Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Changing it up

After a crazy insane double half marathon weekend, I felt a bit broken by the time I got back home.

Not feeling up to running just yet, and I was PSYCHED to have a transition week in P90X. First day back... YOGA!! Felt sooo good to stretch out. Then I got to try a workout I haven't done yet, the "Core Synergistics" - that one was pretty tough but I liked it. And then today was the Kenpo X. Sorta like boxing. Only very little direction/demonstration and fast moving so I'm all over the place. Never realized how off balance and CLUMSY I was... hehehe. But nice to have a break.

I did a little math and discovered that in just under 8 weeks I'll be doing the Great Wall of China Marathon. I emphasize marathon because when we signed up early last summer we were planning on just doing the half. After all this time and how much we have already accomplished... why settle for the half? We are going all the way to China, we might as well go ALL THE WAY. So. The Stairmaster training commences. In 30 minutes I accomplished 130 floors climbed. And felt like I was having a minor heart attack while doing it. At least China is more scenic than the boring gym :D

Here is a YouTube video about the race:

Race Pics
I finally have some that aren't too ridiculous. So here they are... I'm digging my new race hat and after all these races I of course still LOVE my knee socks and skirts.

NYC Half Marathon
National Half Marathon
Another double header scheduled this weekend! My calf and foot are feeling much better after icing and sticking. I'll run a few miles today, but that's the only run I have scheduled for the week.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, March 27
Wilmington, DE
Half Marathon #27
State #24/50
Weather - Sunny, COLD (low 30s)

The Caesar Rodney half marathon was actually a last minute add. It is pretty expensive to travel to the east coast, and I figured whenever possible, it's best to just have a double weekend to get some of these smaller states out of the way. This one seemed promising... I mean any race that is on its 48th year has to be doing SOMETHING right.

Anyway... we were taking the train from Union Station to Wilmington, DE. I had found a Doubletree hotel for a pretty decent rate that was really close to both the train station AND the start/finish area for the race. This all seemed like a no-brainer.

We got off the train and headed to the hotel. We noticed right away that Wilmington ALSO seems hilly. Greeeat. My calf was still feeling tight and it was cold and windy on our walk. We noticed there didn't seem to be many food choices on the way and hoped we would find something. Checked in to the hotel and then headed back out in the opposite direction to find somewhere to eat.

Pretty cool architecture
Unlike D.C., Wilmington (at least the area we were in) is SUPER clean. It is also SUPER "old fashioned" - everything was closed by the time we headed out. Apparently 6:00ish on a Saturday night is simply a CRAZY time to try and get something to eat. After about 30 minutes we were cold and hungry and tired of walking around and decided to shell out the extra money to just eat at the hotel. After checking the menu, the only pasta option was "lobster ravioli" - unimpressed. Neither of us particularly LIKES fish. So... our next option was to call for delivery. It was really our last hope. We found a place called "Seasons Pizza" that had some pasta on their menu, and they were able to get it to us in 40 minutes. Not too bad.

Ziti, chicken, salad (fries, even though I asked for veggies)
Dinner was fabulous, and for the first time in a while, I was actually kind of struggling to eat the entire thing, but I knew I would need all the carbs/help I could get. We finally finished with dinner and then tried to stay up.

Problem #1 with adding this race. I only "skimmed" when I read the race info. I thought it started at 8:30 and therefore a 12:54 train and a 3:20 flight out of Baltimore would be no problem. Well. The 5K started at 8:30, but the half didn't start until 9:30. Especially with how yesterday's race went, and that my calf was feeling funky, I was NOT optimistic about a 2 hour finish. Of course we would still have to walk back to the hotel, shower, walk to the train station.

This was ALL going to be cut VERY close. We also had not picked up our packets yet, and the only detail on the website was that pick-up STARTED at 7:30. We decided to get up at 8:00 in the morning, walk over in our pj's and get our packets, then come back and get ready.

There were quite a few people in line getting their packets. It took about 10 minutes to get our bag, then I grabbed a cup of coffee and we headed back to the hotel to get ready. After the last couple of races, I was really torn on if I should do something off the wall like run with my jacket. Just so tired of freezing throughout (and before and after) the race. Decided that I would not wear my jacket, it's really not so much my arms that get cold, but my hands. I did, however, decide that I would wear my gloves for the race. L and I had also brought travel blankets with us (to keep warm at the start). I was glad to have it, it was pretty chilly.

