Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spin and a Sssllloooooooooowww Run

Monday night I had to dust off my bike trainer for my Tuesday morning ride. I had considered going to spin class during lunch on Tuesday, but I had a meeting scheduled during the class time. So, I had to resort to the trainer. While I don’t think I could do more than an hour on the trainer, overall it’s not too bad. Honestly, it’s the only time I have to sit and watch the news uninterrupted. The trainer is a little noisy and I don’t want to wake up the rest of the house, so I turn on the closed caption and spin away! 45 minutes on the schedule in Zone 2 with my cadence at 85+…unfortunately, I just ordered the cadence sensor for my bike and I still hadn’t figured out the whole heart-rate monitor thingy, so I had no idea of my zone or cadence. Ugh!

Lucky for me, the Hubby helped me figure out the HR monitor before my run this morning. (Yes, I realize it's not exactly rocket science!) I was hoping my Wfit peep, Julie, would be meeting me for at least a portion of the scheduled 6 miles….but, she couldn’t make it, so it was just me and the roads. (That and several rabbits, stars, the newspaper dude and a few other crazy early-morning runners.) This was another “easy” run, or as Coach typed into Training Peaks, “EASY!” run. My heart rate was supposed to be in Zone 2 (126-146) and I was supposed to maintain my easy pace per McMillan (11:29 – 11:59). For some reason, I have no problem running slower in a marathon, but I have been running my shorter runs much faster for the past couple of years. Part of that “to run faster, you have to run faster” mentality, I guess. Yes, I had easier days, but those runs were rarely over an 11 minute/mile pace (unless it was 100+ degrees outside with 100% humidity)and usually in the low 10s or maybe even the high 9s. Yes, I know you have to also run slower to get faster, but this is sooooo new to me – forcing myself to go slower than slow – and it’s hard. I had to take a couple of walk breaks to get my heart rate down and to slow my pace a bit. Overall, I never got under an average 153 HR or an average 11:28 pace. I guess I need to keep working on this. Can I just say that I am sooooo, soooo happy to have a Tempo run on my schedule next week? It's the little things!

I am soooo looking forward to getting my cadence sensor for my bike! Also, this weekend I am going to buy fins, a kickboard and some paddles – yay me! Next up, I am finally going to get a new saddle for the bike. I am still using the factory saddle and it’s time to upgrade to something more comfy! Yes, this is exactly why I am never at the mall buying trendy, cute new work clothes – all my extra $ goes toward miscellaneous tri stuff. :-)

Do you follow the suggested paces from McMillan? Do you train using your HR? How slow are your "easy" runs? Or, do you use other methods for training?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I tell ya, yesterday was my 1st "2-a-day" in months and to be honest, I just didn’t have my shiznit together. Like the “about me” on this blog says, sometimes I can juggle everything well and some days not-so-much. Yesterday was a not-so-much day.

First, I went to bed much later than I should have on Sunday night. Here's the deal - in order for me to wake up and workout at stupid-thirty, I typically have to go to bed at grandma-thirty (a/k/a 9 or 9:30). Sometimes I can survive with less sleep, but after a hectic long weekend, I think I just needed the rest. So, for the first time in a long time, I went back to sleep and didn’t run at all in the morning. Instead, I packed a 2nd bag with my running clothes to take with me to work (I already had a bag packed for the pool). One awesome thing about where I work is that we have an on-site fitness center. And, that fitness center not only has several treadmills, but it also has a pretty nice indoor track. I decided to run my easy 3-miler on the indoor track. Trust me when I say that I’d rather run outdoors, but I don’t have time to shampoo and re-do my hair afterwards and I don’t want my co-workers to smell me from 3 offices away because I ran outside and didn’t shampoo.

So here’s where I didn’t have my shiznit together – running on the treadmill and indoor track can be really boring.

I forgot my ipod.

When I run outdoors, I'm kind of a zen runner – I love the sound silence (well, that and my footsteps and my gasping for air) and don’t want the distraction of music. But indoors, give me music! Also, Coach said that I needed to follow the pace listed on my McMillan pace calculator for an easy run (11:29 – 11:59) and keep my heart rate in zone 2 (126-148). I have never done any heart rate training, so I don’t really know how to use my Garmin heart rate monitor. As a result, I couldn’t get the damn thing to work. So, I just tried to focus on my pace. Running at an 11:29 – 11:59 pace in a 3-mile run is hard. My 1st mile was somewhere around 10:30 and I thought I was practically walking. So, I slowed it down. The next mile was around 11:00. So, I slowed it down more. My final mile was more like 11:22…better. Coach says to trust the process, so I will go with it.

After work, I headed to the pool where I realized many things:

  • I left my brush at the gym, so I would have to leave the gym with crazy matted hair.

  • I forgot my watch, so I can’t let Coach know my 50 and 100 yd times.

  • I left my pull buoy in the car and was too lazy it was too cold to go get it.

  • I forgot to write down/print out my workout earlier in the day to bring with me to the pool.

And to top it off, I still need to buy fins and it was cold outside (never mind that I swim in an indoor, heated pool). I actually considered just going home. But then I realized that I wouldn’t have a workout to enter into Training Peaks and Coach would know that I blew off a workout ON MY FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF TRAINING! I decided that I could live without the brush, the watch and the pull buoy, but I could not live with the fact that I was a loser who couldn’t make herself go to the pool. So, the Hubby sent me my workout via cell phone (justification for why I need to upgrade to an iPhone!!!) and I did my workout the best I could. And, I actually enjoyed it! 1,400 yds done!

Moral of the story? We can’t have our shiznit together every minute of every day and it’s no big deal. Really, it’s okay. But, we can decide that little setbacks aren’t going to stop us from getting things done…afterall, no one else is going to hold us accountable, right?

