A 5K Run to Honor Lola’s Memory

Lola's children, Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby will be back in Prospect Park tomorrow morning to honor Mami's memory.

Lola’s children, Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby will be back in Prospect Park tomorrow morning to honor Mami’s memory.

Tomorrow morning Esther, Cristian and I are running a 5K race in Prospect Park, okay Cristian will be riding in his stroller while I push him but he’ll be participating.  Although we are no strangers to 5K races or Prospect Park’s notorious hill tomorrow’s race isn’t about goal times or P.R.s—this one’s personal—we’ll be honoring Esther’s Mom’s memory.

10298777In 2013, Maria Hernandez, Lola to her friends, lost her battle with Pancreatic Cancer so for a third-straight year her three children will be participating in the PanCan Purple Stride 5K Run/Walk to honor her memory.

Pancreatic Cancer is a brutal disease with an extremely low survival rate.  Besides taking the lives of celebrities like Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti, it’s affected the lives of many non-celebrity families as well.   Last year my Dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  Dad was lucky, if you can say that for any cancer patient, he died of pneumonia before the cancer fully took hold, Lola wasn’t so fortunate.

17171717Long-distance runners are no strangers to pain—it’s who we are.  I’ve run a 60K race, just over nine four-mile loops in Central Park on a cranky knee.  Esther started a marathon on a badly-injured ankle that got worse with every step taken—both were minor twinges compared to Lola’s battle.  She fought a tough fight, the worse things got, the harder she fought, but no one beats Pancreatic Cancer.

Since tomorrow morning’s weather forecast calls for windy conditions with a chance of snow I’m expecting less than the fifty people who came out last year.  Cold weather does that, but Esther, Bobby, Rose Marie, Cristian and I will be there regardless of the conditions.  This ugly disease took Robert, Lucas, and Justin’s grandmother.  Cristian will never know his La La Maria because of it, it’s our biggest regret.

If you know anyone suffering or lost someone to Pancreatic Cancer or are interested in donating to a good cause click here.

This entry is being posted to both of my blogs North Queens Runner and I’m Not Grandpa.

In Search of the Zone

Esther, Cristian and I after finishing our Hangover Fun Run

Esther, Cristian and I after finishing our Hangover Fun Run

This post also appears in I’m Not Grandpa

This morning Esther and I continued a family tradition when we took Cristian to Eisenhower Park for the New Year’s Day 5-Mile Hangover Fun Run (can you something two-years old is a tradition) the New Year’s Day Hangover Fun Run.  For some of you my last sentence is one big oxymoron—New Year’s Day, Hangover, Running, all of the above.

The tradition started last year when our friend Coach Maria sent our team an email suggesting we run this event as a team-building exercise.  Esther and I bundled up our barely three-month old son anxious for the chance to mix activity and socialization.  Although we both ran slow awkward miles it was the spark we both needed to get moving.

Cristian always seems to find a friend

Cristian always seems to find a friend

Wednesday Morning I posted The Road Back on both blogs.  It wasn’t a resolution post, I wrote about setting new goals and creating new habits.  This morning was the first step.  We got up early, bundled up the baby and headed out instead of crashing on the couch with the remote watching a Twilight Zone or Honeymooners Marathon.

Since I started running, I worked to find the zone, the elusive place where the miles are smooth and easy, and excuses are few and far between.  In the Zone, I’ve raced half marathons in 14 degree weather , 18 milers in driving rainstorms and ridden bike tours through flooded roads wondering whether or not I was going to blow a tire.

I’m not suggesting this morning’s slow creaky miles launched either of us into the Zone.  Every year on New Year’s Day, the gyms start filling up with people making resolutions to lose weight or fit into smaller clothes—those resolutions usually die a violent death around Valentine’s Day.

The morning was Day One, a chance to do something I love and reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a few months.  It was a chance to start creating healthy habits and hopefully the beginning of a family tradition.  If it leads to more, so be it.

With our friends and teammates

With our friends and teammates

The Road Back

Running the 2012 Battle of Brooklyn 10 Miler

Running the 2012 Battle of Brooklyn 10 Miler

This post also appears in I’m Not Grandpa

I’m back in a familiar place—in front of the keyboard writing another how do I resolve my weight gain post.  I’ve written several over the years, like this one and this one.

Keeping fit gets tougher as you get older, this year was more difficult than past years. Being a stay-at-home Dad, managing my Dad’s health care during his illness, and caring for Mom, were among the challenges I faced. A sedentary consultant gig didn’t help much either.

It’s not like I’ve been completely inactive, I haven’t been able to maintain consistency.  Every time I’d gain traction, something came along and derailed my progress.

The way my clothes fit and how my bulging belly looked in pictures, I knew I gained weight, I just didn’t know how much.  A few weeks ago I replaced a broken bathroom scale—it was a wake-up call.  Like recent pictures of me, it wasn’t flattering.

halloween party 2

The scale said 225.  Stupid scale.  This was before celebrating the Christmas holiday with the family. Two days of solid eating, lasagna, ribs, pernil, chased with beer, wine and coquito (Puerto Rican Egg Nog) and lots of desserts during Christmas Eve spent with my family and Christmas Day with Esther’s pushed the scale to 228 as of yesterday morning.  It was quite a double header.

Now it’s time to fix the problem.  This isn’t a resolution post—I don’t make resolutions—I set goals.  My current goal is more about creating new habits, than resolving to lose 15 or 20 pounds.  My first goal is getting active or more accurately fitting activity time into an already busy schedule.

Over the past few days I started with slow runs, actually run/walks. Sunday Morning Esther and I bundled the baby up taking him for a long walk in his jog stroller.  This morning I woke up at 5am before things got hectic and ran for 30 minutes, it was more of a challenge since Cristian woke me up at 1:30 this morning for a bottle.

My second goal is eating healthier and smaller portions.  Although I started running again, unless I consume less calories than I burn, I’ll keep gaining weight.

Motivation is important and mine is simple, it’s not about race times, personal records, or about maintaining my brand as the Badass 50-something marathon running first-time dad, it’s about Cristian.  He’s getting bigger and more energetic and deserves a dad who is there for him.  I owe him that.

For Lola

That smile

That smile

Tomorrow morning Esther and I are running this season’s first race, a 5K in Prospect Park.  Despite running over 200 races between us, this one was different.  It’s not about goal times or PRs this one is for a cause, to honor my late mother-in-law’s memory.

Two years ago, Maria Hernandez, or Lola, as she was known to her friends lost her battle with Pancreatic Cancer causing a loss that hasn’t been replaced.  This ugly disease with an extremely low survival rate took Robert, Lucas and Justin’s grandmother and Cristin will never know her because of it.

pic for post


Last year running became a family event as Lola’s children Esther, Bobby and Rose Marie, joined by friends and teammates signed up for the PanCan Purple Stride 5K Run/Walk to honor her memory. I paced Bobby while Rose Marie and a pregnant Esther walked the 5K.  We had a great time on a beautiful Saturday morning raising money for a good cause.

We’re back in Prospect Park tomorrow morning with a bigger group of friends and family to keep Lola’s memory alive once more.  Last year we got off to a slow start but Rose Marie, our Team Captain, took charge printing up T-Shirts and heading up the fundraising effort.

Although Esther is a little nervous running her first race in 16 months, she’ll be fine.  Mami will be looking down with a smile on her face.

If you know anyone suffering or lost someone to Pancreatic Cancer or are interested in donating to a good cause click here.  Thanks in advance.

This entry is being posted to both of my blogs North Queens Runner and I’m Not Grandpa.

Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby after last year's PanCan PurpleStride 5K Race

Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby after last year’s PanCan PurpleStride 5K Race


Back to Square One

Three weeks ago I started posting about my attempts to lose weight and be healthier.  The pressure of the stepping on the scale every week and blogging about it are what keeps me accountable.  I lost 0.2 over the first two weeks.  Last week I decided it was time for new tactics.

Last Sunday Esther and I signed up for Weight Watchers again.  In an era with so many weight-loss plans the program seems antiquated but to be honest, it’s the one I’ve had the most success with.

Before weighing in last Sunday I weighed myself on my bathroom scale and it said 221.4 Lbs., and about 20 minutes later I stepped on Weight Watchers scale which said I weighed 218.4.  How about that I thought, I lost three pounds just by signing up.

After a week of making better food choices and getting a in a few runs with Cristian I weighed in earlier today.  The scale said 215.4, three pounds less than last week.  It was a good start but I know I could do more.

The end goal is a healthier me, not about a specific number of daily points consumed or running X number of miles at a specific pace.  Last week was a good week, but I still have work to do, day by day, and mile after mile.  I’ll get there.