Archive for November, 2013


Post-Marathon Blues…

Since I finished NYC on November 3rd, I seem to have lost all motivation to train.  In my brain I want to run a faster time at Disney in January but in my heart I want to rest up and sleep in.  Needless to say my training has been less than stellar over the past few weeks…

I’m usually an early morning runner.  Since daylight savings time has ended, 5:30 am is pitch black still.  Not only is it dead-of-night dark, but it’s COLD.  I love running in 45F but 32F? No thanks.  Cold and dark and early.  Ugh.

The few runs that I’ve managed to finish have almost all been on the treadmill.  I’ve gone for months without using my treadmill a single time.  Now it’s seems to be the only place I’m running.  I know that most people find that they run slower outside than on a treadmill.  I tend to be the opposite.  I think I end up setting the treadmill too slow and my treadmill runs seem to be slower than my outdoor runs.  For long runs this may be a good thing since Jeff Galloway wants us to go 2 min/mile slower than race pace.  But for shorter runs where I should be working on speed or hills, this is not so good.  And I know I *could* do hill training or even speed work on the treadmill but….I’ll just say “yuck” to that.

I think another problem for me is that work and life have both gotten incredibly busy since November started.  Last week was horribly over-scheduled.  Wednesday night was a black-tie event, Thursday was a going away dinner for 2 work friends, and Saturday was a bat mitzvah followed by a 40th birthday party (after I spent 4 hours at work on Saturday morning!).  This week I’m on-call which is always a wild card.  Plus my husband is in Baltimore for work until Saturday night (thank God for an awesome nanny!).  And then we leave for Hawaii on Sunday morning.  I’m going crazy trying to finish up all of my paperwork and pack for a family of 5 before we leave on Sunday morning.  I’m so exhausted from staying up late to finish up the stuff that needs to get done THIS WEEK and then it’s hard to get up at 5:30 to run in the cold and dark (did I mention it’s really cold and dark in the morning these days?). (As a side note: trying to get 3 new iPad minis ready – in secret – for a 12 hour flight to Hawaii is super time-consuming and causes one to stay up very, very late!)

I’ve managed my long runs on the past 2 weekends (4 miles and 6 miles).  This weekend I’m scheduled for 26 miles.  After some discussion with my husband where my choices were 26 miles on the treadmill on Saturday morning while “babysitting” for my children or waiting until Monday and running 26 miles in Hawaii… I’ll let you guess the plan.  I missed this morning’s run to snuggle with my children this morning and spend time with my husband before his work trip but I will run tomorrow.  It still puts me one run short for the week but I’m going to give myself a pass. Maybe I’ll try to run a little further tomorrow (although it’ll have to be treadmill because I’m a single mom right now).  This weekend is a wash – Saturday is insanely busy and I’m spending 12+ hours flying on Sunday. Monday will be my long run and then I’ll get out again Wednesday, Friday, and maybe Sunday before we fly home. 

I wish I had more excitement about running right now.  When I’m actually running I seem to enjoy it but it’s hard to myself to start. I know that Jeff Galloway says to just trick yourself into starting and then you’ll go.  I need to trick myself into getting out of bed early enough to run before work!

Advertisements

Marathon Post-Mortem

“The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness.” – Bull Durham (1988)

Perhaps sadly, I consider myself cursed with self-awareness.  And so after training for 6+ months to run 26.2 miles, I think it’s only appropriate to reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and what I’ve learned from all of this.

The good:  

I honestly think I was well-prepared for this race, especially physically.  My training went well with minimal injuries and minimal disruptions.  I think this is encouraging because Jeff Galloway warns trainees who want to undertake a time-goal training plan, that with additional speed work and distance there comes an increased risk of injury.  Even though my foot injury has nagged me at time, it never prevented me from training.  The only long run I missed was a 14 mile run back in May when I was at Disney with the kids.  I cut a few of the longest runs short: I did 27.3 instead of 29 miles, 25 instead of 27 miles, and 21 instead of 25 miles.  I still finished 3 long runs above 20 miles.  Of my longest 4 runs, 2 went very well and 2 didn’t go so well.  The 2 that were more problematic were related to heat and therefore weren’t terribly predictive of what would happen in November on race day.  I did miss several Magic MIles due to travel and race schedules.  This didn’t seem to be terribly important in the outcome of the race. I proud of how well I stuck to my training plan!

