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Paine to Pain half marathon 2016 race report

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The Paine to Paine which took place this past Sunday was my first time ever running or joggling an official half-marathon or trail race. An almost, but not quite, new experience for me. This is also my first official race since I injured myself at the Yonkers Marathon last year(it totally healed). As a marathon joggler, I figured a half-marathon should be easy; for the most part, it was. The real challenge of this race is that much of it is an obstacle course of tree roots, jagged rocks, and hilly twists and turns. Good thing I often train on trails!

So I awoke at 6:15 the day of the race, well-rested and ready to take on the trails. I slept really well, and wasn’t nervous at all the night before, unlike how I slept the night before the Yonkers marathon last year. I had my usual breakfast of Weetabix with raisins and sunflower seeds, put on my running attire, grabbed my balls, and I was out the door. Though the race started at 9:00, I wanted to get there extra early, no later than 8:30.

Some people I ran into before the start were shocked over the idea of joggling a trail race. “Seriously, you’re actually going through with this?”, they would ask. “Joggling a road race is difficult enough, but a trail race, come on!”, is another common remark.

The race is called the “Paine to Pain” because it starts at the Thomas Paine cottage in New Rochelle, New York and well, the other “pain” is pretty obvious to anyone who has run it. It is a loop course that goes through several different towns on the Colonial Greenway, of which the Leatherstocking trail is a large sub-section. Since Thomas Paine is a kindred spirit, I love the idea of this race starting at his cottage and being named for him. Regarded as the philosopher of the American revolution, he was a highly influential proponent of Enlightenment values, and was an early abolitionist. I recommend visiting his cottage in New Rochelle if you’re in the area.

We couldn’t have asked for better running weather on race day. “Perfect” doesn’t begin to describe it. Clear skies and in the 50s just before the race and slowly rising into the 60s a few miles in. After months of brutally hot weather, the slight chill in the air at the beginning was more than welcome. My goal was to to complete in less than 2 hours.

So at 9:00 the gun goes off and the first wave of runners is off! Since I was part of the second wave, I had to wait a minute before I could start. Finally nervous with anticipation, I go to the back of wave 2 to avoid being in anyone’s way, and before I know it it’s wave 2’s turn to start.

The support at the start was pretty amazing with lots of spectators lining the streets, many of whom were surprised by my joggling. The first mile of this race is on the streets, so it didn’t feel like the race had really begun until I got to the first leg of the Leatherstocking trail close to the Larchmont border. I took it easy with the first mile, and also with mile 2.

Since I’ve done this trail a few times before, there weren’t any surprises. Juggling while running over rocks and tree roots may sound ridiculously difficult to you, but with enough training it is doable. I kept myself as much to the side as possible in case anyone wanted to pass me on the narrow trail, and a lot of runners did just that. I occasionally passed some slower runners whenever the trail widened. I generally got a lot of support from my fellow runners.

When things got really difficult during some steep rocky climbs, I would ask myself “why the hell am I doing this?”. I finally dropped the balls a little after mile 6 during a minor stumble. The beauty of the morning sun shining through the trees, the sweet birdsong, the earthy aroma of the forest, all while joggling over difficult terrain is an ineffably wonderful experience.

Whenever the trail widened enough and there weren’t too many rocks in the way I increased my speed, often passing a lot of runners. There wasn’t much support out there except at occasional street crossings where the locals and volunteers were pretty enthusiastic. Thank you people of Mamaroneck! When I arrived in Saxon Woods, I was in very familiar territory, having run these trails countless times. After zigzagging its way through the forest and going around these giant glacial rocks, the trail widened to the point that I was able to pick up my pace and pass many other runners in Saxon Woods. I occasionally traded places with a few runners, which got kind of funny after a while. The trail then starts turning south near the Golf course where I finally got some water at around mile 8.

Feeling renewed, I was able to maintain a speedy pace for a few miles, though rocks and slow runners on narrow sections sometimes hindered me. Also my left ankle bothered me a little bit at this point since I almost sprained it about a month ago. I dropped again around this point. I asked again “why am I doing this?”, and I would answer myself: “This is who I am”.

At mile 11 we entered Twin Lakes Park, a place I visit so often it’s my second home. Still doing a brisk pace, I dropped yet again and felt really frustrated that time. In part this frustration was due to being so familiar with this area because of all the joggling and unicycling I have done there. Surely I should know this area like the back of my hand. Going south, the trail snakes its way under the Hutchinson River Parkway and now we’re in Nature Study Woods on the wild periphery of New Rochelle.

