The Skinny on Recovery Runs

Source: my treadmill trainer.com

Source: my treadmill trainer.com

You’ve heard about that post-race run that all élite athletes and those in the competitive world of running make much ado about. Sounds like it might be something to get excited about and may even be beneficial to you in some way. But what does it really mean to you the runner? Is it a have-to? Can it have bearing on your future performance and ability? What’s all the hype about? Based on my experience and the information out there, I’ll attempt to shed some light on what is quickly becoming characteristic of runners today.

By definition, a recovery run is that which you do the day after a hard workout (race, long-distance run, speed work etc.)

I haven’t always been an advocate of recovery runs, truth is for much of my running life I’ve more-often-than-not, done my thing. I believe in whatever works for you and not necessarily a one-size-fit-all approach. Granted, there are times it’s necessary to toe the line as happens with particular training techniques and smart training practices but in my opinion, we are all unique and respond differently, adapt at our own pace and acquire different skills and abilities special to us. And so I’ll never be a “Jesse Owens”  but I can be the best me if I’m willing to sift through the crud and embody what really matters.

The Experts

Elite athletes, coaches and avid runners will tell you what we all know to be true, practice makes perfect. You want to get good at something you practice hard, you want to be great, you practice harder. Coaches are big on recovery runs as they believe it enhances training leading to optimal performance and so most of their workouts are designed with this in mind, whether it’s hill repeats, sprints, interval training or others ( key workouts aimed at challenging your body to resist causes of high-intensity fatigue) are usually followed by a period dedicated to recovery. The belief here is that exposing your body to these key workouts simulate adaptations that enable you to resist fatigue better the next time (Matt Fitzgerald, competitor.com). Matt proposes that because recovery runs are gentle enough to not to create a need for additional recovery, they allow you to perform at a high level in your key workouts and therefore get the most out of them. In his words, ‘It is a way of squeezing more out of your key workouts.’ Coach Jeff in an article titled “Maximize Your Running With Planned Recovery Days” on RunnersConnect stresses that the body gets faster and stronger by breaking down muscle (hard training),and then allowing the body to build itself back up faster than before (recovery) and then repeating the process until you’re in shape and ready to race. A slightly different twist but with the same emphasis on allowing the body time to assimilate and recuperate to come back stronger.

My Experience

Two years ago, after running my first marathon, was the first time I gave any real thought to doing a recovery run. Rebel that I am, I felt I didn’t particularly need it and that since I pretty much ran all the time anyway, I had it covered. Then I ran 26.2 miles of joy and sorrow that ended with me in a boot for a month, wishing I could get out a day or two after as that discomfort would be preferable to what I then had to deal with.  See the magic in the recovery run lies in forcing you past your limits to not only embrace pain..you did that with the “hard workout” but it challenges your body to go beyond the point of fatigue, again you already achieved this; to embrace it. The run is done in an entirely fatigued state thereby boosting fitness. That is to say, you’re so doggone tired and hurting, how about 5 miles on top of that. Sounds machochist right?  Don’t worry, there’s a method to the madness; you get to slow down to an easy pace where breathing and carrying a conversation is easily done and the distance could range from anywhere between 3 to 5 miles. Plus it’s a tiny price to pay for you who see an ultra in your future.Thinking about rolling over the next time after a key workout? Think again. Your next race may depend on it.

Checking in on 2015 Running Goals; Stay Motivated

Source: truemotivation.com

Source: truemotivation.com

The daily grind can get to us. It can cause us angst and all-too-often disillusionment. That’s why I think it’s important to have constant reminders and even accountability; this helps us to maintain focus and stay motivated. Frankly, it’s all happening so fast these days, with so much of our environment, social media, the news, and just about everything else, geared toward our constant striving to stay afloat, it’s no wonder we sometimes feel overwhelmed, insecure, frustrated and dejected. The good news, if you can call it that, is you’re not alone. This fight for survival, for attainment, for our own person glory even, is not yours to fight alone. It may not sound like much, but if you can find solace in that you’ll be well on your way to getting past the first hurdle.

