Sunday, September 27, 2020

More than a race report for the VIRTUAL Superfund Super Run 2020

Back in the late spring of 2014 I spent a significant amount of time in NYU Langone Hospital.  When I was there I was  suffering from Quadrophenia.  I couldn't move my arms or legs but I was able to move my hips and shoulders and neck. The first chunk of time I was there underwent five days of plasmapheresis.  I had my carotid artery opened up so they can run a tube down to my heart and filter out my immune system. It was quite unpleasant. then,I had IVIG infusions which meant I basically laid there and had a day-long injection.   Then I went back to rehab because they thought that would stop  my immune system from attacking my motor nerves. But it didn't. So I went back there, even more paralyzed and they wound up giving me an off-label non FDA-approved chemotherapy. That honestly sounds a lot more scary than it was. The only negative side effect if you can even call this negative was that all the hair fell off my feet. It didn't grow back. It either works or my immune system was done attacking my motor nerves.

Too me this is ancient history now.  I literally laid there passively while the greatest teams of doctors in the world did their battle with Guillain-Barre syndrome.  But I'm bringing this up now please that's all happened to me while I was on the Upper Floor of a building on 1st Avenue in Manhattan. The whole time I had a great view of the East River and Queens and Brooklyn.  I looked out there a lot and I quickly noticed some big towers going up that I didn't know anything about. It turned out it was the beginning of the replacement for the Koskosco Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and Queens on the highway known as the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.  I said to myself and I'm sure out loud, "When they finish that thing I'm going to run over it". 

 Today I did. 


This morning I went live on Facebook and with a lot more emotion basic said what I wrote above.  I was kind of wondering why I didn't have any comments but just now I noticed the audio didn't come out at all.  But I do remember saying that it's a good thing they put a bike path and a recreation Lane on that new bridge otherwise I would have had to have stopped traffic


But I did take some pictures. You cannot see it in the picture I took with my puny camera phone it from the bridge you can see NYU langone


At this point you might be  wondering about the title of this blog post.  Yeah there was a virtual race.  Even before it was virtual it was an alley cat race. I didn't know what that meant but it was erased from the Newton Creek to the Gowanus Canal. Choose your fastest route. I figured since I wasn't going to win and it was virtual anyway and I was doing it alone I can do it my way. It was an excuse to start on the other side of the Newton Creek and cross the Koskosco Bridge.  And since I wasn't interested in dealing with lots of intersections I didn't go in a straight line I hugged the water line from Greenpoint to Williamsburg to Vinegar Hill through Brooklyn Bridge Park and then I went straight up Union Street.



Pretty excited about this run is an understatement. Not just that I did it but that I was able to do it that fast. I was wearing my new carbon fiber ankle-foot Orthotics and covered over 11 miles in under 16 minutes per mile.  The mobility impaired standard for qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 6 hours.  That 13 minutes 40 seconds per mile.  I'm on my way.  Training for marathons and ultra-marathons help me prepare for this terrible disease.  I'm okay with goals and it just beyond the horizon.  I think running 11 and a half miles within 10% of my Marathon goal pace means dawn is coming

I'm still getting used to them and I'm going to get faster. I also have to break them in. I guess you don't really break in carbon fiber, so I guess they have to break me in.  Lots of rubbing. It didn't hurt much but I kind of lost track of where all the blood was coming from when I took a shower.

Along my route I saw some things

 I also watch them built in buildings while riding an accessory ride vehicles to physical therapy. They're done now and Domino Park is beautiful.


Did get to see the most amazing graffiti. If I was into Valentine's Day cards this would be the cover.

It was on the sidewalk right under the Williamsburg Bridge.


Across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in a playground where they would be to handball courts who's six guys were playing/ practicing what could only be described as bicycle polo. I think it was just a workout because they will all aiming at the same net and if the goalie had to leave the nearest person on a bike would just roll into that spot. But it was pretty intense.


Along the run I did pause to see all those iconic views have the New York City skyline and the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. I didn't take a picture. You can buy a postcard or Google it. But towards the end of my run I did stop to take a picture of the finish line. Lavender Lake and the Gowanus Canal.




Friday, September 4, 2020

Looking good is good, but.....


I'll admit I was getting chunky before GPS but I gained a lot of weight being completely inactive and on steroids. In the past 9 months I went from 228 to 173 lbs.  I don't need blood pressure medication anymore and I don't need the CPAP machine anymore.

