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: http://www.runDFMC.org/2014/merig

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.

So...now 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 sign...in 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, Craig...you 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.....

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

MeriG #Actually Runs the NYC Marathon: Part 1

So much to say. So, so, so much to say. 

The past few days have been full of so much pure, raw emotion that writing can't really do it justice. Pictures do a bit better, so I'll tell as much of my story as I can with photos. 

Let's start with the main thesis of the tale: MeriG #Actually Ran the NYC Marathon. 4:24:45. It happened. My story began in May 2011 and culminated on one unbelievable experience on a crisp, windy, (but relatively running perfect!) in November 2013.

And I really wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

I had wisely taken the day off, and arrive at the expo (#again) with Roomie Jen and TFK Running Buddy Fo' Life Erica.

Walking in, I had crazy deja vu. I had done this exactly a year ago. We had been here before. That feeling was making my nerves act like crazy, and my anxiety level was pretty high.

But then, I got my bib.

And all the stress, all the angst, all the negative emotion...started to fade away.

They had this letter on the bib pick-up table.

I proceeded to said orange counter and was presented with this:

Wow. Just wow. Erica and I were tearing up and so excited. Of course we had to pose with our 2013 Bibs and our 2012 -- well-deserved -- medals. I'm keeping them somewhere safe to remind myself of my own strength to overcome adversity. And to remind me that, like the old adage says, somehow everything does happen for a reason.

We've been in it together since May 2012! And even though she lives far away, I know this isn't the end of running together for us :)

Roomie Jen and I posed as well. She has been such an amazing training partner this year. We went on so many wonderful runs, and I couldn't have asked for a more supportive running buddy (just as I couldn't ask for a more supportive friend from her for the other aspects of my life!) It's been fun connecting over this mutual hobby.

My running friends like Erica, Jen and so many others are the heart and soul of this experience for me. We help each other. We give advice and catch up on life. We laugh together. We cry together. And we inspire each other. 

They don't tell you about that when you sign up for a training program. But be it a 5K, a 10K, a Half or Full marathon...it's true. My advice to anyone considering running NY or another marathon? Find a group. Pay or raise the money. It's worth every penny.

You want me to run...where?

I woke up and my legs were itching to run. The taper had me at my breaking point and I literally couldn't sit still. I ran a very easy 2 miler just to not actually jump out of a window. This was followed by devouring a lovely brunch my friend Kelly so wonderfully treated me to at my favorite local diner. Hashtag #AllTheFood.

On the way home, we passed the port-o-potties on 1st Ave, all locked up and pristine and ready to go. As you know, the bathroom "situation" is always my main concern leading up to a race. However, there are other concerns I should have potentially had rather than this one....

That's called foreshadowing. FYI.

My parents arrived in the late afternoon and promptly ignored me in favor of spending time with Archie.

Um...spoiled much?

 We went to dinner with my wonderful Aunt, my sister, and her fiance at a lovely Italian restaurant in my neighborhood.

ALL THE SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS!!!!!!!!!!!! Hold the cheese.

I was asleep by 9:30pm (which promptly turned into 8:30pm for Daylight Savings). And I actually slept almost straight through until 3:30. 7 hours of sleep before a Marathon? Unprecedented!


The alarm rang. Luckily I had set it with a message to myself because I am clever.

A message from my past self to my future self

 My clothes -- in typical Marathoner fashion and as everyone recommends -- were all laid out and ready to go. There was nothing to do except get dressed, try to use the bathroom (#ugh), grab my bag and go.

My mom walked me out into the dark morning and helped me hail a cab. Adorbs.

Erica and I rendezvoused at the Team For Kids buses which left at 6:30

Quick plug: I HIGHLY recommend Team For Kids for a first marathon experience! The entire morning was so completely turn key. Amazing for first-time marathoners or first-time New York marathoners. You've trained to run 26.2 miles, so it can be a bit overwhelming to also have to deal with logistics at the start and finish. They were amazing making things as easy as humanly possible for all of us to just focus on our run and not have to worry about the rest of it. Plug over. Happy to answer any questions any of you inspired may have.

On the bus
While driving I took this photo as we were going over the Verranzano Bridge...which we would have to run back over just a couple of hours later. It dawned on me as I looked back at the buildings of Manhattan that I was going to run there shortly. Whaaaaaat?

We arrived at the starting village at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. After a bit of a lengthy security process, we were ushered to our heated tent by about 8:15am. Yep. Team for Kids. Consider it.

Not cold! And food!

Think the heated tent was awesome? How about our own dedicated port-o-potties?! It was like all of life's kittens and unicorns and happiness when I saw this. I even got to use an unadulterated pristine potty before I started the race. Simply delightful.

I was starting in Wave 2 (10:05) and Erica was Wave 3 (10:30) so at about 9:00 I checked my bag, said goodbye and started the process to begin. 

TFK had separate bag check (so we could grab our stuff easily at the end instead of with the masses) and then stretched us out.

Then we were ushered to the entrance to the Corrals to wait a bit while Wave 1 began.

Once we were let into the Corrals, I found my friend Sam, who I actually ran my very first half marathon with back in 2008. 

Good luck omen
We shuffled out of the corrals and onto the bridge. A woman sang God Bless America. We stripped off our throw-away clothes and gobbled the last of our pre-race food and water.

The cannon went off.

And they started to play New York, New York. I had been waiting to hear that song, on that bridge, for two and a half years. Years full of pain, but also full of joy. In and outside of my running life, how much changed in that amount of time? Think about what you were doing in May of 2011...how much has changed for you?

I was considering that as the song began and I made my way from the back of my Wave to cross that starting line. The friendships I've made. The career I'm developing. The life I'm leading. 

And in terms of my running, these are months and years that developed me from someone with a bucket list goal to a runner. A marathoner even.

Courtesy NY Daily News

I thought I would cry. But no.

I just smiled. And started to run.