Sure DID feel like 25
L by the Caesar Rodney statue
In addition to the gloves, I decided I would also wear my running tights. We found the start line and set our blankets on top of a trash can and lined up to start. I was relieved that we were going to start running DOWN. The gun went off just a few minutes after 9:30 and we were off. I almost immediately lost L, but I knew that today of all days would NOT be one I'd even have a hope of keeping up with her. I was trying to take it a bit easy.

The first two miles were ROUGH. I cannot even begin to describe how tight my right calf was. I know that it doesn't actually need to bend or anything while running, but it was so tight I felt like I was gimp/running. I noticed my foot didn't hurt, so I was undecided if this was better or worse. At mile 1, I noticed I was under a 9 minute pace and decided I needed to slow down a bit. The first part of the course was weird. Ran around and through a strip mall. Clearly just to get the correct amount of mileage. Came up on the first aid station and I was really relieved to be able to walk.

Stadium by mile 2
I walked a bit longer than usual and already the wheels were turning in my head. How slow could I actually finish this race and give us enough time to get to the train on time? I even thought that if I started walking at mile 2 I would give us about 20 minutes to get there as long as I jogged a few minutes here and there. What a terrible way to think so early in a race!

Luckily that walking at mile 2 seemed to have loosened up my calf a bit and it didn't hurt as bad when I started up again. However... I started to feel that ache in my foot. Damn. New plan. Attack the race like I do a marathon, run easy, don't race. I started to get passed a lot. Oh well... I just had to finish (ideally as fast as possible so we would have time to shower :D )

In the parking lot
After we ran through the strip mall, the course made a turn and we ran by the nature conservatory (where I had a GUY tell me I had some really awesome socks). Then we turned and started down a path by the Riverfront:

I didn't really feel "tired" but I was... fatigued, and I was worried that my foot wasn't going to hold up for the rest of the race. I was still taking it easy, and was relieved when I made it to yet another aid station without having to walk. Maybe this wouldn't be too bad after all!

Mile 4 aid station
We ran back through a business district in the city, and then headed up a pretty big hill (by our hotel and sorta near where we started) before we turned off and headed into a more "park-like" area. I wasn't moving very fast on the hill, but I was able to keep going. I almost missed the mile marker at 6, but I knew there was a timing mat at the halfway point.

Cool bridge, approaching 1/2 way
The next aid station was under a bridge right before the timing mat. Once again, I enjoyed my brief break. Happy that I'm halfway, this just might work! Of course THIS was the toughest point of the entire course. There was a small section of course that we would do twice, and right when I passed halfway, the winner was headed toward me. This section of the course, while scenic, was ALL UPHILL.

Between Miles 7 & 8
I actually was able to jog a little longer than I thought I would be able to, but then I eventually decided that walking for a few minutes might loosen up my quads and give me a quick break. The next aid station was somewhere around mile 8 (and the only one with Gatorade), and then we headed to another park area:
Between Miles 8 and 9
I was super happy that I hadn't needed to use the bathroom on the course. L had heard that there was only one on the course, somewhere before mile 9. I never saw it though. (That's really one of the only complaints I would have on this race... there should ALWAYS be at least a couple places to stop and use the bathroom). Right around mile 9 I noticed it was already 11:00. Damn. I needed to keep at it the same pace I was going or we were going to have problems. Took a third GU right before mile 10... Vanilla Bean. Haven't had that flavor in ages. It was really tasty and I think it actually gave me a little bit of energy!

After we exited the park we ran through some neighborhoods, then the next aid station at mile 10. I liked that the kid that handed me my water very enthusiastically said "You can do this!" LOL. There was a nice "out and back" along a residential area and I think the aid station was supposed to have been in the middle of the street we were running on. I had been expecting another aid station at mile 11. We turned a corner and were finally running the downhill of that huge hill. I was finally feeling pretty good! I hadn't expected that so late in the course.

Approaching mile 12 and I see the last person heading up the course at mile 7. An old man, walking. He looked SO happy! (By the way, he finished in 3:53). I kinda wish I could enjoy more races like that. I knew we'd get that aid station again under the bridge, the last one of the race. I walked through it, and realized I only had about 3/4 of a mile to go. I can do that!

