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I’ve always looked at marathon runners like they were a different species. These men and women made of pure lean muscle who can run over 26 miles and still cross the finish line smiling…they simply baffled me. Yet I envied them. Why is it that they can do the 13.2 miles of a half marathon in the time it takes me to run five? So I decided I wanted to become one of them. I figure I’ll look for a good half marathon and start slowly. Keep in mind: I am not an athlete. (I hardly think the year I did of college diving —eight years ago—counts!) Finding a coach or a training program was key. Maybe I should have given Katie Holmes a ring?

6/1/08 – The Big Day

Our coaches warned us that we wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before the marathon. But thankfully, I got a good 4 or 5 hours in. When the wake up call went off at 3:15am I couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden everything I heard and felt yesterday went out the window and my nerves kicked in hardcore. What if I can’t do this? What if my knees give out? What if my ankles hurt? Etc. I got dressed and headed downstairs with all my stuff, ready to go. But my nerves went straight to my stomach and I couldn’t eat breakfast. The most vital time to eat, and I couldn’t do it! On the bus, I thought I was going to puke. I tried to talk myself off the ledge and everything came crashing down. I have no idea why I was getting so nervous. It’s not like I was in this to win! I finally calmed down by the time we got to the park and was able to eat part of my bagel. We all sat around and talked about anything and everything except for running. What we were about to do, wasn’t even mentioned. I think we all needed to clear our heads. After bag check, I lost Steph and made my way to the start line with another girl in our group, Keri. I decided that I didn’t care about my time, I just wanted to have fun! Keri and I ran for the first 11 miles together. We stopped to walk after one of the water stands, but other than that, we kept a good slow pace. Around mile 5 I saw one of my friends on the sidelines. It was so nice to feel supported. Also, by wearing our purple TNT shirts, anytime there was a TNT supporter on the sidelines, they would cheer for you. It meant a lot. It felt like I had hundreds of fans on the sidelines. Some people even held signs that read “Thank you TNT from a Leukemia Survivor” and again, the meaning of the race was re-instilled in me and I was determined to do this for them. It was close to mile 11 when I separated from Keri and picked up the pace. The sun was starting to break through the clouds and it was getting hot! It’s true what they say about your brain going to mush in the middle of a long run. When someone asked me what time it was, it took me a good minute or two to calculate in my head what time it was. My watch was still on EST and it was amazingly difficult to subtract 3 hours.

I can honestly say I don’t really remember miles 13 to 18. I remember looking around, taking in the spectators and the scenery. My body was on autopilot and felt good. But by mile 20, I was ready for the race to be over. I let myself take a few one-minute walking breaks and then I’d speed up again. Seeing people collapsing on the side of the road made me anxious that I was going too fast and that would soon be me. When I’d freak out a bit, I’d let myself walk for no more than a minute and pick up the pace again. Our NY coaches were on the sidelines in the last 6 miles and they would come out and run with me for a few minutes and ask how I was doing and made sure I was okay. I’d hold full conversations with them and wished they’d keep me company the whole way! I told one of them at mile 24 that I was ready to walk and he was like, “Why would you do that with 2 miles left?!” So I waited till he was out of sight and I walked for a bit. One of the best parts of the race, was the people that live in San Diego. Some would sit on their balconies drinking and cheering while others would hand out oranges or water. Some residents even brought out their hoses to spray us down as we passed – those were my favorite! Once I saw the sign for mile 26, I figured my job was done, but the last 2/10 of a mile were quite possibly the longest part of the entire run. I wanted to sprint, I wanted to run, but my legs physically couldn’t go very fast. Our head coach, Ramon, was waiting a few feet in front of the finish line to cheer us on and run with us till we crossed the line. I couldn’t hear the fans, I don’t even remember what Ramon said. All I could hear was the voice inside my head that said, “Keep moving!” So that’s what I did. The clock read 5:01 when I crossed, but I figured that my time was 5-10 minutes before that since I was in the 10th coral to start. Upon crossing the line, they hand you an ice cold wet towel that was the best thing ever! I’d take that towel over a medal any day! I took my pictures and met up with my friends and waited for Steph and everyone to cross the line. But all I wanted to do was get out of the sun, take off my sneakers and soak my feet in ice!

My best friend from LA came to the hotel with me and helped me ice my legs and feet. I tried to sit in a bath of ice, but it was way to painful. Later I learned that you’re supposed to sit in lukewarm water first and then dump the ice in. Who knew?! After icing my legs and feet, we ate lunch and then headed to the Jacuzzi for some more rest and relaxation.

