Happy November, Thanksgiving, & Turkey Trots Thoughts

“The First Step to being Great is being Grateful.”

-attributed to Ralph Smart

This year it’s a November for the books! We kicked it off with the New York City marathon two weeks ago with record temps and record finishers in those conditions, some 47,839, as I stood at the 14th mile fluid station with sweat rolling down my back handing out drink after drink to thousands of runners. Let’s just say, that we should never underestimate the role of those who perform this painstaking task time and again. All props to those volunteers who hand out both fluid and encouragement for hours each year. They’re the real Gs! On the other hand, our runners this year are simply rockstars. Unless you’re a runner, you can’t appreciate the grit and determination it takes to finish a marathon in mid 70° temps with 79% humidity. For sure there were some casualties with 48,000 runners starting out. But if you were or know anyone who was still able to run a PR, wow, double kudos to you and to them.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel any desire to join the running crowd back on November 9. I felt I had chosen the wiser path. LoL. And since then I’ve been walking, for the most part, in wisdom and resting and taking care of a knee issue that arose out of my Chicago run. The past two weeks have seen me run a few times, most notably, this past Saturday when I went on a 5-mile morning run to the park and back. It was an easy run meant to act as a sort of feel-out run and I did just that. Happily, I felt no pain and was able to enjoy a sunny but chilly fall run and come away with the impression that I needed some new running shoes and to take advantage of the sunshine, even though it’s cold, before the real winter weather gets here.

This week we’re celebrating Thanksgiving in these United States and amidst all the turkey talk, I’m being super intentional about demonstrating gratitude for this year and all that I’ve been able to have, receive, accomplish, and share. Most Americans are thankful for the season and for their family and provisions, as we should all be, but I encourage us all to expand our thankfulness to everything we are and are blessed with. After all that we, as a global community, have been through in the past two years, we are blessed to be here and blessed to be a blessing. A heart overflowing with gratitude will ensure that we pass it on and hopefully create a contagious pattern of behavior – an attitude of gratitude – that is not restricted to a day but extends throughout the remainder of the year and all into next year too.

And if that isn’t enough November action for you, well, we runners love our turkey trots around these parts. So, in New York City, the Thanksgiving tradion also includes a festive 5K run/trot held on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a family-friendly race where you can run, walk, trot, and gather socially to get some exercise; because we like to associate running with everything we do, but also so we can feel less guilt about the turkey and its embellishments we intend to gobble up later that day. LoL. Happy trotting and happy thanksgiving! 🦃

My Chicago Marathon (2022)😇😍🥹😛😁🥳🤩🥰

#mychicagomarathon 😇

Drum roll my friends! We ran Chi marathon, under some duress, but crossed the finish line with all parts intact! Praise God. So we’re rolling because I’m pleased, and since I’m usually hard on myself when running, that’s big. It wasn’t a PR but it was pretty good all things considered. I went in with great expectations and came out satisfied if not exhuberant. What a weekend! What a run! What a blur! A big shout out to the Chicago marathon events management team. They always put on a stellar event and this year was no exception. With forty-five years of practice, they’d better right! Since I took part in all three events: the expo, the 5k, and the marathon, I can safely claim the full marathon experience, and it was great; not necessarily my running on marathon day, but certainly everything else.

@ McCormick Place – Marathon Expo 😍

Volunteering at the expo on the Friday before the race was a great experience. And although I wasn’t in New York, I was at home with the running community because runners are pretty awesome beings no matter where you go. I’d often wondered what being on the other side of the marathon expo was like, and I was happy to find out it was fun and rewarding to be on the serving end of all the love and well wishes I’d received over the years. I was super grateful for the opportunity to welcome and direct runners to collect their packets containing their bib numbers and to pick up their t-shirts. Meeting new people on the volunteer teams was also a treat and getting to appreciate that some of them weren’t even runners but were just excited for the city of Chicago and wanted to be a part of this event that celebrated and showcased the best of their city. There were a few nationals from outside of Chicago as well as international volunteers, who, like me, wanted the full experience and we dived right in together. By the end of my shift, I was pretty sure I had welcomed the world, amidst a few running friends from New York, and more were still coming. With the expo in full swing and all the vendors with their gear and attractions on display, it didn’t take me long to realize I had to get out of there fast or my run the next day would be in serious jeapordy.

