4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Posts Tagged ‘biking

Great long bike ride yesterday

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Only 13 days till the New York City Triathlon!  Nervous about it in generally, and most specifically, nervous about the swim.  Since the pool I go to has been under renovation for the last 2 weeks, its been 4 weeks since I have last gone swimming.  Pool supposed to be open again as of today, so I should still be able to get 4 swims in between now and race day. 

Thanks to all the bike riding I’ve done lately, the tri distance of 24.4 miles does not scare me at all anymore.  Yesterday was my longest bike ride ever, at 36.5 miles!  See the main course here.  At the end I was really beat and  didn’t feel like biking through the streets of Queens and Brooklyn all the way back to the city.  So, I hopped on the A train, took it to Fulton St, and biked another 2.5 miles from downtown Manhattan back to my apartment.

It was a great day for bike riding, although a little windy.  Headed over the Manhattan Bridge, through downtown Brooklyn and then down 3rd Ave to the 68th St pier.  Took in the sights for a moment, and then followed the path along the Belt Parkway around to Coney Island.  Picked up a corn dog, and then followed the bike path all the way around to Flatbush Ave and took a right turn to Rockaway.  Brief stop at Riis Park to admire the beach, and then heading back to Queens by the long, long, long way of Cross Bay Blvd.  All in all, a great ride, and I’m hardly sore today, which is great news.  Took a few pictures, which you can check out on my DailyMile profile.

Was quite active over the last week.  Had good longish runs (6 mile range) on Thursday and Saturday, and rode my bike to and from softball on Wednesday.

On tap for this week is the gym and pool today, running tomorrow, softball (bike ride to/from again?) Wednesday and then time to start my taper into the triathlon…

One last note, so very thankful for the low humidity July.  Really making for nice training weather at a time of the year where that is usually not the case!


Written by SCL

July 13, 2009 at 8:22 am

Hill Repeats in Central Park

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The twist… on my bike, not on my feet!  First time I’ve done hill repeats on my bike.

I only have 19 days till the New York City Triathlon, and think I need a little more hill work on my bike.  So, last night, biked out to Central Park, did 3 hard repeats of Harlem Hill, and then a full loop of the park, including the hill again.  In all, it was about 17 miles.  Feeling great today, with the exception of my constantly nagging knee and groin.  Good news on the groin is that I found a stretch online that works the exact muscle causing me the most pain.  Trying to do that stretch once a day.  Still keeping it firmly in check.  Tendinitis in my knee is not as bad as it had been, and I’m continuing to ice it, and focus on lower body exercises at the gym.

Had a couple of other good workouts over the last week.

Ran 5.9 miles over the Williamsburg Bridge and back on Sunday morning.  It was a beautiful morning.  About 66 degrees with low humidity.  The sun was strong though, and was tiring on the bridge.  I had to stop at a bodega for water, which would not be necessary in cooler temps.  The bridge was not too crowded, and it was cool to see 3 other runners both times I crossed the bridge.  Guess I wasn’t the only one doing that workout!

On Saturday morning, I did a long bike ride at my house in New Jersey, from Little Silver to downtown Freehold and back.  Came out to about 29 miles.  The return trip was done about 7 minutes faster, I think because of the wind, and also I think the return trip has more downhills.  Length of the bike portion of the olympic distance triathlon (24.4 miles) does not scare me at all anymore!  As I mentioned, I just think I should work on hills a little more.

Also got a run in midweek last week.  It was on Thursday night, when it kept raining on and off.  Rained hard for my first 2 miles, which helped keep me cool in the humidity.  Overall, had a nice 4.6 mile run.

Just trying to keep on keeping on, in spite of the ‘discomfort’ in my knee and groin.  Very excited about the upcoming New York City Triathlon.  Biggest issue for me is swimming.  I have not been in the pool since my last sprint triathlon in Harriman State Park 3 weeks ago, and of course, the pool I go has been closed for the last week for renovations.  It opens tomorrow, so tomorrow, I will need to go swimming!

Written by SCL

July 7, 2009 at 7:58 am

Perfect end to a perfect weekend

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Had an awesome weekend.  Was off on Monday so spent almost 3 days down at my weekend house in New Jersey.  Topped it off with a long 8.7 mile run Monday night – more on that below.

