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Some races you go in with a PR mentality and others are meant to form a foundation for something bigger.  With November 7th just 4 weeks away, today I used Staten Island to do a bit of practice for the big show.

While many of my friends set huge PRs, today was meant to be a confidence booster for NYC Marathon.  After Philly, I felt a bit beat up and began to ponder if my goals for November were too lofty.  I think it’s all part of the training but it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach.  So my goals for today were to go out, run marathon pace and nothing further.  No thoughts of PR in the head or anything unattainable for 26.2.  That goal?  8:10-8:15 pace.  So how did my plan go?

The day started early with a 6:30am ferry to Staten Island.  Properly fueled I enjoyed a ferry ride with pushthruphilly.  I watched the sunrise and smiled seeing the Verrezano draw closer.  This to me was a dress rehearsal.  It was crisp but as the sun rose the rays gave warmth.  I caught up with Runnin’ Around Uptown and we headed out for an easy warmup.  With the chill we definitely needed it to try to work out the kinks.  Heading back we headed to the back of the corral so we didn’t get sucked into a pace we wanted no part of today.

As the horn sounded, we started off.  I gave a fist pump crossing the start line and it was time to get down to business.  Immediately there were people flying by us but I could feel we were right on the money.  Unlike 3 weeks ago, everything felt good.  There was no hesitation in “can I really do this?”   AC and I dropped right into conversation and the miles seemed to melt away.  We’d walk through to get our water/gu.  Then pick right back up.  While some may say you are wasting valuable time, I have found it allows for time to actually get liquid down and stomach it.  Looking at my splits, it didn’t lose tremendous time.  Even with the rolling hills, I felt comfortable.  I fell into my metronome, pacemaster set of timing.  Sadly my garmin went a bit wacky so the mile splits don’t make sense but I could feel the pace (as is evidence by the time today).

It was funny getting to mile 11 and I remember looking over to AC and saying “already?” or something to that effect.  It just felt good.

Approaching the finish line I got my fist pump ready (no Snooki to be found – must have been too early!).  I’m hoping the brightroom photographers captured this moment.  I felt good so hey why not have a little fun out there;-)  Final time: 1:48:02/8:15 pace.  Bingo.

 

Splits courtesy of AC. Includes warmup obviously.

 

 

Amazing how a good workout and solid race can help rejuvenate the body.  I’m excited for the last push to November 7.  If this week is any indication, there are good things ahead.  This course was anything but neither is NYCM.  Let’s hope I can do this for another 13.1 in 4 weeks;)

One thing: People, when you’re at mile 8, you are not ALMOST there.  Yes, we just got up a hill but that does not constitute almost there.

Second: Men, please wash your clothes and make sure they’re not incredibly stinky after.  There were several violators in the corral this morning.  Yuck.  At least in the winter the bengay covers it;)

So now I’m entering the final big week.  One last 20-22 miler on Sunday.  Yes!

I’ll end with a couple of sunset photos and apples (went apple picking Saturday!).  Quote of the day from my friend Sharon: “She’s being all awe inspiring and sh*t” – in reference to the Statue of Liberty

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Today marked the last pre-Boston tune-up.  I awoke to amazing conditions: 50 degrees and no wind.  What?  A non-brutal NYC half? Unheard of.  I awoke at the ungodly hour of 4:30am to have enough time

Canal Street - mile 12

to get to the race minus stress.  I met ironing.it.out at the Brooklyn Bridge stop at 5:45am after an interesting trip to the subway (there are some weird characters at that hour).  I’m pretty certain from the time we met til the finish we didn’t stop talking?

Going into the race I had a couple of numbers in mind but would just go with whatever the legs told me to do.  As the race started, they settled into a groove.  That groove?  7:54-7:56 pace.  The pace didn’t hurt as I was able to continue being my chatty self the entire way around the park.  Before I knew it, we were at mile 7 heading to 7th avenue!  I had  an issue with the sport beans and water with the water up my nose and issues opening the sport beans.  I’m just smooth like that:-)

My favorite part of the course: running through Times Square.  The crowd support. Music.  Just puts a pep in your step.  Between E and I we had a ton of cheers and the miles peeled away.  This year instead of turning at 42nd we headed up a couple blocks for a turnaround near the Intrepid.  We both commented we’d never been there.  I remember “Danger Zone” was playing at this point. Made me laugh and think of a young Tom Cruise (pre-weird Scientology).

The West Side Highway made the miles melt away as both E and I run home from work this way.  I commented it’s the run home minus the bridge for me!  I crossed the finish line at 1:43:23. Not a PR but a successfully run race.  A) It was a PR for a half marathon in NYC. B) 3rd best half time and it didn’t feel horrendous like in 2006 or last year– I definitely could have run faster. C) I had a blast running with E!  The morning finished out with coffee and more chatting – who knew there could be more to say;)

Now for the numbers part.  Remember, I am known as the pacemaster.  Just take a look at my splits.

