Saturday, November 12, 2011

NJ/NY WEEKEND - back home again

Mile 23! Looking Stronger than I felt
  And what a weekend it was. Some of you are reading this for different reasons. Old high school friends because of the reunion, others because of the marathon. Some for both. This blog is about my entire weekend not just one or the other, from the hair salon to kids activities to the reunion to the marathon. 
For those that don't know. I grew up in northern NJ - Midland Park. I went to Trenton State College for Exercise Physiology and worked for a while in NYC at the World Financial Center/American Express Building as their Wellness Coordinator. Basically, most my life has been up in NJ and NY. So to have so much going on in one weekend up there was pretty exciting to me!!!

Ashton, Liam & Ella
Sugaring up to cheer marathoners on!
 Friday was a bit of a whirlwind. Lots of kids activities and last minute items for the HS reunion. Taking the boys to a sports camp, going to see Ella's soccer practice and enjoying one of my favorite past times - a sandwich from a NJ deli! yumm! Squeezed in a trip to the mall for last minute reunion items - like a dress for Jumana (nothing like waiting till last minute Jumana, heehee!). It was a very fun full day and great to see Ashton Liam and Ella finally get to spend time together as i think it has been since March!!! Oh yes, and before dinner a trip into the city to get my marathon packet! phew!
Saturday, well, Saturday was all over the place and even more of a whirlwind crazy fun day! Going from mid morning to 3 in the morning, yes, 3 am of marathon morning!!!! And every minute of it was a blast!!! and well worth it!
So, first on the agenda for Saturday - The Salon! Was quite the jersey experience. Could not have happened better. Really felt at home again! HA, what do i mean, well, as my stylist was straightening my hair she suddenly dropped the hair dryer and went sprinting down the salon yelling OMG there's a FIGHT. When she came back she explained that 2 of the stylists, both female, just got into a fist fight, like a straight on fist fight - fist straight into the jaw kind of fight, not some girl slap happy fight, but full on fists!!!!! The reason, well they WERE good friends until the one found out the other is sleeping with her boyfriend, i guess she just found out at work at that moment! Ahhhhh. HA....Only in New Jersey!!!! really! Anyone watch Jersey Shore, could be a future episode!
After the salon we had a kids birthday party to go to that was about 30 minutes away. So! we needed to leave at 1230 to get there in time. Whirlwind - here we go, we didn't get back to the house till about 1230 and the Dads still had all the kids in their jammies! so it was quick quick quick get the kids clothes on and out the door (which any of you with kids know that there is no such thing as quick quick quick when it comes to getting 3 kids to get their clothes on). The birthday party was fun. Got to see lots of family i haven't seen in a long time. Jumana's family really. but when you become friends with someone at the age of 5 and go through HS together then College together and then work near by in NYC, then have babies at similar times and stay best of friends for the many many years after, well her family becomes your family. I wasn't going to go as i knew i was going to be up late with the reunion and i was going to use that time for marathon prep. But i  really wanted to see everyone, so i planned on just going for an hour. NOT - i ended up staying till almost the end of it. It was back at my home town, so was so fun to see my HS and the playground me and my friends would spend endless hours at and the playing fields and my house across the soccer and baseball field, that is all that split up mine and Jumana's house. It just tool me back! And of course pointing it all out to Ashton was just plain exciting!
Now a new whirlwind, get back to the house, put together all my marathon stuff so it is ready to go the next morning, get the kids settled in and ready for the sitter, and get ready (dolled up) for the reunion!

