02-03-2014

I Love Runners

Last year, I wrote this post about why I love the running community after the terrible attacks at the Boston Marathon. So many amazing stories were told in the months after, and it reaffirmed that runners are a strong community.

Yesterday, my mom and I went to cheer on a few friends at a local 4 mile race. We wanted to run 3ish miles before the race, but we ended up getting there late. We also somehow inadvertently matched and both wore our marathon shirts :) But we actually saw lots of runners in NYC Marathon shirts at the race, and I wanted to shout out to them all!

Since we got there late, we ran 1 mile out on the race course with runners, and then turned back to go watch the finishers. I found my friend as we were getting ready to go up a hill and ran up it with her before turning around. I also saw this man who sped by me…seriously how inspiring is this??

We turned back and I was really tired. I had to stop and walk a few times, not gonna lie…and this was only a 2 mile run!! So sad. But it’s to be expected when I haven’t ran since November. I’m not too worried about getting back into running shape.

So we got back a minute later than the winner, but still got to see the first few people crossing the finish. It was fun to actually be a spectator for once and cheer on other runners.

I really wish to be fast one day!

But the point of this post is why I love runners. As I stood there cheering on fellow runners, I noticed a lot of people doing the same. Not only cheering for their friends or family, but also cheering on everyone else. Runners cheering on complete strangers. Runners who finished their race and could go eat or go home if they wanted to, walking back and cheering on strangers.

We cheered and encouraged people to finish strong, or told them “looking good!” Runners of all ages, and all of them inspired me.

It just moved me to think of how this community stands by each other and supports each other, even if we have never met. And not just runners, but also non-runners who understand the passion behind it, and wake up early just to go cheer.

Whether it’s a small race like this one, or a huge race like NYC Marathon, spectators are awesome. Spectators are what kept me going in the marathon. Every step of they way they were yelling my name, and towards the end cheering even louder when they saw I was struggling. If you haven’t seen my NYC Marathon video recap, check it out below. At around 2:30 you can hear spectators chanting “PATTY AND TINA! PATTY AND TINA” for my mom and I, and it was just a moment I won’t forget.

This is why moments like what happened at the Boston Marathon won’t bring us down. It’ll make the community that much stronger.

Thank you to everyone, runners or not, who have ever cheered for me during a race. You have no idea how much it helps!

Thank you to spectators who support their runners, and wake up early just to go cheer on everyone else.

I can’t wait to be a spectator at this year’s NYC Marathon and pay it forward to everyone who will be running!

Do you cheer on fellow runners after a race? Or go to races to cheer?

Are you a non-runner spectator? Why do you like cheering on runners?

Lastly, who’s running Boston this year? It’ll be an unforgettable experience I’m sure!

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01-24-2014

I Can’t Stay Away From Running

I’ve talked about how I’ve been on a running break since the New York City Marathon, and how I’ve been focusing on lifting more. I’ve really enjoyed not having a running training plan and scheduled runs.

Then the running bug hit me yet again.

I suddenly wanted to start training for a half marathon again so I could chase a PR. Or maybe a 5K PR. Or both! I made a list of possible races, as well as the NYRR 9+1 races I may want to run (you have to run 9 and volunteer once to qualify for the following year’s NYC Marathon).

I have a secret half-marathon goal, but I’m still working on it, and will share once I think it’s possible ;)

Anyway, I’ve got the urge to get back to training. But there are two things holding me back:

  • Shin issues that I had before the NYC Marathon
  • Gaining weight

So, before the marathon, I took 3 weeks off from running completely due to posterior tendonitis. I had these weird bumps that I could feel when I massaged the side of my shin where the muscle is too. Turns out they’re muscle adhesions. And after 11 weeks of no running, I still have them. It makes me nervous to try running because I do not want to have that issue again. My plan of action is to take this week easy and start cross-training by doing cycling. I’ve mainly been lifting so I want to add in some cardio again.

