24 June 2012

Pacing Ray K in Great NY 100 Mile Running Exposition

The Great New York 100 Mile Running Exposition was happening for the first time ever this year. When American 48 hour record holder Phil McCarthy asked me to run it, I wanted to but thought it was too close to VT100 - only 3 weeks away. Turns out I got the dates wrong, it was 4 weeks away, but I thought pavement was probably a bad idea. In the days prior to the race, I was regretting not signing up -

but now, after the race, I'm glad I didn't.

The illustrious Ray K was running it, and as he's one of my good friends, and oh-so-entertaining, I decided to pace him. Mary offered to pace him 35-50, I'd pace him miles 50-100, and Wayne (on bike) and Mary would probably come together at the end so we could all do the amazing finish in Times Square. The course was pretty amazing - really pretty, tons of nice parks (Who knew there were so many beautiful greenways and parks in NYC?) - but all concrete. Ouch.

Wayne and I were following texts from Mary and ended up getting to Alley Pond Park (mile 50) an hour or two early - so we talked to other ultrarunners, paced Emmy and Paul for a while, ran with Mat for a bit. It was a lot of fun to see them, though they all complained abt the concrete. My favourite thing: when I asked Mat if I could get him anything he needed, he responded by saying, "Trails."

Finally, we ran into Mary and Ray, which of course involved in all of us screaming across a field at each other as I ran towards them. Ray showed us his shoe with a separated rubber bottom from the shoe - he used the electrical tape Wayne and I grabbed for him from our house and taped up his shoe. Oh my. And all those 5k runners throwing away their shoes every 300-500 miles and one of the top ultrarunners in history is running in shoes he bought at a thrift store that are held together with tape. We stopped every so often so he could retape.

Mary briefed me on how she was forcing Ray to eat, how he was doing. And then Wayne whisked Mary away in The Grey Fox (Wayne's pickup truck). And Ray and I were alone.

We were running, and doing the infamous "Ray K shuffle." I chatted with him about what Wayne and I had done that day, about training, about Burning Man. An extra ticket appeared and Ray was now coming with us, so we were all excited.

The course was pretty. We ran through parks, greenways, bike paths, occasionally pretty roads. It was really nice. We followed turn-by-turn directions and yellow arrows on the ground. The yellow arrows were mostly good, but there were a few times where they were scarce and it was hard to follow. Apparently, everyone got lost in the Bronx. Ray and I only got lost once, and of course it ended up with us running more. Grrrrr. Ray fell behind the cut offs so there were no aid stations - one time we passed a spraypainted H20 with an arrow and we filled up water there.

Ray started fading. It started getting dark, but luckily, headlamps were not needed because it's NYC and there are streetlights everywhere. Whew.

Ray was feeling down, really weary and in a lot of pain. It is so hard to see someone you care about in pain. My poor pacers at VT100, I'm going to be crying for sure for a while.

As the sky grew darker, the people grew drunker and weirder in the parks. Oh joy.

Luckily, the trees meant lots of easy spots to pee. :)

Ray needed food, so when we crossed Queens Blvd, we stopped and got sandwiches and a cookie for me. I was feeding him a homemade brownie every hour or so - I had a stash in my backpack and tried hard to feed him.

Ray got tired. Someplace close to Cross Bay Blvd, Ray crossed the street despite my scoldings and crawled into a park and napped for a half hour. I called Wayne, who was sick with worry, and worse, had lent his car to a friend so he couldn't even come out and support us. I assured him we were okay and told him I wouldn't leave Ray. "Well, you'll be by the A train soon," he told me. I told him we wouldn't need it - Ray would be finishing for sure!

Finally, Ray started and I was glad as I got chilled when stopping. We ran down Cross Bay Blvd and he got a frozen coffee drink and a Dunkin Donuts. He ate and drank while we walked. Finally, we got to the bridge, which was a hotbed of fishing and drinking. Then we had a nice long journey through the pretty Broad Channel bike path. I saw a dead fox, which wasn't quite as good as the raccoon family I had seen in Alley Pond Park earlier.

