04 July 2014

The Great NY 100 Miler Race Report (2014)

Photo by Ben Ko of Sarah, Thunder, and me
"You know how the NYC Marathon is a huge gathering event and excitement event for all runners in NYC? That's what TGNY 100 has become for ultrarunners in NYC," one of the runners told me. So true. Pretty much everyone in NYC was out, either running, volunteering, or pacing. It makes for 100 miles of hanging out with your friends in some really cool places. Okay, and under the Bruckner sucked, but everywhere else was pretty cool.
Otto, Thunder, me - photo by Oh Snapper

I have paced twice and volunteered once, so I knew what to expect for the last 50 miles. I was pretty blown away by how amazing the course was, and how cool it was to see New York City in a very different light.You get to run through all of these parks you didn't even know existed, swamplands, run over bridges, run past cool neighborhoods, and enjoy a very different view of New York City. It's pretty amazing.
The start. Photo by Donna S-T

The race itself is put on by American 48-hour record holder Phil McCarthy. One of the nicest guys, it's an honor to run this race.

The course is a lot of fun, and Phil really thought things out as he designed the course. You start and finish in Times Square, which is pretty neat, and the course goes through a lot of parks, bike paths, and neat streets, so it's actually a lot cooler than it sounds.

The negatives - you have to wait for street lights. There's a hideous section where you run under the Bruckner. Aid stations are water and gatorade, and anything else the volunteers buy out of their own pockets (Most of them really did have stuff.). There are turn-by-turn sheets that can be a tad confusing at signs, although some sections of the course were marked really well. (The first 100k was marked quite well.)

But the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Start of TGNY, photo by Grant McKeown


We started out of Times Square, and ended up running north in Central Park. Although it was 5am, it was still somewhat bright, and it was really exciting and everyone was in high spirits. Yay. Then you emerge from the park, running north, snaking over until you are running alongside the Hudson. You run north, north, north. Everyone was joking, laughing, and walking the hills. Yay.

We crossed over the Henry Hudson Bridge, which I did not like. We tried to yell to a group that we had noticed went off course, but they didn't hear us. After we got off the bridge, we were in the Bronx.

We ran through Van Cortlandt Park, which Phil had marked quite well with flour. We almost went off course once, but one of us noticed the slight turn and we ran through the park, enjoying it. There was a group of us, laughing, talking, finding our way, following our way.
 
Ray and I, mile 31. Thanks for the grub and photo, Emmy Stocker!

Orchard Beach was awesome. I had never been there before. You ran out 2 miles and when we got there, I felt silly. I had a random woman take our photo, and Ray (a newbie 100miler who finished in 29 hours) tried to explain what we were doing and she just didn't get it. I was excited to be on the beach.
Photo by Grant McKeown, returning from Orchard Beach

We waved as we ran past a bunch of guys in the Bronx smoking weed. We got slightly off course. We ran under the Bruckner, which sucked. The Triboro was a little scary but we survived. On Randall's Island, I began to get excited. Soon I would see Menachem, my first pacer (and my friend). I found a port-a-potty, which was nice to not drip dry. We hit up part two of the Triboro. 
Just after the Triboro - thanks to Kino for the photo. Look at Menachem's "fancy" running attire white undershirt & gym shorts from high school, literally.

A few blocks after we got off was the aid station and Menachem. I probably horrified him as I shoveled as many Girl Scout cookies and chips and Gatorade into my mouth as fast as I could. It was his first time at an ultra and I'm surprised I didn't scare him. He's still signed up to do the Burning Man 50k!

We took off running, and laughing. I began to get hot, really hot, really really hot. Ray and Menachem began discussing physics and my brain felt fried. I poured water on my head as I slogged behind them. We ran near LGA and the planes were close and we ran by a sulfur-smelling swamp. We got to an aid station where I picked up Melissa Woods, next pacer.

I began to feel better. We ran through a sprinkler in a park. We walked. I tried to get my focus back. Melissa took photos of the houses in the neighborhood for her friend. I welcomed the distractions and the conversations.

Ray and I shared Vaseline for our chafed bits. Only at an ultra do these things happen...
Photo by Ben Ko

We entered Alley Pond Park, I was feeling a little more clear headed. Menachem said goodbye as I shoveled down oatmeal cookies. He was a really good friend to see me suffering, and to have his awesome sense of humor. I loved it. Melissa was a bundle of energy and an amazing pacer. Ray ran with us, suffering but really in good spirits.

Mile 60 we met Beth and Cortney. They arrived way too early and had to kill time with beer and the World Cup. We ran to the 100k mark, where Trishul asked me, "Are you going to continue?" Uh, yes. Of course! I took a bite of eggplant parmigiana, Melissa gave me a change of socks, and we took off! I said goodbye to Melissa who was so awesome she was going to work at two aid stations after she left me. THANK YOU!

Beth & Cortney had never paced at a 100 and they were really great - energetic, fun, focused. Cortney was in charge of the directions and she was really great, and I was grateful because my mind was shutting down. Beth on the other hand, was checking out the local scene, noting bars of interest and taking photos. I sucked down an enormous Italian ice and was losing my mind as I lost feeling in my feet.

Broad Channel. Cute houses. Bridges. Cortney navigating. That blister hurt. OMG it hurt. I sucked down gus and my teeth literally ached. Do ultras cause cavities? Ow.

Into the Rockaways. Beth's chatter didn't stop and her and Cortney seemed so sane that I felt like I was probably an alien. We got into mile 71 where I said hello again to Melissa, hugged Wayne, shoveled down food, changed my sneakers to something a half size bigger, and then we took off.
Yes, a large rainbow Italian ice. Oh so refreshing.

