Sunday, November 23, 2008

SHOE REVIEW -- New Balance 1062s

We take another break from my race report of the NYC Marathon (oh, yes, there's more!) to do my first-ever shoe review! I have been a loyal Saucony wearer for years, but they dissed me MIGHTILY this year. I wrote them asking for sponsorship of my marathon effort, sent them pictures of Liam and of the Team and everything, and what did I get? Goose egg. No money, no shoes. Not even a "no thanks." So when I was contacted by New Balance Harrisburg and offered a pair of shoes in exchange for a review, needless to say I was very receptive.

New Balance was the first running shoe I bought when I realized I was actually going to be a runner. I didn't really understand the concept of discontinuing lines, so when they stopped manufacturing the one I liked, and the improvement didn't fit as well, I abandoned NBs for Adidas Supernovas (which felt like running on marshmallows) to Avias, then Reebok, then Saucony, where I've been for the past three years. So it was kind of nice to return home.

Since I'm unfamiliar with their current lines, I went to a NB store and tested a number of their shoes. I wear neutral-cushioned shoes, having been somehow cured of my pronation with my bunion surgery. One thing I will say about NB shoes in general, at least the ones I tested, was that they tend to run a little narrow. I am hyper-aware of my toes, and they will find a way to scrape against air molecules and blister. I prefer a shoe with a wider toe box, and the 1062s fit the bill. What was most exciting to me about the 1062 was the Abzorb cushioning. After my bursitis, I was looking for a shoe that would adequately cushion the ball of my foot and help prevent a recurrence.

I've been wearing the 1062s for about three weeks now, and ran one race in them. I have both good and not-so-good things to say about them, but I have good things to say about the not-so-good things. Huh? Read on.

They are extremely comfortable (they do run small, you must get at least 1/2 size up!) and fit snugly without being tight. They also have SureLace shoelaces, which are the most amazing laces I've ever had. They stay put without me having to double-knot them. My orthotics fit inside them with no trouble. The Abzorb cushion works really well. They're cushioned without being pillowy, my bursitis hasn't returned, and they feel extremely stable and sturdy, like they're going to last more towards the upper end of the mileage spectrum.

There are two things about the shoe that I found troublesome. The first is the sole is rather inflexible. Though my form is not the stuff of legend, one of the things I am normally proud of is my soft footfall. In the 1062s I can hear my footfall even while wearing an iPod. I notice that these shoes change my form a little. I'm a heel striker, and I roll my foot down from the heel to the ball and push off. In the 1062s I can't roll my foot. I strike, then my foot slaps down. Slap slap slap. A lot more flatfooted. It hasn't hurt me -- thanks to the Abzorb technology, I don't physically notice the pounding -- but I notice that they make my stride a little more inefficient (as if it could get more inefficient.)

The other thing about this shoe is that it's heavy. 10.2 ounces. That's heavy? you non-runners who read this ask. The other shoes I wear are 9.6 oz, and believe it or not, those 6 ounces make a difference. Just ask anyone who's been to Weight Watchers. I have, and they do. I'm not such an advanced runner that I race in lightweight racing shoes, but I don't think I will race in these shoes again. Between the slight extra weight and the inflexible sole, they make it hard to reach and maintain top speed, and they make my legs tired. Not hurt, tired.

Ultimately I think the weight and sturdiness of the 1062s are best suited for a heavier runner. That being said, I think the 1062s can be a really good winter running shoe for someone like me. Here in NYC, the roads get snowy and slushy, but nothing so bad that I'd need a trail shoe. I think the extra stability the shoe provides will give the 1062 an advantage over my other shoes. Also, even though the upper is mesh (the bane of wearing old running shoes in the winter -- the wind blows right through them) it feels slightly thicker than my other shoes and my feet do feel a little bit warmer in them. So I'm not getting rid of them just yet.

Come to think of it, they'd also be good shoes to train in before a race, much like the principle of taking practice swings with two bats before heading up to the plate with one. Wear the heavy shoes the day before, and lighter shoes on race day.

