FFTFL premiere

FFTFL premiere

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.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Left You Hanging!

16 miles
Four 4-mile runs
Course plotted

Two 10 oz bottles of Powerade
Honey Stinger Waffles
Gatorade Chews
Frozen Powerade and Powerbar Wafers in the car.


the best beverage after a long run, besides iced coffee!

Done. We ran 16 miles in 4:02:37. I ran when I felt I could. I walked when I needed to. Charlie estimates we walked 50%. I feel like I ran more than that. Envisioning the miles as four separate runs helped tremendously. The last two miles were hard, but in that last mile I still had several short run intervals. I would just call out a mailbox or telephone pole or stop sign and get myself to it. I didn't feel like death warmed over at the end. I could have even walked another mile. It would have been slow, but I could have dragged my ass the distance. Our total moving time was about one minute less than 4 hours, which means we managed the 15 minute pace we need to keep for the 18 miler on the 20th. I am worried about the hilly course of Central Park, but I will just try my best to do it.

It's hard to believe that after running 16 miles, there will still be 10 more miles to go on marathon day. That's going to take more physical and mental work. I decided we're running the Inaugural Suffolk County Half Marathon on my 44th birthday, which is a week before the Central Park run. Scheduling these races were a good idea to make me get the miles done. After the 18, I want to do the requisite 20 miler and a 23 miler. Galloway's plan calls for a 26 miler 3 weeks before the big day. I am not sure that's something I want to do. It will take a huge toll on my body and I also want to leave a couple miles to stretch for in NYC. What do you think?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Four 4-Mile Runs

So it was absolutely perfect timing that in my Facebook feed this morning, Women's Running magazine posted a link to an article about Mental Tricks For Long Runs. Thinking about running 16 miles gives me the excited "butterflies in your stomach" feeling, but it also scares the bejeezus out of me at the same time. In the article, the author breaks her long runs up into manageable distances. She took her 20 mile training run and divided it up into four 5-mile runs. You only concern yourself with the section of the run you are in. You do not think about the one you ran, nor the runs you still have left to do.

A 16 miler becomes four "easy peasy" 4-mile runs. After reading the post, I plotted our course. It's basically the half marathon course we've been doing. I am still hoping for those ocean breezes to make the run more pleasant. We will park in the same spot, run a 4 mile loop south, out over the bridge, around the beach and back to the car. From there, we will run 4 miles north to the Dunkin Donuts (using it only as a mile marker hopefully), zig zagging a bit through one development. The third 4 mile leg will be the reverse of the second, back to the car to refuel, and finally repeat the first leg out and around the beach for our final four miles.

When you take such a daunting task and nibble at it in human bites, it no longer seems that scary. I mean, I can't eat an entire layer cake in one bite, but if I take a forkful at a time, it will eventually make its way to my stomach, right? ;)

 Here's the course:

Gonna have to figure out how to get rid of the extra .08 miles! Ain't nobody got time for that!!

I truly am hoping this technique will do the trick. Why did it take so long to think of it this way, though? How do you get through long-ass runs?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

6 Equals 16, Right?

I am sure with that new fangled common core math I can make that equation work out, but when it comes to long runs, it ain't happening. I have a bad tooth. I have ignored it. And it's my own damn fault. Just another result of my old bad habits of eating sugary crappy food late into the night without taking care of my teeth. Last night this toothache was a pain like no other.

I took two extra strength Tylenol at 9 pm, just before bed. I was up at 1:30 am and just could not shake the pain. I wound up propping up all my pillows to try and sleep upright. I ran through 'The Four Seasons' three times on the DVD player. I held an ice pack to my jaw. I didn't want to take more meds or something stronger because I want them to work when I really need them. DUH. That time was LAST NIGHT!

When the alarm went off at 6 am all I could think was "F*CK THAT!" I went downstairs and informed my husband of the night I had (We mostly sleep separately. Don't worry. It works for us since Charlie worked nights for the first 10 years we were married and I just need the WHOLE bed.). I managed to prop myself up on the couch and sleep. I slept TWO whole hours. The pain goes away during the day and when I am upright. Doesn't make sense, right? I am completely pain free right now, and I haven't had a pill since 11 am. Things that make you go "hmmmmm".

