Archive | March 2015

Motivation Monday

So technically I am out of my recovery zone from my half marathon two weeks ago, but since I’d gotten in the habit of posting the weekly workouts, etc on Mondays, I’ve decided just to keep going.

When I finished my training plan on MyASIC’s website, it was as if they had read my mind; they asked me if I’d like to start another one (I had said previously that I might set one up just to keep me honest about running).  And lo and behold it magically set one up that had the next half marathon just a few days out from the one I ran last year (and have considered in my crazier moments signing up for again).

So I went ahead and set it up, although I am not sold yet on running 13.1 miles on the last Saturday in June.  Seriously.  That may just be crazy.  But either way, I’m going to follow the plan because I want to keep up the fitness level that the plan gives me.  Plus it keeps me honest.  I am much more likely to run on a given day if I see the plan telling me to.

Beyond that, this second week of recovery found me feeling totally back to normal.  My muscle soreness ceased early in the week and I felt back in the groove by my Thursday morning treadmill run.  I was very satisfied with this weekend’s 5K, so I’m definitely back in the game.  Here’s what this week looked like:

Tues:  60 min yoga (strength/tone class)
Wed:  Rest Day
Thurs:  2.5 miles @ 12:36 pace (treadmill) and 30 min HIIT class
Fri:  60 min yoga
Sat:  Sandy Hook 5K Race @ 11:41 pace
Sun:  Rest Day
Mon:  30 Min strength class

This is definitely one of my lighter weeks.  I probably should have hit the treadmill today as well but the day is just not going to work out that way.  But I am going to run tomorrow, Wednesday and take classes on Thursday and Friday and run again on Saturday.  🙂  Sunday’s Easter so that will definitely be my rest day.

Sandy Hook 5K Race Recap

I was up super early this morning to run the Sandy Hook 5K.   I worried that the event, which caps its participants to 1500, plus a kids’ fun run, would be crowded and parking would be sparse. Every single time I do this, I’m always wrong.  This time was no exception.

Yes, it was not quite light out and there wasn't a soul around when I arrived at the race site.

Yes, it was not quite light out and there wasn’t a soul around when I arrived at the race site.

It was MUCH colder than I had planned on.  I had looked at the forecast carefully, which had said it would be in the upper 20s/low 30s at race time.  Normally this would allow me a base layer, a hoodie or fleece on top, a light headband and convertible mittens to stay plenty warm.  What I hadn’t counted on was the wind.  It was whipping up like crazy and the skies were starting to slowly release flakes of snow.

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This grass is about to turn white and crunchy.

I wandered around for a bit, but even vendors were still setting up, so I went back to my car and warmed up a bit.  Before long I was getting antsy again.  I visited the portapotties, where the few of us partaking all wondered aloud to each other about whether it was gross to linger in them because they really were quite toasty warm. Fortunately, about this time a girlfriend of mine showed up.  Her daughter plays tennis at the athletic facility in the area of the race, so I hopped in her warm car and spent some time with her in the warm gym before heading out to the frozen tundra again. By now the few random flakes I’d seen before had turned into a full fledged snow shower.  Snow was covering and sticking to everything, including the roads.  My hoodie quickly became covered with the big, wet flakes.

Snow had been in and out of the forecast leading up to the race, but no one had anticipated a full on snow event.  This changed everything.  Now it would be more of a matter of getting through the course without falling than running for speed or time.

I went to find the Race4Chase tent.  I am friendly with the family of Chase Kowalski, one of the victims of Sandy Hook.  This race was part of the “Birthday Challenge”, his mother Rebecca set up to get healthy and honor him.  Ten races in the twelve months leading up to what would have been his tenth birthday.  This race, the official Sandy Hook race, would be my fifth.

I met up with everyone at the tent, who were all huddled under it trying to stay warm.  The snow somehow made everything seem colder.  I’ve never been so bundled up for an event; usually I get hot and need to shed layers.  This time, I just hoped I could make it to the start line with some semblance of feeling in my fingers and toes.

Not exactly my usual race attire.

Not exactly my usual race attire.

