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DC Bound

Here I am.  One week from now it’ll be my turn to feel the nerves, get excited and feel the excitement of marathon weekend.  This time though I am on a bus heading down to DC to partake in the excitement of MCM weekend.  A year ago that was a day that truly was amazing to me.  I can only hope those on Sunday can experience some of the magic I felt.  If you’re running I’ll be out on the course cheering!

This week I’ve just been throwing some taper runs in including my last “long” run with my AM crew.  Wednesday was a creepy bridges run as it was just me on the Manhattan Bridge.  That was um a bit like being in a scary movie. I started counting people the rest of the run and came up with 7 people I saw my entire run. 7?!  Come on people don’t wuss out on the account of a few sprinkles!  Bah.

And yes I’m following the same taper schedule of crazy amounts of work.  Who needs sleep?

So as taper continues, I’ve set my sights on next Sunday.

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Admit it.  You have something you do before every long run, race, or event you take part in.  I do.  Though I’m a numbers girl at heart and understand that pretty much everything is black and white (sorry English majors!), there’s certain things that I feel are left to a higher power: superstitions. For me, habits form and I have a good race which means that it must be due to the extraneous factors, not the work in the race, right? 😉 

So what are some of mine? 

Bib number.  This is crucial.  There’s something to be said about a nice, symmetrical number.  Take for instance my PDR Bib number last year: 3404.  Nice number.  MCM? 8155 (notice the 9 squared and double 5s).  Two PRs. Two nice numbers.  Yep, I never claimed to be normal:)  This year? 4011. Eh.  Just not as fun of a number. NYCM?  16753.  Jury’s out on this one.  Trying to find the significance.  Although I find it fun that I was writing this post the day of bib numbers being posted. Hmmm… 

Clothing.  Yep there’s something to be said about race day wear.  I had been with a running team for my previous marathons but still opted to not wear my team’s wear in most races.  Why?  I had success with my Penn State singlet, blue Brooks shorts, pink hat and Mizuno Inspires at MCM (both times).  It’s become my official marathon jersey if you will.  Guess it worked out I’m doing NYC this year as a free agent. 

post-hills

Cruising through Beantown

 

Food.  I get finicky on this one.  My stomach has a mind of it’s own and it doesn’t take much for it to freak out.  That’s why the night before MCM both times I ate at  Facia Luna in Virginia.  It also is located in Happy Valley.  So it gave me the Penn State love…or at least that’s what I think!  Before a race I stick to bread and peanut butter.  I don’t curve away from this.  OK so maybe for a marathon I go crazy with a bagel and peanut butter.  If it’s a half marathon I can stick to one piece of bread and peanut butter.  Longer? I up it to 2 pieces.  Nothing fancy. 

I heart PB & Co.

 

Music.  Can I share a secret? I’ve got a certain song that I play before every big race.  I’m not telling you what it is because the power of the song may diminish.  I told you I am superstitious;-)  I also have certain other songs picked out based upon the type of race.  I guess that’s the math/science geek coming out. 

Post-race? I’m a burger, fries, coke and black&white cookie kind of girl.  November 7th you know what I’ll be indulging post 26.2 miles. 

burger and fries 

black and white cookie 

I also do not run the day before the race.  Whether it be the mile or a marathon I just don’t do it. 

That’s just a few.  There’s more but that’s a start to how I tick. 

What are some of your superstitions?

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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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Funk

I’m a happy person in general. Lately I’ve hit the “winter blues.” I also think it coincides perfectly with my training. This is the time when the race is close but there’s so much more work to do. The excitement of starting a new training cycle has worn off and there’s certainly no going back now.

I thrive on the feeling of running with the sunrise and sunset. Even if I have a terrible run, I get to enjoy some of the most scenic routes one could run! What do I get now with a BOS run? I’m cold and cranky! It’s not helping that I’ve had several BOS runs lately. Ugh.  Another thing about me: I won’t let that stop me.  I know this is all part of the process and ultimately I’ll get through it.

I contribute this to several factors:
– crosstraining effort not there
– other areas of life are a stress load
– sun & warmth – need it!
– need a change

Crosstraining. As you may remember my march to MCM, I had things clicking on all cylinders. I had moved to my new home and found a love for commuting to work with my bike! Nothing felt like a chore. I couldn’t wait for bike to work days! With the cold and darkness, it just hasn’t been possible. I’m hoping to start that back up in march.

I’ve lost my way. I’m so thankful for the twitter and daily mile crew for keeping me from falling off completely.

Work hasn’t helped matters. As is everywhere else in corporate America, the workplace is a scary place to be these days. I’m hoping this area gets better in 2010.

I guess I need to find that mojo again. I have a feeling that mojo will be the longer days and warmer temperatures to come. I really hate winter – no different in 2010. Training is about to ramp up – time to gain that identity. I’m looking forward to racing the last two weekends in February and ultimately the NYC half as my pre-Beantown test.

9 1/2 weeks to game time. I know I’ve got this in me.