I also realized during the tough points in the race that I have an inner determination (my husband would call it stubbornness) that prevents me from quitting.  There were times in the race when I had serious doubts about my ability to finish but never I time where I really thought I would quit.  I think this time of determination is not merely important for running endurance events but is more a commentary on how I would like to live my life.

The Bad:

I truly wasn’t mentally prepared for the challenges of running NYC.  I didn’t have a great plan to deal with the long gap between the time I woke up and the time I actually started the race (7+ hours!).  I honestly wouldn’t have been able to train for that long time gap anyway because of my family commitments.  Perhaps I could have spent more time discussing with Jeff Galloway what my pre-race nutritional plan should have been.  Although I live in a fairly hilly area, the one part of my training where I skimped was hilly training.  I really didn’t understand how difficult the bridges would be (damn you, 59th Bridge!) and if I had understood, I would have spent more time in training on hill repeats.  I’m not sure how I could have handled my stomach issues on race day any differently but I plan to train and race with straight water in the future, in case the Gatorade Endurance formula was the cause of the problem.

The Ugly:

I know I should feel elated that I finished the NYC Marathon with a 25 minute PR but, instead, I feel vaguely dissatisfied. Although I’m a relatively new runner (almost 4 year runniversary coming up in January!), I have a long history as a competitive athlete.  And it kills me that I’m so darn slow.  I know so many people who are just impressed that I started – and finished – a full marathon.  But people who know anything about marathon running also know that 5:26:58 just isn’t a great finish time.  I’m not looking for a sub-4 hour or Boston Qualifying time.  But shouldn’t I be able to run a 4:30 marathon? I know so many people who have run a “one and done” marathon who finished in the 4:30 range.  Why is my baseline so much slower? Why after months of 1 mile repeats was I unable to finish closer to 5 hours?

I want to qualify the above whining by saying this:  I know that even getting to the starting line of ANY race is a major accomplishment.  Finishing the NYC Marathon is a HUGE accomplishment and I am truly proud.  In the last 2 weeks I have received several lovely comments from people about how my running has inspired them to run and push themselves further.  Please know that I hold myself to a much different standard than I hold the rest of the world and if I were reading the above written by a friend, I would remind that person of what an amazing achievement a marathon is.  I know this.  Really I do. But I also believe in trying to understand how I can do better next time.

The Future:

My next races are the Disney World 10k and full marathon.  I’m running the 10k with my husband at whatever pace he wants to run.  So I’m not even thinking about a time on that race.  I haven’t decided what I want to do with the full marathon.  Having recovered from NYC, should I start pushing myself with speed work to try to beat my NYC time (Disney is a much easier course but the weather can be very warm on race day)? Do I want to just do the minimum training required to finish the race safely and plan to run the race for fun? I feel like I poured my heart and soul into training for NYC and came up a little short of my goal.  Do I want to keep striving for improvement now or cut back a little?

Beyond Disney I have nothing definite on my race calendar.  I want to do the April, 2014 MORE Magazine Women’s 1/2 Marathon in Central Park (it’ll be my 4th consecutive year running it).  I got my 1/2 marathon PR on that difficult course last year.  I hope to run the fall Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Disney instead of trying for NYC again (they are one week apart so I can’t run both races).  I’ll likely run the Westchester Running Festival Half in October and the Mini 10k in June.  And I’m starting to think about running the anniversary Goofy in Disney in January, 2015.

I’ve started working with a sports nutritionist to try to lose the 10 lbs that I gained when I trained for that 1st Disney Marathon two years ago.  I’m currently at zero gain from the NYC Marathon (I had gained a couple of pounds but I’m back to my baseline of 10 lbs over my “ideal” weight).  I’ve started incorporating more strength training into my weekly regimen and have plans to add cross-training after Disney (mostly because I just quit my old gym to join a new one that won’t open until February).  I’m working on fat-burning and overall health for now.

