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Twelve days ago I ran the Nike Women’s [Half] Marathon. Remember that race? Have I mentioned it?

Anyways. It was 12 days ago. What have I done since? Well, for starters, I got a massage and sat on my butt for five days. Then, after that, I ran a 10k with my cousin. (Sean of Seanzanne.)

Yeah, not smart. Apparently you need to keep your legs moving if you want them to race for you. Its somewhere in the fine print of the sport… I just overlooked it.

The first three miles were hellish and I felt like my legs were full of cement. But at mile 4ish I loosened up and picked up the pace. Yay for negative splits!

I finished at…

Not great.... but not baaaad!

There was honestly one point in the race that I was completely 100% OK with stopping, walking off the course and Google mapping my way back to the finish line to wait for my cousin.

I didn’t. Obviously. But I wouldn’t feel bad if I had.

So, lesson learned. Don’t stop running. It makes it that much harder.

I also hit up the beach for a run. I havent run the Jones Beach boardwalk in a long time and it was SO REFRESHING. It was the absolute PERFECT combination of sun, breeze and warmth that makes me happy. Like warm fuzzies deep in your soul happy. Everything is perfect when running by the beach on a clear sunny day. EVERYTHING. I’m such a Pisces.

Ok, back to the race. When I ended my recap I declared one more order of business — a THANK YOU.

I don’t know where to start and I know I am going to tear up at some point in trying to say this.

When I asked you all to support my race, I was looking for some financial donations and maybe some running tips. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that I needed so much more.

The physical part of training was turned out to be slightly more difficult than I expected but the fundraising was much easier than I expected. That, B&Gs is allll thanks to you.

I asked you to support a good cause that had some personal meaning to me and would make a difference and you all did. You gave me a reason to run and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

When I say I needed so much more, I am referring to understanding, patience and compromise.  Annnnd here come the tears. 

Thank you for putting up with my “alcohol-free, early-to-bed Friday nights.”

Thank you for tolerating my crankiness while my body adapted to being tortured four days a week and had sleep removed from its daily regimen.

Thank you for adapting the menu when I showed up to dinner with sweet potatoes because “I have a long run in the morning and I need running fuel.”

Thank you for feeding me when I randomly showed up at the house (mom and dad) all sweaty and gross and then proceed to eat everything in sight.

Thank you for understanding why I needed to postpone Friday night pub night for, like, 5 months.

Thank you for listening to me talk about running… alllll the time. I mean, like all the time. I know, I was annoying.

Thank you for asking me about how training is going even though you know its going to start a really long rambling about running.

Thank you for all your FB “likes” and comments on Nike+ to cheer me on during my runs. I honestly get so excited when my iPod cheers for me.

Thank you for the stories about your loved ones that battled Leukemia or Lymphoma. You brought tears to my eyes — and emotion is running fuel.

Thank you for all the articles, links and magazines you passed on with advice.

Thank you for taking care of me when I thought I could still drink two martinis.

Thank you for the tums when my stomach decided to backlash after I decided to jump full into a 300-crunches a day ab workout. (Yeah, I’ve since toned that down…)

Thank you for not commenting on the smells coming from my day-two running shorts.

Thank you for discussing running shoe brands (Brooks rule!!), hydration belts and fuel packets for periods of time much longer than necessary and I ever thought possible.

Thank you for almost always getting my “egg and ham on a scooped out whole wheat bagel” order correct.

Thank you for letting me stay at your apt in the city Friday night so I didn’t have to take a 5:30am train to get to practice on time.

Thank you for always making sure there were lots of carbo-packed sweet treats sitting around the house — and ice cream for the hot days.

Thank you to my coaches for all your help and support. Esp Coach Christine and Coach Wanda. You are both awesome and kinda my idols.

Thank you for dealing with my taper crankiness.

Thank you for going on spontaneous Saturday morning runs with me when I mis-COOCOO the train schedule and miss practice.

Thank you for all the music recommendations. I LOVED my playlist!

Thank you for all your texts and messages DURING the race… they were so much fun to read afterwards.

Thank you for the congratulatory flowers.

Thank you for your generous gifts and cards before the big day. They meant the world to me.

Thank you for letting me, mom and Andrew stay at your house in San Fran and stepping up as lead Marathon Groupie.

Thank you mom and Andrew for coming to San Francisco. I know you didnt really want to have to go there, but you did for me. 🙂 It made me so happy to see you guys there.

See? Sooo excited! Hugs anyone? I'm not THAT sweaty yet!

