Starting the BQ Journey

Running was never something I considered my thing, but it’s always been something I’ve done for a reason.

Middle school: never did organized sports but cross country had a low enough barrier of entry. And after school sports accommodated a better pick up time for the fam.

High school: needed to fill out that resume and made some really great friends along the way. We spent a ton of time together running cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. We were a bunch of lanky guys goofing off that happened to have moderate success on the track.

College: took a hiatus, got tired of being a twig, did resistance training instead.

Post-collegiate: I continued hitting the weights for all the years after school but the pandemic happened in 2019. I finally was able to cancel my New York Sports Club and dusted off the old running shoes. I was pretty careless with my training (too much volume, too soon), and injuries derailed any consistency.

9 + 1

So late 2021, I decided that I wanted to run the 2023 NYC marathon by qualifying for 9+1 in 2022. As I ticked off the races throughout the year, I came to regain enjoyment for not only the grind but also competing. The early morning nervous energy, the warm up songs, the pre-race strides. Unlike in years past where I was competing for place or for points, now I can solely focus on beating my own goals. I didn’t want to declare any BQ (Boston Qualifying) ambitions until I had some evidence that I was physically capable of it.

I set breaking 1:30 in the half marathon as my first proof point. BQ times in the 18-34 age bracket are at least 3 hours for a full marathon. I needed to be able to run at least the half marathon split time. My first attempt was at the NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon, and my effort fizzled on what was a tragically humid and sweltering day. I finished with a 1:33:54 (7:10 split). It’s easy for me to blame the heat, but I actually think I might’ve been close or short on the goal.

Staten Island Half Marathon

I put down another solid training block through the summer interspersed with some incredible destination runs (the Tiber River in Rome, the Arno River in Florence, the walls of Lucca). I peaked at roughly 50 miles per week mixed with doing 2 quality runs per week (intervals and tempo runs) along with a weekend long run (16 miles peak). It was hot and humid during most of my training, and so it was difficult for me to gauge my workouts on time so I trusted the heart rate monitor. My last hard workout before taper was a 45 minute tempo at roughly 6:35 pace. I felt a bit better after this but my split times on workouts were wildly erratic. I was nervous headed to race day not knowing my fitness level.

Race day came around on a perfect October Sunday, roughly 50 degrees at race time with a light breeze. We had a nice ride on the Staten Island Ferry, and I stepped foot on SI for the first time in my 8 years of living in New York. I knew the course had two major hill sections roughly at miles 4 and 8. People warned of the mile 8 hill as making or breaking their race. There was also a punishing uphill section with about 800 meters before the finish line.

My race strategy was to start a bit behind the 1:30 pacers and keep them in striking distance for most of the race. Starting behind and then eventually catching or passing the pacers would almost certainly guarantee a 1:30 finish. The strategy worked this time, and I completed the race in 1:28:37 (6:46 split). I will admit the strategy was shaky early in the race where it felt like I was not making up any distance. I typically run better with rabbits to chase, but it was important to not make up the stagger too soon. I’m really proud of my pacing through 10 miles — I really ran within myself, well controlled efforts, and not responding to being passed. Heart rate was in target and breathing felt good. The race was mostly quiet because most extended segments were not fan friendly. There were highway underpasses, parking lot loops, and industrial centers.

With about 5k left, I dropped the hammer and drained whatever I had left in the tank. Unfortunately, this only got me to 12 miles. The last mile, uphill, was hellish and I definitely paid for it. I cross the line and looked at my watch. I saw 1:2x:xx and was just thrilled with the effort. Mission accomplished.

BQ Next:

With a sub 1:30 in my pocket, I feel a little bit more comfortable committing to BQ-ing. There’s a ton of of work left to do and progress to be made, but I’m looking forward to grinding the axe. The NYC marathon is in November 2023 but am hoping to take a swing at BQ-ing on a flatter course before this. I’ll continue to ponder my training and racing plan but continuing to cross my fingers for healthy running.

Krispy Kreme is Never Hot

Desserts have never been a calling for me, but I've always had a soft spot for donuts (along with strawberry ice cream, carrot cake, and cheesecake). NYC has some great donuts (shout-out to the tres leche donut at Doughnut Plant), but I'm a sucker for the familiarity of a classic, warm glazed Krispy Kreme donut. When I heard they were giving away free donuts every time their iconic Hot Now signs turned on, I was ready to load up. I had recently moved nearby the Flatiron location.

The donut lover in me was inspired to create my own alert that would check to see when the Hot Now sign would turn on at the Flatiron location. Krispy Kreme's store locator website has an indicator that shows when the Hot Now sign is turned on. So I created a service that would run every 8 mins, check the Hot Now status, and send me a text message saying "HOT NOW!". To my dismay, I had received no salacious text messages for a Hot encounter -- it turns out that the Flatiron location never turned on their light even though they claim it happens twice a day.

Hot Now Claim

I would know because I logged every attempt to check (except when the VPS went offline for a month when it ran out of memory oops)

Hot Now Chart

So it turns out there are many locations in Manhattan that never turn on except for Times Square which, upon further review of the data, never turns off. Every single run says Times Square is Hot Now. I like donuts, but I'm not taking myself to Times Square. I also thought it might've been them purposely avoiding the promotional period (06/08 - 09/05), but this pattern persists well after 09/05. Perhaps there's a strong asterisk on participating locations, but this felt downright deceptive!

Blog Updates

In hopes of finding art to cover my barren apartment walls, I created a web crawler for an auction site that sends an email alert right before final bidding. Eager to have a weekend project, I was almost too quick to fork over 💰 to AWS, but then remembered I had a Digital Ocean droplet serving the 5 annual visits to my blog.

That original blog was made 8 years ago when I was still learning how to program. I ended up with a bloated Django site by mostly copy and pasting code from YouTube. And I wrote custom HTML/CSS as proof of myspace skills. Now with less to prove with an appreciation for simplicity, I'm starting with a static site. I also wanted to take this opportunity to start with new content. Hoping to win some art to have something to talk about.

Cheers to kicking off this new edition!