Some people might say that my quest to get faster is going to take the fun out of running for me.  That may be true and I’ll need to constantly re-assess that.  For me I enjoy trying to improve and I don’t mind the extra work to try to get faster.  It’s a challenge and in some ways I think it keeps me interested in running to set goals.  In the long run (no pun intended) I’d love to run a sub-2 hour half and at least a sub-5 hour full (if not a 4:30 full!).  I’m not sure I am capable of either of those goals but I won’t know if I don’t try.  Taking off 10 lbs, losing body fat, adding strength training and cross-training will only help.

I think overall I had a successful journey to the Start Line of the NYC Marathon and another successful journey to the Finish Line.  I didn’t have a perfect race day but I had the best day I was capable of having on November 3rd.  I think I need to focus on speed training (either starting now for Disney or after Disney for the MORE) and also focus on nutrition and strength training.  I truly believe I am doing a good job with my training but I also believe I may be capable of even more.

NYC Marathon – Part 4

After the hell that was the 59th Street Bridge, it was a relief to finally be in Manhattan.  I had heard that towards the end of the Bridge, the runners could hear the cheering crowds on 1st Avenue and I can agree that this is true.  For me, more than the random cheering crowds, I was looking forward to seeing my family.  My husband and dragged 3 young children into NYC for the sole purpose of cheering for me for a few precious moments on 1st Avenue.  I continued my run/walk intervals and stayed to the left so I could find them near the 17 mile mark.

Not that I have a reputation or anything, but my husband did mention to me before the race that it would be nice if I paused my race for more than 5 seconds when I reached me family.  I knew that my 5:15 time goal was out the window anyway so I tried to spend some time with Tom and the kids.  Nathaniel and Jessica had formed their own high-5 zone (the cute signs they made for me had long been forgotten before I appeared).  Zachary was riding up and down the sidewalk and casually strolled over to say hello.  Darn kid probably cost me at least 30 seconds off my finish time!!!! (Joking.  Really!) I got some hugs and kisses and encouragement.  And the last lollipop  Tom had left.  And then they sent me on my way.

For another mile or so on 1st Avenue, the crowds were great.  There was a Poland Springs Zone set up with sponge.  There were a few bands.  And then as we headed further North, the crowds got lighter.  The noise was less.  And I finally gave in and turned on my iPod. Around the time I got a few funny and encouraging text messages from a running friend but my phone battery and my energy levels were both too low to reply.  We finally reached the next bridge of the race – the Willis Avenue Bridge.  And mile marker #20.

Image

 

We had finally reached the 5th a final Borough – The Bronx.

The pre-race information claimed that the crowds in the Bronx were fairly sparse and this is one of the less interesting parts of the race.  And Mile 20 is a notorious spot to hit the Wall.  While I had been fighting demons for miles, I hadn’t really hit a wall.  While the crowds in the Bronx weren’t as numerous as on 1st Avenue, there were people.  More importantly, I have spent more than 15 years of my adult life living and/or working in the Bronx.  This is MY Borough and MY people.  Unlike most runners I feel a very strong connection to the Bronx and loved being able to run through it.  It’s also possible that turning my iPod on helped my mood here, too.  Take your pick.

Our stay in the Bronx was short and we were soon on our final bridge of the race – the Madison Avenue Bridge – back into Manhattan.  We started the long journey down 5th Avenue towards Central Park.  This part was made significantly longer by the 15 mph headwinds that we were facing.

Somewhere around MIle 22 I saw one of the Team for Kids coaches.  It was the same coach that gave our motivational speech on my bus to Staten Island.  I had met her at a few of the training runs and got a big hug and some encouragement.  As I continued my run/walk intervals, a spectator (who had already finished the race and was wearing a medal – damn him!) commented on how many people I was passing.  The crowds got bigger and bigger as we went South on 5th Avenue.