We finally went out to the start line, where I dutifully made my way to the nearest slow looking person with a stroller.  They’re usually my speed (or sadly, faster).  After a beautiful speech by Father Bob (you probably saw him on the news in the weeks after Sandy Hook; he’s the pastor of the local Catholic church), a haunting rendition of our national anthem, and a few announcements, we were blessedly on the move. It took me a bit to get the to the start pad, and even then things were fairly congested for a bit.  Plenty of walkers were in my area, so I started to bob and weave around them.

The start of the race (it says start on the other side where we are).  I'm in here somewhere, jumping up and down to stay warm.

The start of the race (it says start on the other side where we are). I’m in here somewhere, jumping up and down to stay warm.

The roads were slippery so I had already given up my thoughts of a really fast race (I had so wanted to see what my half marathon trained legs could do) so I settled in to find a pace that I could stay upright in. The first mile passed easily, a few hills here and there, nothing significant.  I was really surprised at how much the snow was sticking to the road, and stinging my face and eyes; I’ve never raced in snow before (and to be honest, have never run in snow this heavy….I would have totally treadmilled this if it were a training run!).  But I quickly warmed up (my hands and feet had started out the race mostly numb) and before long I hardly even noticed it. The miles weren’t marked, but I started to see people coming back towards us somewhere around mile 1 or so, which meant an out and back.  It was pretty narrow there and I felt badly for the few making their way back; they didn’t have a lot of room.  I realized at some point we were on a nice little downhill, and with a bit of dread realized that this meant we were going to have to go back up it.  Ugh.  I knew that wasn’t going to be fun, so I tried to pick up the pace going down to make up for the walking I knew I would have to do. Sure enough, as soon as we turned around it was time to trudge back up.  As I had predicted, it was less than fun.  I did my same strategy that I’d used on the big hills in Central Park; run until I couldn’t stand it, walk a bit, rinse, repeat.  I passed my friend Rebecca at one point and high fived her, only to have her catch back up with me during another walk break.  We stayed together for a bit until I was ready to run again and she still needed more time to catch her breath.

My friend Rebecca on the dreaded hill.  This photo shows the weather conditions pretty well.

My friend Rebecca on the dreaded hill. This photo shows the weather conditions pretty well.

I skipped the water station on the way back and just concentrated on trying to finish as fast as I could.  I had no idea where I was time wise, because I’d turned on RunKeeper at the start of the race, not as I’d crossed start.  But I could hear that my pacing was getting faster so I started thinking again about my goals for this race: Goal A:  PR (I figured this was unlikely even if it hadn’t started snowing, but it’s always in there) Goal B:  Sub 36 Goal C:  Sub 37  (I usually do hilly courses somewhere between 37-38) The snow was still coming down now, sticking to the grass and some areas of the roads, so I tried to stay aware of my footing.  I heard RunKeeper go off for the 30 minute mark and it said I was at mile 2.5.  This was good news.  But I was definitely starting to feel tired, the cold weighing down my legs, and the second cup of coffee not sitting well in my stomach.  I took another twenty second walk break before turning the corner towards the finish. I didn’t have a lot left, but I ran with everything I had towards the finish line, seeing the clock turn over 37 and change as I did.  I had no idea what my time was, but I knew that I had performed better than usual on a hilly course.

Ben's Bells Kindness Coins.

Ben’s Bells Kindness Coins.

I grabbed the Ben’s Bells Kindness Coin that they were handing out as pseudo race medals to everyone and walked out of the finish area. I ran into my friend Rebecca within a minute and discovered she’d been right behind me the whole way after I’d left her.  She finished just thirty seconds after me.  We waited in the very long water line, sweaty and warm and satisfied. The cold quickly took its toll on us after we stopped moving though, while I had planned on staying afterwards to enjoy the post race fun, I made a quick decision to head home.  I was cold and getting colder every second, and while most of what they were doing was indoors, I just really wanted to change and shower and eat. After I got home I discovered that my final time was 36:19.   I’m pleased with it.  It’s not a PR, or sub 36, but considering the course and conditions, it’s a win for me.  Had the course been flat and clearer (there were a lot of spots where the snow was sticking) I would have certainly gotten sub 36, and even possibly a PR.  So I’ll take it.

A beautiful race for the angels.

A beautiful race for the angels.