Knowing I don’t have much longer to go before I reach the finish line at New Rochelle high school, I convince myself to push myself even more to make sure I complete in under 2 hours. I’m starting to feel a little sore, but it didn’t significantly slow me. At this point there are a few rocks here and there but they were easy to run around.

Finally, we’re out of the dark woods and into the bright sunlit streets again for the last mile, with lots of spectators and cheerleaders cheering us on.

I see the high school in the distance and start running like a maniac. 300 meters or so from the finish line and I drop one last time. I cross the finish line and I’m ecstatic, and so is everyone watching.

I finished in 2:01:25, with an average pace of 9:16/mile. Just a tiny bit faster and I could have finished in under 2 hours(my half-marathon PR when training on roads is 1:39), but I still felt elated over my accomplishment. Though I dropped the balls 4 times, I didn’t fall once. Though I felt fatigued, I didn’t feel as bad as I normally do at the end of a full marathon.

This really is a great race not just for connecting with history but for connecting with nature without having to travel too far from the big city. Some parts of the trail, particularly in Saxon Woods, take you through wilderness zones that make you feel like you are a thousand miles away from civilization.

All in all this was a great race experience, even with all the drops. It definitely was a worthwhile challenge joggling a trail race. I often found it more intellectually than physically challenging; what long-term effect this may have on the brain remains unknown but I’m excited about the possibilities.

A big thanks to Founding Father Eric Turkewitz for organizing this event and allowing me to joggle it. I’d also like to thank all the good-humored volunteers for making this an amazing race experience. Congratulations to everyone who completed this event, it was a pleasure running with you.

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Related post:

Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon 2016

 

 

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My Segment on Plant-Based by Nafsika

In case you missed my segment on Plant-Based by Nafsika: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1NHYHNfloQ

Joggling the Looper Bowl

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At the Looper Bowl finish line

Many people think joggling is difficult enough as it is. Why would anyone try to make this ridiculous activity any more complicated? Yet there are 5 ball and even 7 ball jogglers; jogglers who do tricks while joggling; backwards jogglers like Joe Salter, who plans to set a 50 mile backwards joggling record in October.

Then there are jogglers like me who love to joggle hilly trails. Even in wintry conditions.

Earlier this month I joggled the Looper Bowl 10k up in Pound Ridge, NY for the first time. The last 2 times I just ran it since I wasn’t up for the challenge of joggling it. The first time I ran it, I didn’t have that much trail joggling experience, and though I considered joggling it the second time it was too cold and the snow on the trails was much deeper.

This time it was just under 20F at the 8 AM start, and it got a little warmer during the run. Besides this, the trail was only partially covered with snow. So the conditions were just right for my first attempt at joggling this treacherous trail. For safety reasons I was one of the very last of the 50 participants to start the race.

For about the first 2 miles through this winter wonderland I felt alright except for my hands. They felt cold in spite of the fact that I had on heavy duty gloves. By mile 3 they felt fine after I warmed up. I think this was the greatest obstacle course I’ve ever joggled through: other runners, endless twists and turns, ups and downs, rock outcroppings, tree roots, ice, mud, and sometimes the snow was a challenge to joggle though. This was a really big challenge since I am not used to joggling on such a course. My eyes were kept extremely busy looking down and ahead to make sure I didn’t trip over anything and also to ensure I could maintain my juggling pattern through the endless unevenness.

I managed to joggle drop-free until I got to about mile 3, thanks to a hill so steep the trail was almost vertical. I dropped 2 times on that monster, and ended up having to climb to the top on all fours because of its steepness and slipperiness. Upon reaching the top I felt frustrated but quickly regained my composure. About a mile later I fell and dropped because of some slippery rocks, but was back on my feet in no time. I really picked up the pace during the last mile and a half when the trail was a lot smoother, passing a few runners in the process. Something had come over me, like some ancient forest spirit possessed me and helped push me forward all the way to the end without any further drops.

