That that don't kill me, can only make me stronger. I need you to hurry up now, cause I can't wait much longer. Kanye West, Stronger

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What this was really about--TNT Milestones and research advances

1988: Bruce Cleland of Westchester County, NY organizes 38 people to run the NYC Marathon while raising money for research to honor his daughter, a leukemia patient. The group (called Team in Training) raises $320,000.

1989: A team of people from LI, Westchester and NJ participate in the NYC marathon.

By 1993 there are 20 chapters.

1996: Race walking is added

1997: The Century Ride is added

1999: The Triathlon is added

2004: The Society and Nike launch the Nike Women's Marathon to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It raises $10 million.

2007: Since TNT's inception, 340,000 people have raised over $800 million to support blood caner research and patient services.

1987: $6.4 million in research grans awarded, cumulative total $50 million
2007: 64.7 million in research grans awarded, cumulative total $550 million

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia:
1987: Five year survival rate was less than 55%
2007: Five year survival rate with high quality of life is 95%

Myeloma:
1987: Survival rate: 12%
2007: Survival rate about 36% (but still so far to go!)

Financial aid provided to patients
1987: 5,500 patients
2007: 16, 958

Family support:
1987: Groups available in 14 chapters with 1,500 patients and family members served
2007: Groups available in 68 chapters with 9,500 patients and family members served

One week later: reflections, confessions, and what the future holds

It is officially one week since the marathon, and recovering was perhaps the most exciting variable of the entire season. I was fairly confident I would finish, but what would happen after I crawled, walked or ran across the line was completely up in the air.

Would I be in unbelievable pain?
Would I ever want to run again? For a lot of the season, the answer was no.
Would I have to wait weeks to exercise again?

Well after running/jogging across the line, I wasn’t in any pain. I was fine. I was more devastated that the TNT season was over than anything else. It has become such a big part of my life and I love my friends! So physically I was fine, emotionally, a bit disturbed.

Around mile 19, I realized I was running a marathon and really enjoying it. The feelings and realization are hard to describe. But I knew I would run another race in the not too distant future--definitely by NYC 2009, maybe 2008 if I can get it.

The first days after the race I was sore. I moved fairly slowly, definitely didn’t do much extra walking, and took to walking backward down the stairs to alleviate the pain my quads felt when going down steps.

On Wednesday I got a massage at Ohm Spa. It was fabulous, and, like magic, on Thursday, I had zero pain and did a mini workout. Today I am 100% recovered I have done a few workout videos and a decent amount of walking, and feel totally ready to workout normally and run again. I am looking forward to enjoying my old favorite workouts, spinning, dance classes and Pilates for a while, before jumping backing into training.

Now for the confessions

I did not run as much as I should have during training. I never got to the point where I enjoyed running on my own, so many weeks I only ran the Tuesday and Saturday practices and cross-trained the other days.

In hindsight this hindered my performance because I never built up my running speed. During my next training season I will run at least 4 times a week, and do more speed work. My endurance was there, but I should have done more running.

Now that I have accomplished my goal of completing a marathon, I want to work toward a better time, maybe even qualifying for Boston…now there is a feat!

Maybe I will resume this blog when I start training for my next race, or maybe I will drop a line when the relevant occasion arises. In any case, I hope someone finds this helpful.

ANYONE CAN DO IT

You may not think that you could ever run two miles, let alone a marathon. But I am here to tell you, you can! Did you hear that? YOU CAN RUN A MARATHON!

I signed on for TNT mainly because I was a horrendous runner. My initial goal was to actually be able to run 6 miles and think nothing of it. I really just wanted to see if I could actually run a marathon, and I had heard over and over that TNT was marathon training for dummies.

I can’t even tell you how effortless it was. The coaches were amazing, guiding you every step of the way through running, hills, cross training, speed, injury prevention, nutrition, fundraising, having fun, and so much more.

The initial few weeks were the most challenging. My first 8 mile run was far harder than my first 18 mile run.

Having a cause, like the LLS, made all the difference. You could always think of how much of difference you were making and how much harder it must be to struggle with cancer.