Ray was swaying and swerving and I tried to keep him awake by telling him stories, yammering on about Burning Man, my cat, work, my family, whatever. I was so tired all I wanted to do was sleep. I kept pushing us forward the best I could, trying to get Ray to drink Gatorade and go! It was rough because no one else was out there. The race was only 31 people (and apparently only 15 finishers) and we were behind and alone. It was not obvious what we were doing.

More drunk people, more swaying. C'mon Ray. I kept pushing forward, every so often texting Wayne or Mary to update them, posting photos on Facebook.

We arrived at Rockaway Beach! My dad taught here, so please don't tell my dad I was walking with a weary, swerving and swaying because he's tired man, down the boardwalk. Most people were very friendly, esp those who we told what we were doing. We saw bonfires and all sorts of fun parties. We were probably the only sober ones, though I was hallucinating due to lack of sleep and Ray was sleepwalking, so I don't know if we count as sober.

Ray kept wanting to sleep on a bench and I was fighting with him. "C'mon, I know what this area is like - you cannot sleep! When we get across the Marine Parkway Bridge." We pushed forward with him going towards the benches and me getting very worried. The sky grew pink - so pretty.

We got a little lost and then, the Marine Parkway Bridge. I hate this bridge. We talked about Ray's marathoning days (he ran a 1:37 en route to winning the 100k National Championships and has run 50+ 2:40-2:45 marathons). I got scared a bit because I hate the feeling like I could fall so we held hands as we made our way across.

And then, yay, we pushed on down a bike path. Ray began swerving. He wanted to nap. My feet were getting messed up - swollen and blisters. The socks were running socks, and because we were doing so much walking, it wasn't helping. Ouch. He fell asleep in the grass and I took off my shoes to inspect the damage. Pretty terrible. Red spots and splotches all over, blisters, ouch. When I put my shoes back on, I was in agony. I decided like Ray had said was okay to try to get a cab. Of course there was nothing around. I looked on my phone while he slept in the weeds. And then, like a mirage, a cab appeared. He turned around and waited while I woke up Ray and said goodbye.

The cab ride was long and expensive but I was glad to be off my feet. I felt bad leaving Ray but my feet were killing me - and I have VT in just a month. I need good feet!

I arrived home, waking up Wayne who had slept poorly due to worrying about us. I took a shower and we tried to figure out my feet - but because of callouses, the blisters cannot be penetrated. And the splotches, ugh.

I'm in pain, yes, but I'm so happy I helped out a friend. I wish I could've been there until the end, but alas, that would not be good for my tootsies.

Ray was pushing on. I left him at mile 74 and now I'm imagining he's approaching the Brooklyn Bridge.

GO Ray! Finish strong!

Pacing at a 100miler gave me a strong appreciation for pacers - but also for a clue on how completely insane running 100s are. Stay running shorter races - a lot less pain. Trust me.

Training for VT100!!!

Training has been going pretty well lately. I've been racking up the miles, in a responsible way, edging things slightly up, taking rest (though probably not enough my mom would say), strength training 3 times a week, sleeping, training, running home from work (much better than commuting on the train, though it's not always possible, especially if I need to bring my laptop home), working at home so I can have mid-day runs (my job is so awesomely flexible though my coworkers obviously think my training is insane), pumping things up. 

Some fun runs have included heading up to Rockefeller and putting in six hours, some with Tony and some with people from my running club. I had a really fun night run involving meeting at 11pm on the Williamsburg Bridge in Manhattan and having an adventure involving raccoons and prostitutes and good conversation with super eager and sweet Gabriel, pushing the limits Jackie, ready for anything new Jess, and the amazing John Budge.  

Right now, I'm tired and would like a nap!

07 June 2012

50 Miles of Birthday Fun: Race Report of the North Face DC 50 Miler!

I set out to run my heart out, and I fully did that. Even if I didn't go as fast as I wanted, I ran fast, I ran with my heart, and I ran through the mud.

This was my way of celebrating my birthday.

