Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Hardest Part...

Well, y'all have figured it out. No running = no blogging.

Tomorrow is the NYC Marathon. I will not be running, but I will be voluteering for Fred's Team. I'll be at the Team breakfast at 4:45 a.m., at the start in Fort Wadsworth, and at the finish line in Central Park.

Monday, I get to go to MSKCC to visit the kids in the peds ward.

Tuesday, I start again.

The agenda:
MAY -- Flying Pig Marathon
AUGUST -- NYC Nautica Triathlon
NOVEMBER -- NYC Marathon

The hardest part is starting. I hate being at Square 1. Better get used to it, I guess.

Good luck to all the runners competing tomorrow, and you will be hearing from me more often, I promise!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Slowly I Turn...

A very short post --

Over the past three weeks I have started running again. Five minutes at a time, once a week. The frankenfoot is perpetually a bit achy -- I think I have gained the ability to forecast the weather, and it's been ultra humid -- but it does not hurt to run at all. Because I refuse to give up my beloved Vibrams, I am taking my return to the road extra-cautiously. So far, only treadmill runs. Just think -- tack on another four hours and fifteen minutes, and that's a marathon!

I have to run, both for my sanity (nothing replaces running for stress relief) and for Liam. People have been extra-generous over the years, and even though I can't run this year, people are still donating. How can I not get myself back into the fight? Liam needs all the support he can get. MSKCC needs all the support it can get to help Liam. So I will continue to fundraise, and slowly build myself back up to marathon distance for next year, where it will be Chicago and New York, I swear it.

I haven't been able to attend Team practices or events until just about a week ago. Not because of time constraints, but because mentally, I wasn't able to. It's still a struggle, when I see the Team newsletter in my mailbox, or get something about the marathon from NYRR -- it's extremely upsetting not to be involved as a runner. I still want to cry, and sometimes I do. I miss everyone, but it's not helpful for them if I show up to a Team practice and do nothing but weep. I need to get over myself.

I will be volunteering to be part of the Team support staff during the marathon, which is a marathon in itself -- 16 straight hours, starting at 3 am.

You can still donate to my Fred's Team effort -- regardless of my running or not -- by clicking here.

Thanks, as always. More news on the running front soon, I hope.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'll get right to the point:

Liam Witt, the little boy I have been running the marathon for over the last four years, who has bounced back from everything thrown at him, be it the cancer or the treatment for the cancer -- well, the cancer has returned again, both in the original spot and in two new spots. he had surgery five weeks ago to remove a tumor in his chest, and the latest scans indicate that the cancer has already returned to that spot. The doctors are going to do everything they can to get him back into remission, but the odds are no longer in Liam's favor.

I am not running either New York or Chicago this year -- the tendonitis, plus a stress fracture in my left foot has seen to that -- but cancer doesn't take two marathons off. I am still doing everything I can to support Fred's Team and the Aubrey Fund, and try to raise as much money as I can regardless of running, to help the doctors at MSKCC develop new treatments that will help Liam, and others like him.

If you can help me in any way, please go to my Fred's Team site and make a donation, by clicking here, or at the links on the side and bottom of the page.

If you wish to donate by check, please make it payable to "MSKCC" and send it to me. I'll take care of getting it to the right people. My address is: 152 West 58th Street, #2D, New York, NY, 10019-2111.

If you have children, you can involve them in a bake sale. Gretchen, Liam's mom, founded "Cookies For Kids Cancer." They'll give you the tools to hold a successful bake sale, and then you send the money to them, which all goes for neuroblastoma research at MSKCC. You can click on the link here, or go to

Please read Gretchen's blog about Liam, "Prince Liam The Brave," by clicking on the link.

And please, please, keep Liam and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

More anon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Injured Reserve

So where have YOU been?

Devastated and injured. Or the other way around.

Here's what happened.

I loved my Chi Running seminar, and I was doing really well, using the metronome and getting used to the pace.

So I do my first long run. I'm supposed to do eight miles, and it felt so good, I did 8.3.