In spite of everything, I managed to maintain a 9:35/mile overall pace, completing this 6.2 mile run in 1:01 and 46 seconds. Toward the end, my brain was more tired than anything. I got so much support from my fellow runners that day, they seemed to enjoy the joggling. I had a fantastic time. Believe it or not, I wasn’t the craziest one out there; the runners who went through rather than over the nearly waist deep water were the really crazy ones. Very inspirational. Maybe I’ll try that next year. Thanks to the Leatherman Lunatics, uh I mean Leatherman Harriers for organizing this event. You all did great!

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.

 

A Spring Breakthrough

The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail several weeks ago

The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail several weeks ago

It’s an understatement to say that the winter we just experienced here in the northern U.S was especially brutal. As soon as one wicked snow storm passed through, another quickly followed, often dumping several more inches of snow on the several inches already on the ground. To make matters worse, the extreme cold greatly slowed the melting process, seemingly making large snow mountains permanent features of the landscape. For all the problems the snow caused, it was often beautiful to look at.

As snowy and brutal as it was, I managed to defy Old Man Winter’s ruthlessness. Isn’t the whole point of fitness being able to meet a challenge anyway? So I managed to joggle for hundreds of miles, mostly by running in loops around the few precious areas where the snow was cleared. At times the brutally cold wind sounded like Old Man Winter was laughing, but I persevered.

The snow, ice and very cold air greatly slowed me down, but Screenshot from 2015-04-17 11:36:25I figured that my persistence would eventually pay off once spring arrived, and I was right. At first I merely wanted to match my pace from autumn of last year, but I did better than expected and joggled a half-marathon in 1:39:17, my first sub 1:40 half-marathon or 13.1. I dropped twice. This wasn’t even a race, it was a training run. Sure, I’m not nearly as fast as Michael Kapral(1:20:40 half-marathon), who was recently featured in Runner’s World for his incredible joggling achievements, but it’s an improvement for me.

To improve my speed, I didn’t drastically alter my diet(vegan as always) or training, or take any supplements, except that I am doing less upper body strength work these days. I think once a week is better than twice. All the hill training I do is really just a form of strength-training for the legs.

Let this be a lesson to everyone that persistence pays, when it comes to running or anything else in life.

How to joggle an entire marathon without dropping

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Although I have touched on this subject before, I keep getting asked how it is possible to joggle an entire marathon without dropping by both fellow jogglers and non-jogglers alike. Although I have only completed one marathon without dropping(I dropped at the other 2 I did), these days I can often joggle for 20 miles without dropping. I hate to sound like I’m bragging; there are other jogglers who can joggle entire marathons without dropping, and I’m not a world record holder. So what is my secret? Here is how I do it:

  1. Get plenty of practice. I usually joggle 6 days a week, which adds up to about 40 to 50 miles of joggling per week. Even on the days I don’t joggle, I practice juggling for at least 20 minutes.
  2. While joggling, relax, and always maintain your posture. Take deep breaths. Approach joggling as an active meditation. Keep movements smooth, think of it as a form of dancing, or martial arts. It’s inevitable that people will try to distract you while you’re joggling, but stay focused on what you’re doing.
  3. Strength-train your upper body. In order to build endurance in your arms to enable you to juggle for many hours, you will have to strength-train your upper body about once or twice a week. I mean exercises like push-ups, curls, and pull-ups. Doing a little core work like bicycle crunches or planks may help too. I find that just a few minutes is sufficient for improving muscle endurance and circulation in my arms.
  4. Occasionally practice juggling(or joggling) with heavy balls. This is almost the same thing as #3, except it combines improving muscle memory with endurance work by targeting the muscles you use for juggling. Juggling with heavy balls for a few minutes is also a great warm up exercise before joggling, since it increases circulation to your arms.
  5. When practicing juggling, work your way up to juggling 4, 5 or more balls. Just about all jogglers are 3 ball jogglers, but if you can juggle 4 or more that will help improve your arm speed and hand eye coordination. Once you can go a few minutes without dropping, try occasionally joggling with 4, 5 or more balls. I often practice with 4 balls as part of a routine I like to call “juggle chi”. It’s basically combining juggling with T’ai Chi movements.
  6. While training, learn to do lots of tricks while joggling. This will improve your hand-eye coordination and balance. At races, keep tricks to a minimum, if you’re doing them at all, unless you’re really good at them.
  7. Joggle with fruit occasionally. This can really challenge and improve your hand-eye coordination to the point that you won’t even feel like you’re joggling when you go back to joggling with regular balls. To take it to the next level, joggle with different types of fruit or fruit of different weight and do tricks with them.
  8. Do balance work. When juggling at home, stand on one leg. Better yet, juggle with heavy balls or do lots of tricks while standing on one leg while spinning around. Or combine balance work with strength training by doing planks or other exercises on an exercise(stability) ball. Balance and coordination go hand in hand, since you are more likely to drop if you are off-balance.
  9. Hit the trails, especially hilly ones. This is the ultimate joggling challenge since hilly trails can challenge everything all at once. If you can master this, joggling on flat surfaces becomes a piece of cake. Once you become proficient at this, take it to the next level by joggling trails with fruit or heavy balls.

