Category Archives: New York

2015: The Year in Joggling

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At the Yonkers Marathon in October. In spite of some difficulties, I managed to complete it.

2015 was a particularly eventful year in the world of joggling. It had its highs and lows, the biggest low by far was when Michal Kapral was not allowed to joggle the NYC Marathon by the fascists who organize the event. He ran the event without juggling and made big news anyway. For a synopsis on all that happened in the joggling world in 2015, read Michal Kapral’s post, The Year in Joggling 2015.

In my neck of the woods in the world of joggling, I’ve also had my highs and lows, with my low point being the disaster that was the Yonkers marathon. Due to knee issues on an especially hilly section of the race, it was my slowest marathon ever, finishing in over 4 hours. By some miracle I didn’t drop the balls, and besides this, during the marathon I joggled my fastest 30k(2:29:36), half-marathon(1:39:15), 10 mile(1:13:23), and 15k(1:08:07) ever. The crowd support was priceless and often pretty funny. The lesson learned from this is to take it easy on the hills. Luckily this knee issue/injury was minor, and I am currently joggling long distances again.

Besides this, earlier last year I completed another Looper Bowl, though as a runner, not a joggler. Even I’m not crazy enough to joggle on a snowy, hilly trail for several miles. This hilly trail run was held in early February during an arctic blast after several snow storms, so there was a lot of snow on the ground. My feet are still angry at me for what I put them through at the beginning of this run when it was only a few degrees above zero, though I had fun overall and didn’t get lost this time. Had even more fun joggling in the city during the summer.

In November, much to my surprise, I was mentioned and quoted in the NY Times in their article about Michal Kapral, “Running While Juggling Is Banned by Marathon Organizers”, even though I had nothing to do with this event. Also quoted were joggling super-stars Zach Warren, circus performer and development worker in Afghanistan who has broken world records in unicycling and joggling, and Richard Alec Ross, a development worker in Central African Republic, who, among his other duties teaches joggling to refugee children.

The more time goes by and I forget about the bad, the more 2015 looks like an extraordinary year of joggling. It may not have been my best year, or the year in which public perception of joggling has changed for the better so that it’s seen as a sport and not as a circus act, but we can dream. More importantly, I also dream of the world going vegan; it’s fantastic being able to combine two things that I love. In the mean time, I will continue to joggle, and intend to make 2016 my comeback year; besides this, I’ve also recently taken up a cross-training activity that I will get to in another post.

 

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Summer Joggling Highlights

I’m sorry if my absence has worried anyone. The rumors about me drowning while juggle-swimming out to sea are greatly exaggerated. No, I haven’t forgotten you, my dear readers, it’s just harder to blog consistently when I spend so much of my free time outside during the summer. Though I haven’t joggled any official races so far this year, lots of exciting things have been going on recently, some of which may be difficult to believe. I don’t blame you if you don’t believe what follows.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this summer:

On Sunday, June 14th I joggled all the way from Mount Vernon to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, a distance of 23.3 miles. It took me 4 hours and 8 minutes to complete this journey from the quiet suburbs to the noisy maelstrom that is the Big Apple, and I didn’t drop the balls once. It was in the mid 70s at the beginning and 85 toward the end. I ran this exact route before back in November 2013, but I dropped several times.

The reason it’s a big deal to me that I didn’t drop during this run is all the endless distractions on this route, especially after leaving Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The heat and humidity and the fact that it was almost totally cloudless that day also weren’t very helpful. Since the Hudson river path runs along the West Side highway, there’s a ton of noise from all the traffic, as well as exhaust fumes. On the path there were many cyclists, runners, skaters, and the occasional freak. It got crowded at times and I had to run around many people. I had to take several short breaks to refuel or rehydrate.

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I got a lot of comments and support as usual, but I think some Manhattanites are kind of used to joggling. Even with everything going on, I did surprisingly well and had no major fumbles. I was exhausted the last few miles and upon completing I was ecstatic. I was shocked that I didn’t drop once while running the entire length of Manhattan and then some! Besides weariness, I was dealing with sensory overload from big city craziness. This is why I don’t run in the city very often. After runs like this, I appreciate joggling in the woods a lot more.

Besides this, I managed to not drop at all during all joggling runs from July 7, to July 21, for a total of 102 miles of dropless joggling. My previous record was 70 miles without dropping. Yes, I did drop while doing juggle chi many times during this time frame, but that’s a completely separate activity. I came very close to dropping so many times during that 2 week no drops streak. It will be difficult repeating that. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this indicates I can joggle a 100 mile ultra-marathon without dropping.

Though it feels good to not drop, it comes at the expense of not challenging myself enough. In part, I was able to do this because I avoided doing some complex tricks that I still struggle with. However, I did plenty of simple tricks. It often got unbearably hot during those 2 weeks, but making sure I was properly-hydrated and had enough electrolytes helped prevent any serious heat issues.

