’s a very quaint town and we pulled into a small side street to park. As we got out this gal walking by smiled at me then doubled back. She had a Princeton sweatshirt on and a backpack, carrying some books, a student for sure. “Hey, I know you.” she says. “You’re that Ironman guy.” I smiled a bit and looked around at the gang who were looking back at me like, “Whaaaaaat?” “I mean, yea I race Ironmans but…” Then it hit me. On the flight I took from NYC to North Carolina for Abbe’s bridal shower she sat next to me on the plane and noticed my Ironman backpack. We chatted all things triathlon for half the flight! I mean, what are the odds of running into her again? Bewildered at life per usual, we headed into Triumph Brewery to solve the mystery. After a few pints, Amy and Dave found us and we headed to Teresa’s Cafe for dinner. I had already put our name in but we were an hour late. I don’t know what I said to her (as there was now a 2 hour wait) but she smiled and said, “As long as you are all here we can get you a seat.” Cool? Yes, very cool. The gods were with us on this one it had seemed. After a scrumptious meal, we all retired to the hotels. Doug and I had another beer at the hotel bar and almost lured Susan in, but she wanted to sleep. RACE DAY Awake at 5:45AM no problem and headed to... read more

From Greece with Love

As our flight left the ground we banked hard right, giving us a full view of the majestic New York City skyline, my home. It would be 5 days until I would see her again. We were headed to Greece by way of Rome on a matter of security… protect two U.S. citizens getting married abroad. Operative ‘A’ (posing as my fiancée) was already getting cozy and making an attempt to sleep. I happen to enjoy longer flights, sipping my red wine and imagining I am living in the romantic era of air travel. ‘Mother’ had given me a few pills for the trip and after my pasta meal (we were headed to Rome after all) I took one and promptly fell into a deep slumber. In Rome I had one concern, coffee. Abbe and I found a place to sit while we oriented ourselves. What we were not ready for was a second passport checkpoint. “Play it cool Abs.” As we approached, the Italian behind the glass paused for a moment, giving me a glance like we had known each other. ‘Guastavino?’ I thought. Without so much as even looking at the passports he stamped them. Our connection to Greece went off without a hitch and we made it through the Athens airport avoiding customs. In Athens it was just after lunchtime and we desperately needed some food to recharge. We met our guides ‘Linda’ and ‘Dave,’ both posing as American Tourists, at an outdoor cafe. We quickly ate and then departed as we had a three hour drive to our final destination, the western mountains on the Peloponnese Peninsula. Athens isn’t much to look at (aside from the mighty Acropolis of course) but as you cross over onto the peninsula things get dramatically beautiful. The mountains rise up across the Gulf of Corinth and the sea turns a deep blue. We then headed due south into the mountains, making our way to the small town of Kalavryta. We were flying along up the mountains, deadly drop offs to our right. Luckily for us, Dave happens to be pretty skilled behind the wheel and he navigated the hairpin turns with ease. If anyone was trying to follow us into the mountain pass, they would have had a hard time keeping up. At the highest point, as we banked left along a sharp bend a mountain range rose ahead lined with windmills. It is something I will never forget.... read more

Guest Athlete Race Report – Maddie Takes on the Lake George Triathlon

I have this friend who just started racing triathlons. She is 8 years old and already crushing it. A friends of mine, Doug, has a few kids the youngest being his daughter Maddie. I got to know her quite well during our 5 hour car ride down to Eagleman in June. She got to see Doug and I complete a Half Ironman, which I think fueled even further her desire to keep training! I promised her a chance to guest blog on Beyond Defeat and so without further adieu, here s Maddie’s recap of the Lake George Triathlon. — This week, I took a mini vacation with my family – my sister Hailey, my Stepmom Danika, my Dad Doug, and my dog Bishop. We drove upstate to South Glens Falls, NY (where Danika is from) and stayed with family friends. The night before, I was very excited for my race. For dinner we had tacos, which were delicious! I went to bed early and made sure I got a lot of rest. I woke up in the morning and saw the sun, so I got up and cuddled with my dog for a little bit. Then I ate Fruity Pebbles for breakfast. I watched TV for a little while & then at 11am, we left to head up to Lake George. When we got there, we walked over to the table and checked-in. This year I got to pick out the color of my swim cap – I was really excited because I got to pick a pink one! Once I had my race packet, I went over to the water and dipped my feet in to see how the water felt. It was a little cold so I kept walking back in to try to get used to the water before the race. About 15 minutes before the start of the race, I went into transition to set up my area. I put down my towel and folded it. I put my sneakers, water, and clothes in a corner so I could get my towel easily. Then I put on my swim cap and goggles and walked over to listen to the Race Director. He told us about our waves and the race course. I was in the first wave, which was kids ages 9 and under. At 12pm we walked over to the Lake where the race started. There were a lot of people there to cheer... read more

