Posts Tagged ‘tnt’

Herewith, the entire text of an email Ramon sent out to all of us, his Team in Training alumni runners, on Tuesday February 10th.

Hola everybody!!

It’s me, Ramon, the coach with the accent, remember me? You better say a big YES or huge SI! I am at it again!! Read and find out.

As many of you know last year was a very amazing year for me, I had the opportunity of fundraising a good amount of money for a cause and a program I totally believe in and so proud to be a part of, a program that has given me so much, and a program you once were part of.

Some of you thought that doing that 100 mile race was crazy, and let’s face it, you are right, no news there, the coach with the accent is a bit loco!

Anyway, going right to the chase, I am here to tell you that I am doing it all over again, both the Vermont 100 mile race, and the fundraising!

Why? Because, hmmmmm, because ahh hmmmm, wait, I know, because I am crazy, yes! CRAZY about the many people I have met through my years of coaching that have been affected directly or indirectly by this illness, people that have changed my life and I want to do my part to help them and others to be able to be themselves !!

This year I am going to run for a few people:

  1. Lauren Chiarello, a super amazing young woman, who I met during last season while training for her first half marathon, Disney 2009, she is Hodgkin Lymphoma survivor who only a couple of weeks after a great experience in Disney found out that her cancer is back and is now about to start treatment again. That’s just NOT FAIR!!  Read about Lauren.
  2. Suzanne Donaldson, a person that has enriched my life in ways that she would never know, a friend for life, a survivor that is going through tests right now and hoping that next Wednesday February 11th the news she’ll receive will be the good kind (let’s all keep her in our thoughts). Read about Suzanne.
  3. And of course I am also running in honor of the little girls that got me to the finish line last year, Kate, Emma and Olivia, what can I say? I just love them!!

These amazing people remind me that the fight against cancer still continues, we are not done yet, the race continues, and I want to be part of it!!

So here where all of you come in, Please donate and help me reach my goal of $50,000, just go to my website. Anything and everything counts, you all know it!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you,

Ramon Bermo
TNT NYC Head Marathon Coach

PS–If you decide not to donate you have to come back to us and run another event (or run your first event), you choose!
PPS–Read about last year’s adventure.

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Med school bound TNT Coach Steve H. is training for his first triathlon (a half-Ironman! Steve, are you gonna shave your legs?) as a way to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Click here to help him reach his $10,000 goal…. Alan and Shayne Culpepper have opened their running shop in Louisville, CO (of  Boulder County), Solepepper Sports. I’m going to visit Brother & Co. in Lafayette later this month and will stop by…. I love how Olympic marathoner Magdalena “Chewy” Lewy-Boulet won the USA Half-Marathon Championships in Houston; and I like how Andrew Carlson came in fourth (setting a PR; this FloTrak video from after the race also tells about how he’s now coached by Greg McMillan and sponsored by Brooks), less than a minute behind winner Meb Keflezighi (ever since I saw Carlson race in Central Park I’ve been a fan). Crazy though to think that the first place finishers won $12,000 each – that’s about $916 per mile…  The USATF announced that the 2009 Men’s Marathon Championships will be run at the ING New York City Marathon. Excellent, as it will (hopefully) bring some of the best American distance runners to my city in November; and frustrating, as I’ll be running the course with Brother this year and once again missing out on quality spectating….I’m looking forward to this weekend’s Bronx Half-Marathon with excitement and nervousness. It will be my first race since the New York City Marathon, and I don’t expect to PR but I would like to finish with a respectable showing. Still trying to figure out what “respectable” adds up to…. My running buddy from my first season with Team in Training, BS, is training for her first triathlon (are you sensing a trend here, people?) and raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you’re balking at making a donation in these tough economic times, BS argues that “People don’t stop getting cancer when the economy is in a slump.” A sad yet valid point. Click here to help her reach her $3,000 goal…. And, better late than never, I’m linking to Running USA’s 10 Best Moments for U.S Distance Running in 2008. My favorites are #10, #6, and # 2.

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Manhattan, Again (Miles 21 to 26.2) 

I remembered this part down Fifth Avenue clearly from my training run–lots of scenery, and freaking interminable. This was the tract where I was grateful for all the familiar faces–crafty PS with her smile; TNT coach LW pointing right at me (she helped me with race day strategy–thanks Coach!); and TNT coach CL, out there with her baby bump (and completely surprised to see me), she told me “one mile at a time,” which proved invaluable advice for the last three. As we rounded Marcus Garvey Park, I shouted back to EN, who was right on my heels, with Josh, You stayin’ with me? “I’m gonna try!” came back at me. 

That’s all I needed to hear. Jets: On! 114th Street was the final location I was expecting my folks, and they came strolling up at the exact moment I was running by. Once again, my father shouting my name was the only thing I heard, surely everyone on the course now knew who I was. I was so elated at this point, completely juiced with endorphins, that I took two steps BACK and jumped right into my dad’s arms. He lifted me off the ground and held me tight for a brief moment, then just as quickly I said OK, and I zoomed off to return to my great race. Love ya, Dad

After that, I never looked back (and I lost EN* somewhere behind me). I ran as hard as I thought I could sustain for however many miles were left–3, 2, 1. That gradual, mile-long hill up Fifth Avenue is a subtle, potentially demoralizing challenge–runners were dropping off to my left and right, I could feel the inertia building around me, and it took all I had to tuck my chin, pump my arms, and turn on the tunnel vision. Once I finally hit the top (nota bene: I passed a slew of other competitors on that hill), my determination sharpened even more, if such a thing was possible. I felt a gritty toughness, an isolation, a sense that the race had only just begun for me. I took my final Clif Shot, this time with caffeine. Giving in even a little to the way my legs were starting to tire wasn’t an option. 

The crowds at the entrances to, and throughout, Central Park were a single solid, wall of noise. I registered them in a blur, knowing I was running the most historic miles of the race, the miles where champions had surged to triumph or fell back in the shadow of another’s glory. I passed The Plaza Hotel, Columbus Circle, and my first-season TNT mentor KW screaming out my name so loud she actually shook me out of my zone. It was cold; these last few miles I wore my gloves, and it was the first time since Staten Island I wished I had something more on besides my thin singlet. I was breathing so hard, pumping my arms, remembering DRC Matt’s evergreen advice for a strong finish: stay relaxed and maintain form to conserve energy. Along Central Park South I saw a sign that said “Pain Is Temporary.” A perfectly-timed reminder: none of it mattered, the cold, my tiring legs, my maxed-out lungs and pounding heart. It would all be over in less than 18 minutes, and then I’d know, you’d know, if I could bring all my months of training, dieting, and planning to come to balance on the head of a pin. 

At the “One Mile to Go” sign, I glanced at little G and actually gritted my teeth. I wished someone would cheer me on, but instead I turned on my mantra, and let it repeat: Strong. Beautiful. From all of the Media Challenge events I’d run this summer, and last week’s Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff, I was very familiar with the terrain leading up to the Tavern on the Green. I saw the “400 Meters to Go” sign and thought, just one more lap around the track. Strong. Beautiful.  Arms helping as much as they could, breathing as hard as I ever have during a race, and now here’s the Hill of Spite we must climb before we can cross the finish line. I can see the finish line… back straight, collar bone up, shoulders down. I’m running, Strong I’m moving right towards exactly where I want to be, Beautiful little G tells me I’ve got it, my sub-3:55 but there’s no way I’m not still charging towards that finish line Strong with every single shred of energy, spirit, Beautiful and heave of emotion I have left. And then, in a final flash of speed and heat I was across, I could stop, I could walk, I could look around. Breathe.

