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Posts Tagged ‘team fox’

About a month ago, I bought a bike.

It’s been more than two years since I’ve been able to run. Every time I even thought about running (say, I went for a 4 or 5-mile walk) my plantar fasciitis would gently flare up, chiding me, Nuh-uh uh!

So, it became more sad than easy to not be active, which is why I bought the bike. That, and back in January I signed up to ride the 5 Boro Bike Tour as part of Team Fox, once again raising money for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Reasearch. (Love you, Dan.)

Today was the 5 Boro Bike Tour! Here’s the story: I did not die.me at the start with my cute bike!

Here’s another story: I bike-commuted to work a week ago, from Woodside to Midtown, and I did not die.

One more story: I rode 20 miles in the Poconos, along curvy hilly roads, and again: I did not die.

In addition to not dying, I had fun. These are encouraging results from my first forays into this new activity I’m pretty sure I’m adopting. Pardon the non-committal attitude; as recently as last night I referred to my role in the 5 Boro Bike Tour as a “charity runner.” Clearly, I’m still adapting to The New TK.

I am sitting on cushion. That feels nice. Did I mention the tour was 40 miles? Also, it was really, really windy. That dampened the fun, especially as we were trying to pedal up and over the Verranzano Bridge. Thank god for gears!

If any cyclists are reading this, you will now commence snorting: I have no spare tires or tubes. I have no  watter bottle. I had to crowd source my outfit because I had no idea what to wear over my cycling kit. I figured it would all work out OK. (It did.)

The best part of the ride hands-down was riding over the Queensboro Bridge. We rode on the upper level, in lanes that usually go east-west, but we were riding west-east. It’s actually my favorite east-west approach; you enter through a little secret entrance on 21st Street in Long Island City, and it affords sweeping views of the bridge itself, the iconic Silvercup Studios sign, and of course Midtown Manhattan as it circles up, up, up. I love when Motorcycle Man takes me into Manhattan on his Honda V Star that way, it’s exhilirating. It was equally so to pedal myself along the same route, but in reverse. I could not stop hooting and hollering. welcoming all the other cyclists to Queens, the best boro! I greeted Emma and Chrissy, I thanked God, I marveled, I made sure everyone around me knew precisly how fucking awesome that bridge crossing was.

Here are some pictures.

queensboro bridge approach she's right behind me! queensboro bridge! lots of cyclists a rare view of the Roosevelt Tsland Tram! I love those beams excuse the random half-head Me! On my bridge! Ricking' the Team Fox kit.

Once we landed in Queens and cruised north up 21st Street, I was totally pumped. Never have I been so excited to pass the Queensbridge projects, or my Pep Boys service station. I was all puffed up with pride for my boro. We crossed beneath the Triboro Bridge and the Hellgate Bridge, and once we left Astoria Park (the first rest staion), we got to ride beneath my bridge! Seriously, I was in heaven.

The ride through Brooklyn to Staten Island was cool, as it followed routes I used to run along, so the roads were familiar. Rather than feel sad I wasn’t running, I was enjoying the adventure of rolling along, carried along by pedal power! Parts of this course mimicked races I’ve run; notably, the NYC Half-Marathon, and the Staten Island Half-Marathon. Those stretches brought back happy memories. I recognized the terrain, and spent time remembering the details of those races as I pedaled along.

Also cool: riding on the FDR Drive, and the BQE, with absolutely NO CAR TRAFFIC! After my hair-raising round-trip bike commute last Monday, having the city streets just for our biking selves was pretty righteous.

I took some time, as we all struggled up the Verranzano bridge, battling wind and slope, to think of Dan, and all the friends I know who have lost someone to Parkinson’s. I am so grateful that I have a healthy body, and that I have family and friends who are so generous in their support of this cause that’s important to me.

I’m pretty sure I’ll go for another bike ride soon. Once my tushy stops throbbing.