So I suggested we run at the gym, side by side, on treadmills. I honestly didn't have any intentions of doing 16 on a treadmill. Can't imagine that at my gym. The TVs are preset on certain channels and there is no playlist long enough or fun enough to keep me going that long. After my great run on Friday I decided I would top that. I set the walk interval speed at 3.7 mph, set the run interval speed at 5.2 mph (a tenth of a mile slower than the last run) and after a 5 minute warm up at 3.0 mph (cool down was the same) I had at it. I did a one minute walk at 3.7 mph, a 35 minute run, two minute walk, 15 minute run, two minute walk and a 9 minute run to finish 5.5 miles in 1:04:42!! I only walked 5 minutes in a 65 minute run. That's an 11:46 pace!! I know my last run was at an 11:36 pace, but that run was two miles shorter. I'm gonna kill the first five miles of the marathon! And then it will kill me!

Next week's agenda.... 16 miles.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Anxious Anticipation

It's Saturday afternoon, which means I am about 14 hours away from my long run for the week. Tomorrow's distance? 16 miles. I am both excited to take on the task and worried about all the things that could happen simultaneously. The last two weeks of runs have been pretty good, in my opinion. My last longish run wound up being the last training run for the Suffolk County Marathon on the 13th. It was supposed to be two 5 mile loops in the town of Babylon, along the bay, but for some reason it was changed to the 10k trail course of Southard Pond Park. Charlie switched his late night so he could run with me and our friends Laurie and Kim. It was a tough course, lots of gravel and horse manure to maneuver around. We managed to do 7.45 miles in 1:46:53. The best part was the BOGO drinks after the run at Mary Carroll's.  I'm not a drinker, but that Angry Orchard hard cider was one of the best I have tasted!!

Laurie, Kim, Charlie and me (PIC courtesy of Laurie!)

The morning of the 16th I ran a 10k on the treadmill in 1:17:01. That's a 12:24 mile. Then after another treadmil1 run on Tuesday, yesterday I managed to do something I haven't done in what feels like forever. After a 5 minute warm up walk at 3.0 mph, I set the jog interval speed to 3.7 mph and the run speed to 5.3 mph. I walked for 1 minute at 3.7 and then ran for 25 minutes STRAIGHT at 5.3 mph. I then took a 2 minute walk break at 3.7 and finished my 40 minute run with 12 minutes at 5.3. That's only 3 minutes of walking in a 40 minute period, if you're doing the math! I did 3.45 miles in those 40 minutes and managed to average an 11:36 pace!

That's a major improvement for me and something I need to transfer to the streets when we are out on our long runs. Of course there is a difference between treadmill and outdoor running AND sustaining a pace for 5 miles versus 15, but I feel if I can improve those initial 5 miles, miles 15 and 16 won't seem so bad. If I can continue to push myself on my weekday runs, then eventually the first 10 miles will be stronger, and the marathon possibly won't drag on forever! The reason I am most concerned about this is that damn 4:30 course limit on the 18 mile marathon tune up run we have coming up on September 20th. With that being said, my 16 miler needs to be done under 4:00!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Third Time's The Charm!

Sunday was a great day for a long run, even with the sun blaring down on us. I decided Charlie and I would run the Hope Runs Here Half course and then add a bit more to hit my 14 mile mark. We parked at my niece's house, which is on the course, and headed out to William Floyd Parkway from there. Thankfully my Garmin found a satellite rather quickly and our warm-up walk was included in our total distance.

 At 7:45 am we got going, starting at about the bottom left of that rectangle, under mile marker 4. We then went up that block and headed south towards the beach and over the bridge. The ocean breezes were absolutely mahvelous and exactly the opposite of what the conditions were on that half day! I just ran as far as I could and then would walk a bit. I wasn't using my Gymboss with the 2:1 interval. Charlie said he thinks I am running further without it since all I seem to do is anticipate the beeps of the timer to start and stop. It made the run more enjoyable without all that noise!

The incline of the bridge seemed like nothing compared to the hills we've been running on in Selden. We were able to run up it both going into and out of the beach. We ran passed the TWA Flight 800 International Memorial and out along the perimeter of the parking lot. We continued out, back over the bridge, up WFP and made our left, heading back past the car (I should have stocked it with cold drinks!!), along Grandview and the beautiful Great South Bay. Once we were back on the highway we made another left turn into the neighborhood just south of mine.