And it was that .3 that did it. My Achilles tendon on my right foot felt a little sore afterwards. Hmm. Not good. So I iced it, and stretched the hamstring really well, and a couple of days later, the pain went away. Still, I kept from running, and biked instead.

So two weeks ago, I go out again for a long run. It was a beautiful day -- cool, slightly overcast. I was in heaven.

As soon as I started running, it started aching again. So I really concentrated on keeping my lower legs and feet relaxed. I could handle an ache.

It was achy, but manageable for the first five or so miles. But when I stopped for a drink at the north end of the Park, and then tried to start running again, the pain was unbelievable.

At that point, I ran the rest of the way home, pain and all, just to get home and off the foot.

I spent the rest of the weekend on an ice pack, praying I didn't rip anything.

Monday morning, off to the incredible Dr. Rock, podiatrist extraordinaire. He said nothing had torn, but it was swollen and strained, gave me some lifts for my orthotics, told me to wear heels and to not run on it until it felt better. While he was not thrilled with the Vibrams (few podiatrists are) he said I could wear them if I did it gradually.

So for the last two weeks, I've been on injured reserve. Biking and back in the pool, and thankfully I still remember how to swim. This week, not so much thanks to work. Today I am missing my "long run," of an hour on the bike, and an hour in the pool in order to catch up with work obligations. The pain is down to a slight ache, which feels better when I wear heels, and worse in the morning.

It's devastating. I'm scared that I won't be able to catch up in time for Chicago, which I've officially committed to. I'm afraid to run in my beloved Vibrams, and I'm loathe to run in my old shoes. I'm afraid of how far behind I've fallen in my training.

Any words of encouragement, I can surely use them. Were it not for Liam, I'd be giving up altogether.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In Which Marci Goes ChiRunning, and Other Important Things

Hello, dear reader.

There hasn't been that much going on with me until this past week. Hence, the lack of posts. Now that I've taken my first ChiRunning workshop, and attended the Fred's Team kickoff party, I've got some info to share.

But first, a break from our regularly scheduled programming for some supremely important messages.

First, let's show some love to the newest members of the FRED'S TEAM HONOR ROLL, otherwise known as TEAM LIAM:

RON TAUBER (my endodontist!)

bringing the total going to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research in honor of Prince Liam the Brave to (wait, I have to do some math; not all of these are up on the website yet) ...


Words fail.

That's amazing, but there is still a long way to go, and the need is so, so great. Let me share with you part of Gretchen's latest blog post on Prince Liam (click to read the entire post) because she says it so well.

The words of Dr. Cheung, one of the brilliant oncologists who works so hard on Liam's behalf, haunt me day and night. "It's not science that's holding us back, it's funding." Great. There's a price tag on my son's head. Isn't that just dandy? Can I even begin to tell you how that feels? My son is priceless. Evey child is priceless.

In another part of the post, she asks "What do we need to do to inspire people to get involved?" She's already done so much, starting not one, but two organizations focused on providing support and raising funds to battle pediatric cancer, Band of Parents and Cookies for Kids Cancer. Gee, I wonder where Liam gets his spirit from?

So what can I do? I can, as in years past, run the NYC marathon with Fred's Team, and unashamedly ask you all to donate to the Aubrey Fund in my name. But that's too easy now. As if running the NYC Marathon was easy. It's not. But I've proved to you, faithful friends, that I can do it.

How can I show you how serious I am about this, and how far I'm willing to go to ensure a bright future for Liam and all of the kids at MSKCC?

Like this.

I promise to run BOTH the Chicago Marathon AND the NYC Marathon. Three weeks apart. IF I can raise the money in time.

This is what I can do. Can I ask you to help me with this? I'm not too proud to say it -- I need to raise $5,000 by September to run both races. I want to help provide Liam, and all children, with the treatment that will allow them to live healthy, full lives. Just click here to access my Fred's Team webpage and make a secure donation.

