Sunday, May 31, 2009

Where Does The Time Go? A Recap of the last 2 Weeks!

As promised, here is my update via bullet points.

  • I ran 16 miles two weekends ago. It was rough. Really rough. Wilson and I started out together, but he was only planning to run 12 miles. Being an idiot, I forgot to bring my keys with me and didn't realize it until we were over a mile into the run. In an ideal world, I could just buzz my apartment when I got home, and Wilson would let me in . . . but our buzzer is broken. Thus, the only option really was to stop back into the apartment when Wilson finished up at the 12-mile mark, grab my keys, and head back out again to finish up the final 4 miles. This? Was torture. But I got 'er done. Right around a 10:00/mile pace.

  • My parents, older sister, brother-in-law and 3 1/2 year-old niece were in town for the week leading up to Memorial Day, and my younger sister and I both took three heavenly days off from work to hang out with them and play tourist for a bit while they were here. Despite the (sort of annoying) fact that the fam isn't so into planning ahead (it wouldn't be quite so annoying but for the fact that they were all staying on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a 45+ minute subway ride away from my BK apartment). Anyway, we had a lot of fun, ate a lot, drank a lot, and walked about 15 billion miles while they were here. Despite a missed key run (speed intervals), I DID get a helluva lot of cross-training in.

  • While the fam was here, I managed to squeeze in an 18-mile long run . . . or well, a 17.5-miler, as it turns out. I accidentally stopped my garmin at some point in the run and forgot to restart it, so all tracking abilities were out the window. It wasn't until later that night that I mapped my run out, and realized I had fallen a half-mile short. Whoopsies! I averaged just under 10:00/mile for the run, and picked up some sexy tan lines, despite the fact that it was mostly overcast out. Oh, and can I just mention that humidity is a b*tch? It was only in the high-sixties during the run, but you could cut the air with a knife, it was so thick. Yuck. I followed the run with an ice bath, a quick shower, chocolate cake (my mom's 60th birthday cake!) and a full day of sight-seeing. It was all EXHAUSTING. And then my parents and I babysat my niece while my sisters and bro-in-law went out to dinner. Um, let's just say that if high-schoolers had to babysit my niece for a night, there would probably be far fewer teen pregnancies. As much as I love little Iris, she helped me to realize that I am SO not ready to have kids anytime soon!

  • As much as I loved getting to hang out with the fam, and especially enjoyed getting to see the city through a 3 1/2 year-old's eyes, I am a bit relieved that life (in particular, my diet and training) are back to normal! My stomach hurt throughout the entire time they were here, thanks to all of the crap food we ate and all of the beer and wine we drank (I must be healthier than I thought, because my tummy was seriously FREAKED)!
  • Last week, despite the short work-week, work was SERIOUSLY a b*tch. I was forced to skip my tempo run, much to my dismay. But it was probably a blessing in disguise, considering I had a half-marathon to run this weekend. I DID get a killer 10 x 400m (at a 7:30/mile pace) workout in (it was blissful) and some decent cross-training as well.

  • I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon (part of the NYRR Grand Prix series, which consists of a half-marathon in each of the five boroughs) this past weekend. I had planned on taking it nice and easy from the get-go, considering I only had 10-miles on the schedule, and the race was conveniently sandwiched between last weekend's 18-mile (eh, 17.5-mile) long run and next weekend's 20-mile long run. I planned to start out at around a 10:00/mile pace and see what happened from there. I started the run out feeling GREAT . . . I was maintaining around a 9:45 - 9:50 pace, and was struggling to keep my pace that slow. I felt like I was in slow motion! Somewhere around 8.5-miles, though, everything went downhill. I was suddenly insanely fatigued and was getting some pretty crazy chills. The heat had risen to somewhere around 70 degrees by that time, and I have a SERIOUS sensitivity to the heat, as a result of having suffered from heat illness on multiple occasions during my childhood. I knew I could probably push through it, considering there were only 4.5 miles left . . . but I also knew (again, just like with Long Branch), that I might be jeopardizing my health and Seattle Marathon performance by pushing it. Thus, I slowed to a walk for a while. I walked on and off for the remainder of the race, trying my best to just enjoy the experience. I'm a little bummed that I went so quickly from feeling AWESOME to feeling like crap, but oh well. One of these days, I swear I'm going to train for a half-marathon without any other race on the horizon, and I'm just going to go all out! By far the best part of the race was that it finished on the boardwalk in Coney Island! Wilson and I met up after the race (he finished in 1:50:xx, scoring himself a nice, new PR), hung out on the beach for a while, stuffed our faces with Nathan's hot dogs and fries (yum), and then finally boarded the F-train back home to Brooklyn Heights. Despite my problem with the heat and issues with some of the aid stations, it was a GREAT day. I'll definitely be running this race again next year (hopefully without another race overshadowing it!)
Alright, I think we are officially caught up now! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Still Kickin'

Hi all. Just a quick note to let you know that I'm still alive and kicking. I didn't want you to think I'd been mauled by a mountain lion or fallen from the Empire State Building or anything. I've just been super-duper busy with work and cleaning and visitors and training . . . and trying to get some sleep every now and again. I'll be posting a bullet-point filled update at some point this weekend, and will try as best I can to catch up with all of you as well. I can't wait to read what you crazy kids have been up to over the past couple of weeks!


