Monday, December 31, 2018

Peace out 2018, ready to #doepicshit in 2019!

2018 just wasn’t my year. And not to say that amazingly wonderful things didn’t happen, it just wasn’t the year I anticipated having.
Sober January. In an effort to try to lower my resting heart rate, clean up my diet, and just take a break from booze, I decided to embark on sober January with a couple of internet friends. There were times that I kind of missed it when I’d go out with friends, but it was not that difficult to commit to overall. That being said, I was happy to return to the world of IPAs in February.
I had some top of foot pain following my races in December (er...2017) and decided to give myself a week’s rest the second week of January. Any niggles of pain I’ve had in the past have generally subsided within a week’s worth of rest. This was different. The pain was still there and despite me backing off my effort and mileage, I decided I needed to see a doctor.
After an initial diagnosis of tendinitis, my PT saw that I wasn’t feeling any improvement and suggested I see a podiatrist. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with a metatarsal stress reaction and sentenced to a boot.
February was a blur of depression. I couldn’t run, bike, elliptical, row, or walk. For someone who thrives on sweating, this was tough. I ultimately found some YouTube videos that allowed me to work up a sweat from a chair and took out all my aggression on weights.
I re-joined the gym so that I could swim and was allowed to bike early on in the month. Ultimately, I decided to nix the bike because the strap irritated the top of my foot. Despite me spending as many hours cross-training as I do during peak mileage weeks, I felt incredibly out of shape when I came out of the boot.
The first few runs were tentative and my heart and head were in another place with Adam’s mom’s passing. It was the oddest mixture of grief over her loss of life and my own selfish joy being able to run again.
It never was out of the question that I would run Boston. The race, plane tickets, and Airbnb were all paid for and come hell or high water (pun intended), I would be there. I had 3 weeks of weight-bearing training when I toed the line. Fortunately, the misery of the elements nearly outshadowed everything else and I was so numb that even if my foot was in pain (which it wasn’t), I don’t know that I would have been able to feel it.
I thought things were looking up in May, but in retrospect, things just never really clicked. Perhaps I was too overconfident after Boston or too overzealous after 2 months of not running. Either way, I had a couple of good runs and a whole bunch of bad ones. As the month drug on, a soreness in my right tibia started to increase. I managed to eke out a pacing gig for Lauren at CJ100, but that was the last bit of strength I’d feel for months.
Sentenced to the boot again for a tibial stress reaction, I halted all exercise for a week. It was strange. At times, it felt all too easy, but well, it was easy. But at the same time, I craved those endorphins and sweat like a coffee addict needs caffeine. Towards the end of the month, I was working out again, but not with the same gusto I had in the first boot. I was in a funk.
Hot, miserable, and not running. Watching everyone go for big mileage and feeling really sad I was not able to be a part of it. The only good news was that by the end of the month, I was able to remove the boot and start weight-bearing exercise again.
Having somewhat learned from my previous mistakes, I started running again very slowly. I mixed in cross-training to stay fit and really tried to be okay with a slower pace. The doctor told me it would take about 5-6 weeks before things started to feel normal. Lo and behold, I started to notice those little things in both running and in regular life that made me feel more like me again.
I had long ago agreed (actually in sober January) that I would be a part of an Ironman relay team and complete the run leg. Unfortunately, with all of my injuries, I had been on the fence for months about actually committing. But, come the first part of September, I felt like I could complete 13.1 and not do any long-term damage.
It was extraordinarily hot the day of the race and I was honestly glad that I was not in peak racing form or else I would have been pretty upset to go after it in 90°+ at noon. However, I was still pleased to finish in a respectable time of 1:40 and help solidify a 5th place finish for our team.
At the end of September, I returned to Hinson Lake 24 where I completed 23ish miles of running before forcing myself to take a break. After that, I did a little bit more running and then a ton of walking. I ended up with 58 miles total and was happily tired, but not broken.
With the NYC marathon on the horizon, it was time to get serious about trying to get in a few key workouts before the race. Once recovered from Hinson, I looked to get in one 20 mile road run and a few speed work sessions before race day. I knew I didn’t have the same buildup of training in my legs as I had in marathons before the injuries, but I also knew there was something to be said for my first “real” race back and the confidence of having run that fast before.
NYC had perfect weather and everything came together for another BQ. I was aiming for somewhere between 3:20 - 3:30 and ended up with 3:24. Happily, I spent a couple of days resting and then did a reverse taper to get ready for Rehoboth. I didn’t fret when things weren’t clicking right away and just waited for my legs to feel good again to push the pace. I ended up running at the track one night because I didn’t want to mess with my headlamp and ran my fastest 5k and 10k according to my Garmin without looking at my watch for any splits.
Magical Rehoboth gave me a solid, healthy race in which I really didn’t feel like I was redlining the whole time. I knew that a PR was not in the cards for me and even a course PR was going to be nearly impossible. So a happy, healthy BQ? Yes, please!
2018 Goals:
  1. Volunteer/crew/pace > 5 races - check!  
  • Spectate/photos - Suwanee Half Marathon 2.11.18
  • Bib pickup & finisher medal handout - Run Your Bundts Off 5k 2.25.18
  • Crew (...ish) - Blind Pig 100 3.3.18
  • Spectate/photos - Yeti 7/11 3.10.18
  • Aid station volunteer - Umstead 100 4.7.18
  • Pacer - Cruel Jewel 100 5.19.18
  • Spectate/crew - Midsummer’s Night Dream 6.16.18
  • Aid station volunteer - Merrill’s Mile 7.6.18
  • Drop bag transport - H9 Dragon 8.4.18
  • Aid station volunteer/course sweep - Yeti Snakebite 50k 9.9.18
  • Course sweep - Bull Mountain Epic 10.6.18
  • Pacer - Stroll in the Park 11.25.18
  • Crew/pacer - Chattanooga 100 11.30.18
2. Marathon <3:10 - nope
Not even close. 3:24 was my best effort of 2018, but considering the amount of time in the boot, I’m okay with it.
3. 100 mile race (not a 24 hour) - nope
See #2.
4. 200,000 impression on LinkedIn - nope
Not to make excuses, but my workflow was revamped in March and I become only a supplemental contributor by September. So even if we were at 200,000, it wouldn’t really be my work anyway.
5. Master InDesign - nope

