FFTFL premiere

FFTFL premiere

Friday, October 14, 2016

Well *THAT* Sucked!

Although I am still up 25 pounds from my running weight in the documentary, From Fat To Finish Line, I am still enjoying running and racing with my good friends. This year was full of big races. Since we had the goal of gaining entry into the NYC Half Marathon in 2017, we had to run 4 of the 6 select races. I was lucky enough to gain entry into this year's NYC Half via lottery, so I was aiming to complete the entire 5 borough series.

As you may already know, the NYC Half was on March 20th and it was frigid. I was running it on my own, which is a really odd sensation, not having my husband by my side. I slogged through it. In May, we ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon and that was my best performance in a long distance race this year. The weather was perfect and the course was scenic. All the stars aligned for me that day. And the Queens 10k, although hot, was a pretty good showing for me with a 1:18-ish finish time. Then came the Bronx...

Bronx start- photo courtesy of Kim's "long" arms

September 25, the Bronx 10 Miler. I was so excited to run *only* 10 miles. My longest run prior to this race was the 10k course on the Selden Hills on my 45th birthday, the 13th. I managed to make the Selden Hills leader board in July and August, meeting and surpassing the required 24.8 miles to get on it. So, I was attempting a 3-peat for September. (I did it!) The hill work would come in handy for the Bronx course. Race day was very sunny and slightly warm. I felt pretty good about the day, though, and my first 5 miles were strong. 1:03:08 to be exact, and I was cruising steadily up those hills. Then I started to feel icky. It's the only way to describe it. I thought I was hydrating and fueling well. My body was telling me otherwise.

Game face Media's AWESOME free race photos!!

And the sun was beating and the day was getting warmer. I started to get queasy and light-headed. I took a gel and it hit my belly like a gut bomb and just sat there. I managed to finish with a second 5 mile split of 1:18:47. I crossed the finish in 2:21:55 and immediately looked for a place to sit and drink some water. I refused to go to the medic tent. I'm an idiot that way. I managed to recover somewhat for the long ride home, but we didn't get to do our usual celebratory meal because of me. I was better when we pulled into my friend's driveway and I vowed that I would hydrate and eat well 2 weeks out from the Staten Island Half.

I did what I said I would. Along with my usual coffee I was drinking 2-33oz bottles of plain water. I should've just set up camp in the toilet. I have a bladder the size of a Gu Chomp. I ate pretty well and tried to stay away from my crappy treats. I wanted one last good long run before the half, one run that would boost my confidence, so Kim and I met up in Sayville for a flat 8 miles. NYRR was enforcing a firm 13:45 pace or a 3:00 course limit. I guess Staten Island doesn't have the sidewalks the other courses had for you to move over to if you are slower than that projected pace. That made me nervous.

I ran 8 in 1:43:48, a 12:59 pace. Not bad! That made me feel a bit better going into the half.

And then there was the weather report for the 9th. It wasn't horrible, but the forecast can always change on a dime. The Weather Channel was calling for the rain to stop around 9 am, and although the race started at 8:30 am, with the corral we were in, it would take about 30 minutes to plod up to the start mat. We were SO fortunate that our friend's husband drove and we parked in a dry garage with access to bathrooms. The goal was to stay dry for as long as possible.

Of course there was a .75 mile walk to the start, so we headed out and found a bus stop enclosure to huddle under until it was time for the last pit stop before the corrals. It was getting ugly out. It didn't look like it was about to clear up in an hour. We made our way to the corrals and got to cheer on our friends who were running in the 5k race. It's pretty discouraging to see the elites finish their race before you even start your own.

waiting for a bus that would never come

We finally began running at 8:50 am. My first 5 miles, again, were great. They were slower than the Bronx, which is what I was aiming for. I didn't want to blow it all in the first half. I was under a 13:20/3:00 finish pace but not a lot. It was cold. And it was windy. And it was raining a slushy, messy mix. I slowed down in mile 6, but not horribly. My 10k split was 1:21:23. And then we turned to run alongside the upper bay and the wind was pushing us back. And the running stopped. It was miserable race conditions and I was miserable.

still dry-ish at the start

The next 5k took me almost an hour... We were trudging up hills and wading through flooded streets. The scenic views of the Verrazano Bridge and the Manhattan skyline were nearly invisible in the fog and we couldn't even try to take it all in because the wind prevented you from picking your head up. And then, in mile 11, I felt a suspicious pop in my right foot. I didn't land hard or oddly. It was a normal footfall. I was walking for God's sake! It felt weird but not horrifically painful. We moved along. (We never saw a sag bus, probably because of the running conditions. We made sure to thank all the volunteers for braving it with us!) The glorious finish at home plate of the Staten Island Yankees was a muddy mess and I can't imagine even attempting running through it if I could. Our friends were cheering us on from the stands and hearing them scream our names made the floodgates open. It was a bad Oprah ugly cry right then. We finished in 3:28.

on the way to the finish

The smile masks the misery.