Or, we left. My feet were a swollen mess and everything sucked. My mind was a trap and I was stuck in there and I was glad to hear Beth and Cortney dealing with logistics like directions and wasn't that an adorable house and shouldn't we do a summer share down here?

Ray caught up with us as we pulled closer to Riis Beach. At that aid station, they tried to force me to eat. I was hating 100 milers, swearing to never do another one. Seriously, 50 milers are SO much more fun. Why don't I just stick with those? What is wrong with me? Next year I will only do 50s milers...except maybe Umstead and Vermont and Hinson and National 24 Championships and....

I'm an idiot. I'll keep doing 100s.

We crossed the Marine Parkway Bridge. I'm terrified of the bridge and will only either sprint over it and walk clutching someone's hand. We walked uphill and after I was freaked out so much that I couldn't speak, I asked Ray if I could hold his hand. Death grip was more like it. We walked fast. On the top, we began running.

We ran up Flatbush Avenue, which is spooky and feels like forever. And then alongside the Belt, where Wayne goes kitesurfing at Plumb Beach. I saw lots of rabbits and peed in the darkness behind a fence. We kept running.

Then we got into Sheepshead Bay. Beth was like, "WHAT IS THIS? Where are we?" High heels and cologne and fancy cars and clubs and I'm running with a headlamp, looking like a truck ran me over, feeling like it. We got to mile 80 and I said thank you and goodbye to Beth and Cortney and Pete took over.

Poor Pete. I was out of my mind. My pinky toe hated me. I changed into shoes w the toe cut out but I needed to cut out more. We tried to use glass or something to cut it further, but it was pretty bad. I was in agony. We walked fast or ran and I felt horrible. Pete talked abt triathlons, ultras, so many things. He was great.

Along Shore Road, my arch suddenly hurt. I couldn't run. I was almost in tears. I wanted to stop. Was I hurting myself permanently? I hated this. Along the water, there were tons of people fishing, hanging out, smoking weed, drinking beer, running, making out. It was bizarre. NYC is really the city that never sleeps.

Mile 90. "I want to stop. I really hurt my foot." I cried. The awesome volunteers wouldn't take no for an answer. They iced my foot, put moleskin in my shoe, fed me cookies. 


I hobbled out of there. I hated everything. The ten miles were going to feel endless. In Sunset Park, Pete bought me tea. I was falling asleep and tried to drink it. Stay awake, Cherie. Stay awake.

We hobbled. We talked. Wayne drove by the course and said goodnight. I began running. It hurt, but I could do it.

Mile 95. I have never been so happy to see anyone in my life as I was to see the amazing crew at mile 95. A small shot of rum, which was harsher on my belly than I would have thought. Keep going, girl. The Brooklyn Bridge. I hate this bridge now.

And the streets. Run. Run. Run. Run.

And somehow....done.

Me and Pete at the finish; thanks to Annette Vega for photo
I felt like crap, but was overjoyed at the finish. I sat around for a little bit, chatting. And then I was just too tired. I thanked Phil and Pete and everyone else, got my stuff, and fell into a cab. I got home and showered. I was too tired to eat. I just fell into bed with wet hair and woke up 3 hours later, famished. We went out to brunch and I felt surprisingly okay. Really really hungry.

What an amazing race. Thanks to all the volunteers, my awesome pacers, my kickass boyfriend, Phil & Trishul, and everyone else. I love you all.

12 June 2014

35th Birthday 50k!

                I always love the idea that your birthday should be your perfect day. Too bad that was not my day this year, but it was still a lot of fun.
                I woke up at 4a.m. and quickly got dressed and ate. Wayne insisted upon giving me a present before I left, and I kissed him goodbye as I headed out on a run.
                I decided to organize a 50k around Manhattan. I had done various sections of doing long runs, even as long as 26 miles last year. I posted it on FB in a few groups that I’m a part of, and on a Meet-up Group for Trail Running and Ultrarunning in New York. I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate my birthday.
                The forecast called for rain, lots of it, and we were not denied. Mary and I ran over the Pulaski in our tutus and took the 7 to 42nd Street, where we met a bunch of people under scaffolding. I dreaded the rain, and hoped it wouldn’t make things too miserable. Some were good friends, some were running friends, and some were new friends. We all had a lot of fun.
                The plan was to run around Manhattan south, going clockwise around Manhattan. We’d OF COURSE stop at Twin Donut as tradition demands (NYC Ultrarunners always stop at Twin Donut.) and wait for each other and try to keep together as much as we could the entire time.
                I was really excited to see Menachem at the start, who was training for his first ultra (Really, his first race!) of the Burning Man 50k. Everyone chatted and worried about the weather, and we left at 10 after five.
                The idea was to run around a 10 minute pace, but we mostly ran faster. We stopped every few miles – so people could get water, so people could go to the bathroom. Beth joined us by the Staten Island ferry and gave me a very decorated Hammer Gel. Fun.
                Sometime between 14th Street and 50th Street, my phone, despite being in a Ziploc bag, got wet and died. This turned out to be the source of my hell – I lost all my photos, including a bunch of photos for a series of articles I had planned on writing. It was stressful and I lost 12 birthday text messages (So whoever you are, whatever you wrote, THANK YOU!) and ended up spending an hour and a half at the Verizon Store in Greenpoint, where they were nice enough to help  me and give me a loaner phone.
                Steven met up with us in the late 30s/early 40s, and had way more energy than us. Everyone took turns running with others, chatting, catching up. It was really fun.
                We made the course a little wrong turn and ran some extra miles, but I just did what Wayne likes to say, “When you see a fork in the road, take it.” (He’s more thinking of food, hahah.)
                We stopped to use the bathroom and a parks worker was cleaning the women’s bathroom. We used the filthy men’s bathroom, where a pair of discarded underwear served as the butt of our jokes. It was a relief to use the bathroom because we were all completely soaked and there’s just something difficult about running in completely soaking wet clothes when you have to pee. We joked with the parks worker, and when she found out it was my birthday, she sang “Happy Birthday” to me and make me pliĆ© and dance. I couldn’t stop laughing.
                When running alongside the West Side Highway at one point, we saw cars hitting a giant puddle, causing a tsunami that covered the entire path. There was a deep puddle covering our path, and we were forced to walk on a high curb next to the puddle on the highway, so cars splashed us as we found ourselves stepping in the giant gross puddle. We screamed and laughed and it sounds awful, but it really wasn’t as bad as one would think.
                We headed north and ran through Inwood Park. That part was a little bit tricky, but Rich led us the right way. The park was nice, and a little tricky to navigate. We exited the park on 218th Street, and everyone cheered at Twin Donut.
Donut time!

