TSC NYC Marathon 2016

So, incase you are just joining us or somehow missed it, I ran THE New York City Marathon this year… on November 6th to be exact.  It took about a week to fully take in the whole event of the marathon and be able to actually talk about it and then another week to try and collect all my thoughts into a post.  I’m not sure where to begin, other then the beginning of “marathon weekend” and see where that takes us.

Everything really began last year when I secured my guaranteed entry into the race.  That basically meant a month of thinking about, talking about, stressing about, and training for the epic 26.6 adventure.  Races and training runs alike were well thought out and strategically placed to support progress throughout the year. Then summer happened… and training took a nose dive as heat, humidity and illness kept me from adding on miles.  Fall teased me a little and I welcomed the cool break, which of course stood me up at the Navy-Air Force Half in DC back in September (read all about that here).  In what ended up being the worst half I’ve had to date, I seriously considered deferring my marathon entry for a year, thinking HOW can I get  through 26.2 miles when I can hardly get through 13.1 and that’s supposed to be easy this far into training?

Well, I took 2 weeks off.  Put the shoes on a shelf and thought long and hard about what I was going to do and if I was going to get my New York on this year.  Yes, I was getting physical sick but a lot of it was because I was pushing myself to much mentally.  I stepped back.  I re-evaluated.  I thought about how I would feel November 7th- Marathon Monday… seeing everyone with their medals and knowing I gave it up.  (Not to mention I really couldn’t afford to pay this race again).   I decided to approach a long training run with a new mind set— go for time.  Go out for 3-4 hours and see how much ground I could cover in that time, but slowing down if I felt like I was getting exhausted.  And that’s what I did.  3 hours and 15 miles later I felt on top of the world and knew in that moment I had found my key to success for 26.2.  Slow down, enjoy it, maintain a roughly 12 minute miles and get 5 miles to the hour.  I wanted to finish the marathon and feel just as amazing as I did that day with only 15 miles.

So that gave me 4 weeks to continue running and cross training and trying not to panic!

Fast forward: Marathon weekend started as soon as I clocked out for work on Nov. 3rd and went to check out the Marathon Pavillion in Central Park. The best part of that?  The wall with all 50,000 runners names on it.  I was able to find mine at eye level and take tons of annoying photos with it!

Next was the Expo- a HUGE event- for getting race numbers, pre and post race info, t-shirts, and all the gear you could want! Basically it’s an amazing and overwhelming experience and Megan and family came along to keep me on track, as well as get in the New York Marathon Weekend spirit.  Ran into some other runners I’ve “met” through Social Media and checked out all the vendors.  We had fun, although there was no no size Medium in the official Asics marathon jacket… which was a little itty bitty teeny weeny issue cause I wanted that jacket.  Like I really wanted  it… so I now strategically fit into a Small and just can’t gain and weight.  No problem.

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Dinner followed by outfit prep and a foot soak were the perfect way to end the day and get ready for the 4:45am wake up call I had to start the adventure to the start line.

Marathon Day

Oh goodness early morning to get to the train to get to the ferry to get to Staten Island to then stand in a huge mess of a crowd/line to get on a bus to get to security to get to the start village to find you holding zone to wait to get into your corral to get to the start line…

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Up, dressed, packed, and out.  Megan came down on the train with me to be sure I 1. ate breakfast and 2. made it there.  LOL.

img_8466 Having never been on the Staten Island Ferry, I was very content to stand at my spot in the front and watch the morning unfold over the city.  Seeing the Verrazano Bridge come into view and pass Lady Liberty was pretty amazing.

Once we docked the real tedious waiting started.  I didn’t start the race till 11am and I was like “Oh a 7am ferry is soon early”, nope best thing… cause there is a LOT of tedious waiting.  First in a mess of a line… more like a crowd… that moved slowly to a stair case that eventually lead outside.  But no, not to the start… to a LOVELY *sarcasm* cue that funneled us on to busses that sat in traffic to shuttle us to the Start Village.

Standing on the ferry and in about an hour of lines, the bus was a welcome fluffy seat, but the traffic was creating panic among other runners who were frustratingly close to missing their wave start times.   Eventually we were allowed to jump ship and go through security check points, which was actually very smooth. If  anyone remembers Brooklyn Half 2015- work security check point EVER (but that’s seriously another story).

