Saturday, August 20, 2011

Two Hours of Terror, Followed by a 10K -- Nautica NYC Triathlon Race Report

First of all, let me start by thanking all of the amazing people who donated to the Aubrey Fund on behalf of my first triathlon effort.  I could not be more thankful, and believe me when I say that I could not have done it without you.  Literally.

That being said, onwards. 

I have to tell you, I'm actually afraid to write this.  The whole triathlon experience has freaked me out in a way that I have never been freaked out before, and not in a good way.  Unlike the marathon, I am having trouble looking at pictures, watching video, or even thinking about it.  In fact, my stomach is as clenched up writing this as it was in the days following the event.

This is going to have to be a multi-parter, because I sense the long-ness of the post.

Coming into the event, I was more nervous than I was for any of my marathons, although I would venture to say that I was about as prepared as I could have been.  What was freaking me out in the days leading up to the tri was not my prep, but the weather.  All forecasts predicted rain and thunderstorms.  Great.  While I have plenty of experience running in the rain, I've never biked in a heavy rain, nor swam in it.   So I was sweating it big time.

For once in their lives, the weather people had it right -- thunderstorms all Saturday night, and a steady rain at 3:30 am, when I set out to catch the shuttle bus to the start line. Talked to a couple of people from the CNN team who were also doing their first tri on the way over.

Arrive at transition, where my bike was, a little after 4:00.  I was in the yellow, or first transition area.  That's for pros and the first wave of amateurs.  I guess the idea is get the slowpokes going first, so that the faster folks later catch up to them, and we all finish more or less together. Otherwise, they'll be waiting for me forever.  I've never set out a transition area.  Find my bike, where I left it the night before.  Lucky for me, the person next to me did not show, and I'm on the end,  so I have about a foot more room.  I split it with the gal next to me.  Since it's still raining, I don't want to lay everything out.  I had packed everything into a "bike" bag and a "run" bag.  I just left everything in the bags, put my helmet on top, covered it with a plastic bag, and headed out to the start, taking breakfast with me.

It's a one-mile walk to the start. I walked with a 70-year-old gentleman (our ages are written on our legs)  who had done all the NYC tri's since they started, and about 50-something marathons all over the country.  Damn.  He was talking about how this was his last one. 

Arrived at the start line, and saw one of my Fred's Teammates, Dr. Mark.  He's been my running buddy for a number of events, as we ran at the same pace for a while.  He's one of the top thorascic and lung cancer doctors in the US.  He runs with Fred's Team, and his donation $ goes back to his department to fund research studies.  Amazing.  It's his first tri, too.  His daughter and son-in-law are there with him.  We sit together and attempt to put our wetsuits on.

Still raining, and I'm still freaking, and then they announce that there's been an accident on the Henry Hudson (the bike route) and the race will be delayed until the roadway is clear. Great.  Delay my pain.  Fortunately, the rain lets up somewhat, and by the time the accident is cleared and they call us into the corralls, it's let up to a light drizzle.

Mark and I part company, and as I move to my corrall, I see Teammates Abby and Matt.  Matt actually works for Fred's Team, but he'll be running NYC.  Abby and I joined the Team together, and ran at the same pace for the first couple of years, so we became good buddies.  Abby actually did the Tri her third year with the Team, and hurt her hip shortly thereafter, knocking her out of the marathon, which she hasn't done since.  Amazing person that she is, she still comes to all the practices and races, volunteering as bag watcher and cheerleader.  She's an excellent swimmer, and was giving me tips beforehand.  I was glad to see her, as she kept me reasonably calm and together up until, 45 minutes late, the race actually began.

I have been told by everyone who has done this swim that the swim is the easiest portion of the race.  You are with the current.  The current is strong.  A bag of chips can make it point to point in 20 minutes.

Well, let me tell you, the Hudson River, right after a series of thunderstorms, is not the easiest portion of the race.  And I am no bag of chips.

Unlike years past, they changed the swim start so instead of 100 people jumping in at once, it's 20 people every 30 seconds.  It spreads out the field a little and makes the whole swim safer.  But what it means is, you get on the dock, sit down (no diving) and whoosh, you're off, with no time to adjust.  Maybe that's good.  Maybe not.  All I know is, I jumped in, came up, got smacked with a faceful of water, and instantly realized that I was not doing the crawl.

The water was rough.  People I spoke to who had done the race in past years said that on a scale of 1 to 10, the water was a 7.  Usually, it's a 1.  Why do I get the 7 year?

If you did not already hear this, two people died during the swim this year -- a 60-year-old  man and a 40-year-old woman.  There have been studies done that show that 90 percent of deaths during triathlons happen during the swim.  There are many theories and factual reasons for this that I won't get into right now, but let me say right now that it is not the fault of the race organizers.  As horrifying as the swim was for me personally, the race organizers made the course as safe as it could possibly be.  There were kayaks every couple of hundred of feet along both sides of the swim, plus fire boats, medical boats, other boats -- there was help that could get to you in less than two minutes, and I watched them do just that in a couple of instances.  So when you hear about a tragedy during an event, don't be so quick to blame the event.

Anyways, rough, rough water.  Yes, we were with the current, but the waves were coming at us, so it was making me very seasick, and made moving forward exhausting --  two-steps-forward-one-step-back.  After a couple of aborted attempts to try the crawl, I switched to sidestroke, but again, fighting the waves grew exhausting. 

Here's the thing -- as terrified as I was, I never thought I was in danger of drowning.  I don't know what the terror was.  But I was clearly terrified, and had to roll over on my back a number of times and just float for a minute or two to rest and get my heart rate down.  I thought a lot about Liam, and this amazing picture of him in a wetsuit.  Liam loved the water.  I prayed to Liam to help me through. 

I was soon getting passed by wave after wave of swimmers, and I tried not to care, but it was starting to upset me.  At one point, a woman from my wave who was similarly struggling looked over at me and said, "You're doing fine."   Thank God for her, because I thought I'd be out there by myself forever.  Someone in my boat, so to speak.  I thanked her. I did find it weird how easy it was for people to speak with each other in the water, as there was a lot of  "Sorry," "Coming through," and "Fuck, that's my goggles."

Just when I thought I couldn't swim another stroke, I finally made it to the dock.  A volunteer grabbed my hand and pulled me up the ramp.  I was wearing my VFF Flows, and my feet felt like lead.  They instantly propel you towards land -- no waiting around.  You walk off the dock and to your right is a series of showers to go through to wash some of the Hudson muck off you. 

Through the showers, and now it's a half mile to the transition area (which is why I wore the Flows.)  I tried running, but I was exhausted.  Some of the Fred's Team cheering section was right there, and I think I gave them a little wave, but that's all I had energy for.  So I walked/jogged down the path to get to the bike.

One of the few advantages of being in the yellow transition is that there are benches along the path to the transition area, and it's much easier to sit on a bench, remove your wetsuit, and take it with you than it is to try to sit in the mudfield that is now the yellow transition and do it in eight inches of space.  So I did that, and that break helped me rest up a little.

Got into my bike gear, lubed up, and headed out of transition. I was glad I kept my stuff in bags.  Everything was still dry.  Some of the people were there talking about how hard the swim was, which made me feel a little better about it.

Out of the gate and past the yellow "mount" line, I mounted my bike and headed out. 

The top of the bike leg is the hardest, because it involves a sharp left turn in which you head up a two-part hill to 79th Street.  I had practiced this.  At all the briefings, you are told over and over again to leave your bike in an easy gear because of this hill.   I was prepared for this hill.  Alas, not so the woman next to me, who turned and instantly wiped out.  Fortunately, I was able to avoid her, but as I'm halfway up the second hill, the idiot in front of me stops and gets off her bike.  Now I'm stuck.  I have to stop and unclip, and three people around me do, too.  Now I have no momentum and can't get up the rest of the hill.  The volunteer is screaming, "Walk it!  Walk it!"  but I can't unclip my right foot.  So I half pedal, half push myself up the rest of the hill, hop onto the seat, and head, literally, for the hills.

More anon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Today I Am A Triathlete

...but am still very dazed by the whole experience.  Suffice it to say that I am alive, despite swallowing half the Hudson --we'll see what results from that, as I have already developed a cough -- and nearly wiping out on the bike during the downpours.  I am emotionally shaken, and not sure why. As my friend Kim said, it was not only my first triathlon, it was my first major event since Liam's passing, and it carried a lot of weight. That must be why, because I started crying when I wrote that sentence.  I started bawling as soon as I crossed the finish line, and have been weepy all day.  I know that after some real sleep, I will feel proud about what I have done, but right now, I'm just overwhelmed and oddly disappointed.  I haven't felt this disoriented since my first marathon

Will give many more details in a few days, when I mentally recover.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Counting the Hours...