107 Fire Island 5K – 18:32

Abbe, Maura and I arrived off the Fire Island Ferry around 5 PM on Friday like any avid Happy Hour goer would do. After a quick check-in at the Fire Island Hotel & Resort (thanks Pat!) we headed to Hurricanes. Hurricanes is the Fire Island Hotel & Resort’s bar and restaurant. A win-win on any day would be a ‘Rocket Fuel’ and the Fish Tacos. While there we ran into Mike (from Dad Posse) who stopped over for a drink. Bojana got off 2 ferry stops to soon so her and Brian were running a bit late. We talked race strategy a bit as well. Maura had said she wasn’t going to race it to which I talked about how I think a race is a race and she should just crush it. It might have sunk in. The next morning Abbe did beach yoga (on a very peaceful and empty beach) while I went open water swimming. It blows my mind that just a few years ago I had a fear of open water and swimming in general. Now, without much of any concern, I ran straight into the ocean, swam 100 meters out and then started swimming the coastline. I was loving every minute of it too. It’s so peaceful being out there early in the morning before anyone is out, it’s like having the whole ocean to yourself! After some breakfast I headed over to Ed’s as we were supposed to go for an open water swim. Ha, but wait Baker you just did that? Correct, but not in the bay. So, now, Ed, Jack (his son), Mike, Kevin (his son) and I rode bikes down to the docks for our swim. Jim was running late so we had to go ahead without him, breaking tradition. It was exciting swimming with the younger guys, ages 12 and 14, and giving them some leadership. I swam point with Kevin trailing behind. Kevin can clearly smoke me in the water being that he is on the swim team and quite talented, but he let me guide. I think I got in like 1.5-2 miles of swimming that morning! I found Abbe, Bojana and Brian by the pool as I returned. Maura was showering as she had just done a long run of 17 miles… insane. Most of us had fish tacos for lunch, and Rocket Fuels. So many Rocket Fuels. We spent the rest of the afternoon basking... read more

106 NYC Tri – 2:15:31

I tried to just relax Saturday after Team Championships but… instead I met my brother, sister-in-law, and friends Stephan and Amanda (Abs was there too of course) for drinks and dinner. On a positive, more intelligent note I made us go to an italian restaurant for dinner. I had a lovely pasta with grilled scallops! I was in bed by 10:30PM or so, pretty late for those people actually planning on going to transition before their triathlon the next day. RACE DAY I woke up per usual at 6, 15 minutes after transition had closed. This was planned by the way. One of the problems with the NYC Tri is that with all of the wave starts you need to be in transition from like 415AM to 5:45 AM… LAME! My solution? Leave all your sh%t in transition the day before when you drop off your bike. I’ve done it a few times and it has never failed me. I even got to watch the start of the race on the local news! After having a cup of coffee and watching the news I decided I had better get over to the swim start. I jumped in a cab at 7AM and was putting on my wetsuit by 7:10. Did I mention that it was raining? Something I often talk about with fellow triathletes is the concept of ‘experience’ as training. Today it was playing a huge role. I have swam the mighty Hudson river 10 or more times and rough open water swims even more. I was in no way nervous like a lot of the guys surrounding me were. I tried to calm them with jokes and silly one liners but they seemed to think I was BSing them. My point is, new triathletes, get out in the ocean or a lake for your training swims. Into the soup we went. The current was moving really fast as it usually does. Now, some people argue that this is unfair. My argument is that everyone gets the fast current, equalizing the race.  The Pros were swimming some obscene times and so were the rookies! The water on a scale of 1-to-Gross was like an 8 today. I tried my best to just keep it out of my mouth. My swim overall was pretty great. I may not be the fastest, but my confidence and sighting abilities keep me competitive. I even passed a few people in my heat!... read more