The course ran along a park on one side, and the city on the other, we turned into the city, heading toward Rodney Square, and the last quarter of a mile? ALL UPHILL. A ridiculous uphill. A hill I was cursing. UGH!!! I was struggling and wanted to walk but of course this is where all the spectators were so I couldn't. Again, I had nothing left in me to "sprint" to the finish, but at least I didn't walk across the finish line. I crossed the line, was handed a small cup of Gatorade, and found L. We got someone to take our picture in front of the Caesar Rodney statue:

Me and L
Official Time - 2:12:10
Official Pace - 10:06
Halfway Split - 1:04:37
Halfway Pace - 9:52
Overall Place - 1046/1316
Division Place - 60/85
Gender Place - 377/534
Garmin Time - 2:12:11
Garmin Distance - 13.19 miles
Garmin Pace - 10:01
Mile 1 - 8:42
Mile 2 - 9:25
Mile 3 - 9:56
Mile 4 - 9:53
Mile 5 - 10:12
Mile 6 - 10:16
Mile 7 - 10:24
Mile 8 - 11:31
Mile 9 - 10:24
Mile 10 - 9:58
Mile 11 - 10:06
Mile 12 - 9:36
Mile 13 - 9:47
Mile 13.1 - 10:26

FYI... Caesar Rodney is on the back of the Delaware quarter. L had grabbed me a bottle of Gatorade, and then we each grabbed a slice of pizza (from Seasons Pizza, the same folks that delivered our food the night before), and we headed back to the hotel. We walked by the start area and saw our blankets still on top of the trash can... This was a trash can that had a lid and our stuff was just sitting on top... so we grabbed them. I was still FREEZING. Anyway, we got to the hotel just before noon, and we both took super fast showers, and were out of there by 12:15. That gave us almost 45 minutes to walk to the train station. PLENTY of time...

Got to the train station, bought a drink and a souvenir and then tried to figure out where we needed to be. That's when we noticed that our 12:54 train NOW said - "Now 2:21." WTH??? We get in line and found out the train was delayed almost 1.5 hours! What that meant is that we were going to miss our 3:20 flight out of Baltimore. 2 out of 3 trains were a bust. NOT impressed with Amtrak. After about ten minutes the incredibly rude woman finally refunded our money (we had kept our tickets from BWI and got that refunded to). Our only solution was to take a cab to BWI. That is NOT cheap if you were wondering. Our $38/each train tickets became a $225 cab ride. Ugh.

It was about a 70 mile drive to the airport, and we got there right around 2:00. We still had to actually print our boarding passes and then go through security. After printing our boarding pass, we discover our flight is delayed. An hour. You are kidding me... Sigh.

It takes a while to get through security, there is only one person checking tickets, and the X-Ray lines are LONG... At least since our flight was delayed we would actually have time to sit down and have a nice lunch without rushing. We went to a diner and got our typical lunch of salad and a burger:

Best lunch ever! Then we headed to the gate area. Our flight ended up not being quite as delayed as they had thought, and we were actually boarded about 15 minutes earlier. Once on the plane they thought we would land only about 20 minutes later than originally scheduled. I was psyched!! We haven't had a flight that got us home during daylight hours in ages! The best part of the flight?? New snacks!!!

Once again, we lucked out and all our travel issues were fixed and most of them were at the END of the trip.

Another double header complete... and another on the books for this weekend. Bring it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

National Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, March 26
Half Marathon #26
Weather - Chilly, breezy, low 30s

I signed up for the National half marathon FOREVER ago. Literally. I was stalking the registration page and registered the night before I ran my THIRD half marathon on 4th of July last year. So much has happened since I registered for this race! Anyway, I was really excited about this race because I met new friends when I went to Greece last October that live near DC and were also planning on racing AND offered to let us stay with them. SCORE!!

We weren't able to get a great flight out of Denver, so we had an elaborate plan of flying into BWI and then taking a train from the airport to Union Station, meeting up with our friends, picking up packets. It all sounded great. Easy, even.

