Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pre-Marathon Photos

That's Fred Lebow, of course, namesake of Fred's Team and the creator of the NYC Marathon, taking his customary place at the finish line. This statue normally sits at the Engineer's Gate (aka the runner's gate) but is moved to the place of honor by the finish line for the marathon. A couple I met commented, "He doesn't look like a marathoner." I told them, "He may not have been the fastest runner, but he was the most passionate one."

The approach to the finish line. It's been super-crowded in the Park these past few days, and you can feel the energy. It's so cool! The international runners have begun to arrive. I met a nice couple from Switzerland here for the marathon, they took one of the pictures of me below.

This is the finish line for the World Marathon Majors - US Olympics Trial. The big structure on top is where the photographers and press stand.

Here's a better view of the press platform.

A side view of the finish line. The "extra" finish stand to the right is part of the NYC Marathon finish line, which isn't up yet.

Self portrait. Excited and stunned.

Here I am at the finish line!!

Me and Fred.

Don't forget about the final contest -- what will my finish time be? Closest without going over wins...something. Send in your predictions for my finish time to!

Four days to go...!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Six Days to Go...


That's my bib number.

The big day is Sunday, November 4.

If you would like to track me online, I believe if you go to the ING NYC Marathon results page on the day and input my name and/or bib number, it will display my last split time. There is a service called Athlete Tracker that sends e-mail alerts when I pass the split time mats, but it isn't reliable and I don't recommend it.

If you will be on the course, let me know exactly where you will be, and more importantly, what side of the street you will be on, and I will try to make it over there to say hello. Keep in mind that even though the starting gun goes off at 10:10, I might not get to the starting line for 20 minutes. I started approximating when I'd arrive at certain points along the course but it started giving me anxiety attacks so look further in this post for some helpful hints to my finishing time and do the math. This is a link to a simple course map from last year, better than the one on the offical Marathon website, although the official site has some fun video and course descriptions. There are more detailed maps online if you're looking to stake out a good locale.

Which leads us to...


A simple one.

Whoever guesses my actual finishing time -- not the time I cross under the clock, but my chip time -- without going over (thank you, The Price is Right!) will be the GRAND PRIZE WINNER! I'm not sure of what, yet, but you'll win it!

Now, to make this prediction, you can access my training log, compare my half marathons and long runs (the rule of thumb is, take your average half-marathon time and add 15 minutes) and make an educated guess.

Or I'll give you my prediction as a guideline: somewhere between 4 hours 15 and 4 hours 30. Hopefully not more than 4:30, ideally less than 4:15.

There are lots of factors that may play into my time. First and foremost is the weather, which is currently slated to be low of 51, high of 62, and cloudy (and if you don't think I haven't been checking it obsessively...) But it could rain; in fact, they were predicting rain on Sunday up until sometime tonight.

Secondly, I am in the green start corral, which means that instead of the glorious views of Brooklyn and Manhattan from the upper roadway, I will have the inglorious view of the contruction project on the lower roadway. Additionally, they are sending the green corral out in waves, and I will be in the last wave (thanks, Road Runners!) And if it isn't raining on Sunday, there will almost certainly be golden showers overhead (that has nothing to do with my start time, but it's an interesting, if disgusting, bit of trivia.)

Lastly is the unpredictability of my peanut bladder. In case you didn't read last year's blog, I went to the bathroom 7 times before the race even began, and I needed to go almost immediately after crossing the start line. I have vowed to drink only one cup of coffee at breakfast, and to not wait in line for a portapotty, if you know what I mean. But I might wuss out, should I need to go.

All those aside, I am in the best shape of my life, and the good thing about the green start is that it will hold me back for the first two miles and force me to go slow. And as we can see from the sidebars and previous race reports (like the one coming up in a moment) I do very well when I start out really slow and pick up the pace later on.

SO, all those factors, my do the math. Send your predictions to

Today was the final race before next Sunday's little jog, the Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off. A five-miler. 52 degrees. 6,000 people. Here's how it breaks down:

Mile 1 -- super-crowded. Started way back. We didn't move until 5 minutes after the starting gun. Enjoyed being held back by the crowd. Time -- 11:21

Mile 2 -- no iPod, no water bottles, nothing. Running nekkid. Listened to conversations instead. Ran for a bit with a small group of ex-addicts, they were really interesting. One of their group was embarrassed about wearing their shirt, he was teased. Higher powers were praised. Talked with another person who was skeptical about walking the water stations, and confirmed his friend telling him to walk them. Time -- 9:43

Mile 3 -- Started passing people, but only pushing to pass them. Powered up the slight uphill past the ballfield. Barely felt it. Decided that each mile now needed to be faster than the mile before, even though I wasn't hugely pushing. I could hear some people really straining out there. I didn't know if they were pre-marathoners or just running a 5 miler. At this mile I felt soooo good. My tendonitis --barely felt it. No foot pain. No back pain. Legs felt great, plenty left in the tank. Time -- 9:13