Also, check out the latest post from Run Bike Mom’s blog – I loved it and just had to share!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No Rest for the Weary...

Almost as soon as I made my decision to do both the Houston Marathon and the Texas 70.3, Coach sent me a link to my training schedule. Yikes, my 3 weeks of rest and just random running was over! Sunday the training was starting for real! But first, we had Thanksgiving weekend to get through.

Thanksgiving weekend went a little like this...

Wednesday - I had the day off from work. I still woke up at stupid thirty to run 5 miles, then showered and went back to bed until the kids woke up. They're early risers, so the nap was only about 15 minutes long! Next, I made the kiddos pancakes (and an omlet for me) and we hung out in our PJs for awhile. Then, it was time to see the new Muppets movie...I have never liked the Muppets and after seeing this movine, I still don't. But, the kids LOVED the movie and that's what matters, right? Next, we stopped at McDonald's for lunch. The weather was gorgeous, so I suggested that we take our lunches to a nearby playground....what did the kids want? To play in the germ-infested thing that is called "McDonald's Play Land". Ugh. After lunch, we headed home, packed our suitcase and headed downtown to a hotel for the night. This is our Thanksgiving tradition...stay downtown and wake-up to watch the HEB Holiday Parade. And, the tradition is not complete without a stop at our favorite local Pizza eatery!

Here's the Munckin checking out the pepperoni (sorry, my cell phone camera is crap!)

Here's the Kiddo enjoying a hot slice of cheese pizza, yum!

Thursday - As I mentioned before, the kids are early risers, so we were at breakfast by 7 am. Next, we headed outside to watch the parade. In years past, the weather has been downright cold, so we've watched from the 2nd story window of the hotel...this year, it was in the mid-50's so we decided to watch the parade outside. The kiddos loved every minute!

Bring on the floats and bands, already!!! The kids waiting for the parade to start.

Next, we headed home so I could make my infamous sweet potato dish before heading to my parent's house for Thansgiving lunch. And, it was also the Kiddo's actual birthday, so we had a small cake and some gifts for her. I didn't do too bad with the meal, but still felt pretty stuffed afterward. Later that night, the hubby and I folded laundry while watching the A&M/UT game...pretty exciting, I know!

The Kiddo and her cake...don't worry, she had a much bigger one at her birthday party last weekend. And, check out the Munchkin, he has the "no I didn't just swipe some icing" look!

Here is the kiddo with one of her birthday was a very Bieber birthday, sigh.

Friday - After a quick 3-miler, we packed our bags and headed to the in-law's house in San Marcos (about 3 hours from Houston). We arrived, ate lunch and did some visiting before heading to the outlet mall. I scored some new Saucony shoes and a couple of cute outfits for work, the Hubby scored some Under Armor shirts. And yes, we did actually buy a holiday gift or two.

Saturday - Still at the inlaws, it was a super lazy morning. We hung out, played games with the kids and watched movies all morning. After having a late lunch with the in-laws, we headed back to Houston.

Sunday - Let the training begin! I started the morning with a 12-miler. The temps were much, much cooler (around 40, but a "feels like" temp of 33 thanks to the wind!). I wasn't sure what to wear for this weather, but eventually decided on a pair of Nike capris, my long sleeve "Ten for Texas" shirt and some knit gloves. Turns out that it was the perfect outfit. About the time I would start to get warm and push up the long sleeves, I would turn the corner and be blasted by the cold winds and be thankful for the long sleeves. Overall, it was a great run. Later that day, the hubby and I started the task of decorating the house for Christmas. We're almost done....but not quite.

So tomorrow is my first "2-a-day" workout of the 70.3 training - 3 miles easy, 1400 yd swim. Let the fun begin!!!

So, how was your Thanksgiving???? Gobble, Gobble!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Crazy Train has arrived...

and I just jumped on!

I may soooo regret this if it's 78 degrees with 100% humidity on race day!

So tell me your crazy adventures in running, triathlons, etc.


This post is filled with lots of random stuff…

The Decision:
I have made my decision and informed the Coach – I am going to run the Houston Marathon and do the Texas 70.3. Going back and forth trying to make the decision was painful. Once the decision was made, I was happy as a clam again. So…things are going to get very busy between now and April 1, but that’s okay. I am ready for the craziness challenge!

The Workouts:
Here’s what I’ve been up to since NYC (because I have to keep track – I am OCD about that):

Saturday, 11/12 – 6 miles – 11 min pace
This was my 1st run since NYC and it was a slow, painful run. I felt like someone beat me up, or at least my legs. Everything was a bit sore and creaky – my left hip felt weird, my right IT band was achey and I just felt all blah. Guess that’s to be expected, right?

Sunday, 11/13 - 30 minute Bike
Just easing back into the biking and loosening up the legs.

Monday. 11/14 – 3 miles – 10:45 pace
Just keepin’ things slow and easy. Felt better than Saturday’s run.

Wednesday, 11/16 – 4 miles, 10:20 pace
Legs feeling better and I met up with runner peep, Julie for 3 of the 4 miles.

Thursday, 11/17 – 3 miles, 9:57 pace
That’s more like it. Cooler temps helped a lot too!

Saturday, 11/19 -10 miles, 10:50 pace
Warm, muggy and just plain nasty running weather. The 10 felt pretty good otherwise, but slow.

Sunday, 11/20 - Bike, 1 hour (15 mph)
It felt great to be back out on the bike. I forgot how much I enjoy biking. However, it's been awhile and that was very apparent in my endurance level!

Monday, 11/21 - Easy run, 3 miles
Taking the advice from Coach, I ran this 3-miler super easy. At least I think it was, I forgot to charge my Garmin so I have no idea of the pace. Very warm, very muggy - yuck!

