Tag Archives: vegan joggling

Yonkers Marathon race report

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On marathon day, I awoke at 5:20 AM, jumped out of bed, and ran out the door to do a quick run. I ran for about 100 yards through the eerie darkness, about half a block and back to my house for the breakfast that would be my last significant carb-loading meal before the race.

Breakfast consisted of raw sunflower seeds mixed with kimchi, dried cherries, and a bagel drizzled with flaxseed oil. This is what I normally eat for breakfast, though the fruit often varies. Sometimes I eat kiwis or mangoes instead of cherries. The day of a marathon and for days before I always stick to what my body is familiar with, to avoid any problems.

Downtown Yonkers is just a few miles away so it was a quick ride to the start line. With the race set to start at 8 AM, I wanted to make sure I was there by 7:30. It was in the mid 60s, much warmer than last year. I did a few short warm up runs along the Hudson river(and 2 push-ups), and went back to the start line by 7:50 and drank the last of the juice I had with me. There were nearly 1,000 runners there, most of whom were doing the half-marathon; only about 167 were there for the full marathon, including me.

After a delay, the race started a little after 8:05. It was a frenzied start like always, and I passed many runners and many runners passed me as we ran through northward through downtown Yonkers. Many people like last year were amazed by the joggling, and I was accused, like last year, of being a “show-off”. The route along Warburton avenue overlooks the Hudson river and often provides spectacular views, but unfortunately my stomach was giving me problems. It was mostly this vague stomach pain that tended to get worse whenever I would run faster. I started out slow, but was slowly picking up the pace. As we ran north, the route not only becomes hillier but also more suburban.

After drinking some Gatorade at around mile 5, my stomach felt even worse. I did my best to ignore it, and was running even faster. I was just a little nauseous, but at the next aid station I grabbed some water and I felt much better. The hills were brutal. They felt even more brutal than last time because I refused to let them slow me down. The race starts at a little above sea level and involves over 1,000 feet total elevation climb. The big hill in Hastings(a small town just north of Yonkers) is especially steep, so much so, while doing the second loop I swore I heard the hills laugh. Some runners just walk up all or part of the way of these hills. After mile 5, the crowd of runners had mostly thinned out.

By the time I looped around to the start line area in downtown Yonkers at the 13 mile mark(50% done), I was feeling super and the space between runners was so big I felt like I was doing a training run. My stomach problem was mostly forgotten, and the crowd support was unbelievable. There were even some people shouting “go vegan!” or “that’s my man!”. Now on my second loop(this is a double loop course), I all of a sudden felt this rush of energy that allowed me to pass a bunch of runners. I’m not sure how fast I was going, since I wasn’t able to record this on my Runkeeper, but I was probably running somewhere in the 7 minute mile range on a gentle incline.

As I approached the steep hills of Hastings yet again, I started slowing down. And so did some of the other runners. The hills seemingly went on forever while running south back to Yonkers and the temperature was well into the 70s. I felt like I had hit the wall by mile 18, though I would pick up the speed on the downhills. At mile 20, I realized I hadn’t dropped my balls even once, though I was expecting to before I reached the finish line.

By mile 23 my legs felt so heavy that even small hills were becoming a challenge. I was sweating profusely on this unseasonably warm, sunny day. I grabbed my last Gatorade, and tried picking up my speed as I headed straight for the finish line along the Hudson. I think at this point the man in the tutu ran past me, complimenting me on my juggling. I complimented his style.

As I’m approaching the finish line along the Hudson river, there was some amazing crowd support, including from some fellow vegans. Since this was my second time running this, I was hoping for a PR. Last year I merely wanted to complete so I held back, but this year I often went all out. There was so much excitement as I crossed the finish line, I think even more than last year. It probably helps that I was significantly faster than last year.

The results: I finished in 3:40, compared to 3:51 last year(the route was virtually identical to last year). This is a new PR for me. Out of the 167 finishers, I was 35. Of the 31 males in the 30 to 39 age group, I was 7th. But most shocking of all is that I didn’t drop the balls once. Sure I fumbled a few times, but I didn’t drop. This is my third marathon, and my first zero drops marathon. I wasn’t expecting this, not with all the brutal hills, pot-holes, other runners, and endless distractions. Not to mention the heat, exhaustion, and borderline delirium during the last few miles.

I hope that while running this race I’ve inspired others to go vegan; that would make me happier than the new PR or the fact that this was a zero drops run. I’d rather drop 10 times and get 5 people interested in going vegan than drop zero times and have no one think of going vegan.

