Race Reviews

NYCRUNS FROZEN PENGUIN 5K & 10K Race Review

Date: Saturday, February 1st, 2020

Distance: 10k (6.2 miles)

Location: New York, NY (Riverside Park)

Time: 44.42

I know that says Coco Classic but they must have changed the name of the race and not updated the image because that is certainly the course I ran. There was hot chocolate at the end so at least that part is correct.

In a a beautiful tribute to global warming, I participated in the not-so-Frozen Penguin 5K & 10K last Saturday in order to prep for the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon in March. That sentence was complicated and took way to much thinking. The race took place in Riverside Park which is somewhere in NYC, to be honest with you I really don’t know where I was but the park itself was pretty cool. The race was on the smaller side, there were 547 participants for the 10k portion, which took place a 1:15 after the 5k. This was a good thing as I don’t really think this race could have handled many more people. There were a few parts where the path was pretty narrow and the pavement in typical New York fashion was torn up, so if there were a lot more people I think this could have been a nightmare.

The course was two loops, something that I typically don’t really enjoy but for this it worked out alright. About half of the course was hilly, with a monster hill right before the first mile, so that was not to fun, especially the second time around. The second half of the race had a .25 out and back along the waterfront. I’m mentioning these things with zero elaboration because I found the whole thing a little scrunched together, really forcing you to run past a lot of people at a few different points. Things were kept pretty organized at least. My picture of the start line is a little misleading, as that was the widest part of the course. Altogether if I was not trying to PR this would have been a pretty little stroll through the park. Since I was trying too, I would have liked a less challenging race. But it is the beginning of February so I am happy I even had the option.

The shirt for the race was the kind of shirt Mac from Always Sunny in Philadelphia would love. A sleeveless t shirt with a pretty standard logo. I actually find the logo solidly cute, but as to the design of the shirt I hate it. Unless I am a 60-year-old man going to hoop at the local YMCA or Mac, I doubt I will ever wear this. The women got tank tops, which would have been nice. I like the race bib though. At the end of the race there were some solid bagels, hot chocolate, and some fruits. Pretty good spread.

I am doing an astronomical amount of complaining for a race I actually set a PR in. I knew I was off to a good start when I saw 22:30 after the first loop. My prior PR was set in the Queens 10k back in like June, if you want to read all about that click here. The old PR was 48:26 so this was an almost 4 minute improvement. I was really happy that I was able to keep a 7:13 minute mile for the entire race, I really didn’t fluctuate that much. That large an improvement is a testimony to how much better a runner I have become and I felt really thankful that I have seen results of all the hard work I put in.

Hopefully this translates to a solid Half in March. If I stick with this training plan I think it will happen. Obligatory post-race picture below, notice my awesome bright orange condom hat. In a little slice of humble pie, god that expression is fucking terrible, I sat next to the winner of the race on the PATH ride home. That little fucker ran it in like 33 minutes and had the audacity to tell me it was his first ever competitive 10k. TBH he was a super humble ass kid. That’s a review everybody.

Final Notes: It took me almost as long to find that old blog as it did to write this entire review. Don’t ever say I am not dedicated.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 7: Hey this might be working

With half of the training plan in the rear view mirror it is time for another edition of the greatest running blog series for amateur runners who wish to follow one mans quest for mediocrity. I’m talking Week 7 baby.

Milestones like the quarter done, halfway done, and the infamous 11/17ths done are always great points for reflection and since I sorely struggle for material to talk about writing this series I am always thankful when I hit one. I don’t think that I evaluate my own progress well or I really see the benefits of any training program as I constantly believe that I could do better or that some external factor contributed to the result. Since I don’t focus solely on running, there is a legitimate case to be made that I don’t maximize my running potential. I also could argue that all that stuff over the long term just makes me a better athlete, and while I will not see immediate improvements over time I will continue to get better without plateauing. I know one area I really struggle with is rest, I mean on the days I am supposed to refrain from physical activity I usually am doing some form of the gym, yoga or sports. This directly impacts my running as I don’t attack every run with the energy it deserves. But I really can’t help myself. This was deep. And way too long.

Halfway through the plan, Week 6 was absolutely brutal. I mean it too, I felt like dogshit all week. My runs did not suffer though, which is encouraging. I ran the 4-miler on Monday because I wanted to play in a soccer game Tuesday night. I did and that could have been a big mistake. I was so beyond sore Wednesday I thought there was no way that I would be able to effectively knock out the tempo run. But I did, fortunately by the time the warm up was over I was able to get moving. My calves and hamstrings were really feeling it, but they held up nicely. I mean 25 minutes of tempo is essentially running a 5k then taking a slight break and speeding another 2. Not an easy workout at all, but it went way better then I expected. I basically walked the 3-miler the next day, I was beaaaat up. Friday all I did was stretch, which broke my workout every day in January streak but I had to do it. I ran the 10k on Saturday but I will save discussion of that for another blog.