Mile 4 -- Now we're on the last two miles of the marathon course. I paid careful, careful attention. Needed to get past packs of Team in Training people. I'm glad they're running for a purpose, but could someone teach them not to run five abreast? It's rude. The start of the downhill portion of the course. I let myself really fly down Cat Hill. At the uphill part of 72nd St, right when you pass the transverse, I saw Jen, and I powered up that hill to catch her. She was motoring, and into her iPod, so once we hit the 4-mile mark I moved past her. I didn't even feel that friggin' hill, and I always hate that hill. Now I embrace it. Time -- 8:49

Mile 5 -- Sauce time, and this time there was plenty of sauce in the tank, and legs strong enough to pour it all over Central Park. I paid attention to everyone and everything. I saw the turn-off to Central Park South, where we'd be exiting the Park. We hit the bottom of the lower loop and started rounding the bend back up towards Tavern on the Green. This is uphill and usually I have a lot of difficulty at this point, because I'm usually exhausted. Today I felt like I was just getting warmed up. I didn't look at my watch as I approached the finish line. I have never felt so strong. I charged across the finish line.

Did I keep to my word? Was the fifth mile a faster one than the previous four?

Time --7:53

The best five-miler, and perhaps the best run of my life.

This is my strategy for the marathon, played out in miniature: start slow, and gain speed as I go.

After the race, a quick shower and then the traditional team brunch at City Grill. Here are some photos to finish off tonight's post, you can view all the brunch photos, and my candid team photos taken throughout training at my Kodak Gallery site.

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's Taper Time!

Hey, yall!
This isn't the big marathon prep post, I'll do that over the weekend. Just a couple of shout-outs and a quick update.

The latest additions to the Fred's Team Honor Roll are


bringing the total that will go to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at MSKCC to


Dear Honor Roll members, I cannot wait to do you all proud!

The bleachers are up in Central Park
"Marathon Route" signs are on the lampposts on Central Park South
Hotel prices have tripled

It's been a great week. Not only is the marathon right around the corner, I passed my first 160 wpm test in steno. So good omens all around! Now, whoever can put a good word in to keep it from raining...

No regularly scheduled Team workouts, sigh. So on Monday night I went for a leisurely jog around the rez at sunset, my favorite time to be there. Sunrise and sunset at the top of the rez, there's nothing like it. Turned out to be about 6 miles.

Tuesday at 5:30 I got an email saying that a few people were going for a run at 6:45, if I wanted to join in. Now, I got this email not from the instigator of the run, but from someone who was going. So I didn't realize until I set out to meet them that I didn't know where the group would be meeting, only that it would be somewhere near 72nd Street. I figured they'd meet at Tavern, and since the bleachers were up, it would be a logical place. So I went to the bleachers, had a great stretching session, and ... no one. Where was everyone? (sigh.) I started doing an easy fartlek around the lower loop (it's a speed workout with no set intervals -- I was using the lampposts) and as I hit the transverse, there they were, they had just started a five-miler so I joined in. Once again, the group was a faster than I am, but since they were taking it easy, I was able to keep up with them, and it felt great. When we got to 102nd Street I cut off at the transverse because I didn't want to do six miles, only five. Even without the group pushing me, I kept the pace going back down to Tavern, then turned around and went back to the transverse to wait for the other folks. I know, I know, these are supposed to be easy runs, but it was only for a few miles and I wasn't trying to do anything except see that I could do it. Check out my pace on the sidebar -- under a 9 minute mile!

Speaking of asides, David was wearing his Irn Bru shirt. Irn Bru is the Gatorade of Scotland. It smells, and tastes, like bubblegum. Did I mention it was carbonated? Definitely worth trying -- once.

Wednesday, the trifecta at Longevity. It felt great. Thanks to them my tendonitis is mostly gone. My leg still feels a little funny when I run -- that may be some sciatica, but it ain't nothing I haven't dealt with before.

Also on Wednesday, a trifecta NY celebrity sighting. By this I mean not because it's in NY, but that only in NY would anyone be able to spot these people and know who they are. Don't believe me?
Marian Seldes
Fran Lebowitz
That guy who plays the assistant medical examiner on "Law and Order"

Am I right?
(okay, maybe the L&O guy isn't really a celebrity, but I did spot him! )

Thursday, the second cool day of fall. HOORAY! After school I dashed out for a quickie. That sounds dirty. Alas, just a run up to Road Runners to pick up my gack for the Poland Spring race. On the way there, I was really conscientious about holding myself back, and once I got there, I did a loop around the bridle path just to get that slow pace into my bones. 3.6 miles, 36 minutes. Slow and perfect. Picked up the pace on the way back -- it was getting late and I needed to get home and change for the Fred's Team Q & A at MSKCC. I loved going to this event last year because it's one of the few times in the year that we get to see each other wearing "normal people" clothes. This year, same thing. Jeff and Annie led a q & a about what we should be doing these last couple of weeks: what we should be eating, things to take with us on the day, what to expect, what we should do if it rains, etc. It was good to hear it. Afterwards a few of us went out for dinner nearby.