See #4. I got better, but my job no longer required me to use it much.
6. 12 new recipes - check!
Extra checks. I stopped keeping track after the first 13. I bought a few new cookbooks and happily found some new recipes to add to my regular repertoire.
7. Read >20 books - check!
33 and counting. It’s funny that it years past, I’ve had the goal of 26 per year and never made it. This year, I lowered my goal and went above and beyond. Best books: Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, Open by Andre Agassi, and Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor.
8. Prepare financially & physically for Everest Marathon 2019 - check
I slowly accumulated the money I would need to travel and buy gear for my trip. I hit my financial goal a couple of months ago and while I spent a lot of the year physically broken, the last quarter has me feeling much more confident about getting to Base Camp (and back home) in one piece.
9. Camp 2+ nights - not really
I did camp in my tent more than 2 nights. But when I wrote this, I intended to have camping trip that would actually last 2 nights. And all my camping this year has been car camping - where my gear has be extremely accessible. 
10. Finish the Georgia Appalachian Trail - nope
I still have Dick’s Creek Gap to the NC border to finish - a jaunt of 8.9 miles. I did finish the Tray Mountain to Dick’s Creek Gap section in two different hiking trips.
11. Strength or Stretch > 30 minutes weekly - check!
One of the few areas my injury actually helped me reach a goal was getting in strength and/or stretching 30+ minutes a week. I had really gotten away from this after getting into ultras and am happily seeing/feeling how it is benefiting my running and overall fitness.
For 2019, I am excited to tackle a big spring of racing and then see where my heart takes me for the second half of the year. If there is anything 2018 taught me, it’s not taking my health for granted and to roll with the punches. For the first time in my adult life, I have a coach and I'm looking forward to a smart training block to kick of 2019.
Many of my goals for 2019 are running-centrified, but as in 2018, I made sure to include other things to keep me well-rounded - to do things for myself and to do things for others. 
Here’s what I’m aiming for in 2019:
  1. 2019 miles in 2019 - Running miles preferred, but I’ll cut myself some slack if I do a lot more hiking in the second half of the year.
  2. 60 minute stretch/strength/cross-train per week - Some weeks were tough to even get in the 30 minutes in 2018 so this will be a challenge as I bump up to 6 days of running per week. But I’m hoping to incorporate more mini sessions of things like core work and resistance bands.
  3. 2 weeks (Mon - Thu) of meal planning per month - More running leads to more runger which leads to (often) more careless eating. If I can manage to plan for 8 days out of the month, I will hopefully stay a bit more balanced. I’ll take a free pass when traveling for 3 weeks in May.  
  4. Volunteer/crew/pace/spectate 10+ races - It may be tough with my own race schedule, but the goal is to continue to help others achieve their own finish line success stories.  
  5. PR in a distance less than a marathon - Considering all of my PRs in distances less than a marathon are very, very soft, this should be the easiest one to check off. But that also requires me to enter a “short” race and race it.
  6. 100 mile trail run or marathon PR - I’m carrying this over from 2018. It won’t happen this spring so I will look to the fall to see where my heart lies in my training.  
  7. Read 30+ books - I have a minimum of over 50 hours of flying time scheduled for next year. I expect to read less with the uptick in running, but carve out more time by looking at my phone less. 
  8. Call and/or write Grandma at least once per month - She’s 96 and is still 100% lucid. Her self-deprecating humor and never-ending compliments are the best.
  9. One no spend month - Back in 2007, Adam and I were saving for our first house and went on “the house diet”. We severely curtailed all spending to just the necessities and allowed ourselves one meal out per month as a special treat. I’m not saving for anything in particular right now, but I also feel like a no spend month would be good to save a little extra cash and make me think twice about things that I need rather than just want.
  10. Get a check up from all the docs - I’m great about my biannual dentist visits, but am pretty spotty about the regular doctor and eye doctor.
  11. Do something kind once per week - It can be anonymous or not. A large gesture or something small. The idea is to be thoughtful about it when possible and to make someone’s day a little cheerier.  
I hit half my goals in 2018 and while my intention of course was to hit all of them, I am actually feeling really great about what I accomplished. And that’s what I’m looking to do in 2019. Sure, it would amazing to hit them all. But also just having things to aim for is good too. I keep a printout of my goals at my desk at work as a reminder that A) I have a life outside of work and B) to constantly be aware of what I want to achieve.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Rehoboth Runparty #6!

I had no horse in the race. I had a BQ for 2020. Even a course PR seemed unlikely given the wobbly weeks leading up to the week.

And truth be told, I just wanted revenge on last year’s race. My only expectation was to feel in a good place mentally for most of the race. Last year, I went out hard, hoping for a new PR. Instead, I succumbed to the demons mid-race and struggled to find that drive until the last 10K.

Rehoboth has been good to me every year though. And I often let the thought trickle into my brain that the worst possible thing that could happen would still mean I’d be surrounded by my favorite internet weirdos in the beer tent when finished.

As we discussed our plans (or lack thereof) on Friday, I said I wanted to find the 3:25 pacer on race morning. Randy, Eric, & Ken all discussed pacing Caitlin and I wavered on helping myself. I didn’t want to put any undue pressure on her to stick with anyone or be unnecessarily distracted.

We left around 6:40 a.m. on race morning for the 7:00 a.m. start - another reason I love this race and the awesome house location Caitlin has secured the past 3 years. The weather was perfect. Cold, no wind, and sunny skies to follow. I was actually okay in my shorts, tank, arm warmers, and throwaway hoodie. Looking around, I didn’t see the 3:25 pacer and ultimately decided that maybe I would just stick with the Loop pacers and see what transpired.

For a short while the pace team ran with John and Abby who were racing the half and then we all kind of got lost in the shuffle until we reached the turnaround. Ken and I ran shoulder to shoulder for awhile, keeping the pace around 8ish and then slowly I started to drop into the 7:50s. I peeled off my hoodie near the first water stop, warmed up with a couple of miles on my legs.

Once we hit the trail portion, I began to play leapfrog with Eric and Randy. I don’t know if any of us were being intentional with our pace swapping, but it was kind of nice to share the work as we worked our way across the trails. Because I was not so focused on a time goal this year, I actually took the time to look around and really soak in the morning, feeling pretty lucky to be doing the thing I love.

The Vaporfly is not a great shoe on the trails so I was relieved to get onto the pavement where I could finally feel some pop in my step. It felt good to be cruising with the gas pedal a few inches away from the redline.

I slowly gapped the pace team for a bit, pulling up closely with a group of runners who were talking and running 7:50s steadily. As we reached the first major turnaround, I looked forward to seeing Loopsters out on the course - though somehow I only managed to see Steve.

As I headed back towards the park, Randy and Eric caught back up with me. It was good to have company again, even if I was just jamming out to my music and letting them jabber at random. We played leapfrog once again and clipped off some 7:30s on the trail section on the way back. Sensing that was a bit too aggressive, too early, I tried to stick to the back of our little pack.

Once we hit the road and headed into town, mile 16 started to swallow runners up. It certainly was wearing on my own legs, but there was no acute pain or distress and I told myself to just stay strong between the ears. Maybe it was Demi Lovato’s “Confident” coming on at the right time, but I started to push a little harder as we crept back to town.
Two runners ahead of me were clearly feeling strong and I kept them in my sights as we passed the finish line area and got wooed at by the Loopster cheer squad. I wasn’t really slowing down at this point, but the 7:50s started to get a little tougher. I looked down at my Garmin and saw that I probably had an hour’s worth of running to do. I can run for another hour.

Freshly inspired on the trail section by the first few marathon runners, I just told myself to get to the last turnaround with enough left in the tank to push hard for the final miles. At this point, I wasn’t really sure where any other Loopster marathoners were, but I was super happy to see Jill & Sara all smiles wrapping up their final of the half.

I took my time to grab Gatorade at the last stop before the final turnaround and then rallied to get to that point where I just had to hold on. Checking my watch, I could see that I had a comfortable cushion to stay under 3:30 if I didn’t fall apart.

After tapping the mat at the turnaround, I saw that Eric was maybe 30 - 45 seconds behind me with Randy and Ken not too close behind him. In years past, I have felt pretty strong in the flag section and this time, it would be best described as steady. I wasn’t fading hard, but I also wasn’t speeding up either. Just cruising (and pretending like marathons aren't hard).
I saw Caitlin ahead of the 3:40 group (which at the time I thought was the 3:30 group) and gave her a shout, followed by Steve who looked happy and cruising, and then Angie, who was crushing it!

Coming off the trail and onto the road, I was starting to feel bonkish. My vision narrowed and I began to argue with myself over just getting it done and pushing versus not caring about the time and relaxing. I bypassed the last water stop, trying to maintain my stride and focus on finishing strong.

Past mile 26, I high-fived the cheer squad and saw the finish chute was mostly clear - a great time to execute a jump finish!


3:26:21! 12th female & 3rd in the 35-39 age group. I was handed a heat sheet and a medal and then promptly went behind the bushes near the finish line and puked. Shortly thereafter, I stood at the finish line, waiting for Eric, Randy, Ken, and Caitlin to finish their
races, high-fiving, fist-bumping, and hugging as they came through.

The rest of the day and night included shenanigans as usual - the real reason I go run a marathon in Rehoboth Beach every December. 





Saturday, November 10, 2018

QC Takes On The Big Apple: NYC Marathon Race Recap


Walking through the Sutphin Boulevard Metro station, it was apparent we were not in suburban Atlanta anymore. People moved rapidly. They were dressed in suits and jeans and everything in between. All ages. All races. Speaking a bevy of languages unless they had tuned out the noise with earbuds.

Adam and I waited as crowds dispersed from arriving trains. I wheeled the suitcase and carried the backpack, hauling it up stairs, and through each train transfer. When I found myself feeling burdened by the physical weight of our luggage and the mental weight of worrying Adam would fall or be too exhausted the rest of the weekend, I pushed the thoughts out of my head. I should be so fortunate to have the physical strength to handle the luggage and the endearing partner who treks all over the country to see me for 20 seconds doing the thing I love. I am LUCKY.


After a brief respite at Roger's hotel to drop off our luggage, the 3 of us hopped in a Lyft to travel to the expo. Approximately 3 blocks into the ride, our driver was pulled over by the police. Plainclothes officers appeared on both the right and left side of the vehicle. They instructed us, as passengers, that we were not being detained and that we had the right to leave the vehicle as long as we paid our fare for our travel thus far.

