Who Run the World; Not a trick question

img1592225938848In the words of Beyonce, “Who run the world…” I don’t think it was a question as much as it was a rallying cry for women everywhere to stand up and take their place. I’m happy to say we are responding in ways, means, and numbers like never before. Pretty cool but we’re also having everyone along for the ride, it’s a wonderful thing to see. Of course I’m using the song as a metaphor of sorts to the movement for change that is sweeping across this nation and around the world. But the truth is we’ve left the song behind awhile back when the protesters became bigger than any one group, class, or segment of people, when people everywhere decided that injustice is a humanity problem and a call to be our brother’s keeper. The irony of ironies is that while we’re marching in our cities together, we’re still, for the most part, running and working out alone.

Here in NYC, we’re in the initial phase of reopening since the March shutdown due to Covid-19. Major solo runs are still my thing and I’m also cycling every which way in an attempt to discover the borough of Queens and, if I’m being honest, stave off boredom as well. I’m heartened to see some of the local running organisations coming up with various challenges to keep people motivated and running in and around the city these days, God knows we need all the motivation we can get. This way many have the opportunity to run wherever they can and  get a medal for their efforts if they’re so inclined.  I, too, would like to encourage you to set some running intentions for yourselves during this summer. Only make sure to run smart – for me this means running early mornings and late evenings in order to minimize heat and sun exposure, and please, hydrate properly.

I wouldn’t ever suggest something that I haven’t already done or that I didn’t think has some measure of interest or value. Because I know these times are challenging enough as it is and we, meaning me primarily, need to stay running or else, I think it’s a good idea to set some intentions with the least amount of stress involved. During these times it’s primarily up to us to motivate and hold ourselves accountable. How or if you implement any of these ideas is really up to you. Only be sure to have fun, be safe, and stay healthy.

  • Set a mile/distance challenge – a fix number of (uncommon amount, it’s a challenge after all eg. 100) miles you want to run in the next few weeks, say 6-8 weeks, and make sure you have a comfortable pair of running shoes and log your milage on Strava. 
  • Set a bridges challenge. We have lots of bridges here in NYC, pick some or pick all. Log your miles, take photos and post them.
  • Choose various places of interest to run to and make it a discovery run – maybe one per week. Take pictures. You can even journal your runs and discoveries. I’m only recently coming to know my neighborhood and environs and I’ve lived there for over 5 years!
  • Train for and run a marathon distance. I would go so far as to say if you live here in the city to run the NYC Marathon route if possible. Obviously, if you’re a newbie runner I wouldn’t recommend this, I recommend working towards a half marathon distance instead. There are numerous training plans online to help with training or you can always ask me!
  • Forgoing the NYC Marathon, you can run the 5-borough  challenge if you live in or around the city. Running Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island is no easy feat. You can divvy it up and choose your milage and where and when with the goal of completing a run in each borough in the decided-upon time. It’s also an opportunity to discovery your city! You can totally customize this idea to wherever you are and add a local twist.

Since you’re running solo, it’s important for you, the runner, to make an effort to include others in your efforts to help motivate yourself but also you just might inspire someone. I encourage you to post pictures, share insights, stories on your discoveries,  your mileage, and any other information you might have learned or found useful, which can be helpful to others. Another idea might be to start a running blog – of sorts – to share your running journey during these momentous times. Where that may lead is anyone’s guess. But you’re bound to have something to share – a story to tell even – and it might just inspire someone to start their own journey.

What In the World of Running😳

In any other year we would be chatting about summer races and all the fun things that come with the swing into warm weather. Things like adventure racing; extreme, obstacle, and themed races anyone? Hello Spartan! Tough Mudder! Rugged Maniac! Color Run, Zombie Run, Run for Chocolates, Run for Wine, Hot Dog Run, Run for a good Cause or run in a Costume. Run for every and anything. For most of us it didn’t matter what we were running for as long as it was fun. If you’re anything like me, you’re missing running around with friends, and running buddies, and run groups, and the gang, and whoever. I’m missing the freedom and community feel of all of that in the worst way!

Hindsight, they say is 20/20. Well darn it, they’re right! How often did I give thanks for those unassuming, reckless, taken-for-granted, always-complaining-it’s-hot days. I don’t think I ever stopped to appreciate how they consistently showed up year after year till it became a forgone conclusion. There was little need to wonder why or how as I gulped it down, ignorant in my entitlement, for soon enough the cold would come and then the pastime of complaining would take on a slightly different tone. But we kept that under wraps for the then minute as much as we could because..well..we were just too busy taking it all for granted. And as I switch from I to we, I recognize it’s a human condition to feel and act entitled, I mean who has time to think about these things, there’s a world to run quite literally. But oops, I kinda have that time now – we all do. So think about it and as you do, I’m not asking that you allow nostalgia to hoodwink you into lamenting “those days” but really just allow the past to inform current perspective and assist with future plans.

