NYC Highlights & Running in Central Park

I ♥ my team

I’ve talked a lot about how this trip felt, but here’s some photos of the highlights.

Meeting Bart Yasso

The Soup Nazi “NO SOUP FOR YOU!”

The view from my uncle’s awesome apartment


My people


I finally saw the Seinfeld diner. I’ve been wanting to go there for years!

We were trying to be Elaine and Kramer. We’re really talented actors, okay?

Okay, let’s talk about marathon morning. Well, maybe it’s better if I show you.

The incredible energy began the moment we entered the hotel lobby. Groups were cheering and chanting, and it was NUTS! The energy was contagious, and I couldn’t help but still feel excited. I met my team in the lobby and we headed down to Central Park where there must have been thousands of runners who all decided to run anyway, and for the first time, I felt like a real runner. Race or no race, we were all out there together purely because we love running. Sometimes I wonder if I actually love it, or why it is I do this crazy thing, but I really really do love it. Not at every second, and not even every run, but running has changed my life. It has changed the way I view food, and aided so much of my food related anxieties. It has brought me friends, and even a second mom ;)

I ran through the park with tears streaming down my cheeks, and the dopiest grin on my face. Suddenly, it all made sense. I will get to run a marathon someday (soon), and I will even get to run the NYC Marathon someday, but only those of us that were here on this very day will ever get to experience this display of passion and perseverance by thousands of runners.

Everything happens for a reason, and I needed this moment in my journey. I needed it to inspire me, to reaffirm what I deep down already knew, and to make me feel like I belonged in this community. It would be so easy to say “My marathon was canceled” and give up, but that is not who I am. I wasn’t planning to make this my last marathon, and now my first will just be that much more special.

After a week of so much negativity, this morning was exactly what I needed. People still came out to cheer. They held signs, they had cow bells, and some were even passing out water. I tried to thank every single person on those side lines, I got plenty of high 5s and you better believe I accepted the water from a stranger. I wasn’t even thirsty, I was just so thrilled that they were spending their morning passing it out!

There were teams from all different countries. Brazil was pretty loud, so I distinctly remember them. We ran a loop of the park, then down to the hudson river for a total of 10.6 miles for the morning. It was exactly what I needed, and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it.

Disclaimer: Please don’t take this as insensitivity to those affected by Sandy. I am simply explaining my experience. 

The Journey

It’s a little ironic. I don’t know how many times I’ve talked about how I just really love the training for races more than the race itself. Fast forward to Friday evening (or flash back since it’s oh, Tuesday now) when my phone started blowing up on my way to the NYCM expo, and despite my best efforts, an overwhelming sadness filled my heart. Yes, I know the best decision was made. I don’t live in the tristate area, and I’ve never experienced a hurricane. I have absolutely no room to comment on the issue, and I don’t intend to. I do, however, know what it’s like to give everything you have into training for your first marathon, and not run it. And I do (finally) know that it’s okay. Ideal, no, but okay.

If I’m being 100% honest, I’m still feeling slightly down about the whole thing, and I feel guilty about feeling down when clearly people are suffering way more right now, but I can’t control how I feel, only how I deal with those emotions. It’s okay to feel disappointed, and to be honest, I knew I would come back from New York feeling down. I always get the post-fill-in-the-blank sadness after big life events, ie: my wedding, my first 1/2 marathon, even a little bit following Christmas and my birthday (you can judge me). I put a lot of build up and anticipation on these things, and when they’re over, I get sad. This one just didn’t end how I expected–or maybe it’s just not over?

I’ve thought a lot about what to do next. I’m trained to run a marathon. I want to run a marathon, like really really badly. Funny story, there’s not as many of those crazy things as one would think. In fact, there’s pretty much non coming up in Arizona for quite a while, and traveling isn’t really in the cards right now. I found a couple that I thought “Maybe I can make this work…”, and then I realized that this is my first marathon, and you only get one first marathon. I don’t want to jump into just any replacement race. I want to make the right choice, and that means waiting until RnR AZ in January when I can still go out and have my friends and family be there to cheer me on. I know that’s not what running is all about, but it’s just something I need for my first marathon, and that’s okay.

