31 December 2011

2011!

And 2011 is almost over. As I sit here, while my chai cooks on my stove, I can't help but think back on the past year. Lots of running, lots of running,  lots of traveling.

Happy after an all-nighter on the playa with my love!


I started in the streets of Leon, Nicaragua, surrounded by strangers who became friends, other backpackers who I discussed philosophy and love and Spanish and life with mere moments after meeting them. The local radio station put the speakers in the street and we danced with old ladies and shared bottles of delicious Flor de Cana rum while we celebrated our love of life.

Then I continued traveling, experienced a painful breakup, ran to beautiful places around Central America, improved my Spanish, and somehow found myself back in NY. Flew to Florida to see my Gram, cried at the loss of my Papa, and ran 50 miles.

Flew back to NYC, tried to push all the sadness out of my heart as I ran my slowest ever 50k through snow and ice and wet freezing cold puddles and misery. Got frostbite.

Fell in love. Right after the frostbite, I fell in love. The first night, he touched my toes, and told me they were cold. I let him warm me up. I let the next few months - really, to be honest, this next beautiful year - be absorbed with utter happiness in our love.

Ran Umstead 100 Miler. Fought with my sister, mother. Made up. Ran Bear Mountain 50 Miler. Skipped the Peaks Ultra to head to Tahoe and Big Sur for a wedding on my 32nd birthday. Gunks Fatass 50k.

Philly for work. Then PEX to dance and experience freedom. Intoxication to absolute fun. And amazing conversations of what is this all really about?

No one ever really knows.

Burning Man prep was a blur. Costumes, shopping, sewing, sewing, sewing, ultra prep. Night before flight found my boy and I making numbers for the race.

And the week was bliss...self-discovery and amazingness and it can go on forever because everything you want is there.

And then the worst 100 miler ever. Horrible. Went from 3rd place woman in BRC 50k to the back of the Rio del Lago 100 miler.

I lost my love for running.


I ran Vermont 50, as a fun run, with friends. It felt great.

Flu. Bad running. Just love.

And November. Ran DWG 50k. Fun.

Then Cajun Coyote 100 Miler. Didn't meet my goal time but made second woman. Had a blast. Once again, my love for trail running exploded. And visited New Orleans.

And a million other things - more races and parties and Occupy Wall Street and protesting hardcore and Team Odwalla Athlete and being so busy I can barely breathe and NBR runs and my sister is pregnant and one of my best friends had a baby and I grew tougher at running and did a few speed workouts and ran twice a day and studied Spanish lots and visited my Gram in FL twice and started baking and cooking again and let the wounds all heal, my grandfather is in a better place, and my cat grew sweeter, and I read more and I broke down and got a Kindle and I ran to the beach and I called both my grandmas two or three times a week and started knitting again and made blankets for friend/babies and loved my lightweight shoes but also ran in Hokas and almost ran away to a million different places 5,000 times, but never would because love always keeps me warm and happy and one day, we'll live in our little bungalow on the beach in Costa Rica with twelve cats, writing, fighting for equality.

Happy 2011 - it's been great. 2012 will be even better!

28 December 2011

Run in the Rockies!

To my East Coast Tri-State Ultrarunning Pals, a run in the Rockies means a run in Rockefeller State Park. I did have days in my life where running in the Rockies meant running in the Rocky Mountains where I, for two years, lived (ahhhh, the Naropa Boulder days...), but this is quite different.

Rockefeller State Park is a nice place to run trails - they're all carriage trails, so nothing too technical, though if you're like me, you'll end up with small stones in your shoes (and a bee, as Tony once witnessed during a flailing, screaming, shoe-kicking incident at the end of a way-too-long run last summer). There's a bunch of hills that I did repeats (7x this one horrible hill today), hills that Tony makes me run hard up, and lots of gentle ups and downs. Great training b/c unlike Bear Mountain where you end up hiking because you are climbing essentially, mountains, most of these hills are runnable unless you choose this time to pull out your phone to look at your Google map to see where the hell an exit to this park may be.

But I digress.

A great thing about this park is you can get here via public transport. You can go via a ride to the Pleasantville train station following these directions; however, it's almost 3 miles and I have never run that way. The plus of going that way is you enter by the main entrance of the park, which is where the bathrooms are (Sometimes, you just don't want to find a tree, and there are some parts in the Rockies were trees are not as common as you'd like!), plus water fountains (that might only be on in the summer) and a soda/other beverage machine (I think they have water and vitamin water too!). I know these trails best and also, you're close to the lake which is a cute 2 or so mile run around.

Today I went via the Tarrytown Train Station, where the trains seem to run more often. And it's less time running on the roads - 1.4 miles! I use these directions, but my play-by-play might help you more. I run up the hill behind the train station, up this street called Franklin. (If you get lost, ask anyone how you can run to Broadway.) When I get to Broadway, I hit a left and run down for a bit, past the cute little town of Tarrytown (good Greek place on your left, should you be hungry on the way back) and past all the official looking buildings and past the high school. You'll make a right just after you pass the Horseman Diner and head up the steep 448 - and then you'll make a left onto the OCA (Old Croton Aqueduct Trail). You run down this for a little while - at one point, the trail disappears but keep going past houses in the general direction and you'll end up back on it - and when you see trails on your right, go that way - those are the Rockies!

Other nice things about this park - you can park for free at the high school across from the OCA entrance (or sometimes!) and if you get to the main lot of the Rockies it's free before 8am, I think. If you come up via train, you can hide a gallon of water and change of clothes/etc in the woods, as I have done before. Mostly, I love it because it's pretty, you can run by Stone Barns and see the super cute pigs and cows and animals (Vegetarian Cherie doesn't think of eating these!), deer!, flowers, the hills are manageable but still push you, you see people but not so many.

I love the Rockies! Training for Santa Barbara 100 Miler in April followed three weeks later by Bear Mountain 50 Miler - I'll be training here for the long faster runs.

Care to join?

He Sang to Me

It was the second-to-last day of Burning Man. The last day for many people. The Man had burned last night. My campmates were unpacking, picking up moop, giving away food. It seemed so awful to let it all fall apart. My boyfriend was absorbed in the process of making ice cream. I needed to leave, somewhere, I don't know. I couldn't deal with everyone I loved for an inexplicable, painful reason.

So I biked around. I headed to Center Camp. People were dazed, with the dust and lack of sleep and intense environment and I'm sure, other substances. I felt sorrowful, and I couldn't figure out the cause. I thought of my Papa, who had died one year and mere days earlier.

I sat on a couch. I wasn't sure why, except that I couldn't handle my grief standing up. The guy next to me made room, smiled, and offered popcorn. I blinked back tears and shook my head.

I closed my eyes and listened to the music.



I still felt numb, but my soul was thawing. I wondered what was happening back at my camp, but I didn't want to be there. I needed to be someplace that that was not. I needed to find something else. Something deep inside me.

And I still felt - weird. Later, Gwendolyn attributed it to me being sad that it was the second-to-last day of the Burn and she let me have my bad mood. She loves me like that.

And then, the scruffy but intensely special singer on stage, began singing, "I'm For Today." I got him. I understood him. It all made sense.

I'm for today - 
I'm for the birds who fly away - 
Free as they came,
Free as they came.

I blinked back tears. I listened hard. I clapped my hands until they ached. He finished singing, this wonderful Aaron Glass. He gave me a hug and a CD.

I hopped on my bike. I sang again and again, the chorus which pulled me up. As I biked, I swear everyone listened, and was waking up in their own way.

But it's Burning Man, everyone wakes up in their own way.

20 December 2011

Is 100 "It"? (Or, Why Do I Run 100 Milers?)

For years, marathons were IT for me. I trained and trained and trained, and if I bombed, I cried and was depressed for days, or if I did good, I still was depressed that I didn't do quite as good as I hoped (though my first Boston Qualifying Marathon was an exception).