Start Village is color coded and has all the comforts of home- coffee and apples, glamorous portaletts, cold concrete curbs to perch on, and bins full of outer layers to be donated.

Now this would be a good time to mention that the day was perfect for the race.  Clear blue skies and sunny, but with a constant breeze, it didn’t get to hot.  The ground was dry, the air was light, and humidity was low- in my book, all perfect conditions.

I munched, I walked, I stood in lines… finally Wave 4 opened for corral line up.  Somehow I was placed in Corral A which was pretty cool cause I was so close to the Start Line.  I could hear all the announcements and music- we danced to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” before starting, and watch the start gun go off.  Over the bridge and through BK.

The next 6-10 miles are a blur.  So much adrenaline and energy from the crowds, I felt like I flew through the first 6 miles and the next 4 felt pretty awesome too.  Right before the bridge to Queens at the 13 mile mark, I was starting to feel some chaffing threatening to be a problem (tank top issues) and by a stroke of luck the medical tent was out in full force with TONS of Vaseline!  It’s like they knew I would need it right then, haha.  While Brooklyn was pretty straight and flat, Queens threw a curve ball (literally we had a lot of turns and winding roads) with different terrain.

img_8485 I was actually excited to hit the 59th St.  Queensbouro Bridge at mile 15/16.  I’ve heard about this bit sense I started talking about going the Marathon and here it was.  *Disclaimer, by this time I was rocking the “jog a mile, power walk a mile” option.  So YES, I walked parts of the bridge.*  The view was amazing and a photo op. was definitely taken.  But it’s true it’s so QUIET!  I usually run with music and this race was no different- although I turned it off when the crowds were cheering or bands where playing- and I had to turn it off for part of this bridge.  To hear the talked about quiet and just take in that we were shutting down the city to do this!

img_8646 Coming off the bridge- the Wall of Sound!  As we turned on to 1st Ave. the crowds were AMAZING.  The noise and the signs.  So many people right there to share this amazing experience with us.  Megan and family found me a few times along the way, as did friends Amanda and Tyler.  Seeing signed with my name on them was totally thrilling and encouraging.  I didn’t run with my name on my shirt…. it’s SO long… but that didn’t stop me from enjoying support from every single spectator I locked eyes with.

I don’t really remember running over into the Bronx.  I was starting to get seriously tired and the feeling of actually working set in.  Yes, the sign about the talked about “hitting of the wall” reminded me this was probably what my body and mind were working with… but I wan’t stopping.  I just started wanted every sort of food I could think of!  Once again, the medical teams were at just the right place with a little salty pretzel snack, which I darted back to grab and continued on.

Then we were back on a bridge (the last one as everyone around was excited about) and back to Manhattan.  While it was starting to get later in the day, so many people were still out, leaving no runner un-cheered.  Finally turning onto 5th Ave. meant only one thing- Central park and mile 24 here near.  A little pain and rubbing in my left shoe required a short pull over to adjust a sock and put into perspective that I had less then a 5K (3 miles) and definitely less then 30 minutes left to run.

This was thrilling and scary all at the same time- I was about to finish the New York City Marathon- oh wow but then it will be over and THANK GOODNESS I’m tired and sweaty!

Mile 25 included charging West along Central Park South just as the sun was setting over the buildings and a wall of spectators lining the left side of the street.  I’d been power walking to try and ease the slight pain I was feeling in my left heal, but I promised myself I would run the finish and as we turned into Central Park for the last 800 meters, I picked up the pace and did just that.

The sounds of the announcers and the lights of the finish line got nearer and nearer.  I could feel myself choking up and focused on breathing to finish happy and strong. (But tears happened at the finish anyway)

img_8490 Snapped this pic and had that medal hung around my neck.  I DID IT.  Still smiling, I finished the TCS NYC Marathon.

Now other stories I’d heard came to mind.  The walk and the wait to get to your soft fuzzy desired Post Race Poncho and get out of the park.  The finish shoot is ridiculously long and after grabbing a “recovery bag” and managing to open the water bottle, I was slow… every muscle was beyond tired and this bag was like the heaviest thing I’ve ever carried.  For fear of having to go to the medical tent, I refrained from leaning along the fence even just for a moment and just kept walking.