So I have 12 weeks to get faster, stronger, and even more ready. Hopefully along the way I will run some shorter distance races and maybe set some new PRs. I am really happy to have a new goal to focus on, and every day I am believing the voice in my head that says “Everything happens for a reason.” just a little bit more. Some amazing things still came out of this trip, and I can’t wait to tell you about running in Central Park on marathon morning, but that is a story for an other time. Right now, I will leave it at: I am still sad, but I’m okay, and I’m refocusing on training and preparing for my first marathon in January.

Thanks to everyone who sent me texts/emails/phone calls/tweets/etc. I felt really loved, and I really needed it. I am so ridiculously lucky, and I honestly still kind of feel like I did it. Running a marathon isn’t about that one day; it is about the months you spend working toward your goal. For 20 weeks, I prepared myself to run 26.2 miles, and although that day I ended up running less than half of that, I gave my heart to that goal for 20 weeks, and one day doesn’t change or define that process. Onward.

Team Chances Brunch

Saturday morning the team met bright and early at Coach Susan’s house for our last “long” run and a big team brunch/meeting/information overload. When we arrived, I was totally blown away at how decked out her house was!

26.2 jack-o-lantern. Genius.

Shortly after we arrived, we headed out for a quick 40 minute run, then returned to sit down for the big informational meeting while many of the Believe Train Become runners slaved away cooking our breakfast. They’re the best. :) It was still chilly out, so a lot of us huddled in close and gathered around the fire.

Michelle and I love bright shoes. LOOK HOW BRIGHT WE ARE! Okay, she is so much brighter, but mine have so many colors! I love running shoes ;)

Susan started off explaining many of the normal feelings of taper–sluggish, irritable, feeling fat. As she mentioned each one, it was like everyone around me just kept turning to look at me because not 5 minutes before we started, I had been complaining about pretty much every single one. Then Jason just had to be a really awesome friend and make sure to call attention to me and my…issues. Anyway, it was nice to hear it was all normal, and despite the fact that I feel like I’ve gained 9 MILLION lbs the last two weeks, people keep telling me I look smaller, so clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about. Shocking, right? Anyway, one big moment came when Susan surprised us all with these bracelets:

A couple of weeks ago, one of my teammates suffered a major heart attack on one of his long runs. I’ve actually wanted to write about it for a while, but I didn’t want to put him out there on display. Anyway, he is doing FANTASTIC, but clearly cannot run NYC, so Susan got each of us TIMstrong bracelets. She also told us that the reason he IS okay is because he is a runner–because he has taken such great care of his body and is so strong. That is where I really got emotional. I started to think about where my life was heading a few years ago, and how I probably would have ended up dying at a young age from obesity complications if I hadn’t made a change. Sounds dramatic, but I was on a steady weight gain spree with no end in sight, and I am just so glad to be in a place where I am taking care of my body, and more importantly, I am so glad that Tim’s lifestyle saved his life.

As Susan made her way through the overwhelming amount of information, she got to talking about something that really spoke to me: The Voice. We all have it, and it’s always our biggest enemy. Runner or not, we’ve all experienced that negative self talk that tells us we’re not good enough, tells us to give up, and pushes us down. She told us the story of when she was running the olympic trials and she was on the 2nd loop of the 4 loop course. Her voice started, and she was certain she couldn’t do it. She knew up ahead there was a trash can, and legit made a deal with herself that she would run until she got there, then hide behind it. Totally logical. As she got closer, she realized that if she hid behind it now, eventually she would have to come out, and then what? So she didn’t stop. She ran past the trash can, and finished 30th out of the entire country. Then she said

“Most of us quit just before we reach our potential.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve always eventually broken down and listened to the voice, and that I have yet to see what I’m fully capable of. This quote really spoke to me, and I hope I can use it to carry me through the last 10k of the marathon, and any time in life when the going gets tough. I feel so lucky to have such a motivating and inspirational coach!! I know I’ve said it a million times, but every day I feel MORE grateful!