And good luck to the oodles and oodles of my running-bloggy friends racing this weekend! Knock 'em dead, y'all!! :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Apparently I Rock More Than Just Speed Intervals

Um, something weird happened on Thursday, you guys. I headed out for a run after work. Yes, I know this is weird because I normally work until the wee hours of the morning at my horrible slave ship of a job. But that's not the weird thing. I had a 7-8 mile marathon pace run in mind for myself when I set out. Now, I'm still not sure what my planned marathon pace is going to be. Originally, I had been thinking it would be around 9:00/miles, but with the set-backs I've had with illness and whatnot, I'm now thinking somewhere closer to 9:20-9:30/miles. SOOOO. I set out on my run, hoping to aim for 9:20 miles.

Off I went, SO deliriously happy to be running at 7:00 p.m. on a Thursday night. The weather was AMAZING. It was in the low 60s and breezy, threatening to rain (but it never did much more than short spurts of sprinkling). It just felt so refreshing to be out for a run! My tunes were pumping, and it was all I could do to keep myself from dancing to them as I ran. A mile passed, and I checked my Garmin out to see what my pace had been. Imagine my shock when 8:14 flashed back at me! I could kind of tell I was running too fast, but it felt so damn good that I didn't want to slow down. On I chugged, figuring maybe I'd turn my run into a tempo run of some sort. Much of mile-2 was uphill, but I still pulled off an 8:25 pace.

I entered Prospect Park shortly thereafter and plugged on. I was shocked to see that there weren't many runners out enjoying the perfect running weather . . . but I guess maybe they were scared off by the threat of rain. I slowed down a bit during mile-3, as I was just enjoying taking in the beauty of the park, but still finished the mile in 8:31. At that point, though, I was feeling the pain of my fast first few miles, so I let myself walk for a couple minutes to get my heart rate back down and return my breathing to normal. I thought about running the rest of the run at easy pace, but sure enough, as soon as I started running again, my legs had a different idea!

I started running down a path I don't usually take, which ended up being a bit hilly . . . but I was really enjoying exploring new territory, and mile-4 passed by in 8:18. I was getting tired by mile-5, and again contemplated slowing down to an easy pace for the remainder of the run, but still, my legs just wanted to push it. And who am I to argue with my legs? I finished mile-5 in 8:48. I exited the park and started the run back to my apartment. I LOVE the run back to my apartment along Union Street because it is predominantly downhill. My legs were super tired, but I told myself that if I pulled off one last fast mile, I could walk the last mile and change through my neighborhood to cool down. I hit the 6-mile mark at 50:53, completing that last mile in 8:35.

I was elated. I had just run six miles at an 8:28 pace! How do you like them apples? I rewarded myself with a brisk walk home through the 'hood. As ridiculous as this sounds, I kind of wanted to keep running. My legs were screaming at me that they weren't done yet . . . but because the focus of this week is to get a good long run in, I decided to ignore them. As I crossed the street to my apartment, I was checking my splits out, when all of a sudden I felt an awful burning on my shin. WTF? I looked down and there was a spark burning into my leg! Apparently some asshole outside the bar two doors down from me had tossed his cigarette, not paying any attention to the fact that I was approaching, and a spark had flown off from it and implanted itself on my shin. I jumped around trying to shake it off of my leg. Hot damn! It burnt like crazy and blistered up pretty quickly. The man apologized profusely, so I think he really just didn't see me coming, but COME ON! Another reason to not smoke, people. You may burn some poor runner returning from a run!

Yesterday, I made it to one of my firm's indoor soccer games, and my legs were TIRED. Luckily, we had three girl subs, so I didn't have to play all that much. And we won (still undefeated--woo!). I was sad that I didn't score any goals, but I did play some pretty sweet defense, so I suppose that's something to be proud of. Ah well, that's all I have for now. Tomorrow is long run day . . . so I'm spending today trying to rest up and recover from the tempo run/soccer game.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who Rocks the Speed Intervals?

I rock the speed intervals.

No, there's nothing wrong with your eyes. You did, in fact, read that correctly. I (aka the girl who somehow forgot how to run last week) tackled my scheduled speed interval workout today, and I totally nailed it. Thanks for showing up, legs! Where've you been all this time? Alright, alright, I won't ask questions. Just PLEASE do not leave me again until after June 27. Thanks a bunch!