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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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This is my first speech I’m giving in my Toastmasters club.  The idea is you can talk about yourself and just do something for 4-6 minutes.

“Life is a Marathon”

How many people in the room have completed a marathon? Interesting, I think for the most part every one of us has and are in the mist of a marathon.  As most of you know, running is a pretty important part of my life and I have run several marathons (six to be exact and have begun to train for #7 on April 19).  Running a marathon is similar to life in that it teaches you several things, among them perseverance, overcoming mental and physical challenges, dedication, luck, excitement and the ability to believe in yourself.  Running a marathon you experience these things within a few hours instead of over a lifetime.

Challenges are a part of life.  One such mental challenge to me was my move to New York City about 7 years ago.  I graduated from Penn State University, not exactly a sprawling metropolis by any means.  The campus is made up of 40,000 college aged kids.  How I ended up in NYC is a lucky occurrence in itself.  I had no intentions of moving to NYC.  I remember visiting NYC my parents one summer before my junior year of college and stating the following: “It’s a great place to visit but I could never live here.”  Oh, did I learn to eat my words.  Anyway, one cold and snowy December day, I decided to sign up for an interview on campus…a couple months later I was called to NYC by F+K for an interview and two weeks after graduating from Penn State I was packing up from everything I knew and moving to NYC.  I knew not a single person, moved in with a stranger I had spoken on the phone with and met once to sign the lease for my new apartment on the UES, starting a new job and essentially knew nothing about the city.  I always joke about the fact that if you asked me where Brooklyn was I’d say that’s part of NY?  (side note: I just bought an apartment in Brooklyn this year).  I’m still amazed I’ve been able to just throw out all fear and move out here.  It hasn’t been without its ups and downs but overall I love it here.  My parents kept my car for a year because they were certain I would be coming back to Philadelphia.  They did not see this coming!  7 years later and I have no intentions of leaving.

As far as physical challenges, the marathon definitely is one that seems unbelievable to carry out.  Believe it or not, I was not always a runner.  I started running about 6 years ago.  My dad had tried to get me to run for years but I always resisted.  Why do I want to do that? It’s boring.  I hate running.  I did try several times between high school track, races my dad trained me for and races with my mom (you’re a black sheep in my family if you don’t run).  Each time met resistance as I would resort to other activities such as softball and basketball.  I still remember running my first race at 8 years old with my dad and hating every minute of it.

Finally, I decided just as moving to NYC is a challenge I needed a new challenge and decided to sign up for the NYC Marathon lottery in 2004.  Sure enough, I got in on my first try! Yikes, now what?  I met a fellow runner, Susan, for a run in Central Park one cold March evening for a run.  She had gotten in as well!  For four months, I’d wake up early for runs, train on the weekends and dedicate myself to making sure I cross that finish line. Six months later I was running through the five boroughs of NYC.  What an amazing experience and I’ll be giving it a go again in November this year – not to mention I’ll be running the Boston Marathon on April 19th!

Unlike a marathon I run, the marathon of life is a continuing experience.  No one really knows how and when it will turn.  However, for me I’ve learned to enjoy life and continue to challenge myself both mentally and physically.  Finding running for me has helped me learn to love life but each of us has something to make their marathon happen. Also, never say you will never do something because I certainly have learned – you can do anything you put your mind to!

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With a nice snowstorm halting activities tonight, it’s time to think about what 2010 brings.  Yes, it will be a celebration towards the big 3-0 but what does that entail? Oh, running wise, INSANITY.  Insanity I tell you!  So what are those crazy goals to ring in the big 3-0?

1.  Boston Marathon 2010 – April 19, 2010.  I’ll be there! Awww yeah!!
2.  NYC Marathon 2010 – Qualified.  Sign up in February. November 7, 2010
3.  Philadelphia Sprint Triathlon 2010 – signed up.  June 26, 2010
4.  Philadelphia Distance Run (sorry I won’t refer to it as that new name) – September 19, 2010
5.  Empire State Building Run-up – sent in the application, find out if application accepted in early January – Feb 2, 2010

AND THE MOST CRAZY THING OF ALL….

6.  PIKES PEAK MARATHON!  Sign up is in March and I have a friend out in Colorado.  It’ll be my 3-0 birthday weekend and oh what other way to celebrate other than run up and down a mountain? Ok, don’t answer that:)

Sprinkle in some other NYRR halves and whatever else may come.  And you have a pretty busy running year.

Goals time wise?

Sub 1:40 half.  Very doable.  But need to make it happen.
Sub 3:40 full.  Duh.
New 4 mile PR (28:51 currently)

Obviously, with a rigorous schedule, I will need to be careful with my training.  I’m planning to follow a similar plan to this year which is be smart and cross train.  I plan to limit running to 4x a week (max 5x certain weeks).  And most important, keep it fun.  Without that, this crazy schedule can’t become reality.  So help me realize my dreams and follow my adventures over 2010.

2009, you’ve been fun but 2010 – I’m coming for you!

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Meet you at the park…

This past week I had the pleasure of attending not one, but two tweet-ups! And as it should be, running was the occasion.

