NYC Tri, 2015 – Over Before It Began

I can’t believe I am writing this but here we go:

I had a little bike accident over the weekend and broke my left wrist in a pretty bad place (scaphoid) and fractured part of my right hand (trapezoid ridge).  Luckily the fracture in my right hand is too small to require immobilization but I have a cast on my left arm.  A giant purple cast.  Yup.

What can I say – when I do something I do it big.  Can’t take that away from me!

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The bad news is (if you haven’t already guessed) I have to watch the NYC Triathlon from the sidelines this year.  That’s it. To say I’m bummed is a gigantically huge understatement and it still hasn’t completely hit me yet.  No Hudson River. No cheering crowds. No finish line glory.  No heart beating and out of breath sense of accomplishment.  Six months of training and it’s over – just like that.

My first reaction was that I had nothing to show for all the hard work I put into the last 6 months, and hearing the doctor tell me that the triathlon was out of the question hurt so much more than the actual injuries. But looking back, I really did learn a lot.  My swimming is so much better and more efficient.  My running is faster.  Biking seems to have gotten the best of me for now but lessons were learned there, too – lessons that will stay with me and only help me after I get back on my feet.

Also, I had so much support from you all throughout training and, maybe most importantly, helped raise awareness and funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – $3,590, in fact!  Thank you, I am so appreciative.

But part of the deal was that I do the training and hard work and you donate, right?  I am working with Team in Training (TNT) to transfer to another event.  Maybe the NYC Marathon?  Maybe the Nation’s Triathlon in DC? I don’t know yet, and that will depend on how fast I heal and can get back into the swing of things.  I’ll know more in 2 weeks when I get more X-rays and a CAT scan.  Worst case scenario: I defer my NYC Tri entry to next year. If a donor feels a certain way about me not doing the tri this year, I can arrange for you to get your donation back – but please remember the cause; LLS is fantastic and really doing some great things.  And I’ll still do an event.  Just not the one in 2 weeks.

I guess that’s all for now, folks.  But stay tuned – you know what they say:

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I’m on it, and I’m coming back.  Today a spectator, tomorrow a finisher.  And in the meantime, TNT just got one more cheerleader.  I’ll be wearing my purple and cheering for my team!

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Entering the Home Stretch!

17 days – thats it! In 17 days I will swim a mile in the Hudson River, ride 25 miles and run 6.2 in the NYC triathlon in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! And I am ready (for the most part- I do plan to get out on that bike a couple more times for some long rides. But THEN I’ll be ready!). Swimming isn’t nearly as concerning for me as it was last year; in fact, it might be my favorite event now. Yes, even before running! (I can’t believe I just said that.)

Yesterday was the fundraising deadline and I am still a bit away from my goal. But the good news is that donations will still be accepted through July 8th so there is still some time if you haven’t already donated! Please click the link below and consider donating to such a great cause. Do it because everyone, in some way, is affected by cancer. Do it because swimming in the Hudson River is crazy and you support my insanity. Do it because it was just payday, or because you are SO happy that this is the last time you will read a post from me begging for money. Do it to change someone’s world. Every penny counts!  Here is my fundraising page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri15/Meredith

And also watch this super short video of my experience from last year’s triathlon. http://magis.to/eisiTEQHAgd6LnEBDmEwCXh7?l=vsm&o=i&c=m

Two things stand out in that video:

1. I had SO MUCH FUN.  Those smiles are so incredibly real and I plan on having even more fun this year!

2.  I need to actually purchase race photos so not all my pictures say “proof” across them.

Ok, want to hear more about training?

On Sunday I ran in the Achilles Hope and Possibilities run, which is probably the most inspiring race on the NY Road Runners calendar. Achilles International was founded by Dick Traum, the first above-the-knee amputee to finish the NYC marathon! (actually, I think he was the first amputee, period.  Forget the above-the knee part!) He refused to let his disability hold him back and wanted others to feel the same and so he founded the organization.  According to their website, “Able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners come together to train in an environment of support and community. Within this community, runners gain measurable physical strength and build confidence through their sense of accomplishment, which often transfers to other parts of their life.”  Awesome, right?  And Jon Stewart hosted!

