Monday, December 26, 2011


December 26, 2011 --

I have to say that a big worry of mine was how I would make it through the holidays with so much food and desserts in front of me, calling my name.  Like I said in my last post, I myself baked over 350 cookies.  Well, I have succeeded! Succeeded not only in making it through the holidays, but I have also accomplished my goal to lose 23 pounds before my twenty-fourth birthday.  When I stepped on the scale this morning, I weighed 210 pounds with 7 weeks still to go before my birthday.

I have also decided that as a reward for meeting this goal, I am giving myself the week between Christmas and New Year's Day to not worry about my weight, enjoy some snacks and desserts in moderation, and enjoy myself this holiday season.  If i spend 51 weeks watching everything i put into my body, I figure I can be a little reckless one week.

This also marks 50 pounds of recorded weight loss and the possibility of as much as 65 pounds of unrecorded weight loss.  The most i had seen on the scale was 261 lbs, but I feel that at my heaviest I was likely around 275 pounds, but have no record of this.  Definitely a huge accomplishment for me considering that for the last 5 years I have been trying to get back to 215 pounds, and now I am even five pounds past that.  I would ultimately like to be somewhere in the 190s and just make sure I am healthy.

I promised myself I would get another tattoo when I hit 215 pounds, so for my birthday i think I will be getting another tattoo.  Not quite sure yet what I will be getting or where, but I am definitely excited.

That's all for now.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Here's how I spent Christmas Eve...
7 Hours of Baking...somewhere between 300 and 350 cookies!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Amy

Blog etiquette says that you gotta have a post for your girlfriend's birthday!!

Happy Birthday Amy, my training partner and biggest supporter! Hope you have an amazing day!  Had it not been for your encouragement, I would not be where I am today! I love you!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mid December Updates

December 15, 2011--

Okay it's about time for an update.  Here goes...

1) Marathon Training is going great!  Rock'n'Roll USA is only 13 weeks away which means I have been in training for 11 weeks now.  I just got to the point in my training where I am beginning to increase the mileage of the long runs past 8 miles, and my weekly runs are now a minimum of 5 miles.  All of the training runs have been going great! I just recently purchased a Garmin Forerunner 405, and I post all of my activities on twitter so feel free to check them out here...!/vecchi1.  

2) Operation 23 by Twenty-Four is really going well! I have been dropping an average of one pound a week, and most recently weighed in at 213.2 lbs, only 3.2 pounds away from my goal weight of 210 pounds before my twenty-fourth birthday.  I know that I have not yet accomplished this goal, but my next goal will be to run the marathon on St. Patrick's Day at 200 pounds.  Again, if I can lose just one pound a week, I will hit this goal.  

3) Out of nowhere lately, I have found some extra speed running.  On most of my training runs I have been running at a pace of 9:35 or better, and on a few runs lately I paced under 9:00.  

I think that is it for now...More to come in the near future!  Tomorrow is Friday! Weekend is finally here!

Friday, December 2, 2011


December 2, 2011 --

Here are some updates on everything...

-- Operation 23 by twenty-four is well underway and going great!  Last time i stepped on the scale, I weighed 217 pounds, leaving only 7 pounds to lose before my birthday.  Being that my birthday is just over 10 weeks away, I am feeling very good about reaching this goal.

-- Amy and I have also begun round two of our own 'biggest loser' competition.  We started the first round in May and ran it to september.  Now we are just finishing the first week, and plan to go until the second week of March.  Since it is just the two of us, we decided that whoever has the lowest percentage of weight lost will have to buy dinner that weekend.  At the end, there will be a grand prize for the overall biggest loser, but we haven't decided on that yet.  If anyone has any ideas, feel free to comment here!

-- I registered for three races.  TriRock NY in June, the Mighty Hamptons in September, and the Amica Half Marathon in October.

-- I get an email that I was one of the first 25 people to sign up for a TriRock Series race, and that I would be getting my entry fee reimbursed! Gotta love free races!

-- Marathon training is going great! I have added a countdown to the left side of my blog which is keeping a countdown to the gun time of the marathon in March.  I am still very excited and nervous.  This week begins progressively adding more and more mileage.

-- I ran 4 miles today in 34:18 at a pace of 8:34/mile.  Prior to this, my best pace was 9:10.  Im not sure where the extra speed came from, but I'll take it. It felt great!

Thats all for now.  Hope everyone is enjoying December so far.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey Trot

Good morning, and a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Last night I ventured up to Westchester County to eat a delicious pre thanksgiving meal prepared by my wonderful girlfriend, Amy.  We had rigatoni all a vodka with chicken cutlets, Caesar salad, and Pillsbury grands biscuits.  Delicious!  This happens to be my pre race meal, so I got up this morning and decided to run a turkey trot!

