Running

The Race That Broke Me Down: Brooklyn Half 2016

Going into Saturday’s Brooklyn Half I was admittedly, a big old grump.

Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap

Thursday and Friday I didn’t work-out at all – which left me feeling tired and cranky. Add to that the fact that I had to cancel plans to see Missy Higgins in concert with my sister because the logistics just weren’t feasible with a 4:00 a.m. alarm – and I was Miss Sassy.

PRE-RACE

As I’ve done the past three years on the morning of the Brooklyn Half Marathon when my alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. – I swore to myself that I would never sign up for this damn race again.

A missed bus and a taxi later we were settled onto the subway for a 45-minute ride to Brooklyn. At that point I had downed a cup of coffee and was happily eating my peanut butter and banana toast and things were starting to seem a lot less miserable.

Right off the subway we checked our bags and entered our corrals. Bag check closed at 6:10 yet the race didn’t start until 7, so there was lots of waiting around and waiting in the porta-potty lines.  Despite the 27,000 runners, I felt that everywhere I turned there was someone else from November Project to say good morning too and wish good luck.

Luckily, the rain was going to hold off and though I kept a throw away long sleeve on in the corral – the weather was pretty warm which made the hour wait until the start pass pretty pleasantly.

I may have laid on the ground and done some glute bridges. Maybe.

Spoiler Alert: This girl got her PR!

Spoiler Alert: This girl got her PR!

I ditched the long sleeve shirt right before starting and ran in my favorite Saucony shorts with a black Under Armour top and was a perfect temperature the entire time.

FIRST HALF

Melissa and I crossed the starting line at about 7:10 which made mental math pretty easy along the course (a bunch of mile marker clocks weren't working though - double-you-tea-eff?) We were shocked at how spacious the course was even from the very beginning. That was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Ready for this? I was running watch-free. The goal was just “stay comfortable” the whole time. It’s been 1 full year since I ran anywhere near 13.1 miles and I was in no way aiming for any sort of time goal.

I love the first half of the course. There’s a long, steady hill that doesn’t seem too bad since it’s part of an out and back and you can scan the speedy runners ahead of you for friends. Then you go through Prospect Park and it’s green and beautiful with rolling hills and one pretty large hill around mile 5. There’s spectators all along this part of the course with fun signs and even a blowup “Punch Trump" was spotted.

Throughout the park I was successful in “staying comfortable.” I felt really good. I was having fun. I wasn’t stressing. I felt like I was moving pretty quickly (Based on my splits I was actually running a lot slower than I thought, but again, didn’t matter at all).

SECOND HALF

When you head out of the park around mile 8 you find yourself on a big ass, flat, boring highway. The spectators become non-existent. And at least in my experience, there is little to distract yourself from the moment your body starts saying, “Why are we still running?”

This year, for me, that was around mile 9. At mile 8 I was feeling tired so I slowly took a Huma gel. By mile 9, things were starting to hurt. By mile 10, I had a little more energy from the gel kicking in, but the pain was only intensifying.

At this point, I was starting to think that walking to the finish was a viable option. But I’m stubborn, and walking an hour sounded pretty miserable. So I kept going. The pain in my groin got worse and worse but that wasn’t all – it seemed that every part of my upper legs and knees were screaming at me to stop.

It pretty quickly escalated from “Ouch can we stop now?” to “WE HATE YOU.” Hip, knee, IT band, that weird bump on the side of your ankle – none of them were happy.

By mile 11 I could feel my face crumpling in pain. The 8:00 mile pacer passed and when I tried to run with them it seemed as if they were sprinting. I was reduced to a limping jog and it took all of my mental strength to keep myself moving.

Like the previous two years, the end of this race seemed to last forever. I was so happy when Melissa came running by me, knowing that she was going to get her PR! I wanted so badly to run through the finish with her but I just couldn’t move any faster. There were tears in my eyes purely from the pain.

When these race pictures come out – it will probably be pretty obvious how I was feeling as I crossed the finish line.

POST RACE TEARS

I hugged Melissa and pulled over to the side of the boardwalk where I dug my palms into my eyes as the tears started to fall. They started from the pain but then when I stood up and gave Melissa another hug they turned into big, actually crying, emotional, frustrated, sad, emotional tears.

I had been focused on finishing, getting one foot in front of the other, convincing myself that the end was near. It’s hard to do that for an hour.

I was also thinking about how much running means to me, and how frustrating it is that I know I need to stop for a while until I can figure out what’s up with my legs.  

