The Ice Bath Cometh: NYC Marathon 2016

tcsnyc

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.

Race Day

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.

marathon-bus
Loaded up and ready to go in our posh bus.

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.

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Tova, me & Drew

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.

Slum Village

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.

The Race

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. the-bridge-is-overI 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.

brooklyn
Brooklyn, what’s not to love

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.” puckered-faceSuddenly 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.

cut-bananas
It was brown where they cut it but I was in no shape to be picky

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. flavA 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.

finisher-nyc2016

In Closing

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.

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Boomer Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 2015

Boomer's Cystic Fibrosis

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.

why

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.

dog-chases-man-up-tree

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.

RuhRohScooby

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.

running in lightning

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.

drool bib

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?

rainwater

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.

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL VIRGINIA BEACH HALF MARATHON 2014

Rock-n-Roll-Virginia-Beach-06

It’s been four weeks since I ran RnR Virginia Beach but I have regained my running mojo and have such fond memories of the race that I decided to post this delayed recap. Besides, the fact that I left the State to get there makes it noteworthy. Everyone has an opinion about the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series and I won’t get into all of that but I will say that I have enjoyed the three races that I have run with them.

Now, the disclaimer that should have been posted about the race was that if you were driving in from out of town you should be aware that there was a possibility that you would have to cross this bad boy.

cbbt-300x200

That’s the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel aka The Beast Bridge. It is 20 miles long and turns into an underwater tunnel at two points. At a certain point you can’t see any land while on the bridge. Actually, it is possible that land was visible behind me but I’m no fool. I was not about to take my eyes off the piece of thread in front of me that was posing as a bridge. No siree bob. Turns out the Beast Bridge route shaved 90 minutes off my drive from New York to Virginia Beach and I desperately needed that time because I barely made the 5:00 p.m. packet pick-up at the expo … and a fine expo it was. After picking up my bib and a pair of compression sleeves, I rushed on over to The Yard House to have dinner with members of the National Black Marathon Association. I had a great time meeting fellow runners and indulging in some unnecessary tasty carb loading.

Dinner with NBNA
Dinner with NBNA –  I’m in the back but I promise I was there

Since the hotel prices were inflated due to Labor Day weekend and probably the race, I chose to stay in Chesapeake. Besides, the only two hotels (um, cough cough … motels) on the Boardwalk that weren’t sold out resembled overpriced dingy tenements. The good news is that plenty of complementary shuttle buses were provided at the Farm Bureau Live Amphitheater to transport the runners to and from the race start and finish. That worked out beautifully.

Onward to the race. After arriving at the at the start location, I saw that there had been food provided. I had already fueled but thought that was a nice option. It was warm for a 7:00 a.m. start but I deliberately had not checked the weather because I heard the race was typically hot and I didn’t want to psych myself out. There was a large contingency from Black Girls Run! and Half Fanatics and so I took pictures with them and started the race with Tammy and Loretta, two awesome BGR! members from Greensboro, NC.

I Love BGR

By the end of mile one I was sweating like a pig. I’m not even sure if pigs sweat. Anyway, I was drenched and at that point realized that it was super humid.

Do pigs even sweat?
Do pigs even sweat?

Despite the heat and humidity, I was feeling pretty good and was enjoying the bands playing along the way. The race was still very congested at mile 3 and I lost my buddies at the water station. After mile 4 a band was rocking out to Michael Jackson’s Bad and not too long after that the spectators started cheering so hard that I ran a little taller. Just as I was beginning to think I was a rockstar, I realized that the crowd, as well as other runners, were actually cheering for the front runners who were on their way back to the finish line … nice. No really, good for them. So I plugged on and it got hotter and hotter. Hats off to Competitor for being prepared though. All of the water stations were where they were supposed to be and there was a wet sponge station and some sort of misting device to run through. Of course I ran around it because I didn’t realize what it was until it was too late. There were also local people along the race course who were spraying the runners with water. Bless their hearts. I was trucking along until around mile 11 when I realized that if I sped up a little, I could actually blast my PR by a few minutes.

Tick, Tick, Tick
Tick, Tick, Tick

So now I’m running faster than I should be considering the weather conditions and I realize that it is blazing hot. At some point I zoned out and by the time I completed mile 12 and looked at my watch, it became apparent that I really hadn’t been running that fast at all. The PR was slipping away so I stepped it up and kept a watchful eye on my watch. It was looking attainable again but then a steep hill in the form of a ramp appeared. The nerve!!! I suddenly recalled that we climbed a hill in the first mile and since this was an out and back course, I should have been expecting it. I zipped by bunch of runners who opted to walk the hill. Walking it was probably the smart thing to do but I was on a mission. With the hill conquered, my new problem was that my watch was ahead of the course. It was telling me that I had already run 13 miles but the 13 mile course marker was nowhere to be seen. I hate that but really it happens all the time. Soon, I find myself on the Boardwalk. Awesomeness, the race is coming to a close. But wait, I can’t see the finish line. Just how long is this Boardwalk and do we have to run the entire thing????

Finish L[ne
Finish Line
I finally see the finish line in the distance. I barrel towards the arch but it just doesn’t seem to be getting any closer. My watch tells me I’m moving at a nice clip but if I don’t get there soon the PR is gone. And that wouldn’t be the worst thing but to get so close and miss is the worst thing, so I keep at it. The elusive finish line starts to get bigger. I am so close. Now I throw whatever decent running form I had left out the window. I am taking giant steps and I’m pumping my arms to get to the finish. I cross the line and PR by exactly one minute.

Every now and then I turn into a White Russian man
Every now and then I turn into a White Russian man

Now, all I want to do is lay down on the Boardwalk but my legs feel like lead and I know I have to keep moving. So I keep walking. There are lots of giveaways and I’m picking up my chocolate milk, Gatorade, apple, chip and the like but I am feeling uncomfortable and super cranky. It suddenly becomes too much for me to walk and carry all of my goodies. So I start looking for a bag to put them in. Apparently, a vendor was giving away orange tote bags but it must have been located a mile down the Boardwalk because I never reached it. After carrying on about needing a plastic bag, a nice volunteer found me a massive plastic bag. I was satisfied until the unfortunate thing happened. I saw a Dairy Queen right as I was leaving the Boardwalk. I haven’t been within 100 feet of a Dairy Queen in over 15 years and miraculously there was an empty table right next to it. But I was so cranky and afraid to stop and sit that I felt compelled to keep moving. I felt like the man in the picture below. I was angry at Dairy Queen for being there.

Man attacking Dairy Queen
Man attacking the Dairy Queen

I finally made it to the air conditioned shuttle and took my well earned seat. Surprisingly, after an ice bath and a few minutes in my compression sleeves, I was feeling good enough to jump in the car to travel to my next destination, which was Georgia.

Race Shirt and Medal
Race Shirt and Medal

All in all it was a great experience even though the course wasn’t the most inspiring. The medal pictured above is really nice and doubles as a bottle opener. Although I wasn’t able to participate, runners were able to compete in a One Mile Run on the Beach the day before the Half Marathon. The One Miler came with its own medal and those who did both races received a third medal. So it was a potential bling bonanza. Competitor gets a thumbs up on this one.

YEAR IN REVIEW

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It’s already the first day of 2014 and so I feel compelled to speed through my review of 2013. I’m just so ready to move forward and into 2014. So hang onto your seat here it goes.

I signed up for a mini triathlon but oops … couldn’t swim. I flailed, barfed and cried but managed to learn in time for the April triathlon. I more than doubled the allotted swim time limit but I completed the race … losing but winning. In addition to the tri, I ran a million races, most of them in June. There were three half marathons, four 10Ks, one five miler, one four miler and seven 5Ks. It was fun. I fainted, lost a toe nail and got beat by a 5 year old. But the best part was the cha ching bling. Check it out.

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It’s time to get a display rack and rescue those babies from the sock drawer.