Just a rock solid race.  I’m feeling pretty good and if I’m running like this already, I may need to revisit a few goals later on this year. It feels great to have that running vibe back. 4 weeks from tomorrow til the next bout with 26.2!

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Pre-game

This weekend brought a lot of excitement. For one, I became an Auntie! I got to visit my nephew Saturday which meant no time to run. As I’ve so often stated, life will always take priority over running. In this case, pretty obvious why:)

I came back Saturday night and prepared for a Sunday 20. The first one of a season. Hard to believe I’m here already. My training hasn’t been as great as last season but mother nature hasn’t made it easy! The plan: run 14-15 miles before the race then run the race at about 8min/miles to finish up. Fortunately, I had a little help from my friends to make it fly by. The start of the run was just me for about 4.5 miles. It was more like being a part of the figure skating team. Black ice was everywhere! The Brooklyn Bridge provided the most excitement – the crystalizing ice glaring back at me at each ginger step I took. Runners (the two others I saw on the bridge) would yell that the Manhattan side was very icy. I had to get there so ice skating it was. Unfortunately, my skating skills have diminished with age (I used to figure skate in grade school). On one piece of ice I managed to lose all traction. Feet came out from under me with the force knocking me backwards. Fortunately I was able to keep from full impact but it hurt – my head managed to fall back too (not hard!). Before I could let the fact I had bit it hard set in, I got up and kept on running! I had to meet up with Boston or die trying and ironing.it.up. I fell one more time but that one wasn’t as exciting as the first one:) The run to Prospect Park contained lots of great conversation and before I knew it – 15+ done. I met up with AC at the start line – she didn’t want to race and I obviously was not. Our pace was all over the place with an 8:09 average. I’m satisfied. Good test run of hills around that point as it will be in 7 weeks:)

It’s funny. It still doesn’t seem real. I’m sure after monster miles march it will:)

Up next: NYC 1/2 in 3 weeks. Let’s go!

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xoxo, Gossip Girls

Sunday marked my annual return to Prospect Park. This race is now my steady return to the race circuit. It’s fun. The gear is nice (tech shirts/hats). Good food and free massages post race. See, Brooklyn knows how to do it;)

This time, since I needed to get some mileage in, AU met me at my apartment to run to the start. The run was nice as we ran through the lazy, sleepy streets of Brooklyn. The brownstones made for nice scenery as we weaved our way to Prospect Park to meet flygirl (third member of our team). Our team name: xoxo, Gossip Girls. Unfortunately, due to the long run, AU and I didn’t dress up. Flygirl made up for us with the running skirt, high socks and headband.

AU was up first. As she arrived after 24-25 minutes, I took the slap bracelet and it was off to the races. I managed to forget to charge my watch so I’m clueless on time. It felt like 7:15-7:25 pace. Whatever. Good hard run and off flygirl went. AU and I decided to add a couple miles before flygirl finished. However, since they didn’t have the 1 mile marker out anymore we ran closer to 1.5 which forced us to miss flygirl finish:( I knew we ran further than a mile but AU insisted there was a mile marker. Never doubt the pacemaster – I know pace and I know mileage:)

Finishing up my leg and flygirl is off to the races!

After the race, instead of joining the team for beers at a local pub AU and I ran back to my neighborhood for brunch. Oh memories. You see a year ago we ate at the same place. This was the same weekend I decided this was where I’d want to live neighborhood (ironically enough the first place I saw ended up being the one I bought).

This race for so many reasons holds a lot of value to me. As I reflect, I always had a little Brooklyn in me. It just took me a little while to finally end up here:-D That’s a story for another day;)

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Just like King Kong scaled the skyscraper, today I scaled the stairwells of the Empire State Building.  86 flights,

1,576 stairs for those of you counting at home.  What an amazing experience, even if it was on the painful side at the time:)

I woke up at 6:30am full of nervous energy.  It felt eerily similar to what it feels like to run your first marathon.  The unexpected.  Excitement. Fear.  All wrapped together.  I headed off around 8:15 to meet @worldrunner by the Empire State Building.  I commented to her that it seemed like the building grew taller.  She said “yeah, it took some steroids and grew a few stories overnight.” ha, easy for someone that’s taking the elevator:-p We shot a few pictures – tourist style – with my new SLR and headed in.  It was a bit surreal as honestly I cannot remember the last time I was in the ESB.  I think it was pre-New Yorker days!

We headed into a huge open area on the second floor which was filled with other crazy people like me.  It made me smile knowing that they were there doing the same thing;)  I got my shirt and shoe tag – the shirt making sure to acknowledge it was 1,576 stairs to the top!

