Monday, December 31, 2007

Hi all,

I started out 2007 with a “resolution” to run only 2 races a month. I finished with 34 races on my schedule, so I overshot a little and, with only two races in November and just one in December, I really missed the mark earlier in the year. September was my heaviest month with 4 total races, including 2 races on one weekend (1 mile and 18 miles – PRs in both). I did a lot of speedwork in training, but not as much endurance training as I should have.

Happily, the speedwork paid off. I set distance PRs from the mile to the marathon – some of them just barely, but pushing it at the finish is what I do best, apparently.

I won a trophy for 2nd Fastest Masters Female in a 3.5 mile race, but only because my friend (and team captain) took 2nd overall.

Overall, it was a pretty good year. I ran two marathons, including one at the Arctic Circle. I traveled for six races – the Draft Day 5k at Giants Stadium, the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, the Arctic Circle Marathon in Rovaniemi, Finland, the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, and the Tower of Terror 13k in Orlando. I’m going to try to combine racing with all or most of my future travel.

Next up: New Year's Day Resolution 5k (1/1/08)

Thank you for all your support this year!!

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday 4-miler 12.15.07

Hi all,

The Holiday 4-miler was my 34th and final race of the year. We ran counterclockwise around the 4-mile course of Central Park, starting and finishing on the 102nd Street Transverse.

Goals: To run between water stations and to finish with a 10:00 pace (40:00).

As some of you know, I’ve been sick off and on since the end of October. This was my first race since the NYC marathon (recap to come) and I’ve barely run 20 miles since then. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Every run has been a struggle. But, there was no way I was going to miss the last race of the year and certainly not the Holiday 4-miler!! I want my hot chocolate!! Not to mention, Freaky and Crazy Legs were going to be running it, too!

I took it easy this week and even waited to pick up my gear on race day, which I usually do in winter, anyway, because it’s very inconvenient to go to the NYRR office for pick-up during the week. The races start much later in winter (9:30 in this case), so I was able to sleep in and take my time getting there. Imagine my surprise when there was a line around the block for number pick-up! I hurried to the end and kept my eye out for Freaky and Crazy Legs. They got there shortly after I did. The line moved pretty quickly, but it was really cold and Freaky was shivering pretty badly by the time we got inside. After getting ourselves sorted, chipped and bibbed, we headed over to the start together. We passed Lou Just Lou warming up on our way over, so I just called hello. I decided to skip the warm-up myself. I dropped off my bag and went over to the start, looking for Lana and Bonnie, but finding Freaky and Crazy Legs instead. We started together, but they both quickly passed out of sight. The first couple of miles were a real struggle. I felt like I was pushing myself forward, dragging my body through a thick fog, and was already wheezing within the first mile. I made it to the first water station, just past the first mile marker, and was grateful for the walk break. I tricked myself through the next mile, but telling myself that the next water station would be just after the 72nd Street Transverse. It wasn’t, but by then, I was already more than halfway through the race and all I had to do was talk myself up Cat Hill to get to the next water station. One of the benefits of running so many of these races is that I know where they usually put the water stations. This time, I got it right - the water station was right across from the Met. I walked my way through the water station and used my inhaler to stop the wheezing. I started running again and the retching started right before the third mile marker. It wasn’t totally unexpected, but I’d made it through the first 3 miles and thought I might make it all the way. I kept to the side, but it stopped and I turned the corner onto the flat final mile and was able to pick it up a bit. At this point, I was finally feeling comfortable. I didn’t understand what had changed, but I went with it, finishing the final mile in 8:16!! I should have done that warm-up, after all! I had my first hot chocolate of the season and then Freaky, Crazy Legs and I headed off downtown together.

Official stats: I finished in 36:31 for an average pace of 9:07 over the 4 miles. I was 2618 out of 4951 total finishers, putting me in the 47th percentile. It was 29°F with 36% humidity and 6 mph winds. My splits from my watch were: 9:33, 9:14, 9:29, and 8:16.

Consolation treats: Freaky, Crazy Legs and I met up after the race for bubble tea, dim sum, followed by a food tour along Broome Street. When I got home, I had a chocolate brownie from Pret a Manger and my usual slushy Dr Pepper.

Thank you for all your support!
Pictures from the race and random pictures are available here: and here:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

International Friendship 1.75-Mile Fun Run 11.03.07

Hi all,

Race 32 was the International Friendship Fun Run. We started at UN Plaza, turned onto 42nd Street, which we ran along to 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) and finished at 54th Street for a total of 1.75 miles.

Goals: I’m trying to limit myself to running at my marathon goal pace, so I was hoping to keep it to 10:00.

This was the first time that Americans were allowed to run this race and there was no way I was missing it. You know how much I love inaugural events!! On the way there, I met a woman from Aruba, who was lost, so I brought her with me. When we arrived at Grand Central Station, we ran into the rest of her group and walked together to the start. The crowds were great! I didn't see an American contingent, per se, but other countries had banners, flags, costumes, painted faces, etc. I tried to find the Andalucia group, who I had agreed to run with at the expo, but couldn't find them, so I just hung out, waiting for the start. I met a Canadian man and we chatted until the horn sounded. No speed here, just a light jog. I'd been sick with a sinus infection all week and hadn't slept, so I was glad of the opportunity to run (because of being sick, I hadn't been able to run since the Tower of Terror race). At some point, I found myself running alongside a German man named Uwe and we chatted the rest of the way. He was surprised that I was taking picutres of my own city, but I love New York and there is always something beautiful to see. You could live here a hundred years and not see everything!! We finished the race together, taking pictures of each other at the finish line.

Official stats: I finished in 16:35 for an average pace of 9:29 (oops – guess not running all week made my legs a little crazy).

Celebratory treats: Uwe invited me to have tea (we ended up at Whole Foods, because every place we passed was full of other Fun Runners) and we shared a Carmelita Bar. His eyes widened after his first taste, so I let him have the lion’s share. I can get them any time.

Next up: The NYC Marathon (11//4)

Thank you for all your support!

Pictures are available here: Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Inaugural Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13k 10.27.07

Hi all,

Race 31 was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13k, the newest Disney Endurance event. We ran in and out of Disney’s MGM Studios and around the Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex. It was a multi-terrain course, including asphalt, gravel, dirt, mud, concrete, cobblestones, track, and the spongy surface of the Park itself.

Goals: I’m trying to limit myself to running at my marathon goal pace, so I was hoping to keep it to 10:00, plus running between water stations, etc.

There was no expo, to speak of, just the packet pick-up, commemorative pin pick-up, and a merchandise counter. The “glow-in-the-dark” t-shirt does glow in the dark, but it’s cotton, so my plan of taking pictures of everyone running in the dark went out the window (and with it, my reason for bringing the second camera – oh, well). I bought the commemorative tech shirt and a picture frame.

I caught the bus to Disney’s MGM Studios and was happy to see another racer waiting. The driver was confused about our trying to board, because the park closes at 7:30, but we convinced him that we knew what we were doing. Debbie and I talked about various Disney events and racing and stayed together until the start. There was a giant screen playing videos of mostly themed music (Twilight Zone, scary, heavy metal), but every now and then a real clinker would drop (Reba McIntyre’s rendition of Because of You). Two songs from my running playlist came on, which made me happy and got me pumped. I used my inhaler at 9:15, for the 9:30 start. Two Tower of Terror Bellhops were mcing the event and at 9:33 came back onstage to tell us that a lot of people were still trying to get to the event, because of traffic. I hope they realize that having no transportation for the event will cause horrible traffic jams with 4000 people trying to get into a single park at the same time that the day’s revelers are heading home after the park closes. Back to the race – the announcer told us that the new race start would be at 9:50. A twenty-minute delay because people hadn’t gotten to the race on time. I was there! There were tons of people there and they were all pissed! Everyone had fueled, hydrated, peed, inhaled, warmed-up, stretched, etc., for a 9:30 start and we weren’t told until race time that there was a delay! Grrr

So, we watch more videos and listen to more babbling by the bellhops and finally get to line up. The 6.5k fun-runners/walkers were told to move to the side so the racers could start and then the fireworks went off. I can’t tell you how annoyed I was when I started passing walkers in the first mile! They didn’t have chips, so they weren’t in the race. I can’t really blame them too much, though. Their start was delayed by 26 minutes, because the official start for the fun run was 6 minutes after the race. It was very crowded at the start and dodging walkers took up quite a bit of time, so I had a slow start. After a while, we were directed off the road onto a dirt and gravel path by a lovely voice telling us that the course surface was changing to dirt and gravel. That was a nice touch. The course was lit, but there were short distances between the generators where it was pitch black. The heavy rains of the days before had turned portions of the path into mud. Every now and then, you’d hear a splash, then splatter, then a chorus of surprised “Ahh”s. I let out one of those myself at one point (and caused a chorus once, too). All along this path, “escaped lunatics” were taunting us, redirecting us, etc. I guess that was supposed to be scary, but it was kind of cheesy. There were 3 roads with very bad cambers, which is usually bad for me. When I run in Central Park, it’s usually my right leg that is on the incline and it feels as if my leg is jamming up into my hip. This time, the first two cambers had my left leg on the incline and my right leg got stretched and felt great! The course felt like it clover-leafed a lot. We seemed to be running away from the Park every time we got close. We headed through the Wide World of Sports and then a great stretch on the track. Finally, we headed back into the Park. To give you an idea of the scale of the parks, we still had 2 miles to go. More clover-leafing was involved, but 2 miles is a pretty long way to run inside the park. Finally, I turned a corner and saw the finish! I got my medal, my treats (two kinds of brownies and Powerade) then headed to the baggage check to get my camera. I rode the Tower of Terror once and the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster twice, but ran out of time for more rides (thanks to the late start, which did not mean that the party would last an additional 20 minutes, unfortunately). The DJ played my power song (Jump Around by House of Pain) – three of my running songs were played at this event!! As I was leaving the Park to take a circuitous route back to my hotel, I saw a bus and ran towards it. Disney Transport had apparently heard that runners were being left to fend for themselves after dark and had arranged to bring buses on a will-call basis. The bus I saw was going to my hotel, so I was back in my room by 1:15 and showered and in bed by 2!

