Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Past Few Months - Highs and Lows

I know that its been a while since updating my blog.  I want to start off by SINCERELY thanking all of you who have written me either via facebook or e-mail to check up on me to see how Ive been doing, and for everyone for sticking with me all this time!

My last official race was in December, the rutgers Big Chill 5K, where I paced my wife Gail to finish her very first 5K ever! It wasn't my personal best 5K time, but it was just as good to see the look of pride and achievement on the face of my wife.  Before training for this race she used her asthma as an excuse to not run and felt that because of it she wouldn't be able to.  Well she kicked that fear to the curb, trained her butt off and she DID it!

After that race, things started to take a turn for the worse.  I started to suffer blackouts and dizzy spells.  I wasn't sure what the cause was, but they had gotten worse.  The last week of the month I passed out and collapsed.  I managed to pick myself up and go to work after that, but when I got to work I was admitted to the hospital.  I never was officially diagnosed with anything, other then perhaps I was losing too much weight too fast, and I needed to add more to my diet.  More Calories (increased from 1800-2K to about 2K-2400)  More Sodium (1800 MGS - 2K MGS to about 2K MGS-2500 MGS) as well as increasing my water intake.

I followed the doctors orders and took medication, and for some reason, my stamina and energy levels remained at an all time low.  This time was very frustrating for me, because I'm at a point where I want to and NEED to be active.  Not having the same energy level I had was really getting to me, and was taking a toll on me emotionally as well, which may have helped lead to my second hospital visit at the end of January.

Not much came from this hospital visit other then an increased dosage of meds, but more importantly as a result, I had my heart fully examined.  My cardiologist after all tests were done was willing to say my heart was strong and capable of running a marathon!

Well within a week or so from my 2nd hospital visit, my energy started coming back to me, and I started to feel like my old self again a little bit at a time.  I started to get back to the gym, lifting weights and doing cardio.  I then after another week or so, felt well enough to attempt some short runs on the treadmill.  I built myself up to 5K, although my time was pretty bad, it felt good to be running again for more then 5 minutes.

Between my improved health (as of today no major blackouts or dizzy spells and Ive finished taking the meds) and my cardiologist clearing me, I felt comfortable enough to make it official.  I am registered to run in THIS years ING NYC MARATHON!

Put it on your calendars, November 4th!  This former 500lb guy will be running in the biggest marathon in the world!!!!!

However, there are some other things that happened in the past couple months.  Most importantly to me, was meeting a very special person.  I received an e-mail from a man who had a lot of weight to lose, and came to me for some help.  He asked me about what I had done to start the journey, and what he can do for himself.  He showed interest in taking charge of his life and joining Weight Watchers.  Well, that weekend, I met my friend Sean for the very first time, at my Saturday Weight Watchers meeting.  After stepping on the scale for the very first time, he realized that his road would be long, but that did not matter to him.  Sean to date has lost about 30 lbs and is well on his way.  This man, whether he has a bad or good week, has the most heart and determination I have ever seen in anyone!  Sean and I started doing a walk on Sunday mornings.  Before we started these walks, he would've struggled walking 1/4 mile.  Well our first walk, Sean completed 1 mile!!  The next week, 2 Miles!!  Two weeks later, 5K!!!!!!!!  We have also had another friend of ours from Weight Watchers join our weekly walks, Neil.  Neil is also another great source of inspiration, hes lost over 50lbs and is rediscovering what he is capable of doing, walking and biking!  So proud of the two of them!

Sean is not only my friend, but a constant source of inspiration to me.  Not only that, being that he was a former instructor in the arts of Jeet Kune Do and Wing Chun, he has started training me personally, and I must say I'm loving it!

Me, Neil, and Sean
One last note, I am now in the process of training for the Brooklyn half marathon on May 19th.  This was the end of week 2 of training, and I had a long run of 8 Miles planned.  Yesterday I had to cancel due to a schedule conflict and this morning I woke up not feeling well.  I wasn't gonna bail on our morning walk, and on the way home, Sean made me promise to do my training run.  I went home took a nap and woke up knowing I HAD to.  I went out and ran that 8 Miles in 1:39:15!  I felt great!!

I will be posting as often as possible with training updates.

Thank you again for your continued support and for all the well wishes I have been receiving!  

2012 is gonna be a great year!!!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saving the best for last and a tribute to Fred Lebow.

Today I ran in my final New York Road Runner race of the year, the Join the Voices 5 Miler.  I chose this race because it was the inaugural run in honor of the late Fred Lebow who was an inspiration and someone I truly admire.

For those who dont know who Fred Lebow is, he was the founder and creator of the modern day NYC Marathon.  Fred Lebow suffered and ultimately died from Brain Cancer.  Before he passed away he ran his marathon for the first and only time in 1992, and even though he was suffering from this horrible disease, he finished his race.

The late Fred Lebow

Statue of Fred Lebow that sits in Central Park by engineer's gate
Coming into this race, I knew I had already accomplished a lot during the last year: several PR's, finishing my first half marathon, breaking a 10 minute single mile, running a full 5k without walk breaks. So I thought hard about my goal for today, sure I kinda knew a PR was in the bag since my prior PR was 1:14 on June 30th, so what could I do to pay my own tribute to Mr. Lebow.  Well, the answer was simple, do something I hadnt yet done, complete a race in Central Park, running the entire distance, no walking.  So this was my one and only goal for the day, and I was determined to make it happen!

The weather was great, cool and crisp in the 40's, early 8:30 AM start.  I got to the park at around 7:45 AM and got to the corrals where I got to quickly say hi to a couple friends Mark Vogt and Gal Cohen.

Getting ready by the starting corral

Getting ready to go
This 5 mile course was a course I was familiar to except for the first 1.5 mile which covered the south portion of the park which I had only ran once but in the opposite direction.  It was fairly simple except the pack was pretty tight for the first mile and I averted disaster when I was able to quickly avoid a lady who stopped right in front of me to pick up a headband! 

After the first 1.5 miles I was back to familiar territory, Cat Hill, which I had no difficulty with, ran thru it with ease.  Mile 3 marked the 102 st transverse where we turned left to get over to the west side of the park.  At around mile 3.5 is where I faced my biggest fear, the rolling hills along the West Side drive.  Ive always found myself getting tired by this point and having to stop to walk, and I knew in my head I COULD do it, it was just a matter of WANTING to do it.   Between having my coach on one shoulder telling me to keep going, and knowing I was doing this also as a tribute to Mr. Lebow, there was NO WAY I was walking.  If my legs arent broken, I'm running!

Well what do you know??  I made it thru those hills RUNNING!  At mile 4.5, the hills were now behind me, I had great momentum, and plenty of energy in the tank, and ran the last half mile with everything I had, and my last mile was in fact my FASTEST mile!

I crossed the start line RUNNING, and when the PA announcer called out my name as I approached the finish mat, I was RUNNING!  I did it!!!!  Ran the full 5 mile course!!  Not only that, but i completely crushed my PR from June 30th by 18 minutes!!!!!  Official finish time was 56:37 and a pace of 11:20 min/mi!

Crossing the finish line

My Splits:


In closing, I was proud to be able to honor the late Fred Lebow in such fashion, and also prove to myself yet again that anything I put my mind to can be accomplished.  There is no such thing as I CANT, as long as I try and give it my all, it CAN be done!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Doubleheader Weekend!

This weekend I ran not 1 but 2 races!!!  This would be the first time I attempted this, but felt confident in myself that I could do it...

Saturday I ran in the Somerset Turkey Trot 5K...  I signed up to do this race since my friend Amanda was running this, and this was her first ever race, so I HAD to be there!!  I had agreed from the get go that I would run the race with Amanda regardless of time.