Work has been slow again today, and I decided I might as well take advantage of it and hit the gym at lunch, seeing as how I again failed to get up and squeeze my workout in before work (why are you so tempting sleep? WHY?!). My schedule called for a 10-20 minute warm-up + 1K, 2K, 1K, 1K (w/ 400m RI) + a 10 minute cool-down.

I was a little nervous during my 10 minute warm-up because I still felt a little tired and "off". But when the time came for my first 1K, I cranked the treadmill up to a 7:53/mile pace and was surprised to find that it felt great--better than my 9:40 warm-up pace, to be honest! I kept waiting to feel like crap, but my stride felt strong and I felt great throughout the entire workout! I almost wished I could do one more 2K interval--almost. But I knew I had to get back to work, so I just finished up my cool-down instead. My intervals looked like this:

1K: 7:53 pace
2K: 8:13 pace
1K: 7:53 pace
1K: 7:47 pace

I am SO happy to finally have my legs back. Maybe they just needed to run faster? Not what I would have figured, but whatever. I'll take it!

In other news, I've begun logging my meals on My Plate at I've tried this type of food logging before, but rarely stuck with it for more than a few days. I'm really hopeful this time, though, because My Plate saves your food history, so that you can quickly select items that you eat on a regular basis without having to search for them all over again. It is fabulous. I'm not really trying to shed pounds . . . more just trying to make sure I get the right balance nutrition-wise. But hey, if I happen to lose 5-10 pounds in the process, I'm certainly not going to complain!

Speaking of nutrition and weight loss, THE BIGGEST LOSER Finale is on tonight! WOOO! GO TARA! Kick their ARSES! WOOO! Why do I allow myself to get so caught up with t.v. shows? Eh . . . whatever, I only watch three television shows every week (TBL, Lost and The Office), so I guess it's not really a huge issue. Anyway, I'm super excited to see all of the returning contestants and what they've been able to do with their time at home!

Okay, that's all I have for now . . . Catch ya on the flip side! :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Odds and Ends

This is going to be kind of a random post, so consider yourself warned! First of all, thank you so much for all of your wonderful advice regarding my last post. My stride still feels a little bit off, but it seems to be getting a lot better--I'm guessing it's simply a matter of fatigue. For whatever reason, I think the half-marathon took a lot more out of me than I thought (which is ridiculous considering I walked half of it, but whatever). So for now, I'm just trying to be cautious of overdoing it, but still continuing on with training.

I got in 10 miles yesterday at a 9:50/mile pace, and while I was hoping to get at least a few more miles in, I didn't want to push it. I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather get to the start line under-trained and healthy than to be exhausted and/or injured (been there, done that, suffered a lot). Thus, when Wilson and I were both struggling with dead legs at mile-7 yesterday morning, we decided to finish our loop and head home from Prospect Park, thus quitting while we were ahead. I think I am STILL picking pollen out of my eyeballs (it was windy and the pollen was blowing EVERYWHERE). But the good news is that my illness is pretty much gone. So yay. Take that, nasty chest cold!

After we got home from our run, I actually felt REALLY good and even had what you might describe as a runner's high (hooray!). We did the laundry and I folded it all and put it away while Wilson did his school-work (he's in animation school right now); then I did some core training . . . and actually contemplated heading out to run AGAIN and log some more miles. But I thought better of it and told myself just to hold onto that desire for the next time I run.

Work was slow today, so I used my lunch break to hit up the gym, where I got in 15 minutes of hard biking + some medicine ball core work + biceps/triceps/shoulders. I feel good and strong now. Ah, how I missed you, strength training!

Finally, I have to share a delicious recipe with you all that Wilson and I made this weekend. I found it here.


-2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lb), cooked, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
-3 cups cooked quinoa
-1/2 cup almonds, chopped
-3 oz. fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
-1/8 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
-1/8 cup sesame oil
-2 T. soy sauce/tamari
-2 T. agave syrup
-1 t. powdered ginger
-1/2 oz. chives, chopped-zest and juice from 1/2 orange


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, soy sauce, agave syrup, ginger, chives, zest and orange juice to create the dressing.

2. In a large mixing bowl, fold together the sweet potato, quinoa, almonds and spinach. While stirring, drizzle the dressing over top. Taste the salad and add the dressing to your taste.

3. Refrigerate the salad for about an hour before serving. This salad tastes good cold, or at room temperature.

As I am from the Midwest and I add meat to everything, I added some apple-chicken sausage and it was AMAZING! If you are a quinoa fan (and you should be), I'm going to have to recommend that you try this out. It's a winner for sure! I'm trying to focus a lot more on nutrition these days, and this recipe just goes to show that your food can be nutritious AND delicious!

Alright, sorry this post was kind of all over the place! Hope you all had wonderful weekends! :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

I think I forgot how to run . . .