We all cried a bit together then got our shit together for the .75 mile walk back to the parking garage. We all changed into dry clothes and I tossed my saturated pants and hoodie, not caring whether I ever saw them again. Charlie couldn't stop shivering. It was an hour into the long drive home before he stopped. And my foot started to hurt.

By the time we got back to Long Island and hit an Applebee's to celebrate our accomplishment I couldn't bear any weight on my foot. I needed assistance to walk into the restaurant. I still enjoyed my meal and our reflections on the year. We did it. The Fab Four is running the NYC Half Marathon together.

photo courtesy of JS Lit

When we got home at 5:30 pm I took off my shoe and my foot was swollen and bruised. Not good. I decided to ice it and call my orthopedist in the morning.

But I couldn't get an appointment until Friday so we went to the local ER for xrays, and this happened...

I broke my 5th metatarsal. At Mile 11. And I finished with a broken foot. In really shitty weather. It sucked. I finished. And now I'm wearing this. I am ordered to be non-weightbearing for four weeks. I go back for new xrays on the 24th to make sure I'm healing well and then at 4 weeks if all goes well I can bear weight on it with the boot, driving without it. Best case scenario, I am free after an additional 2 weeks. I can't work right now because I'm not quite sure how to figure out the logistics with transportation and the actual work. I'm very thankful I have older kids, a very helpful husband, family and friends, and I never signed up for any other races this year. It pays to procrastinate!

So the goal is to be the best patient ever and get back to running the end of November. I'll be back to square one. My goal right now is to watch my diet carefully to not pack on any more weight. I'm using my upper body tremendously being on one foot, so I can feel those muscles as well as my core working overtime. I'm doing an aerobics workout from a chair. I have no excuses now not to "work out." I'm afraid to run, but I'm not going to give up. No matter how slow I go, and what other people may think of me, I'm a runner. It doesn't matter how slow I go, as long as I don't stop.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

44 and 11 Months

One month until the big 4-5. *GULP* Charlie will be 50 exactly one week later. Where the hell did the time go?!? We are together since I am 19! There's no way we've lived 26 years. I mean, my kids keep getting older, but I don't *feel* it! Well, other than the heel pain and the creaking, cracking joints, and the grey roots and crow's feet... I still think I just got out of high school.

Speaking of getting out of high school- my youngest graduated! Now I have TWO college kids in the house! Boggles my mind! We had her graduation party out which was great. The only stress I had was picking up the cake on a busy Sunday afternoon and decorating the private room at the restaurant. I was relaxing the night before and I was home sitting on the couch watching the Olympics when we got home. Easy Peasy.

So proud of Chelsea and her accomplishments!

The Bronx 10 Miler is 6 weeks away and the Staten Island Half is 8 weeks away. I've been working hard. If I am not running I am climbing flights of stairs on the Stairmaster and getting my 10,000+ steps in daily. And when I *am* running at least one of those weekly runs have been in Selden, on the hills. I used to think the people who trained on that course were nuts. Why intentionally do that to yourself when you can run nice and easy on the treadmill or in your own neighborhood? And then you go to any of our umpteen local races and you witness the sea of red shirts flying by, almost every age group award category dominated by a Selden Hills Warrior. Running hills can make you a better runner.

my hills PR splits in September with elevation gains and losses

My friends and I have found our own little niche out there. We aren't as fast as most of the group, but we're doing what we can, and together, which makes it enjoyable. Just walking the 6.2 miles is a feat. My friend Laurie and I have even attempted the 15k course, (790 ft elevation gain), which we really weren't prepared for. Next time we will bring more water or money for beverages. Our friend Kim was like a mirage in the desert when she pulled up in her car offering ice cold water! It has been incredibly hot and humid here, like most of the country, and I sweat like a mo fo on any regular given day. Add humidity and I become a flipping mess. It was a sad, slow 9.35 miles, but we did it. We may even be crazy enough to attempt it again this week.

This s what pure misery looks like!

