After viewing perfect pictures of paradise from my runcation, that were marred only by too much of me, I am on a new quest to lose some weight. It’s actually an old quest that has been reincarnated over and over again. Upon yesterday’s epiphany, I decided that it was time buckle down and get my stuff together. However, since global warming has suddenly reneged, it is fahreezing outside. So, I decided that I would sign up for an Orange Theory class. I have been a member of Orange Theory Fitness for three months now, but have only been attending classes sporadically because my butt gets kicked every time. But a butt kicking is what I need. So I picked up my phone and clicked the trusty app only to find that I could only get on the waitlist for the 8:15 class in the morning. It would have to do. As the day wore on I became secretly thankful that I had been closed out of the class because Orange Theory was seeming like too much work … hahahaha, I’ll just have to settle for a treadmill run. Who am I kidding? If I made it to the mill at all, I’d be walking.
I checked my phone at 10:30 p.m. Crikey, there was an email from Orange Theory informing me that I had a spot in the class. Yikes!
So this morning, I dragged myself out of bed and headed to Orange Theory like a lamb to the slaughter. I’m being a little melodramatic, it’s not that bad.
Fast forward to 20 minutes into the class. I am dying. NO. I think I am actually dead. Really! Let me explain.
Orange Theory has different workouts every day but they all involve high intensity interval training that consists of a treadmill, water rower and weight room workout. You measure the intensity of your workout with a heart rate monitor that you purchase from Orange Theory. There are five zones, grey, blue, green, orange and red. The idea is to push into the orange zone (84 to 91% of your maximum heart rate) for short intervals during the one hour workout. The theory is that time in the orange zone will ramp up your metabolic rate and it is recommended that you accumulate 12 to 20 minutes in the orange zone. Your orange and red zone minutes are added up at the end of the workout and are called Splat Points. Your zones are accessible on a large screen during your workout and are emailed to you at the conclusion of the session.
Back to my demise. Today’s treadmill workout had us running the intervals on an incline. Yes, HILLS. The treadmill workouts are done at three paces:
Base Pace – Warm up/cool down;
Push Pace – Getting your good workout on;
All Out – Just make it stop, NOW.
So they had us running our push pace on 3%, 4% and 5% inclines. Now the thing about the treadmill is that you cannot slow down without making a conscious decision to wuss out and hit the down arrow. So you thug it out and keep your pace.
As I was thugging it on a 5% incline I looked at the screen and it had me in the red zone at 128%. NOOOOOO! The red zone is supposed to be from 92% to 100%. I may not survive this workout! I freaked out and reduced my speed and hoped no one would make the connection between me and the 128 on the board. Yes, I wussed out. There was no need to be a hero. But this is not when I died.
As I staggered over to the row machine from the treadmill, my row machine neighbor asked me if I was okay. I was looking that good. I shrugged it off and got to rowing. I looked at the screen. That thing was registering my heart rate at zero. ZERO. For a fleeting moment I thought I was dead. Dead and clearly gone south of the border because surely there are no row machines and orange lighting in heaven. Right? Then I snapped out off it and fiddled with my heart rate monitor and my box on the screen changed from grey to blue. Thank God, I’m alive.
I will spare you the details of the weight room. Just believe me when I tell you it was bad.
Don’t try this at home kids. There was way too much red.
While this was only my third marathon, I have run many races and feel quite confident in saying that there is nothing like the NYC Marathon. It’s like being in the biggest block party or parade in the world. Well alright, it’s like being at the best party ever in your favorite heels and then you stay too long and have to limp your way home with your shoes in your hands. But the great parts are really awesome.
So this year’s marathon was supposed to be my do over of 2014. However, halfway through my training I realized that I wasn’t feeling as strong as in 2014. I was on a different schedule and wasn’t completing my prescribed strength training workouts like I was supposed to and missed a few training runs. But since my 2014 time was hampered by the weather and a stint in the medical tent I figured I could still beat my time if I ran a smart race.
Another runner and I partnered to keep the shuttered Lynbrook Runner’s Stop marathon bus tradition going. Shout out to Tova. I love it when a plan comes together. Special thanks to Lynbrook Bagels that opened up at 4:30 A.M accommodate us with coffee, tea and bagels. Michael, you rock. Yes, we were turning heads and riding in style.
Thanks to our bus driver, Drew, we made it over the Verrazano Bridge and into Staten Island before the bridge was shut down for the race.
As is our tradition, we hung out at Mickey Ds before being transported to Fort Wadsworth to the infamous Slum Village. As we were going through security, I overheard one of the police officers say to her colleague, “Look at them … all smiling and $#@%.” As I looked around at the beaming faces of lambs knowingly marching to their slaughter, I was extremely tickled by the comment. I guess we did seem like a strange bunch.
I spent a little more time in Slum Village this time around. I didn’t mind because the weather was great. Shout out to my village partner, Cami. I had another bagel, used the facilities and dealt with some phantom chafing. There was no way the chafing could have been real but I was convinced that I felt it and dove behind a UPS truck to handle my business. A volunteer tried to convince me to try a new Gatorade Endurance Formula. I self righteously announced, “Nothing new on race day” and slipped the packet into my pocket. There was some awesome Slum Village scenery this year. I thought air mattress dude was great but the Black Lives Matter guy had him beat hands down. Where he was going to pin his bib might be one of life’s great mysteries.
Before too long I was nervously listening to a stirring rendition of God Bless America and then “BOOM” the cannon went off to signify the start of my wave. Off I went, running the Verrazano Bridge. I made sure I stayed in the middle of the bridge because I was on the lower level and rumor has it that runners relieve themselves on the top level and it blows onto the runners on the pee pee level below. Since there was an announcement warning runners that they would be disqualified if they urinated on the bridge I doubted it would happen but decided to be cautious anyway. I was grateful to get mile 1 done because it was all uphill. After mile two the bridge was over and because I was in the Green Wave we were directed onto a parkway.
