Friday, November 09, 2007

Special Guests


Now that the fog has lifted and I'm back to things as usual, I realize I forgot to mention two very special guests on the marathon course -- Mariana Silva and Melissa Jones.

Mariana, who was scheduled to run the marathon this year, but, sadly, had to forgo her space due to injury, cheered for us in Brooklyn AND in Manhattan. She made a pink flag in honor of Alison, Ciara, and pink shirts (not planned, btw), and, was therefore, easy to spot in the massive crowds. Plus, her arms did not get tired holding a bothersome sign, a lesson my fiancee and soon-to-be in laws learned very quickly. Mariana has been and continues to be our biggest cheerleader, coming out to races at 7:00a.m. to encourage us on (Nike Half), getting Alison entry into that same race, and, as mentioned, trekking around two boroughs to help us at the 'thon. And, she's cute as a button. Seriously, the girl is so freakin' adorable everyone she meets falls madly in love with her.

Melissa, who I met through Alison, gets so excited about our running. She's another one who supports every inch of the way. She was around mile 18 on 1st Avenue, then she high-tailed it over to 5th Avenue at mile 22ish with her big yellow sign to cheer us on to the last four miles. Unless you've run a marathon there is no way to express (at least for me) what a boost it is to see a friend in those last few miles. I was feeling like I was going to break, but I saw Melissa, and it totally recharged my will. Melissa drove in from Westchester, cheered for us, then helped Alison get home after her run -- above and beyond the call of duty. Melissa is pretty awesome.

Monday, November 05, 2007

4:13:51


MARATHON 11/04/07

THE ELEVATOR STORY
So, I prepared all week for the marathon by getting my clothes, socks, shoes, body glide, bandana, throw away clothes all in place so I wouldn't be running around Sunday morning getting it all together. The alarm went off at 5:30a.m., I took a shower, got myself dressed, made my peanut butter and banana sandwich, and was out the door by 5:58, ready to meet Alison and Barnett at the Holiday Inn across the street to catch a cab to the ferry. I get in the elevator, hit the button to "1", do a little jig, and the elevator stops at the third floor. I'm thinking, "Who is up this early? Probably someone walking their dog." I wait a few seconds, but the door doesn't open. And doesn't open. And continues not to open for even longer. My heart starts racing, panic takes over. "OhmyGodohmyGodthiscan'tbehappeningthiscan'tbehappening." And, yes, I'm saying this out loud. I look around frantically, hitting every button on the panel -- nothing lights up, no sound, the elevator has died. I hit the alarm button, which does little other than make a very loud, shrill ringing sound that I'm worried is going to wake the people on the third floor. Yes, I was actually worried about waking the building; I'm nothing if not sensitive to the sleep needs of others. I hit the "Call" button, which dials down to Shaun, the doorman. He answers and I explain that I am stuck in the elevator. He says he'll call the elevator repair company. I hang up, then immediately call again: "Tell them it's an emergency! I'm running the marathon!" He hangs up, then calls me a minute later to tell me the elevator guy is on the way. I ask how long it will take because my friends are waiting, I don't have a cell phone to call them, and, ha ha, I know I said this already, but I'm running the marathon today. He says he'll call me back. When he does he tells me the elevator guy will be 20 - 25 minutes. I look at my watch; it's 6:10. I wonder how long it will take for Alison and Barnett to come looking for me. I call downstairs again and ask Shaun if he'll go across the street and tell my friends where I am. He says he will, but I don't think he did because he called back too fast to tell me he didn't see them -- then, Shaun says "Oh, wait, I think these are your friends." Next thing I hear is Alison's voice on the other end, very comforting. I tell her she and Barnett can leave me: "Save yourselves!" She says they won't leave me, there's plenty of time, the last ferry leaves at 8:00, she and Barnett will leave by 7:30 if I'm not out by then. I'm thinking "This cannot be how I miss the marathon. Really? This is happening today? But, I planned for everything that could possibly go wrong." And, that's when I learned a lesson I'll probably keep learning: we have no control over anything, really. We can plan all we want to, but, no matter what, eventually we're going to get stuck in an elevator. Anyway, Alison stayed on the phone with me until, 25 minutes later, the elevator guy arrives. Seconds later I hear activity right outside the elevator door and, suddenly, the door starts to open. I jump out, thank the elevator guy whose name I can't remember now, but I am eternally grateful to him for getting there in time instead of taking his time on a very early Sunday morning, race down the stairs, hug Barnett and Alison, and we grab a cab which seemed to be waiting for us right in front of the Holiday Inn.
The End.