My main concern is that now that I'm not pushing myself, my body might think it's time to relax and get sick, especially with my classes sounding more like a TB ward. Dr. Noah (acupuncturist) hooked me up with some herbal support, and today I got a flu shot. For some reason, Dr. Thornton had a giant bag full of Starbucks pastries, and she gave me a piece of chocolate-chip poundcake. I'm not supposed to be eating sweets right now, but you know, it WAS medically prescribed...

Next time, all the info you'll need to know about the marathon, the final contest, and more...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How I Got to Carnegie Hall, An Amazing Team Member Story, and More!

So much to talk about, and so much time! This is a long one, folks, with lots of links to people and places that I urge you to check out!

First, and always foremost, the latest addition to the Fred's Team Honor Roll is

and the total to date that will go to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is an astounding


The marathon is only two weeks away, but there's always time to join the Honor Roll. Click here to visit my Fred's Team site, make a secure on-line donation, and learn about Fred's Team, the Aubrey Fund, and MSKCC.

Before we get into the running, I've got to tell y'all about an event I worked on this past Monday (yes, I do a lot of charity work. I was either a real ass in a former life, or putting karma points in the bank for something really awful I will eventually do. Maybe both.) It was a benefit for the Actors Fund, the umbrella organization that supports all members of the performing arts. I love the Fund; they've helped me in the past and I'm always happy to give back.

Background: in 2001 actor/musician/writer/comedian/radio host/etc. Seth Rudetsky produced a "one night only" concert version of DREAMGIRLS for the Fund, and now the Fund produces a yearly one-night star-studded performance of a beloved musical. This year, instead of the usual large-cast musical, the Fund produced a concert featuring their president, the enormously talented Brian Stokes Mitchell. I've worked on all of these concerts since they began -- I've known Seth since college, and when I found out he was doing DREAMGIRLS I called him and got on board. Ever since then I've been assigned to "bitch" for Seth for these events, partly because I know him, but primarily because I read music and know how to put an orchestra book together, which is what I spent the majority of my time doing for these events. This year, Seth was not involved in the concert, so I figured I wasn't doing it, which was probably a good thing because between school and the marathon training and seeing doctors to deal with my tendonitis, there ain't a lot of extra time in a day. Lo and behold, I get a last-minute call from Tim Pinckney, who has been writing/producing these concerts along with the 800 other things he does for the Fund. They need someone to put the books together for Stokes and his pianist, and then for the director (Richard Jay-Alexander) and the musical director, Paul Gemignani. HOLY CRAP!! I've worked with A-team people before, but this is A++++++++++ team! Plus, it's the Fund, and I'd never say no to them. So with the ten spare minutes I had, I put together the books, attended as much rehearsal as I conceivably could over the two weeks, and then on Monday, the 15th, I went to Carnegie Hall to assist on the event.

I live, as you might know from an earlier post, directly across the street from Carnegie Hall, and yet I've never actually been there. Sad, but true. Not only did I get to go inside, but backstage and all around. Number one, gorgeous. Number two, one of the nicest stage crews ever. Number three, oh my God, a concert with a 44-piece orchestra on the stage of CARNEGIE FREAKIN' HALL! Stokes' special guests were Heather Headley, Nikki Renee Daniels (opera singer,) Phylicia Rashad, Reba McEntire, and the Broadway Inspirational Voices. Plus Patti LuPone (who was there to give an award to entertainment lawyer/producer John Breglio,) and in the audience and then at the after-party at the Russian Tea Room: Betty Buckley, Chita Rivera, Donna McKechnie, and a whole slew of Broadway divas and dudes. Wow, wow, wow. The concert itself couldn't have been more spectacular. Stokes is a brilliant singer, and enormously charismatic. He was obviously having an amazing time, and the audience had one right along with him. The only sucky part was that the show went too long and we ended up having to stop before we could get to the encores. We were really down to the wire -- 10:59:59. Stokes couldn't even come out for a second bow, that's how tight the time was. But I'll tell you, the audience was completely satisfied. They were definitely part of a real special evening.

Oh yes, I did run a little bit, too.

The Team is winding down its weekly workouts as we begin our taper in preparation for the NYC Marathon, which is, as of this post...TWO WEEKS AWAY!!! On Tuesday we had our last speed workout at Riverbank. We did a one-mile warmup and three miles at projected marathon pace. Much better than Sunday's debacle. Okay, it wasn't a debacle, it was just a bad run for me. Jeff reminded me that it was a good lesson to learn. And you know, between that, and Gretchen's amazing letter, and being reminded by a Teammate who is a survivor how lucky we are to be healthy and able to run -- well, if that doesn't give you perspective, nothing will. So it's all good. My pace for the three miles was 9:17. Remember that number.

