Race Recap: NYRR Retro Run

IMG_0295.JPG

Well internet, I did it again – I neglected to consult my calender when signing up for races, and got myself into another two-race weekend, this time with a particularly early morning. My weekend of racing started with another “weekly” race with the New York Road runners, the 4-mile Retro Run.

This particular road runners event has been on my “to do” list for the last two years, as I love an excuse to dress up for a race. I had signed up for it in 2017 but then had a family obligation, and was similarly out of town for the 2018 rendition of the event. But this year I was finally able to don the vintage 1987 road runners event shirt that Dad had surprised me with in 2017, before we realized I wouldn’t be able to participate.

The morning started with a 5:50 alarm, and by 6:15 one of my teammates from the Merrick Bicycles Tri Team, Michal, had arrived at my apartment. Her, Mike and I were car pooling to the city, and we hopped into my car and headed to pick up Mike. The weather was nice for July running, with temps in the 70’s and a slightly overcast sky. I managed to navigate us to the city without any tolls, which sounds simple, and ultimately is simple, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t messed it up in the past. I again opted to pre-purchase parking through the spot hero app, and got a garage spot on 67th street, just outside of central park. When participating in Road Runner events it is easy to find street parking if the event occurs on a Sunday, as parking regulations are more relaxed, but on Saturdays there are more rules, and street parking can be hard to come by. The $20 charge that the three of us split was worth not feeling rushed before the race.

We all needed to pick up our bibs, so we headed to race day central to grab them. After a quick scan of our QR codes, we were good to go. We found Carson near bib pickup, and she joined our group of runners. As a chronic over-packer, I of course had a bag I wanted to check, so our next stop was the drop-off location. On the way there we ran into another MBTT teammate, and stopped for a quick pre-race selfie. The final start before it was time to run? The porter potties, of course!

We climbed into the corrals just before 8 am, when the race was scheduled to begin. I wasn’t planning on racing, so I dropped back so that I could run with everyone else. As we waited in the corrals we sang along to the “retro” tunes that they were pumping into the corrals, really breaking it down to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” As the corrals ahead of us were released, we shuffled closer to the start line.

IMG_0440.JPG

Eventually it was our turn to start running, and this time the four of us managed to stay together through the crowded start. Admittedly, it was a smaller field than the pride run had been, so it was less congested. We pushed the pace a little as we weaved through the crowd, looking for a area big enough for the four of us. Some of the runners that we spotted had great costumes, and we even spotted a few wigs that had us wondering if they were real or not.

When we got to the first mile marker, in lieu of the standard timing clock there was a man on a raised chair yelling out the race clock time – they had really committed to this retro thing! As we approached the north end of the park Mike and I began to wonder aloud if we were going to have to face Harlem hill that day – neither of us had checked the course map. But just before mile two the course turned, avoiding it. Instead, we headed into the rolling hills known as the three sisters, and it was during the third mile of the race that in these hills our group of four split in half to pairs. Carson wasn’t feeling great, and wanted to incorporate some walk breaks, and Mike decided to stay with her as Michal and I kept running. We chatted our way through the final mile, and after crossing the finish line we pulled to the side and asked a volunteer to take our photo. As we posed, Mike and Carson hopped in, having finished just a moment later.

We were happy to have water at the finish line, and accepted our post race bagels and apples from volunteers. Carson was a little run-drunk, and was very concerned that she couldn’t spot any raisins in her cinnamon-raisin bagel, but thankfully they were discovered once she started eating it.

We picked up our event shirts, which were teal and made of a more “retro” looking material than the standard shirt that the road runners gives out. I was a fan of them, as they were soft and the logo looked good on the front of the shirt. There was a band playing, and roller skaters putting on a show near the bandshell, and a vintage good humor truck was giving out popsicles to runners. I went and picked up my checked bag while my friends waited in line. Our last stop before heading home was the photo booth, which was setup in a old Volkswagen van. We climbed into the back of it and posed together, sweaty post-run faces and all. If you’d like to see the video from the race, you it is posted on my youtube page, or you can click the photo of us with the race shirts.

It was a fun event, made better by running it with friends. We hit some traffic going home, but it at least gave Mike some time to try my r-8 recovery roller, or as he called it, the Bear Trap. When I did get home, I spent most of Saturday preparing for Sunday’s event: My first Triathlon.

F31AAFE6-E7B5-4FF2-B83A-6508FA2DEA29.jpg

Race Recap: 2019 NYRR Pride Run

Another weekend, another race. This time the New York Road Runners Front runners of NY Pride run - If that’s not a mouthful, I’m not sure what is. This race would bring me one step closer to my 9+1 qualification for next year’s NYC marathon, and was sure to be full of LOVE! This would be my second time running this event, and we were slated for sunny skies.

A7B8A956-3D7C-488F-B66B-8A120ACB139B.jpg

When we registered for this race, I had Kasey, Mike, Sophie, and Sophie’s sister Janna planning to run with me. We all signed up, but only three of us made it to the start line. Mike wound up having a wedding in Connecticut that night, and the timing just wasn’t working out, and Kasey got put on the schedule for work. A bummer for sure on both fronts, but I was glad to at least have some good company as I headed into the city on race morning.

I picked up Sophie and Janna from my parent’s house, and they were in full rainbow mode and ready to run. I had opted for a neon pink shirt and neon ProCompression socks, as I just didn’t have anything rainbow that I really felt did the event justice.

I had decided to pre-purchase parking via the spot hero app, since every other time that we had headed into the city for a Saturday race this year we had wound up looping the streets surrounding central park looking for parking for so long that we had to kick one person out of the car to get the bibs which the other paid for a garage - and they’re expensive! Paying for parking day of in the city has cost us around $55, where as the spot hero app got me parking for $22 - a bargain in my opinion. We easily dropped the car off just a block outside of central park, and had a quick walk to bib pickup.

Once we had our bibs we moved over to bag check, and I sorted through the crap that I wanted to have with me, vs. the stuff I could leave behind. I had intended to run with my GoPro for this event, and carried it with me, but shortly after bag check discovered that the battery was dead. Once my stuff was dropped off we headed towards the corrals, with a quick stop at the porter potties along the way.

It was a big race, as NYRR was trying to set a world record for the largest charity pride run. They would have to net the most finishers, so there were over 10,000 runners in the field - much larger than the standard NYRR weekly race! We headed to the back of the corrals, as this was Janna’s first NYRR event, so she did not have a proper time-based corral placement yet. Shortly after we got to the corral, Carson spotted us as we waited to get moving, and joined us in the corrals. It was a long walk to the start, as they were releasing runners in waves that day.

When we did make it to the start, it was so crowded that I managed to loose sight of Sophie and Janna. I saw them right behind me, and Sophie waved me on. I planned to stay with them, but the next time I turned to check for them they were out of sight. So, Carson and I moved forward, figuring that we would find them by the finish line. We chatted as we made our way through the first mile, which brought us up Cat hill. Near the hill one of the members of MBTT spotted me, Michal, and we chatted for a moment until she decided to cut back her pace a little. It’s always fun to spot a familiar face on course.

We missed the first aid station simply because it was crowded, but pulled over to grab water at the second. it was a humid morning, and we needed to make sure to hydrate, even though it was only a 5 mile run. We continued making our way around central park, and as we approached Harlem Hill Carson and I parted ways, as she wanted to take a short walk break. I pressed forward, enjoying the challenge of the hill. I had needed to take a few days off that week, as my calf had been feeling a little strained, but it was feeling great during the race, and I was just happy to be moving. Did the hill suck? Yes. But there I was, running up it anyway, somehow happy about it as sweat dripped into my eyes. Running is emotionally weird, guys.

If you’ve run central park before, you probably know what comes after Harlem Hill - you finally make it to the top, praise the end of the uphill, have a moment of relief, and then head straight for the three sisters. Sigh. More hills. But I was still happy to be out there, happy to feel good running, even pushing the pace a little when I could. I wanted to play it smart with the heat, so I wasn’t going too crazy.

8EDD9A54-BAD0-4CFC-BD77-D79D3AA353F2.jpg

Once I made it through the ups and downs of the three sisters, it was smooth sailing to the finish line. A flat stretch, lines with spectators decked out in pride gear, cheering on the runners, a final turn, and the finish line chute. I almost crashed with another runner at the finish line, who came in HOT behind me, but crisis was averted. I moved through the finishers chute, being handed water, and apple, a rainbow bagel, and the real prize - a rainbow ice pop. Really, the ice pop alone would have been enough to convince me to run five miles.