ONCE AT THE START
I'll skip the ferry and shuttle bus travel to the start except to say it was crowded, long, and bothersome. We got to the tree where we were to meet Ciara, Amanda, and Andy, by about 9:00, but they weren't there. An hour and ten minutes later, while waiting to start on the bridge, I saw a little star tattoo on the neck of a tall woman. I turned my head to get a look at the woman's face and low and behold it was Ciara! We reunited loudly, probably bugging the people around us. We ran together for the first mile, then we got separated by the crowd.

BROOKLYN / MILE 8
Almost first thing over the Verrazano we see Colin in a fetching hat holding a cup of something warm looking. We wave and smile. It's early so smiles are coming easy. As we go up 4th Ave. I keep a look out for familiar faces, but don't see many until around mile 8 where Steve Schine and Matt Stinton are giving out high fives.
I think we caught up to Ciara and Co. around mile 9 (not Amanda and Andy who I never saw) once again. This time we stuck together for another few miles. By the Pulaski Bridge our group of five was spreading out with Barnett in front, Ciara and I in the middle, Alison right behind, and Ciara's friends suddenly just gone. I have no idea when they disappeared.

QUEENSBORO BRIDGE
Right after the Pulaski I knew Karl and Laural would be waiting to take my shirt, and, yes, they were there. It was great to see them as I hadn't seen them since August. I planted sweaty kisses on their cheeks, gave them my shirt, and took off. Barnett was still ahead, Ciara and I still together, and I no longer could see Alison behind me. Next would be Jody and Uma. I saw them and all I said was "I lost Alison!" and ran off. Later on the Queensboro Bridge I thought "Well, that was rude of me."
The Queensboro Bridge is hard. I don't know why exactly. It's not as steep as the Verrazano, but it's dark and kinda long, and anticipating the entrance into Manhattan on 1st Ave is exciting, but also causes impatience. Ciara and I didn't talk much, both of us concentrating on different goals: she, breathing; me, running.

1ST AVENUE
Finally, Manhattan! Kirk, Mary Lou, Bob, and my dad, Steve, would be here, somewhere in the 60's. I pulled to the left and scanned the crowd. Soon enough I saw them. I couldn't speak, I don't know why, so I gave a few poses and a smile and kept going. At this point my right leg was hurting at the thigh, knee, and especially my ankle. I tried to think of other things, like my mom, Kirk, Kiersten, brunch, catching up with the 4:15 pacer, if I would make my goal time.

BRONX
By mile 18 Ciara and I separated, a choice I was debating because I knew I'd really be on my own and, though I'd been preparing for this circumstance during training, I wondered if I could run the last eight miles by myself.
Entering the Bronx was cool, though. There isn't the crowd you see in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but they're fiesty and energetic, and there is good music.

BACK IN MANHATTAN --THE HOME STRETCH
Mile 22 I'm really struggling. My ankle is killing me as is my knee and I just want to walk. I stop this thought by looking at the crowd. No one is cheering my name because I lost my fabric name tag at mile five (lesson for next year -- attach fabric name tag with pins). However, I must've been close to another Erica because I hear her / my name yelled every now and then. I see Nicole with a friend I don't recognize, but he's smiling so I make an effort, tell Nicole Alison is behind me, and keep going.

MILES 24 THRU 26.2
This is the part where every step takes on new meaning. Some steps are slower than others. Some hurt more than the ones before. I can feel my posture change and I try to realign, stand up straight, and dig in for the last two miles. I'm convinced I can take it anymore, so I try to say things to myself like "hey, you're really strong, you're out here, you're going to make it", but all these thoughts do nothing but annoy me, so I clear my mind and think about nothing but connecting my foot to the ground. I push the pain away at mile 25 and pick up the pace. It's almost over. I'm on Central Park South and I can't even see the crowd anymore, it's just me and the end. Finally, I turn the corner and re-enter Central Park. Tears well up and I cry; just as soon as it starts it stops, though, and I see the finish line. Running a little faster I cross. As soon as my foot hit the mat I stop and walk, look down at my watch: 4:14:21.
I collect my metal and the heat wrapper thingy, have my picture taken, then walk with the crowd. Someone says "good race." I nod. Sara Kmack is a little ways ahead -- I see her curly hair. I am so happy to see a friend.

AFTERMATH
After wrangling me at 72nd Street, Kirk and the gang get me home (we walked). Later we go to the party Kirk's parents have planned, which was lots of fun. I don't get to talk to Alison about her race, but we promise to talk later.
At home I pass out by 10:00, but my sleep is interrupted periodically by the pain in my leg.
In the morning I check my official time and it's better than I thought: 4:13:51, 34 minutes faster than last year! I've made my goal, which was between 4:00 - 4:15 and I can't believe it! And, other than my ankle and knee, I feel really good. Stairs aren't fun. Other than that I feel like I can start running again by Saturday.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support us, and thanks to those who came out who I didn't see. Thanks to Ciara, Barnett, Amanda, Andy, especially Alison and especially Kirk who doesn't run, but supports my addiction with enthusiasm.

Until next season run strong, run proud, think big. video video

Mantra

What do you say to yourself when the race gets tough?


Ciara:
The faster you finish, the faster you finish.


Barnett:
Come on motherfucker.
That's right bitch.
You not gonna take me.
You not gonna beat me.
I am about to kill you.
Fuck you. Fuck you.
Come on motherfucker.
Lets do this bitch.


Marne:
Around mile 25 last year, when I wanted to stop, some guy who had already finished the race was walking out of the park and saw me struggling. He called out “Stay strong Marne, stay strong”. I spent the last mile repeating that phrase to myself.


Alison:
You can do this. You are a single girl living in New York City.
Compared to that stuff (feel free to drop in whatever latest 'are you
kidding me' story)... THIS STUFF is cake! And then I like to picture
whatever latest loser who doesn't appreciate how fabulous I am on the
sidelines with his jaw dropping and regretful because I look fantastic
(no matter if I am sweaty or whatever) and full of power and
determination. And me blowing by him with a big "see ya I'm on to
better things in my life -- oh by the way I'm in the middle of running XX miles this morning, what did you do today?"
I also like to think... You can do this. "You've done harder things
than this before." I picture my decision to move to New York City and
how amazing and beautiful this city is. I focus on what I'm running
past (the trees, lampposts, whatever) and really SEE IT and it's
beauty. And thinking damn I am one lucky person! Moving here with
only a backpack and a couple of distant contacts and look at how full
and amazing my life has become with friends and experiences. Thinking
how happy I am to be living life to its fullest and that not many
people can really say that. Wow this run is so cool, not everyone
gets to run past this and see this. Then the moment of needing some
help while running is over and I feel really good for the next couple
of miles.
If on a hill -- Just make it to the top and the rest is easy.


Erica:
Damn, this is hard, but I'm not stopping. Not stopping, not stopping, not stopping. Never stop.


I like what I saw on a couple of signs this year: Pain is temporary, Pride is forever.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Easy 18

I'm not in the mood to blog, so I'll sum up the last few runs quickly. Last week, 18 mile race -- the marathon tune up -- ran it in under three hours (woo hoo!). I credit Ciara, Alison, and new running partner Barnett with the great run as, again, all the chat kept me distracted. It was over before I could even think about what I was doing, although around mile 15 I was fighting to stay in it. I got over it by mile 16 after half a GU and some Gatorade.

Yesterday, 6 mile run with Alison, I fell and got a nice gash on the palm of my hand as well as some random cuts and scrapes. No big deal. Really, the missing toe nails on my right foot are much more interesting to talk about and look at.

Grete's Gallop half marathon tomorrow with Ciara, Marne, and Barnett. Alison out of town as well as Andy and Amanda.

31 days until the marathon. Run safe, people.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Did I Do That?

Last Friday I was at the church without my best training mate -- you know her as Alison -- and decided to go ahead with the full loop, and I decided, just for fun, to see how fast I could finish. So, I set the Timex and took off, full speed, me and the iPod with the brand spanking new running mix. (praise Jesus, amen.) It starts with (don't laugh) Mexican Radio, which is a surprisingly good song to run to, especially early in the morning when the core isn't quite motivated to do the things it needs to do. Before Cat Hill we get a little Tenderness. That's right, I like the 80's, and so do you even if you don't want to admit it. You're screaming for General Public right now, I know you are. Anyway, I'm trudging up Cat Hill when my BF Justin Timberlake and his SexyBack come on. I think the next songs are When You Were Young, We Used to be Friends, 1234 (slow, but sweet), Lovestoned (yep, more JT), Lose Control, Shut Up And Drive ... after that I can't remember because by then I was making my way up the incline that never, ever stops, and feeling frustrated because a lesser runner passed me. Now, I know it's not nice to talk bad about people in church, but this runner had really bad form, and I did not like what she was wearing at all. Yet, she and her unnaturally long stride were ahead of me. I attempted to pick up the pace, but that incline was getting the better of me, so I stopped focusing on Long Stride and started focusing on not walking. Once up the hill (hooray for the downhill) I decided to try to catch up with Long Stride again, but she was pretty far ahead. Finally, she caught the light at the 72nd Street transverse, and I caught her just as the light was turning, so I zoomed past (yep, I said "zoomed") and started hauling ass the last 12 block with a "Ha! Take that" attitude. But, my cockiness was stifled when Long Stride silently passed me. "How dare she", I thought, and started running even faster, but, for no apparent reason, I started feeling dizzy. A chill took over my body, and I started seeing spots. I thought I was going to faint, but I didn't stop running. Finally, at the bottom of the park, I gave up on catching Long Stride because, hey, my run was over. I glanced at my watch, fully expecting to see 57 minutes flashing back at me... but, no, the Timex said 52:53. I rubbed my eyes. That couldn't be right, could it? I ran 6 miles under 9 minute miles? Come on! Surely I'd made a mistake.