Now, I have run the other other route and no one can tell me that the Green Wave route doesn’t have more inclines. My legs are super hill detectors. They cannot be fooled. Anyway, it was completely different running this route because you don’t get the full on hype of Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn until Mile 3. There were people cheering but they were ALL cheering for Missy and Joey, a random couple with neon green shirts with their names in massive black print. I caught the eyes of a few runners and I could tell we were on one accord, we were not feeling Missy and Joey at all. I slowed down so M & J would run out of my range. Now there was a silver lining for me, which wasn’t the guy that I saw taking a whiz on the parkway (I’m not judging him … well maybe a little), it was that I picked up a running partner after Mile 2. I believed it happen just as we turned onto Bay Ridge Parkway. I met Houston. He was running next to me and looked at the happy and cheering spectators and said, “Wow, this is Brooklyn? I thought Brooklyn was rough.” I responded, “Try tomorrow.” We chuckled. Before you start sending the hate mail just know that Brooklyn is my favorite Borough. This man was in awe of the love we were getting in Brooklyn. I felt the need to warn him that he had seen nothing yet because Fourth Avenue is where the party really starts. We turned the corner onto Fourth and he was in awe. It was off the hook. The music was blaring, there was a choir on one side of the street and a preacher on the other. Strangers were screaming my name every few feet. Houston seemed really amused by this. I bet he’ll wear his name on his shirt the next time. After a couple of miles Houston bid me farewell and took off to do his thing. It was cool though because I was having a blast. It was even better than I remembered. I was sooooooo happy.
I saw one of my running partners at the Mile 7 water stop. What a great surprise. Thanks for volunteering Launette. At Mile 8 I saw my former tri-coach hanging from a scaffolding looking like Dr. Suess. Cheers Coach Jackie. Then I ran into a bunch of BGR! ladies. I stopped for a moment for hugs. Thanks V, Katrina and crew. I was having a blast. And just when I thought the spectator support couldn’t get any better, I turned on to Lafayette Avenue. Words cannot explain the hype of Lafayette. Since it is a narrower street than Fourth Avenue, the spectators flank the runners on each side of the street and the Lafayette folk came to cheer. They were calling my name like we were long lost buddies. The businesses were blasting music. Most notably there was a huge group outside of a restaurant wearing costumes doing the YMCA dance. I was hard to leave Lafayette after Mile 9. I decided to make a pit stop at the porta potty at Mile 10. The line wasn’t very long but unfortunately a few of the runners decided to take mini vacations in the facilities. I was stopped for five minutes. I had to get my legs going again after that and was moving right along until after Mile 14 when I felt the twinge. My left quad started to spasm. I pulled over to the side and retrieved a salt packet from my belt. After I popped the salt, I realized that I had no water. My face must have been puckered really badly because some spectators started to yell, “You can do it.” Suddenly I remembered the packet of Gatorade Endurance Formula that I picked up from the Slum Village. I washed down the salt and got going. Hallelujah, I was healed and just in time for me to begin the dastardly incline of the Queensboro Bridge. I ran off the bridge excited to hit First Avenue and the wild Manhattan crowd. I ran towards the Mile 16 water stop screaming BGR! It took me a few moments but I found my long Island ladies. There were hugs and encouragement. I asked for Gatorade and realized I was at the water table. No worries, someone brought me Gatorade. I soooo love my BGR! sisters. They sent me on my way and I did a mental check of how I was feeling and realized that I felt better at this point than I did in 2014. I was encouraged. I was doing my thing and moving up First Avenue and then, WHAM, a massive cramp developed in my right quad. I pulled all the way over to the railing and took the remainder of my salt. It wasn’t doing anything for me. My leg was killing me. I looked at my watch. I was only at Mile 17.5. I figured I’d push my way to the Mile 18 medical tent. So now I’m limping but still trying to run. I must have looked pretty bad. I could hear spectators screaming my name (I later realized they were my BGR! sisters who were right next to me, trying to check on me). I was in a fog and focused only on getting to Mile 18. I made it to the medical tent, asked for salt and told them that I have a cramp. They made me lay down on a gurney while the medic guy massaged my quad. They brought me salt and Gatorade. They told me they would look for Tylenol but they aren’t sure that they have any. WHAAAAT? YOU ARE THE MEDICAL TENT! I am silent and smile politely. I’m feeling better and they start to help me up off the gurney which triggers the cramp. I scream and fall back onto the gurney. This happens a couple of times. The last time it happened a cramp seized my left quad too and another person in the tent had to rush over to assist because both legs were gone and I was going DOWN. Now I’m worried. I asked them to massage me standing up. After awhile I was able to stand and they found me a Tylenol. I announced that I was leaving and one of the medical volunteers looked at me wide eyed and said, “You have eight miles to go.” I’LL SHOW HER!!! I thanked them and hobbled away. This is where I began my run walk journey. It was probably more walk than run but every time I would feel the slightest twinge I would switch from run to walk or from walk to run.
The Bronx is Bananas
Like Literally, they were handing out banana pieces.
