Monday, December 6, 2010

This seemed like a good idea....

when it was summer. But this idea to run a marathon in every state, which requires you to run and train in the winter, might not have been such a good one. What were we thinking? I went for a 13 mile run Saturday, and for those of you in the Chicago area, you know it was a winter wonderland. It was snowing the entire time I was out there. And while I was warm for the majority of the run, two hours in snow fall can only result in eventually being incredibly wet and cold. I think this was the first time I may have had snow and ice actually collect on my eyelashes. Unfortunately, I think this may have resulted in me coming down with a horrible sore throat. Gee, I'm really looking forward to more and longer runs out in the snow and ice! Only 6 weeks until my next race in Arizona, though, so taking the winter off doesn't seem like much of an option. So please make my frozen fingers and eyelashes mean something, and take a few moments to make those 2010 tax-deductible donations to Don't Bully My Breed, at http://thegreenvillethree.chipin.com/50-state-marathon, or Hospitals for Humanity, at http://hospitalsforhumanity.org/index.php/the-race-within-us/. Thanks and happy holidays to our blog followers!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Alaska....I mean Indiana

Sorry, I got confused on where I ran my latest marathon. For a couple of reasons, the first being the chilly temperatures and snow I got to enjoy and the second being the very politically conservative signs and billboards I saw in that area. I now know that "Hell is Real" thanks to a very welcoming billboard along I-65.

The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon started bright (and by bright I mean it was still dark) and early at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning. It was a chilly 27 degrees when the start gun went off. You know what that means, right? Lots of men in tights. Yikes! I tried to bundle up as much as I could, but the chill remained through most of the race, although it did get up to the 40s and was sunny once the sun decided to come up. Despite that, the course was great and surprisingly scenic, starting near the Indianapolis capital building, running past the stadium where the Colts play, through some historic district that had some very quaint houses, and through Butler University's campus. It was family weekend at Butler where my colleague's daughter attends, so right around mile 17, she, her sister and her daughter were waiting to cheer me on. It's always nice to see an unexpected friendly face when you're tired and cold! Thanks Linda! And another friendly face was waiting for me at the finish. My friend Chris was there with his buddy Titus (a rambunctious German Shepard puppy who I saw video proof of running on a treadmill) to cheer me on those last few blocks. Thanks to Chris and Titus!

Of course, after finishing, I was sweaty and accordingly twice as cold. It took me a good 20 minutes sitting in the car with the heat on full blast to recover feeling in my hands. Not my favorite part of this race. No personal bests for me this race, although I had hoped for that since it was a flat and fast course. It was my second fastest though, and I'm not going to beat myself up too much since I just ran in Maine 3 weeks prior. Plus, I was apparently well hydrated since I stopped 3 times to use the port-o-potties in the first half. Darn you bladder! I will say that the race was very well organized, with LOTS of water stations and bathroom areas. And the people of Indianapolis were very supportive and cheering the runners on for most of the course. This race also has a 1/2 marathon option and a 5K if you don't want to take on a full marathon. I would give this race two frozen thumbs up!

Next up, Arizona on January 16th. It better not snow.....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

4 Hours and 7 Minutes for SoleMates

On Sunday, Mark and I each ran the ING New York City Marathon. I don't want to speak for him, so I'll leave it to him to share his experience with the event... but I would like to take some time to share my own.

The NYC Marathon course runs through all five boroughs of New York City: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. Race day started with the journey to Staten Island. I walked to the subway before sunrise and arrived at Manhattan's Staten Island Ferry Terminal as the sun was rising, around 6:30 am. On Marathon morning, the Ferry takes the vast majority of the 43,000+ runners to Staten Island (others travel by bus, car, or happen to live in Staten Island). Runners then wait until their assigned start time (there are three "Waves" that start 30 minutes apart) in color coded Start Villages determined by your color assignment. I was assigned to Orange Wave 2. While traveling from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to my Start Village, I met a lot of runners from other cities and countries. I am looking forward to catching up with some of my new friends soon!

While the comaraderie in Staten Island was wonderful, the outside temperature was not - it was COLD! When I finally lined up at the start line with my fellow Orange Wave 2 runners, my toes were numb. I hoped that they would warm up during the first two miles, and thankfully, they did. I should note that the NYC Marathon has several notorious hills on the course, the first one being the Verazzano Bridge that spans the first mile and 1/2 of the course. What a way to start!

After you cross the bridge into Brooklyn, you remain in the borough for about the next ten miles. But, wow, Brooklynites make sure you have all the support you could want. People line nearly the entire Brooklyn stretch of the course cheering, holding up signs, and handing out water, fruit and snacks between aid stations.

In Queens (miles 13 - 16), I got to see my parents and aunt cheering me on. That energized me into the mile-long Queensboro Bridge. The Queensboro Bridge is another notorious hill, as well as the longest stretch of course that is nearly devoid of any spectators, which gives it a quiet, eerie feeling that finally gives way to a cavernous roar when you exit the bridge onto Manhattan's First Avenue where crowds tend to be so thick the police set up barriers to hold them back. In fact, the crowds were so large I unfortunately did not see many friends and family cheering for me (thanks for being out there anyway!).

My friend Betty met me near mile 18 and ran with me through the Bronx and upper Manhattan until we reached the entrance to Central Park between Mile 23 and 24. Thanks for keeping me company through the those late, tough miles, Betty!

Betty took this photo of me somewhere around Mile 22... somehow, I'm still smiling!

When I finally hit the final mile at the south end of Central Park, I knew I would finish with a personal best time by far. I crossed the finish line in 4:07:24, more than 21 minutes faster than when I ran the marathon last year. I was so excited! And I have raised nearly $2,000 (just $81 shy) for Girls on the Run SoleMates during my training for Sunday's big run. Thanks to all who donated!

If you're in New York, I'm having a post-marathon celebration at Katwalk Bar on West 35th Street. I'll be guest bartending from 7 - 10 pm and Katwalk will donate money to GOTR for every drink I make. So if you've ever had a desire to order me around, come buy a drink or two or more and socialize with fellow runners and supporters!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three RUS Runners & Two Races Next Week!

Next weekend the RUS team members will be very busy covering 78.6 miles of road to raise awareness and support for Hospitals for Humanity, Don't Bully My Breed, Girls on the Run, and Jamal Place.

Kristine, fresh off her amazing run at the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor, Maine (read about it here), will be running the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Saturday, November 6 as her Indiana race. As always, she is running to support Don't Bully My Breed, which you can donate to here, in addition to Hospitals for Humanity.

The next day, Sunday, November 7, Mark and I will run the ING New York City Marathon. The NYC Marathon course passes through all five boroughs of New York City: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan, with the famous finish line on the west side of Manhattan's Central Park. This will be Mark's debut in the NYC Marathon. As for me, this will be my second appearance in the event, having run it last year for the first time. Last year, I was nervous about covering 26.2 miles for the first time ever. But the crowd of 2 million spectators, as well as the 40,000 fellow runners, helped fuel my determination to get across the finish line.

This year, I'm running as part of the Girls on the Run charity run team, SoleMates. If you haven't yet and would like to support GOTR SoleMates with a donation in support of my run in the NYC Marathon, you can do so here.

Mark is running the NYC Marathon in support of Jamal Place. If you would like to recognize his marathon run with a donation to Jamal Place, you can do so using this link.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Most Scenic = Most Hilly











Well, Miri was right, the Mount Desert Island (MDI) Marathon was incredibly scenic, as you can see by some of the attached photos, which don't do the course justice. It was also incredibly hilly. Phew, am I glad that's over. Miles 22-25ish seemed to be all uphill (which is after 22 miles of rolling hills) but fortunately the last 1.5 miles were downhill. I felt like I should have been saying"weeeee!!!" but let's be honest, it still hurt.
So to make this also a bit of a travel blog...I started by flying into Boston Wednesday with my travel companion, Dean, hopped in our rental car and we were off to Maine. Our first stop (aside from the Visitors Station in New Hampshire for Dean to make a pit stop) was Kennebunkport, ME. (I hear the Bush's have a place there). We walked on a nice quiet beach where Dean of course tried to get every sea gull he saw. We then had lunch at the alleged tourist trap The Clam Shack. It was truly a shack, and I attempted to have the clam chowder, which ironically they were out of. Apparently it was a chowder kind of day. Instead we had some fried haddock which was still delicious. After wandering a bit, we hit the road and headed to our hotel in Portland, ME, the Inn at St. John's. The self-proclaimed description of European charm was accurate, and I was lucky enough to have my own, attached bathroom. Uphill from the Inn was Portland's Historic District, which we wandered through and I was amazed by how gorgeous the houses were. I felt like I was walking in the New England edition of Better Homes & Gardens. Dean was equally amazed by the historic squirrels. After some down time, I had dinner at a place called Fore Street. Seated next to me at the bar was a woman named Aimee, who became increasingly drunk, but also increasingly friendly. Neither of us were overly hungry so we shared the bartender's recommendation of spit-roasted wild boar. It was beyond amazing, and if you are ever in Portland, you MUST eat at this place, and order the boar if you can.

After Portland, Dean and I made our way north on Hwy 1. (We avoided interstates the entire way to Bar Harbor.) We did some walking through Winslow State Park, also beautiful. I'm pretty sure Maine is the epitome of all that is autumn. We also did some shopping at the outlet stores in Freeport, ME where my niece was the benefactor of our trip there. We had some lunch at Jameson Tavern which has been dubbed "the Birthplace of Maine." It was built in 1779 and originally run as a tavern in 1801. After Freeport, we headed to our next stop, Rockland, Maine. We stayed at the Old Granite Inn where Zach, the owner's spaniel, greeted us at the porch. Also a touch of European charm, but without the attached bathroom. I had my own, but it was down the hall. Fortunately they provided robes, as I was not prepared for a streak from bathroom to bedroom. I found two things people must do in Rockland based on some local business; ship building and quilt making. Those crazy Rocklanders. I tried to have dinner at a place recommended and visited by Anthony Bourdain, but when I walked to where it was supposed to be, there really wasn't anything there. So I ended up eating sushi, which was still good. I ended my night with some wine at Lily's bistro, and although I did not eat there, the food looked and smelled delicious.

I was greeted Friday morning by 40mph winds and rain coming off the sea, winds so strong that it made it difficult to open the door to get in or out of the Granite Inn. I believe locals refer to this as a Nor'easter. I had hoped to stop in Camden on my way north, but the rain detered me from that. So I headed onto Bar Harbor to the race expo, as I had some shopping to do. I noticed while in Rockland, that I had, in fact packed two different running shoes. Not 2 different pairs, but 2 different shoes. A right and a left shoe, fortunately, but different still. I hoped the expo would have some good discounts on my brand of shoes, which they did and I bought a new pair for Sunday's race. The rain had let up a bit, so after lunch, Dean and I headed to Acadia National Park, on Mount Desert Island. I tried to get some scenic pics from a rocky, cliff area, but instead fell flat on my arse on the wet rock, just as a huge swell from a wave came splashing up in the air. I decided to not pursue this venture further and returned to my car to drive the scenic Park Loop Rd. We did get out again and tried some super easy hiking on the Jordan Pond Nature Trail, although Dean declined to go very far into the woods because he was either cold or sensed "danger." It was a little creepy out there since there really seemed to no one else around, and we were in the middle of a dense evergreen forest. Peaceful, yet creepy if you let your imagination go.

Friday night, I had my first taste of Maine lobster, and had the Lazyman's Lobster at Rupunini. It was appropriately sitting in a pool of garlic butter and was delicious. I also enjoyed some local Bar Harbor brews, the Real Ale and the Loggers Lager (try to say that, it's harder than you think). Saturday, it was still a bit rainy, but I decided to try some more trails in Acadia. We walked one called Wonderland, and it really was. You start out in evergreens, then it changes to small, bright fiery red bushes and moss covered rocks, and ends with it opening to a rocky beach. It was awesome. We did another trail, called Ship Harbor which did a loop around, and was also a mix of mossy, evergreen forests and rocky cliffs on the sea side. We ended our outdoor activities at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse which I really expected to be bigger. For some reason I pictured that one in the movie, Pete's Dragon, but it was still cool, as I don't think I've ever seen a lighthouse other than in pictures. Satuday night I had dinner at a place called Havana's which was recommended by Aimee in Portland. The Obama's also had date night there this summer. It was worth the recommendation, if only to be served by a bartender with a long white beard.

Sunday, the big day. My plan was to just run it nice and easy, since I knew it was hilly. I finished in 4 hours, 20 minutes and 23 seconds. I think I may have done a negative split, but I'm not really certain. I didn't wear any timing device, other than my race chip, which shows you how concerned I was about running this race fast. It was about 10:14 a.m. when I hit the halfway point, the race starting around 8:00 a.m. So maybe. I can't adequately describe the course and how beautiful it was. I recommend this race, and they do have a relay option available if you don't want to do a full marathon. Although, if you're someone who needs a lot of crowd support the whole course, maybe not a race for you. Much of it is quiet, and serene, running through the forest and coast line. It was really incredible though, and I'm so glad I did it.

I replenished my burned calories with some local mussels and beer at McKay's Public House, and met a few other runners there, as they were offering $1 Guiness to marathoners. The bartender thought that an Australian man and I who both sat down at the bar at the same time were there together. I asked if he was going to take care of the bill, and he said as long as I kept him laughing he would. Well, apparently I'm not that funny, because I paid my own bill. ; )

So, my nutshell. Traveling alone gives you a chance to meet new interesting people, since you're forced to talk to others, unless you don't mind looking crazy talking to yourself. It also gives you lots of time to do whatever you want, and think a whole heck of a lot. After 5 days with myself, I'm pretty much tired of thinking and pretty much tired of myself. I'm glad to be back to my friends, family, and everyday distractions. Dean is glad to be back to his routine of all-day napping.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Most Scenic Route

I am quite jealous of Kristine right now. She's in Bar Harbor, Maine getting ready to run the Mount Desert Island Marathon. If you are wondering why I am jealous of her running 26.2 miles on Sunday, it's because I will be running a 20 mile training run tomorrow - but my run will be in Queens, NY. Kristine's run through Maine will be infinitely more scenic and tranquil. In fact, the Mount Desert Island Marathon was named by Runners World Magazine as the Most Scenic and Best Overall Marathon event in the country. I hope to run it next year! In the meantime, Kristine will have the company of her well-trained running buddy - her dog Dino. Let's all wish Kristine and Dino a good run!

A view of the Mount Desert Island Marathon course, above left. This isn't Kristine and Dino, below, but if someone brings a camera along on Sunday, they'd look like a bit like this on the course.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Divas on the Run!

On Sunday morning, I ran the Divas Half Marathon in Eisenhower Park, Long Island. It turned out to be a pretty cold morning, barely 50 degrees, so there were a lot of Divas, myself included, huddling up with groups of friends, warming up along the sidewalks leading up to the startline, or staying in their warm cars until very close to race time. Despite the cold (what a quick transition from summer to fall running!), the course was a good one, mostly flat, that stretched through Eisenhower Park, as well as some of the surrounding roads in the town of Uniondale.

The 5K set off first. There were 310 finishers crossing the finish line smiling. The Half Marathon started next, with just over 2,800 finishers (including 2 - yes 2 - men). As always, I was running to support Girls on the Run SoleMates. The Divas Half Marathon allowed entrants to personalize their race bib with their name or personal message. In honor of my participation with Girls on the Run, I had my race bib proclaim that I am a "Diva on the Run"!

Before Sunday, my Personal Record (PR) for the half marathon had been 1:59:41. I set that PR in August at the Madison Mini Marathon in Madison, Wisconsin, which you might have read about here. My goal Sunday morning had been to achieve a PR around the 1:57 mark. When I started out, the first mile felt okay, but I didn't have that "yeah, this is my day!" feeling. Staying optimistic, I pushed myself through miles 4 and 5, which felt difficult because we were running into a strong, cold headwind. After that, my nerves about hitting a PR fell away. I felt great - and confident that I could do it. And boy, did I! I crossed the finish line in 1:51:42, dropping 8 minutes off my previous PR. You can bet I celebrated like a Diva at the post-race party! Special thanks to my Diva friend Shari Klarfeld, who ran 1:37:34 and quickly exited the finish area to wait along the last stretch of course to cheer me through the finish. Seeing Shari and her husband, Guy, cheering for me through the finish area gave me a little boost of energy to kick in across the finish line feeling strong.

At the finish line, Shari and I of course had to show off our Diva accessories - a "bling medal" with faux diamond and a Diva tiara (we passed on the feather boas that were also on offer)...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Calling all Divas!

Last week, the Wall Street Journal published this article about men who enter women's road races, in some cases to finish closer to or at the front of the pack, in some cases to run with a female loved one, and in other cases to try to get a date somewhere along the course.

This coming weekend is the Divas Half Marathon on Long Island, New York, which features a half marathon and a 5K race. It is part of the Women's National Running Series that encourages women to celebrate their strengths, both on the road and in life. The Divas Half Marathon does not forbid men from entering it's events, but deeply discourages men from entering the half marathon. This day will be all about the women! Their mantra? "You know who you are: you are beautiful, strong, inspiring, and you can do anything you set your mind to do."

The Women's Running Series, and races like the Divas Half Marathon, remind me of how important programs like Girls on the Run are to the development of self-confidence, self-respect, and a sense of ambition in young girls. In fact, that mantra from the Women's National Running Series is very similar to the overarching lesson we teach the girls who participate in Girls on the Run. The fall season of GOTR starts this week, and I can't wait to start showing my girls that they are capable of meeting whatever goals they set for themselves, regardless of the pressures or obstacles they face.

As a tribute to the new GOTR coaching season, I'll be running in the Divas Half Marathon on Sunday morning wearing a race bib proclaiming that I'm a "Diva on the Run". (And as always, I'm running to support the GOTR programs through my participation in SoleMates.) There's still time to sign up, if you'd like to run with me! Or just come and cheer for me and the other 5,000 amazing women entrants as we take to the streets of Long Island to show off how proud we are to be both women and runners.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall is off and running - Almost!

On Monday, September 27 - one week from today - my fellow coaches and I will be kicking off the first coaching session for the Girls on the Run fall season at Harlem Village Academy of Leadership, a charter school in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. We'll be meeting with the GOTR participants twice a week to coach them through running workouts and lessons on healthy lifestyles, self respect and respect for others, teamwork, and community values.

As you may know from prior posts, I'm also running on the GOTR SoleMates charity team. I've already raised nearly $1,500! But, of course, every bit helps towards ensuring that the GOTR program is able to reach as many young girls as possible without having to turn any away. If you haven't yet supported GOTR and would like to, you can do so using this link.

Here are some photos from the spring season's 5K fun run and season-ending party. Enjoy! And stay tuned for updates about our season in the coming weeks!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guilt-free....almost


Ok, so I finished my 20 mile run, heading south on Chicago's lake front path for a bit of a change. I accidentally ended up running 20.4 because I couldn't see the street sign where I planned on turning around from the lakefront path because of the Chicago Half Marathon that was going on at the same time. Oops!


I will admit it may have not been such a great idea to run down past Solider Field since it was the Bears' opener yesterday (Bears win!) and the smell of tailgaters cooking made it really hard to not stop and beg them for a hot dog or burger. (Note to self, eat before running 3+ hours). Not to worry, though! I made up for it afterward by engaging in what many refer to as "Sunday Funday" with my roommate and friends. I did reward myself by eating some poutine fries from a place called the Rocking Horse. If you're unfamiliar with them, basically, as you can see from the photo, they are fries covered in cheese and gravy. I'm pretty sure I ended up adding back on every calorie I burned and then some. If you've ever had them, while you feel disgusting after you eat them, you know it is completely worth ever bit of food-guilt. But after working hard running those 20 miles, I ate them guilt-free. Well, almost.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tough as Manicured Nails

Yesterday, I ran the Fitness Mind, Body + Spirit Games 4-mile women's run in Central Park. The event featured a 4-mile men's race, 4-mile women's race and kids' races for kids of all ages. We had beautiful weather in NY yesterday - sunny, but not too hot - a perfect day for a road race!

Rocco DiSpirito kicked us off with a pep talk about the importance of fitting fitness into his, and our, daily routines. Until he spoke, I had no idea that he competes in triathlons! We also got to hear great words of motivation from my friend, Queens run buddy, and Fitness Editor-in-chief Betty Wong Ortiz: no matter what our fitness goals are, we should strive to achieve them fearlessly, but we should also never forget to have fun along the way. And she also reminded us that "sweat is sexy!" Oh yeah! We were all ready to work up a sexy sweat racing through the roads of Central Park!


Rocco and Betty, left, ready to welcome us across the finish line! (This photo and others from the event are available at New York Road Runners)

Taking advantage of the fantastic conditions in the park and the energy through the crowd of women around me (the men ran their race separately an hour before us), I had an awesome run - my fastest race in years. Finishing 4 miles in 31:34, I averaged 7:53 per mile. I could barely believe it when I saw the results, but I also knew I had run a fast run. How exciting!

My next race will be October 3 in Eisenhower Park, Long Island, NY. It's the Divas Half Marathon and 5K. I'm looking forward to tackling that course for a new personal best in the half marathon. Come cheer me on! Or, show off your inner Diva by running the half marathon or 5K, too! (The half marathon is open only to women; the 5K is co-ed.)

After the Divas Half Marathon, my next race will be my official New York event for Race Within US: the ING New York City Marathon.
Me, right, proudly showing off my first-time accomplishment at the finish line of the 2009 NYC Marathon. I can't wait to take on the course as a seasoned second-timer!

At this very moment, the Timex Countdown clock on the marathon website says we're just 55 days, 18 hours, 15 minutes and 51, 50, 49... seconds away from the start line! RUSer Mark is coming in town to run, too, as is my friend Heather, who chose NYC as her first ever long distance road race. Way to go, Heather! As a Girls on the Run SoleMates team member, you'll find me on the course in support of the programs of GOTR. I'll also have already kicked off the fall season of GOTR coaching by then, so I hope to show the girls I'll be coaching that it is possible to achieve a significant fitness goal with some dedication, training and enthusiasm. The support you've all given me while I strive to reach my goals is truly appreciated! And if you would like to support GOTR's work, they would so appreciate the assistance as well!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wendy Whiner takes on 20 miles.

Ok, it's been a while since I've posted something here on the blog, so I'm taking this urge to whine as an opportunity. : ) So I'm supposed to run 20 miles this Sunday in preparation for my next marathon in Bar Harbor, Maine on October 17, 2010. But I don't wanna! I wish I were looking forward to it more than I am, but to be honest, I'm a little bored with the scenery around here. I do love the lakefront, which covering 20 miles allows me to run through lots of neighborhoods, like Logan Square, Roscoe Village, Uptown, Ravenswood as well as hit the lakefront path for several miles. But after running 17 and 18 mile runs in the past few weeks, I just want to run somewhere different. I cannot wait to run in Maine though, where everything will be beautiful, scenic and most importantly, different! I hear the foliage is great in October. (And I will be accompanied by my favorite running partner, my dog Dean. I hope there are lots of squirrels to entertain him!)

I keep reminding myself that I'm doing this for a good cause, i.e. to raise money for Hospitals for Humanity and Don't Bully my Breed. However, I need your help in actually raising those funds! HFH is still taking monthly trips to Haiti to help those who are left without medical care due to January's earthquake. And DBMB is always in need of donations to help provide food and vet care to the sweet dogs that just can't seem to find permanent homes. Every little bit helps, even if you can only donate $5. Please check out the links to make your donation.

Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement! Also, if anyone is interested in joining me in Indianapolis, I've registered for the Monumental Marathon in Indy on November 6th. There is also a 1/2 marathon and 5K option to suit all levels of runners. I hate to travel alone!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Nice Long Weekend for a Good Long Run

The coming month is pretty quiet for me, race-wise. I actually don't have any races planned for the first time in perhaps this entire year!

But I do have a lot planned for October and November, including running the Divas Half Marathon in Long Island, NY on October 3, the ING New York City Marathon on November 7, and the Philadelphia Half Marathon on November 21. I also might add in the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon in South Carolina on October 24, if my schedule allows. Fellow RUS-er Mark is coming in from Chicago to check off NY alongside me in the NYC Marathon. And my great friends from the Red Dress Run for Women in Hartford, Connecticut (read about our fun run here) are joining me at the Divas Half Marathon. They're running in the 5K event that morning, so if you'd like to join a strong, energetic group of women for 3.1 miles of fun, send us a note and meet us there... you can join us for a post-race party, too!

But with no races planned for the next 4 weeks, I'm looking forward to focusing on training, rather than racing. How refreshing! I do need to step up the miles now as I get ready for the NYC Marathon. This weekend, I'll take advantage of the three-day Labor Day weekend to fit in a 15 mile run. Anyone want to join me?

If high mileage runs aren't your way of enjoying a holiday weekend, try to do something else outside. In a few weeks as the weather turns colder, you'll be glad you took the time to enjoy some outdoor activities!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fun, fun, fun at the MMM

Saturday was the Madison Mini Marathon in Madison, Wisconsin, and - wow! - it was such a great day. There was a half marathon and a 5K run simultaneously through the center of Madison. Nearly 5,000 people participated!

I was so excited to get to meet the amazing women and supporters of Girls on the Run of Dane County. We were able get together before the run to introduce ourselves and take a group photo. Then we ran and cheered each other on. In fact, I crossed the finish line beside a fellow SoleMates runner... we helped each other finish strong through the last half mile of the course to achieve a sub-2:00:00 finish, a PR for me! Seeing my cousins Scott, Christina and baby Sam cheering me on a few blocks from the finish line also helped me earn my PR goal. Thanks for the support!!!

My fabulous cousin Christina also ran her first 5K - in an awesome 31 minutes! Welcome to the runner community, Christina!

After the running events, there was a big post-race party at the UW Madison campus student union terrace. We were able to enjoy live music, food, drinks and a fun, laid back atmosphere alongside Lake Mendota. It was a perfect way to celebrate a great run... that and a pint of Spotted Cow beer and Wisconsin-specialty cheese curds!

Dane County GOTR - I hope you'll come visit us in NY sometime! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Of Bears, Beer and Cheese... and Running of Course!

I just spent the weekend in Vernon, New Jersey with some old girl friends that I grew up with. Since we were staying at a mountain resort that had several miles of low-trafficked roads, as well as peaceful trails, I was excited to pack my running gear and explore the wooded property. On Saturday, late afternoon, I laced up my sneakers, turned on my iPod Shuffle, and headed out. After about a half mile, I stopped dead in my tracks.... A big, black grizzly bear was standing in front of me across the street! My instinct was to run but I've heard somewhere that you shouldn't try to outrun a bear, even if you're a decently-fast distance runner like me. So I waited in place until a car passed by and scared it back into the woods.

The bear I saw didn't look at innocently competitive as this road running bear, right.

I was reminded of the start of the Poconos Wurst 5K. For some reason, the announcement that there had been a bear on that course earlier in the morning didn't phase me. Coming face-to-face with a bear armed only with a tiny music player this weekend made me realize that trail running perhaps requires a little more preparation and understanding of your environment. Anyone have tips about their favorite running accessory, especially for trail running?

Also, I'd like to remind everyone that this weekend is the Madison Mini Marathon. I'll be in good ol' Wisconsin from Friday to Monday. If you're a midwesterner, it's not too late to join the half marathon or the 5K event - or just come and cheer and then enjoy the post-race party! There will be beer and cheese and other Wisconsin culinary specialties, as well as local bands providing entertainment. And, I'll be there with my cousin Christina and the Girls on the Run of Dane County. We'd love your support as a cheering spectator, a GOTR volunteer with your local chapter, or with a donation though this link or through your local GOTR chapter's fundraising page.

Of course, while I love sharing my experiences running around the country in support of meaningful charities that are near to my heart, I also want to encourage all of you to actively engage within your community. Whether you go out for a road run and discover a new place in town, or you volunteer to help a local non-profit for a day, do something active - it will make you feel great! We'd love to hear from you if you have a project or charity or even a great local road run you'd like to tell us about!

Saturday, August 7, 2010




The important stuff first. I've decided that my RUS charity will be Jamal Place, a group home for troubled boys and young men on Chicago's west side. Jamal Place makes positive changes in the lives of boys and young men through superior residential care, individual therapeutic programs, quality educational opportunities and extended family resources. Jamal Place helps young men become caring and responsible citizens. (I admit borrowing all that from JP's website.) Anyways, I was previously involved with Jamal Place, primarily as a donor, and got to know its founder and Executive Director, Ann Deuel. She's incredible and may be the most dogged and indefatigable person I know. She has no agenda other then to do what is in the best interests of the boys and young men at Jamal Place. She's in a constant battle to find funding to keep Jamal Place open, especially these days. My goal is to help as much as I can through the generosity of my friends, family and anyone I can harangue in to donating money. I encourage you to visit Jamal Place's website to learn more about it and make a donation.... pretty please! http://www.jamalplace.org.

On to the other stuff... last weekend I did the "Whirlpool Ironman 70.3 Steelhead Triathlon presented by Pizza Hut" in Benton Harbor, Michigan. That's the actual, official title. Guess they've got to keep the corporate sponsors happy, altho I have no idea what the "Steelhead" part means. The 70.3 part comes from 1.2 miles swim + 56 mile bike + 13.1 mile run = 70.3 miles. That means it is really a 1/2 Ironman. The real Ironman is 2.4 + 112 + 26.2 = 140.6. The company that owns the "Ironman" brand created the 70.3 series a few years back. Kind of a smart move because they can put the Ironman logo (the infamous M dot above) on races that are 1/2 the distance of a full Ironman. Why go 140.6 when you can go 70.3 and still get the same cool finisher shirt?

As for the race itself, it was great. It was well organized. The course was fast. Lots of spectators. It was my friend's first triathlon in 9 years so going slow and pacing ourselves was the theme of the day. We also didn't train too seriously, so it was just a matter of finishing. We endured a downpour for the first hour, some bike breakdowns (why do I keep getting flats!), intestinal issues that led to potty stops, and the usual unexpected issues to deal with, but we finished strong. I'm a happy camper.

Next up, the NYC marathon.

Later!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The MMM


If you can't guess from the image, my next state run will be... Wisconsin! (Yes, that is a running cheese.) I'll be running the Madison Mini Marathon (aka "the MMM") on August 21. This half marathon loops through the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus, the Henry Vilas Zoo, Wisconsin Arboretum and along Lake Mendota and University Bay.

I am really excited to share with you that I've connected with the Girls on the Run Dane County for this event. I'll be meeting a group of Dane County GOTR coaches, volunteers and supporters at the start line so we can introduce ourselves, have a photo op and encourage each other through the 13.1 mile run. Of course, we'll be wearing our GOTR and GOTR SoleMates shirts... if you spot us on the course, please cheer us on! And if you'd like to support GOTR's running programs for girls ages 8 to 13 that foster a healthy lifestyle, self-confidence and build positive relationships, you can always do so here.

If you're a Mid-Westerner (Chicagoans, I hear you're only about 2 hours away, hint, hint!), there is still time to sign up for the MMM! There is a 5K event for anyone interested in taking part in the MMM but not yet ready for a half marathon. My amazing cousin Christina, a new mommy, will be running the 5K - and then we'll celebrate our finishes at the big post-race party at Memorial Union Terrace. This being Wisconsin, there will be lots of Spotted Cow beer, Wisconsin cheese curds, brats of every kind, and fresh fruit available for post-run nourishment. If that sounds good to you, but you don't want to run, you can cheer at a spectator area and join the post-race party after cheering on the runners.

See you in Madison!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

GOTR Pocono Wurst 5K Update

I hope you enjoyed reading about my recent experience in the adventurous Wurst 5K trail run with the Pocono Girls on the Run. I have a wonderful update to share... thanks to the support of the local Pocono community, the Pocono Area Runners Club and all event participants, the Pocono Wurst 5K raised more than $2,500 for the Pocono GOTR program!

Here are a couple of pictures from the event - all photos are posted on the Shawnee Mountain event photo page.


That's me about to cross the finish line with my buddy, Tori!


The whole Pocono GOTR gang... they're strong and enthusiastic runners!

Thank you to all the great supporters out there for making these programs possible!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Elvis Alive in Chicago

Elvis is alive and supporting pre-teen girls! Ok, that sounds bad, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the King, but I'm running Fleet Feet's annual Elvis is Alive 5K on Thursday August 5th, and the race is benefitting Miri's favorite charity, Girls On The Run!

Elvis seems to be the only thing that will get me running these days since I've been on a run-once-a-week schedule since Seattle. I need some motivation, friends! Please, please, please make me feel guilty about not training for my next marathon in Maine by donating to Hospitals for Humanity or Don't Bully My Breed!

Thank you, thank you very much.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tri for Charity


This weekend, RUS member Mark will be participating in a triathlon. The triathlon is the Whirlpool Ironman 70.3 Steelhead in Benton Harbor, Michigan. This race consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run. Let's all cheer on Mark this weekend as he swims, bikes and runs pretty darn far to support his RUS charity, Jamal Place!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Am the Wurst Klutz

This morning I ran the Poconos’ Wurst 5K Trail Run in support of Girls on the Run. The Pocono chapter of GOTR – girls, coaches, and parents – came out to Shawnee Mountain for the event, which benefited the activities of the Pocono GOTR chapter. It was a very hot morning and, as you might expect for a run on a mountainside, the course was hilly. I buddied up with a couple of girls from Girls on Track, the secondary GOTR program that serves older girls (6th through 8th graders) who have already surpassed the initial Girls on the Run program (for 3rd through 5th graders in most locations); we would run the trails together to make sure that we all finished the course safely and with smiles.

At the start area, one of the few parts of the course that was paved rather than grassy or gravelly, an organizer introduced the event and described the course. Then he said something you hope never to hear when trail running: “If you heard the rumor about the bear, it’s true. But we think it’s gone. Just keep your eyes open out there.” Yikes! Apparently some Shawnee Mountain caretakers went into the trails in golf carts to scare away the bear about fifteen minutes before the run started. Then the speaker continued, “The rattlesnakes are usually on the other side of the mountain at this time of year, but that’s not necessarily true of the copperheads. Plus there are ticks, so be careful out there!” Bears and snakes and ticks – oh my! But we’re Girls on the Run – we don’t let wildlife scare us away from a good 5K trail run!

The start gun sounded and we set off. Unfortunately, I got tangled up with another runner and fell as if I were a baseball player sliding into home plate. My GOTR buddies, of course, stopped and asked if I was okay. I wanted to look calm and collected despite being terribly embarrassed. I said, “Yes, it’s just a few scrapes – that’s not going to stop me from running this course with you!” So we continued on, running and walking alternately because of the heat, uneven trail grounds and hills. The girls were awesome in rising to the challenge of their first trail run.

Despite my embarrassing fall, I hope I taught them a lesson about picking yourself up, dusting off and persevering to meet the goal. GOTR has always aimed to show its young runners that they are strong, both physically and mentally, and that they can use those strengths to accomplish whatever goals they set their minds to. I am glad I had the opportunity to turn some scrapes and bruises into a reminder of one of the most important lessons of the GOTR seasonal curriculum.

That's me, pictured, showing off my event tee post-run, all cleaned up, scrapes swabbed with antibacterial gel!

And I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about the amazing accomplishments of the Pocono GOTR in upcoming seasons!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New New Jersey Run Needed

Unfortunately, I didn't make it to Hoboken, NJ in time to run the Party With Purpose 5K last night. The day got away from me somewhat. So that means I need a replacement event in New Jersey.

Anyone have any suggestions? I'd love to hear from you!
Thanks!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nurture Your Inner Runner

The Red Dress Run for Women in Hartford, Connecticut, which supported the Go Red foundation’s initiative of empowering women to understand how to improve and maintain their heart health, was a big success! I participated with four fabulous – and fabulously determined – women. Running has had a place in each of our lives for varying lengths of time – from my 18 year history on the road and track to some who just started out recently. But we all were equally excited to share 3.1 miles of roads with 1,100 women in support of a worthy cause. The weather was hot and very humid, which makes running a road race challenging and somewhat uncomfortable. On the other hand, we were lucky that the rain held out because it POURED about an hour after we finished running – at just about the time that we were swallowing the first bites of well-deserved pancakes (yum!).

I have to give a shout out to the fact that Marisa, Jen, Melanie and Leah all ran personal bests. This was a first 5K for most of them and they did great! Leah, five months pregnant, even earned her baby-to-be a nice PB, too. And, already enthusiastically planning her next 5K, Melanie is showing her four-month-old baby Tyler, who came to cheer on mommy, how much fun it is being active, especially when you go out running, jogging or walking with a supportive group of friends.

I’ve said before that running is an activity that makes me feel great physically, mentally and emotionally. I loved this sign (pictured, right) that was posted at the park where the Red Dress Run took place. It is true that running is like a friend. Just like I know my friends will always be there for me in times of need (or whenever, really), I know I can always lace up my sneakers and hit the road wherever I am and whenever I need time for myself.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Red Dress Run for Women on Saturday!


Just a reminder for the east coast readers - Saturday morning is the Red Dress Run for Women 5K in Hartford, Ct. The event, which I've previously written about here, supports the Go Red for Women foundation, an initiative that helps women to take control of their heart health by teaching them ways to reduce their risks of heart disease and stroke.

There's still time to sign up! If you are in the area (Amtrak services Hartford if you need public transportation), and would like to run or walk with me and several friends who will join me on the course, please do!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Go To Your Happy Pace

As the July 4th holiday weekend is about to start, we mostly all have an extra day or two to relax and enjoy free time – and hit the roads for some great long runs. Given that, I thought I’d share with you a picture of something I have posted on my refrigerator. It was the back cover of a training log that Girls on the Run SoleMates sent me after I joined the SoleMates team.


Even though I am running a lot of road races as part of my RUS challenge, and I’ll be training hard to achieve some PBs along the way, I also think it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that running, for me at least, is a way of life. I feel better in every respect – physically, emotionally, mentally – when I’m running regularly during my weekly schedule. Sometimes I run fast, sometimes I run slow; sometimes I’m on the road for an hour or two, sometimes just for thirty minutes. But in any case, it’s my “Me Time”. I find my happy pace and enjoy it! I hope you will keep that in mind when you run, too!

Oh, and if you are interested in joining a charity run team, SoleMates is always welcoming new runners to the team. They'll provide you with training materials and gear, as well as entry into the marathon or half marathon event of your choice.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The "Rolling Hills" of Boston

I’ve never been a great hill runner. In high school, my track team awarded me the graduation superlative “Best Hill Runner” in jest because maintaining my pace through course inclines was my biggest weakness as a runner. I don’t think I’ll ever master the art of hill running, but I’ve certainly improved with experience. These days, I don’t bother trying too hard to maintain – it depletes too much of my energy and is usually fruitless anyway. I’m in awe of those runners that blaze past me running uphill! I just keep my legs moving as best I can and then increase my effort on downhills and flat stretches to make up any time lost on the uphills.

This past Sunday, I ran the Boston 13.1 Marathon, part of a half marathon race series being launched around the country. My friend Sue joined me for the event. It was her very first half marathon road race ever and I am so proud of her for pushing through the extremely tough, hilly course to cross the finish line with a smile on her face!


Sue showing off her well-deserved medal, right.


And this course wasn’t just hilly – it was HILLY to the extreme. There were two hills on the course that ascended for the full length of a mile (damn those rough miles 5 and 11!). Don’t believe me? Check out this elevation map of the course! I would nickname the event The Quad-Buster Half Marathon because, man, my quads are SORE! But Sue and I, as well as nearly 2,700 other runners, persevered and completed the course, many in support of charity teams like Chron’s & Colitis Foundation’s Team Challenge, the main charity affiliated with the 13.1 series (of course, I was there supporting both Girls on the Run and Hospitals for Humanity).

Sue, of course, earned herself a well-deserved Personal Best. While I didn’t run a PB, I did come relatively close. Given the tough nature of the course, I know I’m ready to blast out a PB at my next half marathon – the Madison Mini Marathon on August 21 in Madison, Wisconsin. Come out and catch me there if you can!

But if you’d like to join a shorter run before then, I’ll be running the Red Dress Run for Women in Hartford, Connecticut on July 10, the Party With Purpose in Hoboken, New Jersey on July 13, and the GOTR Poconos' Wurst 5K Trail Run on July 18 at Shawnee Mountain, Pennsylvania. All are 5Ks and perfectly suited for newbie runners. Also, fittingly for followers and supporters of The Race Within US, all are organized in support of local charities so you can cross the finish line feeling healthy and knowing that you have helped to support a good cause!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Seattle...hills and chills.





I just finished my second of 50 marathons, this one in the gorgeous city of Seattle. If you haven't been to the Pacific northwest, go there. The landscape is absolutely gorgeous, right where the mountains meet the ocean. I traveled there with my evil twin, Krystal (OK, she's not really evil and was a great supporter of me this weekend, thanks sis!) and my friend Jen, who completed her first "official" half-marathon. Great job Jen, you did awesome! We were all first-timers in Seattle, and had a great time exploring together.

First, my take on Seattle (if you wanna know). It seems no one is born and raised there. Or at least not that we met. We did end up meeting lots of people from the Midwest, or L.A. Since we all grew up in the Midwest, and Jen currently lives in L.A., we had a lot in common with the people and had some really fun and interesting conversations. Also, there is excellent shopping there (Seattle is home of the Nordstrom flagship store). However, you might not guess this by what people are wearing around town. Granted, the people I might have been were likely mostly tourists, but it seems that North Face fleeces are considered "fashion" rather than simply outerwear. But don't get me wrong, you need a fleece there even at the end of June. It was much cooler than I anticipated, since Weather.com told me the highs would be low 70s. What it didn't tell me was that the high occurs only from 5pm to 6pm and then the temperatures drop back down to the low 60s. We did not pack accordingly. Unfortunately the weather was the only source of chills for us, although we tried to get some on the Pike Place Market ghost tour. While our guide Penny was entertaining at times, we did not get as scared as we hoped. Well, not except for our fear of contracting some disease from the gum wall outside of the theater where the tour began in Post Alley. Gross is the only way to describe it. We also tried to find some ghosts on the Underworld tour, which takes you through the former streets of Seattle, which are now under the current streets. Apparently some parts of the city are higher than they were originally, and after they rebuilt the city following a big fire in the late 1890s, what used to be the old sidewalks are now tiny passageways underneath the new sidewalks. We got to learn all about the lucrative prostitution industry and our tour guide even taught us a new method of contraception (don't ask). The tour was followed by a free cocktail, and if you are ever at the Underground lounge the bartender makes a great dirty martini or cosmo.

We also took a ferry over to Bainbridge Island which is full of some cute boutiques and some wineries offering tastings. I recommend paying Charlie a visit at the Victor Alexander winery and if you're lucky you can get a taste of his Semillon. It was delicious. But if you're single, be careful. Charlie is quite the charmer!

Ok, now for the race. The first portion of the course was amazing and beautiful....and cold. After I warmed up though, I was able to enjoy the views of Lake Washington and Seward Park. There were bands at almost every mile, which is a great perk of the Rock-n-Roll series of races, so I do recommend them. Plenty of aid stations and good crowd support in the downtown area. I started off at a comfortable pace hitting the halfway mark around 2 hours 11 minutes. My sis was waiting for me at mile 14 with some energy gels, Tylenol, water and anti-bacterial hand spray. (the port-o-potties were lacking in this area). She will tell you that it was her lavender-orange hand spray that made it possible for me to run the second half at about 2 hours and 2 minutes. This is apparently what is called a negative split folks, and I have no idea how I was able to run the second half so much faster than the first. But for whatever reason, at about miles 15-16 I felt really good and strong, so I went with it. This never happens to me, and probably will never happen again. My end time was about 4 hours 12 minutes, which I am completely happy with. Not a personal best, but the negative split was a new personal accomplishment for me.

One negative thing about running a marathon in a place you've never been to before is the pain of walking around sightseeing afterward. But Jen and I toughed it out and had a great time anyway and Krystal was a good sport about our complaining. I think she was having sympathy pains. The 3 of us found out we were good travel mates and are looking forward to traveling to another race together. Where to next???

Monday, June 21, 2010

blah blah blahing about the post marathon blahs

Since I ran the Madison marathon a few weeks I have had little motivation to do anything other then eat, drink and play with my kids. I've spent some time thinking about races I want to do this summer but have nothing definitive planned until the NYC marathon in November. I'm not someone that works out for vanity's sake. If I'm not training for a race, then I really only workout to sweat out the toxins from the burritos, pizza, wine, beer or whatever unhealthy things I've been ingesting for the couple of days prior. Those of you who know me know my diet is not what you'd call healthy. I think cheese and butter should be a central part of every meal. Good genetics and a lot of running mean I have freaky good cholesterol despite my diet. Anyways, I do those meaningless workouts because I feel guilty that I'm not training for some race. I really only get motivated to push myself when I have a race to train for. I need something epic to train for; an Ironman, a marathon, something that is really going to be a challenge. I've been telling myself the last few weeks, rather unconvincingly, that I'm just taking it easy because I need to recover from Madison. But the reality is that we ran so damn slow because of the heat that it really wasn't anything more than another slow long run. I was recovered pretty much within a few days. So that is the malaise I've been feeling, the post-marathon blahs. blaaaaaaaah!!!!! No motivation. blaaaaah!!! Eat some pizza, watch some TV. blaaaah!!!

So one morning last week I'm on a treadmill at my club running a few miles sweating out some beer from the night before while thinking about writing a blog about my post marathon blahs. I was also thinking about how really well I'm running right now and what a waste it seems that I'm rather directionless when it comes to my running/triathlon goals for the summer. My ideas for the blog were gaining momentum in my head while I was on otherside of the gym lifting weights. Then, WHAM, something popped in my lower back. I dropped to a knee and had difficulty standing up. I had to shuffle step my way back home and was in such serious pain I had trouble catching my breath. I felt like a giant vice was crushing my lower back. I was fearful that I had slipped a disc and was going to be layed up for the next few months, or worse yet, have to have surgery. Fortunately, my doc says it's likely a strained ligament. And while I've been really stiff and sore, I'm feeling better thanks to Motrin and lots and lots of ice.

What's my point? Just like that I went from feeling pretty damn fit, although unmotivated, to being barely able to walk. I wasn't doing anything stupid like in the Ironman last summer (Bucky the Badger!). It happened in an instant. Now I can't wait to go on a good, long run. I can't wait to feel healthy again, like I can run, ride or swim to my heart's content. I'm already planning a long run for next weekend, back pain permitting. I need to know I can!

p.s. Of course my diet isn't going to change. Father's day dinner tonight at my BFF's consisted of a steak, a cheeseburger, fries, salad and three beers. And while I certainly understand the subjective reasons for running, like the runner's high, a big reason I run as much as I do is that I don't feel a damn bit of guilt eating whatever I want!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Two States Next Weekend!

Just a brief reminder that next week Kristine and I are each running races towards our RUS goals. Kristine will be running the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on Saturday, June 26 and I will be running the Boston 13.1 half marathon on Sunday, June 27. Thanks for all your support along the way while we have been training. We know you’ll be cheering for us while we are on the road!

Also, I want to give a little shout out to my good friend Sue. She only started running a few months ago and she has already trained and geared up to run the Boston 13.1 with me. Her first road race ever and it’s a half marathon! GO SUE!!!! So if you’ve ever heard me say that ANYONE can run distance races with dedication and training, here’s proof that it’s true. :) Now, hit the road!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Went the Distance / Now I’m Back on My Feet

I almost psyched myself out on yesterday’s run. Kristine and Mark have both mentioned in past posts how personal stress can affect their running. For me, running has always been my stress relief. I usually fun farther and faster when I have more stresses to unwind from. Yesterday was no different. The past few weeks have included some amazing high points but also some really tough and stressful moments that I’ve had trouble handling.

When I started running yesterday, it felt much harder than usual to build into my pace. All the emotion and adrenaline that had built up this week seemed to have turned into an obstacle course wall. I was tempted to give up for the day but a few things pushed me through that rough start. I thought about a Fitness magazine sidebar I read recently that suggested run mantras to keep you going when you need it most. My favorite was a reminder that you have to earn it, whether “it” is a downhill after pushing through a steep uphill or the feeling of crossing the finish line after a great race. Like they say, “pain is temporary; pride is forever.”

There’s also a New Balance ad that came to mind (full disclosure: New Balance is a national sponsor of GOTR, providing financial support to the organization, as well as 5,000 pairs of sneakers for GOTR girls who cannot afford proper running shoes). The ad has been in many running- and sports-related magazines recently and it says, “You can’t run from your problems. But you’ll both feel a little lighter when you get back.” I love that. It’s exactly how I feel about pounding the pavement – I pound away my stress or anger or sadness or whatever other emotion is starting to get the best of me, and I stay fit at the same time.

Finally, I remembered that I had just spent 12 weeks teaching my GOTR girls that if they visualize their goals – keep them fresh in their heads and hearts – they will be more likely to achieve those goals and overcome any self-doubt. Remembering that made me feel like my GOTR friends were there cheering me on. And the farther my legs carried me, the faster the stresses melted away. By the time I finished my ten mile loop around Queens’ Flushing Meadows Corona Park, I felt relaxed and healthy – and so glad I hadn’t given in and gone home.

In two weeks, on June 27, I’m checking off Massachusetts by running the Boston 13.1. If you’ll be in the Boston area, come run it with me! Or join the event’s 5K course instead. Whether you make it to Boston or not, don’t forget that a good run wherever you are is a rewarding and healthy way to balance the ups and downs of a busy daily schedule. But don’t take my word for it – hit the road and see for yourself!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Look, Ma… No Pocket Protector!

If you know us or you’ve read our first post, you’d know we’re lawyers by profession and runners and non-profit volunteers by passion. Tonight I attended a “Women in Intellectual Property Law – Going Global” Continuing Legal Education program. One of the panelists spoke about the gender disparity in a few specific fields, namely patent law and engineering (especially electrical and computer engineering), where the gender gap is skewed 80% men. This speaker recounted Mattel’s selection of this year’s “I Can Be…” edition of Barbie. Girls overwhelmingly voted for News Anchor Barbie in Mattel’s official online poll, but a society of women engineers rallied significant support for a Computer Engineer Barbie on Facebook and other social media networks; Mattel decided to launch both. News Anchor Barbie wears a frilly pink skirt suit, high heels and pretty makeup, while Computer Engineer Barbie wears glasses, flat shoes, slacks and a binary-code-patterned shirt and is described as “geek chic.”

While I applaud Mattel for creating the “I Can Be…” series of Barbies with the intention of showing young girls they can be anything, including an engineer, we need to do more to teach girls that their career path – and their life path – is not limited by how they look or where they come from. I’m not sure Mattel really succeed in meeting the "I Can Be..." series’ intentions based on the way News Anchor Barbie and Computer Engineer Barbie are respectively accessorized and described.

What does this have to do with a blog about RUNNING? Well, it makes me proud to be a Girls on the Run coach and a GOTR SoleMates fundraising run team member because I can see how far we’ve come and yet how far we still have to go in teaching girls not to feel boxed into any path based on looks, race, economic status or any other category plagued by stereotype. GOTR has been a phenomenal influence in the lives of the girls they serve by their 12-week seasonal programs. The Manhattan chapter’s Spring 2010 season just ended (read about it here), but I’ll be back for the Fall 2010 season to continue helping GOTR reach out to young girls in the NYC area – and hoping that we help them break free of the peer pressures that are exerted on them.

If you would like to see GOTR in action off-season, consider running with girls and coaches of the Pocono GOTR chapter (and me!) at the Poconos’ Wurst 5K Trail Run at Shawnee Mountain in PA on Sunday, July 18. The course follows the shady trails of Shawnee Mountain and is walker friendly. Also, your entry fee includes admission to the Poconos’ Wurst Festival, an “Oktoberfest in July” event at Shawnee Mountain. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Girls on the Run is So Much Fun!

This morning was the season-ending 5K fun run for Girls on the Run (GOTR) in New York City. GOTR’s mantra cheer promises, “Girls on the Run is so much fun!” and today was no exception. Looking around at all the girls who came from schools throughout the city, it was clear that the lessons of the season had been taken to heart: families, friends, and teammates had made posters filled with words of encouragement for all the runners, and all of the girls cheered each other on. But I think one of the biggest lessons exhibited today was that we are all strong and can accomplish any goal we put our minds to. For many of the GOTR participants, including two of the girls I coached this season, Ashara and Jasmine, yesterday was their first time running a 5K. Though they trained for it during the course of the 12-week GOTR program, this was the first opportunity to run a full 3.1 miles consecutively. They did great!

These are some photos from the event. I hope you enjoy them! If you would like to volunteer with GOTR, you can check here whether there’s a local chapter in your area. And if you would like to make a donation to GOTR, you can do so using this link. In either case, your help will go a long way to allowing this amazing program to grow and serve more communities of young girls around the country.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Steam Bath

Kristine's blog does a great job of describing the Madison Marathon and the difficult conditions. I ran in the infamous '07 Chicago Marathon that was cancelled due to extreme heat and the conditions in Madison were just as bad. To the organizer's credit, there were plenty of aid stations that were well stocked. Our race plan was simple: run slow and stay hydrated. Eventually we made it to the finish line and the fried cheese kurds and bloody mary's. They're like ambrosia after a race!

I do want to give a big congratulations to Kristine for finishing. She may be petite in size, but that is one seriously determined and strong-willed woman, and a damn good runner. Great job, KM! Next time, tho, please try not to swerve into me so much with your sweaty arms.

Anyways, unlike Kristine, this wasn't my first of the 50 marathons I'm running for RUS. My official "Wisconsin" race will the Ironman triathlon in Madison in 2011. I had a bad crash on my bike during the Madison Ironman last summer and didn't finish. Like General MacArthur said, "I shall return!" Or maybe I'm more Arnold Schwarzenegger-like in Terminator "I'll be back!" Point is, I've got unfinished business in Madison.

Still working up a race schedule for the rest of this year. I know for sure I'm running in the NYC marathon in November with Miri. That will be a great time. If everything goes as planned, I will be shooting to qualify for the Boston Marathon at NYC. Need to run a 3:30 (8 min pace). Used to be able to do that with no problem but I'm not as fast as I used to be.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wisconsin....Check.

I just completed the first of 50 marathons I plan on running over the next decade or so. I suspect (and hope) this will be on the slow end of some of my future races due to some pretty warm temperatures. The clock was stopped early due to the heat, but we kept on running anyway, albeit slowly. No need to make myself sick over a lil' ole marathon, right?

It was my first time in Madison, which I had learned just prior to going that the city is an isthmus. In case some of you are unaware of exactly what that is, (I was), it is a narrow strip of land, bordered on both sides by water, connecting two larger bodies of land. My biggest question was, "Why, Madison, can't you give your two big, beautiful lakes different names?" Menona and Mendota? That's a good way to confuse out-of-towners.

Also, another first I experienced was drinking my first Spotted Cow beer. I sort of was forced to have one since Miri would have come all the way from New York to beat me if I didn't. It was just as delicious as she promised.

If any of you are considering running the Madison marathon at some point, I would give the course a glowing recommendation. First, the aid stations were plentiful, which was key considering the temperatures reached near 90 degrees during the race. There are some shady, scenic parts through the University of Wisconsin's Arboretum, and of course some lake side running. If you like rolling hills, Madison is the place for you. The capital square was the start and finish of the race, and just to give a little challenge at the end, the last few blocks to the finish take you up what I heard referred to as "Capital Hill", which was uphill on Washington street. But the great part is, there are so many people cheering you on there, you hardly notice. Well, okay, I noticed, but I didn't want to look like a wimp and walk, so I pushed through and ran uphill to the finish line.

If anything was worth running a marathon, I think it was to eat the beer-batted cheese curds from the Old Fashioned guilt-free. I think they might be the most delicious things on earth. And if you also like pickled things, which I do, the Old Fashioned has a large assortment of pickled food in stock. Who knew a pickled brussel sprout could be so delicious?

Ok, now the sappy part. Doing these races always reminds me of how strong people, myself included, can be. Finishing a marathon is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. Due to some personal issues that have been going on in my life recently, I have not been as prepared mentally or physically as I would have liked. To be honest, I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish, because my body would only take me so far, and I didn't know whether my mind would take me the rest of the way. But I surprised myself. Regardless of what is going on with me personally, for one morning, four hours, forty-three minutes and twenty-six seconds, I was able to just run. And isnt' that what running is about?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Event Map


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If you would like to literally view our cross country progress, check out our The Race Within US map, which will be updated as new run locations are added to our schedule! A link to the map will always be available in the right-hand column.

Upcoming Events


First, some great news: in the past few weeks we’ve raised nearly $550 for Girls on the Run SoleMates. Totals are not yet available from HFH and Don’t Bully My Breed, but we’ll update you all soon. If you would like to support any (or all) of these amazing organizations, please know that 100% of your donation goes to the programs and services offered by each org. We would be thrilled if you chose to support these groups in honor of the challenge we are undertaking!

That said, here are our summer and fall run schedules so far. All of these events are walker friendly, so please consider joining us on the course no matter your pace!

May 30 – Kristine and Mark will be spending Memorial Day weekend in Madison, WI to run the Madison Marathon – the “Cheesiest” marathon in the country. www.madisonfestivals.com/marathon/

June 26 – Kristine will be rocking out at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon, and Jennifer Provencher, a new Race Within US member, will be walking the half marathon course at the event. The race is sold out, but if you’re in the Seattle, WA area, you can still be a Rockstar Race Weekend Volunteer and help make the event a great one. The post-race concert (free and open to the public) will headline Tonic and support the American Cancer Society. http://seattle.competitor.com/

June 27 – Miri will be running the Boston, MA 13.1 Marathon, which takes participants through the historic Prowse Farm where the Suffolk Resolves were drafted for the first continental congress in 1774. The course also takes runners over the Great Blue Hill, offering panoramic views of the entire metropolitan area from its summit, and past Milton Academy, whose famous alums include TS Eliot, James Taylor and the Kennedy’s. www.131marathon.com/13_1_Boston.htm

July 10 – Miri and Connecticut-based friends will run through Hartford, CT for the Red Dress Run for Women, a 5K exclusively for women to support the Go Red for Women initiative, which teaches women how to improve and maintain their heart health. http://www.hartfordmarathon.com/foundationnew/hmfevents/reddressrun.htm

July 13 – Miri and New Jersey-based friends will race through Hoboken, NJ’s waterfront in the Party With Purpose 5K. Party With Purpose is a charitable organization whose motto, "Work Hard, Play Hard, Give Hard", could easily describe the motivations behind The Race Within US! http://www.partywithpurpose.org/5k/

August 21 – Miri follows Kristine in running in Madison, WI – this time by running the Madison Mini Marathon, aka “the MMM”. The MMM takes participants past the Wisconsin State Capital, the Henry Vilas Zoo, the Wisconsin Arboretum and finally along Lake Mendota and University Bay before finishing with a big party at the UW Memorial Union alongside Lake Mendota. http://www.madisonminimarathon.com/

October 17 – Kristine takes on the challenge of running the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor, ME. Mount Desert Island Marathon was named by Runner’s World magazine as the Most Scenic marathon in the country – if you are able to participate, it is sure to be an event you’ll remember forever! There are 2- and 3-person relay options available for those who do not want to complete a full marathon, but want to enjoy this spectacular event. http://www.mdimarathon.org/

November 6 - Kristine will take on Indianapolis, IN by running the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Course highlights include the Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium, Mass Ave cultural district, Butler University, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and many more. http://monumentalmarathon.com/

November 7 – Miri will run her second, and Mark will run his first, ING New York City Marathon, which takes runners and walkers through all 5 boroughs of New York City, culminating with a Central Park finish line. Even with 40,000+ available race slots, the NYC Marathon sells out via lottery on the opening day of registration. However, you can still join one of the biggest marathons in the country by running/walking with a charity team, by volunteering with the NY Road Runners, or by joining the 2 million people who line the streets to cheer. The energy in NYC on marathon day is electrifying for bib-wearers, event volunteers and cheering supporters alike! http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/

We’ll update you periodically on additions to our schedule. We also would love to hear from you with suggestions on where we should run in other states and what races you’d like to see us run!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Beat is On

Isn't it amazing how the right song can motivate you to run an extra mile, or to kick through the finish line? Like most, I have a "Running" playlist filled with my favorite songs to keep me moving. Mine has just enough songs to last through my goal marathon time - if I haven't heard a repeat by the time I cross the finish line, I've achieved my goal.

As for songs, my playlist is stacked with upbeat songs ranging from classic motivators like "Eye of the Tiger" to reggae to cheesy pop and boy band songs that I would otherwise be embarrassed to admit listening to.

My Running playlist also includes a lot of foreign music. Somehow, my body responds to the beat of the music even though my brain has no clue what the lyrics mean. I stopped asking people to translate songs after I learned that my favorite song by Algerian singer Khaled was a bitter song about divorce - I had assumed it was a peppy, energetic love song! Now I enjoy keeping pace to the song tempos and not paying attention to the words, though I admit there are a few that make me want to sing out loud - and I sometimes do, so if you hear me singing on the road, feel free to join in!

What do you listen to when you run? Please share your favorites. I'm always looking for good suggestions and I am sure others are, too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Slowing Down


The reason I'm supporting Girls On The Run (GOTR) SoleMates throughout my quest with The Race Within US is because I'm a volunteer GOTR coach twice a week with 6th grade girls at a school in Harlem, in upper Manhattan. Each session, my fellow coaches and I engage the girls in a running-based game or activity meant to build their self-confidence, teamwork, and enjoyment of a healthy lifestyle. Recently, our lesson focused on slowing down and enjoying the experience of taking part in an outdoor activity - stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.

Despite teaching this lesson, I find it often difficult to follow, especially living in New York City. But on Saturday, I finally internalized that lesson and had a fantastic slower-than-usual run with 2 of my favorite run buddies, Monica and Betty. We're all busy professionals who sometimes struggle to slow up and enjoy the route. This time, none of us felt like racing. We wanted to enjoy each other's company, as well as the Central Park scenery.

It took us quite a bit longer than usual to run 6.2 miles, but it was the most fun and rejuvenating run I've had in a while. It was a fantastic reminder that slowing down sometimes is as important on the road as it is in life in general. I hope that you will all remember to slow down once in a while and really enjoy the things around you. I also hope you will take a moment to consider supporting GOTR SoleMates, either by making a donation using the link in the right column, or by volunteering with your local GOTR chapter.