Amanda and me before the race
It was a cool but sunny morning and the 5K course was basically a double out and back on the main road in the park.

Waiting for the race to start

On the way back from the first turnaround
Prior to the race, Amanda hadnt yet ran an entire 5K.  I myself only did it for the first time the weekend before.  However, Amanda was a rock star as usual, and everytime I asked if she was ok and needed a rest, she told me no and we kept going.  Even after grabbing some water, we just kept running.

Coming into the last 1/4 mile.. Note old dude, he was booking it!

Coming into the Finish:  Old Dude Still Booking it!!!

We did it!!!  Look at that champ smile!!!  Job Well Done!!
Amanda crossed the finish at 34:49, and I crossed right behind her at 34:50.  And now Amanda has officially caught the running bug, I warned her it was contagious!!  Her next race will be the Big Chill 5K @ Rutgers on December 10th!


Sunday I ran my 2nd race in 2 days, the NYRR Race to Deliver 4 Mile run in Central Park.  Originally I was supposed to pace a friend of mine and was not planning on running at a race pace.  However, my friend had business to take care of in Miami, so figured since I was running solo I may as well run my race and give it my all!!  I felt good, my legs felt good, the weather was PERFECT, so why not?!?!?!

Before the Race
Unlike I normally do, I waited till race day to pick up my Bib and T-Shirt.  This was a bad idea because I was actually running late due to the bus I was on taking forever!  Thankfully I was planning on meeting up with a friend of mine before the race.  My friend Patti, from, and I had planned on meeting up prior to the race, so I sent her a text and asked her if she could pick my stuff up for me, which she did.  Thanx Patti!

Me and Patti (sorry photographer caught you blinking)
The race followed the standard 4 Mile Course which I had grown accustomed to.  First mile up Cat Hill, 2nd mile up and around to the west side, 3rd mile includes the west side rolling hills (which I hate!), and last mile downhill mostly and into the 72nd st transverse.

I ran pretty much the whole first 2.5 miles without any issues, ran thru Cat Hill, passed engineers gate and gave Mr. Fred Lebow a salute, and stopped briefly a couple times during the west side hills.  I made up for lost time on the downhill.  Came in strong at the finish!

Last time on this course I ran in 48:03... This time out, NEW PR, 45:32!!!

You can see in the splits where the west side hills were, lol!

Crossing the Finish 
Post Race

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Back to Where it All Started!!

This time last year, I ran my first ever race, the Garden State Plaza 5K in Paramus, New Jersey.

Finishing the run in 2010 at 52:17
It was only fitting that after a year of running that I return back to the same course, and get my revenge on the 52:17 finish time!

I came into todays race with 1 single goal....  RUN THE ENTIRE 5K, NO WALK BREAKS!

My friends/coaches Ann and Coop had suggested for me this year to focus on my two target races in 2012, my half marathon in May, and the NYC Marathon in November.  Every other race Im to run this year is to work on my endurance and to be able to run the distances with little to no walk breaks.

The 5K course is basically 2 times around the Garden State Plaza mall parking lot.  What I considered hilly last year is actually as flat of a course as you will get, lol!  The temps were in the 40's and the skies were clear.  

Before the race I met up with my friend Anthony, who ran this race with me last year as well.  And I also met up with a friend from, Tom.

Anthony, me, Tom
All set and ready to go!
The race started at 8:45AM, and the field of 300 runners were on their way!  I originally thought maybe Id run with my friend Tom from MFP, he said he wanted to finish in around 32-33 minutes, well when he started off running at a 9:30ish pace, I decided to back off from him, because I didnt want to go out too fast and not be able to meet my goal of running the entire 5K by getting tired too soon.

So I settled back a bit and got into a comfortable pace at around 10:30.  First couple miles went by without a hitch, felt good, kept a pretty even 10:30/11:00 pace.

