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 Mexican, South Texas family.  On the surface, it’s two completely different worlds. Although my husband and his dad have introduced me to many Mexican traditions and foods over the years, I knew this would be completely different than just having guacamole or chorizo. I was excited to experience a holiday with the Gonzalez family, but I was worried that I would stick out like a sore thumb and feel a bit out of place.

For most of my life, I’ve experienced a traditional Italian Thanksgiving.  Appetizers consisting of hot and dry sausage, fresh mozzarella, spinach squares, stromboli, rice balls and potato croquettes, a first course involving eggplant parmigiana and lasagna, turkey and ham course with an Italianized version of stuffing (rice with mozzarella and sausage) and breaded broccoli, and dessert including cheesecake, coffee crumb cake, seven layer cookies, assorted pastries and biscuits, and espresso. On top of the food, there’s a sense of comfort in knowing what to expect and how the day progresses – I grew up immersed in the Italian culture so holidays filled with Italian customs is all I’ve known.

This Thanksgiving (in addition to the turkey and ham), we had chips and homemade salsa, freshly made tomales, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, and a whole table of traditional Mexican desserts including Mexican sweet bread (besos), Mexican wedding cookies (pan del polvo), and Mexican gingerbread cookies (marranitos). So the food was obviously different.  Part of the morning was spent feeding the Texas Longhorns and black cows that resided on the home’s property and the afternoon hours were occupied with skeet shooting.  Very different from my usual Thanksgiving day routine on Staten Island.  There was also strong accents, an occasional word, phrase, or sentence in Spanish, and a discussion about something relating to the Mexican culture that I could not relate to.   

read more

    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 we will be able to do some training together! 
    Ocean Drive Marathon – Cape May County, NJ – Mar 25, 2012
    – Goal: Sub-3:10

    Mar – Jun: Immediately after the marathon, my focus will shift to biking and swimming.  I hope to maintain the running shape I will be in and will begin adding to my endurance in the other 2 events. 
    Rev 3 Quassy Half-Ironman – Middlebury, CT – Jun 3, 2012
    – Goals: Sub-5:30 (Swim – 50 min, Bike – 3:00, Run – 1:40); Become comfortable competing in longer distance triathlons to prepare me for the full Ironman in August.

    Jun – Aug: Based on the results of the Half Ironman, I will have an idea of which event(s) need(s) more attention.  The focus from June until Aug will be on getting my body used to swimming for 1:45, biking for 6:00, and running for 4:00.  Hopefully, my recent experience with ultras will help me since I will be running the marathon portion on tired legs. 
    NYC Ironman – NYC, NY – Aug 11, 2012 (registered)
    – Goals: Complete the race; Finish in under 12:30

    Aug – Nov: After a rest and recovery period following the Ironman, my focus will shift back to running in preparation for the ultra I hope to do in November.   
    JFK 50-miler – Boonsboro, MD – Nov 17, 2012 (registration opens in the spring)
    – Goal: Sub-8:00 (based on this year’s results, that would place me 80th out of 941 finishers and 13th female)

    *I’m throwing around the idea of the Army Ten-Miler on Oct 21st (my birthday).  I had decided this year that I would try to run my age on my birthdays from now on, so doing this race would prevent me from this.  I did a “30 for 30” run this year (you can read about my 30 mile birthday run in a couple of posts I wrote: Live, Ran, and Learned and Pacing Lessons). 

    I also want to do a couple of 5k and 10k races throughout the year.  I usually don’t bother to sign up and run such short races, but hope that doing so will help me continually work on speedwork rather than just long distance.

    I’m trying to achieve 3 of my goals this year (for a list of my lifetime goals, click here): marathon sub-3:10 in the marathon, 50m, IM.  I’m trying to cross off as many as I can before I become pregnant with baby #2 (hope to get pregnant right after the JFK 50-miler).  I know that my free time will decrease after each child – so I’m hopeful that I can use this 11-12 months to achieve some of my goals! 