By this time tomorrow, I will probably be on the run part of the triathlon.

The predicted thunderstorms are freaking me out more than the actual event.  I don't care about rain -- heck, I've run miles and miles in the rain.  However, I've never biked in the rain, swam in the rain, or done either in a thunderstorm.

Hence -- the freak.

My predictions, assuming that there is no rain:
In the water a few minutes after 6:00.
Start the bike -- 6:30am
Start the run -- 8:15am
Finish -- 9:15am - 9:30 am

If there is rain, add about 10 minutes to the bike, and probably a few minutes to the run, too.

Check back here after Sunday to see how my predictions hold up!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Seven Days and Counting...

I have really been pushing hard these past couple of weeks, which is my poor excuse for not blogging about my training.

My schedule for the past couple of weeks has been slight variations on this:
Monday -- bike or swim
Tuesday -- run
Wednesday -- swim or bike
Thursday -- run
Friday -- off
Saturday -- long run
Sunday -- long bike + swim

And best of all, I have REACHED MY FUNDRAISING GOAL FOR THE TRIATHLON, with a grand total of

Of course, I am still looking for donations for the marathon, so if you want to help me honor the memory of Prince Liam the Brave by making a donation to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research, just click here!

Swimwise, things are going really well.  Everyone who's done the event tells me not to worry, it's the easiest swim ever.  That's good to hear, but one person's easy is another person's flaily-drowny.  However, last week in the pool, I came to a realization, and maybe this will be helpful to any of you that are swimmers.  I was doing a drill where I had one of those kidney floaties between my legs, so I was only using my arms to propel myself across the pool, and I was cranking out the laps like nobody's beeswax.  No breathing problems, no exhaustion, nothing. 

So I lose the floatie and start a regular crawl stroke.  Sure enough, two laps, and my breathing is messed up and I'm exhausted.

Lightbulb -- must be something I'm doing with my legs!  And that something was kicking like a crazy person, as fast and hard as I could.  Instead of propelling me forward, it was only exhausting me. 

I don't know much about swimming, but I feel that I do most of the work with my arms, with the legs providing just a small amount of propulsion.  I'm not saying that that's how it's supposed to be -- I honestly don't know -- but that's how I feel I swim.  So why am I knocking myself silly trying to get my legs to work harder, when they're not my main source of propulsion?

So instead of kicking hard, I relaxed my legs and kicked gently, and what do you know, I did ten laps easy.

Good thing I figured this out now!  Can you imagine what my swim would be like had I got it earlier?  Oh, well.  The swim will be fine.

Bike will be okay.  I am mainly worried about things like the hairpin turns at the turnarounds, and literally just getting onto the West Side Highway (up a steep hill almost immediately after getting on the bike.)  Two of my Teammates told me the hardest part of the bike course is avoiding bottles and crap that fall off people's bikes.  So I feel that with my training in Central Park, navigating around annoying tourists, I should be okay there, too.

And the run is, well, the run.  It's only a 10K, but it should be interesting after the bike ride, and, of course, it's uphill for the first two miles. 

Two Saturdays ago was the first NYRR Long Training Run.  The LTR is an untimed run, with pace groups heading out for distances of 6-20 miles (a loop of 6, two loops of 5, and a loop of 4.)  Do as many or as few loops as your training requires.  It's a great way to pace yourself and see where you're at.  

It was also the last day of a heatwave that sent temps soaring into the triple digits through most of the week.  The night before, it only dipped down to 85.  Despite NYRR's taking extra precautions -- extra water stations, adding Gatorade to the stations, slowing the pace groups, adding three misting stations and having cold sponges on the transverse -- Coach Ann and Jeff instructed the Team to do six miles instead of our scheduled 14, and go home.  Better to scrap one long run then to knock yourself out to the point where your training for the rest of the week is affected.

Teammate Jonathan and I went out with a 9:30 group.  He's a faster runner but is coming back from injury, and I'm, well, not a faster runner.  The 9:30 group should have been running at a 10-minute pace.  I'm not really a chatty runner, and neither is he, but we would thumbs-up each other every once in a while, and it was nice to have that companionship.  Another good thing that they did for this run was to have the pace group leaders walk the water stations, which they sometimes don't do on these runs, and that means I lose the pace group. 

My only quibble with the run was that all the extra water stations were on the east side of the Park.  It seemed like there was one water station on the west side, and then one every 45 feet on the east side.  Yes, I exaggerate, but the group did wonder where these mythical extra water stations were as we trundled down the west side.

Jonathan broke away on mile 4 and finished ahead of me.  He told me afterwards that the pace group was actually going at a 9:20 pace, and he was feeling good, so if he was only doing 6, he was going to do it as his pace.   So I'm happy, because I felt pretty comfortable with that pace.  I don't think I could have sustained it for 14 miles, but it was fine for 6.  And I feel that I could have done maybe another 5 in that heat, but I was starting to cramp up, and it has taken me a long time to learn to listen to what the coaches tell me.

We also had our first speed and hill workouts over the past two weeks (I have to do the step workouts on my own, alas.) Our first speed workout at Riverbank was one mile warm-up, 5 x two laps hard, one lap easy, then 3 laps cooldown.  This was during the heatwave, so it was really exhausting.  I had to hit the snackbar for some salt so I could keep going, because all the Gatorade in the world wasn't helping.   I really tried not to slack on the hard ones, so my easy laps involved some walking.  That's okay.  If you don't push, you don't improve the way you want.  I thought of sweet Liam every time I started to flag, and I swear to God, every time I thought of him, a breeze would come up and cool me off. 

And lookit what we did -- the next day, Riverbank's sewage plant cought fire, sending millions of gallons of sewage into the Hudson a/k/a my swim course next Sunday.  All because of the heat we generated on the track!

Same thing holds for the Cat Hill workout.  We did a warm-up of the lower loop, then 2 sets of four hill repeats -- easy effort, easy, medium, hard.  Break between set 1 and 2. 

It's so tempting to hold back on the medium and the hard of the first set, because you're thinking you have another set of four to go.  It's almost frightening to commit to doing what the coaches ask, because you wonder -- do you have it in you?  And if you don't, what does that say about you?  Ultimately, what you have to do is push until you can't push it anymore, whether you have completed the task or not.  If you bonk, you bonk, but at least you do it in training, not on the day.  The year I had a 30-minute improvement in my marathon was the year I did everything the coaches told me.  And I would not be honoring Liam properly by slacking.  Set 1, I felt I pushed the last repeat to maybe 90 percent.  Sort of disappointed in myself.  Set 2, I felt myself falling back in the last repeat, regrouped, and pushed to 100 percent up the second part of the hill all the way to the end, running full out the last 100 feet or so.  Had to walk most of the way back down the hill, and could barely complete the cooldown.

This past Saturday was the infamous Great Hill run -- 10 loops of the wretched thing, for 15 miles.  The first time we did this workout, we did it as a Tuesday night workout.  Jeff didn't take the length of the transverse into account, and by the time we finished, it was pitch black outside.  Sounds stupid, but I've been in love with this workout ever since.  Last time I did this workout two years ago, I could not do the full ten, and I was crushed.  So I was both anticipating it and dreading it.

Jeff and David told me to take it easy and cut it short, because apparently I get to have a little bit of a taper this week for the marathon!  Hooray!  Who doesn't love a taper?   So instead of ten loops, I did eight -- and I definitely could have done the full ten, and done them strong.  So now I'm back to loving this workout again.

Today was a nice 12-miler on the bike -- and completed in under 50 minutes -- followed by a really positive swim session.

Holy crap, I think I'm ready to do this triathlon!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

We're Having a Party, and Race Report: Boomer's Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 10K

I'm having a fundraiser for Fred's Team, so all NYers are welcome to come on down!  And if you're not a NYer, come on down anyway!

Fast Feet and Fast Fingers -- a Double Benefit for Fred's Team and NYSCRA
July 20, 2011
Ward III, 111 Reade Street

Here's the invite:
Drink. eat, and do good at the same time!

Meet, mingle and have a delicious bespoke cocktail or three prepared by the amazing Michael Neff and the Ward III bartenders. Happy hour prices will be extended for the duration of the event. We get a percentage of the bar, so come thirsty!
Proceeds will benefit both the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at MSKCC and the New York State Court Reporters Association's legislative fund.
Drinking cocktails has been scientifically shown to improve speed, both on the steno machine and on the track.
All are welcome -- you don't need to be a court reporter or a runner to come and have a good time!
Click here for the link to the Facebook page!

Hopefully going to go over the top with the fundraising for the triathlon at this event, so fingers crossed.

Saturday was the Boomer's Cystic Fibrosis Run To Breathe 10K in Central Park.  It was also a post-long-run Fred's Team soiree at one of the assistant coach's apartments.   I have a friend with CF who runs with Team Boomer, so of course I wanted to do the race.  But I needed to talk with the Fred's Team crew about the aforementioned party and some of the logistics.  What's a girl to do?

