13 December 2015

Life is not a straight line...

Too often, we are told life is a straight line.

Go to school, study so you can get into a good college, go to college, study, get a job, get married, have a kid, retire, death.

I feel like the route I'm opting for is quite a bit off of that traditional route.

I've decided to take a career break. As much as I really liked the work I was doing, and the topic at my job, there wasn't any real kind of future for me there. I tried, and it just wasn't happening.

So, with tears in the back of my throat, I gave my notice. I am very sad to make this major change and to leave an environment I really do enjoy - but sometimes, to grow, you need to leave.

I'm heading to India on the 8th of January. I'll be traveling around, doing a yoga teacher training for a month in Goa, doing some meditation retreats, writing, relaxing. Wayne will meet me or a few weeks. I'm excited to learn about a new culture, recharge my batteries, study yoga, and write.

When I come back....I'm not sure what will happen. Perhaps I'll teach yoga. Perhaps I'll write full-time - freelance, or for a website. Perhaps I'll be a librarian.

Honestly - my ideal would be a combination of research/library work, writing, and teaching a yoga class. We'll see what I can manifest.

I was so scared to take any kind of plunge for a while - but here I am - GO, JUMP!!!

03 November 2015

SO MUCH FUN: 2015 NYC Marathon!!!

at fort wadsworth with NBR!

So NYC Marathon. It's kind of an experience like no other.

Even for someone who has sworn off of marathons, I'll do NYC. NYC is different. It's amazing. It's a giant party in the streets for 26.2 miles. It's 2 million spectators and too much freaking fun. When else are runners celebrated by over 2 million spectators? I think at my last race, Dick Collins 50 miler, there might've been ten people at the finish line....

So at Dick Collins, my asthma was in full F-you force. Meaning I wheezed for 50 miles. As pleasant as it sounds.

I was in regular communication with my doctor for the three weeks in between my races. Asmanex steroid inhaler. Prednisone oral steroids. Back on Asmanex. Nothing.

Chest x-rays. Breathing tests. Doctor's visits. Googling "lung cancer" and wanting to fall apart.

Luckily, all tests came back. I was okay.

My doctor thought maybe I should take off a week or two from running.

I'm a difficult patient. 

But I knew I was getting better.

So I ran. Slowly.

I held back. I walked on a few uphills for a few seconds. I stopped to kiss my love twice. I coughed.

But I finished.

Somehow in 3:47. HOW!??! I was hoping for sub 4, but not sure if I could get that. So I was thrilled to pieces with 3:47.

mile 12 or 13. photo by sheryl yvette.
 I started off feeling super excited. I chatted in Spanish with an Ecuadorian guy and then a Mexican guy on the Verrazano. And then I  thought in Spanish a lot, for some reason.

I ran. I looked at my Garmin, which wasn't always accurately showing times....but why was I running so many sub-8s? 7:20? 7:25? 7:30? It didn't feel like much....how was this possible?

I kept it up as long as I could...then I slowed down.
photo by oh snapper

It went by faster than it ever had before. And it was oh so fun....thank you, thank you, thank you, all of the two mil spectators, my amazing running club for giving me a team spot (GO NBR!!!), and my legs and lungs....

And then I got home and signed up for Brooklyn Marathon....I never learn.

28 October 2015

Sucky Breathing for 50 Miles: The Dick Collins 50 Miler

So this race report is a long time in coming...mainly because I've felt the repercussions of running 50 miles when I shouldn't have. This is a race I should have DNF'd. But oh well, I didn't, I ran, I struggled, and I got some pretty cool schwag. 

The Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler is a great race. The course is tough but gorgeous - lots of climbing, lots of descending, great views. The aid stations are top notch, there's food at the finish, the schwag is great, and it's the day before San Francisco Decom so I get to have my Burning Man fix the next day. It works out. 

A week and a half before my race, I came down with the flu. I struggled to work, and ended up taking a bunch of sick day and cuddling in bed with my cats. I should've taken a sick day when I flew across the country. ("Are you sure it's a good idea to fly when you feel like that?" "I'd just be in bed. On the plane, I'll just be sitting in a chair sleeping and reading." UM NOT THAT EASY.)

Though my flu had ended, I was still not 100% at the starting line. And around 10, 12 miles into it, I knew that my race was going to be a suffer-fest.

Every time there was an uphill, I had to walk. And not just walk, but walk slow. Walk with breaks to bend over and gasp for air.

The weird thing was, I was wheezing. As a cough-variant asthmatic, I'm not used to wheezing. It sucks. It sucks a lot.

So basically, I had to slow down a ton. I had to walk every hill, slowly, taking breaks. I took my inhaler 10-12 times. Nothing happened. I felt horrendous.

I finished. Somehow. It sucked. It wasn't even like my legs hurt after, because my lungs slowed me down and all I could think about was I CANNOT FREAKING BREATHE.

After I finished, I went to the medic. She listened to my lungs. "You're wheezing. And your heart is beating fast." I mentioned the 10-12 puffs of albuterol; she clarified that was why.

She recommended a hospital visit that night if things didn't improve; they didn't improve, but I was up at my friend's in the middle of the mountains, in the middle of nowhere. Things got worse and worse, and it's been a rollercoaster of a month of doctor visits, chest x-rays, medication, rest, and not breathing. Kind of sucked, but I'm pretty sure it's going to get better. How can it not?

17 October 2015

Burning Man

Burning Man 2015 was love and friendship and community and good energy and running and a little chaos and fun and dust and cold and mess and everything in between.


wayne finishes building something else. badass boy. i love him

means so much

meaning in mirrors

jose is ready for the beer mile :)

da man

this "ride" made me ill the rest of the day

utah and me

yos, bernie, mike, and me. freaking cold and dusty day

fllaming lotus girls always impress

what i called the creepy temple

Our camp this year had amazing vibes (waaaaaay better than last year, when I left the playa in tears) and totally inclusive and helpful. It was great.

The ultra was great fun, even if we had a few duststorms during the later part of the race. Amazing.

The art was better than last year, some truly spectacular pieces.

I realized some major life changes that needed to happen.
i was marrying jim and leanne here

Wayne and I grew closer, as we always do on the playa.
me and wayne, in the midst of a dusty day

I made some great friends.
our camp....well, some of us.

I danced.

I laughed.

I lived. 

I was able to just be.
it's all abt fire

15 October 2015

I Cannot

I am trying to write an article, or rather, I have three different freelance articles to write. But I cannot write them because Ana is dead.

Ana was an amazing Burner, a wonderful woman. We met via the Burner Community, and I wouldn't call her a close friend, but she was an awesome person. And now she is not here.

They say the driver was on drugs. She was hit biking to work yesterday by a giant truck. We talked about biking, and how she was scared to bike but loved it. I agreed. I told her about my pretty safe commute (in bike lanes and parks) and she said she got scare biking sometimes. 

I can't believe she is gone. The article doesn't mention she was full of life, energy, and love; that she was a single mother; that she contributed at Burning Man; that she was so much. How is she gone? How? How?

I can't believe this loss. I am stunned. 

Will go tomorrow to the wake, but there have been too many losses this year. 

28 September 2015

Burning Man Ultramarathon 2015 Race Report

Start of the 2015 race; photo by Jeff Clark

What can I say about the Burning Man Ultramarathon? It was fun. It was dancing and shots and heckling and dust (oh so much dust) and sweat and love and fun and the most gorgeous sunrise ever and poson-race quesadillas and port-a-potties and everything. It doesn't matter who won, it matters who ran, and I ran, and my experience was wonderful. (Of course as the RD I care who won, but I'm not writing about that here. For that race report, you'll have to look to Ultrarunning magazine.) I had my usual bathroom troubles, ran pretty much the entire time, laughed a lot, got hugs and high fives. I finished in the dust and it was the very essence of Burning Man.

Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race Report (2015)

I wasn't sure how I was feeling about Hinson Lake 24 Hour, but I decided to go with how I was feeling.

Lately, I've been struggling with some issues unrelated to running, and it's impacting most things, including running. The summer was a blur of busy-ness for Burning Man, including tons and tons of planning for the Burning Man Ultramarathon. In the end, I'm glad of the time I invested, but at the same time, it's a lot of time where my mind can't focus on other things. Like my own personal racing. When life is a constant busy blur, often dominated by unhappiness, it can be very difficult to focus on athletic pursuits...or creative dreams.

I made the decision to do what I could. 50 miles was what I thought I'd do, though maybe just 50k. And if I was killing it, running really well, why, I'd finish the whole damn thing.

And I really lived by that, and didn't feel bad one bit for my decision.

My visits to NC have always been surrounded by my sister, but with her two kids that I'm becoming increasing attached to, it was difficult to leave them and run a race. But I did it, as I'm an ultrarunner.

As I drove to the race, it was pitch black and pouring. Not the best way to approach a race. I had grabbed a random handful of CDs leaving NYC, not even looking at them, and one of them was the Beatles Anthology. "Let It Be" came on and I burst into tears, thinking of how horrible it was that John Lennon was shot and what kind of world we livee in. Um, not the best mood to approach a 24 hour race with.

When I got to the start, it wasn't pouring, but definitely raining. I caught up with old friends, chatted. I told a few people of my intention to "only" run 50k or 50 miles, and many echoed my sentiments. Others applauded me for being in the moment I needed to be in. The kindness of others, like Dan, kept my personal items sheltered from the , and good friends cheered me on the entire time.

And OFF. I felt good, and took off at a decent pace. Not as fast as usual, but GO. I enjoyed the good old Hinson Lake course, and chatted with friends. I thought about how much I loved the ultrarunning community. It was fun.

After about ten miles though, the race felt harder than it should. I knew I wouldn't go 24 hours. 50 miles was all. Maybe even 50k? But not 24 hours.

The course is a loop of abt 1.55 miles, with a few small hills (that feel like mountains after a while). Local running store/club Vac and Dash decorate the course with hilarious signs ("Mt Hinson," "Ooooh we're halfway there ooooh living on a prayer," "98 Miles to South of the Border," "Jerry's Food Castle"), and the vibe is FUN AWESOME PARTY. People may have even been taking shots or drinking beers. It's one of my top three fave races (with obviously the Burning Man Ultramarathon being one, and Vermont 100 being number two).

I decided to have a fun day. I'd catch up to a friend who was walking, or someone who was walking and wanted to chat, and I'd take a break to chat and catch up. I stopped to pee when I needed to. I ate frosted pumpkin cookies and cupcakes and pumpkin chocolate chip bread and potatoes. I laughed. I did the Ray K shuffle with the legend himself. (He'd kill me if he knew I said that.) I had fun.

me and shannon at the start of the race. i'm representing the black rock city 50k!!!

