It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged! Mainly it’s because so many of my posts were food related and food blogging had just become so overdone. There’s a lot less motivation to write about stuff when everybody and their grandmothers, literally, are writing about the same thing and often doing it poorly. Not a crowd I really want to be identified with if you know what I mean. Besides, I’m always more juiced by activities that still have a sense of subculture about them. 9-ball, cooking, BJJ and poker all were obsessions of mine but each during periods before they became overexposed mainstream clichés. Don’t get me wrong, they all still hold some interest for me, and likewise I’m sure I’ll still write about food from time to time, but only when the mood strikes me. It’ll just be fewer and farther between. Basically, I just hope to never end up on picsofaznstakingpicsoffood.tumblr.com!
So what have I been up to recently? Running! It’s another pastime that is on the upswing but thankfully hasn’t reached critical mass yet. Even though the Brooklyn Half Marathon last week had 16,000 entrants, there was still a sense of community between runners, a feeling that you’re sharing an experience that the rest of the world just doesn’t get. Running seems like a perfect hobby for me. It’s challenging, there’s a measurable way to gauge progress, there are equipment choices I can spend hours deliberating and there’s a vast amount of super interesting things to learn.
I just started running at the end of February, but like with most activities, the greatest amount of progress happens during the early learning stages. When I started, I couldn’t run more than a few blocks and I hated it. Two months later I was able to complete the BK Half, but ok, I still hated it. Hated the actual running/suffering that is. But actually finishing brought a feeling of absolute elation. It’s a lot like how I trained BJJ actually. I didn’t enjoy the actual rolling like others did because for me the focus was always inward- fighting the ever impending onset of fatigue. But the satisfaction of working through that exhaustion to pull off a technique and nail a submission was unparalleled. Chasing that feeling was what kept me motivated and that’s the same thing I feel with running right now.
I’m not a fast runner, as I ran the BK Half with an average pace of 9:57 per mile. According to the NY Road Runners’ stats for the race, that puts me below average for my age group. And btw, big props to NYRR for being kick-ass when it comes to organizing races. It’s so impressive how they can coordinate logistics for races every week with such efficiency. They usually even have the finishing times and stats posted on their website by the time I get home from each race! They also partner with Brightroom Event Photography so that there are usually a few pictures of you taken along the course. It’s not really worth it to buy the pictures because they charge a whopping $25 per photo, but it’s still nice to check out the thumbnails up on their site after each race. Not that I look very good as a runner. My posture and technique is still horribly awkward but I’m trying to improve. It also doesn’t help that I have more of a wrestler’s build than that of a runner. I’d like to think I have a powerful looking trunk, but really I just have a big ass. I got a chance to see my running form in a Brightroom video clip from the Brooklyn Half and it made me think of Predator lumbering through the forest. Clearly I have a lot to work on!
My training for the Brooklyn Half was not very structured. I just ran whenever I wasn’t busy, the weather was decent and my legs weren’t sore. That amounted to about 3 days a week. I was roughly trying to follow a 10 week training schedule I found on the web, but I ended up missing days left and right, so I just settled for trying to do the long run for each week plus a couple of 4 mile days in between. It was going really well up to about week 7 and I even managed an 11 mile training run without getting totally gassed. Unfortunately the last two weeks before the race we had lots of rain and my weekly mileage went waaay down. As a result, I felt I had peaked too soon and entered the race quite a bit undertrained. It’s interesting, looking at my training log I see that I only did a total of 26 hours of running from the day I picked up the hobby to the day of the BK Half. But it doesn’t matter because even though my time wasn’t fast, I managed to finish the race and that was my only goal.
In addition to the joy of finishing a race, one of the things I love best about running is that there are so many cool things that I can research and shop for. So while running doesn’t actually require anything more than a pair of sneakers, that hasn’t prevented me from spending all kinds of money on miscellaneous gear. Heart rate monitor, moisture wicking apparel, foam rollers, compression sleeves, energy gels, nutritional supplements, running books on my Kindle, and the list goes on. I actually just got another pair of sneakers today too, the Saucony Kinvara 3. What can I say, it’s just too much fun to shop for this stuff! And more than anything, it’s just really enjoyable to have a new activity to immerse myself in.