Unfortunately, the street we turned onto borders the Wertheim Wildlife Refuge and the biting bugs were out in full force, just like the first time we attempted a 14 miler! We got away from that area as quickly as we could and headed into the Smith Point Estates, where the streets are nice and wide and lined with gorgeous homes to ooh and aah over. The best part about a nice neighborhood like that? SPRINKLER SYSTEMS!!! We ran through them as often as possible.

I had an idea of what our mileage was from knowing the course, so I did not look at my watch AT ALL. It was hard for me, but I wanted to be far enough along on the run to know I *would* get it done. We wound up burning through our beverages pretty quickly so we decided to make a pit stop at Dunkin Donuts and get that really refreshing unsweetened iced tea lemonade. We were only about a mile from the house at this point, and my plan was to run up to the house for more fluids, but I know me. It might have taken too much effort to leave the front door again. We filled up our bottles and I dumped some ice in my sports bra. HIGHLY SUGGESTED! And my watch was at nearly 8 miles at that point, in under 1:50, with the stop.

So back on the road, heading south on WFP and we decided to veer off the half course and start zig zagging up and down the blocks in order to rack up the miles. I slowed down some. The next 4 miles were done in a bit over an hour. My goal was to get the 14 miles done in the same time it took us to do the half marathon, which was 3:25:17. We hit mile 12 at 2:57 and my left calf started cramping, we were out of fluids, again, and it was now almost 11 am, full sun in effect. So we stopped at 7-11 and I got a Vitamin Water and we walked the last two miles, slowly. We got to the car at about mile 13 and just kept walking up and down the block, passing it four times.

Finish time of 3:39:03, but with the two pit stops we had a moving time of 3:35:36.

I need to work on both my endurance for the runs and my walking speed to hold a 15:00 mile and under for the TCS NYC Marathon 18 Tune-Up run on September 20th, which has a 4:30 course limit. It will hopefully be cooler but because it's in Central Park, it will be 3 hilly 6 mile loops. I am concerned but we'll be back to the hills course on Sunday for more hill training. I am going to attempt to get there once a week until that race and at least every other week until the marathon.

For now I am celebrating the fact that I made it through that mental blockade of going past the half marathon distance. I may possibly have more road blocks on future runs, but I need to remind myself of how far I have come since my knee injury and who I am doing this for- both myself and the EJ Autism Foundation.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mental Road Block

I don't know what it is but going past the 13.1 half marathon distance just scares the ever loving shit out of me, and so instead of just doing it and getting it over with, I pussy foot around it. Two weeks ago, 14 miles was on the Galloway schedule. We went to the refuge and chaos ensued. The bugs got the best of us and we called it a day after 5+ torturous miles. Last Sunday we didn't run long at all because Charlie was recovering from a fall at work and a nice gash to his head. 14 had to get done yesterday.

So I hemmed and hawed over the best way to tackle 14 miles. I conferred with Charlie and my friend Laurie. OPTION 1: Run a 7 mile out and back run westward on Montauk Highway? That's kind of boring, a bit dangerous and I wasn't quite sure of the availability of restrooms and convenience stores along the route. OPTION 2: Head to the Selden Hills course, run the 10k course then a flat-ish 4 mile out and back course on Bicycle Path. Advantages to this plan of attack were running with others on the course and using the car as home base for fuel replenishment, but I still don't know about the bathroom situation, and would I even want to run a mile let alone 8 after the hills?... or OPTION 3: Run my local neighborhood for as many miles I can get and then go out onto Montauk Hwy for the last few out and back.

I chose door #3.

The benefit of running local is if I feel like death warmed over I would be close to home and all the comforts of it (read: TOILET!). Another advantage was most of the side streets by me have been repaved, so running is more pleasurable and less treacherous not having to dodge this winter's potholes. Instead of using my Gymboss and the 2:1 run/walk intervals, I decided to run the length of the side streets, which is about half a mile, then walk the cross streets. This method worked pretty well for the first 6 miles. I managed to get them done under 1:30 and then 8 under 2:00. I had a couple Gatorade chews and experienced my first Honey Stinger Waffle. We stopped several times to enjoy many of the neighbors sprinkler systems. It was going well and I was pretty proud of myself.

