Warm Weather Pace Adjustments -> Don’t Fight It

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The summer heat and humidity has arrived in the northeast and running has been a hot, sticky mess lately.

I always seem to start out overly confident of my ability to run through the humid weather each year and I try to fight it. And it usually takes only one long run to knock me upside the head and remind me of how much control the weather has over my pace.

I did an easy paced 15 miler two weekends ago. It was my longest run post-Boston – and the heat and humidity chewed me up.  If I’m being honest, it was one of those runs where I knew that I should slow down – I could feel the stickiness in the air and knew that the pace I was running would not be sustainable. The pace felt easy and manageable early on, but I had that little voice in my head telling me to just slow down and take it a bit easier. But I held on to that little bit of hope that today, THIS day, would be different and that the voice in my head was wrong. It wasn’t.

I didn’t start the run until 8am. It was already almost 80, humid and sunny. Not ideal but life comes first – we were up late with the boys at a neighbor’s bbq and I had no desire to get up before it was necessary. I also thought that I would be able to get the 15 miles in with no water. Not smart. As I talked about a couple of weeks ago in this post, this would be no issue during the winter, but I sweat too much during the summer for me to even make it past 12 miles without water.

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    Hydration Help + Stopping During Long Runs

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    First sunrise run in a while!

    I always blog a lot less when I’m in between training cycles. I guess I just feel like there isn’t much exciting training to share, so why bother sharing anything? But I also know it’s helpful to share all the details of training – not just when things are going great or I’m logging 20 mile runs.

    I’m still in the building stage from Boston. I’m up to about 45-50 miles/week and have been enjoying the fewer miles, shorter long runs and lazy mornings. But NYC is rapidly approaching and training will really start to pick up soon, so I’m trying to get back into routine of early morning running as well as core and strength work regularly.

    I had been planning to run the Memorial Day 4 miler for months. After a few days off for my hamstring pain, I was ready to give Monday a go. But, my coach and I made the call Saturday afternoon to scrap the race. I felt no hamstring pain – and hadn’t for several days / runs. But there were points where it felt tight – and my gut was telling me not to chance things on a race that wasn’t even a goal race.

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      Summer/Fall Racing Plans

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      Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!!

      Just a reminder about the THREE giveaways I’m currently hosting!

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      There’s something so exciting about sitting down and mapping out the next few months of racing. It’s filled with endless possibilities and dreams just waiting to be chased.

      Now that Boston is over, I’ve been able to figure out what I want to do for the remainder of 2015. I was on the fence about training for a fall marathon, but I’m still riding the post-race high and have decided to use the momentum and keep plodding ahead.

      May 16: Brooklyn Half Marathon – Pacing my friend, Jen! FINALLY running this race after years and years of signing up and then not running (pregnancy, family party, recovery from marathon)! The plan is to be in charge of time/pace – Jen will just focus on running – I will keep her on track with pace, grab her water and offer any pep talks that she may need – and hopefully not annoy the crap out of her!! Should be a fun way to celebrate her birthday (which was last week!).

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        2014 NYC Marathon Race Recap

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        On Sunday, I completed my 8th marathon. It wasn’t a PR or goal race but it was one of the most amazing, exciting and humbling experiences of my running “career”. The importance of the day had nothing to do with me or my running goals, but rather, who I was there for – my friend, John. Helping a friend run the race he trained for, made the race, the day and the overall experience a million times more meaningful and special than a PR could ever do.

        The days leading up to the 2014 NYC Marathon were stressful. I hadn’t planned on much of a taper since my coach and I were treating the race like an extra-long training run. But, my body had other plans. I made Thursday and Saturday complete rest days (unplanned) – I felt feverish, my body ached and had a pounding headache most of Wednesday and Saturday. I began panicking Saturday afternoon (after spending a good portion of the day in bed) about how I was going to run a marathon the next day. Thankfully, I woke up Sunday morning feeling much better!

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          Birthday #33 + Finding My Rhythm

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          Last week was a solid week of training. I feel like I have found my rhythm – I’m working hard during the workouts, running easy on the easy runs and feel recovered and energized through it all.

          I ran a total of 73 miles, did core work 4x, strength work 3x, cross trained 2x (30 min each on trainer) – and did most of it while single parenting for the week. My husband has been traveling a lot for work lately and I was worried about how I would fit in all of these miles either with the stroller or on the treadmill.

          I’ve learned that there will be always be an excuse if you let yourself have one. If you really want something, you will always find a way.

          I also know that there are plenty of people busier than me – either at home with their kids, working full time or managing full time work and being a parent. Anytime I start to make an excuse, I think of these people and how they make their training work…and suddenly my busy week seems a bit easier.

          73 miles, 7 runs, 3 workouts. Highlights are below:

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            Staten Island Advance News + Race Week Checklist

            Wearing my sparkly soul headband at the 2011 NYC Marathon!
            Staten Island Advance

            I’m really excited to share that I have teamed up with my hometown newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, to talk about all things related to the NYC Marathon. I’ll be writing a few posts/articles that will be shared here, on their website and in print a few times over the next 10 days.

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            Race day is just 9 days away…which means we are about to enter race week. It’s that time in training when you are running less miles than you have the last 12-18 weeks. Race week is always filled with a lot of free time. And if you are like me, the decrease in running and increase in extra time goes hand-in-hand with elevated stress levels and thinking about next Sunday.

            But rather than sit around and stress about race day, I try to plan ahead and ensure that everything is ready for the days and hours leading up to the race. Having a detailed checklist keeps me on track and focused and makes race week feel less stressful.

            Below is what goes on my list:

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              NYC Marathon Hydration Tips

              Crossing the tape at the NYC Marathon
              The start of the 2011 NYC Marathon

              The start of the 2011 NYC Marathon

              The NYC Marathon is rapidly approaching – can you believe we are down to single digits already?

              I’m incredibly excited to be running the NYC Marathon for the 3rd time this year. There’s something so special about running through the streets of my hometown, having family and friends scattered throughout the course and finishing up in Central Park, the place I ran every day while I lived in the city.

              As the Official Bottled Water of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, this fall, Poland Spring® brand 100% natural spring water kicked off their “Poland Spring Cheers” campaign in an effort to thank the millions of New Yorkers who helped make local spring water from Maine the #1 beverage brand in New York City.

              I’ve partnered up with Poland Springs to share some of my hydration tips for the days leading up to a marathon.

              1. Keep water with you. I do this on a regular basis but I pay even more attention to it during race week. I always have a bottle of water with me regardless of where I’m going or how long I will be gone – places like the store, the marathon expo or commuting to work can take a lot more time than you anticipate. Keep it close by and have a few sips a couple of times an hour.

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                Marathon Madness + Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge (again!)

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                I realized last week that I am running three marathons in the next 8 weeks. I mean, I’ve known that I was running these three for a few weeks now, but I never sat down and thought about running THREE. It both excites and frightens me. I’ve run back-to-back-to-back marathons (+) once before – three years ago – when I was training for my first ultra and really enjoyed the experience.

                But, I am not racing all three marathons – there’s no way I could do this physically nor would it be smart to try to ask that much of my body. Below outlines the timing and purpose of each:

                – NYC Marathon – Nov 2 (12 days): I mentioned on social media already that I am running the NYC Marathon for a 3rd time this year. This was a late addition to my calendar – but a no brainer and honestly, trumps my own goal race two weeks later. I am honored for the opportunity to guide my good friend, John, for the race. John is participating in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge and is representing Staten Island – just like I did three years ago. (Side Note: If you have the chance to apply for the FL5BC next year, don’t hesitate – it was the most amazing experience of my running career.)  And I get the opportunity to experience it all again this year – but only better because I’ll be guiding John!

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                  Spectating the NYC Marathon

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                  First, I just want to give a HUGE congrats to everyone who raced Sunday at the NYC Marathon. Conditions were not ideal (15 mph headwind for 20 miles makes me legs hurt just thinking about it) but there were so many amazing PRs, first time finishers and perseverance in spite of the poor conditions. Special shout-out to two girls I coach (Jen and Leticia) and some friends: Veronika, Theodora, Sarah, Monica, Jess, Maggie, Beth, Pamela…and probably a ton more that I am forgetting.

                  I’m embarrassed to admit it but this is the first time that I have actually spectated at the NYC Marathon. When I really began to get into running, I was in the military living in Texas so spectating was not really an option. The last few years have been tough with the boys and family plans that always seem to fall on the same weekend. This year I told my husband well over a month in advance about my intentions to head into the city (alone!) and cheer.

                  It was one of the most magical, memorable days. There’s nothing quite as exciting as running the NYC Marathon, but I’d argue that it is pretty darn exciting to be on the other end and to be able to cheer tens of thousands of runners on. And you have no idea what this does for my excitement for my own upcoming marathon. AGH!

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                    PR Spotlight: Pamela

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                    I’m excited to begin the new series on NYC Running Mama – the PR spotlight.  The PR spotlight will feature runners who have recently PR’d.  It could be on the treadmill, track, or on the roads.  The purpose of the feature will be to discuss what was done differently – whether it was pacing, fueling, hydration, training, mental preparation, etc.

                    One of the things I love most about running is that I’m constantly learning – I learn just as much from the 4:30 marathoner as I do from the 2:45 marathoner. Hopefully this feature become a tool in which we all learn from each other.

