Monday, March 31, 2014

And now for some upcoming attractions.

OK, I've been taking it relatively easy lately. It's time to get my butt in gear and get some serious miles in. What better way to do that than signing up for a couple of races right? Nothing like an upcoming race to get the fires burning and the legs moving. Plus, I got a little not-so-secret-anymore surprise coming up. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. First, the race schedule. Here's what I have come up with for the following months.

April 6 - 5K for Values: Ran it last year. It's organized by the Government Ethics Office (there's an oxymoron), I love ruinning this race. Why? Because it's free! You can't argue with free. I'll line up for some free. Hence, what better way to add races to a rather slow year so far?

April 27 - Altamesa 5K: I've had my eye on this one for a while now but hadn't been able to get to it. This race has a reputation for being very well organized. It's also for charity so another reason to go run it. I have also heard this is a relatively fast course so... new 5K PR? We will see...

May 25 - Abraham Rosa International 10K: This is a very famous race in Puerto Rico. Even before I started running, I talked about doing it one day. I guess the time has come. It is a very tough course with lots of hills. Hey, I'm nothing if not ambitous right?

And for the surprise(ish). On June 29, I'm gonna tri something new...

Yup, The Fat Runner is gonna be doing some cycling and swimming along with his running to attempt his first triathlon. I must be going insane. I'm gonna go into a bit more detail in an upcoming post about the whats and whys of this but for now, know this: If you want to keep something like this secret - and that's what I was trying to do. I wanted to shock everyone with the race recap - always remember to turn off auto-share when uploading your workouts to Dailymile or Garmin Connect. I didn't. When some people started to see swimming and biking along with the running on Facebook and Twitter, they(obviously) figured it out. What a genius. And, in case you don't find that funny, I assure you, you will laugh when I talk about training and competing in the tri. Funny stuff.

So that's it. This schedule should keep me plenty busy until mid summer, at which point I switch gears and focus on this year's main goal: A sub-3 hour Half-Marathon. What do you guys think?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This Should Have Been a Race Recap

That's right. If everything would have panned out exactly as planned, this post would be recounting my experiences running the Puerto Rico Half-Marathon; a race I should mention, I have now been trying to race for two years now. But I didn't run it. Why? Because of this guy.

Yeah, that's right. It was his fault. His name is SeƱor Sapo (Mr. Frog) and he is part of a group called Atencion Atencion (Attention Attention) which, if I were to describe their TV show is the local equivalent of Sesame Street. A lot of singing, dancing and learning fun for the children. Yes, it can get a bit annoying for parents when the kids get hooked on some of this stuff (and once the songs get in your head... forget about it.) but there is no denying that kids not only enjoy the songs and colors but it teaches them a lot. All three of my daughters are huge fans and the youngest one especially, considering her situation, has learned a lot of good things from it. 

So, when the chance to take them to their 15th anniversary concert presented itself, there was no Marathon in the World that was gonna make me choose it over this.

Needless to say, they had the time of their lives singing and jumping around, which in turn means we enjoyed it immensly as well watching them enjoy it so much. The show itself was also a pretty big succes. Atencion Atencion posted these pics  on their Facebook page:

So yeah, I think its safe to say they are pretty popular around these parts. As far as the Half goes, last year I was forced to choose between signing up for it or signing up for the Disney Marathon (we all know how THAT panned out) and this year, this happened. But, go ahead. Ask me how sorry I am for missing it.

My good friend and running buddy Frankie, got to run it though and ended up doing pretty well with a time around 2:25-ish if I'm not mistaken so there you go. 

There are many other races to run so no worries. Next I'll post about what races I will run in the near future. In the meantime, please excuse me while I go jump with Mr. Frog and my girls.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Two Years Running

 In March of 2012, I took my first steps as a runner. They were painful, they were extremely slow, and I was hoping with each and every one of them, that they would help me, for the first time in my life, to stick to some form of exercise and activity for an extended period of time. This month I celebrate two years of what has been a pretty interesting and incredible journey and I'm surprised to say that I have not only kept at it, but I'm looking forward to keep doing it and then some. When I think about the future now, I see it very much tied to a healthier lifestyle both for me and my family. Things have certainly changed around here.

