marathon match

So yesterday was the annual trek out to Flushing Meadows for some tennis goodness at the US Open.  Thankfully, weather-wise, we looked to be getting a perfect day!  I tackled my hill repeats in the morning, then hit the LIRR to get out to Queenz.  I definitely recommend taking the LIRR to get to the Open-at least on the way there.  As the 7 train just sits in the station at Times Square and stops everywhere (or so it seems)…it was worth the $5 to get a quick ride out there.

As for the matches on tap-unfortunately the players me and the bro wanted to see the most (Novak Djokovic for me, Caroline Wozniacki for him) both had the night session.  But Roger Federer would be playing at Ashe around 1-ish, and even though I’m not really a Federer fan, I figure I have to actually see him play once.  So to kill some time, we did some shopping (love that Foursquare special with Amex-sync your Amex card and get a $10 statement rebate with a purchase of $20 or more!), hit up the “Food Village,” and indulged in a Honey Deuce-the signature cocktail of the Open.  Yeah, was a little pricey, but got to keep the glass, and it did come highly recommended by a coupla friends of mine…

refreshing! and love the melon ball "tennis ball" garnish 🙂

Me and the bro then took our Honey Deuces to Ashe stadium to wait for the match to begin.

We wound up staying for 2 sets of the Federer match…he took it in 3 sets.  Honestly, the match didn’t seem really exciting…the opponent really seemed overmatched, and it just seemed too easy for Federer.  (or maybe I’m a little biased because like I said, I’m not as much a fan of Federer as I am of Djokovic and Rafael Nadal…those 2 seem to have a little more of a spark.)  Plus, we wanted to get over to Louis Armstrong Stadium, as we had a feeling with the coupla matches coming up it would be packed.

And it was in the 2nd set of the Gael Monfils-Juan Carlos Ferrero match.  We had to go all the way to the other side of the stadium to find 2 seats together.  But it was worth it-boy was this match exciting!!  Tiebreakers and deuces up the wazoo.  Plus Monfils is a very entertaining player…I don’t know if I’d go as far as my brother who says Monfils is his new favorite, but he was so fun to watch-very animated and “acrobatic” as I heard someone else call him.  I thought Monfils could take it in the 4th set, as he won sets 2 and 3 and I felt he had the momentum.  But he was tiring, as my brother observed “his legs are gone…only using the upper body…he’s just gassed.”  And I was sorta reminded of last year, when I was watching the Federer-Djokovic semifinal in Madison Square Park with Lam and others, and Lam mentioned once the match hit 3 hours that “it was like a marathon” and I said “well maybe for you :)”  Now this match was truly a marathon-it went nearly 5 hours!  (hell for some, it would be an ultramarathon…lol)  No one deserved to lose this one, but Ferrero took it in the 5th set.

We stayed to watch the first set of Mardy Fish’s match-he seemed to be rolling over his opponent with the same ease as Federer had rolled over his, so it wasn’t as exciting to watch…or maybe we were just spoiled by the previous match!  But I will say, Mardy Fish does have some rowdy fans (apparently known as “The Fishheads”)…had some funny cheers which included “Go Fish!” (like the card game, get it?) and “Fish Time!”…I guess you had to be there to see/hear it 😛

After checking out a coupla minutes of one of the doubles matches at one of the smaller courts, we then decided to “bounce” and hit the 7 train to head home…til next year!!



madison square memories

So I think the little setup of the US Open viewings at Madison Square Park was absolutely genius…good location by both east and west side subways, a park that doesn’t get mobbed like Bryant Park does…just pull up a patch of grass (or a bleacher seat if you are lucky) and sit on a free seat cushion (or 2 or 3) and you’re set for a match or 2 🙂  And for me, I felt it was like coming full circle of sorts…9 years ago when I first moved into the city and lived on East 33rd, I used to be able to walk to work and cutting through Madison Square Park was a shortcut I’d take every day…so being there brought back memories…some good, some not-so-good (as I will go into later…)

