My Thanksgiving this year…unlike any other

My family and I flew to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s parents and family.  My father-in-law was born and raised in Weslaco, Texas before moving to Alaska before my husband was born (over 30 years ago).  Most of his family (2 brothers + 2 sisters and their families) still live in or within a short drive of their south Texas hometown. Because there were so many congregating for Thanksgiving (around 30), the Gonzalez family rented a 5,000 sq foot ranch in Smithville which would serve as the “home base” for the better part of the week.  I was extremely nervous, anxious, excited for the trip – I had yet to meet my father-in-law’s family (not a single person!).  My husband and I had a very small wedding ceremony (just parents and siblings and their families) and there hasn’t been a large family event that we’ve been able to attend since we started dating or were married, so the opportunity to meet them has been limited.  Meeting a spouse’s extended family can be extremely nerve-wracking.  Throw in the fact that I am an Italian, New York City girl and was getting ready to spend a few days with a Continue Reading →

2012 Race Calendar

With only one month left of 2011, I finally had the opportunity to sit and write down all the races I’ve mentally signed up to run for 2012.  I’m not sure if it’s too ambitious. I haven’t done an Ironman (IM) before, so I don’t know what toll the training and race itself will take on my body. The priority and focus for 2012 is definitely the IM, so if I need to cancel a race or two because I haven’t fully recovered from the IM or need more training time before the race, I definitely will. . The race calendar is not finalized yet – I still have to register for a few of the races and there are a few shorter races I’d like to add – but it’s a general idea of what I will be training for in the next 12 months! Jan – Mar: my focus will be on running.  I am going to cross train with swimming and biking in preparation for the spring and summer triathlon events, but my priority will be working on my speed to decrease my marathon time.  My husband also plans to run this marathon and will be shooting for sub 3:05 so Continue Reading →

Thanksgiving Day Run

My son, husband, and I flew to Austin, Texas on Monday to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s parents and family.  The entire week was wonderful – lots of time to relax, eat delicious Mexican food, and spend valuable time with my in-laws and extended family.One of the best parts of the whole trip was that my husband and I were able to sneak away for a beautiful 8-mile Thanksgiving Day run.  I can’t remember the last time we were able to run together (sans baby!).  Most mornings I run before my son wakes up and we alternate running and watching our son on the weekends.  We were in Smithville, Texas, a small, rural town about an hour from Austin, and the site of numerous well known movies, including Hope Floats and The Tree of Life. I wasn’t sure what the road conditions and traffic would be like – but hoped that it would allow me to go on a couple of runs during our 3 day stay.It could not have been more perfect.  The homes in the area were all situated on large plots of land – ranging from 54 acres (where we stayed) to over 300 acres – which helped Continue Reading →

My First Ultra

My husband, son, and I made our way into the city at 630am Saturday morning.  I stopped at NYRR’s office to pick up my race bib and t-shirt and was able to sit in the car with them only 100 feet from the start line until 15 min before the race started.  This allowed me to stay warm, keep my mind off the race, and best of all, nurse my son one last time before saying goodbye – a necessity since I would be away from him for the next 6 hours. (And yes, you can totally train for an ultra AND be a nursing mom at the same time!) I made my way to the “baggage check” – it wasn’t a typical baggage check at a NYRR’s race located a distance from the start/finish.  This was actually along the course – which was awesome since it enabled me to quickly organize my gels, energy bites, and other snacks I may need during the race. It was a chilly 35 degrees  – my initial plan was to wear shorts, tank top, arm warmers, gloves, and headband, but at the last minute, I added a long-sleeve shirt to wear for the first 1.5 miles. Continue Reading →

Goals for Knickerbocker 60k

Tomorrow is my first ultra.  I am competing in the Knickerbocker 60k in Central Park.  The course includes a short out and back (totaling 1.5 miles) and then 9x 4-mile loops of the park’s inner loop (thankfully, it does NOT include the arduous upper or lower portions of the park). Here is a link of the course. I had a long debate with myself about whether or not this course was the best for my first ultra.  There are definitely some disadvantages. First, Central park is notoriously hilly.  And although the upper section is eliminated, there are still sections that can kill your legs after repeated visits. Second, 9x loops will be a HUGE mental obstacle, especially since we will be passing the start/finish line each time. I’m fully anticipating to experience the temptation of wanting to stop each time I pass it, especially in the later miles. Third, it’s only 2 weeks after the NYC Marathon, so I was worried I would not be fully rested for the long distance. read more

