Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 In Review

I love End of the Year Retrospectives.  I love watching the tv specials, listening to the radio's top 20 songs of the year, reading the top news stories, etc.  I also enjoyed reading other runners' blogs.  They have inspired me to write my own running retrospective.

2013 was the year I started this blog!  I really didn't (don't) know what I was doing.  All I knew was that I loved running, I loved talking about running, and I loved to write.  I cautiously dipped my toe into the blogosphere.  I hoped people might read what I wrote, but wasn't sure how.  First, I told a small group of friends, then eventually announced it on Facebook with a virtual bullhorn.  I looked up other blogs to get ideas, but also to get advice.  I was shocked to learn how many other running blogs were out there.  Too much competition, I initially worried.  I came to realize these fellow bloggers would become helpful teachers, faithful readers, and in some cases, great running friends and compadres (Yo!  Shout out to my Musketeers!).  

I ran 13 races in 2013.  I got shut out of some races: Marine Corps 17.75k, the Marine Corps Marathon, and the Sayville Run to the Brewery.  However, I made it into other races, the Hood to Coast "Mother of All Relays" and most notably, the Boston Marathon (whoo hoo!).   I PR'd in all of my distances, but at the same time failed to meet many of my goals.  I am coming to terms that I am not as fast as I think I am.  My most memorable races were the Sacred Heart 5k because I ran my first race in a sub-7 minute mile pace; the Jamestown Half Marathon simply because of the beautiful scenery and rolling hills (yes, hills!); and of course my one marathon for the year, the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon.

As of this evening, December 30th I ran a total of 1742.85 miles since January 1, 2013.  This is considerably more than my 1117.26 in 2012.  I had no serious injuries (thank you, whoever is in charge of not injuring me!) despite spraining some toes, losing some toe nails, an unfortunate incident or two of nasty chafing, and faceplanting a couple of times.   It was a good year.

Looking forward, I'm not sure what my 2014 goals are, other than completing Boston and ending this Runner's World streak.  I  might try another fall marathon depending on how I feel after this next marathon cycle.  I'm just thankful to be healthy and able to run out the door ready for the next adventure.

Here's to age group awards, overall awards, The Stick, clean porta potties, plenty o' toilet paper, BQs & PRs!  May at least one of them, if not all, find its way into your life in 2014.  Happy New Year, running freaks!!!  I couldn't ask for better company.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

I Heart Washington, DC

We got to our hotel in Washington, DC at 6pm Friday evening.  I did my 5 miles on the treadmill in the hotel gym.

The next morning I was ecstatic to get outside and run.  I absolutely love DC.  I started coming down in college to visit my best friend at Georgetown University.  She had a great apartment right by the canal.  I have fond memories of smoking, eating, and walking all over the city (I still get nostalgic about my hoo).  My husband's headquarters are in DC, so we have visited about once a year during the last fourteen years.  We even lived in Crystal City, Virginia for six months.

I love that DC is a walking city, much like New York.  I love the extra-terrestrial subway system.  I love the monuments.  I really love the free museums (If we brought the whole family to just one museum in NYC it would cost us over $100 just to walk through the door!) !  And I love the energy.  It's exciting to be in the heart of our country's government.  The only downside to living in the area is the unholy traffic on I-95.  I dare say it is worse than the Long Island Expressway.  If we ever lived here, we would just have to live in an adorable brownstone in Georgetown so we wouldn't have to deal with rush hour.  Problem solved.

I set out for my ten miler at 10:30am.  It was around 40 degrees and the sky was a cloudless bright blue.  I had shorts on, a tech t-shirt, my daughter's bright yellow American Eagle hoodie, my son's wool army hat, and my new sunglasses.  The JW Marriott is on 14th street and Pennsylvania Avenue.  I ran down 14th to the mall and then back up to Pennsylvania to  the White House.  There were tourists everywhere, sometimes I had to zig zag to get through their groups.

Home sweet home

I ran back to the mall to the Lincoln Memorial.  Running on the path along the Reflecting Pool toward the memorial is an amazing experience.  I ran up the stairs and looked east toward the Washington Monument.  It's hard not to feel patriotic during moments like these.

I cannot believe Abe had the nerve to photobomb 
my picture of that nice family!  

Isn't that sky unreal?!

I ran behind the Lincoln Memorial and took the Memorial Bridge over to the Arlington National Cemetery.  There is no running on the cemetery grounds so I just did a u-turn and went back over the bridge.  There were a lot of runners crossing the bridge in both directions.  Back in DC proper, I stopped at the World War II Memorial.  I took a terrible selfie in front of the New York pillar (there are 52 pillars with the names of the states and US territories inscribed on them).  An older woman asked a man who had just taken his family's portrait if they were from NY.  The man proceeded to tell her that he was from Yonkers and is the landlord to President Clinton in NYC.  He said his young son and the president are besties and then showed us (because I inserted myself into this conversation) pictures to prove it.  He said Mr. Clinton is extremely kind, thoughtful,  and classy.  He then apologized for bragging.  I had to tell him that Mr. Clinton just happens to be my favorite president so I was happy to hear confirmation of what I had always suspected (this is a running blog, not a political blog.  I only mention my admiration for President Clinton because of this chance meeting.  It is not meant to start a political debate.  I understand he may not be your fav prez, but he's mine.)

At my 8 mile mark I was heading up Capitol Hill.  Yes, it really is a hill.  Just 75 feet elevation, but at the end of my run it was a challenge.  It pays off though, because when you run to the front of the capitol building, it can take your breath away.  It is such a magnificent, majestic work of architecture, you can't help but be in awe.  Too bad there are a bunch of knuckleheads who work there.  Maybe if they took the time to appreciate where they were, they would take more pride in their jobs (oops, sorry.  Now I'm getting all politically preachy.  I'll stop.).  I flew down the hill and back to the hotel feeling more energized than ever,  The run was 10.25 in 1:28:09, an 8:36 pace.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Willkommen in Deutschland

It is our last two nights in Florida and we have moved to the Disney Vero Beach Vacation Club resort.  The weather took a turn for the worse today, it was raining and very windy.  By the time I got my act together at 1:30pm, I decided to do my 8 miles in the hotel gym.  Yes, I made this decision mostly for fear of having to use the bathroom (which, of course, I did) than for the weather.  Yesterday morning I ran on Indian River Boulevard for my almost 12 miler (11.7 miles) and by 3 miles I was on Potty Alert.  Luckily, there was a park with a clean restroom on my route.  Because I waited today's run out, I knew for sure it would be interrupted.