So, to sum up: a good, sturdy well-cushioned shoe with a roomy toebox. Best suited for heavier runners looking for a stable shoe that's not a stability shoe.

The 1062s no longer appear on the NB Harrisburg site -- another shoe site says these are on the endangered list -- but their predecessor, the 1061s are extremely similar (in fact, they appear be the exact same shoe, with some slight difference that I cannot see), or look at the 1062 itself on the NB website.

Two more things: first, my opinion of NB shoes has changed as a result of my shoe testing. They are definitely a better quality running shoe than I recall. I don't think I could wear the 1062s as my regular shoe, but I wouldn't be unopposed to finding an NB shoe that COULD replace my current shoe.

Also, my hats off to the folks at New Balance Harrisburg. Their customer service is phenomenal. I originally asked them for a odd-size shoe, which they had to special order for me, and they felt so bad about the "wait" for my shoes (three days) that they overnighted them. When they turned out to be the wrong size (I swear they fit perfectly in the store) the turnaround time to send me the correct size was less than a week. If you are a New Balance wearer, or want to be one, New Balance Harrisburg is the website for you. Click here or on the link to the right of the page.

Next time, for real, I wrap up my marathon experience, including my visit to MSKCC and my playdate with Prince Liam!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Complete Tangent

Many of you know (many? as if more than my mom read this blog!) I'm training to be a court reporter. Part of that training involves going to court and sitting in, and writing along with the court reporter. This past week and a half I've been at 60 Centre Street, NYC's Supreme Court. It's the courthouse they use for Law and Order exteriors, and many of the interior courthouse sets are modeled after the rooms at 60 Centre. There's a giant rotunda with a huge mural on the ceiling, and a gorgeous floor.

So yesterday, I'm sitting in on a case, and we hear applause. And again. And again. And then samba music. Huh? We head out at the break and look down into the rotunda and lo and behold, there's a samba band, and Vera Wang, Nathan Lane, Joel Gray, Kathleen Turner, Dick Cavett, Uma Thurman and Katie Couric are doing the samba, along with about another 150 or so people. Turns out, yesterday was Juror Appreciation Day, and these celebs were recently serving as jurors. So the courts decided to hold a celebrity samba party in the rotunda!

Oh, here's a quick Dick Cavett story. Every year I work an event called "Broadway Bares," which I've mentioned on this blog. It's basically a strip show for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, performed by Broadway dancers. Dick Cavett was in "Rocky Horror" when it was on Broadway, and he was a special guest at Bares that year. he came backstage during the post-show fiesta, when the dancers literally go-go-dance for tips on the runways (all $$ goes to the charity) looking for one of his castmates. I pointed his friend out, who was on the runway, go-go dancing away, and jokingly said that if he goes out there, he'll have to start dancing. Dick Cavett thanked me and headed onstage to his friend. I went about my business. Five minutes later, I look out, and there's Dick, in his underwear, shaking it for all it's worth!!

Dick remained fully clothed yesterday.

Never a dull moment.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marci Actually Runs the Marathon (part two)

Aren't they the best cheering squad ever?

That's my parents, sister-in-law, and my three nieces.

This was QUEENS; specifically Long Island City. My parents wait for me right on the bend of Vernon Avenue, where the hay bales are. For the past two years, my brother, sister-in-law and their little girls have joined them. I couldn't wait to get there, and one short trip over the Pulaski Bridge and there they were! Brooklyn is an amazing part of the race -- flat, fast and energetic -- but Queens is where my folks are at! PS: I, too, was born in Queens, just like Kara Goucher, but did you hear the newscaster talk about MY story? Unfair, I tells ya!