                I don’t even like donuts – well, I like them, but they usually make me feel ill after. I got a coconut donut and ate half and it was delicious. Others ate eggs and homefries and toast, and we hung out there a bit too long as we grew cold and dripped large puddles underneath our seats. I fiddled with my phone and fretted over it.
                When we all left, we were shivering and it took us a while to warm up. We entered Harlem River Drive Park, and it was just so nice to be running together.  Then we were on the streets for a long time, which was pretty fun. We stopped so Rich could get a “Tropical Fantasy” drink (I would not call it juice – drink is more like it.) and stretched and laughed. We posed in front of the “Crack is Wack” mural and saw another side of the mural you normally can’t see from the highway.

                As the street numbers grew smaller and smaller, we got excited. We finished on 42nd and 1st, cheering in front of the UN!

                It was great to see clean Tommy Pyon and have Skype join us; I had fun running with Chris Solarz and Emi and Mary and Beth and Menachem and Kim and Steve and Rich and Mike and Miguel and it was totally awesome, a wonderful birthday present.
                The rest of the birthday was a little different. I ate, did laundry, showered, fixed my cakes, went out to dinner with my family and Wayne, and then drank champagne and ate lots of cake with my friends.
                Thank you, all. As much as I hate the ageing process (Funny how you couldn’t wait to be older when you were much younger.), I had a beautiful day. 35 does feel different, and I guess I need to focus more on enjoying each and every day instead of thinking of what I could have done. I need to just do it!
               


DIRECTIONS FOR 35th Birthday 50k:

·         Start at 42nd St and 1st Ave
·         Run south down 1st Avenue until 34th St; make a left on 34th St. When you get to the water, go right to run along the water in the East River Park.
·         Run along the water, going around the bottom of Manhattan (Battery Park City) and keep running along the West Side Highway in the park next to the river.
·         When you get very far north (you’ll run around 19.5 miles – this is 1.5 miles past the GWB), go straight on Staff St. Cross over Dyckman and head into the park, going north. Run around the park (it loops around the top of Manhattan), making a right onto W 218th St.
·         Stop at Twin Donuts. Even if you don’t like donuts, you need to stop. This is where we use the bathroom, eat donuts, & buy beverages.
·         Make a right onto 10th Avenue.
·         Take 10th Avenue into Harlem River Park (enter where Dyckman and 10th meet up)  and run on the bike path through the park.
·         Exit the park at 155th St. You may need to make a quick left or just go straight (depending on the bath) to run down St. Nicholas Place.
·         St. Nicholas Place merges and becomes St. Nicholas Avenue.
·         Run through St. Nicholas Park 141-128 Streets.
·         Exit the park running down Manhattan Avenue.
·         Make a left on 120th St.
·         When you get to the water, make a right and run along the East River Parth.
·         Exit the park at 60th street. Run straight until 1st Avenue. On 1st Avenue, make a left.
·         You are done when you hit 42nd St. YAY!


We plan on running around 10 minute miles, so at any point, try to calculate the mileage and time. See a map here with all of the mile markers: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6324851

09 June 2014

#YesAllWomen

                When I first heard about the Elliot Rodgers shooting in San Diego, I couldn’t help but think, “No. No. No. Not another one.”
                While many were fixated on his clear mental illness, it’s obvious that misogyny dominates much of the reason for why he did what he did.
                I don’t think a lot of men realize what women have to go through every day. How sexual harassment can turn into violence. My body is not here for you. I am not for other’s purposes. If I don’t like you, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with me, or maybe even with you. It’s just taste. Or your tact. If a woman rejects you, that’s not reason to call her names, threaten her with violence.

                Way too many times I have told men, “No,” or “Shut up” or ignored them and their pick-up compliments suddenly turn into, “You f-ing b-tch,” “Dog,” “You so ugly,” etc.

01 June 2014

Buffalo Half Marathon: I'm BACK!

I was pretty nervous at the Buffalo Half.

Initially, I was planning on running the Buffalo Marathon, racing it and hopefully doing really well. With the awful shin pain I felt during the Brooklyn Half, I was nervous about pushing it. After talking with my PT and my coach, I decided to drop down to the half.

Oh, boo.

But on the plus side, I ran it, and I finished in 1:42 with zero pain. ZERO SHIN PAIN!!! So that was great.