Last week I saw that the Boston Marathon got cancelled from its earlier postponement to September. They will now have a virtual running event where you can run 26.2 miles, wherever you are, and submit your time – officially in ≤6 hours to get your medal. What in the world! Never saw that coming. Even after the bombing in 2013 and the worst weather in about 20 years in 2018’s race, and with my running four of them back-to-back where they singularly had unique circumstances and crazy experiences as a result of which I opted to give it a break this year. I still couldn’t have anticipated its cancellation. It had never been done before! Now it feels like eons ago, but back when I stood at the cusp of 2020 and decided to break my “unicorn streak” I was all gung-ho on just one major marathon this year, the Chicago marathon, while I explored other possibilities. As of now Chicago’s still on, but I rather doubt it’ll happen. And as for NYC Marathon, and London, and others, I just don’t know what’s gonna happen. They all seem highly unlikely to occur as of now but we’ve just established how much I know. Sadly, not much. For sure I had big plans to be back on Bolyston Street next April at that much-celebrated finish line, but the jokes on me cause right now, with the kind of year that 2020 is showing up, I’ll be the first to say that I have no clue about Boston 2021, or Chicago 2020, or about Global Running Day this week and how I’m going to celebrate it, or how our world will celebrate it “together, alone” – our current normal, no clue on when I get to buddy up for a run or if I’ll even get to run with my run group again. For social media or anyone who wants to know my status is “clueless” aka my current state of mind.

If our present circumstances has taught me anything, it has taught me that I really don’t know as much as I think I do. Am I ok with that? No. But I have to be since it looks like we’ll be here a while. As the saying goes, it’s time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. In truth, getting to a place where you’re willing to learn and adapt as necessary is a major learning curve for anyone and more so for this runner who loves people. So as I run and ride all over this City, day after day, I’m learning to shed myself of expectations and ideology, I’m feeling the scales fall off and pushing aside projections and predictions, and I’m allowing myself to run in the moment, run by run, day by day, learning to appreciate right now as I leave the future, even as soon as tomorrow, in the hands of the One Who quite literally holds the future in His hands. I know I’ve said it before, but God really is in the details.

Running, Jogging, Walking, and Cycling – Variety Workouts

So we’re stuck – of sorts – and we’re bored – no question – well, Summer’s approaching – what does that even mean nowadays – and is it even possible to stay true to my fitness intentions now? Some of us are fumbling with the questions and juggling the options while trying not to run out of steam both mentally and physically. There’s good news. Exercise is made for such a time as this. It is possible to jerry up things a bit to get you some focus, me-time, and address the pressing look good – feel good factor. As always, I’m sharing based on personal experience and what I may have come across that appears interesting and reasonably safe.

Running

Discover Runs – Google Maps can actually take you places. Who knew. You can look for interesting landmarks in your area via Google maps and plan a weekly workout run to a preselected spot and back. I’ve recently come to know a few undiscovered lakes, parks, and sites of interest in my area of Queens, NY that I have never visited before now. Thanks Google!

Tempo Runs – Choose a short distance to run at a steady upbeat pace, 3-5 miles is a good place to start. This run can be done in your neighborhood, a nearby park or on a running path.

Early Morning / Sunrise / Sunset Runs – Warmer weather is here and it’s perfect for either time of the day. Run with your phone to capture these awesome moments that will ignite your heart and social media feed. Running with nature is as good a hashtag as any and better than most.

Long Runs – In times past, I would save my long run for the weekend. These days weekends are everyday and it’s easy to pick a day after deciding on a destination with noteworthy views. A bridge route always offers some good views and the opportunity to run into new territory or, as in the case here in New York City, another borough. Hey to know your city or town.

Jogging and Walking

Nature Walks – I love going to the larger parks in the area and walking or jogging the trails. Pay attention to the trail colors, which determines the level of difficulty and keeps you from walking in circles. Though, that’ll work too.

Hills, Stairs, and Track Workouts – These are really good options for those of us looking to up our fitness level through conditioning, repetition, and consistency. Power walking or jogging in any or a combination of these locales two to three times a week for 30-40 mins each time is a good workout any day. Pretty soon you’ll be running and you won’t even know it.

Hiking – One of my favorite things about the good weather is the opportunity for hiking. These days there are limits to that – the nearest park with trails – for those of us limited to public transportation. Butt for others, who can drive out to a starting point, there’s nothing like climbing a mountain with the reward of some incredible vistas for your effort. Hiking in the mountains along well known/ travelled paths are just about the best way to get your walking and exercise in. Here in New York, we have the amazing Catskills Mountains which is a treasure trove for newbies and veteran hikers alike.

Walk-Jog Intervals – This is a good anaerobic workout for those wanting to work on skill or getting into running. Choose a distance of say 1-2 miles and alternate between jogging and walking. For example; jog 2 minutes, quick walk 2 minutes. Repeat.