Friday, kicked things off with an early morning run to East River Park.  It is notable that it was my 3rd early morning run in the last week and a half, not counting an early morning trip to the gym.  Starting to make a habit of getting up at 5:30 to get a nice workout in before going to work.  Friday morning was a little rough because of the humidity, still trying to get used to the warmer weather.  My splits for the 4 mile run were 18:22 and 18:23, pretty darn consistent if you ask me!  I think negative splits are too much to ask for in the humidity, so nice consistent efforts will have to do.

Friday night, went to Citi Field to watch my beloved Mets get pounded by the Yankees.  Despite the score, I had a great time.  Citi Field is such an upgrade over Shea.  It was nice to experience batting practice from so many outfield vantage points, and to enjoy Blue Smoke and the other great food options, and just be able to wander around the stadium during the game.  Was even very comfortable during the massive thunderstorm that blew through before the game.  Plenty of under cover areas to stay dry.  The place also just has so much more character than the old dump…

On Saturday, dragged all our stuff out to New Jersey (lots of laundry), including my bike.  Had a simple BBQ (just burgers and hot dogs) and then went out to the beach.  On Sunday, started my day with a 23 mile bike ride (see course here), followed by a more complicated BBQ (steak, chicken, corn and hot dogs) and then another trip to the beach.  The bike ride was really fun.  It is nice being able to leave my house in NJ, and immediately go into long ride mode as there are few traffic lights to stop at and the traffic is light.  I’m preparing for the New York City Triathlon, so was aiming for a 24-25 mile ride to approximate the race distance, but turned around a little too early, and settled for 23 miles.  This ride used to seem a little hard to me, but after recently biking in Vermont and then at Harriman State Park, where they have real hills, this ride seemed like a piece of cake!

Monday was also very relaxing.  Was able to sleep in and take it easy until the drive back to the city in the early afternoon.  Monday was a beautiful day, with low humidity.

I had already penciled in a run for Monday night.  The decision was how far to go.  With the nice weather, I decided to go a little long.  Summer months are always lowest mileage for me, and my June monthly record was only 42 miles.  I noticed that 8+ miles would break that record.  My 6 and 6.5 mile runs would not be enough, and I really didn’t feel like my 10.3 mile 3 boro 3 bridge route.  So, settled for a route that I rarely run, and haven’t done in almost 2 years.  Down East River Path, up Hudson River Path, and across 14th St back home.  That route is 8.7 miles, and flat, so perfect.  Biggest problem is the trip across 14th St requires a lot of car dodging, and lots of stops at the avenues, but that is OK as I was not so concerned about time.

Even though the humidity was down, the direct sun bothers me and the heat bothers me, so I decided to wait until the sun was well on the way down before getting started.  Got out around 7pm, and picked up a bottle of Powerade to help me stay hydrated.  First part of the run was to and through East River Park.  It was so crowded with runners.  I typically run the park early in the morning or very late in the day when it is not that crowded.  Not sure if it was extra crowded because of the nice weather, but there were dozens of runners in the park, which was really nice to see.

Tried to hold back a little in the first few miles, but the pace was about 9 minutes per mile.  A little too fast.  At about 1 mile, I drank from the water fountain in front of the track at East River Park, conserving my Powerade.  Good thing because I felt like I needed to stop often to stay hydrated.  In fact, the Powerade only lasted until about mile 4.5, heading back up the west side.  It is still quite a ways up to 14th St from there and really wanted to find some water.  Luckily, I thought, there was a detour around the construction site just past the World Financial Center and I passed the Pick-A-Bagel in Battery Park City.  Perfect place to pick up a water.  First though, they did not have the medium sized squeeze bottle, just the regular small size and giant size.  I refuse to pay 1.35 for the small water, so kept going.  The Runners Station was closed, as they are only open till 6pm, but salvation was found when I got to pier 40, where they have vending machines outside.  Was able to buy a Gatorade and continue on my way.