The most exciting news is From Fat to Finish Line was released on iTunes and Amazon! And people are loving it! It's been great to hear from family and friends how much they enjoyed it and most importantly were inspired by the message of the film. Hard work and determination can lead you to any finish line you are dreaming of!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It's Been *HOW* Long?

Um... 8 months? After the NYC Marathon, I kinda went into that slump you have after planning a huge party. You know, like a wedding, an all-consuming life event that you get tunnel vision over and nothing else seems to matter? Training for a year, fundraising, planning the marathon weekend with my friend Jen, was all I could think about between working and taking care of the family.

Then it came and went, all that planning and anticipation for a 24 hour day. Now what? Well, I put that 20 pounds I lost before the marathon back on. I think I started overeating the week before the marathon and then the holidays hit... I've been up and down since January. I was doing really well with some challenge groups, but my determination and motivation seemed to fizzle out. Now I am about 9 weeks from my 45th birthday. Frickin' fabulous, right? I'm just gonna keep trying.

I've raced a lot, for my standards. There was the Rob's Run Cross Country 5k on November 29th and the Run to the Brewery 10 Miler on January 17th.

Run to the Brewery

And then I got into a little race called the NYC Half Marathon through the NYRR lottery. Charlie did not get in and we weren't about to fundraise for him to do it with me. It was VERY strange doing a race and that distance without him. I had to get myself through it. It was extremely cold that day, but I commuted with my friends Alicia, Jen and Jeff, so I wasn't alone and knew I had them waiting at the finish line for me.

After getting into the NYC Half Marathon my friend Alicia decided to run the 5 Borough Series, where there is a major run in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, da Bronx and Staten Island. AND if you run 4 of 6 qualifying races you are then guaranteed entry into the 2017 NYC Half. THIS was how Charlie was going to get to run that race, with me.

The next race in the series was the Brooklyn Half Marathon, on May 21st, and it was a warm one, but I did well and enjoyed the day with Charlie and our friend Kim, who was now also running the 4 of 6 races to get into the NYC Half with us.

Grand Army Plaza on the Brooklyn Half course

For fun we ran the inaugural Brooklyn Bridge Memorial Day 5k on 5/29. Since it was the first time this race was put on, we should give the race company the benefit of the doubt, but most of the logistics of this run left a lot to be desired! You start in Manhattan and run over the bridge into Brooklyn. Sounds pretty simple, except the course really wasn't closed and it was as hot as Hades and there was only one sorta self-serve water station at 1.7 miles... I could go on and on. We finished and after getting some post race pics, we all walked back over the bridge back to Penn Station, but before we hopped on a train home we had a phenomenal meal in Brother Jimmy's BBQ. It was a good day spent with Charlie, Kim and our friends Chris and Zorana.

me, Kim, Charlie, Chris, Zorana and Tana

sharing the bridge with tourists and cyclists was *not* fun

On June 18th we ran the Queens 10k in Flushing Meadows Park, home of the 1964 World's Fair. It was a very hot day and I was thanking the good Lord above that we only had to run 6.2 miles. Jeff and Alicia took the 3 of us in and Jeff, again, took awesome race day pics!

3/5 done for me and 2/4 for Charlie! photo courtesy of JSL Sports Photos

It's now July 13th. Two months until my 45th birthday. Ten weeks until the Bronx 10 Miler and about 12 weeks until the Staten Island Half Marathon. We are probably doing the Smith Point Bridge 5k on 9/10. It's the 1st race we ran together and we missed it the last 2 years because of my knee injury and marathon training. I'm also thinking we will finish up our race calendar with the Suffolk Half Marathon on 10/30. It's not far from where we live and we did the 1st annual on my birthday last year. Might as well try and keep that streak going!

I have a lot of work to do to get where I want to be for the SI Half. I'm anticipating a tough course and I really want to get back under the 3:00 cut-off. That's only going to happen by dropping weight and working hard.

WHAT I REALLY WANTED TO SHARE WITH YOU....... drum roll please....


From Fat To Finish Line is being released on iTunes and Amazon on August 2nd!!! It can be pre-ordered right now! Here's the links to order it on Amazon and on iTunes. 

After 4+ years it's finally a finished product I will be holding in my hands! I have seen multiple edits and I just love it. I know you all will enjoy it, too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

We ARE Marathoners!

