Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fred's Team Kick-Off Party, Broadway Bares, and more!

Ooh, boy. Lots of stuff to tell you about.

But first off,



bringing the total to


I am running this year in honor of Liam Witt, an amazing little boy who has been waging war against cancer for the past year. Thanks to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research and the money donated on behalf of Fred's Team runners from people like you, MSKCC has developed treatments that is helping Liam win his battle. As recently as twenty years ago, a boy with Liam's cancer, neuroblastoma, had a zero percent chance of survival. MSKCC recently hosted a reunion for childhood neuroblastoma survivors. Three hundred people showed up. So if you think your donation doesn't make a difference, there are 300 families who can tell you otherwise.

Won't you help give MSKCC and Liam the chance every child deserves to live a full life? Simply click here, or on the link to the right and bottom of the page, and make a donation to my marathon effort. It means a lot more to Liam and his family than a dollar sign.

Kicking off the season also means that my blogging will hopefully become a little more regular, and maybe I'll even get to that long-awaited podcast. I gotta say, trying to record a podcast is a lot harder than it sounds. I've been trying, but it just sounds terrible, I "um" and "er" so much, and I blither. I'm too lazy to write a script, not good enough to talk off-the-cuff. Hmm....

First off, Broadway Bares was this past weekend. What a great show. 250 performers, 30 or so stage managers, and a whopping $874,372 raised for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS! A new record. Broadway Bares, for those who don't know, is basically a strip show for charity. There are about a dozen original choreographed numbers all built around a theme (this year's theme was "Wonderland," loosely based on Alice in Wonderland." Very loosely.) It's at Roseland Ballroom for two shows in one day, a 9:30pm and a midnight. The show features Broadway and other professional dancers, loads of celebrity cameos, and ends with everyone go-go dancing for tips along the runways. There's straight strip, gay strip. drag strip -- something for everybody!

Here's a picture from the event, from the Living Art of Armando number. They're a Vegas act that comes in every year. They do crazy aerial stuff that's always gorgeous. This year was no exception. If you click here, you can see pictures from the event. My job was to run one of the four rolling panels that we use as part of the set. Yes, very high-tech. We stand behind them, flip them from black side to white side and roll them around on cue. I love doing this show and I love being up on the stage with the show (as opposed to being a runner or standing in what we call Pervert Alley -- the section on the floor where dancers enter and exit off the right side of the stage. It's curtained off, but some intrepid audience members sneak over there and try to pull up the curtains to sneak peeks, hence the name.) When the set was a wall with three doors in it, I was the "towel girl" where I basically stood backstage and when the newly-stripped dancers came offstage, I'd give them towels to cover up with. Usually. Anyway, it's a really fun show to work on as well as watch.

Two small problems marred the event for me. First off, I ran over my right big toe with my panel during the 9:30 show. It didn't break, but man did it hurt. It bruised really badly; in fact, it's still bruised. Secondly -- and this wasn't a problem until the next day -- we are, how to put this, encouraged to drink. It's a Broadway Bares tradition, stemming from 18 years ago when Jerry Mitchell and six other dancers jumped up on the bar at Splash and raised $3,000. They did one show, and the management brought them tequila shots to encourage them to stay and do another, since the line was around the block.

And no, I will not be dancing on a bar to raise money for Fred's Team. Isn't running a marathon enough for you?

So, liquor. A vodka shot for the SMs before the first show. A bottle of vodka for the SR SMs. I kept a small water bottle full in my pants pocket. A trip to the VIP bar during the brief rest we had between shows for a free drink. The aforementioned tequila before the second show. More vodka during the midnight show. And lastly, at the after-party at Therapy bar, more vodka. Couple this with not really eating that day, and spending the majority of the weekend at Roseland working and not really sleeping. I got home at 4:30 Monday morning, fully intending to go to school that day. I even woke up at 7:00am. And then I made the mistake of standing up. I spent the next four hours becoming very intimate with my toilet. Needless to say, I didn't make it to school.

Between Bares and my post-Bares recovery from injured toe and alcohol poisoning, I didn't get a lot of running in over the past few weeks. Not so great, since this weekend we should be up to 11 miles. Oops. Shoulda read that training chart.