I was very thankful for the many pockets on my shorts, as I crammed my apple and bagel into them as I enjoyed my ice pop. I waited in line to pick up my shirt, and once I had it I went to pick up my checked bag. Carson found me along the way, and walked over to get her bag as well. We then found a nice curb to enjoy our ice pops on.

Sophie texted me when she finished her race, and I walked back over to the shirt pickup area to meet her. Her and Janna briefly got separated - an issue as Janna had never been in central park before and had no cell phone on her - but Sophie found her surprisingly fast, and then they grabbed their shirts. By then we had all finished our ice pops, and made a group decision for another round - there were plenty of vendors in the park after all! Once we had our ice pops acquired, we walked towards the cherry hill fountain, where I knew some of the tri team had planned to meet up. I knew I was probably too late, but wanted to see if I could spot anyone.

I was indeed too late, but we snapped a few photos with the fountain anyway. We walked back up to race day central, posed with a few of the photo ops, then parted ways with Carson as we headed for the car and she headed for the subway.

It was another good week with the road runners, despite the warm temperatures. At the end of the race they announced that they had met their goal, and broke a Guinness world record for the largest pride run

Race Recap: 2019 Queens 10k

833AC29D-C595-4633-A94D-83CF585D539A.jpg

Well, we are half way through 2019, and I’m almost done with my 9+1 program with the New York Road Runners, which will earn me a spot in the 2020 NYC Marathon.

My 6th race of the year with the road runners was the Queens 10k, which takes place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, NY. This was the third year that I was participating in this race, and it is one race that I have looked forward to each summer. The ride into queens is a bit shorter than the ride into Central Park, since I live on Long Island, and Dad has come along each year to cheer me on and snap some photos as I run. This year Sophie was also signed up to run, but since I wanted to race the event, we weren’t planning on running together.

I headed over to my parents house race morning, as Dad had agreed to drive to queens, and was surprised to see that my mom was awake and ready to join us. Sophie and I piled into the back seat and we were on the way. We were able to find parking in the park, so we managed to avoid having to park in citi field. We had a little walk to race day central, which had moved from where it was located previous years. This of course lead to me leading us entirely out of the way, but a volunteer eventually pointed us in the right direction, and we found it near the entrance to the subway stop at citi field.

We were able to get our bibs quickly enough, but the diversion in getting to the pick up meant that we didn’t have time to stop at the bathroom before the race. Instead, I headed for the corrals of wave one, and Sophie and I parted ways as I climbed into the corral.

A few members of the Tri team, including Sami and Nicole, were in a starting corral near mine, so the three of us were rapid fire texting before the race, trying to spot each other. We all wanted to run similar paces, so I was trying to spot them before the race began. Eventually Nicole flagged me down, and we found Sami shortly after.

IMG_8531.JPG

The national anthem was sung, and after a bit of corrals shuffling forward, we were off! The first mile was a bit crowded, and it seemed like a fair number of runners with wave 2 bibs had somehow wound up in wave one, and it was probably a big part of the congestion that was going on. Eventually the narrow park road opened up as we made a left and headed under some highways, and we got a little more space to spread out.

While overall the course was flat, we had a few sections that largely consisted of getting up highway overpasses. Mom and Dad were positioned just after the first one the race went by, but I managed to miss them. Mile two took us by the queens museum, and then on a very long out and back, which lead to the entrance of Citi field before turning us around and sending us back to the park. As the sun rose in the sky the humidity picked up, and we were all reminded that the park was once a swamp, as buckets of sweat ensued. Throughout the race I caught glimpses of my teammates, and seeing them pushing made me continue to cling onto what was, for me, a hard pace.

IMG_6533.jpg

As we entered the park again and ran through mile 4, I reminded myself that it’s only a 10k, it would be over in just two more miles! I spotted my parents as we ran through the park, and knew I would spot them again by the unisphere. I just kept pushing to keep up with Sami, trying to focus on running and ignore the urge to constantly check the pace on my watch. Mile five took us passed the worlds fair pavilion and observation towers, AKA those space ships that you see in the Men in Black movies.

Mile five took us passed the unisphere, and then over to the area race day central was, before heading back towards the unisphere, and making one final turn towards the finish line. So close, yet so far! I managed to keep moving forward and stick with Sami until the end of the race, and we finished in 53:19. Not too shabby for a humid day. I was happy with the time, and even happier to be done running. I was handed a medal, and collected my finishers bag, which had an Apple, a Gatorade, a water, and some pretzels.

After the race Sami and I found Nicole and Gabby, and snapped a mini-team picture, before I headed back to race day central to collect my tank top. I always get nervous about getting a shirt my size, as they sometimes run out, but I got the size I wanted this time.

I headed back towards the unisphere where my parents were waiting for Sophie to run by, and got there just in time to spot her and cheer her on. I met her by the finish as she completed her race, and then we took some photos around the park before heading home.

I love the historic scenery that you get to run by in this race, with the relics of the worlds fair scattered throughout the course. If you’re a Disney fan, this is where it’s a small world and the carousel of progress first debuted! It’s a “must do” on my race calendar each year, and I always enjoy exploring the park with my family after the race.

We hit some traffic heading home, but it enabled a little post-race nap, which was perfect for me! All in all, it was a fun start to Father’s Day weekend.

2019 NYRR 9+1: The Gridiron 4 miler

IMG_1079.JPG

As we begin 2019 I start, for the third time, the process of qualifying for the NYC marathon. While I qualified in 2017, I didn’t run the race in 2018 as I wound up getting married the week before, and in 2018 I completed my nine races, but ultimately decided not to fulfill my volunteer obligation, as I knew that my cousin Jen would be getting married race weekend for the 2019 marathon, and in Georgia, so there was no way I would get to NY in time to run it. But so far, things are looking good for 2020!

If you’re not from New York, you may be wondering what the heck I am talking about - let me give you the run down. If you’re a runner, you have probably heard of the NYC marathon, which happens the first weekend of November every fall. It is a tough race to get into, as you can’t register for it unless you have time qualified, won a race lotto, raised a lot of money for charity, or participated in the 9+1 program. The New York Road Runners, the race company that hosts the NYC Marathon, gives runners an option to earn guaranteed entry by running in 9 events, and volunteering at one event. The spot you earn is non-complimentary, so you still have to pay registration fees, but you are guaranteed the opportunity to register.

This year both Sophie and Mike have agreed to my marathon madness, and will be running the weekly races with me throughout the course of the year - Kasey, just think of all the blog posts that you won’t be in if you don’t run with us, are you sure marathon FOMO isn’t a thing?

I picked up Sophie, and her first question was “Are we running up the hill in central park? Your dad warned me about it.” I had maybe neglected mentioning the hills of central park to Sophie, who had never before run there. But lucky for her, today’s race excluded Harlem hill, so she got to avoid the worst of the hills this time.

IMG_1070.JPG

For this week’s race, I linked up with Sami and Nicole from the tri team to carpool. I had offered to drive, but when Sophie and I got to Sami’s house Nicole was ready to take us as passengers, and I wasn’t about to complain about getting a ride into the city. It was an easy ride into Manhattan - you usually don’t hit too much traffic driving in from Long Island on Sunday mornings. We had to do a few laps of the area before we eventually found parking, but we prevailed in the battle against parking garages and found a spot on the street. It took us about 10 minutes to walk to race day central, where Sophie, Sami and I picked up our bibs, and then Sami and I checked bags before the race started.

We debated getting in some mileage before the run, but ultimately wound up getting in about a 1/4 mile before happening upon the football toss that they do for the superbowl, and Nicole to try a throw since the womens line was short. We then made our way to the corrals, which were set to collapse 10 minutes before the race started. It was only a 4 mile run, so we didn’t have to bother with gels today, so it was just a quick stretch and then we were on our way. Sophie and I stuck together, while Nicole and Sami zoomed off, as they had paces they wanted to hit during the run.

After a relatively flat start, we turned the second corner and faced the first of the three sisters - a hill formation consisting of three hills that are less than friendly, and which stayed with us as we ticked off the first and second mile. We did a drive by water stop in the second mile, and I had to peel off one of my layers - it was just too warm. As usual, I had seen a temperature in the 30s and panicked, putting on an underarmor cold gear shirt that I was regretting by the half way point.

