Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 running

Maggie posted this on her blog and I loved it so I'm copying:

1.  Best race experience:  I haven't actually run that many races, but this is an easy answer.  My half marathon.  It was my first long distance race, the first distance that seemed out of reach, and the first race I ever trained for.  I had such an incredible experience, felt absolutely great the entire time, and finished in 2:04.  Not too shabby.

2. Best run: My fourteen mile training run.  I destroyed it.  I felt like a power house the entire time, running mostly in the rain, through the park, down Park Avenue for summer streets, through the financial district, and up the West Side Highway.  I finished the half marathon distance in under two hours, and ran two extra miles (only needed to run 12 that day.)  I felt like a complete machine who could do anything.  I couldn't help but tell myself over and over in my head, "You are a bad ass!"  This was also my last long distance I ran without any knee pain.  It likely pushed me from dealing with a little injury I didn't really notice, to chronic pain because I ran way way too fast than I should have.  I just had never experienced being able to run that fast before, and didn't want to stop.  Lesson definitely learned.

3. Best new piece of gear: Spi belt

4. Best piece of running advice you received: Walk through every water station and have a few sips.  Walk, don't run.  (From my bishop for my half marathon.)

5. Most inspirational runner(s): Dina, Val, the handicapped runners I frequently see in the park whose names I don't know, and anyone who has kids and trains for races.

6. If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be: surprising, rewarding, and quick.

7. Most exciting running moment of 2012: I can't pick just one.  Crossing the finish line of my first half, destroying that 14 mile run, running the Central Park loop for the first time without having to walk, officially making the decision to run the marathon.

I'd love to hear what you other runners have to say.

The marathon that never happened

I suppose now that it's been over a month almost two months (started this post almost a month ago) I should write about the marathon.  I've felt so overwhelmed with so much happening, the thought of writing it all down was just too much.  However, I'd like to get my thoughts down before I forget too much.

Over the last several months I've read so many blog posts written by strangers and people I knew, about their experiences running the New York Marathon, or other marathons for their first time.  I so looked forward to writing my own recap.  I never could have predicted what would have happened.

About a week and a half before marathon day I'd started hearing about the hurricane headed our way, "Frankenstorm" they were calling it.  I didn't think too much of it.  Every winter we have some "huge" storms that are supposed to hit us, and it's very rarely anything that affects normal every day life.  Of course I'd been stalking for about two weeks before marathon day, hoping tradition would hold and we'd have beautiful weather on November 4th.  The storm was supposed to hit around Halloween.  Perfect, I thought. In and out and then clear for the race and when my family will be in town.

It turned out that storm turned out to be a much, much bigger ordeal.  The stock market was closed for two days, which hadn't happened due to weather since 1888.  Half the city lost power for days, weeks even.  All of lower Manhattan was dark.  I saw images of my regular running path, the West Side Highway, completely under water.  Outside the city the devastation was unbelievable.  I feel like there's nothing I could say to adequately describe the devastation so many are still dealing with, and will deal with for a very long time.

My dad had called to ask if the marathon would still happen, as both my grandmas had plans to fly out, along with my parents, for my big day.  I hadn't heard anything to expect otherwise, so I told him yes.  Marathon day is a huge revenue day for the city.  Tens of thousands of runners fly in from all over the world, as well as travelers like my parents, coming in to watch someone in the race.  Marathon day is one of the biggest days of the year in the city.  I thought there was no way they'd cancel it.  I didn't realize the level of catastrophe at this point.

The Tuesday or Wednesday before the marathon it was announced it was officially on as scheduled, the following Sunday.  I was relieved to hear this.  I know it sounds selfish, but I just didn't understand the extent of everything.  What I knew was I had dedicated basically my entire year for this race, I'd raised money, I'd spent countless hours running, planning, researching, trying to rehabilitate my knee, put so much money towards this race and all the training it entails, cried so many times due to frustration, doubt, happiness, and just feeling an all encompassing emotional whirlwind.  It never crossed my mind that it would really be canceled.

After the announcement was made followed the outrage.  People not only in the city, but all over the country were furious.  How could the city throw a parade, party, what have you, when so many were in such dyer situations?  How could we take away the sanitation workers, the police officers, etc from the victims of Hurricane Sandy?  I could see their point.  I started to feel a lot of guilt.  Guilt for wanting the race to happen, guilt for planning to run, survivor's guilt for not being affected by the storm.  Such mixed emotions.

I heard stories of runners deciding to opt out of the race in protest.  After thinking about it, I decided since the race was on, and I had family flying out I was going to run the race.  I believed there were better ways to help with the relief than backing out of the race.  Unless anyone was working around the clock, how could they blame me for running?  I had every intention of volunteering and donating, but also wanted to stick to my commitment for myself, for my family, for those who donated to my charity, and for Dina.

On Thursday the marathon expo opened at the Javits Center and I went that night.  I was giddy.  I'd been preparing all week by hydrating like crazy, and toward the end of the week started carb loading.  Going to the expo was like the kickoff.  I got my swag bag, number, and a couple Asics tops.  All week I'd been asked if I felt nervous, but I just felt excited.  I was a bit nervous the week before but with the hurricane it kind of took the marathon off my mind.  It just didn't feel real until I went to the expo.

Friday at work every asked me about the marathon; my thoughts on it not being canceled, how I was feeling, etc.  I still felt the mixture of emotions, but overall excited.  It was around 5pm that I was finishing up some loose ends at work, hoping to get out soon to meet up with my mom and grandma who'd just flown in and were waiting for me at my apartment.  Half my company had left for the weekend, and there were only a handful of us left.  Something one of the analysts said caught my attention, and I turned around to look at the tv, which we keep on CNBC all day.  There was the big headline across the bottom of the screen, "MARATHON CANCELED."  My jaw dropped and I jumped out of my chair to turn it up to hear what they were saying.  I can't remember a thing I heard.  It was like time stopped for a second.  Everyone was sort of quiet and then started telling me they were sorry.  I was just in complete shock.  I didn't know what to do.  Holy sh** was all I could think or say.

I then called Val to see if she'd heard.  She hadn't.  She'd just left the Javits Center.  We talked for a minute and then I went back to my desk to try to finish up my work.  It was then that the text messages from all over the country started blowing up my phone.  I will never be able to express to my friends and family how much their support truly touched me.  This is the point that it started to sink in that it was real, my eyes filled to the brim with tears.  I find it incredibly uncomfortable to cry in front of people, so I was just doing my best to focus (impossible) and get out of the office.  My colleague who sits behind me started talking to me about something work related (not actually needing to talk, just basically shooting the breeze.)  I just looked at him and said something along the lines of, "I seriously can't talk right now."  It was taking everything in me to keep it together at my desk.  I knew if I even allowed myself to go into the bathroom and cry I would have been a mess.  I had probably ten minutes of work left and just needed to get it done.

I finally put my phone in my desk so I wouldn't be distracted by it anymore, finished, and left.  I wondered if my parents knew.  I couldn't bring myself to call them.  I figured they had to know.  As I started walking home I listened to a voicemail from my sweet aunt Kate, who'd called about ten minutes before the announcement.  Leaving me the most thoughtful, and emotional voicemail wishing me well and telling me how proud she was of me.  I couldn't hold back the tears any longer.  I walked past the park towards home and just cried and cried.  There were so many runners in the park, clearly prepping for the race that was scheduled for less than 48 hours out.  They don't even know yet! I thought to myself.  Then I started thinking of the runners who were probably on a plane headed to New York, who wouldn't know until after they arrived.

I feel terrible saying this, but the last thing I wanted to do was go home and entertain guests.  I knew my family would be incredibly understanding, but I just wanted to be alone in my apartment and let out the cry I'd been holding in.  I was beyond devastated.  I should mention, for anyone who thinks I'm being ridiculously dramatic, that I've never worked half as hard for anything in my life.  I've never put forth a fraction of the discipline that I had while I was training.  I've never put myself through something so emotionally, physically, and financially taxing.  That probably sounds pathetic, but it's the truth.

When I walked into my building my doorman gave me a look (they all had seen me leaving the building in my running clothes the past eight months) and I just said, "I can't even talk about it."  He reminded me my mom and grandma were upstairs and I would be really happy when I got up there.  Not wanting to sound like the ungrateful jerk I was being at the time, I didn't say, "Yeah, I'd really prefer to be alone."  I just tried to smile and say, "I know, it's great."  He then stressed how happy I would really be when I got up there, to the point that I could tell there was some sort of surprise.

As I walked into the elevator I racked my brain, trying to figure out who was here, but my mind was mush.  I couldn't think straight.  I had no clue what he could mean.  When I walked into my apartment I put on my best fake smile as I saw my mom and both my grandmas.  I hugged everyone hello and wondered what he was talking about.  I turned the corner and saw my dad holding an iPhone up.  For a second I thought, Seriously Dad?  I really don't feel like having this moment documented.  And then I saw the real sister was here!  I was shocked.  Seriously blind sided, and so happy.