And I can run now

And I can reach the Holy Grail

Monday, August 31, 2020

Central Park On August 31st 2020

 I ran super hard on Friday (a real race! I'll get back to that.)  So I basically took the weekend off from working out,  and my physical therapy was at 10:30 this morning at Rusk over by the UN.  It was a cool day so I was playing with the idea of running home. But traffic and congestion made me consider Central Park. I jumped in and accessorized Taxi after therapy and went up to a 110th Street. I figured I do a loop and start and finish at the top of the hill.

 Central Park was full of surprises. First, I forgot that the top of the park was not the top of the hill. I was at the bottom of the Harlem Hill. Not really a big deal.

 But upon entering the park up in Harlem I noticed right away how quiet the park was compared to Prospect Park. The roadway didn't get any busier as I got downtown, nor did the grassy areas. No pods of kids.  No pelotons of cyclist.  I guess I forgot that Central Park is really a tourist attraction. People who live in New York City live in Brooklyn and go to Prospect Park to wreckreate.  But compared to Prospect Park, Central Park was pristine. The grass look like a golf course and wherever things were being repaired when neatly fenced-off.  The park was not being used as a warehouse for all the trees destroyed by the hurricane a couple of weeks ago. It frustrates me how conservancies and alliances can have earmarked money for special things even when there's no one around to appreciate them. Prospect Park has to have to have special projects to have citizens collect garbage and the smaller parks in the outer boroughs have nothing.  Anyway I didn't mean to go on a political rant, but there is a great unevenness and how parks are maintained in New York City.

In any case the park was very quiet. About a quarter mile into my run I noticed people looking into the woods. Because we were on top of a hill we were about 20 feet from a hawk hanging out on a branch looking for lunch.   I took a picture but I'm not going to post it here because you're better off Googling a picture of a hawk on a branchAbout four miles into my run I did notice something interesting. One cop car is not interesting but then I saw 2 and looked over.  Three then four. Three then four. 


For a second I was thinking about these lyrics from Alice's Restaurant

You know, if one person, just one person, does it, they may think he's
Really sick and they won't take him
And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and
They won't take either of them
And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin' in, singin'
A bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? They may think it's an
Organization!

but only a second.  It stopped when I saw what the cops were doing.  All thoughts of Arlo Guthrie will push through my mind when I saw that for police cars and all the cops that came with them regarding the fuckin  statue of Christopher Columbus
Holy Ship! (Voice to Text did that and I'm going to leave it there).  Melt it down and turn it into something useful for the Native American population or put a plaque next to it explaining what a piece of crap he was but until people woke up everyone thought he was okay.  But the police have a lot of better things to do. Or maybe this is a way of giving these officers a little bit of a paid vacation. Maybe they're being rewarded for something and get to spend 8 hours leaning on a car in Central Park.
anyway, I made it back to the top of the park and felt pretty good so I did a loop that included the 103rd Street transverse.  It's the first time I've been there since I saw the movie  about the Central Park 5  and read the autobiography of the Central Park joggerNYRR organized a lot of races that use that area as a Finish Line. I ran a lot of them. I also helped measure the Central Park marathon where the Finish Line was right there. It's a different kind of place when I go there now. I guess if the police send a small Squad to protect a statue of a rapist and murderer it would make sense to put a plaque where someone was raped and left for dead?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Was I lost?

So lately my buddy Larry and I have been going to the locations of the open runs. The open runs are the community runs the roadrunners organization organizes but they're not organizing them now but we're going anyway. Sometimes we've been meeting people there we've been doing the same thing. But we're not talking about it. Because we're not allowed to meet anyone anywhere. But we are all wearing masks and we stay 6 feet apart.  Sometimes I run there. Running to Marine Park or Bay Ridge Park or Canarsie Park is easy for me. I know those neighborhoods. It's where I grew up. The other open run in Brooklyn is in Highland Park. I'm not that familiar with that part of Brooklyn. The mapping programs tell me it's only five and a half miles away, but without a map in my hand I can only get close. The last week I ran down Eastern Parkway and when I was about a mile away I turned on my GPS and told it I wanted to go to Highland Park. 
I made the classic mistake.
Highland Park is big.
Google took me to the "other" part of Highland Park.
I'm not going to start disparaging the part of Highland Park that the Road Runners Club uses for its open runs. Well yeah, I am. It's basically a hill with a couple of paths around it.  A lot of the pavement is worn out and there's not much shade. There is also an out-and-back on some busted up pavement. If you look at the whole thing you'd kind of think that is the kind of place at Robert Moses gave to a neighborhood and said "Here, here's a park leave me alone."  That was where I was supposed to go. I didn't think it was so bad because I was kind of used to it and I was meeting nice people there.
 But my GPS took me to the part of the park that used to be a reservoir. 1.18 mile Loop. The reservoir was filled in and fenced in and is now in a growing forest and pond. Here is a link to all the pictures Larry took. Cuz after I ran a loop of the reservoir I went down to the crummy part of the park found Larry and convinced him to come up to the reservoir.
This is what it looks like to run around the reservoir part of the park
You also get views like this


