29 July 2012

NYRR Queens 10K

The same weekend that I attended Pat Benatar's free concert courtesy of Fox & Friends, I ran the NYRR Queens 10K.  About two years ago, it was after finishing the NYRR Queens Half-Marathon that I decided to give the full marathon a shot.  I barely made the three hours limit and was really tired after the race but it was the first long-distance race I did in ages.  Marathon or not, I got hooked on running long-distance and signed up for more.  The year 2011 saw me in many half-marathons plus the Inaugural Brooklyn Marathon.

2012 so far has been disappointing as far as running and racing are concerned.  The Manhattan Half got snowed out and became a fun run.  I stayed home to shovel snow off my sidewalk and alley plus the car.  Work schedule became more hectic and I have not run as much.  It could be because of swimming schedule, too.  I ran the Inaugural NYCRuns Verrazano Half then the NYRR Brooklyn Half and got cramps near the end of both, worse with the Verrazano.  Queens Half went up in price and its distance cut to about half of a half marathon, or 10K.  Maybe it was the hot weather, maybe it was something else, it still did not feel right.  I signed up anyway since I lived in Queens for many years and the race is the one NYRR race that takes place in Queens.

Two years ago I was not familiar with the area of the park bordered by the Van Wyck Expressway.  In recent months I've been visiting the Flushing Meadow Aquatic Center almost every weekend, to swim with my son, in the cold winter and these days in the hot summer.  At the 2010 Queens Half, it was the first time I saw the building and found it impressive.  That year I was not sure if it was okay to park under the Van Wyck but followed the crowd anyway.  Now I know the shortcut to avoid traffic and traffic lights on College Point Boulevard.  Alas, the shorter route for the 2012 run did not pass the FMAC.

The 2012 NYRR Queens 10K saw a hot day as expected, it was the beginning of July but it had been a hot summer so far.  So hot that a runner friend who normally beat me by 20 minutes or more had only 10 minutes or so of lead time.  Everyone said it was unusually hot, that it was a killer to run in that heat.  I took caution and took water every two miles, more often near the end.  I did not feel so bad afterward.    All finishers got a nice medal but I felt like I missed something.  In my view, only half-marathons and longer races should there be medals.  My normal routine runs, at least not too long ago, usually covered 8 km, so getting a medal for a 10-km run seems a bit unnecessary.  Since I have few sports medal, I'll still treasure the Queens 10K medal but it just did not feel the same as the NYRR Brooklyn Half.

My meager medal collection.

22 July 2012


The best things in life are free, or are they?

A few weeks ago I attended a free concert featuring {drum rolls}... Pat Benatar!!!  It was part of a free summer concert series provided by the Fox TV show Fox & Friends.  Free is free, let's not get into politics...

A few years ago I happened to be in Greensboro, NC for some convention of a certain multi-level marketing company whose name I shall not mention.  Downtown Greensboro was far from lively and most businesses closed by 4 PM or so.  I happened to notice that Pat Benatar was scheduled to perform at a concert hall in Downtown.  My schedule for that trip was tight and there was no way I could have attended the show but the experience got me interested.  I signed up with Eventful to build up an audience to bring Pat Benatar to NYC.  I Liked her page on Facebook to stay informed about her concert tours.  Eventful had some useful info and a few times Pat did visit the area, like the House of Blues in Atlantic City.  I hate driving and a long trip to Atlantic City for a concert is not something I look forward to.  What turned me off with Eventful info is that their links all go to scalping sites like stubhub.com.  I absolutely hate the whole idea of paying above, way above, the ticket prices.  It is bad enough ticketmaster slap $5 or more above the ticket prices, these entrepreneurs on stubhub want double or whatever the market can bear.

Ideally, Pat Benatar would come to some arena like Radio City or Citifield and I would be able to go to the box office, perhaps wait a few hours, and get tickets.  Or at most buy tickets online from the venue, without any ridiculous marked-up prices, and print my own tickets to bring to the event.  I am sure it won't be cheap, so it pained me to think that to make things kosher the Wife may want to come along even though she has absolutely no interest in the many great Pat Benatar songs.  Or English music in general, sigh.

Much to my delight, I discovered via the Facebook page that not only Pat Benatar would be in Midtown Manhattan but it would be a free concert.  Even better, the concert took place on a Friday, my day off (for working Saturday).  I planned to take my son swimming that day but he did not care that much about exercise/swimming.  It got better and better.  The audience area was small and I got a place near the front.  Close enough to get an autograph of Pat Benatar and her husband/musical partner Neil Giraldo on the sonobe orb I made just that week!  I also got a few photos and videos of the event to share with the digital world.  It couldn't get better than that.  Well, it could have, if Pat asked me to come up to the stage to take a picture with her.  But I am happy with what I got and am not that greedy.