Thank you for keeping me going. Whenever I felt frustrated and down, someone was there to perk me up, remind me that I was capable of doing whatever it was I wasn’t sure I could do and encourage me to troop on no matter what.

Most of all, thank you for donating to such an amazing cause. LLS provides almost all the funds to help patients get treatment, and they work their butts off to raise money. Like REALLY work their butts off… and some of them run their butts off. lol. Their enthusiasm made me want to work all that much harder.

It took me a while to get to this entry because I didn’t feel confident that I could express the emotion that goes along with what I wanted to say. Now, reading this, I realize I am still not capable of expressing my gratitude. This sucks.

But I honestly don’t know if its possible, so I am going to give you these words for now… and maybe I’ll try again soon. (Saaaaay, with baked goods?)

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I wish I could hug you all at once.

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In my Nike Women’s [Half] Marathon recap I referenced my inner white robot. As I typed it, I realized I had never actually discussed the inner white robot before and therefore was making no sense to most [read: all] of you.

Back in May, when running a half-marathon was only a figment of my dreams, I stumbled upon an article on Women’s Health called:

Determination: How to Get What You Want.

Determination? I have determination. Or do I? I must read this and find out. 

And without getting all weird and deep on you, it kinda changed my outlook on life… well, maybe not life, but definitely running. So I think you should read it too…

Ok…

you finished…?

If you didn’t read it, basically what it talks about is having grit.

… in 2002, Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, and her colleagues interviewed high achievers in various fields and found that they all shared one personal quality: grit. Defined as “sustained perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” grit seemed to explain why more top CEOs hail from state schools than from the Ivy League, and why some people gut out that last series of situps in boot camp while others flop on the floor when the burn really kicks in. According to Duckworth, “Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges and maintaining effort and interest despite failure, adversity, and plateaus.” While some people cut their losses when faced with boredom or disappointment, those with grit stay the course.

The article uses 29-year-old Micha Burden as an example. An average swimmer who went out and trained for a grueling ocean marathon called Open Water Swimming. She wanted to not only compete, but win. It states:

“I showed up for my workouts and got my butt kicked every day,” she says. But she didn’t give up, despite the fact that even Kenneth Baum, the sports performance consultant she had hired, pointed out how difficult it would be for her to reach her ambitious goal. “Her times were so slow; she was far off the national mark,” admits Baum, author of The Mental Edge, who nonetheless stuck by his client. “At one point I was thinking, You’re kidding—this isn’t going to happen. And then she blew everybody’s mind.”

And everyone out of the water. In October 2007, Burden managed to beat 24 superior athletes to win the U. S. Open Water World Championship Trials in Fort Myers, Florida. How’d she pull it off? Baum chalks it up to grit.

I remember reading that and thinking, Hell, I don’t even want to win the damn half-marathon. I just want to finish.

So pre-marathon sign-up I decided, whatever it is I decided to do next, I was doing it with grit. 

The article goes on to explain that while some people naturally have grit, others can learn and develop it. Phew. I was in the latter category. I knew I could do it — but without some tricks it’d be hard.

Baum, the author noted above, suggests in the article “latching on to mind games to help you push through the discomfort.” The article quotes:

Baum personally uses imagery to get through difficult races. “I say to myself, My legs are like pistons, my lungs like bellows,” he explains. “It lets me focus on the mechanics and not on the pain.”

After reading this article, I was at the beach attempting about 3-4 miles; it was one of my first times out after signing on the dotted line and I felt a stitch abruptly tear through my abdomen.

I thought to myself “I am not human; this is not pain. I am… I am…” and completely forgetting the reference he had made — probably becuase I don’t even know what pistons look like — the white robot from the movie, I, Robot, popped into mind.

I trucked on realizing about a half a mile later that while my stitch was still there, I hadn’t been paying attention. As far as I was concerned I was a machine that was not held down by human traits such as stomach cramps. Grrrrrrr.

Pretty intense right?

Whatever. It works.

There were a couple times out there on the Nike course that I channeled my inner white robot — one being up the big hill and then sporadically throughout the last two miles. Oh and at the end when I sprinted to the finish line.

Here I am channeling my inner white robot to make it to the finish line as fast as bloody possible.

Can’t you see the white robot there? See? Vrooom!

One other thing worth noting in the article is that grit requires more than just mental determination. It requires passion. You have to love what you are doing to want to get out and do it.

I did/do love running. But not all the time. There were days that I ran because I had to and days that I ran because I wanted to.

Now that the race is in the past *tear* a lot of people have asked me, “Are you going to keep it up?” I remind myself before flashing a look of offense that before May I was a very sporadic runner. It’s a very very fair question.