There are two treadmills in the Disney gym.  One is the basic LifeFitness where you look at a screen with a red dot traveling an oval shape for every quarter mile.  The other treadmill is the Cadillac of all treadmills, the Lifescape.  I chose the Caddy.  I set my pace at 8:27 per mile and then sped up to a 7:03 pace for my 8x100 strides.  There is a video screen on this treadmill with a button reading "Courses".  I pressed this and was presented with multiple locations:  Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon, Germany, Auckland & Wellington,   and the Trinity Mountains were just a few.  I tried Auckland & Wellington.  This virtual course started on the city streets along the marina.  I wasn't too impressed, so I switched to Germany.  I loved it.  The course begins on a dirt path in a national forest, it then switched to historic city streets in Munich.  The scenery was so interesting and beautiful with fantastic details.  The time flew by.  I had to cut my run short to 7 miles because we had Christmas Eve dinner plans.  I'm looking forward to finishing my German tour tomorrow.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Motion Traxx's Cardio Express Review

I read a lot of running blogs and have always envied those lucky writers who are asked to review a product.  How do I get in that game, I wondered.  Well, my blogger buddy, The Emerging Runner, and now colleague invited me to join his tech review blog called Running Gear Adviser.  Perfect!  And now...(drum roll) is my first review:

Motion Traxx, the fitness music people, now offers new "Cardio Express" audio workouts.  The first album is called "Cycle Express".  They have a "Treadmill Express" and "Elliptical Express", but they are not available yet.  Cycle Express is an album split in three 20 minute sessions.  Each session features coaching by Schwinn Master Trainer Gregg Cook (also Nicole Kidman's personal trainer!)  over a techno soundtrack.  You can do as many sessions at a time as you like.

You're thinking, does Aimée even own a bicycle?  And, did she bring it down to Florida with her?  Yes, I own a bicycle.  It's more of a leisurely-riding-up-and-down-the-block-with-the-kids bike.  Not a racing bike.  And no, I didn't bring my leisure bike to Florida.  I also do not have my own spin cycle.  However, cycling and running are similar enough cardio workouts, so I just ran with it (ha...get it?).

Yesterday, was my Pfitz marathon training 9 mile day.  I put off my run until the afternoon, about an hour after eating a huge goat cheese salad poolside.  Do I take a chance and run 9 miles along A1A, roughage and all?  Not a good idea, with my track record (ha...get it?).  I decided the dreadmill in the gym at my in-laws' gated community would be my safest bet.

Session 1 starts with a three minute warmup.  This session focuses on lactic power.  After the warmup, during which Mr. Cook gives an encouraging pep talk, there are four 40 second high intensity workouts with 80 seconds of recovery between each.  The entire time Mr. Cook is coaching you through it.  I thought this would be annoying since I'm not really a gym class/personal trainee type person.  Instead, his commentary really helped me push myself, especially when the going got tough.  I ran the first 40 second sprint at the 8.5 treadmill speed, which is a 7:03 pace.  I increased the speed with each sprint up to 8.8, a 6:48 pace.  I held this pace for the rest of the workout sprints.  After the last 40 second run, there is a 2:20 recovery, then the sprints decrease to six 20 second bursts with 60 second recovery in between each.

The first session was so challenging and invigorating, I decided to do the second one.  This second session focuses on lactic capacity.  Again, there is a three minute warmup.  It is followed by five sprints from 90 seconds to two minutes in length with 90 second recoveries in between.  Mr. Cook coaches you throughout the session.  By the third sprint, my legs began to feel rubbery from the intense running.  I completed the session at 5.2 miles, but was in no condition to attempt session 3.  I ran the remaining miles (3.8) at an easy 8:30 minute pace.  Next week, I will do Sessions 2 and 3 on my next speed workout day.

I definitely recommend this album for cardio workouts, especially if you are looking to improve your speed.  Even though, this was a cycle session, I felt like it was completely compatible for a treadmill workout, as well.  Mr. Cook's positive, yet no-nonsense direction really motivates you, as does the background music which changes with the intensity of the workout.

As my two year old daughter might say, ta-da!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Have Sneakers, Will Travel

We are on vacation!  Yay!  We drove down to Florida from New York with the four children!  Boo!   Actually, it wasn't as painful as our drive down last April.  The two littlest girls are older and Pete and I got wiser (not really).  We left Wednesday night at 10pm and stopped in Fredericksburg, Virginia at 3:30am.  The next morning we had an overpriced not-so-good breakfast at the Battlefield Restaurant, and then walked across the street to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery.  It was a glorious morning, 75 and sunny.  The grounds of the cemetery were hilly.  The kids had a blast stretching their legs on the dirt paths.

Steep steps leading up to the cemetery.  
Great glute and quadricep workout!

I loved this sign.

This happens to also be my first week of training for the Boston Marathon!  I'm using the Pfitzinger 18/55 training schedule again, the same one I used for my last marathon.  This is an 18 week schedule that starts with a 35 mile week and peaks at 55 miles per week.  This is a lot of mileage for me, but I preferred the speed work over the Hal Higdon marathon plans I used in the past.  Pfitzinger's plan is also touted as one of the best on the Runner's World marathon training forums.  

If you recall, I said Week One is supposed to be a 35 mile week.  Well, today is Day Five and I've completed 18 miles so far, but only because I've been streaking.  Monday and Tuesday I ran 1.12 miles each because I was lazy and the road conditions back in New York were icy.  Wednesday I was going to make up the 8 miles I should have run on Tuesday, but came up short with 5.3.  Considering this was the day we left for our vacation, I'm pretty shocked I even got 5 in.  

Thursday we drove 12 hours to Savannah, Georgia.  We arrived at the hotel at 9pm.  Instead of running my scheduled 9 miles, I ran a whopping one mile on the hotel dreadmill.  Easy, right?  Unless you're running in Converse Chuck Taylors.  I was rushed to get this run in before going out for a late dinner because the kids were starving.  I figured I should just run as is, rather than get changed into my running gear.  Here is my quick review of Converse Chuck Taylors as running shoes.  They suck as running shoes.  There is absolutely no support anywhere.  And if you think your usual double knot will hold for more than 5 minutes, you're mistaken.  If your shoelace happens to untie itself while running on a dreadmill, I highly recommend you immediately stop to fix the problem, rather than run with a loose shoe.  Not safe.  Speaking from experience.  

Today we arrived at our final destination, Vero Beach, Florida at 1pm.  I was hungry so I decided to have lunch before doing my 9 mile makeup run (which I ended up doing on the dreadmill while listening to the new awesome app I'm going to review in my next post!).

In conclusion, although it might require some restructuring, it is possible to follow a training plan while on a road trip with children.  You just have to be flexible and creative.  Now I must pass out from utter exhaustion.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

And Bloggers Make Three

Saturday I met up with my favorite bloggers for another group run.  This time we met at the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC) headquarters in Plainview, NY to participate in their larger group run.  As soon as I arrived, the snow started to fall.  It was around 27 degrees.  I didn't wait long for The Petite Pacer (TPP) and The Emerging Runner (ER) to arrive.  A GLIRC group photo was taken, for which we hung out in the back, yet still managed to "photo bomb".

You may be able to find moi.  
If you can pick out TPP and ER, 
then your detective skills are being wasted 
(unless, of course, you're a detective).  