We hugged and laughed and then all stood around talking for a bit about the news, and finally decided to go to dinner.  I have to admit, even though I wanted to go home and sulk my night away, and am not good at faking a happy mood, my spirits were genuinely lifted and I had such a great night at dinner with my family.  I am so lucky they were so supportive to come out and be there for me.

After dinner we went back to my apartment and watched all the news coverage of the cancellation.  Reporters interviewed so many runners and the general consensus was happiness with the decision.  Everyone was applauding the NYRR and the mayor for finally making the right choice.  I felt so guilty.  Even though I was in agreement that it was the right thing to do, I was still completely upset.  I'm so thankful no reporters stopped me on my walk home because I would have just cried on camera and looked like a huge jerk.  I was, and am, completely aware that my disappointment pales in comparison to what people are dealing with.  I just couldn't deny my own heartache.

That night my mom, grandma, and sister all stayed in my shoebox of an apartment and I stayed at Kelly's place.  We stayed up late chatting and then I was up early for brunch with my family.  After we finished eating we took a walk through Central Park.  The entrance to the park near my apartment is two blocks from where the marathon finish line was set up.  Everything was ready for the big race, and the park was packed with runners and spectators.  All the international flags were hanging, and so many were posing for photos at the finish line.  I couldn't help but get choked up as I stood there.  I couldn't believe all the runners I was seeing, wearing their countries names with pride.  I saw a group from as far as Indonesia.  I just can't imagine flying to the other side of the world only to have the race canceled.

After spending time in the park we went to my church to help out with some of the relief.  I'd spent a fortune on emergency supplies for the hurricane, so I was happy to be able to donate.

By the time we finished at the church I just felt completely exhausted.  Emotionally drained.  My mom, grandma, and sister went and took a tour bus and I finally got that alone time at home I was desperate for.  I could finally let out my big cry, and I felt so much better afterward.  Crying can be very cathartic for me.  I truly felt so much better after, like the gloomy cloud over me was lifted.

I had decided that I was going to run in the park on marathon day anyway, as a symbol of my gratitude to everyone who's supported me emotionally and my charity financially, and in remembrance of Dina.  I hadn't decided the length yet, but that afternoon heard from Val that there was a group meeting at Columbus Circle to run the full 26.2 miles in the park.  I started getting motivated and thinking maybe I should do it too.  I got online and did a little research, and found that so many groups were forming to meet up and run the full marathon distance.  I started getting really inspired and thinking I was just going to do it also.  It wasn't until talking to a good friend I realized it wasn't a good idea for me.  Being a first time marathoner who was nursing an injured knee, it would not be smart to attempt this distance without the crowd support, medical staff, and all the other support that comes with an actual race.  I felt like a loser deciding not to do it.  Like I really wasn't able to run a marathon.  But as we talked, I couldn't deny the fact the from Friday night until Saturday afternoon I had not prepared mentally whatsoever, nor had I continued to hydrate or eat properly.  I just wasn't ready.  I decided I would run the six mile loop instead.

That evening I went to the hotel where all my family was staying.  My aunt and cousins were also in town for a girls weekend, and I hadn't seen them yet.  I was hanging out with my dad and grandma when my aunt Vicki and her four daughter walked in wearing these tshirts.  I was so touched, I couldn't believe they'd been so thoughtful and made these shirts for everyone.

The next morning I got dressed in my entire outfit I'd planned to wear for the marathon, including my race number.  I met my family at their hotel for breakfast and my outfit grabbed some looks.  I felt a little awkward, like I was trying to just draw attention to myself, but got over it.  There were racers running all over the city in their marathon outfits.

My mom, sister, and I got to the park and I started my loop at 11am.  The park was a zoo.  There were thousands of runners, and tons of crowd support.  It felt like a real race, and like a mini marathon.  It felt so good to hear people cheering for me by name.  I was overwhelmed by the gratitude I felt to be a part of the running community.  I love that so many people decided to still come out in run, not as a protest to the decision that was made, but as a sign of solidarity among runners.  There was a huge group of marathon runners that went to Staten Island to go help.  A big part of me felt guilty for not going, but we all help on different days, at different times, in different ways.  I have donated my time and money.  I've gone out to homes that were hit and have worked hard with my friends to help clean up, so I feel okay about choosing to run on that day instead of going to Staten Island.

I have to say, this loop was not my best run ever.  I was so distracted, in a good way, by the crowd, that I could never get in my running groove.  I wanted to listen to everyone cheering, and high five everyone, so it wasn't really about having a good six mile run.  I expected to get close to the finish line and get emotional, but it was actually pretty anti climatic.  The finish line was so congested with people, I actually had to just stop and walk the last 10-20 yards.  It wasn't until I heard a big cheer from the crowd and looked up and saw my friends and family that I was completely overcome with emotion.  I felt so many feelings of love, pride, gratitude, and a little embarrassed I didn't know what to do.  I stood there for a minute and just covered my face and cried while I looked into the stands and saw my loved ones cheering for me.  I finally went and gave everyone hugs and cried a little more.

Brittany, Courtnie, and Ashley joined my family and cheered me on with these cute signs they'd made for me.  They have been such amazingly supportive friends this year.

November 4, 2012 did not turn out at all the way I planned, but I am so grateful for my friends and family, my biggest cheerleaders.  I'm so thankful it was a beautiful day and I could still go run and then spend the day with those I love so much.

It's now been about two months since what was supposed to be Marathon Day, and we've finally heard back from the New York Road Runners.  I am eligible to run the 2013 marathon.  Here we go again...

Friday, October 26, 2012

To run or not to run?

Sometime back in early April I made a pros and cons list when I was trying to decide if I should commit to running the marathon.  I wanted so badly to do it, but I was so terrified of making the commitment.  It seemed so much bigger than me, and like something only disciplined people do (not one of my qualities.)  I wish I had dated this paper, but at the time I thought it was just a random list.  I didn't think about the fact that I'd carry it around in my wallet the next seven months:

Reasons to run the marathon:
-you've wanted to for 5+ years
-you'll never be healthier or have more free time, most likely
-you will never regret it, but will regret not running it
-you could raise money for a charity important to you
-you can
-something to add to the resume
-you have a deep desire
-it will give you a summer & fall goal
-it might be much more difficult to gain entry in the future
-you won't torture yourself for years thinking how you should do it, like you have been the last couple years
-you can
-you should wrote "you can" twice without noticing...your subconscious must believe it

Reasons not to run the marathon:
-if running for charity you'll have to raise money
-huge time commitment
-if the weather's bad it could be miserable
-potential for failure/embarrassment

This list shows a pretty clear answer.  I didn't fully decide after making it, but I was definitely leaning in the direction of yes.  It wasn't until the day of the lottery that I decided for sure.  I didn't get selected, so leaving it up to fate to make me run didn't work out.  I can't explain how tortured I was trying to make the decision.  I went for a run that night, I think it was a four miler.  I was training for my half at the time.  It was such a beautiful night, and it was a fantastic run.  I'd had a series of bad runs but this one just felt so good.  I thought a lot about Dina while I ran.  Her funeral had been two days earlier.  The last time I saw Dina I promised her if I ever worked up the nerve to run, I'd raise money for brain cancer research.  I felt like everything came together that night and it just felt right.  So on April 25th I decided I would dedicate the next six months and eight days to marathon prep, and I've never once regretted it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The end is in sight. Ten miles.

Last Saturday I had my last double digit run before the race and I was lucky enough to do it on the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in the Berkshires.  It goes without saying that it was a gorgeous run.  It was so fun to see this route in the fall, since I've done it in the spring when a million flowers were out.  My knee felt good.  I was slow, not surprisingly, but it was very surprising to not have any knee pain, especially since it had hurt a bit during the week, and it typically only hurts while running.
On Tuesday I went back to the orthopaedic doctor.  He told me my knee didn't feel as sensitive as the last time I was in and after chatting with him about how my training's gone since the last time I saw him, he seemed pretty confident in me.  He didn't think I needed another cortisone shot, but said if I really wanted one he would give it to me.  I figured, if it's not going to hurt me, I'll take it.
I was emailing with my friend Aimee about running.  She's training for a half and we've been trying to coordinate our schedules so we could run together.  I told her I'm not running the rest of the week until the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff on Sunday, and then started thinking about next week and realized....I only have a couple more runs left and they should be very short!  This is when I felt butterflies for the first time.  Holy smokes, only three more runs until the big day???  So crazy.  I've got physical therapy twice next week, as usual, and want to try to fit in two more runs, so that means running Monday and Wednesday.  I decided Monday I'll jog up to the Reservoir, jog around it, and then walk home.  I want to take it easy since I will have just run in the race the day before.  It will be sentimental to run the Reservoir since that's where my running began.  Wednesday I'll do the simple two mile loop in the park and finish at the marathon finish line.  Then, the next time I run it'll be on Marathon Day.  I am so dang excited!!!
I was emailing with my friend Brenda earlier in the week.  She's going to sew my Dina heart patch on my tank top for the race this weekend.  She ran the Hamptons full in September, her first marathon.  All summer we've been keeping tabs on each other while training and it's really brought our friendship closer.  I asked her if I could put part of her email in my blog because it really touched me:

A marathon is like any opportunity in life, if we do it solely for the right to claim the achievement then it will likely wither quickly.  But if we allow the experience to change us, to cultivate the growth of our soul, then its impact won't diminish.  Prior to training for and completing my own marathon I was unable to comprehend the profound effect it would have on me.  Now I can simply express gratitude that I worked hard for something of which I had no understanding, for the faith to try and conquer, and the love that allowed me to change.