While not overly hot or humid, it was hotter and more humid than I care for, and I was definitely starting to lose it as I neared 7 miles and 14th St.  Caught the light and crossed over West St at the bottom portion of 10th Ave before 14th St, then up 10th, to the turn onto 14th St.  I was quite suprised to see people standing on the high line tracks, as I forgot that it was open, and that it overlooked 14th St in that spot.  I was starting to get a little delirious at that point and decided to have a little fun with the tourists staring down at 14th St by pointing and waving to them.  I was also able to see the great improvements made to 9th and 8th Ave’s as well.  So much easier to cross 9th Ave, now that most of the intersection is a pedestrian square and car free.  On 8th Ave, there is now a protected bike lane.

Anyway, even though I was overheated and my belly full from too much Ade (Power and Gator varieties), I was aided by having to stop a couple of times at traffic lights across 14th St, and was able to finish strongly in just under 1 hour 26 minutes.  For 8.7 miles, this is just under 10 min per mile pace.  Not bad at all with all the stopping.

Yesterday, my groin injury was acting up so no running yesterday or today.  The pain that I have (which I actually DO NOT experience while running) seems to be migrating now to the pelvis area.  I think it is time to get it checked out by a professional!  In the meantime, will continue to build in trips to the gym and off days, and continue treating with ice and stretching.

Written by SCL

July 1, 2009 at 7:50 am

Week in review

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Haven’t had a chance to write in the last week, so here is a review of what I’ve been up to!

Went to Middlebury VT last weekend.  My wife was speaking on a panel at alumni weekend at the college.  Middlebury is very nice.  We stayed at a great bed and breakfast, and tooled around the various small towns there including Bristol and Vergennes.  Also went to the Robert Frost trail in Bread Loaf, but it was mostly closed due to some flood damage from the winter.

I brought my bike with me to Middlebury, and had an amazing, and humbling ride.  My intention was to bike out and back from Middlebury, on rt 125, to Lake Champlain (see route here).  It was about 15 miles each way.  The hills were relentless, and wore me down to no end, and I could only cover about 12 miles before turning around.  24 miles in total, and a really awesome and hard workout.  I realize that real bikers and triathletes can handle these kinds of hills with no issues, so I need to figure out how to add more hills to my bike workouts.  I like riding at my weekend house in Little Silver, NJ, but there are very few ‘real’ hills out there.  Anyway, it was an awesome ride, and a great tune up for my triathlon this weekend.

As good as the ride was, I think the hills aggrevated my groin.  It was really acting up on Sunday and Monday.  The good news is that it helped me to isolate exactly where the pain is coming from, so now I know where to focus my ice treatments.

Monday night was softball, up in Inwood.  With my groin issue, I was not able to run full out, but the light running in the outfield and on the bases, combined with lots of stretchng, actually made it feel a little better.  Collectively we had a great game, and won 11-7.

Didn’t do any workouts on Tuesday because I had to run down to my weekend house and do some lawn and grounds care, and morning workouts are too hard until school is over for my kids.  Wednesday nights are no good for swimming because there is only a small window the pool is available for lap swimming, so I went for a run last night.

Did my 4 mile out and back to East River Park.  I have a hard time doing ‘easy’ runs, and ran it pretty hard.  Finished up in 34:56, about 8:45 pace.  The groin issue is so far not preventing me from running.  It only bothers me a little as I get started with a run, and loosens up pretty quickly.  However, I’ve lately also been feeling some tendonitis behind my left knee, and that I can feel with every step in a run.  It is not a lot of pain, but just a little bit of very noticeable discomfort.  While not preventing me from running, I think it would prevent me from running all out in a speed workout or race condition.  So far, ice on its own has not done anything.  May need to work on leg based stretches and exercises to smooth it out.

It is interesting.  These are my first real injuries since I started this blog over a year ago.  In the past, I constantly had injury issues and I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without issue.  My last big injury was when I blew out my lower back in July 2007.  Historically, I’ve always had leg problems on my right side – patellar tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splits, etc.  Left leg was always great.  Therefore, never really focused on left side.  My current injuries are on my left side.  Ooops.  Guess I need to pay attention to both sides going forward!

This morning, heading to my older daughters school.  She is 13 and graduating middle school in 2 weeks.  Today is an honors ceremony, and she is doing a solo tap dance routine.  Then off to work, and hopefully to the pool to swim tonight.