Cycling

Cycling is still somewhat new to me and while it was in the plan from the get-go, I didn’t really jump on – pun intended – until this pandemic forced us into isolation. Thank God for knowing, before I did, what I needed because it has turned out to be a blessing. For the most part, I’ve been going on long-ish discovery rides of my neighborhood and its environs while learning the rules of engagement on the roads. I’ve discovered some new areas and found that I can take my bike hiking – of sorts – where I ride to the park and then walk the trails, bike in tow. Turns out that is a great way to get a workout in too!

Do your due diligence folks and vary your workouts. Chances are very good that they can be fun and learning experiences. Quite so!

 

Queen of Running In Quarentine

Looking back to January this year, I have to say I wouldn’t have predicted this even if you had paid me to come up with the most bizarre outcomes for the year. These days, even though I’ve been living in this twilight zone, of sorts, for about seven weeks now. Pinch me! By now I’ve been home six weeks, every day, all day – save for the times I go running or riding, which by the way has saved my life, and no matter the distance, is all home by now surely. They say, staying home saves lives; Is it just me or is that the irony of all ironies? Because in all honesty, had I not been able to run (away), well let’s just say I’m super thankful that I can.

Irises in Bloom

Back to January’s intentions and my decision to do away with goal setting and focus on doing things with intent. LOL. Right! Look how that turned out. This isn’t to say setting intentions aren’t beneficial, only that we could be armed with the very best intentions but there’s no accounting for unforseen circumstances. No matter that we’re set about the path with all the right tools and are in full kick-ass mode. Today it’s Covid-19, but really it could be anything outside of our control and then it’s so long intentions, for then anyway. At the end of the day we have next to no control over external factors, which can affect the outcome of our intentions. So what am I saying? Is it pointless to go about making plans and setting intentions with so much unknown and outside of our control? Absolutely not. When has the future ever been certain? And who on earth can predict outcomes with absolute certainty anyway? We can only do that which we can do, with the right perspective, accepting our God-given, not human-set, limits. And leave the rest to the One Who holds all our tomorrows in His super capable hands. May the odds be ever in our favor.


So, in true roll-with-the-punches, or more likely do-or-die, form; I’ve rebounded with a plethora of fitness endeavors that’s second to my regular fitness schedule only due to the missing gym component. The truth is I’m extremely self-motivated in the area of health and exercise and that’s been to my advantage. Thank goodness too, for I have a hard time thinking how I would manage without the ability to escape into whatever form exercise takes on any given day. Francis Lewis Blvd @Sunset
For the record, I’ve found that running away – both literally and otherwise – is by far the most beneficial, though not always the most enjoyable, method of exercise these days. To my credit, I’ve thrown some variety in there with the the type, distance, and course, while divving up the days to mitigate against routine and boredom. So far, so very good. The important lesson in this season of “solitary confinement”, and I’m learning this as well, is that being open, adaptive, and flexible are valuable assets.

Queens Run
Neighborhood Street

In fact, this running-away technique/exercise method has been going so well that I’ve oft been hit with a sense of “I live here! Who knew!” To be clear, running has always been a way to clear my mind and focus outside myself, more so now where the emphasis is freedom from the confines of this self-imposed prison, which my home have now become. Of course, it’s only a prison because I have to be there, and I’m sure it won’t always be that way but for now there it is. And so running in my neighborhood and in surrounding Queens, New York is apparently a learning experience I don’t mind at all.

St Pascal Baylon Church



Neighborhood Street


I’ve run down neighborhood streets, up main streets, across bridges and county lines, on boulevards, near parkways, in parks and wooded areas, to the airport, by churches, around playgrounds, before sunrise, into sunsets, to the grocery store, the pharmacy, to and from home and everywhere in between. It’s been interesting, satisfying, informing, tiring, purposeful, useful, and mostly pretty, which is really the best part for me after the finish line satisfaction I get each time I’m through. My best runs are those with the loveliest views even if they’re on a mountain top or in a canyon. For me, the view is always worth the run. It really is the simplest things that bring the most joy.

Queens Moonlight

My 2020 Running Bucket List

It’s true that I’ve scaled back running this year to attend to my knees but I’m not dead yet! I’m still all up in running news and on the look out for some sure ways to get the interested or curious reader or runner-to-be to lace up and hit the streets and trails. Who knows? You might even see me there! 

Destination Runs have always been a favorite of mine for combining two things I love doing: running and traveling. They present the best opportunities to discover new places, take a mini vacay, and feel super accomplished all at the same time. The following is a list of ten races/ runs that are giving me itchy feet this year. I may or may or may not have done a couple on there or a variation of sorts. Nonetheless, I’ve got my sights set on them all.