This was a superbowl themed race, so during the second mile runners had to pick a lane - depending on which team they wanted to win. Sophie, being from New England, went for the patriots as the winner. I, not caring about football but lover of harry potter, went against the patriots, since Dan Radcliffe had spoken out as being against them in the week leading up to the race.

IMG_9615.JPG

We had a short hill reprieve as we made our way around the south side of the park, but soon enough the steepest hill we would face that day was upon us - Cat Hill. By the time we were over it, we had about a mile left in the race, and I was able to truthfully tell Sophie that the hills were over, aside from the slight uphill at the finish. With no hills left I was able to relax my breathing, and sail right to the finish line. We completed the race in 37:39, an average pace of 9:18 min/mi.

We collected our bagel and apple, grabbed our checked bags, and changed out of our running clothes that were wet with sweat. As we were doing this, my friend Carson found us, and we all chatted as we stopped to grab our race shirts and made our way out of central park and to the car.

All in all it was a good day for a race, that went by quickly thanks to good company. My next NYRR race? The United Airlines NYC Half Marathon.

Wineglass Marathon 2018: Week 12

Total Mileage: 48.6

After getting back to NY on monday night, I was ready to relax and recuperate for the rest of tonight, and when Tuesday morning rolled around, it felt like the world’s biggest Monday.

IMG_8859.jpg

Monday was prime day, and I did fall victim to one runner deal - a nox gear vest. I am a nerd for visibility gear, and was excited to add this to the lineup. The benefit of prime day - it was on sale AND it would get to me in just a few days.

Lucky for me, I had a full crew ready to run on Tuesday morning, and Dad, Kasey and I hit the roads bright and early, and even got our first taste of sunrise running for the season. After the pleasant air in california all weekend, being back in the humidity was a bit of a rude awakening, but I stuck it out to get 7.5 miles in before work. I treated myself to yoga on Tuesday night instead of a gym session, and it was exactly what I needed to get out of the Monday-on-a-Tuesday funk.

IMG_8958.jpg

We had another full showing on Wednesday morning, and I got through 8 miles before work. I also accidentally nearly took a sprinkler to the face. I run without my glasses, and somehow sprinklers sneak up on me pretty often…. I can usually hear them, but occasionally I get a surprise shower. On strava, I named this run “new world record for sweat,” as everything I was wearing was entirely sweat through by the time I made it back to the apartment. It was the kind of morning when the post run shower was a huge reward.

Thursday I got to bust out my new vest for the first time, so you know I made sure to get out the door before the sun was up. Kasey’s reaction to my new gear? A cross between “I don’t know if I can be seen running with you while you’re wearing THAT,” and “I would rather be hit by a car than wear a light up vest.”

So, she’s not a huge fan of my safety gear, I can’t win them all. I can’t say I was shocked. This run was a doozy either way, and when Kasey had finished her leg of the morning, Dad asked if we wanted to take a jumpshot before we parted ways - our reaction? Opting to promptly lay down on the sidewalk in despair, as it seemed more fitting for how we both felt that morning. Major burn-out feelings, and sadly for me, I had to get up and keep running afterwards. But I did get up, to complete a total of 7.6 miles that morning. I had a standard Thursday night at the gym, and got another hour of strength training under my belt.

I was gearing up to get in my last long run before the marathon that weekend - the big 22 miler! So Friday I focused on recovery, and got in a yoga class after work.

IMG_9236.JPG

Saturday was the big run day of the week, and Dad was in it for the long haul with me, as bike support, stocked up with everything I could need over the miles. We headed to the sunrise highway entrance of the bethpage bike trail, where we met up with my MBTT teammate, Tara. The weather was drizzly and cooler than it had been all week, so it was perfect for a run.

She was on board for 12 miles, and we got going on the trail, chatting as we went. We were going to head out and back, 6 miles out and 6 miles back. Of course, Tara is known as a distance bully (and well, I may be too…). As we approached 6 miles, she threw out the possibility that maybe she could run 14 instead of 12, and I latched on to that immediately, happy to have her company for an extra two miles. The miles just slipped by, with the three of us chatting as we went, and sometimes I got to just listen to Dad and Tara chat, and just letting the distance rack up. Before I knew it we were back at the parking lot, and it was time for us to part ways, and time for me and Dad to head out for another eight miles.

My friend Desi wanted to get a few miles in, and was heading to the parking lot to meet us, but was still about 20 minutes out. So Dad and I looped out once more, this time just for two miles, and were back at the parking lot in what felt like half a second, and Desi was there and ready to get running. She is still a fairly new runner, so I had to slow down the pace a little for her, but I am generally content to trade pace for company. Of course, those last six miles were the longest 6 of the day. I could feel myself dragging, and had Dad pull out the emergency bottle of Gu roctane powder drink mix, or as I like to call it, Go Go Juice - and it did just the trick, and gave me the boost I needed to finish up those last few miles.

IMG_9338.JPG

Dad and I upheld our post long-run diner tradition, refueling with over easy eggs and buttered rye toast. I was freezing by the time we left the diner, and when I got home took a good long shower before changing into comfy pants and putting my legs up. I did reward myself for a job well done with some new compression socks - what can I say, I am a sucker for a good ProCompression sale!

But alas, that was not the end of my running week - I had one more mile to get in! The New Balance 5th Avenue mile, to be specific! Mike and I had signed up to race on Sunday morning, and while I wasn’t sure how running was going to feel the day after a 22 mile run, I was excited to race a mile for the first time.

MIke agreed to do the driving this time, and we headed into the city on that rainy Sunday morning. My legs were tired, but all in all I was feeling good. After a few loops of city streets near central park, we managed to find parking and headed towards race day central. We were able to pick up our bibs on race morning, as NYRR weekly races usually allow, and this time the race giveaway was a hat. We threw our hats on, and then headed into central park to run a half mile warm-up, half to prepare ourselves for the race and half to keep warm, as it was drizzly and a little bit chilly that morning - good running weather, but not great standing around waiting to start running weather. We ran into central park, saw some doggos, mike caught a few pokemon, and my legs acted like slugs, outraged that I dare make them run the day after a 22 miler.

The waves of the race were separated by age and gender, and my wave was the one right before Mike, the 3rd and 4th groups to go. So when we saw the high school age waves going, we made our way over to the start area. Soon enough it was time for me to get into my corral, and I was more nervous than I had expected to be - I had never raced a mile before! I really wanted to finish in under 7 minutes. I hadn’t run a timed mile in over a year, and my old record was 7:14, so at the very least I wanted to beat that.

The race began, and runners chased the pace car down 5th avenue. I hit a pace that felt fast, trying not to get too caught up in the excitement of the start. I settled in, and the pace was hard, but I reminded myself it was only for a mile. The first half of the mile was a gradual uphill too, which was particularly unforgiving. When the road evened out, I let loose, checking the pace on my watch, right around a 7 min/mi. I buckled down, and held strong, even picking up the pace as the finish line came into sight, a 6 still leading the time - official time? 6:53. Heck Yeah!

I headed through the finishers chute, and walked back towards the finish line, and found a good spot to watch out for Mike. A few minutes later I spotted him approaching, looking strong as he came into the finish line - and pulling off a sub 8 minute mile! We munched on our post run bagels, and made our way into central park to get a few more miles in before heading home. My legs were heavy, but I never pass up an opportunity to run with friends.

All in all, it was a great week for mileage. My 22 miler went well, and I felt strong and ready to race, despite my training cycle not going exactly to plan.



NYRR 9+1: 2018 Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Marathon

So, one of the goals that I set for myself this year is to run at least one half-marathon every month, and I signed up to run the Fred Lebow Manhattan half as my January race. When I signed up for this race it was the third event on my calendar, but with race switches, cancellations and transfers it wound up being my first event of the new year.

IMG_3948.JPG

With being sick for the last three weeks, I was a little nervous about jumping into 13.1 miles. Don't get me wrong - I am finally getting over this cold, even if I hardly have a voice, but I am far from 100%. The night before as I pulled my gear together for this race I was nervous, and was dreading the race the next day. What if I couldn't finish?

Thankfully, Dad agreed to drive me to the race, and hang out in central park while I was running. We left the house around 6 am, and I tried to eat a peanut butter sandwich and hydrate as we traveled. We got to central park around 6:50, and Dad started circling around as he looked for parking. At 7:00, he dropped me off by the entrance to the park so I could pick up my race bib while he continued to look for parking.