At mile 23 I decided to test my stomach with a GU.  I picked the salted caramel flavor because it contains extra sodium and I had stopped taking my electrolyte tabs for fear of vomiting.  I also happen to love salted caramel in general.  The gel definitely gave me some much-needed energy.  We turned into the park and I stayed to my right because I knew I had a friend at Mile 24.  The running club Front Runners New York was stationed at Mile 24.  Amongst those cheering was my friend, Beth, holding a Twinkie with my name on it.  Although I accepted the much-appreciated hug and support, I sadly declined the Twinkie in light of my ailing stomach.  Before I knew it we were running West on Central Park South (I was tired enough that it took me a few minutes to figure out what street we were on and which direction we were headed). 

There were huge crowds along Central Park South and again as we turned back into the Park near Columbus Circle.  I was trying to speed up but was fighting the strong urge to vomit every time I went too fast.  Twilight had definitely come (why oh why did daylight savings time end that morning?) but I knew I was near the end.  There is this strong urge to sprint from the Mile 26 marker but 0.2 miles is really far after you’ve run 26 miles already.  I had to keep run/walking because I wasn’t sure my stomach wouldn’t betray me.  I did manage to run across the finish line with my arms in the air.

Garmin time and official time were pretty close: 5:26:58.  I got my sub-5:30 at least.

Image

 

(I ordered digital copies of my race photos but this is the low-res, water-marked version that I have for now.  High-res copies to follow.)

After the finish I got my medal.  Although I often skip the post-race photo, there was no line and I did it.  (I think it’s cute so I’m glad I did.)  I got my post-race goody bag with drinks and snacks and a very necessary mylar.  Some nice volunteer escorted me to my charity’s tent where my checked bag was waiting.  I sat in the tent to warm up a bit and hydrate before changing into some dry clothes and walking almost a mile to meet my family for a celebratory dinner.

Marathon #3 is in the books…. (my post-mortem of the race to follow in a separate post)

NYC Marathon – Part 3

Warning: You will notice that the number of pictures decreases rapidly as my cell phone battery declined…

When we last left our hero, she was approaching the Pulaski Bridge which goes from Brooklyn into Queens.  A potty break had cost about 4 minutes and brought the pace from on-target for a 5:15 finish to behind.  Furthermore, it was at this point in the race when the stomach of steel began to show signs of failing.  The severe nausea that would plague much of the race was starting now.

Image

The Pulaski Bridge was the 2nd bridge of the race.  Although definitely a hill (up and down), it was certainly not the worst of the bridges.

This part of Queens was fairly industrial although there were decent crowds out cheering.  The highlight of Queens was probably running by the Citicorp Building which is the tallest building in NY outside of Manhattan.   It didn’t feel like we were in Queens very long before we encountered the 59th Street Bridge.

Simon and Garfunkel sang a very upbeat and catchy song about this bridge and “Feelin’ Groovy.”  Trust me, at this point in the race I was feeling anything but groovy…  There were several issues with this bridge.  First, we ran on the lower level of the bridge on the left hand side (against traffic).  The upper level was clearly open and we could hear traffic over our heads.  It was a little scary and loud! Second, it was at this point that I really thought I might vomit.  I actually started to think about where I could vomit without reeking havoc on other runners (remember, it was very windy so vomiting over the side of the bridge might have back-fired!).  I was feeling particularly bad on this stretch and even though I was due for a gel, I decided to suck on a jolly rancher that someone had shared before the start. Third problem was that the bridge was nearly 1 mile of uphill.  Most of the people around me were straight walking.  I was still doing my 30/30 intervals which meant I was passing a lot of people but I felt too crappy to care.  The final problem was that – apparently – I wasn’t getting a good GPS signal for my Garmin watch.  I was running for a time goal so I was paying attention to my watch (more than I should have been, no doubt).  It was telling me that I was running 17 min/mile on the bridge.  This was SO discouraging.  I was already at an emotional low because I wasn’t feeling well and I knew I wasn’t going to reach  my time goal.  To be passing people and giving it my all with my watch telling me I was running 17 min/mile was just….depressing.  I sort of guessed that the lower level of the bridge was getting a poor satellite signal but I couldn’t confirm that for the almost 2 miles it took to cross the bridge.