The last few days I have been trying to digest what transpired over the weekend. Never have I experienced so many emotions in one period of time. The few weeks before the big day was riddled with anxiety and self-doubt to the point where I was having stomach pain, so I ditched my strong coffee brew and opted for calming tea to help soothe my stomach and my nerves. It helped my stomach.

Marathon Eve Eve was spent getting our act together. I made my list and checked it thrice. I dyed my hair (marathon photos are forever!) and cleaned the house since my kids were hosting a couple of my sisters and their kids for our traditional Halloween trick-or-treating/pizza party. I had to pack all of our running attire, nutrition, fuel belt and handheld, registration forms, licenses, cash, throwaway clothes for Athlete's Village, Body Glide, and toiletries. I managed to get it all in 1 backpack. (FYI: Rolling clothes takes up less space.) We went to bed knowing how important that night of sleep was for marathon day and managed to doze off somewhere around 11 pm... and then the phone rang...at 2:20 am. I leaped out of bed to get to the phone only for it to stop ringing and not register the call. Your mind always assumes the worst when the phone rings at that time of night! Charlie and I attempted to return to sleep with our hearts in out throats.

And then it was Saturday. We took the train directly from our town because there was track work being done on our regular LIRR branch. Charlie and I arrived in Manhattan at noon and walked to the expo at the Javits Center.

"Get you New York on."

"It's a big race. Go run it!"

I had never been to JJC and it is enormous! We were relieved to discover that even though it was the runners' last chance to pick up race bibs it was not as crowded as I had anticipated. We were able to walk right up to our assigned number kiosk, show our IDs and get our bibs. Next we picked up our lovely long sleeved tech marathon shirts and then milled about, trying samples of different nutritional products. The expo was basically the biggest running store in the world. I heeded Jen's (my From Fat to Finish Line team mate) warning and didn't shop for anything. I can do that from the comfort of my own home and not have to wait on a ridiculously long line.

We took the provided shuttle bus back to Penn to spend the night with Jen and her family in NJ.  Even though we live so close we don't get to see each other enough! Jen graciously opened her home to us so we could take the NYRR  bus from the Meadowlands to Staten Island marathon morning. While we were there we got to discuss all our worries and concerns about the race, as well as how much fun we were going to have and the memories we were going to make. Since it was Halloween we sat out on the stoop and handed out candy to all the trick or treaters with Jen's adorable son. He was trying to convince Charlie and I with his astounding persuasive abilities to visit the neighbor's haunted garage. He might have managed to get me to eat M&Ms and a piece of Double Bubble, but he was unsuccessful in getting us to that guy's house!

You never sleep well at a different location than your own bed, let alone the night before your first marathon. Charlie and I were awake well before our 4 am alarm. (The extra hour we had because of Daylight Savings Time was lost on us.) We put on the several layers of clothing required for the outdoor wait and had some breakfast. I attempted to choke down some oatmeal with peanut butter but it just wasn't appealing at all. Jen's husband and son also woke up before the crack of dawn to take us to the bus. I was pleasantly surprised to see many NJ Transit buses waiting for us, again without long lines. The three of us hopped on a bus and enjoyed talking with other runners and the commute went quickly.

We arrived at Fort Wadsworth around 6 am and walked a while until we found the Green Athlete's Village we were assigned to. It was a great coincidence that Jen, Charlie and myself had signed up for the biggest marathon in the world and wound up with the identical color, wave and corral! So we walked past all the food, Dunkin' Donuts coffee and nutritional supplements offered and found an empty (non-heated) tent to camp out in until we needed to head to the corral at about 10 am.

the Verrazano Bridge, start of the marathon

 The tent began to fill up around us and the four hours we sat on the ground went quickly sharing stories with the runners around us. We met Pam from Hungary, Marlo from New Jersey, a German man who spoke little English, and an Adam Levine look alike from Virginia Beach (wish I had gotten his name!). Did you know that liverwurst is a common breakfast in Hungary? Me, neither. I really enjoy talking to people, so I could have spent the entire day there, especially since there was plenty of hot coffee, food and port o potties. Speaking of the john, one trip I made resulted in a somewhat teeter totter bathroom experience and when I opened the door a couple men were waiting to see who came out, so I announced "You need your sea legs when you're in this one!" and they started laughing. 

in our corner of the tent

Ready to go!

Then we started losing runners to their waves and the tent began to empty. We were the last men standing and then it was our turn. Jen, her two running buddies, Charlie and myself made it to Wave 4, Corral B, and were herded just like cows to the slaughterhouse. With each wave a canon is shot and we were able to watch Wave 3 take off. It was so exciting!