So you’ve taken a look back and you’re either impressed or not with the trail you’ve blazed for the past 4 1/2 months; presuming you’re pleased with what you see, then you’re pretty set for the next few months. What you’ve done has worked and I applaud your hard-work and dedication, you have a soul sister. On the other hand, we know that life can get in the way sometimes causing hiccups; know that it is ok to stop and breathe. In fact, sometimes it is necessary to do so or we risk setting ourselves up for failure. Who needs that? It is the wise person who recognizes the need to stop & reassess and sometimes reorder their goals. In that vein, you’re on the right track and would benefit from spiriting away to a quiet place, away from the clutter and noise that is your life – try a trail run outdoors, where it’s just you, nature and God – and empty your mind of everything but the moment. Revel in where you are now and be thankful. Stay there for a bit and just love yourself. You see, every now then you need to indulge in a bit of self-love, not narcissism or anything like that, but honest, real, love; only then will you be able to be real about your needs and what your plans are. This shift in focus from the worries of life and the world at large will bring you, your dreams, and your goals this year, to the forefront once more, allowing you to revise and better align your plans with your reality. That PR, Boston Qualifier, Marathon, Half-marathon, Triathlon,Iron man, Ultra, Running group, Charity run etc… whether it’s one of these or a few, is still possible. If you’ve fallen ill or something of that nature, then that’s beyond your control but if not then by God’s grace you are able.

You want to realize your desires, you have to be willing to make the necessary adjustments or/ and sacrifices. We, who know about hard-work and sacrifice, know that it will never be easy, if it were, it would not be worth it; that if we fall ten times, we stand up eleven. Failure is never an option. Indeed we have just over seven months to ensure goal realization. It is possible. You are possible.

In Running, Age is Just a Number

Sir Randulph Fiennes - Marathon des Sables 2015

Sir Randulph Fiennes – Marathon des Sables 2015

They say, “It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years.” I think they’re right. When I look back on my years of running, while I’m no dinosaur it’s been more than twenty-five years, I can honestly say that I have never felt better, run faster, been stronger or as confident as I am today. I’ll say credit that to maturity, training and practice, but what I believe more than anything is that experience is the greatest teacher. Each race I run, I’m always looking for a better time, I constantly push myself..my boundaries, I’m always eagerly looking at new and or different methods, exploring new technologies, meeting and talking with runners. The idea here is one of openness and willingness to learn, to grow, to achieve my highest human potential.

I think about the elders in the field, I mean we’re talking those in their 70’s and 80’s, there is no game plan they’ll tell you, just passion and life and all the challenges that come with it. Recalling my first competitive 10k takes some doing but this 75 year-old Trinidadian native I will always remember: Granny Luces, as she is endearing known locally, was then a regular at the races. The race didn’t start nor end without Granny and you felt it an honor to run with her, so legendary was her passion and dedication to the sport. Today, she’s 85 and still running I’m told. Back then I use to think I wanted to be like her and I still do. I want to be 80, even 90 and still running. I recently read an article on the 71 year-old Brit who finished The Marathon De Sables 2015, a 6-day ultramarathon, raising approximately £1 million for charity. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, though he is a veteran explorer having crossed Antarctica and hiked Mount Everest, described the hair-raising experience as hell on earth. But he did it..over 150 miles..you have to give kudos to the essence of a person who at that age with his health issues would not only attempt but achieve something so monumental. Mind you, the oldest competitor in the 30-year history of the Marathon des Sables race is an 83-year-old Frenchman, so 71 might seem ok in comparison. The point is that 71, 83, 40, 23…age is just a number. How you feel mentally and physically will determine a lot more than how old you are.