Then, sub in 50 milers for marathons....


Then, 100s...


And I can't seem to get away from 100 milers, though I find them so brutal, so tough, so rough, so horrendous, so painful, so soul-destroying, so demoralizing...


...yet so uplifting, for moments here and there, and most especially, when you're done.


But really, I love 50 milers best.


Marathons sucked so much when they sucked. They can be amazing, but when they hurt, it's not fun. And it's not pretty and sometimes you can't get beyond the pain. And fast, yes, you have to run fast. Ow.


But 50 milers...they're just the perfect distance. You're over in a day. You start running early, and you finish early enough to get dinner with your loved ones and shock/appall/impress them with your eating capabilities. Maybe you'll even head out for a drink or two (because there will, of course, be an amazing party that night) and then you'll plead exhaustion, crash for a few hours, or more, be stiff the next day, but feel pretty good.  You can run slower than a marathon, eat cookies while you run, see beautiful trails, bond with rad ultrarunners. Even if it sucks, it's only 50 miles.


But that last sentence - you can't explain that, you can't really feel that, until after you run 100 miles. And then it seems easy. You need to run 100miles to feel that. To appreciate it.


100 miles...why? Why do I keep going back? Why? 

There's that point where it's dark (It seems like the middle of the night, but it might only be 8 or 9pm. You've been up for hours, you're tired, it is the middle of the night to you.):



And everything starts hurting. Your feet are swollen, you took off your compression leg sleeves miles ago because your calves were so swollen that your sleeves felt unbearable. You have a million blisters (or maybe just one). You are nauseas, you're hungry, you have go to the bathroom, right now, right now, can we please just stop, oh pacer, just let me stop for one minute, you feel like you're going to die, you want to die, you hate this, you hate everything, why did you sign up, you paid how much to run this far, you swear you're never running a 100miler again, oh, this sucks, your shins hurt so bad, this hurts so bad, you want to be in bed, it is horrible....


Or maybe that's just me? Yeah, I didn't think so.


But there's this glimmer. 100 milers are where - as my pacer Kathy told me at Rio del Lago - you learn to be tough, you prove just how tough you are. It's where you discover something deep inside yourself. I don't find that in any other race. It's where you learn to push past pain. It's where you learn to push past reasonability.


I do love running 50 milers best - they are my favourite race - but I still keep signing up for 100s. I do them as my goal races, my key races. 50 milers are often just training runs, build-ups. But I love them best. Should I focus on them instead? Should I enjoy my runs more?


Sometimes, I want to spare myself the agony and just sign up for a 50miler. Like, maybe I should do that for the 50 mile at the Santa Barbara Endurance Race instead of the 100. But I get this feeling that I'm being wimpy - I know the 100 is what will push me, what's harder.


It's not wimpy. It's a different option. I'll have to run it differently...


I think as I'm writing this, I realize WHY I run 100milers. They are the best way to challenge myself. With my writing, I challenge my creativity, my thought process, my view of life. But when I run 100 miles, I challenge my body, push it past pain.

You know what? When it's all over, and your body is aching and you're thirsty and exhausted and hungry and sore and in pain and everything hurts - YOU DID IT. You ran 100 miles and that is something so hardcore that so few people can say. You got to be out there in nature, running through beautiful woods, on lovely trails, bonding with amazing people (and of course, nature), bonding with yourself, thinking deep, thinking clear, thinking pure.



And so, I love 50 milers best.


But I will continue running 100 milers to challenge my soul.

Missing back in the day....

Yes, those good old rave days, where you'd apply blue eyeliner to me - "Hold still, Cher" - and I'd blink anyway, and then we'd talk about the big puffy down vest we'd be wearing over tube tops. But that was the era of so much more.


That was the era of connecting. That was the era of people engaging with people, of conversation, of phone numbers written on wrists, on long walks around the East Village over bad cups of tea and coffee, of shopping for lacy vinyl clothes we couldn't afford that we bought anyway, of meeting guys every time we hopped on the train, because, hey, life was about making connections.


Now, everyone is shut off. It makes me sick. On the train, everyone is plugged into their iPod, their mp3 device, blasting music that I wonder if it will cause more damage to their eardrums than dancing on top of the speakers to Scott Henry's infamous June 5th set years ago on the Baltimore Waterfront. No one talks to each other on the train, unless it's to curse you out for accidentally stepping on someone's foot. Do people loathe reality so they must distract themselves? Or is life just so much more pleasant when you're not in the present moment? Or...?


You go to a bar and in line for the bathroom, where I actually met friends in the past ("Hey everyone, this is Jessie, we just talked in the bathroom line for the past twenty minutes and she also was at that Superchunk show at Lollapalooza back in the nineties too!") - and everyone's on their smart phone, looking at Facebook, obsessing over whatever. I don't get it. Why can't you be in the present moment? I assure you, it's bound to be more interesting than what others are posting on Facebook. Or people who are checking their phones while they sleep, or during sex.


I'm not a Luddite - I have a smart phone, a Kindle, a netbook, a laptop, and a work computer. Sometimes I'm using most of those at the same time. But a lot of the  times, I just prefer to be writing a letter to my girl V, reading one of my Moosewood cookbooks in between dicing peppers, curled up in bed with my kitty and an Anais Nin diary, drinking tea with a friend, writing a story, running in the woods, jumping off a dock, walking along the edge of the ocean with feet partially wet/very sandy.


And to me, those are the things that life is really about. Maybe Facebook and Twitter and all these things are a way of sharing that - but shouldn't we be in that very moment first?


Live in the present moment. Stop distracting yourself.

19 December 2011

When did my feelings change like this?

I suppose it was in the woods somewhere, out at one of the ultras, but I no longer have the love or respect for NYRR. Oh, I admire that they put on one of the greatest marathons - my favourite marathon indeed! - but where is the love of everything?


When I went to pick up my number for admittedly, a MUCH smaller race, Cajun Coyote 100 Miler, the RD joked around with me while wearing a stuffed alligator hat. Volunteers gave me Mardi-Gras beads, joked about the cherry vodka-blue-marshmallow drinks they'd be serving later. It was fun.


When I went to pick up my number for a recent 15k in Central Park, I got SCREAMED at my NYRR volunteers when in the registration room. Screamed. I was putting on my Dtag while waiting in line - apparently, I could wait there doing nothing, but not put on my Dtag. I left the room. I did not want to deal with this.


NYRR raised the price of the NYC Half-Marathon to $117. Assuming I don't have to travel for work, I plan on running a 50 miler the following week for $69. Pay almost twice to run nearly a quarter of the distance? Yes, the course is fast. Yes, they have to shut streets down. Yes, they have to pay cops and security, and yes, don't forget appearance fees for top runners. But really? Do I really want to?


Honestly - I've gone back and forth a bunch of times in my head. I don't have to travel. (Though I generally don't fly for anything less than 50miles.) It's close. It's easy. Lots of friends will come. Probably not my parents. But still. My whole running club! But the principle...and $117.


I have a few hours left. I probably won't sign up, but NYRR, when did you start being so expensive and stop being so much fun?


Maybe it's that I discovered another world, ultrarunning, with its casual laid-back atmosphere and cheaper fees (I've paid less for 100milers than I have for the NYC Marathon and I get a lot more out of a 100miler - tons of food, gear, fun, and a helluva lot more pain!).

But maybe, really maybe, things have changed...

15 December 2011

Heroes...

Jenn Shelton is an ultrarunning hero of mine. She is fierce, kills it, runs hard, runs for the love of it.


A recent article about her was really interesting and made me fall for her all over. She says bad-ass things like, 


"When I'm out running in the mountains and I get that fear that a cougar is following me and I'm going to die, I think, 'It's OK if the cougar eats me because I've done some really cool things."