This is really the point in the race where I had to dig deep and remind myself that I had successfully run 27.3 miles just 3 weeks earlier without any injuries or significant residual soreness. I had to remember that I had previously finished 2 full marathons under adverse conditions (one with severe hyponatremia and one the day after doing a half marathon).  There was a lot of inner dialogue during my journey across the bridge and I can honestly say I was stronger at the end of that bridge than at the beginning.

And, by the way, my Garmin read 15.85 miles when I reached the 16 mile marker in Manhattan.  Before the bridge my Garmin thought I had run almost 0.25 miles beyond the official course distance.  So my pace per mile was perfectly fine on the bridge and it was just a satellite issue.  Stupid technology.

Just on the other side of the 59th Street Bridge was Manhattan with the huge crowds on 1st Avenue.  Borough #4!

NYC Marathon – Part 2

As we came off the Verrazano Bridge and entered Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the first thing I noticed was the noise.  There were crowds of people in Brooklyn who came out to cheer for the runners.  After 2 miles on the bridge with no spectators at all, the cheering was a welcome sound. In addition to the crowds, there were several bands scattered throughout Brooklyn and it was fun to hear different kinds of music.  At this point I was right on pace, or even slightly faster than pace, and feeling really good.  The first water stop was around mile 3 and a good friend of mine from medical school was working the medical tent at mile 3.  Even though he was on the blue/green side of the street, I saw him across the divider and he came over for a much-appreciated hug!

Image

After passing the medical tent to see my friend, I quickly realized that the action was along the curb so I move over to the left.  Tons of high 5’s and cheers! Near the crowd is the place to be!!!

By mile 4 all three starting colors were running on 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.  The orange start (me!) was on the left side of the street (against traffic) while the blue/green starts were on the right side of the street (with traffic).  There was plenty of room to spread out so doing my intervals was not an issue at all.  I was worried about this because course crowding is a major issue at Disney but the streets here were much wider. 

Image

4th Avenue continues for miles….

Image

 

Image

 

Please note the LONG line for the portapotty.  At this point I was starting to have to go but didn’t want to waste that much time standing in line….

My instructions from Jeff Galloway were to increase my run/walk ratio after 6 miles.  Even though I was on my target pace, I wasn’t feeling great.  I was fine but not great.  So I decided to stick with my 30/30 and wait and see how things went.  Probably a good decision….

At Mile 8 the 3 starts merged together which didn’t cause any additional crowding or issues.  At this point we turned right off of 4th Avenue.  The crowd support continued to be good and I was still on pace for my 5:15 finish time.

Image

 

After passing the Mile 10 marker, the most noticeable change was the lack of crowds and the quiet.  Here is the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg.  There were a few spectators who smiled and waved but definitely a quiet stretch.  It was somewhere in this area that I lost 4 minutes waiting in line for the portapotty.  When I entered the queue, I was about 3 minutes ahead of pace and when I finished, I was at least a minute or more behind.  

We then passed under the Williamsburg Bridge and re-entered an area with crowds cheering.  Many spectators were drinking outside of bars as they cheered.  As we turned left into Greenpoint, I noticed an almost-empty bottle of Jim Beam and asked the raucous owners if the bottle was for me.  They enthusiastically offered to give me some but I knew I had many miles ahead of me and gracefully declined. From here we were approaching the Pulaski Bridge which would bring us to borough number 3….

NYC Marathon 2013 – Part 1

On Sunday, November 3rd I ran my first NYC Marathon.  The day began at 4:30am with my alarm and by 5am I was in a car service heading into midtown Manhattan.  I was dropped off at 51st Street and 6th Avenue at 5:30am and quickly realized that I was too early for my bus.  Luckily there was an open deli on the block which was filled with runners.  I grabbed so coffee, plugged my phone into an outlet, and met some other runners.  While I waiting for my bus to arrive, I ran into 2 people who work at my hospital.  Both are veteran runners and were very reassuring.  Just after 6am I found myself in the very back row of a charter bus (right next to the smelly bathroom!) heading towards Staten Island. Image

Getting ready to head out the door…

Image

 

Heading under the 59th Street Bridge in the bus to Staten Island.  The Bridge and I would meet again.