After the information session, we broke for breakfast and then took some team photos.

Then I insisted we all play the camera game…

Well, maybe only like 3 people participated, but I’m pretty sure Susan and Tracie nailed it. Check out their faces!

Your welcome Susan, Tracie and everyone else who played along ;)

I chatted a bit more with some of my teammates, and grabbed my marathon packet (it’s filled with SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!!!).

Jaime, Jason & Me. No double chin. Good photography, Bill.

It was a perfect morning, and a great way to end the training cycle. BIG thank you to Susan and BTB for hosting us! 5 days and counting!

Reasons To Be Grateful

As my first marathon draws closer (ummm, somehow it became marathon week–YIKES!!), I am finding myself even more emotional than usual. If you know me, you know it’s hard to get more emotional than my natural everyday state, but I promise you it has happened. Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes crying in the car because I felt so proud of what I’ve done. Not just the marathon, but every big goal I’ve set out to conquer, I feel like I have achieved. Not many people can say that, and I have a lot to be proud of.

With this pride comes so much gratitude. I’ve not achieved these things on my own, and beyond that, this experience and trip to New York City gives me so many reasons to be grateful. I’m totally overwhelmed by all of it, but I wanted to try to put some of it into words, so that when all I can think about is how badly my legs hurt, I will have a mental picture of why I’m lucky, why I should suck it up and run faster. ;)

  • I’m grateful I can run. Not everyone can. I see people every day who are physically less fortunate than me, and it breaks my heart that not everyone can experience the same joy, release, and freedom that I find in running. I could have a disability, or worse, I could not care enough about myself to make the choice to try. I’m grateful for the ability to run: mentally and physically.
  • I’m grateful for Susan LokenWhen I tell people about Susan, they either know exactly who she is, or are quickly impressed when I spew off her list of accomplishments that I’ve memorized through all my internet stalking. She has given me everything: my plan, tough love, an ear to listen, and most importantly, the belief that I can do this. The other day she told me that I’ve come a long way and shown a lot of improvement. She probably doesn’t know how much that meant to me, or how much I needed to hear it, but it made my month. I couldn’t have done this without her.
  • I’m grateful for my team. I’ve made so many great friendships through this process, and they have shown me tremendous support, love, and encouragement. There really is nothing like training with a team. I would highly suggest it for anyone training for their first marathon. I LOVE these guys!
  • I’m grateful for my parents. They are flying to New York to see me cross the finish line. My dad can’t afford it, but he insists on going to be there for me. My mom hates to fly, but her ticket is booked. Talk about support–flying across the country to watch your kid run a marathon. Yes, I’m still a kid. They are the best.
  • I’m grateful for my friends who are coming out to support me. Some of them live in New York, some of them live here, some of them live in the surrounding areas, but many of them are making special arrangements to be there for to share this moment with me. I will probably have my first marathon lined with some of my very favorites cheering my name. I don’t know what they heck I’ve done to deserve that, but I’ll take it!
  • I’m especially grateful I get to spend time with this friend. Mac is one of my best friends in the entire world. He lives across the country, and I see him more often than some of my friends that live in Arizona. Our friendship was just kind of meant to be, and so we make it work, and find ways to see each other. He is a life-long friend, and has been an undying source of support through this whole process. I cannot freaking wait to celebrate with him!!!
  • I’m grateful for the world’s most supportive husband. The other day we had an argument, and then “surprised” each other with coffee (at the same time), then he showed me he loved me by turning on every single light in the entire house because we always playfully bicker about the lights (I turn on all the lights, never turn them off, then he turns them all off). He is perfect, and I absolutely could not have done this without him.
  • I’m grateful for YOU PEOPLE. With the support of many of you, I have almost reached my goal of raising $5,000. So many people showed incredible generosity, and I am beyond grateful. I know those donations will be put to good use, and I cannot wait until I can attend an event to see kids reaping the benefits of our efforts!
  • I’m just grateful to be. To be alive. To be healthy. To be where I am today. I am beyond lucky. I wish everyone out there could feel a little bit of what it’s like to feel like you have it all. Just for a second. It feels amazing.
  • Oh, and I’m grateful for MARATHON TOES!!! Had to include that ;)
So tell me, what are you grateful for?