The course itself was really nice - a lot of pretty streets, you get to run along the water, nice cheering crowds. I was pretty excited to be in Buffalo, seeing two of my best friends, and it was nice to be running and having V cheer for me along the course. 

The finish was quick and much less of a sh*tshow than other marathons I have done (aka I loved it!) although the "fruit" they promised was less like the honeydew V and I had hoped for and more of the old orange slices and chunks of banana.

I ran a somewhat steady pace, struggling towards the end, mainly because I hadn't done speed in so freaking long.

I'm glad to be back!

Brooklyn Half: No Cheesecake Please

I love the Brooklyn Half. 

So even though my doctor hadn't approved me running, I'm a moron and decided to run it anyway. I was pretty excited and it felt amazing to be running.

I started off with a bunch of my friends in one of the early corrals. I ended up running by James (BRC50k alum) and Kike (another BRC50k alum!) and chatted with them. I was supposed to start at, per Ray's instructions, at 9 min miles, and I felt good,  could drop to 8s. I started at 7s. Ooops.

And then the crash came, around mile 8. I was running with some NBR peeps - Mia and Jose - and all felt horrendous. Then Mia and I stopped to go to the bathroom - my tummy was not right - and when I left the port-a-potty, my stomach felt worse and my shin was really bothering me. Mile 9 now.

I told Mia to go ahead and slowed down a lot. I walked, because I knew I could only damage myself more. My stomach was a wreck. I ran, I walked. Wayne biked next to me.

Mile 12. I went into the first of the port-a-potties. And then I left and then I went into the last of the port-a-potties.

UGH.

Really, Italian ricotta cheesecake the night before a half is NOT a good idea.

Finished around 1:55 or so. Shin hurt a lot and could barely walk after. Didn't eat until late afternoon as my stomach was killing me all day.

But it was fun!!!

14 May 2014

Injured!!!

I haven't had a serious injury in a while, or anything as serious as this yet - but I found myself unable to walk after the Bear Mtn 50 Miler.

After the race, John, Mary, and I were walking towards the subway. we were hobbling there. I could not walk without pain and when I saw a cab, I flung myself into it, barely saying goodbye to my friends.

I was in that much pain. 

I woke up in agony, literally crying. I cancelled my plans for the day (easy run; going to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens with Wayne; going to a dance party w Dite and some of my burner friends) and spent the day with my foot up, ice pack on, popping Ibuprofins, really worried. I become even more upset when I began Googling "pain lower shin."

Oh no, did I have a stress fracture? No, no, no, no, NO!

I went to my PT, Dan, at Fresh Pond Physical Therapy (AWESOME PT!), who is just around the block from me. He said he thought it was just tendinitis, but said I would need an MRI to verify that.

I called Dr. Goolsby and they somehow squeezed me in for an appointment. I took a cab because I could barely walk and almost threw up in the cab I was so nervous. I tried to focus on studying Spanish while I waited but I was so nervous.

She looked at my foot, talked with me, walked me walk - and then said yes, it's impossible to verify if it's a stress fracture without an MRI. She got me an air cast and told me to wear it all the time, except when I was sleeping. She told me I could bike with no resistance, or swim, or aqua jog. Bleh.

MRI was the next day. The whole appointment took me nearly two hours, and they played Alicia Keys while I was in there, which was nice when I wasn't hearing those awful "EH EH EH EEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHH" sounds. I was on edge when I left....

I called my doctor....and she was so busy she didn't call me back. I felt awful and everyone kept texting me, IMing me, emailing me, calling me...."Did you hear back from your doctor?"
"NO I WILL TELL YOU WHEN I DO!"

Finally, she called. It wasn't a stress fracture, but a stress reaction, she explained. I had significant swelling in the muscle. I should keep off it for two weeks.

"From my race? I mean, it's already been five days without running?"

"Well....why don't you schedule an appointment for a week and a half from now." Eeeek.

She said I could bike, so that was good at least. I hit up the gym the next day and got some great trashy novel reading in while biking. It wasn't as fun as running, but at least it was moving my legs.

My PT said I could start running, slow if I had no pain. The run was like heaven. Nothing had ever felt so wonderful....

I'm resting, I'm bracing, I'm chilling...and soon I will hopefully be 100% running and back to my normal crazy self!

05 May 2014

Bear Mountain 50 Miler: No Matter What, It Eats You Alive

Bear Mountain. It's a tough place. Why the hell would anyone run an ultramarathon?

As Sir Edmund Hillary so-famously said, "Because it's there."

For the 5th time, I set out to run the North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain 50 Miler. I had just run Lake Waramug 50 Miler the week before, but figured I'd probably be okay.

Hmmmm, that's to be debated.

This course is one of the toughest 50 milers out there. Steep uphills, impossible to run downhills (due to steepness and loose rocks), twists, turns, more uphills, rock gardens, rocks, rocks, more rocks, and just butt-kicking trails for 50 miles. Fun, right?

The North Face puts on a fairly basic race, with very basic aid stations, no frills. The volunteers are very nice, but some of them have never been to an ultra before. (We probably horrified them, shoveling M&Ms into our mouths with muddy hands while rubbing lube on ourselves....) The course is very pretty, and also, pretty tough.

I started out HARD. I suck on the technical, so I run hard where I can. While running the initial part, I quickly realized that um, I probably should have changed the batteries before the race. Ooops. So it was dark and that was a little tough.

Luckily, it got light quickly...