Okay, you guys. I know I am supposed to be working on getting Long Branch Half photos up here, but you're gonna have to wait because I am having some technical issues--and not of the interweb variety either. Nope. I? Am having some technical issues with running. Okay, fine . . . I admit it. I think I forgot how to run! WTF?! HELP!

It all started on Wednesday. I gave myself Monday and Tuesday off to try to recover from the half-marathon from hell and the beast that had taken over my chest and lungs. Wednesday, I was back at it. Wilson and I set out for an "easy" run of about 4 miles. Well, wouldn't you know, I felt like my stride was totally jacked and my legs were fumbling about as thought I was a baby giraffe trying to learn to walk. Not. Even. Kidding. It was that bad. The run kind of really sucked, mostly because Wilson felt the need to rub the fact that I was struggling in my face by constantly running about 20 yards in front of me (yes, even when we ran through the Red Hook projects and I was almost kidnapped and held for ransom--true story).

We got home after our run, and I was relieved to learn that we had at least covered the run at a 9:16/pace--not a pace I'd expect to be struggling with, but respectable enough that I didn't freak out (much). Fast-forward to this morning. We woke up at 5:45 a.m. and hit the road, tackling one of our favorite routes, the out-and-back Brooklyn Bridge ass-suck hill run. Um, if you guessed that this run sucked too judging by my description of it, you are right. More of the same old baby-giraffe-lame-leg syndrome. In fact, my legs got so tired, I stopped to walk with like a tenth of a mile of the uphill climb to go on our way back to Brooklyn. GRRR. I don't know why, but my legs just don't seem to be cooperating.

I wouldn't be so darn freaked out if my legs just felt tired and heavy . . . THAT, I've felt a billion times before. It's the "my stride feels really weird and foreign, as though someone cut my legs off in the middle of the night and sewed on somebody else's" part that is giving me panic attacks. Has anyone ever experienced this before? Am I going crazy? Did I seriously "lose my stride?" Wow, all I keep thinking is that if I really did lose my stride, I'm sure as hell not going to make a very good parent! Ha. But seriously, I'm scurrrred! I am praying it comes back to me during this weekend's long run of an undisclosed/undecided distance.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Long Branch Half-Marathon Race Report

Or . . . The Race The Running Gods Begged Me Not to Run.
Or . . . Optimism Can Kill You.

Okay, so first let's start with the obvious: I had been quite under the weather with a chest cold and/or some kind of bronchial infection leading up to this race. As we all know, I contemplated not running it. But, because I was feeling a tad bit better (and because I am cheap and had paid a whopping $90 to run the race), I decided I'd give it a shot. Now, I hadn't run since the chest funk first appeared in a sorry excuse for a long run the previous weekend, so I had no idea what to expect going into the race. Little did I know that, in addition to the illness, all kinds of things would go wrong in an apparent attempt by the running gods to convince me not to run.

It all started with the whole packet pick-up situation. Now, there is no race-day packet pick-up for the New Jersey Marathon/Long Branch Half . . . except that there is. You see, luckily for all of us NYC folks running the race (and anyone else who wants to partake in the service), a charity called Bosco's Buddies will pick up your packet for you and allow you to pick it up from them the morning of the race, assuming you give them a donation of $25.00 and register by the time the expo opens (which was 10:00 a.m. Friday). As we were laying in bed Thursday night, Wilson and I realized we hadn't registered for the service yet, and figured we should probably do so before falling asleep. Unfortunately, though, we let our exhaustion win out and ended up putting it off until the next morning, knowing we had until 10 a.m. to register for the service (or so we thought!).

On Friday morning, we awoke around 7:00 a.m. and immediately hopped on the computer in an attempt to register; only, when we got to the website, it said that registration for the packet pick-up service was CLOSED! WTF?! It had been plastered all over the website that registration would be available until 10 a.m.! I thought about calling and complaining, but a) it was 7 a.m., b) it's a freaking charity--you can't yell at a charitable organization(!), and c) we really should have registered for the service earlier. In the end, we knew we would have to make it to Long Branch (a 30-minute subway ride + 90-minute train ride or, alternatively, a 75-minute drive) and back on Saturday and then do it all over again on Sunday for the race. It was going to be a loooooong weekend! Figuring we would save ourselves time (and surprisingly, also money), we opted to rent a car from Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.

We picked the car up around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, and off we went to the expo. After a 75-minute drive and a brief stop for lunch, we arrived at the expo at Pier Village. We got super lucky, and managed to find a parking spot right away (although we certainly heard enough people complaining about finding parking to know that it was an issue). We had our race packets and tech tees within about 10-minutes, wandered around the booths a bit, and then headed towards the boardwalk. It? WAS FREEZING! It had been sunny and warm back in Brooklyn . . . but in Long Branch, it was chilly and super windy. There was an outdoor wedding set up on the beach, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for the couple and their guests! The weather was just awful!

