Mon 26 June 2023
I updated my DigitalOcean droplet and consequently, this website with intention of working on a new project related to
the Housing Works NYC non-profit. The organization supports the fight against AIDs and homelessness.
And one of their funding sources is via an auction. The auction often has incredible items, including unique artwork,
but unfortunately, there's
no means of staying updated about the items unless you visit the page every day. Consequently, I wrote a scraper
that emails me all the items available in the next auction. It's not a bidding bot, just an alert system. But it's fun
to see what random assortment of items is available.
And our empty white apartment walls could use some personality.
So, 8 months later, I've finally bid in my first auction and actually won! It is a print signed and dated from 1968 by
the artist John Ulbricht. For those who know, the artwork is painfully on brand. I've named it
Curly Icenberg, who is a fictional head of lettuce that I created in a deck to explain the Blend Ratio Solver project I
worked on at Bowery.
It's an impressive work of art, much larger and vibrant than the images led me to believe. And the little dopamine hit
of winning an auction was icing on the cake.
Sat 01 April 2023
NYC Half Marathon
I started training for the NYC Half Marathon in early December, giving myself about a 14 week block. I took about two and a half weeks easy after the Staten Island Half to let my plantar issues subside.
I decided to go with Hansons Advanced Half Marathon as my training plan. It has a good variety of workouts across 6 days a week including 1 interval workout, 1 tempo workout, and 1 long run. It peaks at about 55 mi/week. A nice thing about the plan is that you don't need to worry
about going too fast on recovery days because you'll need them. I found the 3x2mi workouts at 10K were probably the hardest to pace out correctly. The long tempos (7-8mi) at slightly faster than target HMP (6:30) seemed to translate best to the race.
I was always concerned with my cutdown long runs because I never quite managed to go fast enough, but I always did them late in my long runs to train running on tired legs.
The conditions for the race weren't the best, roughly 28F at start with a 12-14 mph west to east wind. But overall, I'll take the cold over the heat any day. There's a picture of me wearing throwaway khakis and a hoodie to the start line. Unclear if I was racing or going to work...
The course had quite a bit of elevation across the Manhattan Bridge and the segment from the UN building to Times Square. Central Park also has rolling hill segments, especially right before the finish line.
The beginning of the race was a bit chaotic having to pass alot of folks who were going a bit slower. My heart rate and pace were all over the place as I worked to keep the 1:25 pace group in sight. I banked up some time on the downhill towards the Manhattan Bridge, kept my heart rate under control over the bridge, and then banked up some more time on the downhill.
I tried to make up some time on the flat portions of the FDR knowing the uphills towards the end. The FDR section was probably the hardest as there was no wind protection, and it was dead silent.
The turn on to Times Square was such a unique New York moment: the roar of the crowd, the flashing lights, and all the buildings enveloping you. Even while gasping for air,
I took some moments to appreciate running over the Manhattan Bridge, the FDR sightlines to the UN and Brooklyn, and then through a closed off Times Square. For this race,
I didn't take any water and barely managed to get a quarter of the UCAN out of its packaging. The cold numbed the need for water, and I would've probably choked on water and miss my goal.
My goal coming into the race was sub 1:25, and I started having my doubts with the headwind and cold. But after checking my pace band at around mile 7, I was on pace for the time!
I really had to clamp down on the austere FDR segment and double down on the goal. Flip the mentality to really get after it. I locked in to chasing the pace group ahead of me and passed them with about 800m
left. I managed to finish in 1:24:48. I positive split the race, but I'm happy with the time considering that I felt like I was barely hanging on starting at mile 9. This was also my first half-marathon
with the Alphaflys, and I must say that I am a believer, placebo or not. Legs just turnover, and I actually think they helped leave my legs intact after the race.
I told myself that I would only try to BQ this year if I managed to get sub 1:25, and I was actually really nervous that I would have to deliberate if I fell short. Thankfully, there's no discussion necessary!
So now I'm excited to begin the Pftiz 18/70 plan for my next training block leading to the Tunnel Vision Marathon in August. The course in Washington is a steady downhill so I should have a bit of help hitting sub-3.
Looking forward to the next block but will miss the days of running in cooler weather. Until next time!
Wed 19 October 2022
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 ended up making 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
who happened to have moderate success on the track.
College: took a hiatus, got tired of being a twig, lifted heavy 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 3 hours or faster 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, 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.
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.
Thu 13 October 2022
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.
I would know because I logged every attempt to check (except when the VPS went offline for a month when it ran out of
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!
Sun 15 May 2022
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 an
appreciation for simplicity, I'm using a static site generator. 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!