Around mile 25 or so, I ran into my friend Shannon. She was only going to do 50k, so I finished 50k with her. I decided I felt like I could go longer, but I didn't feel like doing 50 miles. So I chose 40 to be my ultimate mileage.

It was great to chat and catch up with Shannon, and she really pushed me. She's an amazing runner (123 miles in 24 hours) and an animal activist (the woman loves and rescues dogs). We caught up on love and life and career and running and community. It was grea.t

Post-Shannon, I ran, I chatted, I walked occasionally, I ate good foods.

And then I finished. 40 miles. I don't remember the time, but really, I don't care. And honestly, I ran more than 40 miles, though I couldn't tell you the exact amount. Who cares? I was there. I ran. I had fun with friends. 

It wasn't my fave Hinson Lake, but it was the one I needed to have.

27 September 2015

Gunks Fatass 50k

On August 8th, my friend Jeff and I decided to organize a low-key fatass 50k/25k at Lake Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk. I was feeling pretty low-energy, but excited to run in my fave place ever.

A small crew met up on the train and then we got rides to the park. People were gathered in the lot, and Jeff and I gave intros, directions, and a low-key GO!

You start up the black trail and head to Lake Awosting. It's an uphill for much of it, really pretty. I chatted with Karen about love and work, and we all met up around the lake. I love the lake, so it was great to refresh memories of the college days....awwwwww.....

Because of some construction on trails due to a fire, I believe, we rerouted, missing my fave view ever. But there were other nice views.

I really don't remember the trails being so hilly, but I guess they are. Anyway, we ran, and enjoyed the gorgeous day. It was pretty sweaty and humid.

After a loop, we regrouped in the lot. I was feeling pretty low energy, so I decided to just run some extra....but prob not the full 50k. Others didn't even want to go as far as me, so we split up into groups. We ran up to Awosting, over to the "beach," and chilled out in the sun.

We ran back, and ended up on a gorgeous, trafficky ride back through town. We picked up Wayne and his bike on the way, and headed to the train back to the city, where we could eat after a long, pretty, hilly day.

Pajama Run 6 Hour Race Report

A bit delayed of a race report, but better late than never, right?

I ran the BUS Pajama Run for fun only; a week after VT100, it's hard to put in big miles here. So I mainly run to have fun, hang out w friends, and enjoy running loops for 6 hours in Astoria Park. I did have some competitive friends, but I was there for the watermelon and miles.

The race has a real awesome old-school feel. The race fee is fairly low, there's pizza at the finish, and everyone who runs over an ultra gets a trophy. Instead of a shirt, you get pajama shorts (because the run is 5pm-11pm.....get it, PAJAMA RUN????).

You run loops of around a mile in Astoria Park in Queens. The park is on the water, so lovely views, with some hills. Because it's NYC, the people that are in the park make things interesting....great people watching while running!

I ran a bit in the beginning with Menachem and Mary, but they both had issues, and I ran into my old friend Hiroshi. We ran together until around 28 or 29 miles. I also got a surprise visit by my friend Caroline, who ran a few laps with me with was great.

I was feeling tired and sweaty at the end, when Wayne showed up. I was so happy to see him, it really boosted my spirits. 

Then I finished, I think I was 4th or 5th or 6th woman, and I ate pizza. Wonderful night.

21 September 2015

Vermont 100 (2015) Race Report: Top

It's been a while since I ran 100 miles at Vermont. I had a rough race. I had my second slowest Vermont. Funny - I didn't feel like death marching, though I probably was at times. My pace was waaaaaaaay slower earlier in the race. (Even in my slowest VT100, I still came into Camp Ten Bear in the light....it was dark, scary dark this year.)

me and the legendary john geesler

I didn't want to run Vermont. I wanted to stay at home and eat tacos and read poetry and drink tea. Unfortunately, I didn't do that, though I still did have some fun at Vermont. 

The summer turned into a blur post VT100. I didn't have time to write a race report. Now, months late, I want to write one, but many details are fuzzy. Thus, I'll do a top ten: the worst and best of Vermont 100!


  1. Aid stations. They're great. Grilled cheese while running? Pancakes for breakfast aid stations? YES PLEASE.
  2. Views. Super duper pretty. Just gorgeous.
  3. Interesting course.
  4. My pacers were amazing. Fun. Wonderful. Cheerful. Great.
  5. Nothing like running for glow sticks. Kind of like a rave, and you hallucinate naturally.
  6. My pacers giving me amazing baked goods.
  7. Great, friendly runners.
  8. The volunteers are so nice. Neighbors even random left lemonade at one spot.
  9. Lovely sunrise.
  10. Horses.

  1. Hills. OMG the hills. Seriously. How are there this many hills - and why do we come back?
  2. The rain. We hid out at an aid station from the rain during a horrendous downpour.
  3. My asthma sucked all day.
  4. OMG the hills. Seriously.
  5. Mud. Juicy, delicious mud.
  6. The hills.
  7. Lack of sleep.
  8. The hills.
  9. Worrying about weight gain/loss (yep, I did both).
  10. The hills.
I made a few realizations....too many 100s destroys Cherie. I'll be focusing more on 50 milers for a while...I feel way too burnt out. I'll stick with one 100 a year....and yes, Vermont 100 miler will be it!

11 September 2015

Burning Man, and Life

I owe a bunch of blog posts. My summer has been insane. A friend asked how my writing was going. It wasn't. My summer switched to prepping for the BRC50k, which went off beautifully. But doing so many things by hand....the medals were a crazy step process of spray painting both sides silver, then doing pink lightning bolt stencils on one side, black stencils on both side, a sparkle pink and sealant layer on one side, then threading the ribbon, then sewing the ribbon, then sealing the ribbon. So yeah, my summer kind of got crazy.