During last year's Javelina Jundred, I got caught two miles from the start/finish/aid station without my light. I figured I'd get back before it got dark. (It's always hard in ultras when it's super sunny and the middle of the afternoon or even early afternoon to be like, "Yes, I need to carry this bulky headlamp the next 15-20 miles because I'll need it for that last mile" or if you get slightly off schedule...)


I was running when I got to the tricky part. Shannon was in front of me, and Jenn had blasted out a loop or two, racing, before she dropped - and was now pacing Shannon. I passed, but hung close to them - Shannon and Jenn both had lights. Suddenly, Jenn spoke up. I had never talked to her, merely smiled as we passed each other during the race, said hi. She asked me if I had a light.


"Nope. Mine's back at my drop bag. This part took me a little longer. I got nauseas," I told her.


"Here," she said, running up to me, handing me her flashlight. "Use this. This part's tricky footing. Give it to me when you see me or if you don't, give it to Maria. She's a volunteer at the aid station."


I thanked her profusely, and took off, much more confident with a light of my own.


In the aid station, I proceeded to change my shoes and socks, suck down a coconut water, stuff as many homemade cookies in my body as possible. A random guy - that's ultras, random people just help you - offered to hold the flashlight up for me. 


"This is a great flashlight," he told me while I rooted in my drop bag for my headlamp. 


"It's not mine," I said as I finally found my headlamp and strapped it on. "It's Jenn Shelton's. She just lent it to me because I didn't have a light."


"Nice of her," he told me as I slathered Body Glide on. "This is a $100 flashlight."


And that's what I love about ultras. One of the fastest women ultrarunners drops the race - I'm not sure race - but doesn't quit. She paces her friend. Then she helps a fellow ultrarunner - someone she doesn't even know at all - and lends her an expensive flashlight.


When I finally passed Jenn and gave her the flashlight back, those thanks were from deep within.


And to all ultrarunners - I say thank you for rocking so hard.

11 December 2011

You Don't Want to Run 100 Miles, Or, Some Videos From My Last 100 Miler

At Cajun Coyote 100 Miler, I carried a camera on my second loop (miles 20-40) so I could record the beauty and craziness of the course. Here are some things to scare the crap outta you.

Hallucinations, way too early in.


Crying because I really need water and I'm out


Vanilla gu or pudding?

Cajun Coyote 100 Miler: A Race Report of a Very Unusual 100 Miler

So the good news on the Cajun Coyote 100 Miler first, I suppose:
  • I was second woman!
  • It reinstilled my love in the love run - oh, trails, how alive you make me feel.
  • I ran through some beautiful places.
  • While my time was far from my PR, I still had a smashing good time.
  • It was like Burning Man - we all had "race names" and I used my playa one, Cherry Bomb, as my name.
  • One of the most fun races I ran.

I arrived at the start and knew I was in the right place - the RD was wearing a stuffed alligator hat and the volunteers were wearing Mardi Gras beads. In my race bag (one of those little sneaker bags) were lots and lots of beads, a nice tech shirt that actually looks good, a Lip Smacker (Yes! I loved them when I was 9 years old and they're still great!), a mask, homemade soaps, bug wipes, Hammer samples, and other fun. Everyone was excited, chattering under the Christmas lights about the day to come. Numbers were written on a select body part - you'd run into an aid station, shouting your number and your nickname. My nickname was, of course, Cherry Bomb.
At the start...

#111, Cherry Bomb!
The course was five 20 mile loops. Louisiana's a flat state, and this was in the bayou, so it was flat, right?

WRONG!


Me at the start


Yes! Get me outta here!!!

Loop One: Miles 1-20
The race started with the RD saying offhandedly, "Bye!" And we took off!

I started out at a good pace, chatting with a guy doing his first ultra (who later went on to win the 100k) and a guy from Maine. We talked about dysfunctional relationships, work, running. The first 4.3 miles - up to the first aid station - were the hardest. Up, down, steep, short, up, down, repeat. And a rock to trip on, a root, focus, focus. Through some miracle I did not trip at all on this single track rocky-and-rooty course.

The next 4-ish miles were the easiest. Lots of ups and downs, but not as hard as the first section. Right before the aid station you run down into this ditch and then up. Oh, fun. And then up a little hill and to Jeff's aid station - Jeff who didn't sleep the entire race. I love ultra volunteers.

Then there were eight miles to the unmanned aid station. Mentally, it was a challenge. I also had to be careful and conserve my water each time. At this aid station, there was water, a container of Heed, and a jar of pickled pig's lips. No one dared open it - yuck!

Ew! Pigs' lips as ultrarunning snack
And then a mere four miles or so to the main aid station. This wasn't so terrible, some hills, but it was only four miles. 


And then you were back.

Overall, the course was up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down on single track. Enough rocks and roots and twists and turns and bridges to keep your eyes on the ground at all times - but wait, look up, don't miss those orange blazes. (The RD put heaps of ribbons up which were helpful...until the trail maintenance volunteers decided to help out and remove all the ribbons. ARGH!)


Loop Two, Miles 20-40
I repeated everything.

On the move!

Fueling up
I ran a bunch w a guy from Maine who I got into an extensive discussion with about dysfunctional relationships. We'd lose each other on and off - he'd spend extra time in an aid station, and I'd leave him, or he'd get a speed burst. It was a nice way to pass the time.

 And then I was alone, but it was okay. I felt free, alive, in love with the run. I was here to run 100 miles, yes, but the real reason? I needed vengeance on the 100 mile distance. My last 100 was so wretched that I needed to prove to myself and the world that I loved this. And I did. I did. I felt alive as I ran across a wooden walkway (which were SO pretty and I loved them during the day but at night were positively frightening) across the bayou. I thought, "Yes, yes, this is why I'm here! This is what it means to be alive."


Loop Three, Miles 40-60
It got harder. That goes without saying.
Crossing the bridge

I had my light but I wouldn't need it until the end of this loop. Things got rough and I pushed and I felt the pain but I pushed and I pushed and I pushed. I thought of coconut water and Odwalla bars and of my cat back home, sleeping for sure, and of The Godfather, which I was re-reading for the third time, and created sentences in my head in Spanish and about what to get V for Xmas and everything, everything, everything. I thought and then I blanked and I pushed and I pushed harder and hardest of all, I pushed the tears from my eyes and wouldn't let them escape. I was tougher than this.

It got dark. It was okay. I was tough. But my headlamp battery wasn't. It was impossible to see. I got freaked. I began singing loudly, scaring the armadillos, comforting myself. I wonder if KRS-ONE ever thought when he was writing "How Bad Do You Want It" that some ultrarunner would use it to push herself during a 100miler.

I could barely see. I slowed down, squinting with my pathetic light to see the markers. I had to walk, to avoid tripping on things I couldn't see. Finally I arrived at an aid station and they gave me batteries. It was a relief to get back to the main aid station and get my kickass headlamp and pacer.

Loop Four, Miles 60-80
My pacer was new to ultras, and we barely knew each other, but that wasn't a problem. We quickly began talking, laughing, getting to know each other.

About seven and a half miles in, we got to an intersection and couldn't find the next blaze. No worries, there it is. Oops. Rather, that is the orange blaze we just passed. We ended up running three extra miles. Argh. When I figured it out, I began running super hard. I was so upset that I just pushed, pushed, pushed and tried not to think about it. When we got to the next aid station, I inquired if I'd have to pay extra because, after all, everyone else paid for 100 miles and here I was, running 103 and paying the same price!

Things felt rough but I felt mostly good. I was eating throughout the race - grilled cheese and rice at the main aid station, quesadillas at Jeff's aid station, and vanilla gus and honey stingers in between.

Loop Five, Miles 80-100
It hurt.

I was psyched to be on my last loop but my shins were killing. And I was SO tired. I felt wretched. Of course, if I didn't, something would be seriously wrong with me.

A light was behind me. Push. Push. I can't let it pass me. My pacer and I would talk, or we would say nothing but breathe and think and push. Then there would be times where it would get to me, and I would say to Jessica, "Talk. Say something. Anything," and she'd amazingly well respond, "Well, at work..." or "My kids..." or whatever. She could have been reading the ingredients on a cereal box to me and I would have found it soothing.

It got later. It got worse. Each aid station was a beacon of hope, the volunteers so cheerful, so wonderful, so nice and helpful. I inhaled grilled cheeses. I drank ginger ale. They were so helpful and nice.

I started to cry. Jessica told me not to cry. I was unable to listen to her. I cried harder. This hurt so much. I worked so hard, why was I running so poorly? How have I been getting slower, getting further from my goals? Why did it hurt so bad?

We started talking, laughing. I pushed. "Mile 97!" "Mile 98!" And harder.

And then we were on the road. I couldn't believe I was almost done. As I came in, everyone cheered. And the RD was there and everyone was awake. It was over. Somehow.

Food was prepared and shared. I sat there, stunned and exhausted. I called New York, was told I sounded totally out of it. I was told not to drive.

The RD gave out finishers' hats, and I was second woman. I won a free pair of sneakers. We joked around, and I was stunned at how I was able to run into the finishing area not that long, and now, now that the clock had stopped for me, walking was near impossible.

In the middle of the night, I thought about how hard it was. It's so hard. 100 milers are a million times harder than a marathon, a lot harder than a 50. But it's SO hard. Mentally. Physically. Everything hurts and it's hard to remember why you should push. And it's hard to break through. Those people that are WINNING - they impress me. Because when I run, I'm in my own race. I'm competing against myself. I'm running for the love of it, for the struggle of the day, for discovering within.

And really, it takes 100 miles to find a lot of that out. Because if it didn't, why would we be doing it in the first place?

You're Only As Old As You Feel

This morning, my legs were tired, reminding me that yes, I did run 100 miles last week. I started feeling better as we headed over the Pulaski, running back to my house with Wayne. Some guy nodded at us as we ran past, as he was wearing his Boston Marathon gear and Wayne was wearing my old Boston shirt. (I arrived one year too late at the expo and they only had men's large shirts...thanks, Boston, I train my butt off to qualify for you, and then train my butt off for you, only to get a men's large shirt?!?!). I started talking about Boston - I don't actually like the course. There's a lot of gaping sections of nothing, boring suburbs, and I don't know, it just doesn't love me how NYC loves me.

We're passing this older guy - I'm feeling better and thinking, let's run hard in - when he hears us talking about Boston and starts telling us about all the time he's run Boston. Fourteen times. About the crowds at the start and how he hears it's in waves now and how he did ultras in the 70s and 80s and he did the Shea Stadium one my friend Ray K did and how much he loves running. And this guy is 70 but he looks so incredible.

Wayne and I slow down our pace and talk to him the rest of the time, and I swear, it was one of the most beautiful Greenpoint runs I've had in a while. It was really special to run with some an interesting and amazing individual - and yeah, he's 70 but he was so young at heart.

I'll be there someday!

29 November 2011

Packing...

Right now, my living room is a 100 mile mess. There are two pairs of running sneakers (one a half-size bigger for the last 70 miles), headlamps, water bottles, 2 hydration systems, sports bras, a visor, panties, a lace skirt, almond butter, a 24-pack of vanilla gu, body glide, work papers, barrettes, arm warmers meant for Burning Man but now running ones when I lost my running ones, and too many other things to name. And somebody please tell me to never again fly standby (i.e., just a carry-on!) when I am running 100 miles AND spending 5 days in New Orleans. I'm not scrimping on race supplies, but there's a chance I may not have enough clothes in NOLA. Oh well. I'll repeat. Skirts, anyway!

I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm a lot of things. My last 100 mile race was the biggest disaster of my running career. I felt like I pushed it hard, so hard, it really was crazy difficult - but I somehow, ran my suckiest time ever. I wish to forget that now.

In a way, I'm out to redeem myself. I need to prove to myself - I need to run my heart out for 100 miles. I want to PR - oh yes, that's the ultimate goal. But really, it's to discover the love I have for the sport, the fun, the excitement. Last time I ran to prove how tough I was - so tough that I pushed myself beyond the limits of sanity. This time, I will run to prove to myself that this is my first love. (Sorry, Wayne. Not like you're #2 but I fell in love w running when I was 13 and you when I was 31! You and running, you're the two most important things in my life.) I will run to discover the beauty of every step. If it sucks, I will not acknowledge that. A secret, friends - I'm going to pack my little iPod mini that I use at the gym - if it blows, I'll pull that. But really - I won't need it. I know that.

The first 20 - fun, energetic. Next 20 - I'm there, but I got it. Push it. Next 20. Push. Push. It's getting hard but it's not dark yet. Thoughts of seeing Jessica at mile 60 keep me going. Next 20 - I meet my pacer. Change shoes, clothes, get a grilled cheese in my belly. Final 20 - poor Jessica (my pacer) might shove me into the swamp. We'll get to know each other better than people who've known me for years - she'll tell me about the first person she fell in love with, I'll talk about that awful first kiss and that really terrible thing no one else knows - you cross the boundaries, in ultrarunning, everything and I mean everything comes out. She'll laugh at me as I hallucinate ridiculous things, as I pour my heart out, as I trip, as I drop my cookie on the ground and pick it up and keep eating it with the dirt, as I pee on my glove and put it back on, as I cry my heart out, as I bless the stars, as I talk about La Playa de Estrellas de Mar in Bocas and putting starfish on as a bikini top, as I babble, as I reach upwards and forwards, reaching, reaching, reaching...

Until I finish.

Which I will.

Remember, DNF is not in my vocabulary. I tried to include it, Kathy (amazing pacer at Rio del Lago) would not let me. I am seeking redemption. I will buckle. I will push beyond my limits, beyond what anyone thinks another person is capable of. Pain? Hah. Pain is weakness leaving the body. I will push forward. I will win. Not the race, necessarily. I will win for myself. I will have fun. I will enliven my spirit.

And then I will celebrate in the streets of New Orleans after.

Because I run for the love of it.

22 November 2011

Occupy Yourself!

I'm very excited that an article I wrote about my experiences at the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy Yourself, has been published in Her Circle.

21 November 2011

He Was the Winner, and Oh Yeah, She Won for the Woman

I know it's partially my job as a librarian at a women's nonprofit that does this, but I can't help noticing how the focus in race reports is always, "HE won!" "He came in first." And then there's a "Oh yeah, and for the women, so-and-so came in 1st, or 5th overall, running ___."

Why?

Yes, women rarely win overall. There's a combo of reasons why men are faster than women (less body fat than women; easier ability to lose body fat; more muscles). Occasionally, in ultrarunning, women do win outright, which is awesome. The super awesome Jessi Kennedy outright won the NJ Ultra 100 Miler in March. Yay! Some might dispute this, but based on my personal experiences, women seem to have a higher pain tolerance than men, and thus, can push themselves more. (Feel free to debate this one. It might just be all the men I've known!)

In a recent race on the Willamsburg Bridge, I was the first woman. I was so excited! At the finishing ceremony, the organizer gave a hooded sweatshirt to the male winner - and another to the last place person, and another to a random person. Why not to the first female finisher? I didn't even think of it until a friend complained that he was annoyed that I wasn't recognized.

Yesterday, I was so excited that one of my teammates in NBR won the Brooklyn Marathon. I loved the coverage that often mentioned us, and I cheered him on the entire time. I was really happy for him. It was an amazing honor for him to win a marathon at 24 and the coverage of him was really great!

But then, I started thinking about the woman (whose winning time at 3:14 is just 14 min off my PR...hmmm....) who won. She was mentioned as an afterthought in many of the articles. He got some great press, great quotes. And not much is learned of her.

In this NY Mag article, almost three paragraphs are devoted to the male winner, and a sentences in parentheses is all the female winner gets. Seriously. Why can't both get three paragraphs?

Why? Why does this happen? Why, even in co-ed sports, is the focus still men?

When I run races, yes, I push myself, and I like to see a high overall place, but I know the one that my sponsors and other care about is my gender and age group placing, which, sorry, men aren't included in. So why is so much coverage so male-centric? Why does Ultrarunning Mag way more frequently feature a male on their cover (and thanks to my friend Lesley for raising this point in a letter to the editor to them), and why do their articles focus so much on the top male competition and then gives sparse mention to top women?

When will we have gender equality in sports?

For some stats on Women in Sports, check out this factsheet!

Brooklyn Marathon!

The first annual (ha!) Brooklyn Marathon in Prospect Park was held on Sunday. It had a really great vibe - less like one of the anally organized NYRR events and much more like a chill ultra. It was smaller, but the medals were good, the RD was friendly, and the weather rocked. The course consisted of two lower loops and six full loops on the pretty, occasional small hill course.

I voluncheered w my team, NBR, at one of the aid stations. I chalked cheerful messages on the course, made signs and taped them to the ground, filled cups with water and gatorade, and screamed my head off.

One of my less finer moments was when I cheered on teammate Ray and raised my arms - which smacked into a runner who decided to turn around and walk in the other direction (not sure his reason) - I felt so terrible but he was very nice about it. And he kept going! (And my arm hurt, but that's besides the point!)

I ended up pacing Wayne the last 2+ laps which was a lot of fun. On four hours sleep, I felt pretty rough but the pace was manageable, for six miles for me anyway! I chattered away, wouldn't let him drop the pace, and tried my best to motivate him. It was really wonderful when he PR'd by 8 minutes, going sub 3:30. I was so happy for him!

To those who insist upon only doing big races, you're missing out on a chill vibe, individual attention, and lots of fun!

19 November 2011

How to Prepare for a Protest

My friend Margot sent me some of the below tips in an email (and I added a few of my own...). Proper prep is SMART for protests and can help you should you get in difficult situations.

--Assume subways may be closed at some point - it may take forever to get home, esp if there are barricades, street closures, etc.
--Bring pen and paper
--Charge up my cell phone, bring my charger with me
--Wear warm clothes, hat, gloves, possibly foldable umbrella, layers
--Eating before, and also, bring snacks (energy bars, sandwiches, something easy and portable)
--Let someone know where I am going so they can check on me and bail me out if I get into trouble
--Bring water
--Bring a bandana or scarf in case of pepper spray or tear gas, and sunglasses/glasses
--Bring ear plugs in case LRAD sound equipment is used against protesters (it is like pepper spray but it uses sound waves).
--Leave inessential items at home (I'll bring a small amount of money but not a lot, no credit cards, nothing I want to lose)
--Carry a bag that zippers up in case you are arrested and tossed around. Don't have a lot of things that could fall off you - loose scarves, etc. The cops will pull it off you and toss it on the ground.
--WRITE THE LAWYERS GUILD # ON MY BODY.  Here is the number:  212-679-6018
--Remain hyper alert. See where people are getting arrested, how the cops are acting, what is going on. Sometimes you can avoid getting arrested by simply stepping back.
--Smile. Dance. Sing. It helps diffuse the tension.
--Take photos of injustice and violence.
--Do not let them intimidate you. That is their goal. Do not shirk down.
--If someone heckles you, try not to get angry. Instead, respond to them with facts or sarcastic love.
--Wear comfortable shoes.

We may not wish to get arrested, but things are in chaos and it could happen whatever we wish.  So we should be prepared.  The cops will take all papers so you need the number on your skin.  If arrested, try to get your name to witnesses so they can give it to the Lawyers' Guild.  Keep your wits about you and spell out your name to witnesses.  Or take the names of anyone you witness getting arrested and call the Lawyers Guild. 

17 November 2011

N17....An Occupy Wall St Protest Day

7am:

I met with some friends by the red cube at 7am. Smaller marches left (yellow flag (I think), black flag, and we were green flag), and I was with a group of people who did not want to get arrested. I did a few cheers (Capitalism Does Not Work, Resist) but everything was too crazy for me to do any formal radical cheerleading.

Our march headed out last, and we marched down Cedar and turned here and there and eventually ended up on Pine St and William St. I was with a marching band, and we were dancing. Everyone seemed in good spirits, especially as there was also a group of trees (or rather, people dressed like trees) dancing and chanting. I asked passing workers if they wanted to dance and they laughed and declined. It was fun. On Pine and William, we were all in the streets, dancing and chanting and the mood was good...until suddenly the cops started shoving violently and crazily. There were tons of cops - all in riot gear (w their masks pulled down) and they were out of control. I saw journalists go flying and get yelled at. Protesters pushed really hard. I felt myself being shoved backwards and they were screaming at us to stay on the sidewalk. People started sitting in the middle of the street to stop traffic...and were getting arrested. This happened every so often for a while.

The scary thing to me was - it wasn't one or two cops arresting people. It was five cops. It was NINE cops. It was disgusting how they were shoving people. The people weren't fighting back - they were just being passive and not moving.

Wall Street is insane, people!

2pm, when getting lunch:

i walked around the area and it's quiet. there are TONS of cops, even very far down wall st and away from things.

when i got up to liberty square, the cops would not let me even walk on broadway in front of the park. i ignored them and acted like i was in a rush and they somehow let me go.

i wanted to get into the park but it was completely surrounded by barricades and cops weren't letting anyone in. so the crowd on the outside built up.

cops were arresting people. someone was hurt at one point; a person was bleeding from their head. i did not personally see that but the people next to me all did. everyone was yelling, "Shame!"

And then...

the cops all began walking out.

some people left the park after they  left. some people entered.

was the park ours? no one knew.

i stayed a little longer. as i left, i noticed cops congregating. and more sirens.

i don't know what is happening.

it's weird. it feels like a complete police state. cops are walking around, menacingly swinging their billy clubs, face masks down w their riot gear. it is not a nice feeling.

530pm:

I left work and headed over to Foley Square. The cops were sending me around in circles and I couldn't actually get there. Somehow I pushed through and slipped through these cops hands and ended in the parade right behind City Hall.

The crowd was fairly diverse in age, race/ethnicity, background - I talked to a lot of interesting people. Things got really tight and crowded and we weren't moving. I did some cheers, and had a blast chanting with people.

We started moving and I began talking to all different people about what we had done, seen that day. It was really exhilarating. 

I was under the impression we were going to Liberty Plaza, but right after my boyfriend left, I ran into Margot (from the Burner list) and found out that we were marching over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Suddenly, a mic check was called and someone told us that half of the crowd was stuck behind the barricades. No one knew what to do. Margot and I decided to do a mic check so we raised awareness to the greater crowd, then got everyone to go back to the barricade. We chanted, "Let them through..." until they finally did. That felt WONDERFUL.

We marched to the bridge. I got a little nervous, honestly, hoping I wouldn't get arrested, but I decided I didn't care. I had the legal number on my arm. I didn't have my asthma medicines (which I need to take twice a day) so I crossed my finger. I was fine.

It was beautiful. We were chanting. I did a few cheers. People were projecting images onto the Verizon building - 99%, We're winning, and other beautiful images/words. It was so wonderful. I was dancing.

It got slower and we dragged as we got closer to the stairs. Two women in front of me wearing heels were all into it, cheering louder than anyone else. This was not the stereotypical "activist" crowd.

We headed to Cadman Plaza Park. A GA was due at 8pm. People headed out, as did I. Margot stayed to see the cops chilling in front of Dunkin Donuts.

It was a beautiful, empowering night.
 

16 November 2011

Are you there, God? It's me, Cherie.

Cherie's Running Secret: When You Find Shoes You Love, BUY THEM!

When you find a pair of sneakers you absolutely love, STOCK UP. Sneaker companies are constantly coming out w new models, and I find the newest models don't always match up. I had a pair of shoes I wore for a year - or rather, a model, I had several pairs of shoes.

Currently, I'm obsessed w my Saucony Grid Flex sneakers - in pink and black, naturally.
I fell in love instantly. However, I couldn't seem to find these except in a nasty color, but luckily, found them for even cheaper (Hello, $49 for running sneakers!!!) on a discount retail site, 6pm (NFI!). So despite the shoes being fairly new, I have a backup pair already. I would've bought more, but I bought the last in stock! I'm going to buy another pair or two because it's so nice to not have to think about what fits right and what feels good.

Oh Saucony Grid Flexes, how I do love you!

15 November 2011

Wheat Berry Salad Recipe


  1. Boil 1.5 cups (or however much you feel like) of wheat berries in around 3.5 cups of water. Add more water as needed. Wheat berries have a nutty, slightly chewy taste, and take around an hour to cook.
  2. In a large pan, heat a little extra virgin olive oil. Throw in zucchini slices (I did half-moons, but I think cutting those in half is better. I used two good-sized zucchinis.) and whatever other veggies you feel like. This time, I had cauliflower, but last time, I used broccoli, which I liked better.
  3. Throw some white wine in that frying pan. I don't use measurements, but I probably used a glass in this recipe. I also threw in dried cherries. You can throw them in at the end, but they add a nice taste to the veggies and the wine plumps them up.
  4. Add some sesame seeds, just for fun.
  5. At the very end, throw in some chickpeas.
  6. Stir everything (wheat berries and mixture from frying pan) together in a large bowl. Top with as much feta cheese as you like, and some crushed rosemary. Eat. Delish!

14 November 2011

Best Waiver for a Race Ever!

I am SO excited about the upcoming Cajun Coyote 100 Miler. I can't wait to run 100 miles with these bunch of nuts, I mean, super fun people. Have you ever seen a race waiver like this?




WAIVER: I understand that running is a strenuous activity and has some inherent risk, some would say moreso on the trails than on a treadmill inside some meat-market gym.  But then, who’s going to listen to “some” when your friends drag you out onto the dirt for more than what a treadmill can provide?  Having heard just enough, though likely not researched enough; and likely not listened hard enough about the Coyote genre of trail running events from other Coyote Veterans, and thus chosen to subconsciously or consciously forget/ignore, I realize that my inattention to my own health and well-being cannot be cause for my ranting at the organizers, sponsors and supporters, in all their sizes and forms and personalities, for whatever mental grievance or alleged physical discomfort I may concoct just to please my own self-centered sense of how right I always am and how wrong the rest of the world should recognize it is.  In signing, I hereby and therefore aver and avow that I recognize the risks of trying to participate in the Cajun Coyote trail run towards the objective of crawling into bed Saturday night (Dec 3rd) or Sunday morning (Dec 4th) in as good health as I brought to the game Saturday morning, and that there is no medical reason (beyond the sanity piece my doctor seemingly wants to bring up more often than I’d prefer) that I should not attempt to run and enjoy my long hours, from morning’s light and potentially into the deep, deep, deep darkness of night, and dang, maybe even into Sunday morning.  Some say, and others have confirmed, that running on trails poses many hazards, not limited to falls, slips, trips, dips, caca weather, swamp monster and bayou bogeyman attacks in broad daylight or deep, deep, deep darkness of night, and generally a whole bunch of other dangerous conditions that you don’t want to read about, but have heard from those “some” and “others” that often motivate the more skittish in life just to sit in their cocooned condo and have all their food and household possessions delivered to their doorstep and/or conduct their interaction with the outside world almost completely via online resources, and who wait impatiently glued to C-SPAN coverage in hopes that Congress will magically implode and we’ll return to that fantasy world of benevolent government catering to all citizens’ wishes.  Considering all that I’ve acknowledged above, summarily, I fully assume (and promising not to parse that into the proverbial you and me looking like an ass) all risks of illness, spillness, fulfillness, thrillness, injury or (yes, my Precious) even death, and release covenant (that means something legal to cover the butts of the lay people who couldn’t figure out how the lawyers sustain their livelihood off of saps like us) not to sue or otherwise pursue legal judgment, and discharge the CajunDip (“The Dip”), the Coyote Cohorts and its volunteers, Chicot State Park and its jurisdictional parent organization, and all other contributors, or other agents (except them clan-dess-tine fed’ral guys who may have a part in them swamp monsters showin’ up) from all actions (meaning, here, the legal definition of the term, cuz otherwise, you’ll be “active” when you’re running or hanging out consuming Cajun yummies at the Finish, so isn’t that “action” too, which now suggests you shouldn’t be doing it, right?), claims or demands for damages arising out of my participation in the Cajun Coyote events.  The foregoing release (and, gee, isn’t there a lot of it?) is binding on me personally, as well as upon my heirs/’airs/airs (whichever or all of which may apply), executors, and administrators (and if I have that many and can afford them, then if I survive the weekend mentally intact, perhaps I’ll send a few Jacksons, Grants or Franklins back to the Coyote Cohorts for their much depleted coffers brought on by having to pay a hefty legal fee for creating this waiver), and/or all members of my family who might make claim on my behalf.  I also confirm that I bear the full burden for reading and taking personal ownership of all salient information (by which rolling multi-syllabic presentation means anything The Dip took time to craft and put in front of my eyes) provided to me on the Cajun Coyote website and/or sent to me via e-mails from The Dip that pertains to my participation in this event, such that should I either fail to read the messages or ignore their significance to my preparation and running in the Cajun Coyote madness, any complications I experience (for example, forgetting to pack my lucky Mongo Monkey in my fanny pack because I just got SO excited about going to Chicot State Park that I lost sight of my priorities) is my own goll darn fault, and any whining on point will be appropriately discredited and serve as fodder for being ridiculed at public settings before, during and after Cajun Coyote.  Two more things:  (1) I realize there will be Ultra Paparazzi spread throughout the Cajun weekend, and any images of myself that they capture may be used at will by them and event management to highlight not only what an incredibly fit and able runner I am, but other shortcomings as well, including but not limited to fashion sense, eating manners, swilling of drinks, any lack of entertainment skills, and/or general human comportment (crawling to the Finish line, or upchucking out of an Aid Station, included).  (2) I also aver and avow that if my sanity isn’t medically discharged before Cajun Coyote expires deep, deep, deep into Saturday’s darkness or after Sunday’s quirky murky sunrise, the beneficent part of me may actually incite me to share some of my premium hooch with one or more of the Volunteers who gave up their weekend so that mine could be as self-indulging as I care to make it.  OK, now I’m done.  Here I go now to sign my name as record of my lack of common sense but complete willingness to abide by the above provisions (not to be confused with the semi-edible provisions which may be awaiting me at any or all of the aid stations I will encounter while suffering, er, enjoying my miles of the Cajun Coyote Trail Run.  Gosh, thinking of such rich culinary experiences has my mouth watering already!!).

13 November 2011

Bolt the Billyburg...A Video

Great video of the Williamsburg Bridge race!

Sunday Night Runs

Lately, I've been enjoying my chill Sunday night runs. I'm alone, it's quiet, and I'm packing on a few extra much-needed miles. Maybe I'll run them tempo speed, or just use the time as a recovery run. Either way, I wouldn't dare think to use my headphones - they would ruin the moment.

I leave later than I intend, always. Writing, or straightening up, or studying Spanish. And then I'm out the door, flying down the block.

The neighbors all recognize me by now as the runner. They say hi as I blur past them, and I smile. I'm in my favourite time. Running. Nothing else gets me feeling like this.

The sun is setting over the buildings. The buildings to the north have half of their tops shadowed pink; the south is a glorious mixture of pink and orange and heaven. I could take a photo but it wouldn't be the same; you have to be there to experience a sunset like this.

I run past people practicing tai chi and children laughing and couples sharing coffees. I run past Brooklyn Flea and the smells and the temporary set-up reminds me of Leon, Nicaragua and so many other places I've traveled. I push on.

I push until I feel like I'm flying.

And then I'm there.

DWG 50k

I love fatasses.

Not that kind, you pervert. Fatasses are a kind of ultramarathon where there's no entry fee, no numbers, no bibs, no winners, no losers, just fun. There's usually a very laid back chill energy at the event. People will be just doing training runs, or seeing how far they can push themselves with a generous time limit. Saturday's race, the Delaware Water Gap 50k, was a perfect example of that.

Iliana picked me up at 4am, and by the time we got there, I was extremely nauseas and she was weaving all over the road with exhaustion. We proceeded to complain and get ready and soon, after a nice runner helped me set up my new hydration pack (YAY!), we were on our way.

Before we started the race, the RD asked who was a virgin of the race. We moved forward. Hmmmm....He told us he didn't have enough of the gifts to go around; could we pair up with someone next to us? I paired up with this guy and we introduced ourselves...and then the RD gave one condom to each group. Ha ha. I carried the condom in my pocket the entire time, and no, I did not use it. But nice to know that he encouraged safe sex.

We started running out down a steep hill, another hill, and then along a highway (I think it was 80) and then we entered the Appalachian Trail. That trail will kick your ass. Kudos to all those who hike the entire thing, or even better, run it. Those people ROCK.




We began running up, up, up. It was steep, rocky, and a little insane. I was pouring sweat and I was walking - you couldn't run in so many sections of the race b/c of the loose rocks and leaves everywhere. I talked with Ray Sales about his latest adventures, Scott about fatherhood, Jackie about life, and Iliana about everything under the sun.

Iliana and I stopped to pee for what would be the 1st of 28 times (Okay, I'm exaggerating a little...just a little...) and lost everyone. That's fine, we were taking it easy, doing a training run.

The rocks continued. And the hills. It was really rough because I just wanted to RUN. Still, we had fun. Iliana and I talked about love, about work, about foreign languages, about our families, about friends, about babies, about settling. It was a fun day as usual.

There were some truly lovely views at the top of the mountains but I couldn't run with my camera in my hand - the rocks were too much and I was afraid I'd drop it or fall on it. Neither of us faceplanted (miracle!) but Iliana almost did - I caught her.

We finished the first of two different out-and-backs and ended in the start/finish/parking lot around mile 16 and changed into dryer clothes, refueled (aka ate and drank). I had trouble with my new hydration bladder, so I changed to my waist belt. (I had to drink out of Iliana's hydration pack the first lap and the passing hikers must've wondered as they saw...

We couldn't stop talking, laughing, sharing stories, having fun. It was a really great day. I dropped one of my pills in a pile of leaves and Iliana had to help me dig and find it. Oh, fun.

And then it opened up...and there were runnable sections. I felt great, and really pushed the pace.

We started to worry about the approaching sunset. I didn't know how fast the sun would set, or when, or where - so I kept pushing it. Neither of us had a headlamp (Well, I did bring a headlamp...and it was back in the car!).

We made it. We turned around a little early to avoid the darkness, but it was worth the peace of mind.

At the finish, we hung out with Ray and Scott and the really awesomely fun RDs. They had more than what is expected at a fastass - Mountain Dew and water and gatorade and cheese quesadillas and soups and snickers and other assorted deliciousness. It was really quite lovely.

And then we were driving back. My calves ached so much, I was forced to recover with pastries and moan the rest of the night to my boyfriend. But I had a blast on this incredibly rocky, pretty, hilly, fun 50k!

A Girl Just Wants a Little Bit of Sidewalk, and Courtesy

I was running the other day on a fairly wide sidewalk on Franklin Street in Greenpoint. A couple was ahead of me, taking up the entire sidewalk because each of them had a dog that was on a rather long leash, so there was no way to pass. I politely called, "Excuse me." They turned around, saw me, and moved over to let me pass.

As I ran ahead, the guy yelled, "You should run in the street."

Floored, I stopped. Was he serious? I actually stopped my watch and walked to him.

"Excuse me?"

"You should run in the street." He said this cockily and I tried not to think, "F-ing hipster asshole."

"That's dangerous. I'm not going to run in the street." I tried to be civil as I said this.

"You should run in the street. It's rude to ask us to move over. Be respectful."

And then I lost it. "Respectful? Rude? The sidewalk is for everyone! You don't need the whole sidewalk. Share! You are obviously not from here or you would share." Hello, public space is for everyone! I began running away.

And then there were probably some curses.

But WTF?! The sidewalks are for everyone. I do sometimes run in the street when the sidewalks are too crowded, but I think this was a good spot where they could easily share.

And as I ran away, I noticed my Garmin registering some rather fast times. Oh well, a benefit of adrenalin.

Short Runs

Because we weren't out to set out speed records today.

We slept in, tangled in blankets and each other, limbs and cat and comforter, and woke up, our hands reaching for each other. And finally, we rose.

Our legs ached - mine from a 50k on rocks and hills the day before, yours from a brutal speed workout two days before. Could we do the 10 miles at 7:45 pace?

We opted for enjoyment...and rest. We weren't ready to beat ourselves up. We tugged on running clothes and headed out.

At Gantry Plaza, you flopped on one of the chairs. I always wanted to do that, always having run by them. I sat in your lap and we watched the boats go by. You held me. We talked of island expansion, of fireworks, of important moments. And this was one, just enjoying the day, each other, ourselves.

We rose. We ran home, laughing. We ate breakfast. I ruined the eggs, you helped me save them. It all tasted fine, especially when peanut butter is around. Especially when I can kiss you after.

And now, I'm off for another short run, this time, alone, but the one this morning is what sustains me for now.

06 November 2011

NYC Marathon...As A Spectator

It was a weird feeling to NOT be running the NYC Marathon on Marathon Sunday. However, after an ass-kicking flu all weekend, I doubt I could have finished the course...or maybe I could have, but the time would be nothing I'd want to share.

Friday I started by feeling like I had a cold, but after my Spanish class, I was horizontal. Shivers, fevers, coughing, throat hurt, exhaustion, inability to move, all that good stuff that goes along with the flu. Stuck in bed, I read, slept, followed my friends' excitement abt the marathon via Twitter and FB.

And today, I felt a million times better - but still, not great. I went and handed water to the runners, and couldn't wait until the end (despite the fact that I arrived late) - I was just too exhausted. I went home and curled up in my bed with my little cat.

Is it stupid to run when you're so sick? How can you not? But how can you propel yourself when physically, your body is cursing you out?

Despite the flu shot, this flu had been a long time in the coming. I haven't had the flu since college (and my college years are long gone), and I've been staying up too late, getting lots of migraines, stressing lately. So getting sick essentially kicked my ass. And I hope it's over.

Still, the urge to go back to bed....

Going to the marathon today was very important to me. My most regular running partner, Nelson, along with many other awesome members of my team, including Mary, Katie, Mishka, Zandy, Fernando, Anna, and too many others to name, were running and I wanted to show my support. I bundled up and handed water to runners, cheering them on. It was SO weird to not be there, scanning the crowds for my parents and friends as I would push myself again, hoping for that oh-so-tantalizing PR that I always wanted. Can we ever get it? If we push enough, and things are right...it's never something you can easily predict.