Just past the 1 mile marker

When I got into the 3rd mile, this is when my brain started to convince me I was tired and that I should walk a bit, but no way was I about to start walking with less then a mile to go!!!  I actually got a little choked up fighting myself, knowing that I Can do this, just fight thru it for another mile and you can acheive your goal!

Coming into the homestretch, the girl to my right I had been on
her tail for most of the last mile, and I was determined to beat her!

I start to pull away

Left her in my dust!
I DID IT!!!! Ran the 5K from beginnign to end without a single walk break for the first time!!!!  Total Finish Time was 34:34 with an 11:09 pace, new PR as well!!

My splits were:  Mile 1 - 10:37, Mile 2 - 10:53, Mile 3 - 11:02

Tom, me, and Anthony Post-Race

Friday, November 11, 2011

Saying Goodbye to an old friend of mine.....

So last night I had to make a choice...   I had to choose to part ways with a very old friend of mine...  This friend I had leaned on as a crutch time and time again...  This friend would always be there for me whenever something tough or challenging came my way..  This friend of mine was called "I CANT".....

November 10, 2011

My friend Ann, who this past Sunday completed the NYC Marathon (her first ever marathon), convinced me to join her at BOOT CAMP!!!!   I was very hesitant at first because in my head rested my old dear friend "I Cant". 

We arrived at Parisi Speed School @ around 7:30.  Ann introduced me to two of the trainers at the school and had a chance to let them know a little about myself and I immediately felt a little more comfortable.

The class started at about 8:00 PM and we started with "warm-ups".  Well this wasn't the sorta "warm-up" I had grown accustomed to.  I was on the floor, off the floor, jumping, stretching, lifting, bending and at a very fast pace.   This went on for about 15-20 minutes at which time we were given a very generous 2 minute water break.

We then moved into the weight training portion of the class.  We were partnered off, and was with my friend Ann.   We were doing sets of 20 reps of lunges, squats and bicep/tricep curls.  Ann was a big help because my posture pretty much was awful, but she helped keep me straight and aligned..  And when i had problems doing the lunges and squats, I started to hear my old dear friend "I Can't" calling my name.  Good thing I chose not to listen to him, but instead, listened to my friend Ann who said You CAN!

At around 9:00 PM at the end of class for "cool-down's" we did 5 sets of sprints.  Which I really enjoyed, cause I got to run!  But the best part was, I was moving FAST, I felt the wind at my back and the cool breeze against my face, which was comforting because I had never sweat that much in an hour before!

So, as Ann and I left the class, and walked out the doors to the car I made a choice right there and then.  My old dear friend "I Can't" was left back at the school.  Never again will I need him!  No more excuses for me, none!  There will never be an "I Can't"  instead, its time for me to focus on what I CAN do! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

2011 NYC Marathon Weekend

This past weekend I made it a point to get as involved as possible in the NYC Marathon weekend.  What better way to try and get a glimpse into what I can expect next year, when it is MY turn to run in the greatest race in the world, the ING NYC Marathon!

Friday, November 4 - NYC Marathon Expo - Jacob Javits Convention Center

On Friday I had signed up to be a volunteer at the expo.  I worked in the registration area from 2:00 PM-7:15 PM handing out bibs to runners from all over the world.  I arrived at the Javits center around noon so I could get a chance to browse the expo and the different booths.  I also knew Dean Karnazes was going to be there, so I made it a point to try and get to stop by and say hi to one of my biggest inspirations.

Entrance to the Expo

Inside the Expo

Me and Dean Karnazes

At the Registration Booth

Working at the registration booth handing out bibs was such a great experience.  I had the chance to meet runners from all across the globe.  Some didnt speak English very well, but somehow found a way to communicate with me, and each one in their own way showed their sense of appreciation and gratitude.  

Later that evening after my shift, I had dinner with my friend Dahlia (who was awesome enough to let me stay at her apt in the city for the weekend so I wouldnt have to commute back and forth, thank you Dahlia!).  We met up with a fellow friend from the Runner's World forums, Damaris, who ran in the Marathon and did an awesome job, as well as her friend Ilana, who will be running with me in the near future :)  We ate at a mexican place called Dos Caminos, and the food was great, and the company was even better!

Left to Right clockwise (Damaris, Ilana, Dahlia, Me)

Saturday, November 5th - Dash to the Finish 5K - United Nations to Central Park, NYC

Part two of my marathon weekend was to run in the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5K.  The course was from the United Nations on 1st Ave, down 42nd Street to 6th Ave, up 6th to Columbus Circle, into Central Park, and running the last mile of the marathon to the actual finish line.

I got to the corrals around 7:45 AM and the race was to start at 8:30 AM.  It was a cool sunny morning, ideal running temps!

Arriving at the Corrals

Waiting for the race to start

My prior 5K PR was 41:30 on July 30th.  Being that 2 weeks before this run I had run in the RnR 10K and had a 5K split of 37:xx, my goal for this run would be 35 minutes or better.  

It took about 5 minutes to get across the starting mat as there were about 5000 runners ahead of me, and lucky me, my GPS decided to reset just as i get to the start, so I had to restart it, oh well!

Running up 6th Ave to Columbus Circle

The run felt good, the course was pretty flat for the most part and I felt confident that I could hit my goal.  Only problem was that during the run, there was the occasional person who thought it would be a good idea to stop running to take pictures, UGH!....  Also there were people who felt it necessary to walk hand in hand 4-5 people across.. So basically I had time knocked running around people..  I didnt let it bother me much, I was enjoying the run and the whole experience.

Coming into the park and seeing the marathon signage was awesome!  Mile 25, woohoo!!  400 Meters, 200 meters, OMG, there is the FINISH LINE!!!!  My first glimpse of that finish line, I started to feel a little choked up, and felt a tear forming in the corner of my eye.  I took those emotions, bottled em up and booked it into the finish....  I heard the announcer call out "Gary Aneis from Staten Island coming across the finish line!"  

Official Results - 35:50, 11:43 Pace, New PR by almost 6 Minutes!!!!!!!

The above picture was taken after the run, to celebrate a special moment...  The completion of this 5K run was the final part of my 9+1 Auto Entry into the 2012 NYC Marathon.. Thats right, its official, I'M IN FOR 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then after the run, what better place to celebrate then at......

The Hershey Store in Times Square!

Sunday, November 6th - 2011 ING NYC Marathon - Mile 24 Aid Station

The big day has arrived!  It was Marathon Sunday!  Dahlia and I arrived at the Mile 24 aid station, which was located just inside Central Park, around 8:00 AM.  When we arrived we were treated to Starbucks Coffee and a nice hot Bagel., which wound up being all I would have eaten for the next 8 hours!

We started by stacking and filling cups with Poland Spring water, 3 tiers high!

Before any runners came past, it was the amazing men and women who did the marathon on hand powered cycles...  I was totally inspired by the will and dedication of these disabled people...  Just goes to show that even if you have a disability, you can still accomplish great things!

I was able to snap a few more photos before I had to focus on the job at hand...  The elites came zooming by, first the women then the men....

After the elites had their turn, the 3 Waves of runners came thru

One thing I didn't see, was a single ounce of hate or malice.   People would bump into each other at times, and apologize, or say excuse me.  Runners would come by and thank us volunteers for our efforts.

I was urged on a couple occasions by the station captain to take a break and have something to eat, to which I refused each time.   No way was I coming off the line and missing any of this!!!

At around 4:45 PM, it was time to call it a wrap to our shift and head home, which I did reluctantly...

Through the whole weekend and especially during the marathon, I got a special glimpse into how good humanity can truly be.  Not only did I feel proud to be a New Yorker, but I was proud to be a HUMAN BEING!

Now begins the countdown until the 2012 NYC Marathon...