But I'm catching up. Doing the results now, and soon will be ready to dive back into life: yoga, running, writing. As I'm catching up, watch the Dream. That's why we go. It's more than a dream.

27 June 2015

Way Too Long with Morton's Neuroma

Goodbye, Morton's Neuroma. I have struggled with Morton's Neuroma for way too long, months, years. It's been one of the crappiest running injuries I've had, and it seems like it's in the distance now....kind of.

I'm a librarian, so I did tons of research on Morton's Neuromas. Tons. I read the Mayo Health Clinic's website a ton, and Jonathan Savage's page. I posted on my FB page (tons of friends there are runners) and on the Ultra list and another trail running group. Everyone said something different, everyone had their own cures (or not). I emailed Karl Meltzer (sigh....ultrarunning heartthrob!). Here's my story, what worked for you, and what may or may not work for you.

I felt a numbness on and off in my foot for a while. My podiatrist didn't specifically identify it as Morton's Neuroma, but said that I had inflammation and I needed to rest. Haha, very funny, Dr. Morgano. I took anti-inflammatories and stretched and kept going. I noticed that it got waaaay worse with my Altra Intuitions (sob sob because they def were comfy in other ways). It was better on trails, worse on roads. My doctor recommended I switch to Hokas; that helped for a while, but ended up being not enough.

I had a ton of pain from Morton's Neuroma during the Brooklyn Marathon, so much that I went straight home after instead of celebrating w food w Menachem. I didn't know what was going on. It kind of got better. I ran a 50k a few weeks later on trails with no foot pain. Hurrah. And then I did a half marathon in Central Park for NYC Runs and was pretty much limping towards the end. I finished with tears in my eyes. I went to my doctor, and this time, said I needed something more drastic. I was going to Ecuador for a month, and didn't want to deal with pain. He gave me an injection in my foot, during which I screamed and deafened the entire population of Tribecca. Sorry. 

I ran the next day, and yep, pain. Argh. I went away, packing a smaller pair of running sneakers, which was a massive mistake. I had pain a lot - while walking around different cities, on hikes, on the beach. On a trip of a lifetime, all I had was pain. It sucked really bad.

I went back to my doctor after I came back. He told me not to run, and I said I didn't want another injection. I tried venus fly trap extract and serrapeptase. Neither made any kind of significant difference (though I took each for at least a month or two). I said I was supposed to run the Miami Marathon; maybe I should drop to the half? He said the half was even pushing it.

I reduced. I changed shoes. And I ran the half and it sucked. I ran super slow, had tons of pain and went straight into medical when I was done.

I got another injection. I took off two weeks. It got better. But then, it would get worse.

The next five months became hell of experiments. Here are some things I learned that actually help:

  • There is no one panacea. Some people swore their neuroma disappeared when they started running in Hokas; others said the same of Altras. Neither worked miracles for me (and my Altras were minimalist so may have contributed to the issue).
  • Take time off if it hurts. There's no such things as "running through Morton's Neuroma." It will get worse. And you will be unhappy - and in pain. When it starts to hurt, stop running. Go home.
  • Contrast baths (5 min hot, 5 min cold, 5 min hot, 5 min cold) may or may not help.
  • Yogatoes really helped alleviate pressure and I find it necessary to wear them pretty much every day.
  • Foam cushioning helped tons. I got the super thick foam cushioning moleskin they sell at Rite-aid. I cut a big teardrop, and then before applying, put a layer of benzoin tincture on the foot (it helps things stick better). Then apply. Wrap in Ktape tape so it stays on (literally, for over a week). Your feet are gross when you finally take it off, but this helped me so much.
  • Throw out too-tight shoes. They will hurt your feet more. 
  • Heels and tight uncomfy dress shoes suck. I worked at home a bunch to take care of my shoes.
  • Build back up really slowly. Stick with lots of trails if you can (provided they're not too rocky).
  • Take up a new hobby. Keeps your mind off lack of running.

23 June 2015

100 Miles of Running Misery and (Mis)Adventure and Fun: The Great New York 100 Mile Running Exposition

Starting line of class of 2015 TGNY - photo by the amazing Oh Snapper

I kind of have wanted to stop doing so many 100 milers. But not TGNY - it's in my city, all my friends are either running, pacing, or staffing an aid station, and it's the most awesome way to see NYC!

You run through Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and again, Manhattan. The course isn't super hilly - there are a few small hills, and some bridges (some so horrendously terrible that I want to cry just thinking of them...). You have to deal with traffic lights and cars and I almost got hit by cars too many times, and there are some arrows on the ground, but it's hard to tell which are TGNY 100's and which are ConEd's, so you're flipping through a turn-by-turn directional sheet and I only got lost six times. (SIX TIMES. HA!) You run through tons of awesome parks, different beaches, and see a diversity of people like nowhere else. NYC is my favorite city in the world, and thus, I adore this race.

Phil McCarthy is the RD - yeah, that Phil McCarthy, American record holder for 48 hours. Also, musician, super-nice guy. The race has a really homey vibe, and the volunteers go all out, buying tons of food for runners, decorating aid stations (Wayne put up my surfboard with TGNY 100 on it in green el-wire and his big kite up.), and so much love. I want to cry thinking of it (of the love and the pain, hahah).