Pat Benatar is scheduled to appear as guest of Journey at the new Barclay Center right in Brooklyn.  Journey is another of my favorite band, performing in Brooklyn!  


I am really tempted to attend that concert, perhaps I should make a bucket list and make the concert item #1...

Another concert that I plan to go is Joan Jett's, on Thursday 9 August, part of Brooklyn's Seaside Summer Concerts series, http://www.brooklynconcerts.com/seaside.html .  Free is good, although it'll be held on a work day, I will definitely be late for it, if I'll be working that day.  Hmm.

From what I heard, Pat Benatar usually signs "You  Rock!" followed by her name.  I like to think it was the first time she autographed a sonobe orb.
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with Fox & Friends folks.

15 July 2012


Since I published the post about the newly opened Calvert Vaux Park, I re-visited it twice, each time seeing something I missed the last time.  All good!

A mist-spraying station, like those found in amusement parks, how cool is that!  I actually used this very same one, with my son, when we came to the park for him to target-shoot with his toy shotgun.
The park does have a restroom after all.  In passing by the trailer, I told my son that I thought this would be it, and he told, "It is!  It says 'MEN' on it."  Sure enough, the door was even unlocked and I peeked inside.  From the lack of smell, it seems the facility was not heavily used yet.  In going back to my photo from a few days ago, I was glad to know that the trailer was not labeled as a restroom at the time.  For a moment, I thought I have lost it!
Dating couples can use the semi-circular bench in the dead-end to steal a kiss, or some gun-loving kid can be prone on it to shoot at empty containers.  Standing on the bench, I spied a pond a few feet to the left of the bench.

14 July 2012


Not long after I wrote about the lack of info on the opening of Calvert Vaux Park, the park actually became accessible to the public.  Much as I like to think that I had some influence on the process, I am sure it's just a coincidence.

I do not know when the park opened to the public, but on July 4, during a run, I saw that there was much activities by park staff.  Weed-whackers were used by staff in clear, plastic overalls.  Other staff members were on hands and knee in some places to remove the weeds among what was planted.  The east gate was opened to admit trucks carrying heavy equipments.  One machine looked like a zamboni, perhaps used scrubbing hard surfaces.

I asked a park personnel when the park would be open to the public and he answered, "Soon, very soon."  I automatically dismissed his answer as something his manager had told him to say.  Little did I know that the man was telling the truth. Maybe on Saturday 7 July the park started to admit the public.  I would not know since for my post-lunch walk on that day I opted to go to Kings Highway instead of Calvert. I already gave up on waiting for it to open. Let it be a surprise, something that I don't think about but happens anyway.

Sunday 8 July, evening, sun was already down but the sky was still somewhat lit, I decided to have my post-dinner walk to check out Calvert Vaux. Lo and behold, the gate near the footbridge was open. Not wide open, but at least it was not locked and there were no people inside working. It was finally open to the public! I quickly went inside and looked around. A small group of people was on the futbol field, so I was not the only person there. It was already dark so I did not take photos. I knew where I would run the next morning.

I did run in Calvert Vaux Park the next day and took the photos below. After all that waiting, I was a bit disappointed that it was not large. If you do not mind running the same path over and over then it is OK. Perhaps some day the back fence will be open to connect the new park to the undeveloped area then you can have a long run. For now, it is best for walking and for adding distance to a route, but not as a running route by itself.

The open gate!  What a welcome sign!!!
I suppose the Mayor and other politicians were at Calvert Vaux Park for some ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2011.  To me, it was still opened to the public around July 4, 2012.  Don't let this plaque distort history.

The paths in Calvert Vaux Park do not all connect.  This one ends in a semi-circular bench, can be a romantic spot, if you don't mind being surprised by wanderers.
The southern end of the park.  Behind the photographer is a mesh fence, beyond that is the undeveloped part of the area that has a few more futbol fields and baseball diamonds, perhaps a homeless camp, too.
I was slightly surprised to discover that these water fountains actually worked.  Now that I am an avid runner, details like this are important features of a public park.
All these times looking into the park from the outside I did not this ditch existed.  Perhaps it was a natural stream and the architects wanted to preserve it.  There was no water flowing, that was for sure, but it still looks nice.
A goal-to-goal view of one of the futbol field.  The AstroTurf surface felt weird to run on, I'll avoid it.
The area is not near any subway stations although some buses probably run on Cropsey or maybe even Shore Road itself.  If you come by bicycle, you can chain it to this rack.
There is no public restroom at Calvert Vaux Park at the moment. Whether it's because of security reason or what else, I do not know.  I was hoping this trailer is the bathroom but there was no sign to indicate so.

This is probably a tool shack, not a restroom.  There is one in Scarangella Park near my home, too, must be a new thing for the parks.