I was angry – not only do I love running but I feel like it’s something that I’m good at – and want to get even better at. I’m willing to work for it but my body just doesn’t want to. It feels like a big betrayal.

I was not disappointed at not PRing or not running a certain time. I knew going into this that I hadn’t trained at all and that it wasn’t going to be a great race. I had hoped to enjoy it though – and for the last 5 miles I certainly didn’t accomplish that goal.

Another NP friend saw my tears and gave me some encouraging words, a hug, and some water and soon the tears dried. The pain went away almost immediately after I stopped running, which was a relief.

Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap

It was overcast and we were on the water and I was instantly freezing. I was informed by the medical tent that there were no heat sheets. I spent the next 4 hours freezing cold. One of my fingers went numb. Even though I changed into all dry clothes! GRR. 

Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap

We got our bags from the bag truck (of course ours had theeeee longest line), and hung out for a bit at the after party. It’s a really awesome set-up. Then we stopped by the beer garden next door to say hello the November Project crew and check in on how everyone's races had gone. 

13.1 miles by 9:00 a.m.

13.1 miles by 9:00 a.m.

A group of us made the long trek back into Manhattan for brunch at Gotan (obviously). We got a beer next door and when I got home I took the hottest shower before passing out in bed for over an hour.

BKLYN5.JPG

The only reason I got out of bed was to have the dinner of half marathon champions – 16 Handles. And lucky for me, I had rewards on my card and only had to spend 84 cents.

So what now?

Lots of swimming, biking, yoga, arms, and GLUTE STRENGTHENING. No running. Scheduling an MRI. Seeing where this goes.

Not really processing it all very well, but it’s obvious after a year of not being able to run 13 miles that something needs to change.

Finish – 1:53:07 // 8:38 pace.

I think a trip to Denver for a week will be a great distraction - I leave this morning to visit my best friend from high school and I cannot wait :)

Leave any Denver/Boulder/Colorado Springs suggestions in the comments please & thank you!!!!

Gridiron 4 Miler and Washington Heights 5K

Today is that first day of the season that feels like spring - sending people running around half naked even though it's still only 60 degrees outside. I'm totally guilty of this.

I've lasted the entire winter without a proper pair of stockings - I just don't see the point in buying something that I will inevitably destroy within an hour - and today I strutted out of the house in a skirt and bare legs. 

Legs, meet the sun. It's been awhile, get reacquainted! 

All things considered, this winter was a breeze. In fact, my legs had their fair share of encounters with the winter sun as I raced in Central Park in shorts on various occasions. Shorts in January? Yes please. 

But my last two races were run in slightly warmer apparel. I've been trying to document what I wear for each of my races along with the weather on that particular morning. It helps on the night before a race when I'm scared I'll be either too cold or too hot with my planned outfit. 

NYRR Grid Iron 4 Miler

The morning of the Gridiron 4 Miler (Superbowl Sunday) was sunny and in the low to mid 30's. I suited up in a Nike long-sleeve dri-fit with a North Face quarter-zip over it (similar to this one). I wore a pair of non-fleece lined leggings along with  my gloves, ear warmer and buff. 

grid2.jpg

It was also my first time racing in my new pair of Saucony Rides - my go to shoe. This new pair is SO PINK, which is different for me. 

By the end, I was pretty sweaty and probably could have ditched a few items. 

It was a beautiful day for a run and I was so happy to be in Central Park with Peter. He didn't get to attempt the longest football throw, but we did throw down a 7:41 pace to help counteract all the beer and chili we planned on consuming later that day. 

My sister was in town for the weekend and we spent the rest of the morning and afternoon cooking up chili, guacamole and peanut butter & honey covered popcorn. Obviously, we also needed to grab a bag of Doritos - a Superbowl staple. 

My most recent race was one of my least-run distances, a 5K! After PRing and finishing as the first female in the Brown Santa 5K this December in Austin, Texas my expectations for the Washington Heights 5K were pretty low. 

My shins have been bothering me, and I haven't been doing a whole lot of running - instead focusing on strength training. 

I guess the extra leg muscles helped me on this hilly 5K course, because I surprised myself by PRing! And I'm that much closer to breaking a 7:00 pace. 

NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5K

If you care about the details of Sunday - 

I jogged a mile to Peter's place where we got an Uber up to Washington Heights. I planned on running in a long sleeve shirt, but ended up keeping a quarter zip over it because it was chillier than anticipated. I think it was a good call - I remember internally bitching about a lot of things during the run (okay, really just all the hills), but never about my temperature.

