Monday, May 20, 2013

Race Recap: Killin' It for Half #9

This past weekend I ran my ninth (!!) official Half. It was my fourth time running Brooklyn and -- as you can tell -- I always like this race and keep comin' back for more.

The entire experience -- all-in-all -- was wonderful. My parents came in on Friday afternoon, and we went to a really cute Italian restaurant in the neighborhood Friday night to get me carbo-loaded up and ready to rock n' roll. 

They inadvertently coordinated outfits because they're just so damn cute.

We had an early bedtime to prep for the 4:45am wake-up call. I like to have a full hour in the apartment before I leave for races to ensure I have everything I need, can sit and eat, use the potty, and just have time to relax and try not to stress. 

As I was explaining to my Dad on the train, it doesn't matter if it's your first half or your ninth. Or your 30th like my awesome friend Sam who just completed 30 Halfs before 30 (Crazy lady! Congrats!) I personally find that I'm still incredibly nervous -- although certainly more prepared -- each time. There's this butterflies feeling in your stomach and this nervous energy all around you. But I think that's the beauty of the thing. It's what separates this day from all the other training days. It's what makes you want to pay the money and put on the bib and do this thing. Could you do it on your own for free? Absolutely. But it's the butterflies and the fans and the finish line that makes it special.

Before leaving the apartment we did a little pre-race photo shoot. My Dad has an "interesting" sense of humor. "Lean to the left," he said. "A little more...a little more..." Until he got me to take this incredibly awkward picture. 

Leaning unnecessarily. While my Dad makes fun of me. And Archie is creepin'.

Funny, Dad. Real funny.

Here's a real one:

Purple shirt? Check!
Watch? Check!
Hat? Check!
Bib? Check!
We're ready to roll.

And my fan club and I were on the subway by just past 6 am to get down to Brooklyn.
My mom is carrying all my wordly possessions on her person.  

Once in Brooklyn, my parents transferred to another train to situate themselves at mile 3 -- the first viewing spot I had prescribed for them. I went to the starting corral and arrived in plenty of time to meet up with Joss and Erica (remember them from Miami??) and to use the glorious port-o-potties.

Starting corral

There were two Waves this year because the Brooklyn Half has gotten so big. I remember back in 2008 when I ran my first one and there were just a few thousand runners. This year? I think about 25,000. Insane.

Wave 1 was off at around 7:00am and then Wave 2 begin at 7:30.

We were off.

The course is great for this race. You start at the Brooklyn Museum and spend the first four miles on streets near the Museum and Prospect Park -- one of my favorite places in the city. You then enter the park and do its lovely 3-mile loop before exiting and running straight down a closed-down major roadway to Coney Island. Baller.

Photo of runners on Ocean Parkway courtesy of Ken Glansberg
It wasn't a secret that I was seeking out a PR over my last year's record -- also set in Brooklyn -- of 1:58:48. It was a tough goal, because that pace from last year was a 9:04. I had challenged myself to run at or below at 9:00 mile. For 13.1 miles.

I had changed my training schedule to incorporate Yoga and more "Quality" runs (i.e. hills and speed). And I had really pushed myself with the mileage, getting up to 13 miles during my longest run (whereas normally for Half training I just go to 10 or 11 prior to the Big Day).

All week I ate really well -- not a morsel of lactose hit these lips. Sigh.

I stretched plenty, and I took several rest days. I got a great night sleep for two nights in a row leading up to Saturday. My tummy felt great on Saturday am (although the preventative Imodium can never hurt!) All-in-all, I was ready.

Miles 1-7 were great. With Erica and Joss by my side, I held just over a 9:00 average pace. It's a flat course with one [horrible] hill around mile 5. With that behind me, leaving the Park and heading down Ocean Parkway, I felt like I could rule the world.

Miles 8-9 were okay. I was starting to fatigue a bit from holding that pace, which absolutely is pushing it for me. But I still felt strong.

I saw my parents at Mile 9 and that gave me another little boost, but shortly after I started feeling the pain. My joints and my muscles and my lungs were okay, but I was just TIRED. And I think dehydrated. 

