50 State Challenge Map

50 State Challenge Map
States completed

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Minneapolis upcoming weekend

It looks like we're going to have some nice weather this upcoming weekend in Minneapolis for a Half Marathon.  60s and 70s will be a nice break after surpassing 90 this Memorial Day weekend here in DC.  It was hot and humid.  But, that didn't stop me from going out to see my favorite event in DC every Memorial Day.  That would be Rolling Thunder (pics follow).

So .. Minneapolis.  I'll be arriving Friday evening and spending all day Saturday seeing the sights of the city and picking up my packet at The Depot Hotel Pavilion.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is my first time back in Minneapolis after nearly 13 years.  I remember it being a lot of fun so I'm excited to be going back.  This is the "land of 10,000 lakes" so not only am I looking forward to a fun Half, but also great pics to post on my blog.  So stay tuned.

I'll see you this weekend, Minneapolis.

Rolling Thunder in DC for a hot Memorial Day weekend

Rolling Thunder coming down Constitution Av.

Heading towards the Capitol

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Boston vs. Cape Cod

I was recently chatting with my sister and good friend Teresa about Massachusetts.  The conversation came about after I was reviewing my 2012 running calendar and thought maybe I could get a couple more Halfs in.  October looks good.  There are a couple of races in October in Massachusetts that I can calendar but wasn't sure on which.  One is in Boston and the other Cape Cod.  Now, I've never been to Massachusetts and my immediate inclination was to go with Boston.  And then I started to read about the Cape Cod Half and looking at photos from along the route.  It's a beautiful course and one which Runner's World calls among the "ten most scenic in the United States."  And then my sister hit me with a great point.

I plan on visiting Boston - and most likely my first time - when I qualify to run in the Boston Marathon.  If I sound overly confident, it's because I am.  You have to qualify to run in this marathon.  And I came close in my last marathon when I finished in 3:18.  That was the Marine Corp. this past October.  If you're 18-34 you have to finish in 3:05.  If you're 35-39, 3:10.  I'm thinking between now (I'm 33) and 39 I'll be able to hit the 3:10 mark.  When that happens, that's when I'll visit Boston.

I'm signing up for Cape Cod.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Up next: Minnesota

I'll be in Minnesota the weekend of June 3 for the Minneapolis Half Marathon.  It should be a good race as the course runs through downtown Minneapolis and along the Mississippi river.  It's been 13 years since I visited Minneapolis so it's going to feel like a first time visit.  Just the way I like it.

Cleveland marathon and wedding weekend

It was a great weekend in Cleveland.  A weekend filled with marathoning, wedding festivities, and seeing old friends.  Event pics follow this post so enjoy.  And before you ask, I did not hit my 1:30 mark.  But, it's OK.  I feel considering I ran this Half the morning after a wedding on two hours of sleep with hot and humid conditions, my 1:39 finish will do!  Details follow below.

I decided to drive into Cleveland Thursday night as oppose to Friday afternoon so I could wake up in town ready to get some of the day's agenda items done.  Agenda items included picking up my race packet from the Expo (held at the I-X Center) and then driving over to the airport to get my good friends Mike and Tania, arriving from NYC.  It was a good plan because I was able to grab some dinner and beers Thursday night with my host and good friend Bill.  He was nice enough to let me borrow his couch for a few days.  Thanks, Bill.  

Friday started with Bill and I heading over to one of my favorite places in Cleveland for breakfast, the West Side Market Cafe.  Afterwards, we walked over to the market as Bill needed to do some grocery shopping.  For those who have never been to Cleveland, the West Side Market is fantastic.  I say that mostly because anybody who knows me knows I can eat as if there is no end in sight.  It can be a spectacle at times.  When I lived in Cleveland, you could most likely find me at the market on Saturday afternoons perusing the aisles.  The market basically provides anything your appetite may desire. You can find whatever it is you're looking for in meats, chicken, fish, coffee, candy, bread, sauces, spices, pastries, fruit, etc.  It's amazing.  After the market I headed to the I-X Center to pick up my bib and packet as Bill headed to a wedding rehearsal and dinner.  This was my second time to the I-X Center.  It's spacious and perfect for a running Expo.  My first time at the I-X was when I went to pull a plane.  Yes, an actual plane.  Wait.  It wasn't just me.  That would be impossible.  It was with a bunch of us for a charity event.  But, that's another story.

After the Expo I took the short drive to the airport to pick up Mike and Tania and then we headed to Prosperity in Tremont for some dinner.  Joining us were our good friends Dominic and Ali.  It was just great to see all these guys.  It's been a while since I've seen them and meeting over a wedding weekend was a nice way to reunite.  We had some dinner and drinks before heading over to Hooples to meet the bride (Kerry) and groom (Andy), friends and family.  It was a fun evening.  I also got to see my old boss and good friend Glenn.  It's almost like a day hadn't gone by and he's right back at it busting my balls at every opportunity he gets.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  And then there was Uncle Bob, Andy's uncle.  He's getting a shoutout on here for being among the most entertaining uncles I've ever met.  He was great.

Saturday was wedding day.  Kerry and Andy, quite honestly, are just perfect for one another.  Their personalities complement each other and when you know them and see them together, you know this is a real good thing.  The wedding was beautiful and festivities a lot of fun.  Now, remember, the Half started at 7 am the next morning.  I limited myself to light beer all night while hydrating.  I was the guy double fisting with a beer in one hand and glass of water in the other.  After the reception everyone headed to W. 6th (popular downtown strip).  It was decision time.  Do I go to bed (it was around midnight at this time) or go out?  I decided it wasn't that late and I could spare a couple more hours.  I went out.  

I eventually got to bed by 3:30.  My alarm was set for 5:20.  The cab to pick me up was going to be out front at 5:45.  Needless to say, running 13.1 miles under these conditions was going to be interesting.  Oh, and weather.com had the temperature for race day hitting 86.  A nice hot day.

I was able to wake up and be at the start line by 6:20 am.  I made it.  And the route through downtown Cleveland, over to Lakewood, and then back downtown to Brown's Stadium through Tremont and Ohio City was nice.  By the time I crossed the finish line I was soaking wet.  It was hotter than most anticipated.  That's why when I looked at my watch and saw 1:39, I was pretty happy.  I placed 294 (14,664 finishers), 241 among males (6,389 finishers) and 47 in my division (age 30 - 34).  I figure 1:30 can wait a little longer. 

The final pic under my Cleveland pics shows the result of my day.  I basically crashed on the couch as soon as I could.  It was a great evening followed by a long day of marathoning.  Needless to say, my weekend in Cleveland was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed seeing my two friends get married and spending time with Bill, Mike, Glenn, Dom, and everyone else that I haven't seen in so long. It was also nice to end my last day being asked to join Mike's wedding party.  He's getting married in September.  I'm an official groomsman. Thanks, buddy. 

Up next:  Minnesota  

Cleveland weekend pics

The obligatory "Welcome to (insert state)" shot

West Side Market Cafe in Ohio City

The historic West Side Market

Downtown Cleveland as I head to the I-X Center

A little reunion with the fellas (Mike Toole (left) and Dominic Buccilli (right)

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs Bindernagel

Andy and Kerry

Heading to W. 6th post wedding when I perhaps should have head to bed

Sun rising as I head to the start at Brown's Stadium

Rock n Roll Hall of Fame

Me after every Half Marathon

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cleveland memories

I moved to Cleveland in April 2007 after living in NYC for nearly six years.  I loved living in NYC.  I know it's cliche to say but I do believe it's the greatest city in the world.  It speaks to my personality and I'd probably move back there if the right opportunity presented itself.  Therefore, moving to Cleveland when my company asked me to was not an easy decision.  But, I did it.  Two motivators influenced my decision.  One, I wanted to grow within my company and hence my career.  And two, I thought it would be good to see a different part of the country.  The Midwest was a bit alien to me as I'd never visited so I invited the change of pace and scenery.

The move didn't go as smoothly as I'd thought.   Now, don't get me wrong.  Let me say this.  In my opinion, Cleveland has a lot to offer.  It does get a bad rap sometimes.  But, it has fun neighborhoods (big fan of Tremont), great summers, and the cost of living is basically heaven on earth after paying NYC rent for six years.  But, was it for me?  Definitely not.  And I think most who know me would agree.  I'm a city kid and moving to Cleveland was a culture shock.  It moves a bit slower than I like.  Add to that a tumultuous relationship shortly after I moved there and it was a recipe for difficult times ahead.  But, the one constant that I always really liked about Cleveland was the people.  Cleveland has some damn fine people.  I made a lot of very good friends.  And two of them are getting married next weekend when I visit Cleveland to check off Ohio from my challenge.

One thing I'm really looking forward to is the feeling I'm going to get driving back into the city.  I know.  It's weird.  I haven't visited Cleveland since last summer.  So it's going to feel new all over again.  To drive past old neighborhoods and places I used to hang out always feels a bit nostalgic.  It's funny because Cleveland invokes some very good memories and then some not so good memories.  There were times when I was really unhappy (mostly for one of the three years) and then other times when I finally started to enjoy time with my friends and the city.  So to drive back in is going to be fun to bring back those feelings from over three years, and take it all in again.

Now the Half will take me along many of the routes I used to run on.  I was speaking to my sister the other day and told her that it's going to feel almost therapeutic to go back and run along those very same routes I used to run on when I was down and would go to relieve some stress. I do think therapeutic is the best word.  I actually can't wait.  I'm going back now being  in a much better place in my life.  This may actually prove being the easiest run to date (barring a serious hangover).  I'll have time on the road during those 13.1 miles to go back to "I remember that crappy day when I did this route" or "I remember this run through Edgewater right by the lake before heading to Bill's for a BBQ ..."

I think that's what I'm looking forward to the most.  A visit to really appreciate Cleveland today in a way I couldn't when I was there.  I can now.  For three years there were times I just wanted to get the hell out and have nothing to do with it.  Today, things are a lot different.  I'm a lot different. And I can now say, without hesitation ... it's going to be real nice to see you again, Cleveland.

Monday, May 7, 2012

NJ race day

In case you're wondering, I did not hit my goal of 1:30 in NJ this past weekend.  But, it's OK.  It was a great Half and I'll just have to work a little harder to improve upon my time.  See here.  I finished in 1:36.  I had a negative reaction at first and was simply mad at myself.  However, I'm staying positive and certain I'll hit it during one of my upcoming 43 races I still have to run.  It will happen.

Race day started very early.  We were up at 4:15 to get ready and go pick up my good friend Teresa.  We had plenty of time to get to the race that started at 7.  However, we did not anticipate the traffic we would hit.  It was bad.  We were crawling at one point trying to get to the parking area.  And once we got there it was a bit chaotic as we were being directed to a large patch of grass with no clear parking lanes.  But, the organizers did their best and we found a spot.  At that point it was time to race.  No time for a trip to the restroom or to even stretch (I'm feeling the effects of that today).  There was also no time for some pre race pics that I like to get.  This is why you'll only see finish line shots.  We got out of the car and started a light jog to the start line.  As we approached I noticed that our wave had already started.  So we jumped in a bit behind the start line and got going. 

I started with a good pace and optimistic I could move through the crowd of runners in front of me to an open lane that wouldn't hinder my time.  I was wrong.  I hit a wave of runners and began to slow my run.  I kept thinking I could make up the time as the crowd started to dissipate.  However, it took some time.  It took until around mile four for me to really get some open road in front of me.  

I picked up my pace as best I could hoping to cut my time.  But, once I hit my 10K at 43 minutes I knew it was going to be very difficult. 

The race itself was very nice with the best saved for the end.  Finishing at the beach was great.  It was a cold, cloudy morning so there was no play time on the beach.  But, walking the board walk to go over the last 13 miles was good. 

I now look forward to Cleveland.  That's my next Half in two weeks (May 20). I'll say this now.  1:30 in Cleveland won't happen.  I say that not because I'm negative at this point but because my weekend in Cleveland won't be for just a Half.  My very good friends Andy and Kerry are getting married.  The best part of that is their wedding is the night before the Half!  So the blog entry for that weekend will include both race day and wedding pics.  It's going to be a lot of fun to see if I can maintain my runner's discipline and keep the drinking to a moderate level.  Just an FYI.  My discipline isn't always that great.

Check in in a couple of weeks as my weekend in The Cleve will be a lot of fun to read about.

NJ race day pics

A nice view once you cross the finish

My sister Carla and Teresa running to the finish!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

NJ Half tomorrow

It was a nice drive into NJ today with my sister and good friend Teresa.  We were able to stop by the "Welcome to NJ" sign and snap a nice pic.  I'm going to try to do that as often as I can when taking these trips in the car.  I think it's pretty cool. 

Dinner this evening was risotto with shrimp and now I'm all set for wake up in the morning at 4:30.  I know.  That's pretty early.  It's going to be a long day.  But, I feel ready.  Start time for the Half is 7 am.  It's a bit of a hike from exit 13 to 7a on the Turnpike so we're giving ourselves a little bit of time.  And then it's back to DC right after the race.  So I'll be sure to update the blog if I should hit my desired 1:30.  I hope tomorrow is the day.  Fingers crossed.

NJ Expo

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Common Running Mistakes

I really like this article in Runner's World.  More so because I'm guilty of some of these mistakes.  Give a read here.