I can’t believe it’s over. If it weren’t for my sun burnt face and shoulders and my aching legs and feet, I wouldn’t believe it! I can’t understand or explain the series of emotions I felt from beginning to end. There were times where I felt strong and knew I would finish strong and there were times where I had to talk myself into not stopping. I looked up my official time and it was 4:55. I averaged about 11 minutes a mile and although it’s not great, I feel incredible. I feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do. Now the only question is, what’s next? Will it be another marathon or a triathlon? Once my legs can go up a flight of stairs without hurting, I’ll start pondering that one.

5/31/08 – The Day Before

We met in the lobby at 8 am and it was great to see how many people were in the TNT New York chapter. There had to be at least 200 of us. Running along the marina, a very cheerful homeless man kept cheering for “the team” and I’m pretty sure he thought we were already doing the marathon. He danced and cheered while we ran our 10 minutes out and 10 minutes back. It was a short run, but probably one of the hardest runs yet. I was tired, achy and hot! The humidity was killer even at 8am! We all stretched on the lawn and then had time to ourselves to explore the marathon Expo next door. At the Expo we got our chips and our bib numbers. That’s when I realized I originally signed up for the marathon with the goal time of 5 hours and 45 minutes. Wow, how far I have come! I changed my place to 4 hours and 30 minutes, knowing that it would probably be closer to 5 hours – but they say to predict half hour quicker than your time. After the Expo, it was time for the Team in Training Pasta party. As our busses pulled up there were tons of people cheering and clapping. When we got off the bus, we realized that was for us! It was the best welcoming committee ever!! The pasta party was for all the TNT participants nationwide and there must have been upwards of 3,000 people there. There were motivational speakers and awards given out. Tears were shed and suddenly it all became about raising money and awareness for a good cause and not about running. My running a marathon means nothing compared to the thousands of dollars I’ve raised to find a cure for Leukemia and Lymphoma. As if that wasn’t enough, later on when we got our singlets (a term runners use for tank tops), we decorated them while members of TNT got up and shared why they joined TNT to begin with. Again, it was a tear fest and running became less and less important and it was all about something much bigger than any of us: Cancer. It reminded me that running a race is nothing compared to what some people have to battle everyday. Putting my body intentionally thru hell is meaningless when you think about those who have no choice. Running is the least I can do.

At around 7 pm I went for dinner with my friends who came to support me from L.A.. We loaded up on pizza and carbs. It was fabulous! When I got back to the room I put everything aside for the big day tomorrow. My clothes are ready and everything I need is all set. Now all I need is some sleep! Considering we have to meet at 4 am tomorrow, I can’t wait to hit the pillow!

 

5/30/08 – Off to San Diego

I got into San Diego around 7 pm. On the flight we met a few people who were also running on Sunday and it’s funny how everyone loves to give first time marathoners advice. While waiting for the plane, we had a guy who has run countless marathons tell us one thing and then a woman (who looked like the only marathon she might have run was 10 years ago) tell us another thing. So with all that advice, the nerves kicked in a little more. Upon arriving in San Diego, we saw the posters and signs for the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon everywhere! It was really nice. We checked into the Marriott Marina and TNT had signs posted with our weekend schedule. It’s like we took over the hotel! After an amazing dinner in the Gaslamp district we’re going to call it a night so that we can be ready for our 8 am run tomorrow.

5/27/08
Just Days Away

After a weekend in Atlantic City with barely any rest, I’m now less than a week away from the big day. I’m still doing light runs and cardio and strengthening exercises for my knees and ankles. I’m also trying to be diligent about icing, but it’s not fun! We just got an email from the coaches about what to expect about pacing and what kind of time goals we want. All of his references to miles 16 and 20 made my stomach turn. I’ve been having nightmares about getting halfway thru the race and giving up. I don’t know why I’m getting so stressed! The marathon is just five days away. I’m not sure if I’m more excited to do the actual race or get it over with right now!

5/20/08 Another Test

Last week, when I missed practice, the coaches had everyone do another test to see how much we’ve improved. Since I haven’t really been able to run, I finally did my test this morning. After warming up for five minutes, I ran my first mile at 9:05, which is around what I did last time. So for mile #2, after a five-minute recovery, I really picked up the pace and finally broke nine minutes! I did the second mile in 8:45 and then the third in 8:57. I really thought that with all the training I would have improved a lot more, so I was kind of disappointed. I guess it’s motivation to keep running more this week, even though we’re supposed to be tapering. The good news is that my ankle doesn’t really hurt anymore! There are 19 days remaining before the run and I think the nerves are finally kicking in.