1. The Carlsbad 5000 – dubbed the world fastest 5K – there are individual races for Masters, Age Group runners, Party People, and Elites, the Carlsbad 5000 is a full day of road racing on the scenic, coastal streets of Carlsbad, California. I’ve always wanted to record an official 5K time so I’m in it for the record and bragging rights!

2. The Poconos Sprint Triathlon – a bit of a newer race, the Pocono Triathlon Festival is nestled in the Pocono Mountains, Lake Wallenp aupack, North East Pennsylvania and plays host to a weekend of racing with crystal clear water,a challenging bike course, beautiful runs and fantastic post race activities. I’m super excited about considering this Tri as oppose to my initial idea of the one in St Petersburg, which is way to soon for my knees as well as way to far for my first time. I’m in it for the experience and bragging rights of course!


3. Ragnar Team Relay Trail Run – likened to summer camp for adults with trail running and race medals, this is similar to the road races except it’s on trails – sounds a bit more scary (the woods at night anyone?) – teams of 4-8 divvy up about 120 miles for a continuous day/night race to the finish. I’m open to any fun new area like New Hampshire or even Twin Cities, MN for this one but I prefer a summer experience. I’m in it for the adventure!

4. Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon – happening on November 14-15 this year in this run-the-strip-at-night series. It sounds super fun and while I’m not a big half marathon fan, I will totally make an exception for this one. I’m in in for the fun!

5. Empire State Building Run Up – 5/12 – the world’s first and most famous tower race—challenges runners from around the globe to race up its famed 86 flights—1,576 stairs. The fastest runners cover the 86 floors in about 10 minutes. Leaders in the sport of professional tower-running converge at the Empire State Building on May 12, 2020, in what some consider the ultimate test of endurance. I’ve entered the lottery but I’m leaning on the side of doing it for a really good cause – The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), official charity of the run-up. If I do decide, knee issues under consideration, I’ll be in it for the charitable cause and don’t mind the bragging rights!

6. Kaua’i Half/ Full Marathon – September 6, 2020 – this run has all the makings of a running vacay and is known as one of the most beautiful and scenic destination races in the world. I can’t even! Who doesn’t want to go Hawaii and run. I’m in it for the destination!

7. Spartan/Tough Mudder – Obstacle type races that are run throughout the year from February and are the rave these days. I’m not immune. I’ve had the Rugged Maniac experience and aside from the water bit, I need more. I’ve heard Spartan races are tougher but still crazy fun. As a semi first timer, I’m open but take me somewhere fun. From Montana to Florida I’m in and in it to earn [Spartan] badasses bragging rights!

8. Ultra/Endurance Race – Jay Peak Trail Running Festival – 53.1KM Ultra Labor Day Weekend, September 5-6. I’ve only ever done one ultra running event in the vicinity of 32 miles, and while it was tough, I didn’t train for it so I can’t really give a fair assessment. I’d love to see what time I can do with training though. For this one, I’m all about pushing limits. What limits!

9. San Francisco Marathon – July 26, 2020. Usually one of the few marathons around in the summer months and probably so because of its location. I did this race a few years ago. It was awesome; very scenic with a versatile course and the priceless Golden Gate bridge experience. For all the good, there were two major drawbacks: the hills, more so the descent, and a big loop around the half distance, which included a major incline. I’m in it for the views and a better time!


10. Trail Run – I’ve always wanted to take part in the North Face Endurance Challenge. Recently, I was disappointed to learn that they are discontinuing the series and pushing off with something new. No details are as yet available but I’m hoping it’ll still involve Bear Mountain State Park here in New York and various challenges along its trails, which used to be an early summer event in May each year. Fingers crossed they announce something soon!🤞

I know the list is a bit ambitious, but it’s right up my alley and if I only get to do a few on there this year, it’ll still be an awesome running year. Do you have any running dreams this year? Don’t give them up. Modify and adapt all you have to but never give up. Here’s to a great chance that I’ll see you out there on one of these amazing runs.✌️

New Year’s Intentions Not Goals

Ahh January! Breathe in a New Year with all the possibilities, energy, and good intentions. What will we do with it? In fact, what should we? How many times have a new year come and gone and so much of what we thought to do have remained..well, undone. What’s different about this year and how will we mark the onset of a new decade?

So I’ve been thinking maybe it’s time for a change. If we’ve been doing the same thing every year for the past decade with little to no positive results, then we should consider tweaking things a bit in order to get the result we seek. So if neither goals nor resolutions have been working over the years then you might want to think about setting an intention instead, the difference being that an intention is something you plan to do irrespective of the outcome while a goal is something you hope to achieve. Small word change yes? But some argue that it’s more mental, intentional, and logical and can result in successful outcomes. According to business blog Inc., by building on your intentions first, you set the path in your mind. Goals can be seen as a milestone or milestones along that path. For example, I might determine to do an Ironman this year and have a goal of finishing in say 10 hours (slightly ambitious for a newbie I think). I may or may not fall short but you know what, I intend to complete it anyway, time notwithstanding. See in this example, the goal seems stressful to me (10 hours!) but my intention, while challenging sure, is pretty exciting.