We opted to stay.

The driver got off with a warning after flashing a card that indicated his brother was in the police force. Apparently it is illegal to have an earbud in your ear as a taxi/Lyft/Uber driver in the state of New York.

Nearly 45 minutes and 1.7 miles later, we arrived at the expo. Roger and I picked up our bibs, bought some swag at the New Balance store, and the boys each bought a pillow from the official bedding sponsor. Roger and I picked up pace bands, found our names on the giant poster, and wrote our goals on a sticker wall.

As we were exiting the expo and attempting to take photos with the giant Shalane Flanigan poster, Roger spotted Jeannie Rice, the record holder for 70+ females. She ran Chicago a few weeks ago in 3:27!

Friday Night

After transferring our luggage to our Airbnb on 71st Street, the 3 of us sat down to a very nice Italian meal in the same neighborhood. It was a dreary November night and shared a warm meal in a tiny brick-walled room that oozed with history.

Saturday Morning

Leaving Adam to sleep for a bit longer, I headed out to Central Park for a short shakeout run. Our Airbnb was just 2 blocks from the park and I soon found myself running in one of the most iconic places in the world. The leaves were absolutely stunning and I was almost a bit disappointed that I only had 20 minutes worth of run. I ran into Ms. Ritz and wondered what kind of dumb luck I must have to find one of the few New Yorkers I know from the internet.

I grabbed coffee, roused Adam out of bed, and we headed downtown to meet with Roger and visit the World Trade Center Memorial.

To say it is moving is an understatement. The museum is located underground, between the two towers and was carefully thought out with each turn. I found myself choked up about things I hadn't thought of in many years and watched as Adam, who was in Manhattan on 9/11, recalled a day that will forever be scarred in his mind.

Saturday Afternoon & Evening

A group of Loopsters decided to meet at Parm, exactly 1 block from our Airbnb. We had lunch and introductions and talked nervously about the impending race in the morning. Our plan to meet up in the Athlete's Village was solidified. After lunch, we walked 1 more block to Magnolia Bakery and loaded up on sweets.

Everyone parted ways at this point. Adam and I took a brief nap and then watched football until it got dark. We ventured out to Broadway and 71st for counter pizza and brought it back to eat at our apartment.

I read a bit of Open by Andre Agassi (I know very little about tennis, picked this up after hearing it recommended on a podcast, and am really enjoying it!) and then went to sleep. I'm usually a good sleeper and marathon night is not much different. The nap meant it took me a bit longer to fall asleep and the strange rumbles from NYC woke me up a few times, but I felt reasonably rested when I woke up. The extra hour of sleep helped too as I don't normally get up at 4:50 a.m.

Race Day - Prerace

I planned to meet Roger at 42nd & Vanderbilt at 5:30 a.m. to take the bus to Staten Island together. I woke up, dressed, warmed up my coffee (that I bought at Starbucks the night before), and grabbed my prepacked race bag. I kissed Adam goodbye and headed to the train station. The 1 train was fast and I got on right away. I had a lovely chat with a woman in her 60s running her 44th marathon from Ottawa. Then I waited for the 7 train for at least 15 minutes in the Times Square station, knowing that it was getting closer and closer to the time Roger would no longer be waiting for me.

By the time I got to Grand Central, it was nearly 5:45 a.m. and Roger was long gone. I followed the huge crowd of runners around the library, covering nearly a mile in line before I got on an actual bus. I sat next to a guy from England and we chatted the first hour to pass the time. I ate my pseudo overnight oats (the ones I brought dumped all over the suitcase so I bought muesli at the corner store instead).

The bus stopped on the Verrazano Bridge and we waited. And waited. And waited. The last 2 miles of the bus ride took about an hour. It was well after 8:00 a.m. by the time we pulled up to the Athlete's Village and everyone rushed off the bus to get through security and finally(!!) pee.

I found the blue village and looked around for our pre-determined meetup spot without any success. I wandered around the whole village once, grabbing a bagel, and then decided to just save my legs. Not 10 minutes after sitting, the first wave was called.