5/18/08 Time Is Not on My Side

I’ve been swamped with work this last week, so for the first time since training started, it had to take a backseat. I let myself recover on Monday from my really long run last weekend and then Tuesday I was back outside. But before I could even get around the block my ankle started to hurt with every pounce. Instead of pushing it or hurting myself I decided to head inside to the elliptical. I know it doesn’t count as a run, but at least I was working up a sweat! My ankle didnt’ hurt on the elliptical so I did some calf raises and squats afterwards to maybe strengthen it for Wednesday. I didn’t train in the morning, hoping to get out of work and to practice, but as always, that just didn’t happen. Thursday morning was spent preparing for LA and I left straight from work. Friday I was all ready to run when I woke up but when I checked the weather it was already 88 degrees at 9am. Knowing that it was expected to go up well past 100, I opted to do strengthening exercises by the pool instead. It’s better than nothing, right?!

I was hoping to get a good workout at our Body & Soul Event on the beach, where I saw Kim Lyons and Harley Pasternak whipping people into shape, but as work would have it, I was running around and missed every class. People were loving it, though, and some people were even taking classes all day! I was hoping that my running around in the 100-degree weather would count for something. This morning I was psyched to get a run in on my friend’s treadmill. I figured I could do sprints instead of the 16 miles I was supposed to run. But every time I would increase my intensity, the treadmill would shut off! We’re still not sure if I was blowing a fuse or something is just wrong with the machine, but it was so frustrating! I made it to about 3 miles when I decided it was time to give the machine a break before I caused a blackout! Tonight I fly back to NYC, and since there is only two weeks till D-Day, I plan on really picking it up this week.

5/11/08 Three Weeks Left!

We’re in the final weeks of our training and my mileage is getting up there! After hardly any sleep on Friday night, I set out to do 20 miles on Saturday morning. Boy, was that tough! It’s not enough to stretch, eat right and be hydrated—sleep is a huge issue, too! Great. I was barely done with my second mile when I knew I needed a walking break. I proceeded to do the rest of the (never ending) trail with intervals of walking and jogging. It felt like I was cheating! But my tired legs just couldn’t do it. I ate some of the Gus on my way and, to my surprise, they barely helped. When I was at mile 15 I was starving! Luckily my parents’ house was on the way and I stopped there for water and some dried fruit, which actually helped a lot. A friend told me she chooses nuts and dried fruit over the Gus and bars, so that might be something I should look into. I calculated my route when I got home and it turns out I did almost 21 miles! I’m psyched about that, but I still feel cheated that I walked as much as I did. Although, with the way my legs are tired today, you would never think that I actually walked at all! This week I’m off to LA for work, so I hope I can still get my mileage in. I don’t have much more time to prepare!

5/6/08 Stretch It Out!

Saturday I learned a very valuable lesson: After a long run you MUST stretch. I met my family and friends for brunch after the race and was eager to get out of the chaotic park. So I only spent about 5 minutes stretching, and that’s not nearly enough after 2 hours of running! I tried to stretch my legs under the table while we were eating, but I soon gave up. I spent most of Sunday relaxing and didn’t work out on Monday or today. I must say, my muscles still feel tight! I keep hydrated and I’ve even been eating pretty healthfully, but I’m starting to realize that it has nothing to do with what I’m doing now and all to do with what I did (and didn’t do) immediately after the race. From now on I’m definitely going to make sure to spend some valuable time stretching!

 

5/3/08 First Big Race

After a long week of work events and little sleep, I participated in my first half marathon in Brooklyn this morning. I yawned the whole way there and prayed that the weather would behave for our long race (the sky looked like it was going to open at any minute). Armed with GU and Cliffs Moons, I was ready to get the run over with! It started at the Coney Island boardwalk—which, if you ask, me is a pretty hazardous place to have a run! The old wooden boards bounce and give and the nails make a unique obstacle course; within the first mile I must have seen at least five people fall. At the second water station, I was about to become one of those people! As I felt myself going down (damned uneven boards!), I stumbled but someone pretty much caught me before my knees could hit the wood. To that person, who I think was number 4448, I am utterly thankful! By mile three or four we finally started running on pavement. I was already farily tired but started talking to myself. Get into the zone Look at the scenery. Just run! I tried my first GU around 45 minutes into the race and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It was Vanilla Bean and tasted like custard. I could have had three more!

The third water station had Gatorade, so that was what sustained me for the rest of my run. I didn’t even see the mile marks for miles six and seven, and before I knew it we were at mile eight! Once we entered Prospect Park I knew that the hills were about to start. Who thought to put all the up hills in the last three miles of a 13-mile run? Not funny. I took shorter steps and dropped my arms for the hill (the technique that our coaches taught us) but that didn’t seem to help. I was exhausted by the time I hit the top, which was about mile 11. Luckily, it was almost all downhill after that. I finished the race in about two hours and 10 minutes, and I was ecstatic! But as I crossed the finish line, I realized that I’d told my parents and friends that it would take me at least two and a half hours. So as I looked for friendly faces I figured no one would be there. To my surprise my best friend (hung over and all) made it! I called everyone else to tell them I was done and, as I suspected, they were still on their way. I need to stop underestimating myself!