2014 Joggling Highlights

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At the 2014 Yonkers Marathon

2014 was an epic joggling year for me. Overall, I ran 2,286 miles in 2014, juggling about 95% of the time. So much happened it would be difficult to write about all of it. I improved so much and broke so many personal records my mind has trouble digesting it all. So rather than mention all that happened, I thought it would be better to focus on the highlights of 2014.

The WNY Vegfest

This is the first vegan event I’ve ever been invited to. This was also the very first WNY Vegfest, and I must say it’s off to a great start. I managed to joggle the Tofurky Trot 5k in slightly more than 20 minutes, and didn’t drop the balls even once. It was priceless being with and meeting so many enthusiastic vegans at this event, celebrating and showcasing the vegan lifestyle. I can still feel all the energy from this event; you really should go this year if you happen to live anywhere close to the planet earth.

The Yonkers Marathon

This was my second time joggling this hilly, historic race, and my third marathon overall. I guess you could say I’ve improved. Not only was I 11 minutes(3:40) faster than in 2013, I didn’t drop the balls even once. Not in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought such a thing was even possible not too long ago. This just goes to show you what you can accomplish with enough dedication. I still feel the Joggler’s High from this event, even though it took place in late September.

Joggling 40 miles from Mount Vernon to Mahopac

My crowning achievement of 2014, and the culmination of many years of joggling. This is the farthest distance I’ve ever run or joggled. I only dropped once, and that was at mile 39! If it wasn’t so dark, I probably wouldn’t have dropped. There are moments when I think this was a strange dream. It just seems so close to impossible that there is this surreal quality to it. Yet again, it’s ultimately the product of unrelenting dedication. To live a life without ever attempting the impossible is a life not fully lived.

Beyond my tiny little piece of the joggling world, it was a terrific year for the sport of joggling, with new world records set. The always amazing Michal Kapral set yet another world joggling record, this time with the half-marathon(1:20:40). He did this as part of a team who are raising money to help AIDS orphans. He also appeared in TV ads for Fairfield Inn and Suites as part of their “Stay Amazing” campaign.

Besides this, rising super-star Dana Guglielmo broke the 5k world joggling record in April. I find her story so inspirational because she managed to break a world joggling record while suffering from arthritis.

Recovering from 40 miles of joggling

Although I have never run this far before, I recovered from the 40 mile run to Mahopac a lot faster than I expected. I think this is mostly due to my slow pace and the lunch break walk near the middle. And maybe that mineral rich miso soup when I got home.  Also, the Cliff Bar and lots of cherry juice immediately after were a big help. In fact, I recovered from this run much faster than I did from the Yonkers marathon. I took 2 days off after the Yonkers marathon because of how sore I felt, while I took only 1 day off after the Mahopac bound 40 miler. In fact, I walked about 3 miles the day after the ultra-run.

I was back to running normally within a few days. 2 days after the Mahopac run, I ran 5.2 miles at an 8:52 pace, which is moderate, slightly slow pace for me. I also didn’t drop once. The day after this, I ran 10.2 miles, at an 8:58 pace(again, no drops), which is moderate for that distance. I continued on, running much like before. The longest run I’ve done since was a 16 mile run at a 10:38 pace a few days ago, which is slow even for this distance. For some reason I had little energy that day.  I don’t think it was due to over-training, it was probably due to sleep and diet issues(didn’t carb load properly).

I felt like I was fully recovered from the Mahopac run in 4 days, though I realize how I feel isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of recovery. Another reason I seemingly recovered fast was I stayed well nourished and hydrated during the long run, and had no major stomach issues.