I was really thirsty by this point. I had just had the cup of coffee and couldn't find a place giving out water. It looked like there might be some near or in the corral, so I headed that way. Unfortunately there was not any to be found. I took one more chance to pee and then sat in the corral in my jammies until it was about 20 minutes to gun time.

Already too warm in my arm warmers, I wrapped them around my waist. So now I had 6 gels in my sports bra, arm warmers around my waist, and I was thirsty. Oh, and I forgot anti-chafing stuff!

Race Start

Our wave started walking towards the bridge, climbing over the street we had just been parked on during the bus ride. The day is picture perfect. A few wispy clouds hang in the sky, but it is blue and crisp and there is hardly any wind. I feel a sense of patriotism as I walk up to the iconic start.

The pro men's group is announced and it occurs to me that I've never been this close to the elites before! They are only about 2 minutes ahead of me and while I don't see them from where I'm standing, there is something very special about racing right behind the world's best. After a short speech from the race director, the cannon is fired, and we are off!

The first mile is up, up, up. As we climb to the top of the bridge, we are offered an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline and the water below. Runners leap on top of the median to take photos of themselves and of each other all along the bridge. 8:29

After the up, up, up of the first mile, the second mile is an exhilarating down, down, down. With fresh legs and a warmed up heart, we hit the descent hard and fast and it is fun! 7:09

As the course enters Brooklyn, crowds begin to swell along the street and I fall into a more normal pace. I am working at a 70% effort. The foot is on the gas, but I'm conscious of how much further we have to go. I finally get a chance to get Gatorade and water and chug both down, ready to get to the next hydration stop for me. 7:30

Mentally, I'm in a weird place. My body seems to be working okay, but I'm not soaking in the energy of the crowds as I thought I would. I have my music blasting in my ears and maybe that is to blame for not feeling as jazzed by their presence. I'm latching onto other runners to stay with their pace, but everyone is still kind of sorting things out and the self-seeding is evident early. 7:30

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice someone getting close to me. Like, really close. And then I realize it is Stephen! We chat for a quarter mile, keeping our words clipped at short sentences, and ask each other how it's going, despite knowing it is far too early to make predictions. 7:35

I let Stephen slip away, focusing on my own race and look down at my watch only when it chirps off the mile splits. Considering I want to be at a 7:49 pace to hit a 3:25, I realize I am running pretty stupid. I start looking for the intersection that Adam said he used to live at in Brooklyn. 4th & 9th. When I get there, I imagine it is so much is the same and so much has changed from when he lived there. 7:36

I try to relax a bit. Drop my shoulders. Shorten my stride. Pull the reigns a little tighter. 7:22

Well, that didn't work. Soon thereafter, I find myself on the heels of the 3:25 group and happily fall into the giant bunch surrounding the guy with the foam Statue of Liberty hat. 7:32

I let the pacer do the work and find myself relaxing a bit, putting the mental work in his hands. I am finally feeling a bit better hydration-wise and am remembering to take my gels as planned. 8:03

Into the double digits, I was more relaxed as I tucked into the pace group. I started to take in the crowds a bit more as I released the mental work of pacing. Bands played music, spectators spilled into the streets, and our pacer riled up groups along the way. 7:44

I noticed views of the skyline as we wound around Bedford. The skyscrapers jutted out into the clear blue sky and the East River seemed to glitter. 7:48, 7:52

The course take a couple of sharp turns in the 13th mile and the crowds lining the streets box in the runners. There was something magical about trusting your fellow competitor to keep up the pace while running within inches of each other. 7:59

The Pulaski Bridge is open and exposed. The sun beats down as we near midday and I feel a sticking sensation on my left foot. A large stick with “Andrea” written on it is stuck to the bottom of my shoe. There is no way to grab is mid-stride so I veer to the left and rip it off. 7:53

Climbing towards the Queensboro Bridge and onto the bridge is unsettling. The pacer has backed way off the pace to allow for the climb and I’m raring to just get it over with. But I know there is still more than 10 miles to go and I’m not willing to risk going ahead yet. 8:26, 8:34

The pack reaches the highest point of the bridge and then we are flying! Bounding down the backside of the bridge rattles my quads and I’m loving every second of the sweet downhill. 6:38