We all quickly set off on our run.  Early on we managed to lose the group by taking a wooded trail.  It was tricky in the snow and ice, but fun.  However, I tripped on a tree root and hit the dirt.  ER and TPP helped me up.  I was not hurt badly, brushed myself off, and kept going.  This is my second fall in the past two months, and third in over twenty years.  I am lucky not to have seriously injured myself.  I hope I'm not tempting fate.  We found the bike trail again and the other runners at around the 3 mile mark.  I was pleasantly surprised we were at 3 miles so soon because it felt like not even one.  We decided to go a little farther before turning back.  The way back was a little hilly, which I loved because I hadn't run hills in months. TPP had tremendous energy from the beginning of the run through the finish, despite a couple of low mileage weeks and a chest cold.  I had to work to keep up with her.  ER  was a trooper and wouldn't give up, even though I could hear his breathing was labored at times.   Back at GLIRC headquarters, there was a wonderful spread of coffee, cake, bagels, and muffins.  After our carbo load, we stopped for some decaf at Stabucks, planned our next run together (the Long Island Road Runners Club New Year's Day 5 Mile Hangover Run), and then said our goodbyes.  I really enjoy running with these two and can't wait for our next outing.

left to right:  Clumsy, Techy & Peppy

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mizuno E Numero Uno!

I wasn't going to go out yesterday morning in the frigid 24 degree weather!  No way!  I waited it out until the afternoon when it was a balmy 29 degrees!  Ha!  Actually, I wore my new Mizuno cold weather running tights (On sale for $50 at National Running Center).  My legs were as toasty as a couple of melted marshmallows roasting over a campfire (I know, it's as though you're reading a line right out of a Robert Frost poem).  There are zippers at the ankles to make them easier to pull on and take off.  I've had my struggles trying to peel other tights off.  There is also a zipper at the waist in the back for gels.  So far, these are the my favorite tights to date.  I had my Uniqlo heat tech turtle neck, a thermal Old Navy shirt, and a fleece to keep me warm up top.  My face felt like I had stuck my head in a freezer, but thawed out after a couple of miles.  I wound up running an easy 8 miles.

I also received my new Nathan iPhone carrier in the mail!  It's a little loose at the tightest fitting, but it doesn't slide.  My phone won't fit inside with its protective case so I'm a little nervous about the bottom velcro giving and the phone falling out onto the street, but I haven't heard of this happening to others so far.

Today I ran 6.45 miles at 4pm.  The streak is going strong!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Evolution of a Run

I'm the type of runner who never really knows how far I'm going to run sometimes until I'm actually running.  Am I spontaneous?  Am I a poor planner?  I like to think of myself as highly evolved, or at least my runs are.  I head out the door with one distance in mind, but it could very well end up being something completely different.  The change could be due to fatigue, boredom, pain, time constraints, bathroom emergency, you name it!  I can be flexible.  For example, you would think Sunday would be a perfect day to get in a long run.  Unless, Sunday was the only day you could sleep in (meaning 9am).  And you had to make pancakes for your children and other people's children who slept over.  And you were pressured into going to church (no offense, God).  And you had to go Christmas shopping.  I could go on and on with my excuses, but I won't (because I just did).  A long run evolved into a 1.12 mile run with my 7 year old son.  At least I'm not breaking my streak.

Monday morning was cold.  Lucky for me, I waited until all the kids were home from school.  By then, it had warmed up.  I went out at 3:45pm and felt great.  My 3 mile run evolved into a 5 mile run.

And today?  Today it snowed and it was also my oldest daughter's birthday.  I put off running until dinner time.  She joined me and we ran 2.3 miles in the wintry dark.  It wasn't too cold, but the light blanket of snow and Christmas lights on many of the homes made for a festive little outing.  The best part was when we came home, my daughter told me how great she felt afterwards.  I explained endorphins to her.  The Runner's High is reason enough to take up the sport.  I may not have run as far as I should have, but I got to spend some quality one on one time with my first born.  It was a great end to her birthday.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Seaford Hot Chocolate 5k Review

I arrived at Seaford High School this morning at 8:10am.  The sun felt good on this 40 degree morning.  I entered the high school and made my way to the auditorium.  There was a band playing Christmas songs in the hallway.  At first, I thought they were practicing for a school performance, but it turned out they were there for the race!  What a nice touch!  There were a lot of people milling about inside.  Winter races with indoor facilities made available to the runners pre- and post-race are aces in my book!  Fellow blogger, The Emerging Runner (ER) arrived about fifteen minutes later.  I was disappointed to hear that our other blogging buddy, The Petite Pacer would not be joining us due to her petite car overheating (boo!).  We got our numbers and eventually made our way to the start.  The organizers announced there would be over 900 runners!


Musical accompaniment

ER and I were chatting it up at the start about everything from family to sailing to martial arts.  I realized I had forgotten my watch which was annoying.  It's not a Garmin, but it helps me keep track of time (Imagine that!) and estimate my miles.  We were lined up around the 7 minute mile pace sign, but there was still a good size crowd ahead of us.  The gun must have gone off because suddenly people were running.  It was hard for me to understand the emcee whose full time job must be teaching Charlie Brown & the Peanuts gang.  

I'm pretty sure there was no start mat to activate the chip.  The frontrunners' start time was the same as the back of the pack's.  We were near the front, so probably only seconds were lost, not minutes.  However, every second counts in a short race.   A couple of hundred yards in, my useless Yurbuds iPhone arm band unravelled (the velcro fell off months ago so I've been tying it) and began to slip down my arm.  I tried tightening the knot, but to no avail.  I decided to just take it off and carry it.  This was also annoying, but manageable.  

The 5k course was flat and basically a loop with turns at each mile marker.  The Mile One clock read 9:13 when I passed.  I asked the man next to me who assured me that was the wheelchair start time.  Whew.  Mile Two's clock read 16:20.  When I hit Mile 3 at 22:xx, I thought the clock must still be at least 1:30 ahead so I wasn't worried about finishing sub 22.  I crossed the finish line, grabbed an orange slice and water, and then waited for ER to finish.  I thought he might come in around 29 minutes give or take 30 seconds.  Of course, I looked down to get my camera ready and in that split second, he ran by.  In 27:xx, no less!  I was sorry not to get a shot of him crossing the finish line, but psyched he had such a fantastic time!  I think if given the choice between a photo op or an awesome time, he would choose the latter.

ER stands for Excellent Run!

We went to the Finish Line Road Race Technicians' (FLRRT) van to check out our results.  These timing guys are super efficient in posting the results in real time and getting them online within a couple of hours.  My 22:46 time was just that, according to them.  I ran at a 7:20 pace and finished 2nd in my age group.  I was in the top 4% of women and top 11% overall.  Not a PR, but I was happy.  