Then the overwhelming desire to drink something COLD and refreshing came over me and I needed water, with ice, and a straw. So we headed back towards home and Dunkin' Donuts. We got a large lemonade iced tea and walked. I was ready to call it quits at 10 miles, but I was feeling great, actually enjoying myself and Charlie's company. I turn into a happy camper while walking. We agreed we weren't going to attempt to run after walking so much and with fluid-filled bellies. I managed to get us home at 12.05 miles. I felt good enough to continue, but with our stops along the way (chatted with a friend and cousins) we were already out for 3+ hours, so we called it a day.

Am I looking back on the run and wishing I just did the 14 miles? Of course. I might have been able to run another 2 miles, zig zagging my way back to DD at maybe 10 miles, then walking the 4 additional miles. Charlie just asks "How much are you planning to do today?" and sets it in his mind to do it. I bargain and finagle my way out of it. And I am the only one who suffers for it. I SO wanted to be able to write the post "I DID IT! MY FURTHEST DISTANCE EVER!!" But that will be for another day. Next Sunday is our son's birthday, so we're going to head back to the hills for that challenging 10k course, knowing it won't take us forever and a day AND will be great preparation for the bridges and Central Park hills of the NYC Marathon course. So August 9th it must be.


Mistake #1: I rested the entire day on Saturday, but I went to the gym on Friday and got on the rowing machine for 15 minutes. I haven't rowed in a while and although I loved it, my hip flexors and shins were pissed at me. They were still tight yesterday morning.

Lesson: Don't do anything new a few days before long run day.

Mistake #2: July is hot and humid on Long Island. And guess what? It gets hotter the later in the day it is! *GASP*

Lesson: Try your damndest to get out before 7:45 am.

Mistake #3: Got all my gear together and filled my two 10 oz hydration belt bottles full to the brim with Gatorade. 20 oz of piss warm Gatorade is not enough fluid for 3+ hours of activity in said hot and humid weather.

Lesson: Either create a loop course to make pit stops at home to refill fluids or plant a stocked cooler on the course or make a quick pitstop on the course.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

101 Days

Gulp. Double gulp. 101 days until the NYC Marathon. Training? This shit is hard! Now I know why only 1% of the population has finished a marathon. If it was easy we'd all be doing it. So far my longest run was the half we did on June 14th. That was a challenge to say the least. Running a fall marathon means training in the Long Island heat and humidity. I don't want to turn into a whiny bitch, but my 5' 175 lb body was NOT made for running in those conditions! I melt like the Wicked Witch of the West out there!

Since the half, my longest run/walks have been 10.65 miles (in 3:02) on 6/28, a 10k (in 1:30) on the Selden Hills course on 7/5 and 7.85 miles (in 1:47) on 7/16 with my running buddy Laurie. The 6/28 run involved a lot of walking, but the 10k and 8 miler were pretty strong runs. It was my 2nd 10k on the hills and Charlie's 1st. That course is no joke, and I think running slow and steady shorter distances on it will prove to be better training than trying to go long on the flat area around my neighborhood. The huge hills are a mental challenge that I really need to stay engaged and NOT talk myself out of getting it done. Plus, the course is about a 20 minute ride from our house and a gaggle of people are always out doing their runs, so it's a lot like the atmosphere of a race, without the entry fee!

We're Hillbillies!

My buddy Laurie and I doing the Suffolk County Marathon 8 mile training run in Sayville

According to Galloway's plan I am behind, which really helps add to the stress of all this. Last Sunday we attempted a 14 miler in Wertheim Wildlife Refuge only a few blocks from our house. We were nearly abducted by the multitude of insects inhabiting the hot and humid woods along Carman's River. It was really funny at first since Charlie was bombarded pretty much the moment we got on the trail. And then they started attacking me. Not so funny. We tried our hardest to get the hell out of there and the 1.5 mile loop somehow turned into 4 miles. It was like being in the hedge maze of 'The Shining.' That run felt like the biggest waste of time, but we got out there and did 5.5 miles in about 1:30. I don't know exactly because somehow my Garmin didn't shut off and it managed to add 1.7 miles to my distance while sitting on the kitchen counter???

We didn't even attempt a long run this past Sunday because Charlie had a little mishap at work the Tuesday before. Apparently he was stocking a warehouse shelf and fell about 10 feet off the ladder, knocking his head either on the ladder or the concrete floor. He had a really nice gash in his left eyebrow and was gushing blood. He refused medical treatment or a ride home. I got the pleasure of observing him for signs of a concussion and watched him sleep when it was time for bed. And the next morning he had the perfect purple eyeliner on his upper lid. Now it's a complete shiner, reminiscent of Petey from 'The Little Rascals.' He was forced by his boss to see a doctor on Thursday before he was permitted to return to work. Other than a horrific scar, he's going to be okay.