Sure, I get that frailty is more than likely by the ripe old age of 80, that my bones will atrophy with time and this will surely slow down my game but I’m thinking to see this through, to take it as far as it’ll let me while doing the best I can. I think at the end of the day it’s all we can ask. I should add that longevity runs in my family, I have a grandmother who’s 102; her twin sister, my great-aunt, died last year at 101, my dad’s 93 and my mom’s 84. God bless them and me I pray. I intend to be around and running for a long time with His blessing.

A Recap of Running The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon

 

The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon 2015

The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon 2015

Last Sunday dawned awash with color across the New Jersey sky, the beautiful face of sunshine setting the tone for a stellar day weather-wise and otherwise. We stood at the start wrapped in our heat sheets, an anticipated chill in the air. The buzz was high. Many were expecting to do good here; rumor had it the course was a fast one. Having observed no worrisome inclines on my review the evening before, I was excited to see how it would pan out. Part of my excitement stemmed from the “unknown factor.” I enjoy discovering a course while running. My adventurous spirit revels in the uncertainty and mystery of what will come next and I was not disappointed. I had heard a bit about the twists and turns following mile 13 but I wasn’t concerned, as long as there was some variety to be had, I had nothing to fear from monotony.

As it turned out, our 3:30 pace group leader was a veteran marathoner with 50+ marathons under his “shoes,” most recently Boston two Monday’s ago. His humor was trying at best as he attempted to entertain us early in the race; though on a marathon course, you learn to appreciate anyone who tries. He did however, marshal us into maintaining a steady 7.5 pace for first half of the race, which had a few of us antsy considering the burn out issue. Still, there were others who were interested in upping the ante, feeling strong then I guess. I’m headstrong yes, but not stupid, and I am fully aware of the idiom – marry in haste, repent at leisure – no way was I even interested in trying to outdo myself at such an early stage. Good sense prevailed and we stayed together and strong. You can tell New Yorker’s anywhere you go and that was true of those running in the group; chatty, competitive, brash even but open and warm. Some willingly carried the pacer’s sign, which he promised to ditch early on, right to the end. For much of the way, miles 1 through 16, we poked fun, had the odd conversation, commented on pace and fed off the crowd, which was a surprise in itself – there were quite a bit of cheer going on. We were thankful for that and showed our appreciation with waves and mouthfuls of thank you. The volunteers, as instrumental to the race as ever were a beautiful bunch; filled with encouragement and fuel, they were with us every couple of miles along the way.

The fight and challenge to finish strong came around mile 18. So far it had been a scenic, flat and full-out sunshine course. The wind was co-operating fully with just the right amount of ruffles to make the sun a pleasure but suddenly it wasn’t so easy anymore. The sun was now head on and hot, the stretches began to seem to long, no one was talking anymore, the pacer appeared to be going too fast, I could hear grunts coming from my far left, where was the guy with the time pick? And the other one who was beside me for much of the way? We appeared to be losing people, a couple were ahead but surely some were behind. Shouldn’t the pacer check to see what was happening to the group. It was then I realized that it was all he could do to remain focused and stay the course. He had set the pace and carried it for three-quarter of the way, it was our job to take it home. I felt we had lost some time, a few seconds of the last two miles maybe, but with four more miles to go and the shore beckoning, it was doable, it was happening. I recall his last words before my heart took over – a hug at the finish.

It’s what is known as heart running. When you feel like there’s nothing left to give. You’ve done all you can, all the training; cross training, speed work, running, has culminated into this moment right here..this is it. With two more left to go, it’s breakaway time. My heart is thumping, my legs are unreal..I don’t even feel them, all I can see is the stretch in front of me, all I can hear is the voice in my head – you’re almost there, over and over – I’ve left them behind, the crowds are thickening, the waves are crashing, my feet are pounding, I can see the finish. This is so happening. With 800 meters to go I stagger and look behind me and there’s my girlfriend who ran the entire way with me, I thrust out my hand to her – “come on, come on,” I say. She reaches out, I grab her hand and we sprint to the finish; huge smiles on our faces for the camera as we cross the finish line. I pull away, retching with my head between my knees and she’s gleefully saying, “we did it! We did it! Sub 3:30! Are you ok?” All in that order. A few minutes and I was fine, the pain would follow in a bit but just then I was super excited to have PR’d and qualified for Boston 2016 by just over ten minutes. We did indeed indulge in those hugs and a few tears following the reciept of our medals. They say pain is temporary, pride is forever. I’m so proud of me.

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Running With the Right Attitude

“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.”  -Steve Prefontaine

In my earlier years I confess to being a complainer, one of those people extremely hard to please. For such a person, life can be a real bitch; their cup is always half-empty, it’s always a bad day and as a result bad things always happen. Picture running with an attitude like that, a nightmare. The weather (biggest running pet peeve ) is never right, the shoe never fits well, someone’s always messing up their race, they’re never running well..things just never work out right. And the worst part is that they’re so busy looking at the negative things, they miss the most beautiful parts: the beauty of the changing seasons, the sheer joy of competition and success, good health and vitality and so many other blessings that runners enjoy.

Thank God the past is just that, past and gone forever. However, it serves as an important reference point, whereby I can assess the changes I’ve had to embrace in order to see my self-growth, particularly in my running. Whenever I’m asked what caused my shift in perspective, I point to my arrival here in the United States and the succeeding period of uncertainty I endured before my move to New York. There’s something to be said for not being in control of things – in truth, thinking we are in control is an illusion anyway – we are forced to tap into our natural strength and ability, traits we might never have explored otherwise. In any event, my aha moment came in realizing that living in the moment and maximizing my gift was not a blessing to be taken lightly. The rest, as they say, is history.

This week, before my marathon on Sunday, has gotten me to thinking of how important it is for any person facing a challenge, especially a runner, to do so with the right attitude and perspective. The ability to run is a gift. You owe it to yourself and the gift-giver to do your best with it. Running gives you freedom, direction and purpose; you can choose to do with that as you may, but it is yours to enjoy for as long as you can. Your ability to engender enthusiasm and embrace its benefits ensures that running becomes a lot easier, more enjoyable, and more of a blessing if you do it with grace, gratitude and a genuine desire to make a difference, whether personally or to the world at large. Either way, it will ultimately extend beyond you because you’re running with the right attitude.

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Up Your Running With Speed Training

Source: Runners World

Source: Runners World

You may have the idea of a PR in an upcoming race or it may even be among your goals for this year, don’t give up. It is doable. Runners are a competitive lot never quite satisfied with the average run, maybe it’s the stuff we’re made of, but somewhere inside there is always the thought of a better run. We go the distance and do whatever it takes to increase our speed and improve performance. With this in mind, it’s been my personal experience, in addition to all the information out there, that incorporating speed work into training for a race could change the dynamics of your racing and help you achieve the results you want.

Speed Workouts are structured workouts that include running specific intervals or time or distance at a specific pace. Research and a lot of coaches agree that it builds endurance, strengthens legs and lung muscles, burns more calories,increases speed, and adds variety to your workouts. I particularly like going to the track to do speedwork as it’s easier on the knees and the distance is already worked in. Here I share a few that I use regularly.

Fartleks

These are timed distances at a specific pace, generally fast, with a slower recovery period. You can incorporate as many reps as you want to maximize your workout but should stick to doing these once per week. Eg. 6 reps of2 mins on, 1 min off at 5k pace.

Interval Runs

Short intense running followed by equal or longer recovery periods. Here the focus is on reaching hard, above your red line or limit so that you’re really counting the minutes until you stop. Recovery takes the form of a jog where you can really regain your strength to go full steam ahead again. Eg. 2 mins hard running, followed by 4 mins of easy jogging.

Sprints

High intensity workouts that can take the form of super-quick repeats, hill repeats, downhills and ladder workouts. Each of these are short and fast with distances ranging from 40 meters to 200 meters depending on which one you’re doing. Eg. Super-Quick Repeats: 8×200 meters for 30 to 40 seconds each and a recovery time of 2 mins. With Hill Repeats and Downhills the run is on the hill for the distance decided, say 20 yards uphill and 100 meters down x8, varying the intensity of the run on the basis of your max effort-starting at 70%- and a recovery time of 2 mins. With Ladder workouts, you increase the distance after each rep and retrace your steps and work your way back down, decreasing your recovery time after each rep.

The stats on these workouts can change to suit you ability, but no matter which you decide, remember to give yourself time to warm up to avoid injury. Warm up times may vary from 15 mins of running to 2 miles depending on the intensity of the workout.

I Confess 2 weeks of Marathon Training

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I’ve been a bad girl. I mean like really taking-for-granted-my-ability bad. I’m running the New Jersey marathon on 4/26 and I’m nowhere near the peak of my training as I should be as I have yet to complete a long run. That’s not to say I haven’t tried, on two occasions I attempted to do just that and fell short because of 1. The weather and 2. The time. Sounds like I’m full of excuses right?

For me, this weather has been a nightmare for training. I am so over the treadmill when it comes to running long distances, this has been a major setback to my training. While I was training for the NYC half marathon, it was all well and good since ten miles is the maximum I can handle on there, and that was for two long cold months, now, I pray daily just for average temperatures so I can head out. So far, not so good. It’s not every person can work a 10-hour day then train for two hours; It takes a lot of self-motivation, determination and sacrifice. Toss the weather we’ve been having in there and it becomes the ultimate challenge to which I have not responded in the best way.

At this point I am quite the realist, it is what it is. Sometime in the next couple days, I plan on doing a long run even if it hails, afterall, it’s down-to-the-wire-time and there is just no more time for excuses. Ironically, that should have been my attitude from the onset, but I confess, even I am not perfect.

This week my focus has been on adding milage and strength and interval training with emphasis on hill repeats. So far, so good. I’m certainly glad there are a couple weeks left before the race as I feel there is so much left to be done as far as diet, hydration and cross training, in addition to running.

One thing I’m very thankful for is being injury-free up till now. I pray to remain that way and focus on the simple things that will make a big difference on race day, such as: resting/sleeping well, eating well, hydrating, and adding a little umph with a creatine supplement while varying my workouts to include some cross training. While it sounds like a lot to do in so little time, I’m onstream – somewhat anyway – resting well presents the biggest challenge as I keep such crazy hours. But hey, I’m still thinking Boston qualifier.. OI’m either crazy or extremely confident.

What It Means to Run with Faith

bigstock-Runner-athlete-feet-running-on-34709543
 “I have learned that track doesn’t define me. My faith defines me. I’m running because I have been blessed with a gift.” –
Allyson Felix

Ten years ago when I started running seriously, I would never have imagined it becoming so intricately woven into the fabric of my life that not a day goes by when I either don’t run or think about running.  Back then, my future mapped out looked pretty simple: humanitarian work, writing at some level, and travel and adventure on the side.  The New York City Marathon was to be a bucket list event among a host of others.  Today, I remember it as the running event of a lifetime that inspired many others.

I recall completing my first half-marathon and the heady feeling that ensued, but I really didn’t think it would transform into the passion for running that it is today.  Life often hits you with nice surprises like that.  Eight years ago when I moved to the united States, I moved with a ton of baggage by which I don’t don’t mean suitcases; rather, my issues and a ton of issues on top.  In hindsight, running was my saving grace. If you have ever made a major change in life, then you can attest to the life transforming event it is.  Because I was in a new environment, where a lot was also new to me, I had to find something that was at once comforting and familiar, but which gave me the opportunity to lose myself and not focus on the uncertainties I was faced with.  Enter running – my saving grace – it became my outlet, my escape, my connection, my mode of survival.

Running, I discovered peace, beauty, tranquility, inspiration, challenge and a profound sense of self.  Conversely, my future loomed, a blank, uncertain canvas.  Many years, runs and races later have added splashes of color and slowly an image is breaking forth.  The process has been painstaking: deliberate and tough, but extremely instructional and not a journey I could have completed without my faith.  Daily, those runs have taught me that I do not, nor have I ever, run alone.  I am immersed in the love of God; whether evident in the trickle of a running stream or the mad rush of a waterfall, the burst of sunrise or the quiet outrageous sunset; He runs with me.  In the white mass of winter or the first signs of spring, the solitary morning run or the packed course filled with runners, every step I take, I take with Him.  He surrounds me with His presence, covers me with His protection, enfolds me in His love and when the going gets tough, armors me with His strength.  He is the wind at my back, the lift in my legs and the power in my stride.

Some Fun Spring Runs

Source: Precor.com

              Source: Precor.com

After a long, cold Winter you deserve some fun. And I’m not talking laying-under-a-beach-with-an-umbrella-drink type of fun, heck no, we’re not sedentary like that. I’m talking body painting-mud covering-rock climbing, kinda running fun. Don’t mind if we celebrate everything with a run, we don’t know any other way. It’s just too darn bad that some of us are still experiencing winter-type air but for the rest of us, there’s nothing like a crazy, adrenaline-pumping, butt-kicking running adventure for Spring initiation. Never mind the rains we’ve been promised, plan on getting soaked anyway with all the sweat and grime that’s coming your way.

I did some digging and scored what I think are some of the best fun runs around the country – only because I think hopping around adds more adventure and fun and you get to meet runners. Here’s hoping these 10 suggestions help to kick off Spring and get you on your way to earning a bad-ass runner reputation.

1. The Original Mud Run – DFW Spring 2015, Bear Creek Road, Lancaster TX 4/04/2015
This race boasts three courses: 5k fun run, 10k fun run and 10k competition and a new Apex 200 yard – Super Obstacle Course (competition only). All courses are Military Style Obstacle Courses and boots and loose-fitting cargo or sweat pants are mandatory for competition categories while recommended for non-competition runs where crazy costumes are also welcomed.

2. Mud on the Mountain – Seven Springs,Pennsylvania 5/09/2015
A 7-mile mud run through some of the most challenging terrain in Pennsylvania traversing ponds, scaling boulder fields, climbing over obstacles and clawing up impossible inclines to a triumphant finish.

3. Savage Race – Georgia Spring 2015, Dallas, GA 4/18/2015
An intense 5 miles, 25 obstacles on rolling hills and rocky terrain to include mud, fire and barbed wire. Run individually or as part of a team.

4. Spartan Race – Tri-State New Jersey Beast 4/18/2015
A distance of 12-14 miles over New Jersey’s Mountain Creek with steep inclines and rocky track descents. Athletes are asked to carry a headlamp & water supply in a camelback or similar type pack as the average finish time is 5+ hours. Teams are encouraged but there is also individual registration.

5. Spartan Race – Citi Field, NY Sprint (Stadium) 5/09/2015
3 miles of throwing, jumping, crawling and grueling climbing will take you to the remotest corners and every level of this ball park.

6. Virginia Rugged Maniac – spring 2015 Petersburg, VA 5/02/2015
A 3.1-mile run averaging 30-60 minutes with 25 obstacles the likes of 12′ high walls and 50′ water slides while running, crawling and jumping through a combination of forests, fields, motocross tracks and ski slopes.

7. Ultimate Challenge Mud Run – Columbia, SC 4/11/2015
Run 36 military style obstacles spread over 6.2 miles with Marines to “motivate” your team at each one. This is a team event only challenging you both physically and mentally through mud, water, and over obstacles just like veterans do in training. Obstacles are built with the same materials and techniques as used in military training courses around the world.