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Hiya, 4 AM and I’m blogging to settle my troubled mind… On Sunday, May 1st I’m once again one of the hosts of the Team Fox Young Professionals Sunday Funday Brunch, a fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Disease. Brunch is at Aspen Social Club in midtown Manhattan, and it starts at noon. The ticket includes an open bar and buffet, and we’re also having a live auction. If you aren’t running the New Jersey Marathon that day, please come and hang out with me for this worthy cause–buy a ticket! (or just make a donation)…  Caution, Pretension Ahead! A new novel by my favorite contemporary Italian writer has just been released in English. I am looking forward to the day when I actually have time to read it… Lately, Italy has been whispering “Remember me, your first love?” in my ear over and over. Small temptations keep darting my way, from the country I used to visit twice a year. Here’s another… Canadian businessman Mike Shanks interviewed Malcom Gladwell in New York a while back about his running. I like how he manages to ask Malcolm some questions that take him by surprise. And then afterwards they went for a run!… This article in Psychology Today asserts that ultrarunners aren’t really crazy, but when I read about how they train and adapt to the demands of running for 100 miles–it sure sounds like crazy to me. Some runners I know who run ultras even call themselves crazy! For me, 26.2 is quite far enough, but I am always interested to hear what inspires others to move on to ultras…

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Day 4 of 7 in the Blogging My Birthday Week Series

I have mentioned before, but not very often, that I am one of the semi-regular personalities on a local running podcast called the NY Running Show. Each week a bunch of opinionated runners of all ages and speeds get together to discuss what’s gone on in pro and amateur racing in our preferred city. Last Sunday, we discussed the New York City Half-Marathon, and I gave the verbal report of what you’ve already read here. I hope you subscribe to our long-winded but charming podcast!…. Chris McDougall commented on my blog when his book Born to Run first came out, and now he’s responded to a comment JG of Run Westchester posted in response to McDougall’s NYTimes.com online feature about how trail runners who don’t have a training schedule are more virtuous than road runners who like to log their miles. Or something like that…. If you are in NYC on Sunday May 1, please support my efforts along with the other members of the Team Fox Young Professionals to help fund the research for a cure to Parkinson’s Disease. We are holding a Sunday Funday brunch at Aspen in Midtown. Tickets for open bar & brunch buffet are only $42 if you order now, and we’ll have fun raffles & live music, too…. On March 31, I’ll be going to see this documentary about some crazy person’s quest to run 75 marathons in 75 days. It’s called My Run, and I’ll be at the AMC 25 theater in Times Square, 7 PM showing. Who’s in?… My next race is April 17 in Boston. No, not the marathon (not yet, anyway). This is the 5k, the day before…. Two pieces of bad news about my beloved Queens. 1) the libraries have stopped buying new books due to budget cuts, and 2) the vote went through today to name my bridge after Ed Koch. Oh, the indignity…. On the up side, it still is a delight to run down off the 59th Street Bridge into Queens through this clean and pretty plaza. They just finished the construction on the Manhattan pedestrian approach, too… By now you must be dying to know, Why oh why are these ellipses for my glutes? because last night’s Pilates class literally kicked my butt, and my posterior has been pained all day long. I’m hoping that if I dedicate this blog post to them, my glutes will stop their whining… And lastly, I tried this eating plan for a month–basically cut out all sugar from my diet–and I didn’t lose a single pound. This means I am still too plump to fit into the dress I wanted to wear for my party tonight. Here’s a picture of me in the dress back in July, when I was about 10 pounds lighter, but also still married.

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The unexpurgated report. This is the second half.
First Half. Final Analysis.
Mile splits are Garmin; kilometer splits are official timing mats.