Tuesday, 11/21 - Easy run, 2.25 miles, 10:40 pace
Almost as soon as I started running, it went from light drizzle to actual rain drops. Luckily, it eased up pretty quickly, but would continue to alternate between drizzle and actual rain the entire time. I was carrying my cell phone and worried that it would get too wet, so I cut this run a bit short.

The Food Challenges:
I typically fall off the healthy eating wagon for a week after a race. In this case, it’s been over 2 weeks and I am still not back to it. Ugh, we made a dessert when my parents came over for dinner recently, then the Kiddo’s birthday party was on Saturday and we had a lot of leftover cupcakes, and now Thanksgiving! Ack! And, it doesn’t help when I come to work ready to eat my Greek yogurt and fruit and a co-worker says, “I brought you a muffin” or “I brought us some breakfast tacos”. Ugh, damn you co-workers for being thoughtful and nice! And, my kiddo’s birthday actually falls on Thanksgiving, so on top of all the other bad stuff on Thursday, there is also going to be more CAKE! I may need an intervention next know, someone to get in my face and tell me to back away from the crap food. Either that or a serious detox.

The Anniversary:
I just want to say Happy 14th Anniversary to my awesome, amazing Hubby! He is a great hubby and a wonderful father. He puts up with my type-A personality and my triathlon/running obsession and should get a medal just for that alone. He’s the best!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

When it comes to personal decisions, I have to admit that I am the most indecisive person EVER. So right now, I have a choice to make and I can’t decide what I want to do! Yesterday, I met with an awesome tri coach from a local triathlon training group to discuss my racing goals for 2012 and she gave me very good food for thought.

As you might know from this blog, I really wanted to do the Texas 70.3 (formerly known as Lone Star) in Galveston in April of this year, but with the new job and busy season that coincided at the same time as the peak training season, it just didn’t happen. I felt guilty trying to work late, then go to the gym only to arrive home after the kiddos were already in bed. Then, add a few out-of-town work trips in there and I missed some key workouts. But hey, work pays for triathlons. It comes much higher on the priority list than these races!

Here’s the deal – I came out of my abbreviated version of tri season on a high. I had 2 somewhat solid races (it would have been more if I had not broken my freaking toe), and I ended the season with my 1st non-panicked open water swim in a race. I immediately decided that, dammit, 2012 was going to be my year! I was doing the 2012 Texas 70.3! I would find a way, make a way to do this.

Flash forward 3 months later…it’s been awhile since that final triathlon and that high has dwindled a bit. Now, I am on a high from the NYC Marathon. I am all signed up for the Aramaco Houston Half Marathon on January 15, but I’ll admit that I’d been toying with the idea of switching to the full for a couple of months now. Heck, I’m trained up for it, so why not? Then, I saw the medals for this year’s race…

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the big 4-0! I still have the commemorative timing chip from the race’s 35th anniversary –and- my 40th birthday is 3 days after the race, so why wouldn’t I want that big, honkin’, blinging 4-0 medal??? Plus, why not try to prove to myself that I can run a sub-5 hour race again??? I decided that I was in! I also decided to do the RunGirl ½ marathon with my triathlon peep, Kelly, on December 11. It would be more of 1/2 for fun...obviously right after NYC, I wasn't going to be outright "racing" it.

Then, Coach brought me back to reality.

First of all, the Texas 70.3 is on April 1st (it gets earlier and earlier every year). Before NYC, this was going to be my 2012 “A” race. Let’s say I do run the Houston Marathon on January 15…since I am currently in “recovery mode” from NYC, coach does not recommend any speed training between now and Houston. In fact, she recommended not running more than a 17 miler between now and then. Then, I’d need a few weeks of recovery AFTER Houston (i.e. still running, but not “pushing it”)…that puts me into February with no real hardcore training for a ½ marathon distance race (i.e. speedwork). Let’s face it, training for a full and training for a ½ are very different. My paces for my 10 and 12 mile training runs are significantly slower this year (10:50 – 11:15) than the paces I was running these same distances at this time last year (10:10 – 10:20). Oh, and let’s not forget that I am supposed to be swimming and biking. Ideally, Coach’s strategy for running between now and the 70.3 would be to work on shorter distances and work on increasing my speed.

So what do I do???

Choice #1 - do I start training for Texas 70.3 effective December 1, but skip the RunGirl ½ and only do the Houston ½ Marathon (and more than likely not PR again this year, since I haven’t been training for a ½)? But, I would do the Woodlands ½ in March before the taper begins. Honestly, the thought of the 70.3 race scares the HELL out of me. Mostly because of that 1.2 mile swim. And my swim sucks. But, that’s part of the reason I WANT to do this race. If you would have asked me 3 years ago, I would have said that I was completely incapable of completing this distance. Well that, and that I was not crazy enough to do it.

Choice #2 – Do I wait to do the 70.3 next year, when my job situation will be completely different and just run my arse of this year? Do Houston, maybe do RunGirl, do the Texas Indepedence Relay? A co-worker asked me if I was joining the company team for the MS-150 (apparently the company support is awesome)..that would be fun. And, maybe just work on my swim another year and go for an Oly?

Choice #3 – Just do Houston and do the 70, and suck it up that my 70.3 may not the best race I am capable of. My feeling here is that the 70.3 is a big goal, and completing another marathon isn’t exactly easy…whatever I do, I want to do it well. I don’t anticipate doing another 70.3. EVER. Of course, I said that about marathons, too.

Here's my list of pros and cons...yes, I am THAT type A, lol! (Feel free to click on it to view the full-sized version)

So, how are you when it comes to making these decisions? Do you just make the desicion in a flash, or do you over analyze like me?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NYC - Day 5

I was so sad to reach the final day of our trip, but I was also excited about seeing the kids!