Our flights (we had a connection) luckily went very well. We were flying Southwest and had forgotten to check in at 24 hours, so on the first leg of the flight we weren't able to get seats together, which was a bummer. At least going to MCI (Kansas City) only takes an hour. We had a short time between connecting flights and we HAD to get food. FYI, if you are in a hurry, do NOT go to the Quiznos. Slowest.Moving.Humans.Ever. Literally did not even have time to use the bathroom, and walked right from Quiznos to board the plan. We were lucky enough to get seats together for the remainder of our trip.

We landed with plenty of time to figure out how to get to the train, took the shuttle, got to the train station with about an hour until the train was to depart... and then about 20 minutes before we were supposed to leave we found out the train was delayed. Asking how long the delay was going to be proved to be useless and we weren't even able to get a ballpark... 10 minutes? 4 hours? Since we were under a bit of a time crunch (the expo was closing at 8:00 pm and it was already almost 6:00, we had no choice but to take a cab from BWI to Union Station. Luckily there were two woman who were in a similar predicament, and we all shared a cab ($20 per person). Although neither of them was running the National, they were both runners. What a small world :D

We lucked out yet again with no real traffic and we were dropped off at Union Station roughly the same time we would have arrived if the train would have been on time. I called my friends and we found them easily. We walked to their car, and we got to the expo about 7:00. Nope. I don't like to cut things close at all...

We only had a few minutes, but I made sure to run over to the Razzy Roo booth to FINALLY meet Cheryl. I just love her products, I love the customer service, and of COURSE the price is right too. She had tons of stuff out that I hadn't seen on her website, and of course I walked away with some new bands (and new monkey socks!)

We left the expo and drove to my friend's house in Silver Spring (about 30 minutes away). We were cooked an AWESOME meal, and after a beer and some dinner conversation, it was 11:00 before we knew it. It had been a long day, and we were EXHAUSTED. The plan was to leave the house by 5:30ish, arriving around 6:00, which would give us time to check our bags and get to the start line.

I didn't fall asleep that easily, and 4:55 came FAST. We got ready and we were only out the door a few minutes late. There was no traffic until we got just a few miles from the Armory. And that's when it all started to unravel. Literally bumper to bumper traffic. Moving so slow the speedometer wasn't even registering. Finally after about 10 minutes (by now it was already 6:15), we decided to go off the main road to see if we could find another road to get to parking. Of course all the satellite roads were already blocked off. By 6:30 we knew there was no hope of driving all the way there. We were lucky enough to find a place to park about 1.5 miles from the start line and we had to walk. We came across the port-o-potties at the first aid station (around mile 1.2) and we used the bathrooms and then had to jog to the start line. That was a first! As soon as we had to park and run, we knew there would be no time to do bag drop. That was a major bummer.

We literally were walking up on the starting area when the national anthem was happening. I was in corral 8, which meant it would take us about 20 minutes to cross the start line. We had planned ahead (luckily) with our awesome $3 Wal Mart sweaters. It was COLD and had already been outside a while. Don't we look awesome??

Me and L
Corral 8
Starting Area
I was tempted to keep the sweater on for the first couple of miles, I was THAT cold. L did remind me that it might be tough to get off since I would have to pull it off over my head. So I decided I would wear it for as long as possible and then toss.

As I said, it took  more than 20 minutes to actually GET to the start line. I started out feeling pretty good, and I was able to keep L in my sights for about ten minutes :D

The first part of the course was the best part. Not that hilly, and we actually had some cool stuff to look at. I hadn't been to DC since I was a teenager, so it was neat to see some of the buildings up close.

Capitol - around mile 2
I hadn't really planned on taking that many pictures along the course, but I was already feeling a little more tired than usual, so I took quite a few in the first 4 miles.

Aid station somewhere between mile 3 & 4

Along with this last picture I took at the Washington Monument (about mile 4), that's about when things really started to go poorly for me. I had been pacing pretty well, and I was feeling... ok.

And then the course took a turn, and we were no longer running down the cool and historic part of DC. It was a hilly, dirty and scary part of DC. I have been lucky lately with not having any aches and pains, but my foot/ankle issue from last fall decided to come back somewhere around mile 5. I hadn't expected the course to be as hilly as it was. I hadn't expected to feel so fatigued. I hadn't expected my foot/ankle to start hurting.