Anyways, in order to spend a lazy Saturday lounging in Madison Square Park and watching the mens’ semifinals meant that I had to make sure I got my run done in the morning and any other chores done.  Well perfect, as the Fitness 4-miler was that morning and since it was a points race and I wasn’t racing, I should be good and cheer 🙂  I got to see the winner of the men’s race break the tape, then I ran north, opposite the race so I could cheer on the guys…Flyers, UA, or whoever else…as they approached the last stretch of the race.  The Flyer were led by our master blaster AP…with Lam hot on his heels!!  I’ll let Lam tell the rest of his story as it’s a good one 😉  I spotted the rest of the Flyer scoring men…MH, SJ and Cap’n DG.  (And don’t our men look fine?  Our scorers-minus DG caught on film-he got caught in the local gallery instead!)  Across 102nd, down the east side, seeing several peeps and a certain ObsceneCam™ in passing and stopped briefly at 72nd to catch the start of the women’s race.  Once they passed I headed west near the finish line…ran into Lam and AP and we watched the ladies come in.  Our women ran great…looked like there were a lot of PR’s in the house!!  I briefly regretted my choice of the 20K race instead of this one…it seemed like conditions were better for this one and maybe I would have had a race result I would have been happier with?  Nothing I can do about it at this point.  Anyways, headed home to get cleaned up…

…and head to da park for some semifinal fun!!  The Nadal match was 2 sets in by the time I got there, and he easily took the 3rd.  Ahh gotta love it, 1st semifinal + straight sets=more rest for Nadal.  And of course, I was hoping the Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer match would go 5 sets so whoever won would be less rested…but that fact aside, I had a feeling that a meeting of the #2 and #3 seeds would go 5 sets!!  I was hoping for a Djokovic win…I’m actually not a big Federer fan (anyone think Federer looks like Mr. Big from SATC, by the way?)  He is what I felt Shalane Flanagan was to women’s distance running for awhile…and I liked it when she got beat in a race…maybe I like to root for the “underdog” in a way?  It was sorta like that when Pete Sampras dominated tennis…

So anyways, it was an exciting match!!  The sets that Federer took (1st and 3rd) were long drawn out battles-both were 7-5.  The sets that Djokovic took (2nd and 4th)-he broke Federer early and just ran with it (6-1 and 6-2, respectively)  As Lam said several times-“once Federer gets broken, its all over”…or something to that effect.  And also when the match time hit 3 hours that “this was like a marathon”  (maybe for you kid…its a 20-miler for me, lol!)  And then came the 4-5 point in the match…when Federer had an opportunity to break and take the match with 2 match points-both squandered!!  But next game, it was Djokovic who broke it open so to say…and took the match with a 7-5 last set!!

I felt Djokovic’s reaction was very memorable…

That “OMG, did I really do this?  Did I really beat the great Roger Federer?” reaction.  I wish I could find a better picture that captured the moments right after the win…or actually video does the job (around 1 minute in)

So unfortunately today’s final got rained out…hope I can DVR it tomorrow as it’s during working hours…and I really think this will be an exciting final.  Though I’m pulling for Nadal, I wouldn’t be disappointed with a Djokovic win either.

Back to running!  Today was long run day and I definitely wanted to beat said rain.  My coworkers were actually participating in the Race for the Cure…walking it.  A couple were actually surprised I wasn’t doing it, but I had to get a long run in…with Chicago 4 weeks away, now’s not the time to be skipping long runs!  And the reason why I wanted to run long today instead of yesterday was to give myself another day between long runs (since the 20K was on Monday, and not on a weekend)  Maybe I could have run that and front-loaded and add on afterwards to get myself to 16 miles…but knowing my coworkers I had a feeling that would not have been able to happen, or happen easily.  Anyways, I came up with a good route to escape the madness…bridle paths to keep me off the park drives, then over to the west side highway and downtown, out and back over the Brooklyn Bridge.  And it was cool enough for me to wear arm warmers!!  (Actually I may not have needed them, but with 4 long runs left til Chi-town, I wanted to try them out on a long run to make sure they’d be OK to wear during the race.  And they were good!)  So 16 miles done, sans drama (no biker collisions or anything like that) and beat the rain!  One long run closer to taper time!!