Wednesday was recovery day at Longevity Health. I got the trifecta -- massage, acupuncture and chiropractic. I'll tell you, I wouldn't have been able to run last year without their help, and the same goes for this year, too. Plus which they're going to put together a little somethin-somethin for the Team as a thank-you. Dr. Margolin, Dr. Rubenstein and the staff at Longevity provide free services to the Broadway Bares performers every year, and they've been so generous to me, since I'm not making any money while I'm in school. So I'm even more amazed that they would help the Team out --for the second year -- just because I asked. If you're a NYer, or planning to visit, check them out. They are the real deal. For you runners, they have great massages for post-race recovery. Book early and often.

Thursday was the last step workout at Riverside Drive. We were on the long, low steps (they're the only ones lit; it's dark at 7pm now!) and did an easy combo of steps, hills and a little running.

Saturday was the last Team long run -- the traditional running of the last 10 miles of the marathon course. We start at 58th St. and 1st Ave (on the Manhattan side of the bridge) and run the course -- on the sidewalks, naturally -- until we hit Tavern on the Green. Jeff hands out little cheat sheets that give you the course along with the mile markers. There were at least 50 people there, and again the weirdness of remembering that there are about 800 runners on Fred's Team, because there are about 15-20 of us who come to the Tuesday-Thursday sessions, and about 30 or so for the Saturday long runs. My neighbor (and Honor Roll member) Joel came with me, but he's a faster runner than I am so we didn't run together. I was really looking forward to this run, I wanted to get that good feeling back that you get when you've run a race properly and can finish strong. I remember having a lot of trouble with this run last year, primarily once we got back into Manhattan -- there's a hill from 110th to 90th, the entrance to Central Park. It's not that steep, but it does come at a rather inopportune time on the course, which makes it much more devastating than it normally would be. And for the training run, when you're on the sidewalk, you're running on cobblestones, which is exhausting by itself, no hill required.

I started at a 10:00 pace; it was fairly easy to keep track of time but I didn't do mile splits because I wanted it to be more about the run than the time. After a couple of miles I started picking up the pace, and hooked up with Lynn, and brothers Rich and Harrie.

"Why Fred's Team Runners are the Most Amazing People In the World"

At the beginning of the year, as Rich was getting ready to graduate from medical school and Harrie from college, Harrie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on his salivary gland. He was treated at MSKCC. What blows me away is that during his treatment, Harrie finished his coursework, graduated college, and ran at least three times a week. Only a few months after finishing treatment, he'll be running a marathon. I've only known him a short time but his energy and positive attitude amazes and inspires me.

I can't begin to do justice to their story, you've got to read Rich's moving account of Harrie's journey, which you can do by clicking right here. Go, click. I'll wait.

Rich and Harrie are going to run the marathon together, and it's an honor to run alongside them. Well, maybe a little bit behind them. Read on...

The four of us ran together over the Willets Point Bridge, through the Bronx and back into Manhattan. They were running at a great pace for me, and of course as soon as I mentioned it, BAM, they were off like a shot. Rather, I slowed down. What happened was we hit 11oth Street, and after a block they decided to move to the parking lane of 5th Avenue, off the cobblestone. It took me about 4 blocks to decide that the risk of tripping on the cobblestone outweighed getting clipped by a car, and I moved there, too. Much better! But they were too far ahead for me by this point. I caught up to another Teammate named Lynn; we are about at the same pace and frequently end up neck-and-neck during races and long runs. We paced each other into and through the Park (down Cat Hill, yay!) out of the Park, up CPS, back into the Park, and to the big finish. I was so much happier about this run, it was exactly how it should have gone, a mini-version of the marathon. And it felt a lot better than last year -- I remember last year being a struggle. My (fairly correct) time: 1 hour 33, or a 9:20 mile.

So that's two runs at a 9:20 pace. Other long runs at a 9:30 pace. I am getting ready to predict...MY PROJECTED TIME. That'll have to wait until next post, though. I'll give you my race number and all sorts of info about the big day.

Lastly, but not leastly: Liz Robbins from the NY Times is writing a book on marathon runners, and wanted to talk with charity runners about their stories. After sharing Gretchen's letter with y'all, Jeff suggested I talk with her. She interviewed me on Friday, and again on Saturday after the run. I wanted to share a portion of it with you (you'll still have to buy the book, though!) Liz asked me what my inspiration was. We talked about all the people we know who have been helped by MSKCC, passing MSKCC during the marathon and how amazing it is to see the kids outside, and I said something like, "I'm just running a marathon. But so many people thought that was important enough, or the cause I am running for is important enough, for them to donate money on my behalf. I don't even know some of the people who donated to me, yet they thought enough of what I am doing to support my marathon effort. That inspires me. If they can have that much faith in me, and be that generous, I owe it to them to put out 100 percent effort and do the best job I can."

You are as much a part of this marathon as I am. Thank you for running alongside me.