Abbot 5K 🥹
The New York Posse 😛

Saturday dawned way too soon and I had to be up by 5 a.m. and at the start by 6:30/6:45 a.m. as the 5K run started at 7:30 a.m. It’s Chicago, so of course it was chilly. I was prepared and wrapped up in heat sheets I had purchased for just the occasion – experience is a great teacher! After cooling our heels a bit and witnessing many shivers, we did away with the formalities and a surprising male rendition of the national anthem and were off. It was a fast and short one. It’d been a while since I’d raced a 5K so I was surprised, I don’t know why, that it was over so soon. I remember thinking, wow, folks are out here on this chilly morning to cheer on a 5K! I felt proud and grateful to be feeling great! The cheers and running through the center of the city, sans traffic, was a treat and then I recall hearing an announcement of some sort that we were coming up to Jackson Ave. and the finish line around the bend, and I thought, wait, I didn’t even see the mile 2 marker! Clearly, I missed it and crossed the finish line in 21:53 according to Strava. I really hadn’t intended to run that fast, it really kinda just happened and oh well it felt amazing! LoL. I celebrated with a photo, grabbed my medal and hat and got outta there. The rest of the day was a swirl of brunch with the New York posse in town for the race and then to a boat tour on the Chicago River. By the time I got home, I stayed with my neice just outside the city center, it was time to get the pasta going for a dinner of pasta, meatballs, and veggies. And there was cake too! Sadly, I passed out around 11 p.m. after my third helping, without the cake.

Chipping at the start..ready, set…😁

As is the pattern these days, I was barely asleep before it was time to get up. I’m really not a fan of eating at 5 a.m. but we do what we must and so oatmeal, bananas, and granola and nuts it was with a bagel with eggs on the side. I nursed the bagel all the way to the city but was careful to just nibble away at it until I’d had enough. Getting to Grant Park, where the race start was and seeing all the runners defiantly geared up in the chilly morning air in all sorts of coverings to stay warm but with expectant and intent faces gave me a sense of dejavu. It had only been two years, going on ten, since I was at my last marathon start line. The sense of jubilation and excitement could not be suppressed; it permeated the atmosphere and I was oh-so-at-home at its center. No mad rush this time, all was oderly with consistent and efficient movement of the crowds through the various gates, security checkpoints, and to their respective corrals. I had ensured that I was there with just enough time to get to the corral, join the bathroom line, and get in position to start. The efficiency of it all was mesmerizing given the 40,000 crowd size. I’ve always marveled that Chicago is the one marathon where I’ve always been able to manage the various steps so efficiently so as to get to start line with time to spare and feel ready to start. I even got to meet up a friend running in my corral, who ended up keeping pace with me for most of the race. My intention had been to run with the Nike pace group that was running with a 3:35 finish goal but I soon chucked that idea after seeing they would be keeping an 8 minute mile. I had decided from the night before that I was going to run a 7:45 pace. Ideally, you don’t decide that the night before a race but because I’ve been dealing with sciatic nerve issues the entire year, and my capacity/pace have fluctuated as a result, I had to be really intentional about my pace and staying attuned to how I was feeling on any given day. Hence the night before decision, which was really based off of how well I ran the 5K the day before and how strong I felt post run. I was ready to start conservative but strong and hang on for the ride.

Snaps from clips on the course 🤩

I’ll be honest, it’s rare that I ever do what I expect or even set out to do. For some reason or another, I’d say nine out of ten times, things change. And I’m ok with that as long as the change is good, but it isn’t always. I mean come on, life is just not that awesome; some awesome, just not all that awesome. LoL. So guess what, yours truly ran at the pace I sorta expected but because life just does it’s thing, I ended up with a progressive limp to my step after the half marathon point. In all honesty, that wasn’t so surprising as I was running at a much faster pace than my long training runs. I expected that my lower back would come into play at some point and was prepared to deal with the discomfort, well sort of anyway. One can never be fully prepared to accommodate pain and so I had already planned on pushing through. My hope was that I would get through most of the run before having to deal with it. So when I started feeling some back soreness around mile 13, I ignored it. I tried to lose myself in the cheers and was very disappointed to note that there were very little in the way of signs to read. In the past, I’ve always occupied myself with reading and admiring the funny, bold,  encouraging, and creative way spectators expressed themselves over the course of 26.2 miles. It has always been a high point entertainment-wise. Another Covid casualty? I don’t know but I missed it and as a result I couldn’t quite shift focus, except momentarily when I saw my niece, who, bless her, showed up three times along the course. I cherish the support. I kept the look out for my cousins who were out there somewhere in the crowds, I was sure, but never managed to connect with them until the finish. However, actively searching them out distracted me for some time until it didn’t anymore and by then overcompensating for my lower back issues was expressing itself in my right knee, which felt like it was on fire then. And that’s where, in my view, experience kicked in. In all my time running, in all the races, and in particular, the marathons I’ve done, they have created in me a tremendous capacity to see things through and finish well. All I’ve learned about pushing limits, digging deep, and finishing the course may have been for moments like what I experienced on October 9 and I am thankful for it all. By God’s grace and with a tenacity I can only attribute to experience, I sucked up the pain and managed, on the final incline and homestretch, to increase my pace and smile as I crossed the finish line in 3:27:24, only 13 seconds slower than my best time on this course some 7 years before.

