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!

16 October 2011

Six Hour Race!

I've never done a timed race before, but GLIRC was organizing a 6 hour run - that Ray K was running (Yay, I'd get to see/hang out with Ray K!), fit into my schedule perfectly, and wasn't that far. I figured I'd torture myself, I mean, train for my next 100 miler, December's Cajun Coyote 100 Miler.

The course was in Sunken Meadow State Park, where I spent every Saturday of my high school cross-country career racing. The first race I ever did, I hated every step of it and promised myself I'd quit cross-country after I finished. But then after my race, we roasted marshmallows and went swimming in The Long Island Sound and it was SO fun that I forgot how much it sucked until next week. The same thing happened. Repeat. And now I'm hooked.

However, this course was a little different - we skipped out on the awful Cardiac and Snake Hills, had a little bit of pavement, a lot of sand (and stupid Cherie forgot her gaiters!), some hills (that Ray and I were calling mountains at the end), and a lot of fun. Each loop was 2.1 miles with a smaller .36 mile loop you did at the very end.

I ate little, other than two gels and two packs of Honey Stinger Energy Chews. I drank a cup of water every loop, opting to not carry water but instead grab a cup every 2.1 mile loop.

The course was pretty, with some flat sections, a few uphills, and really, not enough downhills. It was fun because there were a few spots where you could see people running at a different point than you. Of course, we got lapped but that was fine.

I went out easy with Mary and we talked about slutty pumpkins and donuts. By loop four, I was feeling strong and Mary, who ran Portland the week before and had been sick all week, didn't feel like charging up the hills with me, I ran alone. I pushed it hard. My Garmin tells me my pace was low 9/high 8 minute miles. Woohooo!

Then I hit a hard loop and it was a struggle to keep the pace under ten. Still, I was mostly successful. As I ran into the start/finish/aid station, I saw Wayne standing there, waiting for me. He was only going to run 21 miles and do it as a training run, but he wanted to run the last two loops with me. He was hurting a bit, and we both slowed down further. I laughed aloud when I read the numbers on my Garmin 210.

It's always fun running with a good friend or love, and Wayne is both to me, so it was a total blast. I was sad when the two laps ended, as Wayne was heading back to Greenpoint (and oh, how tempting it was to leave!) but I wasn't sad for long - Ray K had slowed down and wanted to run with me. So we did.

The next few hours were fun - Ray is a legendary and brilliant ultrarunner, full of great stories and songs. He'd sing songs, or change the words. I'd tell him, "Ray, can you sing a song to the tune of Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby/whatever I wanted to hear?" and he'd sing a hilarious song. Like about the ultramarathon we were in the midst of.

We finished our last final loop, and we were booth hurting bad. We joked the mini hills that I charged up at the beginning were mountains. "I need crampons!" "Throw me some rope!" "Is there ice at the top?" "I'm getting altitude sickness."

Then we had our mini loops. Though less than 20 minutes to go, my bladder refused to wait that long. So I peed and then slogged through the rest of the race.

I felt sluggish and achey and tired - BUT my time was good enough for 7th woman (out of 61) and 29th overall (out of 159). I felt pretty good, especially as it was "just a training run."

I'm glad I threw a lot of fast parts in there, and am excited to experiment a little more with faster paces in training for Cajun.

Dear Current PR,
Oh, how I'd love to smash you.
Yours (but not for long),

Occupation, the Party

Seriously, there is an idea that protest is all marching, chanting, long days, aching feet, sore throats. Absolutely not! And Saturday, we proved that!

The Occupation Party was seeing this is a chance to celebrate - a chance to celebrate that people were WAKING UP and taking the streets and speaking their voice.

We met in Times Square 5pm, dressed in white. I pulled out my favourite white tutu I made, a silver top I made, my white fuzzy sparkly legwarmers I made, grabbed my boy (dressed in white), and didn't know what to expect - and liked it that way.

There was an awesome band. We bopped up and down, dancing. We chanted. Sparklers and tea light candles were handed out. We weren't sure what was happening. We liked it that way.

I saw friends - good friends and old friends and new friends. Wayne, Jenny, Dexter, Gwendolyn, Ofer and I clustered together, laughing, talking, dancing. People handed out flyers, exchanged stories, and we checked Twitter and FB on our phones for the update on the rest of Times Square. It was incredible. People were marching in solidarity. It was exciting. It was history.

Suddenly, everyone was lighting their sparklers. We shared lighters, shared the light of our sparklers. We danced. We laughed. It was so beautiful, so fun. We sang, "This Light of Mine."

We danced some more. We didn't care what was happening next; what was happening now was so much more fun, we told ourselves...until the next moment did indeed come, Wow. 

And what happened next was also extremely fun. We began marching from our spot in Times Square to Rockefeller Centre. The cops were confused. What were we possibly doing? Having fun, yes. We had a band. We were dancing. I was kicking my legs high, waving my pompoms, feeling free and alive and happy. And then we headed down into the subway, smiling and laughing and cheering.

All several hundred or a thousand of us crammed into the subway. We sang, we drum, we danced, we did the people's mic version of spreading our mission, we had a blast. My friend Jenny who normally doesn't go to protests liked this dance-party version of a protest.

At W 4th Street, we got out. We entered Washington Square Park. The band played; we danced. We didn't care what happened next. This was so fun.

We texted our friends. Times Square seemed like a mess. They came down to the park. They danced. We shared stories. We shared snacks, hugs. It was beautiful.

It kind of reminded me of Burning Man.

But of course, it's political and so much matters.

Speakers began. This one incredible professor began speaking, and we were impressed. How the African countries are behind us. How this is so important. How the other countries, instead of shaking their heads, yelled, "FINALLY!"

We grew tired and had an early race. We hugged our friends, each other, and headed out into the streets. And into the subway.

And on the subway, we began talking to a really interesting guy about our days. On the subway, three more participants from The Occupation Party talked to us, about inequality and the party and how Occupy Wall St was going and the arrests and what was happening next. We shared ideas and listened. We were excited. It was exciting.

And what's next - that's also exciting too.

"Billionaires" Defend the 1% at Occupy Wall St

I adore the Billionaires, since the days when they were Billionaires for Bush. They're a great performance group that pretends to be the rich...Right now, they are hilarious. I've been having improv sessions whenever I run into them at Liberty Square, laughing, cheering. To get a feel for this awesome group, please, do watch this video. You will laugh.

Bolt the Billyburg: A Race Report on the Running of the Williamsburg Bridge

I've been running the Williamsburg Bridge since the days where I found the bridges of the lower part of Manhattan the most rewarding place to run when I lived in a crowded "one bedroom" (not sure if you can even really call the teeny apartment Jenny and I lived in that) in the East Village. So when I saw the announcement for Bolt the Billyburg, a race solely run on the bridge, I thought, "YES!" And then I got scared.

In recent years, I have been running long. LONG. I feel very comfortable running a 50miler, to be honest, more comfortable than I do running a 5k. But I still felt drawn to the race.

After a day of run-work-haircut-run-more work-protesting-NBR happy hour, I found myself tipsily ending the night. The alarm began braying way too early, but as usual, I respected it. And got myself to the foot of the bridge.

Fernando, Kim, Tyler, Wayne and I were the sole representatives of NBR, with Christine showing up for the Whippets (I miss her in NBR!). We did the race in two waves, running over the bike path side of the bridge, ending at the foot of the bridge in Manhattan, turning around, running back over the running partner until we hit the cross-over, then running across that, and down the bike path.

Wayne had promised me he'd run with me - mostly b/c I'm feeling like a slow wimp lately. He told me he'd pace me, and stuck by my side the whole time, which was really awesome and nice.

We started fast. My asthma was feeling crappy the day before, so of course, I immediately felt like hell. My lungs were burning - I used my inhaler. And again. And again. And again. I pushed hard up the bridge. My legs said yes, my lungs said no. It was so hard to push as fast as I was capable of.

I pushed faster. We got on the flat part and my lungs slowly calmed down. I looked at the water, the boats churning past underneath, the skyline, including my job's building. It was fun to run fast on my favourite bridge.

Running downhill was fun. My lungs were like, "Awesome."

At the base, some of the friends/volunteers of Mikal's were there to remind us to not run into speeding traffic and to instead turn around and run back upwards. And then my lungs began cursing me out again.

We pushed it faster.

And then flat.

And then down.

I pushed harder.

"You're the first woman," Wayne told me. That was obvious in our small heat, but I didn't know about the other heat. I told him this. But still, I pushed down.

He held my hand for a little while running down the very bottom of the ramp...

Until we finished.

I sat there, filling my lungs with oxygen and another six puffs of my inhaler.

After, we all went to Pips, where people drank PBR (though not me, a beer-hater), played pingpong, learned results, hung out, let my lungs chill a little. I was kind of excited to find out that I was indeed first woman; it was a very small race, but that's always fun to have. Victory does indeed taste so sweet, and it's impossible to accomplish without those you love. (Thanks, Wayne.)

12 October 2011

No Sexual Harassment at #OccupyWallSt

En route to dinner with a friend, I stopped by Occupy Wall St. I did a cheer, talked to a man about how apparently JP Morgan is the bank affiliated with food stamps, chatted with a few random people, did a cheer. I was ready to leave, maybe do one more cheer, when I heard a guy yell, "Hey cheerleader."

My pompom was small and I wasn't cheering, but I thought he, like others, must've recognized me from cheering the other day.

I stepped back and smiled.

He got up out of his chair. He was probably about 65. 

"You're so pretty," he told me.

"Uh, thanks." It wasn't told in that complimentary way, but the way where you are glad your jacket is zipped up, but you suddenly wish you had a down coat on too so he couldn't see your shape.

"Can I get a kiss?" he said suddenly, leaning in really close.

"No! No!" I told him. I darted away and he shrugged his shoulders.

"What just happened?" This activist guy yelled. I told him. He started screaming at the man.

"You gotta leave! You can't just sexually assault people. Leave. You've been sitting there all day, leering. We don't want you." The activist guy picked up the old guy's chair and tossed it out of the park. Others began gathering around.

"Calm down," people told the activist guy, who was admittedly rather worked up.

"No! We can't have people in here like that."

I again explained my story, and again. And everyone nodded. "The guy shouldn't be in the park - that's not cool - but this other guy needs to chill," I told someone.

I felt sleazy and uncomfortable. I didn't do my final cheer. I slunk out of the park, heading to the train, hating how people can just make you feel a certain way, despite you not letting them. It just happens.

And while the activist guy seemed crazy to some, I thank him for defending me.

06 October 2011

Why Are We Occupying Wall Street Anyway?

The past two weeks, I've been thinking about the Occupy Wall Street movement a lot. I've been reading articles. Heading down to Zuccotti Square. I've been talking to other activists, other people chilling down there, and (sometimes unfortunately!), media. I've been radical cheerleading. I've been helping out with the Occupy Wall Street Library

I've been there, in the square.

Where are you?

Perhaps you think we have a muddled message. I'm going to tell you the main message is this: people are sick of how large corporations' money (Wall Street is a shortcut for this) controls government. Confines them.

And there's heaps of other reasons.

I've met so many incredible people. I've entertained, via my cheering. I've shared books. I've organized books. I've passed out flyers. I've chanted. I've danced. I've sang. I've hugged. I've donated.

And I'll be there, occupying Wall Street, supporting people because the people are me too.

02 October 2011

1st Place, 2nd Place, 3rd Place: a 5k, Two Little Girls, and A Whole Lot of Fun

Tony's cute 10 year old daughter had something to ask me. I couldn't imagine what. Julia shoved a piece of paper in my hand. "Will you do this race with me? Will you? Please!!"

It was a 5k, and it would be her first. How could I say no? Really, I couldn't.

Wayne and I went up there the night before, and Tony, Wayne and I drank 2 bottles of red wine. This was clearly a bad idea when our alarms went off at 5am the next day. We piled on some clothes and headed out for a 2.5 hour slog. We complained about the puddles, feeling the effects of the wine, being tired, and as many other things that one can possibly complain about. Wayne forced me to go over a toothpick on a broken bridge over rapids, risking my life (Okay, there were no rapids, but it was a broken bridge, and it was scary). After our feet were thoroughly soaked, we went inside where Julia was eating a massive bowl of corn pops with milk and Allison, Tony's 9-year-old daughter, was eating a dry bowl of Frosted Flakes. They asked me if they could have my running skirt, my top. I changed into a set of clean running clothes and they argued over who could have what part of this next outfit. They seem to covet all my clothes, despite the fact that I am 32 and am bigger than them. They are hilarious.
Me, Julia (#121), Wayne, Allie (#120)

We headed to the race, with Jinnette, Tony's wife taking photos. Wayne decided to run up front, Tony ran with Allie, and I ran with Julia. Julia grabbed me at a sprint, "We're gonna win! You're going too slow!" Less than 400 meters later, she panted, "I have a cramp! I have a cramp! Slow down!" Allie told her that you get cramps when you're having a baby (I think Allie was thinking of contractions.), and Julia and I began walking and we watched Tony and Allie and Wayne recede into the distance. Julia clutched my hand and I encouraged her to stretch out her cramp.

We ran again, hit a hill, walked up it. She complained walking up it, and I thought about how tough her Dad is, doing Badwater the past few years. I tried to encourage her to run as much as she could, to walk faster, told her how tough she was, cheered her up, showed her how to stretch out a cramp. She held my hand the entire time.

"I don't want to be in last place! I don't want to be in last place!"

We weren't, but when some older people were catching up as we climbed the final hill, Julia would tug my hand and we'd run faster.

At the finish line, she yelled, "I wanna be first!" She ran her heart out across the finish line while I clapped behind her.

Allie ended up being the first girl in their age group (and 4th overall! Wow!) and Julia was the second girl in their age group. I somehow ended up being 3rd in my age group (on account of it being a small race) and Wayne was 1st in his age group. Tony, Tony simply laughed at me.

It was great. Honestly, it was my slowest 5k ever - BUT the most rewarding. Running a 5k holding a little girl's hand? She's hilarious and fun and great-spirited. Sure, I could have run all out, placed, probably even won overall for the women. But what would I have gotten? A trophy. I think it's more important to give to other people, to give yourself, to help them. I had SO much fun and she ran her first race. It was pretty, it was hilly, and it was a sweet victory for all of us.

01 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street

There's been a severe lack of media attention about the Occupy Wall Street protests - no surprise. The media typically downplays activism, the #s of protesters, etc - I know because I have been misrepresented by mainstream media many times as an activist.

To simplify things, basically, people took over this private park, Zucotti Square, right by Wall Street (and it's the park across from Century 21, for those bargain shoppers for designer brands). They wanted to put tents but they're not allowed, so they're sleeping, huddling under tarps when it rains, cooking, sharing ideas...

And why? It's to protest how damaged our culture is. When the CEO of Wal-Mart makes in an hour what the average employee does in a year, when yet another bank is raising fees...There's a lot of reasons, but I'm glad people are speaking up. We're losing our rights over our bodies. Will we really have social security? Why are there so many scary Tea Parties? And I can go on and on, but I have to catch a train...

I feel like the direction things have been going is immensely depressing...Really?

It's weird. Since we stopped organizing for NYC Radical Cheerleaders, I have felt this loss. But when Emily and I got together today, things have changed - but our politics still are the same.

We're ready to fuck shit up, as much as we possibly can in pompoms and miniskirts.

See you in the streets on Monday!