I don't know, the open run has pads that look like this.  Maybe when and if there is a post covid-19 to change the meeting place for the Highland Park open run. Is a parking lot and bathrooms the Reservoir also.  But there might be some inter-governmental political considerations that I am out of the loop of.
anyway, here's a link to my new mapmyrun
When I was  "lost"  up by the reservoir I found  myself running alongside a little group. I introduced myself and  ask them about this part of the park. They wanted me to keep it a secret. But then they told me they were just kidding. I told them I had run from Park Slope by Grand Army Plaza and they were impressed. I asked them how close I was to Queens. They told me I was actually in Queens and I was actually surprised. Who knew? I left Brooklyn without my passport!






Friday, July 31, 2020

You can't make a living finding MetroCards anymore (Updated 7-31-2020)


Actually updated again July 31st 2020


I didn't think I'd be updating this blog again. But here I am. Since I got out of the hospital 6 years ago I have not been on the subway as much as I used to. Also,  the MTA smartened up and started charging a dollar if you need a new Metrocard.  Which means if you refill a MetroCard you can save a dollar. So a lot less people are discarding their empty or almost empty metrocards. Furthermore, many people are picking up MetroCards to save themselves a dollar when they need  to buy a new Metrocard.

That said, that doesn't mean I stopped finding metrocards. The streets full of them. People still drop stuff. Just a few weeks ago I was running a virtual 5K in Prospect Park and there was a MetroCard on the roadway. I asked my buddy to pick it up and he reported to me just now that it had $3.25 on it.  But MetroCards found in the street often take a beating. When I get to the subway they often say "see agent" when I run them through the scanning machine. But "see agent" does not mean garbage. When I get a handful of them I ask the token clerk for an envelope and I mail them back to the MTA. A few months later I get a letter in the mail with some MetroCards in it with random amounts on it. Sometimes $0.25 sometimes $5. Many times the other letter says that the cards were actually void or expired. A few times I got letters like the one I have a scan of here. Someone dropped a monthly card that they bought with their credit card. Because I mailed it back the MTA credited them back $55.

Probably final update, July 21, 2017.

Back in May 2014 I suddenly stopped taking the subway on a regular basis. About the same time the MTA started charging a dollar if you didn't bring them a Metro card when you wanted to put money on it. Now that I'm back taking the subway on a somewhat regular basis I've made an observation that there are a lot less Metro cards laying on the floor in subway stations. This could be because people are keeping their valueless Metro cards for refill purposes, or that people are picking them up to save a dollar and they need a new card, or that the MTA is doing a better job at cleaning the stations. In any case, I'm not finding subway stations with their floors strewn with MetroCards.

However, when I do find cards laying around the subway the ratio of how many have value on them is about the same as it was before 2014. Between 5% and 10% of the cards I find sitting on top of the vending machines have some money or some days of use left on them. Also, I'm still noticing the same amount of cards on the floor in supermarkets, parks or places that are not subway stations. Those cards are still worth bending down and picking up. Every time I do that I remind myself that there was three years where I couldn't bend down and pick them up.


Update, May 24, 2016

It's been a long time but I'm finally updating this.


It's kind of ironic but the MTA gave me a Metro card with my picture on it. I don't have to put money on it and it just comes loaded with eight swipes a day. I guess they'd rather have me on public mass transit then send an Ack-Stress o Ride to go get me. This past Saturday when I was approaching the starting line to the Brooklyn half Marathon there was a Metro car on the ground. I can bend down but it's hard to pick things up off the floor, so I compels my friend Josh to pick it up. He didn't need it so I wound up running the whole race with it in my pocket. I just checked it, and it's going to work till May 31. 