Official stats: I finished in 1:20:39 for an average pace of 9:59 (a course PR because I’ve never run this race before). I was 759 out of 2590 total finishers, putting me in the 71st percentile, 295 out of 1522 female finishers, putting me in the 81st percentile, and 39 out of 209 female finishers aged 40-44, putting me in the 82nd percentile. My splits were: 10:33, 10:38, 10:01, 9:59, 9:54, 9:27, 9:58, 9:28, and :50 for the last .1 mile. It was in the upper 70s and very humid, but I don’t have the exact numbers.

Celebratory treats: Well, the entire weekend was a treat! And, when I got back to work on Monday, there was a package from Elizzabeth with a yummy bar of Knipfschildt chocolate, which I designated a post-race treat.

Next up: The NYC Marathon (11//4)

Thank you for all your support!

Pictures are available here: Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

18-Mile Tune-Up 9.30.07 (including Fifth Avenue Mile pictures and treats)

Hi all,

Race 29 was the 18-Mile Tune-Up. We ran three counterclockwise loops of Central Park, starting on the East Drive at the 102nd Street Transverse and finishing on the 102nd Street Transverse.

Goals: To run between water stations; to set a PR; and to finish in 3:03 (10:10 pace, which is what McMillan Running Calculator suggests I should be running for endurance training, based on my 5k PR). I wanted to run the first loop in 1:05 or less, the second loop in 1:00 or less and the third loop in less than an hour. I also wanted to see how far I could go without refueling (not to be mistaken for hydrating).

Because of the mile race yesterday, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, especially because I didn’t do a cool-down run. I expected to be a bit sore, but was feeling okay. I got to the park early (more random disruptions by the MTA) and milled around a bit before heading over to the start. Mary Wittenberg told us that this was the earliest race start in NYRR history (7 am). While it can be nice to be part of historical events, I would just as soon have had more sleep. I took it easy going up the first set of hills and just tried to focus on keeping my pace down (up?). My downfall in the distance races (more than a half marathon) seems to be going out too fast and I really wanted to try to stay on pace today. Sometimes, I felt like I was plodding, but I reined myself in. There were only 2 water stations with Gatorade and they were both on the East side of the park, which seemed very strange to me. I would have preferred to have a Gatorade station on each side of the Park. Oh, well. I finished the first loop in just over an hour and was happy that I’d stayed on pace. I continued around the Park for the second time. Each time I ran through a section, I would remind myself that I only had two more times (then one more time, then on my last time) to get through it. That helped me quite a bit. And, yes, the first time around, I was telling myself that on the next loop, I’d only have one more time around and on the last loop it would be my last time. The second time around, I was telling myself that the next time around I would be on my last time. I like counting – what can I say? I also wondered when I would get lapped by the front-runners. Happily, I was in the 8th mile before that happened. On the second loop, I worked hard to keep from running too fast. My splits seemed to be pretty even, given the hills, but my knee started bothering me on the west side, so I stopped for a stretch break at the water station just after the 72nd Transverse, resulting in my only 11:00+ mile. As I passed the 102nd Street Transverse, Ian, the announcer, was telling us to keep going and not slow down at all because we’d be tempted to stop with the other finishers. I completed the second loop in under 1:02. I had promised my legs that if they could keep their pace down, I’d give them their way on the third loop. I had planned to try to keep my pace down through the 15th mile and then go all out, but I was tired and sore and wanted it over with, so I just ran. I took longer breaks at the water stations, stretching and doing knee swings. As I came up the East side, I started moving up, passing runners here and there and, while I didn’t quite get up to a sprint, I did manage to run a 9:11 for the final mile. The final mile was just under an hour. I was sooooo sore. I’m really not sure about the additional 8 miles I’ll need to cover for the marathon.

Official stats: I finished in 3:01:53 for an average pace of 10:06 (a PR by almost 6 minutes). I was 2475 out of 3523 total finishers, putting me in the 30th percentile. My splits were: 10:30, 10:36, 10:01, 9:38, 10:25, 9:48, 9:49, 10:51, 10:12, 9:44, 11:11, 9:47, 9:48, 10:35, 9:43, 9:33, 10:37, 9:11. It was 65° with 63% humidity and 5 mph winds.

Celebration treats: As soon as I left church, I went to Taco Bell for a Cheesy Beefy Melt (I substitute Baja sauce for sour cream) and I ate it on the train ride home, where I had a slushy Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper and a Chipwich. My treat for the Fifth Avenue Mile PR is a dark chocolate ganache cake.

Next up: The Nike Women’s Half Marathon (10/21); the Tower of Terror 13k (10/27); and the NYC Marathon (11//4)

Thank you for all your support!

I’m trying a new photo site: flickr. I forgot to get a picture after this race (first race without a picture!), but photos from the 5th Avenue Mile are available here:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fifth Avenue Mile 9.29.07

Hi all,

Race 28 was the Fifth Avenue Mile. We ran one mile down 5th Avenue from East 80th to East 60th. The race is run in heats by age and gender categories. I ran with women 40-49, in the 8th heat.

Goals: To run between water stations (just kidding – there are no water stations in a 1-mile race); to set a PR (I ran last year’s mile in 7:22); and to break 7:15 (set a really big PR). These aren’t really fast times, but they’re fast for me. According to the McMillan Running Calculator* and my fastest 5k race time, I shouldn’t be running a mile faster than 7:27, and I ran faster than that 2 years ago in my first mile.

I was worried about this race because I haven’t been doing any interval training at all. Last year, I was doing Yasso 800s at 7.5 mph (8:00 pace) and managed a 7:22 for a 2-second PR. This year, I’ve been focusing on tempo intervals, which are a different type of speed work – slower pace (7 mph/8:35 pace) sustained for a longer distance (I’m up to 9 miles in 2.25-mile intervals). I’d already decided that I wanted to race this one and just use the 18-mile Tune-Up (tomorrow) as a training run, so I wasn’t going to hold back at all. I got to the Park early, wandering through an area I’ve never been through before on my way to the start. I dropped my bag and headed out for my warm-up. I ran down the course, but inside the Park (asphalt path), rather than on 5th Avenue (cobblestoned sidewalk). This is also a much more scenic route – I got to run past the boat lake (where you can “sail” remote-controlled miniature boats), the children’s playground, and the Central Park Wildlife Center (I didn’t see any animals). I headed back up to the Start on the sidewalk so I could say hi to Sue and the rest of the Central Park Track Club, which form a “wall of orange” at the ½ Mile Marker, cheering their team members and others (including me). I got back up to the start, took another puff of my inhaler and lined up for the start of my heat. I was amazed to hear the announcer refer to Haile Gebrsalassie as “she,” but shook it off and got ready to head out.

The gun sounded and off I went. I was nervous about going too fast and tried to find rabbits to keep track of on my way up 5th. Technically, we’re running down 5th, because we’re heading south, but the first half is uphill. It’s barely noticeable when walking, but it was daunting while I was trying to maintain my pace in the second quarter! I hit the first quarter mile marker in about 1:40, I think, and panicked that I had gone out too fast. I resigned myself to losing it in the second half and decided to hang onto that first bit as banked time. In the second quarter, my mouth had completely dried out and I could barely breathe. Asthma seriously sucks!! I kept going up, trying to hold pace and passed the half mile marker (and CPTC) at about 3:30 or so. I knew I was slowing down, but was happy to see that the shirts in front of me all looked the same as they had, so I wasn’t necessarily losing ground. Going down into the third quarter, I could feel the downhill and my legs were very happy. They weren’t in any pain and it actually felt really comfortable in the 3rd quarter. Except for the breathing – my chest was on fire. I caught up to the ¾ mile marker at about 5:30 and realized that there was no way I was going to set a PR. But, I kept repeating my mantra (it’s only 1 mile, it’s only 1 mile) and tried to sprint a bit as I counted down the last 5 blocks (20 NYC streets - not avenues - are approximately 1 mile). To my amazement, when I could see the finishing line clock, it was still at 6:40! I had a chance for a PR and not a small one, either. I wasn’t able to get across in under 7, but I did manage to get there in 7:09!!

I wobbled over to the side and retched a bit, then found Margot (a CPTC member) and we started back up to the ½-mile marker. My chest was still on fire and I realized I needed help. I went back over to the medical tent (thank you, Margot, for making sure I got there) and spent about a half hour with them. They told me the burning was due to inhaling cold air while running too fast and that it had triggered the asthma. One of them took my pulse and, after telling the one working on my breathing that it was too low, checked it again. There’s nothing wrong – my heart just has a rapid recovery time. On the treadmill, it drops by 30 bpm within a minute of stopping. So, now, I’m resting and trying to get my breathing under control and to get the coughing to stop so I can get through the 18 miles tomorrow.

Official stats: I finished in 7:09 for a 13-second PR. In my heat (women 40-49), I was 59 out of 195 finishers, putting me in the 70th percentile. Including all heats, I was 1852 out of 3245 total finishers, putting me in the 43rd percentile and 395 out of 1275 female finishers, putting me in the 69th percentile. It was 73° with 32% humidity and 6 mph winds.

Celebration treats: Because of tomorrow’s 18-mile race, I have to take it easy on the treats today, so I’m just having a chocolate-covered pretzel (it was also covered in peanut butter chips) from Whole Foods. The real treat will come after tomorrow’s race, no matter how I do there. Okay, I wasn’t going to do it, but I’m having a slushy Dr Pepper, too. At this point, there’s really nothing I can do to hurt my chances tomorrow – my lungs are taking care of that all by themselves.

Next up: The 18-mile Tune-up (9/30), the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (10/21) and the Tower of Terror 13k (10/27).

Thank you for all your support!

*Of course, if I go by the calculator, I should also be able to run a 4:12 marathon and that hasn’t happened, either. I’m too fast on the short distances and too slow on the long distances. Guess I need to work on my endurance. Or is that stamina?