The weight thing is tricky. Anytime I train for a half or full marathon I gain weight. I’ve read various articles about how this is due to eating more, and eating more unhealthy things because you feel like you deserve it but I really don’t think that’s the case. I was eating pretty healthy during marathon training. I think it has to do with cortisol. From Competitor:

Because some of the highest cortisol surges occur during and after exercise, endurance athletes are exposed to more cortisol than even many of the most stressed-out non-athletes. But do these repeated short bursts of cortisol release really add up to long-term high cortisol exposure in runners and other endurance athletes? A 2011 study says yes.

As a personal trainer, I know that people can hold onto fat due to different hormones. If you have that stubborn back fat around your bra area, it could be due to too much estrogen. If you have too much belly fat, like I do, it could be cortisol.

So it’s a catch-22 for me: Do I train and not care about gaining weight, or keep focusing on lifting weights until I get to the weight and leanness that I want?

I think I’m going to try both. When I have been long distance training, weight training has fallen to the wayside due to time. But I want to try to do both and see how that works for me. It may mean a day less of running, but I’m okay with that if I can maintain muscle.

Not sure what my training plan will be, but I’ll keep you posted! I’m looking at the Asbury Park Half on April 26.

Any other fellow NJ runners planning on running it?

Have you gained weight due to endurance running?

Do you have a training plan where you lift AND run? Please share how you do it because it’s always so hard for me to combine both!

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11-07-2013

Best Race Ever – 2013 ING New York City Marathon Recap

Ok, this may get long…so bear with me :)

The 2013 ING New York City Marathon was amazing. I don’t know how words can do it justice but I will try to describe my day!

First, I want to thank everyone who wished my mom and me well, commented or tweeted with advice and support, and to those who were at the race as spectators, especially my family and friends. We couldn’t have done it without your support, especially me since I was freaking out about my whole shin problem…

So where to begin…

We woke up at 6 am because luckily we didn’t have to get on a ferry until 8:30 am (though this actually would turn out to not be so lucky).  I was so nervous. I was nervous about not having run over 5 miles in the last 2 weeks, I was nervous about the wind…I was really scared it wouldn’t be my day. But having a bright, fun outfit did make me feel better ;)

marathon outfitWe got ready and drove into the city. We waited for the 8:30 Staten Island Ferry, though in hindsight, we should have just gotten on the 8:15 one that was there right when we walked in. I didn’t know they wouldn’t be checking your bib to see your boarding time.

Anyway, we got on the ferry around 8:40, and I attempted to eat my breakfast. I had a piece of toast and 1 egg before leaving the house, then had oatmeal with PB, honey and a banana/1 more egg on the ferry. I was so nervous it was honestly hard for me to get this down!

Once we got off, it was a long wait to get on the buses to the start village.  It took probably 30 minutes to get on a bus, at which point we had to stand because there were no seats. Now I was worried about my feet/shins from standing so long. The bus ride took an additional 30 minutes. This was probably the most annoying part of the day.

on the bus

on the bus

We finally got to the starting area at 10, and needed to be in our corrals by 10:40. We sat down in the starting area and started putting on socks, numbers, taking our jackets/sweats off etc. and the next thing I know it is 10:30!!! We had 10 minutes to get our bags to the UPS trucks and go to the bathroom, then run to our corral. Now I was really cursing myself for not signing up for the 8 am ferry…why did the man at the expo say we’d have plenty of time?!

The UPS truck literally started pulling away and saw my mom running after him so he took our bags. We ran to the porta-potty, then started running to our corral. We looked behind us and we were actually the last runners going in lol. Oops!

Whatever, once we got there it was fine. We relaxed and made the walk to the base of the Verrazano Bridge. We actually got there when they were singing the national anthem, and were quickly trying to set our watches, put phones away, make our fuel belts comfortable etc, last minute. Then the cannon went off! I had to pull to the side before crossing the starting mat because I was having issues with my Garmin…but after a few seconds we were finally off!!!

startline

Miles 1-2: Like they always say, you really don’t feel the incline of the Verrazano Bridge. It’s a mile uphill but you’re too busy feeling excited! Mile 2 is all downhill so you have to make sure to rein yourself in. Once you get to the other side, you start hearing the crowds and bands and know that your journey is about to begin.