The course is tough enough as it is, but on Wednesday, it poured all day. I think it may have even rained some on Tuesday too, and even Thursday morning, but Wednesday, it just poured the entire day. I ran twice and both times it sucked. I literally have to change every article of clothing because I was soaked through, even through my rain jacket. Ugh. So the trails were basically mud puddles for 50 miles, with lots of streams too. The stream crossings that you can normally pop across with some careful positioning on rocks had submerged rocks. 

My feet were wet and muddy for 50 miles.

I changed my socks once and wish it could have been more. My feet felt horrid - I kept getting mud underneath the pads of my feet, and it hurt so terribly. My gaiters did nothing because the mud kept seeping in from the top. 

I was running pretty hard the first 10 miles and felt good. I sucked on the technical, but did what I could, and ran hard. At the second aid station, I got there, and was still ahead of mid-pack, and there were FOUR pretzels. Four. I ate three of them, as I was starving, but how could they be running out of food so early? Aid stations were running out of gels and all sorts of things. It sucked.

I was also hungry - really weird for me. Before 3 hours had passed, I had already eaten 4 gels - which is really weird for me, as I rarely have such a strong appetite running, esp for gels. This become problematic as I ran out of gels before my drop bag, and ended up eating a lot more solids than normal. But my tummy was mostly okay the entire race (good thing since they didn't seem to have any ginger ales).

I ran. I walked. I laughed. I breathed hard. I ate gels. I drank water. I looked at how gorgeous it was. I had fun.

The course had changed in a few spots, so that was a little confusing to me. I think it may actually have become easier.

The mud was hurting my feet. The front of my shin sometimes hurt. My back hurt from my water bottle waist belt. But it was fun. Why was I doing it? It was fun. I ran with so many of my friends, and got to chat with heaps of great people.


Clearly I am psycho to be posing like this just before the 50k. (photo (c)Kenneth Tom 2014)

Around 40, I felt okay. Not amazing, but okay. I set out from Anthony Wayne, crunching on those Delta cookies I saved from my last flight and pretzels. And then I began running. YES!!!!!!!!!!!

I picked up the pace, passed some people, ran with others, and chatted. I caught up to Melissa and we ran, chatting for a while. Then we got to that section where it's a ton of steep downhill with lots of loose rock. I noticed the front of my shin started hurting. Ouch. More than before. When I pulled into the pre-Timp Pass aid station, I let the medics ice me as I shoveled pretzels into my mouth. Then I left, refusing Ibuprofin as I had already taken Aleve. As I headed towards Timp Pass, which is the worst part of the course (You climb up a steep mountain and then back down, and running is pretty impossible w the steepness and loose rocks....), tears pricked the corners of my eyes. I tried to stop and stretch, and nothing would help.

The last five-ish miles were a death march. I was in agony. I stopped to rub, walked, ran when I could, and oh, was I in pain.

A mile before the finish, probably less, John Budge caught up w me. We finished again, so happy to see each other. As soon as I finished, I immediately went to the medical tent to get ice for my legs. And rest my weary feet....


Finishing again w John Budge. (Photo (c)Chip Tilden 2014)
It's Monday now. I begged my doctor to squeeze me in and despite resting for two days, I still had pain. They aren't sure if it's tendinitis or a stress fracture. An MRI tomorrow will determine that. Until then, I'm icing, resting it, and wearing a splint. And looking forward to the next time I will run, which will NOT be Bear Mountain.

04 May 2014

Lake Waramug 50 Miler: a Lot of Pretty, a Lot of Wind, a Lot of Pain, and a Lot of Fun

I knew Lake Waramug wouldn't be the same without running with Tony, but I was still excited and hopeful to run the Lake Waramug 50 Miler. I was hopeful for a PR, for a good race, and knew I'd have lots of fun with so many familiar faces out there on the course.

Lake Waramug is a 50k, 50 miler, and 100k on a loop course around a pretty lake in CT. There are rolling hills, but nothing crazy. The lake is notoriously windy, so while my friends were enjoying a perfect-to-be-outside spring day in NYC, I was shivering in two long sleeved shirts and pants at Lake Waramug.

I started out with a bunch of my friends, running at a pretty good pace - I was sub 9 minute miles for the first 14 or so miles, and then up to sub 10 minutes miles for quite a bit longer. 

I was wearing a water bottle on waist belt because I had gloves on; when I use a handheld with gloves, I end up having issues with my hands getting cold. However, the waist belt was bothering my back, which caused me some issues. I also had pain occasionally in my lower left shin.

I started feeling like crap, but mostly kept up a somewhat decent pace. My eating was weird; I had zero appetite for things I normally love there, like grilled cheese, but I kept up a steady intake of pumpkin pie. I believe pumpkin pie is the secret weapon to this race - and I ate plenty of it to prove it.

The aid stations are good and fun. The volunteers are friendly. With aid every 2ish miles, you are never far from a friendly face and nutrition. 

I finished the 50 mile in 9:06 - far from what I was hoping to achieve, but not a bad time at all. I was shivering almost instantly, and changed into warm dry clothes. They had post-race food (burgers, veggie burgers, rice and beans) and I ate some with Mary (who ran the 50k) while we huddled in the warmth of Ray's car, waiting for him to finish his 100k.

Overall, it's a great course, perfect for a PR. The volunteers are great, the RD is great (though there will be an RD change for next year), and it's a lot of fun. 

The road surprisingly beat me up; I was more sore the day after Waramug than I was the day after the Umstead 100 Miler!

26 April 2014

Traprock 17k Race Report

While I really wanted to run the Traprock 50k, Ray told me it probably wasn't a good idea a week before Waramug. So I ran the 17k instead.