The answer is also very very easy. OF COURSE.

I genuinely really enjoy it. I love the sweat. I love the runner’s high. I love the sore legs. I love the anticipation before a run. I love knowing that I have that outlet.

I’ll keep it up. I may not run on those days that I “don’t feel like running.” I will likely replace some of those days with yoga/pilates classes. But running’s here to stay.

However, with that said, I did tell myself I would take a break after the run. The tightness and pain I was feeling after the run was too much to consider running in the next few days.

But that was before I went for a massage (THANKS TO MY LADIES FOR SUCH A WONDERFUL AND PERFECT GIFT!) at my favorite spa and all the pain washed away. Seriously, that woman had the hands of a hot fireman who had just given me a blue box (there go those visualizations again). She was WONDERFUL!

Today I felt the anticipation. My legs were itching to get out there… so I planned on coming home and doing just that.

Yeeeeeah, well, that didnt happen. I got sidetracked and distracted.

Instead of being outdoors pounding pavement I’m sitting in my kitchen with a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of champers (THANK YOU LIBBY!!!) celebrating not running. I held off on cheese the entire week before the run (it tends to upset my stomach) so I needed to indulge a bit.

This is basically my idea of heaven. Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry market in SF.

Oh, I am also casually looking at the photo of me running that is now my iPhone backdrop. (Oh boy!)

I clearly have no problem celebrating myself with myself; who else loves me this much. lol.

As to getting back in my running shoes, I am running a 10K with my cousin this weekend, the NYC Urbanathlon next weekend…

and currently Googling 2012 halfs… Nashville? Napa? New Orleans?

What do you think? Any recommendations for the perfect location for a SECOND half marathon?

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Half-marathon? Check.

I did it. I ran 13.1 miles of up and down the San Francisco hills alongside 22,000 other [crazy] women and 2,000 men.

Where do I start… seriously, my brain is not functioning at the moment so expect this blog to make as much sense as running 13.1 miles up and down hills for fun does.

I slept about 4 solid hours Saturday night before the nightmares about missing the race kicked in waking up every ten minutes to check the time. Combined with the 5 hours of sleep I got last night after the 13.1-mile jaunt around town and some afternoon sight-seeing, I’m in the “bite me zone.”

What is the “bite me zone” you ask? I just learned about the “bite me zone” at the TNT inspiration dinner (which was RIDICULOUSLY tear-jerking and inspiring) from our speaker, John Bingham, runner and author. As he says, it’s the point of the race when “you are running out there with your bestest girlfriend… you are closer to this person than anyone in your life… you are closer to this person than your own family… you love this person more than you do your own children… and around mile 21 you turn to her and say, ‘SHUT UUUUUP!!!!!!’”

It’s true ladies and gents. I approached it… and I wasn’t even playing near “mile 21.” Ha! I was on the verge of my “bite me zone” at two points – mile 10ish right before I saw my family cheering me on, and right NOW!

Bare with me please.

The race.

Throughout this training I have on numerous occasion referred to this event as the ‘second hardest physical challenge I have embarked on to date.’

I was wrong. It is THE hardest. Backpacking 192-miles across Northern England is a piece of cake compared to this. Psssssh. Coast to Coast, you got NOTHING!

But I am proud – VERY proud, actually – to say that I not only ran the bloody thing, but I ran it smart. According to Nike – and who knows better than the sports goddess herself (yes, Nike is a female, duh!) – my average pace across the 5k, 10k and 15k splits were within a 15-second range. If that’s not some smart pacing, I don’t know what is.

I averaged a 12-minute mile according to my final time. And although slower than I was hoping for (and am capable of on flat ground), I tracked my first 3 miles at around 11:30ish so I started slow and was consistent.

This is a big deal!! Consistency is not my strong suit in life. This is a MAJOR breakthrough. MAJOR!

Holy crap! Wait, am I actually starting slow and pacing myself? Since when do I do this? *random thought that floated into my consciousness during the first couple miles.

Not only did I rock this whole concept of pacing, but I rocked the hills. Well, two of the three at least.

I was very lucky going into this run. I not only had all the TNT coaches’ advice and insight into the course, but we stayed with my mom’s friend from college and her family (Monique and Phil) and Phil is a hardass runner[slash]biker[slash]triathlete. He’s just an overall endurance bad-ass. He also knows every running route in San Francisco. EVERY one. Like I said, I was very lucky. (Also because M&P are lifetime winners of the “best host[ess]” award, but that’s a story for another blog.)

Phil took one look at the race course map and began describing the terrain. He had the course figured out, so I knew when to expect the big hill and what to expect. Actually he thought there was a chance we were running up stairs for the first hill, so mentally, I was prepared for stairs.

Mike 5.5ish is where life began to suck for a bit.

Luckily, there were no stairs. As we ran up the road at the big hill I was faced with the butts of a lot of walkers. Come on people, it’s San Francisco; you knew it’d be hilly! RUUUUN!! 

I was determined to run this damn thing. I thought of a story my mentor had told us about a previous race:

“Last year when I was running up the big hill I overheard someone I passed say ‘New York City? There are no hills in New York City!’”

ha! Somewhat true. NYC may not have a lot of hills. But no city better breeds determination and competiveness than the big apple. I was running that god damn effin’ hill even it killed me and anyone in my way.

We all lived; don’t worry!

Heading up a hill #2, the smallest of them all. It doesn't look steep but trust me, it wasn't flat!

Can’t say I had this attitude throughout all the hills. The second one I managed just as well – Jelly Beans made it fun – but the heading up the third hill I had to stop a couple times to quell the jack-hammering in my legs. No time lost, I basically butt-slid downhill to make up time. 🙂

I ran the whole thing solo. I can’t decide if I run more effectively solo or with people. Hmmmm. But it made me appreciate the entertainment along the way more: There was bands, drummers, a DJ, the Oakland choir, etc, etc. Oh and at one point they posted signs with all the “reasons to run.” I wish I had photographed them all. Here’s what I can remember and my response.

Hmmm. I want to see how many of these apply to me!

  1. Leukemia   YES! Obviously, DUH!
  2. Me   Yes! I am totally a little bit selfish and doing this for me.
  3. My friends and family   LOVE YOU SEAN, SUE AND EVERYONE ELSE!
  4. Massaged afterwards   Nordstroms here I come – thank you to my ladies!
  5. Skinny Jeans Ahead   Bought my first pair a couple weeks ago. Hehe.
  6. [something about eating a lot]   hahahahahahahaha! Let’s not even go there.
  7. Celebratory cocktails   They mean “celebratory champagne chugging” right?
  8. Bucket List   I prefer to call it a live-life list…. But sure, its there.

It went on and on. There wasn’t a reason I couldn’t relate to. Apparently I was in the right place!

It was the entertainment, the “reason” signs, the “GO ELIZABETH” cheers from random coaches and supporters, the 21,999 women around me and my obnoxious stubbornness that kept me going most of the time. It was also my family. At mile 5 (which I knew because I was texting with my mom during the run to make sure I didn’t miss them) I looked ahead and saw a bright pink and a bright teal “I ❤ NY” t-shirt, complete with “Team Elizabeth Cheer Squad” pins standing on the road divider scanning the crowd. I had imagined myself sleekly running by like a jaguar hungry for dinner, but let’s face it, I don’t run sexy, so instead I ran over to them and wiped my sweatiness all over their clean NY Cheer Squad uniforms in the form of a hug. My brother took the opportunity to snap away.

Hands up! Baby Hands up!

For a second there I think I can run without watching the ground in front of me. I can't.

I saw them again at mile 10 – like I said, on the verge of the “bite me zone.” But I managed to express excitement and do a little dance for the camera before Monique jumped in for a brief coaching session. (With Phil’s addiction to endurance sports, she is a Master Marathon Groupie.)

You can put running shoes on the dancer, but she's still gonna throw her hands in the air.

"How are you feeling?" I'm effin tired to be honest.

I was being chased... by 10,000+ runners.

From this point on I basically wanted to die. It’s the only way I would stop and I couldn’t see how it was possible for me to finish this thing.

At mile 11 the clock read 2:36:XX.  That’s 24ish minutes for me to finish 2.1 miles. That’s less than 12-minute mile – with a double stitch and sporadic star-sightings. (Repeat Harry Potter thought-sequence from JackRabbit Race.)

An under 3-hour half-marathon didn’t seem to be on the horizon.

I tried though. I picked up the pace, ran till the stars came, sometimes saw black spots, slowed it down a bit, then picked it up again. Ugh.

I won’t lie kids. I will tell you all the truth. There was a lot of walking being done by these feet during those last two miles. I passed the “Full Marathon” and “Half Marathon” split off and laughed at “June 2011 Liz” for ever entertaining the thought of running a full marathon first time out.

What the hell were you thinking Liz? You seriously worry me sometimes. Why are you not under 24-hour supervision? I am taking all decision-making privileges away from you until further notice.

You are seriously a lunatic.

It wasn’t until I saw the finish line that I found my inner white robot. Have I discussed the I, Robot visualization or am I losing you? Is anyone actually still reading this?

About effin time!

I rounded the curve out of Golden Gate park onto the highway along the beach. There was about a 1/4-mile to go and I could see the clock.

2:56:XX.

OH SHIT LIZ! You are soooo gonna beat three hours.

RUN!!! RUN!!!

RUUUUUUUN!!!

I finished at 2:59. Minus the 22:23 that it took me to get to the starting line and my final time is…

TA-DA!!!

I can not WAIT to see the photos taken during that stretch. I could hear myself grunting and panting and feel my lips gripping my teeth. I was seething. I don’t even know if I could tell you what that is. But I felt seething going on.

I was in an all out, run from the cops, run for your life, run like a jaguar trying to feed her cubs, kinda sprint. I was not finishing this race with an ounce of energy left.

So I ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, and stopped… right BEFORE the finish line.

And I stepped over it as the world flashed black and white and my heart began begging for mercy.

I had no choice. There was such a bottleneck of people who had crossed and were waiting in the “collect your Tiffany’s Necklace from a hot SF fireman in a tux” line that I couldn’t have run over the finish line or I’d have knocked them all down.

Oh, did I tell you I got a Tiffany’s necklace? It’s their version of a “medal.” And a hot fireman did give it to me.

See? Tiffany’s “NWM” Necklace. (More proof that Nike is female.)

See? Hot Fireman.

Put those two together and you get one Happy Liz!

See? HAPPY LIZ!!!

As soon as I passed through the “collect your Tiffany’s Necklace from a hot SF fireman in a tux” line…

and the “collect your race shirt in any size even though they made you pick one ahead of time” line…

and the “here’s a bag of coupons and crap because obviously shopping is the first thing on your mind now” line…

and the “here’s a water bottle; you look like you are networking at the pearly gates” line…

and the “here’s a plastic blanket that you are going to wear more for show than warmth” line…

I stopped seeing stars… found my family… and smiled for the camera as if I had just, well, finished my first half-marathon and was handed a Tiffany’s necklace by a hot fireman.

Family cheer squad

Family cheer squad (including Monique; she is now family) was pretty proud!

Loving this plastic blanket thingy...

...it makes me feel so important!

Thanks family! I can’t express more than that right now. Brain… fart!

Now, there is one element of this event that I have left out entirely: Team in Training. The race was fun; it was exciting; this was an experience I will never forget. But I didn’t just do it for “fun.”

I raised more than $3,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society so far

and YOU CAN STILL DONATE!

The training, the prep and the race was was also a tearful, heart-warming, sad, confusing, joyful and a whole mix of other emotions I don’t know the words for experience.

I can’t even begin to thank you all right now, so I am not going to. Anything and everything I have to say to you, my friends, family, colleagues and other relationship categories, requires thought and eloquence – two mental processes I have no control over at this late, sleepless hour of life.

So stay tuned.

Till then, know that I love you all, you inspire me and…

I RAN A F*CKIN’ HALF MARATHON! WOOOOOOOO!!!!

PS. In honor of new experiences, I am posting this without any editing. Lord help tomorrow-Liz’s re-read.

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AHHHHHH!!!

If all goes well, and as planned, in 24 hours I will be a half-marathoner. I will be at the San Francisco beach celebrating with my family and team.

Even though I’ve been in San Francisco since Wednesday night, it’s only now starting to hit me that tomorrow, I am running 13.1 miles.

Holy shit!

I’m feeling a mix of motivation and dread. We are staying in SF with my mom’s college friend and her husband is a 5-time marathoner and many more half-marathoner, triathlete and a bunch of other length’ers. He keeps saying I’ll be just fine. So I know I will be.

I think my nervousness comes from the sheer size of this race. There are 20,000+ peeps running the Nike Women’s Marathon and Half, including all 56 (is that right?) chapters of the LLS Team in Training program. I have seen a lot of them about the city over the last couple of days — ladies with Team in Training t-shirts, ladies with running/race t-shirts, ladies and men running around the city and ladies sight-seeing with killer leg muscles that they MUST be running this marathon. (Seriously, I have never seen so many amazingly toned quads and calves in one place before. I’m in awe.)

In the meantime, we have been doing some awesome sight-seeing. I am in love with San Francisco. Like, I want to pack my bags up and move here tomorrow, in love. Not sure why, maybe just because I’ve always had it in my head that I wanted to live here without any rhyme or reason, but I love it. Everywhere you look, there are amazing views, hills, water, bridges. It’s got a bustling NY-style financial district (downtown) area, fun-looking houses/apts and fabulous food. The only thing missing is snow and snowboarding — but Lake Tahoe is only three hours away. That’ll do I guess.

Here are a some (a very few) highlights of the touristy part of the trip so far:

The big gold bridge

Andrew and mom on Alcatraz island in front of the big gold bridge.

The coast at Muir Beach

Redwoods at Muir Woods

Fisherman's Wharf

Us atop the hill of Coit Tower

Andrew on Twin Peaks with the Bay and the city in the background

Mom and Monique (our amazing hostess) atop Twin Peaks in front of the bridge

And that’s that kids, I’m off to hit up the markets and do more sight-seeing…

Then its off to the hotel to get ready for the big race. AHHHHHHH!!

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So I am on the way to my race. Well, I am on my way to San Francisco, not heading to the starting line just yet. Buuuuut it’s approaching go time.

Over the last few days people keep asking me the million-dollar question.

“Are you ready?”

Good bloody question, people.

Have I trained? Yes! Lots.

Can I run 13.1 miles? I think so.

Did I raise money? Absolutely! (And I’m not done. You can still donate: How about I’ll trade you 13.1 miles for $13.10, deal?)

Am I nervous? Kinda undecided. I’m not. But sometimes I am.

The thing is, I know I can do it…

… iiiiiiiiiiiif I have a good run. Major factor.

90% of the time I feel confident that it will be impossible for me to not have a great run. I mean its my first bloody race. How can I not be bouncing off the walls hills?

The remaining 10% of the time I am absolutely terrified that I’ll get there, rocket from the finish line and have a really really bad run. And its not having a bad run that worries me — I’ve had bad runs before; I can manage them — it’s realizing its a bad run early on, knowing I have to continue it for another 10+ miles and hating it.

Because one thing I haven’t figured out yet is how to turn a bad run into a good run — or even a mediocre run for that matter. And I’m already contemplating where to run my next one so I can’t hate half-marathons just yet.

My bad runs usually stem from a combination of lack of/poor choice of fuel at any point in the previous 12 hours and annoying weather.

There isn’t much I can do other than prepare for the best run of my life:

  • I’m doing my best to eat a 60% healthy-carb diet and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  • I’ve got a range of clothes to choose from to be ready for all types of weather.
  • I’m staying positive.
  • My fingers are crossed

What else can I do? Either way, this is going to be my longest run and second biggest physical accomplishment to date.

All along I’ve just taken my training in stride without much thought to the immensity of what I’m about to do.

Every long run was a small step closer to a goal that was becoming increasingly less intimidating and closer to my reach. At this point, it just feels like another Saturday morning run — not a big accomplishment of any sorts.

But at some point last night when I was packing I realized something:

I AM ABOUT TO RUN A HALF-MARATHON!

ME!

LIZ!

For a few minutes, I saw this goal from the same perspective I had seen it months ago — like something a crazy person would do — and now I am doing it. WTF?

So here goes nothing Bs&Gs. Wish me luck! (and donate $13.10…!)

Oh, and just in case I’m not prepared and my run turns bad, I have a back-up plan. If I’m out there in horrendous pain, wanting to crawl off the side of the road into a ditch, I am going to channel both my competitive and stubborn traits at the same time. I have a friend I met recently who ran a half-marathon without any training whatsoever in response to a bet. If he could do it without collapsing, you can bet your sweet arse I’m sure as hell going to.

See, I knew my stubbornness would come in handy one day!

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I received the best email recently. My friend, who I will not name but call Izzy for the purpose of this blog, emailed me awesome news. Her birthday just passed. In addition to kicking off her 29th anniversary of life with an awesome Mexican dinner from her favorite hole in the wall, she…

wait for it…

 

WENT FOR A RUN!

Her email read:

“So guess what, I am starting to run. I ran a half mile yesterday and it is the 2nd time I did it on the treadmill. That might not sound huge to you but that is the first time I ran in 6 years.

I am going to make it my “29” goal. I want to be able to run a half marathon for 30. That gives me a whole year to work up to 8 miles. You look like you are in great shape and it was inspiring.”

I honest to goodness threw my fist in the air when I read, “I ran a half mile…” No Izzy, that isn’t huge to me, that is extremely humungous to me. I  couldn’t wait to reply to her email and talk running. So I did. And we did. And she’s still on board.

What I love about Izzy, among other things, is her sheer determination/ stubbornness to meet her accomplishments. Some of my favorite quotes from our email thread include:

“13.1? A half marathon is 13.1 miles? Ahh crap, I thought it was 8 miles.”

“I don’t know if I like running, but I like setting a goal and meeting it.”

“When I hit 2 miles I will get into it more; right now I don’t want to psych myself out… God, I can’t imagine; what if I could actually run for 2 miles?”

Touche Izzy. I don’t even know if I like running yet. And if I do, I definitely don’t like the first 2 to 3 miles; I only start feeling warmed up at mile 3 or 4.

Me and Izzy at the NYC library when she visited NYC.

After I enthusiastically rambled to her, offered to send every piece of running advice I ever received and tried to recruit her for like 7 different half marathons, I told her about my high school gym teacher.

I wish I remembered the teacher’s name, but if you ask anyone who the bitchy gym teacher was in my HS during my reign, they’d know who I was talking about.

Every year we had to run one mile for our physical fitness test.

One mile! Only four laps around the track.

I never even ran one.

Everytime I would take off (too fast probably, considering what I know now), I would cramp up and almost collapse with a side stitch. OUCH!

  • Gym Bitch said I shouldn’t eat before school. I skipped breakfast. I cramped.
  • Gym Bitch said I should eat a small breakfast. I ate a small breakfast. I cramped.
  • Gym Bitch said I should drink some juice. I drank some juice. I still cramped.
  • Gym Bitch finally told me ‘You’re just not a runner. Don’t sign up for track.’

I never signed up for track.

But what Gym Bitch doesn’t know is that 8 years later I did sign up for a 5K. And another thing she doesn’t know is that next week I am running a half marathon.  Soooo, apparently Gym Bitch was wrong. I can run.

I remember running my first 5k. My bestie AAA coerced me into running with the ol’ run/walk around the track method. Before I knew it I was running a lap. Somehow I ok’d the registration for a 5k (a leap year 5k that took place on a rainy Feb 28th at 10pm) and the next thing I knew I was a 5k-finisher.

AND THE CROWD ROARS!

The pride that I felt after finishing that race was nothing like I expected.  Sure for many, including my bestie who can run a 5k hungover faster my current PR, a measly 3.1 is just a fun run, but for me it was like climbing Mount Everest. It was something I had never thought I would do, wanted to do, aimed to do… but I did it!

So when I hear my gal friend Izzy is on track to cross the finish line of something she doesn’t even know if she likes doing (she does; she doesn’t know it yet), I get that rush all over again.

AAA waited at the finish line of the 5Ks we ran together cheering me on as if I had just broke the record for the NYC Marathon. That support is awesome. And the awesome thing about running is that you always suck at one point, and everyone out there pounding pavement knows how awesome it feels to progressively suck less.

So GO IZZY…. RUN! RUN! RUN!

Completely coincidental, I received another email — or IM rather — that same day that made me gleam with pride. My bestie from college, K-dawg, announced that she was running a 5K. Actually she said, in response to my question of ‘why are you traveling to [city] this weekend?’…

“Are you sitting down for this?? Ready? I am running a 5K.”

This time my jaw dropped a little bit, THEN my fist went into the air. Funny thing is, K used to run in college occasionally, although I always thought it was an excuse to visit her BF without having to tell me. 😉 Other than that, K doesn’t advertise herself as one for strenuous exercise so I was soooooooo excited that she was on board with the running bug.

WOO HOO K!!! 

Fast forward a couple weeks, K not only completed her 5k last weekend, she came in third in her age group with an 8:21 mile. HOLY COW K… ROCK ON! I am overly impressed that she walk/ran/trained her way to an 8:21 in five weeks. I am overly impressed that she ran a 8:21 period, even if she had been training for a year.

I am looking forward to running something with her soon… K, want to run something together soon? I’ll let you win. lol (No seriously, even if I could beat that time, I’d let her win… K doesn’t lose.)

K and I at our first "race" together... our senior year pub crawl...

I love hearing about my non-running friends becoming running friends.

I love that they love what I love… or at least I love that they are doing what I love whether they love it or not…

KEEP RUNNING GALS!!

PS. One week until my race… AHHHHH!!!

PPS. Did you donate yet?

 

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Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to be careful running around or you’d “fall and break your neck?”

It actually happens. A few weeks ago my grandma fell and broke her neck. She definitely wasn’t running around, more like walking or standing, but the end result is the same.

Fractured vertebra!

Ouch!

She spent a few days in the hospital and is now in a nursing home rehab. She has to wear a neck brace that she hates and is always, as she says, “just falling off.”

Grandma is 92. She also has dementia meaning a lot of the times she doesn’t know who we are and often tells us about how she entertained, cooked and danced the day away. What a nursing home, eh? One big party!

Rarely does she know who I am when I visit, often referring to me as my mom. I’m too young; she lives in a time long ago when her and my grandpa traveled the world, went square dancing a few times a week and my grandpa ran half-marathons. And there you were thinking “Wait, no running connection?”

My grandparents have been married for 67 years.

67 YEARS! That is a looooong time.

I admit, with embarrassment, that I didn’t get to know them as well as I wish I had growing up. But like all good couples, grandpa complements grandma with memories of the old days clearer than mine are from yesterday. I did NOT get my poor memory from him.

He loves the story about when he was in the airforce and they had their first child, my uncle, without a penny to their name out in Colorado. Grandma had to take Amtrak back to NY herself with an infant when grandpa got stationed elsewhere. Maybe that’s where my love for traveling across countries comes from. He talks about his career in the fire department. He talks about his bout with alcoholism and the subsequent decades in AA and all the friends he made as a result. But what he talks about most of all, and the one consistent in all his stories, is grandma.

“I knew right away she was the one for me. Sure I’d dated other girls but as soon as I met her, I knew she was it,” he told me during one of our hospital visits. “Course she didn’t think the same thing. She was dating like three other guys. (Grandma was/is a big flirt!) Finally I told her to make a decision.

But I knew right away… have you ever felt that way about a guy?”

“Ummm, I’m single grandpa.”

He shrugged and smirked.

According to my grandpa, grandma got him off the couch. Perfectly content to sit around and watch TV, grandma encouraged him to go dancing with her and to travel the world.

“She gave me a life,” he is always saying.

She is that type of person. Even with a broken neck and her mind hanging out anywhere between 1919 and Roosevelt’s presidency, she’s still smiling, flirting with young doctors, making wise arse remarks in response to everything she hears, laughing at her nursing-home housemates and sharing nothing but happy memories — even if it does become a game for us to guess what time period and who she’s speaking about.

Grandpa also reminds us how lucky he feels to have had her stick by him when his favorite pastime was alcohol.

“She could have, and rightly at times should have, walked away. I wasn’t nice.”

But she didn’t. Instead she stuck around to see him drop drinking like it was hot, buy a pair of running shoes and cheer him on through his first half-marathon.

And his second for that matter.

Grandma and Grandpa after his first marathon!

My grandpa took up running when he was in his 60s. And here I am complaining about my 29-year-old aches and pains? He just ran for fun, to have something positive to indulge in; he wasn’t out to set any records or race. But he did. He ran 13.1 miles… Twice!

I always knew this about my grandpa, I remember watching him run past the end of our block during the Long Island Half-Marathon when I was a wee-youngin’. He also talks about after the run: A lot of the guys were going off to celebrate with a beer, which Grandpa was obviously not feelin’. My dad offered him a BBQ and it made his day. ha. In our house a good BBQ’d burger has always been the key to happiness.

I love that my grandpa ran. I love that someone in my family loved something that I love. I love that when I talk about a runner’s high, his eyes light up.

He seems to like it too. During dinner one night a couple months ago, he went through all the tips he could think of.

Start slow, save your energy. 

Make sure you stretch.

Do you have good shoes? You need good shoes.

What are you eating? I always liked to eat a piece of toast with peanut butter. (or something like that)

I had told him I had numerous coaches teaching me the ins and outs of running without catastrophe, but he obviously knew better. I mean, he is 92, dont all 92-year-olds know best? So I listened and thanked him and told him stories about my coaches and the runs I had completed so far.

I saw him the weekend I ran my first 10-miler… the Jackrabbit race. He was very proud. It was cute.

My grandparents are another reason I am running. Grandpa did it — in his 60s nonetheless — so I want to do it too. And even though Grandma wasn’t pounding pavement with him, she guided him through life. Sixty-seven years together and they are still 100% in love with each other. Grandma’s dementia sometimes thinks there are two grandpas — which grandpa uses to his advantage blaming the not-so-good dinners on “the other guy” — but in her heart, he’s the only one that’s ever been there. He’s the one that makes her light up like she’s a 20-something year old in love for the first time.

And he still looks at her like a 20-something year old who found “the one.”

She goes home again the day after I run. Until then, they meet in the nursing home, try to hear each other's stories and and hold hands like they're on their first date.

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