Overall, I highly recommend this race.  The organization and amenities for the runners were terrific.  The course was fast and easy.  I would definitely consider doing this again in the future.  Hopefully, with our third Musketeer!

not shown: TPP

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Short Post For A Short Run

Day #5 of the running streak:  Monday.  My RDO (Regular Day Off).  A day off defeats the purpose of the running streak.  Runner's World suggested running just one mile on these RDOs so as not to burn out.  They also recommend not racing this mile, as tempting as it may be.  The whole point is to just log the mile, so why not run it nice and easy?  And that's  what I did.  I ran 1.12 miles at 6pm in 43 degrees.  It took 9:30 to finish.  It felt great.  When I "retire" from long distance running, I think I could get used to running a mile day!  A 5-7 mile week sounds sweet.... (daydreaming...)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dress For Success

Day #4 of the Runner's World Streak.  The first day of the streak, Thanksgiving, I ran the Garden City 5 Mile Turkey Trot.  The next day was tough getting out the door.  The longer I waited, the colder it got.  Temperatures were still in the 30s.  After announcing to the world that I was participating in this streak, I was very close to ending it on just the second day.  I couldn't be that ridiculous.  I finally got my arse out the door by 3:30pm for a 6+ miler.

Yesterday and today were slightly warmer than earlier in the week, low 40s.  I bought a new Avalanche running top at T.J. Maxx on Black Friday so I tested it out yesterday for an 8 miler.

Take me to your leader.
Do you love thumb holes as much as me?

The Voltiac hooded pullover was $24.99 at T.J. Maxx instead of $50.00-$75.00 online.  I wore a tank top sports bra and a Uniqlo heattech turtle neck underneath,   The Uniqlo heattech technology redistributes your body heat to keep you nice and toasty.  I love it for my cold weather runs.  However it does not wick away sweat, so when your run is over, you should immediately remove the top because it will be soaked.  The Avalanche top has a soft liner inside for warmth.  By the second mile, I realized I could have done without the turtle neck. The Avalanche inner liner also wicks away sweat.  The outer layer stretches for optimal movement.  The high scuba collar keeps your neck warm when the hood is up.  This is a perfect top for the winter, as both a base and outer layer.

Today was a balmy 43 degrees at 9am when I went out for another 8 miler.  I wore a pair of shorts, but didn't forget my hat and gloves!  I'm not crazy, you know.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Garden City Turkey Trot Review

Pete, Freighbor, and I parked near the Garden City Middle School and sat in the car until 9:40am, then braved our way to the start.  It was a chilly 31 degrees.

I was surprised to see there was actually a separate corral at the start for elite runners.  Once everyone lined up, I had to check out who was in the corral, about 6 skinny guys who looked like they were teenagers.

Pete, Freighbor, and I positioned ourselves in the 7 minute mile pace area.  It was crowded, but not as bad as I expected.  People were civilized.  There was no unnecessary shoving.  I decided to run with music in this race because toward the end of my last race, I was desperate for some motivation.  A recording of the national anthem was played over the loudspeaker and then we all did our shuffle to the starting mat.  We were off.

Immediately, we ran up a slight incline in the first mile, around Adelphi University.  I hit Mile One at 7:24.  I was feeling pretty good, despite the cold.  My watch read 14:33 at Mile Two.  Things were looking good...until they didn't.  My breathing became more labored.  The icy wind around certain corners was challenging, to say the least.  I arrived at Mile Three at 22:xx.  I felt myself slowing down, slowly but surely.  The cold never relented.  I passed some friends at a couple of spots who were nice enough to cheer me on.  I noticed a young boy about 8 years old running alongside me.  I found this more annoying than cute.  My pathetic ego could not let this child beat me.  Seriously?!  Yes.  There was an older man running next to him coaxing him along.  That was a good sign.  For me.  I finally passed him, but it didn't make me feel any better.  

I came down the home stretch at 37 minutes.  I knew I wasn't going to hit my goal (37:00) because I couldn't see the finish line.  We turned a tight corner into the St. Paul's parking lot.  At last, the end was in sight.  I crossed the finish at 38:01 (3rd in Age Group).  I saw a friend who told me her twelve year old son finished in 35 minutes.  This made me proud (not annoyed) because I know the kid, he's sweet, and he's a phenomenal athlete.  

I made my way over to the "refreshment" table.  Chocolate milk!!!  Yeah!!  Not chocolate milk?  Chocolate flavored...coconut water...(gag).  Lime flavored...coconut water...(more gagging)  What the fuck?  Where the hell was a Poland Spring when you needed it?  Alright, damn it.  I'll take the Limey crap, super sized.  It tasted just as disgusting as I expected.  Thank you (as in, NOT thank you).

I reunited with Freighbor and Pete who both finished like champions.  This was Pete's first race since I can't remember.  His time was in the 43 minute range.  Pretty good, especially with no training.  We all walked back to the car, eager to reward ourselves at the Garden City Starbucks (Up yours, Coconut Water!).  Uh huh.  We got to Starbucks, only to realize none of us had any moolah or plastic.  Not even freighbor's Starbucks App could save us because her phone died upon arrival.  Such is the story of our First Garden City Turkey Trot.

BUT Aimée!!!  Did you get your well deserved grande decaf skinny mocha?!?!  Please say yes!  Not to worry.  We dropped Pete off at home, I grabbed my wallet, and Freighbor and I headed to OUR Starbucks.  Apparently, everyone else who ran the race wanted to come to our Starbucks, as well.  Not sure for the same reason.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Eat the Turkey, But Just Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

Last week I did four 8 mile runs, one 5 miler, and one 3 miler, totaling 40 miles.  I passed on the Sunday long run because 1)  I am no longer training for a marathon and feel like I should be able to catch a break, 2)  I'm tired all week and love  not having to get up at the butt crack of dawn on the weekend to run for two hours (see #1) , and 3)  I'm thinking as long as I'm doing 40 miles per week, it shouldn't matter that much how it's split up.  I actually felt good by the end of the week and not overtrained, which is how I felt during a lot of my last marathon cycle.  My last couple of 8 milers I ran at around an 8 minute pace.  The speed felt very comfortable.  I didn't feel like I was racing or overexerting myself.  So far, so good.

My 5 mile turkey trot is on Thursday (Thanksgiving).  This particular turkey trot is popular in these parts, although it will be my first time.  Last year there were 3200 participants and almost 3400 the year before!  Yikes!  This is three times larger than the marathon I just ran!  Hopefully, there will be a timing mat at the start so the possible five minutes it might take to just cross the starting line is not added to your overall time.  Please Race God, don't let it be a shit show.  When the start of a race is chaotic, it usually throws me off for the whole event.  Think positive, Aimée.  Deep breaths.  Whatever you do...don't jinx yourself, dammit!

The good news is we are going out for dinner on Thanksgiving.  No cooking and no cleaning up!  We did this three years ago and for me, it was one of the best Thanksgivings ever.  The food was beautiful and delicious, but more importantly, I was totally relaxed and able to enjoy the kids.  I actually enjoy cooking a turkey (and I don't enjoy cooking pretty much anything), but once in a while it's nice to get a break.

So what are your Thanksgiving plans?  Are you hosting, going to relatives, or eating at a restaurant?  Will you also be doing a turkey trot?  Whatever you do, be safe and enjoy.

Not to be a party pooper, but...the day before Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims 
massacred a tribe of Native Americans who had gathered for a corn dance.
The next day the pilgrims gave thanks for their victory.  There was no
potluck dinner among the two groups.  It was just the pilgrims.  
The Native Americans were dead.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Five Things You May Not Know About...My Running

T-Rex Runner, another one of my favorite bloggers, posted Things You May Not Know About Me recently.  This topic has been going around Facebook for a couple of weeks.  Someone will make a list of little know facts about themselves.  Whoever Likes the post will be given a number and then have to list that many facts about themselves on their own wall. I accidentally Liked some of my friends' facts only to quickly delete the Like because I didn't want to post my own version on my wall.  Instead....

I'll do it here.  These will be Things You May Not Know About My Running:

5.  97% of the time it is a challenge for me to actually get out the door to go for a run.  As much as I love running and for as long as I've been doing it, I still procrastinate and negotiate with myself almost all of the time.  Once I'm out the door, I'm golden.  It's just getting out the door that is usually the problem.

4.  85% of the time I have to stop and use the bathroom on my daily runs.  It used to be 98% of the time, but then I stopped eating ice cream the night before.  This helped a little.  There are always available restrooms on my routes.  I can tell you which businesses in my town have bathrooms, which bathrooms are inconspicuous, which ones are clean, etc.  I'm what you could call a lavatory connoisseur of sorts (on second thought, don't call me that).  The few times I've run in a park have been risky.  I have ducked behind trees and bushes more times than I care to admit.  If a "runner" tells you she has never done this, she is lying.  She either has done it (more than once) or she's not really a runner.  (This is a conclusion based on no evidence.  I have only come up with this to make myself feel better.)  Here's a helpful tip you won't find in most running books:  When looking for a leaf to substitute as toilet paper, take an in tact clean one from the top of a bush.   The lower ones probably already have been exposed to other biological specimen.

3.  100% of the time I run what you would call "Commando".  All of my running shorts and pants have liners, therefore it is unnecessary to add an extra layer, especially a cotton one!  TMI, yes.  But it is something you did not know.  #3 has nothing to do with #4, by the way.  #4 has everything to do with #2 though - Ha ha ha, I couldn't resist.

2.  99.9% of the time I never stretch.  The .1% I do is when I am waiting at a very long traffic light and I'm bored.  And people are looking at me.  And then I feel pressured to do something.

1.  I am so uber-competitive about running, I will never be satisfied with any goal.  Pretty sad, I guess, but true.  In some ways, I think it's good because it keeps me always reaching for something.  In other ways, it sucks because I know I'll never be able to get it, because once I do, I'll find something else.  There will always be someone faster than me and I need to be okay with that fact.

Okay, readers.  Now your turn!  Please share a little known fact about your running or about yourself.  Enquiring minds want to know.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I've been feeling pretty unmotivated since the marathon.  Running two minutes slower than what I expected in my last 10k didn't help matters.  I'm not sure whether or not I'll do the Garden City Turkey Trot and my December race is up in the air.  What is a girl to do to get back on track?

How about STREAKING?!  No, not that kind of streaking.  My children would undoubtedly disown me for good.  Well, maybe not my two year old.  She would get a kick out of it and most likely join in the fun.  Anyway, the streaking I'm referring to is running consecutive days.  No breaks.  Runner's World is offering a challenge to do this from Thanksgiving Day to New Year's.  It's a fun way to stay motivated and at the same time try to keep the extra holiday pounds at bay.  Some friends and I are up for the challenge.  It should be interesting considering the December weather.  Bring it on!

So what do you think?  Will you join us?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Be Safe, Have Fun & Go For A Run

I did my 6.37 mile loop on Friday.  Pretty uneventful.  Yesterday, however, I ran 6.19 miles at Eisenhower Park with my two fellow bloggers, The Petite Pacer and Emerging Runner!  Ordinarily, I would be nervous in any other meet-someone-whom-I-only-interacted-with-online-for-the-first-time situation, but I couldn't have been more at ease.  Of course, it was exciting to finally meet them in person after reading their blogs for so long, but I was quite comfortable because I already felt like I knew them.  They are both down to earth and easy to be with.  So much so that after we ran together for an hour (yes, we took our time), we chatted for another hour over coffee.  Running was the main topic, of course.  It's great to talk about running with others who are just as passionate about the subject.  As expected, the Emerging Running was an expert on all the running tech gadgets and the Petite Pacer shared her vast knowledge on the physiological benefits of the sport.  Not sure what I brought to the table, other than my winning smile and amazing sense of humor...they put up with me.  I'm looking forward to running with them again in the future.

left to right:  Emerging Runner, POTUS, and The Petite Pacer

Here are some helpful tips for meeting people from the internet for the first time:

1.  Do so only if all parties have agreed.  Showing up where you know someone runs regularly without telling him/her   first only makes for an awkward first meeting and will likely involve the police.

2.  Do so only if you have seen photographs of who you are going to meet beforehand.  These photographs should not include booking numbers:

3.  Do so only if  you and the other party have had multiple correspondence.  If the other party's correspondence include such phrases as "I've been watching you" or "My parole officer thinks you're a positive role model", it might be best to cease correspondence immediately.  Changing your email address is highly recommended.

4.  If the other party has told you, "I'm really, really hot" or "You can trust me" or "I have never been convicted of a felony",  assume the opposite is true.

5.  Meet in a public place.  It is always good to have witnesses...just in case.

Seriously, use your best judgment.  On the flip side, meeting people, bloggers in particular, can be fantastic!  You've read about their experiences, received advice, cooked their recipes, worn their sneakers, shared in their achievements and disappointments.  Meeting them can be like meeting an old friend or a rock star (likely, what Emerging Runner and Petite Pacer felt when they met me...HA! kidding!).  Be safe and have fun!  And go for a run.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Run Baby Run

I did 11.7 miles Sunday, the day after the Rockville Centre 10k, and 10.38 miles yesterday.  Yesterday was slightly warmer than Sunday, but still cold.  Tomorrow the temperatures are supposed to rise so I took today off to wait it out.  I am becoming wimpier in my old age, I admit it.  Most runners prefer the cold to the hot.  I'm the exception.  I'm not signed up for a December race yet.  I'm considering one of the two NYCRuns Hot Chocolate Races, either in Riverside Park (December 1) or Roosevelt Island (December 15).  Last year's Hot Chocolate race in Brooklyn was downright frigid.  I think it was 16 degrees at the start.  Not fun.  I'm waiting for the extended forecast and will choose the most thermally hopeful of the two.

Recently there's been some chatter about children completing long distance races.  A 5 year old ran a half marathon in New Jersey last Sunday and a 14 year old recently broke the record for youngest to run a marathon on all seven continents.  If the child enjoys running and has no physical disabilities that would put her in danger, then I say, "Have at it!"  My 11 year old just ran her second 5k.  She doesn't "enjoy" cross country/long distance running.  She's a fantastic sprinter and has placed first in every relay race she's participated in.  I hope one day she'll discover the joy in long distance running.  I hope to run a marathon with each of my children in the future.  I'm in no rush.  I plan to still be able to run a marathon in fifteen years when my youngest will be almost eighteen.  If my bones are still in tact, I will run as long as they allow.  If not, I will pass the figurative baton off to my kids.  In the meantime, the family that runs together, has fun together.   Right?

photo courtesy of Runner's World

How do you feel about these mini-marathoners?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rockville Centre 10k Review

I had high expectations for the Rockville Centre 10k.  It's been almost a month since my marathon PR so I had the months of training backing me up.  The race also happens to be on my turf.  These are the streets I run daily.  So, piece of cake, right?  Not exactly.

Thursday I went to the rec center to pick up my race packet and sign my daughter up for the 5k.  I was totally psyched when I saw my number #171.  I am somewhat superstitious and these numbers have always been unlucky ones for me.

I hate you number 7 and number 1!!  
Great, now I jinxed myself again!

My daughter, her two friends, and I got to the starting cone (because there was no line) in downtown Rockville Centre (right outside Starbucks and the movie theater) this morning a little after 9.  The forecast was for 46 degrees, but it felt like it was getting progressively colder the longer we stood outside.  When we arrived, we were the only ones on the street.  Slowly people started trickling in.  I met up with Freighbor and her husband.  According to her, the organizers were expecting almost 1,000 runners, between both races.  That's a good crowd.

The race official announced the countdown to the start.  Everybody and their mothers decided they would all start at the beginning.  Crunch time.  I tried to get somewhat toward the front, but it wasn't happening.  Finally, the race began.  We ran as a tight group for almost a mile.   I hit Mile 1 at 7:30.  This seemed about right.    Once it thinned out, I thought I could pick up the pace.  Not so much.  The 5k runners split from us, and the 10k runners headed north on Hempstead Avenue.  Mile 2 was just under 15 minutes.  Mile 3 was 22:30ish.  We were in the residential part of town.  At this point rather than speeding up, I thought, "It would be nice to drop out and walk home right now."  The one girl who was about twenty feet ahead of me for the first half suddenly took off out of sight.  Annoying.  We finally turned around and headed back on North Village Avenue to the finish.  I hit Mile 5 around 37:xx.  I thought, "Cool!  Maybe I'll finish under 45 minutes....oh wait...that DAMNED .2 MILES!!!!"  Sure enough, I crossed the finish at 47:04.  This is a PR by over two minutes for me, but slower than I anticipated.  My pace was 7:35.  I got 1st place in my age group, 12th out of 177 women (top 6th%), and 78th out of 413 (top 18th%).  Okay.  I'm ready to crank up my mileage again and I'm already looking for my next 10k (Ask me tomorrow morning while I'm lying in my warm bed if I want to "crank up my miles" and go run outside in the cold).

My daughter and her friends finished in 27:21.  This is a PR for her and 4 minutes faster than they expected!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Caution Speed Bump

First thing's first.  Yesterday I received a wonderful card in the mail from my friends at the Boston Athletic Association:

Classy, huh?

They even mail you your race packet!  Now that's an entrance fee put to good use.

Last night I ran 7 miles around 7:30pm.  I wore my reflective belt and carried a small flashlight.  No raccoon or possum sightings (Thank God!).

Tonight I ran to the high school track (1.25 miles from my house) to do speed work.  The parking lot was packed at 7pm. As I was looking around I tripped over a speed bump and slid as though I was sliding into home plate, except on pavement instead of dirt.  I haven't wiped out running in years (I fell off a curb near my parents' house about twenty years ago.  My bright yellow Sony walkman was the only casualty.).  My hands were scraped up, as well as my knees.  My biggest concern was any sprains or fractures.  My knee was a little out of whack, but nothing that an easy jog couldn't fix.  I was lucky.

At the track I did 6x100s in between 22-24 seconds each.  I also ran 6x400s at about 1:41 seconds each.  These drills were suggested by my "unofficial" running coach (Unofficial meaning I'm pretty sure he doesn't know he's my running coach).  My "coach" is a former sub 31 minute 10k runner.  Yep, sub 31.  Who runs that?  That's sub-elite territory.  Anyway, 'twasn't easy.  Tonight is the first night I actually pushed myself since the marathon.  I might take the next couple of days off before my 10k Saturday.  It's been an extremely low mileage week so I might do a couple of miles just out of pure guilt.  We shall see...

A couple of minor scrapes

The hands burned a little.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The 2014 New York City Marathon Fan

I guess I secretly told myself these past few months that the New York City Marathon is not all I've built it up to be over the years.  A field of 48,000 runners is just too crowded.  Who in their right mind would want to be a sardine for 26.2 miles? Too much hassle.  And then today we drove to the Pulaski Bridge to watch.  The first sight of the runners in the distance immediately gave me goosebumps, as they do every year.  I was flooded with excitement.  It's hard not to be.  All of that desire to be a part of that sea of humanity rushed back and there was no denying it.  There's a reason why over 100,000 people from all over the world apply.  New York City is the greatest city on the planet and the New York City marathon is the best way to see all that it has to offer.

We watched the elite women finish their race before heading out to Queens.  Priscah Jeptoo from Kenya pulled ahead of Buzunesh Deba in just the last couple of miles.  She finished in 2:25:07.  Amazing.  The men were almost done, as well.  I got an update on my phone that Meb hit the 5k mark in15 minutes and change.  What?!  I can't imagine running a 5k in 15 minutes, but to do it when you still have 23.1 more miles left?!  Seriously?  Phenomenal.  The lead male, Geoffrey Mutai, also of Kenya, finished in 2:08:24.  That's a 4:54 pace.  Piece of cake.

We arrived at Vernon Road near 45th Street in Queens at 1:00pm.  It was a chilly 50 degrees and partly sunny.  This is right past the half marathon point.  There was plenty of room to get a front row view of the runners.  There were a couple of rock bands and a deejay spread out along the street.  The whole family got right into cheering anyone who had their names on their shirts.  If there were no names, we shouted out their charities or their countries (the largest international field).  We saw the 4 hour pacer run by.  Most people at this point already looked tired, but if they heard their names, their faces lit up.  Many of them thanked us for being out there.  We did a couple of high fives, but they were wet and sweaty so we stopped.

A couple of years ago we saw Mario Lopez running over the Pulaski Bridge with an entourage.  At the time, I knew he was famous but wasn't quite sure who he was.  This year I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Pamela Anderson or Christy Turlington or Patrick Wilson, but no such luck.  We saw Shazam and the Statue of Liberty, though!

We stayed until the 5 hour pacer passed.  By this point, most of the participants were walking.  I felt badly for them because I knew at this pace they had a long road ahead of them.  A 5 hour marathon is so much more physically demanding than a 3 hour marathon.  To be out there on your feet in the elements for so long has got to be brutal.  Before we got to the marathon, I took my 11 year old to a cross country track meet.  About ten children ranging from ages 9-13 ran 1.25 miles, 5 laps around the track.  The eighth grade girls flew, the lead finishing in 8:13.  My daughter finished in 9:54.  The little boy who finished last (12:00) must have been 8 or 9 years old and small for his age.  However, he finished and with a smile on his face.  How can you not be proud of a kid like that?  This is how I felt about the last of the runners we saw.  They kept going.  That's heart.

Race volunteers never cease to amaze me.

Band on the run...

Hot chocolate!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pumped Up Kicks and Halloween Kicks All In One

I ran 8 miles on Wednesday and 7.5 this morning.  It was a balmy 64 degrees at 7am.  I did 8 x 100m strides.  My legs felt heavy this morning.  I've been doing over 300 reps of a variety of glute exercises this past week (I also do about 400 crunches), but it feels like I'm working my quadriceps in some of the squats more than my glutes.  I'm wondering if this contributed to the "lead leg" dilemma this morning or if it was just one of those lead leg runs (which I've been known to have).  And my right knee is feeling a little "funny".  I've been wearing a brace the past couple of days.  Too much too soon?

I train with two pairs of sneakers.  I wear my older pair for my shorter runs, and then my newer pair one day a week for my long runs.  After the marathon, I decided it was time to get new sneakers.  Since I was having weird toe stiffness lately, I thought I might try a different brand of sneaker.   I actually started wearing an old pair of Nikes I discarded 5 years ago because they fit too snug.  Now they hug my toes in nicely and are practically new since I only wore them running twice when I got them.   I'm wearing them during the week and my Adidas Adizeros for my long runs.  As for my new pair, a friend recommended Asics.  He felt that nowadays most brands are pretty good, but his fast friends seem to like Asics and he thinks they feel pretty good.  I trust his opinion on all things running, so Asics it is.  I found a pair of the Gel Nimbus 15s on sale on Running Warehouse.  Normally they run between $145-$155.  I got them for $109 plus FREE SHIPPING (my two favorite online words)!  They feel nice and cushy.  I will wear them for the first time running tomorrow when I do my 12 miler.  I might wear them a couple of more times, but then I'm going to put them away until my next marathon training cycle starts again in January.  At that point, my Adidas will be my shorter run shoes and the Asics will be my long haulers.  Confused?  Yeah, me too.

Say hello to my little friend.

The three amigos.

...and I hope everyone had a fun, happy, and scary Halloween!!!

Boo!  Yes, some small children in my neighborhood cried in fear when they saw me.  
Mission accomplished.

Do you rotate sneakers too?  Did you dress up for Halloween? 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Run Is In the Air

This past Sunday I was supposed to run 12 miles, but it ended up being 8.22.  I slept in and by the time I got ready to go, I could sense some irritation from Pete.  Now that my marathon cycle is over, I think he is not thrilled that I'm aiming to keep my mileage up.  Actually, I'm not even sure if he's aware of my aim.  I do know that if I'm going to be out for more than an hour and I don't get it done while everyone's still in bed, the resentment vibes are loud and clear.

This morning I did 5 miles before the little ones needed to get up for school.  It was a cool 45 degrees.  I incorporated 5 x 100m strides.

Marathon season is in full swing.  This past weekend was the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.  A friend was able to PR in it.  Nice job, Leah!  Then the two Tova(h)s will be running a little marathon in the city this upcoming Sunday.  So exciting!  I will be watching, as we do every year, either in Queens or the Bronx.  I love getting out there to support the runners.  The kids have fun high fiving as many people as they can.  The weather has been great the past couple of years for spectating.  The forecast for Sunday is partly sunny and 53 degrees.  Perfect day for a run.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I went out a little after 7am and ran a slow and easy 6.38 miles.  It was cool, about 41 degrees.  I broke out the fleece, capri leggings, and a hat.  My hands were cold for most of the run.  No pictures of the run, but how about of me  blogging?

It would be so much more efficient if someone could just hook me up to a chocolate/sugar IV.

"Aimée, what are your favorite running songs?" you ask.  Why, here is a list of my Top Twenty in no particular order:

1.   Lose Yourself - Eminem
2.   Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
3.   Stronger - Kanye West
4.   Gone - Kanye West
5.   Rock Star - N.E.R.D.
6.   In Step - Girl Talk
7.   Play Your Part - Girl Talk
8.   La Grange - ZZ Top
9.   Over the Hills and Far Away - Led Zeppelin
10. Let's Go Crazy - Prince & the Revolution
11. Fire Woman - The Cult
12. L.A. Woman - The Doors
13. Hold On Tight - E.L.O.
14. Somewhere Only We Know - Keane
15. All These Things That I've Done - The Killers
16. Uprising - Muse
17. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
18. What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction
19. Boom Boom Boom - The Outthere Brothers
20. Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones

My list mostly consists of songs with a pumping beat, my preference for when I'm running fast.  However, if I'm out for a long run, I like to listen to music along the lines of Jeff Buckley or Simon & Garfunkel.   My play list has everything from Tony Christie to AC/DC to Run D.M.C.    

What songs get you moving?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Food For Thought. Literally.

I am easing my way back, running 3 miles last Thursday, 4 on Saturday, and 4 this morning.  Fall weather has finally arrived.  It was a perfect 58 degrees going out.  I wore a thermal long sleeve with a t-shirt over and a pair of shorts that were falling down until I stopped to tie the waist (drawer dropping during a run might be fun for spectators, not so much for the performer).  After a mile I realized I could have done without the thermal.   I will begin a reverse taper schedule this week and next week I will resume my speed work.

Someone on Runners World Online (RWOL) posted a couple of videos to demonstrate examples of what it is like to hit "the wall".  Someone on the message board, who is likely a physician, explained that hitting the wall is not a total deficit of glycogen, but a combination of different factors all leading to a sudden physical halt.  The videos are both of leading Ironman female athletes, both world class competitors, who hit the wall and as a result fall apart pretty dramatically.  One is actually really scary because the woman says that she thinks she is dying.  She looks it, too.  Thankfully (knock on wood!), I have never hit the wall while running.  However, I have felt that weak delirium in other instances due to my poor eating habits.  Sometimes I am so busy throughout the day that I forget to eat until I either get a severe migraine headache (A puke-a-palooza, if you will, topped with the constant desire to have someone steamroll over my head) or my body feels weak and worn down and my thinking gets somewhat "foggy".  I have run into acquaintances and unfortunately had to attempt conversations during these episodes.  I'm sure they thought I was on drugs or crazy afterwards.  No.  Just hungry.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Totally scary, right??

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three Days Post Race

My legs are still sore, but not as much as Monday.  I have been rolling my quadriceps and calves with the Stick.  It helps tremendously.  I am able to walk down the stairs almost as fast as my two year old now.  I will go for a short thirty minute run to loosen the legs some more either this evening or tomorrow.

Three days later thinking about the race, I wonder what I could have done to finish faster.  I hit the half marathon mark at 1:50:18 which means I ran a negative split once again.  My second half was run in 1:46:10.  I ran a negative split in Baltimore, but much closer together.  Sunday my split was almost four minutes apart.  This makes me think if  I had picked up the pace instead of going out so conservatively at the beginning, I would have been able to hit my goal of 3:35.  I think if I had a better night's sleep the night before, I might have had more energy to push it the first half.  A fellow runner who ran Mohawk this year in 3:24 was able to figure out that I passed 146 people in my second half without anyone passing me.  That's kind of cool.

My plan for the next couple of months is to keep my mileage up around 35-40 miles per week and then resume a training schedule in January for Boston.  My next race will be the Rockville Centre 10k on November 9.

I'm sure I've posted this video before, but I absolutely love it.
So true.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mohawk Hudson River Marathon Review

We arrived at the Albany Hilton where the race expo took place around 4pm on Saturday.  There was a nice variety of vendors giving out free samples of every kind of power bar you could want, upcoming race pamphlets, candy, even jump ropes.  There were a couple of clothing racks, but not much.  My favorite stand was the photo booth that made a nice collage with the race logo.  Packet pickup was quick and efficient.

Part of the job description for being a little boy is to 
always make funny faces for the camera.  
Smiling is never an option.

The pasta dinner was conveniently located in the same hotel.  For $21.95 ($13.95 per child) they offered a do-it-yourself Caesar salad,  grilled chicken, lemon butter tilapia, pasta shells with marinara sauce,  rigatoni bolognese, and chocolate and vanilla ice cream for dessert.  I'd like to say the pasta wasn't overcooked and underseasoned, but then of course I would be lying.  The fish and chicken were slightly more palatable than the pasta.  I passed on the ice cream to avoid any possible bathroom emergencies the next day.

We went back to our hotel, the Marriott Springhill Suites, in the town of Colonie which is right in between the start and finish.  I went to bed early, but didn't sleep much due to nerves and my son suddenly coming down with a fever.  The next morning I was up at 5 to eat and digest my bagel.  We left by 7:30 and I arrived at the start in Schenectady by 8.

Marathon morning photo shoot in the hotel bathroom.
Now a tradition and a superstition.

It was about 54 degrees at the start.  I had a throwaway sweatshirt on to stay warm.  I saw only two porta-potties and they were locked up in a cage.  Hmmm.  I asked an official who said the rest of the porta-potties were down a hill and around a corner.  They were not close and the line was definitely more than thirty minutes long.  I decided to be one with nature in the woods.  I was done in thirty seconds.

I found the 3:45 pacer and decided to line up in front of him.  It turned out there were a lot of women who wanted to run at a 3:40 pace.  They were all over 40 and hoping to qualify for Boston (BQ) which is sub 3:45 for our age group.  I had on my 3:40 pace temporary tattoo, but even still, I am not good at pacing myself.  During a marathon, even just a few seconds ahead or behind per mile can make or break your race.  I met Kathrine from Atlanta who said she was good at pacing herself and she was wearing a Garmin.  I was not.

When I got home, I told my 11 year old that this was my new real tattoo.
She almost cried.

The gun went off at exactly 8:30.  I hit the start mat about 30 seconds later.  I stayed with Kathrine for much of the first half.  We were running consistently between an 8:23 and an 8:24 pace.  Perfect.  Until I noticed she would announce the pace a couple of hundred yards before we saw each mile marker.  She started her Garmin early.  She said it didn't matter because it was still a mile distance.  I knew this, but she was still off by the race clock.  At some point, we would have to play catch up, especially if we wanted to run sub 3:40.  At Mile 9 I ran ahead of Kathrine.  I passed what seemed like a boatload of people.  I must be running at an 8:12 pace, I thought.  Kathrine caught up with me at Mile 11 only to inform me we were still at an 8:24 pace.  Really?!  The people I passed were just slowing down, I was not speeding up.  

After the half marathon point, I decided I needed to run faster if I was going to finish in the 3:30s.  I picked up the pace and started passing as many people as I could, which turned out to be a lot.  I do this while driving on the highway, too.  I don't know if this is my competitive nature or just a weird thing I have, but I always feel the need to be ahead.  I kept referring to my arm to make sure I wasn't falling behind.  Instead, I was hitting the mile markers about two minutes ahead of schedule.  

The scenery was pretty.  We started out in Central Park,  then were quickly led onto the residential streets of Schenectady.  The homes were mostly older colonial, my favorite kind.  We stayed in the neighborhood for five miles and then headed back onto the bicycle path.  The entrance back into the park boasted a gorgeous view of the Hudson River surrounded by the autumn golds, oranges, and reds of the changing trees.  We stayed in the park for the next twelve miles.  The path was narrow.  It never felt crowded, but there were times you had to jockey to get ahead.    There was some crowd support at the water stations and on the neighborhood streets, but if you're looking to be cheered along the entire race, some of the bigger events might be more suitable.  

When I signed up for this race, all I kept hearing and reading was how fast this course was.  I expected it to be 26.2 miles of downhill.  I wanted to fly through the race, as I did in Hood to Coast.  I guess I wasn't expecting to actually have to work.  Yes, flat is definitely faster than rolling hills, but you still need to put effort into it.  For some reason, I thought the race was going to be effortless.  Not sure why I thought a marathon was going to be effortless.  Yes, I was surprised throughout the race that my muscles and bones were aching.  In fact, I was tired in the first 10k.  I wondered how I was going to pick up the pace and run under 3:40.  I found the strength somehow.  I didn't get a second wind, but I just pushed along almost on auto-pilot.  The more people I passed, the more determined I was to keep going.  

Around Mile 17 we left the park and ran on the streets of Watervliet.  Once I passed Mile 20 and felt like I could keep going, I felt a bit of relief.  If I didn't hit the wall by now, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to hit it at all.  We reentered the park after Mile 21.  I was passing a lot of people walking at this point.  At Mile 25, I saw a guy just stop running.  I reassured him that we were almost there.  He didn't respond.  I never know if I should say something to others for encouragement or  not.  I, personally, would appreciate the boost from fellow runners.  Some people might just get pissed off.

I finally reached the finish line.  3:37:08.  This is a four minute PR.  The post race party was great.  There was plenty of food and drinks.  They had some vats of steaming hot vegetable soup.  There was even a canoe filled with Hood chocolate milks.  It was like a dream.  

Overall, the scenery was beautiful, the people (runners, spectators, and volunteers) were all golden, and the post race party was one of the best I've been to.  I would definitely change the location of the porta-potties at the start.  I also would tell prospective runners that even though it's a fast course, it's still 26.2 miles of running.  Well, I guess most people know this.  Except me.

I looked Kathrine up in the results.  She finished in 3:43:xx.  I'm sorry she didn't hit her goal, but I'm also glad I decided to run my own race when I did.