Both, of course.

Before I begin, this was my training week:
Monday (July 4th)  23 mile bike ride, 30 minute excellent swim
Tuesday  attempt at speedwork (no slow twitch muscles left after Monday.)
Wednesday  11 mile bike + 1 mile treadmill (indoors obviously, as I did not bring a treadmill outdoors)
Thursday  5 mile run
Friday  nada

13 miles on the schedule.  Got a late start, thanks to Spot, who somehow konws that I'm getting ready to leave and becomes instantly needy, so of course I must tend to her.  How do cats do that?  Semi-related note -- also, how does Spot take the pill, eat food, drink water, and THEN manage to cough the pill up?  Did she learn this trick at kitty prison?  Don't get it.

I wanted to take the miles a little slow, but I also wanted to get to the corrals for the race with enough time to find my friend.  Also -- and this is not a slam on my friend at all -- my friend is slower than I am, and I knew we'd be walking a bit during the race.  So it was okay if I burned myself out a bit on the first half.

Bought a new pair of VFFs -- even though I'm still miffed at them -- and I wore them for this run.  Now, here's a new discovery.  VFFs aren't really shoes, they're more like socks with a thin rubber sole to keep glass from cutting your feet to ribbons.  That being said, apparently one needs to break them in the same way one breaks in a new pair of actual shoes.  Or to put it another way, one's first run in brand-new VFFs should not be 13 miles long.  I developed a blister in the one spot on the VFF that one could possibly get a blister, and that's on the middle of the inside side of the right foot, where the one seam is.

Another new and semi-unfortunate discovery was my new shorts.  At the JackRabbit NY Running Expo, I discovered the Zensah brand of running and compression gear.  Bought a couple of bras and a pair of shorts and fell in LOVE with this brand.   The shorts are snug, they go down to the knee, and they have what I will call an ass pocket, so it supports your tush without mushing it.  Alls I want is more of those shorts!!  Went back to JackRabbit -- not there.  Paragon -- nope.  CitySports -- no.   Bizarrely, no one carries running underwear anymore, either.  Bras, yes.  No panties.  Why is that?   Paragon only had one kind of running panty, and they used to have rackfulls.  Anyways, I digress from my digression.  So I ordered a pair from the Zensah site.  They arrived Friday, and I was psyched to wear them for the 13 miler.  Turns out Zensah doesn't even carry those shorts anymore.  The ones I bought were plain old compression shorts.  They have since been redesigned or discontinued, and what I got instead was a high compression short, which meant that instead of my thighs being gently squeezed and supported, they felt like two sausages stuffed into a too-small casing. 

Oh, yes, the race.  Do my seven miles and make it to my friend's corral as the singer is finishing up the Star Spangled Banner.  Ordinarily perfect timing, so there's no real cooldown between the run and the race.  Bad timing when trying to find a friend, because at that point all the corrals are moving forward, and it's a crush of people.  Grr.  I look around and can't find him.  Okay.  I figure I'll catch him on the run.  Enough time, since it takes so long to really get moving, I sit down on a post and, for lack of anything better to use, attempt to stuff a Jolly Rancher wrapper into my shoe to cover the blister.  

Start walking forward, and wouldn't you know it, my friend, who is much smarter than I, is waiting closer to the start line, outside the corral, watching for me.  So he jumps in and we take off.

It's a humid day, and warm, and that didn't help anyone, least of all my friend.  Still, we get a fair bit up Cat Hill before the first walk break.  We do a combo run/walk through the race (one full loop of the park) , and my friend keeps apologizing to me for being slow and this not being a good race for me.  Okay.  First of all, blister and sausage legs.  Second of all, went out too fast for first seven miles.  Third and most important of all, he's my friend, and STFU.  It's a much better race slow and with his company than fast and without it. 

We stop at the south end of the reservoir to meet my friend's friend, a fellow runner with CF, who runs with an oxygen tank, and waited with him while he changed tanks.  What's my excuse not to work out?  Don't have one no more.

Anyways, we cross the finish line, and head over to the VIP tent to try and meet Boomer himself, but the imperious lady guarding the tent wouldn't let us pass, even though Boomer was standing right there.  We probably would've got by had my friend been wearing his Team Boomer shirt.  Alas, not so.  Denied.  However, where we were standing, we got to see the friend with the O2 tank cross the finish line, which was pretty cool.  Then we went over to the Boomer Esiason Foundation tent and bought t-shirts (performance fabric AND tagless -- way to go, Boomer!) because we were both very sweaty and heading directly to other events -- he with fellow Team Boomer people, me with fellow Fred's Team people.

We crossed the finish line in about 1:20, which, had we not stopped to wait, would have been more like a 1:15, which is, let's face it, not that shabby a time, especially since my friend has not been keeping up with regular running and the conditions were difficult for folks without breathing difficulties. And quite frankly, on my own, I probably would have only been about 10 minutes faster and not had nearly as much fun. So who gives a crap about time?  Not me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What's the Difference Between Eating 63 Hot Dogs and Running a Marathon?

Not much.  Baffling as to why one would want to do either, but running a marathon is only slightly less disgusting.

Good Lord, girl, where have you been?
Training, training, training!
Didn't I tell you, there's a triathlon and a marathon to get ready for!!

I'm sure I've said this before, but blogging is sometimes like going to the dentist -- you know you have to do it, but you put it off and put it off, and then there's jsut too much work to do when you finally go.

I'm sure I've also said this, but I will try to post shorter, more frequent posts.  But not this one.  This one may turn out to be super-long.

First and foremost, the most important reason we're all here -- I would like to announce that as of today, I have raised approximately
of my
goal for both the marathon and the triathlon.

Due to unpopular demand -- folks not wanting me to put their names out on the interwebs -- I am suspending the listing of the Fred's Team Honor Roll, although believe me, I've got it here with me.

Please help me honor the memory and fight of Prince Liam the Brave by helping to ensure that no child ever again has to suffer from neuroblastoma and other deadly childhood cancers. It couldn't be easier -- all you have to do is click here to go to my triathlon page, or  here to go to my marathon page.  The money that you donate goes to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research. 

And let me tell you, I am earning every penny of your donations this year.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of each discipline, since I don't have the Buckeye Outdoors link on my site anymore -- and I think I should get it back, because the Training Peaks software that Fred's Team now uses, though a good program, does not have the linking capability to the blog that I was hoping for -- a brief overview of the schedule: 
Monday -- swim
Tuesday -- run
Wednesday -- bike
Thursday -- run
Friday -- off
Saturday -- long run + swim
Sunday -- long bike

Can you believe I used to be a pack-a-day smoker?

First off, I am swimming.  And by swimming, I mean not drowning for half an hour at a time.  Which admittedly is hard to do in a pool that's only 17 yards long and 4 feet deep (NYSC pool in the Crowne Plaza, or whatever hotel that is).  I have been working hard with the drills and the endurance, but until yesterday, I wasn't able to go more than 4 laps at a time without feeling like my heart was going to burst.  It doesn't matter how long or how fast you can run, swimming uses a set of muscles -- and apparently a set of lungs -- that you don't normally use anywhere else.  I have discovered that as long as I sidestroke, I can go for at least half an hour, which is what I was expecting the swim portion to be for me.  So I had planned to do that.

However, I have been told by many people who've done this particular tri that the water in the Hudson River is at least 2 knots, and you are swimming with the current.  If you put your arms in front of you, you will go point to point in 28 minutes.  Additionally, I took my first open-water swim class, and after learning which is the correct way to put one's wetsuit on -- zipper in the back, and yes, I AM the only person in the world not to know that! -- and realizing just how bouyant and fast you become while wearing one, I think I might have to do more crawling and less sidestroke.  That, plus the instructor kept saying to beware of the frog-kickers, and that would be me.  I am feeling better about that, and also yesterday in the pool, I managed to do multiple sets of six consecutive laps, which I've never been able to do before.    Okay, so it's only 100 yards at a time, and I'm going to need to do 15 times that to get through the swim portion, but I'm just looking to get through the swim portion.

Some other things I learned during the open-water swim class -- the wetsuit does not keep you dry.  Water definitely gets in there, especially since I have a sleeveless one that I think is maybe a half-size too big for me.  On the other hand, water also gets out, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.  Also, the ocean is very, very salty.  I drank enough of it not to need extra sodium -- including electrolytes for my run -- for the next three days following.  Something tells me the Hudson is not going to be nearly so "tasty."