I headed into the park with several extra layers on. It was easy enough to find race day central - I just followed the masses holding gear check bags and wearing sneakers. Race morning bib pickup was a dream, with no wait to get my hat and my bib. At NYRR races they use a QR code for quick pickup, and I learned today that every runner is assigned one QR code, which is used for all of their events - it's not a different code for each race as I had previously thought. So, I'll share the tip I got from the woman who was working bib pickup today: screen shot your QR code and save it in your phone, that way you always have it on race morning.

I grabbed a gear check bag even though I wasn't checking anything, that way I could throw my coats in it and easily pass them off to Dad when the race started. I made a quick pit stop at the porter potties, and then headed towards the start area and hung out on a bench near the start line while I waited for 8:00, when the race was scheduled to begin. By this time, Dad had found a parking spot and met me in the park. There were runners all over the place, and lots of people walking their dogs. Before 9:00 am it isn't required for people to have leashes on their dogs in central park, so there are always lots of people out with their pets on race mornings.

At 7:45 I started to get all of my stuff together. I took my pre-race Gu and loaded three more into my SPI belt, along with some Sport Beans in case I wanted a mid-race pick me up. I also set up my headphones and stored my inhaler in the back pocket of my leggings. Dad and I headed towards the corrals, and I handed over my jacket. I made a last minute decision to keep my gloves and headband because I was cold at the time, but knew I would be sick of them by mile 3.

IMG_3357.jpg

Once I was in corral E I only had time to take my inhaler before the national anthem was sung, and we were off. Dad texted me that he would be on the left side of the course just before mile marker 3, so I made a mental note of that as I got moving.

I didn't have big expectations going into this race. I figured that I would aim for a pace in a 10:00 - 10:30 range, and hopefully feel okay. I didn't pay too much attention to my pace in the first mile, I just tried to settle into the pace of the runners around me. As we approached the first mile, my watched buzzed and let me know that the pace had been a 9:11, and I felt pretty okay. I had gotten caught up in the excitement of the race starting and had gone out faster than expected.

With the second mile came Cat Hill, and I slowed my pace a little as I took on the first hill. I knew I would be hitting this hill two more times and had two trips up Harlem hill in my future as well. Mile two slipped away, and I spotted dad for the first time just before mile three, and flailed around a little to make sure he saw me approaching. Sure enough, I had ripped off my mittens and ear warmers before mile three, and attached them to my SPI belt, where they would live for the rest of the race.

Next, the race headed around the north end of the park, and Harlem hill approached. As I trotted up the hill there were more spectators than could be found elsewhere on the course, some with signs and some just cheering runners on as they headed up the hill. Mile 5 came in at 9:38, which would wind up being my slowest mile of the race. As I conquered the hill, my watch buzzed with a text from Dad that he would be just before the water station that was near the start line, where I would complete loop one of the race. I wasn’t too far from there when I got his text, and caught him by surprise as I ran by.

Had to get a selfie with the Fred Lebow statue as I ran by!

Had to get a selfie with the Fred Lebow statue as I ran by!

As I made my second loop around the park I was feeling really good, and when I hit the halfway point of the race I considered my mile splits – they had been pretty good so far, ranging from 9:12-9:38, and I wasn’t feeling excessively strained, so I decided to pick the pace up a notch. I ran by dad again just before mile 8, and this time he was ready for me to run by and snapped some photos.

With the pace sped up, the course and its hills had become instantly more challenging, but I was ready. I kept my fueling strategy consistent, taking a Gu every 4 miles and some beans when I felt like I needed an extra push. Around mile 10 I got sick of hearing music as I ran, and the headphones got shut down so I could just enjoy the sounds of the park, the people, the runners feet pounding the pavement.

When my watch hit 11 miles, my time was at about 1:43…. 2.1 miles left to cover - if I could do that in 17 minutes I would break 2 hours. Now, my half PR is 1:58 and change, and the fact that it was possible to finish anywhere near that pace today blew my mind. So, I picked up the pace one last time, in hopes that I could at least finish the race in just under two hours – but what I didn’t consider here was that my watch was running about 0.15 mi ahead of the course mile markers.

I really pushed to get through the last two miles, which despite the hills came in at 8:42 and 8:12. When my watch hit 13.1 miles, the time read 1:59:38. But at this point I quickly realized that I still had a bit more to run before I came upon the actual finish line, which I crossed in an official time of 2:01:03, and I was elated. I had not only finished, but I had finished in a time that was (at least in my speeds) fast!

IMG_3974.JPG

Was it a PR? No. But for me, it was a personal best, even if I had not hit a record. For the first time, I had managed to run negative splits for a race. I felt great at the finish line, which was a victory in and of itself after how I felt at the NYC marathon finish line. Most importantly, I felt strong, and was reminded that I needed to stop telling myself that things are impossible – because I can complete races that once felt impossible.

I collected my medal and walked happily through the finishers area. I had missed Dad at his last on course location, which was just before mile 13, as I was more focused on getting to the finish line. When I started this race, I questioned what kind of day I would have. Heck, I had even considered not doing this race, but boy am I glad that I ran it.

So let this be a reminder to you: You can do impossible things, you just have to give yourself the chance.

2017 Races: A year in review

To celebrate the end of 2017, I am picking up the “Year of Bling” tag from the folks over at the Joyful miles blog. Below I am going to share some brief race recaps and photos from a few of the races that I ran in 2017. The questions that joyful miles shared for the tag were:

  1. What is your favorite 2017 medal based on design?
  2. What is your favorite non-runDisney medal?
  3. What is your most hard earned medal?
  4. What is your favorite overall medal?

After we go through the months of the year and the medals earned, I will be answering these questions at the end of this post!

January: The Dopey and Castaway Cay challenges

IMG_3513.jpg

Right after new year’s, I headed down to Florida with my fiancé’s family to run not only my first ever marathon, but the dopey challenge! For those of you that haven’t heard of the dopey challenge, it consists of running 48.6 miles over the course of 4 days, by completing a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon. The first two days of running went well, and I completed the 5k and 10k with the group of 5 runners that I was traveling with (myself, Dennis, Rachel, Greg, and Liz). We used walk/run intervals to save our legs for the longer distances, and just had fun going through the races. We all wore matching Lion King costumes for the 5k, and for the 10k Dennis and I dressed as Wall-e and Eve.

The day of the 10k, we got the disappointing news that the half marathon was going to be cancelled because of a thunder storm. As soon as we got the official word, Greg and I headed out to run 13.1 miles around Saratoga Springs resort, so that we could feel we really “earned” our half and Dopey medals. It wasn’t the race that I had hoped for, but I was proud that we got out there and got our miles done despite the disappointment. The morning that the half was supposed to happen we caught up on sleep, and headed to the race expo to retrieve our medals and refunds.

On the last day of the dopey challenge, I ran my first full marathon. This race I ran by myself, as the other people I was travelling with had not trained as much as I had. On race morning it was about 30°, so I was glad that I had packed some of my cold weather running gear. I can’t say enough positive things about the Disney marathon, I loved every moment of it. From running up main street to meeting a giant bunny as I left animal kingdom, and the last mile through Epcot’s world showcase, it was the exact experience I had dreamed it would be. After the race we relaxed in the hotel room, and eventually made our way to splitsville in Disney springs to get some nachos and drinks.

The next day Dennis and I boarded a Disney cruise, and completed the castaway cay challenge by running a 5k during the cruise. We spent most of the cruise eating and laying around, enjoying the post-marathon relaxation.

My favorite medal from the Dopey challenge was the marathon medal – I loved that it was shaped like mickey, and was clean and classic in its design. It also meant the most to me, because a marathon is something that just a year earlier felt like an impossible feat. It represented everything that I had worked so hard to accomplish, and made me feel like I could do anything that I set my mind to.

March: United Airlines NYC half marathon

I got lucky with my entry for this race, getting in through the lottery that NYRR holds for it (for the 2018 race, I managed to secure a guaranteed entry!). Leading up to race day, I nervously monitored the weather, worrying that we were going to get snowed out and yet another half marathon would be cancelled on me. Thankfully, the race went on as scheduled, on a chilly morning. I headed into the race with my friend Sami, and ran the race with my friends Tara and Dan. The city was pretty that day, and central park was even coated with a layer of snow as we ran through it. As I waited for the race to start, my toes started to go numb and I was just ready to get moving. My favorite part of the race was running through times square, which I had never seen empty of cars. We managed to finish the race with a new half PR, and I even pulled off a sprint to the finish line. I was very glad to be given a heat sheet when the race ended, and immediately grabbed my checked bag and added on layers of clothing. Sami and I met up and headed home together. Of course, we stopped and got some post race snacks, including giant milkshakes from a local burger place. 