Friday, September 28, 2007

100 Races and Counting

Hi all,

The Queens Half Marathon was a very special race for me. It was my 25th Half Marathon and my 100th race overall!! I started running on February 18, 2004, by running 1 minute and walking 1 minute for 20 minutes on a treadmill at the gym. I ran my first race on April 24, 2004 – the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I had no idea how foolish it was to try a half marathon just 2 months into running, until I was standing at the start and people were staring at me incredulously. I survived that race, finishing about 42 minutes faster than I’d expected to! And went on to run my second race – the Queens Half Marathon – just 3 weeks later. Don’t worry – I’m not going to recount all of my races here, but I have made a list of the first, slowest and fastest times I’ve run each distance (except the funky ones) and listed the total number of times I’ve run those distances (including the funky ones). I would tabulate the chocolate treats for you, but they’re just too numerous to count!! There were lots of slushy Dr Peppers, too!


Click on the chart above for the stats.

Random stats:

The slowest and fastest half marathons were both run on the same course (clockwise around Central Park)

First out-of-town race: Woodbridge Valley Association 10k (7/4/06) – set a PR (since beaten) in 58:06 (it was the first time I broke 1 hour in a 10k)

First cross-country race: Henry Isola XC Classic 4M (9/4/05) – 43:15

Favorite race – Disneyland Half Marathon

Favorite local race – NYC Half Marathon

Race closest to my home – Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k (1.83 miles)

Race farthest from my home – Arctic Circle Marathon in Rovaniemi, Finland (3,935 miles)

Weirdest distances: 2.9M*, 4.7k**, 3M*, 3.2M*, 4.8M**, 18M

Not including the first race at a given distance: I set 1 PR in 2004; 5 PRs in 2005; 6 PRs in 2006; and 8 PRs in 2007 (so far). These are distance PRs and do not include either the course PRs or multiple PRs set for the same distance

I celebrated at a chocolate tasting. The pictures are at You can get to them by logging into snapfish with as the login name and myspace as the password. The password for the album is myspace.

Thanks for all your support!!

*Mismeasured courses that were supposed to be 5ks – almost 50 years and NYRR still can’t measure a 5k course correctly

**NYRR Anniversary Races – the distance represents the year of the anniversary

Monday, September 24, 2007

Queens Half Marathon 9.23.07

Hi all,

Race 27 was the Queens Half Marathon. It was a new course for the Queens Half (not to mention a new time of year – it’s usually in April or May) and you know what that means – guaranteed course PR! Instead of twice around a 6+-mile loop, we ran a single, complicated loop around northern Queens (a half hour bus-ride north of the furthest point out on the subway!): - the announcer at the finish was saying that there were 66 turns on the course. I believe it!

Goals: My usual goal of running between water stations; to set a course PR (I didn’t know until I was on the bus to the start that the course had been changed, so I made this goal before I’d even set foot in Queens!); and for my third goal, I was alternating between trying to run a distance PR and trying to maintain marathon pace for the entire distance (my hoped-for marathon pace is 10:00).

In order for me to get to this race, I had to take 2 buses and 2 subway trains, so I split the journey, thanks to my friend Utsuki and her husband, who allowed me to stay at their place in Sunnyside the night before the race. They even went to bed at 10, so I could get enough sleep (I was in the living room, as Utsuki’s mother is visiting and sleeping in the guest room, though she very kindly offered the room to me). Because the race was starting 7:00 am (according to Mary Whittenburg, president of NYRR, this was the earliest official race start in NYRR history), I had to get up at 5, so catch the train that would get me to the bus that would get me to the race before the start! I caught up with Lana in the port-a-potty line and we dropped our bags, then headed to the start. We started together, but got separated at the first water station. I thought she’d run off ahead of me, but I wasn’t able to catch up to her, so I just settled in to run and figure out what my ultimate goal would be. The first couple of miles were in a fairly industrial area and were followed by a “Corporate Park.” We did get to run through some beautiful areas of Queens, including Malba, but there were so many hills and turns that it was difficult to sightsee (I know, I know, I was supposed to be racing). I did think it was a bit strange to see all the new brickwork buildings. There are a lot of large homes there, too, with some incredible ironwork. Some day, I’d love to go through there in a car and take pictures. I was moving along pretty well, but started to feel my knee at the end of the 6th mile. I started doing knee swings at every water station and that helped me get from station to station. As I was running down a hill in the 7th mile, I could hear a bird squawking loudly and people around me were commenting on it. I looked up at a utility pole and saw a large bird’s nest with a large bird standing on a wire next to the nest. It sounded like a parrot and as I got closer, I realized that it was a parrot! A green parrot! Nesting in Queens, New York!! I love this city!! There was an even bigger nest around the corner, but I didn’t see any birds on it. At this point, I ran into Rachel (I met her at the Run to Home Plate race) and we ran together for a little while, but I lost her, too. That always happens to me at water stations. Several more hills and turns later, I came into the 11th mile and stopped at the water station. My knee was getting bad again and I needed to do knee swings and stretch my hamstrings. I checked my watch as I took off and I’d been there for 1:30. The last two miles had the best view – we ran along the Sound and the water was so blue, it was almost surreal. I hit the 11-mile marker at 10:41, which meant that I’d run that mile in about 9:10! I’d heard that the last mile was very hilly and they weren’t kidding! There was one steep hill that wasn’t too long, but then another steep hill that was very long and continued even steeper after a short flat bit! Finally, though, we rounded the corner and were heading back towards the park. I hit the cobblestoned path into the park and, as I passed the 13-mile marker and tried for a finishing kick. Fabian and Roberto were there and they cheered me on, helping me to keep up the “sprint”! When I got to the official photo line, the woman getting her picture taken turned out to be Roxanne! I can’t believe how many people I ran into at this race!

Official stats: I finished in 2:08:10 for an average pace of 9:47 over the 13.1 miles. I was 2406 out of 3589 total finishers, putting me in the 33rd percentile. My official splits from my watch were: 10:25, 9:51, 9:38; 9:19; 9:53; 9:13; 10:13; 9:39; 10:01; 9:30; 11:41; 9:14; 9:44; and :52 for the last tenth of a mile (8:40 pace – not bad for my finishing kick). It was 64° with 60% humidity.

Consolation treats: Utsuki and her mom prepared a feast for me: sushi (rice wrapped in tofu skins), gyoza (pork and scallop, but, because of my shellfish allergy, I ate only the pork dumplings), bok choy, cooked in garlic, and home-made chocolate ice-cream. Delicious! And, because I’m greedy, I also had a slushy Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper and a Chipwich ice-cream sandwich ( when I got home. :D

Next up: The Fifth Avenue Mile (9/29), the 18-mile Tune-up (9/30), the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (10/21) and the Tower of Terror 13k (10/27).

Thank you for all your support!

Yahoo photos is closing down, so I had to switch to another service. I’m on snapfish now. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see the pictures here: To view photos on snapfish, you need to have an account with them. Sign in as and use myspace as the password. The password for this group of albums is 092307. Let me know if you have trouble and I’ll see what else I can do.

Here’s a video of a blimp flying over New York from the 42nd floor of 7 World Trade Center:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Disneyland Half Marathon 9.03.07

Hi all,

Race 26* was Disneyland Half Marathon. We started in Downtown Disney, ran around the back of California Adventure, then entered and ran through California Adventure, crossed the esplanade and entered Disneyland, ran through Disneyland, came back out onto the streets of Anaheim, ran back and over to Arrowhead Pond (home of the Mighty Ducks), ran along the Santa Ana Trail towards Angels’ Stadium, entered the stadium and circled the bases (not on the field itself, though), came back out onto the streets, and finished up at Downtown Disney.

Expo day: The best thing about the expo this year was Yamaha’s BodiBeat booth. I am definitely getting one of these when they come out. The expo wasn’t as good as last year, even though it was bigger. I spent a lot of time trying to find a visor to wear during the race, but no-one had any that were designed for runners. There were a bunch of cotton twill visors and caps, but one of the necessary features for a visor, to me, at least, is a sweat band to keep sweat out of my eyes and contacts! I ended up buying a cap from Race Ready. I went back to the expo on Sunday, because my parents wanted to check it out. I met up with RunJoeRun and Shayna K (who had very kindly taken family photos for us at Alice’s the day before). I stayed at the Radisson Main Gate again this year (thanks, again, Mike and Dan!!), so I could either take a shuttle or walk about a half mile to the start.

Goals: I had a seriously ambitious time goal for this one. I wanted to go sub-2. My half marathon PR was 2:02:49 and beating that would have been good, too. Plus my usual goal of running between water stations.

I took the shuttle to the race (it pulled up right as I was leaving the hotel) and walked through Downtown Disney (DD) to the start. BodiBeat was giving out flashing buttons under Merlin’s Hat, but it fell off about halfway through the race. I was trying to figure out how I was going to find Shayna in the crowds and there she was. With Vanessa, who I’d missed at the expo and hadn’t reached by phone yet! What luck! We hung out a while, then I dropped off my bag and found them again. One of the Toy Story soldiers got on stage and told everyone that it was going to be hot and that everyone should drop any extra gear (wings, tutus, etc., though he did say we could carry our wands). We eventually made our way to the start. I was in Corral B, in the first wave. I stretched and waited and finally the opening ceremony started. With a confirmation of Shayna’s news – there was a 3-flag system: yellow, which meant that we should be careful and not run too hard; red, which meant that it was getting dangerous and we should take it easy and anyone with heat issues should drop out; and black, at which point they were turning off the clocks and it would be a fun run instead. There is nothing fun about a half marathon, even if it is run partly through Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure (DCA)! Then, he told us that we were already in a red flag situation. Yikes! I started reconsidering my goals at that point. The dignitaries were paraded out (including Mickey and Minnie in track suits), the monorail arrived with the special guests (including Goofy and other characters), and then the countdown started. It was really cool – soundless firework stars arced upwards from either side as the countdown hit 3, 2, 1 and then the big bang and the full fireworks display started as the gun sounded (presumably – I couldn’t hear it).