My piece of banana was in bad shape but I peeled it and gobbled it down praying that the potassium would go straight to my quads. The energy was great in the Bronx too. Despite my discomfort, I had a good laugh when I saw a woman holding a sign that said, “Smile If You Peed A Little.” There were a few DJs there. One was playing the Wobble, I love the Wobble but this big girl was not trying to back it up. Forward Please!!!! After turning a corner I believe I saw DJ Kool Herc playing Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya. I considered getting a pic with him but I would have had to run a few extra feet out of my way and I just didn’t have it in me. I just wanted to get to Fifth Avenue. I kept telling myself, “It’s a straight shot from 5th.” I don’t recall there being so many turns, curves and bridges (maybe it was just one) before I got to Fifth.
Manhattan Part Deux
I was so relieved to finally hit Fifth Avenue but then realized that I still had four miles to go. The Fifth Avenue stretch is difficult. There is no other way to put it. The crowds are starting to tire and dwindle and the old legs feel heavy. As I was contemplating the drudgery of the stretch, I heard my name. Shout out to Candice, who was at 135th with her brilliant smile. You have no idea how much it meant to see you at that point. Syracuse University love in the house!!! As I continued on I tried not to look at the street numbers as I passed them. At mile 23, I thought about my 2014 experience there and reaffirmed that I would finish this race. TCS New York City Marathon 2014 Recap I was going to show the doubting volunteer at the Mile 18 medical tent. Yes I was!!! Before, I knew it I was turning into Central Park. A little over two miles to go. I looked around at the growing number of spectators and felt like they were all just staring at me. I’m not sure what came over me but I started screaming, “Cheer the runners, Cheer the runners.” I was waving my arms frantically like a Hip Hop hype man. A fellow runner next to me was encouraging me in this craziness. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he yelled. But for all of our efforts all we got were a few lackluster “WOOOS.” The poor spectators were beat but reinforcements were on the way. At Mile 24, there was a BGR contingency screaming for me. Thanks Tonja and company. I waved and in retrospect I should have stopped but I was in one of my run modes. Then at the water stop I saw another friendly face. Shout out to Tamika. Gatorade never tasted so good. I soldiered on with my run/walk. Now people were screaming, “You’re almost there.” The Mile 26 sign was in sight but it was still a tease because … well … that .2. Then I saw two guys holding up another runner. To me this signified that the finish line was right ahead. For some reason, I only ever see those sights at the finish. I looked for it and I thought i could see it. There were bright neon lights ahead of me. It was starting to get dark and I ran to the light. Please let me not be dying. Nope, it was the finish. As I crossed it, the NYRR President congratulated me. I thought, you sir have had a long day. I thanked God that I safely completed another race. I looked to my right and there was a runner crying like a baby. For a second I wondered if she was hurt then it dawned on me, we just completed the New York City Marathon.
It was the best race that I have ever run. My slowest time but the best nonetheless. I crawled in at 5:51:06. I was so happy to just be a part of it. I even suspended my Reasons Why I Hate NYC posts for a week (even though someone was tossed in front of a train). The TCS Marathon App was great. My friends and family were able to get a good read on how I was doing at all times. The medal was bigger and the weather beautiful. This race deserves all the hype and more.
Three months ago, I embarked upon an exciting journey. It was a runcation with Black Girls Run! through Run For Fun Cruise Tours. Yes, Run-Cation! I know it sounds like an oxymoron but I had a fabulous time. Run For Fun Cruise Tours (RFFC) is a family run business that provides structured runs/races in various Caribbean locations. This year RFFC partnered with Norwegian Cruise Line to drop the runners off in: Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico. First of all, I have to say that the scheduling of the trip for this Northeast resident was perfect. There is no love lost between winter and I, so by the time February rolled around I was completely over the winter elements and was ready for some fun in the sun.
Pre-Cruise: Now before we even set foot on the ship, many of us ran the A1A Publix Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon. It was a lovely sunrise race with a great post race party at the end. I’ve never seen so much food at the end of a race. This will go down as one of my favorite Half Marathons. And check out the bling.
Ocho Rios: One stop driver!!! I loved Ochee. After the ship docked we gathered in the downtown area and picked up our numbers and timing devices. Yes, this was a timed 5K race. RFFC are no slouches. While we were waiting for the race to begin I saw people gathered around a store across the street. I went to investigate because whenever I would see these splintered groups there would be rumblings and rumors of WiFi. But alas there was no WiFi, they were lining up to use a bathroom – the original runner’s treasure. Soon enough it was race time. The going was a little rough because it was 86 degrees and my body was still used to running in freezing temperatures. We ran through the city and there were hydration stations with nifty plastic baggies filled with sports drinks. I actually really liked the baggie concept better than the cups we usually get. Things were going well and after the first two miles it was time to run the mile long hill that we had heard about. They told us that it was steep. But hello, I just wasn’t ready for this hill. Not at all. First of all, it wasn’t a hill. It was a mountain … namely Mystic Mountain. All running ceased after ten steps and I hiked that final mile. But of course I ran the last 50 yards to the finish line because that’s mandatory. You always, always, finish like a champ. There was a nice little party at the top of the mountain and I got a chance to relax before heading back down … on a chairlift. The other three options were, to zip line down, take a rollercoaster or walk. For the condition that I was in, the chairlift seemed to be the most civilized, until my buddies and I got on it. It was pretty high and I screamed like a baby. We spent the rest of the day eating (at Mama Marley’s) and shopping. I enjoyed Jamaica there is a certain energy there that just isn’t present anywhere else. Good Riddims and Vibe.
Grand Cayman: It was my first trip to Grand Cayman. What a breathtakingly beautiful island. We did a three mile run through Georgetown’s busy downtown and a residential area. The finish line was on a quaint little beach. It was great, you could literally just run right through the finish line and into the water. We hung out at the beach for a while and then headed off to Stingray City. Not my idea. I was duped. The Stingray City excursion coordinator said we would go to seven mile beach afterwards.The boat ride to the sandbar where the stingrays are found was beautiful. Since I had no intention of getting up close and personal with the stingrays, I stayed on the boat and took pictures of my friends, who were having quite the time kissing and canoodling with the stingrays. I’ll pass. Steve Irwin anyone? Anyway, there was no Seven Mile Beach for me, we barely had enough time to make it back to the ship.