Biking, one would think, would be much easier to take.  Alas, not so.  After spending nearly $900 on my bike, a Cannondale Synapse Women's Alloy 7 Sora, and learning to understand all those gears and how they shift, I discovered the one place Cannondale really skimps, and that's the seat.  I was under the impression that, seeing as this is a woman's bike, that they would provide a woman-specific seat.  Apparently they do, but it must be for a woman with no genitalia.  I was wearing bike shorts on my rides -- which for the uninitiated is a pair of shorts with basically a Depends sewn in the crotch -- and was still getting such pains in the female parts that after my first 18-miler, I bled for two days (TMI, part of the process).  

So back to Toga for a better bike seat, and an introduction to Chamois Cream, which is a cooling cream for one's, um, chamois.  Apply directly to affected areas -- apparently things feel better if you wear the shorts without underwear. And amazingly, they do!  Although why there is menthol in the cream, I don't know.  Some parts of the body don't need to be mentholated. 

I've been having palpitations about what to wear under the wetsuit for the bike and run legs.  I was super-worried about tri shorts, given that I can barely stand riding in the bike shorts, and tri shorts have only a little bit of padding in the crotch, because you're also supposed to do the run in them.  My friend and Teammate Abby suggested I do what she did, which was wear running shorts, and pull the bike shorts over the top for the bike leg.  That was the plan.

Then yesterday, I discovered that I indeed had a pair of tri shorts that I unwittingly bought in last year's Jackrabbit post-Thanksgiving sales frenzy (where I also picked up the wetsuit for under $100, btw).  So yesterday's experiment -- 18+ miles in tri shorts, no undies, to simulate the bike leg.  And believe it or not, I did 23 miles in those shorts and it didn't feel too terrible!  Of course, when I got off the bike my back seized up and my left arm had gone numb, but I can't attribute that to the shorts.   So it looks like we might have a winner!

The other thing I have taken the plunge with is to buy and use clip bike shoes. They have a clip on the ball of the shoe that clip into the bike pedals.  The idea is that you are helping to move the bike both by pulling up and pushing down on the pedals, which makes you go faster, and also helps with the hills.  I was initially scared to use them, as I had visions of not being able to take my foot off the pedals and falling over.  Turns out, it is extremely easy to unclip one's foot from the pedal -- as long as one remembers that one's foot is clipped onto the pedal.  My first foray out with the shoes was a jaunt up to the GW Bridge and back, a nice, long and fairly flat ride up the West Side of Manhattan.  The only problem is there is one section where you have to leave the path along the river and head into the city streets for two blocks.  There is a stop sign where you cross from the street back onto the bike path.  I got to the stop sign, stopped, and tried to pick my foot off the pedal.  Why can't I lift -- wait a minute -- and then plop, over I went.  Scraped knee and banged wrist -- that freaked me out, because as a stenographer, I can't afford to mess up my hands -- but otherwise, I'm no longer scared of falling over on the bike.  And now I remember that my feet are clipped to the pedals.  Duh.

Here's an observation I have as a runner-who-bikes:  as a runner, you have to be aware of your surroundings, but as long as you're not running a race, it's okay to sort of  "check out" every once in a while, you know, let your mind wander.  You cannot do that on a bike.  You have to be 100 percent aware 100 percent of the time, and it's so scary sometimes to be in Central Park and have to ride amongst the hundreds of bike-renting tourists and others who do not ascribe to that edict.   Here in NYC, there's a huge business -- legit and otherwise -- in renting bicycles to folks to cruise Central Park and also Riverside Park.  Why is it that people who clearly do not ride bicycles in whatever city or country they live in decide that a great way to see Central Park is to do so on a barely-working rental bike?  They ride in packs of 10 abreast, oftentimes the wrong way (you are only supposed to go counter-clockwise on a bike in Central Park, just as with cars), usually without helmets, and doing things that people who would have enough common sense to fill a thimble wouldn't do, like stop at the bottom of the Great Hill when other cyclists are barrelling down that hill at 30+ miles per hour -- or even better, make a sharp turn across the roadway in that exact same spot.  Or just stop randomly in the middle of the road.  And my favorite of all -- TEXTING while on a bicycle.  Apparently this woman must be a doctor informing her colleagues of an important medical decision that must be made immediately and could not possibly wait long enough for her to even pull off to the side of the road.  Or maybe she's just an idiot.  Either one.

The lower loop of the Park, below 72nd Street, is where the biggest number of tourist clogs and difficulties lie.  As I was setting off on loop #4 of the Park yesterday -- and I was originally planning to do 3 full loops and then one or two lower loops -- I was riding around packs of tourists and others.  I have found that "Coming through, coming through" as I ride works, because "on your right" and "on your left" doesn't work when the people don't speak English.  At least the sound of my voice alerts them that I am passing by.  So I'm trying to pass one woman who keeps drifting to the right as I am passing her there, and I'm saying "Coming through, coming through," and she's not paying attention and about to crash into me, so I go "Coming through, COMING THROUGH!!!" which wakes her up.  She stops drifting and says to me, "Shut up."  !!  So as I pass her, I yell, "Watch where you're going and I'll shut up!"  My righteous fervor led me to do a five-mile loop, since I was not about to ride on the lower loop any more than I had to, now that I had a mortal enemy.  So thanks, biking idiot, for giving me my longest and fastest ride to date.

Running -- ah, running.  Well, at least I sort of know how to do this.  I'm a little concerned about the run portion of the tri, even if it's only a 10K, because it's mostly uphill, and goes the hard (clockwise) way around the Park.  I know I'll make it.  The question is merely, in what shape will that be?  Upright, I hope.

My new not-so-secret weapon on the run are salt packets.  Just little salt packets from the deli.  I sweat like a moose when I run, regardless of the weather, so it's important that I maintain my electrolytes.  Before every run I drink water with a Nuun electrolyte tablet  dissolved in it -- love them! --- and for a long, hot run, I'll also take an S-Cap, which is another form of electrolytes.  But along with gels and Gatorade, I'll also chew on a salt packet -- just like a stick of gum -- once or twice during the course of a run.  As icky as it sounds, it works for me.  For 10K or less, if I feel I need it, I'll have some salt about halfway through.  For 10K or more, I use about the same formula as gels -- every 45 minutes to an hour -- unless I'm using gels that have extra sodium.  Then I'll just take the gel, and hold the salt unless I feel I really need it. 

And yes, I am still running in Vibrams, even though my many attempts to get Vibrams to sponsor even a fraction of my events were for naught.  For naught, I say!  I still love those damn shoes, and will wear them for the run portion of the tri and also the marathon, but you know, not even a "thanks but no thanks" from them.  Does that cheese you off, too?  Write them, at and let them know.  Which is another reason why I switched to bike shoes -- and why I'm eying those Saucony Kinvaras...

In addition to the tri training, the Team began marathon training a few weeks ago.  Our long runs are up to 11 miles.  It's been over a year since I've gone over 8 miles, and it's both joyful and painful to get back up to the double digits.  I had to take an ice bath after our first nine-miler.  How far we have fallen!  We start our Tuesday-Thursday sessions soon, but work will prevent me from doing most of the Thursday dates because of work.  If there's one thing I hate to do without the Team, it's the Thursday workout, because those are stair workouts and they can be brutal.  I don't think I will slack -- Liam doesn't deserve a slacker-- but without the Team there, I am afraid of not working as hard or as long as I should be.  But we will make do.

Okay, nearly long enough.  One small observation  before we go -- I did my volunteer race during a rainstorm.  When you do that, NYRR gives you one of those orange and white rain ponchos that you see the folks at the water stations wear during the marathon.  While initially excited about receiving the coat, I was soon disillusioned. A decently constructed raincoat wouldn't have stood a chance in this rain, and this one didn't keep me even remotely dry, but it didn't even keep me warm, which is an unusual thing for a coat constructed of non-breathable plastic.  And here's why -- it's glued together with what must be Elmer's School Glue, because by the time I got home, the hood had ripped off and the sleeves had mostly disconnected from the body.  So not such a great giveaway after all, but I still have it, for some unknown reason.

Okay!  Done for now.  Donate, donate, donate!! And off for a run!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My E-Mail to Family, Friends -- and You

I have much to say, and much will have to wait until the next post.
I would have posted this yesterday, but I was too focused on sending out the following email to everyone I know, a few people I don't really know, and many of whom have forgotten me.

And now I'm sending it to you.

On January 24, 2011, Liam Witt, Prince Liam the Brave, my inspiration for running four marathons with Fred's Team, an organization that raises money for pediatric cancer research and treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, passed away from neuroblastoma at the age of 6.

May 13, 2011, would have been Liam’s 7th birthday.

On August 7, 2011, I will honor Prince Liam's memory by participating in my first triathlon.

And on November 6, 2011, I will run my fifth NYC Marathon, all in honor of my sweet inspiration.

Please help me honor the legacy of this amazing little boy by donating to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research on my behalf. You will be funding desperately-needed pediatric research and treatment at MSKCC.
Please click on the link below to take you to my Fred’s Team triathlon page.

Any amount you can give brings us all one step closer to a cure.
My eternal thanks and gratitude.


Marci Glotzer

PS: If you wish to donate by check, please make it payable to “Fred’s Team” and send it to me at 152 W. 58th Street, Apt. 2D, New York, New York, 10019-2111. I will add my race info and send it on to MSKCC.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My First Guest Blogging Gig!

I guest blogged this week on the Ace Health Diet, Nutrition and Wellness Journal.  It's an article about gels and sports drinks.  It's short -- 300ish words, so it won't kill you to take a look at it.  What are you waiting for?  Click right here to go to the article!

As a thank you to Bob, I'm happy to add his Lower Cholesterol Review website as a permanent fixture on the right side of the page.  It's a portal to many different websites with information about ways to reduce cholesterol, and it's a particular passion of his, so I'm happy to help him spread the word about getting well and healthy.

And now, out for a run!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Inspiration as a Runner, and as a Woman

Grete Waitz passed away after a six-year battle with cancer at the age of 57 today.  She was a nine-time winner of the NYC Marathon, and an FOF (Friend of Fred).  This is a picture of us after the 2007 marathon.  Thank you, Grete, for your inspiration and your courage.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Run for the Parks Four-Miler, Why Bikes Don't "Fit," and The Perils of Early Hydration

Hello, devoted readers!  Good to be back!  I've been working hard, but not blogging much (as you can tell). I will try to be better.

Triathlon training is going well.  It's still a little early to push, but I'm trying not to slack.  Liam deserves no less than my best.  And you all agree, as so far, thanks to you, I have raised
for the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on behalf of Prince Liam the Brave.  If you, dear reader, want to support my first triathlon effort, honor the amazing Prince Liam, who fought so hard against neuroblastoma, and help cure pediatric cancer -- three things for the price of one!! -- simply click here to make a donation.  Any amount you can give is a step closer to a cure.

Thanks to Fred's Team, I have a new training program keeper thingie, called "Training Peaks." It tells you what to do every day as a beginner to prepare for your first triathlon. Some of it is a little basic, even for me, so as per usual, I've been ignoring it. If I figure out how to get it on the blog feed, I will replace good old Buckeye Outdoors. I've been trying to swim twice a week, run twice a week, and bike ... well, I'm waiting for the bike. I ordered it from Toga Bikes two weeks ago. It should be here any day now. I hate biking indoors more than I hate running on a treadmill, and I loathe running on a treadmill. 

I'm excited to get the bike, because I had so much trouble riding the old one (much as I loved it,) as it did not fit properly.  I bought that bike off Craigslist, a beautiful orange Cannondale.  Please understand that the bike I had before the Cannondale was purple, had a banana seat and purple streamers on the handlebars, and her name was Jennifer. What I knew about "fit" was -- could I get on it and reach the pedals?  Fit!  No, apparently, there is a lot more to it, like how well you reach the handlebars, where your knee falls in relation to the pedals, how wide you have to grip, etc.  I wish I had known this before.  I rode it for the better part of a year, and it was always uncomfortable.  I felt too high off the ground, and my back would be aching after two miles.  I finally asked some of my triathlete friends who said that just wasn't right.  Anyways, the good folks at Toga explained to me when I brought the Cannondale in that there would be no way to make it fit me properly, that fixing one thing would create problems with another.  So they sold the old bike, and ordered me a hot new Cannondale Synapse Women's Alloy 7 Sora.  Whatever that means.  Alls I know is, it's hot. And I want it.

Swimming, I will talk about some other day. Just hoping to survive it, for the moment. I have the form, but not the endurance.

Today's race.  Just got home from this AM's Run for the Parks four-miler.  I was not signed up to do this race, but my friend David left me a message last night wondering if I was going.  I decided to let the fates decide.  If I woke up in time to get to the race to sign up by 7:30, I would.  Spot woke me up barfing at 5am, so I went.

Got there just before 7:00 to register and get my race number.  Then I had to sit around for close to an hour.  I knew some of my Teammates were going to be there, but I didn't see any of them. My plan was to hydrate well prior to the race, since it was a four-miler, I didn't feel it necessary to take a water stop unless I felt I needed to.  So before I left the house, I had a Nuun (my new favorite pre-run drink of choice -- it's an electrolyte tablet that dissolves in water.) I also had coffee when I woke up.  And when I got to the bandshell to register, turns out that one of the race sponsors was Zico coconut water, so I got a bottle of that.  I bided my pre-race time by going to the bathroom.  A lot.  Those of you who have actually read this blog know that I am obsessed with the amount of times I can go to the bathroom before the marathon (7 is the number to beat)  but for a four-mile race -- three times.  In under an hour. 

And then it's 7:50 and I head to the corral, and wouldn't you know it -- have to go again! What the --?   Well, I figured it would add to my urgency.

And...we're off!

I'm in the pink corral, which is more towards the back.  It was actually a good one to be in, so that I would start slow.  The course is the four-mile inside loop of Central Park, from E. 68th up to the 102nd Street transverse, over and back down the west side, finishing at the 72nd Street transverse.  This means that mile 1 has Cat Hill, which is the biggest hill, getting it over with early.  On Wednesday, I did my first set of hill repeats in a year, so I was prepared to just head up this bad boy once.  Mile 1, mostly uphill -- 9:30.  I was surprised, I thought I was going slower than that. 

Mile 2, mostly downhill, and I'm finding my pace  (and I have to peeeeee!) was another surprise -- 9:00.  What?  Didn't feel it.  But I knew mile 3 was hillier, so I wanted to take mile 3 a little slower, to give me juice for mile 4. 

For thems who don't run, there is a concept called the negative split that I ascribe to, where the second half of the race is run faster than the first half.  The theory is, instead of getting all the speed out early and hanging in there for the last part of the race, you start slow and speed up, leaving something in the tank for a push at the end and a strong finish.  That's why, a lot of times, big races like the marathon come down to the last mile, or even half mile, or even 10 feet.  The runners hold something back for the push at the end.  The question is, when is it going to come, and how long can the runner sustain it?

My issue isn't the slow first half, it's the not speeding up in the second half.  But I digress...

Mile 3, a hillier mile -- and the one that has, for some reason, the toughest hill, which is the one right by the ballfields in the West 90s.  Don't know why I find it harder than Cat Hill, which is a steeper hill and a longer one, but there you have it.  9:10 for mile 3.

Last mile, mostly downhill, and here's where the problem with being a slower runner is -- you're surrounded by slower runners.  So I want to go pedal to the medal, but I keep getting caught behind packs of slower people, and having to maneuver around them.  It's funny, I know this course like the back of my hand, but I never know when to start pushing.  I push a little harder, but make my move at 79th Street.  I open up my stride and really start to motor (at least for me, anyway).

Turned off my watch just  before hitting the finish line, but I looked down and saw this:
WHAAAA?  Wow. For some, a bad day at the office.  For me, everything just came up roses. 

My actual time was 36:08, and that last mile was more like an 8:20ish, but still, that is my fastest time for a mile since last year, maybe more. 

What does this mean?  Two things.  One -- if I can stay injury-free and train smart, this is going to be a great year.

And two -- I need to learn how to better pace the middle miles of a race.  If I have that much gas in the tank that I am able to hit that pace at the end, I need to use up a little more of that in the middle, and not be afraid of maintaining a faster pace over a longer distance.

So I'm off to the pool now for a swim.  Please donate to Fred's Team by clicking here, and good luck, Boston runners!! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Link is Live!

The link is live:
or you can click here.  It's the same link.  I'm just being cute.

I'm taking the plunge, literally.  Doing the 2011 Nautica Tri with Fred's Team full out.  How could I not?

You know what this means, dear readers.

$5,000 for the tri
$5,000 for the marathon

I do have $3500 in the "bank" for the marathon from last year, which will go to my marathon effort. 

So we want to raise $5,000 before August, and then another $1,500 for November.

Good people, get clicking!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Coogan's 5K Race Report

Okay, peeps, we are only going to talk about running today, and making it brief, because these taxes ain't gonna do themselves.

Woke up this rainy morning to head to Washington Heights for the Coogan's Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K.  Coogan's is a community-oriented pub/restaurant in the area that sponsors this race every year. I love this race, even though for some reason, the weather never seems to cooperate.  It's either cold or raining or both.  Oh, well.

Wore a t-shirt and pants.  Though it wasn't raining when I left the house, it was threatening, so on the feet were my VFF Flows, which seem to be the best choice for rainy weather.  No socks.  I had a rain jacket, but didn't know if I would wear it during the run.  As long as the rain isn't in my eyes, I don't care about the rest of me.