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The race itself was fantastic. 5 miles through Central Park with 3,317 other runners of all different shapes and sizes and abilities. This is one race that really encourages you to give it your all; we ran with runners with prosthetic legs, blind runners who were being led by Achilles guides, wounded war veterans, and runners with other physical impairments. Everyone. Together.

photo 1 A before picture – just seconds away from the starting horn!

It was a cloudy and humid 64 degree morning, but the spirit of the event made everyone forget about the looming thunderstorm that was threatening us and everyone seemed excited and happy to be there.  I know I was – and I was even happier when I realized that we wouldn’t be running Harlem Hill!  God that’s a great feeling.  I was happy with my overall time.  Here are my splits:

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And some obligatory after photos:

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Other than that, I’ve been running on my own and with Team in Training (TNT), swimming even more, and biking a bit – soon to be much more as we head into the home stretch. Despite having done TNT last year, I have learned so much during this year’s training. My coaches and teammates have had some invaluable advice and I am going into the triathlon with so much more knowledge and confidence than last year, plus the added advantage of having done it before.

I’m ready for you, Hudson River!!

Little of This, Little of That

Yikes! It’s been a while since the last time I wrote! Don’t worry – my time has been training-filled and full of learning experiences. Since my last blog entry – the NYC Half – I have done 2 more half marathons! Last month was the More Shape Women’s Half Marathon, which was 2 laps around Central Park. Great race, boring route.  I know, calling Central Park boring makes me sound like a brat, but after the scenic-filled NYC Half, that park just seemed uneventful.  And 2 times on Harlem Hill was no walk in the park.  (Bad pun?  Is that even a pun?  Whatever, it’s staying.)  Here are some highlights:

IMG_2565-4 The race was sponsored by Shape Magazine, whose parent company is Meredith! It was nice to see my name plastered all over the place during packet pick-up and I pretended to be a celeb – the Meb Keflezighi or Deena Kastor of the race.

IMG_2579-1 Just me, my race, and my Nathan.  (Not that Nathan, sillies.  My other Nathan – the cool little running belt I got from my mom!)

IMG_2587 Here I am debating what to have for brunch when the race was over.  Tofu scramble with all the fixings? Toasted sesame seed bagel dripping in (tofu) cream cheese and Earth Balance?  Definitely a Bloody Mary.  Or a Mimosa sounds good.  I always want mi-more mimosa.

CP3 Done!  Apple in my hand and brunch on my mind (still).

CP4 Not bad for a “boring” course, right?!

 

Ok, all caught up on the Women’s Half?  Good!

Now on to the next one:
Last Saturday, over 26,500 of us tackled the Brooklyn Half Marathon – the biggest one in the country! Another spectacular event put on by New York Road Runners. The humidity (76%) and 15 minutes of rain could have thrown us all into a frantic state of disarray, but we pulled through!

Actually, I really hate to say this, but this race had a lot of casualties – many more than I am used to seeing. Probably because of the humidity?  I saw so many people fainting.  A seizure, maybe even 2.  AND heard that there was a heart attack right behind me.  I (along with some guy who was running near me) had to veer off couse one time to flag down a police officer for someone who needed serious medical attention, and helped to wave down EMT on at least 2 other occassions.  It was scary.  BUT all that, the humidity, and the rain aside, it really was a good run.  The Brooklyn Half is one of my favorite races and I had been looking forward to it for a while.

BKprePacket pickup.  No sleep ’til Brooklyn!!

BK1 DADA DADA DADA DADA BATMAN.

BK2Champions.  Warriors.  Winners.  (or just 3 people ready to go back to bed.  We had gotten up at 4:45am to get to the starting line for 7am.  By 9:30am we were far from home, tired, sore, and maybe a little delirious.  But we were done!)

What’s next on the agenda? A lot of swimming. It’s time to step up my game a bit and show that water who is boss. TNT group training sessions in swimming have continued to be extremely helpful and valuable. Even though I did most of the swim practices last year, I am still learning tips and tricks that have helped my form and overall execution of the stroke and I feel surprisingly calm, cool and collected in the water (a welcome change from this time last year). Regardless – there will be plenty goggles, open water swims at Coney Island, and Body Glide in my immediate future, and I am perfectly fine with that!