Clean Eating Update: Week 5

So the scale says this was a good week.  As I suspected, last week’s bump up must have been water retention from salty corned beef, because I’m down over three pounds from one week ago.  I really don’t think I was that level of careful this week, but on the other hand, it does show the continued 80/20 approach I’ve been working with seems to be yielding some results.

Fun fact:  I am at my lowest weight since August 30.

That being said, I’m still five pounds higher than where I was this time last year.  Still, I’m down six and a half from my peak weight and down five from when I started to make a concerted effort to clean up my habits.

At this point I do feel like the four things I’ve implemented are pretty much going to stick with me as a lifestyle change.  They’re pretty much habits now.  Sure, it is hard to pass up the bread, but it feels a lot better to see a good number on the scale.

Sugar:  Still haven’t had any desserts/sweets or artificial sweeteners since five weeks ago.  I definitely see what people mean about getting rid of all of it reducing the craving for it.  I hardly think about sweets any more and they are very easy to pass up.  This was the first thing I implemented and I think the one I’ve been most successful with.

Dairy:  I have had occasional dairy, with a big hit yesterday.  Dairy has never bothered me in my life, but since I haven’t had much of it in quite a while, I did notice that my stomach was crampy last night.  So interesting to note.  I don’t think I’ve seen other benefits (clearer skin, less bloating) but it would be hard to tell because I gave up other stuff too.

Bread:  This one continues to be tough.  I picked out all of my croutons from my salads yesterday, and that sucked.  And I really wanted bread with last night’s dinner.  But I didn’t.  I have only had one slice of bread since I gave it up, and that was the night before my half marathon.  I think I need to just stay away from it.  I can easily see myself sliding back into a few slices here and there if I let myself unclench the iron fist approach here.

Wine:  This one is my least successful one.  I’m definitely 75/25 or so on this, but I continue to work on my two glass a day minimum.  But I’m working on it.

All along this journey I have also tried to reduce my intake of processed foods.  This week I felt was a good one in that department.  I made lots of food from scratch this week, and even dabbled in creating my own spice blend.  I definitely notice a much better feeling when I eat whole, unprocessed foods.  More apples and veggies with hummus over my SkinnyPop (although that’s still not a terrible choice).

So this week, I plan on trying to work the 80/20 ratio with processed vs. unprocessed foods.  I can’t decide if restaurant meals are included in “processed”.  For what I am now choosing, I’m going with no.  When I go out to eat I am now always choosing either a salad, or a grilled fish or meat, or something with brown rice (as opposed to potatoes or fries).

All in all, a good week.

Race Calendar

After talking yesterday about wanting to set up a new training plan, but not having a goal race in mind, I decided to sit down and attempt to map out this year’s running events.  I try to average one race a month, so with it now being the end of March, it’s probably time to think more comprehensively about the year in running for me.

I didn’t run races in January or February.  The weather here was just too terrible.

March:

3/15 NYC Half Marathon
3/28 Sandy Hook 5K

April:

April is tough.  I plan on traveling while my kids are on break so that takes out one weekend, and Easter takes out a second.  I’m looking at either:

4/25:  Maren Sanchez Memorial 5K
or
4/26 Minuteman 10K

May:

5/9:  Mother’s Day 10K
5/24:  Bridgeport Hospital Home Run 5K6

June:
6/27:  Stratton Faxon 5K
or
6/28:  Stratton Faxon Half Marathon

July:

7/24:  Trumbull Sunset Run 5K

August:

8/30:  Women’s Triathlon (!!)

September:

9/21:  Fall Distance Festival either the 10K or 20K

October:

10/4:  4 Mile Trail Race

November:

11/7:  Vicki Soto 5K
11/26:  Thanksgiving 5 Miler

December:

12/12:  Christmas Village 5K

Yes, I did throw in another half as a possibility.  I ran that one last year, so I know I can do it.  I’m not sure I’m up for it, so it’s a possible.  I do like the idea of the 20K in September, that’s a long range goal and I know it’s doable (weather will be better then too).

I also have a Triathlon in the mix for August.  A group of women and I are going to train for this one together.  I am not sure about it at all, but I’ve committed so I will get there.  I have no idea how that will go at all.

There it is, my goal races for the year.  Guess it’s time to start signing up for some of these!

Half Marathon Training: Recovery Week

So here we are eight days post marathon and the road back has been both good and bad.

The good:  My feet and calves recovered quickly, aided I have no doubt by the awesome compression socks I got at the NYC Half Expo.  After the last one my feet were likely the worst of it, with blisters and bruised toenails (one of which later fell off entirely), and I’ve really had none of that this time.  Part of that has to do with the cooler temps, I think, but I also did better in the sock department.  Same goes for chafing; it was a much bigger issue last time, and while I did have one little bit of it after this one, it healed up quickly and I’m already good to go there.

I’ve already done two 3+ mile runs and they both felt great.  I don’t want to lose the fitness, so I moved up the runs in my plan.  Plus I have a 5K this weekend (I honestly would have done one Saturday if I could have) so I want to be ready; a week off won’t help me do well there.

The bad:  My quads are STILL killing me!  Eight days later!  I am not sure why this is, and this definitely didn’t happen to me last time.  I noticed they were still sore a few days later, and they loosened up after I took a yoga class on day 3.  But the soreness kicked back in like a mofo after I took a kickboxing class on Friday.  Not sure if it was because I was using muscles I hadn’t been using for a while?  But it is the same soreness I had after the race, so I have no idea if I just made it worse by taking that class.  I ran through the soreness yesterday, and have a 4.5 miler planned for this morning, so I hope it starts to wane soon.  I feel like a senior citizen with how slowly I am navigating stairs and getting up and out of chairs!

The other not so fun thing is that the bruise I got two days out from the race is still bugging me.  Running 13.1 on it definitely didn’t help it heal.  I know it will go away in time but it is still an annoyance.

I’m also very tired this week, which I’ve heard is not that uncommon.  I’ve tried to indulge in as much sleep at night as I can but I find myself dragging a bit on the energy levels during the day.  Also very “rungry” still, which is probably all mental at this point.  Yesterday I could Not.  Stop.  Eating.  I tried to fill the hunger with apples and popcorn and healthier choices but it was insane how often and how much I wanted to eat.  Need to get the mind over matter thing back in check!

Here’s what this week looked like for recovery:

Monday:  Rest
Tuesday:  Rest
Wednesday:  60 min yoga
Thursday:  3.5 miles @ 12:56 pace
Friday:  45 min kickboxing, 30 min strength training
Saturday:  shoveling
Sunday:  3.4 miles @ 12:36 paceMonday:  4.5 miles (I am waiting until the temps rise above 20 degrees to do it so it’s not done yet!)

At this point I am thinking about setting up another MyASICS training plan even though I don’t have another distance race picked out.  I am definitely more motivated when I know the plan tells me I have to run that day.  I think it will push me to keep the mileage up as well; if I am left to my own devices, I will likely not run much above 5 miles and I want to keep up the fitness that comes with throwing in a long run here and there.  I’d like to find a good ten miler sometime in May perhaps, but I don’t really know of any at this point.  We’ll see.  🙂

Clean Eating Update: Week 4

Otherwise known as the week where I didn’t do so well.

Alright let me digress here and go piece by piece.

Sugar (Week 1):  Still doing well here. Never had dessert, which is the biggest crux.  Also still haven’t had any artificial sweeteners.  There are definitely still times where I want something sweet, but they are definitely less.  It is a lot easier to resist the sweet stuff now that I’ve been off of it for so long.  I did have several gels during the race, and I know they’re chock full of it, but obviously that was a special situation.

Dairy (Week 2):  Didn’t do so well here.  I totally forgot that feta cheese is dairy on Saturday and had Greek Salad and spanakopeta loaded with it.  And what’s a greek restaurant without flaming cheese?  Still, I only had it on Saturday and haven’t had it since.  Fridays during Lent aren’t exactly easy with no cheese and no meat, but I’m figuring out ways through.

Wine (Week 3):  Totally blew this one hard this week.  I’m so off the 2 drink a day wagon.  I have to get back there.  I had wine on Thursday, lots of it.  I did fine Friday and Saturday, but Sunday found me drinking 3 glasses of Prosecco to celebrate my race.  And yesterday?  I had a bad day, let’s just say that.  But I’m owning it and being accountable, so it’s time to move on.