Arrived at 8:30am for a 9:00am start.  It had started to drizzle.  I stood around for a few minutes trying to decide about the rain jacket, and finally decided not to wear it.  I figured I'd regret it for the 20 minutes before the run, but not during it; whereas if I wore it, it would be the other way around.  Nice use of semi-colon there, by the way.

Corrall time.  I usually go two corralls behind mine, as NYRR still thinks I am a 7:53 miler. Those were the days...anyways, I try to start a corrall or two back to hold myself back as well, because I try very hard to stick to the negative split concept, which for the uninitiate, means doing the first half slower than the second.  It defninitely helps with the pace and energy towards the end of the race, leaving you with gas in the tank for a strong finish.  For a race as short as a 5K, my goal is to run each mile a little faster than the previous one.

And...we're off!  Up from 168th & Broadway to Fort Tryon Park, into the park, around the Cloisters (a great addition to the course they made last year) and back.  Not deceptively hilly -- obviously hilly, especially the exit out of the park. 

One of the things that makes this race great is the music.  There is music on nearly every other corner, and it ranges from rock bands to mariachi to drum circle to troubador.  There's a marching band right outside the park that for some reason always makes me emotional.  Something about those drums, I guess.  Runners are crazy and will run in all kinds of weather, but bravo to the musicians who brave the elements to entertain us along the course.  Most of them just went under bus shelters. It's kind of funny to run by a bus stop and see a bunch of mariachis crammed in there, playing "La Cucharacha."

The front runners started hitting us before I had even reached Mile 1, and that's just crazy!  Either they were REALLY fast (they were) or I was too far back, even for me (I was).  You can hear the cheer come through the pack in a big wave as the front runners approached.  Is running the only sport where the losers cheer on the winners?

The only thing I would say is sort of sucky about the course is that it is pretty narrow, and because it's an out-and-back, there are sections of the course that you are just stuck behind whoever you're behind, because you can't get around them.

I spent most of the race running near a father and son.  The son must have been about 10, and was running about 2 steps behind his dad.  Dad kept looking back, checking on his son, and encouraging him.  This kid needed no encouraging.  He had a huge grin on his face from the second the gun went off, and clearly, the two of them were having a great morning.

The other notable sight I will take away from this race is the shirtless man running in what looked like Crocs.  And I mention he was shirtless because he was one of those men who just should not be shirtless without a trip to the waxers.  Sorry, gents with hairy backs -- blech.  The only thing worse is when a hairy-backed gent wears a t-shirt that's kind of worn through, so you can see all the hair through it.  Am I right, ladies?   Um, PS, he beat me.  Pissed me off. 

Not to belabor, but my total time -- 29:20.  Miles, approximately, according to my watch, was 10:15, 9:20, and 8:55, plus whatever was left for the .1 mile. I really tried to push the last half mile, but it was a little too crowded until really just before the end.  I could tell I had a little too much in the tank, because I kicked for at least a quarter mile.  Oh, well.  I won't win the damn thing unless I disqualify everyone else.  It's all about the doing.

As for pain, no tendon pain, and I think I might have had a little PF pain, but my feet were so cold and soggy it was hard to tell.  I can say that I had no pain afterwards.  So I think all the treatment paid off!  So I think it's time to start increasing distance a little and see what happens next...

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Confession

I haven't posted because I haven't wanted to take my previous post down from the top of the heap.

People, I have a confession to make.

As I've said countless times, I'll be doing the NYC Marathon as a member of Fred's Team.  I was going to do the Nautica NYC Triathlon on my own, but was inspired to also make the triathlon a fundraising event.  I thought that I'd do it as a choose-your-own and raise maybe $1,000 or so.

Of course, at the last minute (6pm on a Friday) I start my registration process for the Tri with Fred's Team and discover it's a $5,000 commitment.

My confession:  I'm scared.

I don't work for a big corporation, and I don't have a lot of rich friends -- oops, scrap that. I don't have any rich friends. At least none that admit it.  I manage to raise $5,000 nearly every year for the marathon, but that takes six months and involves much teeth pulling.  I don't know that I can raise an additional $5,000.  Please keep in mind that I am the one who gives the fundraising tips for the Team newsletter.

Advice?  Encouragement?   Introduction to Donald Trump?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love Like Liam

Yesterday was Liam's memorial service. Both a mourning of a death and a celebration of a life.
I was privileged to attend.

It was at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in Manhattan, across the street from the firehouse (Engine 1/Ladder 24) where Liam spent so much time, the firefighters gave him his own locker, complete with uniform.

The firefighters were outside the church, playing the bagpipes. Liam received a firefighter's funeral honors, and indeed, was named an official firefighter.

I idiotically walked through the side door and ended up in the family room. There were about 30 people there. After saying hello to Gretchen and Larry, I realized that I might be in the wrong place and asked someone to show me where the programs were. I was ushered into the main hall.

The church was overflowing with people. The request was to wear orange (Liam's favorite color) and ties (Liam was passionate about ties, and felt every day was a good day to wear one.) Men wearing bright orange ties, women wearing orange tops and shawls. Apparently, Liam's Army found that Forever 21 sells orange shawls and they were completely bought out. I wore my orange Fred's Team shirt, the one I wear when I run the actual marathon, with Liam's picture on the back (it's the picture on the right side of the blog).

There was singing from "The Lion King" and "Rent," as well as some psalms. One of Liam's nurses and Dr. LaQuaglia, Liam's surgeon from MSKCC spoke, as well as Robert Woodruff from ABC News. Gretchen spoke last.

We all heard about what a remarkable little boy Liam was -- so inquisitive, so fearless. How he bore all of his treatments -- and Dr. LaQuaglia let us know that Liam endured seven major surgeries, 25 procedures requiring anesthesia, and 111 other tests -- with no complaints. How he was so concerned for others that even when he himself was not feeling well, when his nurse told him that she, too, was feeling ill and needed to go home early, Liam pulled her down to him so they were face to face and gently kissed her on the forehead. How Liam wanted to go to a Halloween party so badly that immediately after he finished a high-dose chemo treatment, he put on a Superman costume, went to the party, and volunteered to get on stage and sing his A-B-Cs with the musicians.

As much as they could, the Witts made sure that Liam was a boy first and foremost. He loved school and went nearly every day. He loved to scooter (and frequently got in trouble for scootering in the hallways of MSKCC), and was always looking for the next science or craft project. He loved playing on the iPad, and once downloaded 27 cooking apps before his parents realized he had memorized the iTunes account password. He loved to throw himself in the pool wearing nothing but swim goggles.

Gretchen put it best during her eulogy -- she said, "Liam was OUR son." And by that, she meant that he was everyone's son. Everyone who met him, be it in person or through Cookies for Kids' Cancer or Gretchen's blog, fell hopelessly in love with him and felt that he was theirs. That made us fight so hard for him, and grieve even harder.

Liam lived. And he lived every moment of every day. His teachers told us that he would frequently ask, "If not now, when?" What better call to action than that, and what better words to live by?

Wherever he went, Liam made people feel at ease. He was so quick and easy to love whoever he met, and you couldn't help but love him right back. The day I met him, he declared his love for me within minutes, and he meant it.

Gretchen asked us all to love like Liam -- openly and completely. There is no more fitting legacy for a boy who was the very embodiment of love.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Addendum to previous post...

Twenty minutes and $25 later, it is indeed plantar fasciitis.

Decided to treat with ibuprofen and ice rather than a cortisone shot for the meanwhile.

Also recommended -- don't run in Vibrams.

Ha ha!

Too bad, Doc Rock. He knows I do, and he ain't happy about it. But as the choice is either run in Vibrams or don't run, I think I know which way I'm going. I just have to be extra careful about wearing my orthotics and stretching and all that good stuff during the times I'm not in the VFFs.

Aren't they supposed to STRENGTHEN your feet, not destroy them?

Oh, well.


Because no good deed goes unpunished, or words to that effect, later Sunday night, I had some left heel pain. A little internet research seems to confirm...duh duh duh DUUUUUUUUH -- plantar fasciitis. Can I NOT have a good week of running without a setback?

Anyways, ice, ultrasound, ibuprofen, that goofy night brace. Rode the bike 40 minutes instead of running. Heading to Dr. Rock at some point today for confirmation of self-diagnosis, as I need to admit that I'm not a doctor. The pain has migrated to just above the left heel, inside arch side. So is it PF? Is it plain ol' tendonitis? It is feeling a little better just two days later, but I think I should get a) confirmation, and b) more treatment options from someone who doesn't advertise "Lonely Men Over 50 Want to Date You!" on his right side. Isn't that what I paid JDate a whole lot of money for?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Do You Believe In...