After just a couple minutes, I turned to Wilson and asked if we could head back to the car. It seemed silly to have driven 75-minutes only to get back in the car and head home, but that's exactly what we did. We arrived back in Brooklyn, searched for a parking spot, found one, hit up Trader Joe's and then headed home to make dinner and get ourselves ready for the race the next day. I don't know where the time went, but somehow--between eating dinner, finishing my Run for the Wild race report, creating a new and exciting half-marathon play list and getting my gear ready for the next day--it very quickly got to be 11:30 p.m.! Um . . . did I mention we had to be up by 3:30 a.m. to make it to the race on time? 'Cuz yeah. We did.

We headed to bed and I immediately began to feel SUPER nervous and anxiety-ridden. I generally don't expect to get much sleep the night before a race, but seriously, it was ridiculous how nervous I was, especially since I planned on taking it nice and easy! Looking back, I think the biggest problem was that I just didn't know what to expect regarding how running would feel--after all, the last time I'd run, I felt like complete crap and could hardly hold a 10:30/mile pace! I tried to count sheep, hoping it would bore me enough to put me to sleep, but I eventually gave up on that somewhere around 1600, figuring it just wasn't going to work. I think I finally fell asleep between 3:10 and 3:30, but I can't be sure. Suffice it to say I got VERY little sleep the night before the race!

At 3:30 a.m., the alarm finally sounded. Wilson and I got up and, of course, immediately heard our neighbors coming home from a night out. Ha. I'm sure other people have experienced this before, but it is seriously the funniest thing to be getting up when everyone else in the world is just getting home from the bars. Anyway, we consumed some coffee and steel cut oats, got dressed, and were out the door by 4:15 a.m. We popped in a CD I'd made the night before to jam out to on the way to Long Branch, and this lifted my spirits quite a bit. In fact, the closer we got to Long Branch, the more excited I became about running the race! Wilson asked me what our strategy was going to be (he planned on sticking with me for this race), and I told him I thought we should start out "conservatively" at 9:30/miles, and then if I felt good, we could ramp it up a bit later on.

We arrived within the vicinity of the race track where the main race parking was around 5:30 a.m. And? We sat. And also? We sat. It ended up taking us another half-hour to actually get into the parking lot from the main road and park. The worst part of it was that I really needed to pee! Well, we finally got the car parked and hopped on a shuttle bus that would take us 3 miles to the start of the race; only somehow--I'm still not sure how--the ride to the start was bizarrely round-about, and ended up taking about a half-hour! In the process, we lost all of the other shuttle buses except one in front of us . . . so I'm wondering if the driver in front of us got turned around and our driver just followed him? Who knows. All I know is that there were multiple people on the bus who were talking to friends who had gotten on later shuttle buses and arrived at the start WAY before we did.

FINALLY, we arrived at the start. Let me tell you, by that time, I was in DESPERATE need of a porta-potty (or a bush--and wouldn't you know, I didn't see any bushes around)! We walked toward the start, and came upon a cluster of porta-potties, but the lines were RIDICULOUS! Wilson pointed out another group of porta-potties off in the distance that looked like they had shorter lines, so we wandered towards them. Well, we got there, and there were only TWO porta-potties there. The line wasn't much better, but we hopped on and hoped for the best. You guys, I cannot begin to tell you how slow these people were! It was insane! I have never been in so much pain as a result of having to pee in all my life. I swear to you, there was someone inside one of them for TWENTY MINUTES. What were you doing in there for twenty minutes, buddy? Ugh. Finally, I got to the front of the line and did my business in a fraction of the time it took everyone else to do theirs. I figured--if nothing else--at least I'd won that portion of the race!

Oh, and as if waiting on line for 45 minutes as my kidneys imploded didn't piss me off enough--while waiting, I had attempted to turn my garmin on only to find nothing but blankness staring back at me. I kept trying over and over again, but she just wouldn't come to life. "What gives, garmin?" I thought out loud. But then I thought back to the previous night, when I had plugged her into her charger--she had acted seriously funny and kept turning on whenever I plugged her in, rather than showing the "charging in progress" screen like she normally does. I ended up hitting the power button a couple of times, and finally the "charging in progress" screen came on. I left her to charge, assuming the situation had been remedied, but somehow she must have gotten all messed up again and had her sweet battery drained as we slept (or uh . . . didn't sleep, in my case). What's that you say, running gods? I'm sorry, I can't quite make it out . . .

Once we were done with the porta-potties line, Wilson checked his (functioning) garmin and realized it was 15-minutes to gun time . . . and we still had to make it to baggage drop inside the Ocean Place Resort and back! I told him we should probably multitask and eat our sports beans on our way over there, so we did just that. Wouldn't you know, as soon as we had downed the beans, the announcer came on and reported that due to a car accident, the race was going to be delayed. At the time, he said it would be 15 minutes, but it ended up being closer to a half-hour. Great, those sports beans wouldn't be doing much for us! Ah well. Add it to the list . . .