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                    Meet Pamela:  Not only is she my best friend (we’ve known each other since we were 13!), but she is the social media expert behind Sparkly Soul headbands.  Although she has run a good number of marathons, Pamela was stuck at the 5-hour mark for most of them.  This past spring, she revamped her training and began seeing immediate results.  The first time I really became aware of how much faster she had become was at the NYC Half Marathon in March.  I was used to Pamela being a 10+ min per mile runner so when I saw her run me at (I was cheering at mile 7) only an hour into her run, I was astounded!!  She continued her improvement through the summer and fall…and just PR’d the marathon by 53 minutes at the Philadelphia Marathon!!!  Here is how she managed to go from a 4:43 marathoner…to a 3:50!!! 

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                      How to Run Back to Back Marathons

                      Breaking the tape at the 2011 NYC Marathon

                      In the fall of 2011, I ran a 30 miler, the NYC Marathon, and the Knickerbocker 60k within a 5 week window.  I showed up to the start line of each race feeling rested, energized, and ready to run.

                      It seems like running back to back marathons in a short period of time (~2 weeks) is becoming more and more popular.   Here are some of the things I did to ensure I was ready for each:

                      Let your body dictate when to run again.  There is no golden window for when you should return to running post-marathon.  There are so many outside variables that go into how long your body needs to recover – How hard did you run?  Was the course hilly?  How is your body reacting to the 26.2 miles?

                      I found that I needed almost no time to recover from the 30 miler.  Why?  It was a long, slow run – not a race.  I ran a steady pace for the whole 30 miles (8:34) and didn’t push myself like I normally would in a race.  I even felt okay enough to run a bit that afternoon during a photo/film shoot for the NYC Marathon (this is me a few hours after the 30 miler).  I took two full days off from the 30 miler and returned with a easy, slow 5 miler (8:45 pace).

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                        Why YOU should apply for the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge

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                        Last summer, I applied for the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge (FL5BC).  I didn’t think I would be selected so figured there was no harm in applying – I did it on a whim without even telling my husband or family members…A few weeks later, I found out that I made it through the first round of applications and had a phone interview with several members of NYRR and Foot Locker as part of round 2.  A week later I was sitting in Foot Locker’s headquarters in NYC for a face-to-face interview (final round of applications).  Then, sometime in early August, I got a phone call and was told I was selected to represent my home borough – Staten Island.

                        Participating in the FL5BC was the highlight of my running career – I’m not sure if anything is even going to come close to comparing to my whole experience.  If you are a resident of NYC and planning/training to run within the window of time (3:30 – 4:00), I would seriously recommend applying to participate this year –  you will NOT regret it.

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                          ING NYC Marathon Opening Day

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                          Gorgeous Backdrop!

                          One of the perks of participating in the 2011 Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge (FL5BC) was (and still is!) getting VIP access to some of the events organized by NYRR.   I received an email last week from Gabi, my favorite Foot Locker representative, asking if I would consider attending the ING NYC Marathon Opening Day to say a few words to the crowd about my experience with the FL5BC.  Since I love everything about the NYC Marathon and FL5BC, I said yes!  (PS. Blog post coming soon on an overview of this challenge and why YOU should consider applying!)

                          The following pictures are a glimpse of what the day was like!  There were a few elite runners present (Ryan Hall and Kim Smith) who officially announced their intentions to run the marathon this year, as well as a handful of celebrities and professional athletes (including Amani Toomer, former NY Giants WR, and James Blake, professional tennis player and NYC native) helping give out entries and gifts to a few lucky people in the crowd.

                          One of the highlights of the day was FINALLY getting to meeting Erica (from Erica Sara Designs) – she is even sweeter and more awesome than I could have imagined!!

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                            Running with music does NOT make me slower

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                            I’m a huge believer that while running can be a group activity, it is extremely personal.  What works for one runner may not work for someone else.  Through trial and error, we find what works best for us.

                            For example, I take a day off before a long run and prefer to do a shakeout run after a long run.  I am rested for my long run and recover well from the back-to-back runs.  However, I know many runners who train the opposite way.  Sure, you can you argue all day about the benefits / drawbacks of each, but in the end, you do what you feel most comfortable doing.

                            Another example – I wear a Garmin when I go on my “quality” runs (long, speed, and tempo runs) but I prefer to not use one on easy days because I want my body to dictate the pace – without being consumed with my pace.  I don’t judge those runners who will never run a mile without their Garmin or those who would never come within 5 feet of one.  Again, it’s a personal decision.

                            I run with music.  Almost. Every. Single. Run.  I’m not ashamed to admit this.  I am a music lover – I enjoy everything about music.  Music makes me happy.  Which is  why I take it with me on runs – especially on long runs.  For me, there is nothing better than when one of my favorite songs come on my IPOD and I get pumped up and pick up the pace during mile 20 of that long run.