Post Race – we did it 🥳

Whoo hoo! Even though I can’t remember much of the areas we ran through and what it looked like. Had I not run the course three times before, it would be really hard to describe anything. Sometimes pain can blur things and I can honestly say that the last couple of miles was all a blur. The faces, the course, the runners, it all blended into one. Weirdly enough, the only thing I could see crystal clear was the finish line in the final 800m. A friend later told me that she looked over to her left around mile 20 or so and was greatly surprised to see me. She called out and while I made eye contact with her and mumbled that I was in pain, I never broke stride or looked back as I ran past her. I remember it as part of the blur. After crossing the finish line, I knew well enough to keep on moving – albeit slowly – stopping is never a good idea as it can facilitate cramps among other things. So it is with good reason race officials shepherd runners through. They really don’t mean to be mean even though they’re also bent on keeping the area accessible to other runners coming through. Sometime soon after, I was able to locate said friend and another who shadowed me of sorts and as we hugged and congratulated each other and grimaced together for a photo, it occured to me that though the pain is real, what is even more real is that I/we can do hard things and we’re really only limited by what we tell ourselves we cannot do. One day I may not be able to run a marathon far less with an injury. But that, my friends, was not the day.

Family Reunion 🥰

Celebrating 50 years with NYC Marathon 🎊🎊

@lorical Finish Line, Central Park

What a day! And what a comeback for the global running community! It was everything we had hoped for and more! And no I didn’t run but that didn’t stop me from celebrating every runner who did. It was wild fun, though painful for many I know, and a day that was perfect in every way. From the organizers to the volunteers, to the spectators and the perfect Fall day, and any and everything else in-between, it was a nyc marathon for the books. Many runners agree that the smaller field size made for a better run and in a lot of cases better pacing. We even had a couple of course records too I understand and that’s never a given here in New York so it must have been in the air that day. LOL. In the aftermath, and subsequent analysis, there were some that said they suffered the error of going out too fast with all the hype and excitement associated with missing out on last year’s marathon. Though not even that would dampen their spirits. New Yorkers and vistors alike turned up and out in grand style for their city and to cheer ever so loudly for runners from all over the globe.

@lorical

If you’ve ever attended a marathon or long distance race event then you know that spectators cheer for all runners. Yes we’re excited for the elite runners and those at the front, and for those in our circle, and those running for a great cause, and for those running their first marathon; but we’re also just really excited for all runners who are choosing running as their response to beat their personal goliaths. If you’re reading this then you’re probably a runner and maybe a marathoner. Yay you, my beautiful friend, you can do hard things! And this is the spirit of the marathon that is alive and well despite all that abounds. We are still out here running and winning each time we cross a finish line. And for those that make it possible, yay for you too! Our New York Strong supporters remain unmatched in their enthusiasm and encouragement to runners running through the five boroughs of New York City. I heard it from the running grapevine that Brooklyn took the prize for the loudest cheers. No surprise there, they bring it every single time.

Volunteers
@lorical w Jason the finisher
Finishers
@lorical w Justin the finisher
Helena the finisher
Finishers
@lorical w Anna the finisher

At the finish line, where I had the opportunity to welcome home all runners to Central Park, there was a jubilant comradeirie amongst volunteers. Doing our respective jobs there and then was not work but all in the spirit of fun as we cheered, hooted, took pictures, and congratulated runners as they came through exhausted; some tearing up and jubilant, others determined and excited, and still others looking like they could run again! I got all the feels that day and was so blessed to be a tiny part of something so momentous in our city. Happy 50th Anniversary TCS New York City marathon, you sure know how to throw a party. 🎉

@lorical

October Ran Away🍂🍃🍁

Whoosh and just like that it’s gone. Blame it on the wedding, which by the way was a blast, I hardly got time to say hi before the month became a not-too-distant memory. And that’s only because I won’t let it. It’s not everyday a first time planner of sorts throws a bit of a destination beach wedding and everything goes off without a hitch! I mean come on, that’s a month for the history books. Excuse the back patting, I’ve already given God all the credit so I figure it’s ok to tap myself some. Hahaha.

