29 October 2012


Zone A evacuated. It's all flooded. Rumours of Zone B getting flooded. Lights flickering. So scary. The wind. The howling. A runner got hit by a tree and is hospitalized. A man in his house was hit by a tree - and died. My thoughts are so scattered because I'm nervous, everything is crazy. Lower Manhattan has no power. Rumours are spreading that the subway won't be up for a week. My aunt was barely able evacuate from her house on the bay, had to wade in the water, told me, "I've never been so scared before." Indeed.

I woke up this day with power and howling winds and light rain. I began working at home early, not sure how long the power would last. Got a migraine, probably from storm stress. Listened to NPR all day, hopeful for news. Work was a little nutty. Took a mid-day walk to get something - saw water flooding up, people taking pictures. Crazy wind. Scary.

And now it's night. The skies are getting darker. No electricity in many areas. We just walked to one end of our block - car fire, lots of fire trucks. Other end of the block - cop cars and flooding and people bailing out their basement - literally a half a block away. The noise. The wind. It's scary. Really scary.

28 October 2012

The Calm Before the Storm

An easy run with friends, coffee, errands, Halloween costume prep, cooking, chilling, a couple of Halloween parties. Slept intertwined into each others' arms, woke up late, ran 5 miles around 7 minute pace, bought groceries, breakfast, froze water bottles, bought beer and mixers, straightened up, filled bottles of water and stowed bags of ice in the freezer. And cuddled on the couch w the cat.

Mary came over in the midst of sweeping, and we headed out to see what things were like. I had been telling Wayne since Friday that you could tell something was going to happen - the sky has been this constant cloudy grey without rain - strange for us. And there is this ominous feeling. During the race, as I pushed my pace, I could feel it. And now, wandering around with Mary, heading to parks that had signs up saying that the NYC Parks were closed and how to report fallen trees. We walked out on the closed ferry pier. We passed people struggling with full bags of water and ice and beer and vodka and oh yeah, some non-perishables. I live in "Zone B" which means we're second to be evacuated. Zone A peeps were supposed to be leaving but those we talked to said they weren't leaving. "Yeah, our basement got flooded during Irene." Well, this is supposed to be worse.

We stared out at the waves. We talked about things that bothered us. We wished we had battery-operated radios and hoped we wouldn't lose our electricity. We wondered how dangerous it would be - and how bad it would be for running.

26 October 2012

19 October 2012

Why did I decide to do the NYC Marathon?

This is question, and a moment for reflection, I suppose.

I've gotten way more into ultras in the past few years and I find it to be more fitting. I was a decent marathoner - I qualified for Boston a bunch of times and ran it three times - but I'm a better ultrarunner. I don't mind going long. I can keep going when others quit. I know how to push past pain (though I might be crying when I do that). But the trails, the pretty places, the views - they surpass anything I've seen in a marathon. And the people are much, much friendlier - they will stop or slow down or even throw away their race to help you - even if you are a stranger. It's the culture I like. In my local road running club, most people are quite friendly - but overall, in a road race, it's not the same. It's a lot of elbows and "how many minutes per mile did you do" and "what's your age grade" and all that sort of talk. Not about the love of your life and your dreams and all that good stuff.

But I decided to do NYC Marathon - it IS a very fun race, my running club goes into ecstasy over it, the crowds rock, it goes right by my house, my parents and friends watch me....

But this year, it's $216 for members. I ran 113.75 miles for just $24 a few weeks ago. Why? Big money appearance fees. Overtime for cops. And the recent article abt Mary Wittenberg in the NYT shows you where it goes.

I feel weird about it - it's SO much money. But it is so much fun. But, but, there are so many other races.

Next year, I'll be back at Javelina. I'll cheer my friends on, hand them candy bars. But I think my super competitive marathoning days are over, maybe. I know my heart belongs to the land of the trails and long and strong.

But you know what? I'm going to run in a tutu this year and I'm going to have fun and it's going to be good. Because you know what? I'll be running - and to me, that's the best thing in the world.

17 October 2012

6 Hour Birthday Run: 34.88 miles (and 3rd woman)

Look at me, last year claiming I hate timed runs and here I am doing another! The original plan was to run 42 miles - or that's what Ray K wanted the two of us to do. Hey, you gotta set audacious goals - if you don't have them, how can you even get there?

First things first: THIS COURSE HAS HILLS.

The GLIRC 6 Hour Birthday Run gives a discount to those who are celebrating their 60th birthday. They have their own special age group (just 60 - not 60-65 but exactly those born in 1952). It's a lot of fun. It's friendly volunteers, great organizers, well-stocked aid stations (that unfortunately didn't suit my temperamental tummy), medals for all ultra finishers, and a wonderful spread of food at the end - pasta, salads, heroes, beers, sodas, cupcakes, etc.

The loop is at Sunken Meadow, where I used to run in high school. Fortunately, we don't have to run the brutal Cardiac and Snake Hills. But don't worry, they threw in a bunch of hills for us. HILLY. I seemed to have blanked out that there are hills and that was rather unpleasant to realize.

It's a 2.1 mile loop with dirt, a little bit of pavement, some sand. It's pretty, you get to see people on little out-and-backs, and if you squint real hard, you see the Long Island Sound.

I started with Wayne, who decided he would run 20 miles as a training run for the marathon (and then he left me to go kite surfing and eat olive-and-cheese sandwiches) so that was nice because I had someone to run faster with - though it probably would've been better if he ran the last 20 to push me. But alas, he listened to me whine when things got bad.

We ran 8s and 9s and told stories and ate gus and I felt pretty crummy. My feet started this numbness/painful ache in the bottom of my feet - I went to the doctor yesterday and he prescribed anti-inflammatories. I literally had tears in my eyes but I pushed on.

My parents stopped by. I was grateful to see their smiling faces, and to get the ibuprofin my mom inevitably had in her bag. It definitely helped and my feet did feel less horrendous.

My parents left and so did Wayne. I felt a little lonely. I ended up running with a really nice woman, who turned out to be married to someone I know. We chatted. I ran with Erin for a little while who was worried because of having rhabdo at the last six hour she did.

I ate my jellybeans. My stomach hurt. I tried to push but the pace felt sluggish. And then - 50k. A new PR: 5:15:40. Not bad, considering I felt like hell. Yes another loop please.

I tried to push the pace, but I just felt like such crap. I was all out of sorts - not eating enough because my stomach hurt, then I'd get dizzy because I wasn't getting enough nutrition, but then I'd need to eat and try and feel queasy and - it was a wretched cycle.

I finished the final 2.1 mile loop with 12 minutes left. I headed off on the mini-loop, which has a stupid hill. Luckily, when they rang the bell to stop, I was right about to hit it. Yay, relief.

At the Awards Ceremony, I was so pleased to learn that I was 3rd woman - despite my problems. Wooohooo. And 34.88 miles was very respectable, considering I felt like utter crap.

After, my stomach was a wreck and I could barely eat. Erin was feeling horrendous. Our lips were turning blue as we shivered in the cold. Erin and I wore our medals around our necks. Wayne told us we had to leave because we were getting hypothermic. We listlessly followed him to the car, where, like insane people, we drove in a crowded pickup truck, did extensive shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond, followed by grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. We tried to hydrate and eat, but really, the only thing I wanted was the chocolate peppermint bark that Wayne made fun of me for buying but ate half of anyway. And that's how it is.

Another day, another 6 hours, and oh my god, another batch of annoying hills. But it was yes, another great day. Happy Birthday, 1952.

13 October 2012

What I Learned at My First 24 Hour Race (aka Cherie's Running Secrets)

I thought that I would hate 24 hours, that I would be bored, that it would not be for me (I consider myself an in-the-woods trail gal...nice pretty not super technical trails, even hills, are my thing...) - but I ended up completely LOVING the race. They're SO much fun - normally, if you run two miles per hour faster - or slower - than me - I'll see you at the starting line and that's it. But in a 24 hour race, you pass them, they pass you, you chat each time, you see people when you pause to change your shoes, or whatever. So it's very social. You see the volunteers so often too - they get to know your name, what you eat, etc. My friend Phil ran the infamous Across the Years, and when the volunteers realized they ran out of the instant maple-flavoured oatmeal he was eating, they ran out and bought more. 

But I def wasted some time, and learned a few things...

  • Organize. I didn't have things organized well, esp bc when it started raining I put my stuff under my neighbor's table. But I'd have to stop, sort through gels, figure out where certain things are. I was to a degree, but really, didn't have things organized into little plastic tupperware dressers like some people did.
  • Have a chair. This would've made things SO much easier. I was constantly squatting down, going through my stuff, changing my socks and shoes, and when I got up, I would be completely cramped. A table would've helped too, but next year when I do Hinson, I'm going to see if my sister has a camping chair or if she doesn't, I'm going to buy one and leave it in her house. You know, for her...and to use every year at Hinson and other 24 Hour races in NC.... 
  • Not wear that stupid purple-pink bra that looks oh-so-cute but cuts me up. (Enough said.)
  • Don't spend so much time at aid stations. I did this a bunch, esp at the end when I was trying to figure what to eat that wouldn't make me vomit.
  • Plan where you place your stuff. My stuff was with Shannon, nice for talking w her and Ray, but not so good for my planning. Sometimes, I'd get to an aid station, walk through drinking my orange gatorade, munching a cracker, then grab a gel a bit later - I wish my stuff had been closer to aid so I could've had water/gel on a walk through the aid station area. Better planning needs to happen.
  • Music. I'm not a music person while running but it really helped.
  • Don't have the cell phone on. I sent a quick text to Wayne, my sister, and my mom, telling them I was tied for first 13 hours in, but that was it. Even that cost time. A lot of people were texting, updating Facebook, checking email, calling...if you're down, I think that can be a HUGE help (Call your significant other and let them cheer you up...but maybe not your mom. My mom would tell me to stop and go home and go to sleep.) but don't get sucked in. Enjoy being unplugged for just a little while.
  • Extras! Keep extra socks, sneakers, whatever...you have the space. Just organize it so you can find what you have.

08 October 2012

Is this what it's like to be an adult?

When I was little, I couldn't wait to be grown up. I had all these plans, all these ideals. Of course I was going to change the world. I was going to make the world a better place for women. I was going to do this and that.

And then I realize how automated we all get, how focused on the details we get, and it's a little depressing. This is what I wanted? This is why I was so excited to get older - to pay bills and sweep the floor on a Saturday night and talk about parking spaces - really?

And then I realize I still can do anything, I just have to remember how to get there.

06 October 2012

"No comprendo tus palabras."

I've been studying Spanish for a while, and people always seem to think I have wretched Spanish when talking about my running.

Here's an example of a conversation (which we would exchange in Spanish):

Random person: "Oh, you run. How nice. What do you run? Half-marathons?"

Me: "Oh, they're fun, but I like to run 50 mile, 100 mile races."

Random person: (Thinking to themselves) "She must be a complete dolt with her numbers." (Aloud) "5 miles?"

Me: "No, fifty. 100. I like to run really fun."

They're always baffled and then I start explaining all the times and distances and then it sinks it. But here's a complete opposite of that experience:

My Spanish teacher has long-understood that I run 50 mile, 100 mile races. I was telling her about a recent 50 miler I did and she was smiling. She asked if my boyfriend came to Florida to crew me in my race, and I said, "No, he had a race of his own." The following conversation transpired (in Spanish):

Spanish teacher: "How long was his race?"

Me: "One mile."

Spanish teacher: "How long? 100 miles?"

Me: "No. One mile. It's just a short race, on 5th Avenue."

Spanish teacher: "But...just one mile? That's it? Why would people want to run a race just that short?"

I had a good laugh at that one; apparently I have twisted my Spanish teacher so that she thinks 100 miles is normal, 1 mile is not.

"Happiness...Happiness is fine but it's momentary"

Alex got me into Australian hiphop a while back, and today, while making soup, this song came on and it suddenly struck me how sad it was:

Happiness, happiness is fine but its momentary
A momentary lapse of reality
Reality is fine, but for the moment it can wait
I’m addicted to the chase of my
Happiness, happiness is fine but its momentary
A momentary lapse of reality
Reality is fine, but for the moment it can wait
I’m addicted to the chase of my happiness...

Is this what life is? Is happiness just a short blip in between reality? Why can't we have happiness all the time? Wayne and I were talking about what is happiness and what makes us happy and what is life earlier (As Wayne said, "In the words of Cherie, 'What is the meaning of life?'"). But how many people - not excluding myself - are living lives that they are fully happy with? How many people are not happy - with their jobs, with their homes, with their partners, with their lack of partners, with their family, with their friends, with their city, with their whatever? A lot. 

Last night was my first party post-Burn. It was fun, usual creative costumes, interesting minds, good conversations. You get into these conversations - holding vodka red bulls and leaning in close over the loud electronic music that makes you want to dance and go bum-bum-bum-throw-your-hands-in-the-air - and people really ask you what it's about. My friend and I got in this intense conversation about some things bothering me right now - and I don't know how I can possibly figure it out right now. I don't know what my next steps are. I feel like I'm being made unhappy by something I cannot control - but there are things I like - and I can't figure out how to move from this pit of unhappiness. Is unhappiness my reality in this situation now - and happiness just a momentary lapse of reality?