Friday, December 16, 2011

I draw the line at the elf

Excuse me I meant to say the f-ing elf on the shelf. It's cute - it's quirky and that little thing makes me want to punch somebody in the nose.

We celebrate two winter holidays in our house Hannukah and Christmas plus we have 2 winter birthdays and those cannot be ignored because even though both birthday folks are full-grown adults they suffered childhood holiday birthday trauma as children. :-) That's another post in itself - dealing with disfunctional adult onset childhood holiday birthday trauma in a family member (daochbt for short). It's busy at our house in December.

But oh how my kids want one. In fact the Hannukah elf has just made an appearance at school and my son who is dealing with the rejection that we don't have said elf on the shelf has made a plea that if he can't have the Christmas elf can we have the Hanukkah elf?

Uh ... nope.

There are lot of mom's out there that can juggle all the holidays, the presents, the wrapping, the shows, the projects and still make the elf happen. And if you're elfing ... make sure you take daily photos of what the elf is up to because otherwise ... well that would be incomplete elfing.  Sadly for my kids ... That ain't me McGee. I accidentally missed my son's class Christmas lunch Wednesday ... oops ... I do feel bad about that. And I had about 50 reminders to try to remember to bring hot chocolate to my daughter's class this morning. And I'm behind on my holiday wrapping ... not to mention I need to clean out my closet and I skipped my swim workout yesterday and have not worked out yet today.

The last thing I need to try to do is keep up with the elf.

breathing deeply -


oh boy -

Did I mention my kids are both smart? Also my daughter is 8. She may have figured out some of this Santa business. They know I'm not into the elf ... so this morning they decided to ask Santa for the elf. Boy am I in trouble now.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Things I'm thinking about today

  1. I think inflatable holiday yard decorations are silly. My kids disagree. They really like them. Luckily for me I outvote them on matters of the home.
  2. Spinning is hard. Whatever muscles those are that you can pop up and down in spin class ... I was maybe built without those muscles because I have a super hard time with that.
  3. I am considering making a green smoothie but they freak me out a little bit because they are green. And what makes them green is spinach or lettuce  or kale and I don't think that the taste of spinach goes with the taste of strawberry actually. So I haven't done anything except think about them.
  4. I have a lot of bok Choy in my fridge ... The only thing I know how to make with bok Choy is stir fry...so guess what's for dinner?
  5. I read to a small group of second graders today during lunch. Some brought their own some got from the cafeteria. I was pleasantly surprised at the basically pretty healthy choices that the kids made for lunches.
  6. I personally am ready for holiday vacation all this driving back and forth to school is making me tired. A nap would be good.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Last Race of the Year - Miami Beach Rock-n-Roll half marathon

So that's it - the last race of the year. Started the year with the goal of 12 races during the year. I think I've done 11 races.

That's a lot of races. Different goal for this year for sure. But this post is not about those races this is my review of the Miami Beach Latin Rock-n-Roll half marathon.

Rock-n-Roll Latin 1/2 Marathon 12/11/2001 time 2:04:36
Start Line.

The goal for this race was to break 2 hours and I just missed it. The 2 hour half marathon mark taunts me still. But 2:04:36 is the time I'm happy with that. It was a very hot day (78 at the finish) and I didn't do a drop of speedwork between the New York Marathon and today so I was - what is the word, oh yes, unprepared.

It was nice to have a local race. Packet pickup was easy. I slept in my own house the night before. I knew plenty of people on the course and at the start and finish. My family stayed home for the morning chilling out while I did my thing. It was all good.


The course
This is apparently the same course as Miami 13.1 which is a race I've never done. It has 3 bridges which is considered a hilly course for Miami. I thought it was nice. We started and finished on Miami Beach which is nice. I am not a great hill climber but with all the hill work I did preparing for New York I've become a pretty good hill descender. I passed a lot of people on the downhills. 

The bridges are a challenge but it's still got to be one of the flattest courses in the country. And it was pretty straight just one big square up left turn, over the causeway, left turn toward downtown, left turn back to the beach, fake out before the finish right turn past Joe's Stonecrab and then left and back to the finish. The finish was in sand so not so much sprinting at the end because ... well I don't know how to sprint in the sand.

Me on a bridge. I think I look pretty good here. And the view doesn't suck. Benefits of being in the tropics.

The weather
It was hot hot hot. Or muy calor as we would say here in Miami. It was overcast for most of the race but hot and humid. I'm guessing the dewpoint was like a million.

So, it would have been nicer if it was cooler. They were passing out salt before the race aggressively. And they did have people with hoses out on the course. I loved each and every one of them because it felt really great. 
Spraying the hot runners going by. This was great!

Around mile 10 going up the 395 bridge it rained on me and there was a strong wind so that was unpleasant. While the rain cooled me off shortly after that it was sooooo steamy when the sun came out. Luckily that was near to the end of the course for me. And at the finish they had ice cold towels and fans blowing cool water over finishers. I did see one person collapse from overheating at the finish and I think my friend Meli had heat exhaustion on the course but she finished without needing medical help.
Even me the non-sweating runner was drenched by mile 3.
Pelted by windy rain going back towards Miami Beach on 395.



The plan
Okay I'll be honest I didn't have much of a plan. Roughly speaking it was to run 9 minute miles start to finish. There was one problem with that plan which was that I'm not a good self-pacer at 9 minutes so I was relying heavily on my trusty Garmin. I tried to find friends around me that would be doing 9 minutes but that wasn't overly successful past the first 400 feet :-) This is a whole minute faster per mile than my New York pace and whenever I stopped watching the watch my body did settle into closer to a 10 minute mile.


At mile 3 the plan (what there was of it) fell apart when I had to make a potty stop. I briefly entertained the idea of really pushing the pace to hit the 2 hour mark but I was having this calculation in my head going up a hill huffing and puffing so reality was clear that it wasn't happening. I wasn't too bummed because I knew I wasn't fully prepared so I just kept on trucking. Then I saw a rainbow ... that was awesome.
rainbow going over the first bridge


I was using the "instant" pace on my garmin and trying to keep it under 9:00. I learned that I do slow down a lot going uphill. I also learned that I slow down when I take pictures along the way (which I hate to admit). So, it was helpful to have that tool this morning for the run. And if I'm going for a super fast race maybe I'll put the camera away. Although it does help me have fun in the run - I enjoy it and it takes my mind off the running some but when I'm pushing the pace through the race that actually keeps me quite busy by itself. 
I had two favorite signs. My favorite I was past before I could take a picture it said "run like snot" But this was my next favorite because she was at the end of the last of the bridges. Ha! It's true though they do make you stronger because they're hills.
Nutrition
I've never had a nutrition category in a race review but this time I do. There was obvious concern from the race directors to make sure that participants were ready for the heat and the race. There was a separate brochure and also I've already mentioned the guy walking through the corals offering salt. I've never taken any salt supplement so I skipped it.

One of the peices of advice going around now is to keep the caffeine below 200g on race day. This combined with not doing a crazy sprint at the end is supposed to help prevent a finish line heart attack. And I'll admit I'd like to avoid a finish line heart attack. So, that's okay advice but I had to do some research to figure out what it meant to me personally because my GU packets do not actually list how much caffeine they have in them. I do avoid taking to many gu's with caffeine already before I had this tip because they irritate my stomach. So on Friday I looked up on the guenergy website and their regular gu's have 20 mg of caffeine. A cup of coffee has 100 mg caffeine.

I had brought 3 Gu's for the race. One plain with caffeine and 2 lemon lime sublime with no caffeine. Estimated caffeine intake 120g over 4 hours. But then at mile 8-9? where the race was giving out GU I was out of energy so I picked it up. It was a Roctane. I've never taken one of those. But after an internal dialog of approximately 15 seconds during which I was unsuccessfully trying to add up my caffeine intake I went ahead and slurped up the Roctane that they gave out because I was out of gas and unable to do basic math. I have learned that anytime I'm unable to do basic math I should have some calories. That stuff does have a pick up effect.  But it's too much caffeine for me.

I looked it up this morning and Roctane has 35g of caffeine so I was up to 155g estimated for the day. 

I have no doubt that I gave this my all because I actually took my last GU at mile 11 because I needed it. Shortly after that the 2:00 hour pacer came by and just like New York I said - hey there's my guy and I ran with him from mile 10-12 when I slowed down much to my sadness but it was that oh so tired slowdown where you try to will your body to go faster and the reply you get is ... nope this is it :-) Also at mile 12 I had the whole weak leg feeling so I feel good about this PR time. While I wish it was 1:59 I'll just save that joyous experience for the next race.

me with my medal. What a bright blue sky, eh? Also when will I learn to pick up my arm more and how do I live in Miami and stay so pasty white?


In closing:
I like Rock-n-Roll races. I think they do a good job. 2 of my 4 marathons were Rock-n-Roll. They do a good job at the start holding the corals to keep the course clear.

This was also a smaller race with I think 4-5000 runners so it wasn't crowded. I'm sure that the number will grow because it's a great destination point for a half-marathon. They only had water every other mile which was okay but if it's going to be 80 they should have it every mile. I'm sure they'll change that for next year because they are good like that.

runners including tri guy and hammerhead Mike Estevez dressed as Carmen Miranda. That had to be a hassle.
The bands were good. One was shut down because the residents nearby complained. That was a bummer for the runners but it was before 8 am so I get that it would suck to have a band blasting if you were trying to sleep it. The medal is also cool and the shirt is a girl fit. I would do this race again. Hopefully 4 minutes faster :-)

my friends Carol and Max. Max left his glasses at a water stop (who takes their glasses off at a water station, Max that's who) and had to run an extra mile back to get them. Carol carried that elf hat for 12 miles to wear it the last mile. But she did have both a right and left shoe on. Inside joke that last one.

As a last note the charity that benefits from this race is St. Jude's children's hospital and I think that's a great cause. While I hope to never need their services I hope that they get a giant check from this event because they do good work.

And now for my next trick - Sleep.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Miami Beach Rock -n- Roll half marathon preview

I'm watching the NBC coverage of the Ironman World championship and prepping for tomorrows race.

As a note there is too much slow motion in this broadcast.

I feel really unprepared for the race tomorrow. But that might be mental.

It will be my first race since the New York Marathon and there was just so much ramp up for that and this is just much calmer.

But also to be honest I haven't done any speed work since New York. I went out to do a tempo run this week and I was reminded that I don't have a mental 9 minute pace. 10 minute check, 8 minute yes but I can't easily nail the 9 minute pace.

My plan was to run 3 half's between now and February with the goal of a 2 hour finish. But my daughter has gymnastics meets that conflict with the second and third races. So while tomorrow was supposed to be a warm up - its maybe my only chance.

So my plan is to find others running a 9 minute pace and stick with them. We'll see how I do :-)

Here's a picture of My son playing yard darts in the st. Jude tent at the expo on the beach - super cool.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Race Report - Turkey Trot 2011

Alternative title - most expensive 5k race with no travel :-)

This has become a family tradition. Well that is if 2 years can make a tradition. We did this race last year with my brother and his family and while my husband was not too excited about getting up early Thanksgiving day when he realized the kids remembered the race from last year and wanted to do it he was game. In my husbands defense when he learns the kids are excited about something he is a team player.