This week I was good, I ran Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Monday I stayed on the path and did a five-miler. Wednesday I did the crazy bridle path in the ice for 4 1/2, and Friday I did five going clockwise, stopping at NYRR to pick up my race number. They all actually felt good. I bought a face mask from Harriet Carter (that's right, people. Harriet Carter) that helps me breathe better in the colder air, but makes me look even more ridiculous than I already look when I run (thanks to my beloved, but admittedly goofy-looking, VFFs). So I was looking forward to this morning's outing.

Today was the Gridiron Four-Miler in Central Park. The first actual race I would be running since July. The Midnight Run wasn't a race, and the Fred Lebow 5-Miler was called due to weather. So much for getting my nine races in without actually running any of them.

I was also weirdly scared. I really want to get back to the joy of running, and one of the ways I've been doing that is by not wearing a watch. The times I've been on the treadmill, the clock is unavoidable, but I'm really not wanting to see how fast -- or in my case, how slow I'm going. I just want to put the miles in and enjoy them. And I get crazy competitive when I race, in my own mind, at least. So today was going to be both a test of my ability to run my own race, and also to see what my time is for the first time since June or July, really.

37 degrees, a brilliant temperature. Ducked into the third-to-last corral -- I have no delusions. NYRR does, though -- they calculate your corral based on your fastest mile in a race over four miles, but they don't update that every year. It's your fastest mile ever with NYRR. For me, that's a 7:58 from 2007. Ha ha! Like I'll be reaching THAT again any time soon. I have enough good sense to not go near my own corral. Even when I could run that pace, I want to start slow and build up, so I start in a slower corral to hold myself back for the first few miles.

And we're off. So far back we didn't hear the starting horn. Took over eight minutes to get to the starting line. Chug-a-lug with the pack up Cat Hill and up the East Drive. Thinking I'd like to be at a 10:00 pace, that I'd happy with a finish between 40 and 41. Much happier to be slightly under, of course. But I didn't want to push. Just wanted to run.

As I passed the mile 1 marker I tried not to look at my watch, but did and saw the split -- 9:58. Really? Normally my first mile is closer to 10:30 because of the crowding.

Up East Drive heading to the transverse. Ran into Teammate Maureen. She's also been out of the game for a while with injuries. She's taking it easy, too. We separated on the transverse. Got water. A woman next to me told me she thought the race started at 102nd, not 72nd, had to run back to the start line and just barely made it across before they took it up. Mile 2 -- 9:41. Didn't feel like it, but then again, I'm not sure what running at a certain time feels like anymore.

Fun thing -- NYRR split the transverse into Packers side and Steelers side. Run on the side you're rooting for. They used the D-Tags to track the results (results not posted as of my writing this.)

Down the west side. Mile 3 is mostly uphill, but I saw the Natural Living guy doing his usual speedwalk against the traffic, shouting encouragement. Ah, yes. NOW we're feeling good! I was hoping to see him. It doesn't feel like a race when he's not there. Mile 3, again, somewhere around 9:46.

Mile 4 is mainly downhill. Very crowded, thanks to people and a narrower roadway thanks to show pile-up on the sides. I see the finish line and I try to push the last few hundred feet. Crowd notwithstanding, just before I cross the line I hit my watch...
Miracles do happen, I suppose.
Of course, my time is not official. But it doesn't matter. The point is, I didn't get caught up in the racing. I came out to have a good run, and hopefully post a decent time. And I did both.
This makes me feel a lot better about the training to come. I want so badly to do well during the marathon, and in Liam's honor, I'm not going to slack off. Even if I'm running 15-minute miles, they'll be the best 15-minute miles I can squeeze out. But it's nice to see at this stage that I am capable of more, and I intend to deliver.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

On the Road Again...

So here is how I am responding to Gretchen's call to action:

Since I already have an entry into the Nautica NYC Triathlon, I'm going to run it as a "Choose Your Own" event for Fred's Team. That way, I can open my fundraising page early (next month!) and start fundraising now, and then once the marathon fundraising page starts in April, I can pick up from there.

So even though I'm sure you've bought lots and lots of cookies, when my fundraising page opens, I hope you will donate to my fundraising efforts as well. All the money goes to the same place -- pediatric cancer research at MSKCC.

Liam's passing has also literally motivated me into action. When I first heard the news, I put on my running clothes and headed to Central Park. I ran up to the bridle path, then around the path -- snow, ice and all. Normally I enjoy running on ice and snow because the precarious footing can make even the dullest route engaging. But I wasn't running for enjoyment.

It was a shortish run -- four and a half miles -- but having part of it on ice made it super-strenuous. It helped get a lot of anger out, and because I really needed to pay attention to my footing, I couldn't really think about much else.

Today was the first Team workout in preparation for the NYC Half. As I've said in prior posts, I'm not running the NY Half, but I'm training with the Team as if I was. So at 8:00 am on a 30 degree day, a little over a dozen of us showed up in the Park for a 7-miler. I only did 6, because the longest I've done to date is 5 1/2.

It was not a great run for me. I find that under 35 degrees I have a little trouble breathing, and that wears me out. I wore a bandana over my mouth, but it got wet and uncomfortable. There's also a very fine line between freezing and sweating. I go from "I need to warm up" to "Holy crap, I'm hot." There is no period of "warm." And when I removed my outer layer, all the layers underneath were wet, so then I'm cold again. Grrr. Need we mention I'm one of the slowest people there? I had to walk three times.

Nevertheless, I'm glad I went. I'm glad to be with the Team, and I'm glad to be running at all.

What I need to do is not compare myself to where I was when I was at my fittest and fastest. I want to be happy with where I am now. What worries me is that I feel I am making a pretty good effort now, and if this is where I am at 80 percent effort, what is it going to take to improve? This is going to be one tough training season. I know I have what it takes to get through it mentally, but do I have it physically? That's the question.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Call to Arms

True to Gretchen's form, she is both grieving and mobilizing the Prince's army into action. I cannot believe the generosity with which she shared her family and her journey. She embraced the truth that not her child, but no child should ever have to suffer, and at a time when most families would have turned inward and focused 100 percent on themselves, Gretchen was somehow able to find yet another 100 percent, to also focus on a way to help all children fighting cancer. And as she mourns, she is also asking people to not let Liam's battle be in vain.

Cookies for Kids' Cancer is such a simple idea -- have a bake sale, and send the money for pediatric cancer research. I volunteered the first year, when Gretchen thought, "Let's bake 96,000 cookies and give the money to pediatric cancer research." Well, those 96,000 went in three weeks, and raised $400,000. Now the idea is national. There are whole towns holding bake sales. Glad products is an official sponsor.

Here's what you can do to celebrate the life of a boy who took everything that was thrown at him with a smile, and was the embodiment of love and courage:


Go to the website and order cookies. They are delicious, and all the money raised goes to fund research projects aimed at curing pediatric cancers.


The site has great suggestions for how to hold a successful bake sale. If you have children, have a bake sale at their school. Hold a bake-off in your office, or your house of worship.


Or half-marathons, or triathlons -- or anything, really -- as a member of Fred's Team, and inspire people to donate to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research on your behalf. Host a 5K, and send the proceeds to the Team. Or run on one of Fred's Team's teams, wherever you are in the country. In NYC, entries are available for the Nautica Tri. Contact the Team via the website for more information.

Celebrate sweet Liam's life by doing something sweet. Cookies are, indeed, good for you!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No Words

Dear, sweet Liam Witt, the boy who has inspired nearly every step I have run for the past four years, passed away yesterday from neuroblastoma at the age of 6.

Words cannot express the sadness, and also the fury.

Money is the only reason that a cure has not been found.

Please, please, go to Cookies for Kids' Cancer and buy cookies, or hold a bake sale and send your proceeds to them. Go to Fred's Team and donate to the Aubrey Fund.

Do something.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Liam Update, Buy Cookies, and Getting Into the Groove

I need your prayers for Liam. The news is not good, and it just gets worse. His latest scans were awful. Chemo is not working. This kid has such an amazing spirit, and he never complains, and it's just so unfair that any child has to endure such insidious disease. It's even more unfair that the only thing standing between Liam and a cure is money to fund the research and develop the treatments that he needs. Children's cancers, especially rare ones such as neuroblastoma, have been underfunded for years. Why are we not protecting our children by working to eradicate these diseases?
I am not actively fundraising right now, but if you want to make a general donation to Fred's Team and the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research, just click here and click on the "Donate" link.
Another way to help is to go to Cookies For Kids' Cancer, the organization founded by Liam's mom, Gretchen. You can order cookies, or learn how to organize a bake sale, and send the proceeds to CKC. All the money goes to neuroblastoma research and treatment at MSKCC.

Liam inspires me to train. It will be NYC 2011 and also the Nautica Tri. Possibly the Flying Pig. We shall see.

As for my training, it's been sporadic, but I'm starting to get back into a routine. I did a 40-minute treadmill run and managed not to be bored out of my skull. Even more amazing, I was watching Gov. Christie's State of the State address while doing so. What does that mean? I used the treadmill run to do sprint intervals, getting up to 7.7 mph (unsure of the mile time) for up to 90 seconds at a time.

I did my first loop of Central Park last weekend. Well, almost. I started to walk a little at the 5 1/2 mile, because I haven't run over five in a while, and I'm not making that "oh, it's just a little more, what could it hurt?" mistake again. But I ran the Great Hill non-stop!

Today, I did 20 on the treadmill, not too comfortably -- had a stitch in my side most of the way. Fortunately, I got a phone call from work, and had to stop. Couldn't get back into it, and switched to the bike for 25. Then worked on legs and a little arms for about 40 more minutes. I need to get more pool time in pronto, but have to branch out from the 4-foot long NYSC pool in the Marriott if I really want to start building endurance.

Fred's Team will soon be training for the NYC Half Marathon. I didn't get in -- most NYers didn't -- and I'm not too brokenhearted. I can run a loop and a half of the Park for free, not $75. But I will admit that running through Times Square was pretty cool (I ran this two years ago). I am going to train with the Team, and as we get closer to the date, if a spot opens up through the Team, maybe I'll take it. We'll see.

Finally, last night I was asked to speak at the Fred's Team Half-Marathon Kick-Off over at Sloan, to talk to people about fundraising and offer tips and ideas. I'm not the Team's top fundraiser, but I am the most persistent, as you all know, dear readers, and short of bikini car washes, I've pretty much tried everything to raise money for Fred's Team and the Aubrey Fund in Liam's honor. So it was great to share what I've done with other Team members. And just you wait, because this year, I'm pulling out all the stops...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Progress? You Be the Judge.

Trying to be good about sticking to a workout plan. I'll give myself a C plus. Here's why:

Monday I sort of overdid it. Went to the gym (for the first time in months, I may add), ran on the treadmill, which I loathe, for 23 whopping minutes at a 9:50 pace. I don't loathe running, I loathe it on the treadmill. I feel like a hamster. It doesn't matter what I have there to distract me, I get insta-bored. I can run the same trail in Central Park 900 times -- and I have -- and while it's mind-numbing, it's not nearly as boring as a treadmill. Anyways, I was proud of my 23 minutes.

But the real reason I was there was to get my arse back in the pool, and after a few stretches, it was my turn in the water, and I had the whole lane to myself for nearly 45 minutes. I was pretty happy at how much I remembered as far as stroke technique goes, and was able to go two laps at a time. Granted, the pool is maybe five feet long (it's a hotel pool, after all. NYSC has a club in the Courtyard by Marriott on 49th Street.) but after a few months away, it was a good start.

Well, it was good that it was overdid, because I had no time the rest of the week to get back to the gym -- or to put it another way, I didn't, until Friday. Teammate and assistant coach David made me promise to go to the gym, and said he'd go with me. So on Friday morning, we went to a gym semi-close to where he works, and close to where I'd be working that day, and he led me through a pretty intense leg workout. As much as I hate getting up early, I know that if I don't work out early, chances are good I won't go later. So I'm glad we went, and I enjoyed the company. Ex-roomie Bill and I used to work out together once a week when he was doing a small group training session and needed an extra gym session. I miss those. As much as I enjoy running solo, I prefer being in a gym with a partner.

Did I say ex-roomie? Yes, Bill moved out in the fall, having found love, and they moved in together in a gorgeous house up in Westchester. So I am solo again, and debating looking for a new roomie. On one hand, I enjoy the company. On the other, I like walking around the house nekkid sometimes. What's a girl to do?

Saturday was supposed to be the Fred Lebow 5-Miler in the Park, but because of the impending snowstorm that ultimately didn't really amount to anything, they postponed it to Sunday AM. Bad news for me, because Saturday night was a dear friend's birthday, and I was not about to not celebrate. Fortunately, NYRR decreed that the race counted towards the 9+1, regardless of whether they ran it, so two down, 7+1 to go. I wonder if it's possible to get the nine races without ever running a single race? Let me test this theory a little more...

So yes, I did indeed oversleep, but did very much want to get a five-miler in anyway. And I tried. But there was just no having it today. I could not get my breathing right at all. I got up Cat Hill and had to stop. Ditto at the Fred statue. At that point, I realized it best to turn it into a three miler and just head back from whence I came. I think that at below a certain temperature, I just am not able to take in enough oxygen or something. That's my hypothesis, at least, because during the Midnight Run, it was 40 degrees and I had no issues. Today's run was 30 degrees, and I had plenty of issues. I am a mouth breather, which I know isn't great in cold weather, and I tried keeping my mouth closed more during the run back, which did help, but it was still a byatch. And the four glasses of wine and champagne last night probably didn't help much with my efforts today, either.

On the non-running front, I bit the bullet and will be going on my first JDate date this week, although after receiving one of the lamest opening lines from JDaters this week -- "You're pretty. I want to take you to dinner" -- I am really ready to get off that site for good. I have had friends tell me that there are other sites that are much less of a meat market for women and aren't hostile to members of the Tribe (and I ain't talking about Cleveland Indians fans). Yes, it is flattering to be told I'm pretty, but coming from someone 20 years older than me -- it just makes me feel, for lack of a better term, icky.

And now, off to continue working on a transcript for the deposition of what I can only describe as the world's most uncooperative witness. Enjoy the following testimony, in which the lawyer handed the witness a financial document:

LAWYER: I am handing you Plaintiff's Exhibit 7. Do you recognize it?


LAWYER: What do you recognize it to be?

WITNESS: A piece of paper.

Such brilliance goes on for nearly eight hours. Ah, the legal profession. Who said it wasn't entertaining?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year, New Me

Like the post says...
It's the New Year, y'all. Time for some resolutions.

First, duh, blog more. To do that, I think I need to write less, but more frequently. One of the reasons I haven't written is because I sit here for hours to write a five paragraph post.

Second, do more, so there's stuff to blog about. So I'm probably not going to stick solely to running, not that I ever really did, but I may end up telling you about some other ... well, let's jump in. I joined JDate. And I hate it. I joined in a fit of desperation/loneliness/stupidity, as my dating life has been really spotty. I figured, what harm could it do? Well, not fifteen minutes after posting my profile, it was like I was chum for sharks. 60-year-old Jewish sharks. Why is it that I seem to attract men 20 years my senior? There is nothing wrong with 60-year-old men, but I don't want to date them. I'm not looking for a 17-year-old, but I want someone closer to my age than my dad's.

Also, every time I would get on the site to look around, I'd get IMed be someone. I hate IM. I won't use it on FB or any of the other social sites. But you can't turn it off on JDate. And I'd get so many e-mail notifications of people who are "flirting" with me, which I find vomitocious, that I stopped checking my e-mail.

That all being said, I did manage to connect with two people from the site, one of whom wrote me to give me his real e-mail because he was as disgusted with JDate as I was. And I will listen to my friend, who told me to stick with it for a month. Two more weeks to go...

There was a third thing I resolved to do this year, and I guess it goes along with No. 2, and that is to find more balance in my life. When I was doing theater, I did it 24/7, which sounds like fun, and a lot of it was, but it was almost all work. I got out of theater because I wanted to actually have a social life and do other things I was interested in. So I switched careers to become a court reporter, and as a newbie, I was still working 24/7 on it. Any time I wasn't taking a depo, I was working on it. Well, I'm two years into it, and have two (!) people who work for me to take some of the time pressure off, and I'm ready to actually enjoy some leisure time.

One of the ways I'd like to spend that extra time is, as the title of the blog says, to run the marathon again. Not running 2010 was dreadful, although volunteering for Fred's Team on the big day was amazing, and completely fulfilling. This year, on the docket is definitely NYC, and definitely the Nautica Tri in August. Possibly the Flying Pig, too. The ever-amazing Coach Ann -- she of the innocent exterior and the heart of a beastmaster -- suggested we train as if we're going to run the Pig, and decide a little later if we're going to do it or not. She's also going to lead coaching sessions for the NYC Half, which neither I nor any NYC runners got into, but which will motivate me to train. With running, as with weight loss, I need a goal. So Ann is brilliant in giving me goals.

I, like everyone else in this world, hit the gym again. I have been running, but outside. Haven't actually lifted or swam or anything in months. So I am going to try to establish a regular schedule of gym stuff as well as getting my mileage back up. I got a 40 minute swim in on Monday, or to put it another way, I spent 40 minutes in the pool. I still remember how to swim from my lessons last year, but need to get the endurance back.

What stinks the most about this is knowing where I was fitness-wise, and not being there, and wanting to be there again. But the only way I'll be able to get there, or even come close, is to get my arse in gear, and suffer through it all over again. Is it the journey, or the destination? Not sure yet. But I promise to let you know.