September 2009 Archives

019 5th Avenue Mile - 1 Mile: 5:01

| 4 Comments | No TrackBacks
M31 263 113 112 21 0:05:01 0:05:01 05:01

This weekend was to mark another double-header. Saturday was the 5th Avenue Mile followed by Sunday's 18 Mile Marathon Tune-up.

Friday after work I met Robin, Benny, Tess and some of Tess's German friends who were visiting at Bravest Bar for happy hour. We had a great time catching up and throwing back some beers...  I decided to take off around 8 to have dinner at home. I have been on a vegetarian diet now for 4 days (based on the diet of one of my hero's, Scott Jurek, 7-time winner of the Western States 100 Ultra-marathon) and had made an amazing 3 bean salad I was looking forward to eating. In bed by 11:30, up at 7.


The 5th Avenue Mile is a legendary race that starts on 5th and 80th and goes south to finish at 60th. I wanted to finish in under 6 minutes. That would make me happy I told myself. They were to set off heats based on age groups, mine being at 10:15. I had plenty of time to spare and had some Bustelo and Irish Oatmeal to fuel up. Seeing an opportunity to bike ride before the race (as it was a beautiful day) I packed my race gear and headed out, planning to end my bike ride at the start of the race.

It all started so perfectly...

Then, at 6th Avenue and Spring Street (following one of my normal street routes) the chain on my track bike popped off. Those of you who understand the logistics behind track bikes know this is a rare occurrence as there are no gears and the chain is tightly secured around only one sprocket. The other issue when dealing with this is that, now, I have zero control over the bike aside from steering. The drive train is inoperable and there are no brakes. What to do? In an instant I am reminded of Fred Flintstone - I lean over and slam my left sneaker down on the pavement, eventually screeching to a stop. This drew the attention of a few early morning dog walkers, one of whom attempted to help me. As I popped the chain back on I missed the back cog and now the chain was jammed, making it so the tire wont turn. Great. It's 9:35, I have 40 minutes to gun time. I remembered that Bicycle Habitat was around the corner so I picked up my bike and started running. Luckily, they were open and I immediately expressed my need to fix the chain. The owner handed my a wrench and I went at it BUT the bolts were too tight. As I asked for more assistance the owner said that maybe I should leave it for service instead, implying I pay for their services. I told everyone I had a race to get to and then things changed. A real cool tech helped me out and in 5 I was on my way, everyone in the store wishing me luck in the race!

I was definitely riding too fast up to Central Park, but I was in a tight spot. I made it from soHo to 80th Street and 5th Ave in 10 minutes and had 15 to spare! I geared up and jumped into the crowd. I caught a glimpse of my pals Robert and Sarah who had just ran in their heat.

The gun fired and we were off.

I happened to be way back in my heat so I started picking off people and blazing down the right side of 5th. What was remarkable about this race was how quickly it was over. Next thing I know Im crossing the half way mark and Im really getting into the groove. Soon after, myself and a few others were pacing each other and really cooking down 5th. I had a lot of steam in me but wasn't sure if I was going to run short at the end.

200 Yards to go mark, still flying. Then I see it- the finish clock... it says 4:45! What!? Was I really going that fast? Something must be wrong ith the clock? All of a sudden I was in the position to finish in a sub-5 category which is unreal! I fired up the legs and really pushed hard those last few hundred yards. I think I crossed at 5:04 with a huge SEG on my face! (Shit-Eating-Grin) My actual time was 5:01 and next year Im going sub-5!

I grabbed some water, my 'commemorative metal water bottle' that I will never use and headed up toward my bike maybe hoping to run into Sarah and Robert. Once I was home I grabbed some food and thought 'Wow, tomorrow I have to run 18 miles. yikes.'

018 Run for the Cure - 5K

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks
23144.jpgOn Friday at work, as I pondered the upcoming Brooklyn Bridge Swim, I saw an Ad in the POST for a Breast Cancer charity run taking place on Sunday, the day after the swim. AND, the registration was a block away at the Hyatt on 6th Avenue. Destiny? Perhaps.

Sunday was a beautiful day, especially compared to Saturday's rainy mess.

I ran up 7th Avenue and into Columbus Circle to get to the start of the race. It was a charity run so it wouldn't be timed. Normally this would deter me, but it was a great cause and I had raced enough this season to keep me satisfied.

Everyone was in pink and getting pepped up. SIDENOTE: to any single males, 95% of the runners were female!

I had mentally prepared myself earlier for a crowded 'mayhem' of a scene and knew getting to the start line would be borderline impossible.

As I made my way through the crowd I heard "Baker!" It was Anna Silva! I stopped and said hi to the gals.

When the start gun went off it wasn't as bad as expected. We were headed up CP West which is very wide. As soon as it opened up I picked up my pace and started blazing up the left side of the crowd. It was very fun. My headphones are busted so I was running Sans-music.