    Any recommendations on local 5k or 10ks?  I don’t want to drive more than an hour from Staten Island, NY and definitely do not want to spend a lot of $ on race registration.  And they need to be between January and June or September and November. 

    read more

      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 keep the vehicle traffic to a minimum as the homes were few and far between.  The roads surrounding the home were a mix between gravel and pavement with light patches of grass along the edges (perfect for running).  The weather was amazing all week – sunny, mild temperatures, and minimal wind. 

      read more

        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. It was windy (10-15 mph winds) and I wanted to ensure that I was properly dressed until I warmed up. I also decided to run with my camelbak.  This was to ensure I was able to drink when I was thirsty (and not wait every 2 miles to hydrate) as well as carry some gels and my cell phone in the pocket. 

        I met up with a fellow blogger, Brooklyn Beast, a runner/cyclist from Brooklyn at the baggage check…we chatted for the next 10 min while getting dressed and making list minute preparations (I took a power gel at this point and drank a 1/2 bottle of water).  I learned about the Furnace Creek 508 – a bike race covering 508 miles in the Mojave Desert and through Death Valley.  He completed it last year in 41 hours and is hoping to compete in it again next year.  A 508 mile bike race made what we were getting ready to attempt seem like a sprint.  I was glad for the company and the distraction – even for just a few minutes! 

        Before I knew it the 430 or so runners were called to the start line.  As much as I love the large and popular races I’ve competed in (NYC and Boston Marathon, Army Ten-Miler), there is something SO comfortable, intimate, and special about participating in a small, local race. There’s no jockeying for position at the start line or standing in corrals for 30-60 minutes before the race starts.  Someone yells that the race is starting, you meander over, and start running. 

        You can find my pre-run goals for the race here -> 60k goals

        read more

          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 the time, he was barely the size of a kidney bean! And, I felt that my body was trying to tell me something. Of course, there’s been plenty of studies and research done to prove that there is NO harm to your baby if you run – even early on when your baby is so tiny.  But, I couldn’t get the fact that I just didn’t feel “right” when I was running out of my head. 

            It’s SO important to do whatever you are comfortable with.  Don’t feel pressure to keep up with those that may have been able to run their whole pregnancy. Everyone and every pregnancy is different!  Listen to your body!

            I knew I wanted to run more than anything.  But, my baby’s health – and my piece of mind – meant even more. 

            I gained a whooping 9 pounds from my first to second ob-gyn appointment!  I was astounded!!  How could I have gained that much weight? I really hadn’t consumed that many more calories than I had been. The astronomical weight gain scared me – I was on track to put on over 70 pounds!! My doctor assured me I shouldn’t panic – the weight gain was my body’s way of preparing itself for the next 7 months. 

            So here I was – barely 2 months into pregnancy…I couldn’t push myself to run more than a couple of miles at a time and I had already gained close to 10 pounds.  Throw in the hormones, exhaustion, and stress of becoming a new mom soon and you get an idea of how out of it I was! I told myself to put it into perspective – the “rough” few months were mostly self-imposed – I was fine, my pregnancy was going well, and more importantly, my baby was growing and had no health issues. 

            Thankfully, by the end of the first trimester, I found that my breathing was under control and was comfortable enough to begin increasing my mileage again.  It seemed to happen overnight and I was so thankful for the opportunity to just run!

            The hardest transition for me during the first trimester was to LET GO on runs and not worry about my speed. It was difficult to know that every run was going to be slow – I no longer had runs where I pushed myself as hard as I could go or returned home covered in sweat.  When you have an “easy” day scheduled on your training plan, it’s welcomed and appreciated.  But, every day was basically an “easy” run for me. I quickly realized how much I missed being free to test my limits when I wanted to!

