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)...