Cozumel: The island officials were excited to see us and created a great race atmosphere with music and announcers. I felt as though I was at a big race. We arrived in Cozumel later than our other destinations and the run didn’t begin until around 11:00 A.M. The sun was blazing but at 2.25 miles, the run was nice and short. This was my first visit to Cozumel so I knew I would do something exciting with the rest of my day. You might be wondering if I visited the Amazing Secret River or the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. The answer would be a resounding “NO.” I spent a inordinate amount of time at Starbucks. And not because the service was just that slow in Mexico but because there was WiFi at Starbucks. YEEESSSS!!! So my buddies and I sat in air conditioned loveliness and made lots of contact with the world we had left behind. We wound up having a nice relaxing day strolling around the area shopping.
Costa Maya: There was a 5K slated for Costa Maya and much of it was run along side the beach in Mahahual. We ran by an array of vendors and ended our run at a wonderful establishment where they gave us a room to change into bathing suits so we could enjoy the rest of the day on the beach. And enjoy I did. I ordered some nachos from my beach chair and they were hands down the tastiest nachos I have ever had. I’m salivating right now just thinking about it. Some of the more adventurous members of the group did some paddleboarding. You should know by now that I am not in that number. However, I had signed up for yoga but it didn’t happen because I became one with my lounge chair. This was another beautiful day in Mexico. Run and lounge. What could be better than that?
The Getaway: I had bumped into an elderly couple at the airport on my way to Miami. They asked if I was cruising and informed me that Norwegian is for older people and for that reason they were cruising on Carnival. Well excuse me grams and gramps!!! That said, I enjoyed the Norwegian Getaway. There was lots to do on the ship between ports and at night. One of the highlights of the ship was Bandaoke. When I saw it on the schedule I gave it the stink eye. What happened to good old Karaoke? But Bandaoke turned out to be the cat’s meow, the dog’s bark and the bird’s chirp. Yes!!! Instead of performing to a track, you sang with the house band. And what a band!!! And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Oh and in light of the old timers referenced above, I have to mention that Norwegian’s embarkation party in Costa Maya blew Carnival’s out of the water. No pun intended. The Carnival cruisers were looking really pitiful watching us Wobble our way back onto the Getaway. Ha!!! Norwegian also arranged for the RFFC group to tender before the other passengers in Grand Cayman. That was pretty cool.
In conclusion, this was a fabulous trip. The Newton Family aka RFFC took great care of us. And even as I type they are cooking up another great trip for 2017 that will include the ports: Roatan; Belize; Costa Maya; and Cozumel.
The fact that this is my first blog entry of 2016 is not indicative of how active I have been. In fact I have participated in some interesting races this year. I may just backtrack and provide a summary at a later date. But another interesting thing that I have done is J.J. Smith’s 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. Someone asked me to blog my experience and I aim to please my one and only fan. So here it is.
First let me start by saying that this is not a review of the book 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. So you will not find any scientific critiques of the methods and claims expounded in the book. And let’s be clear, I am not recommending this cleanse, so if your hair turns green on Day 5, please don’t call, text, or message me. Just don’t. I won’t be there for you. This is merely a recap of my experience while attempting to do the cleanse.
Those who know me are well aware that I am not about the diet life. I like what I like and and I eat what I like. I’m more of a portion control chick because I cannot be denied my foods or else binging will ensue.
Anyway, I had gotten to the point where I could not shake my winter hibernation. I had packed on some serious pounds and was trapped in a vicious cycle of losing and finding what seemed like the same five pounds. So after an online group decided to do this cleanse, I thought why not? I was feeling gross and it was time to try something different. It helped that this procedure is marketed as a cleanse rather than a diet. It focuses on detoxifying the body so that it will work more efficiently. After doing my reading, I decided that this was a more civilized cleanse than my mother’s “wash-outs.” Although effective, the wash-outs consist of a foul tasting homemade concoction, cause abdominal cramping and keeps you chained to the bathroom for two days while you pray for Jesus to take you.
This cleanse promised 10 days of delicious smoothies. The sticking point was that there is no food, just smoothies and limited snack options. But no problem. I was ready be clean and detoxed. So off I went to the supermarket to pick up my smoothie ingredients as instructed in the book.
DAY 1: Not too bad. Since I was hyped up to get going and I’m no stranger to green smoothies, I had no problem slurping down my Peachy Green Smoothie. Although Smith recommends that you make your day’s worth of smoothies at once, I embarked upon a twice a day routine. I blended all of my greens in the morning and stored half of the blended greens in the refrigerator for later. Then I added the fruit provided for in the recipe to the other half of blended greens. Why these shenanigans you ask? Because I have found that greens tend to overtake the taste of the smoothie when left sitting for a number of hours and I just cannot get with the grass flavor. I got two servings from each batch and had four smoothies per day. Apples and crunchy veggies were recommended as snacks along with sugarless peanut butter, boiled eggs and raw nuts. Let’s not kid ourselves, I was not trying to have anymore fruit and vegetables so boiled eggs and nuts became my snacks of choice. Besides, I needed that protein. I felt pretty good after day 1 and was really proud of myself for successfully completing the day.