On top of this, to celebrate the long awaited grand reopening of the old High Bridge, I joggled across it twice on July 25th. It had been closed for over 40 years and the city only recently finished renovating it. It was a really big celebration with so much going on on both sides of the bridge and even on the bridge. This historic bridge, which is the oldest in New York City, goes over the Harlem river and connects Manhattan to the Bronx(it’s a pedestrian-only bridge). The High Bridge was originally part of the Old Croton Aqueduct which I’ve mentioned many times before since I often run on the trail that follows the path of the now defunct aqueduct in Westchester county.2015-07-25 12.34.32

 

I’ve been meaning to do this forever. I remember driving under or near this ghostly structure countless times during my childhood. But this relic was impassible, and in desperate need of repair. So now it’s finally open, and it’s much easier for pedestrians and cyclists to get from Manhattan to the Bronx. I felt so ecstatic crossing it while juggling, and many people were very amused. It’s possible I’m the first person to joggle across the High Bridge, unless some other jogglers in the area beat me to it. The day I joggled across the bridge(I didn’t drop), I also noticed some unicylists on it who probably had the same idea. The kids loved it! Later on, along with some friends and as a walking juggler, I took part in this Giraffe(giant paper mache giraffe heads)parade across the bridge, and the kids loved that too.

How am I able to do this? It requires a lot of dedication, but the rewards are endless. All this acrobatic fun is the end result of a very healthy lifestyle that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, and knowing how to deal with stress. Indeed, joggling may be one of the best ways to deal with stress since it is such a powerful, full-body exercise. It puts your mind in this unique “zone” that makes it more difficult for stress to get to you. That it makes people around you smile is a nice bonus.

 

The WNY Vegfest

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The WNY Vegfest in Delaware park, Buffalo, New York

Last week’s Vegfest in Buffalo’s Delaware park was a blast! It surpassed my expectations and even the expectations of the organizers. It was a big success thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the gang at Vegan Pathways and others. To think this is the first one; next year it should be even bigger. They originally expected 2,000 people to attend. Turns out over 5,000 attended, and there are reports that some people went vegan as a result of some of the talks(in particular by Georges Laraque).

There was so much going on at this fest it would be difficult to encapsulate it all in one post. There was an almost endless variety of delicious vegan food, inspiring speakers, live music provided by Alison Pipitone and the Skiffles Minstrels(these guys are really good!), hilarious puppeteers, and so many other things. I found the martial arts performers from Master Chong’s World Class Tae Kwon Do among the most inspiring, along with various yoga(Acro Yoga Buffalo) and acrobatic performers doing incredible athletic feats that put me to shame.

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Were some of you expecting me to run in my underwear?

The Tofurky Trot 5k at the beginning of the fest was thrilling. I joggled the entire distance without dropping. I was a bit concerned I might drop due to my unfamiliarity with the layout of this park. Though I’ve been to Buffalo before, I’ve never been to Delaware park. I think I managed to complete the race in 20 minutes, 5 seconds. The crowd support was incredible, thanks to everyone for cheering me on. It was awesome running with so many other vegans(and a few almost vegans), including Georges Laraque, Andrew Peters, and Esther the Wonder Pig’s dads running in their underwear. The Buffalo Joywalkers danced the entire 5k!

When not eating or talking with other vegans, I would walk around the fest while juggling. A lot of people, especially children, enjoyed it, especially when I dropped. It was great connecting with so many other vegans, almost vegans and people curious about veganism. I feel bad for not staying the entire time, but I had to drive nearly 400 miles through the rain to get back home.

Overall, an epic race and awesome celebration of the vegan lifestyle. A big thanks to everyone who attended. If you couldn’t make it this year, be sure to come by next year. Niagara Falls isn’t that far away, and the Buffalo area has a lot to offer. Thanks to everyone who attended for making this a big success!

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Longest run and an injury

2014-01-15 09.42.21On Wednesday the 15th, I ran more miles than ever before, completing a 30 mile run in 6:15. I ran as far north as Briarcliff Manor, and ran halfway back to White Plains before taking the train home. It was very foggy, almost dream-like when I started, but the sun came out later during this epic northward run.

The main reason I ran slowly was due to this soreness in my right knee that got increasingly worse after the first half of the run(I was also carrying juice and many energy bars). It seems to be some kind of overuse injury, though I am not sure which one. Running 84 miles in 6 days wasn’t such a great idea after all, though it was hard to resist due to the unseasonably warm weather.

When I stand still, I don’t feel anything in my knee. If I walk, I feel a little bit of soreness in my right knee and the bending movement doesn’t feel as smooth as it used to. If I run, it feels very sore and awkward, like I may pull something and make the injury worse.