Wave 3 moving along!

at the start
I can honestly say I was unusually calm. Charlie convinced me that our time did not matter to him. He just wanted us to enjoy the experience and finish. This day was the culmination of more than 6 years of running, losing weight, rehabbing, planning, and fundraising and he wanted it to be a celebration. The fact that Charlie was putting absolutely no pressure on me is why I was even able to breathe at the start line, let alone put one foot in front of the other.

Our cannon went off and the party started. We were on the lower level of the bridge, so it was warmer with absolutely no wind. We were already realizing we were overdressed. I shed my Pooh jacket on the bridge by mile 2. (Note: all clothes/blankets left behind at the villages and on the course are cleaned and donated to the homeless!) We were able to follow my 2:1 run/walk intervals and things were going well. When we made it onto the Brooklyn side of the bridge Charlie disrobed and threw away his long sleeved shirt.

My strategy to make the marathon seem more manageable was to break the run into 6 segments, one for each borough plus another for being in Manhattan twice. Staten Island went by quickly, since it was just the Verrazano Bridge. But Brooklyn? Even though the crowd support was like no other race I had ever been to, with people lining both sides of the street, yelling your name (make sure to put your name on the front of your shirt!!), holding up signs, (our favorite was "If you PR, Glenn lives!" a perfect 'The Walking Dead' reference!), it covered 10 miles on the course! While most of the miles had spectators and live bands and little kids high-fiving us galore, Williamsburg, a Hasidic Jewish community towards the end of the Brooklyn segment, was nearly desolate and quiet. The adorable little girls in their uniform dress staring at us from a second floor balcony made us feel like we were an anomaly, something to be studied and almost feared. *crickets*

Queens was almost an afterthought on the course, covering a mere couple miles before heading over the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. We were doing well, hitting the 13.1 marker at around 3:20, crossing the Pulaski Street Bridge, when a course marshal bicyclist came by saying the roads would be opening soon, split timing mats would be lifted and we would need to move to the sidewalks. The finish line mat would be open and we would get medals, but we would fall off the radar as far as people being able to track us. This is the moment I broke. I didn't realize this would be a possibility. I never checked the bridge and road closure list with the times those roads would reopen. Panic set in.

the view of the Manhattan skyline

The Queensboro Bridge was a challenge. We came upon a Spanish gentleman walking with wooden crutches and one leg. With the little Spanish we knew we tried to encourage him to keep moving as we passed. I have no idea if he finished. By the time we came off the bridge I called my parents' house where my kids and siblings would be to let them know although they weren't able to follow us much longer we were still on the course, still moving slowly forward. The tears started to flow as I spoke to my father. He encouraged me to keep going. It was too early to be hitting that wall.

The "wall of sound" coming into the Black Girls Run and the Mile 16 water station on 1st Avenue in Manhattan was now a dull roar for us back of the packers. It was still great to see them and know I had been there, volunteering with them the year before. I was hoping and praying that my friends Laurie and Cathy would still be waiting to cheer us on, even though we were taking such a long time out there. Well, I couldn't hide my emotions when from about 100 feet away I saw a neon green sign with the words "Linda and Charlie" as the title.

I was so very happy and thankful that my friends were still waiting on me! I don't think I have ever sobbed so hard before. I do remember saying to the crowd next to Laurie "This fucking sucks!" (photo courtesy of Laurie)
I love seeing Charlie and Laurie high five as I continue to sob on Cathy.  (photo courtesy of Laurie)

And this is what the sign said!! LOL!!! (photo courtesy of Laurie)

Seeing Laurie and Cathy helped boost my spirits. We still had the long trudge up 1st Avenue and 10 miles to go. Just 2 miles later, around mile 18, I was thrilled again to see that our friend Kim was waiting, Selden Hills Warrior sign in hand and  provisions for at least 10 more runners coming through. She had oranges, bananas, pretzels, GU, ShotBloks, M&Ms and water. Not only was it fantastic to see her, but her supply gave us a shot of energy and much needed water for the miles ahead, since water stations were now being disassembled and trucked away.

more tears (photo courtesy of Kim)
First Avenue was a long journey into the Bronx. Spectators were dropping like flies, so when we heard cheers along the course we thanked every single person. By now, we were on the sidewalks and weaving through the police cars and the many Penske trucks coming along to break down the water stations. Again, the Bronx was only a couple miles, beginning with the Willis Avenue Bridge and ending with the Madison Avenue Bridge at mile 21.