Not gonna lie to you right now, Miles 10 - 13 were just totally grotesque. I really didn't enjoy them. But my own ass-like stubbornness made me push through at a sub-9:00 pace. I was at about 1:30 and knew that I was technically physically capable to do three miles in under 27 minutes. So I was determined to do so. 

I'm kind of an idiot sometimes.

Wheezing, coughing, and muttering to myself like a crazy person, I carried on.

With my blessing, Erica sped away into the sunset to conquer her own personal PR (and school me in the process). She has been battling a knee injury since Miami, so I was really happy to see her so strong.

And I was jealous as hell as I sputtered along, cursing my own sweaty body, the misty air that was cooling -- yet somehow also was pissing me off -- and all the happy people around me who seemed oblivious to all the PAIN IN THE WORLD.

Around mile 12 I really thought I was going to pass out. But knowing that I had only one more mile to go, I just couldn't justify slowing down or stopping at this point.

If I pass out, I pass out, I said to myself.

Then a moment later, what is wrong with you. You used to not even run the mile during gym class and now you're proposing vomitting on yourself or passing out in the middle of a race just to beat your own best time WHICH STILL PUTS YOU IN LITERALLY 10,000th place! [Sidebar: This is a true story. I came in 10,004th place in this race. Sidebar over.]

What has become of you. I'm not sure if I approve of you anymore, I then said to myself. As the real me in my head shook her head in disappointment while eating a wheel of brie.

Around mile 12.5 you hit the end of Ocean Parkway and bang a right. In front of you is the iconic Coney Island ferris wheel and the spectators went from a few sparse individuals to a crowded, loud, exuberant crowd.

It was those cheering people that pushed me to finish.

So GO. I said to myself. That famous mantra from Miami came back again. Just Go.

With just that pesky 0.1 mile to go, I ran up a steep ramp (UGH) to the boardwalk and sprinted as fast as I possibly could to the finish. I have no idea how fast that last stretch was, but I truly felt like I was flying at that moment.

Just as I was about to cross the finish line, I looked at my watch. 1:57:25.




Almost a minute and a half PR.


(Again, for the record...10,000th place. Just sayin'.)

Erica was waiting for me at the finish. We embraced sweatily. All smiles.

A medal, step n' repeat, and hand on hip. OWNIN' it.

Me, Erica, our medals, and our PR smiles

Fan Club!!
At this point the adrenaline was starting to slow down and my own sweatiness was turning into just...wetness. A pool of my own filth and grossness. So sexy.

Before I even noticed I was cold, my father -- the former EMT -- had the good sense to see that things could deteriorate quickly. The forecast had called for low 70s and sunny at the finish, but instead it was high 50s to low 60s and misting. Yuck-a-roo.

So he literally gave me the shirt off of his back.

Love this glam shot. STYLIN'!

What a guy!!! 

Because I was cold [and beginning to smell myself], we made our way to the subway without stopping for beer and hot dogs. But we paused for photo ops.

We then headed to Cascabel on the Upper East Side for brunch and bottomless cocktails. Wherein my parents demonstrated that they are not only the cutest...but also the coolest. Best. Brunch. Ever.

2pm, drunk, and exhausted, we all passed out. We woke up, ordered in Chinese, watched bad TV, and then went back to bed. Honestly, I couldn't have dreamed up a more perfect race-day.

In conclusion:

Hooray for amazing parents who couldn't be more supportive in every possible way with these running shenangians.

Hooray for unlimited cocktails!

Hooray for reaching a goal!


Archie + PR Race Medal = Best pictures ever. Fact.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

MeriG's Favorite Things: Vol 2

It's about that time, folks. Time for me to share my second volume of my favorite things so that you, too, can rejoice in the gloriousness.

Favorite Thing #1: JON SNOW

I think we've pretty well established that I have a full-blown Game of Thrones problem. It's an addiction that I have come to terms with and for which I have zero regrets. 

We've also reviewed that Daenerys Targaryen is my favorite person -- both fictitious and real -- in the whole wide world. 

But the past few weeks have made my second-favorite character worthy of the #1 spot of favorite things.
Don't look at me like that. I still love you. You can't monopolize ALL my blog posts, Khaleesi.

'Cuz...hey gurl.

All you really need to know about Jon Snow is that he is handsome and wanders around in the actual snow. Brooding.
Cold and brooding.

Brooding and shirtless.

The second thing you should know about Jon Snow is that he knows nothing.
....or does he? You know what I'm talkin' about.

The third thing you should know is that the internet has so many things on it that make Jon Snow knowing nothing amazing. Such as:


The last thing I'll share in regards to Mr. Snow is this amazing meme:
Hahaha, get it, GoT fans? Get it? Laughing Out Loud!

Favorite Thing #2: Radio Lab
Since this is -- in technical terms -- a running blog, I thought just one of my favorite things should be running related.

At least peripherally.

When I do lonesome long runs, I don't really like to listen to music the entire time. I weirdly get bored and distracted and find myself just thinking that the song is only 4 minutes approximately and then getting all "Perfect Mind" and trying to calculate how many more songs left in the run and it gets very much in my head very quickly. Very nerdy.

So instead, I turn to the least nerdy thing ever: Listening to NPR whilest running.

I listen to a lil' news... a lil' culture...get all educated....some Wait, Wait Don't Tell's all a great time overall and passes the time quite nicely. But my absolute favorite listening pleasure is Radio Lab. 

You can access this program online or through the NPR app on your smartphone devise. Radio Lab describes itself as: "...a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience."

Yes, true. But that doesn't even do it justice. Just listen to it. You'll thank me later. 

Favorite Thing #3: Temple Run
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Simply stated, I am full-out addicted to this free iPhone game. The original version, not any of these newer garbage versions.

The premise is simple. You start, you run, you collect coins, you try not to die. Use the coins to buy powers and stuff.


Over. And over. And over.

Suffice it to say that I spend a wee bit of time playing this game. During commercials....while I'm on the phone with you and you are on bed....waiting for you to get out of the bathroom when we're getting a drink....on the bus....on the subway...

Basically if I'm not looking at you directly in the face, there is a 99% chance I'm playing this game. It's either incredibly enjoyable or a really basic and obvious cry for help. 

Either way.

Favorite Thing #4: The one-and-only Mr. Leonardo Dicaprio....still. And forever.

As you know, and have known, and will continue to know, there is a little film coming out this week staring the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

This film is based on the American classic novel, The Great Gatsby, and has had much buzz for near a year. Reviews thus far are mixed, and I can not comment on the quality of the movie nor its potential Oscar-obtaining potential. But I can and will and must comment on the quality of its star actor. He is not only critically acclaimed...but look at him. Just LOOK.

He is turning 40 next year and -- frankly -- has made me consider a few key points and come to terms with one crucial thought:

Leo, I have had a raging crush on you for a non-exaggerated 17 years. There are children born that can can now watch rated-R movies and in the entirety of that time I have had a crush on an actor.

I was the 14-year old girl who saw Titanic four times in the theaters alone (can't even begin to count post movie theater viewings of the film. 

I recorded Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" with the imposed dialogue, thank you very much from the radio into my boom box multiple times so that I would not have to press rewind every time I wanted to be reminded to never let go.

The king of my world

But even before speculating that Jack probably could have survived if he had tried, like, a couple of more times to get on that wooden door-thing with Rose (show a little effort, dude!), Romeo had my heart.
But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Ah, 1996. You brought me my Bat Mitzvah and Romeo + Juliet, the modern film adaptation of Shakespeare's little play. You brought us the Cardigan's hit song "Love Me, Love Me," and my first disc-man on which to play the Romeo plus Juliet soundtrack on repeat. 

It was a glorious time.

Just as in 1996, I only wish there were still Tiger Beat magazines appropriate for 30-year-old ladies to hang posters on their walls.

A timeless periodical

But you have aged well, Mr. DiCaprio, and I am not embarrassed that my crush rages on two years later.

Hand gesture shows pensive thought and elegance

Cheers to you and to the next 17 years.


As a final surprise to my readers, I have an important announcement:

MeriG's Favorite Things Volume 2? Not only are they magical and wonderous and amazing... but they're all FREE so you get all of them TOO! 

You're welcome, World!!!

Any [awkward] favorite things you'd like to add to the list?\