Jill encouraged me to try the low FODMAP diet the day before the race to eliminate stomach problems. Unfortunately, it seems like the gluten free flours do not agree with me (not the first time I've had this happen....I ate gluten-free cookies a few years ago at a race and dry heaved for hours...). I live, I learn, I experiment.

I felt good, running with friends in the beginning, chatting. The pace was fine, I felt good. I grabbed a coffee cake to go from Mary's aid station at mile 5 (which saved me later on) and then, before mile 10, saw my friends peeling off from me. I ducked into the bathroom twice. How the hell was my race over before mile 10?
Early in the miles. My stomach had already started bothering me. Photo (c) by Oh Snapper.

I began slowing down. Eating was out of the question. I couldn't do this. In Van Cortlandt Park, Karen caught up to me and we began chatting. Then suddenly, I said, "I have to throw up." She said, "Do you--" "No." I was grateful she ran on, as I dry heaved, crying hysterically (I always cry when I throw up) into the bushes. I got up, walked a bit, and then began running slowly. Then I ducked into the bushes and was grateful I brought toilet paper.

Running sucks.

I ran on. I got slower. I would have to drop. There was no way I could finish this brutal thing. I texted my pacers something like, "Mile 16. My stomach sucks." And then I ran a bit, and then sat in a bench, holding my stomach. Shannon and his friend Chuck showed up. I got up and began running with them. Then we stopped so Chuck could get this few inch stick out of his shoe. 

Running with Shannon and Chuck was fun. They made me laugh a lot. Shannon told us abt showing up drunk at the start. I stopped and hula hooped with a bunch of fiftysomething ladies in the Bronx. It was fun.

We ended up getting separated in Orchard Beach. I was happy to reach Orchard Beach, and kind of wanted to take a photo, but didn't feel like taking my camera out. Anyway, cameras don't capture THE EMOTIONS which are the real thing, anyway.

And then, leaving the Orchard Beach Aid Station, I got lost for the first time. It took me probably around 15 minutes to figure out I was lost and to get back on track. I ended up running with a really nice 100k runner and her massive running posse. (She told me her name but I was a bit of a zombie and am lucky I remembered my own!) We ran through some more parks in the Bronx, and then, I lost them when I ran under the Deegan. You're running under the Deegan Expressway, with a highway on the right side of you and railyards on the left. Pretty ugly. I picked up the pace to get out of there.

And then - the Triboro bridge to Randall's Island. I ran across it, feeling okay. Randall's Island is mulberries and organized sports and quiet and green. It was really nice. But getting back on the Triboro Bridge to Queen was a different story. I began freaking out. 

Ever since I got my concussion two years ago, bridges have freaked me out. The morning after I got my concussion, I ran the Brooklyn Bridge and got the worst case of veritgo and was freaked out.  I removed the Brooklyn Bridge from my regular rotation. 

On the Triboro, I began okay, but once the side dropped lower I freaked out. I gripped onto the railing and said, "You can do this, Cherie. You know you can. C'mon..."

Two girls walked up behind me. "Are you okay?"

I realized they probably thought I was going to kill myself. "I'm really scared of this bridge. I don't know why. Can I walk w you?"

I walked with them, babbling nonsense; they were very lovely. Then, Jurgen ran up and grabbed my hand. "C'mon Cherie." We ran across, holding hands, me death-gripping his hand until I felt okay (aka off the scary bridge). Then we ran to the aid station where I saw my first pacer, Menachem.

Menachem watched me shovel in pretzels, a Girl Scout Cookie, and a half water-half red Gatorade drink. We took off, me babbling like I was on some sort of bizarre drug (which I wouldn't recommend this type of drug if it did exist...it would send people to insanity!) and then we began running. We quickly became lost, and again. Theme of the day.

My stomach was feeling better, and I ate some Hammer gels and Hammer solids. My calves hurt terribly and I told Menachem I wanted to stop. "No, you don't want to stop...Look at those bushes. I just love perfectly manicured bushes....Doesn't the sound of the highway next to us remind you of the ocean? It's lulling me..." and on. Menachem has a very soft, soothing voice, and I felt like I was going insane, so we were a great combination.

"I hate everything in the world."
"No, you do."
"Yes, I even hate Pistachio."
Menachem then texted my other pacers, "Cherie hates everything, even her cat." Haha.

We ran with Karen for a little bit. We ran, we walked, we talked, I babbled. I can't even tell you what we talked about. It might've been in German or Spanish. I'm not sure. I was pretty out of it.

Alley Pond Park was amazing. Soft, squishy path. It felt wonderful.

In Queens, you basically run from park to park to park to park. It's awesome. You probably didn't know there were so many parks in Queens. Then, finally, in one of the parks: MEG!!!!

Meg moved from LA back in September and has become one of my regular running partners. She's never done an ultra, but has a ton of great energy. I wanted to cry and somehow, she picked me up, emotionally threw me over her shoulder, and dragged me off. We began slogging ahead.

My calves were hurting so terribly. My stomach felt on and off. Everything sucked. I wanted to quit. Unfortunately, I sent Meg an email that told her to push me. She kept referencing this email. I'm glad I sent it, but oh, how I did want to quit.

Meg took this selfie of the two of us, and posted on FB, asking people to help motivate me

 We got to 100k and I was grateful. I ate a little and Trishul told me that I had 50% left when some girl tried to tell me I "only" had 38 miles. "The hardest part is the end." He also told me that he hear that I was struggling. Yes, I know. But not what I want to hear. Sigh.