It's our second time in Manhattan and the last of the six segments of the marathon. By that time it was dark, dark and desolate. We were sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians; some cheered us on and others seemed annoyed by our presence. We trudged on, hand in hand. Holding Charlie's hand gave me the determination to move forward and not slow down anymore than the 3.25 miles an hour I was moving. Harlem seemed to go on forever and then finally we turned into Central Park at Engineer's Gate and continued down East Drive in the park. It was a gorgeous evening for a stroll in the park. Other than some split mats and water tables being taken down you wouldn't know there was a marathon going on. We bumped into a young guy named Filip once again in the park. He had never done a marathon before and was walking the entire distance. He stopped several times along the last 2 miles and I just kept yelling at him to stop stopping and keep going!!

The last 1.2 miles were long. I started to kick it up a notch just to be done and we came out onto Central Park South and saw The Plaza Hotel, the place Charlie and I celebrated with champagne after getting engaged on a horse and buggy ride in Central Park, 23 years ago. We were now at the home stretch, turning into Columbus Circle and then back into the park. The grandstands were empty. The .2 miles to the finish were quiet. When the finish line was in sight we started to trot to cross the finish "running." We crossed hand in hand, arms outstretched overhead in victory.

I said before I was uncertain of how I would feel when we finished. I envisioned it being light out, holding Charlie's hand, turning to kiss him with tears gushing down our faces. However, I could have also been like a deer caught in headlights, numb to what we had been through and the magnitude of what we accomplished. We were spent. Charlie and I had shed so many tears throughout the day, from reading our daughter's texts in Athlete's Village, one saying "Remember, the finish line is only waiting for you. You'll cross it even if you think you can't," to the tears that fell when we saw our friends at miles 16 and 18. The finish line was just the end.

Just after the finish our medals were donned around our necks. We were handed finisher backpacks with food and water and thankfully our post-race ponchos were not even a block after that. NYRR didn't make the stragglers head up the additional umpteen blocks to get our ponchos and get out of the park. Now it was time to figure out how to get a cab and get back to Penn Station for the journey home. Because of the road closures and one way streets we wound up at Lincoln Center on Columbus Avenue to finally hail a cab. That was the best $11 (with tip) we have ever spent. No stairs necessary for a subway ride and when we were dropped at our stop, the LIRR has a blessed escalator.

the long ride home
The next train home was over an hour wait, so we refueled with some pizza and checked texts and got a congratulatory phone call from our friend Colleen, who became a marathoner at the Marine Corps Marathon just a week before. We arrived home at about 11 pm, and I was greeted by balloons, a card and gift from the kids and Charlie.

my first Alex and Ani bracelet for my first marathon

What have I learned from this journey that began back in 2009 with Charlie stating that if I ever considered running a marathon he would do it with me? I realized how very fortunate I am to have such loving and caring family and friends. I have such a dedicated and adoring husband, who, no matter slow the pace was, never left my side. Going through my Facebook posts took me several hours on Monday. The tears flowed yet again. I may not have the best marathon time, I have more than any running coach, gear or plan can give me. What matters is not what you have but who you have in life. Priceless.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sunday Sunday

A dream 6 years in the making for Charlie and I will come to reality on Sunday. Three of those years were consumed by entering the harsh marathon lottery, countless hours at the computer waiting for that glorious golden ticket saying "You have been accepted," suffering a knee injury and enduring surgery, physical therapy and the long road back to running long distance, and then taking on the daunting task of fundraising for a charity for the privilege to run the NYC Marathon. I am hoping to make him and myself proud and have many fond memories of the crowds, the course and the friends I will see along the way. And I am very excited to share this dream come true with Jennifer, my great friend I met through our From Fat to Finish Line! I *know* NYC will not disappoint us!

I could have run more, further, faster, harder, lost more weight (hovering at 170), cross trained more. I can't change any of that now. All I can focus on is the reality that Sunday will be one of the best days of our lives. I am so fortunate to have such a supportive and caring spouse, and he will be by my side every step of those 26.2 miles, no matter how slow I may go. The dream is to cross together, holding hands, tears most likely rolling down our cheeks. It will take us more than 6 hours. I am resigned to the fact that it could be more like 7 hours, or even 8, but that's just more time to soak in the atmosphere that is NYC and the biggest marathon in the world. Chills and goosebumps will be immeasurable as we crowd into our Green Wave 4, Corral B 11 am start. 