Next week: MARATHON INFO, and the LAST CONTEST...

And finally, because we don't have enough pictures of my cat on this blog, say hello to Spot:

She is happy to see you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why I Run

I received this e-mail today, and with permission, I would like to share this with my heroes of the Honor Roll, and all my friends, family and supporters:

Hi Marci - I stumbled across your blog and wanted to reach out to you and thank you. My sweet, 3-year old son, Liam, is currently undergoing treatment at MSKCC. He was diagnosed in late February with neuroblastoma and through his treatment has been nothing less than amazing. My son inspires me every day and I feel like the luckiest mother in the world to have Liam as my son. The money that the Aubrey Fund raises has a direct impact on children like my son, and for your efforts we thank you. Keep up the good work and, again, thank you.
Gretchen Holt Witt

Please visit her astounding blog at

"I’ve got a heart that can hold love.
I’ve got a mind that can think.
There may be times when I lose the light
And let my spirits sink
But I can’t stay depressed
When I remember how I’m blessed
Grateful, grateful
Truly grateful I am
Grateful, grateful
Truly blessed and duly grateful"
-John Bucchino

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Lesson Learned

Hola, y'all.
A short one, as I am exhaustamated.
There is a new addition to the Honor Roll:


making the grand total to date that will be going to Fred's Team



Today was the Staten Island Half Marathon, run on (where else?) Staten Island. We were adding seven miles to the front, for 20 total. I could've done then in Central Park yesterday, but I just couldn't bear the thought of yet three more loops of the Park. Still can't. So at 7:30am I was on the Ferry with a number of Teammates, heading out to SI. Since it's an out-and-back course, the plan was to run the first 3 1/2 miles, then turn back.

Remember how in my last couple of posts, how much of a believer I am in going out slow? Well, I should've listened to my own advice. I was with a group of runners that normally do between 7-8:30 paces. Mine is a 9:30 pace, maybe less at this point. So as we set out for our first 7, even though I am not pushing, I am, for the most part, keeping up with them. I said at one point, "Should I be elated, or scared, that I'm keeping pace?" Because I ran that first 7 (which was more like 7.6) in 1:08. Which means an 8:56 pace. Yeah. I swear I didn't feel I was pushing, but without other people around me, and only them in front of me, I was having a lot of trouble holding back. Obviously.

When we hit mile 6 of the half, I was done. I bonked big-time. Totally ran out of steam. Even scarier, I got a side stitch at mile 6 1/2. I never had one before, believe it or not. I somehow managed to get completely dehydrated, despite drinking at every stop and two cups of Gatorade at mile 6, which made me ill, but I figured I could take stomach upset if it gave me energy. Someone told me the wind (we were by the water for a number of miles) plays a factor in dehydration. I don't know. I did drink a lot, I could feel everything sloshing around in there, and I never stopped sweating, but I was caked in salt by the end.

I had to walk a couple of times, which I haven't had to do in months, though I did make it up all the hills running. And except for the two miles where I was working out the side stitch, I was still clocking decent times. Total time for the Half: 2:04:58, or a 9:32 pace. Which again, is not bad -- 9:30 would be an excellent pace for me for the Marathon.

BUT I am really upset because I KNEW I was going too fast for those first seven and I didn't feel it, and I didn't stop myself, even after we did the anti-speedwork. I know I could've clocked a much better time.

When I crossed the finish line I started to cry. It was the worst race ever. I've never run on fumes for so long, and with such a doomsday attitude for a large chunk of it.

The only things that kept me going:
-the crowd support in SI was GREAT. They hand out water at the water stations instead of you getting it yourself, a nice touch. Most of those volunteers are high schoolers who cheer you on and really get into it. Crowds along the roadway were great, too. (another interesting and very smart thing about this half is that it's not a true out-and-back. The turnaround point is on a two-way street separated by a berm, and once that road ends, there's a detour down to Fort Wadsworth -- the starting point for the Marathon -- before you go back to the original course, so runners aren't crashing into each other as the faster ones pass the slower ones)
-this was the weekend of the Phedippidations Worldwide Half Marathon Challenge, and while I ran my half last week (when I only ran half) this weekend the majority of Phedippers ran. Even with all of the runners around me, knowing my Fdip buddies were on the road around the world running their halfs and 5Ks, gave me a real boost.
-thinking about everyone on the Honor Roll, and how hard I've worked to get to this point and really do the best I can to earn your investment in my marathon effort. At mile 10 I started saying 'I am strong, I am strong, I am strong," trying to drown out the negative voice in my head that really took over from mile 5 or so on, the one that spent the majority of the half yelling at me for going too fast earlier on. I didn't want to let any of you, or the Team, down, and even though I spent most of those last 6 miles praying for a water station so I could walk for a bit, I was determined to finish strong.

So I'm still upset about this, and I know I should just chalk it up to experience, learn my friggin' lesson once and for all, and move on. And I know I will, but right now I'm too tired and dehydrated to take comfort in the fact that a) I ran over 20 miles in 3:13, b) when I'm on fumes I can maintain a 9:30 pace, impossible for me even a month ago, c) maintaining proper pace will be much easier in the marathon, when I have more people around me at the start -- yeah, just a few more (like 37,000 more!) and d) I ran 7 1/2 miles in 1:08. I'm not writing them to brag, I'm trying to put things into perspective and remember that even with a sucky race, some good came out of it. When I re-read this tomorrow or Tuesday, this will make me feel better.

Much love to Fdippers who ran the WWH and the 5K this weekend, to fellow Teamers, and to my beloved Honor Roll.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pain In the Ass, Part Two

A quickie today, it's late and I'm old.

I posted my last entry before the Chicago Marathon. Good Lord. If you haven't already, just Google "Chicago marathon" or look at any of the newspapers. It's sad that some of the race organizers are trying to spin it by blaming the runners for taking too much water and splashing it on themselves. They're just trying to stay hydrated and cool down, for f's sake! I also found it amazing to hear from our coach, Jeff, that the water stations were every other mile instead of every mile. I guess that was the plan pre-heat wave, to prevent people from getting hyponeuremia (sp?) when you die from drinking too much water so you basically dilute yourself -- too few electrolytes. I think someone died on the course a few years ago because of it. But this is pretty rare to begin with, and not sweating extra water out certainly wouldn't have been an issue this year -- I, having no medical or sports knowledge, can say that with confidence -- so why not add stations every mile, like they have in NY? There's been enough Monday morning quarterbacking, I just hope that the race organizers stop spinning and apologize.

Back to NYC.

Sunday was a family gathering that was for the books. What I thought was going to be a medium-sized get-together turned into 21 adults and 6 children under the age of 7. It was pretty hilarious. I hope the restaurant recovers. I won't bore you with the details...yet...

Monday after spending the day at the "Brian Stokes Mitchell at Carnegie Hall" rehearsal I went back to CPW for a cortisone shot to help the tendonitis (they were open on Columbus Day!) Not the worst experience, I will say. The doctor was very thorough, talked about the risks (infection, potential weakening of muscles, etc.) but those are rare and I was wavering because it was already feeling a little better after a day and a half of rest, but then I figured, let's go for it. Considering the size of the needle, it wasn't that painful; after all, there's a lot of padding back there! The key to the success of this procedure is that even if everything feels 100 percent better, treat it like it doesn't. So lots of ice, stretching and Aleve. The doctor said that ideally I should take five days off, but he settled for one.

Tuesday, some pain around the injection site, but the hip was feeling better. Basically it hurt to sit down, like it does, well, after you get an injection in your ass. Not easy when you're in school all day, sitting down.

Tuesday night, Cat Hill. Before we began, we pumped one of our Teammates, Erica, for information about another Teammate, Karen, who went to Chicago. Karen herself showed up a few minutes later. She talked about it a little, but didn't seem to want to get into it; Jeff and David (another Teammate who went to Chicago to cheer Karen on) gave us more info after the workout about the Chicago Fred's Team runners and the race in general. I can't imagine how Karen must feel -- to train for an event for so long and have it be Chicago 2007 -- I don't know how I would've handled it. Tough it out, or quit? I would have been devastated either way. Karen's pretty amazing.

A light workout, we have a 20-miler this weekend, the last long one. 2 sets of 3 repeats of Cat Hill at a moderate pace. I was aware of the hip, but it wasn't hurting, just a couple of twinges. I kind of wanted to do a little more...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What A Pain In the Ass, I Meet Grete Waitz, and my PWWHM results!!

Is that Grete Waitz, nine time -- let's say that again -- NINE TIME winner of the NYC Marathon? In Central Park?

Why, yes it is!

Let me tell you about my day!

But first, and most imprtantly, as promised, the latest and greatest members of the Fred's Team Honor Roll:


The total you have all donated so far for the Aubrey Fund is an astounding


It is an honor to have this much support, and I promise not to let you down.

Quick medical update: On Thursday, after I posted my blog, I Googled "pain in the back of the knee" and "tendonitis." The results scared the poops out of me, so on Friday I found a sports physician near my house (one of the people there is the medical director for NYRR, so I felt confident that they'd know what they were doing) and went for an evaluation. Over the course of the morning the pain left the back of my knee and migrated up to my groin. That was interesting.