We took off running down and then up under an overpass, heading out of DD, passing the Convention Center and then coming back into DCA. I love running through the Parks!! The surface is great to run on and the characters were out to cheer for us. I remember passing Flik, Koda (or was it Kenai?), Stitch (I flashed the Surf’s Up sign at him as I passed), Lightning McQueen, and Mater. And, like last year, in addition to staff cheering us on along the way, there were wranglers there to take pictures of runners and characters with the runners’ cameras – a very nice touch and one of these years I’m going to take advantage of it! We left DCA and headed across to Disneyland, running behind Main Street, passing Chip (or was it Dale) and Pluto, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Buzz Lightyear, running through Cinderella’s castle, then past Woody and Jessie, Captain Jack Sparrow and the other pirates (he fired a cannon at us, but the ball fell short, splashing into the water instead), we passed the Genie and Jazmin on our way back to Main Street, which we ran down on our way out of the park and onto the streets of Anaheim. I knew that this was where it was going to get tough, because it was blazing hot and there is no shade in Anaheim! I should say, too, that I don’t usually start sweating until the 3rd mile, but I was soaked by the end of the first mile and already knew I wasn’t going to get a PR, much less a sub-2. So, I spent the first couple of miles out of the park trying to figure out what my revised goal should be. I would have been happy with anything under 2:10, but knew from my Bronx Half Marathons in July that 2:15 was more likely, given my recent running times (my fastest July Bronx Half was 2:23:26).

In the 5th mile, the palpitations started and so did my walking. My heart-rate generally stays fairly low when I run, so when it started going crazy, I paid attention and started walking whenever it got a little crazy. There were lots of cheerleaders and high school bands along the way, as well as a Mexican band with dancers (who had just finished a number when I passed, so I didn’t get to see them) and what looked like a Polynesian dance troupe (again, they’d just finished performing when I got there, so I missed them, too). Finally, I saw the hockey stadium coming up and knew that the end was in sight. Well, not in sight, literally, but I knew I was going to make it. I just had to hope that the clocks weren’t turned off until I got to the finish! Outside of the stadium (we don’t get to run inside that one), there were cheerleaders and youth hockey players giving us high fives as we passed. We hit the Santa Ana trail, which was a nice break from the asphalt, and then came up to the Clif gel mile for yet another walk break. Next up is Angels Stadium and on the way there, we passed Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Eagle Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts, and more cheerleaders, along with parents and spectators cheering for us. At the end of the gauntlet, we headed into the stadium and ran along the warning track around home plate. This year, the camera was lined up along the 3rd base line, so that the runners could see themselves on the Jumbotron. I waved frantically, hoping my family back at the finish area would be able to see me.** I headed out of the stadium, walked through another water station, then headed, gratefully, back towards the parks.

When I got to mile 12, my heart sank. The clock was off. Twelve miles in and all for nothing. I slowed to a jog and headed over to the clock. As I passed, I asked someone standing there about the clock, but he just told me what time it was. I had already run 12 miles, so I just decided to run it in. About a half mile later, just inside DCA again, there was another water station and a medical tent, which had a red flag! I told someone about the clock being off at the 12-mile marker and that people would think we’d gone to Black Flag and stop racing. She said “Oh Shit” and immediately ran off to get the situation resolved. I was very happy to see her immediate response and that she took it so seriously. I was completely done in by this point and just decided that I was going to enjoy the rest of my run. My favorite modern Disney movie is Monsters, Inc., and, last year, Sully was cheering us on as we headed through DCA in the last mile of the race. He was there again this year and, even though there was a line and I didn’t have a camera, I stopped, waited and gave him a hug, telling him I loved him. ‘Cuz I do! Rejuvenated, I took off running again, zoomed through DD and headed for the finish line. I heard my name called as I ran towards Mickey and Minnie (still in their track suits, but not sweating at all) and turned to wave to my parents and brother. I crossed the finish line in under 2:15 on the official clock, so I made my revised goal – the only goal I hit!

As soon as I crossed, I headed over to someone and reported the 12-mile clock situation and, again, was happy to see him run off to find someone to take care of it. Last year’s race was fairly well organized, but getting the official photo was a nightmare. This year, we passed through another gauntlet, getting our medal, mylar blanket, water, PowerAde, bananas, oranges, bagels, fruitcups and then found the photographers. There was an official photograph station set up outside each baggage tent, so that the lines moved smoothly. After the photograph, I grabbed my bag and passed through the tent into the family reunion area, where I found my family waiting for me (sort of). This year, for the first time in my racing career, I was able to get a post-race massage! My brother waited in that line for me while I got my medal engraved with my name and time and the rest of the group went to the Disneyland Hotel to wait. I was very impressed with Disney’s handling of the post-race crowds, but they’re so used to crowd control that it would have been surprising if they hadn’t improved the situation from last year. I love Disney!

Official stats: I finished in 2:13:00 for an average pace of 10:29 over the 13.1 miles. I was 2163 out of 8763 total finishers, putting me in the 78th percentile!! I was 821 out of 5779 female finishers, putting me in the 86th percentile. I was 143 out of 826 finishers in my age/gender group, putting me in the 83rd percentile. My official splits from my watch were: 9:29, 9:49, 9:24; 9:51; 10:06; 9:36; 10:25; 10:20; 10:20; 11:19; 11:21; 10:21; 9:46; and :57 for the last tenth of a mile. It was 84° by the time we finished with approximately 70% humidity.

Consolation treats: Forget slushy Dr Peppers – I had a Dr Pepper Slurpee!! Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven!! And my brother who found it for me!! After that, we went to Chuao Chocolate Café at the Spectrum and, after a little difficulty explaining that I wanted a drink without coffee, I had the Chuao 73% (I think that’s what it’s called). MMM A few days later, I had some very special treats – the pictures are in the album.

Next up: The Queens Half Marathon (9/23), the Fifth Avenue Mile (9/29) and the 18-mile Tune-up (9/30).

Thank you for all your support!

*What a difference the accident made. Last year, this was my 32nd race of the year. The accident cut me back by 6 races and I added 3 races this year that I didn’t run last year, so I should have been at 33, not 26, given that the race was moved up two weeks this year.

**My parents and brother were waiting right at the finish line, so they couldn’t see the Jumbotron. My sister and brother-in-law were in the finishing area, but only my brother-in-law saw me.

Yahoo photos is closing down, so I had to switch to another service. I’m on snapfish now. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see the pictures here: You’ll need a password to get in. It’s 90307. Let me know if you have trouble and I’ll see what else I can do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Media Challenge #5 (3.5 miles) 8.28.07

Hi all,

Race 25 was the fifth and final Media Challenge of the year. We run 3.5 miles – twice counter-clockwise around the lower loop in Central Park and then some.

Goals: There’s only one water station on this course and it’s at the finish, so I was going to have to run over 1.7 miles at a shot to keep from walking between rest stations. I was heading towards 35 miles in 3 days (including my elliptical machine work-out on Sunday and my 1-hour ladder in the morning), so I told Sue that I thought I would finish in 34, but I was really hoping for a 32.

No warm-up today. This was the last race of the season, so we had to make a strong showing to gain the 40 points we were behind. I started out at a comfortable pace and started passing people right away. I thought I might be going too fast, but was able to maintain, so I just held on and gave my legs their way. I had a little trouble with the humidity. I kept passing rabbits, so I decided to give it a real go. I knew my PR for the course was 30, but thought it might be too much, though I really felt like I was moving fast. I passed several more News Corp runners (they were in first place, so I needed to concentrate on passing them) runners and runners from other teams as well. By the first time around the 72nd Street Transverse, I was desperate for water and needed to use my inhaler. I carry it with me always, but wanted to see if I could wait until my water break. I came up around the last uphill off of the transverse and headed into the little rolling hills to finish the first loop. I just couldn’t stop myself from passing more people, even though I knew they’d all pass me when I stopped for water. The water was just before the finish line and I walked past the timer (Sue’s boyfriend, Armando, kindly agreed to stand in at the last minute) and then, just before I started running again on the downhill, I used my inhaler. I caught up with and passed every female who had passed me when I stopped for water, though it took me over half the loop to manage it. I even passed one of my own team-members (luckily). As I came around to the 72nd Transverse, I picked another rabbit and was able to pass her and another News Corp female as we came off the transverse. As I passed the start, a woman came up and passed me and I wasn’t able to catch her again. No finishing kick for me, but I still managed to finish with a 46-second PR.

I don’t usually go to the post-race dinner, but it wasn’t pizza this time and I’d already decided that I was going to rest the following morning. Oh, am I glad I went!! After dinner and before dessert, they passed out the awards. There were no grand masters, so they started with the female masters, warning us first that the company had given them four Male Masters trophies, but that two of them had female figures, so those were going to the female winners. The second place female master had finished in 29:40. I knew I had, but didn’t think anything other than to recognize that was my finishing time. When they called my name, I just sat there. Then I realized that that was my name that had just been called. I was numb and still just sat there. It finally all clicked together and stood up and happily accepted my trophy. While I sat there holding my trophy and grinning like a fool, one of my teammates, leaned back and told me that he hadn’t realized I was a master – he thought I was his age – 25!! Woo Hoo!! That’s almost better than getting the trophy (except that memory fades, but this trophy is going nowhere, even though it’s slightly flawed!!).

Official stats: I finished in 29:40 for an average pace of 8:29 over the 3.5 miles – a PR by 46 seconds. I was the 16th female finisher (!!) and won a trophy for being the second fastest female master!!* My official split from my watch were: 15:05 (8:23 pace for the 1.8 miles) and 14:35 (8:35 pace for the 1.7 miles). It was 73° with 68% humidity.

Celebration treat: I know, I know – the dinner, trophy and compliment would be treats enough for most, but I’m a greedy cow, so I also had Mo’s Bacon Bar from Vosges (to celebrate the PR) and a Crème Brulee from Kee’s Chocolates (to celebrate the trophy) and a gingerbread caramel from (thank you, Lisa!).