It's hard to believe it's finally almost here. This day has been built up in my mind for so very long. Friends have shared their experiences with the course that takes you through all 5 boroughs of the greatest city in the world, in my opinion, but nothing can prepare you for the real thing. Visualizing that finish line is overwhelming. I will either be sobbing, unable to catch my breath, or just numb, stunned like a deer in headlights.

Our first race together, the Smith Point Bridge 5k, 9/11/10

We've come a long way from the denim shorts (yes, I ran in denim shorts my 1st 5k, 6/5/10) and cotton tees. We have spent countless dollars on race registrations, travel expenses, running gear and nutrition. I can't even conceive of the hours we have spent running. And Charlie has sacrificed his only day off of the week to get the training done. To say he is dedicated to this dream would be an understatement. So, when I say I am a "one and done" marathon runner, I really believe it. It has consumed our lives this year. If we aren't running we are talking about running, hanging out with our runner friends, fundraising for it, etc. I feel like I hardly see my kids and they haven't seen a "Big Sunday Breakfast" since probably March. There's been a lot of muffins in this house the last several months. This lady needs some bacon and eggs! The kids would like some French Toast and a breakfast sausage! If we were ever to do another marathon, it would have to be big, like Hawaii or Italy big. That is NOT happening any time soon.

I have just one more day to get together all the things necessary to run 26.2- two sets of running clothes, hydration bottles, Sports Beans, Gatorade Chews, Powerbar wafers, Gu, Honey Stinger Waffles, registration forms, Garmin, camera, Gymboss timer, gum, pain meds, visor, mittens, throwaway jackets and  Bodyglide. Saturday we take the LIRR into the city for the expo to get our bibs and then we head to New Jersey to stay overnight with Jen and her hysterical husband Marty and adorable son. Then it's up with the roosters Sunday morning to get on a bus from the Meadowlands to Staten Island to wait, wait and then wait some more. The anticipation might just kill me before the marathon ever gets a hand on me!

And then we finally toe the start line in our corral. Hopefully Frank Sinatra's 'New York, New York' will be playing for us as we put one foot in front of the other, heading over the Verrazano Bridge, leaving one of the 5 New York City boroughs *quickly* behind. I am excited to see all my friends along the way. I look forward to the live bands, the fun signs and spectators lining the course. I can't wait to see sights of the city I have not already seen! But I eagerly await the moment we turn off Columbus Circle and into Central Park to finish the biggest marathon in the world and have that glorious medal wrapped around my neck, beside my Charlie, my biggest fan and supporter. 

our last long run- a 10 miler on 10/25

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

20 Miles

Our 20 miler took place on October 11th, and I surprised Charlie by creating a Facebook event and inviting my friends who were able to join us along our run's course. I wanted to make it a celebration of all the hours of training we had endured for this dream race of ours. We started at Laurie's house and she was only able to do the first 4 miles with us before heading off to work. Danielle ran alongside us for the first 6 and Deb helped us finish the last 7 after doing a Selden hilly 12 herself,  but my friends Jennifer and Kris were with us for the entire 20 miles. Jennifer finished the Marine Corps Marathon strong this past Sunday, so it was her last long run as well. However, Kris is running NYC and for the same charity, as well. I spent a lot of time getting those 20 miles in, 5:40 to be exact, (not stopping the Garmin for any of our breaks, which was 20 minutes!!) and the last 2 were painful, but I did it. We did it. We even did some tailgating in front of Laurie's with some celebratory Apple-Ahh-Ritas and chocolate chip cookies! 

Our 20 mile starters...

and finishers, enjoying some DD thanks to Laurie!

Now to tack a little 10k onto the end...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Taper Time

I can NOT believe we are a mere 14 days until the big event! I am trying to keep my nerves in check and focus more on how exciting the entire marathon weekend will be. We've done a few long runs since my last post. The most memorable ones are the 18 mile marathon tune-up run on September 20th and last Sunday's 20 mile celebratory long run.

On September 20th we were up at 2 am to prepare for the journey into Manhattan. We took the 3:45 am train from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station. From Penn we took a cab up to race day registration, which was on the east side of Central Park, all the way up at 102nd Street and 5th Avenue. We managed to arrive before the NYRR volunteers were ready for us! So we waited a little while, got our bibs and t-shirts then headed to baggage drop-off, which wasn't ready for us, either. I was already prepared by having our clothes and such in clear race bags so I could just slip them out of our backpacks for inspection. After that line we headed to our 'H' corral (which was the last corral) and waited some more (on huge rock formations) for the 7:00 am start.