DAY 2: Interesting. I started my day with some ginger tea and tallied up my calories from the day before and realized that my caloric intake was way too low. So I added Greek Yogurt to my smoothies to help ramp up the calories and the protein. I decided that I was not going to use the optional protein powder, so I needed to get it elsewhere. I also added another boiled egg to my snacks. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved my boiled eggs. However, I was starting to feel fatigued and irritable.
DAY 3: Take me now because surely I am dying a slow death by smoothie. This was by far the worst day of the cleanse. Everywhere I went I smelled food. I was craving hotdogs, burgers, pizza, ANYTHING. I was salivating over the meal I had prepared for my family. And the very thought of my smoothie was making me want to retch. They all seemed to taste the same and I was not a happy camper.
I complained to any and everyone about the cleanse. This turned into a good thing because I received a lot of encouragement and stayed the course. By the end of the day I figured that maybe I’d hang on to day five as that would constitute a valiant effort.
DAY 4: Not sure what all the fuss was about yesterday. I was feeling berry peachy, just like my smoothie.
DAY 5: Ohh ohh, we’re half way there, Ohh ohh, living on a prayer. I weighed in and I was down 7 lbs and had lost two inches off my ample waist. Whoo hoo!!!! But even with this victory, I had a little slip up. I had a two cups of popcorn that I made on the stovetop with a little olive oil. What? Don’t judge me. I just felt the need to clear my palate of the smoothie mouth that I had.
DAY 6: So today I made the conscious decision to modify the cleanse. I had a lunch date with a friend and didn’t want to be a Herb and not eat. So, I substituted one of my smoothies for a salad and nixed the dressing. I didn’t even touch the bread. I mean really. I didn’t even sniff it. I was so proud of myself.
DAY 7: I think I’m going to actually finish this thing. It was the weekend and I wasn’t even feeling bad about the smoothies. In fact, I found myself looking forward to my smoothies. And today’s Pineapple Berry smoothie was delish. I picked up more supplies today and realized that this cleanse is pretty pricey. I almost shed a tear when I dropped the pomegranate kernels into my basket. But onward and upward.
DAY 8: So close but yet so far. I don’t think I’ve discussed how much I despise kale. I really hate the stuff. It’s for people who enjoy eating grass and weeds. Today’s smoothie was heavy on the kale but I got through it.
DAY 9: Oh. My. Gawsh. I’m almost done. I’m super excited and I’m making post-cleanse eating plans. I’m going to have a Panera Greek Salad in two days. Yes I am!!! I have NEVER been so excited about eating a salad in my life. Today’s smoothie was really tasty.
DAY 10: I couldn’t believe it was the last day. I kept calculating the days to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. I did steal a couple of french fries from my daughter. She shouldn’t be eating that anyway. Aside from that I was good and by the end of the day I was a 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse Alum. Whoo Hoo. Happy dance, happy dance!
Now THAT is the Running Man.
The big question is, was it worth it? The is answer is, “Heck yeah.” I lost 11.5 lbs and 3 inches off my waist, 1.5 inches off my hips, 2 inches off my chest (back fat be gone). My sugar cravings were gone and I was no longer seeking a cow to devour. I see some improvement in my skin but I never got the increased energy that was promised. I have been waking up more energized but that surge peters out by noon and then I just feel tired. But I would definitely consider this cleanse a success.
It’s my second time running this race. The first time was in 2013. I registered for it as a 10K and it was changed to an untimed 4 mile run due to a heatwave. The race is for a great cause and so I had no problem adding it to my NYRR 9+1 NYC Marathon qualifier roster. Yes, I’m actually considering running the monster again in 2016.
I had to pick up my bib before the race and of course packet pick-up was clear across Central Park. The start of the race was on the East side and the bibs were on the West side. If I had thought the logistics through, I would have parked on the West side, picked up my packet and moseyed on over to the start. But NOOOOO, I parked like 153 blocks away on the East side and had to do a light jog to save time. When I finally got to the park I was mobbed by a pack of hounds. Well, not exactly mobbed and they weren’t really hounds but there were many dogs off their leashes running around me. Just when I was about to get indignant, I noticed a sign telling me I was in the dog park. So I sucked it up and walked because I always think dogs will chase me if I’m running.
I passed the starting corrals and headed west. After picking up my number, I relaxed. The announcer was stating that the seeded corrals were closing but I really didn’t care. I’m so far to the back that it doesn’t matter. So I sashayed on over to the start and went to the back. By the time I crossed the start line the race had probably been in progress for about 12 minutes or so but that didn’t matter to me because my time is measured from when I cross the start.
So off I went. But let me tell you, there were so many shenanigans going on with my running buddies in the back. My esteemed running colleagues were in no hurry. One chick stopped about 45 seconds in to take a selfie. I’m mean we’re all running elbow to elbow, heal to toe and she just BLAM, stops. I almost knocked her over. I began to think that maybe I should have hustled to get into my corral.
After awhile I settled down. Then I heard this conversation at mile 2:
Runner 1: $*#%@, what was that? Was that my sweat?
Runner 2: That was rain.
Runner 1: $*#%@
I felt nothing and wasn’t worried. I’ve run some serious mileage in the rain. About two minutes later, there is a loud rumble of thunder.
I think, this doesn’t sound good but there’s a possibility that nothing will come of it. I was wronger than Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail. The skies opened up and suddenly there was a full on torrential downpour. Let me tell you, I was not ready. Not ready at all. So now I’m trying to run up hills and my eyes are burning because leave in conditioner from my hair is dripping in my eyes. For some reason I think my sun glasses will shield my eyes from the rain, so I pull them down from off my head and put them on. This only made things worse, because now I can’t get to my eyes to wipe them with my soaking wet arm. I take the glasses off and try to run with my eyes narrowed down to little slits but there are raindrops in my eyelashes. People have stopped running and they are walking. I’m thinking they are crazy because there is lightning and all I can see around me are electronic devices and trees. I keep running. It’s an annoyed run because I’m thinking if I had gotten in my corral I would have been farther along when the rain started.