With my triathlon coming up quickly on Sunday, I need to make sure I’m well prepared for all 3 events, for the transitions, and most importantly, need to practice getting the wetsuit on and off!

Written by SCL

June 11, 2009 at 7:24 am

A Rather Blustery Day

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Was too busy last week to get much exercise in.  I was only able to play softball on Tuesday (7-6 loss in extra innings) and go for a run last Monday night.  The run was a hill workout, over the Williamsburg Bridge and back.  My anger has fizzled over the last week, but I was really mad because the bridge was a total mess.  The north side of the bridge path was closed, for some reason, and the walk, run and bike traffic over the bridge was  completely messed up.  I’m not going to get into all the details, but the bridge needs better signage about where bikers and runners/walkers should stay, the lighting needs to be improved on the Brooklyn side of the south path, and when one of the sides are closed, ALL of the access points to that side need to be properly closed down (for some reason, the cross paths mid bridge were open).  All in all, it was a big fat mess, and hopefully Transportation Alternatives, or some such group, notice this and can open a dialog with NYC about necessary improvements.

Fast forward to today’s activity, a bike ride up to the George Washington Bridge and back.  Decided on a bike ride, rather than swim or run, because it is hard to get a good bike ride in on a weekday after work.  Much easier for me to run or swim on a weeknight, or early in the morning if I was so motivated.  Did not want to ride in Central Park, because I’m sure it would be too crowded.  Also, didn’t have the time for a long bike ride out to Brooklyn or Queens.  Was then left with a ride up to the GW as my best training option.  While the hudson river path is very flat, I figured I would go up the hills to get to the foot of the bridge, and come back down Riverside Drive, which has several hills, to make sure to get a strong workout.  In addition, the strong wind would create additional resistance, to make it feel like a good workout.  I also correctly suspected that the bike path on the west side would not be so crowded due to the cool, cloudy and windy conditions.

The ride up was tough as it was into the wind, although it was a slight cross breeze off the river.  I was a little short on time, so wasn’t able to bike across the bridge to the NJ side.  The way back down was much easier with the wind, and I was able to work up some of the hills on Riverside Drive.  Was thwarted, though, near Columbia, as Riverside was closed for the AIDS walk.  Had to detour around on Broadway to 96th, where I was able to get into Riverside Park.  I see that the AIDS walk also takes up the west side of Central Park, so avoiding the park today was a good move.  (As an aside, this is probably also why the Healthy Kidney 10k was run on Saturday, which is a bit unusual for NYRR events in Central Park.)  Further south, a strong biker passed me around 59th St, and I decided to try to stick with him.  Was able to do so for the 2 miles down to 20th St, where I turned off to head home – was nice to have a pacer!

It must have been a good workout, because I totally passed-out mid afternoon and took an hour plus nap!

Written by SCL

May 17, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Hot weekend

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Wow, it was hot hot hot this weekend!  Managed to get a nice bike ride in before it got hot on Saturday, and then waited the heat out today and went out for a run in the relatively cool evening.

First, the bike ride.  Was up at 6:30 yesterday and out of the house by 8am.  My wife needed to be out of the house by 1, so I wanted to be home by 12.  Anyway, at that time it was still cool out, in the 50’s, and the forecasted high was for 85, so better to go out early.  Headed over the Manhattan Bridge and down Flatbush Ave.  I normally don’t like to ride down Flatbush Ave because of the heavy traffic, but since it was early on Sat morning, I figured the traffic would be calmer, and it was.  I wasn’t hungry and didn’t eat anything before I headed out.  Luckily as I passed by Prospect Park, I noticed they had the Greenmarket going on, so did stop to eat a delicious blueberry muffin.  Continued on my way down Flatbush and then down Bedford all the way to Coney Island.  Took a little break and then rode on the Belt Parkway service rode way out to Queens – took a break on the way at the Canarsie Pier.  Amazingly, there was fog along the coastline, and the pier was covered in fog.  Couldn’t easily see across to Rockaway.  Pretty cool.  Sort of improvised on the way back, and used my NYC bike map from last year to try and link up to bike routes that would take me back through Brooklyn and to the Williamsburg Bridge.  See my route here.  Final tally was 34 miles!  Was definitely feeling beat down by the end.  