Although I have a high commitment to my training, I still need some motivation to keep me going sometimes. Your donation to my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) fundraiser is just what I need to push me through rainy days and mental blocks, to get me pounding the pavement, into the water, and spinning those wheels. Your donations helps me to realize that this is all for something bigger, and I thank you!

http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri15/Meredith

Click on my fundraising page and please consider making whatever contribution you can. No penny is too little, and no dollar is too large- everything will help to make a positive change.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”  – Anne Frank

Runs and Waterfalls

A new training post on a Monday morning.  If that doesn’t brighten your day, I don’t know what will!! 😉

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far – I really appreciate it – but I still have a long way to go.  Please don’t forget to visit my fundraising page (http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri15/Meredith).  Every little bit helps the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society get one step closer to finding a cure for cancer, and also helps provide patients and families with much needed treatment and support.

The last month has been full of training… some swimming, some biking, some running.  Oh my!  March 15th was the New York City Half Marathon – known as one of the most prestigious half marathons in the country. Who knows though. I haven’t run  all the half marathons in the country (or anything even close to that) so I’m no expert on the topic. I can say, however, that it was one of the coolest ones I’ve been a part of!  And it was the first half marathon of 2015 so that’s always exciting.

I’d had a cold for the last few days leading up to the race, so this half started out strangely similar to my first half of 2014 – except this time I resisted the urge to chug DayQuil before I left the apartment. Live and learn, right? I’ll only (hopefully) make that mistake once.

It was almost 45 degrees when I arrived to the starting line at around 7:30 in the morning, which was like a heat wave from the frigid cold and rain from the previous few days. Somehow my expected pace got messed up and I was slated to begin in Wave 1, Corral 1 – right alongside the elite athletes who were predicted to run around a 6-min mile. Yeah right. I know I am competitive and always up for a challenge, but no thank you – not today, New York Road Runners! Instead I tried to sneak into the first corral of the second wave but was told it was closed and ended up in the Wave 2, Corral 2. Not bad. We were off in no time and I was running with people who were much more on my level – which was good because I would have probably tried to keep up with the super fast people and totally exhausted myself by mile 2.

The race began in Central Park in the 72nd street transverse and we ran counterclockwise, first tackling the Cat Hill before going to the east side.  I loved getting that hill done right at the beginning and I was so amped up and full of adrenaline that I barely even realized I was running on an incline. I waved to Boyfriend’s bro-in-law and nephew around 101st street and kept chugging along.

Central Park is not known for being a flat course, and I was beginning to notice the hills; after having trained all winter on a treadmill those hills (and the cooler air) took some getting used to! We exited the park at the northernmost part and went in a loop before re-entering just before the Harlem Hill – the worst part of the park!  The part that really lets you know what you are made of.  The part that could make or break the rest of the race. (That might be overly dramatic.) It seemed much longer than it had the last time I ran it and I wondered how NYRR managed to add what seemed like an extra half a mile of hill to Central Park without making the local news.  Sneaky bastards.  Once the hill was over (which turns out was its usual length. My bad. 😉 ) I knew that it was relatively smooth sailing from then on and there were no more major hills.

We exited the park at mile 6 at the south side and it was the coolest feeling ever. Times Square was in front of us – colorful, flashy, iconic Times Square – and both sides of the street were full of cheering fans with signs, cowbells, everything. Some of the better signs said things like “If a half marathon was easy it would be called ‘your mom’.” (no offense, Ma, but I laughed at that one), “Less Walken” (with a picture of Christopher Walken) “More cowbell”, and the usual “Run now, wine later”. The race was live-streamed and televised, and the media was out, along with huge TV screens so we could see ourselves, which was very cool.  Some people stopped to take pictures of themselves on the big screens, but I knew taking out my phone and snapping a pic would mess with my time.  Stupid competitive streak.  (But I did love seeing myself on tv.)

Here I am totally loving every second and taking it all in:

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We turned onto 42nd Street and headed west to the Westside Highway and I got cold from the wind off of the water.  I had my gloves on and was happy that I didn’t take my jacket off earlier when it ws a little warmer in the park.  Once we turned on to the Westside Highway, it was pretty much a straight shot down to the end.  I had read that once we saw the Freedom Tower we would know we were practically done, so I when I saw it a wave of calm spread through me – until I realized that whoever said that was wrong and I still had about 4.5 miles to go.  (Although I guess in the grand scheme of half marathons, 4.5 miles left is almost over, right?)  We continued down, through the Battery Park Tunnel (where I got a little claustrophobic for some reason and sped up just so I could be back outside), and down through the seaport.  One more turn and I would cross the finish line!

People always tell me to enjoy the moment when I cross the finish line and not worry about my exact time, and I usually think to myself something along the lines  of “Yeah, I know. I love that moment – I’m totally into it.” But I guess this is proof that I am all about stopping my Garmin. Damn it, photographic evidence! (This also may be the exact moment I realized I missed running a personal record by about 37 seconds.)

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It really was a great race and a pretty awesome way to officially begin training season.  Check out my bling!

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I have the More Women’s Half Marathon coming up on Sunday, and there have been some pretty great bikes and swims thrown in – including the first outdoor bike adventure of the year and some swims in the Carribean, near some waterfalls, and an essentially private lap pool in the middle of paradise (which I didn’t take advantage of nearly as much as I should have)!

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Not a bad way to train, huh?

4 Miles for Ian

What? You didn’t think I would let a couple weeks go by without doing another race, right?

Last Saturday morning, bright and early with 71% humidity, was the 4th annual Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 4 mile run. Named for Boomer Eslason, an NLF Hall of Famer, this race originally started out as a 10k but has since been shortened so that more individuals with CF could participate.  Katharine’s friend from college died from CF so I was doing this race with him in mind. I had only met him a handful of times, but even one time was enough to know that he was someone special and one of the most hilarious people out there. So here’s to you, Ian.

KathIan

(Kath and Ian circa 2005.)

The race was in Central Park (like the last few) and so I was very familiar with the course. No sweat. It was a beautiful morning (even with all that humidity) and every good weekend should start with a run. I went down my usual checklist as I was walking to the park:

– Nike+ watch? On my wrist and linking sensors
– Phone? Strapped to my arm
– Earbuds? No, totally forgot about them
– Runner number 6651 (formerly known as runner 4929)? Right next to me
– Race bib? 3654 was proudly sprawled across my shirt
– Vivobarefoot sneakers? Absolutely

Ok so far I was doing much better than the previous race!

6651 and I were in separate corrals and so, having already decided that whoever was in the faster one wouldn’t slink back so that we could start together, we walked for as long as we could together before heading to our respective starting places. The course was pretty much the same as the last couple races I’ve done. It started on the east side just south of the Cat Hill, went counterclockwise up to and through the 102nd street transverse, down the west side, and to71st Street and ended near the bandshell.

Ok – so we started and headed up to the Cat Hill.  My pace was good but I knew I wouldn’t be shattering any records that day, which was fine because I knew that 6651 would be. As long as one of us had a record breaking day then it would be all good!

The humidity was pretty brutal but I chugged along, sweating out the vegan pizza and wings I had the night before. (Vegan or not, if you’re ever in Long Island make it a point to stop by 3 Brothers Pizza. I promise it will be worth it.) Miles one and two went off without a hitch. Just a little girl and the pavement – one of the most freeing feelings out there.  My legs started to feel a little tired around mile 2.5 for some reason, but I pushed it out of my mind and was fine by mile three – just in time to sprint the last mile!!

I turned onto the 72nd Street transverse and looked up ahead to see the finish line. I love to see that thing in the distance. I’ve run a ton of races, all different lengths, and the first sight of the finish line looming up ahead is like magic.  I hope it always feels like that.  I got one last bit of adrenaline (which happens every time, whether I run a 5k or a half marathon) and really picked up my speed.  According to my trusty Nike+ watch I crossed the finish line in 32:48 – an 8:05 pace. I grabbed some water, wiped away the sweat that was dripping off of me, and searched for 6651, who did great – records were shattered!  We rewarded ourselves with a NYRR plum and headed home to register for some more races!

CFRun

In other news – today was the second Team in Training open water swim, but you’ll have to wait a day or two to hear about how that went!  At least you know that I didn’t drown in the mighty Atlantic.  And tomorrow is TWO WEEKS until the triathlon. How is that even possible?!