 

4/28/08 I Just Kept Running

After suffering from a bout of insomnia on Friday night, I was up at 6 a.m. on Saturday and ready to start my day. But if I was going to run in Central Park with the team I had to sit tight for another hour. So instead, I waited till my breakfast digested and decided to take off on my own. I mapped a route that I thought was about 12 miles and then modified it a bit to make for a 14-mile run. I stopped about three times along the way—twice for hydration (I now understand why athletes drink Powerade!) and once for the bathroom. There was a chilly breeze so I kept my Brooks long-sleeved hoodie on for most of the run. It was perfect! Every time I went to take it off I had to put it back on a block later. When I got home I realized that I was still ready to do more, and my ultimate goal was 15 miles, so I changed my top and got on the treadmill for a quick 2.5 miles.

I dont know if it was all the stops or just the good hydration, but I wasn’t even exhausted when I was done. So bizarre! To celebrate, I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure. I can’t even describe how good it felt to get my feet rubbed! I took Sunday off and did some squats and weights this morning to give my legs some more rest. Out of curiosity, I just typed my route inyo Mapquest and realized that I did 18 miles! I can’t believe it. Wow, I definitely deserved that pedicure!

 

4/24/08 Gorgeous Day for a Run!

With the temperature finally heating up, running is becoming so much more enjoyable! On Tuesday I wore a t-shirt and pants and jogged around my neighborhood for about 45 minutes, which should equate to about 4 miles. I found this really pretty neighborhood where I could house hunt while I ran, so that kept me busy! Nut last night I missed practice due to work and I ended up meeting friends for a beer and some wings—not exactly marathon friendly! But I didn’t overdo it and it felt good to finally relax and not worry about training every second. This morning it was already close to 70 degrees when I got up, so I ran in shorts and a tanktop! It was so nice out that I wanted to keep running long after my 45 minutes was up. But instead I relaxed with a homemade smoothie on my balcony to get some extra sun before work. I figured the fruit smoothie would help negate the wings I had last night (although I know it doesn’t really work that way!).

 

4/21/08 Coming Up Short

After slacking for the later half of the week, I had quite a disappointing running weekend, too. It was fun on all accounts, but I didn’t get my long run in on Saturday. I had a friend in town and we went for an amazing run on Saturday (it was about 75 degrees and gorgeous out!) but we only went for about 6 miles and then called it a day. I guess people who aren’t training cant go for more than that. Who would have thought?! I got to try out some of my summer gear and finally ran in shorts and a tank top. Luckily, my friend and I are the same size, because when my Mizuno top started to chafe my arm we traded tops and I put on the Urban Athletics one my friend was wearing. That one felt like you were running naked. It was wonderful. It took some getting used to the heat and the lack of water fountains, but we were happy that we got tan lines! I’m still disappointed though, because even though it was a great run I should have done 15 miles on Saturday. Due to guilt, I did 4 miles outside again on Sunday, but that pales in comparison to the mileage I got in last weekend. I’m wondering if ‘Im better off adding a mile to every run this week to make up for lost mileage or just forget it and have a great run this weekend. I emailed the coaches, so hopefully I’ll have an answer to that soon. My half marathon is less than two weeks away, so I want to make sure I’m prepared!

4/17/08 Recovery

It’s amazing how sometimes you recover in a day and sometimes it takes a lot longer! I took it easy on Monday and then ran 4 miles Tuesday on some hills by my house. It felt great, but I woke up so exhausted on Wednesday, as if my legs never fully recovered from the weekend. This morning I just did some squats and lunges with my Kettlebell since I didn’t have time to get a full run in. But I’m not sure if that’s going to help my tired legs or make them more sore. I’ve been reading up and they say water is key to help your muscles heal, so I plan to drink lots today. We’ll see if that helps.

 

4/14/08 Tired Legs

I’ve run almost 20 miles since my last blog just 4 days ago! I took Friday off and ran on the West Side Highway on Saturday. It was such a gorgeous day for a run! Megan, my mentor with Team in Training, and I set out to run about 12 miles. But since we didn’t know the exact distance, we did it by time. So we took off at the 72nd street Transverse in Central Park and ran along the highway passing Little West 12th street and finally getting to the Financial District in about an hour and 10 minutes, which is when we turned around. By that point (about 6.5 miles into the run) I needed to refuel, so I tried Sport Beans for the first time. I had the watermelon flavor and I have to say, they’re just like jellybeans but a little tangier. And they had caffeine—a bonus! I watched Megan eat her awful Gu as I chowed on jellybeans. I’m not sure if they offer the same amount of nutrients as some of the Gus do, but they were good nonetheless! We got back to the park in just under two and a half hours and I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I’m really shocked at how the body adapts and builds endurance. Three months ago I would have never dreamed I’d be able to jog almost 13 miles straight! We all treated ourselves to brunch after the run and then I took it easy for most of the day. Sunday I woke up feeling good and ready for the 4-mile race for Lung Cancer. My legs were tight and my back was sore, but I was determined to get through it. During the first mile, my legs were not happy. They couldn’t believe I was putting them through the agony again. But I finished in 36 minutes, so I shed almost 3 minutes off of my previous 4-mile race a month ago. Im definitely happy about that. Today I don’t plan on running at all. My legs need some rest!