I'm glad I was running with a watch because the miles weren't marked and it was hard to figured out where I was along the course. I saw the first relay exchange at mile 5, but my watch put me much further along. I think that's when I mentally started to fail at this race.

ONLY mile 5??? Damn. It was all I could do to keep going. The first of the really insane hills was around mile 6, and that's when I started walking here and there. I came across a group of people offering free beer and vodka shots. Yep. I took a cup of beer. Probably the best part of the race.

About that same time, I realized I needed to use the bathroom. There were only 3-4 port-o-potties at a time, and they were only at the water stations, which were few and far between. Each one I came across had a line of about a dozen people. I had to go, but not quite bad enough to wait so long to use one. So I kept going. I think it was the aid station around mile 8 where they first ran out of fluids. They did not have enough volunteers and hadn't pre-made enough cups. I had to wait to get my Powerade and water. Annoying, but I did enjoy the break.

I still always walk through the water stations, and during this race I did it even more than usual. I was so freakin tired!!! I honestly don't know how I kept moving. My hands felt like they had frostbite, so I was a bit distracted with shaking them to be sure my fingers were still functioning. Finally I came up on the mile 10 (more like 10.25) relay exchange. There were a half dozen bathrooms and a line, and I finally decided I just didn't care how long it would take to use the bathroom. The race was already completely miserable. I had to seriously wait almost 5 minutes to get in. And then (probably TMI), my fingers were SO freaking cold that I couldn't pull my shorts and skirt back up. I was seriously having a mild panic attack. Why weren't my fingers able to grab?? That is not good. I probably really WAS getting frostbite. Curse this race. Then I get out of there finally, and an old man stops me to tell me my skirt is tucked into my shorts. Great... too bad my fingers aren't able to pull it out. Blah.

The best part about my 5 or so minute break was that it lowered my heart rate to around 100... it was like starting completely over. Only, it still sucked. My foot still hurt, I was still tired, and I still just wanted to be done. Between mile 10 and 11 I had a lady stop me and tell me she LOVED my shirt and wanted to know where we got it (custom designed by L's boyfriend and printed by Cafe Press!) That was probably one of the best parts of the race :D

Just. Keep. Going. Man this sucks. Why. Why am I doing this.

The crowd support is the only good part about this race. They are REALLY into it! Lots of people out with music and signs. Still not really enough to motivate me. I just want to be done. I'm so cold and tired and miserable. Then I see that we are running toward the capital. That must mean we are getting close!!!

Just like around mile 8, the last two aid stations are NOT at all equipped to handle the amount of runners and I have to wait for my fluids. At this point? I just do not care.

Around mile 12... horrible horrible horrible side ache. Are you kidding me?? What next?? It's bad enough that I have to walk for a few minutes because just putting a fist of pressure on it is NOT enough. This hurts. I finally decide - I just have to be done. Just have to finish. I figure that even the slowest jog in the world will at least get me there THAT much quicker. I suck it up and am honestly surprised that Garmin claims I'm moving at a 10:30ish pace. Feels like I am barely moving and that people are sprinting past me. The last mile seems like it is going on forever. I recognize the road that we are on, and I am surprirsed to see the marathoners running back up where we started. I hated this course. Cannot imagine doing it twice!

I have absolutely NOTHING left. I know I'm almost to the finish and yet I can barely move my legs. I get passed by tons of people and can barely stomach a jog to get to the end. And just like that... it is FINALLY over.

The finish area was chaos. I had to pull my medal out of a box, because unlike at most races they didn't have one ready to hand out. I was funneled through a "food" area, and grabbed a granola bar and a water. I was way too cold to consider eating or drinking anything. I somehow found L, and then we were watiing for our friends to finish. We saw them not too long after I finished. We talked for a few and then decided it wasn't getting any warmer and that we should just head to the car. We didn't see anyone we knew in the finish area and spent the walk to the car complaining about how poorly organized the race was. L had even received the wrong medal (full instead of half) but luckily realized it before we left. I would NOT do this race again.