Next up: The Disneyland Half Marathon (9/3), the Queens Half Marathon (9/23), the Fifth Avenue Mile (9/29) and the 18-mile Tune-up (9/30).

Thank you for all your support!

*Sue was second female overall or I would have been edged out – only the top two for each category win. The categories include open field, masters (40+) and grand masters (50+, I think). We were unable to make up the 40-point deficit and finished the season in second place.

Random pictures from the past two weeks (race pictures are at the end) are here: (with commentary in the slideshow, of course).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Run to Home Plate 5k 8.11.07

Hi all,

Race 24* was the Run to Home Plate 5k. The 5k course is part out-and-back and part loop. The out-and-back course takes us through the parking lot and then a left turn out onto the street, past Arthur Ashe tennis stadium and the Queens Museum of Art, turning back into the park grounds where we looped around the Unisphere (left over from the 1964 World’s Fair) and an additional section of the World’s Fair park, then back to the original course around the Unisphere and back onto the street to finish the out-and-back. When we came back into the parking lot, instead of continuing along the course we’d left, we turned right and ran around the stadium, finally entering the stadium just to the right of the bleachers, turning left and following the warning track** clockwise around to finish behind home plate.

Goals: to run between water stations (or possibly skip them to see if I could set a distance PR), to set a course PR (sub 28:42) and to set a distance PR (sub 26:37).

After an unrestful night of strange dreams (I wish I could remember what I’d eaten that might have caused them!), I got up at 5:15 to make my way out to Shea Stadium in Queens by 8. Because of ongoing construction, the journey took 3 trains and a bus ride! I’d given myself too much time and ended up arriving at about 7:20, including the 15-minute walk from the train station to the start. Oh, well – better early, than late. It was quite cold – only 58°F when I got up, so I was pretty confident that I’d make my course PR goal. While wandering around the start area, waiting to go on my warm-up run, I ran into Margot and Mary, of the Nike Central Park Track Club, and we chatted for a bit. Margot and I had the same goal: to set a 5k PR (she set hers with a 21:17!!). I took off on my warm-up and jogged around the parking lot for a little over 20 minutes, then did strides for about 3 minutes. There are Mets signs posted along the fences and I would run alternately fast and slow between the signs. I jogged over to the start and went straight to the 10-minute marker to look for Bonnie. As I stretched and craned my neck to look over the crowd, Bonnie tapped my arm – she was standing right in front of me. D’oh! We chatted a bit, then I moved up to the 8-minute marker. I’d promised myself I was going to give it my all today, so I decided to start with my actual pace group this time. There was a couple standing just outside the tape and she had the coolest socks on. The pattern was puzzle pieces, but one sock was sort of blue and green and the other was red and orange. When she moved into the corral, I complimented her on them and she told me that it’s a set of three and the third one is yellow and orange; they’re meant to be mismatched. I’ll be scouring the shops for them.

A few speeches and the National Anthem and the horn went off. I tried very hard to keep myself at a strong, but steady pace and was happy to see that I was keeping up. Despite the cooler temperatures (we’ve been very lucky with our racing weather this year!!), the humidity was still very high and I was having a little trouble breathing, but holding on. The first water station came and I walked through it in order to catch my breath. As I started to run again, I could see the mile marker and it looked like it said 8 and change. I hustled up and passed it in under 9!! This is the first year that I haven’t seen the front runners pass me on their way back to Shea!! I was looking forward to the run around the Unisphere, but missed it this time, because I was focused on getting to the next water station. I needed a break (was wheezing a bit), but kept going, managing not to stop until I got to the water station, which I walked through, using the break to take a puff on my inhaler. At this point, I almost caught up with Socks and decided to use her as my rabbit when I came out of the water station. Unfortunately, she was walking when I caught up to her, so that plan went out the window. As I passed, I yelled “Come on, Socks, you can do it!!” and then forgot about her as I concentrated on my finish. I was hoping for a nice strong finish, but felt like I was slowing down. In my head, I kept counting down my estimated distance left (less than a mile, half a mile, quarter of a mile) in hopes that I wouldn’t break pace. I came into the stadium, passed the 3-mile marker and then focused on the finish line. I don’t even remember seeing any other runners. I shot across the finish line, breaking my distance PR on the official clock!! As soon as I got past the finish, I proceeded with my usually classy finish – retching violently, then staggering to the medical area for ice. I was swaying and staggering, so the medic checked my breathing and said I wasn’t wheezing too badly and should just use my inhaler. I waited for Bonnie to finish and she came in under 30 (great job, Bonnie!!) We walked out together and got in line for our commemorative towels. Cheesy, but I love the Mets!! I was really disappointed not to get a picture with Mr. Met this year. L In the towel line, I ran into Socks and we chatted a bit. She’d heard me call out as I passed and that helped her get moving again and she finished in 26:30 (officially, that is). She’s going to run the Queens Half Marathon, too, so I might see her there – we’re about the same pace so we might be able to run together.

Bonnie had brought her son and her son’s friend, so we stayed to watch the kid’s races. Some of them were quite exciting, with photo finishes as the kids sprinted to win. Bonnie’s son was just edged out in his race – he hadn’t heard the kid behind him until it was too late to get past him. Next time! Then, my 3 trains and bus ride home.

Official stats: I finished in 25:51 for an average pace of 8:19 over the 3.1 miles – a distance PR by 46 seconds. I was 603 out of 1564 total finishers, putting me in the 61st percentile; I was 114 out of 601 female finisher, putting me in the 81st percentile (!!); and I was 14 out of 63 female finishers between 40 and 44, putting me in the 78th percentile (I love these numbers!!) It was 63°F with 68% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 8:25 (my slowest mile!), 8:15, 8:23 and :53 for the final .1 mile (8:50 pace).

Celebration treats: I had a lovely lunch (French bread, paté, Zamarano cheese, pear salad), with a slushy Dr Pepper, followed by Ben & Jerry’s Crème Brûlée ice-cream and some Chuao Chocolate ( from my friend, Laurie (thanks, Laurie!!).

Next up: Disneyland Half Marathon (9/3), Queens Half Marathon (9/23), Fifth Avenue Mile (9/29), 18-Mile Marathon Tune-Up (9/30).

Thank you for all your support!

*Media Challenge #5 was cancelled because it was too hot and humid to run on Wednesday evening. It may be rescheduled – I’ll keep you posted.

**I learned that’s what it’s called from Bonnie’s husband, Jim. Thanks, Jim!

Pictures from the race and some random pictures from the past week, too (sorry for the quality of the pictures – my new camera is still at the shop): (commentary in the slide show).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

NYC Half Marathon 8.5.07

Hi all,

Race 23 was the NYC Half Marathon. We ran a loop and then some clockwise around Central Park, down 7th Avenue through Times Square, across 42nd Street and down the West Side Highway to Battery Park.

Goals: to run between water stations, to set a course PR (sub 2:08:49) and to set a distance PR (sub 2:02:49).

The event started at the expo on Friday afternoon. I timed my visit to coincide with the appearance of Haile Gebrselassie and Catherine Ndereba, who answered questions from the crowd and then gave autographs and took pictures (except with me, whose camera broke the day before). I had them autograph my bib (picture in the album). I wandered around, had a badge made, got a pace bracelet, picked up some freebies (Vaseline, hair bands, sunblock), then went home for a nice restful evening. Saturday was expo day again. Hendrick Ramaala and Abdi Abdirahman did the appearance and signed my bib. In the general questions session, I asked them about cross-training. Hendrick said he doesn’t do any and Abdi said he does abs after his long runs. The moderator was quick to point out that they’re professional athletes and that running is their job and that it’s good to be physically fit in a variety of ways. I was first in line for the autographs (I learned where to stand at the Friday night appearance) and when I told them my goal, they kidded each other that I was going to be right behind them. They wished me luck and signed my bib. This bib is going to be framed!! I went to work to wait for Elizabeth, who was arriving later. We met back at the expo at around 3. Well, by the time I got there, she and Jenna had finished with the expo (which I know now is tiny and nothing special, expo-wise) and were shopping at Niketown. It was so nice to finally meet Elizabeth in person after getting to know her through her blog. We chatted while Jenna finished shopping, then I went to mass. I can barely kneel before running a half marathon, so I was certainly not going to attempt it after one!