Bread (Week 4):  Have done really well here, although I did have a slice at dinner on Saturday in preparation for the race, and another on Sunday as I was recovering.  But none before or since, not even croutons in the salad.

I think I am going to take this week to really get back on track before I add anything new to my clean eating goals.  I’m honestly not sure what to tackle next.   Maybe the “white stuff”?  I already don’t eat much of it, but I do have white potatoes, rice and pasta occasionally.

As for the weight component, I was down all week until the last two days, which have been Corned Beef and Cabbage days.  My weight was up this morning, and I am hoping/guessing it is the sodium from that (combined with two rest days post race).  I’ll look again in a day or two to get a real sense of where I am at this week.

NYC Half Marathon Race Recap

Wow, it’s over.  I can’t believe it’s over.

I went into NYC by train with my youngest son on Saturday to visit the race expo and pick up my race number.  It was pouring rain out and we had our overnight bags with us, so I opted for a cab rather than hoof it over there.  Lesson number one of NYC:  do NOT wait in the cab stand at Grand Central.  We waited about twenty minutes there for a cab, and probably could have walked it in that time.

The race expo was very crowded.  I had thought of going in during the week, and if I ever get lucky enough to run this race again, that is what I will do.  It was impossible to see all of the vendors and my son, being on the spectrum, was very off put by the crowds.  I had wanted to get photos in there but the crowds made it impossible.  I did get one shot with my race number, but that’s it.

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It’s at least near the finish line on the race map.

After we were able to check in to our hotel, I took my son for a short walk up to Central Park to see where I would enter for the race.  I wanted to be as familiar as possible with everything ahead of time. Fortunately it was about a fifteen minute walk from the hotel, not far.

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We saw tons of barricades around 7th Avenue, and signs like these around Central Park.  Very exciting!

I went back to the hotel and laid out my race gear for the next day:

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From there it was just time to wait.  We had a nice meal out after my husband and daughter arrived, where I ate bread and cheese and didn’t worry about the “rules” I have in place.  After that it was early to bed.

I was up by six and had my usual power bar meal and a cup of coffee before getting dressed.  I had planned two different outfits and opted for the lighter jacket over the race shirt, with a throwaway sweatshirt over that while I waited for the race to begin.  I was out of the hotel by 6:45.

As I walked up towards Central Park, there were runners streaming in from all over.  I didn’t go more than half a block without seeing the first of them and by the time I got close we were in a long line going up 7th Avenue.  We got to the area that I had been at the day before.  It was absolutely packed.  I’ve never seen anything like it at a race.

It took a full twenty or so minutes to go through security (metal detectors!) to enter Central Park.  I had thought I would be super early, but hadn’t counted on that wait.  It was chilly and windy so I was glad for my throwaway!  I was shocked at how far the entry point was from where the corrals and the toilets were (hundreds of them, but there were 20K runners, so that makes sense).

Before I knew what was happening, I heard the National Anthem from a distance, signaling the start of the first wave of runners, the elites. I started to find my way to where my corral was.  I knew I was in the second to last corral, so it took at least another ten minute walk to get there.

I finally found my spot, and settled in.  It was twenty minutes to start time.  I heard all sorts of conversations around me.  I was very nervous.  What did I think was doing here?  I felt very alone as I heard people talk to the friends or partners they came with.  Two guys next to me were speaking German.  I honestly thought about walking out right then. I mean, the course is 13 effing miles!

nychalfmap I wasn’t sure I could do it.  But I made myself stay in the corral. Finally, it was go time.

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With a race of this many people, go time means you slowly meander up to the start line.  It took me eight minutes.

The first two miles were easy downhills, and I tried to go as comfortably fast as I could.  I didn’t have my RunKeeper on to save my phone’s battery, so I had no idea how fast I was going.  The clocks at each mile marker were set to Wave 1’s start time, so they were not a great gauge.  I did note that between mile one and two there it looked like I was at 11 something.

We left the park for a bit and ran up 110th Street outside Central Park to hit mile 3.  I started to feel the effects of pushing for speed there, so I slowed down a bit.  I realized later that it was also a bit of an uphill, so that made sense.

5K Split: 36:52

Worse than I thought, all things considered.  But probably for the best to conserve energy.

Between mile 3 and 5 are the worst hills of the course, Central Park’s famous Cat Hill among them.  I pushed myself to run/walk them rather than just walk them, and I had the energy to do so.  I took a gel somewhere in the fourth mile, earlier than I’d planned, but I felt very depleted already.  I also made a point to take Gatorade at the fluid stations to replace the electrolytes I knew I was sweating off.  I removed my light jacket at some point in this section as well.

Once we hit mile 5 the worst of the hills were over and I was feeling OK.  I was excited to see what the rest of the course outside the park was, since I’ve already run two races within the park.  We finally hit mile 6 and I knew we were going to be exiting soon.

10K Split:  1:15:31

The moment we left the park onto 7th Avenue and you can see Times Square just beckoning you down the way was incredible.  I busted out with a huge smile and tried to take a few photos.

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My family was waiting for me at 54th and 7th, just a few blocks away, so I stopped for a few photos and high fives.  I was feeling great, even though I was easily 6.5 miles in.  It was great to see them there, and the course itself was pulling me forward.  From there it was a straight downhill into Times Square.

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Running through there was amazing. I didn’t even think about how tired I was.  The scenery was amazing.

From there we turned right onto 42nd Street and went towards the water.  The wind kicked up a lot here, so I had to put back on my jacket.  The “fuel stop” was somewhere between mile 7 and 8 here, so I grabbed another gel and pushed on.  The ground was sticky from all the gel packets that had just been thrown down.  Blech.

We hit the West Side Highway and looped around a bit before heading south.  I was still marveling at how good I was feeling here. This was where I hit the wall on my twelve mile run two weeks ago, but I felt OK.  Lots of people were starting to walk around me, and it felt good to pass them.

I should have taken more photos on this stretch.  I was insane to be running down here, with no cars at all.

15K Split:  1:55:05

Finally we could start to see the World Trade Center looming up ahead.  It was beautiful, and as we ran it got bigger and bigger.

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After Mile 9 I could feel myself starting to wane again.  I took another gel and kept taking Gatorade at the fluid stations.  I high fived and cheered every photog I could see, trying to keep moving forward.  I didn’t feel bad like I did at my first half at this point, but I was definitely starting to feel tired.  I ran more than I walked through Mile 10 and Mile 11, which brought us down near the tip of Manhattan.

It was around Mile 11 that I realized it was almost over and I still wasn’t feeling that wrecked feeling I had at my first half.  I knew I could still run more than I needed to walk, and passed even more people.  At Mile 12 we hit the Battery Park Tunnel.  I couldn’t believe we were going to run through it!  I took a few walk breaks but knew we’d hit an uphill at the end, so I wanted to keep moving.  We hit the 20K split inside the tunnel.

20K Split:  2:35:00

I knew 20K was 12.4 miles so there was not that much to go.  I broke into a grin again as we left the tunnel, trudging up the overpass to get on the other side.  The view was incredible.  A sign on my left said 800 meters to go….less than a kilometer.  I ran/walked until I saw the 400 meters to go sign and jogged a little faster.

Finally we hit the 13 mile marker as we turned onto Water Street.  I started to tear up.  I couldn’t believe it was nearly over.  Even though I was tired, I almost wanted to keep going….to see more amazing things, to be a part of this great day, great event.  I had done it.  I didn’t even feel like dying.  I was going to make it.

I turned the final corner and ran towards the finish.  I heard a friend call my name and I gave her a thumbs up.  I crossed the finish line at 2:43:37, four minutes faster than my first half.

I grabbed my medal and the heat blanket (really a piece of thermal foil) and moved out of the chute as fast as I could.  My family was waiting at the end of the chute and I was ready to see them.

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What a great race.  My goal had been 2:45 so I beat it.  I felt good throughout, even towards the end.  I was tired but not dead.  After my first half I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to race that distance again, but after this one I would love to do it again.  It wasn’t as hard as the first (of course the course and weather were better).  I didn’t train as well for this one but still made it through.

I’m thrilled with the outcome.  I’m so grateful to have been able to do it.

Here are some photos from New York Road Runners from the race, so much better than the photos I took on my phone.  They really give you a sense of the awe and wonder of this event.