Finally we turned off to see the iconic ponchos up ahead!  Once wrapped in fleecy loveliness- and YES PLEASE I would like my hood put up, thank you VERY much- you are set loose on the streets on New York.

This was hard, slowly wandering down the street to the meet up point with friends, but the energy of every other runner was humming throughout the city streets on the Upper Wests Side.

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Let’s fast forward  cause this is getting a little long… that night I showered, got home, had a grilled cheese and a lot of fluids, soaked my feet and went to bed super early.

Yes, I was sore but no bad pain.  My knees hurt a little but that went away and my left ankle was a little inflamed for a time.  BUT no headache and no back pain, no getting sick!!

img_8531Monday Marathon Monday

It means taking off work and sleeping in.  Wearing your medal all day long and as much Marathon gear as you want. You are a super hero for the day and no one rushed you across the street.

I followed the advice of my dear friends Holly and went to get my medal engraved then we hung out and took ALL of the post race finisher photos.

I’m still reeling about that day.  I ran a marathon.  I ran the New York City Marathon.  I have the medal and all the memories.  The question I get now is, “Will you run it again?”. The answer— I’m not sure.

I never thought I would run a full marathon to begin with and sense I had such a great experience, I don’t feel a need right now to change that.  What I would hate is to do it again and get sick or hurt.  For now I’m going to enjoy that I had (for me) the perfect race and that’s how I want to remember it.

Perfect weather, conditions, outfit, training, course, city, people, everything.  I finished right were I thought I would and I felt great, can’t argue with that.

Did you Get Your New York On?  Share!!

Always,

Cimg_8521

In Light. In Thanks.

If you are in New York City, you will know what I mean… If not, this may be a confusing post.

But in light of recent events and the current political scene, you know there is some (to be polite) sadness, fear, anger, frustration, confusion, and wonder where we- as a people and a country- will be headed come the new year.

Let’s talk about the proverbial elephant in the proverbial room… the 2016 Presidential Election results.  I don’t (I mean I personally do), but as a blogger I’ll try not to offer advice or opinion… I have to understand we all have the ability to make our own decichiosns and did so for reasons we see fit and right.

However, I will say that New York City was LITERALLY and FIGURATIVELY in a rain cloud grey day after the election results rolled in very early Wednesday morning the other week.  There were tears at office desks, heartfelt “thank yous” to Starbucks baristas, and moments of eye contact and genuine care on train cars.  A city of driven, serious, stressed, “cold hearted” people all came together in unspoken confusion, worry, and supported each other this week.

It’s become clear to me we all moved to this magical place for a reason.  To surround ourselves with similar, understanding people… be us women seeking other strong women… members of the LGTBQ community seeking support and acceptance… artists seeking creative outlets… Likeminded people flocking together to New York City… the “melting pot” city… the City of Dreams.

I’ve been reflection a lot on my move here.  I was alone (contrary to what many believe, I did NOT move up here to follow my man), I was lost, and I was looking for something different then I had before.  I was free to go where I wanted and reinvent myself if I chose.  I came here with no more then I could carry of the plane and now I find myself an active member of my community, a member of a team, and a part of an extensive network of friends and relations.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about where I was about this 10 years ago… sitting in a movie theater watching Happy Feet (tap dancing penguins… can you see it now) and avoiding eye contact from the man I eventually moved in with and would have given my life to.  We traveled, we moved in together, we made decisions based on each other… and ultimately we did not last.  Do I meant to be dark and depressing?  No. Do I mean to use this as a chance to reflect, to make amends (although only through words that may actually never reach the ears they are meant for)?  Yes.  I mean to say that in light of all the events that have shaken my city and tested friendships, I am thankful for all that I have experienced.  For all of the people I have met, loved, hated, worked with, cared for, or ultimately decided were/were not the right fit for my life.

November is often sold as a month to be thankful for friends, family, warmth, health, and love. Businesses market it as a time to spend a little more, to give back.  Family use it as a time to see you.