We dropped out bags and headed to the start to take our places. As we were a little late getting there, we couldn't get anywhere near where we wanted to be--I think we lined up near the 4:45 marathon pacer--but as it turns out, it didn't really matter. Finally, after a half-hour of standing around and a lot of restlessness from the runners all around us, the race started at about 8:00 a.m. The first mile went really slowly--due to the crowds--but I was actually glad for this. I wanted to make sure to take a good inventory of how running felt on my lungs. Well, I don't think I would have felt so bad had the humidity been anything less than 97% . . . but seriously? It was ridiculous! Between my already weak lungs and the thick as crap air, I could hardly breathe! I felt okay for the first couple of miles, but by mile-3, I had already announced to Wilson that time was just not going to be a consideration. It was so humid, I was just PRAYING the heavens would open up and release some of that humidity along with the rain.

By mile-4, we had some sprinkling going on, but the humidity was still killing me. The worst part of it all was that my chest was in SERIOUS pain. I took my headphones off for a second to let Wilson know what was going on, and upon doing so, was shocked to hear the wheezy sound of my own breathing. Let's just say that it did not sound good. I let Wilson know that I was in a lot of pain, but I kept running, hoping it would just go away (riiiight). By about 4.5 miles in, I had already stopped to walk for the first time. The crushing pain in my chest was too much for me to handle, and my legs were already feeling tired and somewhat crampy. It was at this point that I first began to debate dropping out. I knew it was foolish to push myself when I wasn't feeling well . . . and that I might just be jeopardizing my marathon training. But it was so hard to allow myself to quit, considering everything Wilson and I had gone through to get to the race. We kept moving forward, alternating between running and walking, all the while debating what to do.

Just when I started to feel a bit more optimistic, I had a seriously grumpy moment. Somewhere between miles 5-6, I saw a sign for a "fluid station". Considering it had been over 90 minutes since I'd had fuel of any kind, I was in serious need of a gel at that point. Trusting there was in fact a fluid station ahead, I pulled my vanilla gel out of my pocket and tore off the top. Just as I was about to suck it down, Wilson muttered, "Um, wait! I don't think there is actually water at that station--just oranges." WTF? Who puts a "fluid station" sign up when there are no fluids actually being offered?! I was forced to hold onto my (opened) gel until we FINALLY encountered an actual fluid station almost a mile later. UGH. I was not a happy camper. Again, negative thoughts began to creep their way into my head.

Finally, at 7-miles, I made a decision: I wanted that finisher's hat, and that half-marathon medal. I came to run a half-marathon, and damn it, I was already over half-way done . . . I might as well finish! Despite a strong desire to finish, I was BEYOND miserable throughout the rest of the race. Every time Wilson and I stopped to walk, I felt like SUCH a huge failure. I kept apologizing over and over to Wilson, and telling him it was okay to go ahead. He stuck with me and tried to cheer me up/motivate me, but I was beside myself with disappointment. I think the most devastating thing was that just a few weeks earlier, I was running 15 and 16 mile long runs at around a 9:30/mile pace like it was child's play . . . and here I was walking in the middle of a half-marathon, and slowing my boyfriend down to boot. I hate to say it, y'all, but I was one negative-nelly. I had to fight back tears on several occasions. I was just SO humiliated by what was happening. But still, there was a part of me that wouldn't let myself quit.

By mile-9, nearly every muscle in my body was on the verge of cramping, which was very weird, considering hydration was the one thing I thought I was doing rather successfully. I knew that even a PR was out the window at that point (which I never would have fathomed was a possibility going into the race). I was bumming about that one big time, let me tell you. But at the same time, I kind of didn't even care. I just wanted to be done with the race ASAP. At around 9.5-miles, I was able to snag a little container of M&Ms and a cup of cola at the High Energy Food Station (hands down, the best part of the entire race!), which was fun and definitely boosted my spirits a bit. But uh, somehow? The snack did NOT give me higher energy. I was all but dead at that point. Still, what could I do, but keep trucking on?

And that I did. I wish I could say that I ran the last 3.5 miles, but the truth is, I walked much of it. It just didn't seem like it was worth it to really push myself, considering it wasn't a goal race and I was feeling seriously crappy. I can't remember when exactly, but at some point in the race, the gentle sprinkling had turned to full on rain. I was chafed all over my body--thighs, sports bra areas, underarms. My legs were cramping. And dead. My chest was KILLING me with every breath. My fingers were the size of jumbo sausages. It just didn't seem worth it to risk making any of these things any worse. So Wilson and I alternated between running and walking until we had about a mile to go. I decided I would run all of that last mile. And I did. And you know what? I even gave it a good kick with about a quarter mile to go, passing a whole handful of people. I booked it towards that finish line with all I had, grabbed Wilson's hand, and we finished together in a seriously disappointing but still triumphant 2:28:44.

We grabbed our finisher hats and medals, and I all but collapsed onto Wilson. All I wanted in the world was to sit down, but it was POURING rain by this time, and everything was soaked. Wilson grabbed me a juice box and then went to use the porta-potties . . . and I struggled to get the wrapper to my straw off the entire time he was gone. Between the rain and my huge sausage fingers, it was damn near impossible! FINALLY, I managed to get the thing open and suck it down. We wandered around, looking for food, but I was so out of it, I hardly knew where I was. We grabbed a bottle of some kind of apple juice out of the back of a truck, and then finally gave up on the food, not wanting to fight the crowds and just wanting to get out of the rain! We made our way towards the hotel we had checked our gear in.

All of a sudden, I thought I heard my name. I figured I was just imagining it, and kept on walking. Then I heard it again. I turned around and saw a couple of buddies from college standing there! It was crazy-random. I should add that just as I stopped to talk to them, my right calf seized up like nothing I've ever felt before--I was seriously not doing so well. We chatted for a couple minutes (I was so out of it at the time, I can't even remember what we talked about), then we left them to head inside. We grabbed our gear bags from the smelliest room ever, and made our way to an empty room where people were stretching and just hanging out. FINALLY, I could sit down! Only problem? Was that my calves were still cramping. I begged Wilson to stretch them out for me, and again he came through for me :)

We sat and relaxed for a bit, and then decided to head back to the shuttle buses. Little did we know that we had 45 minutes of standing in the pouring rain ahead of us. That's right. We arrived at the shuttle pick-up spot and the line was weaving around an entire block. We waited . . . and we waited. We watched some assholes on the back of the line flag down and jump onto one of the empty buses just before it rounded the corner to pick up people who were actually on line. Twice. But I wasn't going to have anything to do with that. It just wasn't right. So we waited like the good, nice people we are. Finally, after 45 minutes, we made it onto a bus and headed back to the parking lot.

We found the car, jumped in and cranked the heat up. I changed out of my wet clothes into some dry sweats, socks and shoes I had in the car. HEAVEN. Finally, we headed out of the parking lot and were on our way back to Brooklyn. Although we'd originally had dreams of stopping at IHOP on the way home, we were forced to settle for Burger King, as we hadn't taken into account the extra half-hour or so of racing time nor the 45-minute shuttle wait, and we had to make it back to Brooklyn by 2:30 to return the rental car. Thus, fast food it was. Still, we were starving and it tasted SO good! We scarfed our food and then immediately got back on the road. Luckily, traffic wasn't a problem and we managed to make it back to the rental car place in Brooklyn with about ten minutes to spare. Wooo! We walked the four blocks home to our apartment and, upon arriving home, I immediately took the hottest shower ever followed by the best nap ever. Bliss!

So yeah, a disappointment indeed, but what can you do? Sometimes you just feel like crap. And sometimes you have bigger and better things ahead of you, and you just have to keep the focus on those events. Should I have run this race in the first place? Maybe. Maybe not. In the end, there's no clear answer . . . I happened to make a decision to run it. Considering that fact, should I have pushed myself harder? I'm sure I could have, but I just don't think it would have been worth it. So looking back, I'm glad I ran, I'm proud of myself for finishing, and I'm also proud that I didn't make any dumb mistakes. Perhaps I'm starting to figure this whole thing out . . .

Big shout out again to Wilson for sticking with me when he could have run 5 billion times faster. I appreciate it more than I could ever express with words!

Photos to come soon, I promise!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

At Least I Finished?

Well, I ran the Long Branch Half today. A LOT went wrong, and I wasn't really feeling so hot . . . but once I started, I knew there was no way I'd let myself quit. I walked a lot. I was so far from a PR, it wasn't even funny (which is actually kind of funny, considering I set that unimpressive PR--the only half I'd ever run up until today--while sick with a sinus infection) . . . but let me tell you, running with a chest cold is just a whole other ballgame--the coughing, the chest pain, the wheezing. Blah. I considered pulling myself out several times, but in the end, I finished. Full report to come, but I wanted to give a special thanks to M&Ms, the Veronicas and Kelly Clarkson (don't judge!), all of my super-supportive readers/commenters, and my wonderful boyfriend who ran/walked every step of the race with me despite the fact that he could have probably walked the race faster than I slogged through it. For now, I'm back to resting up, trying to get well and focusing on that silly little race June 27.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Run For The Wild 5K Race Report - Bronx Zoo

How many of you have ever DNF'd a 5K race? I'm betting not a whole lot of you . . . but that is just what we did in the Bronx Zoo Run for the Wild 5K on April 25, 2009. Here's the story.