105 Team Championships 5M – 29:58

The tricky part about being both a runner and a triathlete is that sometimes races line up back-to-back. This weekend was both the NYRR Team Championships AND the NYC Triathlon (one of my favorite races of all time). Friday night we had Bojana and Brian over for some pre race carbo loading. Abs made some pasta with calamari, shrimp and white beans. It was perfection. RACE DAY I awoke at 6AM (my usual wake up time) to a gloomy, rainy Saturday morning. Josh wanted us to meet at 7:30AM for team pictures and to hand out bibs. SIDENOTE: the men’s race starts at 9:30AM, Josh you owe me 2 hours of sleep! I love our team, so I was not concerned at all with the rain. In fact, I love running n the rain. I even said to everyone, “At least it’s raining today and not tomorrow during the triathlon, that would suck!” JINX. JINX. JINX. The men went to cheer on East 97th Street while the women teed up the Start line. 20-25 minutes later there they were flying past us! Our women’s team is pretty sick. They can rock some serious paces and are not to be trifled with. By now the rain had let up and it was getting nice and humid. My hair was a mess. Us men did a warm up, hit the porto johns and then jumped into our corrals. As I stood there in my corral I pondered the race and the triathlon. I originally decided to ‘take it easy’ and save my legs for the next day but that idea was starting to sound lame. A race is a race. The gun went off and the pack went flying. Remember, this is Team Champs so everyone is a pretty serious runner. My legs felt absolutely fantastic and Abbe’s pasta from the night before was sitting pretty in the fuel cells. We hit mile one at 6:03 or something. I was okay with that considering we still had 4 miles to go. I wondered if I could hang on. Evan, one of my friends and teammates passed me right around this point. He was looking good and crushing. Miles two and three came by quickly and I think I was still on the 6 minute per mile pace. I had no watch on so I was going by feeling. There was a crazy headwind at mile 4 four but it acted more... read more

A Love Shared at The River Cafe

Last night was the perfect evening to take the water taxi. We took it from Midtown over to Brooklyn to the ‘A Love Shared’ fundraiser for ALS awareness. A few of Chef Gerry Hayden’s (owner and executive chef of North Fork Table & Inn – Southold, NY) culinary buddies were gathering to support him and his fight with ALS. ALS is a serious disease. In my ‘triathlete’ world it took down a true Ironman, Jon ‘Blazeman’ Blais. Please donate to help find a cure here. We arrived just after the doors had opened and it was already jumping! We walked the garden sampling various ‘BBQ themed’ foods made by some of my favorite chefs. Bryan Voltaggio was serving up this amazing grilled quail. Next, I sampled some BBQ Pork Belly, which I thought was going to be the winner of the evening. (There was no official contest, I was just ranking the entrees.) Did I mention the signature watermelon mojitos? They were amazing. After spending some time in the garden we decided to investigate the less crowded garden terrace. Of course as soon as we walk in we see our friend Will waving at us! He was helping out chef David Burke. We walked over and said hi to both of them, then sampled some of David’s Smoked Salmon Pastrami, delicious of course. I honestly don’t know how any of these chefs remember anyone’s names! So many people come around introducing themselves. While there I went over and chatted with Chef Marc Forgione and tried some of his BBQ Beef Shortribs. I would go back later  to get more, quietly telling him that he had the number 1 dish of the night. Seriously, it was superb. Hurricane Sandy took it’s toll on both The River Cafe and The Water Club. Owner Buzzy O’Keefe put a lot of hard work into restoring them back to their glory. Abbe and I were curious as to what the rest of the place looked like after the restoration. Just then Executive Chef Brad Steelman walks by and our friend Bev grabs him (they know each other) and asked if we could have a tour. “Of course!” replied Brad. The main dining room had a man playing tunes on a baby grand as people dined away to not only amazing food, but an stunning view of mighty Manhattan. Thank you Brad, we will be back! Feeling full and happy, we made our way to... read more

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