29 November 2014

Take Me to Church

I was in Brooklyn Banya with Menachem and friends. We were going back and forth between the wet and dry saunas, between the steam room, and the jacuzzi. We were resting in between sweat sessions, Menachem and everyone was sitting at table, dipping chunks of bread in hummus, in avocado dip. I was in the jacuzzi alone.

You could relax and stare into space, which I did. But there was also a television showing MTV. ("MTV still exists?" someone asked. Clearly we all watch our videos on YouTube.) I don't find television particularly relaxing, but I found myself drawn to this video. They were playing a song that I had heard before and liked, "Take Me to Church." I never knew much about the song or Hozier or anything. But the video drew me in. It horrified me and I couldn't stop watching.

I researched it. They made the video when all the homophobic laws were being passed in Russia. It gave me chills and I was almost crying. Here I was, in a Russian banya, unable to stop staring at the homophobia I was witnessing. In some ways, I grew up in a bubble being from New York - I have never seen things like this. My dad likes to say, "People are different outside New York." I know this kind of horrifying violence can happen in New York, but Russia. Matthew Shepard. So many other things.

I'm glad through my job I can do things like educate people about LGBT issues and sexism and diversity, and I think that's so valuable. But the fact that bullshit like this exists today around the world, where there are countries where same sex acts are punishable by death, where hate crimes go unpunished even in our own country - it's enough to make me cry.

At the banya, I watched the video. A lump in my throat. I got out of the jacuzzi, where I had been sitting alone, and sat back down with my friends. I was doing nothing, and that's not a good thing. We always need to speak up. I spoke up to the homophobic assholes in my high school who threatened me senior year after learning my prom date (aka my best friend) was gay. I've spoken up to many people over the years who think using the term "gay" as a substitute for the word "stupid" is okay. I've challenged people in other countries, got into arguments, and cursing fights.

We all need to speak up about these things. It's never okay, and we need to keep fighting until people can be who they are without others thinking it's okay to punish them for what they don't want them to be.

25 November 2014

To dance to, today

When the world is a mess of confusion of love and life and everything, put on a song you love and sing it and dance to it.

Today, that song is this....

17 November 2014

Hey, this is who I am, Runners' World!

After I finished the NYC Marathon in 2013, this photo was snapped. This is my story.

The week prior, I ran 24 Hours the Hard Way, which was the 24 Hours National Championships USATF. I was desperately trying to break 120 miles so I could get a shot at qualifying for the National Team that would go to World Championships. My coach gave me advice, but severe blisters ended up costing me about 45-60 minutes. Medical helped out, but I needed treatment a few times. The blisters were pretty brutal.

I needed 120 to qualify. i ran 115.6 miles. 

I was pretty devastated, but I ended up taking 2nd place for USATF women. I won a check for $750, a neat medal. I stumbled onto the plane after a shower and flew home to New York, feeling pretty destroyed.

Less than a week later, I ran the New York City Marathon.

I tried to run hard, but my legs reminded me, HELLO, you just ran 115.6 miles last week. I stopped to hug friends. I smiled. I absorbed the energy from the streets.

Coming into the finish, something hit me. Cherie, you ran 115.6 miles last week. You were second USATF woman, and who else here can do that, and do what you're doing now? 3:45 - not bad, especially after that effort. You ran your heart off last week, and again this week. 

And I burst into tears that last half mile...that is my story.

RW has my image on an inspirational quote (see above). I am more than just a quote. I am a running body of energy, tears, sweat, passion, and love.
Just after crossing the finish line

The original plan: I would run Croatan 24 Hour, then, a week later, Wayne and I would do Brooklyn Marathon together. Unfortunately, I had the flu, followed by a week of asthma troubles, prednisone, and reduced running for the past two weeks - and I ended up DNSing at Croatan. Also, Wayne's injury has kept him from running the entire year, and he decided not to run Brooklyn. Sad.

Oh well. I have to run Brooklyn anyway. It's put on by NYC Runs, which does an awesome job with its races. Plus, Steve is much cooler than Mary Wittenberg, and you don't feel like something is scraping the contents of your wallet and giving you hideous t-shirts.

The course is 2 bottom loops of the park, followed by 6 full loops. There are some rolling hills, nothing too terrible but at mile 22, you hate the whole world and it sucks.

The park was gorgeous - lots of nice autumnal leaves. The temperature was unfortunately coldish (high 30s at the start to high 40s at the finish) but it wasn't raining, so that was good. (Tomorrow: 100% chance of rain and 60. I'd rather have cold and dry!)

I knew I wasn't having a PR race, so I wore some extremely ridiculous pants (see photos!), my rainbow tutu, my BRC50k shirt, and some awesome new Runningskirts.com arm warmers (that really kept me pretty warm). Oh, and pink and black glove-mittens. I carried my inhaler the entire time, and only used it six times.

The race had a pretty chill start, and I ended up meeting some nice people (Lisa from CA and Cortney newly relocated to the West Village) and running sub 8s with them for the first six plus miles. I began to struggle on the hill with my asthma and slowed down a bit.
Menachem listened to me complain, and was an awesome pacer

Wayne showed up on the bike next to me! He tossed me Smarties, which I think are a terrible thing to eat. It got tougher as the race went on, for I lost manual dexterity, and the wrappers are a nightmare. (When my coworker Liz joined me, she marveled, "I've never seen anyone eat Smarties while running." Ha, me either. I do not recommend!)

Wayne and I ran chatting and then I ran into Liz! I was so excited and we ran together for maybe 7 miles. It was really nice to catch up with her outside of work, and the pace was still sub-8. Nice.

Beth joined us for a loop, and after I introduced them to each other, Beth said, "So you're an Elizabeth too." Oh, duh, they're both Elizabeths. Ha. We ran together, Beth talking about bars and beers, and the miles slowed down a bit, but not terribly.

Beth dropped off. Menachem hopped on the pain train. We ran up the hill, and then Liz left the park to head to yoga. Bye, Liz. Menachem watched me completely deteriorate, and he was a pretty great pacer. I was mumbling and blubbering and fighting with Smarties wrappers and I met my friend's super-cute bundled up baby, and it was fun, even if I was suffering.

The last lap I perked up. "You seem better," Menachem observed. Yes, because one lap left!!! I still hated the world, and I was freaking out, thinking I'd go over four hours. I really had wanted to, you know, PR or something, but after the past two weeks, asthma and the flu and today sucking with foot pain and asthma and queasiness, I wanted to at least break four hours.

A bit after I finished, no clue what I was doing.
And I did. 3:55:07. I finished and was delighted to be done. NYC Runs loves their runners, so I chowed down on a bagel and cream cheese (real bagels, not day old ones like NYRR provides to their runners), raspberries, grapes, hot cocoa. There were apples and donuts too. My hands were too cold so I couldn't really eat the raspberries and grapes, but tasty addition.

And after? Menachem mentioned vegan food at his house, but I was so cold. I headed home for a long hot shower and then ate a ton of food. The rest of the day was taking care of stuff around the house, a lot of it while sitting in my chair. Yay!

09 November 2014

DNS: A Very Sad Race Report for 2014 Croatan 24 Hour

Note: crucial to understanding this piece is that I have cough-variant asthma.

Friday, eight days prior to the race, I woke up with a cold. Miserable. Tea and lots of fluids, and I ended up feeling better. Still felt a little slow on Saturday and Sunday, and then BAM woke up on Monday feeling wretched. I got dressed in running clothes, and as I approached the door, realized I couldn't run. There was no way. I went back to bed in my running clothes, napping and reading until time to work. Then I worked for a few hours, and said I was going to take a half a sick day. I ended up napping, which is something I almost never do. I woke up and read some more, and then we ordered delivery because cooking was not happening. The rest of the night I read and took a bath while Wayne sawed and worked on electricity stuff.

The next day I decided to run to the polls to vote. Ha. 2 minutes later, I felt like utter crap and voted. I slogged it home, and showered and worked for two hours, then I had to stop to rest. I got up, worked and finished a request due that day, and then when I was done, I had nothing left. I sent my coworkers a brief message like, "Need to sleep now, so sick," and passed out for three hours. I woke up and it was dark and Wayne was coming in. Ooops.

Wednesday I made it through the workday by working at home, with some breaks. Wednesday night found me in a horrible asthma attack, and I passed out, scared after coughing like crazy. Thursday I felt less flu-like but not 100%, but I couldn't stop coughing. How on earth would I run a 24 hour this weekend? I kept coughing and as I headed to my early flight on Friday, Wayne said, "I don't think you should fly like that."

I coughed on the plane. I coughed in the rental car shuttle. I coughed in the drive to my sister's, and I coughed while I played with her kids. I warned her I might not finish  my race, but my plan was to do at least 50k, if not 50 miles, if I couldn't run through the night. As I drove to the hotel by the race start, I was coughing a ton. I could not get through a phone call - hell, I couldn't get through a sentence, without coughing. I had tears streaming down my face. I was scared.

I checked into the hotel, and it was more dismal than I remembered. (Mental note: next time I do Croatan 24, do NOT stay in the Best Western.) There was a beetle on my ceiling. I felt awful, but I quickly sorted my clothes and then showered. I couldn't stop coughing.

I went to bed. I woke up shortly after - maybe 10-20 minutes later, coughing. Coughing nonstop. Tears streamed down my face. I sat up, which sometimes help, but the coughing wouldn't stop. For hours, I couldn't stop coughing. I'd pass out, and wake up, coughing. It was hell. It was scary: I was in a dumpy hotel room with stains on the carpet and beetles on the ceiling, and I was coughing and couldn't catch my breath, and my inhaler wasn't working, and I was alone. When you have asthma, you often think about death when breathing seems impossible, and it's so scary.

I finally fell asleep after 3 a.m., and woke up at 5 a.m. There was no way I was doing the race. I had no appetite to eat, and my throat was too sore anyway from coughing all night. I packed up my car and headed to the race start. I greeted the RD, Brandon, who is one of the nicest people in the ultrarunning world. I immediately gave him the sad news, and he felt bad for me. By not doing Croatan, I wasn't just skipping a race I had prioritized over other races (not doing NYC Marathon, not doing Icarus 24 hour, not doing other races), I was missing out an awesome race. Brandon always has tons of amazing food (cake! lots of vegetarian options! veggie broth! grits! fruit punch! so many other things) and him and his awesome friend wife, Heather, do such a great job. I was sad I couldn't hang out with him.

He said if I felt better to come hang out with him, but that didn't end up happening. I got in the rental car, and sadly drove away. I imagined everyone else throughout the day the next 24 + hours, thinking how they were having fun, struggling in the night, greeting the morning...and wishing I was there.

Me? I headed to Urgent Care, where the doctor didn't fully seem to grasp the concept of cough variant asthma (I usually cough painfully instead of wheeze.), but she ended up at least giving me prednisone, which take at least 2 days for me to fully feel the impact. The next day, my cough is still persisting, but I slept much better through the night, only awakening a half dozen or so times to cough.

Instead of running, I spent my time resting at my awesome sister's, baking and eating with her, and playing with my super sweet niece and nephew. And coughing. I'm still good at that.

Let's hope I'm ready for Brooklyn Marathon next weekend...

02 November 2014

Too many 100s, 24s. I'll focus on 50s next year.

Ultrarunning is great. 100s and 24s are especially great - you all know you're on a journey, an adventure, and people really bond in amazing ways, from the fastest to the slowest people. It's such a wonderful awesome journey.

Except when it's not.
exhausted in my first 24 hour race (hinson lake 2012)

I love the laughter, the jokes, the cupcakes, the fun.

I hate the deprivation of tea for a week. (I'm a HUGE tea drinker, so this is actually quite a big deal.) I hate the sleeping early every night for a week, then running without sleep and feeling exhausted all night, and then barely able to sleep after because I'm in so much pain, and then being wrecked the rest of the week. I'm sick of missing super fun parties, events, relaxing time because I'm always racing.

My mom said, "You are always destroyed after 100 milers; why do you keep doing them?" (She also said, "You are always so miserable after marathons; why do you keep doing them?"

So next year, I'm dialing it down.

The plan is to focus on 50 milers. Run fun races. Hang out with my friends more. Study Spanish. Write. Play with the kitties. Have fun parties, and go to fun parties. Kiss my love. Dance. Read. Live my life, don't stress out.

I'll do a select few longer races - Vermont 100 has a special place in my heart, and there's NOTHING like TGNY 100, and of course I'll do Hinson 24. But I already decided to do 50 miles at Umstead instead of 100. Instead of running through the middle of the night, finishing at an ungodly hour, showing up at my sister's exhausted and depleted, eating half her fridge, then spending time with her family messed up. Instead, I'll run 50 miles, go back to her house, shower, eat, hang out...and wake up in the morning in the mood for an easy run. Much more fun, right?