I ran into Crazy Bandana and a couple of my teammates to pass the time until my heat at 10:30am.  The nervous energy was building.

At 10:15 I headed over to the women’s staging area where they walked us down to the lobby.  There the cameras were taking pictures and the TV video cameras were shooting.  Hopefully my shortness didn’t keep me from being seen!

The start was a giant clusterf***.  The stairwell was a mere 10 feet from the starting line which made for a lot of chaos.  Since I didn’t really care about my time, I didn’t bumrush and started the climb up.  Right away I got sucked into the excitement and totally disregarded my rule before the race: PACE yourself.  I started way too fast and by the 25th floor I was a hurting chick.  Lesson learned.  I slowed a bit and got into a rhythm.  From there, I would alternate staircases where I’d go one by one or skip a stair.  This provided a bit of change in routine.  At the 20th and 65th floors we crisscrossed stairwells which my legs were eternally thankful for.  At about the 60-62nd floor I got passed by the first male.  He was FLYING.  Holy crap (found out he finished in 10mins or so).  It also felt like it was about 90 degrees in the stairwell.  Eek! As I reached the 80th floor, I got a giant smile on  my face – I knew the end was near.  I could feel the wind from 6 floors above!  As I reached 85, I kicked a notch and ran up the last set of stairs for the day and out the door.  I rounded the corner to the finish line with the NY skyline in the background.  Doesn’t get much more awesome than that!  I’m pretty sure I raised my hands and had the biggest smile on my face:-)  Simply awesome.

Once finished, I immediately felt my lungs burning.  They were simply on fire!  Thankfully water was immediately available but holy smokes – FIRE IN THE HOLE.  The feeling is very similar to those of you that have done track indoors or the mile run.  OUCH.  I think there was a valid reason though – take a look at my heart rate.  Immediately it jumped to my max.  Whew.  It looks like I ran a 5k – guess it’s a great workout for training for one?

After walking around a bit to cool down, I found the elevators to head down to meet @worldrunner.  Upon entering, the first words out of the recording were “We hope you enjoyed your experience.”  The entire elevator went from deadly silent to an eruption of laughter.  I met up with my awesome spectator and gathered our stuff to head to Clinton Street Baking Company for a celebratory brunch. YUMMY.  Pancakes are delicious but if there’s a half hour wait on the weekday I can’t imagine what it’s like on the weekend!!

Final thoughts: I would definitely do this again.  I missed beating 20 minutes by 3 seconds – unfinished business.  Plus I know if I actually trained I’d probably have a half decent time.  I also wouldn’t run like a bat out of hell up the first few flights of stairs.  That ultimately will be the death of you as I’m sure that helped my heart rate sky rocket IMMEDIATELY.

Special shout-out to ALL that supported me today and in the days leading up to this activity.  It really helped me mentally prepare for this event.  So thank you VERY much.

Check out: http://www.nyrr.org/resources/video/misc/2010/esbru.asp for my cameo.  At the women’s start and about 3:48 into the video:)

Up next? I must get in the pool.  Triathlon in June. Eek.

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Hard to believe but just like that marathon #6 is in the books. Would I change anything I did? Absolutely not. I have zero regrets. Anyone that knows me, knows that I do it only one way and that’s to leave it all out on the course. Honestly, I feel like today I gave 110%, not just 100%. That extra 10% was complete mental energy and will to finish. The other part: this marathon brought back that extra excitement I’ve missed for a year or two!

Saturday morning the folks and I loaded up the car and off to DC we went! Upon arrival, it was expo time. MCM has one of the better expos in my opinion. Maybe Chicago’s is bigger. Anyway, picked up my bib and shirt (pretty powder blue this year) and did some damage: new pair of tights and got the headphones they fit for your ear (they work! I wore them the whole marathon).

Saturday night we met up with nyflygirl, MF (and a couple of her friends), AL at Faccia Luna for dinner. Note: ate there 4 years ago too:)

Finally, race morning. I went with my Penn State singlet, blue brooks shorts and the Mizuno Inspires. I had my peanut butter and bagel with gatorade to fuel up. This is really when I realized what battle I was preparing for. All that work, comes down to this 26.2…

I met nyflygirl and MF in the lobby at 5:55 to head to the shuttle. Weather was cool but not cold. Dare I say it:almost perfect! The marines were helping to load the buses which *shocker* helped keep chaos far away;) This is one of many things I love about this race: organization!

We got to runners village and there were runners everywhere. A different vibe than NYCM but pretty cool. We hung out until about 7:20 and headed to the start.

This is where I have a major beef. They have a “be honest” lineup. Now I understand marines are honest but a lot of runners LIE! I am looking to BQ and seconds matter. In my corral, which I was pretty honest with nyflygirl, there were runners with 5:00, 4:30 and 4:45 pace bands on! Listen, I have no issues with you running for CRYING out loud line up correctly! When I did it 4 years ago, they based on predicted finish (and you had to give actual times ran).

