Thursday, March 22, 2007

Matzo, Matzo man ...

... I got to be, a Matzo man.

Shatzer's hand made Matzo factory

I went on a field trip today to the Matzo factory. When I was a kid I went to a mini matzo factory, just to see how it was done. This was my first trip to a commercial establishment. It was really cool. I got to participate a little as well, so I (kind of) made my own Matzo for the seders this year.

First step: flour.

Add water

It's got to be done in 18 minutes (so it doesn't rise too much)

Over to the kneading tables

Put a few holes in them (I think this is for taste)

Into the ovens

And finally, into boxes.

I took home 4 pounds. At 17.75 a pound, that came to 71 bucks. Now you know why it's called the "bread of our affliction".

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Somebody make this snow go away!

14 miles today. (Actually, I had 12 on the schedule, but didn't bother to look at that until I was done. I think I'll make a new schedule.)

My running has really been slacking lately because of the weather. Looking back it seems like I've been getting one run in during the week, and then one on Sunday. This week I ran 5 miles on Monday. I was all geared up to run again on Friday, and then (seemingly) out of the blue, there was a blizzard. It was really too much to go out for a run that wasn't absolutely necessary.

So anyway, today I had to run. Unfortunately, the roads and paths were still covered with snow and ice. I had thought about going into the city to run in the park, where it might have been better. But I was on call this weekend, and by the time I was done with rounds, I just wanted to get the run in. So out I went on my usual path.

Torture. The first 4.75 miles were 80% on snow and ice. When the snow/ice was firm it wasn't bad, but when it was soft, I'd sink in a little, and it was really tough. Needless to say, I was not going fast.

After that, I was off the path and into a neighborhood in Westchester. Usually I turn around here, but the roads were clean and relatively empty, so I took advantage. I basically circled the neighborhood over and over until I had another 5 miles in. Then I ran the 4.25 miles back on the snow and ice.

I stopped a couple of times to stretch, eat, drink, and do other activities. I'll have to do some continuous runs at some point, but today wasn't that day.

The next couple of days are supposed to be slightly warmer, with some rain. Later in the week it gets back to the 50's. So I'm really hoping we're done with this weather for good. I mean seriously, Spring officially starts this week!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Have I mentioned I'm famous?

... from last night's NY 1 News.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Colon Cancer Challenge

It's taken some time to put together this report, but I had another great race this Sunday. The Colon Cancer Challenge, which I've mentioned here before, is a race I run every year. It's a fundraiser for colon cancer prevention and research, and this year I raised $427. I also captained "Team Einstein", which ended up with 23 members, and raised over $2000.

In the past I've always run the 4 miler. This year I signed up for the 15K (9.3M), as did a bunch of my friends. I drove down to the race with a couple of med students. At the race we met up with some other friends who were also running the 15K at 10:15. Th 4M was at 9, so we were able to meet the other members of Team Einstein who ran the earlier race. Many of them I'd never actually met before, so it was kind of nice. The team ended up having doctors, students, nurses, physical therapists, dietitians, and administrators. I was pretty proud of this
multidisciplinary team.

Anyway, after some socializing and picture taking, about 7 of us headed over to the race start. I had thought that most people would run the 4M, and that the 15K would be empty. I was wrong, and it was pretty crowded. 2,395 runners (versus 2,693 in the 4M)! Like usual I lined up back in the thick of the crowd.

When the race started, I was taking it pretty easy. I had mentioned to my friends before the race that I had no idea what pace to run a 15K, and that I'd be very happy with a 9 min pace. In that first half a mile it felt like I couldn't move, and I remember saying "so much for running fat today". I'm not sure why I never learn, but the best races happen when I'm not stressing too hard at the start. I ended up crossing the 1st mile marker at 8:58 and was surprised at how easy it had felt.

I was running with one other teammate at this point and I think we sped up a bit as we were encouraged by our time, and that there was more space now. The second mile went by in 7:31. I was pretty sure (at the time at least) that it was mismarked. Mile 3 in 8:34. That still seemed fast, but now I couldn't say this was mismarked as well. I was running hard and I was hurting a little, but I wasn't running out of steam at all.

The next splits went by as follows:
mile 4: 7:51
mile 5: 8:04
mile 6: 8:10
mile 7: 8:10 (I missed the mile 6 marker)
mile 8: 8:03

At this time I started to make calculations in my head that I could possibly beat 1:15. (That's how I pass the time when I'm not listening to a podcast.) I didn't calculate it to the second but I was pretty sure I had to speed up significantly at the finish. I was really tired, and thinking of waiting until the last second for my finishing kick, but I decided then to try and start early. I don't remember where I was exactly, but I'm pretty sure it was after mile 8.5.

In the end mile, 9 went by in 7:32 and the last 0.3 took 1:59 (6:37 pace). The last two splits don't seem too impressive, but I ended up finishing 2 full minutes ahead of the guy I ran the first 8.5 miles with! I also passed the only other Einstein runner ahead of me with maybe 0.1 miles to go. She's very competitive so I tried to stay out of sight on the far side. She ended up seeing me but didn't have enough energy to keep up. I was really speeding!

My final time was 1:14:57, for an 8:03 pace. Way better than I expected!

(Ok, so I was limping the last few days. Is that too much a price to pay? Actually, my right knee was bothering me again for a day, but it's not too bad today. I went out for 5 miles nice and easy tonight.)