Race day – I had to be in my corral by 6:15, so I was up at 4:30 and out the door by 5. I missed the bus at 86th Street, so I walked across the Park to the starting area (that counts as a warm-up, right?). I got myself ready (inhaler, sunblock, etc.), dropped my bag and headed to the 7000 corral. Elizabeth was already there and while we were chatting, my friend, Paul, with his friend, Mitch, showed up. They are both training for a triathlon and were using this race as a training run. Elizabeth and Paul both decided to use me as a pacer (no pressure there!), because they wanted to run slowly and not race. As we started moving forward, compacting the corrals (we were about a half mile from the start), another friend, LK, found us. He’s on a new training regimen and was supposed to keep his heart rate at or below 145, so he was going slowly, too. We continued to move forward until we started hearing snatches of the national anthem and then the horn. We finally crossed the start line at 4:55. I’m not very good at talking while running, so I limited myself to pointing out landmarks to Elizabeth. I’m apparently not very good at thinking while I’m running, either, because I missed out on some pretty big ones, including the finish of the NYC Marathon. Sorry, Elizabeth!! As always, I stopped at every water station, drinking water and Gatorade and taking a short walk break at each one. There were plenty of spectators and I even saw someone I know in the crowds: Brenn, who is also a member of our corporate running team. We hit the 5k marker at 31:25. The first few miles were a bit of a struggle, especially getting up the hills on the upper west side of the Park. Elizabeth and I ran together for about 5 miles at which point we separated, though Paul and I continued on together. In the 7th mile, my first goal went by the wayside. I had meant to use my inhaler at the last water station, but forgot. My chest was getting tighter and tighter and when I started feeling light-headed and seeing stars, I stopped, puffed, and walked until I felt calmer. It didn’t take long and Paul hung with me until I was running again. We crossed the 10k mats at 1:01:17 (I learned later that the winner had already finished by that time). My total time for the 7th mile was 9:35, so I was clearly running too fast for this kind of humidity. And then, after a short sweeping uphill, we turned left and headed out of the Park onto 7th Avenue. Not only was this an environmental change, from a beautiful green park with trees rising on either side to city streets with skyscrapers rising on either side, but the crowds swelled and the music started (there was no music in the Park). From the brass band at Carnegie Hall to the DJs and dancers along the West Side Highway, you could still hear the band you’d passed fading away as you started hearing the band you approached. The buildings of Times Square are visible as soon as you hit 7th Avenue and I tried to keep my eyes on them to pull me forward. As with last year, I completely forgot about being broadcast on the jumbotron in Times Square until it was too late. I hope someone saw me and recognized me, but I didn’t recognize anyone on the screen when I looked up. As I turned onto 42nd Street, I was gasping for a water station – I needed the walk break and the fluids! Three times, we had to run 2 miles (more or less) between water stations. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to have one of those long breaks 8 ½ miles into a half marathon in August in NYC! We passed several bands and DJs and then 7-Eleven (no more Kwik-E-Mart) and finally arrived at the water station. There were boxes of Carb-Boom gel for us to take, but I used my own (plain PowerGel). I probably should have taken the Carbo-Boom – it took nearly 2 minutes for me to get the stupid packet open!! Oh well, at least I had a nice long walk break. Paul couldn’t wait and took off, but I caught him before the turn onto the West Side Highway. In contrast to the glorious transition from Park to city streets back at mile 7+, the turn-off onto the West Side Highway was a transition to the most difficult section of the course. As hilly as Central Park is, the trees provide plenty of shade, as do the buildings in midtown. No such feature on the West Side Highway. Not only were we completely exposed to the blazing sun, but we moved from asphalt to concrete! The crowds were still good, though, and there were water stations in every mile. There were also supposed to be misting stations, but I didn’t see any. I crossed the 15k marker at 1:32:04. By the last four miles, I was getting grumpier and grumpier. On a walk break to drink water, I got irritated by a spectator standing in the road and waved him out of my way. Coming into the last water station, someone decided that it didn’t matter that people were running down the Highway; he was going to walk across it by way of my left foot. I called him a not-very-nice name, throwing in a glare for good measure. Bad me – we were all tired by that point and I’m sure he just wasn’t thinking straight. Hopefully, he didn’t hear me. I had gotten separated from Paul by this point and saw him go flying past in the last mile. I was beginning to chase after him when I remembered that his plan called for him to run the last mile fast, so I let him go. I had long ago realized that I couldn’t make my time goals, but thought I’d try to see how close I could get to a course PR. I crossed the 20k marker at 2:02:22. In that last half mile, I passed a downed runner, surrounded by cops, and a little farther along, the EMTS were moving a stretcher onto the course to retrieve him. I didn’t hear anything more about it, so I assume it was dehydration. I hope he’s okay. I also passed Brenn again and he cheered for me a couple of times, which helped push me along to the finish. I missed my revised goal of finishing in under 2:13 on the official clock, but it was close.

Paul was waiting for me at the finish and we picked up our medals, then got our picture taken together. We found Mitch, then Paul and Mitch took off while I headed over to grab my bag. I ran into Fabian, Roberto, Lou and LK (whose heart-rate average was exactly 145 – way to go, LK!) on my way out. I got a little confused and ended up back in the finishing chute, but eventually made it to Andrea and Brady’s place, where I took a quick shower and then we headed back out for dim sum and Divalicious!

Official stats: I finished in 2:08:23 for an average pace of 9:48 over the 13.1 miles – a course PR, by just 26 seconds. According to the Nike+ results, I was 6099 out of 9920 total finishers, putting me in the 39th percentile - the NYRR website has me listed as the 6362nd finisher, which would put me in the 36th percentile. It was 71°F with 61% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 9:59, 10:49, 9:46, 9:49, 9:40, 9:35, 9:38, 9:25, 10:44, 10:03, 9:41, 9:03 and :59 for the final .1 mile (9:50 pace).

Celebration treats: Andrea and Brady are fellow chocophiles, so they provided me immediately with some Valrhona chocolate (Manjari and Araguani), then we walked up to Chinatown for dim sum and then stopped at Divalicious for chocolate-fountain-dipped treats (I had the ice-cream-filled cream puffs – yum!). When I got home, I had my last Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper (don’t worry, Nathalie, I still have yours) – slushed, of course, and (again, provided by Andrea and Brady – thanks, guys!!)*

Next up: Media Challenge #5 (8/8) and the Run for Home Plate (8/11).

Thank you for all your support!

*This may seem like a lot of treats for someone who only hit one goal, I did set a course PR and it's my 3rd fastest half marathon time. Not too bad for someone who ran a marathon a month ago and is still recovering from some pretty painful injuries, not to mention it's a half marathon in NYC in August!

Race day pictures here:

For those of you who missed it, the Anheuser-Busch Libation Loft album is here: (if you want to see the videos, let me know and I’ll send the links).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Media Challenge #4 (3.5 miles) 7.24.07

Hi all,

Race 22 was the fourth Media Challenge of the year (timing and injury prevented me from running the second and third – you haven’t missed any recaps). We run 3.5 miles – twice counter-clockwise around the lower loop in Central Park and then some.

Goals: There’s only one water station on this course and it’s at the finish, so I was going to have to run over 1.7 miles at a shot to keep from walking between rest stations. I was hoping to run 9:15s (based on my 9:11 pace in the 4-miler last weekend).

No warm-up today. I lined up towards the back with John (we were discussing the wonderful Jany) and took it easy going around the bottom of the Park, at which point I told John to go on ahead without me. I didn’t want to start out too fast without having warmed up and breathing was a bit difficult with the heat and humidity. I chugged along, keeping my eye out for News Corp runners (unlike my team, they actually have matching shirts, so were easy to spot). My team is now in third place, but close enough that even one good night could bring us to the top and I knew that News Corp is one of the teams we need to beat.* I passed a number of runners, including from my own team and picked a rabbit wearing the News Corp shirt and bright red shorts. I didn’t catch her on the transverse, so I knew I’d lose her when I stopped for water after the first loop. I started running again on the downhill and felt good going around the loop. I caught up with and passed every female who had passed me when I stopped for water (I only compete with females in these events). As I came around to the 72nd Transverse, I saw my rabbit again. I didn’t want to push it too hard, but as we moved towards the west side of the transverse, I started counting down the pavement lines between us, finally passing her just as we hit the turn onto the West Drive. I passed several other runners, but was only passed by one man before the finish.

Official stats: I finished in 31:45 for an average pace of 9:04 over the 3.5 miles – not a PR, but my second fastest time for this course, so not too bad. I was the 56th female finisher. My splits from my watch were: 16:08 (8:58 pace for the 1.8 miles), 15:36 (9:11 pace for the 1.7 miles). It was 74° with 65% humidity.

Celebration treat: hot chocolate soufflé

Next up: The NYC Half Marathon (8/5), Media Challenge #5 (8/8), and, hopefully, the Run for Home Plate (TBD).

Thank you for all your support!

*Each runner is scored by their place in the race. The scores of the top 3 females and the top 5 males are combined to determine each team’s score. The team with the lowest number of points wins. Our total was 68, so there’s a very good chance that we won. I’ll let you know when Sue, our team captain, gets the details and passes them on to us. She’s on vacation, so thanks to Mayumi for stepping up to the plate and leading us on to victory!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Race for Central Park 4-miler 7.21.07

Hi all,

Race 21 was the Race for Central Park 4-miler – we ran the new 4-mile course of Central Park, starting on the East Drive, just south of the 68th Street, crossing at the 102nd Street Transverse, then down the west side to finish on the 72nd Street Transverse.

Goals: To run between water stations and to finish with a 9:30 pace (38:00).

After staying up ‘til midnight to get my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I got less than 5 hours of sleep, and was sorely tempted to skip the race. It was originally meant to be a training run, because I intended to race the Run for Home Plate 5k, but with the postponement of that event, I had to race this one. I had arranged to meet Lana and Barb at 8 at the baggage check, but ended up at the Park by 7:30. I wandered around, wishing I’d eaten something, and checked out the various sponsors’ tents. I found Lana and Barb and we headed over to the start with plenty of time to stretch. We lined up at the 9-marker, wished Peter Ciacia (as far as I can remember, he has started all of the NYRR races) a happy birthday, then started at a slow walk when the gun went off. Three minutes later, after a false start or two, we were able to pick up the pace and cross the start line. With no warm-up, I knew it would be a slow first mile, so I skipped the water station. We hit the first mile marker at 10:08 and I calculated that I’d have to run 9:20 miles to hit my goal and wasn’t confident I could make it happen. I started pulling away from Lana and Barb, though, so I waved back and just let my legs go. I didn’t push myself and I felt comfortable. After crossing the 102nd Street Tranverse and heading down the rolling hills on the West side, though, my legs started to feel tired. At times, it felt like I was dragging my legs forward. I tried my visualization trick of imagining the world passing beneath me as I lifted my feet, but it didn’t work. I continued to struggle until I hit the water station just before the 3rd mile marker. I walked a bit longer through this water station (about 30 seconds), then took off running again. As I got up to pace, someone passed me and looked back at me. It was my friend, LK, whom I haven’t seen in over a year!! I was so happy to see him, but he told me to go on ahead because I had only 8 minutes to make my goal time. We agreed to meet up at the finish and I started putting on the speed. I wasn’t feeling tired anymore, but I didn’t push myself too much, either. I waited until I caught sight of the 78 lamppost,* which meant that I had about a half mile to go. At that point, I picked up the pace and started picking off the yellow- and orange-shirted runners. I was disappointed to find nothing left for a finishing kick, but was delighted when I stopped my watch with a final mile at 8:16! I don’t mind not having a finishing kick with a mile time like that!!