It has been a week since the fare went up and the MTA is collecting an extra buck if you don't refill you existing MetroCard.  The is not less litter.  In fact, I have seen many people pay the extra $1 for a new card when the top of the MVM is strewn with cards.  I also assume that I will start finding many $1.95 cards instead of $1.70 cards. People are just going to put $10 in the machine and get a $9.45 card.  After they ride 3 times for $7.50 they will toss the card with $1.95 on it.  (3-8-13)



The card to the above was found sitting
 on top of the scanner box.  It had $7.25 on it
.
So next week the MTA will start charging $1 if you need a new card.  I really don't think I will find any less.  People leave $45 cards on top of the MVMs because they are careless, not because they don't care about the money.  So instead of finding a lot of  $1.70 card I will find a lot of  50 cent cards.  (3-1-13)

The other day I watched a guy freak out as he was trying to swipe his way onto the subway.  He kept swiping cards and  could not get in.  He slammed a pile of cards on top of a payphone and stored over the the machine and bought a Single Ride.  After he went through the turnstile I check the value on those cards.  They added up to over $20, mostly $1.70 cards and a few larger cards that had recently expired.  People just don't know that they can go over to the booth and get them combined. (12-25-11)

Now the bonus is 7%.   $10 gets you $10.70 and the fare is $2.25.  But, 4 trips is $9.  With $1.70 left our the card there is no extra ride when someone buys a $10.00 card.  Since 2011 started I have been finding cards with $1.70 on them for every one that used to have a nickel on it.


In the sidebar of this Blog I list the sum of the value of the MetroCards that I find. If I find 5 or 10 cents in a given day I don't post it, I wait till it adds up to something worth typing.

I would like to point out that I believe that every MetroCard that I find was lost by somebody. They were not put there for me to find. On more than one occasion I found some valuable cards (Transit Check Gold) and moments after I scanned it at the reader I saw a desperate individual looking at the ground in a subway station. Asking that person if they lost their MetroCard and returning it to them was more satisfying that riding for free for the rest of the month.

I think the design of the MetroCard lends itself to getting drooped. It is the thinnest thing in your picket. If you keep it with your cash or keys it can slide out without being noticed. I would urge everyone who uses a MetroCard to use a MetroCard holder of some sort.

That said; finding value on MetroCards is like winning at gambling without the risk of loosing your own money.

If you are interested in doing this either for sport, competition or to save money or to supplement your income; here is some advice.
  • The further you are from the subway the more likely the card has value on it. The highest value cards that I have found have been in on the Brooklyn Bridge, on the courses of races, in the middle of intersections, in supermarkets, parks, etc. These were not drooped by careless litter bugs. Nobody would walk to the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge just to flick their MetroCard onto the sidewalk. It was dropped by somebody pulling their camera out of their pocket. So if you see a MetroCard in a place having nothing to do with the MTA, pick it up.
  • The cards just inside the turn-style are not worth picking up. I have seen countless slobs swipe their MetroCard with one fair left on it and drop it like they drop everything they have no more use for.In a subway station don't just look at the MetroCard Reader. Look on top of the MetroCard Vending machines. Look in the cracks in the vending machine. Look on the little shelf on the front of the "token booth". Especially the stations that do not have anybody working in them; the burgundy stations
  • Most of the cards I find in the subways station have 5 cents on them but many have $1.50 or some other amount under the subway fare. But like the lottery slogan, "Ya never know" sometimes there is $20 or more just sitting there waiting to be pickup. The upcoming increase in fare will obviously improve the quantity of cards with left over fare on them.
  • Many of the cards I find with more then $10 or $20 on them are "expired" I don't think many people know that you can exchange them for a new one
  • Follow the instructions on the card reader. If it says "Please Swipe Again", do it, just 2 or 3 times, then put it in the trash. If it says "See Agent" do that, but first try it again another day. That card probably has some value on it.
  • When it comes to combining MetroCards, don't over burden the "token clerk". It might be their job to combing MetroCards into a usable amount but some evoke unwritten "I can only combine 4 or 5 rule". Some have refused to help me at all because they said they have been on the ground. One clerk even told me her machine did not combine cards. I would not advise arguing with these people. They work in a bulletproof booth and it is an extra felony to "assault" them. They also have a pretty crappy job, there is no point in giving them a hard time.
  • If you look at the rest of my blog, you will see that I am a marathon runner. I run a lot. When I run, I make a point of passing through subway stations (I get some stair training). Also loops around Prospect Park can be a little repetitive. A larger loop can include many subway stations. The F train: Prospect Park and 7th Ave, the Q/B Train Parkside, Prospect Park and 7th Ave and the 2/3 Train Grand Army Plaza and Eastern Pky/Brooklyn Museum.
I once found a Transit Check Gold MetroCard. It worked for 3 and a half months. The original owner did not tell their payroll manager it was lost. But most of the monthly MetroCards I found did not work for as long as they should. The original owner contacted the MTA and reported it lost. They got a prorated refund. I was kinda glad.