From Miles 12.75 to 14, we could see the elite men running back at us along their Mile 21, which wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it would be, since I didn’t recognize any of them. I was moved by the number of charity runners on the course—the racers were wearing one of two options: a charity shirt or fancy dress (a costume). The amount of money raised for charities through these marathons is nothing short of heroic—over the next 5 years, the Virgin London Marathon thinks it will facilitate £25 million in donations for various causes! The charities are very vigilant about cheering exclusively for their supporters. I ran by the Parkinsons UK station, and gave them a wave hoping they’d recognize my TeamFox singlet, but they stood mutely. Luckily, at Mile 14 Anabel from the Michael J. Fox Foundation was there with her clappers and her big voice to give me a boost, which I sorely needed. (Apparently she cheered for me at Mile 25 too but I was so in the thick of it by that point I’m not surprised I didn’t hear her!) There were so many charity runners that whenever I saw an unaffiliated runner I was intrigued, because it meant they’d either gotten in through the lotto or had time-qualified. Another sort of runner that was a rare sight on the London course is the foreign runner. While in New York it seems every tenth runner is German, Italian or French, I didn’t see nearly the same proportion on the course in London. There were less than 190 finishers from the United States on Sunday, but in November 2,388 British nationals crossed the line outside Tavern on the Green (percentage wise LDN 0.5% / NYC 5.5%). It was a strange juxtaposition: even though I was running in a world-class event—one of the World Marathon Majors!—it felt like a local race. What’s not rare are the fancy dress runners. The Brits love it, this is where their silly side really comes out, but I have to say the costumed runners annoyed me. When they were next to me on the course, they drew all the energy. (At one point, some dude running in a foam Lucozade costume was getting more cheers than anyone. “Go Lucozade!” Really? REALLY? You’re cheering for a fucking brand, people! And yes, there’s no Santa Claus and Cousin Bobby Joe shot the Easter Bunny when he was hunting last weekend.) (another draw LDN: 3 / NYC: 3)

Miles 13, 14, 15 – 8:31, 8:31, 8:31
25k – 2:16:36 cum (25:53)

As the course led me through Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, I sensed that the next seven miles would be a tricky mental balance for me. How to stay calm despite the crowds and the nearly two dozen turns? How to maintain my energy and drive despite my swelling fingers (a sign of dehydration) and aching quads? I decided to carry on doing my best to run the tangents while remaining as faithful as possible to my splits. It felt nearly impossible to go any faster, partly because my body was starting to feel the effects of the sun and the 60+ degree temperatures, and partly because I still could not manage my way through the pack. That sun was strong, and when I licked my lips they tasted of pure salt. Little G kept beeping our splits further and further in front of the big red arches that marked each mile; that could have been heartbreaking but I had no energy to get demoralized about it, the extra distance was just another challenge I had to run through. Somewhere around Mile 17 I did the quick math: each subsequent mile would need to be 15 seconds faster than the pace I’d been holding if I was to hit my A goal—to run under 3:45 and qualify for Boston. A ballsy goal, frankly, what having done only a few pace runs as speed training this season, but why run a race if you aren’t going to do it balls-to-the-wall? I doubted I could get my miles down to 8:15’s given the crowds and the quads, but I sure as shit was going to try my best.

Miles 16, 17, 18 – 8:58, 8:30, 8:24
30k – 2:43:13 cum (26:49)

From Miles 21 to 22, we could watch the slower runners on the other side of the road coming up through 13. I’d hoped this would be entertainment, but it ended up leaving me feeling like I hadn’t gotten anywhere at all. I was back at Mile 13! It was around this point I started praying for the next Lucozade station (my prayer sounded like this: Where the fuck is the next Lucozade station?), and telling myself pretty little lies (my lies went like this: Your legs are strong and light. You are light as air. Quads, what quads? No struggle at all for you, girl, you’re feeling great!) I took honest-to-goodness encouragement from the fact that my form wasn’t really suffering, that my lower back wasn’t in pain, my shoulders were down and my right arm wasn’t crossing my body to badly. My splits weren’t really working out for a BQ time, so now I was chewing away at my B Goal: sub 3:50, as sub as possible.

Miles 19, 20, 21 – 8:24, 8:07, 8:34
35k – 3:10:05 cum (26:52)

After this, I can drink red wine.

Dan, I love you so much. Parkinson’s sucks.

I won’t slow down, I won’t give in because when my niece is a young woman, I want to be able to tell her I didn’t quit. I want to be an example of female strength for her.

TK, you get this one chance in your life to run this course. One chance to leave your best stuff on the streets of London. Don’t let up for one second because if you do, that bitter taste will never go away.

Miles 22, 23, 24 – 8:38, 8:46, 8:27
40k – 3:37:24 cum (27:19)

All four of my Hammer gels were long gone; luckily, the last two had caffeine.  The crowds along the final four miles were simply amazing. I learned from New York that I had to tune them out lest they distract and slow me, but I could still feel their excitement. I was hurting, and used everything at my disposal—every mental trick, every enticement—to keep myself on pace. For the second time that day, I was spurred on by curiosity: exactly how hard could I push myself? I gave it everything I had for Mile 26, I thought I might puke, or pee my pants. Neither happened, and I hit the lap button at 26.2, then went on to run an additional .37 miles to the finish line. I was dimly aware that I had passed Buckingham Palace, and that I was coming up The Mall. I was done with this race, I was tired of pulling up behind English men and women, I was tired of the sun stinging my face. I tried to raise my arms as I crossed the finish line but couldn’t get them up. My momentum kept me going even as I was across the mats, but the runner in front of me had stopped dead in her tracks, and I careened off her and into a third runner, who wobbled badly and went down. I quickly grabbed her left arm and someone else got her right and we gently lowered her to the ground. I was crouched and stooped and realized I couldn’t get up either. So I sat there, waiting until the medics could give me a hand up too.

Not quite the triumphant finish I’d envisioned, but at least I could stop running.

Miles 25, 26, and the last bit – 8:29, 8:17, 4:51
Official finishing time: 3:48:56, a PR by 5:45. That extra .37 of a mile took me 3:03 to run.

Once up, I shuffled my way forward through the finishers’ area. Medal. Goody bag (water, Lucozade, apple, Mars bar, crisps, jelly candy fish, and a one-size-fits-all red cotton finisher tee LDN: 3 / NYC: 4). Best apple I’ve ever eaten. Baggage claim. Mobile phone! Tweet tweeted my watch time—I still hit my B Goal and ran a new PR, so even though no BQ, I was pleased. Not ecstatic, just pleased. Back to my hotel room, feeling a bit lonely. I kind of wanted to hug someone. But the loneliness passed as soon as I pulled up friends on email, saw others had been following my splits on Twitter, and knew I could reach out to my family later over Skype. Also, the comforting thought of a celebratory high tea (replete with red wine) with TS at Palm Court assured me of quality company for a play by play of both my and the elite race.

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Charm City

It’s settled then. I’ve decided (with help from my PT Danielle) that my body can handle the Baltimore Half-Marathon. So, on October 10th at 9:45 (the latest race start in history) I will head out with thousands of others and race around the city of my alma mater, the city of John Waters, The Wire, and the O’s.

I told myself to stay calm in case of an emergency change of plans (since that seems to be my M.O. this year), but I can’t help myself. I love being part of the throng, I love getting gritty, I love zeroing in on the finish. I booked my hotel, my train, and have sorted out when I’ll go to the expo and to visit DM and IM (Friday afternoon and Saturday late lunch). CB will be down for the event, too; if Dan can make it, they will come and cheer for me somewhere between miles 10 and 11, which is when I get closest to their apartment building. 

There’s a lump in my throat when I think about it: running with my Team Fox singlet on (finally), and seeing Dan, IM and CB on the side of the road as I go by. I have raised about $8,000 so far, but am hoping to get to $10,000 by October 10th. Towards that end, I emailed all my colleagues in my publishing group asking for donations. I am always bowled over by their immediate and generous responses. 

Obviously I won’t be PRing, so I am approaching this race with a whole different mindset. No doubt I will still be nervous and jittery the eve and morning of, switching back and forth between being a chatterbox and a clam (EN I will miss you in the corral). But I want to try and run this half-marathon the way I ran my first marathon, and the way I celebrated at my wedding reception–unhurried, soaking it all in so as to remember every step, every vignette, every turn and image that I may catch from the corner of my eye. If Dan can indeed make it to the sidewalk to give me a cheer, I will stop and greet him. I may even run with my blackberry, so I can tweet and take photos. I will put my name on my singlet, I will wave at the crowd, I will crack jokes and spur on the other racers. My half-marathon will be about exalting that my body can do it, and about dedicating each mile to Dan. 