One of the things we didn’t get to see that was on my list was Highline Park. We thought this might be a good thing to check out in the morning before our flight. However, we decided to save it for the next trip and head to Central Park. Joseph had never seen the “Imagine” mosaic in Strawberry Fields, and well, Central Park just seemed like a very NYC thing to do. Originally, I wanted to squeeze in a run through Central Park before we left, but to be honest, Central Park is kinda hilly and my quads weren’t quite up to that yet. So we walked. And walked. And walked. The Hubby was getting a little grumpy and wanted some coffee, so thanks to his Starbucks iphone app, we found the nearest location and headed over.

Here's my favorite picture from Central Park

A view of The Dakota apartments where John Lennon lived.  Yes, I am a Beatles fan!

Imagine...Love this!

Next, it was time to head back to the apartment, gather our luggage and go to the airport. But, I had one more thing to do - the day before, we realized that we had access to the roof of our apartment building. I wanted to see the view up there before we left.

One of the views from the roof of our apartment building

Before heading to LaGuardia, we stopped at the corner pizza shop again for one last slice of NY-style pizza (complete with a paper plate) . Ah, our trip to the Big Apple had come full circle back to where our trip had first begun. I love NYC – I love the noise, the massive amounts of people, the history, the food – I love it all. Once again NYC was a great host and we had an amazing time. We’ll be back…maybe not for the marathon, but WE WILL BE BACK!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The NYC Swag

I just had to post this...
This is the swag from the Expo...pretty good, huh?

And the finisher's swag!  (I bought the shirt, it's not a freebie)

And, the BLING!

NYC - Day 4

The Sister in law and brother in law were leaving this morning. :-( The hubby and I had tickets to see The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island…very touristy outings, but hey, we’re tourists, right? Besides, neither of us had seen either up close.

Yes, I am acting like a tourist and taking pictures on the subway.

Starbucks in hand...that's how I roll.

I have to say, I am so happy we decided to see both – I loved learning all about what went into building the Statue of Liberty and the fundraising campaign that went into the US being able to build the base for Lady Liberty. Plus, the views of Manhattan were amazing from this vantage point, too. Ellis Island was incredibly interesting. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like to come to the US from another country, not knowing the language and in some cases, not knowing anyone here. The stories about families being reunited (or in some cases not, due to health issues) were touching.

I think this is my favorite picture of the Statue of Liberty..I can certainly see why she's called "Liberty Enlightening the World". 

I was amazed at how beautiful the building on Ellis Island was. 

After our tours, we decided to walk around a bit and visit TriBeCa and some other areas. We couldn’t decide if we wanted to try to catch a show that evening or check out one of the museums. In the couple of times I’ve been to NYC, I’ve never been to any of the museums. We decided to wander around a little more, grab some lunch and then check out the Guggenheim. The Gugg is a smaller than say, the Museum of Natural History, so we figured it be a good one to see by the time we ate lunch and check out some other places, it would be getting late. We ate lunch at a place in SoHo called Divas. I was also on a mission to find at least one of the cupcakes places on my list, so we headed to the West Village and went to Sweet Revenge. At the recommendation of the not so friendly girl at the counter, I chose a Pumpkin Spice cupcake. It was divine! Sweet Revenge is on a slightly edgier street and the location used to be a record shop (you know, as in vinyl). And, we happened upon Molly’s cupcakes right around the corner, so naturally, we had to stop there as well. Molly’s was a super cute shop, with super cute cupcakes in a wide array of flavors, so I chose a mini-Kaluha cupcake and the Ron-Bennington. Both were yummy, but I still think Sweet Revenge had the better cupcake – moist cake, delicious icing and just amazing flavor on both. Yum!

This is "The Sphere". It was once sitting between the Twin Towers, but after the 9/11 attacks it was salvaged and now sits in Battery Park.

This is Occupy Wall Street.  It's not as big as it looks on TV.  I will say nothing else on this topic.

Strolling around TriBeCa..too bad we didn't run into Bobby DeNiro!

Heavenly cupcakes from Sweet Revenge in the West Village!

After getting our cupcakes, we headed back to the apartment to drop them off and headed to the Guggenheim. I’ll admit, I wanted to go to the Gugg just as much for the architecture as I did for the art. I enjoyed seeing the Kandinsky exhibit and the Pop Objects and Icons exhibit, but the Maurizio Cattelan exhibit was just a bit odd for my taste. Once we finished at the Gugg, we headed back to the apartment to freshen up for dinner…and hold onto your hats, we had MEXICAN for dinner. We swore we’d never eat Mexican food or Barbeque in NYC. (If you’re from Texas, you understand.) But we went between steak and Mexican and somehow, Mexican won…maybe it was the reviewer’s promise of a great margarita? Dinner was not quite Tex-Mex like we’re used to, but it was really good. And the margarita’s…well, they were delicious! It was the perfect way to end the day. Well that, and a little more shopping for the kiddos.

The Guggenheim

Friday, November 18, 2011

NYC - Day 3

I am skipping day 2, because you’ve already read about my race day. I will say that after the race I was nauseous for a little while, but eventually felt good enough to go out to dinner. We went to this amazing little Italian place right down the street from our apartment, then followed up dinner with drinks at another local place.

On day 3 (Monday), I felt pretty darn good. Sure I was sore, but once I started moving, I was fine. The worst part was going down the subway stairs. Up was fine, down was HELL. We had 10 am tickets for the 9/11 Memorial, so I woke up around 6 am and headed over to Central Park where the NYCM finisher’s gear was being sold. While waiting to get into the tent, I ran into Vincent, our French friend we met before the race. He had finished in 4:30-something and was feeling great. It was great swapping war stories about the race. Finally, we were allowed to go into the tent….OMG, there was some great stuff and I had a hard time deciding what to buy! I ended up getting the short sleeve official finisher’s tech shirt, a long sleeve finisher’s tee (to wear with jeans) and a sweatshirt (great for after an OWS before the weather warms up), and a NYCM baseball cap for the Hubby. Lots of folks were wearing their medals, so when I got back to the apartment, I made sure to put mine on.