Running through Pregnancy – Part 2 – the 1st Trimester

In case you missed it, Part 1 can be found here. The first trimester started off great. I was running 6x days/wk, anywhere from 4-10 mi/day and 45-50 mi/wk.   But by week 8, I started to feel extremely tired, out of breath, and achy when I was running.  I constantly felt like I needed to stop and walk – so despite not wanting to, this is what I did.  I began doing a run/walk interval (running 1-2 miles, then walking 1/2 mile). I’ve never been a walker so I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed it! However, I was extremely discouraged – I really missed being able to run for more than 10-15 at a time and was worried that my plans to run throughout pregnancy were lost.  Looking back, I think I was overly cautious with my running and exercise in the first few months.  Any time I was out of breath, I stopped and walked.  I never wanted to come close to being winded or tired. I didn’t want to do anything that I might regret down the road.  It was hard to convince myself that my baby was okay with all the jostling and movement he was experiencing…at Continue Reading →

Running through Pregnancy – Part 1

This is the first in a series that I am writing dedicated to running during pregnancy.  They will discuss what I experienced and learned from my successful “run” through pregnancy, some tips and advice as you and your baby continue to grow, and clothing options (if you are like me and don’t want to spend a lot of $$ on running clothes you will only wear for a couple off months). =&0=& a medical professional, nor do I have “expertise” when it comes to running during pregnancy.  So what am I basing these posts on?  =&1=&for everyone.  If you weren’t a runner before you got pregnant, now may not be the time to pick it up.  Stick with what you were doing and comfortable with prior to pregnancy.  And, if you decide you want to give it a try, definitely discuss your intentions with your obstetrician early on in your pregnancy.=&2=&=&3=&

Why don’t friends with kids have time?

When my 10 month old son was born, I didn’t talk on the phone (except brief conversations with my husband, mom, or sisters), browse the internet (Facebook), or watch TV when he was awake.  I wanted all of my time and attention to be devoted to him.  I left phone calls, tv shows, and chores for when he was napping or at the end of the day when he was asleep for the night.  I assumed the lack of personal time was temporary and kept telling myself that I would have more time when he got older and was more independent.  Here I am, 10 months later…with even LESS free time and LESS opportunity to chat or email with friends and family.  While I couldn’t be happier with my son and our days together, I sometimes feel that I am =&0=& separated from the outside world and know that I am extremely difficult to get a hold of these days.  So when my girlfriend, Leah, sent me this article, I couldn’t help but smile.  It’s a relief to hear that other moms have the same issues I do.  It makes me feel better knowing that I’m not the only one who Continue Reading →

NYC Marathon – Experience of a Lifetime (Part 3) The Race within a Race

Before I go into a detailed race report for the NYC Marathon last Sunday, there are are a couple of things to say: 1. I am a very competitive person when it comes to running.  But NOT with other people.  I never show up to a race and look around and say, “I want to beat her and her and him” or “I want to finish in the top 10.”  I look at myself in the mirror before a race and say “I am going to beat YOU”. I am competitive with myself.  I think it’s fair to say that any serious runner has to be – you train for a race, sometimes for weeks or months, with one primary goal in your head…you want to PR (*for those not familiar with the jargon: a PR is a personal record).  You want to beat yourself.  You want to beat the effects of age, pregnancy, childbirth, sickness, stress, or whatever challenge you have faced or are overcoming.  You are stepping up to the start line telling yourself, “I am going to run faster than I ever have before.” 2. I had waivered months ago about whether or not I should even Continue Reading →