At mile three I see, through my narrow slits, a bright flash of light in a bush just ahead of me. Lawd help, the lightning is upon me. I blink away the rain water and realize it’s a race photographer standing under a tree taking pictures. Talk about dedicated. Now my feet are squelching and sloshing around in my shoes but I run on. I look down at my watch at mile 3.5 and suddenly freak out because I don’t know if my brand new Garmin is water resistant. It doesn’t look water resistant but it’s still working. I was snapped out of my panic by a loud noise … aaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhh … aaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh. It was the woman I was passing. She was running and moaning. She didn’t seem to be in any real distress. I guess we all have our own coping mechanisms. I realized I wasn’t looking so lovely myself. I had been running with my mouth open because I had been inhaling rain water through my nose and felt like I couldn’t breathe. Now I wasn’t sure if that was drool on my chin. At this point I was close to the end and didn’t care.
I had no big aspirations for this race but I did want to finish in under 40 minutes and with about 100 meters to go, this was a possibility if I hauled it to the line. So I picked up the pace. I had about 50 meters to go when a guy in front of me dropped his phone … and kept going. Dern, dern, dern it. I couldn’t leave it there in the rain, so I stopped to pick it up. Although, how could he not realize that he had dropped his big ole Samsung? I ran through the line to catch him and returned his phone. I start to continue straight to get to the water. That’s when I heard the volunteers telling me and everyone else to go to the left or right and evacuate the park. They were also yelling at runners who were standing under trees. No water, apple or pretzels for us. But who needs water when there’s plenty of acid rain to go around?
Later I found out that the race had been called at some point due to the thunder and lightning. I wish someone had told us. Anyway, I still had a recorded time and it was 40:01. You know I was miffed at Mr. Samsung. Anyway, it was still a P.R. since I haven’t raced this distance in a very long time. On to the next race.
I’ve been in a bit of a funk since the NYC Marathon and have not blogged at all. The winter was really rough and I did a lot of eating (of the sumo wrestler variety) and sitting on the couch. I did manage to drag myself out to end the year with a 5 mile Turkey Trot and back to back half marathons on December 13 and 14 … craziness. The first half of 2015 consisted of: a January 1st Hangover 5 Miler; the Philadelphia Love Run; the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15K (great race); the Brooklyn Half Marathon; the Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon; the Long Island Corporate Fun Run 5K; and today’s Oakley Mini 10K.
This was my third Oakley 10K and this race continues to kick my behind. This baffles me because a portion of the race is outside of the hellish Central Park and the course runs counter to the really steep hills. As always the beginning of the race was extremely crowded and congested, which limited my pace. I can’t say I was too bothered by the slow pace though because it was so hot that I knew that I should ease into this race. But what did bother me was the chick who pitched her bony elbow into my left boob as we were entering Central Park. She didn’t even look over to see if she had impaled me. Ugh!!! And less than a mile later, I almost took an elbow to the face by some 7 foot Amazon woman. I don’t recall having these problems when running in a mixed gender field.
This race got hotter and hotter as it progressed. I stopped at most of the water stations to be on the safe side. However, I felt as though the water stations were short. By the time I would merge over to grab water the stations were over. I had to back track to get the water at one of the stations because I had completely passed it. They did have some water sprinklers out there, which was great. What they did not have on the course was Gatorade. What??? Here I am sweating buckets and they didn’t have even one station with some electrolytes. What was the meaning of that? All I knew was that they had better have some Gatorade at the finish or else there was going to be consequences and repercussions. At mile 5, I had visions of me turning over the water table at the finish after realizing that there was no Gatorade (much like Jesus when he flipped out on the money changers in the temple).
Luckily for them, they broke out the Gatorade at the end of the race. Now, I don’t mean to sound completely negative concerning this race. I do like it … or maybe I just like the idea of it as it is an all women’s race that provides the participants with nice tanks and medals.
Of all the race distances, I feel like the 10K is the most tricky. I don’t feel as though I have the luxury of taking my time as I would in an endurance race but at the same time it’s 6.2 miles, which is significant mileage to be running at a fast pace. Today’s time of 1:09:02 is not my worst 10K time. That honor goes to the 2014 Oakley Mini 10K.
WARNING: This is an extremely long and self-indulgent post. Okay, carry on at your own risk.
On November 2, 2014, I completed the five borough, five bridge trek to Central Park. It was the largest marathon the world has ever seen with 50,875 participants. I am excited to be a part of history, until next year when I’m sure there will be even more runners.
The week leading up to the marathon was a little overwhelming. There were the logistics: getting to the expo for bib pick up; navigating the huge expo; pre-race hydrating and fueling; race fueling; resting; laying out appropriate race clothing; transportation to the race; and organizing throwaway clothing to wear in the the slum village (I’ll explain later). I had my race clothes prepared two weeks in advance but had to change them the day before due to cold and windy weather that was being forecast a couple of days out from the race. And by Thursday night I was suffering with a head cold. Seriously??!!! A full blown cold, just three days before the race.
But the show had to go on. I tried to get as much rest as I could and drank a ton of hot drinks. By race morning I was feeling a lot better and was too excited to think about my congestion. I left the house while it was still dark out, which was really unfortunate since my wave (the we’re just happy to be here wave) wasn’t starting the race until 10:55 a.m. I headed to Lynbrook Runner’s Stop to take their bus to Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. We had to cross the Verrazano by 7:00 a.m. before it got shut down for the marathon. The idea was to get to Fort Wadsworth and then wait in Marathon Start Villages aka Slum Village for your wave to begin. Because runners had to wait for hours in the Villages, it was necessary to bring warm clothing and/or blankets that you could leave behind. So it looked like a small town of panhandlers.