Funny story --After I kissed everyone and went on my way, Chamie, the two-year-old (the one holding the "That's My Tante" sign) became upset because I didn't come back and get in the car with them to go home. This is from my sister-in-law's blog:

The girls were so excited to see her when she passed by and gave everyone a
kiss. Not suprisingly, she didn’t have time to stop and chat, though, and Chamie
was really upset over this. She cried and had a “mini-tantrum” after Marci ran
away, demanding that Marci should come with us in our car. Mommy explained to
her that Marci had to keep running because she was doing a big mitzvah because
her running was earning money so that she could buy medicine for sick kinderlach
so that they could feel better. Chamie especially understood when I explained
that Marci was going to buy them SODA so that they could feel better, just like
Chamie got when she had a sick tummy. I’m not sure if she thought that Marci was
on her way to the store, RIGHT THEN, to get the soda (and that that’s why she
couldn’t come with us), but anyway she calmed down after that.

I'm running for soda!! Hee hee!

Here comes the most interesting part of the race, going over the Queensborough Bridge. Everyone knows what awaits on the other side of that bridge -- First Avenue and the World's Largest Cheering Section. There are no spectators on the bridge, and because we're on the lower roadway, it's dark and very quiet. You can really only hear footfalls and breathing. There's very little talking, at least there was with the group I was running with. After 15 miles of cheering, bands and high-fives, it's almost a welcome respite that gives you a chance to collect your thoughts and get ready for the final ten miles.

MANHATTAN. You can hear First Avenue long before you can see it, and coming down off the bridge and turning the corner is like Dorothy stepping out of the house and seeing Technicolor Oz. The noise, the cheering, the banners and bands -- a friend has said it's the closest you'll ever be to being a rock star, and it's true.

I make my way over to the right side of the road for the best part of the marathon, getting to MSKCC, home of Fred's Team! They decorate the building with orange and blue balloons, there's a big banner on the building, and best of all, all the kids who are feeling well enough to come out and cheer are there -- IV poles and all. Cheering US. It's the most amazing sight ever, and being a part of it, well, words fail.
Aubrey Barr's father (Aubrey, namesake of the fund that we raise money for, is an accomplished marathoner and has run it, I think, a dozen times) and other volunteers wave the Fred's Team runners over to high-five the crowd.

And here I am!

It's hard after MSKCC not to sprint up the rest of First Ave, but you have to control yourself, you still have ten more miles to go!

Off I go up First, and I'm starting to feel some stomach distress. I still had to go to the bathroom. At this point I thought that if I stopped and sat down, I would not be getting back up, and they wouldn't find me until they started carting away the porta-potties. But it wasn't the bathroom woe that was getting to me. I was starting to feel nauseous. Why? Don't know. I was being careful with gels and Gatorade, but I had that "carbs sitting in the stomach" feeling. Grr. Took some extra salt (I had some restaurant packets with me) and hoped things would pass.

After passing Teammate Abby, sidelined with a stress fracture in her hip but still coming out to breakfast and then cheering at 89th Street, things got a little quiet. I couldn't figure out if I was cold or hot, and finally got rid of my arm socks just before we headed over the Willis Point Bridge. Farewell, lovely socks. I'll be doing that again next year. At this point I was also finally realizing just how windy it was, and how much it was affecting me. First Avenue was a real wind tunnel, and I saw my times getting slower, even though I could've sworn I was running faster. And it was starting to wear me out.

We pass the Powergel station, and I pass them up (I still have 4 on me, more than enough) and the Poland Spring Hydration Station. Following that came the Slip-and-Slide Zone, also known as the sponge station (one year it was Spongebob sponges, now it's Poland Spring, I think.) The last thing I needed was a cooling sponge. No, the second-to-last thing I needed was a cooling sponge. The LAST thing I needed was to STEP on 30,000 wet, slippery sponges.

The Willis Point Bridge. Last year I had a lot of problems here. I was caught behind hundreds of people walking, and I couldn't get around them. Asking them to move to the right didn't work because nobody spoke English, the perils of running with an international field! This year, smooth sailing. Again, thanks to all those hills, I rarely felt the hill of the bridge.

Over the bridge into

DA BRONX, and once again the Bronx was hopping! Though we're in the Bronx for less than a mile, they have two large DJ booths set up, dancing, and bands. This is the part where people traditionally hit the wall, but I was not feeling like that at all. Thanks to Jeff and Ann and all the good training they lead us through, I never felt I hit the wall, I was strong all the way through.