I am really excited!

Learn more about Dan, and why I am running for this extraordinary man.

Help me get to $10,000.

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Earlier this week my efficient and friendly contact at Team Fox, MS, emailed to invite me to appear as part of the team on Good Morning America. We would just stand in the audience as a group, in our singlets, and perhaps have the chance to get on camera when the Team spokesperson was interviewed about this weekend’s Unity Walk. Since I was taking Friday as a woe-is-me vacation day anyway, I was definitely in! I’m not the type of person who would wait on line to be part of the studio audience, but it was important to me to help promote Team Fox’s message and good works.

I’ve only ever been part of a studio audience two other times. Once, I got tickets to Letterman so I could take my dad, who was a big fan of the show. Daisy Fuentes was one of the guests (boring) but Motley Crue was the musical guest and they played in the street behind the theater. That was cool; man were they fucking loud. I remember pushing my way all the way up front just because I wanted to get a good look at these guys. I was quickly ejected back by a horde of beefy dudes with greasy hair in flannel shirts with the sleeves ripped off, showing their blurry tattoos and pimply arms–not to generalize their fan base or anything. I love “Come On Feel the Noise” as much as the next good girl. Yeah! Rock ‘n’ Roll!

The other time I was part of a studio audience was, coincidentally, for the taping of an episode of “Spin City.” This was during Michael J. Fox’s last season on the show, after he’d announced he had PD and was retiring from full-time acting. Husband (who was then My Only Boyfriend) knew I was an unrequited fan of MJF and so put his name on a waiting list to get us into the studios down on Chelsea Piers. That was a pretty cool date! I remember there was one scene in which Michael had to take a prat fall and tumble over a desk. They had to do a few takes of that (not to mention how many times he must have done that during rehearsals), I kept thinking how amazing it was that he could still execute that with Parkinson’s. At the end of the taping, the cast all came forward to the bleachers where we were seated and took their bows. It was a sweet moment.

100_0026Anyway, I happily arose at 4:45 AM Friday morning to get myself camera-ready without interrupting Husband’s schedule (I had to be out of the bathroom by 5:30) and get to the studio in Times Square by 6:45. As soon as I arrived, I met my fellow Team Fox members, many of whom had run the Boston Marathon on Monday. I met a guy who had competed in the Kona IronMan for Team Fox, as well as a woman who improved her marathon time (over two years) from around a 5:30 to a 3:42. She requalified for Boston at Boston–I think we can all agree that’s strong proof of runner status. Everyone was, of course, completely friendly and very sweet. I met Hal, who had run Boston on Monday, had retired a few weeks earlier (just in time to taper), and had taken up running when he was diagnosed with PD about 5 years ago. His joke: “I have the knees of a 20-year old!”

100_0021The morning was really a lot of standing around waiting, but the company was pleasant so it was no big deal. The Audience Coordinator gave us (just Team Fox) a VIP tour of the studio, so we got to see the area where they give the newscasts & do the interviews. Apparently Jamie Foxx walked right by us not even three feet away but I missed the whole thing–further proof of how little I care about celebrities who aren’t elite runners (or Michael J. Fox or Clive Owen). The most interesting part was the control room, with the dozens of screens up on the wall, and all the producers 100_0022sitting in front of their computers monitoring the various cameras and shooting off emails in between segments. I was mildly amused to observe the behind-the-scenes goings-on, as the cameramen moved around, as the demo kitchen was set up for the cooking segment, and as the hosts sounded like nutters as they maintained their side of a conversation with the control booth during their off-camera down-time. The highlight for me, though, was meeting their bomb-sniffing German Shepherd, who was the gentlest doggie I have ever met. And the quietest–obviously he would need to not bark if he patrols the set of a TV show. 100_0028The oddest segment was that of the world’s smallest bodybuilder. It just made me sad to see this 20-pound 20 year-old in leg braces and a Jack la Lanne outfit lifting 10-pound weights like he was auditioning to be the next Mini Me.