Still not convinced that your donation makes a difference? Allow me to be shameless here, and share this picture with you.
Liam's sixth birthday would not have happened without the love and support of people like you.
Click here. You know you want to.
In order to prepare for this insanity, I signed up for a ChiRunning class last weekend. ChiRunning was developed by Danny Dreyer. Far be it for me to pretend to be an expert on the subject, so I promise to explain everything badly, but it's based on the idea that running can be effortless and injury-free, if you allow gravity to do most of the work. I remember years ago hearing running described as a "controlled fall," and that's at the essence of the ChiRunning form.
Another essential is proper posture -- crown of head stretching straight up, pelvis tipped up, shoulders and hips aligned with ankle. Now, this is the exact posture that my PT goddess Miri Ingwer has been trying to get me to commit to for years. When I'm standing correctly a la Miri, it feels like my shoulders and arms are floating away from my body. So while I can't say this comes naturally, it's a welcome reminder of what I learned from Miri and need to consciously put more into practice.
The other main essential of ChiRunning is the midfoot strike, and by that I mean landing on the ball of your foot, as opposed to landing on your heel and rolling down the foot. This is something that I now do almost automatically thanks to my Vibrams (we love you, Vibrams!!) and just wearing these shoes has improved my running tremendously. With ChiRunning, the twist is that you don't swing your leg out in front of you when you run.. You keep your legs relaxed and, leaning from the ankles, allow yourself to "fall foward" and catch yourself by placing your feet down. Basically, your body is tilted forward slightly and your legs are moving behind you, instead of in front of you. This propels you forward. Did I mention I would explain it badly? Go to the ChiRunning site for videos and a much better explanation.
Last weekend, I took a one-day workshop with Danny and his instructors, and he went over the basic principles of the technique, and then we did a series of short runs to put them into practice. So of course, the next day I was ready to try it out.
Oh, yes. Forgot to mention one of the larger components of the technique -- cadence. It's not turnover rate -- the amount of the times your feet hit the ground -- that affect speed with ChiRunning, it's the amount of lean. The more you lean, the longer your stride, and the faster you'll run, with no extra exertion. Your cadence, or strides per minute, remain the same. Only the lean changes. Pretty amazing! There are ideal cadences for running, which for someone of my height is between 85-90 strides per minutes. So the first day, I set my metronome at 90, and off I went.
Hit the bottom of Cat Hill, and the legs felt great. I figure let's do a mini-hill workout and see how this technique works. So up the hill I go.
Get to the top of the hill, and I have to stop and catch my breath. Holy frijoles. Legs felt fine, but I couldn't breathe at all. This is not normal for me after one trip up Cat Hill, even when i'm at my worst. Head back down and get some water.
Second try up the hill. Trying to breathe through my nose, and not lean into the hill too much. Still, by the time I hit the top of the hill, same thing -- gasping for air. Again, legs were fine.
Third attempt, really concentrated on posture and lean. Slightly better, but still need to stop and catch my breath before heading back down.
Different from the past, I was able to run home after the hills, although I only did three repeats, so I probably could've done it regardless. However, after finishing the run, buying a pretzel and getting home, so about five minutes after the run, I got a HUGE case of the dry heaves! Why did that happen? Not why did I get the heaves, but why did I get them five minutes later? That was weird.
I did not wear a watch for that first workout, and I mention this because I went out running again today, and did wear a watch. I needed to see how much faster I was, because that was the only explanation for my breathing difficulties, as least as far as I could see. Dialed it down to 85 and tried again.
The distance from my house to the bottom of Cat Hill is about a mile. I am, at this point, around a 10-minute miler. Excuse me -- was. Running at an 85 cadence got me to Cat Hill in 8:50.
No wonder I was gasping for air.
Had to stop again at the top of Cat Hill, which I ran up in around 2:10. That's normally a moderate effort for me. All I was doing was trying to keep my breathing regular. Again, no effort from the legs, just the lungs.
Set off again, to the Fred statue at the Runner's Gate. Normally, using this route, it takes me about 18 minutes to get there. Today -- 16:50. Gasp, gasp. So after I caught my breath, I dialed it down to 80 and set back out. It felt better on the lungs -- I was able to complete the rest of the run without further incident -- but my legs felt it was a little slow. They kept trying to push the pace. It was strange. It was like they wanted to go on their own. I had to work really hard to slow down, if you can believe it. I would concentrate on one thing -- cadence, arms, ankles, lean, etc. -- and everything else would kind of fall apart. Frustrating!! I know that soon it will become more automatically. But right now, ChiRunning is mentally exhausting. And the beep-beep of the metronome will shortly drive me mad. But I completed a 5.38 mile run in 50:50, or about a 9:30 pace. Thirty seconds per mile faster than I was, oh, a week ago, and but for the breathing, it felt amazing.
There is definitely something to this method, and I will be working it for all it's worth! The legs feel great -- no pain, no fatigue -- and once the breathing catches up, I think (hope!!) this will be a really good training season! It has to be -- it's going to be a bruiser.
More anon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Tribute to June Havoc