Over the Manhattan Bridge, where I passed Teammate Seth and ribbed him about needing to go into "time-out."

And back into MANHATTAN, for the final round.

Run down 5th Avenue to Mount Morris Park, and as I'm rounding Mount Morris Park I see my first real casualty -- man down, with two medics helping him. By down I mean DOWN -- laying on the ground, motionless. Eesh. I was reading the night before the article in Runner's World about why people die during marathons (as we know by now, there were three here in NY this year.) Not to get into too much detail, it had to do with cholesterol levels. This guy looked young and fit. But who knows?

I hear the choir for the first time (I missed them my other years) and see my friend Erin at 115th. Then I pass my friends Bruce and Jonathan's apartment, hoping that this will be the year that Bruce is out there watching, as he promises he will do every year, and then every time I pass he's gone back inside for some reason. Well, this year was just the same -- no Bruce. I really wanted to take an extra gel at this point, but I was still feeling queasy and didn't want to chance it, so I stuck with Gatorade.

Now, once you get to 110th and Central Park, 5th Avenue starts sloping uphill. It can be really rough at this point of the race. The way I dealt with it last year was to keep my head down. If I can't see the hill, it doesn't exist. This year was just the same. However, this was also the point last year where I really started to get frustrated by people walking, and this year was also just the same. Last year I started an hour late, and ended up running with people who are at a much slower pace. They were all walking by the time I reached the entrance to the Park, and I had to fight my way around them. This year I ran with people more at my pace, but I think it was a combo of two things. One, the windy weather, and two, I'm at the kind of pace where a lot of people tend to go out too fast or think they have a faster marathon in them than they do, and they crash and burn. Either way, once again I find myself weaving around packs of people walking. Fred's Team set up a bonus cheering section just outside the entrance to the Park, and it was great to see them there for the extra boost for those last couple of miles. Teammates Lucy and Martin were there -- they were also in Brooklyn.

Into the Park, and man was it crowded! At this point, I went into a strange place. I wasn't hurting or out of gas (just nauseous.) I both needed to hear the cheering and get the support, but I also couldn't bear the thought of having to acknowledge the crowd. So I kind of pulled into myself, moved towards the center of the pack, and charged ahead. I saw Teammate Jen just before the water station, it was great to see her smiling face. Apparently I also passed Coach Ann, who told me I was motoring, and looked like I should be saying, "Get out of my way!" What was going through my mind was probably more like "Get me to a toilet!!"

Down Cat Hill (how I love going down Cat Hill) and up the little speed bump at the transverse that I have learned to love. Out of the Park at 69th Street and up Central Park South. It sounds funny, but I could barely hear the crowd, I was so in the zone. I could see them cheering off to my side, but I was just focused straight ahead. I want to finish strong. Around Columbus Circle and back into the Park, where I didn't trip, for once, and actually saw myself on the giant screen, and up that last infernal hill, and I see India off to my left cheering her head off, and the sound is starting to come back and I see the bleachers are all cheering and ...



The wrap-up in the next few days, including my visit to MSKCC, my visit with Liam, and unrelated to the marathon, my race report for the Race to Deliver and my review of the New Balance 1062 sneaker.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Marci Actually Runs the Marathon (part one)

Did you hear? I ran a marathon last week!

The medal is a picture of Grete Waitz, nine-time NYC Marathon winner and one of my running inspirations.

And some of my OTHER running inspirations are the latest members of the FRED'S TEAM HONOR ROLL:


bringing the total to date going to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research in honor of Liam Witt to an incredible


Even though the NYC Marathon is over, the phone lines are open until the end of December. It's not too late to join the Honor Roll! Just click here to donate, or on the links to the side and bottom of the page.

Of course, no time is too late to donate to the Aubrey Fund or MSKCC. Pharmaceutical companies don't spend time or $$ on developing pediatric cancer treatments because there's no profit in it for them. The goverment doesn't fund it because there's no established track record of success. So who's left? Hospitals like MSKCC, who are constantly in the forefront of developing new treatment protocols. And people like you, who donate to the Aubrey Fund and other pediatric cancer organizations, and enable them to do the work that enables the cure rate percentages for childrens' cancers to climb every year.

Of course, my BIGGEST running inspiration is THIS little guy:

Liam spent the days before Halloween extremely ill at MSKCC, and yet went from the hospital -- in costume -- to a Halloween party, and is home again. I think there was never a more appropriate costume, don't you?

Oh, yes, the marathon.
Let's get the suspense out of the way. 4:15:25.

A little over three minutes slower than last year, but unlike last year, when I set a 30-minute PR, I was not upset. There were a few factors going into the race that didn't help, chief among do I put this delicately? I guess I don't. Guys, you may want to skip ahead a few paragraphs. I have never been more pre-menstrual in my LIFE. I started feeling PMS symptoms the weekend before, which meant "any day now." I even went to my acupuncturist the Tuesday before the race and said, "It's coming, I can feel it, and I want it to be here NOW. Can you do that?" He tried, but to no avail. So between the bloating from the PMS, where I naturally retain fluids, to my extra salt consumption in preparation for the big day, my boobs were the size of melons and I thought they were going to explode (gents, I TOLD you to skip a few paragraphs.)

Weather concerns, clothing concerns, all paled in comparison to the biggest concern of all -- WHAT IF? Because -- and gents, skip to the next paragraph, this time I mean it -- I'm peri-menopausal, and what that means for me is that my periods are not only irregular in their schedule, they are irregular in all respects. Sometimes my heavy day is day one, sometimes day three. Sometimes the whole thing is heavy and over with in two days. Be that as it may, my concern was that I'd be on a heavy day, where I can go through a super-plus in an hour or less. For up to eight hours. See, SOME parts of me are speedy!

Men, you can come back now!

Anyway, despite my best efforts, it didn't happen. My body kindly waited until Monday. However, I have found that with the onset of peri-menopause, I find myself a little weaker during the build-up to the actual event, plus it affects my sleeping, which was a big minus. I was counteracting it with iron supplements, but it was still a factor.

Another factor against me was that I had to take a national court reporting certification exam on Saturday morning. The day before the marathon. The good part about it was, that stressing about the test kept my mind off the marathon, and vice-versa. It goes without saying that I bombed the test. That's okay. It's one of those tests where you can take it a dozen times. Still, it was an added pressure, and didn't help with the sleeping.

Finally, there was the mental factor. Last year I went from a 10-minute miler to a 8:30 miler, and I never felt readier for a race than I did last year. This year, I didn't make that drastic of an improvement (can you imagine if I did? Holy cow!) and even though I know I shouldn't be comparing it, I was, and I just didn't feel as ready. Not that I thought I wasn't going to finish -- no chance of not finishing, even if I had to crawl -- but I wanted to finish as strong. And I really wanted to finish in under four hours, but I knew it wasn't realistic.

So this is what I was going into the race with.

Before I get any further about the race itself, here's why I'm not too upset about it. First, I DVRed the elite race (okay, I admit it. I'm a running geek) and in watching it, I can see how they all were struggling with the wind and the temperature -- briefly, high 40s and very windy at the start, getting a little warmer but still very windy later on. I got sweaty through the race, but I never really got warm, and it was so windy I got windburn on my legs, even though I wore capris. If the elites were posting slower times, then it's no wonder I was also slower. I am amazed that some of my Teammates set PRs, but then again, my Teammates are amazing. There were times during the race that I thought I was cruising, only to look at my watch and recoil in horror at my slowitude. I must have looked like an orange-and-blue mime act, running into the wind!

Secondly, the next day I was feeling pretty good. Only some residual soreness, and I was able to get down the stairs without hanging onto a bannister for dear life. I realized I was indeed physically ready, and it was the factors of the weather and my cycle that contributed to my slower time, not anything I did "wrong." In fact, in some ways I think I was stronger this year thanks to my new and improved running form. Everyone who saw me along the route, including Coach Ann, who I passed at Mile 24, said I was motoring, and looked very strong. And as we all know, looks are everything...

Or are they?
Hee hee!

Can you believe they let me out in public dressed like this? Well, I guess it beats some other outfits, which are pictured a little farther down the post.

Sunday morning, up bright and early at 4:15. Set three alarms, just in case. Didn't need any of them. Bag was packed and unpacked and packed again.

Oh, tangent -- the fireworks Saturday night -- they were great, but what is the deal with the soundtrack? It was worse than last year. With all the songs about New York, running, winning, and inspiration out there, it was like they forgot the CD they were going to use and said, "Quick, who's got an iPod?" because the soundtrack was a bunch of morose reggae-esque R & B songs about heartbreak. HUH???

Another tangent -- My uniform shirt. I wanted to put a picture of Liam on the back of my shirt. Bill, my roommate, had some iron-ons left from when he did the Avon Walk, and said I could use them. So Saturday afternoon I print the iron-on, put it on my shirt -- and the whole thing came out orange. What? So I did it again, cut out the picture of Liam and ironed just that onto the first picture -- and again, it was orange. I inspected the package, and apparently there are different iron-ons for dark and light shirts. Good to know. Now. I went to Staples, got another packet, and third time was the charm. Of course by that point I had melted part of the MSKCC logo and ironed the picture on a little crooked, so I had to draw a big frame around the picture. Who knew that a simple iron-on would be so much work!!!! Anyway, here's the ultimate result:

The base outfit was the t-shirt, uniform shorts over capris, the arm socks from last year (yes, I saved them!) and the keep-warm layer was a scarf, hat, gloves, and the world's largest and ugliest sweatsuit courtesy of Modells. Why was my UPS bag so freakishly heavy and packed? Aside from my post-marathon clothes, water, gel, extra hat, socks, gloves, blister stuff, band-aids, Tylenol, tampons, toilet paper, Purell, tissues, candy...I mean, why was it heavy?

Went to breakfast at 5:15 and choked down a bowl of oatmeal with banana and honey, and made myself a bagel with banana and honey for later. I had a couple of sips of coffee at home, but that's it -- you know how paranoid I am about using the bathroom, and I didn't need any help with coffee's diuretic properties. However, I'm always out to break at least one record, and that's the amount of times I can go to the bathroom before the marathon, not counting the first one upon arising. Total before boarding the bus: one.

At 6:15 we take the Team picture on the island out in Times Square and board the bus. I'm on the first bus with the core Team and the elite runners, and get to watch the police escort us down the FDR and through the Battery Tunnel to Staten Island. This year it was a police car. Not as fun as a motorcycle, but who's complaining?

We get to Fort Wadsworth and right away we notice that things have changed. There are "special" UPS trucks that take our gear and the Team For Kids' gear directly to the finisher's area in Cherry Hill, and we normally camp out by these trucks, which are normally parked in the parking lot right inside the Fort. The trucks are no longer there. Where to go? Jeff goes on a field trip to find somebody who can tell us where our trucks are, and we decide to set up camp pretty much where we always do, only without the trucks nearby. I start my never-ending journey to the porta-potties, and almost right away I'm having some gastric issues. I don't know why. Normally that's how I internalize stress, but I'm not stressed. Am I? Anyway, between a failed attempt with Teammate Sara to find the Brightroom photo booth and my eventual trip to our UPS trucks to get rid of my stuff, I managed to tie last year's record of seven pre-race porta-potty trips -- and I still had 30 minutes to go! PS: Team for Kids has a HEATED TENT. What the...? Unfair. I want in!! It was COLD in SI, the coldest of the three I've been in. I can't believe that some people were walking around in shorts. We huddled in the parking lot under blankets and coats. Some people had heat shields from other races. That's a good idea, I need to remember that next time I have to wait around like this.

This year the race went off in three waves, with the better runners as part of the first wave at 9:40am, which included the elite men (the elite women go earlier, so they get their own finish.) So our Team started splitting off, and those of us in the 10:00 and 10:20 waves took our final trips to the bathroom -- yes, I shattered my old record! -- and went to our corrals to watch the first wave go out. One of the advantages to being in the green start is that you can clearly see the bridge and the starting line from the corral. Sara, Leanne and I stood together and listened as the National Anthem was sung and the cannons boomed, and we watched the first wave of runners head out. After a few minutes we started heading towards the start line. So much better than last year!!! I took off the sweat suit and gloves (I had a second pair with me for the run) and after a brief announcement -- BOOM! We got the cannon and "New York, New York" and we're off!!

Leanne is slower than Sara and I and dropped away almost immediately. Sara and I were together on most of the bridge, but she said her shin splints started acting up almost immediately and she dropped away about halfway across.

The bummer about the green start (besides the threat of "rain") is that you're on the side of the bridge away from the boats, so the view's not as nice. Also, once off the bridge, you're on a service road for about another half-mile, so you're not getting any crowd support for a while. And the second we got off the bridge, a ton of people peeled off to the side of the road to go to the bathroom.

And you know what? I needed to go again.

Here's the thing -- I always threaten to poo and pee in public during the race, or worse yet, go in my pants. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it. One, it's gross. And two, it would get cold in there! And it was already pretty cold out. The other thing was, at this stage of the game, I was still somewhat optimistic about a 4-hour finish, but it would be a squeaker, with no room for a toilet break. So I soldiered on. In retrospect, stupid, because I spent a lot of time on the road thinking about the bathroom. But then again, it kept me distracted, and ultimately motivated for a fast finish!!

BROOKLYN is over half the race, and clearly the party people are here! The most bands, the loudest people, and best of all, the churches sometimes have their choirs out singing. I passed one church right at the real inspirational point of a song, right before it goes into the key change -- YEAH!! It was great!! I was meeting two people in Brooklyn, my teacher Victoria, and my friend Tim. Semi-funny story: Tim and I worked closely together in the late '90s, but Tim left the theater a number of years ago and we drifted apart. Last year I remember running through the Fort Greene section and seeing someone who looked just like him and thinking, God, that looks just like Tim. Tim and I have since reconnected, and a few weeks ago he e-mailed me to say he'd be watching for me in Brooklyn, in Fort Greene, right after the band that plays the "Rocky" theme nonstop for hours. So it WAS him! Brooklyn is also very flat, so it's a good warm-up for what lies ahead.

Ran into Teammate Kat, and we were together for a little bit. She was already getting sick of hearing people call her name, and I advised her to stay near the middle of the pack, away from the crowds, to get a little bit of a break. But "Kat" is easy to yell, and there was no escaping for her. She's faster than I am, and soon blew past me.

Teammate Michelle came up to me next and asked "Did you see the naked guy?" No. One of the bonuses of being a little further back is that you get the more amusingly costumed runners. But a naked guy? I think I would've noticed. Michelle took off (she set a PR, by the way) and soon I saw THIS:

He was in front of me for a few miles. It was funny for about a second. Then it was just gross. The people around me were all saying, "Would you like to run in front of me? Please?" I made my move at a water stop. Best reason for speed I ever had -- stay in front of HIM! (lordy that must have chafed!)

This view ain't much better:

Other costumes I saw were two guys dressed as barbarians, complete with swords and shields, Nippleman (don't ask) and the usual array of superheroes. Didn't see Larry the Lighthouse, but I know he was there; don't know if his pal Wendy the Windmill was there with him. Also missed Mr. Testicles this year. Yes, you read right. Don't believe me? Click here.

Saw Tim, Teammate Yan (not running this year) taking pictures, and Victoria. Brooklyn was great! Now, over the Pulaski bridge and into Queens, to see my family!

This one's getting long, and since you know how it ends, I'm going to stop here. More in the next day or so.

PS: I'm doing the Race to Deliver next Sunday, and I've started testing my New Balance 1062s today for my first post-marathon run. I'll wear them for the race and give you my review. So far, so good. I can tell you right now that, shoe aside, the customer service for New Balance Harrisburg is terrific. Click on the link either right here to the right of the post (under my training log) and check them out!