Really though, wow November! You’re upon us. But whatever does that mean for running? Well, not forgetting that we had big races in October with the boston and chicago marathons and london a little before that. Seems we’re off to a running start with everyone’s favorite marathon (I’m taking some liberty here) happening the first weekend of the month. Yeah baby, that’s right, the Big Apple will be doing their share of running with the nyc marathon, celebrating 50 years, on November 7. Whoo hoo! Happy anniversary nyc marathon! And, come rain or shine yours truly will be at the finish line welcoming runners with their “aw shucks..look what I did” cheeky grins.   As it pertains to race-day weather Sunday looks pretty good with a cool 55°. We should be so blessed with minimal to no winds for an awesome spectator turnout and many PRs.

I imagine after a year and a half of no races how anxious running folks must feel for various reasons. A group from my run club as well as a few other friends are running so I’m hyped about that and the opportunity to cheer them on and shout them down. Also, I’m volunteering at the finish..hoping I get to hand out medals but really I’m up for wherever help is needed. I’m just so chuffed – as the English say – to be part of this awesome experience and celebration. To see our city streets flooded once more with runners of every description promises to be a treat like few others. It’s also an opportunity to meet new people, have fun, and just get out and about and back to making our city a safe running haven again. I’m here for it friends!

With a smaller field size this year, and the smallest in years, of 30,000 runners, chances are it will be a smoother, more enjoyable experience as it’ll be less crowded on the streets. We do expect and hope that New Yorkers and visiting folks will turn out the spectator crowd especially in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. In recent years there has been nothing quite like the spectacular crowd support in those areas. The marathon starts in Staten Island and meanders over the Verazzano bridge into Brooklyn, then over the  bridge into Queens, onto the Queensboro bridge into Manhattan. Then it’s over the Willis Ave bridge into the Bronx, then into Harlem and back to Manhattan to end in Central Park. It’s quite the 5-borough tour of New York City and a real rolling treat to newbies and veteran runners alike. At the very least, it’s a do-it-at-least-once type of run and then as many times as you can get away with! LoL. A bucket list item if you will, if bucket lists are still a thing. I don’t know anymore, I feel like we’re living in a new reality with new expectations and new boundaries and what once was is no longer a sure thing, only it’s getting kinda old. Anyways, no morbid thoughts allowed especially on the eve of this momentous racing comeback for our city and indeed the world this year. Great expectations is more than a book around here; we’re believing for awesome weather and amazing running. Good running to all runners! See you at the finish line. Be there or be missed! 😉

Summer Running is Here

E66 Run Group @Central Park

Boom! And just like that everyone’s favorite city is back! Maybe I’m exaggerating, but maybe not! Whichever it is I’m just so darn happy and excited to see New York City alive with people and things and running and an almost sure display of fireworks come July 4th! I’m over here getting all the feels as I remember this time last year and the state of our city and our world. I don’t know about you but looking back that period sure felt surreal. Even now after having lived through it, it still feels like it was a really bad movie. But I won’t dwell, I’m too happy that we’ve progressed to a place of embracing life once more. In fact, I’m not even mad that there’s way too many people floating about Central Park and getting in my way LoL. I’ve developed a new tolerance for aimless walkers. Bless them, bless us all, we all have a right to just be.   

In other and running news, I’m hyped for the Olympic trials that are on – particularly for track and field and gymnastics. Hello to new faces and some surprise additions to Team USA! Additionally, the TCS NYC marathon is on for this November with a limited field size sure but yay to runners getting this especially special opportunity this year. We are grateful! And although I won’t be running, I’ll be cheering and supporting in my volunteer role at the finish and can’t wait to welcome some 30,000 of y’all to the finish line in Central Park! Also, the Boston, Chicago, and London marathons are also running this Fall. How awesome is that! Lots of running events are back on schedule in our city and I’ve opted to try my pace at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile Run in September. It’s been years since I’ve done this race (maybe I’m being too ambitious) and while I’m sure I can’t do a ridiculously fast time, I’m hopeful for close to or better than my 6:15 PR, which may have been in or around 2014. Soon I’ll have to start training to give me that push I need. But humid summer days are not a running ideal so we’ll have to see about either early mornings or late evenings.

