Monday, October 28, 2013

The NYC Marathon: Tips, Tricks and Tomfoolery

Six little days stand between me and (allegedly) running the NYC Marathon. Three years in the making all comes down to these six measly days. Or 5 days and 22 hours, if we're being exact. And I think we are.

Schedule of events for this week:
* Eat all the food
* Work (while eating all the food)
* Freak out
* Calm down
* Eat all the food
* Watch baseball
* Pretend I'm not going to drink a beer
* Drink a beer
* Eat more of all of the food
* Freak out
* Calm down
Repeat above for six days

My parents come in on Saturday and will get to be part of a special, exclusive club that currently only has one member (ahem, Betsy). This club's main privilege is witnessing a special kind of crazy and listening to me talk about going to the bathroom. For 24 hours straight. Welcome.

The only other real task I am doing this week (aside from the regular taper activities of stretching, not running too much, water, food, repeat) is to prepare for what I am bringing the morning of the race. According to forecasts and historical data, it should be in the low 50s when I run after starting at 10:05am. Very comfortable and lovely, so let's assume that is the case (I have no contingency plan for bad weather). However, we get to the starting line by around 7 am when it is in the mid-30s. Grotesque!

My friends Kevin and Nicole got the pleasure of accompanying me to the store this weekend on two separate occasions to purchase cold-weather gear. Part of this will be used before the race (and then tossed to the side, collected and donated to charity) and part will be checked in a bag to use in between finish line and where I go to meet my family and shower. Sound simple? NOT. Not simple.

The inventory:
* Hand warmers (multiple) 
* Gloves (2 pairs)
* Hat
* Arm warmers (high football socks that I will cut the toes out of! Brilliance!)
* Thermal shirt
* Sweatshirt (2)
* Sweatpants (2)
* And the piece de resistance: The Old Navy Fleece Blanket

Nicole and I were very pleased about this addition to the list. My favorite part of the shopping trip was when she interrupted an Old Navy staff meeting to inquire, "Excuse me...I believe you once sold children's blankets. Do you have any? Preferably  in a ridiculous pattern?" A good friend indeed.

The other thing I am doing this week is reading all of the internet. Somehow I feel that if I have ingested as much information as possible it will naturally make me fast and all problems will go away. For those of you also prepping who may feel the same way, here is a brief round-up of some of the best things I've read so far:

Runner's World's 10 Tips for Running the NYC Marathon

Running and the City's great tips and strategies post

Official Marathon Neighborhoods Guides

This video that features a lot of the TFK coaches and made me cry

This NYTimes article from 2009 by the author of A Race Like No Other (which is also a book I recommend)

This Well + Good tips about...potty-related matters. It's IMPORTANT!

iRunner Blog post from 2011 about the Fort Wadsworth starting area

And when I have exhausted the world wide interwebs, I go back to reading:

The best one of all...   My very own...   ...marathon SUCCESS!

Let's talk it out:
Any tips I've missed?
What are you bringing to the starting line?
Will you be racing? Watching on TV? Or watching LIVE!?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Time Spent Wisely

What's going on in my running world? Well, we are officially 10 days away from go-time. I'm smack dab in the middle of full-on taper and I am going absolutely out of my mind.

My friend Rachel posted this very insightful article from the Washington Post on my facebook page a few days ago. The thesis is basically that people go absolutely crazy and become horrible human beings while they taper. This is 100% accurate.

But there's another reason that I've been going absolutely out of my mind the last few weeks. In a good way.

Holy cow, the Red Sox are IN THE WORLD SERIES, BABY!

This has, to be certain thrown a major hinge in my marathon plans. But it's so worth it.

Let me detail what you should be doing right now versus what I am doing right now.

Taper Tip #1: Get plenty of sleep.
MeriG's Taper Reality: Wake up early, do all the work, watch all the baseball -- lasting generally from 8pm to midnight -- stay up an extra hour reading twitter recaps and re-reading Divergent and Insurgent in preparation for Allegiant (which came out yesterday).

Get on this. Right now. I am 10% through Allegiant.

Taper Tip #2: Relax. Remain as stress-free as possible.
MeriG's Taper Reality: I work a full time job and have my favorite team in the World Series. So don't tell me to calm down!!!!!!!

Taper Tip #3: Eat healthy. Lots of veggies, proteins and whole grains. Be balanced and good to your body.
MeriG's Taper Reality:

Taper Tip #4: Cut way back on alcoholic beverages. All in moderation. Do not drink in the week leading up to the marathon.
MeriG's Reality: 

Taper Tip #5: Prepare. Make lists. Ensure you are all squared away for food, outfits, transportation and plans for marathon weekend. Do not leave anything until the last minute.
MeriG's Reality: I have never in my life felt more disorganized. Archie is lucky he is even being fed at this point. My apartment is filthy and I'm lucky if I have clean underwear, let alone my race-day outfit all squared away. In all, I am a delight.

Taper Tip #6: Stay off your feet as much as possible.
MeriG's Reality: 
Go Red Sox, Go Red Sox, Go Red Sox

All-in-all, not my best showing. But the good news is that between the World Series, Allegiant, and other distractions, the days are flying by until the big day.

The Red Sox are in the World Series. I've reached level 115 in Candy Crush. The New York City freakin' marathon is 10 days away. Now is not the time for lentils and kale and no alcohol. Now is the time to celebrate and enjoy! 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm on my way out now to go see Radio Lab (the show I LOVE to listen to when I run) live on stage with my friend Erin. Not sure how you see a radio show live, but I'm interested to find out!

This is the show's poster. Creepy? Amazing? You decide.

This will be followed by the end of Game #2 and then possibly a few hours of sleep before morning. You'll notice running is absolutely nowhere in the mix. And maybe, just maybe, that's the way I need it before the shenanigans begin.

P.S. For some logistics, I'm Bib #35270. Download the free Marathon App (just search NYC Marathon 2013 in the app store) and track me there! For those in NY, don't forget to tell me where you'll be race day. I'll let you know when you can expect to see me and know to keep a look-out!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

They're After Me

Wow! What a great response from my last post on the difficulty of getting from 0-3 miles. I meant every word, and I definitely plan on expanding this topic in the future.

But let's get back to me.

We are 23 days from the Marathon.

The ads are popping up all over New York (have you seen any good ones?)

And -- once again -- the route signs are up (have you seen those yet either?)

I had a short-lived moment of panic this week when my sister sent me an email entitled "Are you cursed?" With this fun little article:

You know, I was annoyed and disgusted with the government before. But now? Y'all are MESSING WITH MY MARATHON. STOP IT.

Thanks, Kanye.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I will attempt my last of the true long-training runs of this NYC Marathon training season. I've already completed a 20-miler a few weeks back, so this is more of an "icing on the cake" type things to truly ensure I am prepared for the big day.

Roomie Jen and I have mapped out a 22 mile route that looks a little something like this:

Crazy, huh? I'd say so.

It's a weird feeling to know that you've completed 20 mile training runs before. A couple of times. And have run 26.2 miles. But just once.. It's actually kind of demotivating, to tell you the truth.

Before my 20 miler in preparation of the 2012 Marathon that wasn't, I was hyped up. It was going to be the longest I ever ran. Ever. And there was some sort of a sick fascination in it. I wish pushing my body to a limit I wasn't sure it could achieve, but without the pressure of a race. And it was oddly encouraging to know that.

And then when I had to do it a couple of months later, before Miami, I was just basically a mad woman driven by a purpose beyond my control and power.

Now? I'm like...well....I've done we have to....or could I just like...not....and eat muffins...

It should be noted that a my co-worker  Sarah mentioned Dunkin Donut muffins to me earlier, and now I am truly captivated and paralyzed by the sheer happy thoughts of them.

I just want marathon day to be here. The NYC Marathon has been so long in the making. Seriously, you guys. And now I'm not entirely convinced that it's not a government conspiracy that's keeping me from running it.

Dun Dun DUN.

Luckily I have Roomie Jen to yell at me keep me on track and hopefully coax me through 22. Damn. Miles. Gahhhhhhh.

In all, the benefit to my near complete apathy to the situation is that (at least I think) I'm much calmer than in years past. I used to kind of lose my mind every Friday in preparation for Saturday runs. Not healthy. This year? What happens happens. I feel tired? I'll stop. Need more water? Buy it. Need a bathroom? Hope to hell there's one nearby. What will be will be.