And to bring back what I said earlier…about Madison Square Park and memories…kinda ties into the 9th anniversary of 9/11.  9 years ago that day, I remember walking to work (early!  I think I actually got to the office a little after 8 AM!) and walking through Madison Square Park, right that moment, thinking that weather-wise and everything else, seemed like it was a perfect day.  Of course at that moment I never would have known the exact opposite would be the case.  9 years later that same day, in Madison Square Park again, thinking about what a perfect day it was…great weather, running, friends and tennis.  Except for the memories of that day 9 years ago.

9/11/2001.  I still remember.

(many thanks to Bridges Runner for this fabulous photo!)

open for business

This was a t-shirt at the Nike booth at the US Open…I didn’t buy the shirt, but I couldn’t resist getting a picture of it!!

Thankfully Hurricane Earl spared NYC of any damage to Friday’s tennis schedule.  My brother and I were prepared if the weather got bad which thankfully did not happen.  There was rain which suspended play for 20 minutes at the most!  So we got to see some pretty good tennis…first off Elena Dementieva-Daniela Hantuchova, where Hantuchova coulda had the first set, but then seemed to suffer a mental collapse which cost her not just the first set, but the match as well.  We passed on the Kim Clijsters match in favor of visiting the “Food Village ” and other assorted stores and attractions…and yes, that included getting another pic taken.  This year no beers or big tennis balls, but I guess a trophy would have to do. 🙂

So next was Armstrong stadium to catch the beginning of the John Isner match (Kevin-I was actually looking around there to see if you were there 🙂 )  We stayed there until we got word that the Andy Murray match was gonna start up, so back to Ashe we went.  (My brother thought that since the Clijsters match was so quick that there would be a match moved to Ashe before the Murray one, but I had a feeling with the weather forecast being what it was, they would want to get all matches in ASAP.)  So we saw Andy Murray take the first 2 sets (though it looked like he was struggling a little in the first set!) and then decided to go back to Armstrong and see the rest of the Isner match (I was following along with that one on the CrackBerry-and as the third set went to tiebreak, the scoreboard on the CrackBerry said 79 to 67.  Meaning that the tiebreak was won 9 to 7…though with Isner, you never know!)  Anyways, by the time we got to the other stadium, Murray had taken the 3rd set 6-0 and we saw Isner close it out in the 4th set.

So next we decided to try and catch some doubles action on the number courts…first was the Melanie Oudin match which she lost in straight sets (we blame her doubles partner) then the end of the Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Meghann Shaughnessy-Caroline Wozniacki/Daniela Hantuchova…moreso to see what crazy outfit Britney-I mean Bethanie-would be wearing…she was rocking the hot pink and knee-high socks (compression socks?)  And actually, in the other doubles match it looked like 3 of the 4 women had the same purple top!  We called it a day after that one and hit the 7 train back to Manhattan.

And today I got wind of the Open being shown on a big screen in Madison Square Park so I popped by there to watch the end of the Nadal match 🙂 and part of the Murray match 😦  And thanks to the power of social media, I knew at least one pal would be there too 😉  Hmmm maybe I will have to make a return visit next weekend!

And in between all the tennis?  Some R & R…including, but not limited to margaritas at the Boat Basin, the heat wave finally breaking…and oh yeah, a pre-race mani/pedi (well moreso because my nails were a mess from the move.)

Fingers on the right, toes on the left.  I seem to like my toes in blue shades, this one is called Lapis of Luxury (by Essie.)  And for the last few months before races, I’ve been doing up my fingers in OPI‘s Lincoln Park after Dark…a la Kara Goucher in NYCM 2008 (not quite black nails, but close enough.)  It’s a thing.