Dr. Michael Neely at CPW Integrative Medicine examined me, and after a lot of bending, stretching, poking and pushing, the diagnosis: medial hamstring tendonitis. In other words, a pain in my ass. This is the same thing I had last year. No surprise, I guess, given the higher mileage I'm running. And I probably haven't been as vigilant with the pre- and post-stretching of the hips as I should have been. Slightly disconcerting was his wondering if the back-of-the-knee pain might be sciatica as well as general tendon irritation. Most of you know that 2 years ago I had back surgery for a herniated disk. It's all cleared up, I've had no pain since, but when it was at its worst, I never felt pain in my lower back -- it was all down my left leg. I admit to also not being as vigilant about my posture as I should be, and not doing my back exercises as religiously as I should. The pain in my knee, though, was tangible; it hurt to the touch, unlike my problems of '05. But I won't rule anything out. Of course the best treatment for tendonitis is to stop running, but since we both knew that wasn't going to happen, he said ice a lot, stretch a lot, and call if it gets worse and he'll set me up with some cortisone or a steroid pack.

Side note before we get into the race report: more than a few Teammates told me, when I mentioned tendonitis, to get a cortisone shot right away. Since at least two of these people were doctors, I made an appointment to get a shot on Monday.

OK, enough medical trauma, on to the RACE!!

Today was the Norwegian Festival, capped off by FOUR, count 'em, races -- a Troll Stroll, kid's races, a 1.7 mile run, and the Grete's Great Gallop Half-Marathon. Okay, the stroll isn't a race, but you know, to have four events in one day, it was cool. Headlining the Festival was Grete Waitz, NINE-TIME WINNER of the NYC Marathon. Wow. Grete is a very good friend of Fred's Team, having been a very good friend of Fred Lebow's. She ran NYC with Fred Lebow in 1992, when he was battling brain cancer, ran it alongside him instead of shooting for a marathon win.
This was also my half for the Phedippidations World Wide Half Marathon Challenge, aka WWH. Fdip is my favorite running podcast to listen to on a long run. Fdip profiles running legends, discusses running issues, offers training advice, reports on running equipment and fun gadgets, shares race reports, and provides more than a few laughs, courtesy of self-proclaimed "goofy little podcaster" Steve Runner. The World Wide Half was an idea some of his listeners came up with last year. I wrote about this during a previous post, so briefly: everyone runs a half-marathon, either a sanctioned race or create their own route, on a specific weekend, and it's kind of like we're all running it together. People have been sharing their progress online and on podcasts. Since the WWH was during Grete's Gallop last year, I wanted to run it this weekend, also because next weekend we're adding miles to the Staten Island Half, and I wanted my half to be, well, a half. I was also going to bring my recorder and try to do some audio on the run, but it was so humid I was afraid that I'd damage it in the swamp that would become my running shorts.

The shorter races started on the west side of the Park; the half on the east side. I went into the Park on the west side just in time for the start of the 1.7 miler. I watched them go off, then headed across Dead Road to the east side, when who did I see in front of me but GRETE WAITZ herself, heading off to the start of the Half. So I caught up with her, introduced myself, and then -- starstruck. I had the biggest women's running legend in the world at my disposal and I FROZE UP. I work in the theater, and I've handled all sorts of celebs with ease, but for some reason, around Grete, I dried up. Can you believe it? So as we walked east we talked about the weather, and I asked her about tips for running in hot weather (don't go out too fast, stay hydrated) and those poor folks in Chicago who will be running their marathon tomorrow in 84 degree heat and high humidity. Such a dope I am!!

As I hit the plaza, I saw the infamous WAFFLES!!!! Okay, last year we were told that there would be waffles at the finish line. Well, last year's run was misery -- it rained the whole time, it was cold, everyone got injured, and to add insult to injury -- NO WAFFLES. They had run out. There was no way I was missing out on waffles this year, even if it was a pre-race waffle. They were good -- not too sweet. A good omen.

Met the Team at baggage claim. Lots of stretching. Here's a couple of photos:

The race course: 2 loops (clockwise) of Central Park and a third pass through the lower loop to the finish line at Tavern on the Green. Clockwise is easier, I think. The clockwise run of the Great Hill is longer, but less steep, and Cat Hill is downhill, hooray!! The finish line, alas, uphill.

The temperature: 70 degrees and 90 percent humidity, and that's at 9:00am. I hate humidity!!

Loop 1, miles 1-6: Listened to Jeff and Grete and held back. Didn't push at all, just ran. Let myself be held back for the first three miles. After the third mile, I started picking up the pace just a little, all I did was pass some people and put a little oomph into the downhills. I started playing a game, trying to catch up to each Fred's Teamer I saw ahead of me, and when there wasn't a Team member, people wearing orange. Not really pushing too much just yet, I was being conservative with the hip and with the heat. TIME: 56:23

Loop 2, miles 7-12: Started pouring on the sauce, but again, hip and humidity, I was careful about when and how much I poured. My hip didn't actually cause me any real pain; in fact, the running did make it feel a little better, I guess it was warmed up and stretched and all. But it did ache the whole time, and I didn't want to risk aggravating it more by really pounding. But I picked up the pace in general, and started powering down hills and keeping my pace up on the uphills, esp. right towards the tops of the hills, I pushed over them. Saw some of the lead runners coming in as I was at around mile 6 1/2. That is one of the cool things about multi-loop races, seeing the top finishers in action. I kept my focus on maintaining my form, using my arms (thank you, Annie!) and fooling myself into thinking that my wet singlet would be a natural source of air-conditioning if I ran faster (no fooling, it was!) Saw the Natural Living guy on the course, he was actually racing it, too, and booming out encouragement. Some people near me commented on how much they love seeing him during a race and it made me smile. I had a couple of sub-9:00 miles, great for me, and amazing in this heat. TIME: 53:32

Mile 13.1: Sauce time! Although it was hard to get really saucy; it was still very crowded on the lower loop. Well, not so much crowded as people running 3-4 abreast, making it hard to get by. This mile does feature the only thing I hate about clockwise racing in Central Park, the big uphill finish. I saw the official clock for the first time as I passed mile 13 -- I had been studiously avoiding it -- and it was at 2:04:20. Could I run a 10th of a mile in 40 seconds? No, but great impetus for a big finish. It wouldn't my official time anyway, since I started so far back, but it was fun to try. TIME: 9:20 (for the mile and a tenth)

TOTAL TIME: 2 hours and 29 seconds.

My second best half-marathon ever (the first being my first half, Brooklyn, in 2006,) and the best I've ever run in the heat. This being the second time I've really committed to a negative split and have it work in my favor, I'm now a believer. Who knew that when you listen to your coaches and people who know better, it works?

After the race, our Team and Team for Kids received a special honor: we met Grete for a post-race q&a. Grete is the chairwoman of the NYRR Foundation, which is who TFK runs for, as well as being a friend of Fred's Team. She gave us some advice, really stressing taking the first half easy. The second half of the NYC course is a lot hillier, and you can really wear yourself out if you push too hard through Brooklyn, which is pretty much the first half of the race. She said that NYC is a tough course, no place to run a PR, unless, of course, it's your first race or NYC is your only marathon. Mary Wittenberg, president of NYRR, was there as well, to talk about how important Team for Kids was to her, and to thank us all. If I could give just one sour grape, I felt that the event was really for TFK, and we were tagging along. Still, it was nice to be included. Here's Grete:
The woman to the left is Mary Wittenberg.

And a couple of shots of the Team post-q&a!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Quick Update For the Week

There are a couple of additions to the Honor Roll, but I'll honor them in the next post.
Just wanted to give you a quick update, since I've been really busy this week -- I'm working on the Brian Stokes Mitchell concert at Carnegie Hall, it's a benefit for the Actors Fund. Click here for the official info. Let me say that Stokes is one of the most talented singers alive today, so if you've got the $$ and the time, I suggest checking out this one-time-only event. Special guest stars will include Phylicia Rashad and Reba McEntire.

In steno world, I transcribed my first 160 today (this means the teacher dictates to us at 160 words per minute for 5 minutes, and then we take our notes and transcribe them back into English. Harder than it sounds.) We go from 140 to 160 to 180, jumps of 20 words per minute. When I feel I'm really at the speed, it's like time slows down, but you don't. It feels like the teacher's dictation slows down and I'm able to hear not so much the words as the pauses between the words. I doubt I passed this test, but it was a real confidence-booster to feel that I was ready to transcribe.

I guess speed spreads from one part of the body to another, because I'm feeling much more comfortable running faster. Which is funny because in workouts this week we haven't been stressing speed; in fact, we're doing the opposite. On Tuesday we did the "anti-speed" workout at Riverbank, to get us used to starting slow. I'm guilty of starting too fast, even if my too fast is just slightly above a turtle's pace. So after our warm-up, we ran three miles UNDER our race pace. We were supposed to go at least a minute slower, but then I would've been walking. I'm thinking that I can do a 9:30, maybe less. So I was trying to maintain a 10:00, and was moderately successful staying that pace. After three miles, Jeff said "One lap at race pace," and BOY, did it feel good. I ran it in 2:06, which would be an 8:20 mile. Hmmm...a girl can dream, can't she? I did take some pictures, but they came out kind of dark. I'll try to post them next week.

Tonight we did our Riverside Park step workout. We went to the OTHER alternate steps, they're not as steep but they're really wide. We did a lot of drills, including running up the bannister (it's only about a foot off the ground!) I love these steps. It was HUUUUUMID out, though. Jeez! I hear it's going to be 84 and humid in Chicago this weekend for their marathon. Poor guys.

My right leg has been bothering me lately, it started after the race last weekend, when my hip went all kablooey. I went for a massage and chiro on Wednesday because the whole leg was painful and the calf muscles had seized up, and it made the calf feel better but the back of my knee is still annoying me. Next time I am at Longevity I'm going to have someone there check it out. It's not painful and it doesn't hurt to walk, or even run, but it's achy and sore to the touch. It's probably tendonitis or something. Ah, well. I've run through worse.

This weekend, a drop-down week. Running Greta's Gallop Half-Marathon. Instead of extra mileage, we were told to race it. Should be interesting...