Official Gun Time - 2:34:10
Official Net Time - 2:16:33
Official Pace - 10:25
Official 10K Split - 1:00:52 (pace 9:48)
Overall Place - 7234
Division Place - 761/1070
Gender Place - 3795/5231
Garmin Time - 2:16:30
Garmin Distance - 13.39 miles
Garmin Pace - 10:11
Mile 1 - 9:08
Mile 2 - 9:35
Mile 3 - 8:56
Mile 4 - 9:20
Mile 5 - 9:53
Mile 6 - 10:01
Mile 7 -11:07
Mile 8 - 10:14
Mile 9 - 9:38
Mile 10 - 10:25
Mile 11 - 12:59 (bathroom)
Mile 12 - 10:58
Mile 13 - 10:15
Mile 13.1ish - 10:09

It was seriously freezing outside but we decieed that we had to do at least ONE picture of us in our Colorado tanks and our awesome Sparkle Skirts (thanks Leah!)

Happy to be done!
We headed back to the house, took a quick shower, and then enjoyed a tasty homemade brunch of quiche and champagne. I was surprised when we had a visitor, another friend from Greece!!

Toly, Rose, Me (apparently I'm a midget??) and John
About 3:00 and we had to pack up and head back to Union Station. I had such a great visit with friends, it was a bummer to have to leave so soon. Our awesome friends then drove us BACK to DC to catch our train. Yep, I will forever remember Union Station:

We didn't have too long before our train left, so L quickly got a Starbucks, I got a diet coke and a new book. Quick trip to the bathroom, and a last minute splurge purchase of this AWESOME cupcake. At least we had the sense to split one instead of EACH get one. Doesn't it look delicious??

Our train left on time, and off we went... headed to Wilmington, DE for the second half marathon of the weekend.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Finally finally FINALLY seem to be getting over my nasty cold. A week and a half? Really? Blech.

2. Only got in 2 days of P90X this week. I blame that partially on being sick and partially on not having a whole lot of time.

3. Last weekend I was totally caught off guard by such cold temperatures in NYC. This weekend I have another double scheduled. DC is supposed to be cold, and it is supposed to be snowy with a high of 40 degrees on Sunday. I planned ahead this time. I got some cheapo sweaters and blankets from the dollar bin at Target so I can toss them at the start line. I also have some of those stretchy gloves. I refuse to freeze again.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NYC Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, March 20
Half Marathon #25 (State #23)
Weather - Sunny, Windy, Very low 30s

As soon as we heard about the NYC half marathon, we knew we wanted to do it. However, like most of these races... it is a lottery system that determines whether you are in or out. We put in our registration in June and didn't find out until December that we were picked. Well. Actually, *I* was picked. L was NOT selected. Luckily, we had done our research before registering, and I was able to convince a woman at NYRR that we HAD to both go. She claimed she could not guarantee anything, but was kind enough to squeeze L's registration through. So... off to New York.

And what REALLY makes this race even more special? Race day falls on the anniversary of the very first half marathon we ever ran! 3/20/10 we were at the start line of Canyonlands Half Marathon in Moab, Utah. One year later, and we are set up to race our 25th half marathon??? Hard to fathom how far (and how crazy) we have come :D

Anyway... in typical B & L racing... there was going to be some logistical issues. If you haven't been to NYC lately, let me tell you that it is expensive. We didn't want to have to stay in the city more than one night. As much as we enjoy adventure and being out of town, we also don't like to leave the kids longer than we have to. Finding an affordable flight to La Guardia was a bit of a struggle. And we weren't able to find one direct. What THAT meant is yet another red eye. Blah. So our adventure begins at 1:00 am on Saturday...

I can't sleep on a plane. Neither can L. We can, however, sit there twitchy and uncomfortable until we arrive at our layover location, Detroit. We get there EARLY (before 6 am). We find the only (and most incompetent) Starbucks in the airport. After 30 minutes we are armed with coffee and hang out at the gate until our flight leaves. Flight to New York is fairly uneventful.

We land, on time, and have no trouble getting a cab to take us to the expo. Although we didn't discuss it until later, L and I both had minor bouts of nausea and we were both super relieved to arrive at the expo without vomiting. (I blame the lack of sleep. Being up for over 24 hours isn't good for anyone).

First NY cab ride!!
I imagined the expo to be huge and exciting. It was neither. We were in and out in less than 20 minutes. And then we had HOURS to kill until we could check in to our rooms.

We figure that a good way to kill time is to walk slow and to do some sightseeing...

Then we see the Empire State Building!!