So tonite was just chilling and eating pasta and early to bed, as I have a mad early train to New Haven tomorrow…eek!!  Alarm, don’t fail me pleasssseeee…

And some more Open pics for your enjoyment 🙂

fun with numbers

Talk about being on the ball.  We’re 6 and a half weeks out and MCM has already assigned us our bib numbers!!  (I seem to remember around this time last year, still having to wait another month for my NYCM number…oh and back in 2006, they waited til the absolute last minute…)  Anyways, I am the proud owner of…Bib # 8092.  So of course, now it’s time to obsess about the number and see if there are and hidden (read: lucky) meanings there.  Hmmm…well 8 plus 9 plus 2 is 19…and 1 plus 9 is 10….perfect 10?  Or 1 plus 0…number one!!  Wow, I wonder what else I can come up with….

Enough is enough there.  I just gotta get myself to the start line without psyching myself out or something.  So far this week…my “First Monday” run with the Flyers…and I ran down from the UWS to meet up with the group, so I got 10 total miles for the nite.  Was actually a nice nite…just me and the guys 🙂  After a lovely sunset run on the west side (and thankfully no biker collisions this time!) we “toasted”…or mourned, depending on your take on things…the end of summer at Chelsea Brewery…great way to spend the evening of Labor Day, before having to get back to reality (aka work) the next morning…sigh.

Some easy miles in the park last nite, some hard stuff this morning.  I remembered doing this workout at this exact week last year, and remembering it went very well too.  So I decided to do the best I could to try and replicate it, being that I don’t have access to a track in the early morning (so envious of those who live near the east 6th Street track…)  So I improvised…what I decided to do is use the Great Lawn Oval and have Mr. Garmin take .25 mile splits (.25 mile, 400 meters…close enough.)  Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as I would have liked….

I don’t know if Mr. Garmin was acting flukey (I know that at least the heart rate monitor was…some of those numbers make no sense!) or if that oval is actually part downhill part uphill, but as you can see my splits were all over the place, no consistancy…not happy with that (8:32 pace is not tempo for me!!  Or shouldn’t be.)  Part of the issue was that even at the early hour of 6:30 AM, the oval had quite the share of unleashed dogs, which I had to dodge more than once and threw me off once or twice or more!  (A friend of mine told me that the Great Lawn Oval is the only place where dog owners can let their dog off the leash before 9 am.  Definitely good to know for future reference.  Wish I had known before…doh!!)  And then for the last quarter mile…I was hoping to close strong and throw down better than the previous 1:37, but with around .05 mile to go, a truck was blocking the road…which forced me to take an alternate route and have to turn around, therefore slowing me down…oh well.

Well, what is worrying me is that this is the 2nd speed workout in a row where I’m not feeling great about it, didn’t have that “I nailed it” feeling that I’ve had before.  And being in the thick of training, it has me a little worried, especially hearing about a lot of other people having great workouts.  And I’m not sure what to do.  Am I overtraining and I should give myself a break from speed workouts and just concentrate on getting in the mileage?  Do something different?  This is where it sucks feeling like I’m going about this alone.  When I start to doubt myself and my training…and don’t know what the right path is to take.

Well, at least I have 2 “fun runs” in the next couple of weeks to look forward to.  This weekend will be a reprise of the “3 Bridges Run” that the Flyers and Urban Athletics put on last year.  Last year I led the 9:30 group-and wound up averaging a 9:31 pace overall, aren’t I the coolest? 🙂  So I was more than happy to step up and lead that group again this year.  Then next weekend’s half…and dear running gods, please be good to me that day and show me that my training is possibly on track.  That is all.

And ahhh…lotsa sports action tonite.  Derek Jeter tying the Yankees all-time hit record…and now the Federer match is on…the remote is being utilized a lot, flipping back and forth!!  And even though the Melanie Oudin match didn’t end the way I think a lot of people (including myself!) would have liked, this will definitely not be the last we see of her!!  And I can say I was there to witness her first upset at the US Open 🙂  I honestly don’t care who wins for the women right now but on the mens side…Nadal FTW!!! 🙂

money’s worth

arthur ashe stadium at the us open

another year, another US Open, another beautiful day.  Baby bro and I did our annual “Thursday before Labor Day” thang in Queenz 🙂  And always, hoped for the best in terms of what players we were gonna see…little disappointed that Andy Roddick had the night session, and that Andy Murray was playing today instead, but little did we know-we were in store for some exciting matches anyway!!