Finisher Area

A race official in an orange jacket took me by the arm, asked me if I was fine, and walked with me a few yards until I answered him (I was a little lightheaded). Finally, I turned to him, looked him right in the eye and said, Yes, I’m fine. Meaning, I am fucking amazing. He gently released me, sending me into the river of finishers, to get my medal, my food, my mylar, and my baggage. It was then that I gave in to my traditional post-marathon weepies, impressed and in awe of myself, grateful, overcome. Soon I pulled myself together, and marched right up to a smiling woman to have her drape my finisher’s medal around my neck. My medal, I love my medal. The circular gold medallion is embossed with the image of the great Grete Waitz, breaking the tape. It means a lot to me to have a woman on the medal for this race, my first New York City Marathon, with my new PR time affixed to it forever. Also, Grete is a favorite because when she raced, her hair was always tied back in two pigtails, and you can see them clearly on the medal. I like having this in common with her. 

You already know it. And I’ve got it memorized. But I’d be happy to tell you all again. I ran the 39th ING New York City Marathon in 3 hours, 54 minutes and 41 seconds, meeting my A Goal with 19 seconds to spare and running a negative split, with my last 13.1 miles 2 minutes and 35 seconds faster than my first. I improved my time for the distance by 42 minutes and 12 seconds.

Reuniting with my family on Central Park West was just as I’d hoped. Big, long hug and kisses from Husband, a whispered “I’m very proud of you, sweetie.” My mom, beaming. My dad, rowdy but also still touched by my leap into his arms at Mile 22+. And surprise, here were SS and DS, older relatives of mine who on the spur of the moment hopped on the train from Long Island and stood at Columbus Circle to cheer. (When told how the whole timing chip & mat system tracks the runners, an astounded SS said, “And they can’t find Bin Laden?”) 

We filed into the subway (marathoners ride free!), and I relished this, too. Ever since I moved into my first NYC home (Avenue C and 14th Street) in September of 1996, each Marathon Sunday I’d consider the mylar-clad runners on the subway with admiration and jealousy. I wish I could do that. It’s one of those quixotically New York things–the racers, patiently standing on the subway to get home just like every other citizen in the city. So, part of the enjoyment of my marathon day was taking the subway home (the 7 line, at which I’d waved just hours before), nodding at my comrades in solidarity and respect. My mom said to me later, “Everyone was looking and smiling at you.” I think she loved escorting a mylar-clad one as much as I loved being one. 

Once we were back in Sunnyside, Dad treated us all to a pub lunch at P.J. Horgan’s Tavern around the corner from my apartment on Queens Boulevard. I had a cheeseburger, fries, and a Yuengling draft (I’d begun fantasizing about this meal at Mile 16). Husband sat next to me in the booth, and I kept gratefully slumping against him, tired and happy. I didn’t tumble into bed until nearly 11 PM–I just didn’t want the day to end. It was magical and perfect, like Christmas and my wedding day, all wrapped into one.

*This race report wouldn’t be complete without a Thank You and a Congratulations to EN, for hedging my excitement so I could blast the final miles, and for setting your own PR during this race. Well done, on both counts, friend.

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Queens (Miles 13 to 16) 

Running over the Pulaski Bridge, into my borough, I was totally jazzed. So much so, that I picked up the pace on the uphill. It was at this point that EN did me the biggest favor of the day–he scolded me. “TK, now is NOT the time to Go.” Damn, the man’s right. I checked my pace (but just a little), and allowed myself to absorb the Queens miles. We turned off the bridge to the left, and I announced to all those around me, Queens rocks! You’re in my hood now! 

I loved it, every step felt like home, and even though the spectators were largely strangers, I believed I recognized them all. Running up Jackson Avenue, with its restaurants and pubs, made me think happily of long, wine-soaked dinners with friends. And then we were Vernon Boulevard, and DD, my TNT friend with whom I once ran a 20-miler (grateful the whole time he was a chatterbox), bellowed out my name from where he was stationed as a volunteer. Coming up to the Mile 14 marker, which has been my cheering spot year in and year out, I moved to the right and looked for my family–this was the first location I’d given Mom, Dad and Husband on the spectating plan I’d given them. But they weren’t there, I was crushed! I was way more deflated than I thought I’d have been. EN assured me they would be further up. In the meantime, I enjoyed the full-frontal view of the 59th Street Bridge, which posed ahead of us like a coy invitation. The course in Queens has some sharp curves, and I decided to airplane my way through them, arms akimbo, flying. 

And then there they were. I saw my mom first, scanning the crowd with her big blue eyes. I couldn’t shout to them, I got choked up at the sight, so instead I waved frantically. My dad starting shouting my name, drawing out the vowels, and his voice rung in my ears. And there was Husband, holding up the cutest sign ever. It said, “NYC’s #1 Running Blog PIGTAILS FLYING.” I could have stopped and kissed him, I was so touched and delighted by that sign. (The man came up with this all on his own, folks, I swear, no prompting from me!) As EN and I sped by, Dad’s voice still pushing me forward, I turned back to the course and covered my face with my gloved hands–I was crying. (This should come as no surprise if you’ve read other race reports of mine.) I quickly snapped out of it, though, because another big moment was upon me–we were approaching the Queensborough Bridge, my bridge. 

I later learned that my sister-in-law and her fiance, as well as my neighbor and occassional running buddy DM, and assorted neighbors from S.U.D.S. were cheering from the sidelines and screamed my name, but I didn’t hear or see them, most unfortunately. 

We were running up Crescent Street, and the 7 elevated line crossed directly in front of us. This is the train that takes me home, it’s my train, and wouldn’t you know, one pulled up (surely just for me?), and so I waved. Then I noticed people ahead of me turning left onto the bridge, and I had another emotion-filled moment. I thought about how many hundreds of times I’ve run over this bridge, in the dark of morning and night, in the heat of the summer and the bitter, windy cold of the winter. Through the rain, and snow. On my way home from work, or as my present to myself on Christmas, or to give thanks on Thanksgiving. I cried out: I own this bridge! And then, I felt gratitude to my bridge, for giving me what I needed: hills, an escape, and a way home. 

Quiet ensued for nearly a mile, and oh how I relished it. Of course, as I waxed on about my bridge this and my bridge that, EN felt compelled, with his typical irreverence, to point out all the men peeing over the edges of my bridge. Ah, yes. Poetic moment–whatev! 

Manhattan (Miles 16 to 20) 

And then, EN and I crested the 59th Street Bridge’s hill, and we could hear it: the distant roar of the crazy spectators along First Avenue. We all sped up as we descended the steep, short backside of the hill, turned left (the hay bales stacked along the right side of the curve cracked me up–runaway truck ramp!! Gotta give a shoutout to GMR teammate and speedster JD) and were blasted up First Avenue. Where was it, where was the propulsion I was looking for, that everyone promised me would come? I had imagined I would be lifted up off the ground by the wind from the cheering crowd’s lungs, and carried for miles. But nothing of the sort happened. 

Rather, I was distracted, and was concerned I was slowing down. Thankfully, First Avenue is about twice as wide as the course in Brooklyn, so it was only at the water stops I felt crowded. All of a sudden, EN comes jetting up beside me with his super-cute little brother Josh (19 years old–do they even make ’em that young anymore!?). He plugged right in to our pace, and totally saved me when he handed me an orange wedge somewhere around Mile 18. (I’d skipped a couple of Gatorade stops because I couldn’t deal with the clusterfucks at the fluid stations. To DRC Matt: I thought of your Boston Marathon orange wedge, which you told us about in epiode #99.) 

It was around this point where The Plan had me scheduled to Go. I looked at little G’s Virtual Partner feature, which I’d set to an 8:57 per mile pace. Yikes, I was more than 2 minutes behind. I mumbled to EN, Shit, we’re behind, and that was that. From that moment on, I was officially in “Go” mode. Breaking 4 hours (my B Goal) was a foregone conclusion in my mind, non-negotiable. I was running for my A Goal–a sub-3:55–and nothing nor no one was going to be able to deter me. 

The course at this point was familiar to me, so I could focus on pace and effort level. One thing that broke through was the ebulliently groovin’ gospel choir that was pumping out of a massive Baptist church somewhere in the upper reaches of First Avenue. Many parishioners, all decked out in their Sunday best, were on the steps, cheering us on, clapping and singing. It was so cool! I want to come back and party with these folks. 

At 124th Street, my family was awaiting me, one block before we all pushed over the Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx. There was a lot going on, so I didn’t immediately see them. Then, there’s Dad, his arms flung up high, a 6’3″ silver-haired man in a Crayloa blue fleece, booming out my name over and over. Hi Dad! And Mom and Husband are straightening up–they had been hunched over his backpack, rooting around for donuts! I was cracking up–People, I’m running a freakin’ MARATHON here, and you gotta stop for DONUTS? Hilarious! 

But quickly I left them behind with their green market snack, as I turned back to safely tramp over the Willis Avenue Bridge, EN once again faithfully reminding me to chill out on the incline, and just maintain my effort level. And look! The grates are covered in orange carpet, just as my faithful readers had promised in their comments

The Bronx (Miles 20 to 21) 

I have family and friends who live in Westchester, Dutchess County, and Connecticut; and I’d told all of them the Bronx was the place to come and cheer, but no one ended up being able to make it work. No worries, as I enjoyed blitzing through, alone with my thoughts, EN still on my right. The Robin Hood Foundation cheering grandstand was blasting “Eye of the Tiger,” which was very amusing. There’s nothing like a good cliché to make me speed up-if only to get out of range. 

Before I knew it, we were up and over the adorable Madison Avenue Bridge, turning left onto Fifth Avenue into Harlem.

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Last weekend, AG ran her first-ever marathon, the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, CA, as part of the NYC chapter of Team in Training. Not only is she EN’s girlfriend (which is a sterling recomendation), but she is also funny, thoughtful, a talented baker, and an admirer of the elites (yes, she knows their names and can match them with faces). She is also supportive, having come to Staten Island just to cheer EN and the rest of us on a few weekends ago. Because of all of this, I invited her to write up a race report, which follows.

But before I launch you into her report, I ask you this: can you imagine running the race of your life–a race in which you finish under 3 hours, and beat the elites invited to the course–but yet do not receive proper credit? You don’t get to break the tape as the first finisher, you don’t get to be acknowledged on the podium, nor do you get any of the prize purse? I can’t imagine ever being that fast, but I can imagine the crushing humiliation, and the subsequent anger, of being completely overlooked and underestimated. As it turns out, the winner of this marathon was a talented runner (outrunning the declared winner by 11 minutes), but Arien O’Connell was not an elite, and therefore her winning time was not credited as winning. Click here to read about the gross mishandling of the situation by race officials, who finally declared Arien a winner just today.

Without further ado, onto AG’s account of the race, which is much more uplifting.

Dearest TK, 
I pasted a few emails together in hopes that some part of the following ramble might be useful for Pigtails Flying.  Seeing John Bingham was super-duper awesome and I am glad my notions of celebrity are understood by others. [“Others” being me–PF]
Happy Thursday,

The 2008 Nike Women’s Marathon, and my own first marathon, began on a very chilly and cloudy Sunday morning, only to end on a very chilly and cloudy Sunday afternoon.

I was part of the early start and hit the road at 5:30 AM, after my mandatory double-shot of espresso and Clif Bar.  The group was bubbling with excitement and thinned out early as we navigated the darkened streets of Fisherman’s Wharf.  I picked up my pace at mile 3 and trotted up to the front group by mile 5.  The first 10 miles ticked off pretty easily, but goodness was it cold!  Passing toward mile 11, I caught site of a few firemen [Firemen! Yummy!-PF] in tuxedos making their way to the finish line to get those medals ready for the finishers.  That was the second-best site of the day (of course the best was the Finish Line!). 

Funny moment: Mr. Pace Car hit the brakes and stopped quickly just before mile 8.  As the road was super narrow, yours truly was right on the bumper and ran into the back of the car.  Cross my heart, there is a bump on my knee to prove it! 

The back half of the course was very lonely and one of the most physically challenging tasks I have encountered (can you say “hills?”).  As the elite runners starting breezing by, a few took a moment to wish me a good race and offer a word of encouragement.  Thank you, elites!  At mile 15, I did a quick check of my watch and some pseudo mental-math to learn I could break 5:30, my achievable goal.  Around the rear of Lake Merced, my watch read 4:22 and I thought of some friends who would already be finished running if they were here in San Fran.  So, EN/TK/CN/DH, here’s to you.  I figured ya’ll would be eating up all of the post-race food and I should hurry it up to get my fair share.  That pushed my pace a bit and I came off the lake with a fury to conquer the last 4.2 miles.  Back on the highway I saw that the ocean and the sky were still melted together in a curtain of misty grey fog, which seemed to be unconcerned with the fact that I like a bit of sunshine in my runs. 

The course teased a small amount of flat ground on the last mile.  Lost in the dream of warm clothes and a cup of coffee, I looked up to see our head coach, Ramon Bermo, clanging his cowbell at the 0.2 mile mark.  I caught his eye and saw him check his watch and raise an eyebrow in surprise.  Either he didn’t recognize me or he was shocked to see me actually still running at that point in the course. 

When all was done, I came through the finish in 5:14:30….not bad for my first attempt.  To the joy of my sweetheart, I barely noticed the firemen with Tiffany boxes and made a beeline to ice, water, and bananas.  A quick stop to the medical tent for some ice was highlighted by my first celebrity encounter.  As I sat with a bag of frozen water on my already frozen leg, I looked up to see the face of John Bingham.  He dropped in to stow a bag and chat with the doc, and graced me with a few words of wisdom after hearing I ran the course in over 5 hours: “Good, then you got your money’s worth.”  After picking up my jaw off the ground, I decided to close this chapter on my first marathon and joined the pit of stretchers behind the medical tent and congratulated myself, as I’d just entered the small circle of runners who have successfuly completed a marathon. 

Of all the competitors, about 25% were associated with TNT.  The national total for this event’s fundraising was $18 million!  Thank you all for helping us get to that finish line.

[Congratulations AG on a race well run, and on contributing your portion of the money raised to find a cure for leukemia!–PF]

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Lots of odds and ends to share tonight. But first, may I simply mention that I’ve taken off every Friday in August?

Runner’s Lounge Take it and Run Thursday post is up, and Julie is inviting all runners to post their Six-Word Running Memoir… Hhmm wonder where she got that idea?…. Thank you Whitey for tipping me off to this article by one of my favorite writers about one of my favorite runners. I totally cadged by boss’s copy of The New Yorker off her today so I could read its entirety… My TNT coach, Ramon Bermo, successfully ran his 100-mile Ultra Marathon last month, and has raised over $59,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Here is his amazing, inspiring and fascinating race report, as filtered through the Nike Running Blog (separately, he emailed all his donors the in-his-own-words version, which printed out to seven pages). 100 freaking miles, people! I also found this one… Speaking of raising money, a month or so ago I signed up with Team Fox to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation (for a cure for Parkinson’s Disease), and in exchange they will get me my bib to the Flora London Marathon in 2009. Stay tuned for more, but I probably won’t start fundraising until immediately after NYC…. The New York Times Book Review gives What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami a poor review, saying things like, “There are flashes of quality,” and “the potential readership… is 70 percent Murakami nuts, 10 percent running enthusiasts and an overlapping 20 percent who will be on the brink of orgasm before they’ve even sprinted to the cash register.” Yours truly gave this book a much kinder review here…I am so psyched for the Olympics, even though I acknowledge that there will be doping athletes competing, and that some of them will win medals & go undetected despite testing…There’s a ton of coverage already online, and in print, regarding last-minute athlete updates and predictions. I feel like I need a vacation to absorb it all…Even though he’s not a runner, Michael Phelps is hard to resist, I think (for me) it has something to do with his excellence… Names: Paula Radcliffe, Ryan HallLopez Lomong, Leo Manzano

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I had a 6pm appointment on 20th & 5th this evening. Since I have to dash home at 5pm tomorrow to walk the dog, I won’t be able to get in my 6+ miler this week.  I decided instead to run home from my appointment, which meant showing up in my RaceReady shorts and Nike tee, which was kind of weird but not inappropriate.

The route was just a teensy bit over 5 miles, and basicaly I was able to skirt around the major points where things jam up traffic wine (both car & foot): Madison Square Park, the Midtown Tunnel, and Grand Central Station.  I’d decided ahead of time to ease up my pace a little since I’ve been tuckered out all week long. It felt really good to run 10 minute miles, for my lungs to not be burning as I chug up the 43rd Avenue hill to my apartment building. It also was colder than I thought it would be, and even though I worked up a sweat, I could have definitely run in tights or a long-sleeved shirt and been fine.

I listened to Dump Runners Club most recent episode, the one about finishing kicks.  It was so timely to me, since I have been thinking all week about Martin Lel, and his deadly kick.  Seriously, the last two marathons I’ve watched him in (NY and London) he has bested his competitors, who were on his heels until the very end, finishing fractionally after Lel.  Plus, he has really earned all of his wisdom about the distance, and even about the courses he’s run multiple times.

As an aside, my TNT coach texted me earlier today, he ran a PR in London but missed qualifying for Boston by just two minutes.  If that’s not bittersweet, I don’t know what is.

I don’t know Matt that well, just what he reveals to us through his Dump Runners Club podcast, but it was so obvious that he is tapering for Boston now.  The goofy energy he was giving off was a total sign of the taper jitters if ever I heard one.  Man, I feel you.  I hate tapering.

I am so excited for this weekend coming up. I love taking the train to Boston, first of all.  Secondly, I’m getting to spend a weekend with my friend JG and her husband M in their amazingly designed modern apartment just blocks from the marathon finish line, so I’ll be catching up with old friends.  And of course, the icing and the cream filling of this cupcake: the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, the Expo, and the Boston Marathon. OhmygodIcan’twait. These are the moments Husband knows to just step back and get out of the way, because there’s nothing he could do (short of running the Boston Marathon) that could tear my attention away from my sport this weekend.

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A Crowded Park

What a day, what a glorious, perfect Spring day! While walking the dog this morning, I so wanted to call in sick and play hookey, and then when I was walking to the dentist’s at lunch, I just wanted to stand in the sun and soak it up like a cat. Central Park was jammed this evening, every runner was taking advantage of the warmth, the breezes, the light. Fabulously, I was able to wrangle together DR, KW and EN to run with me again, doing the office-to-park/4-mile loop/back-to-office route again.  Running with DR and her Garmin Forerunner taught me something: it’s not a six-mile course as I’d so hastily added last week.  It’s a 6.76-mile course (EN and I finished in 1:08:36, a testament to how hung-over and wrung-out I am today).

We dashed through the pedestrians on Fifth Avenue as if we were in the thick of the first mile of a marathon, passing through the Nike Running Club out for their workout, on our way up (and seeing our TNT coach, too, who gave us a little wave). Our groove hit once we got to the park, even though we were passed by scores of runners.  It seemed like every lanky, speedy runner was out there, hot-footing it around the joint. Running clubs and gangs of fast guys pounded by us in packs, marvels of sweat and hard breathing. The cyclists, though, rushed by in a whir of gears and pedals, swooping by like a scare of Flying Monkeys.  We had to watch our right flanks to avoid dangerous collisions.  Good News: the water fountains are flowing again, and we took full advantage. 

We’ve had some recent success at work lately, and so we had a mimosa toast (with black and white cookies, of all things) this morning.  During the toast, I chatted with a visitor from out of town, who was waxing sweetly on about how he loves running through Central Park when he comes to New York, it’s his sightseeing, he calls it.  I couldn’t agree more, my fondest sightseeing memories of anywhere I’ve visited have been of my runs through city streets and park paths.  Discovering a fellow runner so early in the day set the tone for a good one, and reminded me of the run that awaited me at the end of it.

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Is there a penalty for waxing nostalgic about a run that was only four days ago? But yet, I remember fondly the gentle company, stoic hills, and 7pm daylight of my April 3rd workout.

EN met me at work on Thursday, and we ran up to Central Park together for a 4-mile loop.  Since it’s about a mile from my office to the 72nd Street Transverse, we ended up with a gorgeous six-mile run through our old Team in Training stomping grounds. Once a week through the park is just enough for me to appreciate what it has to offer, without resenting the triple-threat of hills on the West side, or the stink of manure along the southern loop. As we were heading east across the 72nd Street Transverse, we could glimpse a gorgeous apartment building through the new leaves that dappled the twilit sky.  The structure seemed to emanate its own amber glow, and was surely a fine specimin of whatever era of Old New York in which it was built. It was so scenic, it was easier to believe we were the (sweaty, poorly dressed) extras in a movie, jogging lightly through the scene where John Cusack or Topher Grace leads Kate Winslet or Jennifer Garner over to a bench for “the talk” than to believe we were in real life, running through a park we’re as likely to complain about as we are to take it for granted.

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Quite as scheduled, but not at all as planned, I ran the first of the five half-marathons in the New York Road Runner’s Grand Prix series, the Manhattan Half-Marathon.  I’ve wanted to run the circuit of half-marathons for two years now, but only this year, 2008, have I set it as one of my running goals for the year.

So, despite having just run the Diseny World Marathon two weeks ago, last night I arranged with EN to meet at 7:45 am at 5th Avenue and East 84th Street.  I laid out my clothes and packed a change of dry clothes to change into before going to brunch.   I drank glasses of water.  I ate a bag of microwave popcorn.  And, I set my alarm for 6 a.m.  I swear.

Well, at 7:51 am I woke up feeling great, until it hit me that I was supposed to be outside Central Park six minutes ago.  One minute later, my Blackberry rings, it’s EN. I promise him I’ll be there before the race starts at 8:30.

I dress in a hurry, grab a Gu, a Diet Pepsi and enough cash to pay a cab to Bangladesha nd back, and dash out the door.  I meet EN at 8:30 on the dot, caffeinated and not at all anxious about the 13.1 miles stretching out ahead of me (no time for anxiety, apparently).  As I’m pinning my number on, we hear the starting gun.  We scooted into the line of runners at the flag for the six-minute milers, laughing that this is the only way we’d ever get to start this close to the starting line.

Two familiar loops of Central Park and 2 hours and 40 minutes later, we crossed the finish line.  During the race, we’d talked about running, TNT, work, dating, marriage &(um) running.  We’d also walked at least two miles throughout the course, usually up the hills, putting our cares about finishing times aside in light of our incomplete marathon recovery, just wanting to get a chip time and avoid injury.

I did something I’d never done before but have always wanted to do: I danced across the finish line, doing some sort of wavy, wacky boogie-woogie as I trotted along the 102nd Street transverse. It felt good, and earned me a few hoots from the sparse crowd.

 This was a different kind of race for me.  While EN and I made a sincere effort to launch into a (relative) finishing kick, passing 30 runners in the last three-quarters of a mile, it was more about enjoying the company, spotting as many TNT teammates as possible, and feeling good.  Truly, the conversation was some of the best I’ve ever had while running, companionable and even.  While I didn’t cross the finish line feeling like I usually do (that is, with nothing left in the tank, completely panting, and victorious), I was happy, smiling with the knowlegde I’d just done something purely fun.  And, of course: one down, four to go!

Post-race: brunch (onion & lox omelette with half a bagel & cream cheese.  Hot chocolate), then home for a snoozy woozy warm nap. And, oh yeah, I launched this blog.

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