I'm Spanky!

I've been pretty consistent with getting to the gym to either do a short run or cross train. I <3 the adaptive motion trainer. It's a combination of a stepper, elliptical and arc trainer that gives my hips a great stretch and continues to strengthen my legs without any impact whatsoever. If I'm not on that, I'll put in some time on the arc trainer or elliptical. The silver lining through all of this is I've lost about 18 pounds since February 16th. Of course those were pounds I found with inactivity and overeating during my year hiatus from running. This truly is a never-ending journey! I want to be down another 10 pounds on marathon day, which is about 3 pounds a month. Doable. No- DONE! No excuses. Please hound me on My Fitness Pal- my screen name is lindak71.

Today I signed us both up for the 18 mile Marathon Tune-Up run on September 20th (Charlie's 49th birthday) in Central Park. The course is 3 six mile loops complete with aid stations. The course limit is 4 hours and 30 minutes. That's a 15 minute mile average. Sounds doable, but I need to step it up the next two months to get there. My first 5 or 6 miles are strong and consistent, and then I start listening to that nagging voice in my head, screaming at me "THIS IS HARD!" "I FEEL LIKE SHIT!" "MY LEFT CALF IS ABOUT TO START CRAMPING!" "HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS FOR 26.2 MILES??!!??"

My friends who have completed the NYC Marathon previously continue to tell me that the palpable energy of the city and the 2,000,000 spectators will get me through it when I don't think I can. I pray they are right. And when I don't think I can do it, I need to put one foot in front of the other for all the people who WISH they could, including all of the kids that the EJ Autism Foundation, the charity I am running for, helps support here on Long Island. The BEST news I have to share with you all? Due to the tremendous turn out I had for the paint night/raffle event I hosted this past Friday, I ACHIEVED MY GOAL!!!! My friend Geri with Let's Party 'Artsy is a great painting instructor, and 28 friends and family members came to support my cause, painting a beautiful red sunflower, as well as purchased hundreds of dollars worth of raffle tickets for prizes donated by RoadID, Albionfit, Fusion Life Brand, Tupperware, The Pampered Chef, Bulu Box, Martha Clara Vineyards, Sayville Running Company, Kay Cameron Jewelers, Unique Fitness (my gym!) and Vanity Hair Salon. I am SO grateful to everyone who wants to help kids diagnosed on the autism spectrum as well as help me realize my dream of running the NYC Marathon with Charlie. I need to remember each and every one of you who helped while I am out there pounding the pavement. I shall not squander this opportunity and your generosity!!

All my friends and family's masterpieces!

I continue to fundraise.... My NYC Marathon Fundraising Page

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Slow and Steady

Can I say I am thrilled I am running my dream race as my first marathon? The NYC Marathon just has something about it that draws me to it. Maybe it's the opportunity to run with 50,000 other runners through the streets of all 5 boroughs. Maybe because NYC, specifically Manhattan, is probably my favorite place on earth and the finish is in glorious Central Park. Most likely, however, it's probably because it will be my first and ONLY marathon. I know a lot of people say they are "one and done" and then get the marathon itch desperately needed to be scratched... I just don't think this body can take much more!

Following Jeff Galloway's run/walk plan has helped mentally, somewhat. When running, I can feel better knowing I only have to run for two minutes. I can handle that! But holy sh*t, that 1 minute walk break goes by 4 times as fast!! My short runs during the week have been great. I hit the treadmill at the gym and the runners around me really keep me going, like I am proving something. I'm a runner, dang it! Yesterday I managed to start off walking 1 minute, then ran the next 11 minutes to complete my first mile. I would have managed the 2nd mile the same way if I hadn't had the bladder of a frigging hummingbird! How does one sweat buckets, take in only 16 oz of water and *still* need to pee? First 1.8 miles in 21:30, (insert bathroom break), then another 2 miles in 25 minutes. So close to 4 miles. The right hip and the left heel are feeling it, though. Came home and iced the hip and rolled the feet on a frozen water bottle. Feeling much better this morning.