I can't believe how excited I am for this race!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 18 miles...for real this time

After the last race I decided to basically really rest my knee, and only cross train, in addition all the other PT and rehab.  I wanted to wait until my appointment with the orthpaedist so see what my approach should be.  I saw him about two weeks ago and we chatted for a bit.  I told him the story of my injury, why I'm running, and what my training's been like.  He said it's going to be tough but plenty of runners come in with similar stories.  Since I don't care about my time, I'm better off because I will definitely be slow.  He gave me a cortisone shot in my knee and sent me on my way with a prescription for a second anti inflammatory and appointment for another shot before the race.

I'd heard mixed things about the pain associated with cortisone shots.  I decided it definitely depends where you get it.  My dad had one in the front of his knee and said the pain was tremendous.  Mine was on the side and it wasn't bad at all, however it was incredibly sore and a little swollen that night and the next day.  Two days after getting the shot I attempted my first run, the five mile loop.  My knee was not completely devoid of pain, but it was definitely so much better.  The doctor said it could take a week or so for the shot to fully set in.  Every run I've had since then has had some mild discomfort, but overall it's like running with a new knee.  It was so painful before and now it's more like some pressure, with an occasional sharp pain if I run for longer periods of time.  I know, sounds fun right?

Later that week I went for an 8 miler.  I did the 6 mile loop in the park and then tacked on an extra two miles by running the last two miles of the marathon course.  Cardio wise I felt good but my knee was making me nervous.  It was hard to think about the 18 mile run I had planned for the upcoming weekend.  Tacking on 10 more miles??  And then, on marathon day, another 8.2?  When you think about it like that, it just doesn't make any sense.  It doesn't seem real or possible.  I came to the conclusion that when you think about distances like this with your head, it is impossible, which is why you need to think with your heart.

Friday night came and I met up with Val to do an easy(ish) jog across the Queensboro Bridge and back.  This is supposedly one of the most difficult points of the marathon.  There are no spectators, it's a tough incline, and it's just past the halfway point.  Going across wasn't too bad, but coming back, especially into the wind, was tough.  I have to say though, going out was incredible.  I saw what was probably the most beautiful sunset I've ever experienced here.  It was incredible.  People don't think of New York as having particularly pretty sunsets, but we really do.  As we were running over the bridge connecting Manhattan to Queens, I could see all lower Manhattan and midtown east.  The iconic Empire State Building, the UN, but the mos majestic was the Freedom Tower.  It was just starting to light up and I swear it was like a sparkly diamond.  It was twinkling so much, and the sky was all these amazing pink colors.  I've never seen anything like it.  I stopped to take a photo, but being on the under part of the bridge it was dark, and I just couldn't get a good shot.

After my run with Val I headed home to start my marathon dress rehearsal prep.  I got Patsy' pizza, which is what I'll be having to carb load the night before the marathon, watched a little tv, and got to bed.  I wasn't particularly worried about waking up early because even though I'll have to on Marathon Day, my wave doesn't start until 10:55am.  When I woke up it was really cold outside, so I decided to wait a bit and see if it would warm up.  I finally got to the West Side Highway in my marathon outfit and started running around 11am or so.  I ran my first mile in about 9:20.  I couldn't believe it, and forced myself to slow down.  That is closer to my old pace, and I knew it couldn't last because of my knee.  I had to conserve as much energy as possible.  The longest run I'd done up to this point was my 14 miler and that was 8 weeks before.  I took a lot of walking breaks.  A lot.  I was very aware of my knee and the fact that it didn't feel in shape, so I decided to take it easy and save any potential for a real injury for race day.  I'll push through anything on that day and I don't care what happens after, but for now I need to be careful.  I know I'll be taking walk breaks on that day, there's just no way around it.

I had decided I'd run down the west side and then back up the east side.  In all the training I've done, I haven't run up the east side at all.  When I got to the bottom of the island I was about 6 miles in.  I was frustrated because this is the point that I should be in my groove.  After mile four I should be just ticking miles off without much notice.  I never got into the zone.  By about mile 8 or 9 I decided I just wanted to sit on a bench for a few minutes.  I stretched out my legs and massaged them a bit.  I've come to the conclusion that with my shotty training, the only way I'll get through this race is if I allow myself to stop and stretch when I need to.  Okay, I won't be finding a bench to sit on, but I just needed a couple minutes to relax, think, pray (seriously) and get back on track.  I started running again and felt very rejuvinated.  It's amazing what builds you up.  Shortly after this a random man gave me a big thumbs up and it put a big grin on my face for a few seconds.  Earlier in the run I saw another girl wearing her Fred's Team jersey, like me.  We both cheered when we passed each other.  What a HUGE boost.  It is amazing how much a cheerleader can do for you.

I kept going up the east side, it was so beautiful.  It was a gorgeous, crisp, sunny day.  Before I knew it I was in midtown and heading over to 1st Avenue.  I ran up to 60th and the across to the park.  This part of the run was difficult.  I kept having to stop at lights, and dodge crowds.  It was tough for me to stand in one spot and keep my balance.

Up until this point I'd felt pretty good.  I technically should have been running 20 miles if I was on schedule, and I felt good enough to, but knew 18 was long enough for a long training run and I didn't want to push it too hard.  It makes me laugh how mental running is.  If you have to run six miles, by mile six you're done.  If you have to run ten, you still feel good at six.  This theory held true for my 18.  By 16 I was feeling pretty beat.  By 17 I wanted to be done.  I passed another girl in the park wearing a Fred's jersey so that of course was a boost.  When my Runtracker app finally told me I'd hit 18 miles I was so relieved.  I was on Central Park South, getting close to Columbus Circle.  All I could think when I finished was how far my apartment seemed.  I seriously considered getting into a cab for the 1/2 mile trip, but didn't let myself.  It's good to keep walking, and I'll have to walk for a while after I cross the finish line.

Those blocks seriously took forever.  I was waiting for a light to change to cross the street, about three blocks from home when I heard someone saying my name.  Steph!  It was so fun to see a familiar face but I felt so out of it.  We chatted for a few minutes and then I stopped in the grocery store to pick up some chocolate milk.  I have no idea what chocolate milk does for you after running for so long but sometimes they give it out after races and it sounded freaking good.  And, it was.  I guzzled it.

This 18 mile run/walk gave me the confidence I needed.  I know it's another 8.2 miles on marathon day but everyone says if you can do 18, you can do 26.2.  I went from 80% nervous 20% excited to 70% excited 30% nervous.

Seventeen days!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 18 miles...I wish

This weekend was the eighteen mile marathon tune up race.  Other than my twenty miler which is scheduled for about three weeks from now, the eighteen miler would have been my longest training run before the marathon.  My knee, unfortunately, is still not in good shape.  I feel like my life has gone from working and running, to working and focusing on knee repair.  Ice, prescription anti inflammatories, foam roller, stretches, exercises, cross training, physical therapy, and praying.

I wasn't really sure what to do about my race this weekend.  I decided to pick up my number in case I wanted to try to run, and left NYRR feeling like a rock star.  A swag bag with my number?  Sweet!  I guess this is only my second NYRR race and the other one was only a 10k, but I only got a shirt for that race.  This time I got a little bag with all sorts of little things like face lotion, soap, sunscreen, Gu, etc.  This pumped me up a bit and I decided my goal was to run six miles of the race.  The course was three times around the six mile loop in the park.  I decided to try for one loop.

Fall is definitely here.  I left my apartment at 6:15am and it was dark, chilly, and the fruit stand man wasn't there.  I always bring a quarter with me to buy a banana (gross) from the fruit stand man before my long runs.  His fruit stand was there, but it was covered up, and he was no where to be found.  I knew I couldn't run on an empty stomach, but I didn't have any other money besides my ATM card, so I just took a banana and left my quarter.  Hopefully he found it.  I felt like a thief.

There's a lot of energy at races and this one was no exception.  Obviously with it being an eighteen mile race everyone there was a pretty serious runner.  The president of NYRR was there and said if we could run this course, there was no doubt we'd be able to run the marathon.  It was so disheartening knowing I wouldn't be able to that day.