Setting intentions are simple and stress-free. You can determine to take a new step forward – beginning with your thoughts. After all, it’s right there that the very first seeds of intent are planted.

In fact, I’ve gotten a jump on this whole setting an intention thing and have been on it since last month when I set one practical and one spiritual intention. It’s important to me that I remain healthy, get healed, and grow spiritually and intellectually this year so I went ahead and set my intentions to ensure this, as much as I can anyway. With that in mind, I’m spending the first couple months of the year in PT for my knees and taking a step back from running. While I’m not giving it up entirely, I’m hoping one to two short runs per week will be acceptable and that modified movements at the gym, to keep the stress off my knees, will help the healing process along.

On the practical (physical and adventuresome) side, I intend to finish a Sprint Triathlon this year and while I’ve been thinking to do one in April, I’m debating, with my knees in recovery, if that’s too soon. I’ll make a final decision in about two weeks. I’ve also decided on just one marathon this year (unbelievable I know), which will bring me up to a total of twenty. And no, I’m not ruling out more running, I’m just putting healing first and allowing my body to lead the way. My Spiritual journey, on the other hand, is a process I’m fully engaged in and embracing as an opportunity to develop and overflow into the other areas of my life. I’ve also embraced the idea of learning a new skill to help with a business idea.

So far, so great! Challenging but not stressful. 2020 is looking good and we’re feeling positive and purposeful; that’s a very important foot to step out on. Next steps are pretty straightforward, there is really only one strategy that will work to see those intentions through: daily reminders to myself and consistent effort turning the wheels of progress each day. Some days will require a lot more effort than others, but I believe that each day dedicated to following through on my plans and completing it will be exciting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding.

Here’s to an exciting, challenging, rewarding, [and some fun running too] 2020! 🥂🏃‍♀️✨

2019 Running Pains amidst CrossFit Gains

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. – Hebrews 12:1

Photo: guvendemir / Getty Images

I’ve had a bit of a wild ride this year! For the first time in forever, earlier on this year, I intentionally didn’t set myself any goals per se, not in running or in any other area of my life. I had a couple runs that were forgone conclusions because of pre qualifying criteria I had met but in general I opted to be an open book, pen in hand, ending unplanned, as the song goes. From the beginning, I invited our Good Lord to write our story together and I have to believe I’ve been holding up my end of the bargain (though I’m almost certain He doesn’t do bargains..maybe agreements?) because I know He’s certainly been keeping to His. So it’s any wonder that I’ve been having an eventful year then! I mean, I did ask and all.

As it is I’ve run four major marathons this year, three of which are World Marathon Majors, and one other which was a bit of a destination run. My times were moderate with the there majors happening under 3 hours and 45 minutes and one being a Boston PR and qualifying time. The three major races were also all Chicago qualifiers and aided my decision to register for the Chicago Marathon 2020 – the only Marathon that is on the books for next year. Amidst all of this I indulged in a major hike of distance, elevation, and difficulty I had never done before and as a result of which I ended up with some knee complications that I’m still struggling with. Of course I think it’s a combination of the running and the arduous hike, in which there was some downhill running, which possibly made matters worse, and resulted in weeks of discomfort and pain especially with the the last two races I had in the last two months.

Anyone who knows me know that the chances of getting me to stop running is slim until or unless it is becoming unhealthy to the point of affecting other areas of my life. Unfortunately, such is the case: walking, climbing, sitting, squatting, and lunging has become very painful – even exercising and cross training presents a difficulty that I didn’t foresee . And so when my normal exercise routine is being turned on its head I have to pay attention. I’m forced to press pause and heed my body’s warnings and take off running and other extreme aggravating knee movements for the next 4-6 weeks. Way to end the year right! Even so, I’m ever so grateful for all that I’ve been able to accomplish this year – I even took part in my first in-house CrossFit competition – and look forward to stepping into the unknown and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

I already have some ideas for the duration of this year and have started PT exercises to repair my knees. My CrossFit workouts are going amazingly well and no wonder with so much focus on my upper body I’m becoming super sculpt LOL but more importantly, stronger and more skillful with my gymnastic movements. I’m also finding out alternative and challenging exercises to minimize the impact on my knees, which has propelled me to finally give attention to one thing I’ve been thinking and talking about for the past three years. The opportunity has presented itself and I’m super stoked to talk about this new year challenge in my next blog post. Stay tuned! Cliffhanger or no? 😉

Endless Runners, Perfect Weather, New Champions, Missing Cheers, and my Best Attempt @ the TCS New York City Marathon this year!