Looking ahead this is a little bit of a jump from what I have been running. 4.5 is the Tuesday run, I will be doing that today since I have soccer Tuesday night. The workout is another interval workout with 8 rounds. Fuck that is a lot. The weekend it is back to long runs, and I am super excited because I will be in lovely Miami running the Lifetime Miami Marathon & Half Marathon presented by cbdMD. I am doing the Half Marathon obviously. This is a little jump up from what the plan actually calls for, which is a 9-miler, but whatever the Miami race is so much fun.

So overall the second half of the plan is a huge step up work wise, but this plan has worked so well with my schedule and my body has responded to it that I trust that I will be ready for the Half in March. The 10k this weekend validated that I am getting much faster, so my usually dour, depressed self is feeling inspired. Crush it this global warming week everyone.

Book Reviews

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids Wrap-up:

I hope people like book review’s because if you are at all following this blog there are going to be 52 of them this year. With that being said it is time for the next iteration of the most famous, popular, controversial book review blog series. In my shameless self promotion you can hear my pontificate on the finer intricacies of the Lucernis underworld with a brand new guest on this weeks edition of the Swords and Sports podcast. Now available on the Itunes podcast app so you are running out of excuses not to give it a listen.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-swords-and-sports-podcast/id1496413079

On this weeks episode we discuss the absolutely enjoyable book, our favorite curse words from the book, the mechanical spider thing from Toy Story, a farewell to my sweet prince Eli Manning and a whole bunch of wildly entertaining shit that is sure to fill you with wondrous joy and have you running to your friends at the park asking if they listened yet.

Now that is a fucking podcast promotion. I think. Let’s get into the book. The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids is a pretty short book but for only being 200 pages it seems to fit a lot of shit into those pages. Not shit like its garbage, reading that back I can see it being misleading. But ya boy Michael McClung self-published this book in 2012 and won the SPFBO, another award I refuse to look further into, so it definitely has a little notoriety behind it. And it is well deserved.

The story follows Amra, your take-no-shit female thief who finds a way to make the thieving life seem, if not glamorous, at least not grimy. Her homie Corbin comes over one night and asks her to hold this gold frog for him because he has to go collect payment for a score that he never got paid for. Well turns out he is never getting paid because he gets sliced up that night. Amra vows to get some revenge, and from there we get a classic revenge, murder mystery that really turns into Amra being the person responsible with stopping a legendary demi-god assassin.

It takes a few wild turns, at one point a mages body explodes or something and he winds up putting his head on a mechanical spider. That is pretty cool. There is also a giant dog named Bone who has like 9 concussions but still manages to be a good boy. There is a temple where all the acolytes mouths are sewed shut and their god speaks through them, reminiscent of some movie that I forget. There is a cranky librarian who fires off insults like a cast member of Wild’n’Out. Did I sell it yet?

In truth the brevity of the story is actually a huge positive. With little room for fluff, it sticks to the parts that work well and is an adventure that doesn’t feel forced. Being the most sincere two sentences in the entire blog, I will follow it up with the award winning chad/virgin scale which has received critical acclaim by nobody. This book is almost chad, any time a demi-god assassin who freezes himself in time tries to kill himself because he is cursed from killing a god, you are on to something. And that guy is only on like 4 pages. With about 6 more books left in this series, we will be getting a little more of Amra on the blog this year.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 6: Measuring stick week

Not really sure what that is supposed to mean but I think it sounded cool and this being the 22nd time I have had to come up with a subtitle for a running training plan blog I am almost completely shot on new and original ideas. Either way it is Week 6 and as everyone knows that is the measuring stick week.

Last week was probably the first week where I had that internal conflict of trying to work my schedule around the time commitment it takes to follow the plan and my own bodies ability to maintain the fitness to attack the runs. I think that starts to happen around the 25 mile weeks, my body needs a few weeks at that mileage to readjust and I am not exactly known for me ability to take true rest days. The time commitment starts to impede on my free time, but I also understand that if I didn’t cross train on the rest days that I probably wouldn’t feel as overwhelmed. That is the price to pay for mediocrity though.

So there were three runs worth mentioning from last week, the 4-miler, the interval workout, and the long run. I switched the days around because I had ran last week’s long run on Monday and wanted to give my body a little break, so the interval run was the first challenge of the week. You would think the extra sprint every two weeks really wouldn’t make much of a difference but after I ran the 6th one it took a fucking effort to do it one more time. Those sprints are brutal, the only saving grace is that they make the run go really quickly because the entire time I am thinking only about getting the next one done. Every time I hit around the .2 mile mark I can’t believe that it isn’t over. To be fair they are getting a little easier.