Whenever I find a student MetroCard or a Senior/Disabled Card I hand it to the "token clerk". They are issued to specific individuals and it is against the law to use them.


Karma works both ways. If I ever see someone looking for a "swipe" to get them on the train, I always give them one. Also, I befriended a man in my neighborhood of little means (I don't believe he his homeless). We started talking about all the things that can be found. I told him I find lots of MetroCards. He did not even know what they were, he has not ridden mass transit in years he said. Now he picks up MetroCards and keeps them in his picket till he sees me. I do not give him the value on them. I give him 10 times the value on them or $10, whichever is greater.



I asked this question to the MTA:

Customer (******* ****) - 05/06/2009 12:18 PM
I read in the news that a man was sentences to jail time for bending metrocards.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/30/bent-metrocard-is-forgery-court-rules/

Are there any regulations against


1. Picking up discarded metrocards from the floor of a subway station or on the top of the metrocard testing machine?
2. Asking the booth attendant to combine them into a usable amount?
3. Using them for personal use?
4. Giving them to a friend or family?

This was the response I got:

Response (Melissa Glasgow) - 05/06/2009 03:21 PM
This is in response to your recent e-mail message to MTA New York City Transit regarding MetroCard.

As you may know, you may have uneven balances of several Pay-Per-Ride cards (that you have previously purchased and hold primary ownership of) moved to 1 card at the service booth of any one of our stations. You may only process 5 cards at a time (four old+ the one that the remaining values are being transferred to). This limitation exists to prevent fraudulent activity. You may also send your MetroCards to MetroCard, 2 Broadway, Room B11.59, New York, NY 10004. Due to fraudulent activity at our MVMs, this transaction/feature was removed from our MVMs, several years ago.

However, under the circumstances you have described, the station agent has the discretion to refuse to perform the transaction and summon NYPD Transit assistance, if he/she suspects fraudulent activity at our booths and/or turnstiles.

http://www.mta.info/mta/news/releases/?en=080625-NYCT85
http://www.mta.info/metrocard/termsunltd.htm

Thank you for having taken the time to contact us.

I asked what law I would be violating. The responded by telling me to submit a Freedom of Information Act request:

This is in response to your recent e-mail to MTA New York City Transit requesting information regarding the MetroCard tariff and the laws surrounding it.

Please be advised that the information you seek may be available under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). You must submit an electronic FOIL request to the appropriate MTA agency via the FOIL request page on the MTA website. If you send an electronic FOIL request in any other way or to the wrong agency, you will not receive the records you are seeking. You may submit an electronic FOIL request at www.mta.info/foil.htm. Be sure to select the appropriate MTA agency. Otherwise you may contact MUNY directly to investigate the feasibility if your request - http://www.mta.info/mta/aft/muny/

We hope this information is helpful and thank you for having taken the time to contact us.

Melissa Glasgow
Associate Staff Analyst

See more information in SubwayBlogger.com ,Yelp and The New York Post has an article about a women who finds cards. The New York times has a story about Single Ride Cards and refills. AM New York says the MTA is budgiting $48 Million in extra money from lost and unused MetroCards.  The Daily News thinks this is news.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Baseball just did it

Baseball started the other day.it's not that important to me. But it seems to make a lot of people happy. I think there's a lot of things we got to figure out that are more important like schools, but that's another subject.
I only really noticed cuz it made the news when players took a knee and Doctor Fauci threw out the first ball. And it was important to some of my friends.  Baseball came back in a much different way. Some different rules and a different way to spectate.
But my sport is running. I participated as an athlete and as a race organizer and official. We have all been thinking about the New York City marathon. This year's  race was canceled and it was supposed to be the golden anniversary of the event that was an extra big deal. I was thinking maybe there could be something. Something different and something wonderful.
Maybe on November 1st there could be a 26.2 mile race entirely in Central Park. It definitely wouldn't be the first time that would happen. 
That's how the first few New York City marathons happened back in the 70s. Until the
Runners in the first New York City Marathon turn onto Park Drive in Central Park, 1970. (Ruth Orkin/Ruth Orkin Photo Archive)
Runners in the first New York City
Marathon turn onto Park Drive in
Central Park, 1970.
(Ruth Orkin/Ruth Orkin Photo Archive)

 bicentennial the race happened entirely in Central Park.  Undoubtedly, running a
 point-to-point 5 boro 26.2 mile race in New York City with literally millions of spectators cheering for you is glorious, (I've finished it 20 times!) But, there is nothing wrong with a marathon that has repeating loops if you want to find out how fast you can run.   My fastest marathon was on a 1-mile loop. I have finished the New York City marathon tune-up race over 20 times, it's three full loops of Central Park. In 2012 I finished five full marathons. My fastest was the course of the Brooklyn Marathon it was eight Loops of Prospect Park. I did it alone when the New York City Marathon should have happened because Sandy canceled it. I honestly don't think the people who win world class marathons are looking at the scenery.  
This reminds me of a true story.  About 25 years ago I was running a summer evening race in Prospect Park. They were probably about 50 participants. I knew most of them. At the finish I said to one of my buddies, " did you see the fog on the lake?" he replied that he was running too hard to notice the fog.  The winner happened to be standing right next to me he looked at me and shrugged ,"There's a lake?

Putting on a marathon in Central Park is definitely still doable. It's one of the last things I helped do before Guillain-Barre Syndrome took my motor nerves away.  I'm really proud of my work with NYCRUNS  I think we did a really good thing. It was a challenging course. A few hundred runners had a really good time running a marathon entirely in Central Park that day. 

So a gigantic 55,000 person, point to point, New York City Marathon cannot happen on November 3rd 2020. We can't have tens of thousands of people converging on New York City. We can't have them I'll pick up that bibs some sort of Expo. We all can't go to the starting line together. We can't run. We can't be given water. We can't celebrate at the finish line. And two million people can't cheer for us. It can't be New York City's greatest day of the year.

Or Can it?

On November 3rd the Road Runners Club could put on a marathon completely in Central Park for elite athletes only. This will not bring tens of thousands of people into New York City.  It will not create a temporary town on the  Staten Island side of the Verrazano Bridge and millions of people will not line the sidewalks to get to see me run by. It can still be New York City's greatest day. We all might have a socially distanced watch party that could be great.

  • The park can be closed to spectators.
  • Elite athletes provide their own hydration stations anyway.
  • Maybe, maybe have some VIP spectator seating
  • Actually have races all day. The handcycles would start at dawn and each gender could / should have a separate start. One race will not start until the previous one ends. Not a staggered start. Staggered races.
  • This could broadcast live on a sports channel all day long and then in primetime there could be a 2-hour TV show selling it all up on a major Network

Hey, I'm not going to get into the Road Runners Club business but the ad revenue here can be enormous.  The sponsors might still show up. They might still have to show up. 

And I know it's not so simple. There's a billion more logistical issues, but this is what I would love to see happen,

And maybe while The Park is closed anyway, the day before there can be a marathon for some special people. I know some special people. 


Monday, July 20, 2020

Race report: Hope and Possibility virtual 10 miler

Actually been training for this for a while. Years a while. Wanted to see how far I could run, comfortably.  And I was pretty happy that I found out I could run for 10 miles.  It took me 3 hours and 40 minutes. That's 220 minutes or 22 minutes per mile. Not much faster than my old Pace when I used to walk but I was running. And it was 12 Loops of a marine park.  I hit my watch on each lap and very definitely had a negative split. I started at 6:30 in the morning so I finished before it got too hot. I also stopped at the  same water fountain on each lap (except when a bunch of dirtbags softball players were hovering around it without any masks. Then I just went to the next fountain).


My friend Larry met me when I was about halfway through the 10-miler ncluding the one to the right.