Oh and in the “we can’t go anywhere without seeing someone we know” files…I see one of my Flyer teammates, my brother sees a co-worker, and it turns out our cousin was visiting the Open too…so we met up with him for a little bit.  And of course, we got our usual pic in front of the big tennis ball-holding beers of course…wouldnt expect anything less of the 2 of us!!  That was just one of many, uh, refreshments consumed that day…

doesn't my running skirt look like a tennis skirt?And believe it or not, we did actually watch some tennis.  Saw 2 upsets on the women’s side in a row-#4 seed Elena Dementieva and then #5 seed Jelena Jankovic.  These two matches…different, but the same.  Both were over 2 and a half hour three-setters, where it could have been anyone’s match.  (and my cousin said that watching women’s tennis is boring!!  I mean yeah, the men are better for eye candy…and they can play too…:) )

So the James Blake match-which is the one I most wanted to see :)-didn’t start til around 5:30-which left us wondering what they were gonna do, as the night session started at 7 pm.  Guess they’d get the match in, but keep the TV breaks to a minimum and hope for a straight-setter!!  Blake took the first set, his opponent the second…so much for straight sets!!  Third set went to a tiebreaker…Blake was playing a little sloppy (lotsa unforced errors) but he pulled that one out.

Oh yeah-did I mention that at around 7 pm, everyone who had day session tix for the promenade (aka upper tier) were allowed to move down to the loge and take empty seats there-in other words, a free seat upgrade for the rest of the match!!  We were sure taking it 🙂  So yeah, we had a better view for the rest of the match…which Blake was able to take in 4 sets, he dominated that last set!!  No time to watch interviews-we had to get out of the stadium right away…where we saw the mass of humanity, otherwise known as the night session ticket holders waiting by the fountain to enter the stadium…and i’m sure after waiting for an hour and a half, they were restless!! 

As for me-just tired…long day, we were there for over 9 hours…hell, thats almost like a workday and I said that-but as my brother said “this is the furthest thing from work!”  Finally got home around 9:30ish…and couldn’t even stay awake to see the end of the Roddick match…

Well, we definitely got our money’s worth for our day session this year…some great tennis, a free seat upgrade, our session extended by an hour and a half-I’m sure when scheduling, no one expected the 2 womens matches to be 3-setters-and the second one with tiebreakers up the wazoo!  Ahhh, can’t wait til next year 🙂

another fine day at the open

me photographed by the official us open sponsored car.  and yes, thats a beer in my hand.Once again, me and baby bro took our annual day trip to Flushing Meadows for the US Open day session. Hoping there would be some good matches on the schedule yesterday-especially on the men’s side for me :)-and indeed…James Blake would be playing-I hadn’t been able to see him play yet (last year I got to see Andy Roddick, 2 years ago I got to see Rafael Nadal-who unfortunately was playing the night session this time!) This year, we definitely got our money’s worth…

First, proving the latest news, that the Grandstand court is the cool place to be…it was almost impossible to find 2 seats together, in the shade, with an unobstructed view (even if it wasn’t close enough) but grandstand courtfinally we did. First match we saw was of wildly dressed American player Bethanie Mattek, whose attire of the day seemed to be inspired by the beach volleyball team-or at the very least her sports bra was, with the top over that just as a formality (this pic can explain better than i can) After a while, we took to calling her “Britney”-all those “B” girls are the same :-p Anyway, she was done in straight sets (complete with “a couple of screaming outbursts, one of them including an expletive that invited a warning from the umpire” in the second set)

…then came the match on the Grandstand court that we really wanted to see, that of Brit player Andy Murray. And it was a great first set, both players really on their game, but Murray was broken quickly in the 2nd set. We had to leave during that set to get over to Ashe stadium, as the James Blake match was about to start…

james blake…and it was underway by the time we got some more, uh, refreshments and found our seats. Blake didn’t look to be having a good day at all though…he was making quite a few errors and let the first set get away from him. Did appear more dominant in the next set and took that one…then with the third set just barely underway, his opponent retired with a back injury. Damn! If only we had known…we would have been better off staying for the rest of the Murray match, as apparently that turned out to be an exciting one!!