The race finally started and I was thankful.  It was definitely cold and a little windy while we were standing around.  We started near East 103rd Street moving counter clockwise, so the Harlem Hill was first.  I was happy that it didn't feel difficult at all.  At this point in my training it shouldn't, but since I've hardly run in the last four weeks I really don't know why kind of shape my body's in.  I was feeling great and thinking to myself, maybe I'll be able to do two loops!  Wrong.  Just like the last two times I attempted running, shortly after a mile I started to feel pressure on my knee.  Dammit.  I told myself to stay focused on going slowly, and take a walking break when I need it.  It was soon after this I felt a hand on my shoulder.  VAL!  I was thrilled to see her.  We weren't in the same start coral, but I knew our pace wasn't too terribly different (when I'm running a regular pace) so I'd been looking everywhere for her.  When you run, anything to break up the monotony is a treat.  She said she couldn't believe it, she had literally just thought of me and wondered where I was, and suddenly she saw me.  She asked about my knee, told me to take it easy, and we both fought back tears.  It's amazing what an emotional experience running can be, and every time we see each other it's like we both immediately think of Dina, our running angel.  Our tie to running.  Our reason for running.

She took off and I continued my hobbling.  I took breaks of jogging slowly, and walking quickly.  Slowly but surely I felt myself drifting to the back of the pack.  Everyone was passing me.  I felt like such a loser.  You always see walkers in races, but not eighteen mile races.  These races are for the serious people.  I wanted to tell everyone, "I have an injury!  I'm not a slacker!"  And I kept thinking to myself, surely I'm not the only injured person here...  It really is demoralizing to have everyone running past you.  This is the sort of thing I would tell someone, had I not understood running, that they just needed to get over.  And I know I need to get over it, but it really is tough when you know your body is capable of more.  It's like you're the fat kid, the one chosen last for teams in PE class all over again.  It's like you have no business being out there with all these serious athletes.  I kept looking back to see if I was going to be the last one, but thankfully there was always a steady stream of people still behind me.

The pain wasn't too bad, but it was definitely there.  My body felt good otherwise, it was just my knee.  I contemplated exiting the park when I got to my usual exit near my apartment, but told myself I needed to stick it out and do the loop like I was shooting for, at the very least for a small confidence boost.  I started getting creative with ways to run that would alleviate the pain in my knee.  This only added more stress to my right leg since it was doing more work, but at least the pain in my left leg was more manageable.

I'd decided I would complete the loop, and continue to the north side of the park at 110th, go down Harlem Hill, and exit the park, making my way to the subway.  I considered going up the hill for the extra practice, but by that point I was occasionally having stabbing pain, so I figured I wouldn't push it.  When I left the park I didn't feel as defeated as I expected, but that changed when I got home.  I ate breakfast and climbed into bed, turning on an episode of How I Met Your Mother.  I saw two minutes of the episode before passing out.  I was completely exhausted.  I woke up a couple hours later feeling depressed.  I got a phone call from a friend asking how it went and was overcome with emotion.  A silver lining in all this, is seeing how incredibly supportive my friends are.  Everyone is constantly asking me about how things are going, giving me some encouraging words, and experienced runners giving advice.  It wasn't until I started dealing with this injury that I knew how many people were interested in my training.  It really means a lot.  My family is also of course very supportive, but they don't have the same exposure to hearing about my running all the time like my local friends who see me all the time do.

The good news: last week I went to dinner with Val, Mackenzie, and Liz.  Mackenzie's run a handful of marathons, the NY Marathon two or three times, so she had a fair amount of advice.  Val ran it for the first time last year, and what I didn't know was that she broke her toe while she was training.  She didn't run at all from mid September until early October.  Her highest mileage before her injury was fifteen miles, and when she started running again she pretty much only ran the Staten Island half marathon before the big day.  This gives me a lot of hope, as I've knocked out fourteen miles without a problem.

In addition to going to a primary care doctor last week I've been searching for an orthopaedic doctor.  My doctor gave me a long list of specialists she recommended.  Of those, only four took my insurance.  Of those four, only one could see me before the marathon, and even then, it was only a week before.  My goal today was to come into the office and go online and find a list of specialists who took my insurance, and call them one by one until I could find someone who could see me asap.

Shortly after I got into work Val sent me an email with a link to the practice she goes to for her foot.  She spoke very highly of the practice, and another runner we know had seen the knee specialist there.  I figured they probably wouldn't take my insurance, and if they did, would probably be very busy.  I looked online, and they take my insurance!  I gave them a call, and he can see me October 9th!  I was hoping for something sooner, but that is at least about four weeks before the marathon.  The woman I spoke to was very understanding of my situation and said she would definitely call if something opened up before then.  The best news about this doctor is he is a runner.  He's on the New York Road Runners medical staff, and is a running injury specialist.  He's run the New York Marathon several times.  THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR.  I need a runner who understands what I'm going through, and why I don't want to just skip the race.  I have all the faith that he will be able to help me.  At this point, I think my only hope is getting a cortisone shot, so that's what I'm banking on.  No running the next two weeks (well, we'll see if I attempt the Staten Island half in just under two weeks), just cross training, stretching, and strengthening.  After I see the doctor hopefully I'll be able to wrap up my training and be as ready as possible for November 4th.

I realize these posts have gotten very lengthy and are probably very boring, I just want to have the record of my runs and thoughts for myself.  Hopefully after the marathon this blog will have a little more diversity.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Running: an update

So.  I'm training for a marathon.  Except, over the last two weeks I've hardly run.  It's been almost three weeks since I started feeling pain on the outside of my left knee when running.  After my last incident, I waited six days to run.  That Thursday night I took a slooooow four and a half mile jog up to the Reservoir, around it, and home.  My knee held up well, only felt some mild discomfort, nothing bad.  It was so nice to run the Reservoir.  I never really run it because it's an easy, flat, short run, and I just haven't incorporated it with any other runs, so it was a treat.  I took the below photos that night and of course, as always, fell further in love with my city.  The moon was huge that night.  I wish photos could do it justice.  The photo on the bottom is the view from the north side of the Reservoir.  Every angle is my favorite view, but this one is special.  I always look over and see the water, and the trees of the park (too dark to see in that photo) and then the city and am overwhelmed with gratitude that I can have such a happy life in this city I'm so madly in love with.  (For anyone worried that it was too dark for me to be running, it was a gorgeous night this night, and there were a TON of people out, not to mention a race was happening in the park, so I was fine.)

Two days later I was excited to try a long run again.  Twelve miles were scheduled, and I was hoping to run parts of the marathon course, but after talking to Em decided to take it easy, run the flat West Side Highway, and shoot for ten.  It's a good thing I went that route because after running four the pain set in, and I had to hobble the rest.  I ended up going 9.3 miles in 2:01.  Keep in mind two weeks prior I'd run 14 miles in 2:03.  Pathetic.

The following week I went to a physical therapist who confirmed my suspicions that is in an issue with my IT band.  I have runner's knee.  Basically good news, because it's common, treatable, not too serious, and I still have about two months until the marathon.  I left the PT office feeling good after learning some exercises and stretches, motivated to strengthen my leg muscles so my knees wouldn't have problems.

A few days later I decided to to try the easy four and a half mile jog to, around, and home from the Reservoir before work.  The good news is, the sunrise was incredible.  The below photos weren't altered in any way, just snapped on my iPhone.  This seemed like a particularly gorgeous morning, but I have to say, I've never run the Reservoir early and not had a beautiful sunrise.  It's crazy to think this beauty is out there every morning and most of us just snooze right through it.

The bad news is, the pain set into my knee about a mile into the jog.  A mile!  Shouldn't it be getting better??  I have to admit, this has been incredibly frustrating.  I'm supposed to be running an 18 mile (hilly) race a week from this weekend.  There's no way that's happening.  I have gotten so incredibly frustrated to the point of crying over this.  A few times.  Sobbed, actually.  I've found myself quite surprised.  The only thing that can make me cry like that is getting into a really bad argument with a boyfriend.  If I'm not in a relationship, I don't really cry, ever (aside from a sad movie.)  (Sidenote, clearly my past relationships haven't brought out the best in me......single for a reason I guess.)  Anyway, like I said, this has been very frustrating.   It's so hard to think about how I could go run, any distance, and feel just fine.  Maybe tired or something, but running was a choice that came down to discipline.  I won't take that for granted again.  I just want to be able to go run ten miles and not think about my knee.

The more people I talk to, the more I've come to realize I really do need to rest, so in addition to not running  this week, I didn't attempt a long run last weekend.  It  felt very strange.  I haven't had a weekend of no running in........six months?  It was weird.  And I was in the gorgeous Berkshires and would have loved to have run, but I had fun regardless.