Image

My first view of the Verrazano Bridge.  Looks pretty steep….

Image

 

NYFD watching the starting area.

Image

 

One of many NYPD helicopters that I saw throughout the day.

While on the bus one of the Team for Kids coaches gave a rousing speech about running the NYC Marathon.  Unfortunately, since I was sitting all the way in the back of the bus, most of it was gibberish.  I did get the part about enjoying the course and keeping your eyes up and looking around.  It was certainly helpful to walk with the group to find the Team for Kids tent before the start.

We reached Staten Island around 7:45am and were ensconced in the tent by 8am.  Which gave me almost 3 hours to wait before I started.  I had eaten a Luna Protein bar on the bus and grabbed a plain bagel and some water in the tent.  The tent was huge and heated.  Out the back of the tent were some private portapotties.  Inside there were no chairs but hot tea, bottled water, gatorade, bagels, and other goodies.  I made some new friends and sat on a post-race mylar that I had brought for just this purpose.  It was a chilly and windy morning so it was great to have a warm tent to stay out of the elements.

The Team for Kids coaches called out for Wave 1 to drop off their bags at the UPS truck (we had a private truck for our charity) and go outside to stretch.  Some time later they called for Wave 2 and then Wave 3.  Luckily there were plenty of other slow-pokes so I made friends and chilled out.  I finally dropped off my bag at the UPS truck after making some hard decisions about throw-away clothes.  I used the portapotties a few times and drank some water.  I’m not a big fan of stretching so I avoiding the group stretch.  I headed over the corrals with someone I had met in training and we waited in quite a long line to get the start area.  It’s hard to explain the vast sea of people that were present.  We finally headed towards the toll booths for the Bridge and heard the cannon go off for the Wave 4 start.

Image

 

The pre-start sea of humanity.

 

Image

 

It actually thinned out pretty well once we got going.

The start is divided into 3 colors.  The green start is on the lower level of the bridge (this is undesirable because historically people who pee off the bridge and it would hit the people on the lower level).  The blue start is on the right side of the upper level (the way traffic would normally flow from Staten Island to Brooklyn).  The orange start – which was me – is on the left side of the upper level (or against traffic going from Brooklyn to Staten Island).

While I intellectually know that the 1st mile was up a significant hill of a bridge, I can’t say I really noticed the incline.  My pace band had this mile as the slower of the race anyway and my plan was to start conservatively.  Jeff Galloway wanted me to use a 30/30 for the first 6 miles of the race so I was running an easy pace and just enjoying the scenery.  The one hazard was discarded clothing on the bridge but that wasn’t even a big issue.  People were friendly and excited.  I even got a few questions about my run/walk technique although they were from people who seemed familiar with Jeff Galloway.

Image

 

Off to the right you can see that the blue start is taking a slightly different route through Brooklyn than the orange.  The various colors wouldn’t merge for several more miles.

As we came to the end of the bridge we found ourselves in Brooklyn!

 

NYC Race Eve – Gratitude

Tomorrow morning my alarm will go off at 4:30am (thank goodness for the clocks changing tonight!) and I will be picked up by a car service at 5am.  The car will drop me off at 51st Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan where I will board a Team for Kids bus for Staten Island.  I will then spend almost 4 hours hanging out in the starting villages waiting for my official start time of 10:55am. Over the last few weeks I have heard many comments and questions about me running this race.  Are you ready? Are you nervous/excited? Are you crazy? Don’t get hurt! Be safe! Enjoy every moment!

With my race start in about 16 hours, the NYC Marathon is very much on my mind.  How am I feeling?

Of course I’m a little nervous and a lot excited.  I have heard from many, many sources that the NYC Marathon is a very special race.  A pediatric urologist that I know has run 28 marathons in 26 states and ranks NYC as tied for #1 as his favorite marathon.  As a New Yorker (not quite life-long although I was born in Manhattan) I think that being able to run through all 5 boroughs is amazing.  And I’ve heard the crowd support is incredible.  Long before I was a runner, I was a New Yorker and Marathon Day was always special.  Countless non-runner New Yorkers declare on Marathon Day that this is a bucket-list event. I’m tempted to run with my camera as I would at Disney but I think I’ll stick with my cell phone camera and hope for the best.  I want to soak in the energy of NYC for all 26.2 miles.