So, my kids are 8 and 5. So we don't actually have a stroller anymore. Also, all our friends who still have strollers either need them or they are so beaten up they weren't wanting to loan them to me. And I didn't want to push because I'm pretty sure we exceeded any jogger stroller weight recommendations. Breaking a friend's stroller is not good for a friendship.

So, we rented. It wasn't the cheapest thing we've ever done but they delivered and we had a great morning so this worked for us.

My daughter getting ready. Jean shorts and knee socks - it works for her. Also the trot shirt needed to be knotted for extra cute effect :-)
There is the rental stroller. Yellow really isn't my color. Notice the completely trusting look on my fact that my husband can actually use the camera? :-)
This Turkey Trot is in Tropical Park. That's my daughter in the jean shorts and knee socks. My daughter ran the whole 5k. I was very impressed.
Jack was very serious about his kids race. He was a veteran and he knew the routine. The 5-6 year olds are just like adults every time the organizer moved back they inched forward. It was funny to me. They ran 200 yds.
I didn't see Dylan start because my husband and I split up to take the kids to their starts. Good thing there are only 2 of them ;-) The 8 year olds ran 600 yds. Dylan finished all red faced and exhausted just like mom. 


In other notable news from this event. It seemed larger to me than last year but I'm not sure that's correct. It was pretty crowded back in the walker / stroller section but I heard that up front running the 10k start it was plenty clear.

My husband is claiming this as a win for him. About 1/3 of the way in Jack settled into the stroller for the ride. So Marc pulled ahead and he finished ahead of the rest of the family. It's the first time he's ever beaten me in a race so he's pretty thrilled.

After the 5k but before the kids race - Jack found his way to the bounce house. He had a great time. We also got some yogurts, water and bananas. Even with a big crowd this was a well organized race and while the lines were long for food there seemed to be plenty. It's a good race. We'll be back again next year.

As a final comment. I'm not sure Jack's related to me. In all the races I've ever done I've never, ever had a good race finish photo. I order them sometimes but I'm always red faced and generally exhausted looking. The same is true for my husband, and my daughter. But look at this:
Isn't that the cutest finisher photo you've ever seen :-)


Everyone says my daughter looks like me - this finisher photo is no exception:
now that's a Stone finisher photo, red face, looks like she wants to puke. That's my girl!

As a final final comment. That's like a p.p.s. in a letter. As my kids get bigger our cleaning lady has a harder time telling our clothes apart. In her defense Dylan is almost my height and the shirts can be confusing. Also, I have more tech shirts than anybody else in the house. Even still I think it's pretty funny that she put all 4 yellow Turkey Trot shirts in my closet right next to each other. Funny.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oh Calendar Oh Calender why do you hate me so

One of the challenges of motherhood - dare I say the biggest for me is the change from this being my life to do with what I want to it being the life of my little munchkins to boss me around with their schedules.

When they were newborns this was the eating and sleeping schedule. Now it's other stuff. It turns out that almost every race I want to do in the next few months directly conflicts with my daughters gymnastics meets. I am seriously feeling selfish because I'm a little bummed.

Actually I only know about 2 the third is Florida 70.3 in Orlando which is allegedly May 20 but they were supposed to make an announcement today about the race and the announcement was ... more news next week. I know, those race directors are some funny guys ... not. So for all I know that race will now be in June. 

I did just spend my 4.8 mile run reminding myself that my mommyhood job comes first. I know it does and I'll be excited about her gym meets when I get there - really I will. But at the moment I'm bummed.

Now, that's enough of the pity party. Off to daily duties - shipping my brother's holiday package. Oh wait does he read this blog well would you look at that? Then picking up my littlest man who really wants me to get the elf on the shelf for him but he's gonna have to deal with that himself because I've got enough holiday nonsense going on already with 3 holidays and all the stuff that goes with them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving thanks

Having kids changes the way you look at everything. Even or maybe especially holidays. My kids are old enough that they have questions about the holidays. It's interesting as an adult to have to explain to your kids about holidays because in my experience sometimes you learn that you don't know much about said holiday. For example my son asked yesterday if there were any other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving. I said no. Then I said, wait, yes, Canada also celebrates a Thanksgiving ... I think. Luckily I run with some Canadians and I was able to get my facts straight about the Canadian Thanksgiving before bedtime. They do - its in October, "eh". I like to come up with things that I'm thankful for and so here is this year's list. My Heath and the health of the rest of my family. It's the easiest thing to take for granted but being healthy is a huge blessing. Personally I feel lucky,I mean two healthy people died running the Philly marathon just a few weeks after I set my pr at New York. I feel lucky. I also feel thankful to have insurance and access to doctors. My daughter has a low fever and sore throat - there is strep going through her class but I feel lucky because we'll be able to most likely get her into a doctor or clinic for a test today even though it's the day before the holiday. Small things but I'm thankful for them. Prosperity. I am thankful to have the things that I have. I was driving to the Grocery store today for last minute salad items to make my salad for tomorrow - in my new cute car and just thinking I am really fortunate. For that I am thankful. Sunshine. I chose to come and live in the sunshine state as an adult. Which is to say I wasn't born here. I am thankful to live in a city and state where I can be outdoors all year long (for the most part). I think we even have road races and triathlons every month of the year here. Florida isn't perfect but I like it. I am thankful for my friends and the people in my life who love me. That one is self explanatory and very true. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Gobble gobble!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Becoming a Tri-Mom

Because I'm a USAT member we get the USAT magazine when it comes quarterly I think. In it is a section for Kids Triathons. My daughter saw it a few times and then about 6 months ago she asked if she could do a kids tri. I ignored her since she was still on training wheels.

But she kept asking so I researched it and finally found one not too far away on a weekend when we were available. That was this weekend.
her number and cap

Observation one is that for some reason  there are no kids tris in Miami. Go figure I have no idea why.

We picked up the packet on Saturday. Our questions were all about they swim. They explained how the kids would snake through the pool. It was pretty confusing. Dylan's one question was about the water temperature. The director said the pool was warm almost too warm. 

So we hoofed it up to Broward Community college with the whole crew in tow for her first race. I have never been in so much of a panic for one of my own events. It's honestly almost unbearable as a grown up. I just wanted her to have fun.

It was raining on the way up. Disaster. I was so stressed about being late I clenched my teeth until my jaw hurt.


Dylan with her big brother before the race.

But the rain was just on and off during the race so it wasn't that bad.

She hated the swim because the water was only 77 degrees. Actually to be honest she only swam 25 of the suggested 100 yards and there were tears. It was *not* fun for me. But luckily since it was a kids event they let her go on to race.

Observation two is that kids who had done swim team competitions had a pretty big advantage with this race. Because they were more ready to jump in and go. It was a time trial start. Kids went every 10-15 seconds. About one out of every 15-20 kids didn't make it through the whole swim. I don't know if that's normal or not.
The swim was in a pool you can see them lined up waiting to start.

So she went on and did the 2 mile bike and half milerun. She was all grins when we saw her on the bike and at the start and finish of the run. I had made two gigantic signs and brought all our maraccas and cow bells so we were a crazy cheering crew which I think she liked a lot.
The bikes are all too small for the racks so they sit underneath. It's pretty cute.

A volunteer actually walked Dylan to the edge of transition.

Doesn't she look AWESOME!

Interestingly they give the racers a lot of help at the transition area of the bike which is good. They took her swim cap off and helped her with the helmet and got her on her way. Unfortunately that was sort of the end of the support on the bike course and I actually saw a car driving on the course which made me *very* unhappy.

The run was through campus. She ran by us full speed then we headed to the finish and I saw her between two buildings she was taking a walk break. Smart girl like mom - walk when nobody's watching :-) She finished strong. She got a ribbon and a certificate which we'll frame for fun.
That little pink spot is here coming right at us. She's was going full speed!

Super strong finish!


So, sadly officially it was a DNF but I think she'll survive. I'm incredibly proud of her for trying to do the race and finishing what she did. However, I'm not hunting down any more triathlons for her at the moment.
Her very own race shirt. I think she's pretty proud. I know I am.
It was a long day. We went to breakfast and then spent the day with Grandma and Grandpa.

Next up for the kids - The Turkey Trot. This they did last year and they love it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I lack focus ... I so lack focus

I had this laser-like focus with a great plan leading into the NY Marathon.

Every day I got a little email - here's the plan it said. And I did what it said - almost to the letter (sometimes I switched the days). Now that email comes and it says ... you have no workouts planned. EEK. I need to turn that off.

I had a goal - I met the goal and now...well now I'm floundering. Actually, I'm not sure I'm floundering I just feel like I'm floundering. I mean I ran 3 times this week and swam once. So, I'm not floundering I just feel aimless which is weird because I did sign up for all those races.

I need a plan leading up to the Miami ING 1/2 and A1A 1/2. I crave a plan and I crave focus.

But in other news I have a cute new car. Perhaps that's what's distracting me. Perhaps or maybe I just need some lunch. Lunch I can do. Lunch it is and then a plan.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lesson from the veggie share

About 6 weeks ago I joined an organic veggie/fruit co-op.

It's great. I love it.

Lesson 1 - be open to newness.I have kept an open mind and tried new things - like squash.

Lesson 2 - make a big salad ASAP. Each share has come with 2 huge heads of lettuce. Wonderful, beautiful, gigantic organic heads if lettuce. It takes some planning to use 2 full heads of lettuce. Plus they take up a huge amount of fridge space.

In other news my husband decided we'd switch our phone service to AT&T u-verse. So, um... Well if you need to reach me - don't call the house because it's um not working. :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Zero week is *over*

I learned this week from another blogger (who I should link to here if I can remember who it was) that Hal Higdon calls the week after you run a marathon - "zero week." Zero as in - don't do - much.

Day one and two that feels right. After that it feels weird because at least for me I was so used to running every day that it felt like I should be running. At least once I could walk down the stairs I felt that way.

So Thursday I went for a swim. It's been so long it took two tries to pack my swim bag. I realized on the way to preschool that I'd forgotten my suit - oops. 400 yards. Nothing impressive. It's always a little shocking that I can be so conditioned for running and yet want to puke after 400 yards of swimming.

Then Saturday I ran a paltry 3 miles. I had thought I would go with the group for 10 but they were leaving at 5:15 am. So ... I didn't do that. It felt fine but my legs were still all full of lactic acid which is to say - sore. I just jogged - no watch or anything.

Sunday was MiamiMan which is a local tri so there were no group rides planned. I wasn't racing MiamiMan so I did a short, slow solo ride. 40 minutes. No surprises. Then later I took the family to the zoo. We didn't volunteer at the race but we did concentrate on not running any racers over on the course in our safari cycle. That's a bigger task than you might think as the path for the runners is the same as the path for people visiting the zoo. I'm curious how the athletes who raced felt about that part of the course because I don't think I would have liked that. So what's next - more running. The next goal is the 2:00:00 1/2 marathon. I'm giving myself 3 chances starting with the rock-n-roll latin music half, try 2 is Miami ING and finally a1a 1/2 which is my favorite. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New York City Marathon - Race Report

On Sunday, November 6th 2011 I ran the New York City Marathon. It was my fourth marathon, my first NYC Marathon. My time was 4:33:48.

For more details read on.
The map from my watch the day of the race.

The Back Story
When I was a senior in college doing some sort of graduation enrichment activity I was asked to write down a list of things I wanted to do with my life. On that list was run the NY Marathon. That was 1996. So I finally got it done - 15 years later.

You can read the back entries to see about my training. I will say that I was happy with my training. While I didn't do as much strength training as I could have I did stick to my schedule and did my best the whole way through. My goal from the beginning was to run my own race and train for my own race.

My goal was 4:30. I ran 4:33 - that's pretty close so I'm pretty stinkin happy :-)

Marathon Weekend
Friday Miami to New York
I get nervous the days before a marathon and sometimes grouchy. So, when we almost missed our outgoing flight because my husband was being a space cadet I was pretty pissed off at him and he knew it. We did make it though. I eventually started speaking to him again.
The family truckster loaded and ready. That's my little guy peeking over the seat.

I carried everything I needed for race day in my transition bag including the outfit and the Garmin packed as you see here.

When we checked into the hotel they asked are you here for the marathon and I piped up "I am!" and the check in attendant was super cheerful for me which was great. As a side note ... it's the nicest hotel I've ever been in :-) Thanks to my hubby for setting it up.

I had said I was going to wait until Saturday to go to the expo but I went ahead and went by myself Friday evening. I was a basket of nerves and it was best for me to get it done. My husband and kids were happy to let grouchy mommy go do her thing and they went and played in the park. I caught the shuttle and headed out. All around me were different languages - which was cool.

The expo was gigantic - I picked up my number and my shirt and then I had my first real stress reducing moment. I changed my ferry time from 7:00 to 7:45. That made me very happy since my start time wasn't until 10:40. It was probably uneccesary since nobody ever checked my ferry time but I did feel better.
That's a lot of runners!

I shopped my heart out in the Asics Marathon gear section, picked up a SPibelt and headed back to the hotel. I picked up a gigantic bottle of water to start hydrating on the way home.

It was a good decision for me to go to the expo early and alone. I was much more relaxed and beginning to feel like I could navigate this race by myself..

As a family we went to the park to watch the fireworks. We saw the tail end of the parade of nations (which appeared very un-parade-like from our spot) but the fireworks were great.  I swear their were bursts that looked like apples but my step-daughter thinks I'm insane.
Fireworks over the finish line. I'm telling you there is more hype before and during this race than anything I've ever experienced.

Saturday
I went for a shakeout run Saturday morning. I had packed shorts to run in close to race day apparel but it was only 38 at 7 when I was heading out so I put on more layers.
I asked my step daughter to take this picture. She thought I looked ridiculous and was happy to do her part to document the moment.

It was chilly. But It was nice. I went by the finish line and followed the path the runners would take. The first exit I saw I took and it dumped me right by my childhood playground and my street corner.

It was a trip down memory lane. I headed back to the hotel. When the watch said 3 miles I walked because I really didn't want to overtire my legs the day before. I made my plan on this run to take the bus back from the finish. That turned out to be a dumb plan because all of Central Park West is closed after the race. But at the time it made me feel prepared - and feeling prepared is important :-)

I met my running buddy Carol for breakfast and we shared our pre-race jitters.
Oatmeal is never the same when somebody else cooks it but Europa Cafe is still a great place.

I had lunch with my husband, brother and father-in-law at a nearby bar, had my nails done and relaxed in the room watching movies.

Then I met my running pals for the pre-race dinner. Even though we were all in Mid-town our group had a dinner reservation in Tribeca. I still don't understand why. My husband and kids elected not to come all the way to Tribeca for dinner and that was a good choice for them because getting there was a production. We made it and the dinner was great. It is helpful to me to see everybody the night before and share my jitters. The big talk was about what everybody was wearing since we're all from Florida the weather was hard for us to plan for.
Carol got this huge pizza

One of two tables of crazy Floridians

Meli and Chris looking at somebody else ;-)


In the cab ride back to from dinner it was just me and Carol. We talked about the race and I said that while I had my time goal most of all I just wanted to enjoy the whole day and take it all in. I was mostly trying to remind myself of that I think.

Then it was home (to the hotel) set the alarms, order room service and into bed and try to sleep. As a side note - daylight savings was the night before the race. We gained an hour so it was a good thing but sheesh one more thing to worry about.

Sunday - Race Day
I woke up before the alarm but just by a bit. Then the wake-up call and the doorbell for room service all happened at the same time. This woke my young kids up - but they are always happy to be up. My adult step-daughter just pulled the blanket over her head - she didn't even groan. I've got my family well-trained for race day in a hotel.

Unlike other races I've done this start is so late that the wake up wasn't really early. In fact I saw both my kids and got to share my breakfast with them. I ate, I got dressed and was ready to go.
Dylan and I sitting on the floor eating my breakfast.

These are the most expensive hard boiled eggs I've ever eaten.

At 6:30 my phone rang and it was the car service. They said, we're running 20 minutes late. I thought I would have a heart attack. I told the person I was running the marathon and needed to get to the ferry she said, "oh, let me see what I can do, I'll call you back." I was in a panic. My husband suggested I go right down and see if I could find a cab. So I gathered my things and headed out feeling pretty anxious.

Getting to the Ferry
When I got to the lobby I had a voicemail from the car service. The car would be just 2 minutes late.   What a relief. In fact as I walked outside he pulled up. Then my friend Carol came around the corner and we were off. She had so much "stuff" on I didn't even recognize her. I'm not exagerating I was watching for her and I called her and her phone rang she was maybe 2 feet away from me. We stopped at the Marriot and picked up Melissa and Chris and we went to the ferry. I was now pretty relaxed. Everything was going smoothly.
Our driver who was very sweet once he realized we didn't want him to drive us actually to Staten Island - just to the ferry terminal in Manhattan.

This is a very unflattering picture of my friend Chris in the car.

Can you see that we're excited in the car. Also warm and not standing.
 We got on the ferry which was a smooth great ride. It takes about 30 minutes. We went right by the Statue of Liberty. This was where Carol learned that her "L" had fallen off the front of her shirt. :-)When we got to Staten Island we headed to the busses. I stopped to use the porta potty. Everything was getting more crowded because there were lots of us runners around.
When we got to Staten Island the energy level was awesome. Carol high fived this transit worker who was already cheering for the runners. We hadn't even gotten to the start yet.


Carol had on about 50 layers of clothes. On the ferry she was hot she took off her top layer and realized that her L had come off. She would be Caro today.

Me with my cold weather outfit. Those were great blue sweat pants - I'm gonna miss them.

I was excited and apparently took a lot of photos on the ferry.


more ferry.

random other runner I felt compelled to photograph getting on the ferry. I forget her name but she was from Texas.


The FERRY!
Do you see how much luggage Carol has? We called her the bag lady but to be honest she was prepared for whatever a long cold morning would bring.

We got on a bus and we were off. The woman next to me was sleeping. I had a smile from ear to ear. It was just a great day. The bus ride was longer than I was expecting - maybe 15 minutes. I had no idea how big Staten Island might be or how far the Ferry terminal was from the Start villages.

Start Village
We got off the bus and followed the heards. I made a joke, "so what should we do today, I know let's run the New York Marathon!"

Another stop at the porta potties. Where we saw our buddy Marty getting ready to find his start coral. That was great. He's the only other person from our big Florida group that I saw that day.
Chris and Meli in the Orange Village

Those are the first runners on the bridge behind us.

On our way to the start village.

It was very exciting

We set up camp in the Orange Village because there didn't seem to be any reason to go to the Green village. I was the only person planning to start in Orange but my friends stayed with me because they are awesome. We checked our bags at the last minute and took off the outermost layers. We heard the canon go off for the first start and we could even see the runners going over the bridge that was awesome! Then we relaxed but only for about 5-10 minutes and then it was time to go find the corals. Really it flew by.

Finding the corals isn't overly obvious which I had heard and so we actually all ended up in the Orange area. Then we broke off and they went to find the Green. I found the sign with my number group on it and lined up. Then we were into the pen. From here we heard the 10:10 canon go off.

Then our volunteer said to our group - we're going to drop the rope but stay where you are. They removed the rope and we all ignored her and moved forward merging with the folks in front of us. I mean really, what did she think we were going to do?

At this point I should have gone to the port-a-potty again but to be honest  I thought that slightly urgent gotta go feeling was just pre-race nerves and decided it wasn't worth losing my spot in the coral. (I was sitting on a clean discarded jacket resting).

Here I was by myself getting ready to go into the coral. Yes there is a pre-coral staging area. So to entertain myself I took self portraits. I really did look silly in that hat but it kept my ears nice and warm.

We walked around and under and Orange arch and then up the ramp to the bridge. It was an amazing feeling because this is such a famous start that I've seen on TV so many times. Then we heard a fantastic singing of the National Anthem and then I think the gun went and then we heard Frank Sinatras "New York, New York" but I could have that backwards. I was only about 10 yards from the start mat so my start was my start - which is to say there wasn't much delay waiting for people to go in front of me. It was fantastic. I was smiling from ear to ear just trying to absorb the whole experience and commit it to memory.

There were a lot of people dropping clothes right away all over the bridge but the atmosphere is magical. It's uphill at the start so I didn't push it but my energy was all there. My first few miles were faster than intended but not by a lot and it was so much fun. There were bridge workers in the middle of the bridge high five-ing runners going by.





At the blue mile one marker I meant to hit lap on my watch but I hit stop instead. Oops. I restarted and also realized that it wasn't my mile marker anyway. It was the "blue wave marker" Oh well. So my splits were estimates the rest of the race but that's okay I wasn't going to panic.

The race is what everybody says it is. There are supporters on every inch of the course except part of the bridges where they can't be.

I should have started in less clothes. I was hot pretty quickly. Removing my top layer was awkward but luckily I was surrounded by sweaty strangers who could have cared less.

Brooklyn
The crowds in Brooklyn were non-stop and awesome. Strangers cheering your name. Bands every few blocks. It was like a constant finish line.

My camera battery died at mile 3. That was a bummer. Apparently you cannot take a zillion flash photos with a little camera and expect the battery to last all day. hmmm - good to know. Also, not going to worry about it. I was just going to enjoy the day and give it my all.

I took off my hat, my, gloves and my shirt. Somewhere in there I lost my hat. Not the end of the world. Kept on trucking. Splits were looking good but a little too fast. I took my first quick walk break at mile 4 with the GU.

Something interesting that I hadn't prepared for was that my nose ran during the whole race. I think it was from the cold. I had some tissues in my pouch and I got an extra from a volunteer on the route so it all worked out but it was a bit strange to be running along and blowing my nose every mile or so.

The water station volunteers get these orange coats which on the kids are like dresses - it's very cute.




After the water stations the whole road was sticky from the spilled Gatorade from the 20k runners in front of me. That was bizarre.

I'm not familiar with the Brooklyn streets so I was just taking it all in.

I have two friends from College who were going to try to find me on the course in Brooklyn - I didn't see them and to be honest it was so crowded the whole way it would have been really hard to see them so I wasn't bummed out about that. But I was ready to hand off my extra stuff to my family in a few miles.

Queens
Just before we got to Queens I started to feel the fatigue from the speed of going out so quickly. I may have stopped smiling here. My 13.1 split is 2:10 which is close to my half marathon PR so I had a moment of thought of "uh-oh, can I do this?" and then I thought this is what I trained for and I mentally committed to keep going. A big chunk of the race is in Brooklyn so it was a boost to actually get to the Pulaski Bridge and know that one borough was done. Goodbye Brooklyn.

As a note - the advice I've read about pacing a marathon is to go out slow and then try to speed up if you can at the halfway point. This was actually my plan but it didn't quite work out. I was however thinking a lot about trying to go faster at this point :-) It just didn't fully translate to my legs.

At this point was the first ASICS Screen with support messages from family. I knew my brother and his family had recorded a message but I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw them on the screen. In fact I wouldn't have seen them if the runner in front of me hadn't shouted - there's my mom. And so then I looked and saw my message. I couldn't hear them but seeing them was enough. I mean if you hadn't seen this screen you wouldn't believe it - it was about 30 feet across. Just enormous and it filled with a picture of my nieces and nephew (looking admittedly puzzled) and my brother and sister-in-law. My eyes filled with tears and I headed off with more motivation to give this race my all. It was a really special moment. I don't know what magic they use to make that work but thank you to all the engineers who built it - it's great. Thank you also to my brother and sister-in-law for reading my email and recording the message.

At this point my HR Monitor strap was driving me crazy so I took it off. I figured whatever was bothering me at this point would be murderous by the end. I planned to hand it off to my husband in Manhattan and actually noted to myself that that was probably the same as throwing it away what with the chaos of the day but that turned out not to matter.

As you leave Queens the crowd is shouting Next Stop Manhattan. It's fun. It's a lot of fun.

Manhattan -1 time headed uptown

The Queensboro/59th street bridge is uphill - the whole way. It is nuts. People had told me about this but I hadn't listened or I forgot or something. All the hill workouts I did on the bridge I was thankful for on this bridge. Also it was shady and windy and I was freezing. A woman near me commented that the breeze felt good. Not to this tropical runner ... brrrr.

But I was happy to talk to another runner. Usually in marathons I talk to lots of runners around me but this race was different. First I was in a faster group and we were all working harder but also with all the cheering crowds you really don't have the chance to talk to others around you. Believe it or not the break from the cheering on the bridge was nice. But that's not to say I didn't love the cheering. I did. I really did. At this point there were lots of walkers I don't think I walked but I did slow down to make it up the hill.

As you approach the top of the hill which is the exit you can hear the roar starting to build from the crowd in Manhattan.  In fact people have climbed up the exit ramp and they are cheering looking for their friends. It's amazing. You exit and the crowd is just on the right you make a quick turn and the crowd is all around you. There are even barricades and police to keep the crowds back. For me ... and the other 4 and a half hour marathoners.

Then it's down the ramp and onto First Avenue. I can't even describe the feeling. There are people cheering stacked up 5 deep on each side all the way from about 59th street to the mid- 80s and then it calms down to just 2-3 deep. The cheering is just insane. It's very helpful because this part is also uphill. Good grief - the whole course felt like it was uphill. That's not possible but that's how it felt.

I was supposed to see my family around 64th street. Didn't see them. That was a bummer but I knew I was ahead of schedule and I couldn't see how they could have possibly found a space to cheer anyway. So I put all my stuff back in my pouch and hoped they'd be at the end. With so many people out cheering I was getting a little emotional and hoping that my family would be there to cheer for me.

Mile 17 I had to pee. That slightly urgent feeling I thought was nerves was starting to turn into stomach cramps and I finally saw porta potties with no line. So I quickly stopped and headed back out. In hindsight if I hadn't done this I might have actually made 4:30 even-steven but I really had to go and when you've gotta go ... you've gotta go. Why would I mention this - well because I know that at least one blog reader out there is wondering did I stop to go during the Marathon - yes, yes I did. I apparently cannot make it through a marathon without stopping in the porta-potty.

Bronx -
Into the Bronx. Out of the Bronx. My memory of this part of the course is weak. I was walking a bit at each water station and feeling mentally fatigued. I didn't "bonk" but I definitely was on auto pilot for this section of the race. I was having trouble keeping track of when I was supposed to take my Gu's  or drink Gatorade vs water and math was not happening for me. My plan was to take the Gu every 4 miles so I was trying to remember where I took the last one, 13 maybe plus 4 and going over and over it in my head. I never had any thoughts of stopping or anything but it was right foot, left foot repeat for a stretch.

I was thankful for each person who shouted my name.

Then a little miracle happened. I heard a voice behind me saying walkers please stay to the right or left. I admit I was a little annoyed at this person. I remember thinking "oh come on, it's a crowded race, relax" But a few minutes later she came along side me and guess what? It was the 4:30 pacer happily bouncing a long with her stick with orange balloons held in the air. I was no longer annoyed by her peppy attitude instead I grabbed onto her with my mental lasso and let her lead me forward. I never knew her name but she lead me out of the Bronx and into Manhattan and through the first part of Manhattan. Following her helped me clear my head and figure out that I should go ahead and take another gu no matter what the math so I could get my brain power back At the water station I stopped for water and gu and she did too but she was quicker and came out a bit ahead and while I never quite caught up I could see her balloons all the way until we went into Central Park. That was a huge mental boost that I was actually going to hit my goal.