This week I made appointments to start going to physical therapy once week, I started my gym membership again so I can do low impact cross training (I will admit, I never really cross trained for my half so I didn't worry about it up until now,)  I'm still icing every day and rolling out my legs on the foam roller, started taking anti inflammatories, and will see if I can run this weekend.  I'm really nervous.  I just want to run.  I keep thinking about when Dina was diagnosed and was told she couldn't run.  I don't know how she did it.  Running was her life.  I have felt lost without running and I wouldn't even consider myself a real runner.  It sounds crazy, but I feel a loss of purpose.  People talk about the post-marathon blues when you're not in training anymore, and I can understand what they mean.  I really don't know how Dina dealt, and it just makes me even more sad to think about her having to go through that nasty chemo without her outlet of running.

On a happier note, Aimee convinced me to get a running skirt, and I'm so in love with it I haven't run in anything else since (all three times I've tried to run.)  I feel like I'm in a cheer skirt again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 9 miles

Well, last week's long run started off well, and ended with a $16 cab ride and a bag of frozen pees on my knee.  Quite the let down after the last long run.  I had a friend staying with me for the weekend and knew it would be tough to run my scheduled twelve miles and then play tour guide all day, so when my Friday night dinner plans fell through I decided to get my run finished that night.  I was excited about this idea, as I hadn't done an evening long run, and it would be the first Saturday I can remember for months that didn't involve an alarm clock.

I ran down the West Side Highway, enjoying the sunset over Jersey and the view of the Freedom Tower lighting up as I got closer to the financial district.  I'd reached Battery Park when I hit six miles and turned around.  It was soon after the outside of my left knee was bothering me.  I took a few walking breaks but mostly ran and just tried to go at a slower pace.  By mile seven it was really bothering me so I stopped to try to stretch it out but nothing really felt good.  I kept going, taking more and more longer and longer walking breaks.  I walked almost all of the eighth and ninth miles.  Running was not an option unless I wanted to be in pain, and it wasn't a good pain that you push through.  Even walking was uncomfortable.  After a lot of contemplating I finally decided to hop in a cab when I saw one around 20th.  Walking another 50 blocks just seemed brutal.  My feet were hurting at this point also from favoring my knee.

The cabbie was nice enough to drop me off and wait while I hobbled up to my apartment to get my wallet (obviously he wanted to get paid, but a lot of cabbies would complain; he was really nice.)  My doorman offered to give me cash but I just hustled up to my place to grab my wallet.  I paid the nice man and then hobbled to the grocery store for some frozen peas, and took it easy for the rest of the night.

Walking all over the city the next day wasn't exactly ideal, but it wasn't too bad unless I was going down stairs.  (Subways, Highline...ouch.)  After talking to a bunch of runners, and doing some research, I'm pretty confident it's an issue with my IT band.  Luckily I already own a foam roller so I can focus on rolling out both bands every day.  This week I'm taking it easy and giving my knee a break.  It's tough not to run since I'm in the routine, and I hate falling behind in training.  Mondays have always been a work out day, even before training, so it felt strange to skip it.  Obviously I'm grateful I'm still 9 1/2 weeks from the marathon, it could be so much worse.  It's just too bad this is the week I'm resting because so many of my friends are out of town and I have nothing on my calendar after work.  Normally my weeks are so busy trying to juggle training, seeing friends, and it seems like there's always an out of town visitor, or someone's birthday dinner, or some other obligation.  This week, nothing.  Oh well, like I said, I'm just grateful it's not close to the marathon.

Running the GW, my first double state run

Last week I ran a midweek run across the George Washington bridge.  This was my first time on the GW bridge (on foot) and the run was fantastic!  The time of day was perfect (no filters in these pics) and the views of the city and the Hudson River were spectacular.  Twilight is my favorite time of day to run.  I love seeing the buildings slowly light up.  As usual I was overwhelmed with gratitude to live here, and for my healthy body that allows me to run.  I remember thinking during this run, I will never not be a runner.  I dare anyone feeling sorry for themselves to go for a run and still be unhappy.

Despite confusion getting off the bridge (running a mile out of the way down an off ramp and back) and rolling my ankle, it was still a fantastic run.  The bridge, as well as the other four miles were quite hilly so I was beat when I was finished.  This run was my first one wearing my charity jersey(?) and also using a sweat band.  I have been wanting a sweat band since I was training for my half and finally remembered to buy some.  I didn't love it as much as I thought I would.  It was nice to be able to have something to wipe my face with, but my wrist got claustrophobic.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 14 miles

Also known as, the best run I've ever had in my entire life.  I had a 12 miler scheduled and I was nervous, as usual.  Yes, the 10 had gone so well, but that was two weeks before.  Maybe I got lucky.  Twelve is practically a half marathon, and that's something people totally train for.  I did my best to prepare, and it completely paid off.
My alarm went off at 6am and I decided considering the rain and cooler temp, I didn't need to jump out of bed, and slept another 30 minutes.  I finally got up and took my time getting ready.  I finally was running about 7:15am.  I ran to the park, crossed it at 72nd, and made it to the top of Summer Streets at Park Avenue.  It was only 64 degrees and with the rain it was definitely feeling cooler than pretty much every other run I've done in the last four months.
I made a conscious effort to jog at a leisurely pace since now I knew I was supposed to tack on an extra 1-2 minutes per mile for the long runs.  I was surprised when I hit my first mile and it was 8 something minutes. Hm, weird.  Fluke.  I obviously don't trust my app 100% when it tells me the min/mile, but the total time is accurate, and the mileage is pretty much on.  When I ran my half marathon the mile marker on the course almost always matched exactly to when my app was telling me I passed a new mile.
Anyway, as I ran down Park Avenue, feeling fantastic, mile after mile I was hearing that I was averaging a little over 8 min/mile.  I was floored.  I didn't see as many water stations as I had the week prior, when I was running Summer Streets in the opposite direction.  The truth is, I wasn't exactly looking for them either.  Last week it was so hot and humid, and I had actually felt thirsty, but this week, not at all.  I had Gu Chomps for miles four and eight, and usually when I eat these I'll take a little walk break to give myself a minute to rest and also make it easier to eat, but I was just feeling so great I didn't want to stop running.
I made it down to the end of summer streets and had to get a little creative through side streets to make it over to the West Side Highway.  I was thankful I lived in the financial district for three years, so I was familiar with the streets.  When I was jogging through, making my way west, there were not a lot of people out, and it was raining a little harder than it had been the rest of the run.  I realized it was slightly chilly, but I just felt so great.  I was so incredibly happy.
I finally made it over to the highway running path and started heading north.  I could not get over how amazing I felt.  Around mile ten I thought to myself I really almost feel like I could run the whole dang marathon right now.  I had to stop at a bathroom, which was a first, and really frustrating.  Luckily I could pause my app so it didn't keep the clock running.  I know if I were in a race the clock would continue to run, but I just wanted to keep my running pace w/o the bathroom break.  Oh well.
Funny how the mind works, at about mile 11 I started to feel the aches and pains and felt myself slowing down, mentally knowing I only had to run 12.  I had already decided that I was going to keep running past 12 because I wouldn't have quite made it home, and I figured I could pass my furthest distance run of the half marathon.
When I got to where I should have cut off the highway to go home I was at about 13.5 miles.  I decided to keep running another quarter mile, then run back, so I could make it an even 14.  That last half mile definitely felt longer than any other 2-3 miles that day.  It just seemed to drag!  By the last couple miles my feet and knees had been hurting, and I wanted to be done.  It had rained probably 11 or so of the miles, and my clothes were completely stuck to me.
I was so so happy and felt so proud of myself.  I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock after I passed the half marathon point and realized I'd cut over 10 minutes off my half time!  I'd wondered if it would ever be possible to get under a two hour half marathon but it seemed crazy to me.  I finished my 14 miles in just under the time it took me to run my half.  I'm sure I'll never run that quickly again (and shouldn't for these training runs) so I have to pat myself on the back a bit this time.
The rest of Saturday I felt relatively good.  When I would sit for a long period of time my knees would hurt when I got home, and after getting a manicure and pedicure that afternoon I had to walk down some stairs and I was really in pain in my knees, but otherwise felt great, and feel really great today!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 7 miles

I wonder if I'll ever get over long run anxiety.  Any run longer than five miles makes me nervous and anxious. Last Saturday was a cut back week so my "long" run was only seven miles.  I was still nervous.  Friday night I stopped by a sporting goods store and bought some more Gu Chomps and I can't even tell you how delicious the watermelon chomps were the next day.  I could eat them as a snack.
Summer Streets is happening right now, which is awesome.  Three Saturdays this month they shut down about five miles of Park Avenue and it's open for runners, bikers, roller bladers, etc.  There are tons of pit stops along the way with different activities like a rock climbing wall, ziplining (I really felt like stopping to do this) and bike rentals, all free.  There's also water stations along the way.  It's very well organized.
Laura had suggested I incorporate Summer Streets into my long runs but I completely forgot the first week.  Thankfully Brenda reminded me so I could take advantage last weekend (and will this weekend as well.)  I decided I would take the train down to the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge, run that, which ends right at the bottom of Summer Streets, and run all the way up to 72nd to the east side of Central Park, and then cross over to go home.  What a pain it was to wait for a train so early on a Saturday morning.  From the time I left my apartment, waited for a train, and then schlepped to Brooklyn, it had been forty minutes.  I thought to myself, Seriously?  You're about to run home from a place it just took you forty minutes to get to???  I think the commute was actually more painful than the run.
I felt like I was going pretty slow, and, I was, however in typical fashion the second half of my run went much faster than my first and I finished in just over an hour and ten minutes.  I just found out, however, that I should be running at a much slower pace during my long runs, than my weekly runs.  On one hand, that makes me feel a little better when I feel like I'm going so slow, on the other hand, I don't want to lower my 10 min/mile average goal because then it makes the run longer...
It was definitely cool to run up Park Avenue.  When I was in lower Manhattan I just felt like I was in a race or something, but it was especially cool when I got into midtown, since it's always so busy.  It was neat to run around Grand Central and finish up at the park.  I thought mileage wise I'd have to run all the way home but I hit my seven mile mark just as I got to the park.  I let myself walk home so I could have a cool down, and it was really nice to walk through the park in places I'm normally running.  I also realized how much bigger the park seems when you're walking vs running.
This weekend my mileage goes up to twelve and from now on until the week before the marathon, my Saturday runs will be double digits.  It seems freaking crazy.  And it seems freaking crazy that I'm running twelve miles and nine weeks from now, when I run twelve again on a Saturday, it will seem short.
I have to mention my socks in the above photo.  I've always run with regular socks, however was given a Nike giftcard after running my half marathon.  It was fun to shop around the store and look at buying things I otherwise wouldn't if it was my own money.  I hate spending money on running clothes/gear, for some reason.  I decided to try out these socks, and I LOVE them.  I wear them for every long run, and I will definitely be buying more.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 10 miles

I don't have the commitment or time to write about every run, but after reading up on Chloe's training for her marathon a few years ago, I decided I would at least write about my long runs.  The shorter weekly runs are typically about the same.  Sometimes a run is difficult for some reason, or sometimes I have a really great inspiring run, but for the most part they're predictable.
I've been feeling a bit behind in my training.  Part of me feels like training for a half first wasn't a good idea.  I was so nervous about the race, so I was pretty faithful in my training.  Then, the race ended up being so fantastic, and not nearly as difficult as I expected.  I think this, along with my two weeks of down time, maybe gave me too much confidence and I lost a bit of momentum.  At this point I'm really not running more, mileage wise or times per week, than I was when I was training for the half.  I guess the only difference at this point is the weather.  It is definitely more hot and humid than when I was training for the half.  However, on the other hand, I also feel like I've gotten a lot more comfortable running in the humidity.
I've been running slower on average, and I'm not sure why.  My regular mid week runs have felt more difficult than they did in the past.  It's really bothered me, making me feel like I've digressed.  I was really nervous about my ten mile run this last Saturday.  I was supposed to run nine miles the weekend before and was just feeling exhausted from weeks upon weeks of travel on the weekends and a hectic work/social schedule during the weeks.  I'd gone camping and we cut out early because of bad rain, and I was just over the idea of trying to get that run done.  I finally found a bit of motivation and told myself to just do six.  I ran the loop in the park and it was pathetic.  I felt like I'd run nine, but only ended up doing 6.3, and took a lot of walking breaks.
So, I felt like if I could get this ten miler done I would feel like I was caught up after feeling behind for what seems like the first four weeks of training.  I made a point to really prepare.  I had a yummy pasta dinner for Friday night, got to bed early, and was good about hydrating Friday.  I'd gotten some different kinds of supplements.  Up until this point all I'd ever used were the Gus, and I hate them.  It takes a lot of concentration to not gag when I eat them, so for this run I had some energy jelly beans, and some Gu jelly blocks.  I have sort of wondered if these were like placebo pills.  I don't really feel a difference.  I mean, yes, I'm getting the runs done when I take them, but I don't really notice a different feeling.
I got up early and headed to the West Side Highway and planned to run downtown five miles and then back.  I ate the jelly beans first (I thought I was supposed to take them mid run, but the package said before activity.)  Like usual, the first 4 miles sucked.  It's so hard not to think, "Wow, two miles done....I have to do that four more times."  I stopped at pretty much every water fountain I saw to have a sip of water.  I feel like this is something that really helps me out.  I can't exactly pinpoint this as helping me through the half, but for some reason I feel like it was the best advice I got.  I have two running belts for water, but I've yet to try them out.  The less I have on me, the more comfortable I am running, and strapping on a belt just doesn't seem appealing.  I keep meaning to try it out on a shorter run but I always forget.
After my fifth mile I ate the Gu jelly blocks and they are hands down my favorite energy booster.  I will never have another Gu again!  They were gummies were delish!  I also think they definitely made a difference because on average each mile in the second half of my run was ten seconds quicker than the first half.  My very first mile was 9:20, which made me happy because that is about my usual, however, every mile after that was a little slower.  I was happy when things picked up after my fifth mile and I was able to get my complete average back down to under a 10 min mile.
I felt so good when I was done with this run.  I felt like I had my groove back.  This weekend I cut back to a seven mile run, but then after that every long run is two digits until the week before the marathon when I cut back to eight.  Scary.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Running for a cause

I sent out the below email to friends and family for fundraising.  This is my story which explains why I'm running the marathon (as well as the link to donate, should anyone feel generous.)  :)  I've italicized where I've made slight adjustments to keep personal info safe from google searches.

Dear family and friends, I’m so excited to tell you I’ve committed to running this year’s ING NYC Marathon on November 4th! Over the past five years I’ve stood in the crowd in the last stretch of the course in Central Park and cheered on my friends and other runners, dreaming that I might one day be one of those runners. I watched and cheered through happy tears, so inspired, knowing the months of preparation and dedication that came before that day.

There is one person in particular from whom I’ve learned the most about running; my friend Dina M. I was fortunate enough to meet Dina at my first interview at (the bank at which I worked,) my first job in the city. Dina immediately made me feel at ease, and as soon as my first day on the job I knew she would be my go to person anytime I needed help. I can remember like it was yesterday, standing outside the building on my first day, feeling completely in over my head. I was 23 years old, 3000 miles from home, and working my first real job out of college for a bunch of intimidating Wall Street traders (or so they seemed at the time…I couldn’t have been more wrong.) I recall telling my dad over the phone that the bright spot was my new friend Dina, who seemed to be so helpful. I had no idea what a dear friend and influential part of my life she would become.

For almost four years Dina and I worked closely together, usually sitting only about two feet apart (it’s close quarters on a trading floor.) You can imagine how well you get to know someone working in such tight conditions for years. Dina gave me advice on everything: finding an apartment in the city, family matters, dating, negotiating, shopping, etc. As a seasoned New Yorker, she taught me so much about life in the city. We discussed our favorite trashy tv shows, the Yankees, weekend plans, and of course, office gossip. Dina was my confidant, my support, and, as she put it, “the mother hen.” She truly took me under her wing.

Dina was an avid runner. She has completed the NYC Marathon eight times. I would hear her talking about her training and be in such awe. Hearing about all her running inspired me to want to run. I’m embarrassed to admit, for years I took a very lazy approach. I had no commitment, always willing to drop a plan to run if something else came up. I might run a mile or two here and there. If I ever ran more than two miles without having to stop it felt like such an accomplishment. I’d tell Dina about it, and instead of rolling her eyes she always acted so supportive, and most importantly, like she believed in me. She truly made me feel like I could be a runner.

Even though I only had the opportunity to run with Dina once, it’s a memory I cherish and will never forget. She and our other friend Val were doing a simple two mile loop in Central Park and let me tag along. I complained pretty much the whole time, and took frequent walking breaks. Instead of getting annoyed with me, they encouraged me, and didn’t allow me to think negatively.

In May 2010 Dina was diagnosed with brain cancer. She battled through extensive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, all the while continuing her dedication to her job, spending time with friends, and when her doctor would allow it, running. I have never been more proud or felt more love for Dina than the moment I saw her run past me in the marathon that same year. What a blessing and privilege to jog with her for a couple minutes at the twenty third mile. She did not let the cancer define her or hold her back, and went on to run her last marathon in 2011.

In April of this year Dina’s fight with cancer ended when she left us and moved on to the next phase of life. It was only about two months before that I’d finally gotten serious about running and had signed up for a half marathon in June. The last time I saw Dina was about two weeks before she passed away. I was so proud to tell her I’d signed up for the race, and had started training. I promised her that day if I ever worked up the nerve to run the full marathon, I would raise money to research a cure for brain cancer. There is not a day at the office I don’t use one of the tools she’s taught me, not to mention all the life lessons I learned along the way. I will always be in debt to her.