The 4-miler is only worth mentioning because it was a half mile jump from the week before. Idk something about 4 compared to 3.5 makes a difference in my mind. It is legit like 4 more minutes running but it is a mental thing. The long run I was beat on. I really did a poor job with it, I think the cumulative fatigue of my no rest days January is catching up to me. Felt slow and like the whole thing was a struggle. I did get it done though.

Looking at the upcoming week, I have a feeling that it is going to be one of the most challenging weeks. The tempo run is 40 minutes, I am not positive how I am going to break it up yet, but I would like to do it in one 25 minute block and one 15 minute block, separated by a 10 minute recovery. How I do it is largely going to be decided by how I feel that day, as I am playing soccer Tuesday night. The fun thing though is Saturday I am doing a 10k, I was lucky enough that there is one I can do so I will not be running my own race. Hopefully I am physically still standing by then because I need content for a race review. My goal is to shoot for 46 minutes, which is about 1:15 under my current PR. Only time will tell.

This blog felt long, have a good week everybody.

Book Reviews

Half a King Wrap-up: A lesson in negotiating

With a subtitle fit for the art of the deal I am pleased to bring you a review of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie and Fitch. While it is widely acknowledged by no one that I am a prodigy in the over-saturated written book review game, if you would like to hear a truly stellar breakdown of this book in a different format I would like to announce that the third episode of the Swords and Sports podcast is up and ready for your listening pleasure. This week I have a guest so if you hate me you will hate him even more. Don’t be a bitch, give it a listen and give me your raw opinion until my comments section gets pregnant.

https://swordsandsports.podbean.com

Shameless plug aside, my mistake upon partaking in this book was that I failed to realize that it was actually meant as a Young Adult book so right off the bat I was confused as fuck. This was supposed to be a novel from a prominent grimdark author that was going to shock and tantalize my sense with scenes of graphic violence coupled with gritty personas but instead I read a classic orphan king revenge tale that would have entertained me when I was, well, 12. Which happens to be the audience for this.

Georgey is clearly lying.

The story is about the one-handed prince named Yarvi who gets placed on the throne (I had originally spelled this “thrown” which is funny because he gets thrown off a tower) when his dad and brother get clipped. He is king for possibly a week when he unceremoniously gets betrayed by his uncle. Yarvi is by all accounts the most unfit person to be king of a viking esque kingdom because he is a little depressed, cry baby bitch. And that is putting it lightly. The guy is a born whiner.

Look at that little cry-baby loser. To be honest I am just saying that because it fits my narrative but if we are all in the trust tree that armor is badass.

He already decided to become a knock-off Maester which in this book is called a Minister but as a king he does a terrible job and winds up as a slave, ending up as a rower. Which for a one-handed dude is quite a pickle. After a quick literary montage he becomes this wise, hardned teenager and with the help of his friends, which happens to include an uncle that fails to announce that he is his fucking uncle they eventually get revenge.

You may question why I rushed through that, the answer is that from the second you start this book you can pretty much see the ending. The First Law Trilogy has arguably one of the greatest twists that I have ever experienced in fantasy, but as I mentioned this is a YA book so it basically hit a formula and filled in the details. I will point out some highlights. The character Nothing is pretty cool. Hating on Yarvi is also a ton of fun. He is the worst negotiator of all time, which is ironic because his mom is some kind of money wunderkind. He essentially trades his entire kingdom to some other viking king for like a 30 minute distraction, then when it comes time to pay up completely reneges on the deal. He also is trapped in a snow bank with a girl he likes and completely fails at closing the deal.

Because of all this the rating is obvious. This book is as virgin as it gets. Your judgement has come to pass. Also listen to the podcast.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday's Week 5: Frozen fun for everyone

Welcome back to the personal journey of one blogger’s attempt to be the most amateur runner of all time. With a corny subtitle for the blog, lets dive right into it.

Last week had it’s challenges as it has truly become the dead of winter and is now obnoxiously cold. It is the point of the winter where I see these former track runners out in nothing but dick showing shorts and maybe a long sleeve shirt and I realize that I will never make the sacrifices needed to be a great runner or a fucking try-hard. If you are going to wear short ass shorts why do it in the freezing cold when your dick is going to look all shriveled up. Sure you look tough I guess, wearing nothing out there in the frozen tundra but these tiny flaps that show all your bony ass cheeks and withered tree branch legs, but all anyone is going to care about is that lack of bulge. Not putting yourself in a position to succeed. Or maybe I am just projecting my own insecurities. Continue on please.

Dick rant over, last week I had two challenging runs. The tempo run I thought went extremely well. After the first 20 minute tempo I knew that I had some more gas in the tank and could handle the second part without suicidal thoughts. I think for the first part I averaged close to a 7 minute mile, the second part maybe 7:30. Not too bad. I mean those runs at this point are going to be as long as my long runs, the workout topped out at almost 8 miles so they are not quick workouts. I can see that even from the last time I did it there was an improvement in both speed and endurance, maybe this fucker Hal Higdon is on to something. The long run was nothing crazy, I did an easy 7 yesterday as I had to shift the runs around. Add in three gym days and I would say I really got a good week in.