In the mid-1990s, I had the privilege of working with June Havoc on an off-Broadway show called "The Old Lady's Guide to Survival." Havoc and Shirl Bernheim did an amazing job of bringing the characters and the story to life. Alas, it wasn't the best-received show and closed rather early, but the show -- and the experience of working with Havoc, truly one of the most gifted, generous and amazing people in the world -- has stayed with me ever since.

One brief story that makes me smile every time I think of it.

The premise of the show was that Havoc and Shirl are two old ladies (hence the "Old Lady's" part of the title) who meet at a bus stop, become friends, and help each other through various life crises (hence the "Survival" part of the title) . They're at the zoo, eating ice cream. Shirl's character is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's, and Havoc has a monologue trying to decide what to do. At the end of the monologue, she says,"One way leads to disaster --" at which point she looks down, sadly -- "and the other, to catastrophe." A very touching moment.

But what people didn't know is, she's looking at the cup, because this was inside:
She could never remember the word "catastrophe," and that was her solution to the problem.
Havoc was an astounding lady, in more ways than I can recount. I treasure the time I spent with her. It was a highlight of my theatrical career.
God bless.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Honor Roll Begins Anew, plus the Scotland Run 10K, The Run as One 4-Miler, and did I mention I love Vibrams?

With the start of the 2010 training season comes the start of the


But first, apologies to all those amazing people from last year, who I never sent a thank-you card to. I'm going to be a lot better this year, thanks to MSKCC's new and much-improved website. If there's a way to get at you 2009 folks, I will soon!! I promise!!

And now, without further ado, the first person on the 2010 Honor Roll is...


That should remind you all to go get a check-up before starting any exercise regimen.

Dr. Thornton is closely followed by

bringing the total going so far to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Research in honor of Liam Witt so far to a cracking
That's a great start, but we've got miles to go -- literally!

I will repeat and reiterate my promise slash threat to run both the NYC AND Chicago Marathons if I can raise $6500 by September. Did I mention I hate running marathons? I sure do! But I do love the idea of a world without cancer, especially pediatric cancer, and if that's what it takes to get people to donate, then that's what I'll do.

So if you want to help me honor the amazing Prince Liam, or just enjoy the idea of me running two marathons in three weeks, when I can barely do one a year, just click here to make a secure donation on my Fred's Team website.

(that's my VFF-clad foot next to Fred's feet at his statue in Central Park, by the way!)

Also in the works -- and this time I kid you not -- an actual podcast. Details to follow.

So I did a couple of races since last we spoke. The first one was the Scotland Run, a 10K that's a clockwise loop of Central Park. I sort of prefer the clockwise loop to the normal counterclockwise run -- it's more uphills, but the hills aren't as steep. And you get to go down Cat Hill instead of up.

Now, I come to the Scotland Run having run a grand total of three whopping miles in the previous two weeks. Conventional wisdom would dictate that I sit this one out. But I am neither conventional, nor wise.

Wore my VFF KSOs (KSO = keep stuff out) with rainbow-colored injinji socks, which made me look like even more of a buffoon than just wearing the Sprints. I don't care -- I LOVE MY VIBRAMS!! But there's a seam in the Sprints and the KSOs that keep giving me blisters. Covering the seam doesn't work -- the tape doesn't stick -- and covering the spot on the foot doesn't work -- the Band-Aid doesn't stick. Other than that, did I mention I love my Vibrams?? They have put the spring back into my step. So I must wear toe socks to go with the toe shoes.

I get to the Park on race morning. I figure I won't go fast -- like I would anyway, that's a laugh, but I won't push, and I'll walk when I need to. Just get through it. I run into many Teammates, including a few who are in my boat, so I don't feel too bad about my slacker ways. They're planning to do the same as me, and we all head to the corralls together. I have my iPod with me, and I put on a "This American Life" podcast. I have been training myself to run iPod-free, but my strategy for today was to listen to something soothing, so that I would stay relaxed and not start pushing my pace, like I do when I listen to one of my patented race-day mixes ("Bat Out of Hell," anyone?)

The race begins, and though my Teammies and I have the same game plan, it becomes clear right away that either a) I am not paying attention to the game plan, or b) they are going to take it even easier than I thought. Most likely, a) and b). Hindsight being as 20/20 as it is, I should have probably stuck with them longer -- like maybe more than five feet past the starting line -- but as soon as I started running, I knew it was going to be a run pretty much all the way.

That being said, I did manage to do at least some self-preserving by going even slower than my normal turtle pace, and by really walking the water stations, and by that, I mean getting my cup, moving to the side, and walking for at least a minute. I think there were four stations, and I walked them all. But I ran the rest of the race. That danged competitive streak, I can't let it go! I see someone in a shirt I don't like, or for whatever reason, and I simply must pass them.

Side note -- one year, my bestie Laura and I did the Midnight Run together. Part of the fun of the event is the pre-show costume contest, and a lot more people wear costumes anyway, just for kicks. Laura is not a runner, by the way, and the run isn't even timed. So we're doing as much walking as running, and everything is great until a group of people dressed as the components of a McDonald's Happy Meal pass us. I will NOT be beaten by french fries!! I made Laura run that last mile, but we couldn't catch them. Oh, that broke my heart.

Anyways, I finished the Scotland Run in 1:07, a PW (personal worst,) ending up with some pretty sore calves, but at least not too much the worse for wear.

Which inspired me to get a little bit more of a groove on for the next race, which was the four-mile Run as One. That's the run sponsored by the Thomas Labrecque Foundation for Lung Cancer research. I like this race, and figured four miles would be more my speed.

Ran into Teammate Emily in the corrall. She's back in action after a nasty fall (tripped over the toes of a pair of improperly-sized Vibrams and broke her wrist. Love me them Vibrams, but they need to fit you right! Get them fit by someone who knows how to size you properly -- they are indeed very different from a normal shoe.) She read this here little ol' blog and said, "So if you may run Chicago, doesn't that mean you need to train like you're going to run Chicago?"


Changed the iPod setting from NPR to Meat Loaf, and for all intents and purposes, we're off!

Not much to report on this race that's noteworthy, but to say I didn't really push that hard until the final couple hundred feet on the transverse, and finished in 37:28.

That gave me a LOT of hope for this training season. Where I am right now is about where I was two years ago, where I had a HUGE improvement in my running during the training season. So knock on wood and God willing, if I can buckle down and put the work in, I'll see similar improvement this year, too. Hey, it couldn't get any worse...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Now, More than Ever...

Okay, folks.

This is the point where we knuckle down and get to work.

Where I start posting regularly.

Where I actually start the podcast I've been threatening to start for two years.

Where training begins.

Yes, it's time to start training for the 2010 NYC Marathon.

And that means it's time to open my annual fundraising appeal.

Let's cut to the chase. I hate begging y'all for money every year (except my parents, of course. They owe me. ) And I hate running the marathon every year.

But here's why I do both:

My inspiration, my Prince, Liam Witt, just got the results back from his latest round of scans and the neuroblastoma he's been battling for three years has returned again, in two different locations.

Neuroblastoma is a rare form of cancer, and thus, its treatment and research has been woefully underfunded. Memorial Sloan-Kettering has been leading the world in developing new treatment regimens to fight it, and all of the money for that research and treatment comes from the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research.

Until there's a cure, I will be running for Fred's Team and the Aubrey Fund.

Please help me honor Liam Witt, and all the children battling this insidious disease, by donating to the Aubrey Fund of behalf of my fifth NYC Marathon effort. Just click here to make a secure donation online.

If you wish to show your support with a check, please make it payable to "MSKCC" and send it to me:
Marci Glotzer
152 W. 58th St. #2D
New York, NY 10019-2111

I'll start the threat now, and we can see what happens -- if I raise enough money to do both NYC AND Chicago in time to run the Chicago Marathon, I will ALSO run the Chicago Marathon.

How's THAT for a threat??

So if you want to see me really knock myself silly for a cause, you know what needs to be done!

More running, and posting, anon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My New BFF, or Why Vibrams Rule

Meet my new shoes!

