Monday, February 27, 2012

Al Gordon Classic - 4 Miles - Prospect Park, Brooklyn

The day after my first race, I registered for a second. There was another 4 mile race two weeks after the first and I jumped at the opportunity to prove to myself that I could do better if given the opportunity. Spending the week with a terrible head cold didn't prove to be the best for training purposes, so when the actual race came along, I knew that no matter what, I just needed to do it. I could walk the entire thing and get credit for the 2013 Marathon - even if I was sneezing and coughing the entire way.

Craig and I live nonsensically close to Central Park, so getting back and forth from a race there is no problem. But, this race was in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It ended up taking us three different trains to get to the park (by 8:00am!) and over an hour and a half in travel time. After finally getting onto a train that would get us within walking distance of the park, I was able to relax a little bit. (Seeing other people with tags on their shoes was a relief!) My nose was running, but I was feeling pretty good for being sick all week. Once we got off the train, we walked a block or two over to the park and what is the first thing to greet us? The Mile 1 marker. The start of the race was an entire mile into the park! So, we were speed-walking/running just to get to the starting line, dropped the bag off quickly and slipped in with the crowd to start the race.  The corrals were a mess and there were people standing all over the place since so many of us showed up with barely time to spare.

*VA not pictured. VA in the "very far back group.

The race was extremely congested in the beginning, and because corrals were so mixed, there were slower runners in front of people who were faster, and even people that were walking at the very beginning. I was feeling pretty good about myself, running past a lot of people at the start (it's not very often that I pass people!)

The first mile was a long hill, gradual, but still steep, and I didn't have much of a problem with it, despite my history suffering through hills. I knew since I had walked down the hill getting to the race that the 1 mile mark was just ahead and when I passed the clock, I noticed that I had run my first mile in just over 11 minutes. Woo hoo! Right after the first mile, exhaustion set in. Some coughing, nose running, side stitches, you name it! I slowed to a walk and vowed to only walk 100 steps. Counting them off, 97, 98, 99, 100 - and I set off running again. I popped a cough drop in my mouth and the menthol actually helped open up my airways a bit.

Deep down, I knew I wasn't having a good run. I had pains in my legs, a cramp in my hip and in my toes. The stitch in my side and the pain in my shoulder would only subside for a few seconds at a time. So I started doing the "walk 100 steps" every time the pain got bad. For some reason, being able to count out the steps kept me going for a while. At the 3 mile point, I stepped off the road and tried to stretch out my hip flexor because it was really starting to cramp up badly. That worked for the next 10 minutes or so, and pushed me toward the finish line. In my heart, I knew I had done so poorly that I had literally given up on making any sort of "time" and just wanted to get across the finish line. Going up the final hill was a series of "run a bit, give up, walk further. Push self into running again, give up, walk further." At one point, a woman said "you and I keep run/walking past each other - do you want to run together to the end?" I agreed and the two of us pushed past the finish line. I lost her in the crowd just after I was able to breathe out a "thank you". Honestly, without that woman, I would not have run to the finish line. I'm absolutely sure of it.

Craig was there, with outstretched arms and greeted me over the rail at the finish. With tears in my eyes, I told him I was in pain and he walked with me to grab a bagel and led me over to stretch in the grass. After resting a minute, we walked out of the park together, straight back up that first hill, while we talked about our run. Craig did extremely well (under 9 minute miles!!) I was disappointed in myself but not in a "I want to quit" sort of way, which, I suppose is a good thing.

Back at home, I threw my shoes off, propped my legs up and went in search of the race results. Imagine my shock when this appeared:

A full 21 seconds off my pace? Are you kidding me??? I seriously thought that I would have been posting 13+ minute miles. Imagine what my times would be if I actually ran decently the entire time!

There is still A LOT of work to do. In fact, my next scheduled race is the New York Colon Cancer Challenge on April 1st, which I will be running in honor of my grandmother, a colon cancer survivor. It's a 15K (9.32 miles) race and right now, I'm shakin' in my runnin' shoes, because hot damn, that's a long way to run!

*Photo courtesy of New York Road Runners

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Milly for Sperry???


Seriously. I want. I need. Ahhhhhh!!!!

To see the entire Milly for Sperry line, check out Piperlime

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Remember that day I purchased hot pink jeans??

*this is not me

Oh right... it was today ;)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cat Wrangler

Do you have a cat? Did you know that they will literally knock anything off a counter/chair/shelf/table and sit on anything that you want to use? Because they do.

In the bouquet of roses Craig got me for Valentine's day, there was a palm leaf. Penny is so afraid of the leaf that she will not go anywhere near it and if it is even touched, she'll be under the bed immediately.

So, I've been using it to protect my important things** when I have to leave the room.

**Shut up, wine IS an important thing!

Friday, February 10, 2012

2012 Gridiron Classic - 4 Miles

Last Sunday, I participated in my very first, real life, running race. Okay, so I wouldn't really call this a "race" because I had no intention of actually beating anyone across the finish line, I simply wanted to finish the race without injury or death. (Also with a fairly decent time, I have been trying, you know!)