The sun's coming up!

The run consisted of 3 6-mile loops of Central Park. The first loop went phenomenally. The goal was to stay under a 15:00 mile, since the course cut-off was 4 hours and 30 minutes. I was a full 15 minutes ahead of that pace after the first loop. And then the rolling hills of Harlem and the park in general were getting to me. I started walking a heck of a lot more. Charlie was fully aware of our pace since there were pace clocks at each mile and he was concerned we would slow down too early and not make the cut-off. I started to really bonk at only mile 7. Getting through that second loop was nothing short of a miracle. Passing the finish chute in order to go out for the third and final loop was a major test of will!

The last loop had to be 12 miles. It seriously felt like it! I made sure to run every downhill there was, but I walked a ton and in mile 16 or 17 not only did my left calf start to seize but that hammie started crying out for mercy as well! I never experienced that before! I even stopped and rubbed them both a bit, but I knew if I stopped moving too long, every other part of my body was going to throw in the towel as well. So we pushed on. The "Make Cat Hill your bitch" sign was the funniest thing about the entire course. And we finished. 4:22:08. 8 minutes to spare and it brought us both to tears.

We had a 2:00 pm reservation at Tavern On The Green for brunch to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and by the time we finished running and got our backpacks and wits about us it was about noon. That meant we had 2 full hours to change clothes and make our way to the west side of the park. We passed the restaurant THREE times on the course and would you believe we could not make our way over there? As lovely as the park is, there is no walking path that just cuts across directly from east to west. So we meandered our way around for a full hour and a half until we just broke down and asked a kind nanny for directions. Our sight-seeing helped kill all that extra time and worked up the appetite I always lose after a long run!

a view of The Eldorado on the other side of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

Greywacke Arch
Cleopatra's Needle
So, when we were within sight of the restaurant we stopped and changed in the restrooms at Le Pain Quotidien, a little bakery in the park. (I pissed some ladies off for taking too long as one of them made an announcement that "there was a long line.") I surprised Charlie by wearing a new little Vera Wang dress and cute slide sandals I found on clearance at Kohl's. It's a surprise because I rarely wear dresses and Charlie likes me in them. This one was incredibly comfy with pockets and I felt nice in it. We were dressed in our "smart casual" wear as per the restaurant's dress code and for a celebratory dinner of our truly blessed 20 years together.

Tavern On The Green was just beautiful. I requested we sit in the Central Park room which had beautiful cream colored furniture and a glass wall with a view of the al fresco dining right on the park. It was a gorgeous day and the room was filled with sunshine and romance.

This is a screenshot from the restaurant's website of our table, right next to that side table. It was a much prettier scene the day we were there!

 We started our meal off with a great apple ale:

Hit the spot!!

For brunch we split two entrees, the Tavern Burger and the "chicken" and waffles, which was duck confit instead of fried chicken. Perfection!!! I couldn't believe how ravenous I was after that run, but every bite was amazing. To finish off the dining experience...

...cake to celebrate my love's 49th birthday. Every aspect of the restaurant was just impeccable and worth every penny. Maybe it was the fact that we had just covered 20+ miles (remember, we got "lost") and that's why the food tasted so damn good? Maybe it was celebrating our love enduring 20 years of life's ups and downs that made the ambiance so romantic? I don't really care. That afternoon will go down as one of our top ten days of our lives.

But the fun and celebrating didn't end there! We had one night booked at the La Quinta downtown near Penn Station. The Tavern doorman walked a block over to Central Park West to hail us a cab so we wouldn't have to walk another step on our already sore legs. Such service!! The room was probably the smallest we've stayed in but the hotel has recently been renovated and it was beautiful. It had everything we needed. ;)

This picture was taken from the room's entrance!

A great feature of this hotel was its location. It was a short walk to a sweet Irish pub called Foley's with a literal ton of baseball and sports memorabilia. AND it had a phenomenal view of the Empire State Building from the rooftop bar!

lit up with blue and white pinstripes in honor of the subway series between the Yankees and the Mets

up on the roof

We slept like logs that night. I really need one of those 'thermapedic' fancy mattresses!! The next morning we had the complimentary breakfast in the hotel then walked around Koreatown and window shopped. I didn't get Charlie to try kimchi. We should have had the kimchi dumplings instead of the chicken fingers in the pub! Oh well. Next time.