Mary and Erin agreed to run their first 50 miler, and Iliana of course couldn't resist signing up too. The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler in DC would be fun!

The course was full of ups and downs, and stream crossings, and an absurd amount of mud. Unfortunately for me, it was also full of nine bathroom stops. 

I started out as fast as I could, running below 9:30 pace. It felt good. I felt great. I ran, smiling, felt alive. There was a bunch of mud, I plowed through it.

Ups, downs, along the river - "Is this the Potomac?" "Yes." So pretty! What - this hill, the mud, I'm slipping - I'm sliding, AUGH!

Then I got to the 15 mile ish mark, where I would then do 3 7 mile ish loops, and then run back the 15 ish miles. Wayne was there, and I requested a 5 hour energy shot to be purchased for mile 40. He was all hyper, for some reason. He also asked me, "Is it muddy?" I simply stared, not sure why he couldn't see the mud on my shoes, legs, skirt, shirt, face, arms, and hands. "Yes."

The 7 mile loop was nice. Not too much mud, and I smiled, really enjoying it. The second loop was fun, and I saw Tennessee, who was running her first 50k. I got a giant hug, which lifted my spirits. I felt good, strong.

Oh, but I neglected to mention my tummy troubles. I kept stopping...to go. I stopped a total of nine times during the race. UGH. Why??? I ate everything "right." Who knows why I became the Poop Queen. Oh well.

The third loop, Wayne decided to pace me. He turned his ankle twice. Then he limped back to the aid station after only four or five miles. 

The funniest thing about Wayne pacing me was when a woman with two dogs off leash (not sure why she had two dogs off leash in a national park with lots of hikers and runners?) couldn't control her dogs when they began chasing me. "Wayne, do something," I said, pushing ahead. I'm afraid of dogs, especially strange ones that could bite me. Wayne bent over and began barking like a dog, out of control. It was pretty hilarious. Later, he wondered if the ankle turning was karma for barking at the dogs, but I told him it couldn't be.

I ran on. Through the mud and the streams and the pit stops and my hamstring was sore and oh god, the pad of my food and I ran on.

And then I saw something that made me quite angry. I kept seeing this man doing what he could to avoid running through the mud (which was hard - there was mud EVERYWHERE!) and the stream crossings. (At one point, he crossed a stream barefoot, shoes in hand, then sat on the bank, dried off his feet with a towel he carried, and put his shoes back on!) He spent so much time avoiding the mud and wet - but then he'd get all annoyed and want to pass me and I kept having to pull aside to let him pass. Well, I looked up at one point, and we were all struggling and could not run b/c it was so muddy and slippery and we were struggling to stay upright - when he was on a parallel paved path. I was so angry, I called him out on it. "You're not on the course. That's not fair! You're cutting the course!" He sweetly smiled, "Have a great race."

What a complete jerk.

But I pushed on. I ran my heart out, as usual.

I finished, tears in my eyes. It was my birthday present to myself. Through the mud and nine pit stops, all by myself (not counting the 5 miles where Wayne was running ahead and having his own fun in the woods, which I don't really consider pacing), I did it. Not my fastest, or second fastest, but third fastest. Still, pretty respectable. So happy - I'm getting back to the runner I used to be, the runner with so much heart.

I rinsed off and waited for Mary and Erin. They came in, side by side, spacey but so happy, followed soon by Iliana. I was so proud of all of them, so happy for all of us.

It was a wonderful birthday present.

05 June 2012

Flipping for Flipside!

Word poetry that constantly changed

Aerial arts in the night

Amazing art car

If Flipside had a stock market...

Mustache Mistress

Ready for the heat

Huge sign. Really.

Live ice sculpture

The effigy- Earth

The effigy - Wind

The effigy - Fire

The effigy - water

the Burn

It's hard to explain an incredible experience. I had a snowball fight in mid-90s temps. I danced my heart out under flashing lights. I walked around, aimlessly talking to people. I watched aerials. I talked to strangers. I shared my story. I learned other people's story. I drank mojitos with mint and basil. I learned how Papa Hemingway liked his daiquiri. I played with cat toys. I sat on a moustache 

North Face DC 50 Miler!