Miles 3-6: Last time I ran, I wasn’t a big fan of the Brooklyn portion of the race, because it seems never ending (you run about 13 miles in Brooklyn), but this year I loved it! As soon as we got off the bridge, there was a marching band playing and people screaming your name. Mile 3-6 few by and we were averaging about a 10:30 pace. I got my first comment about the back of my shirt :) A girl came up to me and said, “We’re following the leader!”

Miles 7-10: Seriously, the crowd support in Brooklyn was phenomenal. It felt like everyone was screaming out “PATTY!! TINA!!” to us and we loved it. I high-fived people, waved and fist pumped…it was great. Our pace had dropped to 10:35 but I was okay with it. I wanted to say in the easy zone until after mile 15. We met up with my family and Dan around mile 7.5. Dan surprised me with a sign that said, “Run Like This Wind.” :) We took a quick pic and then continued on our way.

Waiting for us to arrive

Waiting for us to arrive

Miles 11-13: There was a good thing and bad thing about being around mile 10. The good thing was, we ran this portion of the course twice in practice (mile 10-finish), so we were finally in familiar territory on Bedford Ave. The bad thing was it was pretty narrow and we were so crowded at one point I was forced to stop and walk to try to get around runners! I know there were 50K runners this year but this was not fun. I was glad once we got closer to the Pulaski Bridge because it opened up. The Pulaski Bridge is at mile 13, and I remember this being challenging in 2011, but this year we cruised right on over it. I was so happy to be in Queens!

Miles 14-15: I don’t remember much of running through Queens because I was mentally preparing myself for the Queensboro Bridge. Around mile 14.5, we saw my family and Dan again, yay! Though this threw me off here…my dad was supposed to hand off some GUs to me, but I forgot! So I waved, kept running, then remembered and sprinted back to grab them. Thankfully my mom remembered, but I think this is where my pace got all wacky, because once we got onto the bridge, my breathing and rhythm were off. The bridge wasn’t bad at all, and once again I was happy we had practiced it in training. We were still feeling strong!

Miles 16-20: People talk about the crowds on First Ave. but I definitely prefer Brooklyn. The road here is really wide so it doesn’t feel as if you’re running through a tunnel of people like on Fourth Ave. But don’t get me wrong, there are still a ton of people. We were feeling good though our pace had dropped to around 10:45 after the bridge. Around mile 18 I told my mom we could probably pick it up a bit. I was just looking at the street signs, counting them down (or up?) until we could get to 126th and cross into the Bronx. I got another comment here about the back of my shirt -this woman came up to me and said, we are following you because you’re such a nice girl! Then wished me luck…put a smile on my face.

Mile 20-22: We crossed into the Bronx and finally got to mile 20! I vividly remembered in 2011 how much I was struggling here. It felt so good to be feeling strong and going steady. I asked my mom how she felt, and she was fine too, so we tried to speed up a tiny bit, and even though it felt like we did, according to splits, we actually stayed the same haha. After mile 22 we saw my family and Dan again! I told my mom I couldn’t stop for a pic or anything because if I did it would be too hard to start again. We just waved and gave them a thumbs up.

nyc marathon mile 22

Mile 23: Uh oh…the pain has set in. Here, my hip flexors started feeling really weak. It was such a weird feeling. It was weak, or tight, I don’t know but I felt like if I ran faster, my legs would give out. I slowed down to what felt like a crawl, but according to the splits, it was only a 10:59 pace at this point. I felt guilty for holding my mom back yet again, because she was totally fine, just like in 2011, but she stuck with me.

