Spring Break

Spring Break

This is spring break week here, so I’m going to make this brief so I can get back to trying to spend some quality time with my kid. Since she started driving a year ago – and turns 18 later this week – I have to take what time I’m given.

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Spring?

Any break is always a great time for a reset, a time to develop new, positive habits.  I came across a few articles this week that may be helpful if you’re trying to do just that.

On creating good daily habits…

How to Get Life-Changing Clarity Within 90 Minutes of Waking Up

The first 90 minutes of your day are crucial to everything that happens thereafter.

If you don’t produce something special during those first 90 minutes, chances are, your whole day will falter.

Here’s how you maximize those first 90 minutes of your day. READ MORE…

by Benjamin P. Hardy, Thrive Global  

On creating a running habit…

8 Common Habits That Keep You From Running

You know that exercise is beneficial to your health, your brain, and your weight loss goals. Yet it seems so hard to fit into your day. If you don’t schedule a run, you probably won’t do it. Plus, there’s your endless to-do list, and then there’s the kids.

And even if you get a handle on those obstacles, there are still plenty more unexpected hurdles standing between you and some time on the treadmill or pavement. Below, a few habits that are messing with your goals—and how to work around them. READ MORE…

And a little more incentive to break the 2nd habit from the piece above…this maybe the best 20 minutes you’ll spend if it motivates you to break that habit…

How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day

A handful of people working at a handful of tech companies steer the thoughts of billions of people every day, says design thinker Tristan Harris. From Facebook notifications to Snapstreaks to YouTube autoplays, they’re all competing for one thing: your attention. Harris shares how these companies prey on our psychology for their own profit and calls for a design renaissance in which our tech instead encourages us to live out the timeline we want.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by (TED) editors on the home page. WATCH…

By Tristan Harris, Ted.com

I’m trying to develop some better work habits this week while continuing my marathon training. I have my longest long run of this training cycle – 22 miles! – coming up on Sunday and then being to cycle down to my taper. Roughly three weeks to go. I’m feeling good. Did well on last week’s 18-miler and in this week’s speed session of mile repeats, I hit my target pace. So far so good.

 

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3 months and counting

3 months and counting

It’s been over six months since I wrote about the countdown to high school graduation. While I am committed to being respectful of my daughter’s privacy, sharing only minimally about her here, I am entitled to a proud mom moment every once in a while, right?

My daughter was accepted into a four-year college in Chicago (one of her top choices). This might not seem like an impossible feat. Especially here where we live. 89% of our high school graduates go on to attend four-year colleges (95% go on to some post-secondary education). But for us it seemed like a long road.

My daughter was always someone who has marched to the beat of her own drum. My parents described her as “a spirited child.” One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as her parent is that she never accepts the status quo; always looking deeper, always challenging. Her middle school guidance counselor said this was a personality trait that would serve her well in college and career, not so much in middle and high school.

She encountered a structure perhaps too rigid for her personality and learning style. While that was somewhat demotivating for her, my cancer diagnosis and then losing her father when and how she did certainly had an impact on the secure life she had known at home.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

– Viktor Frankl

My daughter’s high school transcript does not show the good choices that she has made and the maturity and growth that she possessed in managing grief and loss on top of the struggles of adolescence. By her junior year she was facing the possibility that maybe a four-year college wasn’t in the cards for her.

But I believed in her. And she believed in herself. We both ignored the naysayers and last summer I took a risk and made an investment in a 3-week college program for her at this school in Chicago. It wasn’t in the budget.

She got an A in the course and proved to everyone she could do college level work. Then she came back to start her senior year and made the honor roll! She finally took the SATs and did much better than expected. She courageously applied to a bunch of four-year schools.

There were a number of disappointments before the email from Chicago. Her surge in the last quarter of the race however, paid off. But most importantly – and what makes me the most proud – is that she mustered the courage to start; she put herself out there when others were telling her that it was a long shot. She didn’t settle for anything less than what she wanted. She set her sights higher and didn’t listen to anyone who told her it couldn’t be done.

That should be a lesson to all of us. Ignore the naysayers. Don’t give them power over you. Be courageous. Focus on your own dreams. Don’t back down. One foot in front of the other. Forward. Commencement.

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The New York City skyline as seen on my run through the Heights of Ridgewood, New Jersey. March 2018.

This week in Marathon Training (getting real now! -only 5 weeks to go)…Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 11.04.35 AM

Twenty miles was the longest I’ve run in almost 2 years and was a big jump from the 16 miles I ran 2 weeks ago. I took it slowly with a goal of only covering the distance comfortably.

The 2018 NYC Half Marathon Reviewed

The 2018 NYC Half Marathon Reviewed

The United Airlines NYC Half Marathon this past weekend was my 42nd Half Marathon and the 275th race of my 22-year running career. While I had run the NYC Half five times before, this was a new course. Here’s my review.

I have experienced the work of many race directors and have directed or been involved in the organization of many races myself. I know what makes a good race experience. The course and the start and finish logistics are what it’s all about. Without counting them, I’d take a guess that of all the races I’ve run, probably 20% have been organized by New York Road Runners. I have run a variety of their races from 5ks to the New York City Marathon, and for the most part, they have always done a fabulous job. The NYC Half is no different.

I ran this event in 2006, the first year it was held, and again in 2009. Those first few years it was held in August. It was then moved to March and I ran it 3 more times (’13, ’14 & ’16). March is a much better time of year. The course was one loop around Central Park, down 7th Avenue through Times Square. West on 42nd Street and then south along the West Side Highway, past the World Trade Center, through the Battery Park Tunnel and around for a finish on Wall Street. It was a great “PR” (personal record) course, because after leaving the park at about the halfway point the course was essentially downhill.

A lot of people were skeptical about the new course, which started in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and finished in Central Park. Admittedly, if a local running club hadn’t organized a bus from near my home in Bergen County, New Jersey to the start, getting to Brooklyn before 6:30am, for me, would have been difficult. 22,000 people didn’t seem to find navigating the additional borough to be problematic.

It was about a mile walk through Prospect Park to the beginning of the start area from where the bus was able to drop us off. I jogged. It was a good warm-up. Security was tight but easy, signage was good, and port-a-potties in the start corrals was an added convenience. This wasn’t unlike the start in Central Park in years past. Lots of room for warming up and staying warm; big bins for donations as layers of clothing were discarded.

The start was at Grand Army Plaza. It continued downhill on Flatbush Avenue and onto the Manhattan Bridge. That incline was the biggest elevation climb on the course. From there, the views of city were spectacular. Making the trip out to Brooklyn worthwhile.

Once in Manhattan, the course weaved through Chinatown and onto the FDR Drive heading north. I’m not sure at this point whether I preferred this East River view to the Hudson River view of past years, but it was breathtaking. We exited the FDR at 42nd Street right by the United Nations. I felt from here the course was a little more interesting as it passed Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, and Bryant Park. Crowd support all along the course was decent.

The new course also included running through Times Square as the old course did, but north on 7th Avenue. It was uphill into Central Park. The park route included “Cat Hill” but cut across the 102nd Street Transverse eliminating the Harlem Hills.  The “Three Sisters” came in the last 3 miles but the final 800 meters was all downhill, finishing in front of the iconic Tavern on the Green (in the opposite direction as the NYC Marathon).

The finish area in Central Park was a major improvement over the old course downtown. There was a lot more room for runners to get their medals and refreshments, collect their gear from the trucks and finally reunite with family….or their bus back to New Jersey.

A few others I spoke with about the new course said it was definitely more challenging with more turns and the hills of Central Park in the final miles. I didn’t have an issue with the hills at the end, surprisingly. Hills are rarely my friend and I was not looking forward to them. When I reached Central Park though, its familiarity was comforting and I sailed through. The last four miles were my fastest.

So, thumbs up all around for the new course. I am especially glad that I was able to do it this year. I am already registered for Half Marathons #43 and #44 later this year: the Chicago Spring Half and Fall Half. Not sure when I’ll be back to New York City for another race. But I highly recommend the NYC Half for anyone who can find their way to Brooklyn.

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At the Expo. Metropolitan Pavilion.  New York, New York. March 2018,

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In running or life, a Coach can make the difference

In running or life, a Coach can make the difference

I’m going to ignore for the moment the snow outside and reflect on the fact that the official start to spring is just around the corner – 2 weeks! This is a good time to commit to something new! This week, twenty-two years ago, I started running.

Because it’s almost spring, I am again preparing to come out of hibernation in a big way. I start coaching my beginner 5k groups in the next week and the week after that my volunteer role coaching Let Me Run.  I will be telling everyone how I started like this – just one slow step at a time – how we all start like this. Read more

The Art of Running in the Rain

The Art of Running in the Rain

It don’t matter if it’s raining
Nothing can phase me
I make my own sunshine
And if you think you can break me
Baby you’re crazy
I make my own sunshine

“I make my own Sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura, and recorded by Steven Tyler

I have a lot going on right now. My house just went on the market, so there’s lots of people coming through to look at it – and there is of course the constant battle to keep it neat and ready for the next realtor’s call. I’m also getting ready to launch two spring beginner 5k group training programs next week and there’s my own marathon training. Read more