Hot Chocolate 10k Race Recap

Awesome coffee mug!

As I said yesterday, I’m not going to sit here and blame the freezing temperatures or the ice / slush on the ground as the reason I did not reach my goal.  I signed up for a race in the winter in NYC, so ice/snow/freezing temperature kind of goes along with the territory.  Do I think the conditions caused me to go a bit slower than I would have if things were warmer/drier?  Yes. Definitely.  Do I think they caused me to run 94 seconds slower (~15 sec/mile) than I needed to?  That may be a stretch.  And I can’t sit here today and “blame” the elements for that substantial of a time difference.

At the end of the day,  I’ll really never know.  There’s no way to rewind that race, that one moment in time and do it again with better conditions.  So rather than dwell on what I didn’t accomplish and be pissed off at the external factors, I’m going to chalk it up as a great training run (and lesson) for my bigger goal this spring – sub-3:10 at the NJ Marathon.

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    Christmas List for Runners

    Since the holiday season is upon us, I decided to do a Christmas Wish List for Runners – things that your runner friend, sister, husband might like for Christmas this year!  


    Under $25
    – Add a little sparkle to that special woman in your life this holiday without spending hundreds of dollars!  Sparkly Soul Headbands are a great accessory for any runner looking for a functional, yet flattering headband.   Check out my review on Sparkly Soul headbands.  Headbands cost $15-17 (depending on width). 


    Nuun optimal hydration is an easy way to stay hydrated.  The tablets dissolve quickly in a glass of water, taste great, are low in calories, and contain a ton of electrolytes.  It costs $24 for one box (4 tubes=64 tablets), but if you order more than 1 box, each costs $22.  *Free shipping until Dec 9th


    – My husband purchased a Road ID bracelet for me when I was pregnant – it was one of the best gifts I every received.  I now wear it on every run I go on.  It contains your vital information (name, who to contact, phone #s) that can be used in case of an emergency while you are out running.  They range between $15.99 (for the slim – pictured below) to $29.99 (for the elite version).

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      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.

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        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. 















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          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.

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            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.

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