 

 

April: UAE Healthy Kidney 10k

 I was completing this race as a part of the requirement for the NYRR 9+1 program, on a crisp April morning. Dad drove me into central park, and hung out there while I ran the race. I wasn’t particularly planning on “racing” this event, but when I started moving it felt like a good day. The weather was right, I felt good, and I managed to pull off a PR as I ran through the city, which made this bling extra sweet. It was also a nice boost of confidence, just a few weeks before the Long Island Marathon.

 

 

May: The Long Island Marathon and the Air BnB Brooklyn half

May was a big month for me, as I ran my second marathon. Unlike my first one in January, which I did with a series of races, I had a time goal this time around. In a dream world, I wanted to break 4 hours. In reality I knew that it was unlikely that I would be able to shave 53 minutes off of my marathon time in four months, but I was going to give it a shot. The first 15 miles of this race flew by, all coming in at about an 8:58 pace. But they thing about the long island marathon is that about 10 miles of the full course are done on the highway after you split from the half runners, and boy does that become a rough mental game. I tried to stick to my pace, but mile after mile I started to loose seconds, and by mile 20 my IT band was killing me. My favorite part about this race was finding my people out for me cheering – from my mom at mile 6, to Dad and Grandpa at mile 13, then my teammate Tara at mile 15 – right where the turnaround on the highway was, then Dad again at mile 18, this time with my brother Tommy, and last but never least Dennis and Jennie just before the finish line.  When all was said and done I finished the race in 4 hours and 13 minutes, which was a 40 minute PR over my first full. I was pleased with my result, and the race left me feeling accomplished… but also like I could do even more the next time around.

Two weeks later I ran the Air BnB Brooklyn half with Dennis’ sisters, Rachel and Liz. Rachel and I had been training together over the last few months in the hopes of her getting a new PR. It was an early morning, and we headed into Brooklyn for the start of the race. We had fun through the 13 miles, taking advantage of run/walk intervals. We enjoyed all the spectators, with their numerous signs and joked throughout the race that we were just running it for the hotdogs that we would get from the original Nathans on Coney Island, where the race ended. The whole race was rainy, but we passed the time counting the miles, as you can see in my video from the race above!

June: Queens 10k

In the weeks after the Air BnB Brookyln half, it was clear that I should have waited a little longer after a marathon before running a full – I developed tendonitis in my foot in the weeks after the race, and my mileage was forced to drastically decline. While when I initially hoped to “race” this event, I was not able to get a lot of training in leading up to race day, and it was super humid and warm on race morning. Also, I forgot my inhaler. Is that enough excuses yet?

Anyway, I was soggy a mile into this run, purely from sweat as a result of the humidity. At about mile 4, my MBTT teammate Nicole caught up to me, and after yo-yo ing with each other a bit, we eventually decided to run the rest of the race together. The last two miles were rough, but we got through them together, and I finished the race in 54:41, which I was pretty happy with even though it was not a PR.

After the race Dad and I wandered around flushing meadow corona park together, taking some photos and enjoying the day for a little but before heading home. The design of this medal featured the unisphere from the worlds fair, which lives in flushing meadow-corona park, where the race took place, and I liked how they chose to feature this icon. 

August: Whisper Run 10k

My friend Jennie decided she wanted to run the whisper run 5k, so I decided to sign up for the 10k so we could hang out before and after the race. The race was in a park right by my house, and the 10k course was a double loop of the 5k. It was a simple loop, with the only difficult part of the race being when the terrain switched from pavement to grass for about a quarter mile. It was a bit humid, but I managed to take home first place in my age group, which I was excited about. This was a race awesome event, one of the race companys that puts on races on long island, and as always they had a great setup post-race. I really loved the tank tops that were the giveaway for this race, and the fact that the medal had a bottle opener in it.

September: New Balance Bronx 10-miler

I was excited when I signed up for this race, as it was my 4th “5 borough series” race with the NYRR, and would earn me the last credit I needed for a guaranteed entry for the 2018 united airlines half. Since this race was the same day as the Maker Faire that the NY hall of science hosts, Dennis agreed to drive me to the race, that way we could head right to maker faire together. Pre-race highlights included getting to pet a cat, and forgetting to take my glasses off before I left the car. I started this race by chasing a pacer, and managed to hang on for a few miles before the heat of the day got to me. I previously posted a recap of this race, so to hear all of the details check it out by clicking the button below:

November: NYC Marathon

You guys are probably sick of hearing about this one, so I’ll just leave the link to the recap here:

Also, I will say that I love the medal for this race. Simple, iconic, and symbolic of every mile of work that I put in before race day. For the rest of November, I mostly took it easy, and even ran a few turkey trots around thanksgiving.

December: The Savannah Enmarket Bridge run and Jingle All the Way 5k

Race recaps for both of these races will be coming soon, so I don’t want to get too into things with these races, but here’s a quick summary!

The Savannah Enmarket Bridge Run was a 10k that I did with my cousin Jen, and it was her first 10k ever. She will use this race as a proof of time for the dark side half next April! We had a great time traveling to Savannah, and we got to see a lot of the city throughout the weekend. The race itself was a real challenge, as we ran over the Talmadge memorial bridge twice, and boy was that incline steep. We celebrated with lots of bakery treats post race.

My last race of 2017 was Race Awesome’s jingle all the way 5k, which happened close to home, at cedar creek park on Long Island. It had snowed in the days leading up to the race, so we were treated to a scenic wintertime run, and the roads had thankfully been cleared for us. I took home third place in my age group, although I was somewhat frustrated when I learned that I only missed second place by 5 seconds! For the first time ever I got a running plaque, that is made out of a Christmas tree ornament. 

All in all, I had a lot of fun racing this year, and was lucky to be able to participate in many races. I am looking forward to 2018, and the opportunities it will bring.

So to close off, getting back to that year of bling tag –

1. What is your favorite 2017 medal based on design?

IMG_2642.jpg

So for this one, I have to go with a series - I love how the NYRR's 5 borough series medals all had similar designs, with icons from the location that the race was run. I am a little bummed that I didn't run the Staten Island Half, which would have earned me the last medal in this set, but it was too close to the NYC marathon for my taste. 

2. What is your favorite non-runDisney medal?

IMG_2639.jpg

The NYC Marathon medal wins this category, hands down. Being from NY, it meant so much to me to be able to run this race. i struggled at times during this race, but managed to make it to the finish line and earn this medal. 

3. What is your most hard earned medal?

I feel like this one has got to be the Long Island marathon medal - from my first marathon in January (the WDW marathon) to the LI marathon in May, I had four months to train. In those 4 months I managed to take 40 minutes off of my marathon time, coming in at 4 hours and 13 minutes. I put a lot of work into training, and pushed myself very hard during the race. Mentally, this race was grueling because of the long stretches of highway, and solo running. But I am really proud of the time I pulled off for this race. 

4. What is your favorite overall medal?

IMG_2647.jpg

Overall, my favorite medal was the one that I earned for running the Walt Disney World Marathon. It was my first marathon, and I completed it as a part of the Dopey Challenge. Finishing that race felt like I was truly doing the impossible, and I love the design of the medal itself as well. I mean, its shaped like mickey's head and has mickey mouse himself on it!

So with the end of 2017,

I am looking forward to all of the races and miles I have in front of me for 2018. I am so happy that I will get to run with Kasey and Jen for their first half marathons, and other races too! I hope you guys will continue along with me on my running journey, and see what 2018 brings!

What was your favorite medal of 2017? Share it with me below or tag me in a photo of it on instagram.

2017 TCS NYC Marathon

 

This is bound to be a long one folks, so grab your favorite carbs and buckle in:

The 2017 NYC Marathon

I suppose the place to start is the night before the race. I had been invited by my friend Sami, who is a fellow member of the Merrick Bicycles Tri Team, to stay with her the night before the race, as we were heading into Manhattan together on race morning. After a bunch of self-debate, I decided to stay with her as it would reduce my race morning stress. Plus, these days I keep hearing that the “good night sleep” you really need before a race is two days out anyway.