Jumana & Me
10 year HS Reunion

Jumana & Me
20 year HS Reunion
  Reunion! 20 years. Wow! it is hard to believe! Certainly a late night at a reunion would not be my normal pre night before a marathon but it is how the cards were and well, you only can celebrate your 20 year reunion once and you can do a marathon anytime. So, i didn't let it bother me that i wasn't home in my PJs stretching getting ready for bed and instead i was headed towards a party!!! I did have a plan though (LOL, all of you are shaking your heads right now - of course Jen had a plan, she always does), i figure if i were to take off my high heels and put on my running shoes and compression socks 30 minutes into the party that would help prevent bad hips swollen feet and ankles and everything else the next day and if i leave by 10 pm i would get to bed before midnight and would be ok with sleep, and to not drink alcohol at all and only eat pasta. Well, heehee....none of it happened. I stayed to the end and didn't get to bed till almost 3 am. I never changed my high heels (big mistake), and well, i love to have wine in a social setting, need i say more! I milked it the best i could though. But since it was an open bar the bar tenders were realllllly heavy on their pours :-). And well, food, YUMMY! i ate my pasta, but enjoyed lots more with it- i think i had oysters or something like it. The food was yummy. None of this is probably good to share with those that look to me for advice with running. Sooo, just in case, do know, i would never suggest this the day before ;-).
 Let me tell you, the importance of running a PR or close to it went out the window as soon as i walked in the room and started seeing faces of people i haven't spoken to in 20 years or only spoken too via email. It was so great to see everyone and everyone looked so great and certainly not 20 years older!!!! I couldn't follow all the rules i set for myself! Sometimes your not meant to. I wanted to enjoy every minute of that night that i could possibly have. The night went by to fast and in fact felt like it needed to be even longer as it just wasn't enough time to catch up with everyone! My group of friends were there, they loved to pick on me in HS and apparently still do - thanks you guys!! but you know i love it! means you love me right??!! :-)  and i think the friends i live by now would laugh as it seems to be a trend in my life :-).
But to all you MPHSers reading this - you look wonderful and it was so great to see you.
Alexi & Me
MPHS Track Co-Captains

Annie Jumana Me & Amy

 My good friends from HS were funny in reminding me of the many times i did the same thing in HS. They said it was pretty common for me to go out and have a great time and have to get up the next morning for a track meet. In fact, they reminded me how i did it with prom - stayed up late with prom and after prom festivities and then got up early the next day for the state championship meet. It rang a bell, but a picture in Jumana's big stack of pics showed it all - the picture was all of us standing in front of the high school which clearly looked like early morning with all of them still in their prom dresses and me in my track apparel waiting for the bus to take me to states. It made me laugh and put a good spirit in my soul. Good energy right! Was real funny actually to be in that situation again, but let me tell you, 20 years older - not quite as easy to go and be 100%. Boy times have changed LOL. but what a fun time it was doing all over again!
PS - MPHS - i didn't get many pics thanks to my battery dying in my camera and jumana forgetting her card in her camera. So typical of us! :-)  So please email me if you have good ones!!!

Ok, so the marathon. Well, i got up Sunday morning, wasn't feeling so great, to be expected. It actually crossed my mind to just skip the marathon and go back to bed as i was just not feeling well at all. Certainly knew i would feel pretty miserable. But i don't back out of something i have committed to just because i'm not at top form to perform. Everyone knows that.
I did not get as emotional at this years NY marathon as i did last year (that experience is posted on blog before this one). It may be because this is my 2nd time doing NY. Or that i was wayyyy to sleepy (and cranky). Although, there were 4 times i did get emotional......again starting with the drive to the start by my best friend Jumana.
They had 2-3000 more runners and it was felt, im sure by everyone but the pro's. I noticed the difference starting with the drive. Last year it only took 30 minutes to drive me to the start, this year over an hour. Far more cars squeezed in to try and drop off runners. When the time crept up to 20 minutes before my corral closed, I had to get out of Jumanas car and run 1.5 or so miles to get to the corals. So i said my goodbyes and oop there is began. The emotional lump appeared. Again, Jumana has been with me my entire running life and then some. It means the world to me to have had her there with me. I got out of the car and went on a mad dash to get to my corral. Corals closed at 8:55. When i got into the village areas it was 8:51, Sh**!!!! run run run and the marathon hasn't even started yet. Luckily there was still an hour before we actually started running the marathon.. I got to my coral at............yes, 8:55 on the nose - LOL! PHEW!!!! just made it! That certainly helped wake me up a bit! Actually quite a bit. Nothing like a little fear to do the trick. Not only did i notice more runners due to the loads of cars compared to last year, but the start was much slower and for the first 13 miles it was stop and go. After crossing the starting line, last year i remember getting up to pace right away. This year, i was still walking and then shuffling my feet and then doing the zig zag jump around runners tango!!!! And the next 10 or so miles due to #s and the bottle necks- running a zig zag, jump up and down off curbs to get around runners, slowing down speeding up, shuffle the feet so you don't step on persons heels in front of you. Didnt like that much, but who would, especially after you are up and going and into a rhythm. Well, with 47,000 runners, I guess i should have known. Everyone had to deal with it though. It just didn't seem like that happened last year, but then again last year i was so happy (and so awake) that i may not have noticed. I noticed more challenging miles this year where as last year i was on cloud 9 the entire time you could have told me the whole race was downhill and i would have believed you!
While running, i was cranky in that i didn't want to slap hands of the spectators this time. I had so much fun doing it at Boston and last year in NY. This time, it was more annoying to me. I didn't slap hands and got real cranky when they would hit me in the shoulder (sorry, i wouldn't normally be annoyed but no sleep will do that, im allowed to be in a bad mood once in a while). Also, being tired put that i don't care attitude in my head. Boy is that a hard one to fight. I no longer had the want. Well, one want - bed.  And i was trying all along the way create that want (want meaning the want to go after my PR). Let me tell you though, so you don't get the wrong idea with my words, i am not saying i am upset about any of this, i take everything i do as a strength to the next level. I am just trying to get across to you what was going on throughout the marathon and through my head- you know me, details! and i know some of you like to hear about how my head works or maybe some of you see that no one is going to always have it together for every race. And maybe some of you have the very same experiences and reading this gives you a sense of calm knowing it isn't just you. (of course i hope none of you have to do a marathon the day after your reunion -ha!)  No, i did not have the mindset to go after my PR, but i did fight enough to have a wonderful run. I ran a 3:17 - my 2nd fastest marathon and a course PR, and pretty darn close to my PR. 50 seconds! Emotional happy tears when i finished - you better believe it!
Honestly, i would have been happy to just make it to the finish line without stopping to take a nap somewhere along the way ;-) And things went much better than that.
PR - NO. Disappointed - NOT a chance!!!! Elated - YES!!!!
 I was pretty emotional after the marathon. I had slow tears fall down my left cheek as i walked down West Side Highway to meet everyone at a friends apartment. Why was i emotional. Well, my body and mind had just gone through a lot over the last 24 hours. A lot of emotion and feeling. I was happy. It was happy tears. I feel stronger on the inside!  Stronger for life in general! Life throws us curve balls. I take Saturday into Sunday a true Life Strengthening experience for when i do get those curve balls thrown at me in life i can take them on even stronger than i have in the past. I would not have asked for anything different in this marathon. I got so much out of it!
My other 2 emotional times came when i got see family and friends at mile 18. I was running on the other side of the road than they were standing. But luckily i am very in tune with Sean's whistle. So when i heard it my head turned right at them. I b lined to the other side of the road so i can give them all a high five. And there was that lump again. 

sprinting across road w/ joy to see everyone
Seriously - look at my face
I was so happy to see them. And to see Ashton jumping up and down with such joy to see me out there was so wonderful!
I continued down the course and and saw them again at mile 23. Again, emotions! And just before them were Coelian AND Jimmy -2 friends from back home (Deep Creek Lake MD), they spotted me and yelled for me. Was so exciting to see them- unexpected energy. Seeing everyone around mile 23 was what i needed before i headed into central park to finish this up!
So, I had the perfect weekend visiting and running. I would not have changed a thing! Not even for a PR.

If you stuck it out this long you are reading this now - thank you! that means a lot to me. The race season is over now and so is training, off season time...aka LAZY TIME!!! But i do still plan to blog. check back every 2 weeks as i will post updates, some work promos (running/triathlon coach, personal training and exercise classes) and moves of the month for all of you to try. If you don't live anywhere near me...and want to get coached by me, stay tuned for that promo or just let me know, i do cyber coaching to help you get to your first marathon or triathlon or for those more experienced - get you to your fastest!!!

For now, i will get out of shape some so that i can get in better shape next year. And eventually i will start to plan out my year!
OH - and btw, for those of you thinking of running a marathon. I would not suggest doing it this way. My hips were achy from the high heels and my eyes burned and just wanted to close from lack of sleep. Rest up the day before to make it more enjoyable. I will not be pulling something like this again. It just happened to happen that way. LOL

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New York Marathon 2010

As promised, just a little late - And i did not read it so i wouldn't be tempted to change it.
my ny experience from last year...............................
Hey Everyone
well, i wasn't going to do it, but i know many of you are wanting it. Thanks, glad to hear you like my stories. But to make things easy i just am sending this to already created groups to make it easy for me. So, Please please please do not feel you have to read my marathon story. As most of you know, it could be a book. But my goal is to not make this long - HA! yeah right!
One thing i did not realize about entering the NY Marathon was how emotional it was going to be for me. Growing up in that area, working next to the World Trade Centers before 9/11 and the amazing friendships i have up there all created an unexpected experience for me.
Race morning my best friend since the age of 5 drove me to the start. I was quite nervous on the drive and feeling a little sick to my stomach. It meant the world to me that Jumana, my best friend, like a sister, was driving me to one of the largest most popular marathons in the world. So i was nervous for the race as well as getting choked up for the meaning behind it. We don't get to see each other much (about twice a year), and she certainly doesn't get to see me race much any more. So there was the first lump i felt in my throat that i fought so it would not turn into energy depleting tears. It meant the world to me though that she was there for me helping me get to this goal i have not been able to beat.
Said my good byes and made by way to the runners village in Staten Island, the first of the 5 boroughs that the marathon goes through. Thousands and Thousands of runners all over the place (45,000). But the amazement is how organized the race has this set up. Color and # coordinated. I had to make my way to the blue area. Got my bag checked, used the bathrooms and into my corral. Not too bad. The corrals seemed nicely spread out so it wasn't overly crowded.
But then......40 minutes before the start they take down the ropes and tell you to start moving on down toward the start. So now, you are more like a sardine crammed by too many people. For the first time ever, i realized i have claustrophobia. I got the same feeling as i do when i swim with people around me. Anxiety, shallow deep rapid breathing and heart racing. I always thought i got that swimming well for i was not sure. I didn't think i had claustrophobia though. I got really upset and almost was in tears and felt that i can't do this feeling i need to get out of here, there is still 40 minutes before we start, and i couldn't breathe and my chest was really tight.  Of course i am not going to split. So i pushed my way through to the fence and just got up on the fence looking out and away from the crowd and got my breathing undercontrol. As we moved forward closer to the start i stayed on the edge by the Jersey Wall to make sure i could breathe. This was not fun for me. I felt very alone. My great friend Dawn from college was suppose to be running too. She and i have run many races in the past together. An injury kept her out this time and i was really missing her as i had trouble with hyperventilating. I knew she would have helped calm me down. I did get to visit with her 2 nights before though.
It was a chilly morning, but not damp and the sun was shining very nicely. I kept my junk clothes on till about 2 minutes before they started us. It was perfect.
Where i stood, 3 fireman stood on the other side of the jersey wall from where i was. A quartet from one of the broadway plays sang the national anthem (it was awesome) and a whole new world of emotion came over me. NY had always been a huge part of my life, but since i had moved away from it, i had not had much of a connection with it since 9/11. So the picture around me couldn't have been more surreal. The fireman, the anthem, the flag blowing, NY. I started thinking about these fireman that stood before me and 9/11, and how i commuted into the trade centers every day for work before 9/11. I had moved away from the area before 9/11 and this was my first time since just having that peaceful moment with a place close to home to me. Something i didn't realize i needed. But i so did!!!
 This time the lump turned into tears as they continued singing and i whispered the anthem to myself.  I had to let the tears out, I couldn't get rid of the lump otherwise. But it felt good and i knew it was bringing me even more good energy to get me to that finish line fast. I stood there waiting and already, i couldn't believe how unbelievable this marathon was already setting into my soul. That the experience already was bigger than any other race i have ever done.  I can't even express it in words. My words are not doing it justice right now. sorry.
Finally, we start the race. See, i knew i couldn't keep it short, just starting the race part and already have a book for you.....
We started with about a 2 mile trek over the Verazzano bridge, taking us from Staten Island to the 2nd NY borough - Brooklyn.  The bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the country. It was beautiful. But it was sooo cold due to the wind. I couldn't wait to get off it as my foot was frozen and was causing pain in my foot.
Once off the bridge you head up Brooklyn and into the 3rd borough - Queens. Getting off the bridge into Brooklyn brought on more emotions as the crowds cheering was unbelievable. Already! Their voices just carried you up the streets, knocking down the miles. Queens brought on another emotional bout as my Dad worked there as i grew up and it was nice to think about him looking down at me running with i'm a sure a huge smile, as he had always been my biggest fan when it came to running.
Then we headed into Manhattan, the 4th NYC borough. Just when you thought the crowds couldn't get thicker or louder, it did! Manhattan had an energy of its own. And at mile 16 the energy was needed by all. As all the runners hugged the left side of hte road to get the sunny side i stayed on the right as my best friend was going to be near 72nd and 1st cheering me on and we said i would run on the right so it would be a little easier to find me. Looking for her kept me so strong and excited. And sure enough, i heard my name and the excitement in her voice and the others with her. I can't even explain what went through me. Sounds cheesy but the best way i can explain it is that it felt like a golden spark was darted into my soul and spread throughout my entire body. I was elated. I couldn't stop smiling and my pace picked up by quite a bit. Seeing my bestest friend out there got my emotions again, another lump in the throat, teary eyes but with a big smile. I think other runners thought i was crazy. But i'm sure they were envious as i went by people for the next 9 miles (the last 9 miles) as if they were standing still. At least that is what it felt like.
The course then took us up into the Bronx, the 5th and last borough, back into Manhattan into Central Park where the crowds and cheering were even more so. INTENSE! Unexplainable. Truly an experience you have to live.
The finish wasn't far and again i couldn't stop smiling. Every time i went over a timing chip i had a wholesome smile as i thought to myself how i feel so good and i am going to be getting this goal of mine i never thought possible and that at the same time i am feeling this, everyone watching me online is seeing it too and smiling with me, and many of you that train with me or know me really well are feeling it with me.
I never felt that miserable i can't wait to get to the finish line feeling. I felt good the entire time. I may have had too much left in fact that may help me with future marathons in believing i can even take it down a little more.
There was a sign that really stood out to me. All is said was "pain is temporary, pride is forever." i smiled when i saw that and said to myself, i am feeling that pride right now and loving it and going to use it to keep me strong for the rest of this marathon.
There was a ton of NY singers and bands all over the course. Staying alive was my favorite. Brooklyn had a singer that probably should not have been singing, made me laugh.
All in all is was a great marathon. I knew it was intense with the amounts of spectators and runners there would be. But never imagined it would hit home as it did.
I do have one more thing to add (sorry)
My friend Dawn who ran with me in College and has done some marathons and in the same vote with me that we have just been unable to figure out the marathon adn that is always beats us. I never in a million years would think i could run one in the low 3s. She asked me after "how did you finally do it? how did you finally crack the marathon code?" my answer was simple = "CONFIDENCE." it is somethng i preach a lot in my running class, it is somethng i have worked on lots with myself and it has helped in all my races but the marathon.....till now!!!!!
 i trusted that i could run a 3:20, i crushed that with ease and now i think i can do even better. 
so what now - i plan to continue to inspire others....................