We decide that's a MUST while we are in the city, and since we are already there, we head that way. Just GETTING to the top took longer than it did to look around once we are there. FYI, the "cheap" ride to the top takes you ONLY to the 86th floor. If you want to go all the way, it was something like another $20 a person. We decided that 86 floors was plenty high enough. Here are some pictures of the view. It was a nice day, but VERY windy that high up!

In the distance you can see the Statue of Liberty

We then continued walking, and soon we were headed into the heart of Manhattan! We didn't even go in, but I just HAD to take a picture anyway:

By the time we got to Times Square we were RAVENOUS. Planet Hollywood seemed like just as good a place to eat as any. They told us the wait was 5-15 minutes. 45 minutes later, we finally were seated. And had a ridiculously expensive side salad, but a super awesome turkey sandwich made up for it. YUM.

Times Square
It was a little chilly and windy out, and we killed time by going in stores. A lot of time was spent in the Swatch store. Man, I miss the 80s sometimes! We checked out the cheesy souvenir shops and wandered around until 3:00 when we headed over to our hotel. We were able to check in, and EXHAUSTED, we took a nap until it was time for dinner.

In case you hadn't noticed it about me and L, we are creatures of habit. So we were PSYCHED to find an Applebee's only a ten minute walk from our hotel. Score!! We of course ordered the same thing that we always do, but it was about three times as much money. Guess we were paying for the experience too :D

After dinner we decided to walk around a bit more:

We stopped at a small shop on the way back to the hotel where we got our beverages (I had to settle for a can of Coors Light). The plan was to go to bed as early as possible... However, I had been suffering from a nasty head cold for a few days, and I really wanted to take some Nyquil before bed. I had to wait until at least 9:30 (4 hours between cold medicine doses).

I normally don't sleep that great the night before the race. Probably a combination of NO sleep the night before and the cold medicine, and I slept pretty good. Except for waking up in the middle of the night with a nosebleed...

Race Day

Alarm goes off at 5:15. The race doesn't start until 7:30. We take about 30 minutes to get ready, and we needed to take a cab to the start line. Unsure of how traffic would be, etc., we always like to be a little early.

What better race to wear this outfit??
It takes us a few minutes to hail a cab. We are NOT professionals. I have only been in a cab a handful of times in my life. It's not as easy as it looks. The driver luckily knew where we needed to go. I had said "96th near Central Park" - which was apparently not good enough :D

We were dropped around 6:10, and we had some time to kill until we had to drop off our gear. It.Was.Cold.
We were wandering around outside Central Park, when we noticed that a medical center across the street was letting people wait inside. We hung out inside as long as possible - until 6:40. We had to drop our bags by 6:45. I did NOT want to give up my jacket and sweats. For the first time, I really really REALLY considered NOT dropping it off. It was insanely cold. I want to say the coldest I have ever been at the start of a race. And that is saying a lot since I've raced in Alaska! Stupid as it may be, we both shed our outer layers and headed to the corrals and bathrooms. There were at least a jillion port-o-potties, and it only took about ten minutes to get through the line. We just could NOT get over how cold and windy it was!! We were hoping that once everyone was huddled in the corrals it would get warmer, but it never really seemed to help! I was freezing from head to toe, and just wanted the race to start!!

From the starting corral
Waaaaay back in corral #10
Me & L
Minutes before the race is to start
Finally, the race starts. Only... we are WAY back. So it takes us about ten minutes to work our way to the starting line. Moving helps warm me up, a teeny tiny bit. My calves and shins feel frozen solid, like I am trying to move on a peg leg. We get to the starting line, and take off, trying to stay as far to the right as possible. Although it was crowded at the start, I didn't find it that annoying trying to keep/find a pace. It was a pretty narrow area, and part of the roadway was blocked off for normal pedestrian traffic.

The first half of the course was run through Central Park. It was REALLY pretty, and there were TONS of spectators. The first 5 miles was one big loop, and then the next 3 was a repeat of the beginning of the course.

The first few miles I was feeling really good. There seemed to be a lot of aid stations, the cooler temperatures that had been so annoying earlier felt good to run in. I had found a good pace. As is turning out to be typical in my racing, I started to feel like I needed to use the bathroom around mile 4. It wasn't that urgent and since there were lines for all the bathrooms at the aid stations, I figured I could hold it until we came full circle to where we started and I knew there were a lot of them.