The event was a five mile run through the streets of my home town Franklin Square.  I finished the 5 miles in just over 49 minutes, and placed first overall! Mind you, this was a very small race (only one participant).

Okay, you got me...I did not run any type of official race this morning, but I did get up and get out there to run five miles on my own which in itself I consider a little victory.  Sometimes, it is nice to think of my runs as little races.  It often gives me the motivation to push through those last few miles when the legs start to feel tired, and not to slow down.

It was a beautiful morning for a run, unlike yesterday when it was raining and quite cold.  In all honesty, the cold doesn't bother me very much, I just have to make sure to layer up!  I will leave you with a challenge...Get out this weekend and run! However much you can whether it is one lap around a track, one mile, a 5k, a 10k, or 10 miler, or a 7 miler like I will be running on Saturday, just get out and run!  It will be good to run off some of the turkey and pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

23 by Twenty-Four Update

November 10, 2011 --

Thing are going well.  My last check in, I weighed 222.2 lbs.  Today I weighed in at 220 pounds!  Thats another 2 pounds lost, and another 2 pounds closer to my goal of 210 pounds.  I am well underway into marathon training, and the increase in exercise is definitely helping.

I must say though, I could be losing more weight if I could stay away from ice cream, and make some better choices when eating out.  However, I am still moving in a good direction.  I also feel that having these foods is making this experience more bearable.  I think I would be miserable if I completely cut out ice cream and pizza.  However, I do know that if I want to cut down past 210, I will eventually have to start really watching what I am putting into my body.  But for now, I will keep doing my best and slowly shedding the pounds.

I have thirteen weeks from Saturday November 12th until my birthday.  At a reasonable rate of 1 pound a week, I should definitely reach my goal!  Keep your eyes open for another check in.  Hopefully the next time I check in, I will be in the 'two-teens'!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Race Day Tips for the Volunteer


Having run eight races and volunteered at the NYC Marathon this year, I have come up with some DOs and DONTs for race volunteers.  Following these tips will not only better your experience as a volunteer, but also better the experience of the racers!

DO Smile -- This one is simple, put a smile on that face!  The racers know you got up early and probably sleep deprived, but they are too.  Some of the racers woke up before you did, and they're all smiling.  Remember, you signed up to do this.  At some point, you had the idea that you wanted to make the race experience better for the participants, and wearing a big smile on your face is a little way to do just that.

DO Cheer -- I volunteered at the NYC Marathon and at the end, had no voice.  I spent the entire time cheering for the runners who were passing by.  For volunteers who have also competed in races, you know how important this is.  You have been there, and have likely seen the difference between a volunteer who cheers and a volunteer who stood there silently.  An athlete is fueled by applause and cheers, and they use them to do great things!  

DO Make it Personal -- Many racers will wear their names on their shirts...USE THEM! These people are not writing their names on their shirts so that they remember what it is.  They are writing their names specifically so that you and other spectators can give them recognition by name.  Even if someone doesn't have their name on their shirt, pick out something on their shirt and use it.  For example, if someone has a live strong shirt, say "Hey Livestrong, You're doing great!" Most of the people whose names I called out seemed to really appreciate it, and more than half gave either a thumbs up or said thanks.  It is not that hard to do, and once you get into it, you will really get going.  This also makes things more interesting and fun for you because you are looking for names and things to use to identify people.  

Notice how the athlete has his entire hand on the cup.
This is a perfect fluids handoff!
DO Give a Big Target -- What do I mean here?  What I'm talking about applies specifically if you are handing out cups of fluids.  When you are handing out fluids, be sure to hold the cups from either the very top or the very bottom.  This gives the athletes the largest surface area to grab at.  Many athletes will be trying to grab the cups out of your hands as they are running by.  This becomes very difficult to do when you are holding the cup from the center because the athletes can't get a good grip on the cup as they move by.

DO Wear Comfortable Clothes / Shoes -- Like I did at the NYC Marathon, you could end up standing at an aid station for upwards of 5 or 6 hours.  Be sure to wear shoes and clothes you will be comfortable in.  Also to go along with this, be sure to dress for weather about ten degrees colder than what the forecast predicts.  What I mean by this is make sure you layer, so that you can take items off if it is warm, but have things to put on if it becomes cold.  Being warm and comfortable are crucial!

DONT Show Up Late / Leave Early -- Know the commitment you are making, and stick to it.  If you are unwilling to volunteer from 8:30 AM until 5 PM, don't sign up.  The athletes who need 6 hours to run the marathon deserve the same enthusiasm from the volunteers as the athletes who do it in 3.  As one of the "not so fast" runners, I have experienced races where there was only one volunteer left at an aid station or even no volunteers left and just a table of cups.  It is really disheartening to an athlete to have the feeling that no one cares about them anymore.

DONT Wear Nice Clothes -- If you are handing out liquids, you WILL get them on you.  Guaranteed one out of every five cups you attempt to hand out will be spilled.  It may not be your fault or the athlete's fault, but there are definitely times where the cup handoff is fumbled for whatever reason.  Also, many athletes take the fluids to throw on their heads and faces and you are right in the splash zone.  You definitely do not want to be wearing hundred dollar jeans and nice expensive boots.  Instead, grab a pair of sweats or gym pants and an old pair of running shoes.

DONT Forget to Bring a Snack -- This one is simple.  Most races will not provide you food during your volunteer shifts and like I said earlier, these shifts could be several hours long.  Therefore, make sure you bring some type of sack with you.  A protein bar or a power bar are both great choices.  Also, if you want you can pack a lunch.  There will likely be a few minutes you can sneak away and ask another volunteer to cover you while you eat quickly.  This is again very important because you are happier when you are well fed, and being happy rubs off on the athletes.

Overall, volunteering at a race is a very rewarding experience.  If you follow these tips, you will not only have a great experience, but also give a great experience to the athletes.  The last and most important piece of advice I can give is this: DO HAVE FUN!

Monday, November 7, 2011

ING NYC Marathon Volunteer Report

November 6, 2011--

First off a huge congratulations to all of the finishers of this year's New York City Marathon presented by ING!!!

Before yesterday, I always had an appreciation for race volunteers; people who give up their time so that I can do what I enjoy.  Well, after volunteering at yesterday's race, I have a much deeper appreciation for race volunteers.

Our morning started with a 6 a.m. wake-up (which due to daylight savings time didn't seem so bad).  We got dressed and ready (running tights, sweatpants, under armor mock turtle neck, Newport Half long sleeve Tee, and Tri-Rock, NY Tee) and headed to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast.  There, we grabbed an iced coffee and a muffin and headed to catch our 7:06 LIRR train into Penn Station.  We arrived at 7:45 and hopped on the C subway train uptown to Columbus Circle, and walked three quarters of a mile to the mile 25 fluid station in Central Park.

So before we even started any of our volunteer work, we had a pretty full and eventful morning!  At the fluids station, we jumped in and helped carry and mix gatorade for the athletes who were still preparing to start their journeys through 5 boroughs and toward 26.2. There were eight 10 gallon coolers we used to mix six gallons of gatorade with a ratio of five parts water to one part gatorade.  

Once the gatorade was mixed, we started pouring cups and stacking them on the tables.  Amy and I took control of one table on our own.  We filled and stacked two separate stacks of 77 cups, three levels high for a total of 462 cups!  

Here's the final product...

462 Cups of Gatorade!!

First wheelchair athlete to pass our station
A man with two prosthetic legs comes through just
before the elite men and women

Pictured above is the first elite woman to pass the station, followed closely by these next two pictured below!

One of these two wound up catching the leader in the last 1.2 to take the race!

Here is the first elite man to pass us, and yes, he took my cup of gatorade!

This picture below was taken just after the men's overall winner took gatorade from me! Notice the people in the back cheering?  Yeah, they are cheering for me for having given this man a cup of gatorade!  He went on to set a new course record!  Probably one of the highlights of my day!

Huge smile on my face after a clean handoff to the Men's winner!!

After that from about 11:30 am when a steady stream of runners began coming by until 5:00 pm when the station closed, there was a constant stream of runners.  We were constantly handing out cups and refilling our stations.  Over 45,000 runners took to the streets yesterday, and all of them had to pass me at one point or another.  One face I saw was that of Apolo Ohno who ran a 3:25, almost a full 5 minutes under his goal of 3:30 so a hugh congrats to him!  The other celebrity runners managed to slip by in the crowd of thousands, but it was still a great day!

Then it was 5:00 PM and I was exhausted!  My back was sore, my shoulder and neck hurt from having an extended arm all day; I don't think I was that sore after some of my races!  And, remember that muffin I spoke about eating at 7? That was all I had consumed until 7 PM when I got home.  

Would I do it again? Absolutely! I had a great time, and it was an absolutely awesome experience!  I learned so much, that I don't even know how to contain it all into one post.  I will have to have another post of how to cheer for runners and how to properly appreciate race volunteers, so keep your eyes open!  

I will leave you tonight with some more photographs taken yesterday of Amy and myself!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

ING-NYC Marathon

One thing I firmly believe in is to give back to the racing community.  For the 8 races I competed in this year, hundreds, if not thousands of people took time out of my day to make my race experience better.  Many of these people woke up earlier than I did to compete and worked all day.  As I raced, I made sure to thank as many of these people as I could for volunteering their time, but that is not enough.  I think everyone who takes part in an organized race, should give back to the community by volunteering at a race.

That being said, Amy and I will be volunteering tomorrow morning at the ING-NYC Marathon.  You may be wondering what made us choose to do the NYC Marathon, and the answer is simple.  Amy and I both follow a number of athletes and athletic companies on twitter.  One day reading through the timeline of tweets, Amy saw that Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno was running this year's marathon.  Amy, like many other American women, has an infatuation with Mr. Ohno, and immediately suggested we volunteer at the race in hopes of seeing Apolo.  We have since learned that former Olmpic softball player, Jennie Finch, is also running this year's race; so I have something to look forward to as well!

Softball pitcher, Jennie Finch
Olympic Speed Skater, Apolo Ohno

We looked through the list of volunteer opportunities, and were shocked by the amount of different areas volunteers were needed.  We could have volunteered at the race expo, at the start line, at the finish line, as a translator (we don't quality for this speaking only english), as a bandit catcher, at the aid/water stations, and many more.  Amy and I chose to volunteer at one of the aid/water stations, and were then given even more options to choose from.  Did we want to be at mile three, four, five, etc.  We both agreed that we wanted to be somewhere after mile 13 because we have both run and finished half marathons and we wanted to see what happened after the runners crossed the 13.1 barrier.  We finally decided on Mile 25 which is a station just outside of Central Park where the race finishes.  After seeing us, the athletes will have only 1.2 miles left to the finish!

After signing up to volunteer, I spent a good part of the week looking at different signs spectators have brought to various marathons.  I got a really good laugh at a few of these.  Here are my top 5 (in no particular order)... 

Spectator signs are awesome during a race!  They give runners something to laugh at and seem to make everyone happy.  So, my final thought of this post is...if you are going to a race, make a sign!  Make two signs even! Make one for the person you are specifically going for, and then one for everyone else.  Put some thought into it.  Remember: The wittier the sign, the better and the more laughs it will get!

Good luck to all of the athletes competing in tomorrow's ING-NYC Marathon!  Maybe someday I will be out there with you!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

2011 Race Medals

Okay, as of today my 2011 race season has come to a close (well, my major race season is over. I might do a turkey trot or jingle bell run).  One thing I was unsure of was what to do with my medals.  I wanted to do something special with them.  It sounds like for a lot of people, the medals end up in a drawer somewhere or forgotten at the bottom of a storage box.  This is what I did with my medals from 2011.  

Here's what you need to do this:

- Foam presentation board (2 pieces)
-Large piece of any color felt big enough to cover board(I went with black)
-X-Acto knife to cut slots in the board
-wooden numbers of the race year
-paint to paint numbers
-some type of glue (spray adhesive works nicely)
-Velcro squares

The first step is to map out where you want to put the medals on the board.  Then cut 1/8" slots where you will feed the medal ribbons with the X-Acto knife into one of the boards.  Once you have cut all of the slots for your medals, spray the adhesive on the board and carefully lay the felt over the board stretching it tight.  Use the X-Acto knife to cut your slots in the felt.  

At this point you are ready to feed your medal ribbons through the slots.  As you do this, position the medal and ribbon, and fasten it to the back.  Repeat this step for all of your medals.  Lastly, attach the painted numbers for the year.  I also used 1 inch Velcro squares to attach the medals down to the felt because there is no glass or anything covering the board.

The last step is to attach the second piece of foam board to the back to cover up the ribbons and make the finished product look neat and finished.  You may also want to frame the whole thing when it's done.

WARNING: This is permanent! You will not be able to remove the medals from the board after this is done.  

Rock'n'Roll New York 10k

October 22, 2011 --

Normally I would have posted a pre race the night before a race, but I was a little aggravated last night and didn't want my aggravation to show itself in my post.  However, now that everything is over, I will take a short moment to air out my grievances.  

Yesterday was packet pick up for the Rock'n'Roll New York 10k in Manhattan.  Pick up was originally scheduled to be from 12-5, which anyone who has a job would have had no chance of making.  They then extended it to 7 which gave a little more hope to most people, but I still had a conflict.  I work at a high school as a Teacher's Assistant and supervise the JV soccer games.  I was supposed to supervise a game yesterday afternoon, so I sent an email to the race company asking what I should do if I was unable to make the one packet pick up they had scheduled.  I received an email back saying that I could pick up my race packet the morning of the race, but to please try and make the scheduled time in the city. 

My soccer supervision ended up getting moved to Thursday afternoon so I was able to make it to the pick up in Manhattan.  We took the LIRR into Penn Station and walked up 7th Avenue to 49th street where the pick up location was.  Here is where the grievance comes in.  I get to the pick up location, and I get my bib number and head over to pick up my swag bag and race T-Shirt, and they tell me that they only have large shirts and do not have any bags left.  I was told that I would have to pick to up my bag and shirt at the race site.  This would not have been such a big deal if they didn't make it seem like it was essential to make it to the pick up in the city.  Long story short, I did get all my stuff after the race this morning, but that really got me aggravated last night.

So, last night Amy and I had dinner at Olive Garden in Manhattan.  I had the new-ish Stuffed Rigatoni with Sausage dinner.  It was delicious!!! (I highly recommend it) Amy had Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara which also looked very good.  

We woke up bright and early for the race this morning, and drove with my Dad to Prospect Park.  It was a chilly morning, I had on my shorts and Newport half Tee to run in with sweat pants, running jacket and wool hat to keep warm before the race started.  My Dad dropped Amy and me off at the park and he went to park the car (got a GREAT spot!). We tried desperately to get pictures of the sun rise, but there were too many trees in the park to get any good shots.  As we made our way over to the start line, we ran into Amy's Aunt who was doing this race as well.  Small world! Amy's cousin and his girlfriend also ran this race and a woman my mom works with.

The race start was a corral start assigned by anticipated finish time.  I started in the 1:05:00 pace corral, Corral 5.
Starting Line of Rock'n'Roll New York 10k

Corral 5! I am not pictured here.
I grabbed a spot next to the fencing so I could talk to Amy until my corral started.  I stretched the legs slowly peeled off the layers because it was still a little chilly.  The race started and I felt great!  I decided I was going to give this race my all.  I had originally hoped I could finish under 1:05:00.  I usually run a 10:46/mile pace in training so I knew I could finish just under 1:07:00 if I kept that pace, but I wanted more.  

I started the race feeling great, possibly better than I had ever felt before or during a race.  I started out with 10 minute miles for miles 1 and 2, and then really picked it up for what i normally run.  I did miles 3 and 4 under 9 minutes each and miles 5 and 6 under 10 minutes.  Crazy!!! My final time was 59:29 with a pack of 9:35/mile.  

The park was beautiful and I really enjoyed the scenery!  I really hope they choose to do this race again next year.  There was an awesome turnout for it being the first time they did it over 4200 runners!

After the race with Amy's cousin Chris and his girlfriend Danielle

The medal!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

23 By Twenty-Four Update 10/20

October 20, 2011 --

Things have been going great!  I hopped on the scale this morning and saw all 2s.  As of this morning, I weigh 222.2 lbs! 

Right now I am two pounds away from a total weight loss of fifty pounds, and am only just over 12 pounds from my goal weight.  It is a good feeling to have come so far and be so close to my goal...but I know there is still work to be done, and can't start slacking off.  

I figured now would be a good time to let you all in on what has been working for me as far as shedding the pounds goes.  By no means do I consider myself an expert in weight loss or nutrition, but this is what has worked for me.  I encourage anyone who is interested in losing weight and getting more fit to try out several different approaches and find what works best for them.

First of all, I completely stopped drinking soda and increased my water intake tremendously.  Soda has approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar in a twelve ounce can and a ton of sodium which causes you to retain water.  Secondly, I initially switched to 100 calorie packs of different snack foods for desserts, and now I have completely eliminated dessert from my life (except one night on the weekend).  Finally, I restricted myself to eating only at meal times.  If I am hungry between meals, I drink a glass of water, and wait twenty minutes to see if I am still hungry and then eat some type of fruit if I am.

I would say that the biggest thing I have done aside from the other things I mentioned is portion control.  I have always felt that I needed to eat everything on my plate.  I have only now come to realize that I don't need to eat everything put in front of me.  

I think this alone has helped me to lose weight.  But, coupled with the amount of exercise and training I have been doing has led to the pounds just melting off.  Again, what I hope people take from this post is that anyone can take that first step toward being healthier, you just need to get off the couch, lace up your shoes, and go.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

UnitedHealthCare Half Marathon Race Report

Newport, RI --

The alarm went off at 6, waking me from one of the worst night's sleep I have had since the night before my last half marathon (makes me wonder how I'll sleep before the full in March).  I have been up much earlier than this for some of my other races this year, but for some reason it felt like an extremely early wake up, probably because now that we are well into fall, the sun is beginning to rise later and later and the temperature is getting colder and colder.  Anyway, I pulled myself together, got dressed, and headed to grab a Clif Bar and a big glass of water for breakfast.  As I finished breakfast, this is the view I had outside... (I am really starting to get a great collection of sunrise pictures)

I pulled myself away from the beauty of the sunrise, and went through my race bag for one final check to make sure I had everything.  Amy then drove me, her cousin Tim, and his two friends; Joe and Mike, over to the race start.  Joe and I looked for a Porta Potty, but wound up lettin it fly behind a sand pile because the line waiting for the toilets was just way too long.  We also realized that Joe forgot his iPod in the car, so we had to have Amy bring it over to the race site.  Even thought Amy did not run in this race with us, she still did a little running that day.

After meeting Amy to get the iPod, we literally had seconds to line up before the gun went off.  We jumped into the huge mob of people and off we went toward 13.1.  

I am about one inch to the right of the light post wearing the red/white shirt and dark hat.

I felt great, but struggled with my pacing in the beginning.  I like to try and keep a 10:45-11:15 min/mile pace, but my first 4 miles I averaged 10:25 min per mile.  Now ahead of my scheduled pace, I began to feel the burn and started to slow considerably.  Mile 5 I finished in 10:50, and after that I really lost steam. 

The course was beautiful! A lot of the course ran along the water, and what wasn't on the water, was a tour through streets of unbelievable mansions.  The weather was pretty much perfect for a race too.  Temperature in the sixties with a clear sky! My only complaint would be the amount of wind there was at times on the course, especially near the water.  

I ran by Amy between miles 8 and 9, she actually got a pretty good picture!

A few shots of me coming to, and crossing the finish line (Also provided by Amy).  My finishing time was 2:45:41, over 30 minutes faster than my time at the Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon.  I had wanted to finish in 2:30:00, but am still more than happy with my time.


My time did make me realize a few things: 
     1) I need to get off the track for my long runs.  Running on the track, I have an idea of my distance...but when I get on the roads, and am lost.  Running a half mile on the road seems much longer than it does on the track right now.  I need to get more comfortable to road running.
        2) I need to get out and find some hills to run on.  This course had a few significant hills and some gradual inclines and declines.  I am so used to running on flat ground, that I tire so quickly when I hit a hill.
         3) I just need to stay focused and keep working.  I am definitely heading in the right direction, and just have to keep pushing.

Thats all for now, stay tuned for my 10k preview Friday.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Newport Half Marathon Race Preview

October 14, 2011 --

Sunday is the UnitedHealthCare Half Marathon in Newport, RI, and I have to say I am actually in some ways looking forward to it.  Like I have said time and time again, in no way do I consider myself a runner...(although having run 10+ miles a week for almost a year now, I may have to start), but I am finally in a place where I am enjoying running. One of the greatest feelings is the one you get after finishing a long run.

Training for this half has gone so much better than my training for the Binghamton Bridge Run Half back in May.  I think my triathlon training really kept me focused and on track for this race.  Although my distances for the triathlons were much shorter, I threw long runs into my tri training to prepare myself for the half.  I feel very prepared for this race, and hope to reach my goal of finishing quicker than 2:30:00.  My time for the Binghamton half was 3:15:00 which would, if I hit my goal, shave close to an hour off of my time from the last half.  

Tomorrow afternoon I will be heading up to Rhode Island with Amy to check out the Race Expo and pick up my race packet & bib number of 4162.  After the Expo, we will head over to Amy's Uncle's house to spend the night before waking up bright and early and heading to the race start.  My 2011 race season will come to a close in just over a week.  Tomorrow's half marathon and next Saturday's 10k are the last two of my planned races.  

That's all for now.  Check in Sunday night to see how the race went.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

23 by Twenty-Four Update

Breaking the Barrier: 230...

October 9, 2011 --

     For weeks I had felt trapped;  wanting to continue to lose weight, but the pounds simply not coming off.  I was stuck.  At the beginning of September, I was down to 231pounds, and for the past four weeks I was stuck there...cycling between weigh-ins at 231and 233, but never hitting or breaking the 230 pound mark.  I was beginning to get frustrated, and thought I would never be able to break that 230 milestone.  I decided to stop weighing  myself for awhile, and to really try to watch what I put into my body for two weeks, and see if that would help.  

     So for two weeks, I watched what I ate, stayed on my workout and training plans, and didn't obsess about my weight.  I have a half marathon one week from today, which has kept me focused and on track with my training, and I made sure to not have sodas, desserts, or sweets while controlling my portion sizes all week.  I had a few long runs of more than 6 miles in these past two weeks, as well as a bunch of shorter runs of 5 miles or less.  After all of that, the day to weigh myself finally came.  Tuesday morning I weighed myself and was blown away by the number I saw...226.5!  I could not believe it, so much so that I weighed myself 4 more times just to make sure.  Sure enough, each time that scale read 226.5!  I was ecstatic.  Not only did I break the 230 pound barrier, I surpassed it by almost 4 pounds.  

     The rest of the week, I did not see any number above 230 on the scale whether i weighed  myself in the morning or at night, so I think I have finally and completely passed that mark, and the two thirties are a thing of my past.  I am definitely moving in the right direction toward my goal of weighing two hundred ten pounds by my 24th birthday.  I have about 17 pounds still to go with just over 17 weeks until the big day.  

     I know it will not be easy...having gotten to a point where exercise alone will not take the pounds off.  I now need to exercise and focus on what I am putting into my body on a daily basis, something which had not been a great issue in the past.  With the holiday season soon approaching, I know there will be challenges for me ahead (especially as I bake dozens and dozens of cookies for Christmas each year).  I just need to stay focused and keep my eyes on the prize.  

     Finally, I would also like to officially announce that I will be running the Inaugural Rock n' Roll Series Marathon in Washington D.C. in March.  I have not told anyone yet that I will be doing this, so for my are hearing it first!

That's all for now. Pre Race and Post Race blog posts will be up hopefully sometime Saturday and Sunday nights respectively.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Town of Huntington Sprint Triathlon---Race Report

September 25, 2011--

4:30 a.m. wake up call for my last triathlon of the 2011 season, a sprint distance at Crab Meadow Beach in Northport, Long Island.  A lot of progress has been made this summer through hours and hours of training, and knowing that this was my last race of the season, I told myself I wanted to leave everything I had out on the course.  I know that in my last post I said I wanted to finish under 1:30:00; well I did, and then some.

A triangular out, over, and back 750 meter swim course.  The swim has always been somewhere I have felt very comfortable, and this race was no different.  Shortly after the race start, I found my groove and was moving at a really nice pace.  I do not think that I inflicted any serious damage to any of the other racers today, but definitely had the occasional foot tap or grab.  Feeling really good about my time and the race I exited the water and headed into T1.
Swim Time: 12:17    1:29 / 100yds
T1: 2:16
A really nice bike course just short of 10 miles.  It started with a short uphill which I powered through, then flattened out and had some rolling hills otherwise.  Some of the uphill climbs were steep, but they were not very long, so I just grit my teeth and muscled through them resting the legs a little on the downhills.  One thing I definitely want to change for next year is to get into some bike shoes instead of using the running shoes on the bike.  I have heard nothing but good things about bike shoes, and by the end of the bike course today, the running shoes were already waterlogged with sweat.  It would have been so nice to put on a pair of dry and light shoes after getting off the bike.
Bike Time: 33:19    17.6 MPH
The run has definitely been weak for me in the past.  I had put it in my mind this morning before the race, that no matter what I was just going to give the run everything I had, and try to finish this race and my 2011 tri season on a high note.  The first half of the run course was very tough.  It shared its first road with the bike course, so we had that same uphill to start off.  Then we turned onto another road which had a very steep hill to climb.  We had driven the course yesterday, so I knew that at the end of this uphill, the course leveled off and then eventually would turn around and be all downhill from there to the finish.  The uphill kinda sucked, but I told myself just get through it and work hard to the finish.  Coming back down this big hill, I actually was passing a few people, which I am not accustomed to on a run course (usually I am being passed).  As I passed the 2 mile mark, I turned up the burners a little and started cruising toward the finish, and at the 3 mile mark, I went into overdrive and powered to the finish.  It was the hardest I have even run in a tri, and it was well worth the results.
Run Time: 27:08     8:13 Min/Mi
Overall Time: 1:15:58

I could not have been much happier with today's race.  I worked my butt off, and it more than paid off.  I still think that I have a lot of work to do, and know I have a lot of room for improvement.  For now, I have a half marathon in three weeks, a 10k the week after, and am contemplating running a marathon in DC in March.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Town of Huntington Sprint Tri Preview

Okay, I know it's been awhile since the last post, but not much going on right now.  After this post, and the post race post, I am going to have weekly posts on how operation 23 by twenty-four is going.

Tomorrow is the Town of Huntington Sprint Triathlon, the last tri I am signed up for for 2011, which will likely mean I will leave everything I have out there on the course.  The race is held at Crab Meadow Beach in Northport, and is a Sprint Distance.  The swim and bike legs are shorter than the swim and bike of my earlier sprint, but the run is 3.3 miles .2 more than the other one.  

I drove the course today after picking up my race packet.  There are a few decent up hills, on the bike course, but comparable down hills as well, so not very worried about that.  My biggest worry about the race is that most of the first half of the run is up hill.  I hate running up hill.  

Goals for the race:  I am shooting for a time under 1:30:00.  I think I will spend about 15 minutes in the water, 35 minutes on the bike and 30-40 minutes running...Giving me a grand total of 1:20:00-1:30:00 without including transition times. So we'll see how that goes.

For now, off to bed to get my few minutes of restless sleep I have come to expect the night before a race.  I will post results and a race report tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mighty Hamptons Race Report

Sept. 11, 2011--

Looking back, when I was younger, I could have envisioned myself doing an olympic triathlon someday.  However, I never thought I would be doing my first on the tenth anniversary of one of the most deadly attacks of terrorism in history.  I was sitting in Biology class in 8th grade ten years ago on this day.  Today, ten years later, I ran my first olympic distance tri.

Set in Sag Harbor, NY, the Mighty Hamptons Olympic Distance tri celebrated it's 30th annual race this morning.  The .9 mile swim took place in Noyack Bay, the 24 mile bike leg and the 10k run were nice routes through Sag Harbor.  

The last two weeks my level of nervousness had increased exponentially.  Between hurricane Irene and the last week pounding Long Island with rain, I hadn't been able to get out to do much of any training.  I attempted two long brick sessions before the hurricane but flatted out about half way into my bike both times.  I took that as a potential sign of bad things to come.

Before the race I did set some time goals for myself.  During my training, I had been able to do the swim distance in just around 30 minutes, the bike distance in and hour and a half to an hour and forty minutes, and the run in just over an hour.  So I had said I would have been happy with a finish faster than three and a half hours, but ideally I wanted to be closer to that three hour mark.

Swim - .9 Mile 

The swim was a water start.  We swam about a half mile down parallel to the beach, turned around and swam the same distance back.  The waves weren't too big, but toward the end of the swim, the water began to  get more and more crowded, and then the elbows really started flying.  I am pretty sure at one point I caught someone in the face with an elbow, but these are the risks triathletes take entering these races.  I know at several times I was hit or kicked, so I guess in the end it all evened out.  In the end,  got out of the water feeling strong, and headed to transition to get onto the bike.
Swim Time: 30:31  1:51/100 yds
T1 time: 2:59

Bike - 23.8 Miles

This bike course was great! It was very scenic, and had, in my opinion, a perfect balance of up and down hills.  I felt really strong on the bike (it could have been from my almost two full weeks of rest before the race) but I definitely felt like i was really moving.  Unlike trirock, this course was so well marked.  On the streets, there were orange arrows in every intersection we crossed to direct us as well as white signs and police/volunteers at all of the turns to direct us where to go.  One other thing I really liked were the signs which read "slow, turn in 25 yards".  It made me feel as though I had ridden this course several times before.  I never was worried of being lost or not knowing which way to turn.  Overall, a great bike leg, with an average speed about 2 mph faster than I had been maintaining in my training.
Bike Time: 1:19:38  18 mph
T2 Time:  1:33

Run - 10k

The run has always been the weakest aspect of my tri game.  I will compliment myself, and say that I have gotten much stronger running, and can now run several miles without stopping, I just am not very fast.  I am moving in the right direction thought, so as far as I am concerned it is a work in progress.  This run course was a very nice, relatively flat course which wound through a small residential area.  Many people came out of their houses to cheer on the runners as they went by, which I thought was really cool.  While I was running these were some of the thoughts that were running through my mind...
"Okay, this is just two 5ks"
"Two miles down, just have to do what I already did two more times"
"Halfway there, just keep going"
"5k left"
"2 miles left"
"1 mile left, time to turn it on"
"I can see the finish line"
Run Time: 1:09:27  11:12/mile
Overall Time: 3:04:05

I had my personal photographer with me (AKA my girlfriend Amy) and when she did manage to get some good pictures of me when she wasn't taking pictures of dogs.  Here are some of the good ones...

Not sure whose dog this is, or why I needed fifty pictures of it, but yes it is cute!

Exiting the water after the swim...I am in the blue cap

T1...both transition shots she got looked the same, so decided to just put one up.  I am in tie foreground

Post race...really lovin my new Oakey Fast Jackets!
Best part of racing for me...T-Shirts and medals 
(Really pumped to have a long sleeve shirt for the upcoming cold)

A few closing thoughts and remarks......

I am not sure if it is written anywhere else in the blog, but I am an aspiring math teacher...have all the certifications and degrees...just waiting for a job opening.  But, as a math person, I could not be more excited about my finishing time.  3,4,5 is one of the special right triangles, and my time of 3:04:05 was perfect to me!  I am happy with my time, but there is definitely work to be done.  I think in the winter months, I will certainly be focusing a lot on my run.