After the run Larry and I did what we usually do. We stopped at McDonald's and then he dropped me off at my mother-in-law's house. She's been kind of hunkered down with corona and all but since I was pooped I had no problem channel surfing with her and we wound up watching the original Rocky movie almost from the beginning.
I was really really excited to see that scene where he goes for a run for the second time in the movie. Where he's in better shape and runs all over Philadelphia and then sprints up the stairs of the Art Museum.  It made me realize that you humanatee can be divided into two groups. Those that can appreciate that scene and those that don't. After having a successful 10 mile run in the morning I'm so glad that I got to see that scene again. I'm sure Sylvester Stallone must have had at least one good run in his life before making Rocky because it translated that onto film.  Stallone definitely captured the joy of success and strength and freedom that comes with running and the ability it comes with it being able to run up a flight of stairs. 
I was interviewed a while ago and was asked to describe how it feels to run. Believe it or not I was speechless. I had something to say but I didn't want to say it. " Didn't you see the movie, ROCKY?!"
I am glad to be able to say that I actually did run up those stairs after running a half marathon. And then I literally had to wait on line to stand in that spot to gaze out at Philadelphia. Their Footprints of Keds in the size that Rocky would have been wearing in that very spot right now.



So maybe virtual  races are not all that bad. They don't provide the herd that I've always relied on in a race. But it's great to have a goal. And it's great to have a sense of accomplishment.

 10 miles at a comfortable pace with negative splits ✔

Thinking about it I'm reminded that the Achilles running club is about accomplishments. This virtual race pushed me to accomplish the goal. It got me out there at 6:30 in the morning so I can run 10 miles. I wanted to find out what I was made of and I'm glad I found out.  There are other organizations that help athletes with disabilities, but they are busy  busy helping disabled athletes only compete against each other. I'm so glad there is Achilles to help athletes with disabilities compete against all athletes. I might be slow but my teammates from the Prospect Park Track Club showed up and showed me on knowing that my effort and accomplishment wasn't diminished by my lack of speed. Thanks everybody..

I'm not done checking things off my list yet and I'm glad I'll help help getting there and teams to cheer for me


Sunday, June 28, 2020

ACAB

I didn't take this photo

Graffiti is back. Back in my day this was my tag $♡. I'm sure you never saw it.  But you could have figured out what it meant. I was able to figure out what FTP meant, but I had to Google ACAB. I got a little education and it made me think of my own experience.


I was the night manager of the Student Center at Stony Brook University back in the 80s. A big part of my job was dealing with the fact that there was a bar in the building. Whatever happened in the bar wasn't really my problem but everything that happened in the building was my problem. The bar was up on the second floor and on busy evenings I would make everyone leaving the bar go directly out of the building as opposed to down the stairs and into the lobby of the building.  Not everybody wanted to do that, exiting the building on the second floor took them onto the bridge that went nowhere. (Someone reading this might remember that the bar was called the End of the Bridge, EOB)  Often, the campus police would hang out with me at the top of the stairs to help keep the underage drunks from wandering into  the lobby where people might have been studying or doing other sober activities.  Like in lots of places and times there were "good" cops and "bad" cops and I got used to working with them all.

I remember  one night in particular. I had to  a whole Squad of campus cops helping me.  It was actually a little crowded with "good" ones and "bad" ones. (I am going to stop using quotes it's tough with voice to text)  I also remember that I had been dealing with one particular grad student who was a very belligerent drunk. He had become a regular pain in the ass.  He got in my face and wanted to walk down the stairs. I remember one of the cops hands going right past my nose and he went down the stairs like a sack of potatoes. I didn't even look down. He wasn't my problem anymore.

Early the next week I found out that he was seriously injured at the bottom of the stairs. He was walking around with a neck brace on. I didn't know if he was hospitalized and back then I really didn't care. But I did find out the police was denying he was pushed which meant he had to pay his hospital bills. I saw him in the coffee shop and introduced myself. He remembered me. I told him that I saw the whole thing I knew he was pushed and that if he needed me to say something I was ready to tell people what happened. His reaction was bizarre to say the least. He looked up from his coffee and said "Why would you help me, you're a Jew." I asked him if he had a lawyer and then if he did he should just give my lawyer my business card.  I was happy to never see him again but I did hear that the cops all changed this story so I never had to tell anyone what I saw. And after that the bad cops never really made eye contact with me.

I took this photo in Prospect Park


Those good cops that also watched it happen never said anything. So now I'm thinking, were they really good cops? 

Really, it says on the side of the cop cars to protect and serve. But what if they're not protecting us from bad cops? Are they still good cops?

So I was just about to publish this blog and I remembered that I had shared Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop.  I went back and read it more carefully....

"Equally important to remember: disabled and mentally ill people are frequently killed by police officers not trained to recognize and react to disabilities or mental health crises."  ..... 
 