Most exciting thing that happened was a flat tire!  Luckily, I’m a savvy cyclist and know how to patch my tire.  I actually had a spare tube, but instead opted to patch the old tube – figured it was good practice in case of a future emergency.  Took about 15 minutes to get the flat fixed, and was on my way again.  I don’t think it was a perfect job, as it seemed air was still slightly leaking.  Will need to keep an eye on it and fix for good before my next ride.  Was finished by 12pm, and it was definitely getting hot out.

Was off to my house in New Jersey last night and spent the day there today.  Grilled burgers and dogs today and we had a nice picnic at the beach for lunch.  It was awesome to be out on the beach so early in the year, but the water was freezing cold.  Beach was packed though.  Also, did my first mow and water of my lawn.

Wanted to get a run in badly today.  Waited it out until about 9:30pm.  The temp had dropped to 72 degrees, from the high of 92.  Humidity was also pretty low.  Did my 4.6 mile loop up Ave C, then down 1st Ave to Delancey and up Ave A.  I was running parallel to the East River for about a mile in the early part of the run.  Could actually feel a cool breeze off the water.  Was very hot and sweaty at the end, but at least felt relatively cool in the early going.  Finished in 42 minutes, which was just fine for me.  Am really digging the new bike lane on Ave A.  Makes me feel safer going up through that area, as cars always used to double park and use the side to make an improper second lane.

This was my 3rd run of the week, and I ended the week with over 21 miles!  The trick is to keep it up as the weather heats up over the next couple of months.  I dread this time of the year, when it starts to get hot, because I really hate running in the heat!  Today notwithstanding, maybe we’ll have a coolish summer?  One can dream!

Written by SCL

April 26, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Posted in bike, running

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Nice weekend

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My original plan was to bike on Sunday, which was forecasted to be the warmer day.  But Saturday was so nice, and the forecast for Sunday ended up being cooler and possibly rainy, so I decided to get my bike ride in on Saturday instead.  As my first ride of the year, had a good time dusting off the gear.

Was able to expiriment with a new toy.  I have an iPhone now, and MapMyFitness has a great iPhone app that uses the GPS device to track your route on the fly.  I have elected not to use this for running because I don’t want to run with my iPhone, but I don’t have an issue with biking with my iPhone in my saddle pack.  The app worked really well – you can see the route it mapped here.  I’m really looking forward to using this on my bike rides.  Routes on the bike tend to be really long, and sometimes it is hard to map out exactly where I went.  This will make it much easier to estimate my total distance.  Only problem is that the GPS drains the iPhone battery really quickly.  Seems like it won’t run for more than 2 hours.

Anyway, had a great bike ride.  Went up to Central Park and then did a full loop of the park.  First bike ride since 10/15/08.  The park was really crowded and I had to slow down a couple of times to let throngs of people cross the road.  Even with the slowdowns, finished my loop in 20:02, my 2nd fastest of my training runs in the park.  

 On Saturday night, I was supposed to go to the gym to work out and swim in the pool.  However, before my bike ride, I noticed a twinge in the left side of my back.  It was not lower back, and not neck or shoulders, so I was not very concerned and went ahead with the bike ride.  However, I will not lift weights or swim with any back problems.  Still bothering me a little today, so skipped the gym again.  In addition, my neck and shoulders were really sore from the bike ride yesterday.  My next good chance to get to the gym is Thursday, so I’ll hopefully be all better by then.

Instead, I went for a nice run this afternoon.  6.2 miles – out and back down East River Park and part way down the East River path.  It was warm, 61 degrees, so was able to run in shorts and short sleeve shirt.  Took it easy and finished in 57:30.

Also had some good family time this weekend.  Went to the New York Botanical Gardens this morning to see the orchid show.  The orchids are from Brazil this year, and they were spectacular.  

The challenge the next couple of weeks will be how to get going with swimming and biking without hurting myself, and reduce the need to take multiple days off between workouts.  As best as I can tell, I need to work myself up to 6 workouts per week to properly prepare for an olympic distance triathlon, which doesn’t allow for many rest days.  I refuse to push too hard and get injured early in training…

Written by SCL

March 8, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Sunday bike ride?