.

Adding to all the excitement of our world turning once more is the wedding bells ringing in my little corner. My daughter’s getting married in the Fall y’all! And wouldn’t you know I’m the planner in chief even as I’m finding out that I’m not particularly gifted in the wedding planning department. Me is what I get when trying to cut costs, and since the costs are all mine I’m sure you understand. My daughter has no complaints and rightly so; I’m planning a beach wedding with a surprise add on. She better not complain! Haha. The truth is, God’s willing, she only gets to do this one time and since I only have one daughter –  lucky her she gets it all. That said, wedding plans amidst running plans smack dab in the midst of all kinds of crazy weather and a summer that’s setting up to be all shades of hot and humid does kinda add some verve to the rather timid spectacle of life I’ve been holding on to since March of 2020. Don’t mind if I’m a little hyped being surrounded by all this opportunity even as I remind myself we’re not out of the woods yet. Yes, there is a cloud but thankfully, there’s also a rainbow. Hope springs eternal, says the poet Alexander Pope. I concur.

Meanwhile, the run meets, groups, and clubs are slowly coming back on stream. Yippee! Not ours yet..at least not officially. However, I met up with some members of my run group for an unofficial run in our old stomping grounds of Central Park and we had such a blast revisiting the past you would think it was a high school reunion and not just slightly over a year since run group had ceased meeting. And truthfully, we’ve run together  three or four times since then, not all of us of course but most of the core members. But you couldn’t have guessed it. We were just so happy to see each other and to determine if we still had our running mojo. Happy to report that we did. We do. Things are looking up and I’m looking ahead – ahead to long runs, racing, the NYC marathon, ultimately cooler runs, and yes.. the wedding. But first, summer streets and the beach.⛱️

Global Virtual Marathon

Running View of The Hudson along Henry Hudson Drive

I took to the Jersey Hills, commonly known as The Palisades for a very uncommon or rather unconventional 26.2 miles two weeks ago. I guess this run was a make up of sorts for what was almost my yearly spring trek to Boston, which of course didn’t happen this year nor last year. In a surprising but welcome twist the Boston marathon is now happening in October this year, which falls in line with the strangest of seasons we’ve been in. These past fourteen months have been interesting to say the least and heartbreaking at best. For this reason we welcome the turn of the tide and anything that resembles a leg up from the dark hole we’ve been existing in. So I’m grateful for World Marathon Majors (WMM) and other running organizations that have worked tirelessly to get runners to keep the marathon spirit alive and allowed us a platform to come together and compete albeit in a friendly atmosphere even if the only competition is ourselves.

Along the running path – Henry Hudson Drive

I started off running at W 168th Street in upper Manhattan in pretty close proximity to the George Washington (GW) Bridge, which connects New York to New Jersey, and all too soon found myself suspended over the Hudson River running along the pedestrian path and against the traffic heading into New York. I opted for a late afternoon run in order to maximize the coolness of the day. With a tiny bag pack holding my fuel I felt pretty good heading in surrounded a plethora of trees, the cacophony of nature sounds, and dramatic views overlooking the Hudson, it was a runner’s heaven really. As with most weekends out there, there are lots of cyclists, a few walkers, and fewer still runners. I must have been 1 in 3, maybe. And all went well up to mile 10 when the last hill on the way in forced me to slow all the way down to a power walk. I figured I had to conserve energy for heading back or else I’d be walking for a long time. From then on I started running the flats and downhills and most of the uphills except for the steep climbs which I power walked without exception. Because this was a timed race with no stopping allowed, had I not decided on a power walk strategy from early on it may have been impossible to finish in the time I did.

By the time I got out of the woodsy area and was back on the bridge it was evening time and the city lights were coming on by the end of my run, which wrapped up at W 72nd and Broadway in Manhattan. Gotta say I was creamed by then and can’t remember a recent time I was so happy to see the finish line. I celebrated with a large coconut water – the best thing I had tasted all day. Marathon #20, marathon distance #21 is in the books. What’s certain is that I won’t be recommending this course and those hills for anyone who’s looking for a qualifier or who has a finish goal time of under 3:45:00.

March Running Madness: 32 Impromptu Miles

Mile 26- Along Battery City Park Esplanade, New York, N.Y.