Besides the knowledge that I can actually run really far, I made some amazing friends, had some unbelievable moments of clarity and insight into my life goals—not earthshaking, but incredible nonetheless, and I am now committed to the LLS and finding the cure!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Really off --the race!

The race started really well, we ran through the financial district quickly enjoying a bright pink sky. San Francisco is one of the prettiest places you could hope to race, so I felt such a feeling of joy, contentment, and blessing. Once we were out of the downtown area, we had stunning views of the water and the beautiful sunrise.

We were unbelievably lucky to have one of the very rare fogless mornings in the city. Seriously, we were told that Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge would be invisible so early in the morning, but there they were in full view.

The bag check came up before we knew it. At this point I was still running with friends, and we all had to find a portapotty. So right before mile 3 we stopped. Unfortunately the line was not moving at all. I could only imagine what could possibly be occurring in them, if people running a marathon would sacrifice so much time. So in what was not my proudest moment, I decided to pee on the beach. I was a good distance from the road, so it was relatively private, aside from the long line of racers watching me as they waited for the portapotty.

Then I was off with my friends again, we ran up our first hill in strong, short strides, and as instructed, ran carefully down the hill. At about mile 6 the second hill emerged, and we continued running, slowly and steadily. The hill itself really didn't bother me, I had plenty of practice. It was steep and winding, but there were enough coaches and cheerers to keep my mind off it. Once it was over it leveled out for a bit and I just kept taking in the beautiful scenery. California is so beautiful in that it has big trees and ocean side by side. We were pretty far up hill running along pretty houses.

I really got lucky on race day because I felt amazing from my first stride. It ussually takes miles for me to start enjoying the run or at least tolerating it, but race day was just a totally enjoyable run. I felt no pressure to run fast, although I was not happy that they didn't have clocks at every mile. It really made it hard to judge your pace. Water was also ever other mile, which really isn't enough in warm weather. But I kept on going. I met my coach around mile 6 and he pumped me up for the last hill. I felt like Puff Daddy with a person coach running by my side.


At mile 9 we approached the mile long hill, the final big hill of the race. It was a climb and flatten, climb and flatten kind of hill that made you wonder whether you were at the top or had just begun, but I mounted it and started downhill. The downhill we had been warned about several times. It was steep and windy, which makes it very hard on the knees and quads. Racing downhill to fast guarantees you will have serious soreness problems in the second half of the race. So I did my best to keep the short strides going.

My breath was taken away by the views of the water rushing on to the beach and the perfect pink, purple and blue sky. I often forgot I was even running, but the downhill was actually much harder physically than the uphill. My quads started to get a bit sore, and I was actually hoping for the downhill to end. I swear I am not lying.

I saw another coach at the end of the downhill and she gave me tips to change my stride to relax my quads. A few feet later, I had another coach running by my side, she told me I looked great. I was practically floating at this point. I was around mile 11 when someone shouted my name--first and last. BTW, we write our names on our shirts, so people can cheer for us!
So it was great to run with a friend for a mile or so. She turned off to finish the half (she has the NYC full coming up) and I kept on the full path. The paths were poorly marked, so I actually asked a few people whether I was on the full path, just in case!

We were now entering Golden Gate State Park. It was basically just running through the woods, not too exciting. There was an oxygen bar and socks and pedicures to partake in, but I could imagine my coach killing me if I stopped. So I chugged on eating gels, drinking 2 cups of water at every stop and grabbing Vaseline when needed. It is amazing what you can do while running. Around the I decided to put on my ipod to get a lift and distract myself for a while. I often forgot it was on because I was so busy taking in what was going on around me. At mile 15 there was this awesome nike tunnel tent. I got an incredible rush and started running pretty fast. I kept this up until I saw my coaches at around mile 17, I was told to just keep doing what I was doing, and I would see them at the finish line. I took more nutrition and took a very quick portapotty and stretch break and just kept running. I did a salt shot at mile 18, I forgot to mention we did a team salt shot at the start.