We took off, Meg following the directions. Then we ran into another pace, Joe. I never met him before, but Facebook is a very wonderful thing sometimes. He ended up being totally awesome and an amazing pacer.

I got a strawberry Italian ice, which was wonderful. I went back and forth between wanting to quit and hating everything. Hey, that doesn't sound fun? Not really. I was a bit of a hot mess. Okay, I was a MASSIVE hot mess. Kind of embarrassing to be around a totally strange guy and a friend who had never seen me so low. Oops. They pushed me and Meg said, "You can make a decision to drop out when you get to Wayne." (Meg is a big liar, but I love her for that lie.)

At mile 66 or so, before the bridges, we got to Yuri's aid station. He gave me an intense massage which involved cracking my back and me screaming. Pedestrians called the police for torture. Kidding about that, but passerby peered out the windows of their cars to see what was going on. Apparently, several people were asking how much a massage was. Yuri told them the cost was running 66 miles.

We left. I did feel a ton better. I ran a bit, we walked less. Broad Channel is a strange place, but pretty beautiful. And then, somehow, we got to Wayne's aid station, mile 71. I was ecstatic. I began cheering before they got there, and Wayne and my friend Sherry both knew it was me and cheered for me.

I completely changed my outfit while eating pretzels. Okay, I ate a pretzel and a half, but I tried to convince Joe that was plenty.

Then we left. I was suffering. I was miserable. We ran. I whined. They put up w me. We stopped at some random bar to use the bathroom, and got yelled, "You don't speak English?" I really wanted to reply, "Hablo espanol solo."

I wanted to drop. But Joe was really mean and wanted to see the evil Marine Parkway Bridge. I got really freaked out and had to hold hands with Joe and Meg. My legs cramped up really bad and I just had a meltdown when I got off the bridge. I threw myself on the ground whining and moaning. At one point, I told Joe I would run if he could catch a nearby rabbit, which he tried, but rabbits being rabbits, are impossible to catch.

I slogged on. I felt like crap and was so negative, I know. I'm sorry Meg and Joe. You two were stars and I was sooooo miserable. 

We passed by more rabbits and I saw some lovely hallucinations, a la balloon strings like you see at Burning Man. 

I threw myself down on the ground and put my legs in the air because my calves Hurt. So. Freaking. Much. Then I put my legs down and was refusing to get up. Then I saw flashing lights. I sat up. It was a cop. 

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, I just ran 77 miles and I hurt."

"Do you want some water?"

"No, I have water," I told him.

"She's fine," Meg assured him.

And then I got the hell up and slogged on. Could it be called a run at this point? A walk? No, a slog. A suffering slog.

By Plumb Beach, where Wayne goes kitesurfing, we met up with a random super nice guy, Izzy. He was nonstop cheerful and I was a bit cranky. But I somehow dragged my ass to 80, where Meg said I could decide to quit.

AS IF I WOULD QUIT WITH JUST 20 MILES TO GO. (Meg is pretty smart.)

Joe and Meg said they'd come if I wanted, but it had already been a long day for both of them, so I told them to do whatever they wanted. 

They left, and I took off with Pete, who also paced me last year. He didn't get me lost at all, was cheerful, and a great pacer. Izzy was with us at the start. I had to go to the bathroom, as my stomach hated me again. Fun fact: the bathrooms in Coney Island at the boardwalk are open. Hurrah!

We trucked on. Pete and I stopped in a gas station so I could get an iced tea. I have to say - that's the most bizarre thing about this race. You're running 100 miles but suddenly you pop into a deli, and then you start reading labels to find an iced tea sans high fructose corn syrup. Pete was patient with me, as all my pacers were. (They are probably talking to my parents and Wayne about locking me up now...)

The caffeine perked me up, and made me have to pee. So now I was stopping to pee every 15 minutes. Or so it seemed.

At 85 - I made it to 85!!! - we now headed to the Shore Parkway. And it was raining. Raining hard at times. I was wearing shoes w the toes cut out (to accommodate for swelling) and my socks became wet. The tape on my neuroma caused blisters, so I took it off - but too late. My blisters grew worse. I tried not to cry. 

I ran until the blisters hurt, then walked. We talked about UTMB, friends in the ultrarunning community and how they were doing, I don't even know. I was kind of out of it. At two points in the race, I saw people I know very well and looked right through them, a la zombie. (Sorry, Deanna and Mary.)


And then THE BRIDGE. Of course I was freaked out. But then - then - we were getting up there....

I loved once we got into the numbers. As we climbed higher, I got more and more excited....and then I heard cheering and saw the finish line.

Finish line. Me, awesome RD Phil McCarthy, and my awesome pacer Pete Priolo. I don't even remember Mon Ferrer taking this photo.

For being finished. 

For Phil for putting on the race.

For my amazing pacers.

For Menachem for making me feel like I was someplace else.

For Meg who refusing to let me quit.

For Joe who didn't back down when things got tough, even though he didn't know me.

For Pete, who led me straight into another finisher's medal and was an amazing rock.

For the parks of NYC and all their glory.

For all the other runners for being so fun and nice.

For Wayne and Sherry for being my rock to get to - and every other aid station.

All the aid stations were awesome. They were staffed by my friends, who bought great amazing treats to share and were smiling. It was wonderful seeing them.

21 June 2015

Happy Father's Day - the Gender Stereotypes Edition

Today is Father's Day. I bought my father a pair of binoculars and some aftershave and shampoos.