Hey friends! I’ve been away from the blog for a few weeks as there’s been so much happening just in the first three months of the year already. Seems I may have overextended myself with other activities including running thus leading to a lack of time for writing. I should know better since with me there’s always the temptation to do more. In any event, March came and the cold weather hung around dragging out to the very end. In fact, we’ve had the oddest weather; from perfect days, to bitter cold, windy, and rainy downpours. Like what in the world! We’ve only not seen snow this month – minus a few early threats. It’s still early in my view though, with April showers on the way, and snow in April is not unheard of.

Be that as it may, I made a determined effort this month to get back to regular gym workouts and to continue running, cycling has been on hold pending improved weather conditions. While my running hasn’t been excessive, I have managed to run at least five days per week this month, albeit shorter distances. What happened was, a few of us from my  pre-covid run group decided on a March intention – to run the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon, which of course went virtual this year. We agreed to run solo, in the interest of those running for time, and then follow up with a fun run a week later. Mission accomplished! A couple weekends ago, I ran an out and back in Queens, as my NYC Half, with a couple breath-catching stops along the way and opted to pass on running for time owing to the stops I had made. Nonetheless, I did manage to feel pretty good about my efforts and felt pretty confident I could do a longer run. So much so, that that I went ahead and signed up straight away for the global virtual marathon organized by World Marathon Majors ( WMM) on
May 1. That fun run though, well that turned into something else.

Lo and behold, this past weekend, we took off for that “fun” run with a couple of runners deciding on a perimeter run around Manhattan – 32 miles – they having trained for this distance. The rest.of the group chose to hop on for certain segments, while myself and another runner opted to start off with the ultra runners and see how far we could get to. No surprise, I ended up running the full distance though no training made the latter part a tough run. Don’t do that please. The truth is I probably would not have been able to complete that distance had the organizers not planned it down to the tiniest detail to include a slow-to-medium steady pace to ensure completion in under 5 hours.

Mile 22 – Along the East River Esplanade

In fact the planning was so great, I would forgive you for thinking they had something to do with the weather, which was perfect for running. And since Manhattan is an island surrounded by water, the views were nothing short of stunning. We enjoyed a seamless transition from one stage of the run to the next and had a good support and tracking system that enabled us to pick up runners along the way and meet at preselected rendezvous/ fuel points. I was so impressed with the organization and support that it felt natural to finish with the group and I’m sure I was the only one putting pressure on myself to finish. I felt strong up until mile 25, but from then on my feet were definitely dragging. It was only out of sheer stubbornness, and the amazing support, from other runners, that I finished up the final seven miles. Dead is an apt description for how my feet felt when we got done but mann what a great feeling of accomplishment! I had only ever done one other ultra marathon before and that one was over five hours, so imagine my satisfaction to come in under five.

All’s well that ends well. I can’t promise that I’ll do that again without training, but as we know crazy things happen all to often and I’m way too open to impromptu runs of any nature. Thank God it turned out all right in the end.

26.2 miles of New York City: unofficially marathon #20

E66 Run Group

Bet 2020 didn’t think I had it left in me! After all the crazy dished out this year, the opportunity to run a marathon this Fall was a blessing, a clap-back, and a slight risk all at once. All things considered and with the recommended guidelines in place, we chalked up any reservations we had and got all excited to run. And run we did. Last Saturday we, my pre-covid run group, and still my run group, took a jaunt through manhattan on our own New York City marathon distance, some of us anyway, the others chickened out and did a half. LOL. I’m kidding. No chickens. We had decided a few weeks ago that some people just weren’t prepared for 26.2 miles just yet – many not having run much this year at all. And so a couple of us opted to push ahead and tackle the distance. In fact, I had only gotten to 18 miles in training and was willing to swing it for the remaining distance. I usually tell people who ask to listen to your body and go with your training, a bit of advice that, more often than not, works pretty well. This time I heeded my own advice and was the poster child for listening to one’s body. Early on, I had decided that if I could do 18 miles mildly uncomfortable, then I could finish a marathon distance. I went in knowing that while it mightn’t end pretty, it would be doable.

November is known for its versatile weather in NYC. I have a number of past nyc marathon experiences to hail from when it comes to the unpredictability of the weather during this month. Fom wet, cold, windy days to hot, humid, and even perfect conditions, I’m almost certain that we’ve had a snowy one in there too; there’s just no accounting for what a typical marathon day in November in this city could look like. In 10 years I’ve seen them all. So while we were hoping for good running weather, we didn’t really hang out hopes on it. When we got 45°- 50°F we were thrilled. Sunshiny, partly cloudy, and with some early wind was a bargin really. Two of us started out just after 8:15 am Saturday morning and ran from the East Side of mid-Manhattan over to the west side highway and down along the waterfront to Battery Park for a looped distance of 13 miles whereupon we met up with 8 others to run the latter half of our marathon and their half marathon. We were supposed to have met up with another runner in our earlier half who we eventually saw in the latter half of the run, he having run the full distance also, albeit via a slightly different route.

It is worth mentioning that for all the nyc marathons I’ve run, this is the first time it didn’t feel like such a chore, though to be honest the Fifth Ave leg of the run felt just as difficult as previous times, and this is without the crowds. What! Why! I don’t know. For sure it has always been the most difficult part of the marathon and this time proved no different. It was long, tedious, uphill-ish, and having to use the cobble sidewalks, which I avoided at all cost, did not make it any easier. I lagged the entire way until we got to the park as I had taken a wrong turn in Harlem and fell behind. There was just no way I was catching up and I opted not to kill myself trying. It was such a beautiful day for running, it was no surprise to see endless runners among others out in Central Park enjoying the sunshine. We did one lower loop then the hills were too much to take and so a couple of us headed out the park to do the final 2.5 miles on Park Avenue. By that time, I was ready to finish, muscles were tight and sore and I was getting cold. We finished up at our run group location at Lululemon on the Upper East Side in a record 3:32 time minus a bathroom break in the earlys and 2 water stops. Not bad at all to the tune of a masked-covered runner’s reunion with snacks and socks instead of medals. LOL.

And that my friends was a wrap to my 20th marathon distance, the only unofficial one and the one I enjoyed the most. Technically, I shouldn’t still be getting lost and running off course – veteran of the course that I am – and so maybe I missed my chance of having a better 5th Ave experience because of that, but I guess I’ll never know now. Regardless, I’m chuffed that we were able to get together and respond in a positive way to all that 2020 dished out. Running and friends to the rescue of a year headed for the history books as one of the most difficult and mentally challenging years yet. By God’s grace we are still here and we even have a couple of runs planned through December. We will get through this one run at a time.

Marathon Season 2020

It happens every year around this time, New Yorkers fall into marathon mode. This year, notwithstanding Covid-19 and all the challenges it presents, we’re moving ahead full steam to take back what has been stolen, or at the very least what we’ve been cheated out of. And damn it it feels good! With all the virtual racing going on in lieu of typical road races, I’ve been feeling pretty isolated and so I decided to get everyone together for a kick-Covid-ass 26.2 run.

Truth is with everything and everyone on shutdown since March, folks are not ready for a full marathon distance. I don’t know that I am, but I’m all for giving it a try and among the old running crew there might be a few others crazy enough to have a go at it. I’m betting on it anyway. It’s hard to believe that we’re heading for November and what would have been the NYC marathon in just over a week! Except of course there’s no actual race this year..though the virtual race is set spanning a week or so and anyone anywhere in the world can sign up and participate via Strava. You can run the 26.2 distance wherever you are: get folks to support and run with you, have your own cheer squad, post pics, and tag race organizers doing it all your way and at your pace and convenience. Cool huh! I suppose that’s one way of keeping the spirit of the race alive.

We’ve planned our own version right here in NYC on November 14. A few, or dozen, of us plan on doing at least half of the 26.2 miles making use of the latter part of the nyc marathon course starting in Manhattan on the east side and running through Harlem, down Fifth Ave to finish up the final 3 miles in Central Park and end at the official nyc marathon finish line on Tavern on the Green. I, on the other hand, with at least one other – so far, plan on starting out earlier that morning to complete the first half (13.1 miles) before meeting up with the others to run the remaining distance. We’ll start out with the lower loop of Central Park and head out on Central Park West to run over to the West Side Highway where we’ll run a few miles heading downtown and do a loop to run back to meet with the other runners. Sounds easy enough but really I have no idea how I’ll feel that day. I haven’t run a marathon distance since last November and my longest run thus far has been 15 miles. I’m hoping to up that a bit this weekend but even so it’s still limited training in so far as long runs are concerned. Still, I like to think it’s like riding a bike, the body absolutely knows how to do it, it’s just getting it to remember and cooperate.