Aside

Achilles Hope and Possibility 5 Miler

Sunday was the 12th annual Achilles Hope and Possibility 5 mile run at Central Park. Achilles International is a nonprofit organization that pairs able-bodied volunteers with disabled runners so that everyone can participate in main-stream athletics. I know some people who have volunteered with Achilles and all have described their experiences with them as pretty unforgettable.

The race started at 9am that morning and as of that time it was 74 degrees with a humidity of nearly 60%. As I was on my way to the park that morning, I went down the checklist to see if I had everything that I needed for this race:

– Nike+ watch? Nope.
– Phone? Still plugged into the wall and sitting on the windowsill.
– Music? Unlikely since all my music is on my phone on that windowsill.
– Earbuds? No, but I didn’t have a phone to plug them into anyway.
– Runner number 4929? Not today. I was running this one alone.
– Vivobarefoot sneakers? Of course!
– Race bib? Yes! 3667 was already pinned to my shirt.

I had the things that I absolutely needed so I was all set. No phone, no gps watch, no problem – I could rough it. It would be like camping, but with a lot more running. (Or camping while running away from a bear, maybe?) It was “only” 5 miles and I would be done before I knew it.

I got to the beginning of the race about a minute after the starting horn sounded, but there were still a ton of people waiting to cross the starting line and so I shimmied my way into the crowd and felt like I was missing something. I went to turn on my music, but remembered I didn’t have any.  My right hand instinctively went to my left wrist to start my Nike+ watch but it landed on my bracelet that I always wear instead. No sign of my watch anywhere. Alright then – I guess the only thing left to do was just run. And so I started to run.

There were so many Achilles guides in their bright yellow shirts, and a ton of runners in wheelchairs, handcycles, with prosthetic or amputated limbs. Some were training to be guides, too – there was a girl running while wearing a mask over her eyes while being helped by a guide. Kind of makes you never want to take those legs, eyes and everything else you’ve got for granted again!

The course started around 67th street on the west side of the park and went counterclockwise around the southern loop of Central Park, up the Cat Hill, through the 102 Street Transverse back to the west side, and then straight down the west side of the park back to where we started. Pretty straightforward and nothing I’d never done before.

Achillescourse

When we got to the Cat Hill, I happened to be near a runner whose right leg and arm twisted extremely inward, forcing him to move his body in a strange direction each time he ran on that leg. The hill must have been incredibly tough for him, but he didn’t show it. The entire way up the hill he repeated “This hill has nothing on me. It’s got nothing. Nothing on me.” Each time he said it he smiled, and he made it (pretty exuberantly, I might add) to the top of that hill. He had an energy about him that made me glad that I happened to be in that particular spot at that particular moment to see that particular victory.

Because I didn’t have my Nike+ watch and have grown very reliant on it to check my pace, I had no idea how fast or slow I was going. I thought I was taking it easy, especially because my legs were tired and kind of screaming at me after my 25 mile bike ride and 0.5 mile swim the day before, but I really had no way of really knowing so I just kept chugging along. I know that I picked up the speed the last mile or so. It was very hot and humid out and I kept thinking about the fruit that was waiting at the finish line and wanted an apple more than anything.  Seriously, at the moment, nothing in the whole world sounded better than an apple.  They ended up handing out peaches and bagels. I grabbed a peach after picking up my medal and a bottled water, and oh man – it was better than an apple.

According to the official results from New York Road Runners, I finished the 5 miles in 40:49 – an 8:10 pace. Not bad for a lazy Sunday while roughing it without modern technology! While I was somewhat surprised to see my time (I had estimated that I was around an 8:30 pace, but really didn’t know), I have also seen a big change in my running lately.  Everything else, too, but mostly my running.  Maybe it’s all the training starting to come together. Maybe it’s the whole vegan thing I’ve been doing for the last month (after months of research and a relatively slow initial transition). Maybe it’s other things. Maybe it’s all of those things.

But whatever it is, I like it.

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Made for More – Oakley Women’s Mini

Saturday was the 43rd annual Oakley Women’s Mini – a 10k that celebrates women being able to participate in races, which didn’t happen until 1972! Isn’t that kind of crazy?  That’s the year that Title IX became a law, which created a ton of more opportunities for women athletes.  I was looking forward to this race for weeks and knew I had to run it. As the day came closer, though, it felt like the elements were challenging me to see if I would really run it. Didn’t matter – I was doing it. The 101 degree fever I had a couple days before wouldn’t stop me. The never-ending cough that had been lingering for almost a week wouldn’t stop me. And the crazy thunder, lightning and downpour just about 12 hours earlier wouldn’t stop me.  Besides, I had already picked up my race packet and the dark grey racer-back tanks that said “Made for More” in hot pink were super cute and I needed to wear it ASAP!

I got to the starting line at 61st and Central Park West feeling as though I had gotten 45 minutes of sleep and practically sleepwalked my way through the nearly 6,000 women who were doing their pre-race preps. Some were stretching, others were running in place. Most were taking selfies, looking at the photo, shaking their heads and then retaking them.  I get it though – it’s important to have a good race day photo. I don’t usually do pre-run photoshoots, and then I regret it.  Especially after seeing the in-race pictures. Man, those are usually pretty rough.

I found my corral – yellow 2000-2999 – and wiggled my way up to the front, getting there just as the opening remarks were starting. There were several famous runners there – including Deena Kastor (Olympian who ran and won the More Fitness Women’s Half Marathon that I did a couple months back), and Lauren Fleshman (awesome runner and co-creator of Picky Bars, which are in my top 3 favorite bars of all time. Sometimes all you need in life is a Smooth Caffeinator or a Blueberry Boomdizzle.).  After the remarks a survivor of the Boston marathon bombing spoke.  I couldn’t see her from where I was standing, but what she said was short and sweet and got the job done –  we were even more ready to run! We had to wait a few more minutes though because they needed confirmation that Central Park West was closed through 90th Street.

Ok, finally – the countdown. 3… 2… And the horn sounded – we were off!! I started my Nike+ watch, coughed up a lung, and started up CPW.  As I passed the stage I saw the Boston Marathon survivor wearing a cute running outfit and a prosthetic leg.  She was so enthusiastic and telling us to have fun as we rushed by her.

I tend to have a lot of adrenaline at the beginning of races – too much maybe – and start pretty fast. Problem is, races are relatively slow at the beginning. You have to maneuver your way around everyone in front of you until you and everyone else settle into their paces and spreads out a bit, which is no easy task at times. During this race I was “that girl” – the one who definitely and annoyingly used the curb to get around a ton of people.  When I wasn’t doing that I was dodging and weaving through everyone, which had potential to catch up with me later on and I just hoped that I had the energy to keep it up and not pay for it by the end of the race. I would have been more mindful of all that if this had been a longer race or in a different location, but it was “just” a 10k around my park. I had this!

This race was interesting because we ran up CPW and entered the park at 90th Street, and continued in the park running clockwise. I’ve never run clockwise around Central Park – only counterclockwise. Every single time. It was almost like running in a new place! Running down the Harlem hill was great.  Running down the Cat Hill was even better!  Don’t get me wrong, there were other hills, but just the satisfaction of not running up those hills – being able to smile at the cat statue instead of glare or grimace at it – made any other hill totally worth it.

As I ran and continued to check my watch, I noticed that I was running much faster than expected, so I began to think that it was a perfect day for a personal record.  I mean really – what better race than this one, right?  And so I just booked it. One of my pals from Muay Thai was volunteering at this race so I made sure to run on the outside when I got near the south part of Central Park, knowing that he would be around there.  I found him somewhere just after mile 5.5 and got a big high five from him.  “Finish strong!!” he yelled after me as ran off.  “Will do!” I promised.

Before long I saw the sign saying that there were only 800 meters left.  Then 400 meters.  Then… where was 200 meters? It seemed to be taking forever!  Oh – there it was.  200 meters left!  I could see the finish line just ahead.  My Vivobarefoot sneakers pounded the ground as I sprinted the last 200 meters and crossed the finish line.  I stopped my Nike+ watch and it immediately congratulated me for breaking my previous 10k record!  I got my medal, a pink carnation, and an apple, and headed for the nearest bench.  Here’s a summary of it all:

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After that, I grabbed a Venti unsweetened green iced tea, headed straight for the nearest couch, and considered it a successful Saturday!