NYC Marathon Training Week 18

Week 1 of taper, check. You know, I read about how everyone hates taper, but this week was kinda nice. I enjoyed a slightly shorter Monday run, still pushed myself at the track, and loved being done with my long run at 7:15 Saturday morning! It was also really great to end a long run and not be totally exhausted. 10 miles felt short, and nice. I could get used to this taper thing! ;) Here’s how it went down:

Monday: 6 mile run. The schedule said “3 miles easy, 3 miles at marathon pace”. WHAT IS MARATHON PACE?!?!?! HOW DO I CHOOSE???? LIFE IS SO HARD!!!! Soooo, I ran 3 miles slow, and 3 miles less slow, ending up with a 10:11 average pace. I was not feeling this run. I had canceled on Nicole so that I could sleep in later, then I had to keep making deals with myself like “Maybe I’ll just run 3 miles….” to get myself out and going, but finally I turned on some relaxing music (because I’m a freak and sometimes I want mellow music while I’m running), and just gave my mind some time to do it’s thing. The run ended up being really good, and a nice reminder that even when I realllllly don’t want to, it’s almost always better to just get out there.

Tuesday: 11 mile bike. Easy ride to coffee with Steve.

Wednesday: Track. Ao about this marathon goal pace. I guess I’ve figured it out? Coach Loken sent me my projected finish time, and it scared the crap out of me. My head immediate filled with “I can’ts” and doubt. I’ve since talked it through with anyone who will listen including my super smart coach (you know the person I actually should talk to about it), and figured out what a realistic goal is mentally for me, and I’m keeping her projected finish time as a dream goal, but trying to run my marathon goal pace miles at that pace. I’m not going to talk about what any of these goals are because when I write my recap about how I ran my first marathon, I want to write it with joy and pride no matter what my finish time is, and if I tell you what I want it to be, and that doesn’t happen, I will feel like a disappointment. Anyway, back to the track. We warmed up, had a mile at marathon goal pace, then 4 x 400s, then an other mile at goal pace, then a cool down. I hit my goal pace miles and they felt easy! It was AWESOME! I also pushed really hard on my 400s running them @ 7:05, 6:57, 6:58, 6:42. The whole workout felt awesome! I completed 5.17 miles in 50 minutes. After track, a couple of people from my team came up to me and told me how much faster I’d gotten!! This is the second time this has happened recently, and it made me feel so awesome!!

Thursday: 3 mile run. Nice and easy recovery run with my speedy friend Ashley. She was practically walking. ;)

Friday: 17.3 mile bike. The usual Friday am bike ride/breakfast/coffee with Nicole.

Saturday: 10 mile run. I came, I ran, I got chased by wild dogs, I ran the second half fast to keep up with my friends, I was done by 7:15 and averaged a 9:57 pace. Ask me about the wild dogs sometime. It’s a really funny story that includes some pretty big embarrassment, but I don’t mind embarrassing myself.

Sunday: Rest. Necessary.

Fundraising update: As you know, I’ve been running with Team Chances to raise money for Chances for Children. I committed to raising $5000, and I’M GETTING SO CLOSE!!! I’ve now raised $4,110 and have just $890 to go thanks to so much support from everyone in my life! Please consider helping me to reach my goal by making a donation or placing an order! Remember that all donations/orders are tax deductible and in the state of Arizona, you can receive a full tax credit ($200 individual, or $400 family) for donations. Thanks to all of you for all the support!! I truly believe I can meet this goal by November 4th!