I’m less nervous because I’ve decided that I don’t ultimately care about my finish time.  In a fantasy world I would finish sub-5 hours but Jeff Galloway thinks that’s highly unlikely, especially at New York.  I will try for a 5:15 but I promise that I won’t be disappointed with a 5:30.  If I’m closer to 6 hours than to 5:30, I might feel a little sad.  Barring injury or other disaster (GI distress?), I think it’s unlikely that I won’t be at least 5:30.  I did a sub-6 hour 26.2 training run (27.3 miles in 6:10 to be exact) so I think it’s safe to say 5:30 is my B goal.  Just finishing is my C goal.  In the final picture it doesn’t matter if I finish 5:10 or 5:40.  They would both be PR’s and are both safely within the time limit of the race.

One thing that worries me is injury.  My left foot isn’t 100% and that worries me.  It tends to feel better in my Hokas and so I’m hoping that it’ll all be ok.  I’m worried about shin splints but I’ve been ok with that recently and I’ll have my compression calf sleeves on for the race.  I also brought compression socks for after the finish.  I can’t really control that anyway so I’ve decided to just cope with whatever comes my way. My only other concern is the balance between going out to fast and going out too slowly.  I tend to hold back in the beginning of races and I sometimes wonder if I’m too conservative.  Then again, I just said that I don’t really care about my finish time so maybe conservative is good!

What I’m really feeling tonight is an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  I’m grateful to have the ability to run the race.  I was able to pay all of the exorbitant fees associated with the race and running for charity.  I have a mostly healthy body that is able to go the distance.  I have an incredibly supportive family – most especially my husband who has tolerated months of me getting up at the butt-crack of dawn to run lots of miles.  And then dealt with my tired, crabby self all day after a long run.  My children who, perhaps more than anybody, see me as a distance runner.  Somebody asked me if my children were proud of me running the NYC Marathon.  Not really.  They don’t see it as anything special or different from the other races I run. I know that NYC is special but for them it’s just what I do.  Hard to believe that 4 years ago I couldn’t run a mile…

I’m grateful for the many friends and family members who donated money to Team for Kids.  I loved being able to raise money for this special charity and I am so appreciative of the generosity of others.  Many of my closest friends contributed but so did many people who barely know me in person and mostly know me because of the running community or the Disney community or other online communities that I have been blessed to participate in.  It’s amazing to me that someone who has never met me in person or only met me once or twice would be willing to support my running efforts.  “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out a watch a marathon.” Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, said it so well.  And raising money for charity while training for a marathon has made me see the good in humanity, too.  Thank you all.

I’m thankful for the incredible support I’m getting, both in “real” life and online.  I’ve received beautiful text messages, and PMs, and posts from so many people that I cannot even keep track.  A twitter friend who has only met me a few times thought to post an article from Runner’s World about how to approach the NYC Marathon.  And she’s sidelined from her own training with an injury right now.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the love and energy and support that I know I will carry with me tomorrow.  My running supporters are amazing and it honestly brings me to tears to think about how lucky I am to have this bubble of love surrounding me.

Tomorrow I will run with my Angel Mom on my back (literally and figuratively!) and my friends and family in my heart.  I will be buoyed by the cheers of the crowds as I run through my home city (yes, I know I live in the suburbs but NYC is still my home).  I will carry the anger and sorrow from the Boston Marathon with me and use it in a positive way to carry me through the miles. I will be humbled by the spirit of the marathon and humbled that I am allowed to be a part of it.

THANK YOU!!!

I left work early this afternoon and hopped onto the D train heading Southbound.  This was momentous, not only because I had never taken the D train from its Northern-most terminus in the Bronx, because I was heading towards the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan and the Race Expo for the NYC Marathon.  For the record the D train was a relatively short walk, stayed relatively uncrowded on both my Southbound and my return journeys, and was as enjoyable as any NYC subway ride could be. The Race Expo, like most things in NYC, was larger than life.