Peter started back in my corral and it helped having him to chase for awhile - until I realized there was no way I was keepin' up for the whole race. 

In 3.1 miles we climbed almost 200 feet but all the climbing meant there were also some nice long downhills to make up some lost time. I phoned it in on one of the hills, severely slowing down, but I gave myself a good swift kick in the butt, said, "SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP" and kicked it to the end. 

Where I almost cried when I crossed the finish line. 

Everything hurt. Which I guess means I gave it my all. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see my 21:59 finish time (7:05 pace) and to learn that my time made me the 5th female finisher for November Project - yay team points! 

Now I'm just itching to sign up for a FLAT 5K. 

But my race calendar is filling up with 9+1 races so it seems I'll continue to race the hills of Central Park for the time being. 

Here's what's coming up: 

April 2 - Scotland Run 10K
April 24 - Run As One 4 Miler
April 30 - Bear Mountain Marathon Relay (GULP first trail run on this beast of a course) 
May 1 - Five Borough Bike Tour (GULP my body my hate me after this weekend) 
May 14 - Healthy Kidney 10K
May 21 - Brooklyn Half 

I had the sudden realization that the Brooklyn Half is 11 weeks away and if I want to PR I need to get to work. 

Buttttt, getting to work is a little difficult with the current shin pain I'm experiencing. I'm trying not to do very much running on it and hoping hoping hoping it's not the beginnings of a stress fracture. I saw the doctor and he doesn't think I need an MRI yet - but I'm looking to start PT. 

The plan is slow and steady mileage increases with lots of cross training mixed in. And constantly reminding myself that a PR in Brooklyn isn't the end goal - a BQ in a fall marathon is what I'm after!

 

 

10K and 10 Miler Race Recaps

My favorite weekends are the ones that involve races and brunch. Lucky for me, that's been the general formula for my past two weekends.

On January 9 there was an early wake-up and a pre-race breakfast of plain Fage 0% Greek yogurt. I'm still experimenting with the pre-race fuel that works best for me and this seemed to work pretty well - my stomach still bothered me a little bit mid and post-race, but not as bad as usual. 

We jogged over to the starting line and got there right on time. Not a lot of standing around waiting which is always nice. Despite the fact that it was January - I was racing in shorts! By the end of the race, my legs were slightly numb, but overall I was a good temperature with my buff and gloves.

The Joe Kleinerman 10K was a full loop of Central Park meaning we had the joy of running up "Harlem Hill" early on. Around the top of the hill, I found a girl who seemed to be running around the same pace as me and decided to pace myself off of her. She also happened to be wearing a "Rise" t-shirt - a running group in NYC that has a friendly rivalry with November Project. Stayed on her heels helped me stay steady through the first 4 miles. Once we made it to Columbus Circle and the east side of the park I passed her and picked up the pace a little bit.

My splits were:

7:28
7:41
7:15
7:26
7:41
7:17

Negative splitting is NOT my specialty - and with a hilly course I have an even bigger problem pacing myself.  Overall, I was happy with the result, though it was nowhere near my 10K PR. I placed 34 in my age group but the best part was feeling like I was back in my running groove by waking up on Saturday, running in Central Park, and eating a delicious breakfast.

Peter and I cooked eggs with veggies along with avocado toast and fresh pineapple. Yummo!

NYRR Joe Kleinerman 10K

This Saturday Peter and I had ANOTHER race - and this one was one we fought tooth and nail to get into! Ok, we didn't really fight for a spot but we DID have to set multiple alarms and go through some stressful webpage refreshing to get into this super popular race on Long Island.

We left Friday night for Long Island and myself and our friend Emma stayed at Peter's parents house. We fueled with some homemade ziti before passing out pretty early.

Pre-race fuel on Saturday morning was a whole wheat mini bagel with peanut butter and sliced banana. Again, not a perfect stomach, but much more bearable than some other races.

The weather held up pretty well and we didn't get the downpours we had anticipated - but it was windy and brisk and it did drizzle on us quite a bit during the race.

The 10 Mile Run to the Bluepoint Brewery is put on by the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC) and the Sayville Running Company. It's such a well-organized race (minus the clusterfuck that was the registration process) and this was my second year running it.

Pre-Race
There was a sufficient number of porta-potties and there were lots of wonderfully warm heat lamps in the tents. Bib pick-up/t-shirt pick-up was smooth as was bag drop off. Though the start was a little delayed, there was really nothing to complain about. We semi-joked about the fact that the shirts were cotton, but since lounging in it the rest of the day, I can handle the cotton since it's super soft and comfy. And the logo was pretty sweet.

10 Mile Run to the Bluepoint Brewery

The Race
I love this course. Love love love. It's through a very residential area and is as flat as you could hope for. My favorite part is that there are lots of turns - usually that would bother me, but the way this is set up, each time you turn you have a chance t settle into a new straightaway. I felt that each street we ran down was a fresh start, a new road to tackle, and I was able to take the race step by step instead of getting too ahead of myself.

There were porta-potties on the course as well as water stations and though there weren't very many people out cheering, the ones that were there were enthusiastic and friendly. The course was never over crowded but you were always surrounded by other runners to keep you pushing.

The gray rainy skies detracted from the water-front views, but I still knew it was there!

10 Mile Run to the Bluepoint Brewery

I was hoping to run around an 8:00 pace and with Peter's steady pacing (I don't get why I'm so incapable of running a steady pace) we finished in 1:18:39 for a 7:57 pace. And cheers to negative splitting!

Kind of tempted to buy this one...

Kind of tempted to buy this one...

Post-Race

This is why this race is so popular - free Bluepoint Brewery beer for a solid 2+ hours after the race with an unbelievable spread of post-race eats. Did I mention a phenomenal cover bad?

The free beer isn't just "here, we have this one light beer on tap that you can have in a little plastic cup." It's - "Here, we have a wide variety of delicious craft beer on tap and in 16 oz. cans." The food isn't, "here have a bagel and a banana" its, "Here are some heroes and coffee cake and donuts and BAKED ZITI!"

10 Mile Run to the Bluepoint Brewery

The bag check area had a changing room where runners could get out of their wet clothes and bundle up which was nice.

We had a ton of fun and stayed until noon before heading back to the city.

I finished 4 minutes faster than last years race which was exciting! (2015 I ran the same race in 1:22:06).

10 Mile Run to the Bluepoint Brewery

8 Perfect Gym Bags for Working Women

Is it just me, or is it impossible to go to work and the gym without looking like a bag lady for the entire day? Honestly – I’ve got my breakfast and lunch to pack, my gym clothes, my toiletry bag, my work clothes…it’s a little insane and probably giving me scoliosis.

Lately, I’ve been trying to look and act the part of a twenty-something working professional in Manhattan. That means I’ve ditched the Limited Too camisoles that somehow still fit me (barely), I’ve finally thrown out the flats I bought at Kohl’s a million years ago, and I’ve said goodbye to the cotton t-shirts to make room for my new and improved workout wardrobe of dry-fit gear.

2016 is the year I finally learn that buying things just because they’re cheap and a short term fix isn’t smart. Instead, I’m looking to invest in “perfect” purchases that will stand the test of time, even if that means shelling out a few more bucks.

My most recent quest is to find that all-purpose, classy, functional as fuck bag that can transition me seamlessly from apartment to gym to work to happy hour. I'm tired of looking like the bag lady with 3 different mismatched reusable bags and my college backpack.

It’s a tall order and so far I haven’t found the perfect fit. But my research has turned up some pretty stellar options that I thought I’d share with you, in case you’re in the market for your next Mary Poppin’s bag too.

Gym Bags.jpg

Before we get into the bags – let’s talk about the 4 factors that are most important to me.

Size

I’m a petite person and a giant duffel bag that I could curl up inside of just isn’t going to work when I’m walking to and from the subway and schlepping up multiple sets of stairs. Not to mention cramming on the cross-town bus during rush hour. That being said, I’m often trying to fit two outfits, two pairs of shoes, a book, 2 meals and toiletries in this bad boy – so I do need a good amount of space. And there-in lies the first conundrum to my mission.

Style

As of now, I mainly use a Northface Backpack as my commuter bag – not exactly professional – especially considering the blue/teal/green flannel pattern. Backpacks are so convenient and much more comfortable than shoulder bags that make you walk lopsided and fall off your shoulder whenever you wear a big winter coat. I’m definitely open to a backpack if I found the right one – but it isn’t the perfect solution. It is inherently less professional looking than most other options and in the summer, the back sweat it produces isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world.

Style-wise I’m looking for a bag that can pass as a work bag which means it’s a neutral color. As much as I love colors and patterns, I’m trying to reel it in with this purchase.