Well, I went back out on Saturday morning to see if I could do it again. I won't bore you with the details; let me just say that church is crazy crowded on the weekends. I decided to take the loop in the opposite direction, and I also paid more attention to the Timex. Long story short, I got back to the start and, wouldn't you know, 52:47! I am running faster! Timex says so! I felt great the rest of the weekend, even though I skipped the Queens Half Marathon in favor of sleeping in on Sunday. I did do a 13 mile run down to Battery Park and back, but I didn't keep time.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Speed Demon

7:00a.m. (hit the alarm) Maybe I should sleep for another nine minutes.
7:09a.m. Get up, dummy, no one told you to drink two glasses of white wine last night. Justin Timberlake sure is hot.
7:20a.m. Drink water don't forget to drink water, and roll, make sure you roll out the IT bands, and please stretch, stop being so freakin' lazy, I wonder if it's true that Meredith wants to leave the Today show, she and Matt look like they're getting along so well.
7:40a.m. Oh, I am going to be so late for work, shit, iPod not charged, must get other iPod.
7:45a.m. Playlist, need to make new running play list, so sick of Nelly Furtado and Black Eyed Peas.
8:00a.m. When are my wine-heavy legs going to wake up? That girl is fast, maybe I can catch her.... Nope.
8:05a.m. Let's check out what people are wearing at church today. Hmm, I like that tank, doesn't look like a Nike though, I don't like that guy's socks, why don't guys know they should wear short socks instead of scrunching the big ones down, come on it's 2007 the 80's are over, hey, cool group of very professional-looking foreign runners coming right at me, wow, they are cool, very lean, and very fast. I'll run faster. Ugh, legs still not ready. Stupid wine.
8:20a.m. Should I run the big loop? Six miles I need today. Big loop or time, big loop or time? Why is this a debate? What's the point? Is running 30 minutes up and back psychologically less daunting? I've run this loop a billion times, why am I angsting about it now? I know all about the tricky incline that goes for days, I know that after the incline is a satisfying downhill that takes you right into another hill, and I know when I pass 72nd Street the end is going to feel too far away even though it's only twelve blocks down with a water fountain in between. So, why the debate? Just do the full loop, dammit, and be done you silly silly woman. Stop being scared / lazy / whatever and do it!
8:25a.m. "... tail dropper show stopper do my thing mutha fucka..." If you can sing you're not running fast enough.
8:28a.m. I wonder why that guy smiled as he passed, maybe I was taking up too much space probably all over the place, he's fast, but not too fast, I think I can do that pace, little Asian dude in the red I am going to follow you... oh, no, don't go on the bridal path...
8:30a.m. He's back! Asian guy is back! And I am running with him! I am fast, faster than everyone in this park, me and Asian dude. Look, there's a stop light! Not anymore, I just took it, it is a thing of my running past, hey and I am going to pass this girl who is having entirely too much fun swinging her arms around, ha, I will pass her, oh no, Asian dude where are you going? Don't turn left on 72nd, stay with me!
8:33a.m. I can go fast on my own, I can. I slowed down, but now I'm back, and "coming out of my cage and I've been doin' just fine gotta gotta be down because I want it all it started out with a kiss how did it end up like this it was only a kiss it was only a kiss now theyre falling asleep and she's calling a cab while he's having a smoke and she's taking a drag and it's all in my head and my stomache is sick..."
8:38a.m. And the finish is up ahead thank you Killers you've helped me run fast as did the Asian dude, I see the end and I am speeding to it faster and faster... oh, man, why stop light do you tackle me now when I was so close to crossing?
8:43a.m. The green awning, I am going to be so late for work. Lady passing me looks miffed is it at me? Hey, lady, I just ran six miles before 9:00a.m. What have you done today?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nike Half 2:03:36 (I think)