Around mile 5.75 I saw some a bit further off course but with no line, so I headed that way. Not sure how off course it was, or how much time it took, but of course I felt better. We had been told that the first half of the course was harder and "hillier" and I was looking forward to getting out of the park and seeing some new scenery.

Central Park
Central Park
Just before mile 8, we exited the park and headed toward downtown NYC. We were running down 7th, and there were TONS of spectators. It was pretty exhilarating to run through this section of the course!

Approaching Times Square

Times Square
Just before mile 9, the course veered off 7th onto 42nd street. And that is when the wind REALLY seemed to pick up. It was cold, and the field had thinned a bit. I was on the left side and with no one to block me, I was freezing.

There was a weird U-turn on 8th, and then we headed down along the Hudson River toward Battery Park. It was pretty chilly running along the river too, but it was a clear and beautiful day.

My legs were still feeling pretty good, and I didn't feel  nearly as tired and out of shape as I have the last few races I've run. It helped that there were a lot of aid stations. Those quick walk breaks help a TON!

Aid Station around mile 11
We ran past Chelsea Piers, and then almost before I knew it, there was almost a mile to go. I was starting to feel fatigued, but I'd been chasing this girl for a few miles, and I just wanted to beat her across the line. I probably felt better in that last mile of the course than anywhere else.

Crossed the line, and felt GREAT!! So happy to be done!

Just crossed the line - ahead is the Financial District

Official Time - 2:05:14
Overall - 5952/10201
Gender - 2485/5440
Division - 546/1640
5K Split - 28:34
10K Split - 59:50
15K Split - 1:29:28
20K Split - 1:59:03
Official Pace - 9:34
Garmin  Time - 2:05:16
Garmin Distance - 13.32 miles
Garmin Pace - 9:24
Mile 1 - 9:08
Mile 2 - 8:38
Mile 3 - 9:10
Mile 4 - 9:30
Mile 5 - 9:09
Mile 6 - 10:35 (bathroom)
Mile 7 - 9:45
Mile 8 - 9:02
Mile 9 - 9:23
Mile 10 - 9:49
Mile 11 - 9:32
Mile 12 - 9:22
Mile 13 - 9:10
Mile 13.1 - 8:06

Like in most races, they were announcing people as they crossed the finish line. I had only walked a few steps when I heard the name "Hugh Jackman" and I hung back hoping I could see him. Security pulled him off before I saw him, but I ran 38 seconds faster than he did... take THAT, Wolverine :D

Then came the struggle of finding L. In a race this big, with this many spectators, it's a little scary trying to find her. Luckily she is like a girl scout and "hugs a tree" as close to the finish as possible. We were both freezing and headed to bag drop to get our stuff. I was so cold I could barely put my jacket and sweats on!
Closer view of Statue of Liberty

View from Battery Park

Finishing area
We saw a Starbucks and immediately got in line. 40 minutes later we were enjoying our Cocoa Cappuccinos. We had to be out of the hotel at noon so we didn't have too much time. I did want to see Ground Zero before we left though.

Nothing was marked, but we think part of the above construction is where the World Trade Center was. It was pretty eerie being there. Due to all the construction, it took us quite a while to get a cab again. We finally caught one and got back to the hotel with enough time to shower and check out ONLY 8 minutes late!  We had a few hours to kill until we needed to head to the airport. You know what that means... POST RACE FOOD!!

We never really did warm up after the race. We were carrying all our luggage around, and doing more shopping, and after a few hours we decided to just head to the airport.

The only real problem at La Guardia?  No place to get a burger... there was one sports bar and they only had Veggie burgers??? Seemed Un-American to me. We settled for a salad to hold us over until  we got to Chicago. As in most of our travels, the very end of the journey ended up being the drama. Our super late flight (we were supposed to land after 11 pm) was delayed almost 2 hours. Due to "maintenance" our flight didn't land until after 1:00 am in Denver.


So... NYC was a great experience. So fun, and I am so happy we got into that one.

Half #25... COMPLETE!

Week in Review (April 2 - April 8)

Tuesday  (17,510) - Peloton before work in the office. Did my short cross training and left at lunch since Joyce is on vacation. Finally sto...