As I exited the D train at 34th Street and Broadway, I realized how quickly I forget that Avenues are long and that 12th Avenue is a pretty good walk from Broadway.  I also remembered why “real” New Yorkers avoid midtown Manhattan, especially on a Friday afternoon.  Luckily the rain had stopped, the temperatures were warm, and I was too excited to care about any little aggravations.  The further West I walked, the more people I saw carrying their race bags.  It started to dawn on me that the NYC Marathon is a really, really BIG race!

Security at the Javits Center was tight.  I went through bag check and had a bright orange NYM sticker placed on my beloved Disney Dooney & Burke bag.  The bag check guy was friendly and nice.  I then went to the I.D. check-point and had my race registration stamped “I.D. checked.”  I was then able to proceed to packet pick-up.  Like at Disney, the packet pick-up is divided by bib number.  Not unexpectedly I was way towards the high end of the numbers.  It still makes me laugh that I’m considered a mid-packer or better at Disney but way back of the pack for New York Road Runners (NYRR).  

There was literally no line for my packet pick-up.  My bib was in a clear plastic bag, complete with bag check sticker and safety pins. The volunteer also handed me a blue ribbon pin “in memory of Boston, if you want to wear it.” I love that they handed these out!!! I have Boston Strong (temporary) tattoos that I will be wearing on race day instead of my customary 26.2 tattoos so I love the memorial pin. I then headed to shirt pick-up.  It was divided by men’s and women’s and then again by size.  I chose a women’s small.  I could have probably taken a medium but I think I’ll prefer the snugger fit.  I love that they have women’s cut shirts!!! The shirt pick-up area emptied into the Asics Marathon Store.  This area made runDisney look like a bunch of amateurs!!! The store was huge with plenty of room to walk around a browse.  I knew I’d want to buy something but wanted to finish my mandatory registration stuff before shopping.

My next stop was the official NYRR booth to find my charity, Team for Kids.  I needed to get my Team for Kids bus assignment to get to the start, my Team for Kids bracelet so I’ll be allowed in the Team Tent before the start, and my Team for Kids stickers for my bib and bag check so I can access the Team area after the finish line.  It took a few minutes to find the right booth (the Javits Center is HUGE) but getting checked in with the charity was easy.  I didn’t see anyone I knew at the charity booth but I stopped back later to say hi to one of the coaches who has been very kind to me.

At this point I had done everything that was required to run the race.  And so it was time to wander and have fun! I went back to the Asics Store and looked through all the official merchandise.  I’ll admit that I didn’t really need anything.  There were several tech shirts that I liked – a short sleeved one with a map of NYC on it and the long-sleeved shirt I eventually bought.  I saw a really cute shirt with writing in the shape of an apple (for the Big Apple) but I only saw 2 left and they were both extra small.

Image

Image

 

Front and back of my new long-sleeved tech shirt!

I wandered around the Expo and browsed.  One of the guys at the runDisney booth noticed my Disney purse and handed me a runDisney tote bag (they were very free and easy about handing them out but I appreciated that he recognized me as a fan).  It was fun to look at all of the gear but I really don’t need anything right now so I just enjoyed the view.  I’m sure the Expo had as many or more people than a runDisney Expo but it just didn’t feel as crowded as it does for Marathon Weekend at Disney.  There was, however, the ubiquitous line for the ladies’ room…. I guess we were all pre-hydrating!

Image

My race bib with the official race shirt.  On the back it says MARATHONER.  I really like this shirt a lot!

When I got home from the Expo, I decided to start getting things ready for Race Day. I know I’ll have time tomorrow to get my gear together but I plugged in my Garmin for charging and got my race shirt ready.

Image

 

I love my “name tag” for my shirt!

Image

 

And my memorial for my back.

My bib is attached to my running belt (which I didn’t photograph yet). I will spend some time tomorrow making sure everything is 100% ready for race day.

Getting my race packet just makes it all seem so much more real!!!