 "The question is this: did I need a gun and sweeping police powers to help the average person on the average night? The answer is no. When I was doing my best work as a cop, I was doing mediocre work as a therapist or a social worker. My good deeds were listening to people failed by the system and trying to unite them with any crumbs of resources the structure was currently denying them."

So I'm not wondering anymore why people are angry at the police. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

If not now, when?!


 

Last week I posted this as my Facebook status.


"To give my out-of-town friends a sense of scale Grand army plaza is up the block from my house. I can see it from my corner. I can hear the protests and the helicopters.

There's not small part of me that wishes I was out there continually. And I think the old me would have been a big part of all these protests the cause is just and the time is now.

But since GBS I'm really not good at suddenly moving sideways. I can participate in a race but a protest or march is really a place where I can get knocked over. I'm also probably suffering from a little undiagnosed PTSD. I'm not too good in that kind of stressful situation. so I'm just putting it out there that if you don't see me out there it doesn't mean I'm not with you"



So yesterday morning I was planning on going on a long run and heading south, towards my ancestral home in Sheepshead Bay. I was planning to avoid any possible protests. But then I saw this as I was about to leave the house. I run for the Prospect Park Track Club. PPTC.  That abbreviation suddenly became the Peer Pressure Track Club.  I replied that I was on my way and headed towards the Brooklyn Bridge

Changing my course was spontaneous act and along the way I had no regrets. Of course I wasn't worried that this would turn ugly. It was 10 a.m., In a park and it was a bunch of runners. I was slightly worried that the police wouldn't know that but I thought any risk was worth it. This is what I wanted to do.

I started being passed buy runners wearing white shirts up on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Some new me and cheered for me by name. (People, I have the most recognizable stride around but you're all wearing masks, tell me who you are please.)  but  Miriam came running up behind me phone in hand.  

Here's what she said when she shared this "I’m sure this is going to make a lot of people smile brightly... was out on my long run and came up on Michael Ring RUNNING the Brooklyn Bridge this morning as he made his way to the #RunningToProtest run this morning. Such a huge inspiration to see this!!!"  I've been uncomfortable with the label of inspiring. It just reminds me that I'd rather be not inspiring. Believe me, the last thing someone wants to be is inspiring. Unfortunately you don't always get that choice,  But I felt good about it then and there.  If people see me running to protest maybe it will inspire others to do something. Yeah, I'm happy to be inspiring. Not just as a person who crawled out of a big hole and started running again. I'm glad to be seeing running for a cause. 

The gathering and the run were as peaceful as I imagined they would be. Virtually all of the people wearing masks and there was lots of space between us. Maybe not 6 feet.  But no one was screaming in anyone else's face.  None of the speeches even brought up the police. They were probably about five hundred of us and maybe a dozen cops. They all hung out in the shade.


The second person to speak was the New York City Parks Department commissioner. I've met Michael Silver a couple of times.  A couple of years ago he was training for the New York City Marathon and had a goal a visiting all of the NYRR Open Runs. We had the same goals and our paths crossed at Highland Park.  We also met when we were both fully dressed at parks department meetings.

He said he was there for many reasons. He came because he was a runner. He came because we were in one of his parks. But most importantly he said he was there because he was a black man. He talked about how his sons had been racially profiled and how frustrating it was to have to leave his Blackness at home when he went to work. I was far away but I think he was holding back tears.

Others spoke of the challenges of being white. It's just difficult when you think you're doing the right thing but you're not really sure. They compared it to running just show up and do your best. Try. I can do that.

..............

Back in the spring my running club was having elections. I've been on the board of directors since the 90s and lost track of how many years I've actually been vice president. I started the process of running for re-election. I was a popular incumbent, running unopposed,  being being re-elected would have been effortless.  And since I was a vice president running unopposed I got to see who else was running for other positions.  Most of them were younger and didn't look like me. They looked like the rest of my club. It was a no-brainer for me to realize that I didn't want to represent them, I wanted them to represent me. I was able to retract my nomination for re-election and with a little finagling add one more spot for one more qualified person.

Some of my old friends and teammates were a little concerned when they didn't see my name on the ballot. I told them everything was fine and I meant it.  It wasn't until I attended the rally that I realized that when your best qualification for re-election is the fact that yarn incumbent it's time to let other lead. 

And you know what,  when and if  Covid-19  stuff becomes less of an issue our country is in for a great reset. Now is the time to make change

In the scale of all things a running club is kind of small.   But maybe my actions will inspire others.


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