As we hit the streets of Manhattan for the first time, the roar of the crowd is deafening. We fly down the street and while I’m working, I’m also feeling reasonably okay considering I’m reaching the point where it can start to get tough. 7:05

I stay with the pace group for another mile and a half, but the fast miles have me jazzed and I break ahead on the Willis Avenue Bridge. It feels bold and decisive, but I’m suddenly feeling free to push the pedal a bit harder. 7:27, 7:35

The next two miles takes us around two blocks where we can see competitors ahead. I’m beginning to pass more and more people. All the gels have caught up with my stomach and while I feel nauseous, I repeat to myself to “stay strong between the ears”. 7:51

Somehow I remember to take a gel at mile 22 even though I’m in the mode of just-get-to-finish. It may have zero effect on my final miles, but all I think about is looking strong if I can spot Adam near the finish. 7:25

Fifth Avenue is PACKED with people and I am grabbing high fives from little kids and pumping my fists at spectators who catch my big grin. I know it is cheesy to be racing at mile 23 with a big grin on my face, but I can’t hide the fact that I’m excited to be in line for meeting my goal. 7:19

There is a steady incline at mile before entering the park and while I feel my stride shortening and my heart pumping faster, I know to save the real work for that final mile. 7:55

Entering Central Park is everything and nothing as I imagined it. The crowds are thick under the yellow-leaved trees and loved ones busily scan the runners, looking for their person. The downhill feels good after the last slog on Fifth and even though I know it is early, I start looking for Adam to my left. 7:35

When I finally see the mile 25 sign, I am on the verge of being frantic. I want so badly to see Adam that I can’t conjure up the course map in my head and panic a bit when I don’t see him after taking the first right.

It isn’t until I see the turn at Columbus Circle that I remember he said he would try to be closer to the grandstands and I crane my neck, hoping he sees me. The sea of people seem so vast. But then suddenly I hear him calling my name and I’m practically leaping as I make my way over to him. I give him (and the people around him) a high-five and I’m so, so happy! 7:42

Coming into the finish line stretch, I am just simply happy. The grandstands are roaring, the flags of the nations are lining the streets, the competitors are giving it their final push to the finish, and it is a stunningly beautiful fall day in New York. Last 0.6 in 7:30

I knew there was no way I was going to be in PR shape, but I did know that I was prepared to potentially have a BQ. I put a lot of thought and effort into my workouts and strength-training going into the race to get me to the start (and finish!) line uninjured. To finish with 3:24:19 was a perfect day at the races.

Post Race

As I was smiling like the biggest goober, overwhelmed with the sense of completion after collecting my medal and heatsheet, someone appeared close to me again. Stephen! How on earth we ran into each twice in an event of 50,000+ people is beyond me. It was perfect to walk through the finish chute together, decompressing the race.

I honestly don’t remember what we even discussed in our post-race euphoria (delirium?), but I felt this sense of completion as we collected our too-heavy-for-post-race food bags and made our way to the ponchos. Maybe it was because I had great company or maybe because I had a great race, but I thought the poncho/exit walk was not as long as I had heard. I was almost a little sad when it was time to leave and make my way back to the apartment - which was delightfully 2.5 blocks from the poncho exit!  

I immediately jumped into the shower at the Airbnb and heard voices while in the tiny bathroom. I thought they were coming from one of the nearby apartments, but then realized that Adam must have made it back with someone in tow. Brad’s wife Nancy had found the apartment!

I got dressed, sat down for a bit, and then felt a bit nauseous. The water and chocolately Gatorade protein drink I had just consumed came right back up. Luckily, not only did I make it to the bathroom, but I felt 1,000 times better afterwards.

Soon Gwen and Brad were there and we lazed around for a short while, waiting for Roger to arrive. The group then went in search of food and wound up at a classic NY diner. Scott joined us soon thereafter and then we squeezed in Liz and one of her local friends. Everyone was in good spirits, chatting and enjoying the post-race glow.

A smaller group went to a nearby whiskey bar for another round and soon our group dwindled to 3 with Roger and I sipping beers and finishing the last of the hummingbird cake. Life is good when the weekend ends surrounded by friends with tired legs, a happy heart, and a tummy full of beer and cake.