The pre-race dinner that Sami put together

The pre-race dinner that Sami put together

This meant that on Saturday I had to make sure I had everything that I would need for race day packed up and ready to go – from fueling needs to spare ponytails. The hardest part of this was deciding what to wear, as the weather predictions had been somewhat varied leading up to race day. I narrowed my choices down to two options: both would use the NYPD running club shirt I had picked up at the expo, and then either my CW-X compression tights or my new balance 2 in 1 shorts would be paired with the tank. Both pant options had their own pros and cons – in the shorts I felt freer when running, but risked chafing if it rained too hard. In the CW-X tights I had extra support built in, but would feel closed in if it got too warm. How I dressed for previous marathons did not help much, as I had worn the tights for the first and the shorts for the second, and both had worked well for me. Each outfit option was paired with a pair of PRO compression socks (knee highs for the shorts or no shows for the leggings), my SPI belt, and a hat that I regularly run in. In addition to my outfits I packed a race morning breakfast, some water bottles, my throw away layers (an old pair of pajamas), running gloves and a headband just in case the weather took a turn for the worst. I also assembled sandwich bags of extra fueling (some Gu and some sport beans) and gave one to Dad and one to Dennis in case something went wrong with the fuel I was carrying on race day.

Dennis had agreed to drive me to Sami’s house when he got out of work Saturday, so we headed out around 6:30. Of course, 15 minutes into the drive I realized I had left my headphones on the charger at home and we needed to turn around to grab them. After the near tragedy of heading into the race sans headphones, we were finally on the road and he was able to drop me off at Sami’s for the night.

IMG_6614.JPG

Sami is seriously the best host ever, and I could not ask for a better teammate. She had prepared an awesome carb filled dinner for us, and our teammate Talia joined us as well to chow down. They both have more experience with the NYC marathon than I do, so it was nice to get some race day advice and have my nerves calmed by two runners that had run the race before. Sami made an awesome, dinner spread with everything from pretzel bread and chicken to sweet potatoes and steak. And of course, lots of water.

After dinner I pulled out the outfits that I had packed and laid them out for the next morning. I pinned my bib to my tank top, and felt that I was as ready as I could be. This was real, the NYC marathon, after all these months, was one sleep away. I settled into the cot Sami had set up for me, and headed to sleep.

I managed to sleep better than I expected to, but even with the time change giving us a bonus hour of sleep 3:30 AM came too soon. After checking out the race day weather, I decided to go with the outfit consisting of shorts and compression socks with my tank top. I started picking at my bagel with peanut butter, not really sure how I should be fueling for a race that was still 7 hours away.

At 4:15 AM Mike and Denise, two more members of the tri team, arrived to pick us up. Denise was running the marathon too, and her husband Mike had agreed to drive us all to the subway in Queens. We had little idea of where exactly we were going, so Sami got the address from one of her friends that was meeting us there. After a little bit of confusion which included Sami sticking her head out of a window to “get her bearings,” a road that split confusingly in three directions, and a handful of shared laughs, we arrived at the subway around 5 AM to find the rest of the group that we were meeting.

We collected our stuff and headed underground. I had a metro card that was borrowed from a friend, and had the bad luck of it refusing to scan! Luckily, Denise had extra credit on her metro card and saved me, letting me into the subway. We waited for about a minute before the subway rolled in, and the settled down for the ride. We all chatted, lots of nervous energy between us.

IMG_6633.JPG

It was still dark out when the subway rolled into Manhattan, and we gathered our things and shuffled out. When we surfaced again there were plenty of runners about. We had about a mile to walk to get to John Jay college, where we would board the NYPD running club busses and head to Staten Island. It was a bit damp out during the walk, and in retrospect I probably should have brought a second pair of shoes to do all of my traveling in. When we got to John Jay we deposited all of our stuff in the lobby, and I headed to the bathroom line so I would have the chance to use a non porter-potty.

We had about a half hour wait at John Jay before they started boarding the buses. They were NYPD buses, and they lined the block when we stepped outside. We hopped onto one and began our journey along the waterfront of Manhattan to Staten Island. The buses all had their lights on, and it was awesome to see the line of lights ahead of us with every turn. Soon enough we crossed the bridge onto Staten Island, and got our first glance of the start village. The NYPD busses took us to a baseball field that had a tent set up, with the heat on and a breakfast spread out and waiting for us. Our little group set up a blanket city in the corner of the tent, and I grabbed a cinnamon bun and nibbled on that. When we got to Staten Island it was around 7:30 AM, so we still had plenty of time to kill. We hung out and relaxed for a few hours, the bag bus eventually collected our stuff, and as 9:30 rolled around we started our migration towards the main start village.

We had to go through security to get into the village, where they checked our start area bags (they had to be the designated clear bags) and scanned us with medal detectors. It was amazing the number of people that were mulling about. My assigned start time was 10:40 am with wave three, in corral A of the blue section. So that I could start with Sami I decided to move into the orange start area of that same wave, which just like the blue group would run over the top deck of the Verrazano Bridge at the start of the race. The start village is divided by the color group that you start with (blue, orange or green) so we all headed into the orange area and found an empty bit of sidewalk to hang out on until it was time for wave 3 to move into the start corrals. I made my final pre-race preparations, moving everything that I would be taking with me into my SPI belt and putting on some sunscreen.

Pre-race jitters were in full force at this point. Four months of preparation to get here. It was while we were waiting that it started to drizzle a little, a weather condition that would persist for the whole race. Once we heard the start of wave two, which was noted with fireworks, we started to make our way towards the start corrals. We headed into our corral, which was already packed with people and I started removing my throw away layer. As they collapsed the start corrals and we moved towards the start line itself I broke out my pre-race Gu and ate that as we moved along.

We passed by some NYPD officers as we moved up, and I was pleasantly surprised when I spotted one of my Dad’s old partners! It was a good feeling to see a familiar face pre-race, and we of course took a photo to send to Dad.

The national anthem was sung, the announcers wished us all luck, and “New York, New York” began playing through the speakers. And just like that, I crossed the start line and the NYC Marathon had begun. I started the race with Sami and her friend Allison, and we would spend the first 7 miles of the course running together. All of the miles kind of melted together as I travelled through the five boroughs by foot, so forgive me as some parts of the race description below are less than specific.

As you may know, the course starts on the Verrazano Bridge. We got to start the race on the upper level, and were immediately heading uphill. It was fairly quiet on the bridge aside from the odd chatter of runners here and there. I was surprised by how many people were stopping to climb up on the median dividers and grab a selfie with the bridge in the background. The sky was overcast, and looking out from the bridge there was fog out over the water. It was still drizzly, but not really “raining” at this point in the race. We took it easy for the first mile, and picked up a few seconds during the second mile when the course shifted to being downhill. Once we got off the bridge I got to experience the beginning of all of the NYC Marathon spectators, as the streets were lined with people cheering and holding signs, and so many kids with their hands out for high-fives from passing runners. The first seven miles breezed by, in a sea of cheering crowds, aid stations, and assorted chatter. I was ready to pick up my pace a little, so Sami encouraged me to run on, and we parted ways.

IMG_6705.JPG

Mentally, I broke the race down into where I knew I would find my people after this point. Merrick bicycles tri team would be at miles 8, 18, and 23. Dad, Grandpa and Kasey would be just passed Pulaski Bridge around mile 13. Mom, Dennis and Rachel would be right after the Queensboro Bridge at the beginning of First Avenue, right around mile 16. Remembering that I would get to see some of gave me a great push as I ran. Know that if you were one of my people out there, or even one of my virtual people who texted, snapchatted, or followed my journey through the NYC marathon app, your encouragement meant so much to me!

Cheering from afar: My cousin Jen made me this cheer card of her Dog, Lucy!

Cheering from afar: My cousin Jen made me this cheer card of her Dog, Lucy!

Spotted first was the tri team, along the street and full of energy as they cheered and held up signs, their cheering squad complete with a megaphone and monkey costumes – these guys went all out and it was so fun to see them. Their signs and massive numbers made them easy to spot, and after running by them I put my headphones in for the first time to get me through to mile 13, where I would see some of my family. The energy of the city was alive, and there were crowds everywhere but the bridges. I saw some of my favorite signs of the race along mile 11, where people went full force with “Stranger Things” references.

My basic fuel plan was a Gu before the race and then every 4-5 miles, depending on how I was feeling. I also had sport beans with me to use as a little pick-me-up as necessary. Early in the race I was cramping a little so I took my first on the run Gu at mile 4. Around mile 10 I failed at putting my sport beans back into my belt, and they plummeted onto the NYC streets. I texted Dad so that he was ready to pass me my back up bag of beans when I ran by.