Running in Freedom

On Nov 11, 2008, I was heading out for my daily afternoon run.  I was building my base for training for the 2009 Boston Marathon. I ate my pre-run snack of whole wheat bread and peanut butter about 90 min before I left.  I laced up my Mizuno Wave Alchemy sneakers.  I turned on my Garmin.  It sounds like what I do before most long runs.  But that’s where the similarities end. I was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  I was almost finished with my 12th month on a 15 month deployment. Although the end was in sight, it was an extremely hard time for me and most of the other soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division.  We were approaching the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and what would be the 2nd holiday season in a row that we would be away from our family and loved ones. Three years ago, I didn’t get to pick out my running clothes – I had to wear the issued physical training (PT) shorts and shirt every day.  I couldn’t run with my IPOD.  I couldn’t zone out during my run (I often ran along the inner Continue Reading →

Sparkly Soul Headband Giveaway (CLOSED)

I did a product review on Sparkly Soul last month.  Here it is in case you missed it!! I would consider myself to be a (fairly) serious runner.  My running shoes, clothes, and accessories need to be functional.  No matter how cute that running skirt is, I’ll never justify wearing it if I’m going to be pulling it down every quarter of a mile (or worried that I’m showing more than I should be!!).  I’ve worn the same brand/model of shoes, socks, and shorts for the last 5 years.  Once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t feel or look like a girl when I’m out running.  I admit – I put on mascara, I wear diamond stud earrings, and I color coordinate my outfit (down to matching hair ties and sports bras).  Doing these things do not take away from my running abilities.  Up until recently, I had yet to find a headband that I was satisfied with.  I need a headband that:- keeps my hair/bangs out of my face- is tight enough to stay in place during a long run- doesn’t give me a headache by the end of a Continue Reading →

NYC Marathon – the Experience of a Lifetime (part 2)

Once we started running on the Verrazano Bridge, the nervousness and doubt I had been struggling with the last few days quickly gave way to excitement for what we were getting ready to experience.   Running across the bridge with just 4 other people was one of the most surreal moments in my life.  As a native Staten Islander, I’ve driven across the Verrazano Bridge hundreds of times before, run up to and under her countless times on my morning runs, and even had the joy of running across her once before in the 2007 NYC Marathon.  But those occurrences could never have prepared me emotionally for what I felt on Sunday.  It was eerily quiet and peaceful.  There wasn’t the expected sound of thousands of  feet hitting the pavement.  There wasn’t heavy breathing from the first mile incline.  There wasn’t the usual jockeying to pass other runners in the early miles. IT WAS JUST US.  At one point, I turned around to look behind me – I had a clear view all the way back to the start line – it was truly amazing.  When we exited the bridge in Brooklyn, I was happily greeted by my King family Continue Reading →

Best part of the NYC Marathon

In the weeks leading up the NYC Marathon, two of the questions I was asked the most were What motivates you to run? and What will you be thinking about while you are running to the finish line?  Both answers were the same – I looked forward to my 10 month old son, AJ, and my husband, Paul waiting for me at the finish line. Waiting for me at the finish line was more of a metaphor.  I knew they weren’t actually going to be at the finish line of the NYC Marathon – the largest marathon in the world.  The number of celebrities, media personnel and VIPs are astronomical and security to even get somewhat close is extremely tight.  But, I knew they would be close by – somewhere in the general area of the finish line and that I would eventually get to see them soon after I finished. The best part of running and competing in the 2011 NYC Marathon had absolutely nothing to do with running across the Verrazano Bridge with only 4 other runners or having spectators cheer for me as though I were an elite runner.  It had nothing to do with winning the Foot Locker 5 Continue Reading →

NYC Marathon – the Experience of a Lifetime (part 1)

I plan on writing a few posts about the NYC Marathon on Sunday, Nov 6.  The first couple will be about the events before and after the marathon, one will deal with running the marathon (splits, how I felt, etc), and another will be a recap of the experience of participating in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge. I don’t think I will ever experience a day quite like yesterday.  Winning the challenge is extremely gratifying but it pales in comparison to the day my family and I shared together.   I guess the best place to start is at the beginning of the day… My supporters were in full force for the day – Paul, AJ, my mom, dad, 2 of my sisters, their significant others, and my niece!  Unfortunately, my sister who lives in the city could not make it to the start or finish as she was setting up and preparing for the after party she hosted for me in her apt (which is only 2 avenues away from the finish!!). In order to be at the entrance of Fort Wadsworth at 630am, we had to leave by 6am – which I can’t complain too much about Continue Reading →