Once we entered Central Park the crowd had thinned and everyone was moving at a good speed. I kept telling myself, "Charity, this is for charity, not to win." It was a beautiful morning for a run so I was taking in the beautiful Central Park morning scenery.  

I sprinted through the finish and kept going on to the water stations. I felt great (which is the whole purpose of all of this anyway). I hit a Starbuckers, grabbed a regular coffee and walked home, enjoying the quiet Manhattan morning.


017 Brooklyn Bridge Swim

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks
ViewPhoto.jpgSaturday morning was the annual Brooklyn Bridge Swim. Over 400 participants (NYC Swim's largest event) swim under the Brooklyn Bridge to the shores of Brooklyn! It is only 0.7 miles as well, which is in my opinion, an easy swim. Who wouldn't want to do that?

As Friday approached it was clear that the weather would be questionable for the swim. They do have serious safety regulations and if the current is too strong they have the option of canceling the event.

Rain, rain and more rain. All day. It was chilly as well. Now, in my mind, I do these singular swim events for the love of it, for fun. Unlike running or a triathlon, I know I have no chance of placing or winning for that matter. The lead swimmers in these events are animals, well actually, very graceful animals. My point is, if the weather was bad, I could easily bail on the swim.

After a work event around 11PM Friday night I called my swim coach and friend, Todd, who was doing the swim with me the next morning. He suggested I come stay at he and his wife Ila's place so we could leave as a team the next day. It was way late and I needed rest so I said I would meet them the next day at the South Street Seaport. This would make it easier for me to bail if I wanted to.

Wow did I want to. Now... I know a lot of my friends are like "oh Baker has so much energy he must never sleep or slow down.' False... and on this particular grey morning I was really enjoying laying in bed dozing. In my mind I had already given in to not swimming, sleeping was now the follow up event.

8AM: Text from Todd "Looks like this thing is on."

My response " Cool. Im not really feelin it though."

I got an immediate call from 'Coach Todd' after my last text...

Backtrack... Todd had broken his collar bone in 5 million places the day after we swam the Park to Park 2 Miler and had been training and getting back into action specifically for this swim.

"Bakes. Dude. So here's my deal. I've been training for this swim ever since I got back into physical therapy. I NEED to conquer this thing. "

Me, "I hear you! Okay cool, Ill get my camera and take pictures of you rockin it out!"

"No, I need you to swim it with me."


"Ok, Ill be at the Seaport in twenty."

I would later thank Todd for this pseudo pep talk. Sometimes you just need a little kick in the ass.

Arriving at the Seaport (or just North of it) I could see a few hundred swimmers gearing up. It was on. The buoys were all in place along the bridge and people were so excited. I think I have mentioned before, the swim crew is all fun and good vibes.

I met Todd and we geared up. We wore wetsuits but probably didnt need them. I personally like them because its the closest Ive ever felt to being a superhero or something. The organizer gave us a pep talk and our instructions, then we lined up.

I was number 53 which meant the second heat.

ViewPhoto-3.jpgAs I stepped out onto the natural beach with driftwood and brown sand I had flashbacks to another time. I am a history buff and this was like candy to me. This beach was amazing and as I stood knee deep, barefoot in the water my feet digging into the sand and shells, I could only think of early settlers fishing right off of this beach. It is something I will never forget.

The horn went off and into the water we went. It felt great as usual. People always ask me about the cleanliness of the water. Earth is a very resilient creature, and its moving bodies of water are constantly adjusting themselves pushing out trash and debris. The water, although dark and ominous, had a taste similar to that of any ocean I have swam in.

ViewPhoto-2.jpgAs I approached the first pylon my goggles started acting up and the right eye was taking in water. This is such a pain and really hinders getting into the swim zone. As I fixed my goggles a gal I made friends with on the shore (because of my odd mirrored open water goggles, hence her nickname for me) said "Hey Goggles! How ya doing over there?" Like I said, everyone is way cool at these things. "Im good, but my goggles are acting up. How are you doing?" She smiled and said "Slow and steady baby, finding my rhythm. Sorry about the goggles, see you in Brooklyn."

I moved ahead, but not before looking up at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge and thinking "Wow, what a rare view of a majestic creature." Every few minutes I got in the habit of quickly draining my right eye goggle, making the best of the situation. I was actually moving at a pretty good pace too, my stroke had indeed improved since my Triathlon.

Another product of the Triathlon is that, for the first time I was totally comfortable with other people swimming over me and all around me. Someone even kind of tickled my foot once and I almost lost it.

As we approached the end, I thought to myself, wow, what a good time and great way to start a Saturday. Jumping up onto the dock I ripped my goggles off my face, betrayed by them. I have already began to shop for a replacement pair.

ViewPhoto-5.jpgAt the hose down station Todd was like 4 people in front of me, we did a celebratory fist pound, we had done it again!


On a sad note... a man, Richard Harley, died from a heart attack mid race. He was 59 years old and an avid swimmer.

016 Central Park Biathlon: 1:05:15

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks






The Central Park Biathlon is Run 2 miles, Bike 12, then Run another 2... seemingly easy right? It is more difficult (in my mind) than a straight up Triathlon.

Saturday before the race was a busy day. On my morning bike ride around Central Park a bee flew into my shirt and stung me on the chest as I was flying down the back hill. I haven't been stung by a bee in like 20 years so I wasn't sure if I was going to have an allergic reaction as I rode up the hill on the other side.

Benny had a roof party all day which was fantastic... Bocce Ball... Beers... Friends... I left at 6 to get my race packet, clean up, and head to Amanda's birthday party.

She chose to have her party at the Boat Basin on 79th and the River, always a good choice. It was a real fun time. I even found out that a few gals I know grew up on the same lake that my 2 cousins Gillian and Cat live on. Small world. I didn't get to eat my standard 'night before' race food so I settled for a burger. I left around 11 or so and was in bed at midnight.


I woke at the super freakin early time of 6AM. Had some Cafe Bustelo and made my way up to CP. (the race Transitions and Start/Finish were at the Boathouse)

As I may have mentioned before, everyone was cool as hell. People of all ages were chatting and there was a totally good vibe pumping through the air.

My transition spot was totally filled by the time I got there. I had to rack my gear on some random spot. Lesson 1: Get to a race early. My friend Cenk said, "Its good to get there early to get your spot set up" I knew this from our last race and totally showed up late, losing my Transition spot.

We all moved to the start line and I was up with the 'fasties'. These guys looked very serious. We had a small 5 minute window then they sounded the gun!

Lesson 2. DO NOT run heavy duty sprint intervals 2 days prior to a race. This will turn your calves into baseballs. As we started running I totally felt tight and realized the mistake I had made. Must continue though...

The lead guy was a freakin animal and was easily running a 5:20 mile. I was in the lead 10 guys but this character was way ahead of the main pack. I got a look at him at the turn around and he was like 38-40 years old. props.

At T1 I was mildly quick getting on my bike and starting the 2 lap course in decent time. Lesson 3: get a new freakin bike! I was passed by at least 5 people on the bike course (2 of whom were riding the bike I am looking to buy, the Cervelo P2) hint, hint, right? It was a brutal ride as the Autumn winds were in full force. My legs were on fire too. I'm not used to running, then riding. Its normally the reverse.


Coming into T2 I was quicker to get my running shoes back on and head out onto the track for the final 2 mile run. I didn't get my full speed until maybe a mile had gone by. It takes some time for the legs to adjust after a bike ride. As I got my act together I started picking people off. I might have only passed 3 guys before closing in on the finish line. About 50 yards to the end I saw a guy ahead of me that gave me a reason to rock out my new traditional 'sprint like a maniac' through the finish. I beat him by like 2 seconds or something. Marissa was there waiting for me. High fives to her for waking up at 7:30AM on a Saturday to come cheer me on! She is also responsible for all the awesome photos. We sat in the sunny grass and watched the rest of the racers come in, cheering them on.


I finished in 16th overall and got another plaque for third in my age group. Once my body calmed down I felt amazing. SIDENOTE: the guy I sprinted past at the end was in my age group. Had I not sprinted at the end I would not have gotten an award! crazy right?

I don't know why right now I feel the need to hit people up with thanks and high fives, but why not. I don't have any real 'coaches' per se, but I consider anyone who has given me advice or trained with me a 'coach.' These are the people that push us to do better.


SWIM COACHES: Todd 'Swim Coach' Doyle, and Carla Uzel

BIKERS: only one... Jae 'the Hardy Boy' Hardy for telling me to buy a track bike 9 years ago.

RUN TEAM: Robert, Sarah and Antonio... some of the speediest Ive ever run with. Kevin Masse. My 'Dad Posse' Mike, Ed and Jim!

TRI: Cenk Uzel, for showing me the ropes!

STRENGTH: Asher Hoffman for those early years of prep.

MOTIVATIONAL: Ila Doyle, Marissa Bennett

Recent Comments

  • Sylvan: "Little did I know that the greatest cold front Florida read more
  • eliz: Nice race report!! So frustrated it took me so read more
  • eliz: Nice race report!! So frustrated it took me so long read more
  • eliz: Nice race report!! So frustrated it took me so long read more
  • RJR: I've never had any desire to run Disney, but after read more
  • Regina: Holy Crap! That is awesome and that is a weird read more
  • Morgan: Great recap Chris! You were totally killing it out there read more
  • MelissaH: I know that you're disappointed that you didn't BQ, but read more
  • Jenny: It really is a great medal! read more
  • Regina: Nice going. I also hate the city on those holidays, read more