And now, I'm going to make a cuppa tea and head to bed to curl up with the latest Jeffrey Eugenides...and my kitty!

03 November 2011

Zebra

Looks like my sewing skills have improved a bit for this Halloween costume I wore at the Friday Rubalad party.


02 November 2011

"The" Marathon

If you live in a little city called New York, when people talk about "the" marathon, as if there were just one marathon in the world, they're referring to the New York City Marathon. I've run it six times, had a blast every time, but I must confess:

I'm done.

Oh, sure, I say this. I wouldn't mind running it just one more time, maybe next year, and trying to break 3:25 or even 3:20, old goals of mine. I was close - but not quite there. But now I feel SO far...so much slower.

I stopped doing marathons because they're hard to allow other things into your life, or, in my case, the other things being ultras. I have a ton of endurance; I can run farther than most people, but that speed...kind of died off. I do speed workouts, but they're not quite the same as it used to be when I was a 3:28 marathoner.

Last year, two weeks after doing Javelina, a race where I was incredible pain, crying, hallucinating, crawling much of the last 40 miles (Okay, I wasn't literally crawling, but...), I had intense swelling. (Cankles!) I spent a good bit of time getting a massage, but my legs were still not back to normal by the time THE marathon rolled around, so I decided I'd have fun. I wore a pink running skirt with pink feathers covering the bottom, and ran, chatting with friends through various points of the race. ("So do you think this means he likes me? I mean, I bring my laundry to his house in NJ?" "Leslie, I do think so!"), enjoying the day. But I didn't have IT in me. I didn't have that burning desire. It didn't feel like much of a massive accomplishment. I had finished a 100 miler in agony, over 100 miles actually, and the marathon, despite my second-slowest time, still was nowhere near as hard.

So I decided to take a year off.

Sometimes, your decisions really bother other people. Everyone keeps asking me. "So where can I watch you run THE marathon this year?" Nowhere, actually. Unless you want to see me hand water out - then, come by mile 12. I'm going to wear a bright pink shirt so my friend Nelson can see me. "Why won't you do THE marathon?" I'm not feeling it. Is that a good enough reason? "It's too short for you." Well, it is short, but that's actually nice. I mean, done in 3-4 hours? Sweet!

(And then there's the conversation I loathe:
Me: I run.
Person: Oh. What do you run?
Me: I run ultras, 50 mile, 100 mile races.
Person: Wow. That's crazy. That's incredible. I can't even 1 mile.
Me: Yeah...
Person: Have you ever done THE marathon?
Me: Yes, I've done it six times. That's only 26.2 miles. But yeah, I've done it. I like ultras better though.)

People get obsessed with THE marathon. I know, because I was super obsessed. It was the one day where people celebrated ME. My parents would come in and watch me at three spots, my mom lugging around homemade cookies and bars and brownies in a backpack. My sister even came one year. My boss would show up with a sign or a pompom. (How many people can say that of their boss? YAY!) My coworkers would be out there with bells. My friends would be cheering me on. Every year, people would witness me doing what I love most: RUNNING.

But running on roads isn't as fun. It hurts. It tears your body up more than running on trails. The crowds are nuts. The logistics of THE marathon (getting up super duper early, the corrals, everything) are stressful and a pain.

But the crowds cheering you on rock.

I'm torn, really. I'm part of a running club where everyone is 100% obsessed. It's like there's no other race at times.

I'm really excited about running the Cajun Coyote 100 Miler in December. But I think, "Maybe I should've tried one more year..."

I secretly want to try to qualify the last year I'll be able to qualify with a half-marathon time; maybe train faster in January-March, hopefully being able to once again, smash 1:37 like it's nothing. And if I did that, automatic entry. And then I'd give myself one more try to break 3:25.

But that's a lot of speed. Not as much time on the trails. Not as much time out there for long. Can ultras and marathons cooperate? I don't know. Can ultrarunners be marathoners? Sometimes. But I don't know what I want.

When I think of why running makes me happy, I remember the Iroquois Trail 50 Miler, when I was running FAST FAST FAST, up and down, on these absolutely gorgeous trails, enjoying the moments, pushing, pushing, pushing, fast, fast, oh look at the leaves, up, down, amazing, runners' high...

I have less of those moments in the dirty NYC streets...

It's a conflict I have within me, but I'll see if I can break through.

In Honor of that Horrified Pedestrian in Her Bathrobe at 6:30 a.m. on Kent Avenue & N 6th St

01 November 2011

It's those moments where you're not expecting much where a lot happens.

I was stopping by Occupy Wall Street, to simply drop off some books I had sorted through and decided I didn't want/need, and some old (but warm) hats for the occupiers. In the Occupy Wall Street Library, I immediately got in a discussion with two of the library volunteers. From libraries to reading to the injustice to why we were involved in Occupy Wall Street to gentrification to our lives. And suddenly forty minutes had passed and I was still sitting on the color-chalked steps, enthralled, engaged, in the exchange of ideas and energy. It's beautiful moments like this that keep me going.

30 October 2011

Missing Even the Exodus

Even the Exodus at Burning Man was a party, a sad one, sad to be leaving my favourite place in the world.


Bad Runs, Good Runs

There are many things I cannot control, and the weather is one of them. The weather turned both of my fun long runs into short cranky ones.

Saturday Iliana and I planned on running all day at Bear Mountain. She picked a loop to repeat, and the plan was, we'd head to the car in between each loop, grab a little more water, food, whatever.

On the drive up, the precipitation grew colder and icier the further north we head. At Bear Mountain, it was snowing when we arrived, and I immediately began complaining. Iliana is somehow good at tuning me out. We headed out for the first of six loops and even though she dragged me on the dreaded Stairway to Heaven, I quickly worked up a sweat as we began discussing important things such as why there are so many wretched men in NYC and upcoming ultramarathons. At the top of Perkin's Drive, the snow was sticking hardcore and as we began running, I grew worried. I insisted we run a little slower than we would've liked, because the asphalt on the road down was slippery. The run felt more like 3 hours than an hour and a half, but at least I was in good company. 

My gloves were soaked, so I decided to change them when we got to the car. I changed some layers, ate a bit of an Odwalla bar and some of those Honey Stinger chews, and drank a little water. And then I really didn't want to get out of a car with heated seats, but suddenly, the snow changed from lots of snow coming down to hardcore-you-can't-see-anything-blizzard.

So we decided to go home. Hmmmm let's drive back to the city in this? Probably not a great idea but it was good we left them. The roads grew progressively worse, with overturned cars, stuck cars, electrical fires, downed trees, and horrid drivers. The normally hour-long drive took 3.5 hours.

Sunday was supposed to be the Holiday Marathon - I would run 26.2 miles and Wayne was going to do 22. However, the race was canceled due to fallen trees and ice (pshaw! wimps!), so we decided to skip the ice/slush/snow that would plague sidewalks and head to Prospect Park to do six loops, and then I planned on running home (while Wayne would drive back). Little did I know that my legs had nothing in them and I felt like crap so I could barely push forward. I wanted to cry. Where were my trails? Where was my tough hardcore running weekend? What the hell?


We cranked out seven miles and hopped back in Wayne's car. That was enough, we told ourselves. We didn't feel it. He'd do his long run tomorrow. I would do a couple of slightly longer runs this week, and next week, 50 miles, the week after, 50k, and I'll be in good shape for the marathon.


Instead, we curled up, made a good brunch together, hung out, arranged stuff in our apartment, played with our bundle of fur.


I'll head out for another run in a bit, but really, when you just don't feel it, results don't seem to come. I think my run today was disappointing because I was supposed to be at a fun race - instead was like a hamster, running loops in a park. It was supremely depressing.


Let me out of my cage - send me to the trails - that's where I belong!


A little over a month to Cajun Coyote 100 miler!