Growing up, I always struggled to find my dad good father's day cards and gifts. They were focused on ties, boating, fishing, meat (I'm a vegetarian, so no). My dad is not into these things (except meat) and I felt stupid buying another card that seemed to insinuate that my dad was a bumbling idiot. (He's really not.)

Groupon recently sent me emails for Father's Day gift ideas - I got a little frustrated.

Notice any differences? Sports, home and auto, spa - beauty vs grooming spa.

Why do we have to have gender stereotypes in even our Mother's and Father's Day gifts? Sure, easy gift ideas, but I'm pretty sure if I had given my mother a pair of binoculars, she'd also love them.

Birthday 50k!

Every June, I have a birthday. I find birthdays built up with hype, expectations, worry about getting older. Screw that.

Last year, I started a birthday tradition that I hope to be an annual affair. I'll run 50k around Manhattan. It's a fun way to get a good run in in my favorite city.

We met at 5am on 42nd and 1st Avenue in front of a playground. I was pretty excited, but also nervous to see how my foot helpd up - and it did. I encouraged people to wear pink, so we had a bunch of pink (three BRC 50k shirts!) shirts.

We ran south around Manhattan, picking up Cortney at the Williamsburg Bridge and Beth on the west side in Tribecca. We ran north, laughing. I learned about the Kardashians (apparently, there is a lot to learn!), joked about upcoming races, and basically, hung out while running.

Slowly, people peeled off, to head to work, and towards the end, it was just me, Rich, and Karen. We sat at Twin Donut, relaxing for a few minutes before heading downtown.

Karen had to go to work, then Rich had a business call, and I was running alone. It began to rain suddenly, misting, then a bit harder, and I ran with Julia for a mile or two.

I thought about getting older. I thought about 36 and what it should be. I thought about was I doing the right thing with my life. As I was finishing alone, instead of heading over to the 7 train, where I figured I'd be cold and wet on the subway, I headed towards the 59th Street Bridge, and ran home.

Getting older doesn't have the answers. Answers just kind of figure themselves out after a while. I'm going to keep on living in the way I love, running and finding myself out in that way, and keeping open to the options.

36, let's be a better year than 35!!!!

03 June 2015


Tonight as I was walking across the Pulaski Bridge, I felt old.

Not elderly old, but no longer young. An attractive-looking woman, probably in her late 40s, passed me, laughing. That will be me soon, I thought, thinking wistfully of my 20s. You don't realize what you have until you've lost it.

In my 20s, NYC was a lot seedier, sketchier. Dudes hanging out at corner stores, cigarettes sliding around their lips, pants hung low. Drugs deals happening at the park - and when my best friend dated a guy who did H, she went there. I walked around in tiny little dresses - okay, let's be honest - they were nightgowns, little nightdreses - with platform sneakers. I stuffed my money in my bra, hoping no one would steal it. I wore glitter from the craft store as makeup. Life was somehow simpler. Gourmet delis were out of our reach, everyone was broke, we stayed at clubs until 11am, the after party was in our apartment, and I never, ever did drugs despite everyone falling apart around me. Maybe that's why I feel old - everyone around me has their sh*t together, people have babies, but we're all still wandering in our hearts. We feel like we're 20, but we're not. We have jobs and pensions/401ks and bills and in the corners of our eyes, we're starting to get wrinkles.

I still have dreams....publishing my book, maybe doing the AT, a RTW trip, hiking through the Amazon, doing the jungle multiday through the Amazon, running around different South Pacific Islands....

It's never too late to have a dream. Even though I came home, washed some dishes, prepped some muesli, took off my eye makeup with real remover, I know where I've come from. I don't know where I'm going, but really, the truth is, no one does. Everyone else just thinks they do, but we're all just doing a routine until stuff gets started - or until we remember our dreams.

We're all lost souls.

26 May 2015

What Burning Man Is Like

Everything. It's everything.

Burning from Dylan Jones on Vimeo.

That Bus Ride

Still won't forget it. That bus ride from Mindo to Quito. The blurring scenery. The last bus of the night. Knowing I was leaving Ecuador. Knowing that I was going home to my weak grandmother. Knowing that I'd likely never return.

Talked to an old man in Spanish. He told me about the restaurant he had opened. He used to live in Quito, but "no hay amor."

Dreamed out the window. Missed home. Missed my cats. Missed normalcy, but knew there's no such thing.

Watched a couple flirt, laugh. Looked at my reflection in the bus window. We drove on.

Highways at night to Quito...

Baby I was BORN TO RUN ULTRAMARATHON: 60 Mile Race Report

Born to Run was a lot of fun. It was a weekend of camping, running, drinking, sharing, laughing, making new friends, hanging out, being dirty, mariachi, and fun.

Oh, and my Morton's Neuroma behaved. So it was a very good weekend.

My friends have described Born to Run "kind of like Burning Man" but I always like to point out there already is an ultramarathon there, HELLO. But what it does remind me of is those early entry days of Burning Man...when no one is there...you're setting your stuff up, getting ready for stuff, hanging out, drinking, eating, talking, making new friends....it was fun. I made a ton of new friends, had great conversations, shared food and drink, chatted, laughed, enjoyed the day.

The day before there was both an archery mile (shoot three times, do a penalty mini lap for anything you miss, run 400 meters, repeat three more times....) and a beer mile. There were live bands, a bola race (the traditional Tarahumara ball game), a fire at night, sharing of food, buying food, shopping at booths, fun.

Race day was fun. Luis wakes everyone up with a shot guy and super load mariachi music. It was a pretty great way to wake up. I usually only take 20-30 minutes to get ready, so I had a long time to have multiple port-a-potty visits, stretched, eat, nap....

Luis basically told us all to smash our Garmins. He doesn't want another North Face type race with newbies knocking over each other to race race race - he wants to create community, something that I'm really into w ultras. He was so irreverent I couldn't help but love him - but I could see how certain personality types would loathe him.

We took off. I began chatting with everyone around me, feeling pretty confident I was going too fast. OH WELL. I'm always a fan of bad ideas, fast starts, and kissing without questioning. (Hey, that got me into a 4.5 year relationship that turned out to be awesome!)

The course is made up of two 10 mile loops - the pink loop which is okay, and the yellow loop, which sucks and I kind of hate, but it does have gorgeous views, so okay, I'll run it again. There are lots of rolling hills, a few steeper hills, a horrendous downhill that I could not do the last time without death-gripping onto Paul's arm.....

It's not a technical course, and I ended up running in road shoes due to a shoe malfunction. I got pretty dirty, I hated the world, and I felt like I was waaaay out of shape at the finish. (My training has jumped way up since then!)

My stomach was good - I tried the low fodmap diet the day before, and drank what Kelsey called "Smooth Operator" tea, and I only ate Hammer gels and Hammer solids. (Seriously, a food that is called a Solid? How can that be good? But really, they're not bad at all!!!)

I had fun. It was gorgeous, the crowds were great, it was a party everywhere, even when the last lap totally sucked. I wish it had been a 50 miler. But when it was done, and I had Akabill's amulet around my neck, a burrito in my belly, and a cider in my hand....I had a huge smile on my face and was ecstatic that I had been part of such a great race, such a wonderful community, and such an amazing place on this earth.

I had wanted to drop down to the 30 miler, mainly to hang out with friends. Doing the 60 was something I kind of regret. When I mentioned my desire to Paul, he said, "No, please, you have to run the 60 with me!" Not knowing my pace or anything, but feeling bad because I pretty much talked him into running, I decided, yes, I'd run. And we ended up running together, having fun, singing The Sound of Music (though Paul really needs to work on the lyrics to "Doe a Deer")....so it worked out fine. But we missed the talent show, the wrestling, a lot of dancing, and when I finished, I was so cold and shot that I couldn't really enjoy the after party that much. It's a party. Go to run some, yes, but go to enjoy the awesome environment more.

I'm running the 30 next year.

you can see how lost paul and i were....how hardcore we were racing....

all photos by paul swanson

06 April 2015

Umstead 50 (!!!!!!!!!!!!) Race Report

good friends on a nice run in the park

Umstead was to be my comeback race.

Comeback from injury.

Comeback from grief.

I didn't run exceptionally well - but I finished. My morton's neuroma was not really bothering me, except when I felt a few flashes of numbness towards the end, and I simply took some walk breaks. My stomach was off. (Port-a-potty queen!) I ran my slowest Umstead first-50 mile split ever, but WHO CARES? My morton's neuroma was okay!

A few days before the race, Tony and Ray began trying to egg me on to do the 100. I crazily pondered it, but did not. A few reasons:
  1. I hadn't trained for a 100 miler. How much would it suck to run and recover if I hadn't trained? Bleh.
  2. It was going down to 26 degrees F at night. Ummmmmmm, no.
  3. I wanted to spend time with my sister and her family without being out-of-my-mind exhausted. 
  4. I was afraid that I could hurt myself. I was really nervous that 50 miles might be doable, but 100 could destroy me. I knew this could be the case, so I stopped at 50.

I began the race in good spirits - I had so many friends that I was chaotically running around like a maniac while saying hi while trying to find moleskin while arranging my stuff while catching up...

Umstead is a 12.5 mile loop course - rolling hills on carriage trails. The hills seem easy the first loop or two, and then, by the end, you are cursing the park. Unfortunately, the temperatures were the coldest I have ever experienced there, and this definitely impacted the runners. The aid stations are well-stocked and the volunteers super friendly.

And then we were off! I began running with Tony and immediately knew I was out of my league. I have only been running slow and short since, ohhhhhh December. And slow like, 10-12 min mile slow. Ha.

But I stuck with him. We had fun, chatting, gossiping, catching up.

On the 3rd lap, I began to feel dizzy and just crap. I told Tony to go ahead; I needed to walk. We were pretty close for a while, but I took my time, stopping to pee, and then, my stomach began to fall apart (I really need to figure this out). I spent some quality time in the port-a-potties over the next two laps.

My sister came around mile 44, and that was nice. I ate some animal crackers and chatted with her.
just behind tony through the chute

As I got closer to the finish, I could ALMOST feel the weirdness w my neuromas...and began walking more. No pain, but that *feeling* that's hard to describe. Walking was fine. I wasn't in a rush.

I finished. 9:38:38. My slowest Umstead, but my neuromas were okay. That was all that mattered! This was huge!

I hung out with some friends, drinking amazing hot cocoa that Brandi made for Bruce and I, and then began to cough. My asthma was not happy. I hopped in my car, and began the perilous drive on the course. I luckily hit no runners, and got to cheer on the friends I had wanted to stay to see in at 50 miles.

Then I got to my sister's, played with her kids, and spent the rest of the time eating, chilling, and snuggling. It was a different Umstead, and a fun one.