Monday, December 20, 2010

If Nothing Else…

As the year comes to it’s chilly conclusion, I find myself in the throes of introspection. Fairly typical, I’m sure. But I’ve never been one to engage in New Years shenanigans. I’m not really one for resolutions. I despise the pressure of finding somewhere fabulous to be, with fabulous people, a fabulous outfit and fabulous cocktails. I’d much rather sit at home in my pajamas, watch the Twilight Zone marathon and sip some single malt scotch, curled up with my husband and maybe a few close friends. To me, that is pretty friggin fabulous. This year, though, the navel-gazing is pretty prominent.

This year will forever be the year I view through a lens of loss. I accomplished a lot this year. I started the new career I’ve been working towards for years. I’m closer to finishing grad school. I ran my first marathon and did pretty well at it. I made lots of amazing new friends. With all that to look back on, I can’t help but feel a little bit sad and angry that I’m looking at it and saying to myself, “Look at all I did, in spite of…”

My perception is my own, and it’s up to me to change it, if I wish. But for now, it is what it is. And as my calendar begins to come into focus for 2011, there is so much more I want to accomplish. Maybe the way I’ve been looking at things isn’t the best. Maybe, for 2011 I will be able to say of myself not that I did things in spite of loss or sadness or anything – maybe I will be able to say I accomplished things because I could. Because I was determined enough. Because I was capable. I overcame obstacles. Because they were there.

Awhile back, I read that when mountaineer George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Everest, he replied, “Because it’s there.”

When I was planning a post-marathon tattoo, I had that quote in mind. I wrote to my friend, Scarlet, and she made a design for me. “26.2 Because it was there.” We face challenges because we have to. We overcome them. We move on. We grow.

At the end of it all, I would like to look back on this year and say, if nothing else, I learned that I am stronger than I thought.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I like pie.

Ya know, it ain't all about running. Ya need FUEL for that running! My fuel of preference, especially around this time of year is PIE. I love pie. Pie pie pie. In mah belly. I love pie.

Awhile back, my bestie Lauren & I developed a bit of a pie obsession. When we had exhausted ourselves, searching various diners in various boroughs of New York City for the best slice of pie we could find, we decided to create our own. And so was born Lauren & Sharon's Apple-Cranberry-Blueberry Pie.

1 cup + 1 tbs sugar
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 cup blueberries
1 cup cranberries
3 large apples (peeled, cored & sliced into thin chunks)
2 tbs all purpose flour
1 tsp lemon juice
2 pie crusts (store bought is okay)
2 tbs butter
1 tsp milk
1/2 tsp + pinch ground cinnamon

1. Stir 1/2 cup of sugar and cranberry juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add berries and simmer. Reduce heat; simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring often about 25-30 minutes.

2. In the meantime, toss apples, flour, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon & 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl and mix ingredients together.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Put pie crust in bottom of a 9'' glass pie dish. Spread cranberry/blueberry mixture over crust bottom. Top with the apple mixture, and dot with butter. Put 2nd pie disk on top. Trim overhang to 1''. Press and crimp edges to seal. Cut 1'' hole in center. Brush crust with milk. Mix remaining 1 tbs sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl & sprinkle over crust.

4. Bake 15 minutes; reduce temperature to 375°F and bake until crust is golden, about 20-30 more minutes.

5. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Eat the shit outta that pie.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


... for the time I had with those who've gone and every second I have with those that are still here.
... for the people that inspire me every day.
... for the ability to put one foot in front of the other, as fast as I can or as slow as I want. I will never take this for granted.
... for the people who believe in me.
... for the people who doubt me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Final Thoughts

For the first few days after the marathon, I alternated between a huge grin and tears of gratitude. I can't get over how much fun I had and how much this whole experience has meant to me. The proof is in the picture, though, and clearly I was having the time of my life.

As for the metrics, I did sit down and analyze my 5k splits. Overall, I was fairly consistent except for that last 10k. The wheels came off a little bit there. I had anticipated that. I KNEW I started out too fast, but I was just having too much fun and felt too good to slow down. Honestly, I wouldn't have done anything differently.

That being said, I seem to have come down with marathonitis. I've registered for my second marathon which is just three months away. My goal for that will be to keep a consistent pace. A little faster, a little slower, whatever. Just keep it as steady as I can. So, look out Austin, Texas!

I've got myself some new shoes and a new goal. Let's lace up.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I am a Marathon Runner

After the Friday night pasta pow-wow with Josh, after the 2 mile shake-out run to the finish line Saturday morning, after the brunch with so many of my lovely runner friends, new and old, after watching Rocky training montages countless times, getting up incredibly early, after putting on four layers of throw-away clothing and heading down to the Staten Island Ferry with Joe, I found myself sitting alone at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. So. This is it, I thought. I've done all the work. And here I am. I didn't talk to anyone else. I just looked around at all the other runners. All of us had worked so hard to just to get here. All of us came here with different purposes, different goals. I hoped we would all achieve them.

When I lined up in my corral for the 2nd wave of runners, I heard the cannon go off, signaling the start of the 1st wave. From where I was, below the bridge, I could see the first runners take off, and my eyes welled up with pride and awe for all of them. For all of us. We made it this far.

And then it was my turn. It took about 8 minutes from the time the 2nd cannon fired until I crossed the start. I did a little gazelle leap over the starting line and yelled "Thank you!" for my friends. And then... I was running the fucking NYC Marathon! Oddly, in those first few miles I felt a little lonely. With all those people around me, I really wished I was running this along side all the people who've become so dear to me during these last few months. As we got a little further into Brooklyn, and the crowds of people cheering started to become 3 or 4 deep along the sides of the street, I patted my waist pack. There was a picture of my mother in there. A smile spread across my face. I realized that I was running this with everyone I wanted there with me, whether they were at my side or not. I was running this with them, for them, and because of them. Over the next 23 miles, that became my mantra. With them, for them, because of them.

A few more miles in, along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn I realized that I was absolutely having the time of my life. I'm not sure I could have been happier. I was absolutely cruising and loving every second of it. I had my name on my shirt and was smiling so hard at the many various accented versions of my name that people were yelling out in support. "GO CHAY-RONE, GO CHAY-RONE!" and in Hasidic Williamsburg, "GO SHEH-RUN!"

As I approached the Kosciuszko Bridge, I was already more than halfway there. I hit the halfway mark at 1:51:19. When I talked to Josh on Friday, I was full of doubt. I didn't know what time I was aiming for, realistically, and I didn't know what I was capable of. He told me, "You can do it in 3:50." At that halfway mark, I knew he was right. I COULD hit that time. And goddammit, I was going to! As I cruised along, I heard someone yelling my name frantically. I looked over my shoulder just in time to see Tavia waving and jumping up and down. I yelled back at her and waved. Just a little bit up ahead at mile 14, I saw Josh and his BRIGHT RED ARM SLEEVES. He ran with me for a bit, giving me some advice, asking how I felt. I'm pretty sure the only thing I could say back was "I FUCKING LOVE THIS!"

Just before turning onto the Queensboro Bridge, I saw my friend Karen with a great "GO SHARON PAIGE!" sign. And as I ran over the bridge, as I'd done dozens of times before when I used to live in Queens, it was eerily quiet. Having been bombarded by all the cheering for so long, this stretch allowed me to go into my own thoughts again. I thought of my other friends who were out there running this same course with me. With them. For them. Because of them. I turned onto 1st Avenue and into an absolute cacophany of screaming. I'd been told about the crowds at this point in the race, but I couldn't believe my eyes or ears. Thanks to her great big orange sign which read "GO SHARON, KEEP RUNNING, YA BUM!" I saw my friend Leigh in the crowd.

I cruised up 1st Avenue, and into the Bronx. When I saw the 20 mile marker, I thought back to this time last year as I stood at that exact spot for hours, cheering on strangers and waiting for my friends to come by. I thought about how strong and happy they looked. I hoped I was looking half as powerful as they did last year. I was still feeling pretty good as I crossed the Madison Avenue Bridge into Manhattan, but I knew I was losing a little bit of steam. I saw Josh again and he asked me how I was feeling. "Tired!" I replied. "That's not allowed," he told me. I smiled and nodded, and kept on moving. Just past mile 23, I saw Allen, who threw his hand out for a high 5 and yelled that I was still looking good. It was just the boost I needed, but I was definitely tiring out quickly at this point. I knew I'd see my friend Sam at mile 24, so I told myself, just get to Sam. Just get to Sam.

I entered Central Park, the place where I've run hundreds of times at this point. The place where most of this hard work was done. The place where so many friendships have been strengthened by thousands of footsteps. Just the week before, I ran this exact route with Maura, and we had talked the whole run about the gamut of emotions that we were both dealing with throughout the training and what we were anticipating at the finish. I thought about the morning before, running with Josh and his JDRF team, and seeing the finish. I was overwhelmed then, and the tears started to flow. I thought about all the people out there cheering for me. The strangers, the friends, all of them. I thought about the one person I wanted to be there cheering for me, more than any other. I thought about how much I missed her and how proud she would be.

Just past mile 24 I saw Sam and Erica. Erica jumped up and down and yelled "There's Sharon, There's Sharon!" and Sam just screamed. I screamed back and waved my arms, which I'm pretty sure used up the absolute last of my extra energy. I thought at that moment, "I'd really like to be done running now." The Wall. The knee that been hurting me a few weeks earlier flared up then. I was tired and hurting. I just wanted to be DONE. The only solution to that, though, was to finish as fast as I could. I could doubt myself as long as I wanted, and complain as loud as I could, as long as my legs just kept moving. So that's what they did. The distance between me and the finish line became measurable in fractions of a mile. With them. For them. Because of them. Over and over. The finish line was in sight now, and I looked up into the stands for Jeremy, my dad and my brother. I couldn't find them, but I just had to keep moving. I knew they were there. Just before the finish.

I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. 3:50:27. Quietly, I said "Mommy, I did it."

I did not cry then, as I thought I would. I did not feel overwhelmed, as I was sure I would have. Instead, I felt completely satisfied and full of gratitude. I did it. I was a marathon runner.

After a long, slow, painful walk to collect my bags, I found Jeremy, my dad and my brother along Central Park West. We took a bunch of pictures with my finisher's medal, and I hobbled slowly towards my dad's car. They all told me how proud they were, and I just smiled. I was pretty proud, too.

After the most magical shower ever, I threw on some jeans and a pretty shirt and my medal and headed out with Jeremy to meet up with Josh, Erika and Baker for a celebratory drink. Over a glass of whiskey (WHICH I MISSED SO MUCH), I told Josh how my friend Mark had tweeted that my blog title was a liar by 25 minues. I said, as a joke, "Maybe I should change it to '52 Weeks to B.Q.'" "Yeah," Josh said, "But you'd be selling yourself short."

So. There it is. The next challenge.

I'm up for it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thank you

Sunrise doesn't last all morning,
a cloudburst doesn't last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
But it's not always going to be this grey --George Harrison, All Things Must Pass

When I first decided to run this marathon, I knew I wanted to “test my mettle,” as they say. I could never have anticipated just how much of a test that goal was to become.

Tomorrow marks six months since my mother died. Some moments, it feels like eons ago, or someone else’s life entirely. But most times, it feels like I just spoke to her yesterday. Sometimes, I am just overwhelmed by the crush of sadness. Sometimes, I want to scream at her in anger. Some mornings, I wake up so sad, having had yet another dream where I see her but can’t talk to her, and I don’t even want to get out of bed. I just want to stay there, sink further and further into the comfort of my bed with Jeremy and cry until I can’t anymore.

A few days after the funeral, I was struggling to bring myself to do anything. I hadn’t been eating, or sleeping and I felt like I just couldn’t face the day. I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was call my mom and tell her some mundane detail about some mundane workday, or talk about the baseball season that had just started, anything. All I wanted was to tell her I loved her.

Instead, I got out of bed and went for a run.

And just like I couldn’t have anticipated the test I was about to endure, I couldn’t possibly have anticipated the extent to which running became my means of coping.

It was right around that time that I first emailed Josh to ask if he would be my coach for the marathon. I had made promises to myself and I didn’t want to give those up, but I was afraid that I couldn’t do it on my own. I knew I needed to be accountable to someone if I was going to get through training and be able to hold my head up and see this through to the end. I told Josh how I was feeling like some days it was just too much for me to handle. He was receptive and sensitive to what I was going through. He encouraged me when I needed it, which was pretty frequently. As soon as I was able to, I joined the Tuesday/Thursday Night Torture Group (Josh’s speedwork group). The first time I ran with the group was the hardest I had run in weeks. And when I got home that night, I had a smile on my face for what felt like the first time in ages. I almost felt like myself again.

Over the next weeks, I got to know more members of the group. I felt, in those first few miserable days after she died, that I was at my best when I was around other people. And here, I’d found myself with a group of people dedicated to bringing out the best in themselves and cheering each other on every step of the way. I needed that support. I needed that encouragement. Whether they knew it or not, they were helping me through the hardest time of my life.

There were, and still are, many many moments and days where I’m overwhelmed. But the more I ran, the more I felt that I was putting distance between me and my sadness. The more I ran, the more amazing friendships I formed with the other runners I had met. The more miles I ran, the more I remembered who I was and what I wanted for myself. The more I ran, the more I discovered strength I never knew I had. The more I ran, the more I realized that though my mom was gone, I was still here, and that my life was full of amazingly supportive, loving and giving people and how lucky I was to have each and every one of them. There are many who were a part of my life before I lost my mom, and many who’ve come to my life since then. I will never be able to properly express my gratitude to them all.

For all the phone calls, hugs, smiles, laughs, and shoulders to cry on. For the miles run, and the adventures planned. For the memories shared, and the ones we’ve yet to make. For cheering me on. For being my friends, when I needed you the most.

I had said awhile back that I didn’t want to ascribe any meaning to my marathon that it didn’t need to have. But I was wrong. With just over a week to go, I realize now that when I cross that finish line, the first words I say will be, “Mommy, I did it.” But when I cross the starting line, I will say, “Thank you.” For my friends. I would never have gotten to the start without you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Case of the Exploding Knee

My ITB issues continued through most of last week. It never felt terrible, but I could feel tightness in my knee right at the points where the ITB connects. By Thursday, I felt good enough to run, so i joined Josh and Matt for a fun, rainy tempo run in Central Park. My knee felt a little tight the whole time, but never so bad that I felt I needed to stop, or like I couldn't just work through it.

When I woke up Friday morning, it was pretty sore. Just tight and stiff and altogether not right. I had a 20+ miler scheduled for the next day, but I just figured that as I walked around throughout the day, it would loosen up. On my hilly walk to work, my knee was just not cooperating. After work, I was heading to my cousin's apartment in Manhattan, and as I walked up the stairs to the subway, all of a sudden, like running into a giant blinking neon cosmic billboard, I was in excruciating pain.

Without hyperbole, I thought my knee was going to explode. I literally stopped in my tracks, on the subway stairs, gasping for air and clutching my knee. People stopped to ask if I was alright and I just waved them on, unable to speak through the silent screaming. Rather stupidly, I pulled myself up the rest of the stairs and got onto the next train. When I got to my cousin's apartment, I could barely walk and fell through her apartment door begging her for an icepack. When she put the icepack on my knee, the pain was again horrific. Even just touching my knee caused more pathetic silent screaming. I sent Josh a couple of frantic "ZOMG MY KNEE IS EXPLODING HAAAALP!" text messages, and he called me back a few minutes later to talk me off the ledge.

When I could walk again, I left my cousin's and met Jeremy for a movie (FYI, Red is awesome. Go see it). When we left the theater, my knee felt okay. Sore, but okay.

And...when I woke up Saturday morning, it was like nothing had ever happened. My knee was fine. No pain WHATSOEVER. I went to see Erika perform in an opera and had nibbles and drinks with her and Baker afterwards, and nothing. Not a glimmer of an owwie. As I ran errands during the day, I walked up and down some hills, flights of stairs, in and out of subways and buses. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

I'm still taking a few days of rest, just a precaution but am very perplexed as to The Mysterious Case of the Exploding Knee. I'm hoping that whatever was wrong is now right and when I go for a run on Tuesday, nothing else will explode. Fingers crossed that I don't spontaneously combust.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The View is Good From Here...

For the past month, things have been going well. I've started a new career, been running again, and making progress I am really proud of. The plantar fasciitis hasn't bothered me. I've become faster and stronger than I thought I would. I ran my first 20+ mile run, and finished smiling. Yesterday, at the Staten Island Half Marathon, I set an 8 minute PR. I've hit a small bump in the road. My ITB is giving me a bit of trouble and I'm not happy about it. But, remarkably, I'm not freaking out. WIth less than 4 weeks to go until the marathon, I know I've put in the work. Yesterday, I proved that to myself. I ran hard, but comfortably the whole time, and exceeded my own expectations. I've been icing, Adviling, foam rolling and scheduled a massage for myself later in the day. I'm taking care of it. If I have to take a few days off, or even a week to make sure I'm recovered, I know it won't be the end of the world. I'm pretty positive, at this point, that I can achieve my goal at the marathon. Which, coming from me, with my black belt in the neurotic arts is a pretty big statement to make.

I've worked hard. I'll get to where I want to be.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On the mend

Though I may think I am sometimes, the truth of the matter is that I am not a superhero. I am tough. I am determined. I am stubborn as fuck. But I do not possess superhuman abilities. So, when I get hurt, I have to deal with it.

The plantar fasciitis in my foot didn't get better. It didn't get worse, but it didn't get better. So, I didn't run for 2 1/2 weeks. I started physical therapy and have been doing all the little runner tricks for healing from PF. There has been an improvement. I was able to go for 5 short runs last week, all at a decent pace and with minimal discomfort. I'm still not 100% and I'm doing my best to be honest with myself about how much I can do. But with 74 days until the marathon, I can't say I'm not freaking out a little.

I am not a superhero. But I do have mad ninja skills in the neurotic arts.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bump in the road

I have not run in a week. And, following doctor's orders, I will not run for one more week. I have a mild case of plantar fasciitis, aggravated by my celebratory 30k. So be it. I'm not happy about it. But it is what it is, and I'll deal with it the best I can. I've started some aggressive physical therapy and in the meantime, I'll bike and stretch and do my strengthening exercises.

Normally, I'm a very positive and optimistic person, but when my apple cart has been upset, and things deviate from my plans I have a hard time seeing the glass as half-full. It's half-empty. And chipped. And I cut my lip on it. And then I dropped it. And cut my hand trying to clean it up. Now, I'm wet and bleeding and I have no water.

Having said that, I know, of course that this IS just a bump. A temporary set-back, and it's better to deal with this now than two months down the road. The logical part of my brain knows all this. It just seems to function better when I'm actually able to run.

But oh well. It is what it is. Suck it up, Paige! Rocky didn't cry (except when he won!).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's My Party and I'll Run if I Want To

Tomorrow is a big milestone for me. It will be my 30th birthday. Like all big occassions and events these days, it is bittersweet. Smiles and sadness in seemingly equal measures. I continue to marvel at the fact that I've managed to continually surround myself with amazing, loving and supportive people in my life. For that reason, I have so much to celebrate. So, that is what I choose to do.

My plan for my 30th birthday to was run my age. 30k (18.6 miles). It seemed like a fun thing to do, and bonus points for an early marathon-training long run! Since my birthday falls on a Wednesday, though, and the Queens Half-Marathon was this past Saturday, just four days shy of my birthday, I thought it would be fun to kill two birds with one stone, run the half-marathon and then just tack on another 5.5 miles to hit 30K.

On race morning, when I woke up, it was already 83 degrees. I slathered on the sunscreen, got myself together, and woke Jeremy up for some pre-race kisses. He smiled up at me and in his best Adrian-to-Rocky told me, "Win!" I smiled back, "I will!"

After an adventurous cab ride through the uncharted regions of the Bronx, I finally made it to race, where I met up with a few Twitter friends at the start. Amy, Maria, TK, Mary and I started together but after a mile or so, I kind of zoned out, put on my headphones (still feeding my ears a fairly steady diet of Faith No More) and just ran comfortably. It was definitely disgustingly hot and I was really feeling it by the 3rd mile. I made sure to stop at every aid station, sip some Gatorade and water, and dump a cup of water on my head. And wouldn't you know it, by mile 8 or so, I felt like I was cruising. I knew I had a lot more running ahead of me that day and I felt great. Just past mile 9, I saw Erika's bright yellow socks up ahead. I sped up to catch up to her and ran with her for a bit.

I kept running and as I kept running I got more and more excited for the rest of the day, to complete my 30K and then head out for beer and nachos with friends. When I crossed the finish line (2:02:54, 2nd best HM), I was all smiles.

On the subway ride back to Manhattan, I met up with Erika again, and Baker who told me they'd join me later for beer and nachos. I got to Central Park and headed out for a solo 5.5, still smiling. It was hot, I was tired, but I didn't care. This was my celebration, just for me.

Later, over a few beers, several plates of nachos, tater tots, some cupcakes and about 74 glasses of water and lots and lots of laughs, I looked around the table at my friends, new and old, and family that joined me (and did not complain about the fact that I probably smelled like a hockey player's gym bag) for my crazy little party and realized that I am really very, very lucky.

In spite of the sadness of the last three months, I have so much to celebrate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Batwings: A Memoir

Janeane Garofalo once famously opined that there are two types of women in the world -- those with visible biceps, and those with matronly upper arms. So true, Janeane, so true.

When I was a little girl, I was a gymnast and definitely had the visible biceps. I could lift myself to a handstand from a fully seated position on the balance beam and held the second place record for rope climb in gym class (insert Wayne's World reference here). However, as I succumbed to angsty teenage malaise and suburban drudgery I gave up all athletic endeavors for the less physically demanding hobbies of dyeing my hair odd colors, brooding and writing bad poetry. And that was when I developed the Batwings -- the jiggly flesh where my triceps once had been.

These days, when my fitness is on my mind and I've begun to really test the limits of my discipline, I mourn the loss of my visible biceps. Whenever I watch Terminator 2 (which I do from time to time, because it's AWESOME), I stare in slack-jawed envy at Linda Hamilton's amazing upper body strength.


But before I tip my bed over and start doing chin-ups, maybe I should take a more sensible approach to reclaiming my upper body strength. Just have some discipline. If I can make myself run and train the way I have been lately, why I am so lazy when it comes to other things? Why can't I wake up and do some push-ups or lift the weights that have been collecting dust in my living room? In my commitment to running why can't I have an addendum with just an overall commitment to my strength? It's all towards the same goal in the end, right?

I want Sarah Connor arms, dammit. I want my visible biceps back!

"Hello, Dr. Silberman... How's the knee?"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Correcting my Form

When I first started running with Speedy Sasquatch & crew a few weeks ago, one of the first things Josh pointed out to me was the length of my strides. He and I were pretty evenly matched. He, of course, lives up to his moniker and is of rather sasquatchian height. I am practically pocket-sized. My form looked something like this:

No bueno.

I've worked on correcting my form over the last few weeks so that it resemebles something more like this:

Much better! I could definitely feel the difference, in that I was just moving more efficiently. During my 10k race on Saturday, I was running along, doing pretty well, fairly pleased with my pace when I felt a bit of a twinge in my right hamstring. It wasn't too bad, so I powered through and finished the race with a new PR to show for it. I rested on Sunday and ran a bit on Monday and felt the twingey-ness again. Last night, at our Tuesday speed workout, the hammy was BARKING. I did our first mile repeat and felt okay, but definitely tight. By the second one, my left quad had declared mutiny and was clearly trying to undo me. I stretched after each repeat, and finished up the workout, feeling sore but fantastic.

This morning however, I feel sort of like this:

I'm hoping that a day of rest, Aleve and stretching will patch me up just fine. In the meantime, I'll just be sitting here, obviously very busy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Because it was there...

I run because not too long ago, I could barely do this at all.

I run for the joy of knowing I did better than last time, and the hope that I'll do better next time.

I run because every step I take grants me perspective.

I run because it has made me a better person. It has provided me with an outlet and focus I didn't know I was capable of. Each little goal leads to a greater accomplishment, each little failure can be overcome. It has taught me patience and determination. It has helped me balance my emotions and my actions. It has made me ask, "What are you capable of?" and while I may never fully be able to answer, I know that I will never stop asking.

I run because, sometimes, "Get out of bed and run," is the most I can ask of myself. And because sometimes, it's easy. And because I love it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The beginning

A triumphant start to marathon training!

I began yesterday...with a rest day.

Having run 11 miles in 90+ degree heat on Sunday, yesterday was a designated rest day. So, rest I did (and then I went to an outdoor Faith No More concert, during which I jumped around, screamed and sweat a lot. Restful? Perhaps not. Awesome? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely).

Today, there will be speed work with Speedy Sasquatch . It's expected to be about 100 degrees. My training schedule for the week has been posted, and I'm really excited to start, and a wee bit nervous. This weekend I have a 10k race, and I'm going to race it's face off. I hope, at least. We'll see.

But, here's to beginnings!
::raises giant bottle of ice water::

Monday, June 28, 2010

And then, I took a step...

I really wrestled with that last post. I didn't know what to say, how much to share, how much to keep to myself. I didn't know whether I should write it at all. Before I hit "publish" I called my brother and asked if he was okay with me posting this.

Ultimately, I decided, I just wanted to be honest. Before my mom died, I had planned to get back to blogging and training and blogging about training, and all the peaks, valleys, pitfalls and discoveries that happen along the way. I have never been through anything as utterly life-changing as this, and it has impacted absolutely everything about me and my plans. I couldn't write about the next months of training and hard work without writing about my mom and how much her sudden absence has effected every aspect of my life. For the most part, "normal" every day activities have resumed. But, really there is no going back to normal after something like this. There is only ache, adjustment, and discovery of what the New Normal means in your life, and learning to live according to that.

It's not yet been two months. Some days, I just don't want to do much of anything. I'm trying to be honest with myself about what I need, without being indulgent, but sometimes I just want to be indulgent, too.

But, still, there is lots to be done. My official marathon training starts in one week, on July 5th and I'll be coached by Josh, aka Speedy Sasquatch. I'm excited and anxious. I have a lot of work to do.

I'm trying not to ascribe meaning to my marathon training and the marathon itself, unnecessarily. But it destroys me to know she won't be there for me at the finish, to tell me how proud she is.

Really, though, as I think about it and organize my thoughts as best I can, I don't think that my planning to run the marathon really had anything to do with anything other than proving to myself that I could do it and do it reasonably well. My mother always was proud of me when I did my best. So, maybe that is the meaning I can ascribe to this now, if it will help me get through those days when Ijustdon'twanna. That this is for me. That this is me doing my best and she would have been proud of that.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And then, I fell apart...

I had told myself that once I got through the semester, once I wrapped up final exams and papers and projects, I would be able to focus more throughly on running and blogging. I wasn't happy with myself for slacking off on those things, while trying to manage work and school. I was excited to kick things into high gear, as I built up mileage and strength in preparation for my marathon training.

And then, on April 29th, my mother died.

I called home that morning. She answered the phone, but I could tell something was very wrong. She seemed confused and wasn't making a lot of sense. I told her to put my father on the phone. He told me that he wanted to get her to a hospital, but she didn't want to go. I hung up with my father and called my brother at work. "I think you'd better go home," I told him. I called a car service to take me to Jersey. I called Jeremy and told him I was going to my parent's house and that we were going to take my mother to the hospital. He told me to keep him posted.

When the car service pulled up outside my apartment, I was barely keeping it together. There wasn't any traffic on the 25 minute drive, but it seemed to be taking hours.

The car stopped in front of the house. As I paid the driver, my brother walked up. We walked into the house together, into the kitchen. My father was there. He put his hands up to stop us from going any further.

"She's gone." He said.

Police and EMT's arrived. It was too late. I started making a mental list of all the things that would now never happen.

She would never see my children.
She would never laugh at one of our stupid jokes again.
She would never sing Beatles songs with me again.
She would never call me after a race, to ask me if I still had all my toenails.
She would never call just to say hello.
She would never celebrate another birthday or holiday.
She would never tell me she loved me again.

The next hours and days are a blur of phone calls, emails, planning... I don't remember much.

I didn't eat or sleep. I had never been so sad or so angry. Nothing seemed real.

Jeremy and my friends rallied around me. In spite of the incredible sadness, I felt incredibly loved.

Somehow, I got through the funeral. I got through the days that followed. I'm pretty sure I even laughed a few times.

I got out of bed every day. I cried when I wanted to. I reached out to whoever would listen. I made myself meals. I did school work. I watched movies. I laced up my sneakers and went for a run. I got through each day, as it came along. I put one foot in front of the other. Every day. The best I could.

The sadness and the anger and the incredible feeling of loss are with me. Every day. But I am beginning to feel a little bit more like myself. I am beginning to laugh with my whole heart again.

While the pain of her absence is immense, so is the joy of all the good memories I have. Every day, I go on with my life and my plans. She won't be there. But I have to do the best I can. For her. And for me.

Monday, March 1, 2010

In which I blog about you...

Since I started running, I have loved the fact that it is "me time." I put on my headphones, I lace up my sneakers, and it's just me, the road, and my thoughts. I have choreographed elaborate dance routines, written lesson plans, rehearsed conversations, come to conclusions, outrun a bad mood or a slight cold. I have achieved goals that only I knew about and set knew ones.

But, since the world is so plugged in and connected these days (indeed, it seems lately that mine is about an 8'x8' box and every one I know fits inside it and knows every one else), I started getting involved with runners on the interwebs. First, at Livejournal, then on Facebook and Twitter. I've met runners and gone on practice runs for upcoming races we were both doing, raced and then met up for hot toddies on a particularly cold and rainy day, done long runs downtown with new friends for breakfast, or met up after a race for brunch. And when we're together, it seems we don't really talk about running. Sure, it comes up. And there are things you can only talk about with other runners (detailed conversations about blisters and vomiting at mile 10 of a race, for instance). But we talk about movies and books and just silly details about our lives.

This past Sunday, I left the apartment at 6:45 to go to Prospect Park in Brookyn for a 4 mile race. This was a bit scary, as this would be my first time running outside in 2 weeks, since coming down with severe bronchitis and managing only a few death-rattly sounding runs on a treadmill since then. But, as I sat on the train, with my race bib affixed to my pants leg I smiled at other runners as they got on at each stop. We all had the same goal today. Our best.

When the train chugged along in Brooklyn, an older man sat next to me. He said something to me in a thick accent and I had to ask him to repeat himself.

"Ees dees you firs race?" He asked.

"Oh. Oh no, " I replied and told him I'd been running seriously for a few years now.

He asked if I'd ever done a marathon and I told him proudly that this year would be my first one.

Then he told me about the four marathons he's run, including Boston. I was tempted to ask his time, but just told him that that was fantastic instead (really, it is, whatever your time). He hadn't run much the last few years, he said. But he missed it. I told him I'd run a great race for him today, and he smiled as I got off the train and wished me luck.

I didn't run my best ever, but I did the best I could that day, and I did my best for the man on the train. 4 miles in 35:27. Not bad considering the recent illness and the cold.

If I hadn't been wearing my race bib that man and I might have had nothing to talk about. And if I hadn't decided to start running one day, I wouldn't have left the park and made my way to brunch with over a dozen new friends.

I still love my me time.

But I'm always grateful for new friends.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


The bad news is I'm still really congested. The good news is I can breathe through one nostril and didn't feel like crying when I woke up.

That means I'm going for a run on the dreadmill at lunch. No set goal. Just going to take it easy and see how I feel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Old Man Winter

What a jerk. Seriously, Winter, what did I ever do to you? You were my favorite season for years and years. Are you really that angry that I've turned my attentions to Autumn these last few years? Are you really so spiteful that you blanket us with snow repeatedly and give me, not one but TWO, respiratory infections, this latest one complete with glands a-poppin'? Was all the phlegm really necessary? Was the sore throat? The body aches?

Whatever, Winter. Spring is totally gonna kick your ass. You just wait.

(In the meantime, I'll be here... probably not running for another day or two... allworkandnorunningmakeSharongocrazyallworkandnorunningmakeSharongocrazy

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jai Guru De Va Om

Last night, I hiked (courtesy of the D train) to a part of New York City I'd never been before; a part of the city for which my only experience has been viewing Saturday Night Fever and marathons of The Honeymooners. Yes, I I went to Bensonhurst.

Why would I go there, you ask? Well, the answer is fairly simple. Have Beatles, will travel.

Anyone who's known me for more than a minute is very aware of the fact that the Beatles are, and always will be, one of the greatest influences in my life (see what I did there?). I've actually met many of my dearest friends and my husband because of the music of the Beatles. I have traveled across the country for years to attend a convention for Beatles fans. So, when I heard from a colleague at school and Bensonhurst native that there was a yoga class in her neighborhood that was set to the music of the Beatles, clearly I had to check it out.

I went to the instructor, MacKenzie's website and saw that the class I'd be attending was called "Let it Be," and was focused on Restorative Yoga. After the half-marathon and the personal training sessions, I've been quite sore, and have had some stiffness in my hips and have taken it easy with the running, so this sounded like it was EXACTLY what I needed.

I arrived at the exercise studio early and met MacKenzie, who was immediately warm and delightful. I grabbed a mat and sat my creaky muscles down. We began in silence, with some gentle breathing as MacKenzie explained that the class would be a series of gentle poses, held for several minutes and breathing with an emphasis on inward focus and relaxation. Yes, please.

The soundtrack for the evening included Here Comes the Sun, selections from Cirque du Soleil's Love show, an early recording of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, Hey Jude, Across the Universe and many other wonderful songs. As we concluded the class, MacKenzie reminded us that the Beatles said it best when they said, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." And then we held our final pose for the evening, listening to John Lennon's Imagine. It was really a lovely experience, one for which my achey muscles and joints were incredibly grateful. The joy was only deepened by the experience of listening to such wonderful music, which has meant so much to me for so many years, and has brought so many wonderful people into my life as a result.

My biggest failing as a runner is my tendency to be undisciplined when it comes to nourishing the inner aspect of my running. Not nutritionally, I mean, I'm pretty good about that. But I mean just taking CARE of myself, stretching, remembering to breathe during the day, strengthening myself. More often than not, I forget that simply running isn't enough to make myself the best runner I can be. I get so caught up in going forward, faster and faster, that it can be really easy to forget to just be where I am sometimes. To... you know... Let it Be.

MacKenzie's class reminded me of that. And for everything else that it offered me, and for how wonderful I felt when I left, I'm really very grateful.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Too late for me! I have the muscle fever! Can't! Go! On!

Ow. Mostly just ow. And also, ow.

Yesterday, I had my second (of two) sessions with a personal trainer at my new gym. I love my new gym. It is clean and organized, the staff is friendly and helpful, and it is beautifully free of hairballs in the shower, rat traps in the bathroom and bugs in the locker room (all things my old gym had lots of). My trainer, Yesenia, was really excited to work with me. When she asked me what my goals were I said, "The New York City Marathon in 4:15." Her eyes lit up.

We spent most of the first session doing an evaluation of where I'm at fitness-wise. The second session, though... daaaaaaaaayum.

The leg strengthening exercises started out fine, but then we got to deadlifts.


It felt fine at the time. Absolutely fine. But today, my hamstrings are screaming. Actually, literally screaming. They have grown mouths and are screaming. And I refust to type what it is they are screaming at me. I'm thinking of the children.

Then, we started a killer ab workout, in the hopes that I will develop an ab. I did planks, with my arms on a balance board, and I held it for 2 minutes.

Sure, my whole body was falling victim to the Shake of Truth, but I was fiiiine!

And then we did burpees. It sounds funny. It is not. It is not funny at all. It is the stuff of nightmares.

During my third set of burpees, Yesenia said, "I know you're tired, and I know you want to quit..." I replied (through the panting), "No! I can't quit! I'm too tough to be tired!" She laughed and clapped and I cried and finished my goddam stupid burpees. And then we did more ab stuff.

Today, it kind of hurts to breathe. In a good way. Except not really.

*Note: I know this will all benefit me. And for that, I kind of love it. Even when I hate it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Just chillin'

Wombat, Bonorong Wildlife Park, Tasmania, Australia

Like this here adorable wombat, I've been taking it a bit easy with the physical activity for the past few days. Since the half-marathon (and if I'm being perfectly honest with myself, even a bit before), I've had a bit of tightness and soreness in my hips. It's finally feeling a bit better, and after yesterday's 3.5ish mile run and several miles of walking around New York City with my friend Nico, who is in training to walk the L.A. marathon, I'm doing okay.

Today, I'm having my second meeting with a personal trainer at my new shmancy gym. I suspect that I will not continue paying for the trainer, but in our first session, she showed me some great endurance and strength building exercises that I can begin to incorporate into my regular routine.

I'm really looking forward to getting out and doing some running this weekend.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm Alive. I'm Still Running


Apologies for being a terrible blogger, to the two of you who might still be reading this (Leigh? Lauren?).

Anway, there is lots to report. After my last unofficial 10K, I got utterly mired in final exams/projects, and an apparent case of the plague (I kid), that racked my respiratory system and left me pretty useless, fitness wise, for the second half of December. I did not meet my 100 mile goal for the month.

Likely, I will not meet my 100 mile goal for this month, either.

However, this past Sunday was the Manhattan Half-Marathon. My first race of the new year and the new decade (WEIRD!). I got up at 5:30, and went through my morning race morning ritual. Made sure my timing tag was properly affixed to my shoe, my race bib properly affixed to my pants, layers properly layered, scarf down half a bagel and a banana and tiptoed back into the bedroom to kiss Jeremy goodbye. As he looked at me, sleepily, he whispered, "There's one thing I want you to do for me." "What's that?" I asked. "Win," he said, grinning. Oh, Rocky movies. My endless source of inspiration.

As I made the 20 minute walk from our apartment to the subway, I realized that I had forgotten my Garmin. My fancy new running toy! I had been all excited about running with it for the first time in a race, and now it was too late to turn back and get it. I hmphed my way around the subway platform and waited for the train.

When I approached the start, I was a bit chilled, as it was only 37 degrees but some other runners and I started comparing war stories from last year's Manhattan half, which was, I believe, 12 degrees. I'll take 37 any day, thank you.

Once the race started, I decided that since I was Garmin-less, I was just going to run whatever felt comfortable. My previous PR of 2:08 seemed like a bit of a long-shot, since that was back in May and I hadn't had that stellar a winter in terms of my training. I was expecting to come in around 2:12 and would have been utterly happy with that. I ran and ran, and didn't really pay attention to the clocks at each mile... until I got to mile 4, that is. I knew it had taken me 4 minutes to get to the start, once the clock started, and here I was now, crossing mile 4 at 36 minutes. Take away those 4 minutes from the start and I was running 8 minute miles. Really? REALLY? I'd felt so slow and sluggish lately, and my expectations were so low. I checked in with my body and was delighted to realize that nothing hurt, my breathing felt fine and while I realized that I was working hard, nothing seemed out of control. I started doing intense mathematical calculations, such as adding and subtracting, and realized that if I was able to keep this pace going, not only would I beat my PR, but I had a chance of coming in under 2 hours!

I tried to tell myself that I would just keep it comfortable, though. No need getting all excited now. But I couldn't help it. I ran hard. I ran and ran. And while my brain kept tripping over itself, trying to do more mathematical calculations, my feet just kept running.

At mile 8, I started to feel a blister forming on top of my second toe. I kept running. At mile 9, Night on Bald Mountain came on my iPod, and I started pretending that I was one of those giant monsters from Disney's Fantasia, flying around a mountain (this was both incredibly silly and incredibly helpful when it was time to run up those hills). At mile 10, I could feel that I was slowing down, but everything still felt good. So, I kept running hard.

Finally, the finish line was in sight. I knew I'd slowed down quite a bit. I didn't feel like I had much left in the tank, but I gave it a good ole 400 meter sprint towards the finish. Final time -- 1:56:37.

A 12 minute PR.

Oh... Speedy McDoubterson? Turns out she ran the same race. Now, I don't enjoy running for the competition of it. I'm only competing against myself. But, I must say, it does feel pretty good to be able to say that I finished a full minute ahead of her.

After the race, I called Jeremy and breathlessly told him about my new PR and that I couldn't believe it. He told me what he always tells me when I doubt myself, "Baby, you're tougher than you think."
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