When this year started out, I had few running intentions really, just to do a spring triathlon and run the Chicago marathon. Because of Covid, neither panned out but it’s been years that I’ve been running a marathon almost every Fall and at the very least once for the year, even with the way things have gone in 2020, and because things have gone the way they have, I feel it’s even more necessary to show some fighting spirit and not allow the year to end on a note of defeat with many despairing and bemoaning the times. I refuse to sit down and take what life throws at me. I can run at least; thank God for good health and the ability to do so. And so that will be my response to this mess of a year. Speaking intentionally, the intention is to finish within 4 hours. While 3 & 1/2 hours would be great, I have low expectations given the training aspect as well as the biggest unknown factor, our infamous November weather, which can be anywhere on the weather map. Daunting prospects anyone?

Actually, I feel fine about the entire adventure. Yes, that’s what it is. We’re heading out on a dare-to-run-adventure that says more about us than anything else. I have to prove, to no one but myself, that I am fully capable of finishing what I start. And finish I intend to. I have a couple long runs left in me before the day and we’re about to find out just how a New Yorker does running pandemic or no pandemic. Stay tuned to find out how it goes!

Strength for the Day 🏋🏽‍♀️

Wow what a crazy bunch of weeks the past month has been! I’ve had a death in my family – no relation to Covid- had to sit an exam in the same week, facilitate online activities and projects for the kids I tutor and my volunteer group, and still find time for running, cycling, and strength exercise. I need a vacation! Yup. Somewhere idyllic that involves a lot of nature, beaches, hiking, waterfalls, incredible sunsets, and sunrises to run for and that is non-covid threatening. If anyone knows of a place on earth like this that I could safely travel to, please help out a fellow runner. I’ll pay all that I have, which may not be a lot but c’mon it’s all I have – cause then I’ll probably never come back. In the interim, I really need to get into a sustainable routine that’s not so crazy and I should be fine. I think.

Since time waits on no man, and there’s no woman exception, we’re going full steam ahead into October and the full effect of Fall season. We’re talking Halloween🎃, which I don’t really care for and then Thanksgiving🦃, which is going to be very interesting this year, and the holiday Sales💰, which I might care more about if I had money to spend but really it’s not even on my radar right now. What is on there is that we are slowly and differently running again! I mean no big fall marathons, such as we’ve gotten accustomed to – ♥️NYC marathon and Chicago Marathons♥️ – but there are smaller races happening and the novel option to run said bigger races as virtual experiences this year. This is good news for runners like myself. It’s been all sorts of terrible for the racing world, and everyone really, since March and it’s good to know that we’re taking some running steps if not strides yet. I am thankful and strong!

Good news is also spreading in our fitness community. While things are different and not ideal, gyms are open and those that have been climbing the walls of their apartments in this city have the opportunity to hop in and out for a bit of a different scene that involves a lot of new guidelines but allows them to workout in the company of others once more – of sorts anyway. School too, has resumed, of sorts, and some people are back to work, again of sorts, but these days I’ll take all the “of sorts” as oppose to not-at-all. Among the important and relevant news is that I’m finished with my PT certification! It’s been some 10 weeks that I’ve been inundated with nothing but the biomechanics of the human movement system and I swear if it had not been for the the Good Lord and running, my mind would be toast. I made it and none too soon as cooler running temps are here. I have a lot of energy, good and bad, to burn as I get my feet moving and the blood pumping once more. Marathon season, whether there is a live one or not, is here and I’m about to run one just because I can. Well I hope I can anyway; while it’s been a minute with that sort of distance, I’m not worried about it. My lungs and feet are strong!

It’s the little things my friends. Gratefulness is my new mantra. That I can run, exercise, commit to a program, have the resources I need, pass am exam, celebrate my dad’s long years and that I have life, enjoy physical health and a sound mind – they are in fact not at all little but they’re definitely the things I’ve taken for granted in the past. Covid-19 has forever changed that, and me, and a lot of us I’d wager, but it’s for the better and that can only be a good thing. Each day I awake, more aware, more focused, more blessed to be here, no matter the inconveniences and despite the tragedies and loss. My story isn’t over and neither is yours; we have been given strength for today, and for tomorrow, and for the next day, and the next if God wills it. Now let me dig deep for the strength I need for 26.2 in this very unconventional Marathon season. And, BTW, yes you can! We are strong and getting only stronger in this season together.

Comment below if you’re up for it! #letsrun🏃🏼‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️🏃🏾

Previous Older Entries

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 548 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: