Friday, December 17, 2010

A Runner's birthday

Reporting live from Cartagena de Indias

A great birthday in twelve steps.

1. Have your brother plan his wedding for the day after your birthday in a kick-ass vacation spot.

2. Wake up and have dad make you a Colombian coffee and arepa breakfast.

3. Go for an easy 5 mile run on the beach.

4. Stretch and have breakfast again.

5. Read, rest, nap, receive happy birthday wishes by phone, email, and social media.

6. Lunch by the beach. Catch of the day: red snapper. Six platters please.

8. Mom-made birthday cake with sparkly flares!

7. Nap, rest, read, and receive more birthday congratulations.

8. A cup of fresh Colombian coffee.

9. Total relaxation on the fifth floor with a view of the old city: swimming pool, sauna, swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, swimming pool.

10. Dinner.

11. More cake!

12. Friday night out in the old city. (Still to come)

The only thing that could have made this day even better would've been for friends to join me tonight, but the commute was an ocean and a handful of countries too long for most. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NYCM Report - Part 3

When I'd grabbed bracelets at the expo I hadn't thought the extra one, turned into a cheering squad bracelet, would be the only one I would end up wearing. But if it had been a choice, I'd have gone with the cheering bracelet. I might have been able to finish my first marathon without adequate pacing, but I wouldn't have reached the finish line without the help of good friends.

Brooklyn cheering got me all the way to the Pulaski bridge going into Long Island City. As I headed towards the bridge, I noticed the half-way point sign. I'd completed a half-marathon! I was halfway there! The clock on the 13.1M sign made no sense to me. I looked down at my watch and realized I'd run this portion at a half-marathon pace even though I'd taken a long port-a-potty break in Greenpoint.


As I headed up the Pulaski bridge I started to feel a little tired. Had I suddenly gotten a ton faster and would be able to have a fantastic finish or was I headed for trouble? On the bridge incline my legs weren't feeling so fresh anymore and the miles ahead started to seem daunting. My stomach was hurting, I had a light headache, and my head was cold. I tried to love the Pulaski as I had on training runs, but the Pulaski wasn't loving me back. To help control the negative thoughts, I focused on my next cheering stop.

At the 14.4 mile point, Kristin and Jenn would be waiting for me with the rest of my shot blocks and snacks for the later part of the run. I'd managed to miss spotting some friends who'd come out to cheer for me in Brooklyn, but these two were unmissable. Standing over their bikes and dressed in hot pink and highlighter yellow, they were jingling cowbells and screaming my name like it was their job. I'd met them at just past mile 6 and Kristin had held on to my hat, so I was able to refill my pockets with goodies and cover up my head again as I approached the Queensboro.

There was only a two-person line at the port-a-potties before the bridge where I'd stopped again hoping for relief before the climb into Manhattan. As the first person was about to go in, a woman in her sixties coming off the course dashed to the front and begged to go in first.

"Sorry, we're all in a hurry and we're all in line" was the response she got.

The woman looked panicky and was squeezing her legs. As she went to move to the back of the line, the guy in front of me waved her in front of him and when another port-a-potty opened up she went in.

While we waited, the guy turned to me almost to dare me to challenge him. I didn't. I'm all for respecting lines in general, but when there's a toilet (or potty) involved I'm all for giving right of way to anyone who demands it. Not only do I not want to risk causing and witnessing an accident happening right at my feet, but it gives me hope that when I end up on the other side of that someone else will let me go first. Because yes, with all this running and racing, there is no doubt in my mind that one of these days that will be me, begging. Fortunately, that day wasn't marathon day and after that stop I headed up into the Queensboro.

I'd run the Queensboro during training runs and had liked it, but on that day the bridge seemed eerie and cool. After the sun and cheering crowds, the bridge provided the opportunity for quiet and peaceful reflection. For me, this meant my mind started going "#*%^$&* What I have gotten into?" Once I'd reach Manhattan I'd still have 10M to go. That's about two more hours of running and I was tired, hungry, and had a headache. I didn't feel like running for two more hours. To make things better, the incline helped me feel like I wasn't even moving forward, so I stopped running.

Walking up the bridge would help me recover so I'd be fresh again once I hit Manhattan. Besides I had friends there! I wanted to see my Reiko & Co who'd be waiting on the other side! And the headache was probably because of the sunglasses! Silly me deciding to wear sunglasses for the first time for he marathon. I'd give the sunglasses to them and my headache would go away. I'd start running once we started going downhill and I'd have an amazing rest of race.

Such was the pep talk that managed to give me enough of a second wind to reach 1st Ave running.

It didn't last. By the time I hit 90th I was slowing down again. I thought I'd be meeting friends there and I was sad. These weren't any friends. They were running buddies, Ragnar teammates, they had Woodstock sitting on a high throne with them, and they had coconut water for me. And they didn't wait for me! They were gone! They didn't care! I was so disappointed not to see them that a few blocks later I was walking. I was still walking when I saw them at 99th St.

They later told me I looked bad and that they were worried for me. That I was shaking my head and just didn't look like myself. I tried to run again for them, but I think it was barely a shuffle and by the time I reached about 116th near mile 19th I was walking again and I'd had enough. I'd had enough of the noise and the crowds. I didn't want people chanting my name. I wanted everyone to leave me alone. And I wanted to put my feet up.

I walked over to the side of the road. A concerned bystander asked me if I was ok. I told her I needed to adjust my socks. I sat on the curb and took my shoes off while I thought about my options.

I'd blown my time goal. Not matter how fast I ran, I was not going to make it. Besides, I didn't want to run anymore. I wanted to hop in a cab, go home, and sleep for a long time.

A little kid came over and offered me a bottle of water. I didn't need water since I'd just passed a water stop, but the kid seemed uncomfortable to see me sitting there on the curb. Besides, I wasn't ready to call my friends and tell them to go home. I wasn't hurting. Nothing was broken. Was I really going to throw the towel because my feet were a little tired? No. I was not going to quit. If I wasn't going to quit, then I'd better get moving. This wasn't going to get any easier, the sun was going down, and I had friends waiting for me.

It was time I put my shoes on and start running again, run to them.

To be continued.

Previously on Muy Majo...
Part One
Part Two

Monday, November 29, 2010

New York City Marathon - Part 2

In my mind's soundtrack, Rocky's "Gonna fly now" was playing. I was running through Brooklyn's familiar streets buoyed by the masses of people who'd come out to cheer. The marathon route stretched ahead of me in the city's greatest tailgate party and I was ready to enjoy it. My feet were pounding the pavement and I was feeling lucky and honored to be there.

It wasn't so on the Verrazano. Two minutes past the starting line and I was already freaking out. I went from goosebumps and tears of joy to desperately wondering where the exit was as soon as the climb to the bridge started. My legs were aching and panic was bubbling right below the surface.

I had to remind myself that I'd trained for this and that I was ready. It's just that starting on an uphill with no warm-up is rough on the legs. I turned on my shuffle. Even though I'd been running without music, I'd taken it thinking I'd wear one bud if the going got rough. I thought music might help me until we got to Brooklyn, but I couldn't hear the music. I fumbled with it then decided it wasn't worth it - that I'd rather be in the moment. I had no idea if it was broken, out of power, or had decided to go on vacation. I didn't need it: there was a human stampede on the longest suspension bridge in the Americas and I was part of it.

It was better to focus on not going too fast and enjoying the view.

As we came off the quiet and relative solitude of the bridge, the Brooklyn crowds welcomed us with a roar. Bay Ridge was on its Sunday's best and though I'd been happily high-fiving little kids, it was even more exciting to high-five a familiar face: Craig, a former neighbor was waiting for me at 83rd Street. It was around there that Toomer passed me like a shadow and that's also when I noticed I was surrounded by people with 4:20 pinned on their backs.

The most optimistic estimates put my finishing time at 4:45, more realistic ones at 5:15, so I dialed it back a few notches and let the 4:20s go ahead. Running felt easy and though I did not feel I was running too fast I knew I was supposed to go a lot slower if I wanted to be able to make it to the finish line.

As that group passed me, a fellow PPTC teammate caught up with me. We ran side by side, in sync for the next few miles, occasionally commenting on the sights - 'Did you see that? Crazy!' - until she peeled away at mile 6 to grab water and I ran ahead to meet friends waiting for me at 22nd Street. There I stopped for a quick photo op, dropped the hat and the shuffle, and continued down 4th Avenue.

It's a well known fact that Brooklyn is the best Borough and it did not disappoint on marathon Sunday. Signs, music playing, little kids thrilled to be getting high-fives and people cheering enthusiastically - excited for the runners and in turn making the runners even more excited to be running. 4th Ave was a gone in a blink and then I hit Lafayette where the party was bigger and louder and where I had three different sets of friends waiting for me.

I almost missed the first two. They were swallowed by the crowd and I didn't see them until I'd almost passed them. I would've stopped, but my feet couldn't stop moving. I was in a stream of marathoners and I had too much forward momentum. I managed to see the third group a block away and was able to slow down and give them sweaty hugs and kisses. I was running and dancing my way through Brooklyn, whooping, clapping, and fist pumping on my merry way to Queens.

What was all the fuss about? This was easy! This was fun! I could do this forever, I thought.

Little did I know there'd be bridge heartbreak, port-a-potty drama, and curbside despair in my near future.

To be continued...

Previously, Part One.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NYC Marathon - Race Report Part 1

After months of training and planning, it seemed like marathon day came all of sudden and I found myself madly stomping around my apartment on November 7th, 2010 at 4:30am, rummaging and making a huge mess trying to find my pacer bracelets. Since I didn't have any pacing device I'd picked up the free bracelets at the expo as insurance against the capital sin of marathoning and the most common rookie mistake: going out too fast.

At some point I gave up and left, preferring to go out without bracelets rather than risk missing the PPTC bus to Staten Island. I was still fuming clomping down the stairs when I got to the landing in front of my neighbors' apartment and my anxiety defused with a smile at the sign they'd left for me.

When I got to Jack Rabbit to board the PPTC bus, I bumped into Paul whom I had casually bullied/encouraged to sign up for NYRR the previous January 31st. A year and change later we'd both completed 9+1 and were ready to board. When we got to the starting village we settled in to wait in the cold. Over my running clothes I was wearing fleece pants, a cashmere sweater, a hoodie, and a down coat. This was topped with a wool blanket draped over my shoulders. The homeless bag lady look helped me fit in, but I was also freezing.

Paul and I sat down for a bit thinking it would be good to rest, but we were both too antsy and too cold to stay still, so we walked around trying to find a warm beverage. The starting village was a scene of high energy organized chaos. There were forty five thousand runners milling about waiting to run the biggest race in the world, trying to stay calm and warm as instructions in multiple languages piped through speakers and a rock band played live to an indifferent audience. This crowd was much more interested in the Dunkin Donuts truck which is where we headed.

By the time we were done with the coffee and had found a spot to camp out in the sun, it was time for Paul to head to his corral: he was starting with the sub-elites in the first wave and was going to try to qualify for Boston on his first marathon. I wished him luck and touched base with fellow Ragnar teammate Andrea. We were planning on starting together in her corral even though we wouldn't be running together because of our different paces.

We were in the last wave and the atmosphere had turned frantic: after hours of waiting, whoever did not make it into a corral would not be running. We got stuck in a crowd and couldn't see the signs ahead of us and we barely made it into the corral right before it closed.

After that it was a slow moving herd until suddently space opened up before us and we were right there! The start line was within sight, double decker buses with people cheering lined the side, the toll road that would lead us to the Verrazano and into Brooklyn was ahead. Someone gave a brief speech, there was some cheering, and then Frank Sinatra went "Start spreading the news..."

I gripped Andrea's arm and started shaking it "We're running the marathon! We're running the marathon!" and started crying and hugging her. I think I started making a weird high pitch wheezing sound and Andrea shot me a concerned look. I told her I'd be fine in a minute. I was just taking in the grandeur of the Verrazano spread before us and thinking of the all the steps that had had led me to be standing there. Already thousands had stood there before that day and I was about to run in the steps of Olympians, behind thousands of amazing people that had struggled through sweat and blood to follow their dreams. I was about to pursue one of my own and run my first marathon.

My arms and legs were still covered in sesame seed sized goosebumps and I was trying to calm down and stop crying when the gun went off and we started running.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Response to An Open Letter for a Fall Marathoner

This a response to An Open Letter for a Fall Marathoner

Dear Marathoner,

It’s been a long road. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t scared. I am. It wasn’t so long ago that running a 5k was big deal for me. But I’m also excited, thrilled, and grateful to be about to join the ranks of marathoners.

Training was hard. For a while I didn’t really think I would make it, but I listened when you said I just had to follow the plan. It seemed impossible! Me, run so many miles at a time? I thought I’d surely break - some body part would give up - but I thought I’d keep going until that happened.

Through the miles, the heat, the early mornings, the sweat and the exhaustion, you believed in me. You encouraged me to keep going, to continue the slow buildup that would lead me here.

Taking it one day at a time, run per run, I saw my body change. I ran until my racer back top was tattooed in sun onto my skin. Clothes started fitting differently; the waist was loser, while my thighs were straining at the fabric. One rainy day I realized I’d outgrown my rain boots: my calves had gotten too big for them. It was part of the process of getting legs that would take me across a finish line 26.2 miles away from the start.

I can do this. I can run 26.2 miles. I can run through five boroughs. I can run five bridges. I can run New York.

The race is just days away and I’m swinging from elation to panic. Little aches are popping up everywhere and I have to remind myself you told me this was normal. Though I start tearing up when I see the posters, banners, and flags all over the city, part of me just can’t believe this is happening and that I’m about to run a marathon.

I couldn’t have gotten here it without you. Thank you for leading the way. Your advice and your kind words have helped me and now it’s time for me to trust you again. It’s time for me to believe I can do this.

You’ve reminded me I’ve put in the training and I’m ready. Now it’s time to eat, rest, and stay calm in the knowledge that I am ready. I’m going to honor you by doing my best to stay calm in the days and hours leading up to the start line and by running and enjoying my first marathon.

I will run 26.2 miles. I will run through five boroughs. I will run five bridges. I will run the ING New York City Marathon.

Thank you for running with me, thank you for cheering for me.



Monday, October 18, 2010

Harvest Cross Training

A twenty mile run requires serious cross training to aid recovery. Yesterday's cross training: participating in a pumpkin cook-off.

1. Prepare a pumpkin dish - just one rep.
I made a pumpkin gruyere soup with orange and lemon, served inside a hollowed out pumpkin.

2. At party, sample all pumpkin dishes- repeat as needed to achieve maximum fullness.
Tip: focus on the pasta dishes to restore glycogen levels.

3. Roast leftover seeds for snacking. It will help Monday pass more quickly until it's time to go run again.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

20 Miles

Great conditions for fishing? By the time I saw that it was too late for a change of plans. Or sport. With three weeks to go, I was ready to run.

I must have forgotten to wipe my dreams off my forehead before setting out this morning. Today's run was my first 20 mile run ever and my last long run before the taper as I get ready to run the New York City Marathon.

At mile 3 a group of cyclists passed me slowly on a hill. They cheered for me and one of them wished me luck in three weeks. I also got a few "21 days!" cheers and even some runner-on-the-war-path growls. Friendly ones. I growled back as best I could.

How did they know I was training for NYCM? I could've been training for MCM. Or maybe I was just a runner on her usual Saturday morning neighborhood run.

Maybe it was because I was following a good chunk of the marathon course. Or perhaps it was thanks to the marathon ads and banners popping up everywhere. Maybe I just looked like I meant business and that my business was #NYCM.

Whatever it was, I had a blast.

I ran 20M to meet my neighbor from across the street for brunch, about 5M from where we both live. It makes a lot of sense, right?

Often the hardest part about running is getting out the door.

D was going to be in a conference in the city. She was free for brunch but only for a small window of time and she was bringing me a dry change of clothes. All this meant that when I woke up in the morning there was no question. I was going to leave my apartment by 7am without agonizing over it or wondering whether I really wanted to do this, or if I wanted to to this today, or if maybe I wanted to read a book first. Nothing. Just get ready and head out the door. No dilly-dallying. I had to get there on time.

I decided to break it down into manageable chunks in order not to be overwhelmed. I decided to think of it as 5 mile warmup run. Then I was going to run for 10 miles, which I know I can do. Then I was going to do a 5 mile cooldown. Plus, whenever my mind wanted to start freaking out about how much I'd run and how much longer I had to run, I'd tell myself I was going to run all day. Six hours at least, so I might as well relax and sink into it.

Is the last bite really better tasting than all the other ones, or is it just that its being the last makes it more intense? Today I took the intensity away from the last few miles by pretending I was going to run for much longer. That way when I got to the last mile I was rested and relaxed and managed to make it my fastest mile of the run: 2 minutes faster than the others.

There was a wind advisory, but the wind gusts just made it more fun. I was well rested and I think I probably benefitted from the extra effort of running against the wind. My eyes were tearing at times. On the Pulaski bridge I felt I was being pushed into the barrier; as I approached the Queensboro there was a moment where I took a couple of steps but did not move forward, and I shivered when waiting for lights at 92nd. But it was fun! The wind kept me company all the way, whipping my braids around and I'm sure at times it must have pushed me from behind, though I don't remember that.

At Mile 20 there was a surprise. At the corner that marked the end of my run, about a dozen people with posters and matching shirts where cheering for me! They'd kept themselves busy cheering for Avon walkers while I got there and they kept it up after I left, but they were there for me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Staten Island

As November inches closer, I thought I'd go take a look at Staten Island, scope out the other side of the Verrazano, and try to figure out my marathon time.

For those of us who don't run with fancy gadgets keeping track of speed, location, and heart rate, one way to guess expected marathon time is to use performance at past races. I hadn't raced properly since I started speed training and I hadn't done any long races in a while. I signed up for the Staten Island half marathon as a way to figure out where I stood. It took place last on 10/10/10 - four weeks before the New York City Marathon

I'd run a few races lately. I did the Team Championships 5M in August. It was my fastest five miles to date, but I'd done them trying to conserve since I was planning on running 9 more miles back to Brooklyn after that to complete my scheduled long run.

Then there was the Fitness Mind-Body Spirit 4M in September which was my slowest four mile race to date, but I'd run fourteen miles to get there and used the race as the last four miles of my long run.

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Liz Padilla 5k. It was Don's first race*, which is why I there running on a scheduled rest day after running 18 miles the previous day. I did pretty well, but it was a 5k - not a distance I'd want to extrapolate to calculate marathon times.

Between my race performance being all over the place and the fact that I often forget to stop my watch after runs, I had no clue how fast I've been going or what my pace should be for the marathon. Forget about running at target pace, I have no way of telling how fast I'm running until I'm done running, and that's only if I remembered to use my watch properly.

I ran the half-marathon thinking of pushing hard. I started out with Kate, a surprise encounter at the ferry terminal. Kate is faster than me, but I hung in there for about a mile before I decided to let her pull ahead and focus on myself. Besides, I was in trouble.

I hadn't seen the first mile marker yet and my watch was showing 12min. When my watch showed 14min I started panicking. If I was running a 14minute/mile, I was in big trouble. I wouldn't make it. What's worse, if this is what running a 14minute, by then going on fifteen minute mile, felt like I was going to die on marathon day. The amount of effort it was taking me to run as fast as I could walk had me sweat dripping from my elbows and I was trying hard not to panic. It took all my mental strength to tell myself I'd just missed it and to wait for the next marker.

For the first time I used my watch to mark the splits. (If I knew how to use the recall function I'd be able to share them with you but unfortunately I can't figure it out and I need to wrap this up before I head to work.)

Around 9M I started to feel relieved the end was near. Then I started panicking again. If I was looking forward to finishing that early, how the heck would I be able to run twice as long in four weeks?

I managed to remind myself I'd be better rested by then (yay, taper!), I'd benefit from having my very own cheering squads along the course (mark your calendars, Cheerleaders: itinerary to come), and I'd be excited to be running. Don't take this personally, Staten Island. You're awesome and you were a great host, but running your half was not as exciting as running a full marathon through all five boroughs. Please don't take it personally, SI.

At the ten mile marker I told myself it was just a 5k ahead of me. No problem. I even picked up the pace. Then at half a mile to go I cranked it up and keep it steady and managed to clock in a half marathon that was eleven minutes faster than my previous one.

Which means I might be able to run a sub-5 marathon.


I was all business during this race, checking my time, checking my splits, trying to focus on pace, and that was not as much fun as just running it. And I mean to have fun running New York.

*Congratulations, Don!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Knocking 'em out

That's what I've been doing to my non-runner friends - what's left of them. The runner friends tend to survive it better, but just marginally so. Only those who are also training for marathons, or thinking of training for them, can bear the full brunt of it.

It's also the graphics on a popular shirt sold by NYRR and a good reminder that I need to blog about all this if I want my friends to survive the last few weeks left of my marathon training.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Still running

For a while I thought I'd pretend I'd done like the French and just taken off the month of August. Not that I'd gone anywhere. Or rather I went everywhere, but just on my feet. August was about running. So was September. Now it's almost October and I can almost smell undertones of November in the air.

I'm still running. Training for the New York City Marathon has been an adventure with highs and lows. The lows mostly had to do with my being too busy and too tired to do anything, let alone blogging. If you want to know about my training, feel free to head on to the blog and click through the training widget on the right.

And now for some diamond shaped bullets to bring you up to speed:

Nathan and I had a great summer but we haven't been getting along lately. At first I thought I could make things work by adding more velcro but now the flap goes all around my waist and is in the way of my elbow. Nathan's been grumpy and getting all bouncy on me, which makes me unhappy. It might be time to go our separate ways.

◇ May running had me struggling with some aches which ended up being new shoe related. Now I've gone from a stabilizer shoe to a lighter neutral shoe and am hoping to transition towards minimal shoe running. After the marathon, of course.

◇ The longest run to date:18M and it felt great. True story.

◇ Currently obsessing about what to wear for the marathon. I even made myself a running skirt which has performed very well in preliminary trials.

◇ Start line assignments have been made. Corrals, waves, villages, the works. I'm in Green Wave 3, starting at 10:40 am on November 7th, 2010. It still feels surreal.

Where are you going to be November 7th? Cheering or running?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Marathon Long Training Run #1

Going to Central Park for a 7am long run seems ridiculous when I could just as well run near here at whatever time I want. Having to deal with the MTA's increased weekend flakiness does not making the run easier. Nor does it help to have to get up even earlier on a Sunday.

Getting to the start line is half the battle. There's the sleepless night of tossing and turning followed by feeling tired in the morning and wondering if it's such a good idea. Can't possibly run without having slept well! For anything under 10k, I don't have this feeling anymore. But I probably should assume I'm not going to sleep on November 6th, and I probably won't get much sleep on November 5th either.

Though I am pretty easy going and I'm calm when dealing with emergencies, I'm the excitable type. By that I mean I let myself get excited by anything and everything I want to do, eat, or see, to the point where I sometimes am unable to sleep or make myself sick. I get so pumped with energy I could give any Christmas day kid a run for his money.

In order to practice trying no to be too crazy on marathon day, I decided it would be good for me to do the NYRR Marathon Long Training runs. It's going well. I'm all psyched for this weekend's run. I'll try my best to get a good night's rest on Saturday, but I won't make any promises for who can sleep with the prospect of an official long run?

What makes this exciting?
I'll get to run with a pack
Though I love running on my own, the running with a pack gives me a thrill and it will feel more like a race

I'll be on a measured course
Since I don't run with any gadgets besides a watch, I never know exactly how far I've run and thus don't know my pace. Though I feel like I've gotten faster, I don't know if this is true and I don't know what my pace should be for the marathon. It's time to start figuring that out.

There's support
Water and gatorade stops! Misting stations! Nathan is annoyed that I'm not bringing him, but I think it's good for him to rest. With fluids provided and a bag check, I'll be fine with what I can carry in my pocket. Having misting stations means this weekend I won't have to deal with the glares of parents for my running through playground sprinklers.

There's more support!
When I signed up I hoped I'd get to meet people, whether they ran at my pace or not. Since then, I've discovered the power of twitter, and now I have plans to meet some twitterfolk before the run. Better yet, it looks like one of them might run at about the same pace as me! We'll see. Either way, it's only Friday and I'm already excited enough that I didn't sleep well last night.

Yup. It's Christmas day and this marathon training is going to be full of them!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Getting Started

Instead of its usual spammy offerings, my mailbox had a real treat for me yesterday. When I got home, NYRR's "Get Started Guide" to the 2010 New York City Marathon was waiting for me.

Maybe it's just that I'm a child of the 20th century, but there's something about print that makes things more real. There's part of me that mistrusts the cloud. Things can go wrong and get accidentally deleted - a sneeze and a click and poof! Files are gone. Tech-heroes can step in and make things right, but without their super tech-savvy powers, when something goes wrong I'm a damsel in distress trapped in a tower guarded by a byte-chomping dragon and a wi-fi blocking moat.

Which is why even though I'm in the NYC marathon and have known I was in since last year when I completed the 9+1 program, part of me didn't quite believe it.

Until yesterday. A blue and orange pamphlet in my mailbox made i t all real. It let me know with goosebumps that all that training was for something concrete: the 2010 New York City Marathon.

The guide includes useful information like a link to the MTA, lists of official hotels, and discounts to Mary Poppins on Broadway: information I don't need. Except for the medical and training sections, it was all irrelevant for New Yorkers. I still read it all front to back.

Getting to see the race week schedule set me off with orange fizzy feelings because getting an official printed guide is not the same as getting the weekly "On Course" emails.

Print made it real. I'm in.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New training device

Last weekend I installed a new training device. I'd had it for a while, but it had taken some time to figure out the best way to install it. After deciding to go for a 2x6 crossbar that would be attached to two studs, it was just a matter of taking the time to install it properly so it would be sturdy and the weight would be distributed properly. I decided to put it on carabiner hooks that attached to eye hooks, so I could take it down and put it back up without having to deal with knots.

After much measuring, drilling, torquing, and knot tying (bowline), the hammock was ready to be hung.

There are many health benefits attributed to hammock use, from ease of neck and back pain, to improved concentration. One thing is for sure: it's hard to remain tense on a hammock - how can you be tense when you're floating and rocking softly?

In the past week, I've enjoyed lying on the hammock after runs; it's a great way to keep your feet elevated.

Two friends came to check it out and test it last Saturday. The hammock passed inspection, but they were curious about where I had gotten the idea of installing a hammock in my apartment.

An indoor hammock? As long time readers might now, it's not a very original idea where I'm from.

Hammock sandwich with my cousins circa 1986. Can you tell which one I am?

8M Loop to Red Hook & Dumbo

Easy recovery week as I get ready to bump up mileage next week with NYRR's Marathon Long Distance Training Run #1 next weekend. I wasn't just recovering from running, but also from a nasty summer cold.

I meant to take the promenade, but spaced out and ended up under the BQE, which was shady and breeze. Not a bad thing on such a hot summer day, but I don't recommend it for an evening run since it would probably be deserted then.

This run features a sprinkler.

8M Loop to Red Hook & Dumbo

*There's not much shade along Columbia, but you're running on a path along the water.
*When you get to Atlantic, make a left and take a detour through part of the new Brooklyn Bridge Park: you'll be rewarded with a great sprinkler.
*That 2 block stretch on Hicks is a fun steep hill.
*I was weaving around Brooklyn Heights looking a deli I couldn't quite remember. I was coconut water hunting.
*There were water fountains along the way, but I forgot to note exactly where as I was relying on the electrolyte stuff for this one. There is probably one near the playground on Atlantic. There is another at Cadman Plaza near the running path where it would intersect with Clark Street.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

7.3M to Bayridge

Here's one of my favorite running routes. In the past few months I've done many versions of this in both directions and it's a fun run. Running by the water is always a pleasure, particularly on hot days. Even though Bayridge is not that far, running to Bayridge sounds far, and it makes me feel more badass.

Besides, the Verrazano is a beauty and getting to see it up close is a good reminder of what I'm working towards.

7.3M to Bayridge

*The little loop in Owl's Head Park is a fun hill. It's steep but short, with a view at the top.
*There's a water fountain right where you enter the path by the water.
*If you pass under the Verrazano you've gone too far and you'll end up in Bensonhurst.
*The end point for this route is the 95th St stop on the R train. There are delis nearby for handy snack/drink procurement for the ride back.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Being doubly watched

Apparently, now that I've had a new watch for a little over a month, it was safe for the old one to turn up. As those of you who've been reading for a while know, I had lost it when coming back from running a 24hr relay from Woodstock to NY.

Running the Ragnar relay was intense, and poor Watch had to work overtime. There was no resting. There was no moment when time didn't matter. Except for a nap under the stars from about 2:30am to 5am or so, it was always go, go, go. Go run. Go cheer. Go to the next check point. Go meet the other van and lend them a runner. Go get lost. Go find a decent a toilet. Go lounge under trees. Go run.

Upon our return, I went out for pizza with Lizz and left Watch to rest. When I came back Watch had disappeared without a trace.

As the days turned into weeks of my sitting by the window hoping Watch would appear, I began to lose hope. Running without a watch was not ideal, so I got Another Watch.

Last weekend I had to move furniture around while getting ready to install some equipment that will aid my marathon training. There it was: Watch.

So now I have two. I might have to run with one on each wrist.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

11 Miles

Behold the technological marvel of pen, paper, and pins. It doesn't calculate my pace, and it doesn't tell me where I am, but it did make my run a ton easier. Until I finally get an android (thoughts? recommendations? I'm thinking Android X, but I'm clueless about all this stuff. Also, I love qwertys but it seems the better phones don't have them) this little device not only kept me from getting lost - I wasn't lost last time, I just thought I was - but since it had my mile markers I could easily calculate where my next turn should be without second guessing myself.