Doubt

You would think that by taking a few days off from running or having an easy week I would  feel confident and relaxed about my upcoming race.  It actually has the opposite effect on me. Instead of a happy, relaxed week, I begin to second guess my training.  I should have done more speed work.I should have done an extra long run. I should have done more hill workouts to prepare for the hills along 5th Ave and in Central Park. These are the thoughts that invade my mind during my taper weeks (but most especially in the last few days prior to the race).   When I head out on my slow, short runs, I feel every twitch, ache, or cramp and start worrying that I’m injured or that I’m going to feel that pain for the whole marathon.   Or, I feel winded and completely out of breath after running a few miles at an 9:00 pace.  How do I expect to run a sub-7:45 pace for 26.2 miles?    I despise when I make myself take time off.  If it’s something I choose to do – like after a hard race or if I’m just not feeling up to running Continue Reading →

Fun Run with Ryan Hall, Bobby Curtis, and Bart Yasso!

One of the coolest things about running marathons is that you run the same course as Olympians and elite athletes.  You have the same start line.  You cross the same finish line.  Spectators along the course cheer just as loud for us as they do for the elites that passed already. Nothing is different. Well, except the time it takes us, mere mortals, to get to the finish!  No other sport allows you to basically run elbow-to-elbow (if you can keep up, of course) with the world’s best. From the few elite runners I have previously met, there is a sense of normalcy to them.  They are everyday people.  There isn’t the superstar mentality that you often get with other sports.  So it was no surprise to me that the 3 individuals I got the chance to meet and chat with last night were down-to-earth and extremely friendly! Last night was a Fun Run hosted by Run by Foot Locker at their Union Square store.  The 70 or so runners that showed up to participate varied in age, running background, and whether or not they were running the NYC marathon on Sunday.  After Ryan, Bobby, and Bart showed up, we all went Continue Reading →

Petunia Picklebottom Boxy Backpack Review and Giveaway!

CONTEST CLOSED!!! I was turned onto Petunia Picklebottom (PPB) by my cousin who swore that all of my diaper bag problems would be solved if I tried a PPB Boxy Backpack.  At the time I was using a designer diaper bag that looked great – but had NO functionality.  It was impossible to get things from the bottom of the bag, there was NEVER enough room, and I could no longer carry the bag and my son at the same time (it kept falling off my shoulder).  After an afternoon trip out with my son when I  had to empty the entire bag just to find the triple paste container, I went to PPB’s website and ordered a Boxy Backpack. It was the best decision I could have made. – I have no problem when it’s time to change him – the front compartment makes finding diaper products a cinch- the 2 pockets on the outside are perfect for his sippy cup and my bottle of water- the main compartment is HUGE – and has a flap that velcros to keep everything safe and secure when I am tossing it into the car- my favorite part of the bag are Continue Reading →

Media Day

Today was such a fun, exciting day!  For almost 3 hours, my mom, my son, AJ, and I were able to experience what it (almost) feels like to be an elite runner or a VIP running the marathon during race week. The other individuals participating in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge (FL5BC) and I were invited to the NYC Media Center – a bustling hub of reporters, camera crews, and workers.  We were to meet with the media, take some photos, receive our race-day credentials, and go over last minute details for Sunday. After a brief summary of this year’s FL5BC theme, the other 4 runners and I were introduced to members of the media and asked to discuss why we were selected to represent our respective borough. (Here are our stories) Next, we were asked to do one-on-one interviews with any media outlet that may have wanted to ask us specific questions or take photos of us running. While Mommy was being interviewed, AJ was having a blast exploring every inch of the tent! After a few hours of interviews and running I was exhausted!!  I’m amazed that celebrities and/or elite athletes do this so often. I was honored Continue Reading →