I joined the New York Road Runners association back in December in hopes to participate in several races throughout the year and automatically qualify for the 2013 NYC Marathon.  So when I signed up, I also registered for the Gridiron Classic (Note: It is pronounced "Grid Iron" - when Craig said it out loud it was shocking because I had been trying to pronounce it as "Grid-ree-on") It was a Super Bowl themed race (complete with a longest football toss competition!) where the general premise was to support your chosen team by wearing a jersey, tshirt, etc. from your team and also splitting the racers into two separate lanes representing the two teams. Sort of a ''running vote", I guess.  Being one who doesn't really care about football (or passionate about sports in general) I just wore my regular running clothes. Confession: even if I did have a jersey or tshirt, I probably wouldn't have worn it. I was way too nervous about the actual race and I probably would have equated non-running clothes as a 'distraction'. Yeah, I'm real weird.

Anyway, the race began at 9:00am with the football throw starting around 8:00. So what did I do? I made Craig get up and head to the park with me at 7:45am. It was a chilly frigid morning, so I had to have the full gear - jacket, leggings, etc.  What I didn't have? GLOVES! Since November, I've run outside several times and I've never worn gloves or a hat or ear coverings. (While we're on the subject, I haven't worn a pair of gloves this entire winter. Wut?)  So, I figured that the run that day wouldn't need them as well.  I WAS WRONG. It was FREEZING out there.

Because of my corral number 7929 - *Hint: they went up to 8000* I was put in the last adult corral. There was a corral of kids behind me. Kids. Nice. Craig was one ahead of me so we spent as much time together as possible before having to separate into our corrals. He did his best to calm my nerves, but I knew that it wouldn't be an easy run. Stupidly, our schedule allowed for no time for running the entire week before the race! Running cold turkey and being a cold chick was not a good combination.  Craig did give me a "little hottie" to help me stay warm, but It didn't really do any good. I pulled my hands inside my jacket sleeves.

Current NYRR members told me that my first race will be fun! That I should really take note of what was happening around me and enjoy it! Honestly, I was so nervous and so cold that I hardly noticed anything "fun" about the beginning. Some thoughts at the time: A girl next to me talking on the phone? A woman beside me blowing her nose into her Burberry running jacket... who does that to a Burberry jacket?? Who even has a Burberry running jacket?? Why am I standing next to people who are in the green group? Why is it so frakin' cold?? Can I see Craig? Oh, we're moving forward a bit. Is my nose running? Why are people running now? We're not at the starting line yet!! Alright, I'll pick it up to a jog... and then I was off.

I had to be very careful about starting, I knew that - I have a big problem with going way too fast and too hard in the beginning of a run and two miles later, I literally could fall down and die. So, in my head I was saying "slow and steady... you've got 4 miles ahead of you, slow and steady."

When I saw the first mile marker up ahead I gave myself a little pat on the back. 1 Mile! Without stopping once! And up Cat Hill! Woo hoo!  Remember when I couldn't run a mile? I do. Shortly after the 1 mile mark, a water station came up. A 4 mile race doesn't really need water, but I decided to take a cup anyway. I was running a race! That's what race people do! So I jogged alongside the table, grabbed a glass, then put it to my lips to take a sip. And now a real question: How do people drink out of cups while running?? I was already numb all over and proceeded to pour cold water all down my chest. Way to go, VA, way to go.

At one point, I had to walk a bit up a large hill (I realized that my large walking steps might get me up the hill faster than my tiny running steps - hello, ass burn!) but for the most part, I ran the whole way! After passing the 3 mile marker, I knew that the finish line wasn't that much further away. I had run this route before. It was mostly downhill, people were yelling and clapping, telling me I was doing great... yet it felt like torture. Every step came with a mental pep-talk. I knew how upset I would be with myself if I stopped just before finishing. So, I kept going. I spotted Craig in the crowd and noticed he was scanning the runners for me. I gave a shout and he ran outside the barricade with me. And then, I was done! Done done DONE!

Here are my official results. Yes, it appears that I run a 12 minute mile. When I saw that, I'll admit I was a little disappointed. A whopping 344 people finished behind me. But you know what? 3 months ago, I cried when trying to run a mile. It may have taken me 49 minutes to finish, a whole 40 minutes longer than the winner of the race, but I finished. And now, I have something to work from. My first race, I ran an average pace of 12:23. And the next race? I'll beat it. And then I'll beat that one. And the next.

In fact, I signed up for a second race (4 miles) for the 25th of this month. And, it will be better.

The final picture of the day: Craig and myself after the race finished. (Note: They give you bagels and fruit after the race. I would have run it again if they offered veggie cream cheese with it! - oops, that's the fattie in me talking.. but seriously, that was the best plain-plain bagel I've ever had.)  A special thanks to NYRR and all of the volunteers at the Gridiron Classic - especially you, Mile 3 Lady who said "you are amazing!" Because, sometimes, you have to stop and think about how amazing you are. I may not be the best, and hey, I may have come so close to last it's laughable, but I ran 4 miles that day. And for me, that is amazing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stuff my boyfriend says..

(Set scene: C-In shower, V-Just out of bed)

V: The water sounds funny in there, is the shower not draining?

C: What?

V: The shower. Is it not draining?

C: What? I can't hear you!

V: Nevermind, not important.

C: No, tell me! What are you saying?

V: Is it not draining?

C: No, it's not raining. The sun is shining.

V: Right. Got it. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012