As if on cue just so I could celebrate, this month I recieved this:

A pretty cool "runnaversary" gift if I do say so myself. I thought real hard about getting this plaque. After all they are not cheap but how many times in our lives do we run a first marathon? I thought it was important to commemorate the occasion so I gave in and got it. I also bought digital copies of all my pics a while back but I hadn't shared them. Here are some of my favorites.

Right before my corral went off. The photographer caught me putting my headphones on.

My favorite marathon pic. Not surprisingly, it was taken while running up Main Street U.S.A. heading towards the Castle.

WDW Race Track. I don't know what I was going for here. Apparently moonwalking?

Halfway done at Animal Kingdom.(Check the sensor behind me) Do I look excited?

I'm proudest of these next pics simply because this is late in the race(I think that is the twenty-something mile sensor behind me) and as you can see I'm still running and also, playing air guitar. I don't remember what song it was though.

This was a few seconds before the pic above in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Crossing the finish line. You can see MIckey's feet at the top. I had just high-fived him and was screaming "YEAAAHHHH!!!!"

Not my favorite picture but there I was. Marathon done! On the verge of tears too.

Serendipity is an incredible thing. Nice way to celebrate two years of running. Here's to running for many years to come! Do you celebrate your running anniversary? How?

Monday, March 10, 2014

WB10K Health and Fitness Expo

Allow me to vent here for a moment.

The World's Best 10K is probably the biggest race in Puerto Rico in terms of exposure and most definitely in terms of how many people run it every year. It is also arguably the best known race on the island. Last year I raved about how organized the whole process was from packet pick-up to race transportation to the post-finish line procedures. The one chink in the armor was the fact that I didn't get a medal at the end along with hundreds of other people. It ended up being (according to race officials on their Facebook page) a misplacement of the boxes where the medals were being kept. It took an extra day and a trip to the race office but I got the medal. With a mishap like that, you would hope they would try to fix the issue for the following year. You would also hope that you have "gone through the glitch" for this race and not go through another situation again.

Well, I turned out to be right in the former and wrong on the latter.

Surely, I got my medal after crossing the finish line. They even put a new system in place where you had to turn in the bottom of your bib (usually used for bag checks) to get your medal. However, I had to endure another bad glitch. This time during packet pick-up. The Expo took place in the exact same place and I visited at the exact same time as last year. Except that there was a huge line outside. It was divided into people who didn't know their bib number and those who did. Instead of just letting people inside like last year, they created a bottleneck. The line was divided (allegedly) to speed things up but the people who didn't know their bib number were being let in a lot faster than those who came ready which caused a lot of grumpy faces and comments from those on the "ready" line.

It took a long time to get in and once inside you find out why this was taking such a long time: The they had different rooms divided by bib numbers. Each room with several tables full of bibs in ascending order just like last year. Except that this year they were way, way understaffed. Some people were in charge of 4 or 5 of those tables and therefore taking care of 4 or 5 lines. After a pretty long wait it was my turn to pick up my bib and...

There was no bib.

They had "misplaced" the box with all of the 1500 bibs on it. Including mine. It took an hour of just standing there just to get a straight answer and in the end they sent us to the back of the line  (again) to get another number assigned so we could (again) wait in line to get the new bib. By this time I had been there for two hours. The net result of the bib reassignment was: a) They promised people who registered early their name would be printed on their bib so no name for me. b) I got reassigned from corral 3 to the very last corral.

Now, I could care less about the name on my bib. It could say "Jenny McPretty" on it for all the good it would do me, but being sent to the back was a hard blow and I would pay for that in spades during the race. Read the recap to learn why. Sadly, this not the end of this ordeal.

After finally settling the bib issue, I had to get the rest of the race packet. This meant another long line to get the shirt, and another very, very long line to get the rest of the stuff. The order in which they did this was awful. They included a bag that was pretty nice to put all your stuff in but they gave it at the end. By the time you got it you had your hands full of stuff. I couldn't even open mine to put all the stuff in. This "divide and conquer" strategy where you go to different stations to get everything is done to alleviate traffic but here it just didn't work. In fact it just made it worse. By the time I finished getting everything, I had no time to stick around and check out the Expo so I left.