 

4/10/08 Embrace the Hills

With less than 8 weeks to go before the marathon, the pressure is on and the anxiety is setting in. So I’m trying to be extra good about making it to practices and getting all my runs in. Last night we did hills again in the park and it felt good to run in 60-degree weather! My knees are a bit shaky today from all the impact, so I may give myself two days off before the 12 miles I have to run on Saturday—followed by the 4-mile race I’m doing on Sunday…12 miles!! I still can’t believe it. I’m going to need a good dinner on Friday that’ll sustain me. The coaches say that nutrition is vital right now, so I’m not sure the cupcake I just inhaled was a good idea! With the anxiety of the race comes my innate feeling that I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. But that’s clearly not true if I want to run to my full potential. So I keep telling myself that it’s all about healthy foods from here on in. But it’s not easy!

4/5/08 It’s Warming Up!

I guess I didn’t push myself hard enough on Wednesday, because I wasn’t in any pain on Thursday or Friday! I was sure I’d feel it in my hamstrings, but instead I felt fine other than having tight calves. So this morning I got up to find it rather chilly and dreary out. I put on my Under Armour and a waterproof light jacket from Brooks and headed out to the park. By the time I got there I was already warm, but didn’t have any layers to take off! I still vowed to do my 10 or 11 miles, so I set off with my Mentor and did two loops around the park. The first loop was a little quicker than my normal pace and the sun started coming out. So on top of being tired, I was way overdressed. People were in tank tops and shorts and I was in tights and a long sleeve shirt and jacket! Needless to say, the second loop was really difficult. Luckily, though, the water fountains in Central Park have been turned on and I got to stop at all of them for some much-needed hydration. I’m going to have to get some fuel for next weeks run because they are encouraging us to have about 150 calories every 45 minutes of our run. I can’t imagine eating a Power Bar, so Im going to have to try those gels (that sound disgusting). Today was the first time I can honestly say I got hungry during the run. I guess running for two hours straight will do that to you! I’m off to put frozen peas on my knees again.

4/2/08 Up and Down We Go

April is apparently our hill training month. So tonight we ran about two miles and then hit cat hill (in Central Park) and ran up and down this hill countless times. There is nothing more mundane than running back and forth over and over again! I was ready to call it a night after our warm up run, but the hill training, other than being really boring, wasnt that difficult. They say its really good for strengthening, so lets see how I feel tomorrow!

 

3/29/08 That’s 9 Down,17 More to Go!

After bartending on Friday night I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to practice today. But when the alarm rang at 7 am I was ready! It was a gorgeous day in the park and the coaches told us we should be doing anywhere from 8 to 10 miles. So I decided to do two loops, the first was 5 miles and the second was 4. With the hills on the north side of the park, I was sure that by the second lap I’d be walking, but to my utter shock I was able to jog the entire thing! At points I would tell myself that I needed to walk and slow down, but once I’d let my feet slow for two or three steps the adrenaline would kick in and make me pick up the pace again.

I had to run alone, which I thought would be mundane and boring, but I’ve got to say I pushed myself harder than I think anyone else could have.By mile 7 (when I finished the last up hill) my knees and ankles were pretty sore. And by the time I got to the end, my ankles were throbbing. But I finished in 93 minutes, so I was ecstatic. I asked the coach about my ankles and he said I probably had to break in my sneakers some more—and if they continue to hurt in a week or two then I should probably trade in the Asics and use the Brooks for the long runs. Considering I had to ice my knees several times today and take a few doses of Advil before the pain subsided, I may be picking up my Brooks for Monday’s run.

3/27/08 My Fastest Mile Yet!

Our first test was last night, but I never made it to practice so I had to do it on the treadmill this morning. After warming up I had to see how fast I could run a mile at an incline. To my surprise I really didn’t push myself that hard and managed to do the first mile at 9:14. We were given 6 minutes to rest and then we had to do it again two more times. By the last mile I got my time down to 9 minutes flat! It was such a great feeling! I used to think that 11-minute miles were pretty fast, but now I can do 9-minute miles without collapsing at the end. I can’t believe how much I’ve improved! I can’t wait to see when we have our second test at the end of April and we can see our improvements again! I’d love to see that number go down even more.

 

3/26/08 Literally Running Errands

On Saturday I managed to get up and run by a highway near me instead of trekking to Central Park. It was a good run, but I only did about 7 miles (instead of the 8 I was supposed to do) because I wanted to be home when my friends got up. And after my morning run I walked around all of lower Manhattan so that my friends could see Wall St, South Street Seaport, SoHo and Chinatown. I guess if you count the hours of walking we did, that would definitely add up to another few miles! Sunday I took off and then Monday I did a great 4 miles on the treadmill. I managed to beat my race time by a few seconds, so that was exciting. Today we had the day off, so I decided that I’d run outside (for once). I had errands to do so, instead of taking the subway I decided to jog everywhere. I put on my Mizuno hooded sweatshirt and pants (so I wouldn’t be wearing tights all over the city!) and took off. I calculated that it was about 4 miles, so it was perfect! The random hills in my neighborhood were a bit brutal but it’s so nice not having to go to the gym. I can’t wait till it gets nicer out so I can avoid it altogether! And today I learned a very valuable lesson. Instead of getting on the subway for 20 minutes, I can just run to get to where I need to go. It gets the gym out of the way and helps me avoid a smelly subway ride! Lesson learned: Swap my metro card for sneakers for weekend errands.

 

3/21/08 Too Busy to Run

What a crazy week it’s been! With construction going on at home and trying to move offices, the days seem to be flying by without setting time aside to run. On Saturday I ran with the group on the West Side Highway and it was a great run. Our coaches told us to start increasing our runs by one mile every week, so I decided to opt for 7 miles. We ran from 72nd Street to Chelsea Piers and happily discovered that they have a public bathroom there! So we stopped, caught our breath and then headed back. Then we realized why the run there seemed so easy—the wind (which seemed like 30mph gusts) was going with us. On the way back we had to run against the wind and it wasn’t fun. It really felt like running against a wall at some points. We got back to the park in a little over 80 minutes. So considering we stopped at the bathroom and walked a bit, I was happy with that! I didn’t run on Sunday, and then Monday my legs seemed tight (since I didn’t stretch too much on Sat.) so I just stuck to the elliptical. Tuesday I did 3 miles and then Wednesday I did the group workout on my own, which was another set of intervals. But Thursday was hectic and today is another crazy day, so I wont be able to get a run in. Although I have friends in town, I’m going to try and get up before them tomorrow and run my 8 miles. Let’s see what happens!

 

3/13/08 Wednesday Practice

Due to work hours, I’ve yet to attend a normal Wednesday group training session and instead opt for the treadmill version of the workout on my own, and they’re never easy! So last night I made it a point to leave work on time and meet up with the team for our run in the park. Besides the blistering wind and cold conditions, it was one of the best training sessions ever! We did intervals of sprints and recoveries. Which meant we’d run for a few minutes and then walk or slowly jog to catch our breath and then do it all over again, quite a few times. It may sound excruciating, but it was a lot of fun. In no time I could feel my hands and toes again and my legs felt like lead. The only downfall of the night was that I decided to try out a new pair of Brooks sneakers, and it might not have been the best night to do it because my ankles have been killing me all day. Does stretching your calves under your desk really help? I sure hope so!

 

3/10/08 My First Race

If you’ve ever run in a race, you know how thrilling it can be! Yesterday was my first race in Central Park. It was only 4 miles so I kept looking at it as if it were a regular weekend practice in the park. But when I got there I knew it was anything but! On my subway ride to the park, there were tons of people in their running gear headed in the same direction. (I mean who else is on the subway at 7am on a Saturday?) Walking thru the park, looking for registration, the energy was unreal. Some people were already jogging with their numbers on to warm up. I was just scrambling to check in and stay warm. Steph and I found our friend Johnyne who is training for a triathlon in June, who was also running the race with us. Once we got our numbers on and a small pep talk from our coaches we made our way to the starting point. There were so many people there! The race was to raise money/awareness for Colon Cancer and by the looks of it, there were tons of supporters! We decided to start between the 9-minute and 10-minute miles (they separate you into groups by your pace so that you’re not in the way of the 7-minute-mile folk). The horn sounded and we were off.

The first mile was tough to find a pace since there were so many people all around. You couldn’t speed up or slow down because there was nowhere to go. But by the end of the first mile people found their groove and there was more space to move around. Johnyne and I picked up the pace to make up for lost time in the first mile and along the way the staff on the sidelines cheered us all on. Although it was the same run that we’ve done on previous weekends, it felt so different! On hills I would push a little harder and I concentrated on my breathing a lot. By miles three and four we really picked up the pace and once we knew the finish line was close we gave it all we had. The cheers and encouragement from the sidelines really helped me push a little more. It’s crazy how that works. I ended up finishing in 38:38. I guess it’s a personal best since I’ve been running 4 miles in 39 minutes or so. I think my time would have been better if the first mile wasn’t so congested. (excuses, excuses, I know…) I can’t wait to do my next race now. I think I’m definitely hooked!

 

3/6/08 A Shoe In

We got our training calendars for the month and it looks like were still taking it pretty easy thru the month of March, only going up to 8 miles during our longer runs on Saturdays. This makes me nervous, since we have less than 12 weeks left to train! This week we’re training for a 4-mile race on Sunday to support colon cancer. And since I’ve been training with my old sneakers up until now, I was ecstatic when my new ones arrived. This morning I tested out the Asics GT 2130 (AsicsAmerica.com), which were recommended to me by several runners and Mike at Jack Rabbit—and they’re pretty good. My feet don’t need too much support, so these light-weight sneakers have plenty for me. For some reason, though, my calves didn’t like the idea of ditching my two-year-old favorites and they have been tired and sore ever since my run. Is that normal when you use new sneakers? I probably have to run in them a little more to wear them in, but my calves aren’t too happy about it.

3/5/08 Good Support

If you’re a woman who has ever run, you know the importance of a good sports bra! In the past weeks I’ve been trying to find one with good support that doesn’t shift or leave me bruised, and I think my search is over! I just tried the Champion Reversible Bra (championusa.com) and it stays in place and seems to wick away moisture without leaving me scarred. I’m still working up to mile 5, so we’ll see if this one can hold me thru to mile 26.

 

3/2/08 A Day in the Park

Yesterday we had group training in the park. When I left Queens it was raining and nasty out, but by the time I got off the subway in Manhattan the sun was out. It was such a gorgeous day for a run! We did 5 miles in Central Park and I had no idea that the north side of the park has a mountain in it! By 110th street, there is a windy hill that never seems to end. But Steph and I made it to the top and did the 5 miles without a hitch.

I enjoyed my outdoor run so much that I decided to take the dog to the park this afternoon and get some more outdoor time in. This time, I ran with my old sneakers in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, and it wasnt nearly as successful. First off, it was really muddy. So between jumping over puddles and trying to keep the dog out of the mud, the jogging didnt last. Thank god I left the new sneakers at home for this one.

 

2/29/08 Its All About the Sneakers
After practice the other day I was talking to one of our coaches about random knee pain, and he asked when I bought my sneakers. When I told him it had been at least 2 years, he cringed! So I went to JackRabbit in Union Square, where they watch you run on a treadmill in slow motion to determine what kind of sneaker you need. (You mean it doesn’t just depend on comfort and color?!)

After running several times and making Mike (who also happens to be a coach with TNT for Triathlons) bring me more than a dozen pairs of sneakers, we finally found a few that were right for my neutral feet with a slight over-pronation. (It turns out that if you run long distances in the wrong sneaker, it could cause all types of injuries in your legs and especially your knees.) Now let’s see if they make me run any quicker!

 

2/27/08 Think Before You Drink

Good morning all! I learned a tough lesson this morning. It turns out that even if you go out for 2 drinks, it’ll affect your run in the morning! We had a going away party for our coworker Jen Birn last night, so of course I had to go. At first I said I would just have a light beer, but as the Grey Goose flowed, I agreed to one drink (which turned into two!). So this morning I got up to run my "easy 3 miles" and I don’t know if was the lack of 8 hours of sleep or the vodka — but it was tough! I did my 3 miles in just shy of half an hour. I really want to get my times down! So I’m definitely going to try to stay away from late-night parties and drinks. They just sent us the workout for the week (which I’ll be missing tonight) and it looks intense. Can’t wait to try it out tomorrow! It’s all about intervals and trying to push ourselves a little harder. I’ll let you know how it goes!

2/22/08 No Pain, No Gain

Steph told me that Wednesday’s workout was really rough and I should be glad I missed it. While she spent Thursday being sore, I was still gloating about my Wednesday run. Although my legs felt fine, I got my first running scar. The sports bra I was wearing must have not fit right because I have a two-inch cut/burn on my shoulder. I think I’d rather my legs being sore! No low cut shirts this weekend!

 

2/20/08 Best Run Yet

I got my box full of Under Armour (underarmour.com) gear this morning and I was so excited to try it all on! I’m not one for spandex looking pants, but I’ve been told they are the warmest thing around, so I’m willing to give them a shot! I was all set and ready for training in Central Park after work, but when I had to stay late at the office, I loaded up on the coffee instead. When I got home I put on my new pants and short sleeve top and went to the gym to do the “at home” version of what I missed in the park. It included 10 minutes of running followed by a set of squats and I repeated that routine about six times. I really don’t know if it was the Dunkin Donuts coffee or the Under Armour pants, but one of the two had me running faster than I’ve ever run in my life! I decided to start quicker than I normally do and before I knew it, I was at a mile before my 10 minutes were up. That’s unheard of for me! So I did 60 minutes total and did about five sets of 15 squats every 10 minutes. It felt sooo good. I can’t believe that I did 6 miles in 59 minutes. I think I texted five people I know just to tell them. Although the run was fabulous, it’s after 10pm now and I know I’m never going to get to sleep. I don’t know if it was the 5pm coffee or the run, but there is no way I’m going to be able to sleep anytime soon.