Next, we headed to the 9/11 Memorial. Among all the hustle and bustle of the financial district, the mood for those of us waiting to enter was rather somber. We arrived about 30 minutes early and were allowed in only after going through all kinds of security and ticket checks. The memorial is beautiful. As you’ve seen on TV, there is water cascading down into the ground and the mist from the water caught the morning sunlight just right, making it even more gorgeous. In the shallow pools of water, you can see the reflection of the buildings surrounding the memorial. There are two of these waterfalls, each one sitting in the footprint of where each of the twin towers stood. We walked slowly around each one, reading the names, recognizing a few of them from interviews we’ve seen over the years. The most moving thing to me was seeing a woman’s name etched on the stone followed by “and her unborn child”. Ugh, it still tugs at my heart, as there were many of these. The story about how these names are arranged is amazing and touching. Another amazing thing was seeing the one and only tree that survived the 9/11 attacks…it is now planted among the trees on the memorial grounds and has an amazing survival story as well.

The names of the 1st responders...and the names go on and on and on...

The Memorial...I love the mist and the way the surrounding buildings reflect in the pools of water.

The "and her unborn child".  So sad.

The little tree that could.  This pear tree was originally in the WTC plaza before.  After the 9/11 attacks in was planted in a park in the Bronx and finally ended up back in the WTC plaza.

After seeing the Memorial, we went to see this FDNY Memorial Wall near “FDNY Ten House”. FDNY Ten House is directly across from the WTC site and this station was among the first responders on 9/11. FDNY Ten House lost 6 fire fighters on that day. Afterwards, we walked over to the 9/11 Memorial Visitors center and saw some items on display and bought a few souvenirs – since my Brother-in-Law is a firefighter and the Hubby is a police officer, they wanted to take back a few things to their peeps back home.

The bronze NYFD memorial

A picture of each of the Firefighters who died on 9/11.

Well, nothing can bring you out of a somber state like NY-style pizza and we wanted the real deal, so we headed to Brooklyn! We got a little turned around after our subway ride, but eventually found Grimaldi’s. There was a wait, but it was well worth it. Now, we do have a Grimaldi’s not far from our house in TX, but the ambiance at the Brooklyn location just oozes NY and we loved it! After stuffing ourselves eating lunch, we headed over to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Company and indulged in dessert. Yeah, this isn’t something I’d normally do, but hell, I just ran 26.2 freaking miles the day before!  (See I can justify any dessert!) We took our ice cream over to the East River, where there’s a great park and just admired the view of Manhattan. Then, we trekked over the Brooklyn Bridge to get back to Manhattan…hey, gotta work off some of that pizza and ice cream! Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge has been on my “to-do list” since our trip there in 2003. And, it was one of the highlights of my trip! The views from the bridge are amazing and you can just feel the history of this mammoth structure. I loved it.

Me and my sister-in-law on the subway headed to Brooklyn

Grimaldi's, yum!!!

The awesomeness that is the Brooklyn Bridge!

Me and the Hubs near the East River

My coffee ice cream.  Nom, nom, nom!

Next, we were supposed to go see a live taping of David Letterman, but we got a little carried away in Brooklyn that we missed it. Doh! Instead, we walked over to SoHo and Chinatown…to me, part of enjoying NYC is just walking the streets and soaking it all in.

The streets of SoHo

Chinatown...where women walk up and whisper, "Prada, Dolce & Gabbana handbag?"

Later, the Hubby and I headed to Times Square to meet up with my Jersey friend, Jenn and her awesome hubby and adorable daughter for dinner. This is going to sound weird, but I met Jenn on-line on a mommy-type discussion board way back when I was pregnant with the Kiddo. Jenn and I have been “friends” for all these years, but we had never met in person. Until now. It was so awesome finally getting to meet! After dinner, we did a little shopping at the Disney Store for the kiddos and called it a day. It was an incredible day!
Times Square...overstimulation for the eyes and ears!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NYC - Day 1

I was really nervous about flying in the day before the marathon. What if the flight was delayed? What if there was horrible weather? What if I didn’t get to pick up my packet? Fortunately, everything went smoothly and our flight into LaGuardia was about 15 minutes early!

We gathered our this point, I didn’t care if it arrived, I had all my race gear stuffed into my carry-on, and we grabbed a cab and arrived at our apartment in record time. It was lunchtime and we were both starving, so we had time to grab a slice of pizza before heading over to the expo.

This is our little apartment in Grammercy was fun and different to stay here rather than in a hotel. We loved it!
The expo was AWESOME! I got to meet Dean Karnazes, Marshall Ulrich and Liz Robbins and get all their autographs. I also enjoyed looking at all the booths and especially loved the awesome NYC Marathon movie that highlighted each mile of the race and had some great commentary from the race director and previous NYCM winners. I wasn’t all that excited about the NYCM logo stuff, mainly because it was really picked over at this point and I was planning to buy the finisher’s gear on Monday.

Some pictures from the Expo...

Welcome! So Exciting!

Love this!

Meeting Marshall Ulrich...I also met his wife. They were both awesome!

Meeting Dean Karnarzes (aka Karno)! I wish I would have thought up some good questions for him about his crazy long ultras!

Me with Liz Robbins...I probably scared her the way I went on and on about her book. Here I think she is telling me not to worry about the hills Central Park, but I still did.
We spent about an hour and a half (and a lot of money) checking out the expo, then headed over to Rockefeller Center to meet up with my Sister-in-Law and Brother-in-Law and head to tthe "Top of the Rock".   The “Top of the Rock” is an observation deck, sorta like going to the top of the Empire State Building, but you have a better view of Central Park and you have a view of the Empire State Building. The views were amazing and we took a ton of pics. The history behind the Rockefeller is interesting as well, and I am a sucker for this historical stuff!