Congratulations to the amazing Oz Pearlman for winning the Yonkers Marathon(2:37) 2 years in a row! 1 day after winning the Hampton’s Marathon! Wow! Thanks to everyone for making this a wonderful race experience, especially the volunteers, and thanks to NYCRUNS for organizing this. All in all, a great race, and congratulations to everyone who finished the full and half marathon!

2013 Yonkers Marathon Race Report

Addendum:

Why did I experience so much stomach pain this time compared to last time? It could be due to my faster pace, but it may also be do to all the carb-loading I did in the days leading up to the marathon. I may have overdone it, I was eating tons of bread, pasta, and fruit, and sometimes I felt a little sick afterwards. I did have some probiotics like kimchi, but no kefir juice in the days before the race. I believe this helps, though sometimes probiotics can be unpredictable. It’s possible I drank too much juice before the race. According to some sources, fructose is more likely to cause stomach upset than other sugars.

Not getting enough sleep sometimes plays a role in digestive upset, however, I believe I got more sleep this year compared to last year. I slept I think 7 1/2 hours versus 6 1/2 last year, and I was less nervous.

Another difference from last year concerns the omega 3’s. Last year I was still taking vegan DHA/EPA supplements. I stopped doing this almost a year ago because I wasn’t sure if they were doing anything, and now I only take flaxseed oil for my omega 3’s. The ALA(alpha-linolenic acid) in flaxseed oil can convert to DHA(docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid) in many if not most people if they maintain the proper ratio of omega 3’s to other fats(the proper ratio is a controversial issue) and are healthy otherwise.

Science has shown that the omega 3’s, DHA in particular, are important for optimal brain function, and also for cardiovascular health. Late last year I decided to stop taking the DHA/EPA supplement, just to see if I noticed any difference. I replaced it with flaxseed oil, which, as I explained before, contains a precursor essential fatty acid called ALA which can be converted to DHA and EPA. I figured that if I were to become deficient in DHA, or any other omega 3, my joggling performance, which requires a high level of neuromuscular functioning, would suffer.

Since then, it seems my joggling performance has improved over last year. I didn’t drop once during several 20+ mile training runs(this didn’t happen last summer), and even the times I did drop, I dropped once or twice. Last year I could only go as far as 15 miles without dropping, while this year during training I went as far as 23 miles without dropping, and now this record was broken at the marathon and I can go 26.2 without dropping. All while not taking DHA/EPA supplements.

This isn’t scientific, it’s not like I’ve had my blood tested, but I think it’s safe to say my DHA/EPA levels and omega 3’s in general are adequate. I think the ALA I get from flaxseed oil is converting to DHA/EPA in significant amounts. A lot more research needs to be done on these essential fatty acids, but I don’t think I need DHA/EPA supplementation anymore. To get adequate omega 3’s on a vegan diet, you simply need to eat flaxseeds or their oil, or chia seeds, or walnuts. It may not be wise to take DHA or EPA supplements, so consult a doctor or health professional if you think you can’t get enough from diet alone.

My marathon training

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Hills like this are a big part of my marathon training

Many people are curious about how I have been training. With a few minor changes this year, this is how I train for marathons: My marathon training

What I don’t do anymore are the ankle weights exercises, since they are no longer necessary. I also no longer do resistance band hip exercises. The exercises I did with the ankle weights were a holdover from many years ago when my doctor recommended them to help heal a knee injury. My knee would feel worse whenever I stopped doing them, but now it feels fine. I very occasionally do half squats.

This year, to help improve my speed and endurance and because I’m crazy, I’ve been doing more hill runs, with steeper hills and lots of repeats. I think this has really helped me improve my speed. Unlike last year, I also have a lot more 20+ mile runs under my belt(it’s a vegan belt), unlike the small handful I ran before the Yonkers Marathon last year. I also run more mileage generally compared to last year, usually a minimum of 40 miles per week. Besides this, the less I run, the more I juggle to stay in top form.

Everything else in that old post is still part of my training, though I don’t drink beet juice as often. It should go without saying that I am carb-loading(this is an understatement!) and still tapering.

Here I come Yonkers!

 

A Happy and Healthy New Year!

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

2013 Year in review

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Now that we are very near the finish line of 2013, I thought it was time for a review of the past year. 2013 was a good year for me as far as joggling goes. Overall, I have run at least 1,200 miles this year. I only started closely tracking my mileage recently, so this is a rough, conservative estimate. About 90% of the time when I am out running, I am also juggling.

I also ran my first 2 marathons this year, the Yonkers Marathon and the Brooklyn Marathon, completing both of them in under 4 hours, while juggling. I also ran an unofficial “ultra” marathon of 28.5 miles from 42nd street in the middle of Manhattan up to Tarrytown, New York with a group of some very awesome runners. These runs were all a lot of fun! I got interviewed about my marathon joggling by podcaster/blogger/avid outdoorsman Steve Stearns over at Outside Health and Fitness. I also got interviewed by Perry Romanowski, a very accomplished joggler and scientist, over at Just Your Average Joggler.

The Wild Juggling blog has also grown during this time. It now has over 700 followers, 318 published posts, and nearly 30,000 page views. Some of my most popular posts from this year are:

And there are many others. It feels great being told I am inspirational, both by vegan and non-vegan athletes. It also feels wonderful destroying myths about veganism with all the distance joggling I do. I will definitely do many more marathons in 2014 and a lot of other fun, crazy things.

I’d like to thank all my friends for your advice, inspiration, and encouragement. You help make Wild Juggling and my marathon running possible. I wish you well with your blogs, your running, and your plans for the new year!

My Brooklyn Marathon experience

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Just after completing the Brooklyn Marathon. They also gave me a nice hat, besides a Brooklyn Marathon running shirt, which I didn’t wear.

First of all, congratulations to all finishers of the Brooklyn Marathon! it was great running with all you energetic and wonderful people. And Thanks to NYCRUNS for organizing a great race experience.

Earlier today, I completed the Brooklyn Marathon in Prospect Park while juggling. The Brooklyn Marathon is a very young marathon compared to the Yonkers Marathon(also organized by NYCRUNS) I did back in september. I often call it a “baby” marathon because it is only 3 years old, unlike the 106 year old Yonkers Marathon. This in no way means it is an “easy” marathon, though it is a lot less hilly than the Yonkers Marathon.

Now for the results: I was a tiny bit slower than last time, finishing at 3:52:33, compared to 3:51:43, which is how I did at the Yonkers Marathon, an almost trivial difference. At least I managed to finish in under 4 hours again. There were 400 finishers in the race, and my overall place was 122. I think that may be kind of impressive.

At least I improved when it came to juggling, dropping only twice during the entire marathon, compared to 4 times in the Yonkers Marathon. I probably would have done better if it hadn’t rained on and off for nearly 30 minutes, leaving me all wet and making it slippery in some spots. It was also a little warm for this time of year(nearly 60 F or 15.5 C toward the end of the race) and uncomfortably humid, though when the race started at 8:30, it was a little chilly.

I think the tedium of doing several laps on the same path in Prospect Park going around and around and around got to me mentally(I did this entire path once earlier this year). This was the biggest problem with the race, from my perspective. I prefer a race that isn’t repetitious and takes me places. Fortunately, NYCRUNS has some ambitious plans to bring the Brooklyn Marathon out onto the streets of Brooklyn. I even feel like they stole my idea – I kept thinking to myself: “Wouldn’t it be great if this race ended in Cony Island?”. And the organizer at the beginning of the race said exactly that! So this is a potentially great marathon in embryo form, just as the big New York City Marathon was once an embryo that used to be completely run within Central Park back in the 70s.

I also felt a borderline nausea during some parts of the run, especially when I tried running faster. I wonder if this would have been less of a problem if I had been consuming the probiotic blueberry or cherry kefir before the run, which is what I did last time. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I wasn’t able to make any this time, though did have some store bought kimchi.

Another issue was that the marathon route wasn’t closed to non-marathon runners. I couldn’t get over how many people were walking or running on the path, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a marathon was going on and they were in the middle of it. This must have slowed down a lot of the runners.

On the bright side, the crowd support was amazing. There were so many people cheering for us, and I gotta admit, especially me. This feels so weird to me. I can’t count how many times I heard people say “Go vegan joggler!”, because of the vegan T-shirt I had on. I think at least a few of the people watching the marathon were vegan(which may have explained their excitement), and I am aware of a few other vegan runners who I met. Yes I know I get a lot of attention, but you all inspire me too; I don’t think I would be doing this at all if it wasn’t for vegan runners setting an example for me to follow and to feel camaraderie with. Not to mention that part of the reason I do this is to dispel myths about veganism.

After I crossed the finish line, some other runners thanked me for making the race more “entertaining” for them. This is why I do what I do – it makes racing more fun for me and everyone else. I’m glad I could entertain you, and maybe inspire you to run a little faster – after all, who wants to come home from a race and say they got beaten by a vegan joggler? This is also the first long run in which I’ve worn the new ASICS sneakers I got about a week before the race. It felt terrific running in them, they are definitely a little roomier width wise compared to my previous pair.

All in all, a great race experience in spite of its flaws. I also wish I had gotten more sleep the night before. I got around 5 hours which is usually inadequate for me. This also may have slowed me down a little bit.

I drank a lot of tart cherry juice during the ride home, and ate some Cliff Bars. It’s difficult to have a full meal after very long runs. I drank a lot of tart cherry juice because it may help speed recovery. I feel sore now, but I did go for a walk after I got home. Hopefully the soreness will be gone within a few days.

I look forward to doing many more marathons and races. I wish all my followers much success with your races and your fitness routine. I hope anyone reading this who ran the Brooklyn Marathon had as good of a time as I did. And if you happen to be planning a trip to New York City, be sure to visit Prospect Park, it’s a lovely little green space that has a lot to offer.

Related posts:

Joggling the entire length of Manhattan and more!

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

The orange line going south was my path.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All in all, a great experience!

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

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The Statue of Liberty, as seen from Battery park

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What keeps me motivated

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Joggling across Croton Reservoir on the Putnam(North County) trailway in Westchester county, NY

Staying motivated to exercise every day can be a challenge for some people. But with the right amount of motivation, it becomes much easier. This is why I believe it is a good idea to write a list of reasons to exercise, that way you don’t lose sight of why you do it. While some of the reasons I exercise are pretty standard, there are some motivations that are unique to me as a vegan joggler. Here is what keeps me motivated:

  • The health benefits of exercise, and this includes both cardiovascular and mental benefits
  • Joggling is fun
  • When I joggle, I often wear a vegan or vegetarian T-shirt. In this way I can help dispel the myths that many people still believe about veganism. This is probably one of the best ways to open up people’s minds to the vegan lifestyle. I can’t “convert” anyone, but by setting an example as a vegan joggler, I can suggest the idea to them
  • For the kids: A lot of kids love seeing me joggle around the neighborhood, so the fact that I am a source of entertainment and inspiration for a lot of children also helps me stay focused on my fitness routine. Who knows, maybe one of them will take up joggling some day and set some new world records!
  • To ensure I am as fit as possible for running competitions or for hiking adventures

I think we should all try to make our fitness routine as fun as possible, and set a good example to inspire others. Doing competitions or fitness events, joining a running club, or running for charity are other good ways to keep you motivated. You don’t have to be a joggler to do these things, but it will certainly bring you more attention. If you can find a way to entertain children while running or exercising, that’s yet another reason to exercise, and you will even forget you are exercising.

What keeps you motivated to exercise?

I will be running the Yonkers Marathon next month

I just registered for the Yonkers Marathon! This will be my very first marathon. It is scheduled for september 29th, at 8 AM, and the course involves running this big circle around the entire city of Yonkers, and a little bit of Hastings-on-Hudson twice(once for the half-marathon). Yes, I will be juggling the entire race.

I didn’t realize just how old the Yonkers Marathon was until recently. It was founded in 1907, making it the second oldest marathon in the U.S, second only to the Boston Marathon. I also didn’t realize how storied it was. The Yonkers Marathon was both a training ground and qualifier for the Olympics! However, after the founding of the New York City Marathon in 1970(as well as other marathons in the area), the Yonkers Marathon started to fade into obscurity, some years attracting just hundreds of runners. Yonkers is on the northern border of New York City.

The course of the Yonkers Marathon is notoriously hilly, and challenging, though not as hilly as it used to be due to several reroutings. I am already familiar with many of these hills, though I haven’t run a significant length of the course. Personally, I prefer a small city/suburban marathon to a big city marathon like the NYC Marathon since I am not fond of large crowds and noise.

Most years I think the Yonkers Marathon gets zero to maybe at most 1 joggler, though I need to do more research on this to verify. Last year it had a little over 1,000 runners for both the full marathon and half marathon.

I also don’t know how many vegan runners(there are plenty of vegan marathon and ultra-marathon runners out there) the Yonkers Marathon usually gets, but its usually not a lot. As far as I know, and this may be the case for the entire world, there are no vegan jogglers who have run entire marathons. Sure there are vegan and vegetarian jugglers, and as I said before vegan marathoners, but no vegan joggler marathoners(if you happen to know of one, please share). Of course, there are plenty of non-vegan jogglers who run marathons out there.

Should I complete this, and I don’t necessarily mean to brag, I may become the world’s first vegan joggler marathoner(though my time will not be that remarkable since I am a slow runner). The fact that it can be done at all shows how silly the notion of vegans being “weak” is.

I have been marathon training for months. So except for regularly going on long runs in very hilly areas to prepare for the beast that is the Yonkers Marathon, I need not do anything significantly different from what I am already doing. Yonkers is so close to me that I regularly run its hilly terrain, so I should be able to handle the hills on race day.

A big thank you to everyone who has been following my training for your kind words and support. If anyone reading this is going to be running the Yonkers Marathon, I look forward to seeing you on september 29th! Let’s hope the weather cools down by then.