Which takes us to this week my friends. This week things are starting to pick up a little bit, the 3.5-miler from last week gets upped to a 4-miler, and now that it is at the 4 miles I am debating switching Tuesday’s and Thursdays so that I can do hills on Thursday’s without it affecting my speed workouts. Did that make sense? Whatever no going back now.

The workout is back to the interval’s, just throwing another one into the mix. I know that my workout says 5 miles, but now with 7 rounds of intervals it is def going to be a little longer. The long run is 8 miles. An 8 mile run is right about where I start considering the long run to be long enough that it impacts my day. When I am not training for something I rarely run over 6 miles unless I am feeling rambunctious or try-hardish so anything above 7 starts to feel like work. Which means it’s time to go to work, have a good week everyone. What a closing line, and while it may seem like I am ruining it by adding this, I would be remiss in my duties of self-promotion if I did not take this time to point that out.

Book Reviews

The Warrior Prophet Wrap-Up: Kellhus or die

With such a grim title it pains me to have to pair it with an exciting announcement. Due to the love of hearing the sound of my own voice I finally was able to scrape up enough equipment, technical know-how and free labor from a trapped significant other to put together an accompanying podcast. Media moguls start from somewhere and this was the logical next step.

Click below to listen to me grace your earbuds with the silky, sultry sounds of the greatest fantasy podcast out there. I promise it is not a virus!

https://swordsandsports.podbean.com

Did that have anything to do with The Warrior Prophet? Of course, as the book was the main subject of Episode 2 of the Swords and Sports podcast! So like that shit, listen to it, subscribe and please send any feedback to either the @swordsandsports accounts on Instagram or Twitter or email me directly at swordsandsports@gmail.com

While it pains me to have to cringeily ask for all that stuff I really am looking for feedback or trolls so don’t hold back.

The Warrior Prophet picks up directly where the last book left off, with the Holy War about to begin. Instead of all that setup my man R Scotty 2 hotty Bakers dozen gets right into the war and all it’s majesty. The best parts of this book are the emphasis on detail for both the political and military maneuverings of the Holy War. It really gave such an excellent feel for strategy and what being a part of it was like. Such a well done book I finally can see what the hype was all about. This is a significant improvement over the last book, which seemed to really become a slog in the middle of it. We get a lot less of the Emperor in this one, which automatically makes it better because his story line was pretty boring.

The Holy War and the Men of the Tusk are certainly not boring though. Achamian goes from a kind of whiny wack-ass spy in the first book to a drunkard philosopher in the beginning, to a warrior magician by the end and that transformation is really satisfying to watch because he was a fucking snooze for a long time. His obsession with Kellhus and his anointing of him as the Prophet were his main highlights in this, along with having a magical puppet that sliced the throat of a cat. His love for Esement despite her taking hella loads all the time is quite annoying but he redeems himself when he finally decides to start baking fools.

The best characters are by far Kellhus, and a step below that, Cnauir. Cnauir was one of the better characters in the first book, even though I am firmly against the barbarian with a brain trope. His ascension to the top of the Men of the Tusk command structure and subsequent fuck-up of aforementioned command was a great plot line to follow. His internal struggle to constantly battle the top minds in the book, Conphas and Kellhus, was one of the better psychological battles. He is one dude who has no chill. Also ritual scarring is fucked up I am way too pretty for that shit.

But all roads eventually lead to our title character: Kellhus. This guy is a fucking awesome dude. He is the definition of 2013 Drake’s chart topping song “Started from the Bottom.” I originally put 2017 but when I looked it up I realized that holy fuck I am getting old. Moving on. Kellhus begins this book as a sort of sideshow to Cnauir but through careful maneuvering, manipulating, and fucking people up becomes a separate entity that develops a cult-like following and becomes the face of the franchise by the end. Some of the stories of his training are awesome, like he went into a room with his old teacher where all these people are on stretchers with their faces stuck in various expressions. Kellhus has to identify the expressions and what creates them. Sickly and dope.

He also does shit like properly predict the outcome of a battle, finds water in a desert (I wrote dessert at first, HAHA words), acquires not one but two girlfriends which while I think is a terrible idea it does belay a certain cool factor, and eventually leads a group of fanatics seizing control of the holy war. On top of being an incredible swordsman that single handily holds the command position on the battlefield while everyone else ran, he is just a real swell guy. His lack of morals and emotions is a plus as well.

Did that tell you anything about the plot? Nope but once again if you listen to the podcast you will get wayyyyyy more recap then you ever could have imagined. O yea this book is chad to the max.