I walked back to try to watch LK, Lana and Barb finish, but there were so many runners coming through that I only saw Barb finish. I grabbed some plums for Lana (I can’t eat them, but I know she likes them) and headed over to where we’d agreed to meet after the race. We chatted a bit, then I went back to the Bandshell to watch the awards ceremony and to not win the raffle. I also stopped by the Cabot Cheese tent for some samples (there was no way I was going to eat cheese before the race), then headed home.

Official stats: I finished in 36:47 for an average pace of 9:11 over the 4 miles. I was 2427 out of 4038 total finishers, putting me in the 40th percentile. It was 63°F with 70% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 10:08, 8:46, 9:44, and 8:16.

Consolation treats: one of my favorite breakfasts – Golden Syrup-flavored oatmeal with Hotel Chocolat chocolate gems and Chocolate Abyss (hot chocolate that Lisa sent from England) and for lunch, a cheese soufflé with a spinach salad, a slushy Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, and some Carnival Skittles.

Next up: Media Challenge #4 (7/24) and the NYC Half Marathon (8/5)

Thank you for all your support!

*The lampposts in Central Park are numbered according to the corresponding street number. I use them to count down the blocks as I head towards the finish of my races. For non-New Yorkers, there are about 20 street blocks in a mile.

Pictures from the race and random pictures are available here:

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Very Special Night

Bobby Bostic, who recently ran the North Pole Marathon as a fundraiser for CFA, invited me to sit at the table he sponsored at the Challenged Athletes Foundation Celebration of Heroes, Heart and Hope benefit. I accepted not only for the opportunity to attend this amazing event, but also to meet him in person, finally, after exchanging comments and messages on-line for a while now.

The event started with a cocktail reception and silent auction at 6. I arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria to find crowds of people running up Park Avenue and clouds of smoke billowing out from behind the MetLife building. People were saying that a bomb had gone off in Grand Central, so I called my parents and had them check the news. It took about 5 minutes before the news broke, but the report was that a transformer had exploded and that terrorism was not suspected. So, I changed my shoes (to put on heels) and went inside.

At check-in, people were nervous and talking about the explosion, so I passed on the information I had, collected my bid number, and wandered into the reception (after being rerouted from the VIP recepetion, which I mistakenly tried to enter - I guess I didn't look fabulous enough). There were some very nice items up for bid (see the catalog here: (the link to the pdf is in the middle of the left-side of the page), but I was already out-bid by the time I got to the items I wanted. I sipped some Pellegrino and then wandered out to the restroom. Where I discovered not one, but two major ladders in my hose! On Abby's very good advice, I decided not to ignore it and left the hotel to get a new pair of hose. I left the hotel on Lexington to find a drug store and found avenue traffic at a stand-still. Well, to be accurate, there were no cars at all. North/south traffic had been stopped (cross-town traffic continued, presumably to get the cars out of the area) and the road was full of people looking downtown at the aftermath of the explosion. I called my parents again and learned that it was now being reported (accurately) as a steampipe explosion. I rushed uptown, got the new hose, rushed back and barely made it in time to sit for dinner.

The tables were laid-out beautifully and the appetizer was already available. I found my table and met Bobby and a few others at the table. The waiters informed us that it was time to tuck in (I'm paraphrasing) and then Sarah Reinertsen joined us, sitting between Bobby and me. I'm sure many of you know what a strong athlete she is, but I'm happy to tell you that she is also a very nice person - sincere and genuine. We chatted about New York and I explained how I'd met Bobby and then, between appetizer and entree, she headed off to mingle. She got back just in time to eat a quick bite before the presentations began. We saw wonderful films about various athletes, including Jim McClaren (the inspiration for CFA), Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, Major David Rozelle, Randy Garcia Tolson, Team Hoyt, and Sarah, each of whom (except Jim McClaren) also spoke. The entire event was just so moving and inspirational. Several board members were also spotlighted, including Bobby, who has personally raised over $500,000 for CFA. Some of their stories are on the CFA website, if you're interested.

When the presentation was concluded, we were served dessert and then the fun started. There was a live auction of some very special items (see the auction brochure). The bidding was slow, at first (though it exceeded my reach on the first call already in the thousands of dollars). The autioneer was pretty funny and made some good-hearted digs trying to get people to increase the bids for each item. The highlight of the auction was the bid for the slot in the 2007 or 2008 Ironman World Championships in Kona (which the auctioneer described as a chance to be totally exhausted). The winning bid was $40,000 and the man who won has just beaten cancer!

I was truly honored to be there and will be adding CFA to my list of charities. If you'd like to make a direct donation to CAF, click here: If you'd like to donate through Bobby's fundraising site, click here: They're doing amazing things to help challenged athletes around the world and the impact these challenged athletes are having is tremendous (e.g., Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah ( is changing the way his country thinks of physically-challenged people.)

Pictures (of some of the hotel decor, Lexington Avenue, and the food):

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Naples Park to Park 10k 7.14.06

Hi all,

Race 20 was the Naples Park to Park 10k – we ran the 6-mile loop of Central Park, starting on the East Drive, just south of the 102nd Street Transverse, continuing around the Park and finishing on the 102nd Street Transverse. The NYRR has “twinned” itself with the Napoli Road Runners and the first race of the Park of the Park event took place in June at the Royal Woods of Capodimonte in Naples.

Goals: To run between water stations and to finish with 10-minute miles. The tendonitis in my left leg was still bothering me, but one of the PTs who works on my leg suggested that I wrap my foot. I bought an Ace bandage and it really seemed to help. Rather than take the chance, I wrapped my foot for the race, too.

I’m still in recovery from the marathon, so I decided against a warm-up, but I did do some strides. As I lined up by the 9-minute marker, I saw Mark on the other side of the road and gradually worked my way over to him. We chatted a bit, but I knew I was going to go slow and told him to go on ahead. He very nicely ran with me a little longer, then went off to run his race. I struggled up the Harlem Hill, but managed to get to the top without stopping. The rolling downhills on the West Side were a welcome relief, especially because I knew that I’d have to run up Cat Hill on the other side of the park. I walked through the water stations (the first of which didn’t appear until the 3rd mile – not good in this heat, NYRR), but did have to make one extra stop. My top of my left foot was bothering me, so I stopped at just about the 5k point to retie my laces. I needn’t have bothered – it made no difference. I think it was the tendonitis acting up a bit. I thought about stopping quite a bit, but tried to keep myself going to the water stations. At one point, the water station wasn’t quite where I expected and I realized that it was only my perception that made it seem out-of-place. Running through the winter months, I could see quite clearly where the water stations were because the trees and bushes were mostly bare. Now, though, the Park is lush and full and the water stations are hidden around corners. I can’t say which I prefer, but it certainly is prettier now. I made it to Cat Hill and fully expected to have to stop and walk a bit, but I was able to climb the hill at a run, saluting Cat as I passed. As I came up to the flat section of the East Drive, I was able to salute Fred (LeBow – the man who made the NYC Marathon what it is today) and then count down the blocks as I neared the finish. The first 5 miles were really tough, but this last mile seemed to be much easier. I felt like I was flying (and, compared to the pace of the first 5 miles, I almost was) and I tried to push it towards the finish. After the race, I wandered over to the awards area to wait to not win the raffle and Mark found me holding down the fort at the Naples table (no-one was there, so I sat down). We directed a number of runners to the raffle bowl at the next table, then listened to an Italian guitarist sing along to his guitar. A number of runners were given medals, though it wasn’t clear why they were singled out. It’s possible that they ran both events (this one and the one in Naples). We walked back to the subway together and then I headed out to LI to visit my folks.

Official stats: I finished in 1:01:16 for an average pace of 9:52 over the 6.2 miles. I was 3122 out of 4556 total finishers, putting me in the 31st percentile. It was 67°F with 61% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 10:03, 9:40, 9:55, 10:49, 9:40, 9:22, and the final .2 mile split was 1:50 (9:10 pace).

Consolation treats: Dark chocolate mint Cadbury Fingers, which my friend, Lisa, sent me from the UK, and a Blue Woo Hoo Vanilla Squishee from 7-Eleven.

Next up: Run for Central Park (7/21) [the Run to Home Plate, originally scheduled for 7/22, has been postponed]

Thank you for all your support!

Pictures from the race, and from a very special shop here in New York, are available here (these pictures are pretty self-explanatory, so, contrary to my usual practice, the only commentary in the slideshow is a description of the last picture:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Santa Claus/Arctic Circle Marathon 6.30.07

Hi all,

Race 19 was the Santa Claus Marathon, also known as the Arctic Circle Marathon. We started on the north side of the Arctic Circle, ran south over the line, then 26.2 miles around northern Finland (around Rovaniemi).

Goals: I wasn’t sure what to expect after my recent bout with tendonitis and the adverse reaction to the medicine I was given to treat it. Rather than having a time goal, I wanted to run smart and finish without hurting my knees. Also, in researching the race, I read comments about people getting lost, so one of my goals was to not get lost. There were comments about the hilliness of the course, which I sort of disregarded until about 2 days before the race when I found the elevation profile on the race’s webpage: At that point, I wondered if “flat” and “very easy” have different meanings in Finland. And reset my goal to stop running whenever my knee hurt to make sure I’d be able to get through the entire race.