Ready, set, go…

Four times brings the charm. Who knew! Yep. Here I am once more, my fourth time, recapping the New York City Marathon. Thankfully, it’s my last! Back in 2014 when I had then decided that I would run this course until I was comfortable with the results, I never dreamed it would take four attempts. Well here we are five years later, and I’ve finally decided to call it quits and it’s hardly because I’ve finally run a “good” race. That in and of itself is arguable and only a small part of my decision to make this my last NYC marathon. What is closer to the truth is that I’m over fighting this race: the course, my body, and the change in weather, and the fact that over the years each time I stood in Staten Island toeing the startline, I have been somewhat incapacitated with everything from a sprain ankle to the flu. I’ve finally had enough and so I’m quitting while I’m ahead. It helps me feel better that I met my goal of finishing under 3 hours and 40 minutes though just barely. Many of my friends point out that this year I’ve had to deal with just a cold and cough so things are progressing..the cheek!..and point to this being my best time even so; therefore I couldn’t be serious. I am! For the foreseeable future, I will be leaving well enough alone and spreading my adventurous wings elsewhere. That being said, I have enjoyed the running challenge that this wonderfully diverse city has handed me. Many will agree that there is nothing straight forward or easy about the NYC Marathon. Fun tangential fact: many New Yorkers will also agree that there’s nothing straight forward or easy about living in NY either. LOL. In fact, of the eleven other courses I’ve run around the country, this course remains the most challenging outside of a Ragnar event I did in Cape Cod two years ago. The attraction for this race for many runners, I believe, is its location and famed one million strong spectators.

On to Marathon Village we go

This year was better than most as far as the weather was concerned. It began at 5:30 am with a 40 minute ride to the start in Staten Island via the midtown bus option, my preferred mode of transport now that I’ve had a go at the various options. We got off the busses to the usual flow of runners – hundreds of us – making our way to the security check point and through to marathon village. Windy and Staten Island is all the same with the water around us so you can appreciate that 7 am was no picnic but more like a refugee zone  with everyone staking out a bit of sunshine, covering – a rare sight- or a break from the wind behind a tarp, or under a blanket, or blankets, or covered up in just about any and everything warm you could legally bring into the area, right there in the middle of everything and everyone.

the masses cloak and dagger style

We were all layered up to our eyes and reaching out to the free buffet of coffee, tea, hot water, hot cocoa, and bagels courtesy the super amazing folks of Dunkin Donuts. No donuts though. I know! In any event we had lots to eat and hydrate us until start time, which in my case came soon enough as I was in the first wave and carded to start at 9:45 am.

they say it’s therapeutic

It helped some when I ran into some runners from my running group and we sorta hung out; got to pet the therapy dogs, visited the bathroom, took a couple pics, and then it was time to head to our assigned corrals. Apparently time flies when you’re hopping to keep the blood flowing.

Into the corrals we flowed and there were lines everywhere for the bathrooms, which I decided I definitely had to have a go at once more before the race started. But things were moving along nicely, though albeit too orderly – did I really have to stand in one line and wait my turn? I mean, come on! Cooling my heels in this cold? I had a race to run! Fine, so did everyone. And that’s how chill took on two very different meanings. Pretty soon it was our turn and we were moving and headed towards the Verrazano bridge and the start.

the bridge

It just never gets old on the top looking out: runners are divided into two groups when headed towards the bridge, some go under while others get the top – my preferred view – to ensure a smoother and safer start given the large number.

giving us the send off

On the bridge we can see the helicopters (NYPD and news) and cameras, the elite runners starting out, race officials and other VIP personnel. More importantly, we have an amazing view of the water as we run across the bridge to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s New York and into Brooklyn.

On the Verrazano Bridge

This year I stopped to snap a

on the Verrazano Bridge

few pics and strangely enough totally missed hearing Sinatra during my run across. I’m sure they started playing it eventually, Wave 1 was a big wave of runners after all.  Guess I’m just spoiled from the previous times.

selfie on the VB

Running through Brooklyn is always a huge hit. It is the most densely populated of all the boroughs in NYC and boy do they represent. Only this time I felt the crowds on Fourth Ave were a bit sparse here and there. Again, I’m just spoiled and feel confident that I’ve experienced a better showing at this race. Lafayette Ave is always a total scream show, it did not disappoint, miles 8-10 were amazing. Brooklyn remains my favorite part of the marathon course mainly because of the noisely cheering crowds and the fact that I’m usually still feeling great and running as strong as possible under whatever the prevailing circumstances are at the time. We entered the borough of Queens around mile 13 and I’m never looking forward to the advent of bridges on this rolling course much less to the mile-long Queensboro Bridge. The promise of a million spectators cheering for you on First Avenue in Manhattan is hard to beat though so that’s the head space I occupied while running those four miles in Queens. The crowds are never as large or as loud in this borough but they’re decent enough and hugely appreciated by all. Up till then, I’d been doing a good job of staying wide of the fuel stations so as not to get bogged down by runners in the rush to grab a drink. My strategy was to hit every other station and stick to the outer end. It worked to keep a steady momentum and to avoid any slip ups. Those volunteers though, were pulling double duty with their smiling, cheering, while serving us. Truly the best and the backbone of an event such as this.