When I got to the Pulaski Bridge I was super excited to get to see my family. Once I was in queens they were easy to spot, with Kasey and Dad both sporting signs that they had made for me, which was amazing. I was so happy to see them that I almost ran away without my beans, but they called me back to grab them just in time.

The weather continued to be very wet as I ran, although it never really rained. Just a constant drizzle that left puddles on the ground. I was glad that I had a running hat on to keep the water out of my face. Regardless of the weather, the crowds continued to be nonstop. As I headed over the Queensboro Bridge, it was the first moment of real silence that I had experienced for the whole race, the only noise being runner’s footsteps. But as the edge of the bridge approached, the spectators lining First Avenue could be heard long before they were seen! Even before I was off the bridge I paused my music so I could really take it all in, and right after turning onto first I could see Mom and her sign, cheering with Dennis and Rach, tucked into the crowds. Even two weeks post-race I tear up a little thinking about each moment that I got to see someone that came out to see me run this race, it just means the world to me. It felt like all of NYC was lining First Avenue after that bridge, it was just crazy.

The next spot I had to look for spectators was between mile markers 18 and 19, and I was still feeling good. As I headed there, texts came in from Mom and Dad that they would be in central park when I got there, just before mile 25. I read them on my Garmin and made a mental note to look for them. When I got to mile 18 I paused my music so that I could look out for the team, but I hit mile 19 without finding any of them. It was really disappointing to have missed them, and I had a more emotional response than I expected to not finding them. But I powered on, knowing that there were still plenty of miles to get through and more of my people ahead.

Mom with her sign

Mom with her sign

Around mile 20 I started having issues with my IT band, which had largely been cooperative throughout this training cycle, even though I had issues with it when I was training for the Long Island Marathon this past May and during that race. I had hoped that I would sneak through NY without any issues, since my long runs had all gone well, but my luck ran out around mile 20. It was bearable, just a slight annoyance at this point.

Early in the race, and I’m talking flashback to the first mile as we climbed the uphill of the Verrazano Bridge, we overhead a guy telling his friend that yes, this uphill was hard but it was the hardest hill of the race and would just get easier from there! Sami chimed in, asking if it was his first time running NY – it was not. She then promptly called him a liar, stating that the hill at mile 22 was worlds worse than the uphill of the bridge. I laughed at the statement and we ran onward, trying not to worry too much about what was ahead of us.

As I approached mile 22 I started to think of this hill, and knowing that it was coming I decided to stop and use the bathroom as I ran by a porter potty with no line, that way I would not be tempted to stop as the uphill got hard. I also had been warned that the finish line area took a long time to exit, so I didn’t want to be rushing through there to get to a bathroom.

After stopping for a minute, my IT band felt much better and I was able to pick up the pace a little. But soon after, my asthma started acting up and would continue to do so for the rest of the race. Thankfully I had my inhaler with me, but it caused me to slow my pace down by 1-2 minutes per mile which was beyond frustrating - because I knew that I was capable of a better pace. It didn’t help when the incline started at the end of mile 22, and continued for what felt like forever. I reminded myself that I would see some of the tri team during mile 23, and they did not disappoint. The team had spread out throughout the mile, which was awesome because I got to find people over and over again. First I saw Tara and her daughter with Talia, and jumped in for a hug because I could not contain my excitement when I saw them. Tara ran many of my long runs with me last winter when I was training for the Disney marathon, and Talia is a constant source of inspiration for me with her dedication to the sport and her speed! Next I saw a cluster of people covered in Team gear, and at the end of the mile, right as I was getting into my own head as I struggled with breathing, I heard Allison and Jeanine shouting and from up on a tall curb, and it was just the pick me up I needed!

IMG_6812.JPG

I headed into mile 24 knowing I would see Mom right before mile 25, and was excited to find them next, even though at this point every stride forward was a struggle full of frustration and feeling like I had failed because my breathing was just so off. I was still running, I was still in this race, but it was harder than any run I had done before as a made my way through central park, and inched closer to that finish line. I found Mom cheering with Dennis and Rachel right before mile 25, and was so happy to see them. I practically collapsed onto Dennis with a hug, and before starting to run again I asked where Dad was – I had assumed they would all be together from what I had read on my watch earlier, but Mom thought he was either a mile earlier or a mile later than them, she was not sure. Sadly, I later learned that Dad and Kasey were right before mile 24, and I had somehow missed them. When the texts had come in from Mom and Dad earlier, I thought that they were together and misread Dads.

I didn’t realize that I had missed them at the time, so I kept looking for them as I ran through mile 25 of the race to no avail. When I passed through the final group of cheering spectators out on 5th avenue and hadn’t found them before I headed back into central park for the final stretch, I realized that I must have missed them which was upsetting. But there was less than a mile between me and the finish line at that point. Breathing was still an issue, but I was still running. I was questioning why I run marathons, I was questioning how I ever found running fun, I was questioning if I could even really finish this race, despite the fact that there was less than a mile left. It was, without a doubt, the hardest mile I have ever run. I felt really disappointed in myself, even though asthma is something that is totally out of my control, like I had done something wrong or messed up in some way. Honestly, two weeks post-race I am still dealing with feeling like this, even though I have mostly come to terms with it. This feeling is part of why it took me so long to write this post. It took a few days post-race to emotionally recover from the race, before I could really even think about the race without feeling upset.

IMG_6861.JPG

I re-entered central park, and there were screens up reminding us that the finish line was just around the corner. Then I could see the grand stand seating, full of spectators. And just like that, the finish line was in view. I laid down everything that I had left as I ran towards it. As I ran by the last area of finish line seating I heard Mike, who had dropped me off at the subway early that morning, calling my name and cheering for me and it helped me with that last push. I crossed the finish line, and it was done. The NYC Marathon. I had finished the NYC Marathon. It had taken me 4 hours and 37 minutes, but it was done. Slower than Long Island, faster than Disney, more emotionally draining than either, and I had done it. I wanted to burst into tears as soon as I was over that line, but I could hardly breathe as it was. I focused on the shuffle forward. Inhale, exhale, deep breaths. A volunteer put a medal on me. I took a photo – I look happy, or maybe relieved? Someone handed me a Mylar blanket. I was warm but I knew that would pass since all of my clothing was soaked through, so I accepted it, and another volunteer taped it closed for me. Was I really finished? Was this happening? I kept moving forward, and someone spotted the NYPD running club shirt I was wearing, and directed me out of the main stream of traffic and to a side tent. A cadet was there to get me around the corner and to the NYPD tent. He asked if I was ok, and I nodded my head. If I spoke, hysterical tears would have erupted. Breathing was still all I could handle. Inhale, exhale, deep breaths. He asked if I needed to lean on him, but I was ok. I was moving forward, towards the tent. They gave me a poncho – possibly the worlds coziest, fleece lined poncho, and a recovery bag. Dad was calling, I found a bench and sat down at last. He asked where I was. I didn’t really know. I sent him a photo of where I was, and told him to use find my friends. My brain was reeling, that was all I could handle. Inhale, exhale, deep breaths.

After a few minutes of just sitting still on the bench I started to feel better. I took some Gatorade out of the recovery bag and started sipping it. My breathing started to return to normal. I took a minute to take it all in. It was still drizzling, the sky was overcast. I remembered that I needed to claim the bag that I checked with the NYPD running club, so I walked back to the tent to find out where I needed to go for that. They pointed me towards a group of runners loading into the back of a little cart, which drove us a few blocks over to where the vans were shuttling people over to John Jay, where some people were going to the NYPD running club after party. I sat down on a pillar on the corner and waited for Dad and Kasey to get there – I had called them to let them know I was moving from my previous location. Unfortunately, no one in the shuttle area knew where the finish line bags were, but luckily I ran into Denise who was heading to John Jay. She was able to ask someone there and let me know where to find the bus full of bags, which wound up being about a block away. By the time we found out where the bags were all of my people had found me at the finish line – Dad, Kasey, Mom, Dennis and Rachel. After grabbing my bag from the bus we headed towards the subway, which took us to Penn station, and then boarded the train which took us home to Long Island. I tried to eat some pretzels from the recovery bag, but my stomach was unhappy with me as we rode the train home, as sometimes happens to me after long runs. I was able to change out of my running clothes and into an outfit that Den had lugged into the city for me, which was nice and dry. Of course, I kept the NYRR poncho on because, as previously mentioned, it’s basically my new favorite accessory.