100_0029Then, finally came Team Fox’s chance to smile pretty for the cameras as Robin did her segment about giving away three formal gowns that didn’t make the cut for the Oscars, as the dresses were set up just to our right. We made it on air for a minute or so; and you can see my head smiling from the second row. Then, at the very end Christopher came & interviewed the spokesperson about the Unity Walk, and you can see my head again briefly. I know this because I actually remembered to DVR it. After the taping, I went straight to the gym for 30 minutes on the elliptical and to do my PT exercises. While working out, my friend AC from Salt Lake City texted me that she saw me. My priorities straight, I texted back, “Do I look fat?” and she replied “I can only see your head!” Hilarious. Now, after watching the DVR’ed footage, I can attest my head did not look fat.

100_0024

(I am bemused by all the folks standing outside looking in through the glass. I would never do this; but then again I am a cynical New Yorker. Maybe if I was not so jaded and grew up in Tennessee or Arizona I’d be psyched to stare through the glass as if I were watching the polar bears at the Central Park Zoo?)

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Did you know that in the UK, most of the amateur racers in marathons are fundraising for one charity or another? It’s the rule, rather than the exception. Here in the US, running for charity is becoming more and more popular. I have run two marathons as a member of Team in Training, and in fact, my first race ever (The Run to Home Plate 5k) had a charity component (I raised about $300 for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation).

I’ve been donating to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research for many years, and I get their email newsletter. That’s how I learned about Team Fox. Not just for runners, Team Fox supports citizen fundraisers of all types–people who hold community pancake breakfasts, organize cruise trips, or climb Mount Everest to gather funds that the MJFF can use to finance research. I’m amazed at some of the ideas fellow Team Fox members not only dream up but execute. (I wish I’d thought of this idea first…) Me, I was instantly jazzed the second I heard that Team Fox will get me entry to any of the five World Marathon Majors races, if I promise to raise $5,000.  That, I thought, is what I’m going to do for Dan. After I saw Ryan Hall’s spine-tingling performance online (yes, I watched the whole race on my laptop, cheering like a crazy person) last April, I knew I had to trace that course as well.

I registered with Team Fox the second I heard registration was open for the 2009 Flora London Marathon, convinced that runners would be elbowing each other out of the way for a chance at guaranteed entry. I was so psyched (yes, psyched!) to sign on with Team Fox that I didn’t even feel silly when they told me (in October) that I would be the first on the list for a bib, as soon as they got their entries from the race organizers. As it turns out, I am the only Team Fox runner headed to London, from the whole of the US!  With Team Fox, there aren’t any group runs, or coaches who hold your hand through training and taper, but they do give you this nifty blue plastic portfolio to corral all your fundraising papers, and help you promote your events by mentioning them in email newsletters and on their blog. Also, I’ll get to race in a Team Fox singlet, which I think is cool. Their offices are in the Financial District, and my contact is no-nonsense and very helpful (and also a speedy runner–she finished the London Marathon just several minutes over three hours).

I like the way, instead of holing up away from the public, Michael J. Fox started this foundation to quickly finance research to find a cure. I like the foundation’s mission, and I like that Fox is deeply involved, rather than merely lending his name for publicity.  Full disclosure: he remains one of my favorite actors, I never missed an episode of “Family Ties” or “Spin City” because of him, and Back to the Future still makes me laugh. His memoir, Lucky Man, is a great read, and takes you through his rise to fame but more importantly, through the first years in which he lived with Parkinson’s.

We all know Parkinson’s Disease sucks. If someone dear to you has it, well then you know first hand the practical implications of the facts I’m going to list now. Nearly 5 million folks suffer from its effects. It’s a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder whose symptoms progress, unrelentingly. There’s no cure, and current treatments just minimize the symptoms without halting the disease’s progression. Symptoms I’ve seen include involuntary tremors, depression, speech difficulties, decreased mobility, imbalance and dry eyes.

I leave you with a video of Fox cheering on members of his team at the 2008 New York City Marathon. I remember this part of the race (Mile 24), but don’t remember passing the Team Fox cheering station. But by that time, I was a “little dazed,” though I prefer the word “focused.”

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