These goofy-looking things are my Vibram FiveFingers Flows. And they've saved my running life.
Allow me to explain.
One of the reasons I haven't been posting is because I haven't really been running. And one of the reasons I haven't really been running is because after this year's marathon training season, I've been really disillusioned with running. It's not like I'm competitive -- the only way I'll ever win a race is if I somehow manage to trick everyone into running off the course, a la the parade scene in "Animal House," and if you haven't seen the movie lately, watch it. There's not a scene in it where you don't say, "Oh, yes, this is the scene where --" but I digress. I want to feel that when I put energy and effort into something, that there's some payback. Definitely I want to see some improvement in terms of time, distance, endurance, etc. but running for me has neve been so much about that as it's been about releasing stress, having some "me" time, etc. etc. And, of course, for the fitting into the clothes and the ability to eat a brownie without (too much) guilt.
This training season accomplished none of those things. For those of you not thoroughly conversant with my previous posts, this was a really hard and disappointing season for me. I pushed as hard as I could, but with little to no reward. In fact, I got slower and slower, and lost more and more endurance as the season progressed. Training seemed almost counter-productive -- the more I did, the less I could do (subtraction soup, anybody?) I couldn't figure out why. Nothing wrong medically, except for starting "the change," which was admittedly a factor, but still. I was upset with myself, crying after nearly every race. The only reason I continued pushing was Prince Liam, the little fighter who keeps me motivated, and Fred's Team, who gives meaning to the miles. But the fun of running was gone. Now, there's a point in every marathon training season where running ceases to be fun, but this was different. Running was making me sad, and adding stress.
Fortunately, a few trips to a hypnotist helped me overcome my negativity so that I could complete the NYC Marathon with a real smile on my face. Which I did. In my worst clock time, but still, the smile was genuine. And I raised nearly $6000 for the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research, which is really the reason I keep putting myself out there for the distance.
A few weeks off, and the Race to Deliver, which of course I was going to run, since it benefits another cause close to my heart, Gods Love We Deliver, and the Midnight Run for New Years, which I did at more of a walk with some Teammates. Now the weather was ideal for running, and after all, I have a triathlon in July. So I would do a couple of miles, and have to stop every few minutes to breathe. My legs felt like lead. I was running maybe once a week, if that, and not missing it at all.
I had heard about Vibrams from a number of people, including Steve Runner at the Phedippidations website/podcast, and just before the marathon, I tried on a pair. The idea behind Vibrams is to mimic running barefoot. Doing so allegedly strengthens your feet and ankles and improves your form. Many popular books extoll the virtues of barefoot running. So I was curious to see what this was all about. Trying to stuff my toes in separate toe pockets was exhausting, but I finally prevailed and hopped on the treadmill. It was wild -- I immediately started running on my midfoot, which many running experts say is the proper way to run. Maybe because there's no cushioning, I was afraid to put my heel down, but nonetheless. It felt strange. Not bad, but strange. Just prior to the marathon, I wasn't about to do anything different.
As 2010 began and things were getting no better on the running front, I decided to give the Vibrams another try. I purchased a pair of Sprints, which have a strap, but no upper (sort of a Mary Jane shoe) and hit the treadmill. I went almost two miles effortlessly before realizing that a ragged seam on the inside was giving me a blister. My legs, however, felt great. Usually the first few minutes of any run is tiring, as your legs and lungs adjust to the speed. But with the Vibrams, I didn't have the leg ache. Maybe it was the treadmill.
My next attempt with the Sprints were outdoors. Again, the same feeling -- as I started off my run, the familiar leg ache wasn't happening. I wasn't planning on going too long, because I hadn't run more than two miles in about a month, but I felt so good, I ran up to Road Runners and back -- a little over three miles. The only thing that was a little negative was that the bottom of my feet and my toes were a little tingly and sore. The biggest problem with the Sprints, though, is that they aren't a cold weather shoe. My toes were freezing!!
Experiment. Is it the shoes, or is it me? My next run, I put on my trusty Sauconys and headed out. At the usual point, the familiar leg ache, and I had to stop twice in a three-mile run to get my breathing back to normal. Well, I was looking for an excuse to switch shoes. Need I a better one?
Wow. This is something. But if I was going to keep using the Vibrams, I needed warmer ones. A little research pointed to the Flows, which are a cold weather shoe. Fortunately, I was able to locate a pair in my size, and also picked up a pair of KSOs for good measure (a warmer weather shoe, but with a mesh upper for protection.) Had an experimental run in the Flows, and they felt great. Good enough for me to immediately sign up for way too many Road Runners races (hint, don't sign up for races at 1:00 a.m.,) including today's race, the Run For Haiti. All proceeds from this race went to Haiti relief, and it was a double-qualifier to boot.
That combo brought 9400 (!) people out to Central Park this morning. My first race of the season, and my first race in Vibrams. I was more afraid of getting my feet stomped on than anything else. So I really had to be careful. Also, as a result of standing in the corral for ten minutes, waiting for the race to start, the bottoms of my feet started to chill. Ah, well. Can't have everything. Hung with Teammates David and Meg, who I did the Midnight Run with. Both would be running together and also hanging back -- David with an injury, Meg with bad ankles. I told them I'd probably pull ahead, as I wanted to see how I did in the shoes. I have not been running with my iPod or my watch, deliberately not wanting to know what my pace is. So not only is this my first race, it's my first time timing myself in months.
Super crowded at the start, we didn't even move until about nine minutes in. The whole race felt comfortable, even though the soles of my feet did get a little sore -- and my calves, let us not forget, these shoes give your calves a real workout. Be warned. I pulled away from David and Meg after Cat Hill and kept going. No iPod, just the whap-whap of the shoes. They do make quite a noise, since you're not hitting the ground with padding, which is odd for me, a normally quiet runner. They definitely help your form. Besides landing on my midfoot, I can also feel my feet naturally pulling up after the strike, instead of shuffling. I think this is somewhat akin to Chi running.
I chose not to push myself too hard during the race. Between the crowding and my not having run a great deal recently, I didn't want to risk injury. So I had a lot in the tank as we rounded the 72nd Street transverse, a few hundred feet from the finish line. And for the first time ever -- and I mean ever, even at the height of my running prowess --I was disappointed to see the finish line. I wanted to keep going!
My time -- 39:48. Not amazing, to be sure, but for the first time in months, under a 10-minute mile, and more importantly, for the first time in months -- running felt great!! It was everything I wanted it to be. Heck, I even had a great water stop.
I am so glad I tried Vibrams. They may not be for everyone, but they're sure for me. I don't know if they'll make me run faster, or run better, but they've somehow brought the joy back to my running.
Now, about that swimming...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

About Those Resolutions...