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Picked up my bike from the bike shop last night.  Got a tune up and handlebars retaped.  Also added a 2nd water bottle cage.  I see the forecast for Sunday says mid 60’s.  MID 60’S!!!  Sounds like it might be a good day for my first bike ride of the season.  Just need to figure out how to work it around our planned family outing to the New York Botanical Gardens to see the orchids.

Written by SCL

March 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Posted in bike, weather

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Getting my bike and swim on

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Time to start focusing on the swim and bike portions of the triathlon as I start training for the New York City Triathlon, coming up late July.

Took a couple of big steps today.  First, took my bike into Metro Bikes to get a tune up.  In addition to basic free tune up I get from purchasing my bike there, I’m also getting the more extensive ‘drivetrain’ tune up.  I want them to do a good cleaning of my chain and a good thorough check of everything else.  I’m also getting the handlebars retaped.  One of these days, it will warm up and I’ll start getting some rides in.  I think we change the clocks next weekend, which means we’ll start getting daylight till 7pm – can’t wait.

I also went to the gym tonight and went in the pool for the first time in about 8 months.  I am a really bad swimmer, and I’m essentially starting from the very beginning.  Did about 18 pool lengths in a variety of bad forms, but trying to work on breathing, which is my big weak spot.

Will be running in the Coogan’s 5k race tomorrow morning.  Forecast is for rain, sleet or snow, so we’ll see what happens.  This is a very fast 5k course due to the hills, especially the downhill in the last half mile.  I’ve set PR’s the last 2 times running the course.  I was hoping for dry conditions so that I can attempt to finish in 25 minutes.  My PR is about 26 minutes.  I just hope the weather is good enough that they don’t turn it into a fun run.  I want to use this to bring down my NYRR corral pace time, which is currently 8:14.

Wow, that session in the pool really wiped me out.  Need to get to bed!

Written by SCL

February 28, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Posted in bike, gym, swim

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Pinch of this, dash of that…

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Not quite sure how it happened, but I caught the cross training bug this week.  Coming off the Staten Island Half Marathon on Sunday and preparing for a 20-22 mile run this weekend, I didn’t want to overdue anything.  When getting this close to the marathon I start getting paranoid about every little ache and pain, and especially nervous that I’ll throw out my back.  Better to be safe than sorry and take an extra day or 2 off.

Monday was simple enough.  I’m on a softball team and our fall season is in full swing.  While we lost 6-4 (bastards) but I did a lot of running around the outfield and base paths.  By the end of the game, felt like a nice workout.  We have a few weeks off now and don’t play again until mid-November.  Won’t have to repeat last years debacle of playing a game the day after the New York City Marathon.

Tuesday, at around 9pm, I actually found myself walking to the gym.  Not sure exactly why Tuesday was different than any other day since July 9 (last time I went), but it was great.  Kept the workout real light – some good upper body workout, bunch of sit-ups, and some leg exercises.  It simply just felt great getting out there.  Need to figure out how to get there twice a week around the running schedule.

Last night, the weather was great, and I decided to go out on my bike.  Biking at night can be a challenge and slightly dangerous in New York City, so it requires a little extra effort to be careful.  The path up the Hudson River was mostly empty and even the streets had less traffic than in the daytime.  Only did about 11 miles, but at a hard pace – it was enough to feel like I’d gotten in a nice little workout.  I even experienced a little taste of unexpected New York City compassion.  On 21st St, crossing the 3rd Ave intersection, my front headlight flew off its restraint and clattered to the street.  I stopped the bike right away but the light was about to change.  Fearing the worst, I was hoping none of the cars going by would destroy it.  I noticed the big van at the front of the line was not going through the light.  The guy yelled out his window for me to hurry up and get it from the street.  So, I did, as the cars all around started honking.  It was quite surreal.  The light was fine – no damage at all.  And I really needed it as the lighting between 59th st and 72nd st on the Hudson River path is really horrible.

Anyway, even though I have not yet run since the race Sunday, I feel like I’ve been nice and active and have been able to keep the metabolism going.

Written by SCL

October 16, 2008 at 11:30 am

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