Tuesday night I literally ran out of work to join the run. I met up with a few others that needed to stash their stuff at the local NYSC. I got my speed work in literally sprinting from the subway to the NYSC to the lockers. It probably was pretty clear how flustered I was at that point.

We met up with the others at Bethesda Fountain. @pigtailsflying @runanskyrun @SpeedySasquatch  @NYCe @agaliza @lady_southpaw @bklynrunner @sclevine @MikeJOConnor. It was nice to put names to a face:)

My friend AU wanted to run so I invited her. Unfortunately she wanted to make it a tempo run and off we went. I felt bad because I wanted to run with everyone. So let me apologize for that – I was annoyed but believe me next time I’ll be there on my own accord. I have no clue what pace I ran because once again I didn’t run with a watch (has been a habit lately). I’m pretty certain by the end we were well under 8s. Oh well, it was gorgeous and yet another time to feel blessed living here.

Wednesday morning was tweet-up #2 of the week with @pigtailsflying @worldrunner @carlablumenthal. It was a gorgeous morning and unusually warm for early December. It was fun to play tour guide and share my amazing views on a bridges run over the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. I even threw in my Ace: the promenade! It still isn’t old to me. The morning run is exciting to me: you can feel the energy of the city waking up. A great group of ladies and I hope to run this winter with them. For one, it will keep me from becoming lazy!

Finally – I need a new name for my blog now that I am no longer an Uptown Girl.  Currently accepting nominations and will put this up for a vote but of course I have the final vote;-)  Democracy to a point, people!  So far I’ve had: Boston Bound Girl, Borough Babe, Bridges Runner…

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Where the heck did 2009 go?

Yesterday I was sitting at work and I overheard CNN playing in the kitchen and one of the reporters was saying “and next month starts a new decade.” Woah.  Seriously?  When did that happen?  Where was I?  It’s just kind of crazy to think back at what the last 10 years have been like for me from so many perspectives.  In 10 years: I went to a big university where I got to major in something I love, moved to NYC (despite claiming “it’s a great place to visit but I’ll never live there”), became a working gal, moved up the working ladder, became a runner, and most recently, a homeowner. I’ve been in NYC long enough now to see people move here and leave, friends come and go, etc.  HOLY CRAP.  Slow down here.

So where am I going with all this?  I like to think that the past decade has been a time that I’ve learned so much about me. I finally had time to do things MY way and understand what I want.  It’s a tricky avenue to follow and I feel pretty darn lucky to have the avenues given to me to figure it all out.  I’ve learned mentally I’m capable of way more than I thought.  If you would have told me 10 years ago I’d be a marathon runner, I’d have given you a look of death.  Pretty funny how things turn out.  Ultimately, I feel like mentally I’m as tough as they come.  Once there is something in my mind, consider it done.  I do not know the word “quit.”  It just doesn’t exist in my world. 

Running has been such an amazing stabilizer in my life.  It’s helped me identify with so much in the world.  I’ve met so many amazing people, not to mention being fortunate enough to run with my dad in a few races!  Like the real world, you meet people that you hope are a part of your life forever and those, well that fade away.  You have your great days, good days and the days that make you want to go after it all the more.  I stand behind that last part.  If it were easy, anyone would do it.  I run because I want it.  What is it? Changes daily.  Ask me while we’re running:)

I’m a happier person now.  In so many ways that I can’t just write the words to do it justice. 

I’ve learned I’m a very black and white person (mmm black and white cookies).  But seriously, it helps to know that’s who I am.  I like that I know where I stand on issues. I hate wishy washy.  Guess that’s why I’m an engineer!

I’ve learned that sometimes it isn’t your day.  Learn from it and move on.  It’s not worth dwelling over something you can’t control.  It’s fine to analyze but not fine to replay it over like a movie.

I’ve learned to smile more.  It goes a long way.

Don’t focus on numbers all the time.  Yes, I just told you I’m a black and white person.  And I still stand by that. However, sometimes just enjoy the moment. Happiness can come in so many boxes.

Find your passion.  Oh, this one is A BIG ONE.  I can’t believe how many people I’ve met that don’t have something that burns in them.  Whether it’s running, work, or some other hobby.  Life is about finding things to make you happy and work for you.  What is YOUR passion? 

I’ve learned that having various types of people in your life helps you develop who you are.  At work, I was extremely fortunate to have an amazing mentor for the first 5 years.  He taught me not just the technical aspects, but how to make it in this world.   It’s almost as though he saw me walk in the door and saw something I didn’t.  I can only hope that I can give back half of what he gave me.  I still talk to him all the time.  Running wise, I’ve met some pretty awesome people.  Just your down to earth people.  You see them at their best and worst.  What more can you ask?

Over the next month I think I’m going to reflect a bit back on the past but also focus on the road ahead.  It’s an exciting one.  2010 proves to be a stepping stone for me as an athlete but hopefully in the other avenues of my life.  I’m pretty excited about it and who am I to turn down a new journey:)

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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!!!

———–
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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