When I crossed the finish line of my half marathon she was the only person I could think of, knowing she was beaming down at me. I have developed a love for running, and am so excited for the marathon. It’s a true honor to run in Dina’s memory. I have felt her spirit with me during my training runs in the park, and I know she’ll be with me on marathon day, pushing me along and telling me I can do it. She will be my biggest cheerleader.

I have a goal to raise $3500 by race day. Through your generosity I know I can succeed. Please consider making a contribution towards the fight against brain cancer by clicking on this link.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012


In typical fashion the summer is blazing by.  In three days I leave for Kauai and I don't feel prepared at all.  I found out on Christmas we were going and it was almost seven months out.  Can't believe it's already snuck up on me.  I guess this is normal for every new year of life, but this has been, by far, the fastest year of my life.  How is it already mid July?
A little of what's been going on....
-my mom came out for a long weekend over Mother's Day in May
-Chelse, Becky, Rachel, and I went to South Beach for a long weekend and I turned the big 29.
-my Grandpa Hope passed away June 23rd; sad for us but the best for him, as he was 89 and ready.  My dad and all my siblings were able to make it out to Rexburg to be with my grandma for a few days.  My mom unfortunately couldn't make it because she was in Europe chaperoning some high school kids.
-Spent the 4th of July in the city for the second time in six years, going to the beach and watching fireworks from Karli's roof.
-Brad and I did our open water dives to finish our scuba certification last weekend in Massachusetts.
-Marathon training has officially started and I've managed to get some runs in before work to beat the heat and humidity.
-And in almost 72 exactly I'll be on an 11 hour flight to Kauai.  When I get back July will be almost over. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I think I'm still on a high from the half marathon.  We all know how annoying those people are who do something like this and talk about how much they loved it, but, I can't help myself, I really really loved it.  All of it.  Everything was better than I anticipated.
On Friday I picked up Karli around 5:45pm and we were on our way to Philly.  My friend Renee graciously gave us keys to her apartment in King of Prussia for the night.  Unfortunately she was in Jersey for business so I didn't get to see her, but she was sweet enough to still let us stay and her apartment was so homey and so much more comfortable than a boring hotel.  She left snacks out for us and continually told us to make ourselves at home and help ourselves to anything.
We were hoping to get to Philly before 8pm so we could pick up our bibs, however, in typical form, traffic getting out of the city was horrendous.  A little before 8pm we decided we were starving and there was an Olive Garden nearby so we decided to make our pit stop to carb load.  Yes, Olive Garden.  I have no shame, I love it.  I had told myself I would only drink water, and then told myself I was allowed one Diet Coke, however, I went for a second.  I cannot deny the deliciousness that is fountain soda.  At one point I found myself holding the straw to my water but still leaning over to my DC to sip.
We were able to find a grocery store nearby to pick up some breakfast items, and then headed the rest of the way to Renee's.  I was seriously floored that it was after 11pm when we got to her place.  How had it taken over five hours??  Ugh.  I was really annoyed it took us so long but there really wasn't anything we could have done aside from leaving work early, which wasn't an option for me last week.  We quickly got ready and hopped into bed for about four hours of terrible (for me) sleep.
The alarm went off at 4:45am and we were out the door by 5:15am.  We had to drive about 45 minutes to the bib pickup spot, and then took a shuttle bus to the race.  It was a pretty small, relaxed race, it seemed.  Only about 1000 participants.  I'm not sure if that's normal or not, but all the races I've done/seen in New York are massive.  The 10k I ran in May had 10,000 registered runners.
The laid back feel of the race helped with nerves.  On Thursday night I ran the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge which was just a 3.5 mile loop in the park.  Shouldn't have been a big deal but with all those runners and booths it creates anxiety for some reason.  I ran that race at a much faster pace than I typically run, 8:52/mile, and it was mostly uphill, so I was very conscious of the fact that I needed to pace myself in the beginning of my half.
The waiting around was definitely the worst part of the whole day.  It wasn't bad, but I was a little chilly (didn't think to even pack a jacket) and I was just antsy to get going.  I was kicking myself because even though I had half an english muffin before leaving Renee's, I'd brought my banana along because there was a period over two hours between leaving Renee's and the race start, and I left my banana in the car.  Womp womp.  Luckily, Karli and I made a friend with a girl named Gretchen, who was also from the city, who gave me a power bar she wasn't going to eat.
Finally it was time to start.  We were in the third wave and it wasn't packed at all.  The path was pretty narrow, but I didn't feel crammed at all, like I have in other races.  I was very focused on keeping my pace slow, but I was surprised when I saw the first mile marker and my pace was 9:47.  It was that point I realized I could pick it up a bit.  It wasn't until earlier it the week I realized I should pick a goal for my time.  I honestly hadn't thought about it, because I just didn't care, only wanted to finish.  I told myself if I kept an average pace under 10 min/mile, so 2:10, I'd be happy, but really just happy if I finished.
The race was relatively easy.  There were a handful of very steep hills, much steeper than I'm used to, but they were short, and at every hill I repeated to myself, "Dig deep, this is what you trained for."  I was proud to never have to walk up a hill.  There was a point around mile two when I thought to myself, What the hell are you doing??  But other than that I remained pretty positive.  The trail was a lollipop shape; out, loop, and back, so when I'd pass one mile marker I'd notice the return mile marker, which was a little cruel.  I remember seeing nine and thinking it seemed so far away.
It always takes me until about mile three or four to get into my groove; usually those first few miles sort of suck and I feel overwhelmed thinking about all I have ahead of me.  I planned to have a Gu at miles five and nine, and the water stations were about every 1 1/2 miles.  I got some advice to walk through every water station and have a few sips.  I took this advice and it was great.  There is such a stigma about taking walking breaks, and I hate to do it myself, but I have realized when I do, it barely affects my overall time, and the more I talk to people who allow themselves walking breaks, the more it seems to help with endurance.  I always took a few seconds to walk while I took a few sips.  I honestly walked maybe five seconds at each station, and I'm happy to say I never walked because I had to, only at those fuel stations because I wanted to.
Around mile six or seven the path turned into a trail.  We'd been warned about this.  It was my least favorite part of the race, but ironically my body felt the best during these miles.  It lasted probably two miles.  It was basically like hiking through a forest.  There were rocks, twigs, uneven paths, even horse poop.  I couldn't believe how some people were flying through there.  I lost balance slightly on one foot at one point and am so grateful I didn't twist my ankle.  In hindsight I guess it wasn't the worst thing in the world because it took my focus from my body and running, to the was a distraction.
The rest of the trail was great and I feel like it was relatively easy due to being mostly flat and mostly shaded.  The weather couldn't have been better, low 70s and I didn't notice any humidity.  I sweat, but never once felt too hot.
Around mile nine or so I felt my legs starting to hurt a bit.  When I slowed down at one of the last water stations I felt my legs tightening up and thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to stretch them out, but I was too stubborn, knowing I wasn't far from the end and wanted to keep pushing.
Surprisingly, mile nine seemed to go the quickest for me.  I was truly surprised when I saw the mile ten marker and thought to myself, "Already?"  I could not stop being surprised at how great the whole race was going.  Making it past mile ten felt great.  That was the longest I'd ever run before, so as I continued, feeling really good, I felt really proud, and so excited that I only had a few more miles.  
After that every mile marker felt like a new accomplishment.  I was feeling great and especially great when I would pass a guy.  When I hit twelve I decided to crank up the pace for the last mile.  I ran at what felt like 90% the whole way, and this is when I started to feel fatigued.  I kept thinking the finish line was right around the corner, and it just wasn't.  I finally found myself thinking, "When is this going to end?"  And then I saw that blessed finish line.  At that point I gave it everything I had and pushed 100%.  I felt like I was going fast, but sometimes when you're that tired you're actually going a lot slower than you think.  There was some decent crowd support, which always helps.  I finally crossed that finish line and couldn't believe it when someone was handing me my medal.  It was surreal.  I turned around and looked at the finish line and thought, That was my half!  I just did it.  I just ran a half marathon.
I walked back so I could root on Karli at the end, and as everything sank it I was overcome with emotion and started to cry.  I fought it because when you see a girl crying alone it's not totally clear if it's a good thing or not after a race.  I didn't want anyone worrying that I was hurt, or that something was wrong.
I stretched out as I watched for Karli, and then when I saw her I cheered like a fool, and then ran to the finish line after her to hug her.  We then walked over to the snack/water table to get some eats.  I couldn't get over how happy I was.  We were able to find out friend Gretchen again and all sat and stretched and chatted together.  When we decided to make our way back to the shuttle buses I realized my hip flexor was in bad shape.  I'd been trying to stretch it out while we were talking, but it was really hurting.  I was limping pretty badly to the bus, the point that Gretchen said she was worried.  I tried to walk it off, and thankfully it eased up later.
We took the shuttle bus to our car and there was a celebration with beer and bratwurst (it was a German 1/2, people were even running in lederhosen.  Karli and I took a look around, decided we were over it, and hopped in the car.  When we got back to Renee's we were both so exhausted.  She told me I could hop in the shower because she didn't want to move for a few minutes, and I told her I was about to say the same thing to her.  So we both just laid there for a while, and I finally showered.  I'm not one to take a long shower, but this shower was so amazing.  I just wanted to stand under the hot water and never get out.
We finally left Renee's place and headed to Philly to get some cheesesteaks from a great little hole in the wall she recommended.  The traffic was awful getting to Philly, so we didn't actually eat until about 3 or 4.  We were famished.
After that we were on the road.  Traffic was awful, per the usual, and when we were about 30 miles outside of the city I finally had to pull off and have Karli drive because I was so exhausted.  I honestly am so happy I don't have to drive normally.  I think traffic has got to be my most hated thing in life.
I was so happy to get home and just go to bed.  I was out cold by about 10:30pm, and when my alarm went off at 8:30am the next morning I easily could have kept sleeping.
I'm happy to say I wasn't too sore.  My knee joints were hurting a bit, but I mostly was fine unless I sat or laid down somewhere for a long period of time.  Today I'm feeling great.
My official race time was 2:04:23.  My running app had the same time, however I'm not convinced my splits are totally accurate.
Mile 1: 9:47
Mile 2: 8:56
Mile 3: 9:48
Mile 4: 8:55
Mile 5: 9:32
Mile 6: 10:02
Mile 7: 10:23
Mile 8: 10:32
Mile 9: 9:50
Mile 10: 9:47
Mile 11: 9:31
Mile 12: 9:27
Mile 13: 7:40
I can honestly say I loved this half.  It made me so excited for the full in November, and other races in between.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Things have been crazy, to say the least.  My social life has been crazy, travel has been crazy, running has been crazy, and work has been Insane.
I have not fallen off the training wagon.  I have missed some short runs here and there, but have managed to always get at least one, usually two runs in during the week, and my long runs.  I did an 8 miler in the Berkshires, a 9 miler in the city Memorial Day weekend and was almost killed by the temperature and humidity, and a 10 miler last Saturday in the city which was amazing.  My half is this Saturday.  I feel badly I haven't kept up my running log.  I really wanted to, but it's just gotten pushed aside.
There's so many things I'd like to write about...the Berkshires, my mom's trip out, my girls' trip to Miami for my birthday, going to my first Subway Series game with ten friends for my birthday, but there's just no time for anything.
I ran twice in Miami and the humidity and heat were so brutal.  I have never been much of a sweater, so I didn't realize my body was capable of sweating so much.  So gross.
I've had a lot of great runs during my training, and I'm looking forward to more great runs with my marathon training.  One of my favorite moments though, was my run on my birthday.  I'd gone running on Saturday around 8am thinking it wasn't too hot and it was actually cloudy so the sun wasn't bad.  The first couple miles we were getting rained on pretty hard, and I was feeling like such a badass.  Little did I know it would be so much harder once the rain quit and the sun came out.  This was a six mile run and man, was it tough.  We finished up and then stopped by the pool to talk to Chelse and I thought I'd be fine in the shade but I truly thought I might pass out so I just kept walking into the air conditioned hotel.
Because of this, I learned my lesson, and Monday morning Rachel and I were up before the sun came up for our five miler.  There was a boardwalk that went for miles and miles along the beach.  I've never really run along the beach, that I can recall, so it was a gorgeous view.  I happened to glance back just as the sun was peeking over the Atlantic and it took my breath away.  There truly was not a picture I could take that could capture this huge bright orange ball coming up over the water.  It made me want to cry.  It was definitely, hands down, the best way to start my 29th year.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Running update