I set out to run my heart out, and I fully did that. Even if I didn't go as fast as I wanted, I ran fast, I ran with my heart, and I ran through the mud.

This was my way of celebrating my birthday.

Mary and Erin agreed to run their first 50 miler, and Iliana of course couldn't resist signing up too. The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler in DC would be fun!

The course was full of ups and downs, and stream crossings, and an absurd amount of mud. Unfortunately for me, it was also full of nine bathroom stops. 

I started out as fast as I could, running below 9:30 pace. It felt good. I felt great. I ran, smiling, felt alive. There was a bunch of mud, I plowed through it.

04 June 2012

Eat in the Dark

Gwendolyn is my hip friend who always knows abt the new, interesting restaurants, or that great exhibit, or something else fun going on. For her birthday, we went to Dans le Noir. It was an incredible experience.

You pay a flat fee for your meals. You get there, order cocktails, and pick out one of four menu choices: meat, vegetarian, seafood, or surprise. You tell them any dietary restrictions.

Then, your server, who is blind, leads you into a completely dark dining room. Everyone has a hand on each other's back, and she helps you into your seat. Pitch black. You can't see your hand in front of your face. It's pretty freaky. Our server was super duper nice, raised in Georgia. We were having her experience for a little while.

She passed us water pitchers. Pouring water in the dark was hard. Then we were served rolls. It was interesting to identify what we were eating. Gwendolyn and I had different rolls, and when I was saying, "Salty and savory. Olives," she was saying, "Cinnamon and raisins and nuts." We shared rolls, which was hard, since I couldn't tell where her reached hand was.

Then we got salad. We were giggling as we tried to eat. "What's this slimy thing?" "A tomato." I think there was fresh mozzarella, tomato, some greens, fig and goat cheese and something else. All really good. I ate with my fork and hands.

We all felt the darkness. It intoxicated us. I had half a cocktail when I entered and immediately felt drunk. Wow. Everyone was giggling, talking, freaked out. It was really scary. I asked to be seated next to Wayne b/c I wanted to at least be able to touch him - no eye contact or physical contact would've been freaky. But it was great. It was actually fun - we made out sporadically during the meal when we never would have ordinarily b/c no one noticed. We were all having our own intense amazing experiences.

Then the meal. I think there was some kind of quinoa with chevril and this amazing eggplant Parmesan. I don't know what anyone else had - this was the veg option. I dropped sauce on myself. I ordered another drink and spilled some of it down my shirt. Drinking and eating in the dark was hard. 

I kissed Wayne some more.

I laughed with Gwendolyn. We told stories. The dynamics were different. It was fun.

Then, dessert. Tiaramasu, panna cotta, a cinnamon puff with cream. Amazing

We felt drunk with darkness.

After, they showed us photos of what we had eaten, telling us in great detail.

It was an amazing experience. Yes, a little pricey, but you're paying for the experience. And it was fascinating.

Brooklyn Half!

For some stupid idea, I signed up for the Brooklyn Half. The original idea was that I would do a bunch of speed work, train hard, and try to PR. Wayne even offered to pace me, but he ended up with a messed up ankle and rode alongside the course, biking, offering cookies to runners. However, a hamstring strain almost two months earlier meant I cut my mileage down and my speed work. I spent a lot of time at physical therapy.

I started out feeling good, running 7minute-something miles, all under eights. maybe i could hit my goal....hmmmmm....and then around mile 9, this horrible pain began on the pad of my right foot. it was excruciating. tears to the eyes. moaning while running. i kept it up, and was relieved to finish.

1:45. Far from what I wanted, but still, pretty decent for someone who hasn't done the proper speedwork in months, good for someone who ran a 50k the week before, and a 50miler the week before that.

After, NBR went to the beach for a picnic. Lots of alcohol, snacks, cold water, slight sunburns. Wayne and I ended up leaving tipsy - and napping for a while in the afternoon. A fun day overall.