Stay tuned for my 2014 New Year, New Goal.

TRENTON DOUBLE CROSS HALF MARATHON RECAP

trenton-half-logo

It’s been a long time since I have posted. I have run a few good races since my last post. Last month I did the Rock n Roll Brooklyn 10K but I will admit that my running has fallen by the wayside a little. Now, today marked the second year of the Trenton Double Cross Half Marathon. I had been looking forward to this race for a long time as it was recommended by Black Girls Run (BGR) AND because BGR was providing a special finisher medal to its members. So this race was a bona fide twofer bling fest. However, my training was hampered by my busy schedule and my last couple of runs did not look too promising. But I was determine to see this one through.

In addition to my running woes, there were a few things that gave me pause about how the race was going to go. First I realized late in the game that there was an actual host hotel that I was not staying in. I did seek out that information on the race website prior to booking a room at the Comfort Inn in Morrisville, PA. Apparently, the race coordinators added this information later. So my travel buddy and I wound up having to drive over to the host hotel to catch the shuttle bus to the race. Then after arriving a the hotel, I realized that I had left my watch at the Comfort Inn. Yikes. I NEVER run any race without my Garmin, much less a half marathon. I was completely freaked out and annoyed because if I was staying at the host hotel I would be able to retrieve my watch by just jumping on an elevator. The third problem was the shuttle buses, they seemed to have just one shuttle bus to take runners to the race location. This cause a little tension because there were hundreds of runners trying to get on one yellow school bus. And finally, I brought my “stomach medicine” to race and then forgot to take it. There will be no further exploration of that topic.

sad face

Anyway, we got to the race and lined up. It was freezing … well, almost. It was 33 degrees. As I was positioning myself at the start, I saw the five year old boy that was going to be running the half marathon. He had been getting a lot of press as he would be the youngest person to complete a Half. I was genuinely excited for the lad but not thrilled at the thought of being bested by a five year old. I moved further down in the starting chute and was happy to not have to look at boy wonder anymore. The anthem was sung by a Tony Bennett-esque man. He did a good job and then we were off.

trenton start

I was obsessing about starting too fast because I had no idea what my pace was. Early in the race I ran into Lisa from my BGR group and we ran together for about six or seven miles. She lives by the watch too and helped me with my pace. Also, I didn’t see a bunch of mile markers and had no idea how far we had run. When I finally asked Lisa what mile we were at in race, she said, “Five.” FIVE???? FIVE measly miles!!!! I was hoping she was going to say Eight. At that point we had passed many water stations and I figured were further along. Kudos to Trenton, I have never been so hydrated in my entire life.

Drank so much I turned into a cute White man
Drank so much I turned into a cute White man

Alright, that’s not really me. Now, if you are wondering why the race is called “double cross” it’s because the race starts in Trenton at the Arm and Hammer Stadium and then crosses (by bridge) into Morrisville, Pennsylvania and then it goes back to Trenton (by another bridge). The bridges were a little tough because the surfaces are uneven metal grates. By the time we got to the second bridge, most of the runners (including me) opted to run on the paved pedestrian walkway. Things were moving right along until mile 8, when I saw him. That five year old whizzed right past me at the water station. I had a near melt down. Lisa had to near slap me back into reality. I continued to run but was starting to feel really sluggish. It didn’t help that we entered a park with a brutal hill. At this point I knew I couldn’t keep up with Lisa and just slowed it down a little. At mile 9 I gained my second wind. Oh yeah, I felt like I was really moving but I didn’t know for sure without my watch. I was right behind the little tyke. He looked so cute and strong. He was holding a woman’s hand (maybe his mother) and was doing his thing. I noticed that they didn’t seem to stop at the water stations. The woman had a hydration belt and they were most likely self fueling. I felt a little bad for trying to compete against a small child … BUT NOT THAT BAD!!! See yah kiddo. I passed him at around mile 9.5. My second wind left me at around mile 12. Which was the last mile marker on the course. This drove me near crazy because I had no idea how close I was to the finish. At one point, right at the stadium parking lot, the spectators were lined up and cheering. Believing I was right around the corner from the finish line, I sped up and began high fiving all the spectators. BRING ON MY MEDALS!!! I turned the corner and think I really heard a needle scratch a record. THERE WAS NO FINISH IN SIGHT. Disappointment does not begin to describe my feeling at that moment. Eventually I entered the actual stadium. There were tons of spectators there and high energy but I still couldn’t see the finish line. When I finally saw it, I was so excited but couldn’t muster up a sprint to the finish. Other runners were flying by me but I didn’t even care. I trotted on through that finish line. The announcer proclaimed my finish. This was a really nice touch as this was a large race but they still managed to announce everyone as they crossed the finish line.

The Baseball Stadium Where the Race Ended
The Baseball Stadium Where the Race Ended

As I was looking at the stadium steps that I was going to have to walk up after running 13 miles, the crowd erupted. Five year old Anthony Russo had just crossed the finish line as the youngest person to complete a Half Marathon. AMAZING. And here’s the kicker, he beat me. When I checked the race results, his time was around a minute faster than my 2:23:11. Apparently, I crossed the start line way ahead of him. GOOD FOR ANTHONY!!!

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This was a good race and I wouldn’t mind doing it again. I feel it will just get better since it’s only in its second year. I have to give a special shout out to the Comfort Inn in Morrisville because they were really cool about extending our checkout time so we could get ourselves together before hitting the road. Also, Andrea, my partner in crime on this running mission, gets a shout out for rubbing and stretching legs after they both cramped up as I unsuccessfully tried to get out of the car after driving back to New York. She endured my screams of pain really well. With that said … WHEN’S THE NEXT RACE!?!

Fourfer Race Recap

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June 2013 will have to go down as a record race month for me. I ran seven races, including the David Lerner Police Appreciation Run, which was not featured in the blog. There were many teachable and enjoyable moments. Below are recaps of my last four races. Excuse the long length of this entry.

HEALTHY HEMPSTEAD 5K

Finally, a nice, fun, feel good race. It probably helped that I got decent amount of sleep, ate a peanut butter sandwich and swigged a little Gatorade an hour before hand. This race was brought to my attention by BGR member Super D (she’s faster than a speeding train), who made a heart felt plea for BGR Long Island to support her hometown in this race. Although I had penciled this race onto my calendar, I was feeling some trepidation after my little episode at Mini 10K the prior week. So I decided to play it by ear, but by Wednesday I knew that I would be back at it. Besides, a 5K would be a safe distance.

BGR Healthy Hempstead

It felt good to run through the streets of Hempstead. There was no park running. Yippee. At mile one, I passed my former employer Tom Suozzi, who is currently running for Nassau County Executive. Got to respect a politician who kisses babies on the run. I ran with him for a couple of minutes and moved on. I was in search of a water station. It was hot. I got my water and crossed the finish line with a time of 28:53. I enjoyed a nice cool coconut water and felt good about supporting the students of Hempstead, which is where the proceeds of the race went. Next up, the MetLife Stadium.

NY GIANTS RUN OF CHAMPIONS 5K

This run seemed pretty cool. New York Road Runners promised that we would run into the end zone at the MetLife stadium to finish the race. And they delivered. I’ll admit that everything before the end wasn’t extremely remarkable. Although, as I crossed the start line there were some burly fellows giving the runners high fives. I suspected that they were former Giants and got a five or two. Pity that I know nothing about football or the Giants franchise. The race route traveled around the parking lot of the sports complex. And I found out why the Giants are such a good team. Turns out that the sun shines directly on them bringing its blessings. Only on this day, the sun was shining right on the runners and on my head. It was 3 miles of unshaded sunshine. And at mile 2.5 there was a hill. Yes, a hill in the parking lot race. Turns out we had to run over a ramp to the overpass of the highway. At the base of the hill, the guy next to me loudly announced to his female running companion, “There’s a hill coming up.” I wanted to smack him on her behalf. Yes guy, we ALL see the hill. Soon after, but not soon enough, we ran into the tunnel to enter the stadium. The few short cool moments in the tunnel were heavenly. The only thing better was running the last 100 meters on the football field into the end zone with spectators cheering and your image on the jumbotron. It was an awesome finish that lived up to the hype. I crossed the line in 29:40.

giants 5k

I really liked this race, even though it was a little wasted on me. It was a family friendly event that provided lots of fun for Giants fans. There was a locker room tour, games for the children and an opportunity to meet players. Plus I had the best orange I have ever eaten. I’m going to have to watch some games next season. Next up, Glow 2 Run 5K.

RUN 2 GLOW 5K

I was really excited about this race. This would be my first fun race. It was an untimed run-walk race that was making its New York debut. I promptly signed myself and my daughter up. She’s 7 years old and I figured it would be the perfect race for us to run together. Turns out my daughter is an international world traveler and was vacationing on the run date. So, I had to go it alone. Or not …

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BGR was out in full force. We had glow in the dark paint, glasses, headdresses and all kinds of accoutrements. We were ready to Glow Hard or Glow Home (that was the race tag line). Bring on Run 2 Glow.

Haaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. That’s my sighing sound. Not the Waiting to Exhale kind of sigh when something good happens. It’s the sigh that you give when your kid brings home a “note” from the teacher or you burn the pot roast. Haaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. To be fair, the signs were there before the race. Sign #1: A couple of days before the race they sent out emails instructing us to bring a change of clothing and not to run in anything that we didn’t want ruined. What? I just thought we’d be glowing in the dark. What is this? A mud run? Sign #2: The most unorganized packet pick up I have ever seen. Everyone had to pick up their packet in person on race day between 5 P.M. and 8:00 P.M. at a tent. Considering the race started at 9:00 P.M. it was foreseeable that there would be a 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. rush. So what do the race organizer’s do? They had you pick up your bib at an alphabetized station and THEN you had to go to another station to pick up your t-shirt. Then you had to make a third stop to pick up your glow gear that they were placing in bags as you stood waiting in a crowd of people flocking a table in the too small tent (the website says the tent is huge). Why were the bags not premade with your t-shirt and distributed with your bib. It was mass mayhem. Even after you picked up your stuff it was difficult to get out because the crowd behind you was pushing forward. I did more sweating in the tent than on the run. We’ll get to the run.

Since we had been waiting around for at least an hour, everyone was anxious for the race to start. By 9:00 P.M. it was dark and there were throngs of people glowing in the tunnel at the start line. Only the race didn’t start. They kept making announcements that the walkers should move south (whatever that meant) and then they changed it, saying that the runners should move to the right. I had a timed race in the morning and so I was in the walking category. We didn’t mind too much because they had music pumping and there was a fun atmosphere but the start was just confusing.The race began maybe 20 minutes late. I’m not even sure.

The race route appeared to be around the perimeter of the Belmont Racetrack facility. After we got going, I saw a couple of kids standing on the side with garden hoses. They were spraying the participants with what I later found out was glow paint. I dodged the kids. I thought it looked a little low budget but the race had just started. After I walked a little further I realized it was really dark and I couldn’t see the surface of the trail that kept switching from paved to dirt and was complete with potholes. And it was eerily quiet. Now I was mad at myself for leaving my iPod in the car. Thankfully, I met up with Wanda, a BGR member and we kept each other company. At around mile 1.5, there was a water station. Wanda went to get some water. The cups were empty. Moving right along. We saw a UV light station. It was easily identified because it was the spot to the left where people had stopped to gather around a solitary light like flies looking at their body paint glow. Wow. This is not what I had envisioned.

Wanda and I picked up the pace. We decided the sooner this was over the better. Besides I think the pungent smell of horse poop that was hanging in the air was getting to us. We bumped into two more BGR ladies. They confirmed that the race was in fact bootleg. And speaking of bootleg, at a couple of spots on the trail there was music being played and a couple of girls dancing. At first I thought they were runners but in retrospect, I believe they were supposed to be some form of entertainment. We continued on and saw some kind of road kill in the middle of the trail. I refused to look directly at it because everything is scarier in the dark, but was told it was a pigeon. Then we saw the highlight of the race. It was a foam station. We stopped and took a picture. There was a man hanging out in the foam, who I figured was a runner assisting with picture taking. But as we were moving along, he said to me, “Oh I have to get back to the bubble machine.” This whole thing was like the Wizard of Oz being exposed from behind the curtain.

Now we were trudging along on a dirt path, making mud with the foam that was stuck to our shoes. We saw an ambulance and someone on a gurney. We figured it was someone who didn’t get the memo that they should not be running this craziness. It was too dark with too many bumps and obstructions on the road. Then we got to a huge parking lot filled with new cars from a dealership. It was too dark to tell what kind of cars they were. But we were so bored that we came up with a concept for a running game show where you were presented with a car key medal and had to run back to find your prize car amid all of the new cars by a certain time. We were snapped out of our fantasy by the sound of music. As we got closer to the music, we realized it was coming out of someone’s car. Seriously? One of the race organizer’s must have recruited their uncle Bob to park his car and open all the doors while blasting his car stereo. I CANNOT. We finally saw the finish line and after getting good and close to it, we ran to the finish. And we were then presented with the prettiest piece of bling.

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True, it wasn’t a car key but things were definitely looking up. It didn’t hurt that we were able to use the “facilities” and I do mean the Belmont Racetrack facilities. Public bathrooms are like five star accommodations at races. Then we saw a child sitting on a bench, and he was saying something to us that sounded like, “War, war, war.” What is it boy? “Water and Beer.” He was pointing us to the post race party. Poor kid looked like he was parched and out past his bedtime. I flirted with the idea of calling child services. We headed to the party where they had some decent pasta, salad and I even saw mash potatoes. I had some pasta and needed to wash it down, but when I went looking for the water all I saw were a few people gathered around a man who was unsuccessfully trying to scoop water out of an upright cooler. It was officially time to blow this unfun fun race. Next stop (after a real post race party at my girl Jazz’s house) the Achilles Hope and Possibility 5 Miler. Jazz had water. Thanks Jazz.

ACHILLES HOPE & POSSIBILITY 5 MILER 2013

I’ll cop to being nervous about this one. It was my first race over 3.1 miles and in Central Park since The Incident. But, I made sure I had my peanut butter on wheat with Gatorade and plenty of water. So I was good to go. Now, I know it was hot out there because I was sweating hard before the race even began. It had to be at least 80 degrees when the race started. I’m not sure why NYRR starts the summer races so late, in this case 9:00 a.m.

Anyway, this race was truly special. It was founded to provide individuals with physical and mental disabilities with an opportunity to participate in a race. And it wasn’t long after the start of the race that I saw just how inspirational the participants could be in their determination. There were quite a few amputees running and I actually got a tear in my eye while I was running uphill and looked over and saw a man in a wheelchair struggling to push himself up the hill. He was literally inching his way. My first instinct was to assist him but I noticed that there were a couple of people with him who were encouraging him but would not physically assist. His determination made me feel really small about constantly complaining about running hills. The runners cheered for him and others who were running with disabilities.

I decided to take my time on this race. and for the first time I saw the statue of Fred Lebow, the founder of the NYC Marathon, looking at his watch. I still didn’t see the panther, or whatever it is on Cat Hill. At mile 3, we (my running partner Janet and I) decided that we would walk the remaining hills. This resulted in my most enjoyable Central Park race. It felt so good to not run the park as if I was being chased by a pack of wolves, which is my usual practice. With .75 miles to go, we decided to run the rest of the race. So of course there was a hill right before the finish line. No problem. We were feeling strong and conquered. I crossed he finish with a time of 56:50.

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Check out the unexpected medal. It was a good day at Central Park. I think this will be my last Central Park race for 2013 and it was good to go out on a high note.