Steve and Kevin are great guys who I met running years ago at the West Hartford Reservoir. I love supporting their race, which is awesome - tough but fun course, great volunteers, nice aid stations, and pint glasses at the finish. The shirts were also great form-fitting tech long sleeved shirts with a nice design (which somehow is rare in ultrarunning). Yay, Steve and Goat!

I felt like an utter wimp as I arrived at the later 17k start; "I should be running the 50k," I muttered to myself. But I had Waramug a week later.

I was taking the run as a training run for Bear Mountain 50 Miler (in two short weeks, yay). I'm not a very good technical runner, so this would be good practice.

The course has a lot of rocks and roots and hills. There is a horrible section called "Stairway to Heaven" that is made up of a bunch of sometimes loose rock steps up way high. We all walked that in the back.


I ran happily. You start on a horrible uphill, and my asthma was on edge for the first few miles. I was cautious on the rocks, because I'm a terrible technical runner and a total wimp. Oh well.

I ran with an interesting guy who was training for a 100 mile paddleboard competition on the Hudson. I ended up picking up the pace at the aid station around mile 7 and lost him, sadly, because he was fun company. We were fascinating by what the other did (SUP and ultrarunner) so we chatted and asked questions and it was a nice time.

Around the mile 7 aid station, I finally felt like I was in my groove. It took a while. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh............I picked it up - and then, somehow, was finished.

I had a fun time, met some nice people, and when it was over, got to go to Wayne's sweet friend's house and meet their new baby (and take a shower).

Great course, great race, nice weather, so much fun!


17 April 2014

"It's not your fault, but let's punish you anyway."

I biked to work today; I'm lucky in that I have a pleasant ride, in bike lanes and parks and along or above the water. I got to work in a good mood.

The nice security guard at my job gestured toward the service elevator, and I crammed myself inside with some smiles at the workers going to various floors. They were nice and I'm sure admiring what a lovely bike I had.

When we got to the 10th floor, one of the construction workers in the elevator got out, and one of his passing colleagues said, "Nice helmet" in a sarcastic, obnoxious way. It is a nice helmet, and it's much better than having your skull cracked open and brains on the pavement.

"How obnoxious," I said to the elevator operator.

"Yep. That's why the construction workers take these elevators, and why we don't have the regular people in this building take the service elevators."

I got out on my floor, and as I wheeled my bike into the file room in my office, I thought, "Why do they have to do that? Why can't they just have the construction workers act in a respectful way instead of saying that they don't like having the office workers in the service elevators?"

Then I thought how our society does this - punishes the victim. "What were you wearing?" we ask the rapist. After I complained of sexual harassment, I was asked, "What did you say to him?"

Can we get to a point where the victim does not have to be punished - and the complete jerks are the ones who have to change their behaviors? 

13 April 2014

Hot, Hot, Hot

I started practicing yoga really young - in elementary school, I watched a yoga show on PBS. I hid in my room and did it along in secret, not sure why I was doing it in secret except it seemed weird. Then I got a book which I brought to school and showed everyone "Lion." I had a lot of fun with my practice when I was younger, but I wasn't really serious until I went to Naropa. To fulfill my contemplative requirement, I had to take a yoga class, and it was the best yoga class I ever took, the one that taught me what I love in a yoga class and what I need in a yoga class. For me, yoga is about the mind and the body, and is a spiritual practice. I love the cleansed feeling my body and mind have post-yoga. 

It's been a while since I practiced yoga. Before I started running ultras all the time, I practiced yoga 3-4 times a week. As I upped my mileage and my time in the gym, my yoga time decreased...and then my beloved yoga studio, Kusala, closed. I was really sad. I occasionally go to my gym, or another studio, or practice on my own, but not as much.

Last year, I hurt my wrist. Tendinitis meant any kind of pressure caused pain, so I stopped yoga. I tried, but it was just too hard, and painful. I was sad.

Wayne's back is completely messed up, and with a diagnosis in arthritis, I finally was able to convince him to go to yoga. Someone suggested hot yoga would be good, and since I've heard some negative things about bikram, we went to the hot yoga studio in Williamsburg, Yoga for the People.

The room was 105 F, but didn't feel that awful actually. You just dripped sweat the entire time, which was really lovely. The room had a sweaty stench that you quickly got used to.

I wasn't used to the style - the instructor was yelling, clapping, counting. It seemed more like a boot camp class at the gym than yoga. I felt like when I was breathing at my own pace, I was going to make her mad (I'm asthmatic and can never breathe as long as everyone else). Weird feeling to have in yoga.

Post-class, Wayne and I headed out to our bikes where the cool air (It was not really that cool, but felt AMAZING post-class) relaxed us. My ankle felt a little weird, and I remember reading that sometimes people stretch themselves too far in the heat and can hurt themselves. I drank a bunch of water, Wayne made us refreshing cocktails (St Germaine, gin, and grapefruit soda, anyone???), and we relaxed together - and for me, that was the best practice. Relaxing, doing things at your own pace, and feeling the peace.

07 April 2014

Umstead 100: Misery, Party, Blisters, Hallucinations of Jesus, and Sub 24 (though far from my goal)

 Umstead 100 is always a fun 100 miler. There are good friends, reunions, friendly volunteers, runnable course, Ray K, proximity to my sister, lots of runners, and so much fun. Of course you have to do it. Of course.
Tony is Da Man (photo by John Price)

I had a lot of trouble in the race. In fact, when I finished, I sat on the steps to the lodge bawling. "Why can't I just run a good race? Why is every race I run terrible?"