After a flyover by some nifty expensive paid by tax payer marine aircraft, the cannon went off and it was time to go. I knew it was my day. You know that zone feeling? Yep, I felt it. I knew it. Felt like I did here in 05. A special day ahead.

The first mile was a complete clusterf**k. I had to deal with all those people in wrong corrals. (They should consider wave starts to ease the crowding too). Right away I felt like I was in the zone. You know that feeling that takes over you where nothing will get in your way? That was me yesterday.

Nyflygirl took off about a mile in and I settled into my 8:15-8:17 pace. My goal was to run a 1:47-1:48 half and give a bit of a buffer to get that elusive 3:40. Finally at mile 2 things started to clear up a bit but I was still passing walkers? Wtf? I didn’t remember the course being as hilly but honestly I do better with change of elevation courses. Plus, this was MY DAY. MY DAY. Nothing was going to stop me from getting to that finish line.

Things were sailing along as I passed my parents around mile 4 and again at mile 10. I think they were surprised to see me but I took that as a good sign, no? Around mile 12 I got a small side stitch but took a few deep breaths and poof – gone. Again, very calm relaxed and going with it. It was if something had taken over my body today – very surreal experience.

As I emerged from Haines Point (nowheresville of the marathon) I knew the heavy crowd support of the mall was near. And another passing of my parents. Life was good. Mile 16 came and I was still feeling great. Could it be? Could this be the day? I didn’t let a doubt cross my mind – this was MY DAY.

As I got to the end of the mall stretch, I knew the vaunted bridge was ahead. It’s dead, isolated and head winds. Very bad news at mile 20. I was hoping to just push through it and kept a mental game of “what are you going to wuss out now?” That and having my ipod helped TREMENDOUSLY. “Desire” blazed as one of the songs which gave me an extra pep to my step – whatever a pep is for someone who’s starting to feel the effects of 20 miles! Mile 21 came and things started to fall apart a bit. It was pretty instant as all of a sudden my legs just wouldn’t respond. It was horrible – I was fighting but they just slowed down. I tried to put a good song on, eat some sport beans but nothing was working! It was a very rough 5k -and my splits show it. But I know what did it – the water stations had marines running the show. As I passed the mile 24 stand, a marine was yelling “COME ON PENN STATE! GET MOVING” and “GO GET IT”. I don’t know about you, but that’s awfully inspiring.

As I passed that station, I gave myself one last pep talk. It was a talk of you didn’t come this far to pack it in. You didn’t put 4 months of guts to train to pack it in. This is your time to shine. This is about YOU. This is for YOU. You have the support and they are all there. That last 2.2 miles was about thinking about all of the support I have – the runs that made me get here. Specifically my long tempo run with AU, my last tempoish run with T, and just all the voices of all of YOU cheering me on. I fought the urge to slow down and walk like no one’s business. I was not going to let 3:40 go without a fight. I don’t know the word quit and today was not going to be the day I learned about it. It was time to show why I run. Why I run LIKE I MEAN IT. Anyone can run a marathon, but not everyone RUNS LIKE THEY MEAN IT. I was going to leave it all out on the course. If I didn’t get there, it wasn’t from lack of heart and guts from me.

As I got to mile 25 and looked at my watch, I knew it was going to be unbelievably close. Like seconds close. Still I fought on. I passed Arlington Cemetery on my left and thought about all of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for this great country. Now if they can do that, I certainly can suck up another mile or so. Finally I could start to hear the music and cheers at the finish line. As I ran, my hat started to fall off but fortunately my braid caught it! I knew that last hill was coming and gave my legs one final pep talk to get up that friggin’ hill. As I came upon the hill I tried to look up and imagine getting back to flat ground. This was my race. All 26 miles 385 yards of it. No stopping now.

As I emerged the hill, I gave it everything I had the final straight away. I even managed to pass people somehow. I crossed the finish line and clicked my garmin: 3:41:07. Are you shitting me was my first thought? Holy crap. Then it was well it’s a HUGE PR. And thank gawd I’m not running another step because I don’t think I could have.

Overall, I’m very proud of my performance. It would have been easy for me to pack it in and run a 3:44 or something. But I refused to lose. I refused to let my body decide over my mind. My day was not being ruined by physical. If I was going to lose my mind and body would have to go. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. I run like I MEAN IT. The day I don’t is the day I stop running. Don’t expect that anytime soon.

I guess for me it was my way of saying “HELLO RUNNING WORLD I’M BACK!” I’ve learned that quantity does not trump quality. I ran no more than 3-4x a week with a couple crosstraining days. Last year I was running 50-60 miles a week and felt burnt out. A terrible feeling without the results. Note to self: know your body and work with it – it will do the rest for you.