The race was tough, but fun. My running partner for almost the entire race was a med student who happens to be an IronMan. (Talk about an overachiever - and there's even more on his resume!) We were talking a lot in the beginning, but slowed that down as we got faster. It was still nice to have someone there. It felt like we were pushing each other to run faster the entire race.

chief of surgery, me, chief operating officer of hospital

I also saw Uptown Girl cheering on the side. Actually, the first thing I noticed were the pom-poms! Then I made the connection and noticed Uptown Girl. I shouted hello, and was rewarded with this picture.

Afterwards, a bunch of Team Einstein went out for lunch. It was really fun hanging out with a team. On the way to the bagel shop we passed a bunch of other teams, so I know it's something they do often. For me though this was unusual, and fun. I'm hoping to draft more runners into running these races with me in the future.

I'm not sure what's up next for me. I've been toying with the idea of running a spring marathon but I haven't really done any serious training. I have done a few half's recently and this 15K, so I'm not starting at scratch. I'm just not sure there's enough time to get up to a marathon without getting hurt. I think if I want to give it a shot, I have to run 14 miles this Sunday and see how it goes. Even if I don't do a full marathon now, I'll probably do another half in either April or May. Either way I'll have to buy a new poster board!

(BTW, in the top right corner of the bottom left board, I've replaced Brad Luff's bib with a new one that I got from the NYRR. It's still not mine, but at least it's not someone else's!)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Coogan's PR

Somehow, I had another PR today. Quite unexpected (as usual) but I'll take it.

I've been meaning to post this week about how pathetic my running has been lately. Darrell always posts his month's numbers at the end of each month, and I was planning on posting my February totals of 51.5 miles. Not bad, but not great. Definitely off January's total of 77.8 miles. If you break it down by weeks, it's worse. This past week I only ran once, 4 miles on Tuesday. It seems like it's always bad weather, or I'm busy at work. Pretty frustrating.

So anyway, today was a 5K in Washington Heights. I ran it mostly to get another qualifying race in, and I certainly wasn't expecting a PR. It's the Jewish holiday of Purim today. Which meant I was up late last night at a party (sort of), and got up early today to go to synagogue before the race. Incidentally, the tradition is for people to dress up on this holiday. This year Akiva and I dressed up like... wait for it ... runners. We wore our technical clothes, running bibs, Garmins, and our finisher medals from Philly. It was kind of cute.

So today, we went to the Heights for synagogue in the morning, and then took a cab over to the race. The website says there were only 2,826 finishers, but it really seemed a lot more crowded. We picked up our numbers and headed into the crowd. (Somehow, we ran into some people we knew, including Uptown Girl. It's always amazing how that can happen, even in such a huge crowd.)

The race started, and the crowd wasn't too bad. We were able to navigate some space. We didn't run side by side (I always find that annoying when other people do that) but we were able to stay somewhat together. Akiva always runs faster than me in training, but somehow I felt like I was setting the pace.

The first mile went by in 8:01, and the second in 7:49. Akiva had gotten it into his head that he wanted to finish under 24 minutes. I wasn't really trying to set a PR and I was feeling kind of tired at that point. I told him that he could make it, and that he should push ahead and finish strong. He refused to go, saying that he "didn't have anything left in the tank".

So I forced the issue. I pushed ahead, knowing that he'd stick to me. I didn't think I could keep it up for the rest of the race, but I was trying to get him to 24 minutes. A mid-pack rabbit, if you will. Anyway, he stuck with me, and at about 2.5 miles there was a little downhill portion. My Garmin wasn't picking up a signal, but I started to think at this point that I could actually keep it up and finish with a PR. I wasn't sure exactly how I was doing, but I knew I was close. I think that allowed me to speed up a touch just to be sure.

At about 3 miles I surged ahead for a strong finish. I didn't know where Akiva was, and I actually thought he wouldn't be able to keep up. I was really pushing hard at the end, because I knew I had a PR. With about 5 feet to go I saw Akiva flash by me on the left to finish about a second ahead of me.

Fortunately I wasn't really trying to race him. Before I slowed down to catch my breath I high-fived him because he had beaten his goal. Somehow his physiologic state didn't allow him to realize that 23 was less than 24 at that point, and he didn't seem too excited. I couldn't really figure out why until about 10 minutes later when he finally realized he had beaten 24 minutes!

Officially, we both ended up with the same net time, 23:32. That's a 7:35 pace. The splits, if you care (and even if you don't) were:
0:35 (it doesn't add up perfectly, so I think this was slightly faster)

Quite satisfying!

We thought about stopping into Coogan's Bar to join the party, but it was pretty crowded, and we wouldn't be able to eat the food anyway. Besides, today being a holiday, we're both scheduled for a huge festive meal later in the day.

Next up is the Colon Cancer Challenge, next week. So far I've raised $397, and I'm still hoping to get over $500. We've also built up quite a big team, so it should be fun. (I'll be running a 15K for the first time, so it's also a guaranteed PR!)

Finally, one announcement. Adam from Burning Twenty has been working on "the Tinkoff 1000", where he plans to run 1,000 miles this year. I've been wanting to join the challenge, but it's just not feasible with my schedule. So instead I've come up with a plan to run 1,000 kilometers, which is a little over 620 miles. A sort of "mini-Tinkoff 1000". To stay on track I'll have to average about 12 miles a week. That by itself doesn't sound too bad, but the consistency will be the key.

Happy Purim!