Continue to save the date for November 3rd, and I'll continue to keep at it.

There better be a Pumpkin Muffin at the end, is all I'm saying.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

But I Just Hate to Run

...said so many people to me. All the time.

Or, "I'm just not good at running." Or, "I just don't think it's ever something I could do." Or, "You are crazy."

You may not believe me, but I get it. Even as I revel in writing about my weekly long runs and my fuel belts and my 6am Saturday wake-up calls and my muscle milk, I get it. I really do.

He gets it too.

So today I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I'll preface by stating emphatically for the record that I am not a coach, not a physical therapist, and not qualified really in any way to say anything. On the flip side, I have a laptop and time to kill, so let's get started with the life advice.

My secret is that I think some of you (not all) do not hate to run. You hate that it's hard to get started and you hate that when you've tried it didn't go well. And you're absolutely, positively right.

Running is not, not, all sunshine and rainbows every day. I very often struggle through these workouts just counting the minutes until they're over. And these long runs? Although some go better than others, they truly never get easier.

So why do I do it? I run for the structure it adds to my life. For the feeling of setting -- and then achieving -- goals. For the people I meet along the way and friendships that get build, forged and continued along the way.

For the amazing views
And peaceful moments

:::Sigh::: How sweet.

But it's also crap.

Sure, that fluffy stuff is easy for me to say! I run marathons. Like an idiot.

All of the focus on the wonderful sights and sounds and friends and calm is freakin' fantastic... if only you weren't worried about your muscles revolting and your lungs collapsing! It's just ducky to run then...when you're already good at it. 

What I do now? That's a piece of cake compared to those initial months of getting started. That's the real challenge.

So let's talk about the real reason to accept the challenge. And it's certainly not so you can see the view from the Queensboro Bridge on foot.

Although that can be lovely too!

The best reason to run is -- that by far and away -- it is the single best way to get in and stay in shape. It's the only --and I mean only -- weight-loss and maintenance program that has ever worked for me. Those other reasons? They may come with time, or they may not. But the more on-the-surface weight-loss reason is why I, and countless others, started this little hobby and continue it.

That's the secret.

I started running about 10 years ago in college, after a long illustrious career of NEVER RUNNING EVER. And the reason was far from noble. I started because the ellipticals were always full at my pitiful college gym, and the treadmills had less of a wait. I continued jogging once I moved to New York because I didn't have enough money for a gym membership. Running has another crucial side-benefit: It's free.

And for about 4 years I never went a step further than 3 miles. It was another 1-2 years I could run occasionally up to 5 miles.

And this brings us to that secret I wanted to let you in on: The absolute hardest part for me was never running a marathon. It was getting started at all.

It was incredibly, incredibly hard to get from 0-3 miles for me, and it will be for you too. And, oh my goodness, did it suck getting from 3-5 miles. But once you're at that point? Well now you've been running a long time and, in order to get there, you'd have to have been somewhat consistent.

And after that, the sky is the limit.

If you're not a runner, don't think about marathons or half marathons. Not for a darn second. I never did! God! Gross!

It was only once I ran somewhat regularly -- perhaps 1-2 times per week plus some other workouts -- and that I could get up to five miles running straight that I thought about training for a half. And it was only after I ran several halves that I considered a full marathon. The distances can and will come with time and consistency.

And I promise that you could do it too.

So, my challenge for you is this: If even a small part of you is considering running, give it a shot. Not once. Not twice. Make a plan and stick to it. Couch to 5K is a great program, but there are a lot of online resources and apps that can help.

Put runs in your calendar like you'd schedule a work meeting or drinks with a friend. Plan what you're going to do in that workout (walk 3 minutes, run 1 minute, repeat for 30 minutes perhaps?) and stick with it. Put in 100% effort into each session, knowing you're doing a good thing and that it will be over soon. Record what you've done in a diary of some sort and also record exactly what you plan to do. This will help you to notice a quantifiable difference not just in your weight, but in what you are capable of.

Give it months before you judge, and not just a couple of runs. And give it the time to show the results. For me, it took a decade. But truly it could be so much faster if you -- unlike I was -- are diligent. I promise, promise, promise, that if I can do it, you can do it.

So tell me, do you buy it? Why or why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts.