Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: A First-Timer's Visit to SoulCycle

On Sunday I tried SoulCycle with my friend -- and SoulCycle enthusiast -- Nicole. The studio has an Upper East Side location very convenient to my apartment so I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to potentially find a new cross-training method.

SoulCycle offers a first-timer's offer of $20 including shoes. But word to the wise, subsequent classes will cost you and I a whopping $35. Yikes.

The shoes -- courtesy pbfingers

You have to sign up for the classes in advance and you pick the exact bike you'll be riding. What I liked about that is the lack of stress of having to arrive super early and bolt into the room for a bike. Rather, you can calmly make over to your assigned seat and get started.

I got to the studio a bit early, per the instructions from the chipper person on the phone who took my reservation. I had to admit that I was a bit apprehensive about trying this as I really freaking hate spinning. But everyone said to me, "Oh, but Meredith, SoulCycle is different. It's like, so not just spinning." So, I decided to go for it.

I went to my bike and a helpful employee helped me figure out how to adjust the different settings and clip in. She then turned to me on her way out of the room and said, "Have fun and take this at your own pace. Don't worry if you don't get all the choreography."


Nicole was being a pal and telling me what to do, and I'm glad I went with her for my first time. She was also so cute because she would tell people it was my first time but then follow-up by saying, "But she runs maaarratthons." You got my back, N.

Class began. What's different about Soul than "regular" spinning are several key elements. First and foremost, the lighting and music are crazy. It honestly is more of a club atmosphere than a class atmosphere at points with the instructor not only playing the role of teacher, but also lighting designer, DJ, and motivational speaker.

The first couple of "rides" were series of different positions of sitting and standing, mixing in basically push-ups on the bike bars as you ride. They really preach working from your core, which is great, but I did feel that as a first-timer I was having a bit of trouble getting the right postures and movement.

With all the lighting changes (it's dark, and now it's light, and now it's more red...) and the up and the down and the back and the forth, I was a bit skeptical at first.

And often I couldn't hear the instructor over the loud music, which is my only real critique of her performance. I felt like grandma at the disco-tech. "Excuse me...the music is a bit loud....I can't quite hear you..." And she was saying stuff that bordered -- for me -- between motivational and cheesy. At first.  

But then, about midway through class, there was a shift.

I was literally dripping sweat (moi? so hard to believe I know), and I knew I was getting a killer workout. And after a few really intense, and -- yes -- rather choreographed rides to some great dance party songs, the instructor changed the tone. She turned the lights down, turned U2's Beautiful Day on, and basically just had us stand and run/ride with the beat jamming it out.

At first I didn't know how to feel. So, we're just going to like, ride fast? With the music? "Together?" How do you want us to be together? We're like, on these different bikes?

And I don't know if it was my delirium from losing so much sweat so quickly, or if it was the lighting changes (really nicely orchestrated by the way), or just U2 jamming out to not let that beautiful day get away.... but suddenly I found myself riding somewhat together with this room of strangers. I too was letting my head bop to the beat. And was just giving my all to riding a bike...which I HATE. But I didn't hate it that day.

I can see why people call it a cult. Because in the course of 50 minutes they changed this:

To this:

We ended with some arm work with light weights (but a ton of reps) on the bikes, which I really liked. Because unlike some other spinning classes I've taken, the focus on upper body and core really makes this a true full body workout and something I could see myself occasionally doing to supplement the running that mixes cardio and muscle toning.

SoulCycle is definitely not for the faint of heart (or the meager of wallet). The cardio workout I got from this was out of control...and, yes, I do run marathons. So beginners should absolutely feel they can do it, but should also expect to take breaks and hate all the skinny girls around them that aren't breaking a sweat (yep, they were there). I have a personal learning that although there will be a fresh towel waiting for you on the bike, I will need to grab a second next time.

I absolutely do recommend taking advantage of the first-timer's $20 discount if you haven't, but be careful. You may find yourself addicted to this crazy community. But an addiction like that? Well, it's definitely certain to have you shed some pounds and add a little positive energy to your day.

So, if you're going to get addicted to something, I would absolutely recommend SoulCycle. Especially if you're choosing between SoulCycle and crack. SoulCycle for sure.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My World Today: Bonjour et le Mandy Patinkin.

There are a few key things in my world I felt you should be aware of as you peruse the internet and this fine piece of it.

I am 33% of way for Dana-Farber!
Absolutely amazing. I don't even start officially training for Boston until Jan 1, but I am 33% of the way towards my goal of raising $10,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. So cool! Thank you so much to those reading this who have already contributed. It means so much to me and gives me a much needed boost as I embark on winter running (ugh) to know that you're behind me. And that you want your money's worth.

If you want to help me kick off training with a bang, here's the link to donate:

I Have Been Super Sick.
Just a cold, but it's been lingering. Mostly because I refuse to acknowledge it and keep working, socializing and drinking as normal. Except with a lot more soup (more on that later).

There really is nothing worse than that first day of being sick, though. I was so under the weather that I was forced to call into work (which I rarely do) last Tuesday. I went to bed Monday night all like:

By morning I was a full on mess. I called my mom at 6 am as soon as I called into work just so she would know I felt bad. I'm not sure what it is about being sick that makes you regress from an independent, take-charge woman to a six-year old obnoxious version of yourself.

Because of my plague I had to take a full week off from exercise which I never do. Although I feel a little grotesque now, I think it's actually a good thing in the long run. You should take off a week from exercise now and again, and perhaps this is just my body's way of saying, Hey gurl. You want to stay compulsive? Then I will destroy I will destroy myself. Until you stop.

Ultimately, no harm done and because training isn't underway yet, nothing lost in that front either. In the end, I think really I just have to give thanks for Seamless web because I'm not sure how single people got sick and survived before that point.

Homeland is everything.
No spoilers here. Just wanted to

The Homeland season finale was last Sunday and I really enjoyed it. Others didn't, but I? I thought it was pretty darn good. I'm excited for the direction it's going and can't believe I have to wait so long for it's return. Thank god for Game of Thrones coming back in March or who knows what would become of me.

Relax, Carrie.

Also, can we take a moment and just talk about Mandy freaking Patinkin? Honestly I love him so much and it still astounds me that this:

Is this!!!!!!

Princess Bride is still my all time favorite movie and I am just delighted each time I watch Homeland and think that Inigo Montoya is still being baller after all this year.

Mandy Patinkin has had such an awesome career on TV, on Broadway...he's just great! Claire Danes definitely said it best when she articulately stated:

I am attempting to learn French.
You may or may not know that April is not just about the Boston Marathon for me. No, the month gets even more exciting as I am leaving the day after the race for a week trip to Paris (with day trips to Brussels and Bruges mixed in!) with my long-time friend Andrea. Although I've traveled extensively, I've never actually been to Paris and I am basically giddy already despite it being four months -- and a full marathon training season -- away.

It's an ambitious April to say the least.

In order to maximize my experience, I've decided to learn some basic French. It's really hard and slow going because I keep mixing up words with Spanish (of which I have just peripheral knowledge). I also have a quite horrific accent, only made more delightful with the lovely nasal sound I am rocking at the moment.

The phrases I know and plan on using so far, for those of your Francophiles, are as follows:

Oui, merci beaucoup.
J'ai un chat orange.
Chats oranges sont belles.
L'homme est riche.

Translate that and enjoy.

Soup may be my saving grace.
Due to my meager kitchen and single lifestyles, I've come to rely on soups more and more, particularly in the winter (and with this pesky cold!)

I thought I'd share with you a few of my favorite recipes that are both easy, simple, and pretty darn cheap that have been keeping me through. I made the top one last night (with chipotle peppers added in for a bit more heat) and have made the top three of them. The bottom two are on my list for upcoming weeks.

Easy, quick, freezable, and minimal dishes. That's my kind of cooking. Enjoy!

And that's my world. What's goin' on with you?!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jingle All The Way

I've been a bit lax about running -- and rightly so -- since completing the NYC Marathon about a month back. So when my friend Jazmin approached me and asked if I'd run a race in Brooklyn I was like...meh....

But then she said she was providing costumes. And I was like,

And THEN she said there would be hot chocolate at the end and that we could go to brunch after! And then I was like,

Last Friday, the night before the race, Jazmin and I met up to get our bibs at the New York Road Runners' office in my neighborhood so she could get me my costume which -- until that moment -- was a surprise.

And it was everything I hoped it would be. And more.

So on a crisp, but sunny and lovely, Saturday morning I woke up, met another runner friend Amanda, and made the long trek to Brooklyn.

The race was to be 4-miles and start in Prospect Park, one of my favorite places in the city. I lived in Brooklyn briefly and actually got my running roots by starting to run around that park. It's about 3 miles all the way around, and I remember so clearly the accomplishment of being able to make it all the way around -- including one massive hill -- without stopping. It's always fun to go back (even if it does involve the F train on a Saturday morning).

There was a slight jingle in my step as I walked. A holiday spirit about me, as it were. And as I removed my jacket to check it with my belongings at the starting line, I revealed the greatest running outfit of all time.

Excellent. But not nearly as excellent as what happened when I was paired with my friends.

Elf Amanda, Jazmin the tree, and Elf me
At this point we made a scene. A SCENE. Random people were coming over to us to take our photograph. Children were pointing. There was merriment abounding.

The NYRR staff were giddy with delight. This is what we had been dreaming would happen when we created a Jingle Ball Run, you could all but hear them say. We got a professional photo taken which -- of course -- ended up on the NYRR homepage that afternoon.

Hand on hip 'cuz I look like a super model
Just when everyone had taken a breath and calmed down, the last two members of our party joined us. And then basically all hell broke loose as Christmas Spirit EXPLODED from our vicinity.

Hand on the hip and leg up like Captain Morgan. Class Act.

And then Christmas ended forever, because nothing gets better than this. The end.

Just kidding, then we all ran 4 miles. Dressed like this.

We were a spectacle to behold. 

I ran the entire race with Christmas Tree Jazmin at a lovely 12-minute mile pace. We stopped for selfies with strangers and high-fived volunteers. We smiled at children and brought cheer to all around us. It was such an amazing feeling running a race purely for fun without a worry in the world about distance or pace. It's something I think we as runners can loose sight of. Just running for the sake of running. Dressed like an elf.

At the finish line -- as promised -- there was hot chocolate as well as red and green colored bagels. And it was glorious.

At this point there was more fame and paparazzi-style photos taken of our small costumed group. A NYRR reporter even interviewed a few of us for the official race recap. Famous. Boom.

Let me quote directly from this recap, if I may:
Their friend Meredith Glanzberg, who completed the ING New York City Marathon last month, calls the Jingle Bell Jog her favorite race of the year for the same reason the rookies love it. "The kids, the hot chocolate, everyone is in a great mood—it's just fun!" she said.
 A few comments about this.

1) Although you may think my name is spelled wrong, actually, it is possible that this reporter is the only one who is right because the spelling may have been changed at Ellis Island. You really did your homework, sir!

2) I did say it was my favorite of the year despite the fact that the NYC Marathon was, indeed, an achievement of a lifetime. So, a bit inaccurate to say that this 4-mile race that I did not prepare for and quite frankly made a mockery of was better....but in the moment the elf costume and the hot chocolate had gone to my head and I simply was overcome with positivity.

3) I did, in fact, go against my usual Grinch-esque attitude and list children as a "pro" for this race. Normally you know that I don't always like being around masses of children. I'm the person who went to Disney World after reading a website entitled "How to Avoid Children At Disney World." But in this case, the kids were adorable and they made the race. There was a 1/2 mile "Reindeer Run" (antlers for all the kids!) beforehand and some kids did the full 4-miles, so there was family fun abounding. Parents: take note. This might be a fun winter activity for you next year!

After the race we stumbled upon a restaurant that had been on the top of my "To Eat" list, Talde. It's by Dale from Top Chef and was super good, creative, Asian-fusion brunch food. And one [read: two] of the best Bloody Marys I've ever had.

We continued our run of fame and fortune not only on the Jingle Bell photos page but also all over the Internets with social media. See this screenshot from The Facebook, as an example

Famous, full, and a little drunk, we made our way back to Manhattan in civilian clothing. Our work was done.

Whether you are a beginner runner or a Marathoner, I would implore you to sign up for something like this. Three are Diva Dashes where you were tutus and Disney runs where people dress as princesses and color runs like what I did with Betsy last summer. Find something fun and sign up for it with no goal except just to finish and laugh. 

Fellow Elf wisdom

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Look Back: Making a Plan

I'm home for Thanksgiving to the most appropriate of places: Plymouth, MA. Home of the Mayflower, the Plymouth Rock, and those feisty Pilgrims. And the Glansbergs.

At home I'm pretty good about getting in my workouts. Saturday I did a chilly 6-miler (but had brought home the appropriate gear, so I was A-OK). Yesterday I used my Mom's elliptical during my lunch break so I could watch Ina make Jeffrey a faaaaabulous Thanksgiving for two. And this morning I went this cute little yoga studio downtown -- a new addition since I left home for college. Pretty darn diligent.

And this got me thinking: How did I get to the point where this regular exercise felt normal and not like a chore? How did I start fitting this stuff into my (admittedly busy) schedule without feeling like I was compromising my life? I remember it being so difficult and that there was a lot of tension between the different priorities I had going on, which included striving to attain higher levels of physical fitness.

In early October I wrote about the challenges of getting started. About how hard it is to build up mileage and how -- for me -- it was so much tougher getting from 0-3 miles and 3-5 miles than, honestly, from that point to a marathon.

So, I have dubbed a new series I will write "A Look Back" to get back to my roots. It's important, I think, to remember how I got to be this crazy person who has run two marathons and will be training for a third (!) Not so long ago, I was...well...normal(ish).

I plan to start writing more often about things less Marathon-y and more relevant, perhaps, to people that aren't out of their minds. When I made some changes to my lifestyle my world was changed for the better, and that's why I'm so passionate about sharing that with you! It's gonna be fun.

So, back to my earlier musings. Let's talk today about planning ahead. You're totally busy. I'm totally busy. We're all totes busy. How do you fit in working out -- in whatever form that might be -- into your schedule? Especially when there aren't enough hours in the day for stuff you actually want to do?? My take on it:

Start Today
Not next week. Not after the holidays. Today. There is no benefit to waiting at all unless you literally have a broken leg.

Think Short Term
Make your commitment to your schedule for the next month. I find when I think long-term, it's much easier to justify not doing things. By saying that you are going to achieve X goal in the next 30 days? That's easier. Then you can make another X goal. And another. And soon? HABIT.

So, as an example, it's not, "I want to eventually lose 20 pounds." No, it's, I'm going to work out at least 3 days a week for the next 4 weeks. Boom. Go.

That attitude can translate to no matter what your goals are from working up to a 5K or an Ultra-Marathon. I don't look at my training plan as "wow, I'm running 26 miles in 5 months." Rather it's, what am I doing this week towards my training goal? It's far less daunting that way.

Plan. Plan. Plan.
I'm sure you have at least a rough idea of what your week is going to be like up ahead. You probably have one or more calendars to manage your personal, work, kids, spouse, cat, whatever. I'm not going to tell you howto manage your schedule, but I do highly recommend week-to-week finding a set time to review your plans for the next week.

Actually write these plans down. In a that calendar or that awesome Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper.

I WANT ONE!!!!!!
And hold yourself to it no matter what.

If it was a work meeting you wouldn't skip it, right? Treat this the same.

Maybe Sunday night, for instance, you'll review your exercise plan and commitment for the next Monday through Sunday. Be reasonable about what days are going to work for you to exercise and what aren't. Plan your rest days in advance and what type of workout you'll do (a video at home....weights at the gym...a 3 mile run....) Try to be specific and realistic.

Have a big meeting Thursday? Well, you may not want to plan on Wednesday for a nice night class.

Have nice dinner planned Tuesday night? Well, you're going in the morning or you're not going at all, so plan for that to be a rest day or a morning day.

Have kids? Well, I don't know what to tell you because that's crazy.

Morning? Or Night?
You can read a lot of articles about the physiological benefits of working out in the morning or at night. My personal take on the matter is that unless you're literally going to the Olympics it doesn't matter as long as you do it.

I think it's harder to get into the habit of being a morning exercise person.

However, I also think it's easier -- in the macro sense -- to get up one hour earlier than to give up plans and time after work. Like, you might have kids and therefore be making dinner to feed human mouths. Or -- if your'e more at my speed -- there might be an impromptu happy hour after work and you reeealllly reeeealllly want to goooooo!

Think About Your Paraphernalia
I don't know about you, but once I step foot in my apartment after a long day I'm done for. Done. For. I have to go either in the morning to work out or straight from work. Meaning you have to plan your outfits in advance and carry them with you or put them in your car. I honestly find this to be so helpful, because if I think I'm going home to change and then go back out? No ma'am.

Think about where you will be showering and what you will need. Perhaps pack this bag the night before so you are not packing half a sleep and forgetting, say, pants for work. It's happened.

Included in paraphernalia, I would always, ALWAYS include a granola bar:
I can't emphasize this point enough. I know the dangers of heading towards the gym whilst feeling the hunger (both before or after work). It will thwart even the most stalwart of hearts. Throw a bar in that gym bag and keep it there. You will thank me and yourself when you need an emergency bite.

Find a Buddy to Keep You In Check:
If you know you're meeting a friend at Central Park at 6pm for a run? You're not going to be the jerk who left her there by herself. Friendship > Jerkface. Write that down.

Hope these tips are helpful. Getting started is the worst, but once you're used to the planning (do it!), the bag packing, and the constant carrying-around-of-granola-bars you will thank yourself for the work you put into it. Plus you'll be drop dead sexy.

My Challenge to YOU: What can you do between now and Thanksgiving to get a guilt-free start on this glorious feast-filled holiday? Try to do something tomorrow and Thursday morning in order to create some space to fill with pie. Because that's how stomachs work, I believe.

4 months and 24 days to go until Boston! Support my running for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute here:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Part III: MeriG Runs the NYC Marathon. Now what?

MeriG, you just ran the NYC Marathon! What do you do next?

Will first, you take a damn shower and eat some food. Because you're shaking from the cold, your organs are shutting down from lack of calories, salt and sugar, and you're probably going to pass out.

Next, you go right to a bar, order a couple of beers, and start celebrating. Because you're a champion, and sleeping is for losers!

Me with my medal and Diane with her....hamburger
Me with Denise, the amazing founder of the next big thing in fashion and sportswear!

Then, and only then, do you pass out in epic fashion.

I smartly took the next day off from work and did nothing except eat tater tots and mac n' cheese (two of my favorite foods ever!) with Betsy, get a massage, and then eat more food (including more mac n' cheese...) with friends and fellow-finishers Kevin and Mauricio.

Because you can never have enough macaroni and cheese. Write that down.

Tuesday and beyond has been business as normal. Except for this little gem that has rounded out my wall of "ME BEING AWESOME" very nicely.
Diane calls this my "Screw you for picking me last in gym class" wall. She has a fair point. what? 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

I have a big announcement that I've been leaking to some people. But I made the commitment in October, actually, to run the 2014 Boston Marathon!

But that's not all, I'm delighted to announce that I will be running as part of the Dana-Farber team, and have pledged to raise $10,000 which will support the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research. This program fosters scientific breakthroughs by advancing the work of researchers in a variety of basic research disciplines. These funds enable scientists at the leading edge of discovery to achieve better cure rates and to enhance patients' quality of life.

It's the 25th year that Dana-Farber has been running in the Boston Marathon, and -- especially given the events of last year -- I could not imagine a better time to support a more deserving organization.

There should be no mistake. I am excited to run the Boston Marathon. But I've run two marathons. I know that this is a goal I can achieve. This a fundraiser at its core. So why Dana-Farber?

I'm going to go a little more personal on this blog than normal, because I think it's important to understand this story to understand why it's so important I raise money, this year, for this organization.

In March 2012, I ran the NYC Half for the first time. My parents came to support me, but my Dad was not feeling well at all. He was in a lot of pain in various areas of his body and just seemed -- to me -- completely out of sorts. Despite that significant discomfort and pain he was in, it was important for him to come to support my running goals. This, after all, was my first major race since the injury that sidelined me in 2011. I had gone through lots of PT and training to get there, and he wanted to cheer me on.

The day after returning back home, he was rushed to the emergency room. 

After tests galore, my Dad was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells (which produce anti-bodies that fight infections). With this disease, groups of these plasma cells become cancerous and can cause significant problems to the immune system, organs and bones. In my Dad's case, by the time he was diagnosed he had multiple broken vertebrae and a damaged sternum, which had in essence begun to be eaten away by the cancerous cells.

The man literally walked around with a broken back to see me run.

At this point I went into overdrive. Once we had a diagnosis, I was determined to get my Dad the best treatment possible. You see, the internet said his life expectancy was short. The internet said he was going to die.

I got my Dad in with one of the world's premiere Hemotologists and Multiple Myeloma specialists, who does his research and sees patients at Dana Farber. It was Dr. Anderson who told me, when I showed up with a notebook full of interrogation questions to our first appointment, to stop reading the internet. The amount of work that's been done in the last 5 years? Is astounding. Yes, it's true that if my father had been diagnosed several years ago his life expectancy may have been very low. Today? The research done at Dana-Farber and other institutions has made him a healthy man a year later, with normal "numbers" and no reason to think this cancer should shorten his life. 

I commuted back and forth a lot in 2012, mostly attending appointments and spending time with a friend who was also going through some horrific medical issues with her family. If you read back to my 2012 entries, you'll see I was home a lot. That was no coincidence, and running remained -- as it remains now -- a very important calming force in my life when I desperately needed calm.

Run to the Rock Half Marathon: Aug 2012

When everything else felt in upheaval, training for the 2012 NYC Marathon gave me a sense of stability. And it gave me a positive outlet to focus on and talk about that could take me away a little bit from the pressure and fear I felt. 

Dana-Farber, throughout the entire process was amazing to my Dad and to my whole family. Thoughtful. Positive. Kind. Understanding. Organized. Respectful. My adjectives of praise could truly go on and on. Dana-Farber not only provides world-class care and conducts world-class, life-saving research, but they do it all with an eye towards the patient and the families. They could not have provided a better experience for us in our time of need.

My dad was eligible for a stem cell transplant which, based on his treatment plan, needed to happen around early November 2012. He insisted that we wait until after the marathon and he that -- despite a somewhat higher risk of infection by others -- he come to New York to be there to cheer me on.

My parents were packing for the trip into the city when I called them on Friday, November 2, 2012 to tell the marathon had been cancelled. My complete devastation was, in fact, a bit more than what met the eye.

My Dad had his transplant about a week later, and I was with him for a lot of his ordeal. Without going into too much detail, it was very intense. They basically take healthy cells from healthy areas of his body and freeze them. Then, they give him incredibly high dose chemotherapy, which kills off all of his cells in his bone marrow (in you? your bone marrow is what helps you fight off all infection and disease). He did this all in a little isolation room where we could visit him after scrubbing down and wearing masks and gloves at all times. Then they insert the healthy cells and they magically grow in his system! It's a very intense process and my dad flew through...although it took nearly 17 days of hospitalization to complete even in his record time.

Without early research on this procedure years ago...could we imagine a world in which this would have been possible? Imagine what they are working on now to help improve care and outlook for cancer patients in the future?

Like I mentioned, today my Dad is doing great, and he was there to cheer me on for the New York City Marathon. And he was healthy. 

Although I could write a book about this, I hope this [somewhat lengthy] post paints a picture of why I am so passionate about running in Boston, in 2014, for Dana-Farber.

Please consider a donation or passing this post onto your friends and family. Here's the link to donate:

I'd like to leave you with an excerpt from an email I keep from my Dad. He wrote it on the eve of what should have been the NYC Marathon 2012 and days before his transplant:

In a larger sense I will be as proud of you even if you didn't run the Marathon tomorrow, which is now caused by circumstances beyond your control.  I'm proud of you -- and you have every right to feel proud of yourself -- because you made the commitment, dedication and monumental sacrifices that it took to prepare for the Marathon.  Nothing..... NOTHING!..... can diminish your amazing accomplishment!  Except for a wayward meteorite nothing would have prevented you from completing the race.  Regardless of how long it took you to finish, your accomplishments to prepare for the Marathon will always be yours, and I will continue to be proud of you in the extreme.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

PART II: MeriG #Actually Ran the NYC Marathon:

Start spreading the news, I am leaving today. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.

Last I left you I was starting over the Verranzano Bridge for the first couple of miles of the race. The course would take me through the various amazing neighborhoods of Brooklyn, into Queens, over the long uphill drive of the Queensboro, up into Manhattan, to the Bronx, and back into Manhattan. 26.2 miles in my city.

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere...

Rather than do a full mile-by-mile recap, in order, I'm just going to write what I remember. I'll randomly discuss things that stand out, feelings I felt, and the way things were from my 4:24:45 journey. 

Brooklyn is Where It's At.
Brooklyn, baby! I knew 1st Avenue would be amazing, but oh my god! Brooklyn! You brought it! Miles 2 through 13 were simply unreal. I grinned like an idiot the entire time.

You can see Sam peaking out from behind this gentleman. We ran together from the beginning through mile 8 or so. Surprise running buddy!

I Had a Fun Surprise Mid-Race Run In!
At the bottom of the Queensboro (mile 15 or so), I saw the back of my friend Mauricio! I bolted up ahead and we conquered that bridge together!

The Signs Were Truly Epic.
Y'all brought it. By now you've probably seen this Buzzfeed link to the 35 best 2013 NYC Marathon signs. I actually saw a significant number of these on the way, and they were amazing. Almost as amazing as the gems my amazing friends and family had for me! Here's a sample:

Cousin Erica held this for me at 81st and 1st!

Val and Robb made a PLYMOUTH! 
Betsy finally conceded to being impressed at 100th and 1st

My little cousins made this sign for me at 81st and 1st!
Frank and Mel with the cutest sign they had for me on 1st and 96th

Betsy's cat Buddy (left) and Archie (right) donned monocles for the distinguished occasion.

Jazmin BROUGHT IT in Williamsburg (~Mile 12) with this amazing display

Well played, all of you! A round of applause not only for your support, but for your lovely artistic and creative talents!

I Was a Little Excited:

These vagabond shoes, they are longing to stray, right through the very heart of it...

I was so happy.
Courtesy of my sister Allison at mile 14 in Queens. This is me rushing at her to jump on her with a big ol' hug. I was a little excited.

I was emotional at times.

From my Dad. This is me crying as I go to hug my parents at 81st and 1st (near mile 17 as I ran through my neighborhood). Also throwing sweaty clothes at my mom to hold. She likes it.

I was in near hysterics.
From my friend Rachel. This is me noticing the funny signs my friends made around mile 18 on 1st Ave. Laughter!

I was on Cloud Nine.
Also courtesy of Rachel. Can you tell 1st Avenue jazzed me up?

1st Avenue. That's where I live. To run through it and see my family and friends? Well, there are really no words.
My neighborhood on Marathon Sunday. View up 1st Avenue (Photo Credit: My Dad).

On that avenue alone, I had Diane, her mom, and her cousin (in from Massachusetts!), friends Jen, Eleanora, Frank, Kagan, Mel, Seth, Kelly, Jason, Rachel, Diana, Silvia, Nicole, Betsy, Karen, Patrick, Tammy, Sarah, my cousins and my parents. From now on that stretch from 60th to 100th will be thought of in my mind as the two miles of love. Because I felt it the whole way up. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, everyone!

And while I'm at it, thank you to everyone who came out in Brooklyn (Lisa, Amy, Mariah), Queens (Katie, Allison, Dan), 5th Ave (Kelly, Jason, Sonia, saw that hot 'ol mess), in the Park (Ben, Allison and Dan again!). I could not have done it without you. Could not. Thank you.

I know I've missed others. I know I have. I'm just so incredibly lucky to have such amazing people in my life who will come out in the cold and wind to watch me do that to myself. 

A Cool Action Sequence
From Seth (96th and 1st), I enjoy this sequence of me spotting my friends and then coming in for the high-fives:

I look better than Juan, that's for sure.

High five!
Could I BE any more excited?!
And there she goes! Run MeriG Run!
I recommend you print these out and make a flip-book. Fun for the kids.

My Glass Case of Emotion:
At mile 19 I felt like I combusted. I really did. I didn't just hit the wall. I slammed face forward into that wall and kept slamming for 7 miles. Into the Bronx on that bridge. Out of the Bronx on that other bridge. Back up (literally, it's uphill) 5th Avenue. Into the Park. Out of the Park. Back into the Park. I felt like crap the entire time.

That is a grimace. Not a smile.

And I actually was beating myself up over the fact that I wasn't smiling for those last 7 miles. I was literally upset...that I wasn't happier. Not only during the race did I feel this, but actually a little bit that evening as well!

Although when Allison caught this image of me in the Park at 25, I squeaked out a smile:

I guess I was hoping that euphoria of miles 1-18 would stick the entire time. But let's be real...I was running a marathon. Where in the rule book does it state that you must be over-joyed and grinning from ear to ear the entire time? Now that I think about it, I haven't seen that regulation.

I had tried to run steady at the beginning hoping I could pick up the pace slightly towards the end. Instead I wasn't sure if my legs were even moving.

My results -- which I didn't see the next day -- showed a very different tale:

This is why we train. I might have not had a stupid grin on my face, but my pacing was spot on. Even on the hills. Even with the wind. Even when feeling like total utter crap. I was steady, calm, and consistent. I'm proud of this.

...And find I'm king of the hill, top of the list, heap of the heap...

Let's Talk about Pooping:
So, I didn't poop while running. Yes! :::Fist Pump:::

But I did experience something totally new which I'll have to adjust for any (ahem) future marathon plans.


I completely ran out of energy. Completely. Utterly. Near disastrously.

Before I started I had eaten my normal breakfast / pre-run fuel. I had four Gus during the run itself and a little piece of banana. At almost every station I had water and/or Gatorade. And still, I had nothing left. I guess normal is simply not enough, and I have to up the ante with my fueling. And maybe worry a little less about the pants pooping. Nah...still keeps me up nights.

This is at mile 21 or so. A smile with a gu in my right hand and thumbs up on the left. LIES! ALL LIES! No thumbs up!! I need more food!!!!!

At Mile 25
I honestly can hardly remember it. I remember leaving the park and running by the masses -- screaming my name from my shirt -- on Central Park South. I remember the bomb-sniffing dogs when I entered the park again at Columbus Circle and had only about a quarter of a mile left to go. I remember that there were no spectators for a short stretch until we reached those at the security-laden bleachers.

Mile 26:
I could see the finish line up ahead. I tried to make my legs go faster, to sprint over that line as I did in Miami and as I do in other races.

I had nothing left. Absolutely nothing. I powered through, knowing that if I faltered even for a moment I would not start again. Could not start again.

I coasted in at a solid 4:24:45.

This is just about two minutes over Miami's time. For a second marathon attempt this 10:07 average pace is not so shabby.

For a second marathon attempt when the second marathon is sooooo hilly and the first marathon was completely flat? Not so shabby at all.

I thought I would cry then, as I had started to cry when I saw my sister and my parents. But I didn't.

It was when they put that medal around my neck that the tears came.

It's really an indescribable feeling, but I'll try. For me, it was a mixture of pride, pain, relief, and exhilaration. And a bit of wistfulness.

I have been working towards this goal for a long time. It's been a center in my life when I needed a center. And it provided much-needed balance when I was perilously close -- at times -- to falling over an edge.

So mixed in with the pure joy and raw feeling of accomplishment, is a bit of a sadness. I'll never not have run the New York City Marathon again. It will never be #allegedly. Ever.

I'm not a parent, but it must be a little bit like watching a kid go to a first day of school. Or walking a daughter down the aisle. Maybe it's like when the Red Sox won in 2004. We'll never have not won again... You're so happy, but there's a bit of sadness for the memories now passed by.

But wait.

After 24 hours I stood back, and I re-framed the situation. It took nearly a full day to really come to terms with this fact: I will never not have run the New York City Marathon again. I've done it. It's been done. I accomplished something truly spectacular.

I stuck with it through injury. I stuck with it through cancellation. I stuck with it through absolutely anguish for those last 8 miles.

I can do anything. I will continue to set goals and and achieve the things in life I want to achieve. There's no way I won't.

My little town blues, they are melting away, I'm gonna make a brand new start of it...

I may have not cried when I thought I'd cry, but thinking back now? Brings tears to my eyes.

Please bear with me for one more installment coming soon....what's next...foreshadowing.....