Hibernating in the winter

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After the Disney marathon, this wolf went into hibernation mode. Besides, running outside kinda sucked due to the constant snow/ice storms and freezing weather. I don’t mind some snow/ice on the roads and at least 25F temperatures, but in NYC, my minimum conditions weren’t met most of the time. It was kinda like…
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With the extra free time, I decided to return to the kung-fu Wednesday night madness and even started the Mt. Rainier weight training program (getting diesel now). I still manage to run 2x per week: one long run on the weekend, and one 10K with 5 pounds in my backpack (makes such a difference on hills, wow). It’s been almost 2 months since my last post, so I’ll just mention the highlights.

OFF TO THE RACES:
Fred Lebow Manhattan Half @ Central Park
January 26th, 2014. 8:00AM and 17 degrees. 4073 finishers.
Results: 9:15 pace, 2083th place, ~49% percentile, (F)

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This race consisted of 2 Central Park laps. This was perhaps the coldest temperature I’ve dared to run in; 17F with negative wind chill. Would I do it again, hellz no! My polar vortex armor consisted of my snow hat, balaclava just in case, gloves, tights with my hiking pants over them, double socks, 4 long sleeve layers (all tech shirts) with a fifth jacket layer around my waist just in case. When it comes to taking the trains in NYC, it almost always fails when you need it most. Let’s just say that the only way to get to the race at a reasonable time (15 minutes late) was to run for 2 miles from the train stop to the start line at Central Park. I didn’t get to stretch or even pee. After watching the last of the runners pass the start line, I finally arrived at the start line with 2 miles behind me already and started my first “race mile” with a bathroom break. The last thing you want to do in this temperature is to expose the only warm parts you have left on your body to the cold, and then you have to re-adjust the shirt layers, ugh, I lost several minutes here. My Garmin wasn’t syncing with the satellites, and never did. If you were thirsty, then you had to drink frozen water or Gatorade slush (yea, it was that cold). Just when everything sucked, I tried to seek out the positive to keep me from just quitting and going home. After 2 hours, I finally found the one positive thing… the freakin finish line!

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Chinese New Year: The Year of the Horse

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My YingJowPai Grandmaster applying the elbow lock

After 6+ months, I stepped into the kung-fu temple; a public school cafeteria in Chinatown. After months of marathon training, the butterfly kicks and front hand springs became a bit harder to execute. Completing the double saber routine knocked the wind out of me (2 years ago).

I can’t remember all of the moves for most of the non-weapon routines either! How can I possibly perform for the Chinese New Years Demo? Well, I worked with a few masters on a Wednesday night to refresh my memory for one of the routines. With 2 days left, and a jacked up lower back from too many kip-ups, I rehearsed the movements in my mind. The show was a success as usual. We all did our thing. There was lion dancing, lock-technique demonstrations, tai-chi, sword slashing, staff twirling, spear thrusting, chain whipping, and let’s not forget punches, palms, kicks, and flips. With just 3 days of practice, I pulled it off, well, most of it. I kinda forgot 20% of the routine and just closed it early. To the untrained eye, I didn’t make a mistake, but the masters knew exactly where I messed up, haha.

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I’ll attempt the crazy staff routine next year, which will require much more than 3 days of practice.

Random Snowstorm Run Session

There are times in life where you have a dumb idea and it actually works out well. After getting hammered with polar vortexes and going a week straight without running, I made up my mind to run during the upcoming weekend, no matter what. Just my luck, the clouds decided to unleash another big snowstorm, surprise surprise. To make a dumb idea dumber, I chose the unpaved Flushing park 10K route. The snow was falling from the sky in bulk and piled up quickly and high. Here was a first, I ran outside with hiking boots and goggles.
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After the first mile, the snow kept punching me in the face and made me want to quit and head back. But I’m glad I didn’t. After a few minutes, the winds calmed down. It was just me, alone, surrounded by nature painted white. Meadow lake was completely frozen with a layer of snow on top, as if you could just walk across it. A few megapixels could not capture the view. The return trip was epic. The snow was quite high, like a foot. It was like being in the Rocky IV movie when Rocky was running in Russia. Bringing the knees past the waistline for 2 miles was enough to knock me out.

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Random Thoughts

I’ve been watching more TV than usual, winter does that to people. This winter brings new seasons for Walking Dead, Vikings, and Game of Thrones. Also, Black Sails is a new show that is turning out to be good as well (only 8 episodes though). And I managed to watch all 3 seasons of American Horror Story; good series.

Ever since I finished Grand Theft Auto V, I turned to cell phone gaming and entertainment. My patience and determination is paying off in Candy Crush Saga; currently at level 275. Other addictive honorable mentions are: Kingdom Rush – Frontiers (tower-defense strategy), and Beastie Bay (Simcity+Pokemon). As for movies, the Lego Movie was awesome and worth seeing at least once, even if you’re an adult.

For 2 years straight, I’ve tried to enter the NYC Half marathon race via the lottery and failed. Well, this year I’m in! It’s one of the only time where they shut down Times Square just for runners. It’s on next weekend!

Running to stay warm

The previous post left off on the topic of Chinese New Year. Our kung-fu school put on a good show as usual. For the first time, I didn’t demo anything. It was good to finally be a spectator and be worry-free from falling on my face or flinging a weapon into the crowd by accident. But in the end, I kind of regretted not performing. So next year’s show, prepare for the return of the fire-cracker (nickname given to me). Here are some lion dance ceremony pics (yes, we train/perform at an elementary school cafeteria):

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Other than that, it’s just been 2-3 run sessions per week. My 10K speed is slowly improving, but my 13.1 miler speed isn’t yet. Whenever you feel like you aren’t improving and getting nowhere, you just have to look back farther. So I just look back to a year ago and certainly notice a difference, and feel better right away. Most importantly, I don’t beat myself up for falling short in a training session, I shrug my shoulders and just try again next time. On the bright side, you get to eat whatever you want (Smiley Face). My rage face now shows up in recent candid race pics; like I’m actually racing:

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Also, my bib number has been getting smaller throughout these races; a good sign of improvement. I finally started getting the green and yellow bibs (the best is usually blue, then red/yellow, then green, then the rest). I was so tired of getting pink and purple bibs last year; not the manliest colors to wear. Speaking of races, there is a 5K race story to share.

Off to the races:

Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K @ Uptown Manhattan (168th st. and above)

March 3rd, 2013. 5,825 finishers. 29 degrees (brrr).

I can’t believe how people dress for races like its 92 degrees instead of 29 degrees. Anyway, its most likely because they are so freakin fast. I had my usual 4 body layers, hat, gloves, shorts over my tights. Was I going to set a record and beat my 7:32 (5K) pace record, let’s see.

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Ready set go! Passed him, passed her, runners everywhere, can’t pass, grrr… stuck between slow people, oops… almost stepped on a little kid, yikes… slow group in front of me, must calculate how to get around them, hmph… too many runners around me, nooooo… bumping elbows with him/her, gimmie space! So yea, it was a bit overcrowded at first. Races tend to start out out slow since everyone is bunched up in the beginning, but not a short race like this, cmon!

Nevertheless, I should be grateful for the runners blocking me and controlling my urge to speed run, because the hills were endless and non-stop. Just when you caught your breath from the previous hill, another one appeared. Conserving energy was key but I burned all of it by mile 2; foolish Jon. Fifteen minutes through, and my chest couldn’t expand large enough for the air it needed. That last mile… sooo hard to breathe. Even 7:30-8:00 pace runners were taking walk breaks here and there. They said to take advantage of the downhill at the end of the race, yea right. How could I after all the previous hills burned me out? Did I beat my 7:32 (5K) pace record? Nope. But I came damn close with a 7:35 pace. BY 10 SECONDS, LOL! Overall I was 1236th place, 78% percentile, I get a C+, yay.

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At the finish line, I bumped into a wolf pack runner (Chris, who killed it with a 7:25 pace) who is training for the Vancouver marathon and was about to start an 18-miler. What a great idea, lets turn this race into a weekend long run. After all, I was more than a half marathon away from home, perfect. So we started running; “running to stay warm”. From 168th st Riverside all the way to 59th st. It’s always cool to run with a pack even its just 2. We split up at 59th st. and I headed home to through Queens. With 3 miles left, feeling beat up from the race, exhausted, and starving, I just took the train home. Almost 16 miles covered that day.

Training Report:

And the weekly summary.

RunDate Distance Pace Comments
Feb 18 Monday 13.11 8:39 Grrr, must shave off 4 minutes for a Half somehow
Feb 22 Thursday 6.20 8:10 Almost a 10K PR, I had the rage!
Feb 24 Sunday 13.10 8:39 Exactly the same pace as 6 days ago.
Feb 28 Thursday 6.21 8:05 10K PR!!! This includes traffic light stops, YES!
Mar 3 Sunday 12.54 9:08 After an all-out 5K race, this was a decent effort.

Speed Jams (tunes to run that sub 8 min/mile pace):

Some 90s dance classics:

    Gonna make you sweat – C&C music factory
    Rythm is a dancer – Snap
    Pump up the jam – technotronic
    More and more – captain hollywood

Random Thoughts
Not much on mind lately, its been BAU (Business as usual). March 17th is the NYC Half marathon, and guess who didn’t make the lottery twice in a row, (me). However, if you volunteer in this race, you get guaranteed entry for 2014 (and 9+1 credit for the NYC marathon). So, I’m in, as a race course marshall. This will be a new experience for me and might make a good post too. Now to get some dinner…

Year of the Dragon

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How cool is performing a double sword routine for chinese new year – year of the dragon. And I’m the guy to do it. As a person with a bit of stage fright, these performances always get me nervous. Good thing I did this routine last year for a kungfu tournament, so it should go a little better tomorrow. Only about a minute of spotlight, no problem mon.

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Who doesn’t think martial arts is cool? As soon as I saw Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and Game of Death at age 6, it amazed me. As a teen, I saw Jackie Chan films like Drunken Master, Jet Li films like Fist of Legend, and as many Shaw Bros as I could get my hands on. I couldn’t get enough. Tiger, Crane, Mantis, Eagle, Monkey, Snake… staffs, spears, swords, kwandos, chain whips, hook swords, 3 section staffs… So much choreography, movements, poses, weapons, techniques, variations; this is indeed art. After collecting so many kungfu videos, I figured maybe its time to be a kungfu man myself, why watch.

Why watch? Great question. How can you want to do something and watch someone else do it? Its like watching someone take the job you wanted, eat the meal you wanted, the chance/opportunity you wanted, the girl you wanted, the life you wanted, etc. You have to take what you can out of life before the opportunity is gone.