8. The Color Run – Camden Waterfront, Philadelphia, PA 4/25/2015
Dubbed “the happiest 5k on the planet” this run is designed to uplift and inspire runners to shine and live in a happy healthy way. Get ready to do that with special sparkle/ glittery attractions on the course, new shine elements at the finish and paint of course.

9. Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon – Loudon County, VA 5/30/2015
Who needs mud when you have wine. The race starts and finishes at Doukenie Winery, with post-race access to the Wine & Music Festival. This scenic, grape-scented course runs north of the winery on historic byways, passing vineyards, farms, ranches and estates along the way. Midway is your water and wine stop.

10. Barkin’ Dog Duathalon – Denver, CO 5/30/2015
The largest duathalon in Colorado and a popular run-bike-run race, this race has two distances participants can choose from: a 1.2-mile run, 18k bike, and 5k run or a 5k run, 34k bike, and 5k run as they transverse the trails and roads through Cherry Creek State Park. Enjoy a post-race picnic and the 4200 acres of the park upon finishing.

Of course there are a lot more going on this spring, hundreds of mud runs and obstacle races in each state through the end of the year actually, and sometimes multiple in any given state, at various locations. The point is that there are so many races and so much fun to be had, it would be a tragedy to let it all slip away without stepping out and grabbing as much as you can. Another positive is that these races have a charity component and so you could always do good while you’re having fun. Enjoy Spring!

The United NYC Half Marathon: miles for a cause

United NYC Half Marathon Start Source: ABC online

United NYC Half Marathon Start
Source: ABC online

Last Sunday was my “miles for a cause” run, the first that I’ve run based on my fundraising efforts with 100% proceeds going to a youth charity. For this reason alone, it was a phenomenal success.  We, my donors and I, were able to successfully raise $1225.00 in just about six weeks with the limit being $1000.00.  I am tremendously pleased and humbled by the support and love shown by everyone for The Seed Project, an organization that provides sport and education scholarships for students in Senegal, West Africa, for which I chose to run. Words are insufficient to impress the positivity and good that will result in the lives that were touched by our efforts. Thus, I’m inspired to continue impacting lives one step at a time, with the hope that it will encourage others to make a difference doing what they love.

Secondary to my fundraising goal was my wish to run a PR, which didn’t happen much to my disappointment.  The NYC Half Marathon is run with much fanfare and spirit: lots of runners, spectators, media hype and excitement; sort of like its bigger counterpart, the NYC Marathon, only on a smaller scale.  With a field size of around 20,000, it’s not hard to see why.  Like the marathon, there are runners from all over the world, dozens of charities to choose from and it delivers a spectacle course. From Central Park to Times Square, then running along the West Side Highway to the heart of the financial district in lower Manhattan, it’s NYC 101, and impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of it all. Also, it’s not everyday one gets to stop traffic in Times Square with the hope of getting caught on the big screen.  I dare say that is the highlight of the race for many, that, and collecting the finisher’s medal.

Secondary to my fundraising goal was my wish to run a PR, which didn’t happen much to my disappointment. While it wasn’t a particularly difficult course, there were some, what I call, challenging moments: the hills in Central Park and the 4-mile stretch of the Westside Highway presented the most challenge and while I could factor in a number of reasons why this was so, I’ll just focus on adjusting my strategy for another race of this length. That being said, I finished in 1:38 while we enjoyed great weather during the run and I couldn’t help recalling the last time I ran that race in 2013, it was a freezing 18 degrees. However, at the finish it got quite chilly as the winds picked up and it turned out to be a very cold day from then on and I could only feel for those runners that were still on the course. I ended the day hanging out with the fundraising team at an after party hosted by the organizers in the seaport area. I really couldn’t be happier with my efforts..well maybe with my time..but I’ll gladly accept that to be able to give those kids in Senegal a better chance at life.

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