            Tips and Suggestions
            – I started running with a waterbottle in the first trimester.  Hydration is important throughout pregnancy, but especially in the first trimester. Quick medical jargon:Almost immediately after becoming pregnant, the volume of your entire circulatory system (heart, arteries, and veins) increases. But, there is not enough blood in circulation (yet) to fill up the expanded system.  So, your body goes through a series of actions and ultimately the kidneys decrease the excretion of water and salt to the rest of the body. 
            – Pay attention to environmental conditions – humidity, heat, smoke, direct sunlight – that can cause your internal body temperature to rise and stay elevated for long stretches of time. 
            – If you don’t feel right before a run, turn it into a walk or hop on the stationery bike or elliptical.  If you feel better after getting started, then try running.  Don’t push yourself and trust your first instinct. Even if you are “just walking”, you are still out there exercising – which is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby. 
            – Don’t ignore symptoms that could indicate a serious problem – pain (both localized and persistent), sudden change in well-being, and vaginal bleeding (according to Dr. James F. Clapp III) are all signs of a potential complication. Call your doctor if you are unsure. In the first few months, I called my ob-gyn no less then four times with questions regarding something I was feeling or seeing. 

            read more

              Running through Pregnancy – Part 1

              Are you on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook? Let’s connect! 

              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). 

              First, a disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I have “expertise” when it comes to running during pregnancy.  So what am I basing these posts on?  
              – I am currently in the process of receiving my certification as a Pre / Post-Natal Exercise Specialist.  
              – I ran up until the day before I went into labor and ran my first mile only 5 days post-delivery.

              Second, a word of caution: Running during pregnancy is NOT 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.

              read more

                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 sometimes just wants an hour of “quiet” when my son naps! 

                read more

                  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 submit an application to participate in the FL5BC.  Those who know me, understand that I am a solitary runner. I wholeheartedly love running alone – especially during races. Running, for me, has always been my release and to have some alone time that I wasn’t afforded when I was in the army (communal living), at West Point (roommates and communal living), and now that I have a son (I need some time to think like an adult without the babytalk!).  When I race, I  don’t maintain an even pace – it’s all based on how I feel, the terrain, and weather conditions, When my body tells me to slow down, I slow down.  When it tells me it’s feeling good, I speed up.  I’m constantly making adjustments when I race.  And I knew that by participating, I would have to run with 4 people whom I never ran with before. The rules of the FL5BC were this: run together for the first 13.1 miles and then race to the finish.  5 runners with 5 different paces, goals, abilities, and race strategies.  It’s very hard for two people to run a marathon the same way – even if they end up with the same finish time.  Some like to push through the hills, others like to maintain the same intensity (and therefore decrease the speed).  Some like to walk through water points, others cannot slow down because their legs start to cramp.  Some shoot for negative splits, others end up running the first half fast and gradually slowing down.  So I knew that running together would be tough for all of us – and knew that my hopes of running sub 3:20 would be impossible since I would have no control over the pace of the first half.  But, my husband convinced me to submit the application because of the once in a lifetime experience the FL5BC would be – and push my plans of sub 3:20 to a spring marathon.

                  read more

                    Running in Freedom

                    Christmas Dinner - Iraq style

                    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 perimeter of the base and there was always a chance of an indirect fire attack). I couldn’t wear my hair in a ponytail (had to be in a bun). I couldn’t relax after runs – I had to shower and rush back to my desk where I was working 15+ hour days.  I didn’t have a day off for 15 months.  I couldn’t go back to my room at the end of the day and have complete privacy (I shared a 10×10 trailer with Becky, another female Captain – thankfully, she was awesome!!).

                    read more

                      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 run
                      – retains it’s elasticity over time

                      Of course, I would love a headband that did all of the above while also looking cute!  I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on headbands that never measured up to my expectations.  

                      My pile of failed headbands

                      And then I found Sparkly Soul.

                      Sparkly Soul  was created by a marathoner and triathlete who was facing the same frustration as myself and many other female athletes.

                      Finally, a headband that keeps my hair out of my face, doesn’t give me a headache, doesn’t rip my hair when I take it off, and doesn’t move (it didn’t budge at all on my 22 mile training run or the half-marathon I just raced).  

                      But, best of all,  Sparkly Soul headbands look AMAZING while being functional.  
                      Sparkly Soul headbands have 360 degrees of  sparkle.  They come in 10 great colors – so it’s easy to color coordinate with the rest of my running outfit.  And they come in a thick and thin band – I prefer the wider ones because I feel that they keep my shorter hair around my face in place better.