Highly recommended, customizable, and budget friendly. Since I got Nathan I've been avoiding Prospect Park for most of my long runs. I love the park, but it gets crowded on weekends. Add bike races to the mix and it gets dangerous. Running around in circles doesn't work for me for long runs; the temptation to head home is too strong. Besides, I like having destinations.

From now on, I'll start sharing the routes of these long runs here as a resource for other South Brooklyn runners. Most runs will start from Bartel Pritchard Square and end either back there or near public transportation. Will try to catch up and post some of the past ones. The routes are modifiable so you can edit and map to accomodate length & starting point. (Click on the link, not the map. Look for the pen and paper icon to edit.)

Here's 11Miles To Williamsburg

* The entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge is on Bedford Ave. Runners on the south side of the bridge, bikers on the north.
* After crossing the bridge and on the way to the East River Park there's a sweet little playground on Columbia and Delancey - south side of the street. Good water fountain plus the sprinkler was on today. Score! A few senior citizens looked baffled as I shrieked while running through it.
* When you get off the Brooklyn Bridge there's a water fountain right as you enter Cadman Plaza.
* Cadman Plaza has a cushy rubbery path that that will give you that extra bounce you need to finish these 11Miles.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Maltodextrin vs Brown Rice Syrup, or life after the World Cup

It turns out most runners can tolerate one or the other, but not both. Only one can make you champion. If.

When you're planning on running for about five hours, the question of how to fuel yourself while doing so becomes important. It's not about which gel or supplement will make you faster, tougher or badasser, it's which gel, supplement or food won't send you running to the nearest port-a-potty or give you a stomach ache.

While running, maltodextrin makes me run faster but only in one direction: to the nearest toilet. I need something more versatile. Clif makes brown rice syrup based products - I love their shot blocks - but I'm still not having enough and what little I have tends to give me a stomach ache.

It might be a matter of training myself to eat while running, so I dutifully force myself to chew. You're supposed to have three blocks per hour of running. I've managed to have two in two hours of running and I still get a stomach ache. I'm trying to figure out if I'll fare better with actual food, but the problem is carrying enough of it during runs that go over two hours which is where I am right now in my training. I'm thinking of trying olives and brazil nuts soon or maybe trying to drink my calories.

But until I figure that out, I'll stay with Clif.

I'm guessing bars and gels work better when you're doing other things like swimming or biking. I'll keep that in mind when I do a triathlon.

Doesn't that sound like fun? I love running, I love biking, and - little known fact - I'm a strong swimmer. Actually, I'm probably better at swimming than either running or biking since that's the only one where I've had formal training. My brother was a much stronger swimmer; he competed at the national level. I stuck to the regional level but I was good and my mom still has the medals to prove it.

And triathlon training just looks like a lot of fun, don't you think?

PS. Does anyone want a couple of GU energy gel packets? I won't be needing those.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


When born, most Americans get inoculated against the futbol passionata. The futbol passionata is a powerful virus that affects the nervous and motor systems and, like malaria, comes in cycles.

Most other countries in the world don't bother vaccinating their citizens. Even though it does have some downsides and its effects are occasionally deadly, its benefits far outweigh its dangers.

As implied in the name, those affected by the futbol passionata benefit from higher levels of passion. They also have a greater appreciation for sportsmanship, the beauty of human movement, and, in most cases, beer. Furthermore, they are likely to find joy and an opportunity for play whenever a reasonably sturdy spherical object is nearby.

Futbol passionata also provides an outlet for nationalist feelings that does not involve killing your opponent. It provides the agony and ecstasy of the battle, the redeeming aspects of arduous struggle without leaving bodies on the field.

Due to its cyclical nature, those under its influence are often affected at the same time. Thanks to that, friends and strangers get to vibrate in unison.

Right now we are undergoing one of its most powerful cycles: the World Cup.

This cycle has been strong enough to weaken inoculation in some Americans as was evident at the Bell House this past Saturday. South Brooklyn is in its grip.

As some of you know, I'm the Overflow Magazine World Cup Correspondent and I'll be documenting the spread of this epidemic throughout South Brooklyn bars and restaurants. Drop me a line or leave a comment if you want to join me for any game.

Please keep me in your thoughts as I undertake this arduous task and pray I manage to come out of this without a face tattoo.

PS. Here's a Lego replay of the US vs England 1-1 win from last Saturday.

Monday, June 14, 2010

About Nathan

I know it's soon, and yet, I know it's true: I'm in love with Nathan. As is often the case, things were awkward in the beginning. That didn't last long and now I can't even imagine how I ever did without Nathan.

When I go out running with Nathan, I feel badass rocking my hydration belt (yeah, I know I might be in denial here, but I believe Nathan is much better looking than other belts out there). Never underestimate the effects of badassness on your run; if you manage to turn feeling tired into feeling badass, you'll want to run more so you can feel even more badass. It's the well known and scientifically proven Tinoco-Brady Principle of Badass Propagation.

I also feel less tired and less heated when I'm well hydrated and Nathan is better at that than a Roman slave fanning me and feeding me bunches of grapes.

It's true I can't compare, but I don't need to; I'm happy with Nathan.

I bought a Nathan Sports Speed 2 - size M. Sites mentioned most runners prefer wearing these belts low and to buy by hip measurement. Though Nathan is designed to go in the front, a lot of people prefer running with him in the back. So that's what I first tried: low and in the back. Bad idea. Because of how my butt curves, wearing it low meant the bottle tops were pressing against my back.

Switch to the front, low. It bounced and was riding up, so I let it stay were it wanted to go and it worked. This all took less than one long block. Nathan doesn't bounce, but it does provide a little extra movement which took me about half a mile to get used to (the aforementioned awkward period). Since then it's been bliss.

However, I wish I had bought a size S. At my waist, I have to wear it as tight as it goes and there's a lot of belt sticking out in the back. Plus, if my waist shrinks any, the fit won't work anymore. I might either have to fiddle with the velcro or buy another one in a few weeks. (Does anyone want a gently used size M?)

I've done two long runs with Nathan and they've both been awesome. In one I miscalculated and ended up lost in Bensonhurst and doing two extra miles at noontime. Nathan was great and kept me calm. Nathan was carrying electrolytes, my phone, metrocard, money, so thanks to Nathan I was able to call my friend Reiko and she figured out where I was and how I could get out of there. The electrolytes and the water helped keep me safe in the heat and I was comfortable doing the additional miles.

I'm looking forward to long summer runs with Nathan. I know we'll have a great hot and sweaty time together.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Being watched

Runners are creatures of habit who derive comfort from routines, schedules, rituals, and mantras. Not candles, but specific pre-run sequences that go from eating and suiting up to warming up. And there's no mantra chanting, but if you could get in a runner's head during a hard stretch of a run, you'd hear the same thing repeated over and over again. It can range from common ones like "Pain inevitable, suffering is optional" to briefer ones like "one more" (step, block, or mile) to more motivational ones like "fried chicken."

Research would be needed to determine whether creatures of habit are more likely to become runners or if running acts as a personality catalyst turning otherwise normal individuals into sole obsessed maniacs who quickly become experts at Newton's First law of motion and consider distance and speed appropriate Happy Hour conversation.

I ran for about a year without a watch and finally got one last fall when I realized I had completed NYRR's 9+1 program and had some decisions to make. My running changed once I got it.

I have a hard time getting going. My body is slow to respond to my will to run. It takes me about twenty minutes or two miles to warm-up. So I tell myself I can't make any decisions before twenty minutes. I just have to keep going. If things are hurting, I can slow down as much as I need to. I listen to my body and adjust my gait. Relax. But keep it up for twenty minutes. Usually, by the end of that, the stiffness and aches are gone and I don't feel like stopping, which makes five/six milers my favorite distance. Two to warm up, by mile three I really start going, mile four I hit my stride, mile five and six are fun and by the end of that I'm pleasantly tired, but not burned out.

But I couldn't do that without my watch.

I lost my watch while Woodstalking last month. Sure, my legs hurt, but the real reason I couldn't run for the weeks after that was that I didn't have my watch. After looking for it for two weeks (I'm convinced it's somewhere in my apartment) I gave up and bought a new one, which was just the same as my old one. The better to avoid having to re-learn which buttons to press.

Oh, watch! I'm so happy to have you again!
Now at least I know how slow I'm going.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Jailbird Running

My mamma always told us not to write on our skin. She said that's what jailbirds did because they didn't have any paper. She said it in a disapproving tone that let us know we never wanted to be jailbirds. We still sometimes wrote on our hands and though it didn't land us in jail, scrubbing it off we felt the relief of a near miss.

Now there's barely a need for pen and paper, and yet, writing on my arm was the only way I could figure out how to do this.

The PPTC Summer Speed Workouts program is kicking my ass and straining my noggin. Last Thursday I had run 1000m repeats at current 10k pace. With the NYRR's handy result search, my 10k pace was easy to find, and thank be the google, knowing how long it would take me to run 1000m at that pace was not much harder (awesome pace/distance/time calculator here). I was running at the 200m track at the Armory.

In order to be able to maintain that pace, I needed to know both my target time for five loops and my target time for one. Plus how many times I was to do this, how much rest time in between, and how much warm-up/cool down. And I needed to either keep all this information easily available without access to a handbag.

Sorry, mamma.

Fortunately, today there will be no need for that. I'm running to Bay Ridge with Nathan. It's only our first run together, but I have a good feeling about this.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Because hand and eye coordination is not a strength of mine, I've never been into sports involving a racket. While growing up, tennis was for the rich kids with access to the country club. While in college I unsuccessfully flirted with table tennis, but the tables were at El Corral in the most popular food court and the potential for embarrassment was high. I had better luck with squash. A classmate of mine lived in the outskirts of Bogotá in a compound with courts and for a couple of semesters I got to play enough squash to develop the skills to hit the ball. Sometimes.

Which is why I never thought I'd ever be excited at approaching tennis courts. My arms were covered in goosebumps yesterday as I walked towards the Prospect Park Tennis Center; the sight of it drawing me in as I struggled to contain myself.

Earlier, I had gone out for an easy run as part of my new speed training. Since the previous day's hill repeats had almost ended with my leaving the contents of my stomach on the side of the road, I had started at a very easy warm-up jog. At mile one my stomach was queasy but I thought it would pass.

I entered the park at Bartel Pritchard Square and was running counter clockwise. By the time I got to Center Drive, I was one a half miles into my run and thinking I might need to make a bathroom stop. I bypassed the port-a-potty that stands sentry at Center & West Drive because that wasn't a good option yesterday and I was still hoping it would go away.

A third of a mile later I was by lake and knew I was in serious trouble. I scanned the horizon for playgrounds and comfort centers. Nada. I flipped through mental images of what was outside the park on the other side of the road to try to remember if there were any coffee shops or some other places that might be open then and came up empty.

By the time I stopped two people walking dogs to ask them if they knew where there was a restroom nearby my eyes were darting about, all systems threatening immediate shut down.

"If you walk long enough you'll bump into one," said the one with the corgi.

But I didn't have long. Time was running out; a ticking bomb was about to explode.

The skating rink would be closed and because of uneven toilet distribution on the loop I was about a mile from the next comfort station. Would this be the end? My legs were still moving but I knew it was a matter of time before it was all over for me.

Then I saw it. Through the leaves of the trees, a glimpse of where I would be saved: the Tennis Center on the Parade Grounds just outside the park.

Oh, Tennis Center, bless your hours.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gone Woodstalking

Before: The fabulous Van 1 in Woodstock.

After: The amazing I'm Woodstalking your Girlfriend team, in Dobbs Ferry 185 miles later and not much worse for the wear.

More details later, once I've caught up on sleep and food.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Flying the Flag

My terrace is too small for me to take a good shot, but the flag is flying.

This weekend, I'm Woodstalking your Girlfriend will be running from Woodstock to New York. We cross the start line at 8am and run non-stop until we get to Dobbs Ferry, hopefully not too late for lunch on Saturday. It's a relay team, some are friends, other I haven't met but they'll have become friends by the end of this.

That or we'll have killed each other from being trapped in a van together for so long. But I don't think that's going to happen.

I have no idea how this is going to go; there are too many variables, from the weather, to injuries, to exchange points in gravel lots, but whatever happens I'm sure it's going to be great.

When I mention I'm doing this I usually get one of two replies. One is a bug eyed OMG, that sounds awesome response, usually accompanied by an I wish I could do that or I'd like to do that sentiment. The other response is a puzzled, maybe even concerned for my sanity "Why? Is this for charity?"

Though proceeds from the race are donated to charity, we're not running for charity. We're doing this for fun.

Oh, it's going to be rough at times. Our team has already taken a few hits. It should have been twelve of us, but it's going to be eleven (get well, Nick!), and a few of us might be limping a little. But how can it not be fun to run with a team named I'm Woodstalking your Girlfriend that has a kick-ass logo, a flag, a song, and even a surgically enhanced mascot?

I'm doing this because I want to know what it will feel like to be at the edge of exhaustion, running along a dark road at 3am in the morning, and feel my heart fill with the sliver of light at the edge of the horizon. And I want to know what it's like to do this with friends, because at the end of that run, there will be a stinky van full of friends, ready to help me hop on, and pass me a towel to dry me off, and a blanket to keep me warm.

Random cheering texts for me and my team from Friday through Saturday are greatly encouraged.

Monday, May 3, 2010

In Recovery

It was a procedure with unexpected complications. With the chief surgeon taking a break to go run a 5k followed by post-race margaritas, what should have taken a couple of hours took almost a full day. There was concern about the sedation needed to keep Woodstock under the knife for so long, but since what took the longest was the crafting of the implant, Woodstock was kept in pre-op and only brought in when everything was ready.

While still in recovery, Woodstock is in good spirits and showing off his new smile. He also mentioned he now wants blepharoplasty to match his bigger, brighter smile and is considering having it done as soon as he has made a full recovery.

Let's hope Woodstock doesn't go all Heidi Montag on us.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Operating Room Update

There have been unexpected complications and Woodstock remains in the operating room. Though surgeons have declined to comment, from eavesdropping on the nurses this reporter has been able to deduce the difficulties arose from the prototype maxillofacial implant. Specific modifications were needed so it would fit properly around Woodstock's unusual under the chin mouth.

Since this is an experimental procedure, surgeons are proceeding with caution. The Pet Shop Boy's greatest hits can be heard coming from the operating room.

Woodstock remains in a stable condition.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Exclusive Interview

As part of the upcoming New York Ragnar Relay, Woodstock has decided to undergo a dangerous maxillofacial cosmetic procedure and has granted MUY MAJO an exclusive interview.

MM:Woodstock, welcome to the blog. Why do want this surgery?
W: Thank you, Majo for having me here and giving me an opportunity to talk openly about this. All my life I've been self-conscious about my smile. Always tight-lipped and seemingly chirpy, hiding behind a closed mouth smile, unable to express my feelings in a deeper more meaningful way. I believe cosmetic surgery will give me the confidence I crave and help me relate to others.

MM: I understand it is a painful surgery and not without risks.
W: That's true. Plush isn't safe when there's a sharpie around and the use of needle and thread involves a risk of potentially life crippling stuffing leakage. But I'll be in the hands of the top surgeon in the field.

MM: Why have this surgery now?
W: I'm ready to lead a fuller life. I heard Your Girlfriend was going to be at the New York Ragnar Relay and I'm Woodstalking her.

MM: Beg your pardon?
W: I want to join the team I'm Woodstalking Your Girlfriend as they run 185 miles from Woodstock (the town) to the Bronx and my chances of being allowed in the team will be higher once I have this procedure done.

MM: Peer pressure?
W: No. But I will be a stronger asset to the team if I can cheer them on fully with a bright smile.

MM: Thank you for sharing that with us, Woodstock. On behalf of my readers, I'd like to wish you a speedy recovery from surgery.
W: Thank you, Majo

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April showers

There are things I do that help me get out the door - that's the hardest part. To run you need to keep going, but you can't do that if you don't start.

Early morning runs leave me floating in a cream puff feeling that misbehaving printers and cranky clients can't touch. Off-leash dogs in the park and the mist rising over the lake make my heart bubble over in unlimited mimosa brunch happiness. Is there anything better than a sunrise?

My pillow.

Sometimes when the alarm goes off at five, the pillow does seem better. Leaving my clothes ready helps, specially if I left myself a treat: my favorite Adidas socks, or my favorite Run as One top. I have many favorites and I make sure I only wear one at a time for training runs so I can always have one available for bargaining with myself.

Ir was past one when I went to bed last night and though I had decided to wear my new marathon cap (waterproof!), I didn't leave everything ready.

After banging the snooze button three times, I decided I was too tired to head out on only four hours of sleep and that it was better to run after work. Yeah. Like I'll be less tired then.

Maybe not, but it might not be raining.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Spinach Soup. Vegan. Raw. That was lunch yesterday.

I mean to eat more - lamb, rice, mushrooms, maybe even some salad if I was feeling enterprising - but by the time I was done with the soup I did not feel like eating anything else.

Eating is a sensory experience and for me it's also an emotional one. What I eat changes how I feel and how I feel changes what I eat. What I do also changes it and when I'm very active I tend to crave healthier food.

This spinach soup is Jessica Hulett's recipe. She co-hosted and catered a Spring Detox event last Saturday with an all vegan menu. Though I was skeptical about how much I would like it, when it was time to eat I found myself going for seconds. The food itself was not only delicious but soothing and calming.

I'm not interested in becoming vegan or even vegetarian. It's not just the bacon, though I would never give it up, but I'm not going to avoid delicious food just because it's vegan.

I could not have the soup Jess served on Saturday because it had cayenne pepper (I'm allergic), but everyone's eyeballs were rolling to the backs of their heads and a friend who went with me dutifully obliged and had my share of soup - twice.

After the event, I went to the co-op for the main ingredients: spinach and avocado and I made it for lunch yesterday. I served myself a small cup and sipped. It was rich, smooth, flavorful, and surprisingly satisfying. If this is what vegan tastes like, I think there's room for it in my diet.

Particularly if it helps me run.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


You're right. That was rude of me. It's just that things between us are still so uncertain that...

No! That's not what I meant! I meant new. We're still getting used to each other. It seemed abrupt to introduce you like that - it would've been awkward. But you're right, it's worse to just have you there, assuming everyone knows who you are.

I thought having you next to Pink yesterday would be enough since Pink is a regular and has often modeled for me, but that was just a cop out.

Green, I'm very happy to have you in my life. You're refreshingly springy and I appreciate your enthusiasm for early morning runs. I know you used to spend a lot of time in a box and that being with me has been adjustment, but I want you to know I'm excited you're here to run with me.

Apologies for getting you soaked and muddy last Wednesday night, I hope you enjoyed your beauty rest on Thursday morning while I went out with Pink.

I hope you're as excited as I am about Ragnar and training for the marathon.

Oh, and that trip to DSW on Thursday night, that has nothing to do with my feelings for you. You understand that, right?

Friday, April 23, 2010

April is the runniest month

April 7th was the lottery for NYC Marathon spots. Though I had my 9+1 guaranteed entry spot, it was fun to follow it and see if any of my friends made it. There was a live webcast of part of the draw, and though NYRR did not realize there would be thousands of people from all over the world and Mary Wittenberg sounded like a sleepy walrus for the first five minutes of it, I still got sympathetic goosebumps for all those who were just finding out they got in.

It was all over by 1pm. Results were posted and those who gained entry got their congratulatory email. Those who didn't, like Ms. Lizz, got to thank NYRR for being "extra generous with that salt shaker" by being told three times that they didn't get a spot. Sorry, Lizz.

April 7th is seven months out. Most marathon training programs for beginners are 5-6 months long, but these programs don't start from the couch. They assume you've been running regularly 3-4 times a week and can do 5M in one go.

The 5M is not a problem, but I've never managed to keep a steady running program so it was time to get my ass off the couch and get myself used to running every other day or so. No excuses and no counting bike rides or broomball games as runs as I did when I was getting ready for the Brooklyn half-marathon last year.

So, instead of waking up early putting one word in front of the other, I've been dragging myself out the door and placing foot in front foot until I could call it running. I'm averaging 15M a week which would have seemed impossible two years ago, but now is not nearly enough.

It's time to increase mileage and do it in a hurry because I'm part of a team that on May 14-15 will be running 184.8 Miles from Woodstock to New York.

And yes. I'm aware that this is not the most efficient way to travel back from Woodstock, but is there anything better than to run with a team called "I'm Woodstalking you Girlfriend"?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just add water

It works for seeds, it works for humans. It's good before runs, it's good after. Can be applied topically or internally.

Topically it helps us not stink. Internally it helps us not be thirsty. Beer helps with that too, but it's because beer also has water.

Lately I've been having trouble figuring out how to get enough water in me. I'm a water guzzler. I don't take lady-like sips but tend to chug it loudly, entire glasses at a time. I love cold water, but can't drink ice water - it tends to end up on my shirt.

If there's water handy, I'll drink it, but if it's not right there, I can forget to get myself any until the sides of my throat are glued together and my skin feels like it's made of paper. One liter bottles are my favorite, but disposable plastic ones make me feel guilty and stainless steel ones make my back hurt. Will have to figure something out.

I've been blogging less and running more, but I think if I add water I'll be able to do both.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stretching is good

My sciatica was talkative this morning when I woke up, so I decided to stretch before my run.

I don’t stretch enough. How little I stretch was clear to me once I got down to the floor for some action with the foam roller and found this guy (see picture) hanging out under my couch.

He’s been since evicted, along with a few other relatives of his that took offense when I got out my broom.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm not very much into cookies. As I've mentioned before, to me most cookies are too sweet, too dry and with very little in the way of texture. That doesn't mean I'm above enjoying a good cookie, particularly if it's freshly baked.

A couple of weeks ago I ended up with five boxes of sprinkles left over from work - an occupational hazard. I offered some to Reiko since her sons like to bake. In turn, she invited me over for cookies on Monday night after work.

With her son, we made chocolate chocolate chip cookies with sprinkles. They were warm and gooey when we ate them. The chocolate made them dark and rich, not too sweet, and the sprinkles added extra texture.

"Would you like to take some with you?" Reiko asked me as I was getting ready to leave.
"Um." I had already eaten a bunch, plus eaten plenty of raw dough. I wasn't sure I wanted any more.
"Take some. They won't be as good later but they'll still be good," she insisted.

I took them - half a dozen cookies in a small container.

They didn't last twenty-four hours.

And then there were Girl Scout cookies at work yesterday. Samosas and Thin Mints which kept making their way to my desk.

Help me! I'm turning into a cookie monster!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Last Friday I was on the train working on this puzzle. The New York Times crossword, edited by Will Shortz. I was filling in words left and right, up and down, feeling like a badass wordsmith while doing so.

I was having an internal giggle thinking how impressed anybody who might notice me would be (ha!), since they would assume I was working on that morning's puzzle - the Friday puzzle, second in difficulty only to the gigantor weekend ones.

I wasn't. This was the Monday puzzle, which I had grabbed on Tuesday at work. (I'd also grabbed the answers posted on Tuesday but I haven't looked, I swear!)

It's Tuesday again and I haven't finished it yet.

This is my life now. I feel like I'm having Monday's breakfast on Tuesday, re-heated on Friday, only to realize there's still crumbs left a week later, I skipped lunch, and there's dishes in the sink. But I'm getting better at it.

It took me a couple of weeks to get used to writing and editing while standing, but I didn't take anyone's eyes out while I was developing that skill. But I still sometimes step some toes: so sorry Mr. Hipster Dude with the dark green bag and the ironic 'stache. I'll be more careful next time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Three runs and sunny

Three runs in 24hrs was challenging even without the help of a nor'easter. I ran 11M split into three runs, which was not much more than last weekend, but I thought I'd give myself a break.

Every woman is different, so I can't speak for all. But I can speak for myself and for friends who have shared their experiences. Strenuous physical activity during your period is wonderful. It makes everything harder and more painful (who doesn't love cramps!) and you get to feel more of a badass than you already are for managing to forge through.

"Survived rain, wind and hills and maybe a broken vagina, but it was a good 65 miles," was how a good friend of mine who bikes put it after a ride to Montauk.

Life would just be too easy otherwise. And since we can't organize our sporting events around it, then we might as well train anyway. So I only added about half a mile this week, but I'll start upping the mileage next week.

And now, a brief commercial interruption for an ad that made my day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Three runs and a nor'easter

The hardest part about going for three runs within twenty-four hours was figuring out what to wear. I'm not above pulling out from the bin a dirty and slightly stinky running shirt when needed (not that I do this often, oh no), but I draw the line at wearing something that is still damp from the previous run.

Since this weekend's runs featured a nor'easter, I wasn't only dealing with my own sweat, but also the sky's sweat pouring on me. I was completely soaked after my first run. For the second run I was annoyed at not being able to wear my favorite gloves or my favorite tights, but I had something to wear. For the third run there was nothing to do. It was either admit defeat and not do my three runs in twenty-four hours, or put on still damp running gear.


Fortunately, once I started running and warmed up enough to sweat I couldn't tell old dampness apart from new dampness.

The runs themselves were fun. There was a new pond in Prospect Park at the bottom of the small hill across from the baseball diamond. The ducks had already found their way there and were doing upside down dances with their tails and feet flapping in the air. Some trees had decided it was time for spring cleaning and had dropped branches.

But best of all, I managed to do them and all body parts are still in fine working order. Next weekend, another three runs in twenty-four hours, adding mileage this time.

Why am I doing this? Because I'm Woodstalking your Girlfriend, my pretties!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Dear Sun,

It was so nice getting to spend time with you lately. I know you must be tired after shining for days and days, but I wanted to let you know I miss you.

Things are better when you’re here. You give everything an extra spark and there are more smiles to go around.

I know there are some who don't like you, they might even block you and hide from you, but please don't take it personally. You are awesome and there are plenty of us who love spending time with you.

Hoping to run with you this weekend,


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Round 2

It’s a good thing I like grits and congee because that’s all I got to eat yesterday. For dessert: stained glass jell-o and homemade condensed milk ice cream.

Last week condensed milk made headlines in the New York Times. Glad to see it get the recognition it deserves, I decided to buy myself a few cans and have fun with them. First on the list was stained glass jell-o. Next was condensed milk ice cream. Could making ice cream be as easy as the New York Times claimed?

It was. But I found it too intense, so I added spices to cut the taste: cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. I brought both to a party on Saturday night where they were well received.

After Monday night’s close encounter of the dental kind, I was apprehensive when heading back for round 2. It was a different dentist this time. All she had to do was file one of the fillings to set my bite right again and she did that in less than a minute.

She did not react when I mentioned I was very upset about my appointment the previous day. She didn’t ask me why. Later when she asked me why my jaw hurt so much I told her about how I had received services on Monday night without the benefit of being under anesthesia. I told her the anesthesia was taking time to take effect and I hadn’t been allowed to wait for it to numb me.

“Sometimes that happens.”

Yeah. Not going there again.

My evening was saved by the last of the stained glass jell-o and ice cream. I can chew now, but my mouth is still sore I can’t open it wide enough for large bites – so I’m being all lady-like in my eating.

And using all this as an excuse for more ice cream.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Just breathe through it

Those are not words you want to hear your dentist say.

It's not that there was no troglodyte infested cave in my tooth, it's that he didn't see it until I pointed it out a third time. The minute he saw it, he admitted I was right and he proceeded to get the excavation tools.

We can do both today, he said. You're not going to need anesthesia for the little one, but you're going to need some for the other one.

He gave me a shot near the cave. While that took effect, he went to work on the other side of my mouth. When he came back to start working on it, he noticed it was still too sensitive so he gave me another shot and tried again.

A cold blast of scraping rotating pain went through my tooth and straight to my eyeballs leaving sparks ricocheting in my skull. My eyes flew open as my arms gripped the chair and I grunted so I wouldn't scream.

Sorry, he said. It'll just be minute. Keep your eyes closed.

I'd like to take a moment now to apologize to all those of you who are afraid of dentists. I now realize I'd never had a bad experience at the dentist and I had no concept of the pain you had gone through.

While growing up I always saw the family dentist - my mother's cousin. He pleasantly chatted away with my mom as he worked on my teeth. They caught up on the lives and minor scandals of distant relatives as their chatter lulled me into indifferent boredom. When we were done, we would go downstairs to the Heladeria Americana and have a frozomalt under the almendros.

When I moved to Bogotá, I never bothered to go to the dentist. I just waited until I visited my parents back in Barranquilla, and I had only had one other dentist in New York. I'm only now realizing how gentle she was.

So I shut my eyes and he went in again with renewed vigor. I held on to those armrests until I almost bruised them

You know that cottony feeling you get from dental anesthesia where your mouth and lips feel like they've grown three times their size and your skin is made of paper? I didn't feel that. I was not numb at all and I tried to tell him.

Don't try to to talk right now, he said. I know it hurts but I can't give you any more anesthesia.

After digging out a few more bucketfuls of debris, he decided he was done. He patched things up and sent me away, telling me not to eat anything that required chewing for the rest of the day.

I paid and headed out, glad to have been released alive. I was a few blocks away when my mouth started going numb. By the time I got home my lips felt they were the size of Texas and I didn't know where half my face had gone. Anesthesia, I could have used your help a little sooner. Why did you take your sweet time stopping by?

No food for me last night - just some broth. But no food for me today either. I can't chew, I can't open my mouth too wide and even yawning hurts.

Oh, and my bite is off. It looks like I might have to go back tonight for round 2.