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                              Post-Pregnancy Goal

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                              I am always amazed when I hear stories of how resilient women’s bodies are – Kara Goucher placing 2nd and running a 1:14:02 at the Arizona Half Marathon only 4 months after giving birth to her son…or the story below…

                              Anna Bretan won the Oakland Marathon in 2011 with a time of 2:53:19.  She wanted to run it again this year and used it as a way to stay in shape during her pregnancy.  She maintained high mileage weeks (40-miles up until delivery) and even ran 5 miles the DAY she gave birth.

                              The story only gets more amazing.  Within a week after giving birth, she was back to running high mileage and ran the Oakland Marathon again this past weekend – it was only SIX WEEKS after she gave birth.  And not only did she run the distance, she won – again! And her time – 2:57:33. (Source: SF Chronicle)

                              Crazy?  Many would argue yes.  But aren’t all marathon runners just a little bit crazy?

                              A much less known story is about a former Army CPT, Jessica Jacobs, now a professional triathlete, who raced the Kona Ironman, only TEN weeks after giving birth to her daughter.  While successfully breastfeeding her daughter, she managed to train for Kona, and completed it in 11:51 – a time many hope to accomplish at some point in their career (Note: her current PR is 8:55:10 – she’s just one of 13 women ever to break 9 hours). (Source: Ironman.com)

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                                Is borrowing (or selling) a race bib wrong?

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                                Source: Star-Telegram

                                This past weekend was the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth, Texas.  Initial runner-up Kolin Styles was declared the winner of the 26.2-mile race when Scott Downard was disqualified because he crossed the finish line with another person’s number and failed to register for the race.(Read more here)

                                Many of us have been in this situation before: You paid a good deal of money for entry into a race, but in the days leading up to the race, an obligation pops up, you get injured, you are sick, etc.

                                The race is sold out.  You have a friend who really wanted to run the race but didn’t register in time.  What do you do?

                                Do you illegally give them your bib?  Or do you accept it as a forfeited $ while both you and friend watch on the sidelines?

                                Many (if not most) races these days list the following terms and conditions when signing up for a race:

                                “Once you have entered a race, your entry fees are non-refundable, non-exhangeable, and non-transferable under any and all circumstances, including, but not limited to, cancellation of the event or of your participation.”                          – NYRR website

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                                  The “core” of my marathon training

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                                  This was a conversation between me and my husband two weeks after I ran my first ultra in November:
                                  Me: I don’t think I’m in very good shape right now.
                                  Hubby (with a look of bewilderment): You just ran a 37.2 mile race and finished with a 9:10 pace.  I would say you are in pretty good shape.
                                  Me: Ok. Let me rephrase.  I’m in “running shape.”  But my overall fitness level is not where it needs to be.  My legs are strong, but the rest of my body is not.

                                  Have you ever said this to yourself?  

                                  How did I let this happen?

                                  I got into a very bad habit of just running in August…I stopped doing core work on a frequent basis because my concentration was on increasing my miles for the NYC Marathon and the Knickerbocker 60k (both in November).  At the time, we didn’t have a treadmill, so I would run either early in the morning (5am) or during one of my son’s naps if a family member was able to babysit. (Note: I would LOVE to do more stroller ruins with my little guy, but he has never enjoyed just sitting in the stroller.)  I would run up until the last possible moment – whether it was a phone call to tell me my son was up or it was time for my husband to go to work – then return home to shower and start the day/afternoon with my son.

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                                    Pushing the pace on long runs?

                                    When I was training for the NYC Marathon and my first ultra this summer/fall, I completed all my long runs at an easy pace.  NYC would be my first marathon after giving birth and since I hadn’t completed long runs consistently in over a year, my goal was to get the miles in without worrying about what my Garmin 610 was telling me.  I got very comfortable with doing my long runs at an 8:30 pace.  I was happy with that pace.  I didn’t feel the need to push myself any harder on my long runs – as long as I ran 20, 25, 30 miles, I was satisfied.

                                    I competed in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge [FL5BC] as part of the NYC Marathon in November.  After separating from the other 4 runners at the halfway point (we had to run the first 13.1 miles together), I immediately tried to speed up to hit my target pace of 7:45.  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get my pace any faster than 7:50-8:00.  And it wasn’t that my legs were tired – they actually felt surprisingly good.  I just couldn’t pick up the pace without getting out of breath.  I actually didn’t run one mile at my target pace [6x miles were sub-8:00 and my average pace for the final 13.1 was 8:01].  I’m not complaining or upset with my performance at the NYC Marathon – my primary goal was to win the FL5BC.  But now that I am beginning training for my next marathon, I have to look closer at my training and determine what I need to tweak in order to improve my time.

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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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