Wow, I am really behind on blogs, mostly because I went home for a few days and ditched all tasks, including some running. For the five days I was home I think I ran a grand total of 14 miles, which might be a little generous. I did get some swimming in, not that I am a strong swimmer, nor was I doing it for exercise. It's freakin' hot in Florida, and even running in the a.m. is no protection from all things sticky and sweaty, so I jumped in the pool after most runs. I did get some great iPod time in since I ran alone. You're never really alone with the iPod though. My friends Missy Elliot, Justin Timberlake, Gnarls Barkely, Mike Doughty, etc. kept me more than entertained. I rejoiced in the vacant streets of New Tampa by lipsynching along to The Killers, as well as the above mentioned, dreams of rock stardom coursing through my brains. Fantasizing about celebrity is great on a longish run as, I can only speak for myself, I become infused with this crazy energy and the run is more like a dance than feet simply hitting pavement in the same repetitive motion.

Enough about my rock star dreams, though, even at 36, I refuse to give up. Back to the real news, the NIKE HALF, which happened on Sunday, August 5. Okay, issues upfront with this race: there was no guaranteed entry; there wasn't even a "first come first served". It was done by lottery this year and, thankfully, I got in. Alison, on the other hand, did not get in. Fortunately, the lovely Marianna won Alison a place at one of the Nike raffles. Still, the system set up by the NYRR was, in my opinion, completely unfair. My other issue is with NYRR and their communication skills which are seriously flawed. The only people who had guaranteed entry into the Half were those who'd run all the half marathons last year! What? No one knew this! Not that I would have completed that task -- I tried this year and gave up after the crazy 20 degrees half in the park -- but, it would've been nice to know what the options were ahead of time. And, NYRR, you should have a little bit more respect for your members than that. I've been paying dues, paying for races, supporting you for five years now -- the least you could do is tell me about your ridiculous rules well before the fact so I have a chance to decide what I want to do about it. Maybe I won't like the rules, but at least I know about them.

Back to the race. Unlike last year, where it started out humid and overcast, which then turned into torrential rain at mile seven, it was sunny, clear, and warm, with little humidity. Also unlike last year where I had a stomach ache, I felt great. Alison and I took a cab to the start, and through sheer luck, found Ciara about 20 minutes after we got there. We all ran the first seven miles together, which is the loop in Central Park; once out of the park Ciara and I hit the water station, and suddenly Alison was no longer with us. Pushing on and feeling great, I took in 7th Avenue lined with cheering fans and cover bands. I used that energy to journey on at a slightly faster clip. It's not often that I actually feel like going faster; it usually involves some serious convincing of my legs get out of their safety pace, but that day they were totally cooperative and ready to go. By mile nine I could see Ciara struggling a bit with a cramp. I asked if she was okay, and she said she was. I told her I was taking off and we parted; I found out later that she was never too far behind me, maybe four blocks at the most.

Off I went without my women, with three and a half miles left to go I felt like I could run faster. By mile 11 I was ready to be done. By mile 12 I had had so much Gatorade and water I felt like I was carrying a small pool with me. This is something that happens without fail. I feel great throughout a race until close to the end when I get a little cocky because "there are only three miles left, what's three miles?" totally forgetting about the 10 I just ran. So, by the time I crossed the finish line I was done. (Oh, and I forgot to mention that on my training schedule I was to add another 5 miles to make the 18 mile quota for that day.) With that said, I did manage to PR, and even though I did not hit my goal of 2:00, I did knock off two minutes from my time last year. I'll have another chance on September 23, the Queens Half, which I plan to do in 2:00 flat.

After the race, I didn't do the whole five, but I did add another three. We met Andy and Amanda for brunch at Florent, so I ran up to Christopher Street from Battery Park, then hopped on the train one stop, and ran to the restaurant. I got in 16 miles instead of 18. That's okay, I ran faster at the race, so I'll forgive myself the two miles.