Yesterday was the Fred's Team kick-off party at MSKCC. It was, as usual, great to see everyone, and it's always a treat to see people not in running clothes. Normally the parties at MSKCC just have cookies and whatnot, but this one had sushi and a veggie plate. Hey, if they're catering workouts, I'm there! Hee hee! Sad that Matt F. won't be running with the Team this year, but happy to see so many returnees, and so many more newbies, including my old friend Bill from Gods Love We Deliver! Bill was my driver for one of the weirdest delivery days ever, but that's a story for another day. Dr. O'Reilly, the head of the pediatrics unit, talked to us about the Aubrey Fund and its importance to MSKCC. He told us about some patients who came into MSKCC with cancers that would have normally been death sentences, who are alive today thanks to research and treatment funded by the Aubrey Fund. Brothers Rich and Harrie Bakst, who joined the Team last year, spoke movingly of Harrie's journey through MSKCC last year for treatment of a rare salivary gland cancer. Harrie finished cancer treatment in June and ran the marathon in November. Not only did he train throughout his treatment, he also graduated from NYU. Words aren't adequate. I have to say, one of the amazing things about being on this Team is that you meet people like Rich and Harrie, who have gone through so much, and are willing to share that experience with us. Makes you realize the importance of what you're doing, both for MSKCC and for yourself.

Team runs begin next weekend, but we're all meeting up tomorrow AM for a non-Team Team run, if you know what I mean.

Lastly, two things. First, I volunteered at the NYRR Father's Day races. In order to be eligible for guaranteed admission into the 2009 NYC Marathon, not only do NYRR members have to run 9 qualifying races, they must also volunteer at one. I've volunteered at races before, and I kind of hate being told I have to, but I admit, it's a lot of fun, primarily because you get to say all the things to runners you want to say when you're running the race -- YOU'RE IN THE WRONG CORRAL, MOVE BACK TO YOUR CORRECT CORRAL! -- RUNNERS, STAY IN THE REC LANE! -- WALKERS, MOVE TO YOUR RIGHT! Love it! I worked the corrals at the start of the race, and the finish line at the end. One kid ran the race -- he only had one leg and was using crutches. Since we were about 100 yards from the finish line, we're all there screaming, "Finishing kick!" to the runners. This kid came around the corner, we started yelling, "Finishing kick," and I'll be damned if he didn't have a one-legged finishing kick! Amazing.

My job at the finish line was to cheer the runners on, watch for potential injuries, and finally to help direct traffic, because the race participants and spectators needed to be shepherded out of the rec lane at the finish line to make room for the bicyclists. There's an excellent article in New York Magazine this week about the dog vs. bike vs. runner debate called "Who Owns Central Park?" with lots of great comments. I guess you know what side of the debate I fall on. I remember two years ago a biker had wiped out towards the bottom of the Great Hill. There was an ambulance there, and bikers had spaced themselves out all the way up the hill and were screaming at all oncoming bikes, SLOW DOWN! ACCIDENT AHEAD! None of them did. Not that runners are always blameless, but at worst we're annoying. At worst, a biker can be life-threatening.

The reason I picked this race is because there were kids races, and c'mon, is there anything cuter or funnier than watching a bunch of two-year-olds try to run in a straight line? They look like miniature drunk people. They only go about 50 feet, but that's enough. The age groups for the kids go up to 11, I think. After that, they can run in the real race.

Finally, for you stenography fans, I passed my final 180 literary test on Thursday! Hooray!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All Access -- A Great Weekend of Running!

I ignore my own advice about running in the rain and wouldn't you know it, I have a cold. Yes, I know that running in the rain has nothing to do with getting a cold. I just prefer to think of it that way.

No new members of the Honor Roll this week. I am not pushing the fundraising too hard just yet, plus I am also involved in another fundraising project, Broadway Bares, the annual strip show put on by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Yes, a strip show. No, I'm not the one stripping. We are trying to MAKE money!! It's a dozen or so original choreographed musical numbers danced by Broadway's hottest dancers, with straight strip, gay strip, drag strip -- all kinds of stripping! -- and it ends with everyone go-go dancing for tips. This year over 200 performers will participate. It's a whole lot of fun, and I love to help out on it (in past years I've been towel girl, door opener, and lately scenery mover, aka "panel pusher." ) It's next Sunday, the 22nd, at Roseland Ballroom in NYC. Click the link above for more info!

You don't have to wait for the e-mail solicitation to become a member of the Fred's Team Honor Roll. Just click on the links on the side or bottom of the page, or heck, right here, and donate to my Fred's Team marathon effort on behalf of Liam Witt.

This past weekend was a record-breaking heat wave. Over 90 degrees both Saturday and Sunday. What better time for two races?

Saturday was the NYRR Women's Only Mini 10K. What makes this race a "mini?" I heard that the race used to be called a "mini-marathon," so that makes sense to me. There ain't nothing mini about this race, it's not like we only run 6 miles. It's the whole shebangabang. I've run this race four times, and each time the weather is either too hot or too cold. It's never a temperate day. Ironic, or something like that.

The race started at 9am, on the corner of Central Park West and 61st St. This race is different in that it starts with a run up CPW to 90th Street, then into the Park and a clockwise loop, finishing at Tavern. Not so fun -- the dreaded uphill finish. Don't know why the course is different, but I like the CPW part of the run. I woke up at 7am, ate my "lucky" breakfast -- whole-wheat bagel with banana and a little bit of honey -- and headed over. Took my AirAides and a Succeed electrolyte caplet, and brought another Succeed cap with me. I also wore my fuel belt for the first time in a race this year. I saw on the race course map there would be three water stops and no Gatorade, and I wanted to take some electrolyte drink with me. I sweat like a moose under optimal conditions, so I wanted be comfy and have my "security blanket" for the stifling weather. I also had my BluBandoo cooling hat. I put the hat in the freezer for ten minutes, which made it instantly stiffen, but by race time it was already getting warm. My goal was not to set a PR, it was to finish without barfing or passing out, both of which were distinct possibilities. It pissed me off a little because I set PRs in the last two races, and I was hoping for the streak to continue, but not in this heat. Not worth it. Also, the run I had on Thursday was a crappy one, I had to stop four times for that "can't breathe" feeling I had in Florida. A real set-back. I was not looking forward to this race.

Dropped off my bag at bag check and saw Teammate Lynn and some of her friends. We talked for a few minutes, and I headed over to the porta-johns for a pit stop before the race. Yes, even though I live five minutes from the start line and went three times before leaving the house, I needed to go again. But after waiting in line for ten minutes, I gave up. My only quibble of the day -- this is a WOMEN'S race. MORE PORTA-POTTIES!!

I stuffed my way into the corrals and saw Teammate Sara, so I lined up with her. The intros took a while -- there were a lot of cool people at the race, like the three women who will represent the US in the Olympic marathon, plus a lot of other professional women runners who do this race every year. The National Anthem was sung -- why am I the only person to remember: hat off, and hand over the heart!! -- and we're off!

The first mile-ish is relatively flat, being outside the Park. I ran with Sara for a few minutes, but I'm a little faster than her, and I ended up pulling away. I was really trying to hold back. Still, mile 1 -- 8:32. It was still just a little cool out, but that was quickly changing.

At 90th Street we head into the Park and start heading north towards the Great Hill. I actually prefer going clockwise up and down the hill, so that was good. Mile 2 -- 8:28. I'm thinking good, that's about what I want to do, not dealing with negative splits or anything, just trying to get through the race.

We round the Great Hill and begin the ascent. I pass the 5K mat at 27:27 (official time -- 26:32.) I take a slightly longer walk break at the water station. I also take my second Succeed cap. Still, mile 3 -- 8:32. Geez, I'm cranking. For me. And for this heat. There's a hose spraying water at the racers. I take my hat off and try to get my sprinkle on, but it fizzles into steam by the time it hits my head. I'm starting to feel woozy. Mile 4 -- 8:39.

Down the East Drive and rounding the corner of the Res, and at the next water stop -- there's GATORADE!! Hooray! Thank you, NYRR! Boy, did I need that. Took another slightly extended walk break at the station to drink it down, and also some water. Down Cat Hill (yay!) and up that infernal little hill at 72nd Street (boo!) Mile 5 -- 8:31.

Last mile and change, around the south end of the Park and to the finish line. I see Teammate Michelle in front of me at the 800m to go mark. For those of you who followed my exploits last year, this is the same Michelle who I spent most of last year emulating on the running front because she's a strong runner with an effortless stride that I admire. You can read that post by clicking right here. Holy crap, did I catch up with Michelle? Holy crap, am I PASSING her??

Holy crap, I am!

Mile 6 -- 8:15, and the last uphill .2 -- 1:41

For a grand total of 52:38 (official time.)

I PRed!

In 90+ degree heat!

And Michelle, your compliments after the race once again made my year.

Sunday was the Second Annual MSKCC Rock and Run by the River. It's a 5K run/walk along the Hudson River that celebrates survivors and their families, and supports their Cancer Survivor Initiative. I ran this race last year with my friend Greg, who lost his brother Tim the year before. It's a lovely race, and with so many friends, family members and Teammates being survivors thanks to MSKCC, even if I wasn't a member of Fred's Team I would be there. More than 2,000 people showed up, even in the heat, and that just shows you what an impact MSKCC has had on so many people.

I'll tell you the story in pictures -- and I have all the pictures on my Koday Easy Share site, if you want to see them all. I will tell you they ain't the best pictures; I took a lot of them on the run. Literally.

Here we are, waiting for the race to begin. There's Lynn, Harrie, and Harrie's friend whose name I am forgetting (sorry!) on the left, and Michelle and Julia on the right:

Here's Coach Annie hanging on the patio, and Nicole:

At the start line I ran into Dr. Mark, one of the lung specialists at MSKCC. Dr. Mark was my buddy-slash-savior during last year's 18 miler, and I was happy to see him here today!

And we're off! I snapped this picture of us on the run:

Mark was pretty speedy, and I had blisters on my feet from the day before -- not from the run, but from Emily's birthday party. In an effort to look good, since the party was at a club, I wore heels. Just a shade over kitten heels. Those shoes rarely bother me, that's why I bought them, but I guess my feet were still swollen from the 10K and at the end of the night I had blisters on both little toes and the bottoms of my feet were scraped raw. So I was suffering, between the feet and the heat, but I kept up.

How I wish someone had told me that even though I washed my face twice, there was still a lot of eye makeup leaching out. I swear, I cannot get the gunk off of me, and that's with using eye makeup remover pads.
Our unofficial time -- it was a fun run -- was about 26 minutes.

Post-race, we all met up on the pier. There's Michelle, Julia, David, Nicole and Alli on the left, and yours truly on the right.

Here's Lynn, Coach Jeff, and Jeff's friend Ben Bailey (yes, the "Cash Cab" host.) "Cash Cab" is like a snarkier version of Jeopardy. Ben's a licensed cabbie, and if you get into his cab you are a contestant on the show, which takes place in his cab while he drives you to your destination. It's fun and also very funny. Watch it!

Turns out, we were all allowed to go to the VIP area at the back of the pier, behind the main stage. Cool! So off we went. There was food and water there, and tables with some much-needed shade.

That's Jill, who heads the Pediatric Cancer unit, on the left, and Jen and Cary on the right.

The two co-chairs of the Rock and run were designer Carmen Marc Valvo (that's him in the white cap; he designed the t-shirts for the race, which are really nice, with a simple footprint graphic) and MSNBC's Dan Abrams (that's him in the black cap!)

A bushel of Baksts

Lastly, but not leastly, Teammate Matt, our resident rock star and he of the 2:53 marathon. He was volunteering in the Survivor tent. Amazing guy.

We are all so lucky!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Race Report: NYRR 50th Anniversary 5-Miler

It's 7:15am, and I just returned from the NYRR 50th Anniversary Run in Central Park.

I woke up at 4:20am to heavy rain. I decided to ignore my mandate about not running in the rain until training begins and headed over to the race start. I wore a water-resistant hat and rain jacket. Water-resistant means, basically, nothing. I was soaked to the skin by the time I walked the seven blocks to the race start. I had my iPod in a plastic bag and Saran Wrap around the battery. The race was capped at 3,000 and a lot of people did come out, unlike the Wall Street Run. Runners are crazy!

The race started at 5:30am, and just as the race was starting the rain let up a little. It drizzled the whole time afterwards, but nothing too bad. It was cold, which of course I love. But there were a lot of puddles and as we all know, running sneakers aren't very waterproof. I didn't want to get blisters, not when I've got two races coming up this weekend. My secret weapon? A&D ointment! Yes, diaper rash cream. Better than Body Glide for feet because it is waterproof. Although it does have what I will kindly call an unusual smell. But it works -- my feet are blister (and diaper rash) free. The course -- counter-clockwise from Tavern on the Green, with the cut-off at the 102nd Street transverse. Five miles.

The stats: Mile 1 -- 8:25. Still a little crowded and I like to start slow. Mile 2 has Cat Hill, but still -- 8:14. Mile 3 is a little rolly, but nothing too severe and takes us to the transverse -- 8:11. A cup of much-needed water at the water station. Mile 4 is mostly uphill and I knew I wouldn't keep the negative splits, but 8:17 made me happy. And the last mile -- 7:47! For a grand total of somewhere between 40:37 (what the Nike+ said) and 40:55 (what my watch said.) or approximately an 8:08/minute mile. That's normally my four-mile pace, so to do that for five miles, well, I'm chuffed. The soggy bagels and bananas tasted extra good, even if I did mistakenly take a chocolate-chip bagel, thinking it was cinnamon-raisin.

Okay, off to school, I've got a test today. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Two Race Reports, I'm Going to Be In a Book, and Check my eBay Listing

I thought I posted last week. Wow. Lots to discuss!

First and foremost, the latest additions to the Fred's Team Honor Roll:


making the total going to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research to date:


Getting there, getting there. Slow but steady...

I admit to not being as aggresive about fundraising as I should be. It is early in the season, and with the economy being what it is, I am reluctant to push people too hard. But the Aubrey Fund is such a good cause, I know that there are people out there who would want to donate, regardless. Won't you be one of those people? Just click here, or on the link at the right side or bottom of the page.

My buddy Liam, and the reason I am running the marathon again this year, had his fourth birthday in Central Park today. Isn't that amazing? I couldn't go, as I was attending my cousin's birthday party, which was at the same time (a cruise up the Hudson River, breathtaking, and a beautiful day to do it.) My fondest birthday wishes go to Liam and his family.

Oh, gosh, so much ground to cover.

Last year, Liz Robbins, a reporter for the NY Times, came to a number of our Fred's Team workouts and interviewed a number of Team members for a book she was writing on the NYC Marathon. Well, the book is coming out in October!! It's called "A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York." A major focus of the book is Teammate Harrie and his brother Rich. At the beginning of 2007, Harrie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on his salivary gland. He was treated at MSKCC. During his treatment, Harrie finished his coursework, graduated college, and ran at least three times a week. Harrie finished his treatment in June, and on November 4, 2007, Harrie and Rich ran the marathon side by side. Is that not the most amazing thing ever? Why Harrie doesn't get the whole book devoted to him is because Liz had to save a couple of lines for me! Yes, I'll be in it, too, she says. Chapter Nine. No autographs, please.

So here's how I'm trying to turn lemons into lemonade: I'm heading out the door for a run a few days ago, and I can't find my Nike+ sensor. I have the battery (the part that sits in the shoe) but I can't find the thingie that plugs into my iPod. Grr! That little doodad has been giving me no end of irritation with my inability to calibrate it to read a mile correctly, but I love the darn thing. So I head over to the Nike store -- the blessing and the curse of living a few blocks away -- and bought a new system, as you can't replace just the sensor (you can replace the battery, though.) I had dinner with a friend that night, and she said that she had misplaced something and had to buy new, and she knew that in 48 hours she'd find the thing she had misplaced. Well, sure enough, almost 48 hours later, the sensor turned up. So I put the original sensor/battery combo on eBay. Click here to go to my eBay listing. All the $$ will go to Fred's Team. Happy bidding!

Two races to tell you about, the Wall Street 5K Run and the Japan Day Run. Wall Street first. This was a Tuesday night race, sort of odd, but it was close to my school so I figured why not? I could just hang out at school and get some practice in, and then head over. It was also a new course, and I'm already starting to get a little itchy running in the Park. The race entries were capped at, hold onto your hats, 17 THOUSAND. What? Where the heck are they going to put all these people? Last year there were nine thousand people at this race, according to a friend, and it was mayhem. It's a run/walk, and there was no delineation in the starting line-up, and my friend said that last year it took her almost 20 minutes to get across the start line. Egads. I had low expectations. Plus it rained. All day.

I put on my rain jacket and water-resistant hat and headed over to the starting line behind the Amex Building. The race was scheduled to start at 6:45pm. At 6:40, it stopped raining. Hooray! And the rain kept a lot of people away, I think the actual tally on the day was closer to 5,000. Did 12,000 people stay away because of the rain?

If you've never been down to Wall Street, it's a maze of twisting, turning streets, some paved, some cobblestone. I couldn't tell you what the actual route was, because I never looked up. Until the last half mile or so on the West Side piers, we never ran more than a few blocks before turning onto another street, plus all the puddles, the sidewalks and the aforementioned cobblestones. There was no corral start, but they did have the walkers start on a different street, so that was a little better than last year, I guess, but it was still 5k's worth of dodge 'em. I ended up with a 24:24 finish, or 8:08/mile, which is pretty impressive considering the weaving around I was doing. The post-race fiesta on the pier was okay, there was a lot of schwag, and I got yet another bag, some coupons, and a pedometer, there was Subway half-subs there, some new energy drinks. The weirdest booth was for the Wii Fit -- they didn't have a console, so it was just a bunch of people telling us to check it out when it comes out. Huh?

Okay, onto today's race, the Japan Day Run. I signed up for this race thinking it started and ended at 72nd Street, like last year. Nope, 102nd. Last night I went to a party that, while not technically a Fred's Team party, was thrown by two Fred's Teamers, so there was a lot of us there (ps, that's how I learned about Liz's book coming out. She also has an article coming up this Thursday in the Times about lesser-known running routes in Central Park.) Home by 12:30am, up at 6:00. Out the door by 6:50, hoping that there would be an uptown bus on the East Side. Nope. So I walked up to 102nd (from 58th, so that's a shade over 2 miles.) I figured it would be a good warm-up.

At the corral line-up -- and did I mention how much I LOVE the corral system? -- I saw Teammates David and Cary. They are both much faster than I am, so I was surprised to see I was in Cary's corral. Was I that much faster? David was in the corral in front of us, but started with us. I wanted to start in the corral behind me so I wouldn't go out too fast, but David encouraged me to stay where I was and told me not to worry. I'm up for the challenge. I told David and Cary I'd keep up with them. And I did. For three whole minutes!

Mile 1, heading down the West Side -- 8:02. Mile 2 was more of a downhill mile, and that was a 7:55. Wow. And to my surprise, I saw Cary in front of me! I would occasionally pass her, then she'd pass me. But I was keeping pace with her! Mile 3 is Cat Hill, and the sun was out and it started getting really hot. I stopped at the water station, drank 3/4 of the water and poured the rest on my head. Mile 3 was 8:03, and I confess I was a little disappointed because it wasn't a negative split. I wasn't going for negative splits, the race is too short for them to have a real impact. Still, I like each mile to be faster than the last.

One mile to go, and I was starting to get a little queasy. But there's Cary again, right next to me. I had to stay with her, and I did -- I was alongside her all the way to the finish line, even though I was seriously ready to hurl. It was hot, and I was really feeling it. Crossed the finish line and checked the mile.


For a finish of 31:33, or a 7:53/mile pace. That is a 4 mile PR by 14 seconds. PER MILE.

No wonder I was ready to hurl!

We don't officially start Team training for another month, if you can believe it. As much as I'm dreading those stair workouts, I'm really looking forward to it. If this is where I am now, where am I going to be in September and October? This is going to take some getting used to...