Yesterday was pretty much a celebration of the effects of training to the best of my abilities this year. I’m proud of me. To go from a 2 hour half at the end of May to a 3:41 FULL marathon is nothing to sneeze at. I don’t care if it was lack of training – that’s a lot of ground to cover in a matter of months. Imagine what’s to come with training. Scary, isn’t it? I guess I hope to all of you reading it helps you go that extra step or mile in whatever you do. Because I can tell you first hand, mind over matter wins everytime.

Thanks to everyone that supported me through my journey. I couldn’t have done it without you and I can’t wait to conquer again. Oh and if anyone finds what I left out in Washington DC, you can return it to Brooklyn;)

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Slow and steady…

The last “long” run has come and gone.  That consisted of another pre-sunrise arrival to the Staten Island Ferry to head over to Staten Island to jog out 13.1 miles.  Thank goodness I live in Brooklyn now as my trip necessitated only a short subway ride across the east river – *hint* the subways were a mess.  Anyway, I’m pretty certain we surprised a few people waiting for the ferry at 7AM.  Probably two weeks a year do you see as many people in the ferry terminal on a lazy Sunday morning.  The ferry ride was pretty and the weather was absolutely ideal.  However, the key to my day was keeping things in control as this was just a long run for me, not a race.  So hard when you’re feeling good.

I brought my trusted ipod shuffle to accompany me for the 13.1 miles.  I’ve never done Staten Island so this was a new venture for me.  No clue on the course which makes it more exciting.  I used the sing test to tell me if I was running too hard.  If I couldn’t sing a full line of a song while running, too fast.  I did not want this to be a fast race at all – if anything looking for 1:55-2:00 so somewhere around a 9min mile.  As you can see below, with the exception of one mile which was a pretty nasty hill, things were a little faster. 


The race itself was not so interesting.  The scenery with the exception of the parts by the water was pretty ugly.  I did get some fun brightroom shots that they hopefully caught – including one that I jumped in front of the camera.  Hope he caught it!  The ipod gave me the needed support today to maintain focus for where I’m going.  I never felt out of control and that was the main purpose of this race.  That and race #8 of the year to qualify for NYCM next year:)  Along the race route I ran into DM, PM, AH and NYCe (via twitter).  I think there were a few others that recognized me but who knows:)  I also ran into experiri (twitter) at the baggage check area.  My legs felt fine post-race.  However, not so fine after the 6-7 extra miles of walking after the race – stupid subways!!!

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Last night I was meeting up with a friend TC for a Nike event.  They usually have a run before the event so I figured I’d go check it out.  Plan? I figured if it ended up being a faster paced run I’d do the shorter one to be ready for a week from Sunday.  It’s not close enough to not put one more tempo effort in.  Out we go through midtown to get to the park and immediately the pacer takes off and we’re zig-zagging through Central Park.  I have no clue where the heck we’re going and just manage to follow the blinking light he has on his shirt. He had said we’d do 4 miles since everyone else was but immediately we broke off from most of the group as the pace was well..*ahem* a bit quick.  Let’s just say the first mile was probably a 9:15 or so to get to the park.  The pace got quicker as we continued on the run and I also realized this was not a four mile run.  Like a woman in full taper mode, I started venting to TC that this was a taper and I don’t want to get hurt because of some stupid run..blah blah blah.  LOL – runners are so funny when it comes to preparing for race day.  Quickly I realized, hey dummy, you can talk and just consider it one last quality workout.

That it was as we whizzed around the trails, the Great Lawn, Reservoir, and finally down the west side back to City Sports in Midtown.  Total mileage was around 6.5 miles and pace came to around 8:23 (including a last mile in 7:20). Hmmm I like that pace:)  I commented to TC that the last part of a run is like a horse going back to the barn – they take off!

So that’s it kids. Off to Penn State today for recruiting for my company so no time to train today but hopefully I’ll squeeze in a workout at the hotel tomorrow morning before the interviews.

Now the key is to stay healthy and stay away from doing anything stupid.  Can I just put my body in a bubble til Oct 25?

Bring it on MCM.  10 days and counting til DC becomes my playground…

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Blackjack

Last weekend was my last 20 spot.  I had decided to run Gretes Great Gallop to get another race in towards my auto entry into NYCM 2010 so where to get those extra 7??  I began using the wonders of gmap pedometer and it began obvious it made no sense to make it 7 miles since I’d be taking a subway one stop.  So instead, like any normal person, I ran 8 miles from home to the start of the race.  The night before I had made a special trip to the UWS to drop off my stuff at a local gym for post race shower:)  Yeah, because runners do that – we make special hour trips to just drop off clean clothes:)

It was a sultry, sticky morning.  Very reminiscent of Steamtown 2007 except not quite as hot.  Good, let mother nature get it out of her system now! I left Brooklyn around 7:20am for a 9:00am race.  This would give me ample time to head uptown.  As I started my run, I noticed the stares of “is she lost” and “why is she wearing a bib number on the Brooklyn Bridge?”  I just tuned into my shuffle and logged the mileage.  Headed over the bridge to the west side highway and *poof* all of a sudden I was at 72nd street!  It was crazy – I felt like I had just left Brooklyn?!  Awesome.

I arrived to the start and got some water/gatorade and found nyflygirl in the corral.  She had frontloaded as well and was using this as a way to get the miles in.  My plan?  Stick to no faster than 1:50 half.  I had just ran a 1:40 half two weeks ago and no need to push the envelope here.  Plus, I had electric lemonades awaiting me at Boat Basin post-race.  Woohoo!

The race?  I plugged into my shuffle and let my legs do the work.  As I passed the start, I gave Grete Weitz a high five and off I went.  My plan was to stay around 8:45s and maybe sprinkle a few 8:20s in for good measure.  Nothing crazy.  My times were all over the place but it’s fine.  I’m pretty happy that my SLOWEST mile was a 9:00 mile in which I literally stopped, walked a couple seconds to drink and then started running again.   That was at the bottom of Harlem Hill before that horrible mile up to 90th street.  Worst mile stretch of the course! As you can see below, I knew when the electric lemonades were close:)  Oh, I also learned these shorts are done – they kept falling down! eek! 

Overall, solid effort.  Looking at the time, it’s about what I ran for the second half of MCM in 2005.  Things are getting eerie here! 🙂 

Up next?  Staten Island as a final “long run” before the big day.  So close, I can almost taste it:)

Boat Basin?  Let’s just say good times had by all with many laughs and games of charades:-p  Next time, you should come:)

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Another week, more work completed.  Right now the key is to stay HEALTHY. Exactly 4 weeks to go.  It’s amazing what a change just the last 4 weeks have made in my faith in what will occur on October 25.  I’m feeling pretty darn positive and excited.  Much more so than last year.  So that brings us to yesterday and race #3 of 6 in 7 weeks: Cow Harbor 10K.  The plan?  Since I had raced Philly last weekend, it was a chance to hone up on my marathon pace.  Racing this was not going to do much for me and the fact remains I had a long run left as well as legs to keep in shape.  So the plan? 8:15ish pace and feel good about it.  As you can see from the course profile, it’s not a PR course anyway. 

Saturday morning started, well, before it really was morning.  I awoke at the unpleasant hour of 5AM to my alarm trying to figure out why that noise was occurring!  Ha.  Fortunately I had placed everything out the night before so there wasn’t much to do besides get changed, grab my stuff and head out.  I picked up the ZipCar at a location right around the corner.  This became incident #1 of the day.  As I got to the garage, I started looking around and couldn’t find the car!! I had allotted extra time to find the car, etc but it was a bit embarrassing too!  Finally, I called the help line and gave them the information but there were no free cars available so I had to find this one.  As I was on hold for them to find the person before me, I finally found it!  It was tucked in a corner which made it more like where’s waldo.  Oy.

I drove up to the UES to pick up the crew.  There were 6 of us but one guy had his own car since he had to head out right away after the race for a family function.  The drive out was uneventful and thankfully one of my teammates, AH, had picked up our numbers.  One sign that clues you that I was not racing: I went with the short sleeve shirt! You’ll be hard pressed to find me short sleeving it until it’s basically 40s.  Anyway, bus shuttle to the start.  You could tell we were not in NYC anymore as the running crowd was much different.  Let’s just say not your elite pack:)  I’m not being an elitest, just saying.

So KP was not racing and I told her that I was planning to run 8:15s with the hard PDR behind me and gearing up for the big one in 26+ days.  It was nice they had wave starts a minute apart to break up the corrals.  There also was a cow shooting off the start gun! Hehe!

Anyway, off we went right into our comfortable 8:15s.  People passed us as we probably signed up for a true racing corral but stuck right to our pace.  Mile 1 was a net downhill which I find to hurt the quads a lot!  Mile 2 brought you the hill that is Cat Hill on steroids!  It was only a third of a mile but one of those kick you in the a** hills that makes it like you are walking instead of running:-p  I knew there was a hill but didn’t know where it was so after we got up it I turned to KP and said “well if that’s all they got, I’m good to go for the rest of the race.”  She laughed:)

The scenery was gorgeous as we ran by the water and through little residential roads.  People were out of their houses cheering and passing out water.  It truly gave a sense of American spirit.  It was this town’s NYC Marathon:)  I smiled at the people cheering and even threw out a few high fives.  It was nice to not all out race as I feel like I really got to enjoy the full atmosphere.  As we approached mile 5, a guy goes to us “watch out for the next hill, it’s deceiving.”  KP and I were confused as I we passed mile 5 and went up a little blip that was a hill? Oh well.  As we got up the “blip”, there was a sign that said “it’s all downhill from here.” Literally, it was.  We were doing 7:30s and didn’t even recognize it because of the severity of the downhill.  We were chatting and able to give an interview to the cameraman riding alongside.  As we approached the finish line, the announcer got our names which was cool!  Finish time? 51:24 – good for 8:17 pace.  Perfect.  Just what the doctor ordered today.

The finish area was awesome!  They had so much food from smartfood to pirate’s booty to beer to chocolate chip cookies!  :)  YAY!  Found my teammates and many had set HUGE PRs. Woohoo!

After the race we headed back to AH’s parents house for a BBQ of yummy food: burgers, hot dogs, salad, fruit salad, baked beans – you name it!  Finally, it was time to head home.  I got into the car and tried to turn on the engine.  The lights and radio came on but no engine! Uh oh.  So guys being guys, tried to use jumper cables.  No dice.  At this point people were panicing so I called ZipCar.  First thing to try?  Use the zip card to lock and unlock the car again and see if that works? Sure enough, I do that and at the same point the guys were configuring the jumper cables the car turns on!  Whew.  So, yes, there is tight security in the zip cars:)

Part 2 of the weekend brought a 16 miler.  My legs were definitely feeling beat from a week of workouts and no days off since pre-PDR. AU and I decided to wait til the afternoon to give more recovery time AND more important – SLEEP!  My first weekend day of sleep in who knows how long.  I lounged around watching football and napping til around 4.  AMAZING.  🙂

So off I headed to the UES which ended up being a trip and a half because the trains were local.  Ugh:(    I was so glad to have AU to run with because I did not feel like running.  Not at all.  But having someone to get you through it is all the world.  So off we set in the humid air and all.

The run was peaceful as the sun set on another day.  The west side path was free of wandering pedestrians, crazy cyclists, etc.  It was just right.  Mid run the shirt came off because it was so hot and the mugginess of the air.  The legs once again fell into a rhythm and things felt good.  Mid-run I told AU we should hit the west side path to save the legs rather than doing a lap of the park and then Morningside park. Ouch.  We headed down the westside and I said she could count on me to properly get the right distance.  I used time – not mileage and figured out how far we had to go downtown.  Sure enough – picture perfect.  16.2 miles total. The average pace was 8:51 which considering this was an LSD I’m quite pleased.  Things seem to continue to fall into place.

Today I’m taking the day off as it’s Yom Kippur.  I’m recharging the batteries for the final push to October 25.  I’m getting super excited and nervous at the same time.  It’s a good thing – it reminds me of the excitement I felt for my first couple of marathons.  Something that you just can’t explain. 

Keep on runnin’.  And smiling.  Big things await.

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Game, set….

As you can tell, my confidence has grown in the past month as has the strength in my running.  Some have stated that marathon training makes you slower and the like.  Well, if you came across this to read that the statement is true then please move along.  I have just taken that statement in the past month and smashed into the pavement somewhere by the Art Museum in Philly.  Today marked the first time I have taken down a PR in about 3 years!!!  I forgot how good it feels to reap the benefits of hard work.

Anyway, this weekend I headed to Philly for the holiday.  It just so happened the Philadelphia Distance Run coincided with the holiday.  Perfect! I’ve run this race 4 times before and it’s such a treat.  My dad’s friend has run every single race since it started and at the 30th anniversary made them VIPs.  This meant he got 4 VIP passes to share with friends.  Lucky for me my dad is good friends with him and I get to reap the benefits!  Benefits include hanging in the same area as the elites pre-race (hello Ryan hall and Catherine the Great!), easy access to portapotties (including a sink to wash your hands) and an awesome spread of food post-race!

Before we get to the race, nyflygirl came down and got to enjoy the perks as well.  We picked her up on Saturday and headed down to Philly to pick up our numbers at the Convention Center.  One thing I am VERY disappointed about with the race is how overly corporate it has gotten.  They actually CHARGED money to track runners this year.  Ridiculous.  It’s one thing to force every runner to schlep to pick up their number but now you won’t even let people know where their friends and family members are without shelling out more money? PLEASE! </rant>  Anyway, the expo was pretty “eh” which made the wallets happy.  Plus eye on the prize!  My number was interesting, just take a look at those first three digits;)

Saturday night was spent carboloading up Rosh Hashanah style:)  Chicken soup, turkey, meatballs, eggplant, greenbeans, mashed potatos:)  So delicious and made me super ready for Sunday.

Sunday and 5am the alarm cries out on my phone.  I had taken everything out the night before (old school TRD singlet, red shorts and Elixirs) so all I had to do was throw everything on.  At 5am, you can’t think about doing much else.  I head downstairs and my dad tells me he hasn’t heard movement from nyflygirl’s room!  I head in and sure enough, lights out and fast asleep until I flick the light on.  I’ve never seen anyone dart out of bed at 5:15 as fast as she did!  It was very cartoon like.  10 minutes later we were spreading White Chocolate Wonderful Peanutbutter from PB&Co on H&H Bagels.  Out the door we go to meet my dad’s friends to head down to the race!   We get to the parking lot and my dad, being dad, sees his friend and sets the car next to him and parks.  One itty-bitty issue.  It was an isle, not a parking spot! Ha.

Upon arrival in Philly, we head to the start area and the VIP check-in.  I saw Ryan Hall, Josh Cox, Catherine, etc.  It was AMAZING!  I had a guy that holds the AMERICAN record for so many distances right there.  So cool!  Anyway, now that I’m over my gushing of awesome runners, pre-race consisted of some tunes to get the head ready for the race.  I had a very good vibe for this race which again is something I’ve lacked the past few years.  Pre-game tunes consisted of playlists from now and 2005.  I’m not superstitious:)

Around 7:20 we parted ways with my dad and his friends to get to the start.  It was a gigantic clusterf***.  Sure, they had seeded corrals and waves but it seemed that, unlike the NYRR, no one was really checking.  Plus, 5 minutes before the start people were POURING into the corral to the point you could hardly move.  I like that the NYRR says: you’re late?  To the back you go!  These people know better as they’ve run more than a fair share of races. Tsk. 

Nyflygirl and I were in the 3rd corral and you could tell we were both focused for this.  As the time got closer, there wasn’t a lot of talking but focusing going on.  We both had our own race plans which is the way it should be.  I knew what I wanted for my A plan which was a sub 1:40.  I knew it would be tough but figured what the hell? I have 5 weeks to go.  Plenty of time to give it a go today.

The wave start was fantastic as as the horn went I was able to get a quick release and immediately hit my stride.  I knew within the first quarter mile on the Parkway it was going to be my day.  A perfect day: sunny with temps in the low 50s to start the race.  I forgot what it felt like to have perfect racing conditions (thanks, flygirl – remember this for the 25th).  Immediately flygirl pulled way ahead and I had a feeling she was going to have an amazing day!  As for me, my legs settled right into pacemaster zone.  They just clicked and it didn’t feel like all out effort but not easy.  Just a good pace to fall into for 13.1. 

As we hit the streets of Center City, I continued to just cruise.  I was in the zone.  People around me didn’t matter.  I just ran to my own drum and continued to cruise as some would speed up and some slowed down, I maintained.  As we hit close to mile 5, I saw my dad and just said “I’m going to go for it!”  I hadn’t told him what my goals were but he knew what I was after.  I could tell by the thumbs up and huge smile on his face.  He’s used to me not all out racing and giving it all I’ve got – especially the past few years.  Again, I must say it felt so damn good to let it fly.

Onto the west drive we headed for the loop which I’ve become so familiar with.  I LOVE this part of the race.  I can totally just cruise and there’s no turns to slow you down.  I always seem to negative split this race because of this portion.  No exception today.  Around mile 10, I ran into a Front Runner that was doing her first PDR.  I was hoping she’d latch on and we’d be able to use eachother to race towards the elusive 1:40.  No dice so I just continued rolling along.  As we hit the boathouses, my legs were feeling like toast and I could not wait to see that finishline.  As that feeling hit, I reminded myself that this is what will happen 5 weeks from today.  It’s going to hurt but you’re going to want it more.  Keep at it.  I knew sub-1:40 wasn’t going to happen unless I ran a sub 7 mile but I knew I was due for a HUGE new shiny PR.  Nothing to get upset about.  As I hit the Parkway and the hairsharp 180 degree turn for the finish I saw my dad again and gave every ounce of energy pretending it was October 25.  Crossing the finish line it felt amazing – 1:40:39!!!  Holy crap.  I didn’t just tear up my PR, I took it and pounded it into the pavement in Philly.  What an amazing day and amazing feeling to run well again.  Two consecutive races, two amazing efforts. 

As I met up with nyflygirl, I was so curious to hear how she did.  I KNEW she kicked major a**.  Sure enough, she did with a 1:37.  Wowzers.  You go girl!  As she enjoyed a few beers, I went for a mimosa and cookie.  YAY we earned that and then some.

Now, take a look at my splits:

Looking at them, it looks like I lost my 1:40 pretty early with the 7:45s.  But ya know, it’s ok.  My “A” goal was to PR.  “B” goal was sub 1:45.  “C” goal was sub 1:47.  Happy!  Now it’s time to focus on getting to the “match” portion of the training.  It’s so close and now is the time to keep things together and stay healthy.  I’m really pumped from this performance and now know what I am capable of.  The plan is to keep doing whatever it is I’m doing because it seems to be working just fine!

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