I have to say I  am thankful for all the life experiences I’ve had- the good, the bad, and the ugly- as I would not be the “jet setting  marathoner with a stable job” that I am today without them.  I would not have moved to New York, said “I love you” to someone special, turned down job offers, accepted job offers, or started running without every experience and person that has made me… me.

To the City of New York right now, we need to pick ourselves up and brush ourselves off.  Unite and band together rather then get angry or hide away (although it’s ok sometimes i guess).

To him, I’m no longer mad, confused, upset, angry, or still in love.  I’ve forgiven myself.  I’ve forgiven him.  And I’ve moved beyond it… because being angry forever will not help anyone.

All in all to sum up this raw, potentially controversial post… we ALL need to take a moment and shine a light on what we have.  What we have accomplished and how strong we are together and alone.  There is still good in people and we can tap that.  There is still love in me and I can fine that.

Always,

C

Tips to Travel: Let’s Talk Money

I’ve never been comfortable discussing my financial state or income with others.  I feel like money should be included in the list of things you DON’T discuss over diner with polite company.  But times are a changin’!  It’s easy to dream big and want to do it all, to talk things up and not be able to follow through.

But at 25 and already living on a budget, planning this trip meant looking at and considering a lot of money options and making plans based on that factor.  I am also traveling with other people, so i need to know I can fund my way and uphold my part of the expenses.   Without going into great detail, I want to share here some budget tips and things to consider before taking off.

First, decide how much you can and want to spend on your trip (per person).  Set yourself a reasonable range BEFORE spending or booking then, as you look at expenses, add things up to see how it compares to what you are willing to spend.  Remember that there can (and most likely will) be unforeseen expenses and you will want to buy things at your final destination, so remember to include some funds for that.

Costs you will probably be considering can include travel (flights, bus tickets, gas, etc), lodging/housing, food, souvenirs, tickets, fees, rentals, and so on.  As well as anything you have to buy before even landing in your  destination (clothes, luggage, power converters, medication, etc).  Don’t let this hinder your adventuresome spirit but don’t get taken by surprised or stuck.

Something I have recently earned second hand and been reminded of many times::  be sure to balance your personal comfort and sanity with your budget travel.  How will you feel about your trip if you choose to save money by taking the bus, but end up having a screaming child in the row behind you and stuck on the bus for 3 times longer then you would on a plane… makes that $15 you saved seem like nothing at all for a fast, quiet trip instead.

Alright, no more stalling—

What were my big upfront costs to #BaliBound #BaliBirthday 2016?

  • Getting there
    • For this trip that means airline tickets.  Big tip:  Book in advance and travel at “off peak” times.  If you’re not traveling for the holidays, don’t travel over holiday season.  My trip has been strategically placed after the Thanksgiving rush and well before Christmas.  But I had to consider that the country I was headed to wasn’t a Christina nation and other holidays needed to be considered too.  Booking in advance is always best as is looking at the days of the week you travel.  Flying on a Friday or Saturday are notoriously more expensive then a Tuesday or Wednesday!  Best practice:  Look at several options and consider giving yourself some wiggle room, a one day shift in travel could save you a lot!
  • Staying there
    • There are many ways to save when it comes to your living arrangements on a trip.  This is a good time to also consider what sort of experience you want.  Do you want to take the 5-star Hotel Resort and Spa path OR the family compound Homestay?  How close do  you want to be to the culture and people or have to worry a little less about the cleanliness and water quality.  No place will be perfect.  I’ll just say that.  But deciding what you want out of the experience and how comfortable or uncomfortable you are willing to be needs to be considered along with price.  You will probably be someplace for a few days (at least) so check if there are specials for multiple nights and/or guests.  What is included in your stay- breakfast?  pool access? rentals and tours?  How close are you to the attractions or city center?  Accommodations right in the heart of things can cost you more.  Does your budget allow it or would you be OK walking a little further but have ore spending money later?

All good questions to ask yourself.  From experience, don’t always go with the first place you find!  Do some research.  Look for their website but also check your guide books (remember those?  We got them last entry!) and if they recommend a place it’s probably good to consider.  In this day of social media, I also checked Instagram and Facebook for tags and entries of my homestay before I booked my room.  I wanted to see if it looked like they said it did, and what a better place to look then another tourists pictures!

