23 December 2013

Bogota, Bogota, Bogota.....

"You're going to get robbed." 

This is what many people told Wayne and I when we announced our intentions for our Christmas trip to be in Colombia. Oh, Bogota was SO dangerous. We were going to get mugged, kidnapped, or worse. And yes, it does happen at times, and we were paranoid at times, uber cautious. And happily, everything turned out okay.

We landed in a rainstorm. Our cabbie (who ripped us off, which seems to happen way too often with Colombia cabbies) told me that it normally doesn't rain this much. It basically rains every single day, for a short while. But today, it was pouring for way too long.

We got into our hotel, Casa Platypus. We had a cute room on the 2nd floor (about 140-150 pesos). I had a wicked migraine from not sleeping the night before (We stayed up all night to pack and clean our apt.), so we basically went out in the pouring rain to the closest restaurant, which was actually pretty good. The walls were covered with paintings of trolls and kitsch (ice skates, old irons, other random things). The food was pretty good. I basically collapsed into bed as soon as we got back.

In the morning, I went for a run. Duh. I ran down a pedestrian-only street a bunch of times, and got to see some pretty neat anti-war graffiti on the flower boxes. Wayne and I spent the morning in a lot of museums. El Museo del Oro was as boring as I thought it would be, but Wayne liked it. We discovered a bunch of fantastic museums, many of them free. We stumbled into a random vegetarian restaurant for lunch. We went back to Casa Platypus to regroup and the skies opened up. We cuddled in bed and read books until it relaxed, and then walked around the Candelaria, looking for a restaurant that had something vegetarian. We ended up at a random cafe with a space cadet American server. We walked around some more, then found a cute bar for the world's sweetest mojito and a beer for Wayne.

The next day, we took a field trip to Catedral de Sal. It was cool, but our tour was entirely in Spanish, I missed a lot of words, and Wayne knows zero Spanish. Wayne was excited to take Bogota's Bus Rapid Transit. The journey was long and we got back to Casa Platypus exhausted...but we should go to the church at the top of town! We quickly dumped some stuff and then headed out. We took the funicular up and the cable car down, and got to see the stages of the cross illuminated by fabulous Christmas lights - a little weird. The Christmas lights were amazing. We got pissed when we realized the ticket seller only sold us one-way tickets and pocked the difference. Tourist tax, sigh.

Our last morning in Bogota had me freaking out after my run that I lost my camera; it turns out, it was in Wayne's bag. Quickly, got ready, stowed out luggage, and headed out on a Bike Tour of Bogota. It was fantastic. My bike should have been put to rest a long time ago, and being nervous on a bike with crappy brakes, Wayne switched with me so I rode the less-sucky-but-still-not-great bike that he got. But the tour was fantastic. We learned a lot about Pablo Escobar's Colombia, the new Colombia, Galen, Gaitan, graffiti art, the red light district, went to a market and sampled wonderful fruit, visited a cemetery. It was really interesting. The only snafu was a woman on our tour thought it was acceptable to take photos of the prostitutes in the Red Light District, who were really angry and wanted to fight her. A little crazy. Why would you take a photo of someone who clearly did not want a photo to be taken of them?

Fascinating, art-filled, vibrant, energetic, polluted, literary, and fun. I did love Bogota, yes, I did.

12 December 2013

Frozen Bonsai Half-Marathon Left Me Frozen

Loops in Central Park? But why not when it's the Frozen Bonsai Half-Marathon, put on by the super duper awesome NYC Runs. And what else did I have to do, a day after running a 50k?

Photo by Ken Allen himself.
 My legs felt tired as I ran over the Pulaski to the 7 train, and as I ran to Central Park from the 6 train. Hmmmm.

When I got to the park, one of my NBR teammates said, "Oh, a half marathon? This is a walk in the park for you." I responded, "Literally, it will be." Literally because I could barely run, my legs were so tired. After the 50k the day before, my legs would be lucky if they could slog out 13.1 miles in a walk!

I started the race, joking around with whoever was around me. Mat Gerowitz was right by, and we began catching up, chatting, talking, laughing. After a few miles, he told me to go ahead.

I ran, and because it was so cold, never once looked at my Garmin. I decided I was running 10 minute miles, and hoped by some miracle I might break 2 hours. Not sure if that would happen.

I ended up meeting a nice guy, Leroy, and chatting with him the last few miles. Then a familiar bike came along - Wayne! "Hey, did the race start late?" Um, no, thanks for reminding me how slow I was. (Turns out, he thought the race started at 8:30 a.m., not 9:00 a.m.! Ha!)

I finished, miraculously, in 1:47. I say miraculously because that's a decent half time, especially since I have raced almost every weekend since September, and I ran a 50k the day before. Wooooo!

Freezing, I headed over to NYC Runs food area to eat some blueberries and bagels with cream cheese and strawberries and hot chocolate, and then went to meet my mom. What a cold day, some hills, but you know what? Awesome medal made it all worth it!

10 December 2013

Staten Island Trail Festival: Race Report: Cold, Muddy, and a Mud Bath to Boot!

I was going to fly out to San Francisco for the North Face 50 miler, but when I learned there was a race the same weekend in NYC, and I was traveling nearly every weekend prior, staying in town was a no brainer. Sign me up for the Staten Island Trail Festival! 50k please!

I headed out with some friends from my running club, all of whom were running the 25k. Beth and I planned on getting a ride home with someone running the 50k, unless he had to leave suddenly. Hmmm...we figured someone else from NYC would hopefully have room; if not, we could call Wayne and beg him or take a car service home. Oh, let's not worry about this during the race (okay, just a bit.), but just run.

The course consists of a 4 mile loop, then you do another big loop, and then repeat the second loop. Despite being Staten Island, there were some hills, lots and lots of mud, some pretty scenery. The aid stations were SUPER basic with bare bone minimum, but the volunteers were very friendly.

I started out feeling good, running with Matthew, who's a pretty tough runner, even when he's not even trying. We had fun chatting, catching up, laughing, telling stories. At one point, we began passing people who were behind us - seems like a bunch of people did a 3 mile loop instead of a 4 mile so...a little confusing but oh well.

After about 10 miles, we hit a hill and I decided to walk it and eat a gel. Matt kept running. He was in my sight for a long time and then he was not. I was bonking pretty bad; only gels don't sustain me and I wish I had packed mini bags of pretzels.

I got to the drop bag area and shoved a bunch of cookies in my mouth. I took off, walking it off, eating more animal crackers (I love bringing bags of animal crackers w me to races - they are carbs, a bit of sweetness, but plain enough to settle an upset stomach.). And then I began running. With strangers.

On a lollypop section, I saw Beth, Zandy, and Will were about a half mile behind me. "I want to run w you guys," I yelled. "Catch up w me."

I walked the hills, stretched, and ran. Eventually they caught up. We chatted, laughed, told stories. 

And then I fell in a pile of mud. Completely. Gloves, pants, shirt, skirt. UGH.

I finished, clearly muddified. But who cares? I was done. I put on warm clothes, and ate some brownies. Apparently, I was 1st in my age group. I didn't realize that until my friend told me later. Wooohooo! Let's eat. I was so cold and tired and hungry that I got home, hopped in a hot tub w Epsom salts and a sandwich. I ate and read and chilled in the tub. YAY.

Tofurkey Trot in Branford CT

Turkey trots are funny. All these non-runners come out to run this 5k so "I can eat whatever I want today." Realistically, they're only burning about 300 calories, so they probably can't have too much.

Wayne and I ran the Turkey Trot in Branford. The course is flat with a few hills. We ran the race, finishing a few seconds within each other. Then I went out for a 5k cooldown, during which Wayne caught up with old friends and ate chowder.

And then we went to the feast that is known as Thanksgiving. That's all, folks. Run a little, smile, cheer everyone on, and then go eat. 

Channukah Chalf: The Coldest, Windiest, Most Miserable Race I Have Ever Run, and It Only a Half-Marathon

Because I'm stupid, I signed up for the Channukah Half. "Oh look, there's an Oy Vey 10k and a Gelt 5k. This is the festival of lights race series! And put on by the beloved NYC Runs." I'm not Jewish, but I have a bacon-cheeseburger Jew as a brother-in-law (and don't tell him there's no such thing as a bacon-cheeseburger Jew), so I figured I'd do my part.

"Don't eat gelt. It sucks," he told me.

Okay, Brian. I'll just run the half instead.

As the days approached, I noticed how horrifying the weather reports were. Well, weather.com isn't always right,  right? 

Unfortunately, it was worse than you could have even imagined.

Cold. In the 20s, but feels colder. Windy. Wind gusts up to 50 mph. As the race was run along the water, spray from the water would come up and cover the entire race course, which would mean you'd be soaked. And then a gust of wind would come. It sucked. It was a double out and back, which meant it sucked worse in one direction (coming back). There were times I was running as fast as I could, and a glance at my Garmin would show me 10:30 pace. And then my Garmin showed some 6:50s. Ouch.

Tears down my face. I couldn't feel my hands. My feet. OMG I can't even move. This sucks so bad.

Then I finished. A volunteer frozenly handed me a heat sheet and Wayne put my down coat on over that. "C'mon, let's get you out of here."

I grabbed a salt bagel w frozen cream cheese and hot chocolate (Gotta love NYC Runs!) and stumbled to the car. The heat felt so good. I cried when I had to get out. Why? Why be someplace cold and miserable? This race sucked, I'm glad I did it, and I hope I'll never do a race that cold again.

02 December 2013

Brooklyn Marathon: Why the Hell Not?

 It's really not a good idea to run a marathon the week after running a 24 hour race (and the week before that, doing a marathon, and the week before that doing another 24 hour race, and the week before that, a half-marathon). But I'm not always so keen on good ideas.

Wayne has been pretty injured w sciatic problems for a year. But he insisted on running The Brooklyn Marathon, and I thought, "Well, a week after a 24 hour race, the playing field will be pretty level." So we ran together.

We started out, and I felt pretty good. Wayne was not feeling as good, so we ran slower than I would've liked - but faster than we said we were going to run. Oh well.

It began raining. My posture instantly changed and I curled up in the fetal position - well, as much as I could while continuing running. When we got to the NBR water stop, I ran behind it to where my bag was and pulled out a long sleeved t-shirt I had stashed in my bag. Ahhh.....

Then - duh, I ran a 24 hour the week before, WTF was I doing running a marathon? My back hurt and I just felt like crap.

Mile 23. Wayne and I shared an airport-sized bottle of whiskey at the top of the hill. I could barely run for a little bit, laughing and feeling the whiskey immediately.

I began to kick and Wayne didn't have it. He pulled me back so I'd slow down and run next to him. Then we crossed the finish line and kissed.