Sometime around here I realized that I was actually running a marathon. It was kind of crazy. But it felt so surreal.
I was now running along Lake Merced it was a nice lake, but very long. There weren't a lot of people cheering and the ground was very slanted, so it was hard on the legs and I kept trying to find the flattest patches of road. The route around the lake stretched on, but at least it had some hills to give my quads a break. I can't believe I actually appreciated hills. My coaches ran with me, gearing me up for the mental battle that would lie ahead in the last few miles. At mile 22 I was pretty bored of running. I was ready to be done, it was getting hot, I couldn't drink enough water if I tried. The salt helps you retain water, but the water stations were over two miles apart.

At mile 23 I was surprised how good I felt physically, I hadn't had to walk much, except a few times to get water or take tylenol. But not more than 10-15 seconds.

The last 3.5 miles are a straight stretch along the water to the finish. By mile 24 I was really dying to see the finish line. At mile 25 I was a bit incoherent. I couldn't distract myself or concentrate on form. Even though the views of the sunlight bouncing off the water was stunning. I turned off my ipod. I started walking quite a bit. I thought I would never see mile 26! And I didn't because mile 26 wasn't marked. I finally saw my coach who ran me in ringing the cow bell madly. It felt great to see the finish. I waved to the TNT team cheering me on. I kept going through the finish line. Proudly claiming my Tiffany's necklace, shirt and bagel.

A lot of emotions were occurring. I was shocked I had finished with little to no pain. I actually had a lot of energy. I picked up all the little things they hand you, luna bars, lip balm, bananas. I went into the TNT tent to check out. I checked out the powder room with towels and facial clothes, lotions and refreshers. I passed the massage tents. I then hiked over to the buses to pick up my stuff. While enjoying the best bagel of my entire life, I headed back to the TNT cheering session.

I cheered teammates on for a while, then I headed back to the buses with my friend. After days of eating lots of food, my stomach was suddenly beckoning for my attention. Thank you for waiting tummy, I appreciate you allowing me to run before raging war.

At the hotel I promptly passed out for an hour, I ate a mini luna bar and took a shower.

I then decided to use my last few hours in SF to walk around and try to find gifts for friends and family. Yup I could still walk.

At 6:00 we headed to the victory party for all 5,000 TNTers. The food was really bad, but whatever. We partied on the dance floor. Songs ranged from the twist to baby got back. the the TNT NYC chapter took the never ending walk to the misbehaving party.

What a way to end the day.

And we're off--almost

So at 2:30, I am wide-awake just dying to get the show on the road. Actually, when I woke up I thought I had already run the race. I was so psyched to be done, then reality set in. So I tried to sleep until 4am when the alarm went off. Then our wake up calls at 4:00 and 4:10, I should know by now that I never sleep when I am a nervous/excited.

So my roomate and I got dressed. I hadn't bought body glide (for anyone who doesn't know, it's basically lubrication to prevent chaffing), so I decided to load up on lotion in the appropriate places. I pinned on my bib. I put on a sweatshirt and a throw away long sleeve tee. We had breakfast at 4:30, we went downstairs to the cash and carry, and shockingly there was NO line. We had to finish eating by 5am, so I couldn't figure out where the hundreds of runners in the hotel could be. So I grabbed a green tea, fruit salad and a banana to go with my granola bar. For the record, it is probably one of the most expensive bananas in the country, $2. I could get 10 in NYC for that. I hope it was organic. So I ate my fruit, letting it digest for a few minutes before eating my granola bar, the .25 little debbie kind that have lots of honey goodness, but no fiber, protien or nutrients to slow digestion.

By the time we left the cash and carry had a huge line. We met our team in the lobby and headed for union square. Finding bag check was tricky. Finally we found it, I handed my bag to window D of school bus 15, so I could have it delivered to the finish area. I put on my garbage bag to stay warm. It was cold, windy and dark at 5:40ish. we went to the bathrooms and headed for the starting line.
(my butt, literally in gear!)
This marathon isn't for super serious runners, so we lined up right behind the elite runners, inches from the starting ribbon. It was crazy. Coincidently, we were right next to Tiffany & Co., our sponsor.

It seemed a little bizarre and self-righteous, but the pace groups were from 6-9 minutes, so it wasn't terribly unrealistic.

By 6:20 we all had to use the bathroom again, but there was no way out, so we had to focus on the energetic woman leading us in an aerobic warm-up/workout. Are squats a good idea before running a marathon? Seriously, the warm up was more intense than the average person's workout at Bally's. It did help time move along.

Finally the elite runners were off. 20 minutes later we were off!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The day before

We all woke up for a 25 minute run the day before the race. Ramon whistled from the second floor balcony to get our attention in the lobby. We got to run through a bit of the city, pretty much taking over the wide side walks, as NYCers like to dominate. Then we went over the race plan again, Ramon detailed every hill, how to prepare, deal with the weather at hand, and basically rock.

We stretched and then had the day to ourselves.

I had lunch with my cousin and got to see the Embarqudero Farmers Market.

At three o├žlock we met for a dedication and singlet decorating ceremony. Very moving. After that we headed to the pasta party to hear speeches of surviors and families. In order to avoid the pasta being served to 8,000 people, we headed up to North Beach to test out Sand Fran's Little Italy. We found a restuarant with los of character and had a relaxing meal, and then headed in early to rest up. We had to be up by 4:30!

So I get back to the hotel, get all my thing in perfect order for the morning. Fill my race ready shorts with nutrition, pack my race bag, take my ibuprofen, prepare my Tylenol and salt packets for the next day, drink gallons of water, schedule the 4 am wake up call, yadda yadda yadda.

At 8:50 there is a lot of noise going on outside our room. I put in ear plugs and try to ignore it. Umm does anyone else have a marathon tomorrow? From the smell of the elevator, I am pretty sure that answer is yes.

So at 9:30, I go into the hall way, expected to find a frat party going on, and there are 50 people from another chapter being exceedingly rude. Umm, please reserve a private space to have your prep party, not the hotel hallways! I know that NYC is way more serious, well-trained and focused than other teams, but this is crazy folks. Feeling like a 50 year old school teacher, I asked them to settle down. 15 minutes later I called hotel security. 5 minutes later...silence!

To be continued.

Leaving on a jet plane

So I arrive at the airport, kind of forgetting that the time the plane takes off it not the time you leave, so when the self-service check in refused to print my boarding pass, personal panic ensued. I managed to convince an attendant to let me jump ahead of all the people in the line to Cancun in order to get through security, on the plane and to my marathon.

The plane ride was fairly average except for the fact that they had no food and it was a six hour flight. whatever. not a peanut or pretzel in sight.

So we arrive and San Fran is sunny and beautiful. Probably the most amazing shopping mecca I have ever encountered. Like every major shopping area in NYC converged in one convenient location--minus the cute independent and designer boutiques. But gorgeous and clean nonetheless. God, I feel like I am cheating on my city.

So we check into a stunning grand Hyatt, just steps away from the race expo and starting line in Union Square. Could I be any luckier? My bed was definitely something to write home about. I just melted into the comforter and the million pillow---too bad I don't use a pillow.

But I only sat down for a second...I had a brand new city to explore, take in and, potentially, fall in love with.

At the expo I got my bib and shoe chip, looked around, found my name on the Niketown wall and walked around for a while.

I chatted with some friends, but the jet lag set in and the rain started coming down. This was a great opportunity to go to Niketown, where the 100 foot line to get in the door disappeared when a the rain started. I bought my horrendously overpriced marathon sweatshirt, claiming my victorious finish prematurely, picked up a book at Borders, grabbed takeout at a sushi bar and headed back to the hotel.

Count down

Preparing the week before the marathon involved a lot of running related activity, but not a whole lot of actual running.

On Tuesday we had our last team practice, a pretty hard forty minute run.

After that we had a light run on Thursday and lots of gentle stretching throughout the week.

Drinking gallons and gallons of water, eating lots of salt--yay, avoiding caffeine and fiber.

But boy did I have a lot to do to get everything together to leave for San Fran on Friday.

I had to make my millionth trip to Jack Rabbit to buy race ready shorts and a few more power gels. I was disappointed they only had spandex (eeek!) race ready shorts. But they uber helpful sales guy convinced me that I could pull them off. I tried them on, and I decided it was really my only choice, I was leaving in one day, so I couldn't order online. Race ready shorts have lots of handy pockets to tuck gels, food, keys, and ipods into.

I also needed some gels, unfortunately they didn't have my fav, double latte powergels, so I had to buy the expresso love gus. This went strictly against the don't try anything new on race day rule, ooops.

I also grabbed some organic clif shot blocks in cran-raspberry--for variety.

I also picked up a three pack of socks.

Then I was off to pick up the essential I love NY tee and Statue of Liberty crown.

So I walked up to 34th and wow I love NY tees only cost $1! What a bargain. I can't believe I bought an I love ny tee or a statue of liberty crown for that matter, but I guess we have to represent our city out there!

As I continued walking I noticed a city sports on 5th, and low and behold they had double latte--let us rejoice!

I hoped on the subway to pack, pack and clean clean before leaving in the morning!

Items needed included: band-aids, travel size toiletries, a garbage bag to stay warm at the race line, shoes x2, socks, ipod--with playlist revised for maximum whoop ass, Tylenol 8 hour, ibuprofen, resealable plastic bag to get past airport security, bag to take to the race, plane tickets, wrist bands, pasta and victory party tickets, singlet, nutrition, visor and sunblock. My bag was actually pretty light.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Why The Nike Marathon is the best marathon ever!

Besides the fact that we get the amazing views of the bay area, we get a ton of fabulous perks.

Jamba Juice-mile .5
coat check-mile 2.5
entertainment--all over the freakin place
Goody hair stuff-mile 3.5
MUSIC-mile 5,6, 9,10, 16, 17,21,22, 23
oxygen bar--mile 6--how frou frou!
luna bars--miles 9 and 21
luna moon--mile 9, 18, 24
photo ops--miles 7.3--smile
bananas--mile 11
ghirardelli chocolate--mile 11.9--good thing we will be burning lots of cals!
nike plus tunnel (massages)--mile 15
bear naked granola--mile 13.5
pedi-care--mile 13.6
TNT cheering stations, 4,6,9,10, 18, 23, 26
Tiffany's Necklace at the finish line!

Post race massages and pedis!
Woo-hoo!

Why the NYC Chapter of TNT is the best one EVER!

Let me count the ways:

We have hands down the best coaches EVER!

We have done more hills in prep for San Fran than any other team in the country

We hail from the best city on the planet

We are the largest team in the Nike Women's marathon. Out of the 15,000 runners, 7,000 will be TNTers. 220 NYC TNTers.

Our chapter has raised over 830,000! The largest amount of any team in philanthrophy history for an endurance event.

We don't crash after the marathon, we keep it going with back to back misbehaving parties!

Enough said.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Long time no blog

I'm back. We have officially started tapering, so runs are getting pretty darn short. As I get more and more excited about the race, San Fran and the misbehaving after party, I can't help but take a minute to send share my thoughts about what happened at the Chicago marathon this year.

If you didn't know it was incredible hot at the marathon in Chicago this year, high 80's and not enough water. So 300 people went to the hospital and they ended up closing the race early. I can imagine working so hard to train for a marathon and then having it end so disappointingly. But fortunately, our coaches have decided to let the Chitown runners keep training for the Philly marathon if they would like to.

I ran the Norwegian half marathon last weekend, and it was so incredibly painful! I didn't correlate it to the heat at the time, but I am praying that was the problem.

So at any rate, I am on strict orders not to workout this week--save for a few 30 minute runs and light stretching. It will be weird, but definitely nice to have an excuse to skip the workout. I feel as though my post-marathon workouts will be pretty intense, as I didn't really get into shape training. Shocking as it may be. Obviously, I have great endurance, but no definition or anything.

So anyways, in leui of working out I have a lot to do to get ready for this marathon:

Buy a I love NY t-shirt and statue of liberty crown to wear to the TNT party. TNT teams around the country get together before the race. NYC is the largest team--over 200, but thousands of people will be at the party and we have to represent.

I also need race ready shorts and perhaps some running tights, as it has been so cold lately. Hello Autumn so glad you decided to join us!

Batteries for my camera--this is not going to go undocumented!