I actually saw some people in footie pajamas. Mercifully, our bus arranged for warm accommodations for as long as possible. So by the time I arrived at Fort Wadsworth, it was time to check my bag and line up at my corral. Just in case I forget to say this later, do not check baggage for this race. You will be penalized. More on this later.
STATEN ISLAND (Miles 1-2)
The Staten Island portion of the race was basically the Verrazano Bridge. It would be easy they said. Don’t go out too fast they said. It will be over before you know it they said. Now I had read that you would know if you were in trouble at around Mile 15 (the Queensboro Horror) but I could tell that trouble was afoot in Mile 1. The wind was blowing so hard that NYRR started the wheelchair division on the other side of the bridge in Brooklyn. There were sustained winds at 35 mph and wind gusts up to 45 mph with a wind chill of 32 degrees. Awesomeness!!! The Throwaway clothing was being picked up by the wind and was flying through the air. I couldn’t wait to get off the wretched bridge but it just seemed to go on forever.
BROOKLYN (Miles 2-13)
What a sweet reprieve. As soon as we got off the bridge, the party started. Brooklyn was off the chain. The crowd support was amazing. The first group that I saw were police officers, cheering for us as we ran off the bridge. I put my headphones away and let the crowd carry me. However, it didn’t escape me that there was a band playing “Another One Bites The Dust” in Bay Ridge. We were only at mile 3, it was a little early for all of that. “We Are The Champions” might have been a more appropriate Queen selection. Not nice. I have my eye on you Bay Ridge. As my running buddy Sharon and I got to the right-hand side mile 4 water station on our side of the street, there was a little confusion as the water was not ready. We had to wait for a volunteer to pour it. It was a small but unexpected glitch in the matrix. The party continued down Fourth Avenue. The 4:45 pacer passed us. I was cool with that. I was enjoying the party. The music genres would change every couple of blocks but it was high energy the whole way. I may have seen my favorite sign in Brooklyn, it said, “Timmy Don’t Trust Your Farts.” Wise word, but probably more fitting at mile 18. By the time we got to Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, Sharon was twirling and running backwards while jamming to the music. She must have had Energizer batteries for breakfast because I was trying to conserve what little wind stomped energy that I had left. The only time things got quiet was while we ran through the Hasidic community in Williamsburg. It’s just as well there was no music because you needed to concentrate on not running over pedestrians. People would casually stroll across the street in front of you just when you were feeling like Meb or Deba.
Then we crossed an intersection and as if on cue, the intro to Jay-Z’s New York State of Mind came blaring through a DJ’s speakers. As the beat dropped the runners erupted into a huge cheer and the party recommenced. Hercules, Hercules!!! At mile 13 it was time to leave Brooklyn by way of little spoken of Pulaski Bridge.
QUEENS (Miles 13-16)
So now I’m on the Pulaski Bridge and I’m not thrilled because it looks like this:
Okay so maybe it didn’t really look exactly like that but it felt that way. Our saving grace was that it wasn’t that long. Queens had a lot of good music and great spectators. At one point, a couple of runners behind me were complaining about the awful mysterious smell in the air. I figured if they didn’t know what weed smelled like at this point in their life, I was not going to be the one to break it to them. Party on Queens!!! Energizer had made a pit stop earlier but I didn’t trust myself to stop at that particular point so I continued on alone. Now as I ran onto the Queensboro Bridge I was prepared for the worst. It’s a pretty tough incline at mile 15 and there is no crowd support on the bridge. Most of the runners began walking. I reconnected my iPod and ran as much of the one mile dragon as I could. I was excited as I ran off the bridge, not only because I was entering Manhattan but because I was approaching the BGR! Mile 16 water station.
MANHATTAN (Miles 16-19)
And there it is, the Mile 16 water station that is (wo)manned by Black Girls Run! It didn’t quite look so virginal by the time I got there but you can imagine how excited I was to see familiar faces. I entered First Avenue on the left and but was looking to my right to see if I could spot BGR! Long Island because the left side seemed to be mostly NYC ladies (I love them too). By the time I got three quarters of the way through I saw Shari and Mama Rose. I love me some Mama Rose, she might be the most happy and positive person I know. It was then that I reached for a cup of water from Lisa, an inspirational member of BGR! NYC. It turns out that Long Island was on the right. Regardless, I was feeling tremendous love from all the BGR ladies. It was awesome. However, by the time I got to Mile 17, I was feeling really tired. Sharon the dancing Energizer Bunny had caught up to me and was going strong. A pacer was passing me. Wait just one minute, that’s the 5:15 pacer!!! For a fleeting moment I flirted with the idea of running with the pacer. That lasted less than half a second. Instead, I took a walk break and had a few bites of a peanut butter sandwich that I had stashed in my Spi Belt. I heard someone yell, “You can do it Jennean!!!” I looked towards the voice and saw a random stranger looking at me encouragingly. I kept forgetting that I had my name sewn onto my hat. I waved at him and started running. It was at this point that they started to move the mile markers further away. What gives NYRR, TCS, whoever? During mile 18 I decided to investigate the shenanigans and realized that the markers were fine and just maybe they seemed further away because I had resorted to running a 15 minute mile pace. Yikes!!! I plodded along to the Willis Avenue bridge and entered what I expected to be the marathon dead zone … the Bronx.