 

2/18/08 Must Cut Calories

After gorging myself with a huge Mexican dinner last night, I knew running would be difficult! But I put on my Adidas (shopadidas.com) shorts on and got on the treadmill. My three miles in 32 minutes was definitely harder than normal. I guess the night out drinking on Saturday and the naughty meal I ate last night weren’t typical runner fare. I hope we have a nutrition clinic soon.

 

2/16/08 Freezing

I took yesterday off due to travels but today I met up with the team at Central Park again. It’s not fun going from 90-degree weather to 10-degrees! This time I wore leg warmers under my running pants – It still didn’t help! Since Steph couldn’t make it this morning, I ran with a different teammate. We spent the first mile complaining about frozen toes, fingers and faces. Why did I choose to train in the winter anyhow? I had to stop and walk a few times since the cold wind was making my chest hurt. I think we may have been some of the last people to make it back after the four miles. I was just happy that we made it at all! Looking around, I saw that tons of my teammates were wearing far less than me, and when I asked, they all seemed to concur that I needed some Under Armour pronto. So I stretched with the team and then ran home to jump in a hot shower.

 

2/14/08 – Running on Vacation

I left on Sunday to go to St. Kitts, but I vowed to use the gym at the resort and get my mileage in. It was so nice to run on a treadmill again! And lucky for me the gym faced hoards of palm trees and pools. I spent Monday and Tuesday running my 3 miles (now I can do that in 32 minutes) and staring at the pools picturing myself tanning besides them. Today I had to do the training that our coach sent via email (since I couldn’t make it to Wednesday’s group training) and it was tough! It was interval training where he had us work on inclines. It is NOT fun jogging up hill! I’m looking forward to my buffet breakfast now!

 

2/9/08 – First Group Training

Just had my first group training session in Central Park and let me just say the mood, the energy, the vibe, it’s all incredible. It’s such a mix of beginners and people who have run 20+ marathons so it’s really interesting. Before the run they had an honored teammate (a cancer survivor and runner) speak about his story and that pumped me up so much. We had the choice to do one loop (which was 1.7 miles) or two loops (3.4 miles). I jogged with Stephanie and before we knew it we had done a whole loop, so we did it again. It’s so different jogging outdoors – in the middle of a NY winter – than it is being inside on the treadmill like I’m used to. First off, my wool mittens made my hands sweat and the matching hat kept sliding off my head. My legs were freezing in my Everlast (everlast.com) dance pants and my heavy fleece felt like it was weighing me down. What did I learn today? I need new running gear ASAP.

 

2/8/08 – Easy Peasy

I’m shocked to see how easy Team in Training makes everything! I set up my own website (www.active.com/donate/tntnyc/KarenBerg) where friends and family can donate money so I don’t have to deal with checks or cash (although those are welcome too!). And I already got emails from the coaches, my mentor and support team. Now if only they could run for me! Our coach sent out the training schedule for February and I’m so happy to see that it looks like we’re starting pretty slowly. They have beginners doing three miles, 3x a week. And then we have group training sessions on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Central Park and Riverside Park. At least this month looks easy!

 

2/7/08 – Joining the Team

I am so easily convinced! I went to the Team in Training meeting last night and next thing you know I have signed my life away! Well not literally of course, but I agreed to do a full marathon in San Diego on June 1st. I told someone that I wanted to do the half marathon, their response was, “Trust me, you’ll want to do the whole.” After seeing the inspiring video of people with cancer fighting their disease and then running a marathon and seeing people triple my age complete it, I thought, “okay, I should be able to do this!” And just like that, after an $80 registration fee (which goes to charity) I was in. So between now and June 1st, I need to raise $4,100 and train my tired chubby legs to run 26 miles. I have my work cut out for me! Now that it’s the next day and I’ve read over all the paperwork, I don’t know what I got myself in to. It’s like I joined a cult! I don’t know if I’m more worried about raising the money or the actual run!

 

2/1/08 – Coaches Found

My friend, Stephanie, told me about Team in Training (teamintraining.org). They train you, give you mentors and coaches, fly you to the event and all you have to do is raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in return. Sounds like it’s a win/win situation, right? The only problem is that she already signed up! And it’s not a half marathon like I originally wanted to do, but a full 26.2 miles!! How am I going to do that? I told her I’ll go to her next meeting, but I would be signing up for the half marathon.

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