Jany and I took a nap in the afternoon to get some rest before the night race. We got up, dressed and went to the lobby to wait for the bus to Santa Claus Village. The few marathoner runners were milling around (I even saw some warming up and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t warm up myself), but Jany and I wandered around taking pictures. I loved that I was at the Arctic Circle. Santa came out and all of the adults suddenly turned into children, rushing over to get their pictures taken with him. Including me! In my pictures, he’s mostly walking away, trying to get over to start the race. All of a sudden, I realized that it was time to begin and I hadn’t even checked my bag. Jany took it for me, I ran over to the start and, before I had time to get my watch ready, the gun went off. I started my watch on the run and headed south. I had planned to start out at 12-minute miles, but hit the first kilometer marker at 8:25 pace – not good. I spent the first half of the race trying to slow down. The course was supposed to include Santa’s Workshop, but they discovered mold or some other fungus and it’s been shut down for reconstruction until November. I was very upset when I learned this. We ended up running through a residential area along the pedestrian road. The rain started shortly after the race did and for quite a while, it was a downpour – I nearly lost my contacts. I think it rained for about an hour and a half, including the light rain after the downpour. It wasn’t horrible, but our clothes were soaked and we had to carry that water with us the rest of the race – it was too cold for them to dry on the run. Anyway, I kept running the kilometers too fast and trying to slow down, but I felt like I was trudging. There was a British couple (an assumption based on their wearing Union Jack shorts) running in front of me that I tried to use for rabbits, but they got away from me during the rain. When I got to a certain point in the first half of the race, I started seeing runners coming at me. I freaked out a little, thinking I’d gotten lost (the turn-around is between 30 and 35 kilometers). I asked one of the guys if he was running the half (they were supposed to be on the same course as the full marathoners, but they started an hour later and split out at about 19k), but he was actually running the 12k. So I quit panicking and kept running. It became obvious, at about this point, that the rain had presented an unexpected hazard. The course was marked by chalk (the town would not allow paint) and the rain washed away the route in several sections. A number of people did get lost, including Jany and John and a couple of other runners we talked to at the finish. We ran into town and then past my hotel (temptation point 1). We crossed the railroad bridge after a slightly confusing turnaround (I saw one guy miss the turnaround and have to come back down off the bridge and run it properly). At the end of the railroad bridge was the split-off for the half marathon finish (temptation point 2). I followed the marathon course, but had to double check with the guide about which way to go. I trudged on and on, stopping every other kilometer or so to walk out my knee and do knee swings to loosen up the tendon. I was getting slower and slower, but I was still going (and wondering why the hell I was doing this with every painful step!). I concentrated on getting to the 25-kilometer marker, thinking that I would only have 17 to go after that. I don’t know why I picked 25, but that was an important marker for me. In fact, it was so much on my mind that I started thinking I’d already passed it. I had started counting down to 30 (my next important marker point, because then I could count down to 40), but the next marker I hit was 25. Confused? Oh, yes. But, I rallied and started the countdown over. When I hit the turn for the 5k to the turnaround point, I started on the wrong side of the street, but the volunteer called me back and got me onto the right (and correct) side of the street. This was the closest I came to getting lost. At this point, I started seeing runners coming back at me. I tried counting them, but when I got to 40, it was too depressing to think about how far back I was, so I quit counting (after I hit 50). I’d started passing runners by now (including the Union-Jack-butted couple) and, happily, was only passed again by only one of those people. The rest stayed behind me. At 30, I was desperately trying to speed up. I was tired and I hurt everywhere. My entire pelvis was aching (does that happen to anyone else? The bones were hurting so badly that I just wanted to curl up in a ball – I tried, but you can’t run that well when you’re curled over) and I really wanted to stop. But, I kept going. I hit the turnaround, running past the water station to make the turnaround before I stopped to drink and walk. Less than 10k to go now! I passed a woman who was running with a man, but heard him say he couldn’t help or needed help (they were German and my German is definitely poor, but I know the word help) and she ran on without him. We ended up passing each other for the rest of the race. I wasn’t exactly racing with her, because I was stopping to rest my knee whenever I had to (and probably more often than that – I’m very embarrassed about my mental performance (lack thereof) in this race), but she was running and walking at about the same pace I was. When I got back to the main road and was heading back to town, a mantra developed in my head: campers, festival, ValdeMare (the restaurant that hosted the pasta party), bridge (Lumberjack Bridge), hotel, finish. Those were the remaining landmarks and they sounded over and over and over in my head. I felt a genuine sense of relief pass over me as I passed each one and dropped it from the mantra. When I hit the 41km marker, I decided that I wasn’t going to stop again until I’d finished, no matter how slowly I had to go. I ran up the slope to the bridge, ran across it, and headed back towards town, passing my hotel again (temptation point 3). Turning up towards the town center and the finish, I hit the hill that I had told Jany I would be running up – and I did. She and John (a Runner’s World writer that I’d met before the race) were having a drink at Hemingway’s and I saw them briefly when Jany called my name. She ran alongside me, but I couldn’t stop. The German woman finished about 10 seconds before I did and waited at the finish for me, which I thought was so nice! I hadn’t meant to be racing her, but I think I helped push her along, after she lost her running partner nearly 10k back. My legs turned to rubber and I couldn’t move. Jany caught me and walked me to the food table for water, then walked me around, refusing to let me sit down, though she did let me lean at one point. I was shaking hard and turning blue, so she gave me her jacket. When I was leaning against a wall that was about thigh-high, another runner, Gina, who was in the same condition, came and leant with me. Jany went off to check the results and John came up to chat. Jany came back very excited, because she had WON the half marathon!!!! I knew she would – I’d told her and everyone who would listen (including John and the race directors) that she was going to win, but everyone, including Jany pooh-poohed me. I was soooo happy for her!!! She wanted to take me back to our room so I could shower and change into warm clothes (I’d forgotten to pack my warm coat, which I’d brought especially to wear after the race). Gina and I decided to walk back together, because I didn’t want Jany to miss the winning ceremony (she couldn’t get confirmation of when the ceremony would start and it was already close to midnight). Gina’s friend had come in 3rd in the half and Gina herself came in 3rd in the full, but we didn’t know that. She and I hobbled back to the hotel, cursing the hill that we now had to get down after having just run up it to finish. I had to lift my legs with my hands to get into the tub, but I made it. I showered in the hottest water I could tolerate, but as soon as I turned off the water, I was shivering again. I turned the water on again, but couldn’t get warm, so I just got out, dressed as quickly as I could (which was still pretty slow), and “hurried” back so I wouldn’t miss Jany’s winning ceremony. I ran into her before I’d even gotten back to the hilly street (whew). I was very sorry that I’d missed seeing her win, but we met some guys the next day who’d videotaped it and they’re going to send it to her (hopefully). My fingernails were still blue, so I was going to get back into the shower, but Jany told me to just get under the covers and I’d warm up soon enough and I did.

There weren’t very many spectators, but the few that were there definitely made up for it: one guy cheered us on right after the start, then biked across to where we circled back to head south to Rovaniemi; there was an entire family dressed in costumes; the volunteers at the 20k water station were dressed as elves and ringing jingle bells; the volunteers at the turn-around point were calling out cheers to everyone; there was a family on the turnaround road that called out “hup, hup, hup” to give us a cadence; another family was cheering and ringing bells and the children ran along with the runners for a little way (I know it wasn’t just me, because they ran back from running with me to run with the guy I’d passed before reaching them). And when we got back into town, everyone I passed was supportive and cheering – I didn’t encounter any of the smirkers complained about in the comments I read about the race.

The refreshment tables – these were well-stocked, but there weren’t quite enough of them! There were 12 possible stops, including the ones that counted double (10 separate tables) and the table at the finish. They had water, juice, Gatorade (plain, not Endurance), and a combination of 2 or more of the following: raisins, pickles, orange slices, bananas. Because my stomach was still bothering me, I was afraid to eat anything, so I just drank water and ate 3 of my gel packs. I should have eaten more, but I kept forgetting about them.

Official stats: I finished in 4:43:51 for an average pace of 10:50 over the 26.2 miles – no PR for me, which really distressed me. I was 66th out of 82 total finishers, putting me in the 20th percentile, and 17th out of 24 female finishers, putting me in the 29th percentile*. I was 4th in my age group, out of 6, putting me in the 67th percentile. It was about 50°F (10°C) and it rained for about the first hour. My kilometer splits from my watch were: 5:14, 5:53, 6:11, 5:44, 6:01, 6:29, 6:01, 5:44, 6:06, 7:08, 5:59, 6:08, 7:05, 6:18, 6:20, 6:18, 6:17, 7:11, 6:30, 7:17, 6:35, 6:13, 6:48, 7:46, 6:43, 6:37, 7:40, 6:59, 6:35, 8:01 [my watch only holds 30 laps – have to find a new watch] and the final 1.165 km split was 8:40 (7:26 pace).

Consolation treats: Eventually, I was able to indulge in some treats, including a Finnish Dr Pepper (oh, yeah – I found one – okay, more than one), some of the Thornton’s chocolates that Jany brought me from London, some Finnish candy (I love licorice), a cinnamon-bun-flavored ice-cream bar (!!) and a sauna (Finnish-style)!

Post-race wounds: the usual chafing, plus bands around my ankles from my tights; bloody holes in my heels from the zippers at the bottom of my tights; a swelling in the small of my back from the gel packs banging into me while I ran; a gel-pack-sized chafing wound on the right side of my back; a big bruise on my thigh (I have no idea where that came from, but it’s going away now); plus, every joint ached and my knee was really pretty bad. The joint pain was so bad that I couldn’t sleep all night, even though I took a Celebrex before I went to sleep. I also had to get up in the middle of the night to get food and water, because I hadn’t eaten anything or had more than a small cup of water to drink after the race. All I had was water (good) and Greek flavor Pringles (I’m going with good on that – carbs and salt!).

Next up: Naples Park to Park 10k (7/14), Run for Central Park (7/21) and the Run to Home Plate (7/22).

Thank you for all your support!

Pictures from the race are available here (as always, there is commentary in the slideshow):

I’m thinking about writing recaps for the pre- and post-race activities – let me know if you’d be interested in reading them.

Pictures from before the race are available here:

Pictures from the Hiking/River Rafting excursion are available here:

Pictures from the Shaman’s Village excursion are available here:

Pictures from the ATV excursion are available here:

Pictures from my last day and some random pictures from the trip are available here:

*One of the women in the 60+ category finished the marathon in 3:02, but I suspect she actually ran the half, rather than the full marathon. I was very impressed with her time and thought she might have been an elite runner at some point in time. My research, however, showed that her previous marathon times were 5+ hours. If she didn’t run the full, then I was 65th out of 81 total finishers, putting me in the 20th percentile and 16th out of 23 female finishers, putting me in the 30th percentile. Not much difference, but I like 30th better than 29th.