As the 4 Weeks Till Trip mark approaches, I am uncovering other costs that are important.  For example, I would love to purchase an Ospry backpack that is carry-on size and able to hold all my belongings.  I have duffles, sure, but who wants to get off in Indonesia with a hot pink, cotton, floral, Vera duffle?  I also have feelers out to borrow backs from friends who are travelers, but anyone can tell you there is something extra special about having your own NEW bag to play with and eventually pack.  *To justify purchase, this way I’ll have it when I travel more!  and It’s basically an early 26th Birthday present, right?*

I also have to get power adaptors, be sure I have proper clothes, shoes, and transportable toiletries.  Many things I know I can get at my final destination and not worry about taking through TSA and customs, but things from home are always nice to have on hand.

Well, looks like those are the big things I can think of that require spending before the trip… but that does not mean the spending is over!  There will be things I need (food) and want (stuff) to buy in Bali.  Remembering there is a conversion and that the USD is strong there is great, but spending is spending… and it’s easy.  Yoga classes, clothes, spas, cooking classes, fare and fees, possibly snorkeling, tours, and more are all things I’m considering when building my budget… and in doing so, my trip.

Overall, you will have a better travel experience if you can relax and enjoy it, noting you will not be totally broke at the end.  Having a relatively planned budget with some wiggle room will make the trip fun and manageable.   Always let you bank know you are away from home, we will touch more on this in later posts, but having charges flagged or accounts frozen can put a damper on anyone’s plans.

No matter what you can spend, your trip will be what you make of it and I’m excited to be seeing Bali for as long as I am and in the best way I can!

Other budget travel tips?  Share them here- for me and any other reader getting ready for adventure!

Always,

C

The Last Half: Navy Air-Force Half Marathon 2016

With the NYC Marathon just days away, I figured it was time to look back on another of the races that helped get me this far.  It’s not always pretty… it’s certainly not easy… and sometimes the reward doesn’t show up till much later.  But every mile is another one closer to the big 26.2, it’s another mile I that wouldn’t have been run otherwise.

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Early morning train rides call for glasses & sweats!

Back in September, Megan and I packed bags, jumped on a train, and head down to Washington DC for the Navy Air-Force Half Marathon.  Let’s just say the trip started out on the opposite then right foot, with a cab driver who wasn’t quite sure how to get to Penn Station (NYC problems)… and the fun continued as we, in early morning Amtrak required glasses and oversize sweatshirt, watched very drunk people tottle around Penn waiting for their commuter trains home on a Saturday night (morning).

Once on the train, it was smooth track for the morning.  Having never been to the country’s capitol, I was excited to see a new city, earn a new medal, and see the sights.  We pulled in as the sun was just starting to lighten the sky over the White House and bound past the chatty homeless people outside into out waiting car (thanks Aunt Diane!).

img_7997 Saturday morning was for coffee, monument viewing, and packet pickup.  The Expo… sort of disappointing I have to say.  Either I’ve been spoiled by the BK Half party of an expo or I was looking forward to the massive Marathon every… There just wasn’t must to see or things to do.  Get your number, get your shirt.. look over the green of the ball park and head back to the car.  Ok, so at least it was easy to get into and out of!  With race numbers acquired, the only other thing to do was eat well and sight see- not wearing ourselves out to much- and rest before the race the next day.

This is when we really got a taste of the weekend weather— seasonally way to hot and HUMID— so not my ideal race conditions.  * Side note, I’ll run in rain, snow, wind, the dark, etc without a single complaint… but as soon as it’s excessively hot and humid without a breeze, I’m out.  I overheat way to fast! *  I should have known then to re-evaluate my race plan and not push it.  But did I listen, of course not.


5:30AM Sunday morning- We are up, dressed, hydrated, and out by 6.  The Start line right by the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial was beautiful as the sun rose with just a few clouds in the sky.  Energy was high all around as runners and teams assembled to start out on the 13.1 mile trek.  I felt good till about mile 4, that’s when I started to feel the heat.  The sun was up and the course, while relatives flat, had minimal coverage and only breeze when we were by the water.  Starting around mile 6 (at least I got through the 10k) I started alternating Run a Mile, Walk a Mile.  I was determined to finish, but could feel my shoulders locking up and my breath getting short.