Manhattan - 2 headed downtown
When you turn onto 5th Avenue back into Manhattan you meander a bit and then you have a perfect downhill view of New York and you can see the Empire State Building downtown. The fall trees were illuminated and glowing yellow and it was one of the most beautiful images of the day. It was fantastic. I wished I had my camera but you'll have to take my word for it.

At this point I knew I was close to the end. The name of the game here was to hold on and make it home. The crowd was great. The only downside was that I could see the street signs and I knew I had to go from 111th to 59th street and it seemed very very very far away. But I kept on plugging.

At some point there was a band or a speaker or something playing U2. That was like a dream and it was perfect. Excellent pick me up music for me.

Somehow as we were on the East side heading downtown this was also uphill. I remember thinking how can it be uphill "again."

When we finally turned into Central Park there is a shift in the crowd almost everyone at this point is there to try to see a finisher and so they cheer your name like crazy. They also have signs for other runners. It's very helpful. The only one in my family who makes signs is my sister-in-law but everybody should make signs for their runners because it rocks. I stopped to walk going up yet another uphill that I just couldn't face but somebody on the side shouted, "Amy! You can do this" and I'll be darned if I didn't just listen to her and start running again. So thank you, random supporter - it was helpful.

Also somewhere in here I saw a finisher sporting his medal. That always motivates me. 

I turned onto Central Park South and I had only 2 thoughts. First, I'm almost done... come on legs let's go. My legs were tired and I was feeling pain and soreness in my calves and quads. I've never cramped in a race but my legs were tired. Next was a very strong prayer that my family would be in front of the hotel. I was super emotional that I wanted to see them. I don't know why this mattered so much in this race because it's hard to time spectating at events this big so I know in advance that I might not see my family till the end and usually I'm fine with that.

I moved over to the left side of the runners and I went by what I thought was my hotel based on the large flags out front and unfortunately I didn't see my family there. I was really bummed but said to myself I can do it anyway. I moved back into the middle of the pack where there is less dodging and weaving and headed to the finish.

Then I looked ahead and realized that my hotel was actually in the next block so I worked my way back over to the left side and then I heard my mother-in-law say, "Amy, it's Amy" and there they were. I saw my kids and my nephew I gave some sweaty kisses and heard everyones voices and then I was off to the finish. That one little boost gave me all the energy I needed to make it to the finish with a beaming smile.

The finish of any marathon is unreal. You start out counting the miles. First I count up to 13 and then that's halfway. Then up to 16 and then I'm mentally counting down from 10 miles. Then down to a 10k and then 5 miles to go and when it's just 5k to go that's a good feeling but at the very very end when you see 400 yards to go that's awesome - just unreal because 400 yards is so short after 26 miles, then 300 yards and then you can hear the finish line announcer. And then you go under the finish line and it's amazing. So far for me it's still one of the greatest feelings there is.

I cried. Just a little bit. Tears of joy.

I got my medal. I love my medal.

Then I started the walk to get my gear. I won't go into too much detail here but for anybody who plans to run this race be ready that it does really take 45 minutes just to exit the park and you go from being warm to freezing in like two minutes. It's pretty unpleasant. I had been warned and I was mentally ready. I made jokes with the runners around me and the time passed not quickly but it passed.

Here's where not seeing my family earlier in the race came in handy. I would have given them my long sleeve shirt but I still had it. I started to shiver. Shivering at this point is bad because you don't do a great job of regulating your own temperature at this point but and then I put my long sleeve shirt back on and between that and the mylar blanket around my legs I made it to the UPS tent without freezing. 

At one point I looked up and above me in the hazy afternoon light were 2 elm tree leaves just floating above in the breeze. It seemed very special.

I finally made it out of the park at 77th Street and I'm happy that I packed dry sweats because the walk back to the hotel was much warmer and more pleasant with them. My plan had been to get the M10 bus down Central Park to Columbus Circle-- bad plan - very bad plan - the road is totally closed to traffic for the marathon. Now in hindsight let me say I could have walked one block to Columbus and caught an M7 bus but I had no brain power. So, like a lemming, I just followed the other sweaty runners all trying to go South and shuffled my way back to the hotel. At one point when blocked by a barricade I was completely confounded as to how I would get to where I was going. A very patient policeman explained to me (like I was a 5 year old) go one block this way, cross the street go to 58th and go left. I am thankful to him and all the other policemen directing traffic that stopped me from walking in front of moving traffic.

I got to the room and was met by my family all so excited to see me giving me hugs and offering to do things for me. Also the Jets had won so the my husband and father-in-law were extra happy. My father-in-law had the details of the mens and womens race which was great. While I didn't see them it sounds like they were both exciting finishes. We relaxed and I showered and took my ice bath and got dressed for dinner.

Then it was a great meal with my wonderful family. And then off to bed. And just like that - it was over.

In closing
Everything runners say about this race is true. I've never run a marathon like it. The crowd support and the pre-race hooplah is intense and fun. The course is tough it's a lot uphill and lots of sharp corners (that break your stride) with a huge crush of runners and also a non-stop crowd of spectators.

But even with all the runners the waves are correctly timed and I didn't feel like I had to juggle to get around people or that I was trapped with slower people at the start so it's doable the whole way. I PRd so it's possible. The water stops all had water and Gatorade and were well stocked and staffed. Logistically while it's huge and getting to the start and from the finish are a huge pain - it's really well done.


But that being said this might be my only New York Marathon. I didn't immediately enter the lottery for next year. We had perfect weather and now I have this perfect memory to go with my best yet Marathon time so for the moment I think I'll just keep it like that.