Post race photo of Dennis, me and Rachel

Post race photo of Dennis, me and Rachel

When I got home I showered to thaw myself out, and managed to eat a little bit of pasta before passing out. I would pay for not eating enough with a diminished mental capacity and general exhaustion for the following two days. Of course, I suppose that could also be attributed to running a marathon.

Overall, running the NYC marathon was an amazing experience, and I plan to run it again. The crowds were like no other that I have ever experienced, even if at times they made me feel like there was a lot of pressure on me. The changing views of the city and running over the bridges was a unique course, and I loved seeing so much of New York City in one day. The aid stations, like all aid stations I have experienced at New York Road Runner races, were great, with water and Gatorade clearly marked and always available.

I could not have asked for a better training cycle leading up to this race. I got all of my long runs in, hit the track at least once weekly, and managed to avoid any major injuries or illnesses. I think this great training cycle is the reason I feel a little disappointed in my results. I am proud that I finished, I am thankful for the experience, and I am humbled by this course, which was truly challenging. I just have to remind myself that my asthma is out of my control, and there was nothing that I could have done to avoid the breathing issues that I encountered. I was as prepared as I could be, running with my inhaler as I always do. While I have some lingering feelings of failure, the further I get from race day the more I feel like I learned a lot during this race, and the challenges I faced help me to grow both as a runner and as a person. They prepared me for the races and obstacles ahead of me.

So what is next?

I can’t say that I have another marathon on my schedule that I plan on running. I am technically signed up for Rock ‘n Roll D.C. in March of 2018, but as of now I am planning to run the half instead of the full, as I just don’t feel ready to commit to another training cycle for a full marathon. That will come in time I am sure, but after 3 marathons in 2017, I need a break before I dive in and give myself to this distance again.

Short term, I want to focus on improving my speed for shorter races – I haven’t raced a half marathon since November of 2016, and I would love to see what I can do now that I have a few fulls under my belt.

Long term? Well, I may or may not have entered the lottery for the 2018 Chicago marathon.

Week 12: Family support through every mile

Week 12: September 25

Total Mileage planned: 35

Mileage complete: 38.3

I had a lazy morning, but in the spirit of "never missing a Monday," I agreed to meet up with Jennie who wanted a running partner for the two miles she had on her schedule. I pulled on my orange reflective vest as we headed out for something that is somewhat of a rarity for me these days, a night time run. We kept the pace easy and chatted through out, but the humidity kind of made me feel nauseous - perhaps it was a bit too soon after the NB Bronx 10-miler and I was just having flashbacks. 

IMG_1277.JPG

Tuesday mornings run felt much better than Monday's, and the pace returned to normal. It was a little overcast, and for the first time this season we were really running with the sunrise. Dad joined Kasey and me for this mornings run, and I briefly attempted mounting my go pro to his bike but had very limited success.

The theme of swim Tuesday night was "Tuck your chin!"

.....I'm working on it, really I am. I know that it theoretically will help me breathe better, but right now it just makes me feel like I'm constricting my throat and have another thing to remember to do while attempting to propel myself forward. Really I am just happy to not be gasping for air as much anymore. 

IMG_1339.JPG

I got my track workout in on Wednesday morning, it was on the easier side as far as track workouts go. I had a 2 mile warm-up then 10x400 at 1:56 pace and a 1 mile cool-down. Was glad when I was done, it was a long humid workout. Averaged right around a 9 minute pace. 

One of my co-workers put together a group outing to go rock climbing after work on Wednesday after work, so I decided to join in. Honestly, I know nothing about rock climbing but I have had fun in the past making attempts at bouldering so I was happy to be invited. We wound up spending 2 and a half hours at the rock gym and I climbed until my fingers could no longer grip things. I headed home with 5 new callouses, looking forward to going again. 

I was feeling a little sluggish on Thursday morning, as tends to happen towards the end of the week. In case you were wondering it is still humid here in New York. It was just me and Kasey out for the run this morning and we took a minute to stretch it out when Kasey finished out her miles. 

I guess I should have learned from that swim tryout that new workouts tend to leave me sore, and sure enough on Thursday my grip strength was non-existent, and a muscle all down my side that I was previously unaware existed was very angry with me. While I got through my run that morning, I decided that I needed to skip swim class for the first time. Moving my shoulders on dry land was painful so I ignored the stubborn part of me that was screaming "Swim anyway!" and took the night off.

Friday I gave myself a much needed rest day, as I had already gotten my track workout done earlier in the week and Had a very busy weekend ahead of me. The weekend started with The Bubble Run 5k with Jennie, Hallie, and Rachel. Even though we are four people at very varying runner levels we all had so much fun at this event. The start line was staggered perfectly, and while we were one of the few groups running there was still plenty of room for us to run between the bubble stations. Basically we would run about a half mile, walk through the bubble stop, then run to the next one! The only time that we really couldn't run was at the finish line, where Hallie and I tried to sprint through and there was a back log of people waiting to go through because of people stopping for photos. After the race we played in the dance floor of bubbles for a few minutes and then headed into our next adventure of the day. 

IMG_4862.JPG

Sunday's long run made my list of favorite runs ever. Throughout the week I was trying to figure out when I could do my 18 miler. Maybe Friday night? Couldn't find anyone to run it with me, and solo nighttime miles were not happening. Saturday morning? I was already planning on an early morning with the bubble run I did, and it was supposed to rain before the race anyway. Also, I had a jam packed Saturday as I had tickets to a cider festival in the afternoon, and then to a concert in the evening and with that much going on the potential post run exhaustion was not a appealing idea. So, it would have to be Sunday. The main reason that I was hesitant about Sunday was because I was not sure how late the concert would go, but we were back from the city by around midnight which wasn't too bad. 

On Friday I had texted Kasey to see if she would be interested in running 6 of the 18 miles I had planned with me. On weekday mornings we usually get in about three miles together mainly because of time constraints, so I was hoping she would be interest to try a longer distance run with me. To my surprise, Kasey offered to not only run 6 with me, but to bike along for the rest of the miles so I would have some company.  So, when I had a partner for my long run secured it was officially set for Sunday.

IMG_6650.JPG

That morning I headed over to Kasey's around 8:45 and the temperatures were just right for a long run - which for me means I can wear a t-shirt and my compression capris without sweating to death. We started in the direction of our regular run loop, and started adding in extra blocks so that we could up the distance from 3 miles to 6.2 - Kasey was running her first 10k. First an added loop around her block, then down a wishbone shaped block we usually skip. Suddenly we were 5 miles into the run, and it was time for a pit stop at my house for fuel. A Gu for me and some sport beans for Kasey and we were on the road again. A little over a mile later a squirrel tried to murder Kasey when we were only a block off of her house, by just watching and hanging on to his nut as I ran by, but then darting directly into Kasey's path seconds later... I guess she was a bigger threat? Thankfully she survived this assassination attempt and finished her first 10k in just over an hour, which is pretty awesome if you ask me!

IMG_4974.JPG

The she switched over to her bike and we headed out for the next 10 miles. The plan was for her to bike until I hit 16 miles and then join me in running the last two. It was awesome having her on bike because we were able to chat as we looped around the neighborhood, and it made the miles just fly by. I was even able to drop down to about a pace of 9 for a few miles, and then hang out between 9-10 min/miles after that. We did two more fuel stops, one at mile 10 and another at 15, then dumped Kasey's bike around mile 16. Only two miles to go, and she ran those miles faster than she had done the previous 6. When we hit 18, I almost wanted to keep going because it had just been such a high quality run for me, in terms of feeling good with the miles and entertaining company throughout. I was a little bummed that Dad didn't join us on bike, but I bet once Kasey works up to higher running distances with me (personally, I'm campaigning for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2019) Dad will be onboard to play race crew for both of us. 

I had one more activity for Sunday after my long run - Kitten yoga. As a fan of both cats and yoga, this was something I was really looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. The yoga studio, Caya, partnered with a animal shelter to bring in adoptable cats and kittens, and did an hour long easy yoga flow as they roamed through the class. After class we got a few minutes of playtime with the kittens. I will certainly be signing up again the next time they offer a class!

So now week 12 is done, and I am less than a month out from the NYC marathon. The weather is starting to be a little closer to feeling like fall, and I am really enjoying all of my miles lately.  

Check back Wednesday for a race recap, and next Sunday to read more about marathon training. Until next time!