After working until 1 a.m. the morning of the race, I inhaled a supper of chicken soup and strawberry jello (yes, I ate dinner at 1:30 a.m.), and then immediately zonked out for a measly 4.5 hours of sleep.

Wilson and I awoke promptly at 6 a.m. and immediately watched this video for some inspiration:

Okay, so we didn't actually watch this video . . . but I found it when searching youtube for videos of baby zoo animals (shut up, y'all! I had a rough day yesterday, and needed some snuggly, cuddly animals to cheer me up), and I really wanted to include it. Back to the report . . .

We had decided we were going to walk the 5K so that we could really enjoy looking at all of the animals and stalking them paparazzi-style with my new big-girl SLR camera (thanks for the sweet hand-me-down, Mom!). After all, there were no timing chips, no starting corrals, no bibs; heck, the race wasn't even timed! Thus, we began the difficult task of figuring out what to wear. The weather that day was absolutely gorgeous--low-70s and sunny at the start--so I went with capri tights and a tank with a long-sleeved half-zip top that I could remove should I get hot (and did I ever!).

After a brief stop at Starbucks for coffee and bagels, we embarked on the LONG ASS subway trip up to the Bronx. BORING. But whatever. We arrived about 90 minutes later with half an hour to spare before the start of the race. We quickly grabbed t-shirts (only larges and XLs left--boo!) and wristbands and lined up in the "walker" area amid a sea of strollers and people of all sizes and shapes. It was a zoo! And . . . it also actually WAS a zoo. (hahahaha--I crack myself up!)

The gorilla from the promotional video was there at the start along with two of his best buddies.

After a brief introduction and the singing of the national anthem, we were off!

The first mile or so revealed very few animals--it was all on service-y back roads of some sort--and we started to wonder whether we would actually see any of our favorite animals during the race! Still, with the crowds and our relaxed stroll of a pace, it took us . . . well, I couldn't tell you how long it took us to get to the first mile marker (I went with the whole "zen" theme of the race and wore no watch) . . . I'd bet it was at least 20 minutes.

After hitting that first mile-marker, though, we got our wish and started happening upon all kinds of beauties. We stopped and took pictures of ALL of them (it's SO fun to have a big girl camera!). In fact, most of the time, Wilson and I BOTH took turns taking pictures of all the animals. We were moving SLOWLY. At one point, Wilson stopped for a bathroom break . . . because how often do you get to stop for a bathroom break during a 5K? It's like a once in a lifetime opportunity! :)

I'm thinking between the paparazzi-ing and bathroom break, the second mile took us over a half-hour. Ha. Ridiculous. Whatever. We took the opportunity to joke about how we didn't think we could make it to the finish line (okay, but seriously, 5Ks are actually really hard when you're moving at about a 30 min/mile pace--that's a long time to be on your feet!). Of course, shortly thereafter (in typical Irish Cream fashion), I tripped and rolled my ankle. Oops. I was totally fine, but figured maybe I was pissing off the walking gods (there are walking gods, right?) and should probably shut up.

Onward we went until all of a sudden we saw the 3-mile marker. By this time, it was getting kind of confusing trying to figure out where the course was because a) the race had thinned out A LOT, b) finishers were all over the place, exploring the zoo, and c) the zoo had actually opened, so there were non-racers all over the place as well. We saw a zoo employee who asked us and another group if we were "in the marathon" (HA!). We said yes, and she told us that the finish was straight ahead. This was interesting, considering "straight ahead" wasn't really an option. So Wilson and I just wandered forward, trying to figure out what the chick meant by "straight ahead".

I tell you, we must have searched for another 20 minutes, before we finally figured out that they had probably taken the finish line down. We had officially DNF'd our first race. I just couldn't believe it. "But . . . but . . . we didn't take THAT long, did we, Wilson? Lots of people take over 90 minutes to finish a 5K, right? RIGHT?" I was bummed. Mostly I was bummed because in addition to not getting to cross the finish line, all of the post-race food had long ago been decimated. And? I was STARVING! What were we to do?

THIS is what we did:

So maybe soft-serve isn't the best idea at 10:30 a.m., but heck . . . it was getting HOT! I figured we'd earned it. Plus, our snack time gave us an opportunity to look over which animals we'd visited and which ones we still needed to see. Here is a sampling of the photos we took DURING the race:

After our DNF, we spent another 3 hours or so walking around the zoo and checking out everything we'd missed during the race (and even some animals we HAD seen during the race). I leave you with the fruits of our labor.

So there you have it . . . and hey, we even learned a couple lessons. #1: Next year run/jog the race first and then do the sightseeing, and #2: We seriously need to get a telephoto lens!

Happy running and good luck to everyone racing this weekend (including me!).