Me and the Hubs at the "Top of the Rock"
Once we were done ooohhhing and aaahhhing over the views, I connected with my Woodlands Fit peep, RunnerC, and we met for dinner. No carb loading for us! RunnerC swears by hamburgers the day before a race, so we headed over to Le Parker Meridian for burgers behind the secret curtain. My nephew ate there and swears they are the best burgers ever, so we figured we'd try it. He was right, they burgers were good…maybe not awesomely spectacular, but very good. We wanted to try the burgers at The Shake Shack too, but never had a chance.

After dinner, the hubby, SIL and BIL wanted to check out Little Italy. I am always up for a cannoli, so we hopped on the subway and headed there. I probably walked a little more than I should have, but it was all good.  As it approached 9 pm, I decided to call it a night. (Technically, with the time change, it was really 8 pm.) I went back to the apartment to get everything ready for the next day (and checkout all the swag from the Expo), while the rest of the gang went to a neighborhood restaurant (with large TVs) to watch football. I stressed about what time to set my alarm clock for, because of the time change and eventually just decided to stop stressing and go to bed took me awhile to really get to sleep, but I finally did….I woke up about 40 times to go to the bathroom. Not sure what that was about, maybe nerves? Before I knew it, it was time to wake up!!!
The Empire State Building all lit up with the ING NYC Marathon colors!
 I love how the entire city of NY gets into this event!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Random thoughts from the NYCM...

Just a few things I forgot to add to the race report (as if it wasn't long enough)!

  • Our WF peeps, Brian and Amy, did finish the race in a little over 5 hours. Brian was injured and required some extra walking.

  • The weather was in the low 40s when the race started, which was perfect. The temps got into the high 50s as the day went on...I would have preferred the 40s all day, but there was a breeze in various places along the way and that was awesome!

  • I was sooooo thankful to have sunglasses on, because it seemed like we were constantly running right into the sun and there was not a cloud in the sky.

  • I'll admit that I was disappointed in the medal. Compared to the one I received in 2003 and the ones I've seen in the years since, it was not nearly as impressive. But, the experience in itself is what made this race so incredible, not the medal.

  • Yes, I was sore the next day! But, once I got moving I felt great. Going down the subway steps was bad, though...and we went to Brooklyn the day after the race which requires you to go down multiple levels of stairs to get to the subway. Can we say ouch???

    • Like a lot of other races I've run, spectators hold up some pretty funny signs. I had seen some of these before, but they still made me smile. Here are some I saw during the race (may favs are at the bottom):

    • "Quitting hurts longer!"

    • "Toenails are for sissies!"

    • "Chafed Nipples are HOT!"

    • "Complete Stranger: You inspire me!"

    • "Well, this sounded like a good idea in June!"

    • "Don’t be alarmed, but you’re being chased!"

    • "Worst.Parade.Ever."

    • "Chuck Norris never ran a marathon!"

    • "A girl holding a sign that said “Don’t Stop!” and the guy next to her held a sign saying, “That’s What She Said!”

    • "Run like you stole something!"

    • "Why 26.2??? Because, 26.3 would be CRAZY!!!"

    • "I woke up really early to make this sign. That wasn’t easy either."

    • "Run, total stranger, Run! "

    • "Where is everyone going? "

    • "Stalker approaching! Run, run!"

    • "Sweat is sexy!"

    • "That’s not sweat, it’s your fat cells crying!"

    • Girl, “It’s Long and Hard!”, Guy “That’s what she said!”

    • "Occupy the Finish Line!"

    • "On the back of a shirt, “Are the Kenyans far behind?”

    • "I did check and in fact there IS a finish line!"

    • "Those shorts make your butt look FAST!"

    • “Don’t poop your pants now, it’s only mile 18!” And along those lines…”If you haven’t sh*t your pants yet, you’re already winning!”

    • "I don’t know you, but I’m proud of you!"

    • "Please hurry up, I want to go watch the game!"

    • "Jack Bauer never ran this far!"

    • "Hurry up, I’m cold!"

    • "Embrace the suck!"

    • "If your nipples aren’t bleeding, you didn’t try hard enough!"

    • "You’ve got stamina…call me (and had a phone #)"

    • "Puke and Rally"

    • After the Bronx, “NO MORE BRIDGES!”

    • "I’m trying to cross the street! "

    • "If you stop running, it's still going to hurt!""Toenails are overrated! -or- Black Toenails Are Sexy!"

      • My favorites:

      • "You’ve trained longer than Kim Kardashian has been married"

      • "Unlike the MTA – you RUN!"

      • "Don’t F*ck With A Woman Who Can Run 26.2 miles!"

      • "Pain now…wine later!"

      • "You are the 1%!"

      • "One day you will not be able to do this…TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY!"

      • That's it for now. I will post some re-caps and pictures of our time in NYC next week!

        So, what funny signs have you seen at races? Weird costumes? Anything else?

        Tuesday, November 15, 2011

        NYC Marathon Race Report

        Warning - This is gonna be LONG people, I’m sorry!

        The NYC Marathon is different from other marathons in a multitude of ways. First of all, you wake up in the wee hours of the morning and take a bus from the NYC public library to the start of the race on Staten Island. I was meeting my Woodland’s Fit peep we'll call her RunnerC), and we were scheduled to take one of the buses leaving at 6 am. The marathon began at 9:30 am. Our wave started at 10:40 am. As you might have realized, there is a lot of waiting between when you arrive on Staten Island and when you actually race.

        Pre-Pre Race
        I was completely overzealous and woke up at 4:30 am. The time change that morning freaked me out and I was sooo worried that I was going to somehow screw up setting the alarm clock and not make it to my bus on time. Trust me, if anyone can screw this up, it’s me. So, I have 2 cell phones – one woke me up at 3:30 am (because the time did not change) and the other woke me up at 4:30 am (because the time did change). Stupid cell phones. It only took me a few minutes to get ready, so I took the time to double check and make sure I had everything I needed. It wasn’t even 5 am when I was done. Our apartment was a mile from the library and the Hubby agreed to walk there with me. In a hotel, I would have taken a cab, but since we were in an apartment, I wasn’t sure if we’d even see a cab on the way. Lucky for me, we discovered that we were only a block from where there was a perpetual line of cabs waiting and ready to go 24/7. So, we grabbed a cab which resulted in me having about 50 minutes to spare before meeting up with RunnerC. Rather than hanging out on the cold, dark street, I headed over to the nearby McDonald’s. I probably could have just sat down, but felt like I should buy something, so I bought an Egg McMuffin and ate half of it. While in McD’s, I encountered a couple of other runners, but mostly I encountered quite a few young people still intoxicated from their night out, LOL! They were quite entertaining.

        Finally, it was time to meet RunnerC and head for the bus. It took about an hour to get to our stop, because the roads were already pretty congested as we got closer to the start. The “Athlete’s Village” was larger than I remembered and there were definitely more porta potties than I recall. The live band was already playing and people were dancing around. Once we found our designated part of the Athlete’s Village (it’s separated by wave colors – blue, green and orange), we laid out the small tarp I brought and just hung out. We grabbed the coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts and just watched the flow of people. I also had a small blanket and was wearing multiple layers, so the 38 degree temps didn’t seem too bad. RunnerC and I met a nice man from London and later a guy from France, so we chatted it up with them for the next couple of hours. The guy from France (Vincent) had actually been to Houston before, so we talked about his experience there. And, our new friend from London discussed our Governor, Rick Perry, with us….we thought it was funny that he even knew who he was! As the sun started to rise, the temps warmed up quickly and the blanket was no longer needed.

        Here are some pics from the Athlete's Village:

        The ever-important porta potties! This scene is sooo much different from 2003, when I had to wait AN ENTIRE HOUR to pee!

        Me modeling the new trend in fashion - layering. Lots and lots of layers!

        Here's me and RunnerC hanging out before the race. Yes, I am sporting an ultra cool Arthur Andersen sweatshirt circa 2000!

        Here's the stage with the band already playing!

        A view of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge from the Athlete's Village.

        We got excited when we heard the cannon for the wheelchair athletes and the elite runners…one hour to go!!!! Time to eat my Pop-Tarts! Before we knew it, it was time to make our last pit-stops at the porta potties and head to the start. The entire time we were hanging out, we were also looking for Woodlands Fit peeps, Amy and Brian. We never saw them. However, as we started making our way to our corral, we suddenly saw them! Crazy that you can find someone you know among these masses (there were something like 47,000 total racing)! I felt a weird pulling on the back of my right knee, probably from sitting for so long in the cold…but it kinda freaked me out. We kept moving toward our corral, stripping off the extra layers of clothes as we went.

        The Race!
        Finally, we heard “God Bless America” and then the cannon. It’s so anti-climatic, because you have to stand there for several minutes before you can actually start moving. It’s a NYC Marathon tradition for the song “New York, New York” to be played after the cannon, so we just slowly walked forward while singing and dancing to the song. Finally, we began to pick up the pace and before we knew it, we were running (albeit slowly) onto the Varrazano-Narrows bridge. It’s a massive bridge and we were on the lower deck. Every so often, there’d be a work truck with flashing lights and the workers would cheer and then the crowd would roar. Fun! It was deafening, but completely awesome! My Garmin was all wonky on the bridge…I would look down and it would say we were at a 15:35 pace one minute and a 5:27 pace the next. The bridge is about 1 mile of uphill and 1 mile of downhill, and it felt awesome to finally be on the downhill side.

        Next, we were in Brooklyn…and lemme tell you – Brooklyn knows how to bring it on race day!!! The next 11 miles are run in Brooklyn and you see a wide variety of people and landmarks. There were loud people cheering from the steps of their brownstones, people cheering from high windows of apartments, people cheering on the sidewalks and lots of bands and djs. In fact, every time you are starting to get into a song that a band is playing, you move forward a few paces and you begin to hear music coming from the next band. It was like one huge party! The only time the crowds grew quiet was when we entered the Hasidic Jewish portion of Williamsburg. In this area, there really weren’t crowds…it was really more like people going along with their normal lives. There were a few people grouped together here and there and we gave a few kids a high fives. Then, several blocks later, it was back to the rowdier, crazier Brooklyn again.

        Next stop – Queens. We made our way across the Pulanski Bridge and into Queens, which was pretty much the halfway point of the race. It was about this time that I realized and thought to myself, “This is going to hurt tomorrow!” It was somewhere here that my inner thigh started to cramp up. I kept telling it (in my head) to relax and believe it or not, it did…but, it did this several times from this point forward in the race (even with my regular intake of Endurolytes). You only spend a couple of miles in Queens, but the crowds there are rowdy and crazy, too. In fact, when you leave Queens to go over the Queensboro bridge, it’s almost eerie how quiet it’s suddenly become. The Queensboro bridge is between mile 15 and 16…and this is where my lack of hill training came back to bite me in the ass. Right before going onto the bridge, I saw a sign that said something like, “Make this bridge your bitch!” There were also signs that said, “If less than 10 miles to go is easier” followed by one that said, “Then welcome to easier!”. The signs made me laugh, which did help…but, even with the fun signs I told RunnerC that I was sooooo ready to get off this damn bridge and get into Manhattan. The coolest thing about this part of the race is that as you are (FINALLY) going down the bridge, you round a corner and the sound goes from super-quiet to crazy –ass-roaring-crowds.

        IT IS INSANE.

        The next couple of miles are run on 1st Avenue in Manhattan along a row of bars and restaurants. The crowds are crazy-huge here. And crazy loud! It’s this stretch where it’s easy to get carried away and start running faster. But before that, you get to go under the Queensboro where there was a heavenly-long row of porta-potties….I was waiting until I found some with no line and there they were! HALLELUJAH! I ran into the nearest empty one and took care of business as quickly as possible.

        After taking care of business, we could enjoy the crowds. It was here that I pulled out the cell phone (yes, I had one) and let the Hubby know we were on our way. He was going to meet us around 42 street with orange slices, a Coke, Tylenol, etc. RunnerC and I managed to find the Hubs with my Sister-in-Law and Brother-in-Law. We said a quick hello, grabbed a couple of orange slices, I took a quick swig of the Coke and we were off again. Nothing like seeing your loved ones to put a little pep in your step!

        Here I am approaching the Hubs...yes, I looks like a spaz, but there's a smile on my face!

        Me blowing the Hubs a kiss as we were on our way after grabbing oranges and saying hi.

        The next few miles tend to be rough for a lot of runners. You leave Manhattan, which is such a tease, because now you have to go away from the finish line and into the Bronx. To get to the Bronx, you have to cross yet another bridge, but it’s so much smaller than the Queensboro that neither of us really seemed to care. You don’t spend much time in the Bronx, but the crowds here made it fun and memorable. Someone had a sign that said, “You’re in the Bronx, Keep Running – it’s not safe here!” There was another sign as we were leaving that said, “Welcome to the Bronx, now get the hell out!” I think it was somewhere between Queens and the Bronx when I realized that the bottom of my feet were hurting – ouch! All that pounding on the pavement, I guess. Also, somewhere between Queens and the Bronx we saw a bunch of people holding signs that read, “You’re the Sh*t!”

        Finally, it was time to go over the Madison Avenue Bridge through Harlem and back toward Central Park. It felt good to finally be heading back toward the Manhattan skyline! But first, we were entertained in Harlem by a choir and dance group and a couple of rap groups. RunnerC and I were tired, but we were still on track – we were still only walking through the water stops and keeping a pretty good pace. I know our pace did slow a little, but we were still on track to finish in under 5 hours.

        I remember being on 5th avenue and FINALLY seeing Central Park to my right. I pointed it out to RunnerC – I know Central Park is fricking HUGE, but it was a sure sign that we were almost done! WHOOT! At some point we skipped a water/walk break…we were getting sick of Gatorade and just wanted to HTFU and get done. But, we ended up taking that walk break a little later when it seemed like we were on a never-ending uphill in along 5th Avenue. Seriously, it seemed like it went on for MILES AND MILES! But, we only walked for a minute and were right back at it. I tried to point out interesting buildings and landmarks like the cougar statue in Central Park or the Guggenheim…anything to keep our mind off our legs. Before mile 24, we finally turned into Central Park, I remember telling RunnerC that we were almost there. HALLELUJAH! At mile 24, we came to a water stop and looked at each other….neither of us wanted to take our designated walk break. “At mile 25”, I said. It seemed to take forever to get to mile 25 and we did walk for a minute through the water stop there (which was dumb since we were almost done!). When I looked at my watch reality set in, we were slightly ahead of my goal pace – I really was going to finish in less than 5 hours! Then we started going again and RunnerC said something like, “Let’s make this bitch ours” (quoting the sign from earlier) and I responded with, “ ‘Cause we’re the SHIT!” (quoting another sign). We turned the corner and saw The Plaza…almost there!!! At some point, we saw a sign telling us that we had 800 meters to go, then 400. I told RunnerC that I really wish I felt like sprinting, but just couldn’t…she said it was okay, because she couldn’t either. I also remember thinking, “Hey, I can swim 400 meters, surely I can run it!” The crowds all through Central Park were awesome and I high-fived a few kiddos.

        And then we turned the corner and saw it – THE FINISH!!!! It was an absolutely gorgeous sight! I wish I could tell you that I dug deep and found it in me to sprint to the finish…but I don’t think I did. I probably thought I did, but in reality I wasn’t going any faster, lol. After we made it through the chute, we high fived and hugged. WHOOT, we were done! It was an amazing end to an amazing day!

        My Garmin post race - my chip time was 4:57:52, but I forgot to stop the watch right away!

        Another unique thing about the NYC marathon is that once you finish running 26.2 miles, you have to walk another mile or so just to pick up your bags and exit Central Park. It’s pretty interesting…just you and thousands of your closest friends wearing medals, grasping mylar blankets, looking tired and spent, shuffling along at a snail’s pace. ! I joked with RunnerC that we looked like a bunch of refugees fleeing a war torn country, because some of us looked like we’d been through our own personal wars. I was feeling rather nauseous, but tried to eat something from our “Recovery Bag” that was given to us. Lemme just say, the Gatorade recovery drink is indeed NASTY. A lady behind us collapsed, so we had to yell for the medics to come over. Before we made it out of the park, we had to call the medics again, because another lady next to us was starting to feel faint. Scary.

        We finally claimed our bags and headed out of the park. I called the Hubby to see where he was and I practically bumped right into him before the call went through. He was awesome, offering me coke, oranges, asking me what I needed – did I want a pretzel or hot dog from the vendor?

        Because of the road closures and massive crowds, it took us about an hour just to get RunnerC back to her hotel. Then, it probably took another 15 minutes to find a car to take us back to our apartment. Crazy!

        Here we are after the race proudly showing off our medals!

        Looking back at the race, I think it was even more amazing this time around than it was in 2003. Seriously A-MAZ-ING! As much as I’d like to do this one again, I think it might be awhile. And yes, next time I will do hill training!