A major milestone last Sunday for Charlie and I was running our first half, Hope Runs Here, since the shit-show Festival of Lights Half Marathon in Brooklyn, November 2013. We went from one extreme to the other! 22* with a windchill of 'colder than a witch's tit' to 75*, God-knows what humidity, running 13.1 on the surface of the sun. The saving grace was that it was in MY town, 5 minutes from my house, running many of the roads of our regular route. We got to pass my niece's house where my 8 month old great nephew "cheered" me on, and since my cousin wasn't out (when I TOLD him to be) I harassed him from the street. The furthest we ran up until the half was 10.45 miles, and I had to walk much of the last 2 because my left big toe locked up on me. Never experienced that before. So, the plan the week before the half was TONS of water and a daily banana.

I really ate well and hydrated the week before. I stuck to the plan. I worked a race with the timing company the day before and that really helped lift my racing spirit. I just couldn't plan for that heat. We started out well, under a 13:00 mile the first 2 miles, and then hit the port-o-potty. I thought that was going to be a sign of things to come, but the bladder held up after that, however, the brain slowed down. After passing Keri's house at almost mile 4, along the bay, where there is usually nice wind gusts, the air was still, and hot. Did I mention it was hot? No shade? No wind? Humid? I knew we were at the back of the pack and I am SO okay with that now. It can't be about time for me right now. It's about getting out there and finishing. Just after that we met a 68 year old woman named Louise and chatted with her through the beautiful Smith Point Estates. Such an inspiring woman!

We walked a lot with Louise. Then she found another friend and we were able to start our run/walks again (like it was Louise's fault...). This course had phenomenal race support! Water at every mile, EMTs riding the course, ambulances every few miles... they were certain to take care of anyone in need. I was asked several times if I was okay, maybe because I was melting right before their eyes.We plodded along. Slower, but feeling good. I started to notice a twinge in the left calf but willed it away, maybe with a little more walking. After turning down Pinetop and being showered by several hoses and sprinklers, I was only 2 short blocks from my house, but heading home wasn't an option. I needed to get this run done to prove I could do it again, even if it was almost an hour slower.

There was a course limit of 3 hours and 15 minutes. Under cooler circumstances I may have made it. By mile 11.5, on William Floyd Parkway, a police officer was telling the back of the pack they should not turn off and instead head to the marina and the finish line to beat the clock. There was no guarantee I would beat the clock if  I did short the course, but on top of not making the limit I would feel guilty about short-changing myself. Charlie and I decided to stay on course and grind it out. All finishers got a medal, whether they were timed or not. My medal needed to mean something more than just race bling. It had to prove I could do that half mary again. It is half way to a marathon, which is only a little more than 4 months away. A few of us pushed on.

I am sad to say we didn't beat the clock. We had a finish time for a split second and I managed to get a screen shot before the timing company amended the race results. I managed a "sprint" at the end and Charlie and I crossed the finish line hand in hand. There is no picture of that because the race photographer must have punched out. But I finished, 13.1, and I wasn't hurting. I didn't start sweating profusely, feeling the need to both regurgitate and defecate at the same time. My system wasn't in shock. I was able to receive all of my friends' congratulations and love for getting back out there and making it count. I am very thankful they stuck around for us!!!

I even enjoyed a post-race beer and I NEVER drink beer!
our truly earned race bling

race results- not dead last (like Brooklyn!)!

Not the best picture but the gang is ALL here!

We got to enjoy a post-race party and socialize. There was no hour long commute ahead of us! I could only imagine how I would have looked getting out of the car after a ride like that! The 5 minutes nearly did me in! Maybe that was because we stupidly (sorry Gigi, Jan and Laurie) parked at my niece's house which was over a mile away! I believe I walked that mile at 1.0 mph. I was begging a couple of kids to go get a ride for us. 

Since we did the half, we are ahead of the marathon training plan. There will definitely be some schedule adjusting of long runs. For example, I am not too sure I will be doing a 17 miler on my son's birthday on 8/2 or the 23 miler on my birthday in September, especially since we have tentative plans to run the NYRR 18 mile marathon tune-up on 9/20, Charlie's 49th birthday. It's three 6 mile loops in Central Park. There's a 4.5 hour time limit on that. Definitely need to pick up the pace.

I am doing all of this to for the EJ Autism Foundation. I'm still fundraising and am just over half way to my $2,500 goal. I have a big paint night/raffle event coming up in July, and if I get a big enough crowd, I might just hit my goal a few months early!