Strangely, my wrists and hands had more issues this time than my legs or hips. This wasn’t a problem after my last marathon. Toward the end of the 40 mile run, my left wrist was in pain. Since it was only a slight pain I could mostly ignore it and continue juggling. When I got home I realized my left hand and wrist were swollen, and this continued for several days. The pain went away and most of the swelling subsided, however, it tends to get swollen whenever I run more than 10 miles, though luckily there is only a little soreness. This is rather strange, since it was my right hand that got broken in a car accident several years ago, not my left. I sometimes wonder if excessive sodium is partly to blame.

While at first I suspected this was a problem unique to jogglers, I’ve read that distance runners and cyclists can experience the same thing. Basically, if your hands are lower than your heart during very prolonged endurance exercise, blood gets pumped into them, but it is much more difficult for the blood to come out.

Fortunately, this is just a minor annoyance, and doesn’t seem to affect my juggling ability. I didn’t drop during today’s 10 mile run, or yesterday’s 10 mile run to Larchmont, or Friday’s 16 mile run. Though minor, I will be looking into ways to prevent this, and appreciate any advice.

One of the most important lessons I learned while recovering from this ultra-run is that moving around, short easy runs, and light exercise is the key to recovering from very long runs.  It’s okay to nap or sit, just don’t do it for too long unless you are fatigued in the extreme. Sometimes pushing yourself is a good idea, sometimes it isn’t. How to tell when it’s a good idea is one of the mysteries of running.

New record: 40 miles joggling

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This was the culmination of many years of joggling. In training, I have covered thousands of miles, injured myself a bunch of times, experienced many setbacks, and connected with many other jogglers and runners. Through it all, my speed and endurance gradually improved, and I was dropping less. I’ve been planning on doing this for some time now, and the perfect opportunity came last weekend. Not only was I fully recovered from the Yonkers Marathon from 2 months ago, but the weather conditions in mid autumn are perfect for going the distance. Besides fine-tuning my training and diet, I also made sure I had all the proper equipment for this adventure.

Before setting out on this run, I made sure I had everything I needed in my Black Diamond backpack. Just a few of the items I brought with me, from left to right: Princeton Tec Tactical Quad LED Headlamp, a bunch of Trader Joe’s apple blueberry fruit wraps, and Anker Astro Mini smart-phone charger.

2014-11-19 08.14.03Besides this, I also had 3 Peanut Butter Cliff Bars, a Tofurky sandwich(2 slices between white bread), and later along the trip I bought some water. I realized that with how long this trip was going to be I needed both the headlamp and battery charger, and they both came in handy toward the end. Because of the chill in the air(it was about 40F), I had on a jacket, a t-shirt, a winter hat, and sweat pants. It got chillier the farther north I ran.

Preparing for this included the usual long runs, intervals, and hill runs. I tapered for about a week and a half before this. In the weeks leading up to this long run, I was eating a lot more leafy greens than usual, especially arugula and watercress. I also ate vegan kimchi occasionally, since it seems to help prevent digestive issues(too much kimchi or probiotic food could also cause digestive issues if you’re not careful, in my experience). Still, about a week before this run and up till a few days before it, I was feeling increasingly lethargic. I’m not sure why, though it may have been due to over-training. Because of this, I came close to canceling this run, though about 2 days before my energy started to improve.

Almost 2 hours after a breakfast of sunflower seeds, bread, and cherries, and shortly after pre-loading with lots of juice, I started my running adventure at 9:36 AM, slowly making my way through Mount Vernon and Bronxville to the Putnam/South County Trail in Yonkers. This paved bike/running path, which I’ve mentioned many times before, used to be a railroad line. About 45 miles long(with a few small gaps here and there), it starts in the Bronx and goes as far north as Brewster, NY in Putnam county. This trailway has a special significance for me since the first time I ever ran 20 miles was on this path. I’ve done numerous long runs on it since.

So I started with a slow pace, realizing if I ran too fast I wouldn’t be able to go very far. I did about 9 minute miles for the first 13 miles, which is slightly slower than I usually run. There weren’t that many people out on the trails that day except for the occasional cyclist. Although it was past peak, there was still a lot of autumn beauty to behold. At about mile 11 in Elmsford, I stopped for a bit to get some apple juice from the store before continuing north.

The next part of the trail(after running along the sidewalks of Elmsford, which is where the largest gap in the trail is located) is an upward slope that is often steep. The gentle slope of the trailway from Yonkers to Elmsford does little to prepare you for this. The climb seemingly goes on forever, and could prove frustrating for the uninitiated. I admit I got frustrated occasionally even though I am used to running hills. My tenacity combined with my appreciation for the autumn beauty and sweet, gentle autumn wind helped me get through it.

In some areas near Ossining and Briarcliff Manor, the trailway runs alongside some roads, but this mostly doesn’t bother me since there is usually little traffic in these rural areas. After many miles of elevation gain, my legs started to tire a little around mile 20. I kept pushing myself since I knew I was going to take a big break a little after the halfway mark in Millwood. To think that Millwood was once the end point of a very long training run last year, and is now the midpoint!

The trail runs very close to a supermarket in Millwood, where I washed up, got some water, and headed back to the trail to eat lunch. I walked fast as I ate a lunch of 2 slices of Tofurky with white bread(I find white bread easier on the digestion than whole grain bread before and during long runs). This is a much smaller lunch than I usually eat because of the serious digestive issues I’ve often experienced on long runs. Even after I finished lunch, I continued to walk to let it digest. All in all, an almost 40 minute break from joggling.

I felt so refreshed after lunch that I didn’t have to struggle with my legs like I did before. Though I have run north of Millwood before on the Putnam trail, I always drove my car to get to Millwood to do this. So I am still in familiar territory, and knew what to expect for the next several miles: The tunnel, the hills, and eventually the old bridge that goes over the Croton river. It felt amazing crossing the bridge, since this was the first time I have ever run from the Yonkers portion of the Putnam trail this far north.

As afternoon progressed and I joggled northward, it got colder and the sun was getting lower in the sky. I was in very rural, rugged country, heavily forested, and teeming with wildlife, though I didn’t see anything beyond birds and squirrels on this journey. Just a few miles more and I would be going through Yorktown, one of the more historic villages I would pass through on this trek. I didn’t have time to check out the historic churches or other buildings, but the rich history was very much on my mind.

As fascinating as all this was, I started feeling sluggish. I quickly got some water from a store and had my first fruit wrap(50 cals). Within minutes, I felt a stomach ache while I was running, but I didn’t let it slow me down. Energy-wise, I felt a little better. Within about 15 minutes, the stomach ache was totally gone, and I continued to push northward toward the Putnam county border. Yorktown is the last town in Westchester county on this route.

Before I knew it, I was at mile 30, my old distance record. I kept repeating to my tired self that I only had 10 miles left to go. It was also at this point that I started to notice small snow patches in shaded areas. I had run so far north I was almost in a different climate zone. A little ways north of Yorktown I hit mile 31; it felt exhilarating knowing this was the farthest I have ever run. I also knew that Putnam county was just a few miles away, though there are so signs or distinguishing features along the trail that would indicate this, at least not before I knew I was in the village of Mahopac.

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Though this photo was taken a few weeks before the run, this is what it often looked like on the Putnam trail.

I was in very unfamiliar territory, both geographically and psychologically. Sure I’ve driven through here, but I have never been on this part of the trail before. The countryside in this area looked like a postcard. The low sun illuminating the red and yellow leaves of the trees looked heavenly. This natural beauty inspired me as the soreness in my legs increased, especially when I had to climb hills. My arms also felt increasingly sore, which seldom happens while joggling. It made sense though since I had never joggled for so long before. After this point I would walk for 5 to 10 seconds every mile. I really believe this helped me make it to the end.

Because of how quiet it was and also because I hadn’t seen anyone on or off the trail for miles, I felt like I was the only person on the planet. As a person who loves solitude, this didn’t bother me. Part of the reason it was so quiet was because there were no longer any major roads or highways near the trail, unlike the first 2/3 of this journey. Around this time it started getting a little dark so I put away my sunglasses.

Feeling a little more tired by mile 35, I ate another fruit wrap and drank some water. It tasted amazing and gave me a nice jolt of energy to help me push the NYC metro area further behind me. I started to recharge my very low phone battery at this point.

I soon realized I was in Putnam county, my first time ever running there. I looked at my map just before crossing the border, just to make sure. I had run just a little over 35 miles and Mahopac was just 2 miles to the north, but I was excited and feeling strong. Granted, although I was averaging an 11 minute mile pace, which is very slow for me, I felt good. I had to turn on my headlamp a little after mile 36 to see around me. I drank some more water. At mile 37, I was finally in Mahopac! However, since I had planned this to be a 40 mile run, I ran a little eastward toward Croton Falls, and then back to Mahopac. It was at mile 39 that I finally dropped, due to not being able to see that well in the darkness even with the headlamp on. 39 miles without dropping, another new record! I don’t know if this is a world record, but it probably comes close.

I finally ended the run at 5:22 PM, when it was very dark and chilly. It took me 7 hours and 46 minutes to complete this at an 11:38 pace, according to Runkeeper. According to Strava, I had been running for 7:06, at an average pace of 10:38(Strava automatically removes the times I wasn’t running). I also managed to climb about 1,290 feet(393 meters) and burned 4,152 calories(and that only counts the running, not the juggling). I did few juggling tricks on this run, mostly in the first half.

I had arranged for my cousin to pick me up and also have everything I needed to refuel. Near the end I felt a little bit of nausea but it quickly faded. I had a Cliff Bar and 32 ounces of tart cherry juice. It went down with no major issues. I felt both exhausted and euphoric over this accomplishment. A little bit of nausea returned but it quickly went away. Back at home, I made some miso soup with rice, tofu and vegetables, a perfect meal for replenishing minerals and carbohydrates. I also drank a lot of juice. I had trouble sleeping that night because this run was very over-stimulating, but I felt alright in the morning and did no running that day.

It wasn’t so long ago that I would have thought this was impossible. Not just joggling this distance, but running it. Besides having beautiful music playing in my head, I kept repeating to myself that this was just 14 miles more than a marathon. The fresh air and autumn splendor were also a big help, not to mention all the encouragement from friends. I’m hardly the first ultra-joggler. That distinction belongs to Perry Romanowski, whose 50 mile joggling World Record was a big inspiration.

I injured myself the last time I tried breaking a distance record, but that was due to not tapering the week before. I still feel terrific almost a week later. I realize I didn’t run the entire time, but this is often the case with ultra-running.

I’ll write about my quick recovery in a follow up post.

 

Marathon recovery for jogglers

The balls I juggled for 26.2 miles.

The beanbags I juggled for 26.2 miles. Gballz makes very durable juggling balls. The beanbags are made from ultra-leather, which is vegan.

It’s been 10 days since the epic Yonkers Marathon, and about 99% of the soreness is gone. This doesn’t mean I am 99% recovered. It may take a little while longer(maybe another week) to recover 100% so I can run 20+ miles again. What little soreness I still feel is mainly in the hips, and this is probably due to how hilly the Yonkers Marathon was.

Because I’m a marathon joggler, I get a lot of questions both about training for a marathon and recovering from one. Occasionally, I get questions about my sanity. Overall, it really isn’t that different, except that besides doing a lot of juggling and joggling, you need to do just a little bit of upper body strength training to be able to juggle for so many miles. Push-ups, curls, and the bicycle maneuver about twice a week is about all I do, and it normally takes about 5 minutes.

Recovering from joggling a marathon is practically the same as recovering from running one(at least I think it is). It’s the legs that feel stiff and very sore afterwards, while the arms are just a little tired, at least in my case. My arms felt better the next day, while my legs were so sore and weak I couldn’t run for 2 days after the race. So I juggled instead on those rest days. I’ve also been doing a lot of walking, which started the day of the marathon. After a long nap and lunch, I walked 2 miles a few hours after the marathon. I’ve been mostly doing short runs these days, though I managed to run 10 miles(8:50 pace) 3 days ago, exactly 1 week since the marathon. I’m not back to running 5 to 6 days a week like I was before the race.

I didn’t do anything special after the marathon when it comes to diet, nor did I get a massage afterwards, except for some self-massage. I didn’t take an ice bath either, just a cool shower. In case you have forgotten, I never stretch. I just relaxed a little more than usual after walks, or runs, or juggle chi. Lots of powerful music too, can’t forget to listen to powerful music to refuel the soul.

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The main thing I would do differently in training for my next marathon is to do more hill-training, and possibly even longer long runs. I think I may even be ready for my next marathon within a few weeks, though I haven’t signed up for anything yet. Will keep everyone posted.

Did you just run a marathon or half-marathon? If so, please tell us how you did and how your recovery is going.