I think this is where the hill on 5th Ave starts? It’s almost a mile uphill, and in practice I remember thinking, OMG this hill will be killer on race day! Actually, I was so thankful for the hill. I wanted a hill at this point because I figured it would take pressure off my hip flexors and allow me to use different muscles. It kinda did…

Mile 24: We’re in Central Park! This is the one and only place we stopped the whole race! I stopped to stretch my hips for 30 seconds then we continued…albeit slow. I started to play a game where I’d speed up from light pole to light pole and slow down in between. Right before miles 25, I pulled over to stretch real quick again and spectators started chanting PATTY! PATTY! PATTY! Once I got up to run, they cheered so loud and a woman put some grapes in my hand. I smiled and went on my way. PS-why is it taking so long to get to mile 25 at this point?!

Mile 25: Ok, the last mile. I CAN DO THIS. I told my mom, Let’s go, and we sped up. I kept repeating to myself, “Ignore the pain. Pain is temporary. You want to finish by 4:50.” I knew 4:45 was out of reach but I really wanted 4:50. I looked at my Garmin and it said we were going around 10:45/mile (as opposed to the almost 11:30 I was doing at mile 24).

We ran up Central Park South which seemed neverending, but I knew my family and Dan were waiting at Columbus Circle to see us one last time. We were actually passing a bunch of people here which felt great! In 2011, I was walking this part, I was dead. This time I still had all the energy in the world and was waving to people who were screaming my name. We saw my family and I gave them the thumbs up and a big smile, and kept running.

nyc marathon mile 25

Mile 26 (!!!!!!): We saw the sign and it felt surreal. My mom was like we finally made it! I said ok let’s pretend this is a track workout and speed it up! We went as fast as we could (after 26 miles), and were all smiles. Someone yelled, only 400 yards to go, you got this!!! We threw our hands up in the air and crossed the finish line: 4:50:49. A 33 minute PR!!!

nyc marathon finishWe hugged and were so happy. I was cherishing this moment, because the last time I crossed this finish line, I immediately ran to a bush and threw up, and then ended up in the medical tent. Seriously, this race was a far cry from 2011…look at this picture that says it all…

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Now, I honestly felt like we had just done a long training run. My energy levels never waned. Our fueling was spot on…and I’m glad I discovered S!Caps which helped regulate my electrolytes and salt…especially since my face was covered in dry salt at the end!

We picked up our medals and heat sheets, and started walking to the UPS trucks. I had to sit on the curb for a little to stretch because my legs got so stiff, I couldn’t bend my right knee. I also stopped and sat in the truck for a bit, though it was hard to get back up…

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We got out on West 88th, and my family was on West 63rd, so there was NO WAY I was walking that far. We hopped on the subway (well, slowly walked down the stairs with a bunch of other runners lol) and finally met up with them around 2 hours after finishing. This part of the race sucks too but it is what is is. I’ve read people say that they will never run NYC again because of the long march after the finish but come on people, there are 50K runners, NYRR does what they can!

We finally met up with my family, Dan and my best friend Nicole :)

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I couldn’t walk Sunday night (actually almost cried trying to go up the stairs, not gonna lie), or Monday…but I am finally back to normal now! My dad said, “Hey you did this to yourself,” and I would do it all over again!

Here are our splits, in case you’re curious. I’d say we stayed pretty steady the whole race until around mile 23-24 when my hips got all weird. I’m really proud of our pacing!

Screen shot 2013-11-03 at 10.31.25 PM

My Garmin was pretty spot on too…so glad I invested in one finally:

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Although our A goal was 4:30, we are so happy with our performance. I knew going in that 4:30 may not be feasible due to the time off I had to take because of my shin. Our B goal was 4:45, and our C goal was anything under 5…so we’re pretty happy!

It was truly an amazing day. We had a perfect race…PRed, and the spectators made us feel so special. I have been thinking about the whole day since Sunday, and replaying it in my head. I can’t believe it is over! I definitely have the post-marathon blues, but I’m already thinking about what spring races to do :) I wish I could complete 9+1 for 2014 NYCM, but it’s too late. Oh well, we’ll be coming back in 2015, New York!

Did you run NYCM? Is it on your bucket list? What’s the best race that you have ever had?

Read my 2011 NYC Marathon Recap here.

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