The last two weeks have been weird.  I've missed a few runs and haven't felt like writing about the runs I made time for.  The week of May 6th I did two four and a half milers, the second with strength training after, then Saturday I had a 10k, so I only missed my three miler, having a weekly total of 15.2.  Actually, it's a little more than that because I ran a little longer than I needed to for each run.
This week I did my four and a half miles Monday and haven't run since.  I actually did have intentions of doing my second four and half miler Wednesday but when I got home my stomach was killing me.  I laid around for a little while thinking it would go away but it didn't so I threw in the towel, telling myself I'd get to bed at a decent hour and get up early to run.  Well, that didn't happen, and I had plans last night with old colleagues so it just didn't happen.  Tomorrow I've got eight miles scheduled so it'll be interesting.  My official longest run to date is 6.5 miles so this is a decent bump up.  It'll be in a new location, which is never great for me, but I think it'll be relatively flat.
Now, going back to my 10k.  It.  Was.  AWESOME!  I loved it.  I mean I seriously freaking loved it.  The funny thing is this was the race I committed to and it sounded so scary, and now here I am signed up for a half and a full.  This was my first real race.  I've done fun run 5ks before, but nothing that was really official.  I had to go pick up my bib and time keeper for my shoe and it all just felt very official.  My mom was going to be in town and she said she wanted to come watch me.  I figured it was just a 10k and not really a big deal but whatever.  She's a good cheerleader.
The morning of the race I was surprised to wake up nervous.  I was not expecting that at all.  I've done this length before and I've run this course.  It was the six mile loop I'd done two weeks prior.  I assumed I'd walk the hill at the top of the Park again, especially since I heard running the direction we would in the race was more difficult than the direction I'd run it before.  Oh well, I'll look a little lame with all these real runners but, whatev.
I emailed my friend Val to ask her how early I should get to the race.  Val is a friend of mine from my last job.  She hasn't always been a runner but a few years ago Dina got her into it, and this last year she ran her first marathon.  I was so excited to cheer for her from the sidelines.  I once went running with Dins and Val after work.  It was just a two mile run but I struggled so much and Val said I reminded her of herself before she became a runner.  That gave me some hope.  People who've always been runners don't inspire me, but people who used to be like me make me feel like I really can be a runner too.
I was so happy when Val emailed me back saying she was running the race as well!  Since this was my first race I was glad to know I'd see a familiar face.  Val is part of a running crew Dina was in.  Val told me we'd see each other at the start line, and I figured once the race started they would all speed off, which was fine and what I'd want them to do.
I was running a little later to the race than I'd anticipated, and there were 10,000 runners registered for the race so I had to run probably an extra quarter mile further behind the starting line than I expected.  I was so happy when I finally saw Val.  I met some of her friends and we chatted a little bit as the race started and we slowly made our way to the start line.  I got separated from her in the crowd but didn't think much of it.  I was a little emotional just after crossing the start line thinking about Dina.  She should have been there running with us, and I really missed her.  It wasn't too long after this, maybe a quarter mile into the race I felt someone touch my shoulder and I looked back and it was Val.  We ran together almost the whole time.
Because we were in such a tight crowd it was difficult to go very fast.  I figured I just wouldn't worry about my time.  Imagine my surprise when my app checked in at my first mile and it had only been 7:41.  Floored. Now I understand why everyone says be sure to pace yourself at the beginning of the race so you don't burn out later.  I truly felt like we were running at a pace of an 11 minute mile or so.  I ended up leveling out a bit later and finished in 1:01:57.  This was for 6.56 miles, however, since I started so far back from the start line.
I can't say enough how much I loved this race.  Everything people tell you about races is true.  I felt like I just had a big smile for the first couple miles.  Even though it was difficult to jog in such a tight crowd, it was still so fun and I felt so much energy.
When we finally got to the dreaded hill I was happy because I was feeling so great.  So great I never stopped to walk.  Floored, once again.  I just kept thinking over and over, I can't believe how great I feel!
Val hasn't been running as regularly so she wasn't as prepared for the race as she would've liked.  I ended up slowing down a bit to let her catch up with me and after the second time I did this she told me not to slow down and she'd see me at the finish line.  I wanted to run with her, but when she insisted I said okay and took off.  I couldn't believe how this was playing out.
It was between miles four and five I started to feel tired, and by six I was pretty much ready to be done.  I pushed hard those last .2 k so I was so beat when I crossed the finish line.  The finish line was in the same spot it will be at the marathon so for that last mile or so I imagined what it would feel like 6 months from now when it's marathon day.  Some of the volunteers working the race were clapping and cheering and I can't believe how much it actually helped.  Knowing my mom was at the finish line was awesome too.  I couldn't believe how happy I was knowing she was there.  I also was able to see her at the beginning of the race when I crossed the start line.
When I finished I was so beat and needed a couple minutes to get my breath, then I made my way back to the finish line to cheer on Val.  She crossed the finish line and hugged me and told me how proud she was of me, and then started to cry, and then I started to cry.  I know we were both thinking of Dina and wishing she was there.  At Dina's funeral Val spoke about her first run and how Dina ran with her the whole way.  Val has promised to pay Dina's help forward and help me with training, so this was very special to have Val with me my first race.  I wish so badly Dina could have been there running with us too, but I know she was in a different way.