The Bronx (Miles 20-21)
Boy, was I wrong!!! I turned the corner after the bridge there was a man with a microphone standing in the middle of the street yelling, “Welcome to the Bronx!” Old school hip hop was blaring and the spectators were on level 10. The Bronx was the place to be. I decided to use the mile 20 porta-potty because the line was short and it was a good time to regroup for the journey ahead. Problem was, it seemed I hit “the wall” in the porta-john.
I mean seriously. As much as I hate the porta potties (and believe you me, this one had been used and abused) I was more than happy to hang out in there for the rest of the day. There was no wind blowing on me and no running. I don’t even know how long I stayed before I started wondering what would happen if the wind blew it over with me in it. News Report: Missing marathon runner found in overturned Bronx porta potty. It appears that she has been in said porta potty for 10 hours. She is now recovering at a nearby psychiatric facility.
So I reluctantly left the porta potty and began running again. I looked to my right and there was a spectator who looked right at me and held up six fingers. Yeah, I can do this. I only have a 10K left. I picked up the pace a little and journeyed on to the Third Avenue bridge.
MORE MANHATTAN (21-26.2)
At the tail end of the bridge, I distinctly remember thinking that no one had better be playing Jay-Z’s “New York State of Mind” when I re-entered Manhattan. I was officially cranky. Thankfully, the DJ was playing gospel music when I entered Harlem U.S.A., specifically Fred Hammond’s “Lord Your Grace.” I mouthed the lyrics, “Your favor is just what I needed.” I felt a little better but my thighs were feeling heavy and tight as I approached mile 22. That’s when I saw the BGR cheer squad. They were yelling “BGR, BGR” and had lots of signs. One said, “All Toenails Go to Heaven.” I waved frantically. As I ran down Fifth Avenue I heard more spectators yelling, “BGR.” I was hurting at this point and was just focusing on trying to keep running. I gave deep nods and kept going.
Mile 23 – This One Gets It’s Own Section
As I approached the mile 23 hydration station, my quadriceps were cramping and so I moved over to the side to a police barricade and tried to stretch them out but the cramping got worse. So I hobbled on over to the hydration station and grabbed some Gatorade but suddenly the cramp in my right leg got so bad I couldn’t even drink it. One of the volunteers told me to go to the medical tent and pointed it out. It was just a few feet away and by the time I got there I could barely speak due to the pain. A volunteer took my Gatorade and I managed to tell them that I was having cramps in my legs in between my cries of pain. There were two volunteers massaging my legs to no avail. One of them asked me if I wanted salt. I really had no idea what I needed I just wanted the pain to stop. So I screamed, “Yes.” I took the salt and … nothing. I was still in pain. Now I’m freaking out because I don’t think I’m going to be able to finish the race because I couldn’t even walk. Then it was “Tylenol?” Of course the response was, “Yes, Yes.” Then, “Gatorade?” Here’s where things got dodgy. I told them, “I have Gatorade, I have Gatorade.” They looked at me like I was crazy. So I clarified, “I gave it to the lady.” Suddenly everything stops and they look at the volunteer who led me into the tent. With wide eyes she says, “Oh, I threw it away.” I must have looked like I was going to kill her and she got the side eye from one of the other volunteers, who was probably afraid for his life. Next thing I know, one of them hands me a 24 oz bottle of Gatorade. I take a couple of sips and after a few minutes the pain starts to subside. I thank the volunteers, who I’m sure were glad to see the back of the screaming mad woman, and start walking. I only have 3.2 miles to go. I am finishing this race.
So now I’m walking and sipping on my massive bottle of Gatorade. The 5:30 pacer passed me but I couldn’t have cared less about my finish time. I’m just happy that I can walk. But after a while I just wanted the thing to be over, so I start running again and I’m cradling my Gatorade bottle like a newborn. At mile 24 we enter Central Park. As much as I despise Central Park this is exciting because the race ends in the park. I ditch my Gatorade bottle and start moving. Then, hold up!!! Suddenly, we are no longer in the park. It is mile 25 and we are back on the street. For some reason I didn’t like this turn of events. My aching body couldn’t take the psychological warfare. We eventually wound up back in the park and I was too happy to see the 26 mile marker but braced myself for the .2. I was actually surprised when I saw the finish line appear so quickly. I couldn’t believe I was about to be a marathoner. It took me 5 hours, 37 minutes and 34 seconds to cross that line but I did it. As the volunteer placed my medal around my neck, he looked me in the eye and said, “Black girls do run.” It was an awesome moment.
BUT WAIT WE’RE NOT REALLY FINISHED
So after running yourself into the ground you now have to walk another 14 blocks to get out of the Park if you checked a bag, which I did. If you did not check a bag you had to walk five blocks to exit the Park to pick up your marathon poncho. I only checked my bag to get access to warm, dry clothes and my mandatory chocolate milk recovery drink as soon as possible. Turns out the ponchos were fleece lined and very nice and chocolate milk was provided in the recovery bag provided at the finish. So I would recommend that future NYC Marathoners check the no baggage designation prior to the NYRR deadline. Thankfully, the Lynbrook Runner’s Stop bus waited for all of its runners to return a few blocks away from the exit.
Although my recap sounds like I had a miserable time. It was an awesome experience that will stay with me forever. I have dreamed about running the New York City Marathon for over ten years but never really thought it would actually happen. Sometimes dreams do come true. If I’m honest, I will say that I was a little disappointed with my time as I wanted to finish in under five hours. But as we runners say, it was enough to just finish my first marathon. The other thing all decent runners firmly believe is that unless you are an elite professional, we do not compete against others, only ourselves. Now with that said, I will compare my time with some members of the 1 percent marathon club with whom you might be familiar.