A Host of Numbers With One Week To Go…

In one week, exactly, from right now (as I write this), I’ll be on the streets of New York City running my favorite marathon, the one race that I often feel defines who I am. Somehow, a long time ago, I realized that the New York City Marathon is part of me, part of who I am at my core.

I cannot wait for next week to arrive, to be there, on the streets of New York, running, struggling, laughing, pushing, persevering, high-fiving, and probably even crying, as I push over the greatest 26.2 miles there are.

I love the noise, the crowds, the energy, the passion, the people, the police and firefighters. I love the volunteers. I love the Gatorade. The love the quiet of thousands of steps and the noise of the bands and sirens and cheers.

I love all of it.

My heart is racing just thinking of next week.

I love preaching at the religious services tent before the race, inspiring others. I love the smiles and the hugs and the “best wishes.”

I love Sinatra’s “New York, New York…”

I love it all.

***

I just finished what will be my last hard miles outside in advance of the marathon. I did four miles in 35:20. My last mile (yes, it was mostly downhill) was a blistering fast 8:06.

As I looked at these numbers I thought to so many other numbers that helped define my training and quest to get back to the streets of the greatest city in the world.

Here are some of the numbers:

662 – That’s how many days it has been since my Achilles Surgery on January 8, 2020

318.27 – The miles I have run the last 12 weeks since ramping up my training.

26.52 – My average weekly mileage the last 12 weeks.

2 – Number of 40+ mile weeks in my training

2 – Number of 20-mile runs I did this training cycle

843.57 – The number of miles I have run in 2021

30 – The amount of pounds I have lost since December 26, 2020

21 – The number of previous marathons I have run

7 – The number of NYC Marathons I have run

2002- The year I ran my first marathon (NYC in 4:20:47)

3:25:16 – My fastest marathon (Chicago, 2006)

4:47:47 – My slowest marathon (NYC 2018, Hey, I was injured…)

12 – The number of years since I last broke 4-hours in the marathon (yikes, I used to be fast)

13 – The number of years it’ll be after this year. (I’m stronger than I’ve been in more than a decade, maybe ever, but I’m not 4-hour marathon fast…yet!)

4:26:00 (approx.) – The average time I have run for my last seven marathons (dating back to 2011)

4:30:00 – The slowest I want my 2021 NYC Marathon to be

4:20:00 – The fastest I think I can be next week if everything goes right

10:18 – That’s the mile pace I’ll have to keep to reach a 4:30:00 marathon. I think I can do this.

5 – The number of boroughs in NYC. I love them all.

1,000,000 – The number of miles and marathons I plan to run before I tire of this crazy sport

1,000,000,000 – The amount of consecutive hours I’ll be smiling after I finish the race.

371 – The number of days until the 2022 NYC Marathon!!!

Thanks to my many readers and friends for all the inspiration and positivity you’ve shared with me. Your good words and optimism help me to keep moving forward. I hope I’ve inspired you back in some ways as well.

Never quit.

Never stop trying to be your best.

“It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Absolutely!

I Did It Again! Another 20-Miler.

Today I am announcing that I am officially ready for the NYC Marathon.

The race is in three weeks.

This morning I did my last long (long, long) run. I banged out another 20-miler.

Two weeks ago I did my first 20-miler. I wanted one more under my belt before race day.

It’s now under my belt.

***

The best part is that I feel great and felt great throughout the run.

I was a little concerned about this one.

I have been busy really 24/7. The demands on my time from so many different areas have been legion. I have always kept myself busy, but the demands right now have been relentless. I headed into the weekend exhausted. I woke up yesterday still exhausted. I didn’t know if I could pull off a 20-miler today.

But I did… and I was even much fast than two weeks ago.

To boot:

On October 2, I ran 20 miles in 3:43:12. That was 11:09 mile pace.

Today I did the 20 in 3:31:23. That was 10:34 mile pace.

Yeah baby! I KILLED IT!

On October 2, I ran only two of the miles in under 10-minute mile pace.

Today, I ran seven of them that fast.

My fastest mile on October 2 was 9:58.

Today it was 9:17.

My slowest mile on October 2 was 13:03

Today it was 12:32.

I had ten miles on October 2 that were over 11:00 mile pace.

Today I had only seven.

***

As I have recovered from Achilles surgery, I never lost the hope and belief that I would run well and far again, but as I struggled and toiled in my recovery and training, many doubts came deep inside my head.

These last few weeks have shattered those doubts.

I’m not fast like I once was.

But I am strong again.

I feel ten years younger.

I feel great.

***

The marathon is in three weeks.

I cannot wait!

30-Mile Week

The 2021 NYC Marathon is 17 weeks, plus one day away.

This week, two weeks before my real “training” begins (aren’t we, as runners, always in training?), I took a GIANT leap forward.

Continue reading “30-Mile Week”

Marathon Training Update, 2021

It will be three years since my last marathon when I step up to the (crowded) start in Staten Island for the 50th running of the New York City Marathon in November.

Three years and an Achilles surgery.

This will be, for me, Marathon Number 22 in all. It’ll be my eighth New York.

I love New York. And I love this race.

Continue reading “Marathon Training Update, 2021”

One Last Shot – Season 3, Post 1: This Time It’s For Real

(This post can also be found on my Yankees blog Start Spreading the News.)

January 2021

***

This time it’s for real!

…or so I tell myself.

Yes. For goodness sake, this time it is for real.

This coming season, the 2021 season, will be mine. This will be my chance to shine. To pitch well. To win. Often.

And I have a plan to make sure it happens.

Continue reading “One Last Shot – Season 3, Post 1: This Time It’s For Real”

Hey, It’s About YOU!

The Beatles song Hey Jude was in my head as I prepared to write my Weekly Memo to the teachers at the school where I serve as the principal. 

As I started humming the melody and quietly singing that song to myself, I quickly realized that there is a great deal within the lyrics that delivers an important message.  I quickly scrapped the original idea I had for the memo and began writing about this epic Beatles tune…

Let’s take a quick look at the messages that I took from one of the Beatles’ most famous songs:

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better…

If that’s not one of the biggest lessons in life, I don’t know what is. 

The message here is simple – Don’t make it bad.  Just don’t.  The world, life itself, is often filled with bad things, hurtful things, sad things…  Each day (and sometimes it really is each day) we’re faced with things that upset us, things that hurt us, things that frustrate and annoy us.  That’s life.  It is what it is. Continue reading “Hey, It’s About YOU!”

Kintsugi

This essay can be found in the book Impossible is an Illusion published by Wipf and Stock and available here.

***

My son came home from college, and in a discussion with me brought up a Japanese word, Kintsugi, that immediately opened up my mind to many thoughts.

It’s wonderful to find new words, new ideas, and new ways of thinking.

And, just for the record, kintsugi is now my new favorite word.

Continue reading “Kintsugi”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 13) – The Doctor, The Bench, and an All-Star

This is the story I didn’t want to write…

***

Two days after I pitched on June 23, I had my first appointment with the orthopedist.  This doctor is very well known and very respected.  He took X-Rays, put me through a battery of small tests, he examined my legs, took careful note of my right Achilles, and, after all of that, said that my baseball season, my softball season, and my running season are all over.

I knew this was coming.

We all knew this was coming.

I just didn’t want to hear it.

I still don’t.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 13) – The Doctor, The Bench, and an All-Star”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 12 – Game Four, The Story of a Catcher)

Well, I am the happiest 0-4 pitcher on the planet.

***

I pitched well enough, I guess. I gave up more than a few hard hit balls for loud hits, some of them long drives for extra bases. I also gave up some weak ground balls for hits. And a few bloopers also fell in.

On the other hand, some popups were dropped or missed altogether by the fielders behind me, a few grounders went under the infielders’ gloves, and a few would-be ground outs resulted in poor throws that instead netted no outs.

(And, to be fair, a couple of the loudly hit balls were caught by the fielders behind me. If nothing else, my pitching kept the team on its feet.)

In short, for much of the game, there were a lot of runners on the bases as I pitched.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 12 – Game Four, The Story of a Catcher)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 7 – The First Start)

Numbers?

Who cares about numbers?

Why do we have to reduce baseball to numbers? The numbers tell a story, but they don’t tell the whole story. Not nearly. Not at all.

I could give you the numbers, my stats, for the game I pitched, my first game pitched in thirty-four years, but they wouldn’t tell the whole story.

In fact, the numbers will obstruct; they will take away from all of it.

Trust me.

They will.

***

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 7 – The First Start)”