Queensboro bridge is memorable because of its quiet – no spectators here – and the laboring breath of runners as we dig deep on its ascent. One miles feels more like two and I suppose everyone was glad when they finally began its descent to First Ave and the crowds, it has always been a welcome sight and sound to runners as we enter the borough of Manhattan. Only this time it wasn’t party as usual, the crowds appeared pushed back somewhat as you came off the bridge and the sea of spectators that are usually right there waiting weren’t. The question came up with some runners behind me, who appeared to be visitors, as they wondered aloud about the famed cheer crowd at this location. I offered that they should give it a minute and they would be sure to get that promised standing ovation, thinking that maybe the push back of the crowd meant that the cheers were imminent, except that never quite happened. For as I made my way under the bridge and onto first avenue while the crowds were there, for the most part anyway, they were not nearly as deafening as they’re so famous for. In fact, as my run slowly progressed up the avenue the crowds were downright thin in some areas and almost quiet in others. I thought about this for a few seconds then realized that that which I thought would be helpful at this point was not going to happen. I needed a distraction there and then, my feet were numb from my bad choice in shoes and my knees were beginning to hurt like hell. Support wasn’t coming on the waves of the crowd that day and so I did the only thing I could think of – I video-called my sister in Trinidad and allowed her chatter (which I couldn’t hear a lick of LOL) and excitement (no sense in not showing her what I was a part of) to push me up First Ave and all the way over the Willis Avenue Bridge and into the Bronx.

In the past when I had run through this area I had always been aware that Manhattan wasn’t far away; race day was no different. Six miles to go and I realized that it was pretty neat that I was actually going for another finish at this race that had plagued me in my inability to run it well and finish strong. At that point I started focusing on keeping a consistent pace and giving the fuel stations a wider berth. I also refused to look at my clock anymore from then, it was not helpful and I just couldn’t deal with another disappointment just then.

We were in Harlem and closing down on Fifth Avenue – my least favorite part of the race – mainly because it just wouldn’t quit and by then I was so ready to be done already. In hindsight, I have never really enjoyed this part of the race because of my get-to-the-finish-mindset. I’ve never taken the time to appreciate the hundreds of spectators lining the roadway screaming their hearts out with encouragement, maybe if I had been able to tap into that it would have inspired a more positive response at that point in the race. In any event, we eventually came to Engineer’s Gate entrance to Central Park and I’ll tell you right now, it felt amazing to be home. Yes, Central Park is my running home, so I was now on home turf and slowly closing in. With the help of the crowds and the familiarity of the course, I was able to pick up the pace a bit going down Cat Hill, and it lasted untill we turned off to head out to Central Park South. Then it was back to plodding away for the final mile, though I did try somewhat successfully, to focus on the spectators on this final leg and was ecstatic to find myself sooner that I expected back in the park with 800 meters to go. On the final run up, I was able to locate and touch the Trinidad and Tobago flag – as I have always done – and sprinted to the finish line to make it there in 3:39:41. Another one in the books and an apple for my efforts. While I’m not at all certain that was my best effort, it certainly was the best result I’ve had on this course. As to my best effort, I’m hardly itching to find out. 😜

I can still walk!

                          🍎🏅💐

Chicago Marathon Recap: Running gains or pains?

@ Abbott Fitness Expo (Chicago Marathon’19)

Let me just start by saying this marathon course remains my favorite in all the cities I’ve run in the United States. From the start on Columbus Drive in the Grant Park area through its popular wide (NYC it’s not) city streets and local districts just outside the city loop: Lincoln Park, University Village, Chinatown etc… and back to the finish in Grant Park, it really is a beautiful course with all the trimmings of sights, sounds, and support. One couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day outside of the winds that picked up in the last few miles. No surprise there though, they don’t call it the windy city for nothing. Indeed, notwithstanding the wind, the weather was miles better than last year when it rained the entire time. This brought the fans out in their numbers along the route while sunshine littered the course. A good day for a marathon I’d say!

I’m afraid my back and knees wouldn’t agree. I mean, we had some fun out there during the first half. I enjoyed the crowd support, the pace was great, and so were the volunteers and fuel stations as per always. But man, it was hugely disappointing around mile 13 to feel my lower back caving to the pressure of the tempo pace I had been sticking to from miles 5 through 13. Up till then I had been ignoring the twinges in my right knee, hoping the other knee would remain silent. Unfortunately for me, with the start of those lower back pains, I had to yield to a slower pace and a couple bathroom breaks, which were more rest-my-back breaks, and slowly embrace the pains in both knees by this time, made much worse by my having to overcompensate for my lower back. By mile 18 I was in suck-it-up mode and was working on keeping a steady pace with minor interruptions for fuel – always sticking to the outside and picking it up close to the end of the line. I was aiming for no stops for two reasons: so as to minimize the pain and the length of time for which I was experiencing it, and yes, I was still keeping an eye on my pace. I figured finishing under 3:45 wouldn’t be so bad all things considering.

One thing I have learned over the years with racing and running marathons, and I think I’ve become good at, is adapting and adjusting a racing strategy. Experience has taught me that there’s a 50/50 chance on any given race day that I will actually run the race I had been training for. Because there are factors at play beyond my control such as the weather and, yes, God forbid injuries, one is always hoping and praying that all things being equal it will be a typical/ normal running day. However, if you know anything about typical/ normal these days, you’ve already realized that its no longer a thing. One must roll with the punches and play the hand you’re dealt to avoid being left somewhere at the side of the road eating the proverbial dust.That being said, I was prepared to let my body and how it felt that day determine the race I was going to run. Since I was well aware of my knee issues going in I figured I at least knew what, if any, my challenge would be. Imagine my surprise when the back issue popped out of seemingly no where. Only, on further thought – not while I was running but later on after the race, I remember the unfortunate instance of doing a round of heavy deadlifts at the gym the week prior, which had left me sore and pained. Days later the soreness and pain were gone and so was the unfortunate memory. But these things, left untreated, have a way of resurecting. And so that is just what happened.

At the end of the day, the why is less important than the how and the fact remains that because of my experience, training, and sheer determination I was able to suck it up and got to the finish line in a time I could live with and for a phenomenal cause too! I often joke when asked “what if you don’t finish?” that it’s never a question of if, but when. I’ll endeavor to stay true to that philosophy and in the event I ever feel that I don’t have it within me anymore, I will bow out gracefully, 26.2 miles intact. For now, I can only hope the rolling hills of New York City will be kinder to me. I know what you’re thinking, and in all probability you may be right, I’m hardly likely to fare much better in NYC given the wide disparity in gradients of these two courses. Add to that my obvious disadvantage of being three weeks out from my last race, and with injuries, and well it all seems to add up to one possible outcome right? The only thing is I’m sorta in the habit of defying odds 😉.

Oh ye of little faith. 😊

Running Feels heading into Chicago #hopeful

on the streets of NYC

Over the last couple months running has not been as easy as it used to be. My body’s telling me something’s up. You know that feeling, the one that nags at you and won’t go away. It sits on your chest and reminds you, hey, I’m still here. Stopping during runs are more frequent, breathing’s a little harder, running’s requiring a bit more effort, and then there are those knee pains. When you hear that nagging voice or see those little flags, you should pay attention. That being said, I know my body’s going through some changes and it’s all part of the growing older bit so I’m not too worried though I’d obviously love to stay in mint condition all the days of my earthly life. Lol. One can dream.

Nagging voices and colored flags aside, I’m so excited for the things that are happening in our sport! Once considered a one-man sport, and some may still agree, running is growing into this diverse, multi-varied, and interpersonal sport with all the coming-of-age, ultra adventure running experiences that are now everywhere you turn. I, for one, am super excited by this new showing up of the sport and want to do it all – go as far as this human body will take me. Hence why it’s even more important to make sure we’re (all the parts lol) working together on this. So we’ve scheduled doctor visits and tests etc and are actively working to get within the 95-100% performance range. Meanwhile, running continues!

I’m presently on my way to Chicago for my race there on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it and hoping this human machine of mine cooperates so we can have an amazing run as per past experiences. But the devil’s in the details really with my main focus being my knees and the weather, of which the weather promises to be fine. Looks a bit windy from where I sit but I’m praying it’s not adverse & cold winds. I’ve been following some really exciting running these past few days and I gotta say I’m really inspired to get out there and do my best in these exciting times.

Elucid Kipchoge ran a 1:59:40 marathon time at the Ineos 159 Challenge earlier today, 2:30AM in fact, and I was up for the entire thing! Probably not the wisest move on my part, with my run hours away now, but I had to see his #NoHumanIsLimited effort. He was, and is, amazing really. I mean, wow! Who the heck runs splits of 14, 28, 42 min… for 5K, 10K, 15K resp. I think he’s superhuman actually – a superb human machine – and we could only watch in awe and be inspired along the way. Now, if only I could get some of that Kenyan magic tomorrow, and I’m thinking just a fraction, I’ll settle for being slightly-less amazing. 😄

I simply couldn’t help taking these snaps live as I watched him bring it home! #amazingrace #makinghistory #ineos159challenge #NoHumanIsLimited #viennaaustria

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