Post-blizzard jogging

Well, not much of a blizzard on Friday night in NYC; about 6 inches maximum and we’re serious about salting and plowing snow here. The Nemo storm ended up being a storm to the grocery stores for those who are easily frightened by the news. I figured Saturday wouldn’t be a good day for my long weekend run, but Sunday definitely.

So Sunday, I immediately found myself avoiding sidewalks due to piles of snow and ice, especially on the sidewalk-street transitions. Surprisingly, I didn’t slip once for 12+ miles; ninja skills. Most of the weekend running route is on roads, but eventually ends near Flushing park which was looking icefield-ish. Why was my usual 13.1 mile route cut short you may ask? Maybe because I had to pass through large piles of icy snow. But then, I sank waist deep in the snow, that’s why. Looking to my right, I could hear the ducks laughing at me.

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It’s cool how half of the lake was frozen. I just took a few pictures and just jogged the last mile home with snow in my sneakers.

Training Report:
And the weekly summary.

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
Feb 5 Tuesday 6.02 8:21 Steadiest pace ever, every mile within 8:16-8:33
Feb 7 Thursday 6.03 8:26 Last mile was tougher, must be the kung-fu training on Wednesday
Feb 10 Sunday 12.21 8:51 Not bad considering all the snow, ice, and puddle lakes
Feb 12 Tuesday 6.52 8:34 Still some blizzardness on the ground slowing me down

Random Thoughts
Registering for local races have become addicting. My calendar has a race booked almost every weekend, so there should be plenty of stories to share. My new thing this year is to create a race bib snake. Speaking of snakes, it’s the year of the snake for Chinese New year.

My kung-fu school (Ying Jow Pai – Eagle Claw) is performing the usual show. I may have performed double sabers last year (in this post), but haven’t been training much this year since running took over my training life during the past 8 months. So, I’ll be a spectator for once and support my kung-fu brothers who will be swinging swords, thrusting spears, twirling staffs, and performing other acrobatics.

And it’s a 3-day weekend, the last one for a few months. I pre-ordered “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for PS3 which comes out Monday (my day off). The trailer makes it look epic! I may have call in sick on Tuesday for this one.

From 80 to 20 degrees

After arriving back from Hawaii, the green and blue views were now grey and white. Before stepping outside the airport, I quickly threw on some jeans over my shorts and 3-4 layers of shirts over my light jacket. A 9-10 hour straight flight, and it’s almost 7am!? With one hour of sleep on the plane, me and my wife knocked out for about 6 hours. I woke up and thought to myself, “its been almost 2 weeks of vacation, now its time for a 2 hour run in the cold”. That 6 hour nap should be enough to properly acclimate to late January in NY from HI. And out I went, the lone wolf in the sunset. I should be happy about finishing in less than an hour and 50 minutes, but it may be too good to be true. My GPS was tracking me a bit weird (mile 11 had a 5:58 pace for example). I’ll just conclude that it was an exact 1:50:00 run time. The only way to be truly satisfied with a race time is finishing actual races.

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Off to the Races:
Out I went on a 25F degree day for the NYRR Gridiron 4 miler race in Central Park. I felt strong, bouncing at the start line. 31 minutes was my goal (7:45 pace at least). Mile 1 was a 7:24 pace, yes. Mile 2 was a 7:19 pace, yes again! I started to wear out at mile 3, 8:06 pace. Then I was passed by a 4th grader, Oh Hail Naw! Mile 4 was a 7:32 pace (still didn’t catch up to that kid, he will be a champion one day). And with no energy to speed up at the finish line, I just crossed it like whatever man.

Total time = 30:34.
973 place out of 5596, 83% percentile.
Jon is very pleased, but must get better.

It was still early, and I was finally warmed up, so running home from Central Park seemed to make the most sense. Over the Queensborough bridge, through Northern Blvd, then 34th avenue, right turn at Citi Field into Flushing Meadows park. But then the strangest feeling came over me, like never before and had to stop running immediately. I had to poo real bad and actually began to find hiding spots. But before anything like that, the feeling went away, and I just ran 2 miles home before it was too late. Oh my God, that was such a close call, whew. No more post-race cinnamon raisin bagels for me.

Spartan Sprint Race:
SMG_King_Leonidas
April 13 is the day where Jon becomes a Spartan. It’s a 5K distance with 15 obstacles. Obstacles like wire jumping and crawling at an incline, wall climbing, throwing javelins, heavy objects carrying, cement block dragging, rope traversing, stair hopping, and gladiator dudes with pugil sticks blocking the finish. The race is at Citi Field; how could I pass this up when it’s so close to home. If I can combine my running skills with my kung-fu skills, then I have a chance at doing well here. THIS IS SPARTA!

Training Report:
Pretty much a summary of the above.

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
Jan 27 Sunday 13.1 8:20 Is it a PR? For now, but a Half marathon race will decide
Jan 31 Thursday 6.01 8:29 I had to get one run session in before the big weekend
Feb 3 Sunday 4.00 7:39 Yes, 4 miles in a half hour! I had to pee bad
Feb 3 Sunday 8.37 8:23 2 miles left but you know why I had to stop
Feb 3 Sunday 2.02 9:23 survived

Random Thoughts
5 races scheduled between now and April’s end and many more finish lines to cross. Reflecting back a year ago in this post, I haven’t touched coffee in a year; I don’t miss it at all. Also, a year ago, I ran my farthest at that time; 15 miles (but it took 2 hours and 30 minutes). Back then, I gave zero craps about how fast the pace was. Its funny what can change in a year. Now I’m obsessed with the pace. The miles just fly by as you continuously maximize your speed with respect to hills and street obstacles (cars, bikes, people, dogs, puddles, ice, wind, dog/goose poo, rain, snow, bug swarms, hurricane damage, and other natural disasters).

10 days in Hawaii Part 2

Maui (Day 4 and 5):
Before going out on a whale watch excursion, there was time to put in a 10K training run. 5 miles in 40 minutes flat on the dreadmill, my Koko head legs turned noodles and I stopped right there. It’s surprising that I managed to last that long.

One requires patience when trying to spot whales. But it’s not as hard to do so during whale season (winter months). One requires much more than patience when trying to take a photo of a humpback midair. It takes a skill called luck, and I mastered it one time.

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There were plenty of whales shooting plumes and showing whale tail but there is nothing like the seeing a big fat creature jump out of the ocean and crashing back into it. With a few hours of sunlight left, we went to Iao valley; the middle of the west Maui mountains. It was like walking on planet Pandora (Avatar).

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The second day on Maui was supposed to be a Molokini snorkel but it was canceled due to strong winds and dangerous waters. Oh well, we went to another reef which was just as good (forgot the name). As usual, I just chased fishies (and turtles) around with my camera. First time using a wetsuit; the water was colder than expected. I somehow stopped giving a crap about eating healthy. From this point on, it was all about hamburgers, two dinners, desserts, etc; cruise mode.

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Big island – Hilo (Day 6):
The main attraction for tourists at Hilo is the Hawaii Volcano National park. It was about an hour drive to the summit of Kilauea volcano, but you get great views of the volcanic landscape. Too bad there wasn’t enough time to explore more and do the tough volcano hikes. We still managed to check out a dark lava tube (I suggest ducking your head halfway through, ouch).

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Eating all the cruise food was starting to show, so I decided to run a 10K in rage mode on the dreadmill. Negative splits starting out a 8:00 pace led to a 49 minute 10K; PR! There isn’t wind resistance on the treadmill so is this really a PR?

Big island – Kona (Day 7):
A repeat of Maui day 2; another snorkel day and 2 hamburgers to the face. This was also a good day to walk around town, sightsee, and get souvenirs for the family as well as a much-needed Hawaiian shirt. There was talk on the ship about sailing close enough to see lava flows during the evening. And there it was, LAVA!

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Kauai – the Garden Isle (Day 8-9):
All I have to say is, you definitely need a car to truly enjoy this island (especially if your ship docks at Nawilili Bay instead of port Allen). Being an hour away from Poipu or the Napali coast kind of limited us, but its all good. After a walk around town, I decided to explore further… with a running tour. From Nawilili Bay to almost the Hanamaulu beach park and back (5-6 miles), I ran in 80 degree weather for a change. Instead of looking out for unleashed dogs, I was looking out for stray chickens, weird.

The next day, we kayaked 2.5 miles through Wailua river (sooo much easier to run 2.5 miles, trust me). After becoming a feast to a swarm of mosquitos, we went on a jungle hiking trail to a waterfall. There was a rope available for climbing to the back of the waterfall; you know it had to be done.

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The final day ended off with the cruise ship sailing by the Napali coast, a very cloudy Napali coast.

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Back to Oahu (Day 10):
With quite a few hours left for the flight home, we decided to check out Pearl Harbor.

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And of course I had one last hamburger, yes 4-5 pounds were gained during this trip.

10 days in Hawaii Part 1

A year ago, I would laugh at the thought of being on an 11 hour non-stop flight to Hawaii. Life always seems to surprise me. A year later, it becomes something to post. The strategy plan was to visit the 4 major islands (Oahu, Maui, Big Island [Hawaii], and Kauai), summit 2 crater peaks (Diamond head and Koko head), swim in all islands, and run in at least one of them. Well, mission accomplished.

Oahu (Day 1 and 2):
Arrived at the Waikiki beach hotel with my wife after being awake for 18 hours. We just took a walk down Waikiki beach (tourist avenue), ate a slammin seafood dinner then crashed.

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Day 2 was Hanuama Bay; perhaps the best snorkeling I’ve ever done. I recommend. Fish in order (Angel, Parrot, Unicorn, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, and Box fishes).

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After a few hours, there was just enough time to just get back to the hotel, wash the sand out, and eat a Hawaiian burger at the Cheesecake factory. The Luau awaits. You can’t go to Hawaii without going to one of these. Germaine’s Luau was a great choice. Great food, great show, and learned so much about Hawaii.

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Oahu (Day 3):
The day has come! Koko head crater peak shall be mine! 1,048 steps and over 1200 ft ascent. I’m a runner, how hard could it be? Some say it takes 30 minutes to an hour, but should take 17.5 minutes if you’re doing a 1 step per second pace. My time goal was 15-20 minutes. Here is my story.

Koko Head Crater Peak (The Empire State building stair climb):

koko head
The cab didn’t make the left turn at Koko head park road and continued on Kalanianaole highway until we ended up at the Koko head Rifle Range. I asked someone for directions to the Crater trailhead, but they said its miles away… or I could climb the equivalent of an apartment building for a shortcut. Sometimes in life you just do things without thinking about the possibility of death. In running sneakers, off I went climbing this 60 degree incline of rock, trees, and spikes everywhere. If I trip, I’m toast. Indoor rock climbing sure came in handy. A few long minutes pass, I reach the top and see the path with people walking. I’m too impressed with myself to notice that my leg is bleeding, and just start jogging to the trailhead.

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I’m at the bottom of the “stairway to the top”, feeling awesome and gazing at the goal in the sky. The steps are actually old railway tracks which get steeper and steeper with every step. The sun had just risen and not many people clogging up the steps yet. One by one I pass people by; no problem mon. But then, the unexpected surprise. There is this bridge at the halfway point; railway tracks with nothing under it. Again, just had to ignore the bad possibilities (of death). My confidence started to diminish as the steps became steeper and the peak became visible.

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After step 600, you have to start lifting your leg knee high to get to the next step. It all of a sudden feels like I’m at mile 16 or something, what the hell. I start taking breaks every 20 steps (which are like 2-3 normal steps high). Then a few guys pass me by. Nooooo. I get the rage, and just continue on like Sam on Mount Doom. It feels like my weight has doubled. Can’t turn back, must go forward. Cmonnn, almost there… Victory! After 20 minutes, the Googlemaps view of Oahu is mine, wow.

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But sooner or later you have to go back down. After getting through the steep steps, I just ran the rest. And for the first time in my life, going downstairs tired me out. I was sore for days after this but it was worth it. Without much time to rest my legs, I went back to the hotel to meet my wife for another crater summit; Diamond head.

Diamond Head Crater Peak:

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Almost everyone does this one, but still, it’s not a walk in the park (and I’m all messed up from Koko head). The cab dropped me and my wife at the right place for once so there was no need for climbing spiky things. We proceeded to walk the uphill path for 20-30 minutes until we see steps (not again). After 100-200 steps, we arrived at the peak. Although we didn’t find any diamonds up there, the Googlemaps view of Waikiki beach and downtown Honolulu was just as awesome. Both crater peaks offer different views since they are 10 miles apart and I recommend both.

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With 3 other islands to cover and 7 days left, there is only one way to proceed. Cruise ship. Stay tuned for part 2.