All my marathon anxieties (now in one convenient post)

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Here’s hoping my legs hold up better than the tape I used to customize my singlet.

Six days until the New York City Marathon! Time to relax, rest up, eat right and . . . freak out. As I write this, all my marathon anxieties are jostling one another in my head as they vie for the title of Biggest, Baddest Worry of Them All.

Here, in no particular order (because the order keeps changing), are my marathon anxieties. Continue reading

Safety first!

High-visibility race shirts

High-visibility race shirts

Is this a trend? The t-shirts from my last two New York Road Runners races are crossing-guard green and highway-worker orange. This has caused some grumbling among certain runners of my acquaintance, who – being New Yorkers and all – prefer black, or at least gray. But Eric heartily approves. He is, after all, the man who showed his love for me by festooning my bike with day-glo yellow tape one day as a surprise. Continue reading

Race report – Bronx 10 Mile (September 27, 2015)

Early Sunday morning on the D train

Early Sunday morning on the D train

My excuses were lined up even before I stumbled onto the R train that would take me to the D that would take me to the Bronx.

  • This is not a goal race.
  • I have a cold.
  • Eric also has a cold, and his symptoms include violent, sleep-disrupting sneezes. All. Night. Long.
  • My right Achilles continues to piss and moan – and, on occasion, shriek like an angry banshee – when I run fast or far.
  • I’m at the end of a 65-mile week, I have 70 miles ahead of me next week, and I’m tired, dammit.
  • I drank, if not excessively, then certainly more-than-optimally the previous night. (Too tired and cold-addled to cook, Eric and I went to the Peruvian place across the street in search of restorative seafood soup. I ordered a pisco sour, because why not? We waited. I finished my drink. We waited some more. Thirty minutes passed without a single plate emerging from the kitchen. But the manager was on the case, appeasing the packed room of fidgeting customers with mini pisco sours, on the house. Yes, I know I didn’t have to take one – much less a second one – but they went down so easy, and they were free . . . )

Continue reading

Limping toward Boston

Astute readers will notice that I’ve adjusted the title to reflect my status after last week’s blogging injury.

My foot is slightly less swollen – but considerably more colorful – than it was in the photo that accompanied the earlier post. The right side sports reddish-purple streaks against an indigo backdrop; the left side is violet-blue; and the top, around my toes, is just starting to take on a shadowy, twilit cast.

No pictures (you’re welcome), but an update on the past week follows. Continue reading

Race report – the Brooklyn Half (May 16, 2015)

The scene at the Stillwell Ave station after the race.

The scene at the Stillwell Ave station after the race.

Why was I getting up at 5 am to run a race that starts within easy jogging distance of my apartment?

Because when a race has more than 26,000 entrants – making it the largest half marathon in the U.S., according to the New York Road Runners – it’s not a neighborhood event. It’s a global production requiring precision, political finesse, and the occasional tactical compromise.

Like starting at 7 am on a Saturday, so that most of the runners clear the vicinity of Grand Army Plaza before most Brooklynites are up and about.

Like requiring runners to walk through metal detectors to enter their corrals. (So what if they beeped for everyone?)

Like closing the baggage trucks at 6:10 am, so that . . . well, I’m not sure why the baggage trucks closed so early. I only know that (a) they stretched a loooooooong way down Eastern Parkway and (b) many unhappy runners clutching NYRR-issue clear plastic bags were sprinting toward their assigned trucks at 6:09:59 am. Continue reading

My new hat

scotland hat

Photo credit: Eric Brooks

This is a postscript to my report on the Scotland Run 10K a few weeks back. I was disappointed – nay, outraged! – to run my little heart out in Central Park and come away with nothing to show for it but the world’s ugliest cotton t-shirt, a bottle of genuine Scottish Highlands water, and a blister on my left foot. The cool hats distributed at the finish in past years were nowhere to be seen.

I whined about the lack of hats online, and I whined about the lack of hats in real life. This morning, one of my teammates in the Prospect Park Track Club (aka “the world’s finest running club”) showed up at our group run with a blue and white Scotland hat. For me.

He claimed it was too small for his head, but I hope he knows I know it was really because he’s just a generally nice guy.

The moral of the story: sometimes, if you whine enough, nice things will happen that you really don’t deserve . . . but only because there are other people in this world who choose to be nice.

I aspire to whine a little less, and be just a little nicer.

Race report: Scotland Run 10K (April 4, 2015)

Scotland 10K shirt

All through this last hard winter, and the one before that as well, I envied other New York City runners their royal blue and white “Scotland Run” hats. They were bright, they looked warm, and they generated friendly nods and waves from other runners rocking the same hat.

So I could claim that I signed up for the Scotland Run as my first race of 2015 because I wanted to honor my Scottish ancestors. Or because I needed to overcome my fear of 10Ks (more on that in a bit). Or because it fit my schedule.

All these things are true. But the main reason I signed up for the race was because I wanted one of those hats.

Imagine my consternation last week when I picked up my race number at New York Road Runners in their spiffy Upper East Side digs and received along with it a wee packet of Walker’s shortbread, a bottle of water from the Scottish Highlands, and a cotton T-shirt of truly spectacular ugliness.

Where was the hat?

A dismayed post to my running club’s Facebook page brought words of reassurance. “They give the hats out at the end,” I was told. Words of advice, too: “you may need to stand in line, and sometimes they run out, so you need to run fast.”

Fair enough. Hats that cool should be earned. Continue reading

The 2014 NYC Marathon: wind and grief

4th avenue, South Slope

Fourth Ave, Brooklyn, between miles 6-7; the guy with the Puerto Rican flag was the crowd favorite. (Photo credit: Luke Redmond)

The wind was the headline story – sustained winds of 20 mph, gusting to almost twice that.  When I share stories with other runners, it’s the wind we’ll talk about. The way it pushed us sideways on the Verrazano bridge; the unnerving, rattling sound of our bibs straining against their safety pins; the hats, garbage bags and other debris whipping past us; the unexpected, energy-sapping blast when we turned west into the Bronx in mile 20.

When I think about the race in personal terms, though, it will always be “the race I ran while C was dying.” I wish I could say I thought of her with every step, but that wouldn’t be true. In the selfish way of the non-dying, I thought about a lot of things. I took in the spectators and my fellow runners, slapped a few hands, said a few words of encouragement. I looked for members of my running club. I blew a kiss to my husband. I debated when to toss my water bottle (around mile 5), my gloves (mile 12), my goofy hat (never).

Where my thoughts tended to settle on C was in the tough parts, when I used her name as a mantra to maintain my cadence (“C” – foot strike – “C” – foot strike).  And yes, I can’t write that without again confronting the fundamental selfishness of the non-dying and the non-immediately bereaved, and acknowledging the chasm it opens. We’re sad, but our lives go on – foot strike after foot strike, mile after mile, day after day, season after season. Theirs end, or have a hole ripped out of them. That selfishness may be necessary (how could we endure otherwise?), but it’s still enraging.

Here, then, is my race report. Continue reading