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The sun came out later. A meadow near Briarcliff Manor, just after the midway point of the run.

Hopefully, this will heal fast. I’ll stay off it for a few days to a week to see what happens. I’ve been injured many times, and have always recovered to a point that I was even better than before. Ever since tearing the medial meniscus and ACL in my right knee in my mid teens during my first ever “long” run, my right knee has always been my bad knee. As a result, my right knee is usually more sore than my left knee after long runs.

While I recover, I will do a lot of juggling for cardio and a lot of walking if I can manage. I will also strength train my legs. Not being able to run is starting to affect my mood, but I will persevere. Do not worry about me. I hope everyone is having fun with their endurance activities. I got to remember to not over do it!

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and support.

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A Happy and Healthy New Year!

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A Happy New Year to all my friends and followers! Thank you for making 2013 a great year for Wild Juggling. I hope you all have a very healthy, and exciting 2014.

Breaking distance record on Christmas Eve

Screenshot from 2013-12-24 17:19:0828.79 miles – The most miles I’ve ever run. According to some people, this makes it an “ultra-run” since it is more than a marathon. It took me and the Meet-Up group I ran with 5:37 to complete, but this was due to it being a casual kind of run, not a fierce competition. We also stopped many times to get snacks or water from stores along the route, to take photos, to make jokes, and to make sure the group stayed together. And by chance, we ran into Vincent Chiappetta, co-founder of the NYC Marathon in Van Courtlandt Park! We chatted with him a bit. He’s in great shape, though he told us he is more of a walker than runner these days.

The run started in Bryant Park on 42nd street at 8 AM which is in Midtown Manhattan and very close to Times Square, and ended in Tarrytown, New York. We went north on 6th avenue, through Central Park(first time I joggled through there), then along the Hudson river, then into the Bronx, then crossed into Westchester county and ran north along the Old Croton Aqueduct trail.

It was an amazing group of runners, everyone from the slowest to the fastest was very enthusiastic and supportive. Some onlookers were also very supportive. Helen and Mike who I finished with(only 3 out of the 8 runners who attended completed the entire run) are accomplished ultra-runners, and it felt great running with such accomplished, inspiring people. They offered a lot of great advice, and I could feel their energy as I trailed them by a few feet.

The weather was cold and dry, but it was clear skies through the entire run. I felt the Christmas spirit in the air, which provided a little extra warmth. The Croton trail wasn’t as muddy as I thought it was going to be due to all the recently melted snow and rain. I juggled for maybe 75% to 80% of the time, since I would eat or drink sometimes while running, and some areas were too crowded or rocky. I dropped the balls I think 4 times. I feel a little sore now; I had a little trouble going up and down stairs after the run.

All in all a great experience – it feels great to have broken through another distance barrier. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Congratulations to all finishers of the NYC Marathon!

A big congratulations to Geoffrey Mutai, the winner of the NYC Marathon, and congratulations to everyone who finished. The NYC Marathon is one of the best ways to celebrate the amazing place that is New York City. There were so many inspiring stories in the news about many of the runners, it would be difficult to mention them all. I was moved by so many of them, and I am sure they will inspire many others. They inspire me to continue running and to participate in marathons.

Even on the very short run I went on half an hour ago, I could feel the “energy” of the marathon, running a little faster than usual as a result. I didn’t run the NYC Marathon this year, but maybe I will run it next year.

Keep on running! (and joggling!)

Joggling the entire length of Manhattan and more!

When I said “I’m back in business!”, I meant it! Yesterday on Halloween I joggled 23 miles(37 km) in 4 hours from lower Westchester county to the southern tip of Manhattan in Battery park, 16 days after donating a pint of blood. This involved running the entire 13.5 mile(21.7 km) length of Manhattan island, almost entirely along the Hudson river bike/pedestrian path which runs along the West Side Highway. This is the farthest south I’ve ever run, so I ended up taking the train back home. The other 9.5 miles of my journey come from running through the suburbs of Westchester and the Bronx, and the occasional westward run out onto the docks on the west side(the run south wasn’t a straight line). The path is mostly flat, except in northern Manhattan where it is hilly in some parts.

The orange line going south was my path.

The orange line going south was my path. I started out using the Putnam trail until I got to route 9(in the Bronx).

I’ve been wanting to run the entire length of Manhattan island for years now. I kept putting it off, but now it feels great that I was able to accomplish this – while juggling almost the entire time. Somewhere near west Harlem, the path is blocked off due to some construction, so I had to make a detour onto some side streets. I was prepared for this since I read about it on an online cycling site. Fortunately, this detour onto the mean streets was only a few blocks.

Along the way, many other runners and walkers asked if I was ready for sunday or if I was going to do this during the NYC Marathon, which is on sunday, november 3rd. I said no, and mentioned I did the Yonkers Marathon about a month ago. While I do not qualify for the NYC Marathon, even if I did I still wouldn’t run it because of how expensive it is.

I did drop the balls a bunch of times, but I think no more than 8, and always while doing tricks. These school kids taking a Halloween day school-trip along the Hudson path loved the joggling! Since it was Halloween, I often saw demons, zombies, vampires, ghouls, lawyers(the scariest of them all!) and other scary, interesting creatures both along the path and out on the city streets. It was hilarious how so many zombies and vampires on the loose of the streets of New York City would look at me all perplexed as I joggled past. I considered wearing a devil or zombie costume while running, but I freak out people enough as it is.

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Although I have run and walked the Hudson river path before, I never covered a significant distance. It was so intimidating, seeing these skyscrapers in the far distance to the south in lower Manhattan and thinking to myself that I have to run past them. Ordinarily, when running in the suburbs or rural areas, I can’t see landmarks I will have to pass or make my turn-back point 12 miles in the distance(except for big hills or mountains). This was especially the case with the nearly completed Freedom Tower, which was built on the World Trade Center site. I felt thrilled when I finally ran past it. It was also inspiring how the city bounced back after the horrific tragedy on september 11th.

It felt fantastic running along a large body of water for once. The mighty Hudson is a real river, unlike the Bronx “river” I usually run along, which is more like a stream. It was a cloudy day and there was a sweet breeze coming off the Hudson that kept me cool. At one point, I think it was at mile 14, it started raining for a few minutes and I got very wet. I don’t think I hit the wall, though I was kind of tired by mile 18.

If it wasn’t for the crowds and busy streets in the Bronx, in upper Manhattan, and also in lower Manhattan(had to make another detour near the Freedom Tower to make my way to Battery park), I probably would have completed this run at least 15 minutes faster. I was reduced to walking in some crowded areas, and sometimes slow running without juggling, not to mention all the times I had to stop because of the heavy traffic. On the Hudson path from Washington Heights to about 14th street though, there were hardly any major interruptions. I was wearing my vegan T-shirt on this run.

All in all, a great experience!

I hope everyone is doing great and hope you all had a great Halloween! And to everyone running the NYC Marathon or any other races, I wish you the best of luck!

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The Statue of Liberty, as seen from Battery park

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Back in business!

If you remember my post from october 19th, “13.1 mile run to Valhalla again“, I was much slower than usual. This was mostly due to donating blood 3 days before the run. It took me 2 hours and 18 minutes to run the 13.1 miles to Valhalla, while I can normally run this distance in a little less than 2 hours. I was slow pretty much all of last week, even on my 22 mile run(or better yet, “slug crawl”) to “Little Iran”.

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Shiraz restaurant in “Little Iran”, Elmsford, New York

Now, it appears my blood has mostly recovered. Today, 14 days after the blood donation, and 30 days after the marathon I managed to run 13.6 miles to Hastings and back in 1 hour 58 minutes. During the run, a cyclist acquaintance of mine tried to pretend he was juggling while cycling after he passed me. It was really funny, and I gotta say, he shows a lot of potential to be a good juggler-cyclist! Besides this, I felt like I was in top form during most of the run(even when running up hills), and didn’t feel totally exhausted afterwards. Right now I still feel very energetic, compared to how I often felt last week.

While the main reason I donated blood was to do a good deed, I was also interested in experimenting to see how much slower I would get and how long it would take to recover. Just as I suspected, it isn’t a big deal and I encourage all healthy people, athletes and non-athletes to donate whenever possible.

Now I am almost back to the way I was before, thanks to eating a lot of iron rich foods and supplements, and can work on improving my speed again.

13.1 mile run to Valhalla again

Screenshot from 2013-10-19 09:27:04I love saying “I ran to Valhalla”. I did it again. And again, no, I am not crazy, I mean the town here in New York, not the grand hall in Asgard in Norse mythology where warriors go after dying in battle.

I managed to run 13.1 miles to Valhalla yesterday, 19 days after running the marathon, and 3 days after donating a pint of blood. This is my first almost long run after donating. Mostly due to the blood donation, it took me 2 hours and 18 minutes to complete this run, much slower than usual. I’m far from anemic, but I could feel an obvious difference, especially when running up hills. I felt weaker than I usually do while running this distance, and also had this weird, hard to describe feeling much of the way. My speed suffered as a result, and I dropped the balls more than usual.

I am currently eating a lot of iron rich foods to replenish my lost red blood cells. Within a week, or 2 weeks the most, I should be back to normal(I think it is safe to say I am fully recovered from the marathon, this isn’t an issue for me anymore). Still, it feels great knowing that my blood was used to help some sick people.