Good morning, and Happy New Year, folks!

As you read on my previous post, I'm raring to go with my New Year's resolutions...after the weekend (too much steno to crank out, and it's 20 degrees out there.)

However, I did ring in the New Year in a way that I think is unique to NYC, the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run. There's dancing and a costume contest beforehand, then at the stroke of midnight, a huge fireworks display and we're off for a four-miler, from 72nd to the 103rd St. transverse, around and back. There's champagne -- excuse me, "champagne" at Mile 2. We run as a team, and even if we get split up, no one runs alone. As someone who's spent more New Years in cabs going from one party where she didn't know anyone, to another party where she also didn't know anyone (ah, those friends of friends!) it's a great, low-stress way to ring in the New Year.

Our team has a new tradition of starting the evening at Rich and Lynn's apartment, which is close to 72nd, enjoy some sangria and goodies, then at 11:00, all the ladies crams into the bedroom to change. We run, and then return to the apartment for further merriment.

Last year, it was zero degrees out. Not with the wind chill -- that's before the wind chill. We bundled up like walruses and headed over. Of course, as soon as we started to run, we all started sweating, and that made the walk back to the apartment from the finish line a treat. This year, it was raining all evening, but warmer, in the low 30s. It was still raining when we left the apartment, but by the time we got to the Park, it had changed to snow. It was gorgeous. There were only about ten of us running -- there were a lot of folks still recovering from marathon-related injuries, and a few with other parties to attend afterwards. I was going to run with David and his girlfriend. Meg. Meg's got no cartilage in her ankle, and other ankle-related issues, and she hasn't run since July. But David cajoled her into doing the run, and she relented. As they were going to be more my speed, I stuck with them. Hooray, fifth wheel!!

We got there about ten minutes to 12, and the transverse was packed. We were so far back, we were practically on the west side. Either this run's gotten a lot more crowded, or we were super-late. Either way, we didn't move for the first fifteen minutes after midnight. However, that meant we got to watch most of the fireworks display, which was FANTASTIC. I don't know if the fireworks are a Road Runners thing or a NYC thing, but either way, they are among the best displays I've ever seen, almost twenty minutes long, and with finale after finale. The year I had my bunionectomy, I volunteered at this run, and I got to watch the whole thing. I know I've said it before, but the only real problem with this run is that you're running away from the fireworks, so you don't get to see it unless you run backwards -- which is not easy, given the hills in the Park. Take it from me.

Meg, as someone's who's both injured and hasn't run in months, was at a perfect speed for me, so while we quickly lost the rest of our speedier crew (making promises to meet at the champagne) I stuck behind with her and David. Though in pain, she was determined to run the whole thing, because if you sign up to run a race, you run it. My kind of gal! I did this race with Laura, my best friend and non-running ex-roomie. I knew we'd be walking as much as we ran, and that was fine -- until we neared the end. Remember, there's a costume component to this event, and as we hit mile 3, we came across people dressed as a McDonalds Happy Meal. Fun run be damned -- I was not going to be beat by french fries! I dragged Laura that last mile, to her chagrin and my relief.

This year, our speed kept us in pace with a group dressed as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, complete with Shredder and April. I know that now, along with the TMNT song, since I must have heard it over a dozen times.

It took us about an hour to complete the run, which is (thankfully) slow for me, but amazing for Meg, who really toughed it out. Pretty amazing that her first run since July, with no cartilage in her ankle, is a four-miler. Not so amazing that my legs were sore after that. I really AM out of practice. But that's not the point of this run. The point is to have fun and celebrate a new year by doing something that makes you happy and feels good. And that's what I did.

There's a New Year's saying that whatever you do on New Years is what you'll be doing all year round. That means I'll be spending 2010 with friends and family, working a lot, running, and eating lots of fried food. All good things, no?