                      Needless to say, I am hooked – I have worn Sparkly Soul on EVERY single run since the day I tried them almost three months ago.  And I don’t plan on wearing any other brand again!!
                       For more information or to purchase a Sparkly Soul headband, please visit:

                      In honor of Veteran’s Day, I will be giving away TWO thin Sparkly Soul headbands – one blue and one red to a nycrunningmama follower!!  Below are the official entry rules!  Good luck to everyone!!

                      read more

                        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 – my aunt and uncle, cousins, and friends!  They were waiting for me at the foot of the bridge – screaming and cheering as loud as they could!  
                        Once we turned onto 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, the excitement only grew. For those not familiar with the NYC Marathon route, we remained on 4th Ave until mile 8 – at which point, the 3 lanes (the marathon has 3 different start lanes) converge into one during the turn onto Lafeyette Avenue.  4th Ave was already becoming packed with spectators – some were taken by surprise that there were already people on the course, but a good number were aware of the challenge and were rooting for their borough (Drew was getting a lot of acknowledgement and cheering from his home borough!!).  

                        While we were running alone 4th Ave, my family remained on the double decker bus for a while where they watched the elite female start at 910.  They were then led off the buses to watch the elite males and wave 1 start. It was at this point when they were literally arms distance away from the elite males – and at one point – the top 3 finishers at the same time.  How amazing is that? 

                        After Wave 1’s start, my family boarded a bus and were taken across the Verrazano Bridge – WHILE runners were running!  They were on the lower level with the green start corral runners (separate side of the road) and got to see thousands of runners start their 26.2 mile journey!  The buses took them from the Verrazano Bridge and start line through Brooklyn and the Battery Tunnel to Central Park and the finish line. 

                        Love this picture b/c one runner is carrying the American Flag!

                        While the other 4 runners and I were still in Brooklyn somewhere near mile 5 or 6, we watched the elite females run by (and then the elite males – just before mile 13 and the Pulaski Bridge).  If you ever want to feel like you are running extremely slow, have a group of elites run by you.  It was amazing and mind-boggling to see these athletes sprint by us so effortlessly.  But, despite the momentary discouragement (because it seemed like we were barely moving as they passed), we got to run elbow-to-elbow with these extraordinary runners – even if it was just for a fraction of a second!

                        The remainder of the 13.1 miles passed quickly – I ran next to Rob Vassilarakis, the amazing runner from the Bronx, for most of it.  We both were running with our IPODs, but would occasionally say a few words to each other or share a smile at what we were experiencing. 

                        read more

                          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 Borough Challenge or running a 16+ minute negative split in the second half of the race.  These are all amazing memories that I will cherish FOREVER.

                          read more

                            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 since it is actually much later than runners coming from the city, other boroughs or neighboring areas.  The weather was chilly when we left (low 30s)- but with little to no wind and a crystal blue, clear sky, it was showing signs of the beautiful day that was to come.

                            read more


                              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. 
                              Theseare 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 one day, I enjoy the extra time it gives me and don’t stress about my physical aptitude.  But, when it’s something that I force myself to do, I find myself bored, restless, and worrying constantly rather than relaxing and enjoying the extra time.  

                              read more

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

                                Bobby, Ryan, Bart, and Mary

                                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 out for a slow 3-mile run to the West Side Highway.

                                read more

                                  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 the shoulder straps.  For a mom that is on-the-go, likes to stay active, and has a son that moves a lot while he’s in my arms, having both hands free is HEAVEN!

                                  read more

                                    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 to finally meet Mary Wittenberg, the President and CEO of NYRR and the Race Manager for the NYC Marathon.  Talk about a dream job!!

                                    Right before we walked out the door, we bumped into Bruce Beck, the weekday sports anchor for WNBC, and the reporter who will be interviewing the 5 runners after the marathon on Sunday.  Of course, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity for a photo!

                                    Just a few outtakes from the day: