27 March 2011

Colon Cancer Challenge

Another NYRR race has come and gone.  As you may know, I like long races, 15K, 13.1-mile, etc.  When registration for the Colon Cancer Challenge became available, I signed up at once.  The day has come and gone.

As usual, the adventure began with the NYC subway.  For this weekend, my D train runs on the N line.  Pity those tourists with their maps, not much applies on the weekend.  The race was scheduled for 1100.  I left home at 0900 to leave enough time to pick up my bib and T-shirt.  Just for kicks, I ran to the nearest N station, only to wait there for a long time.  Not only the subway changes routes on the weekend, it also runs slower.  I thought of getting off the D at 47-50 Street Station, but that would mean a walk of over 20 blocks to get to the Bandshell in Central Park.  I switched at Columbus Circle for the local C train and got off right at 72 Street and crossed the park to get to the Bandshell.  I planned to run 10 extra miles after this 15k (9.3-mile) race so I wanted to save the energy.  Part of a marathon training dictates that one should run a 20-mile trip a few weeks before the real thing.  I signed up for the St. Louis Marathon and it is just two weeks away and I haven't done a 20-mile run yet.

While waiting for the light to change to cross Central Park West, I read a plaque on some nearby building.  What interested me was that the architect was Irwin S Chanin.  That Chanin, for which the Cooper Union's Architectural School was named after.  Supposedly he was famous for using the "twin towers" design seen on a few buildings around Central Park.  I thought of the movie "Ghostbusters" when I saw the building later on from inside the park.

Somehow I thought that it was a requirement to donate some money for research on colon cancer in order to run in the race.  I didn't donate anything and only paid the registration fee.  I got my bib with no hassle.  This time I even saved the NYRR four safety pins as I had them from my previous races.  No point of wasting them pins if they are so re-usable.  I never thought of it but after getting my bib that my father died from colon cancer, indirectly anyway.  It started at the colon but by the time surgery was done to remove the offending cells, the disease already spread to the liver.  "I run for my father", some people at the race wrote on their T-shirts or had paper signs taped to their clothes.  Conveniently, there was a donation tent at the staging/expo area so I dropped $20.

Stalk-running alert!  I got defeated by a stalk-runner today.  Somewhere along the route I noticed a woman with a purple hoodie and white headphone passing me.  I didn't try to pass her but just maintain my normal speed.  Eventually that's enough to pass her, so she was probably running at variable speed.  Around Mile #8 she used a downhill to zoom past me but I didn't copy the tactic.  I still thought that I should conserve my energy for the 10-mile run after the race.  Still, as the finish line came into sight I couldn't help it and started sprinting for it.  My stalk-runner was up ahead, way too far for me to catch up.  Even though I lost to my impromptu running partner, I still broke my own record for a 15K, the Ted Corbitt Run last year, by 20 seconds or so.

The sprint exhausted me.  Gatorade tasted so good just then, I should have grabbed another one.  Back at the expo area there were only bagels and apples.  My original plan was to resume running once I reach 72nd Street and Central Park West.  In reality, I was so tired and cold, I walked all the way along 72nd Street to the West Side Highway, while eating the bagel and then the apple.  It was a worthwhile trip, as Riverside Park was so beautiful.  At 72nd Street, the waterfront of Riverside Park stretched north and south.  I needed to head south for some other business so south I went.  I was no longer in a race, and was tired anyway, so I stopped here and there to snap some photos.  I measured via Google Earth that to get in 10 miles from 72nd Street and CPW, I would need to go to the waterfront, travel south all the way to tip of Manhattan then loop back north to the Williamsburg Bridge.  Somehow I didn't have the energy to do so and only went as far as 23rd Street, Chelsea Pier.  At least and at last, I got to discover a new trail.  Many times I drove on the West Side Highway and glanced longingly at the beautiful bike/jogging path along the Hudson River.

Looking north.  I like the "bar stools".

Looking north.  If you don't mind the mossy steps, I suppose you can take off your shoes and let the wave laps at your feet.

Bring your date here for a romantic outing!


Some day I will run north to see where this path ends at, but today I needed to head south.

Who you gonna call?

20 March 2011

The Eyes Are The First To Go

Aging stinks.  In Vietnamese one phrase that refers to the aging process is "răng long tóc bạc", which transliterate as "loosened teeth and white hair".  But then I also heard elsewhere that the eyes are the first to go when a person ages.  Being near-sighted, I also heard that at some point in time my near-sightness will help me see clearly.  Supposedly, the old person cannot see objects nearby well, but since I'm already near-sighted, I have no problems, right?  I suspect that that time has come and gone without me noticing because I now have troubles seeing small things up close, with the near-sighted glasses on.  While I understand that the glasses are to help me see far, I didn't have troubles using them to see objects nearby before.  Something is up.  These days to read the screen of cell phones or other handheld devices, I have to take the glasses off.  Maybe soon I'll get bi-focal.  Groan.

One of my approach to maintaining decent eyesight is not to make the eyes work so hard.  While I cannot help using the computer a lot, I don't watch much TV or DVDs.  Instead, I listen to podcasts and audiobooks, being from an iPod or on CDs.  Still, not everything is available on CDs, at least not from the public library, so from time to time I still read books.  Except that now the words seem too small.  Just by chance, when I was busy searching for the last book in the Millennium trilogy Stieg Larsson, the only copy available from the Jersey City Free Public Library was a large-print one.  The experience changed my opinion of large-print books.  I have to admit it, I like them.  I used to think that only old people, really old people in the 70s or worse, would read large-print books.  I know now it is not true.  Just a few years past the critical 40, I am already enjoying them.  After "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest", I already hungrily went through Catherine Coulter's "Knock Out".  While large-print books are typically, well, large, compared to pocketbook paperback, for the winter I can usually slip the book into the inside, large pocket of my winter jacket.  Things will get trickier when summer comes, but I don't carrying a tote bag to help while away commuting time.

Good news, old folks like me!  You don't have to give up reading just because the your eyes cannot stand the tiny print.  In addition to audiobooks, there is also large-print books.

14 March 2011

Coogan's Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5K

I like long-distance running and usually sign up for half-marathon or 15K races.  I am not sure now why I joined the Coogan 5K race (Sunday, March 6).  Perhap I welcomed the change of location.  After the Manhattan Half, the Midnight Run 4M, and the Ted Corbitt 15K, I have seen enough of Central Park.  What was more, Washington Height was an area I visit occasionally, to see a relative, so I looked forward to exploring The Height better, on foot.

I hate driving but NYC subway did not make the trip easier.  Coogan 5K  was the first race for which I picked up bib and T-shirt on the day of the event.  I left home early to allow time for waiting on line to get the T-shirt and such.  I knew the D train was running to Coney Island on the N line, but I was surprised to find an N train going to Manhattan stopping at my D's 25th Avenue station.  Not a problem, since I knew that I could transfer to the 1 train at Times Square.  The only thing was there seemed to be some issue on the 1/2/3 line.  A #2 (or #3) pulled into the station but then it just sat there. Times Square is a large station with many other subway lines passing through it.  The A and C trains also go to Washington Height but it is a long walk from the 1/2/3 to A/C platform.  Luckily, I was dressed up for the race and simply ran there and caught some train just in time.

I thought I knew the Washington Heights area but only recently that I noticed the building near the hospital was a Track and Field Hall of Fame.  No wonder on nice day there were these kids running short races on the sidewalk on that block.  With the Coogan race, I got a glimpse inside and it was very nice-looking.  Too bad I didn't have time to read the many plaques lining the stairwell, to see if I recognize any names.  It was a somewhat rushed ascend to the third floor to pick up our bibs.

The race itself was so-so.  At barely over 3 miles, it was a very short run.  With 7,000+ people and being at the end of that crowd, it took some time for the crowd to separate too, even if I am not that fast a runner.  Thankfully, the light rain and the hills added to the challenge.  Before long, the finish line was in sight, much sooner than I expected so I didn't do my usual sprint.  I finished with 10:22 minutes/mile but it does not mean much because, again, it was such a short race.

I usually run on an empty stomach and did so for the Coogan.  After the race, I wolfed down a bagel, a slice of orange, and an apple while walking to the Riverside Drive.  Some weeks earlier I discovered that there is no running trail alongside the West Side Highway.  The highway actually rises almost to the height of the ridge on which Washington Height sits on.  For that occasion, I ran north of the skating rink.  This time is my chance to see what's south of the rink.  After the quick and healthy breakfast, I walked along Riverside Drive to the rink.  I was disappointed to learn that there simply was no riverside path south of the rink.  There was no exit, period, out of the rink area that would go along the water.  There seems to be some street exit whereby you would have to run on the sidewalk.  In the end, I went along Riverside Drive all the way down to 94th Street then to the 1/2/3 subway for the trip home.  It was disappointing that there was no "green way" going all around Manhattan Island but I still put in 12 kilometers for the day.

04 March 2011

But It Is Home

It is a cold, rainy Monday morning in Brooklyn, New York.  What a gloomy way to get back to work or school.

This time of the week last week, I was in sunny and warm Florida, in the Kissimmee area.  The week went by with visits to Universal Studio and Epcot, running along country roads where there was no sidewalks, and reading of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" by the side of the swimming pool.  Believe it or not, I missed home.

Back at home, there was a pile of sale receipts waiting for me to enter into a Google doc.  It is my attempt at try to have better control of my finances.  Not too long during a purge of my worldly possession, I simply threw out stack of such receipts but over time they've accumulated again.  But it is home.

Back at home, my office, now smaller, consists of just 2 flat surfaces and a chair.  Printers and scanner are usable but not on a big desk like before.  I have a few boxes of stuff to go through before I would buy a computer desk.  Messy, messy.  But it is home.

Back at home, I have much of what used to be in my office up in the attic.  Computers and computer parts that I probably will never use, but just don't have the heart to throw out.  Books, board games, newspapers, etc.  I tried to be organized and labeled many of the boxes on 3 sides but I still ended up with 2 boxes that simply read "papery stuff".

It is cold and not always sunny, but daybreak comes sooner now.  And it is home.