Organization

This is one of the most important factors for me. I don’t want a bag that’s just one big compartment. I thrive on little pockets for my jewelry, a side slot for my water bottle and – key here – SOME PLACE TO PUT MY SWEATY CLOTHES AND SNEAKERS that’s not going to stink up my work clothes.

I’m no yogi – so straps for a yoga mat aren’t one of my requirements.

I am however dedicated to blogging more this year – which means the idea of a padded laptop sleeve appeals to me, though it isn’t a make or break feature.

A hard bottom so that the bag maintains some form and makes it easier to find things would be clutch as well.

Price

As I said – I’m willing to spend a good amount on this purchase with the intention of using it as my everyday bag for a good long while. But anything over $200 is realistically out of my price-range considering I do have less-than-ideal options that I could make work. I want a gym bag that's affordable - after all, it's still going to be holding my sweaty clothes, dirty sneakers and there might be some lunch spillage every once in awhile!

So I’ve done all the hard work for ya – the scrolling through Amazon and Kickstarter and Lulu and a million other sites.  I even asked my friends from the Bloggers Gonna Blog Community, who had some great suggestions. Finding a bag that's perfect for the gym and the office is harder than I thought.

What have I found?

Unfortunately, I’ve found that my perfect bag probably doesn’t exist. But there are some great options and maybe one of them will be perfect for you. So without further ado...

Po Campo Midway Weekender

What I Love:

  • Separate Shoe Compartment!
  • Lots of little sections inside
  • Keeps its shape
  • Cross body or over the shoulder straps
  • Fits laptops up to 15”
  • Yoga/Jacket Strap
  • Semi-water proof

What I Don’t Love:

  • I’m just not crazy about the look of this one. Totally a personal preference – there’s a bunch of different color options but none of them excite me.

Price:

  • $95 and free returns. Available online here or on Amazon here.

Herschel Supply Co. Novel Weekender

What I Love:

  • Separate Shoe Compartment!
  • Keeps its shape
  • Cross body or over the shoulder straps

What I Don’t Love:

  • One big compartment on the inside makes organization difficult
  • No laptop sleeve
  • A little too big
  • Just looks like your standard duffel bag

Price:

  • $80. Available here.

You could also check out the Herschel Supply Co. Outfitter Luggage - this is a duffel bag that has BACKPACK straps as well. It's also large and looks like a duffel, but it's got a shoe compartment. They're $140 and can be purchased here.

Herschel Supply Co. Heritage Plus Backpack

What I Love:

  • No surprise here, this one made the list because of the separate shoe compartment!
  • The convenience of a backpack
  • Simple style makes it look more professional than my patterned North Face
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Lots of compartments

What I Don’t Love:

  • I just don’t know that backpack screams “professional”

Price

  • $75. From what I can gather, they’re no longer available via the Herschel website – but I found some on Amazon.

Moop Shop “The Porter”

What I Love:

  • The look – I’m not 100% sold on the canvas material, but from the pictures, it looks like a beautiful bag!
  • Compartments and key chain
  • The site specifically points out that it fits the following: 3 books, 17” laptop, sneakers, water bottle – sounds perfect!

What I Don’t Love:

  • No separate compartment for my sweaty things

Price:

  • $137. You can order online here.

Gaiam Everything Fits Gym Bag

Recommended by: Katie

What I Love:

  • Sweaty things compartment with ventilation!
  • Lots of separate pockets
  • Water bottle pocket
  • Option to carry a yoga mat
  • Seems to be the right size
  • Keeps its shape
  • Fair price

What I Don’t Love:

  • This one, like many of the others with all the right features, doesn’t scream “sophisticated work bag” to me – it screams, “Gym Bag!”

Price:

  • $60. Available here.

*"Don't buy the teal Lauren - professional, professional -"

Om The Day Bag by Lululemon

Recommended by: Carmy

What I Love:

  • The description is exactly what I’m looking for – “This structured gym bag takes you from workout to work and then out for dinner – hands free and with plenty of room to spare.” Yes, please.
  • The shape and style of this bag makes it super "fetch" despite being a gym bag
  • It comes with a removable laundry bag AND interior wet/dry pocket
  • It has a zipper pocked for a laptop  

What I Don't Love:

Actually there's not much I don't like about this bag - it might be the winner - and my first ever purchase from Lulu (cue the gasps!)

Price:
$128 and available here.