It was about this time that I started to question HOW I was going to make it through the 26.2 miles in November that I was planning on doing.  But anyone else who runs (any distance really) you know that running is as much mental as it is physical.  I had to get my head space into a better place- fast! other wise I knew I wouldn’t finish this race or any other.  Singing, reading other runners shirts, looking at the scenery all around me, feeding off the crowds and giving every high-5 I came across.

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Finisher photo with the White House in the background!

Having family and friends on the course seriously helped.  The community support and energy was amazing on this race and I would say really kept me going.  Each water station had a different theme and made all kinds of noise!  We actually got to vote for our favorite water/cheer station, so they had an awesome reason to pull out all the stops and make noise!  Leading up to the finish line, more and more people could be heard cheering and encouraging us along.  To exhausted to sprint the finish and knowing I wasn’t gunning for a PR, I crossed in at 2:45 and, the hot sweaty tired mess that I was, earned her DC medal!

OK, so the race itself wasn’t bad… it was all me… and the bad part came later……. post walk to the car and post shower… my usual post race migraine.  Ok, that’s nothing to surprising, I’m sure you are tired of hearing me mention it.  Usually I can sleep it off, eat something and be fine- ready to see more of the city… but not this time.  Hours later there I am, curled up on the couch, so sick to my stomach, migraine and all with ice and crackers.  What a great way to end a race day!  Could it get any worse?  Of course!- I had to get on a train and get back to NYC.  Oh great…

Once the actual being sick part stopped I was just tired.  I was that annoying person on the train taking up 2 seats (sorry y’all).  Try sleeping curled up on a train car with a migraine after running 13.1 miles… actually, don’t try that- take my word for it- NOT FUN!


Sunday night- September 18th, 2016… what happened that night?  Anyone? Anyone at all?  Elizabeth, NJ.  Ring any bells yet?

Yes, that night- while I (and tons of other passengers) were just trying to get back to NYC, although very few of them had just run a half and even fewer had a stomach bug and migraine… I digress- there were bombs discovered at a train station in Elizabeth NJ.  (this is after the Chelsea NYC incident)

We got stopped in Trenton NJ.  For like 3 hours.  Stuck on a train in the middle of nowhere New Jersey at 11pm.  You can imagine how thrilled everyone was.

After about an hour of being stuck, contacts came out and glasses went on.  The social media and google searches began to find out exactly what was going on… cause, bless our train crew, they were not telling us much and clearly overwhelmed (and tired… wait, that was ALL of us).  Eventually we were moved up a few station and a little closer to the city.  There we de-trained and were told, “Shuttle busses will be available for transport to New York or stations past the incident”.  That’s great!  We all thought… till it was only 2 busses.  2 busses for a whole train of passengers.

Now, 2am maybe, due tempers!

Ok, maybe it didn’t get that bad… but as the wait for more busses continued (and we were eventually told they got lost and not coming, so other busses were being arranged) people- complete strangers- began banding together to get home.  Calling Uber cars to various destinations there 4-6 people were headed.

We broke down and went in with 4 others to get back to Penn.  It’s 4:45am.  Trying not to totally pass out in the very back seat of as SUV, I honestly hardly remember getting to Penn and promptly falling into a cab with Megan to get home.

5:30am Monday morning- When I fall into my bed, fully dressed and totally exhausted, just so glad to be home and off that darn train.  Pain, hunger, excitement all gone, all I wanted to do was sleep and sleep and sleep.

I don’t know that I’ve had a longer 24 hours.  Needless to say, I was not at work that day.  About 3pm, when I woke up, it was time to evaluate the food situation, stinky laundry pile, and add the medal to the wall.  I got through one of those things before promptly going back to bed.

Maybe not the best race.  Maybe not the best travel.  But it does make a great story.

Anyone else run the 2016 Navy-Air Force Half in DC?  Or get stuck on a commuter train that night?  I’d love to hear shared stories here!

Always,

C