Have brunch at Florent.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rattatouile

Kirk and I saw Rattatouile (check my spelling please) a few weeks ago as I am a big fan of Brad Bird, Pixar, and their animation machine. The Incredibles is definitely on my top ten favorites. Rattatouile, while not up to The Incredibles, was completely cute, fun, and had one of the best flashback scenes I've ever seen. However, there was a part in Rattatouile where a large number of rats invade a kitchen, and I was not the only one in the audience who gasped "Ewwwww!" at the disgusting sight of all those furry creatures on top of stoves, in ovens, and stealing food from the refridgerators. My first apartment in New York had a pretty severe mouse problem. At one point it was so bad that mice would jump out of our kitchen trash can, like something you'd see on Tom & Jerry, one after the other, like they were in a swimming pool and couldn't be happier jumping from the trash to the counter where we kept the microwave, then back down the wall to the little holes they'd constructed while I was sleeping. I went to great lengths to get rid of them, even going so far as setting those dreadful glue traps that, really, are totally inhumane. My only defense is that I was desperate. And disgusted.

When I was a kid I loved rodents; guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, mice. I had them all. Now, the sight of any of the above gives me chills. I hate their sharp little paws and their stupid little rodent teeth; I hate they way they scurry. I hate the word "scurry"! Just thinking about them now is causing my face scrunch up. There is a big difference between the animated rat in Rattatouile and the rats in real life. First, Rattatouile could talk, at least to his other rat friends. And, he could cook, so he had some talent. He was pretty charming in an animated rat sort of way. And there's Rattatouile's biggest plus right there -- he's animated!

"What does all of this have to do with running, Erica? I came to this blog to get some training tips, not read about rats." Okay, okay, I will get to the point. This morning, Alison and I were RUNNING, heading uptown on the WSH. Side note, we were doing 4 miles and we decided to pick up the pace -- less talking, faster running. Anyway, as we were going up this incline, a HUGE rat ran right in our path. My right foot was in the air, about to strike the ground, and if it had I would've come right down on the suckers mid-section. Alison got the worst, though. The rat hit her shoe and kept going. Oh, my face is doing that scrunching thing again! I hate rats!

On the flip side, we survived a faster run. No thanks to the rat.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What I Love About Running

I think I mentioned in a recent post that I suddenly have some free time -- taking an unscheduled hiatus from the desk -- which has allowed me to not only contemplate the rest of my life, but also spend more time working out. Today I treated myself to an extra hour of sleep, so I didn't start my 6 mile run until about 8:45. I also treated myself to a little soundtrack from the iPod. Music on a run is like a donut -- I don't have it very often, but when I do it's a delicious treat. (Side bar about music: when I first started running music was an absolute necessity. When I started training for the marathon last year I found, if I was alone with the iPod, that around mile 12, music became very irritating, and by mile 16 unbearable. I now prefer to be on the pavement with my thoughts, unless I'm on a shorter run, then music can be invigorating.)

I decided to do the big loop in CP, running against traffic as to avoid Cat Hill, which I'd already done a few times this week. I knew I'd have to do that crazy hill at the top of the park, but I find it generally easier running west to east instead of the other way. So, off I went, faster than my usual pace. I had to slow down around mile 3 as a result. As I got to that hill in Harlem I noticed that I was alone. It was so quiet, save for Mike Doughty singing in my ear. There were a couple of kids in the pool, but other than that it felt like the park was mine. And, I suddenly realized what a beautiful day it was and how grateful I am to be healthy and how lucky I am because for me running is a joy, not a job. If nothing else, I can put on my Asics and run. I always feel better after a run, I always feel like I've accomplished something that day, so other things I might not finish don't take on more weight.

I got past the hill, turned the corner, and there were the other runners. They don't know it, but I love them all, even the ones who don't know the rules of the road and get in the way. There aren't many of those.

I was back in my apartment by 10:00, at work by 11:30. I like this hiatus thing. I wish I had lots of money so this could be my life all the time.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pain? What pain?

Well, friends, I am afraid I'm going to have to deal with the fact that my left knee is, dare I say it, hurting. Noooooo!!!! This is a terrible time to have an injury -- not that I am injured, I'm not, I REFUSE to be injured -- but, my health insurance ran out, so even if I was injured, which I am not, I can't go to the doctor. I can go see Gene, the wonderful sports medicine trainer guy that helped me with last year's IT band issue. He's not terribly expensive and after seeing him I was able to run in two weeks. But, this is the beginning of Marathon training, and taking two weeks off would be a problem, I think. Or, maybe it wouldn't. Ciara trained for the Oregon Marathon in 12 weeks. Plus, I am already doing 15 mile runs. Ugh, I really, really, really do not want to deal with this. C'mon! On top of everything else -- I'm referring to my job right now, which, as been all year, is keeping me in financial distress -- I have to maybe, possibly, figure out how to cure my knee. Why were knees made so fragile? Why haven't we evolved by now to have strong-ass, unbreakable knees?

Let's talk about what I did this weekend. Well, the show I've been working on with Uma and Nicole opened on Saturday morning at 11:00a.m. (festival schedule. What can you do?) and was a big success! The show performed to a sold out audience. They laughed at everything. And, despite not having had a complete run of the show with tech, the actors were totally on and the show was tight. We had an opening day brunch, complete with mimosas (I drank 4) and beer donated by Sam Adams. Brunch was lots of fun and most of the audience was able to attend. When I got home I changed and went on a five mile run, mimosas swimming in my brain and belly. I think the adrenaline from the show gave me the energy to run those five miles, and I ran them pretty fast. I'd had little sleep the night before, too, so I certainly wasn't well rested. I do not condone or support running while intoxicated, but I have to say, it was an experience I didn't mind having, just that one time.

On Sunday I ran a much slower 15 miles, the first 10 with Alison. The last five miles were faster as, by that time, I was bored out of my mind and just wanted to be done. Wow, was I bored! Being bored on a run is awful because you can't think about anything other than "Are we there yet?". You just want it to end.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Erica & The City

Marathon training officially started last week and guess who forgot? I called Alison when I discovered week 18 (or week 1, though I prefer to count down) had come and gone with little more than a blink from me. How different from last year when I did nothing but think about the marathon. Every move I made, all social plans, my entire life last year revolved around my training schedule. Not that I'm behind; we've been training for the NIKE half in August, so I am doing long runs. Alison and I did a 10 mile run last weekend, and tomorrow we're meeting Amanda and Andy for another 8 - 12 mile run in the park. I've run 12 already this week. If I do 12 tomorrow and 5 on Sunday I'll be one mile under where I should be. Not to fret, though; since I've not neglected the weight training I count that toward my marathon time. In my mind I'm right on track. And, hey, my arms are looking good. Wish the belly would shrink.

Wow, I'll be 36 tomorrow. 30-freakin-6. I'm older than I ever thought I'd be. I feel like a 20 year old. And, if I do say so myself, I'm not looking my age. Definitely younger, though the puffy eyes are starting to give me away.

It's July and the streets are hot. My 5 mile run in CP on Wednesday was painful. Ah, the humidity. And the taxis. The exhaust from the cars is horrible.

I do love this city.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

But, it's too hot to run!

Wah, wah, it's always something. It's either too hot or too cold, you can never get the porridge just right can ya?

Hello, friends. I've been away for awhile, but I'm back now with marathon dreams on my mind. I just printed out the NYRR Marathon Training schedule and I've decided to do the Basic Marathoner as opposed to the First Time / Casual Marathoner. Is it a little cocky, after just one marathon, to consider myself a Basic Marathoner? The schedule is about 5-10 miles more challenging. I think I can do it. Plus, I want to slim down since I've also got wedded matrimony on the brain and I want to look smokin' in my sample sale designer dress.

So, I'm determined to stay on this training trend of lifting weights 4 days a week with a four or five mile run to follow, then a long run on the weekends and two yoga classes in between. Yes, it sounds like alot, and I think it is, but I really missed yoga last year, and I feel it counteracts the pounding my muscles and joints take on the road. I'm worried I'm going to shrink if I don't do some major yoga stretching. This morning I lifted for a half hour, then ran 4 miles down the WSH.

More to come, running friends.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Running Shoes

Gotta give props to the girl at the running store in the Time Warner building who sold me another pair of Asics, same design as my old pair since I like them and have not suffered injury, unlike sweet Alison, who is almost ready to committ to the 2007 Marathon. Fingers crossed.

Speaking of Alison, her recovery seems to be going well. She's running three miles at a time right now and she's good about stretching and taking care of herself. She got a pair of Asics from Jack Rabbit on 14th. Check them out; she says they're better than Super Runners Store. Very attentive and knowledgeable, she says they have a fancy treadmill where you can try out a pair of shoes before you purchase. To be fair, the people at Super Runners encourage you to run down the block in a pair before committing. However, they don't watch you run, and, I guess, at Jack Rabbit they do.

The girl at the store in Time Warner suggested I wear polyester socks to avoid losing toenails. No one has ever said this to me before. I have polyester socks, but I also have cotton socks, and didn't really sense the difference. I guess it's all polyester socks for now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Insomnia

You know what cures insomnia?

RUNNING!

Last night I got, maybe, two hours sleep, and the only reason I'm functioning today is the half pot of seriously strong coffee I had at breakfast this morning.

(Sidebar: today is Amy's birthday, so we went to Norma's in Le Parker Meridien. I ordered the "Very Berry French Toast", which was two enormous slices of brioche soaked in blue / raspberries. I wasn't impressed with my food, though James had delicious Huevos Rancheros, and Nicole ordered some crazy "oatmeal" thing that was tasty. Amy had waffles with fruit and a raspberry sauce, which I also liked. But, I'm not reccomending Norma's as 1. it's terribly overpriced-- $20 for four coffees! and 2. I can make better french toast at home for three dollars or less. End Sidebar)

I had fewer insomniatic (?) nights while training for the marathon. My brain shut down completely when it was time to sleep because I'd wear myself out. Oh, I cannot wait for the weather to get better so I can spend more time running on the road! I hate, hate, hate the treadmill. I tried, okay! I tried so hard to like it! I've experimented with adjusting the speed, adjusting the incline, running faster for several minutes at a time, but nothing works. Nothing makes the treadmill an adequate substitute for the outdoors. I know this is my own fault; if I wasn't such a wimp I'd get out and suffer the cold. But, extreme cold hurts, and I haven't found a way to bear it. So, I'll suffer just one more week, I hope. It's in the 40's and I can deal with that. It's sunny, so the snow is melting.

Back to breakfast: I have got to diet! I should carry a picture of a girl in a wedding dress to remind me that I want to look good on March 7, 2008, and not have brioche french toast hips.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Feels Like Spring

We're getting hit with some 60 degree weather this week. I got up this morning and ran four miles, to 97th and back, and got swept up in nostalgia. It felt and looked this way back in October when I'd get up early to train for the marathon. I was even listening to the same mix I made specifically for training. It needs to be updated. I'm sick of Nelly Furtado and Black-Eyed Peas. Well, it's going to get cold again. There's a storm coming tonight and, by Friday, the temp should be back down to the 40's. This is how Spring works.

Speaking of beautiful weather, I spent the weekend in Tampa planning the wedding. Date is set for March 7, 2008 at The Lange Farm in Dade City. I never thought I'd get married on a farm, but when Mom and I saw the place Sunday morning we fell in love. It's beautiful. We can have the ceremony and cocktail hour outside, and a reception in a gorgeous Garden House. I am finally having fun planning now that there's something to plan. Now, I have to get in shape so I can try on dresses.

Oh, my taxes!

I'm not registered for any races coming up. I think the Brooklyn Half is next on my list.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mahattan Grand Prix

What made me crawl out of bed at 7:00 in the morning on a freezing Sunday, layer myself in clothes that were never going to be warm enough, and force-feed myself honey-sweetened oatmeal that tasted a little like paste? The appeal of running a half marathon on one of the coldest days of the year was so great that I just had to get my sleep deprived ass up and out.

I wish that were the case. I wish I could say I was so excited, so driven, so motivated that I couldn't control myself. The truth is I don't know why, other than I paid money and I promised Ciara and Marianna. I had barely trained for it; my mental state was not even close to half marathon thinking; and it was cold. Painfully COLD!

So, why did I do it? I have been asking myself this question on and off all week. After the marathon there were lots of "are you addicted to running?" jokes, and I'd chuckle along with the joke makers because, yeah, it sounds funny. I've never been addicted to anything in my life. There were a few months in college where I had to play spades every chance I got, including between classes. Sometimes I'd even skip class depending on my partner and my luck. But, that subsided. This running thing, though, is not going away. I don't know why. It's in me now and I can't escape it. No matter how tired I am, how grumpy, how much I don't want to get up, I do and I run. Maybe it's because I know when the run is over for the day I'll feel better than I did before I started. It's true. No matter what kind of run I have, when it's over I feel amazing. It gets rough physically, but mentally I am brighter, happier, balanced. And, I enjoy the physical pain because it's a reminder of my accomplishment.

I got out of bed and ran. First half marathon of the season.

My goal this year is to run every Grand Prix, rain, shine, or snow.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Thank you, Global Warming

It should not be 70 degrees in January.
I had a great run last Saturday, the 6 mile loop in the Park. I was out there like the rest of New York. It was a beautiful, sunny day on January 6. It felt so wrong, enjoying a day I suspect is the result of humans slowly destroying the environment, but I was out there anyway, feeling guilty and happy, mostly happy because I was running an it felt marvelous. My first real long run since the marathon. I did lots of short runs in Tampa, but this was an honest-to-goodness RUN. I plan to do the Manhattan half in a couple weeks, though I am not anywhere near ready. I'm so out of shape.