We wound up staying for one more match-women’s #1 Ana Ivanovic had her match moved over to Ashe stadium. This was probably the best match of the day that we saw…Ivanovic was playing a French qualifier ranked #188th, but she was having her work cut out for her…as she made a lot of errors and lost the first set. She managed to make less errors and save herself by winning the second set…but lost the 3rd set (even after her opponent squandered 2 match points by double-faulting!)-leaving us to witness an upset (according to the press, “one of the biggest upsets in tennis history!”) that no one would have called!!

Finally leaving at 6:30, we called it a day and headed on the 7 train back home. Til next year!!

maybe blue moon isn’t the best carbo-loading source

For the record-despite what the post title says, said Blue Moons were not my sole carbo-loading source last nite. Actually, I wasn’t planning to indulge, but I had a request from a coupla friends to meet up for a drink or two so why not. And I wasn’t planning on getting loaded with an early wake-up call this morning.

So today, to finish off week 1 of marathon training, I did my long run at Rockefeller State Park. Although I knew other Flyers were doing a long run in Central Park…hmmm, Rockefeller vs. the CP bridle paths, tough decision!! I wanted to do about 12 miles, which I thought was completely doable (never mind the fact that I hadn’t run that far since the very beginning of this year.) C’mon, I do 16-mile training runs in Central Park at 9:30 pace!! 12 miles is EASY!

map of todays run

Good lord, even though I have run there before, I forget how nasty the hills are. I’m sure you can tell from my splits what the worst of it was (and where the downhills were too!) But man, this was the toughest long run I’ve done in awhile, and the mental demons definitely did get to me in the last 2.1 miles, I was at the “just move your feet as fast as you can without stopping and walking” point. (Though throughout there was a lot of cursing and “I hate you all!” under my breath :-p) Thankfully-the predicted rain held off…and actually wasn’t brutally hot for a change!!

Boy did that long run humble me, I know what I’m capable of and it’s better than this…guess I am not as hill trained-or distance trained-as I thought!! I did briefly wonder if I was falling into the overtraining trap again but I don’t think thats it (plus my RHR has actually gone down a few beats since I checked last-which as far as I know, contradicts that.) Nope, I just think that if I want to break 4 again, I’m gonna have my work cut out for me for the next 17 weeks-no resting on the laurels of 2006. Wish me luck…

Needless to say, after that run, brunch and then even more beers when returning to the city was just what the doctor ordered. As well as watching a killer Wimbledon final…GO Nadal!!! I so hope I get to see him play again at the US Open this year 🙂

Man, this has been an exciting sports week!! Even more dramatic moments at the Olympic trials…

  • The womens 5K final!! I’m sure Shalane Flanagan thought she had it wrapped up, but guess again…Kara Goucher and Jen Rhines gave a sneak attack at the very end that she couldn’t respond to! I was glad to see Kara win after coming in second in the 10K, and I like Jen Rhines because she supports the whole “you-don’t-have-to-run-marathons-to-be-a-runner” thing :-p
  • And on the topic of Kara, did anyone notice this comment she made in her post-race interview? “I told my husband and my coach that I’d do them both if I won.” Yeah of course-she was gonna do both the 5K and 10K in the Olympics!! Some people, who will remain anonymous (well considering they post on LetsRun, of course they’d be anon!) thought otherwise. :-p You be creative and figure out what the misconception was.
  • Tyson Gay in the 200m-YIKES!! Here’s hoping he rehabs in time for the Games
  • Great run by Anthony Famiglietti, he just dominated the steeplechase!! Nice to see one who’s a regular on the NYRR race scene win big 🙂

Now that the trials are over, I can actually get to sleep at a decent hour. At least until August 8th! 🙂