Apparently, the WB10K has problem handling boxes, whether they have medals or bibs on them. I don't like to rant about these things usually. Organizing a race is hard to do and for the most part the staff are doing it for free but I think the organizers clearly underestimated the amount of people who showed up on Friday like I did and the event was clearly understaffed. Hopefully those who went on Saturday had an easier time than me. So that's two for two regarding the WB10K. Again, nothing against this particular race. In fact, issues aside, I maintain my position that it is in fact, well organized for the most part. That's why I gave them such high marks when I wrote about it last year. However, how likely is it for one person to have major issues two years running? I suspect it was more than just me. Just ask anyone with a 1500 bib assigned. This is stuff they have to work on. Especially if they claim to be the World's Best 10K.

And by the way, the shirt does not fit and the neither does the cap.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sometimes, you get to pay it forward

First, there were these guys.

Frankie and Gilbert, brothers in the Force (geeks like me) and in blood (not my brothers in blood, but they are, in fact brothers) started running. Frankie had already started running when I started this blog but Gilbert was still on the fence. After reading my ridiculous and amusing running adventures he finally got off the couch, and has now run a couple of 5K's and recently his first 10K. Either he was inspired, or simply couldn't stand the fact that a much heavier (and un-healthier) person managed to run a marathon before he did, the point it is he started running and this blog was a part of that.

This week was the swearing in ceremony of the Board of Directors of the local Union of which I am a part of, the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers). The regional director of the International Union, and my good friend, Al Vincent, came down to participate and swear us in. He had been keeping track of my runing through Facebook and before arriving to the island, he contacted me saying he wanted to start running as well and asked about what shoes I wore and stuff like that.

Well, I wasn't about to waste the chance to bring one more person to the Dark Side... er, I mean to our addiction... wait. I meant our illustrious and health-improving sport. That's what I meant. So, after the ceremony I gave him some basic information about starting out and we went to my Local Running Store so he could get properly fitted and start off on the right foot (pun intended).

It was really interesting to watch him go through that process. Super-fit Girl (I got to ask her name already) told him to get on the treadmill to film his gait. He was just as nervous and self-consious as I was. It sure brought back memories of that very first visit to this store. Anyway, after the analysis she brought several models (Brooks, Mizuno, Saucony) for him to try out and after trying them, he came out with a brand new (and extremely bright colored) pair of Brooks Trascend which is new to the Brooks line and have been very well rated by Runner's World Magazine.

After getting him all set up, Super-fit Girl asked me about The Beasties (My Brooks Beasts). As it turned out, I had just done an extremely painful long run in them the Sunday prior. A signal that they in fact, were done. She told me she just recieved a new Brooks shipment and was pretty sure there was stuff in my size (14 for The Beasties, 15 for the Junkies). Now, I wasn't planning to buy anything but, you know, you're at the LRS. I, in fact NEED a new pair of shoes. What's a guy to do? Well, it turns out they didn't have Beasties in my size but she did find a pair of Junkies (Brooks Addictions) and well, I needed them. What's a late house payment here and there right? These are the more recent version (2012). I had the previous ones (2010).


Now we both had new gear. We didn't buy it to stare at how pretty they were so with Al leaving in the morning, I threw down the gaunlet and invited him for a run in the late afternoon. He jumped at the chance so after a quick change of clothes I went back to his hotel and we went on his very first run.

I can't think of a better place for a first run than San Juan. We had the beach, the historical buildings and the sunset. It was really beautiful. I gave him a couple of pointers on breathing and pace. He did very well, covering about three miles between running and walking and ended back at the hotel. Hopefully I didn't bore him too much with all the yapping. I tried to keep his mind off the fact he was exercising for the first time in long while so I talked pretty much the whole way. Geez... who would have thought: me being able to talk during a run.

Uncle Ben (Spider-Man's uncle, not the rice guy) said: "With great power, comes great responsability." When I started this blog and posting my runs on Facebook, I did it to keep myself accountable. You kind of hope that people read it but the Internet being, well, the Internet, you think it will just get lost in the whole enormity of it. But once in a while it has an effect on people and they too are inspired to start their own journey. One can only hope to be worthy of something like that. I sure hope he wakes up with the desire to keep getting out there to run. Otherwise, I will be forever the guy who made him buy some pretty expensive (and bright colored) shoes. 

Run on Al. Run on.