But it was fun. I spent time with good friends. We had great weather. I got to see my sister and super cute nephew. So it was a good race for those reasons.

Umstead is a great race because the course is great - fairly runnable, with some challenging hills. The weather is usually mild, in April for North Carolina, with usually pleasant race-day temps, though it can get cooler at night. The footing is good. There are port-a-potties twice on the 12.5 mile loop, and real bathrooms. There are two big aid stations with TONS of food, and a few smaller ones with limited amounts of food and Gatorade and water. It is a real fun party ultra, with great crowds and smiling folks. I love it. Also, it's ten minutes from my sister's house, which is even better! I had John Price crew me, and he's an amazing crew too, so everything was perfect.

Lap One
I began running with Tony, which was fun. We went out too fast - 1:55 for the first 12.5 miles. I didn't remember it being so hilly. We flew in and out of the aid stations, not stopping at any except the main HQ. We caught up on each others' lives and laughed and talked.

Lap Two
My tummy began hurting and I ran into the Port-a-Potty. Oh no, would this be a repeat of my first Umstead? Ugh. I ate chewable Immodiums at the aid station and washed it down with SNOWCONES. I love Umstead.

Lap Three
Tony and I began feeling somewhat crappy - my stomach, his legs felt dead. (He ran a 50 miler on sand two weeks prior.) We suffered and were quiet in our heads, chatting occasionally.

Hal Koerner was in the lead, and passed us. He was running up a hill - blasting it, actually - and Tony and I were walking. Tony yelled, "Good job," and I said, "Running? You're amazing. You're supposed to be walking it and complaining, like us!" He laughed.

(John Dennis also passed us, saying nothing more than screaming, "ON YOUR RIGHT" because he NEEDED that tangent. We moved over quickly for him.)

Lap Four
I was feeling better, and trying to swallow my gus. I ate poptarts when I could, and Tony was suffering a lot. I tried to cheer him up.

We were running on the flats in the hilly section after the second main aid station. It was Hal Koerner. I recognized him from behind. He was walking the flats. We stopped and walked up the hill with him. He told us he had a crazy week, and we chatted for a few  minutes. A really nice guy. We laughed when he said, "Didn't we meet here last lap?"

Running so fast I'm a blur (photo by John Price)
A bit before the aid station, I began running and Tony was still walking. We separated then, and Tony made it one more lap before leg cramping left him with a credit for 50 miles.

Laps Five and Six
Toast of gingerale (photo by Mary Shannon)


My pacer Carter Swampy met me. Carter is the nicest guy; we barely knew each other and now I adore him. We met at Croatan, and he offered to pace me. He paced for me two awesome laps, and we had a blast. He pushed me, let me set the pace, let me be ridiculous, told me entertaining stories, acted as my therapist, laughed, looked at my blisters, watched as I ate poptarts, and had fun - all while running or cursing at the hills.

My sister met us in the middle of lap five. It meant a lot to me; she had a baby three weeks ago and was recovering from surgery a week ago and couldn't walk far. We hung out for a few minutes, chatting, and she even brought my adorable nephew.

My headlamp stopped working. I hated gus. All food was awful. Drinking a normal amount sloshed in my stomach. My feet were hurting. My hamstrings, my hamstrings. That blister - the one I always get. OW.

Lap Seven
Kevin and his awesome fiancee Isa met me. They were incredible. They fed me, they made me run, they listened to me whine, they took care of me. I was miserable. My blisters sucked, it was dark, I was tired, and running sucks.

Lap Eight
Before lap eight, I hopped on Denise's massage table for a mini-massage. My legs felt better and Melissa began pacing me with a run-walk mixture. Unfortunately, my blisters felt like hell, worse, and my feet were so swollen I could only hobble. Misery. I was crying and wanted to stop. I wanted to curl up and nap. I hated everything. Everything. Melissa was telling me stories about deer attacking people and I was wondering if one would do that to me.

At the second big aid station, I had them pop my blisters. It took time, but now I was able to run again. They also gave me a cute throw-away fleece, and I felt warm. Melissa and I ran to the finish.

I sat on the steps and cried. What a disappointment. I trained so hard and to fall apart? Do I just not have it? Is the end just too difficult? Should I stick with 50 milers? Do I need to run in bigger shoes? Should I amputate my little toe? Am I too slow? Should I stick to roads? Am I crazy for doing this?

I don't know. I love ultrarunning. I am hungering for a good race, for a PR, for a race where I know I ran my best. It's been a while, but I'm hoping I'll have that soon.

Even if I didn't run my best, I know I did all I could do. I ran sub 24, which is still quite good. I need to talk to my podiatrist about my recurring blister on my pinky toe, eat more sweets, and figure out my tummy. Life is good. Umstead was fun. I finished, and running is almost always a blissful, beautiful thing.

02 April 2014

Ladies First in this Half!

Hello, the logo was a version of Rosie the Riveter? Hell yes, this hardcore feminist is signing up.


NYC Runs was putting on another half-marathon on my PR course, Shore Road: the women-only Ladies First Half Marathon! This is not the best course to run in cooler temps – it can be windy, cold, and the waves tend to splash up on the course on windy days. A week before Umstead 100, run a half? Why not. I wouldn’t race it hardcore, but have fun.

Unfortunately, my hamstring began hurting. PT on Thursday, a suggestion to go back to my old sneakers, and advice to tape on both sides were taken. I decided to scale my goals back….and run slow.

I ran easy, chatting w strangers. I felt good, and did not wear a  Garmin – who knows my time? My main goal was to not hurt myself more, and to run under 2 hours. I did both.

It was pouring on the flat double out-and-back course. It felt colder than it was, because it was windy and raining. I wore many layers, but didn’t regret.


The last few miles, I slowed down, having to go to the bathroom and feeling crappy. I pushed, saw 1:58, and happily accepted my most-feminist medal ever. I ate some of the fab NYC Runs post-race fare, hopped on a bus to a train to another train to home for a very hot bath and pumpkin pancakes.

01 April 2014

K Tape Confusion

I always thought ktape was stupid BS. I thought the same thing about chiropractors, until my doctor had me go to one for my migraines and after I saw him, I didn't get a migraine for three or four months. I changed my mind the same way about the ktape. 

When I went to Burning Man with an injured wrist, I didn't want to destroy my nice wrist brace. With Wayne promising to do all the heavy lifting, I left my brace in the car and wore tape all week.

And discovered my wrist felt better.

Perhaps it was a combination of things, but I hadn't felt so good in ages. I'm a fan more of the Kinesio Tex Classic than the Pro (I find the pro tends to peel off much quicker and I often don't want the exact size they have picked), but I find it to be great. Yes, when running races, they tend to peel off, but right now it's Tuesday and I'm wearing the same tape I put on Saturday. And I think it will go kicking a few more days.

I was walking down the street with Dite, having an intense conversation, when someone woman grabbed me. She hissed and I said, "What?" wondering what she wanted.

"You have something down your leg."

I immediately thought, "Blood," but I don't have my period. I saw nothing on my beige and gold-flecked tights.

"I don't know, I think I'm fine."

"No, no you're not. You have something."

Still, I saw nothing. But this woman wouldn't let me walk. She hissed, "Something fell...maybe a 'light days pantiliner. Fell down your leg."

And then I realized she could see the kt-tape through my tights...

"Oh, that? That's just tape to support my hamstring. Nothing to worry about."

31 March 2014

Ultrarunners are gross, focused, and crazy. I'm proud to be one.

Run Love

How would it be to never run?

Wayne and I met through our running club. On our second date (what I have often joked, still hasn’t ended), we woke up the next morning, blissful, and headed upstate to go trail running. I felt so happy to finally have met a runner – but there were so many things other than running that we had in common. Like biking around Brooklyn, or eating good food, or talking about politics or good books or what we heard on NPR, or street art, or traveling, or Burning Man (eventually for Wayne; I had to introduce him to it.), or the beaches, or heading to the parks for summertime picnics, or petting the Luna Dune, and basically, everything else. But still – it was nice to run.


All our runs together weren’t blissful, but it still was fun to have a built-in running partner. In the cobblestone streets of Peru, or the beaches of Zipolite, Mexico, or through the gorgeous eternal spring-like streets of Medellin, we ran together, exploring, laughing, talking in English when Spanish was all that filled our ears otherwise. He met me on Valentine’s Day on the Williamsburg Bridge, and we stopped home and bought a bottle of champagne to drink post-run. We ran through the streets at night, streets that were so empty we felt like we owned them, finishing off in Kellogg’s Diner, eating food that only tastes good at 3 a.m. In the Marin Headlands, and in Big Sur, Wayne paused so I could hug the giant trees we ran past. We crossed the finish line of the Brooklyn Marathon together hand-in-hand. In his first ultramarathon, Burning Man 50k, when I saw him at the turn-around point, he just bawled in my arms. “Cherie, this is so hard. I love you.” And I kissed and held him tightly.  

This year, he didn’t run the Burning Man 50k; he was injured. When I came in for my last four mile loop, he was laughing, drinking a beer. “Please, come out with me. I’m having a terrible race.” I had spent approximately 40 minutes in the (thankfully clean) Port-a-Potties that dotted the course. He ran into our tent to pull on running shorts and sneakers. “Let’s go!”

We ran down C, making a right on 7:30. I ran like a maniac, weaving in and out, stopping at Bubbles and Bass for a cup of champagne. We finished, and I spent a good two hours hunched over sitting on a cooler, clutching my miserable tummy, in between handing out medals and sweaty hugs to finishers. It was so hard for him to watch and support and believe in my race, as an injured runner.

He has been having issues for a year and a half and was told this morning that he shouldn’t run again. Nothing impact. He has a form of arthritis and now is starting a round of oral steroids. Next up, injections.

It sucks so bad when you can’t do what you love most. He is hoping that the steroids and if he does strengthening and core that he’ll be able to start running someday. He is signed up for the Brooklyn Marathon this autumn, as am I; I had hoped we could celebrate together.


From so many misdiagnoses to a depressing diagnosis, I hope he can get to where he can once again, do one of the things that he loves most in the world.

30 March 2014

Tutu Love

After finishing the NYC Marathon in 2013, I was overcome with emotion. Not my fastest marathon by far (3:45) BUT I had run a PR for 24 hours (nearly 116 miles) the week before, where I also placed second USATF woman and won $750. I started sobbing of what a long running journey I had been on and who even knew? Most people in NYC really only care about the marathons, not these crazy long-ass races I like to do. But I can do both, and enjoy both.
copyright robert james reese




Recently, Self Magazine criticized a woman who ran a marathon in a tutu, ranking it high on their "BS" meter as "lame." (BTW Self, calling something "lame" is not exactly PC or sensitive. HELLO!) Turns out, the runner was fighting cancer and was running through chemo. Pretty impressive and amazing. There was zero reason Self should have been nasty, condescending, and cruel - esp about a woman fighting cancer.

Self, I will never buy your magazine.