Fivesse Home-Gym-Work Bag

Recommended by: Priya

What I Love:

  • Again – this back describes exactly what I need – to go seamlessly from home, to the gym, to work.
  • Tons of compartments – there really is a spot for everything!
  • Stays upright
  • Shoe compartment AND laundry bag

What I Don’t Love:

  • Overall, I could deal with the look of this bag, though I’m not a huge fan of the colors. I wish they had some more options. It’s a little strange to me how one side looks like a gym back and the other like a work bag. I think they took the whole “use for the gym and for work” idea a little too far. Plus, the solid colored bag is sold out – and I’m trying to avoid too much pattern.

Price:

  • Currently on-sale for $40 – I’m hoping this means an updated version is on the way! You can buy it here.

Lo & Sons The O.G. Overnight Bag

Recommended by: Lauren

What I Love:

  • There's a shoe compartment, which if you haven't realized by now, was one of my main search requirements
  • It could easily transition to a work bag
  • There's a laptop sleeve
  • There's a second size option (The OMG is a slightly smaller model with the same great features)
  • As someone who travels for work, the fact that this easily attaches to your suitcase is that little extra sumthin' sumthin'

What I Don't Love:

  • That price tag hurts.

Price:

  • $295 and available for purchase here.

YOUR TURN -

What is your go-to for an everyday bag?
Do you use one bag for the gym AND work?
What features are most important to your when choosing a gym bag?

Fitful Focus

Race Recap - Haunted Island 10K and a Cheating Accusation

This weekend was Halloweekend and if I’m being completely honest, I was way more excited about this little race called the New York City Marathon that happened on Sunday despite Halloween landing smack dab on a Saturday - every college student and twenty-something’s dream. 

Up until this year, Halloween was something I got pretty into. It was an excuse to get friends together, put a lot of planning into my outfit (which can be fun sometimes), eat a lot of candy (fun always) and consume large quantities of alcohol.

Looking back through Halloween pictures of yore makes me feel somewhat nostalgic (except for the year I was in a walking boot with a stress fracture and couldn’t do much of anything) so I’ve assembled a quick trip down memory lane.

But while those Halloweens from the past were fun and all – this year the main focus of the weekend was on racing and running.

Friday night I apparently discovered that the key to a successful race is a giant Two Boots whole wheat pizza with basil, eggplant, mushrooms, onions and artichokes with a side of pesto. Also, red velvet cupcakes and Haagen-Dazs ice cream. 

Two Boots Pizza

Clearly, I was taking this race extremely serious with my fueling strategy. This was to be my first race in over 5 months and I went into expecting a humbling experience and a good indicator of where I am at speed-wise.

Two friends from Connecticut got in around 10:15 that night and we stayed up chatting for a while, so it wasn’t the most sleep I’ve gotten before a race, but still a solid 7 hours.

My favorite socks by Under Armour: "Speed Don't Lie." My favorite race shirt from my first marathon and my favorite shorts by Saucony.

My favorite socks by Under Armour: "Speed Don't Lie." My favorite race shirt from my first marathon and my favorite shorts by Saucony.

I made myself some peanut butter, banana and honey toast with a cup of coffee and definitely did not stretch or foam roll like I promised myself I would.

The journey to Roosevelt Island was an easy one and it was a gorgeous fall morning – crisp and cool but warm in the sun. And I was wearing my favorite color-coordinated outfit. The Halloween race was put on by NYC Runs and they offered both a 5K and a 10K. Everything was well-organized and I loved that it was a smaller race. Tons of people were dressed up and there were hardly any spectators – which meant I got to be front and center as Allison and Kait finished their 5K.

Not a bad morning for a 10K.

Not a bad morning for a 10K.

Once I congratulated them, Allison held my bag while I shed my layers and went for a little warm-up jog. Instead of helping me feel warmed up – I went into a slight panic due to completely numb feet. Luckily I managed to wiggle my toes enough so that by the time I was at the starting line, they had regained feeling. What I didn’t manage to do before I got to the start was that oh-so-important pre-race poop, which I was afraid would end up being an issue for me.

With a really official, “Pretend this is a gun – on your mark, get set, BOOM!” we were off.

The course was two loops with a few wonky little “go down this side street and then make a U-turn at the end so that we can get the right distance” portions – not my favorite type of course but what was awesome was that the course was flat as a pancake! And again, the weather was perfect for racing AND we got to go along the water for a portion of the race which is always pretty.

I tried to start out conservatively but that’s never my specialty. My Garmin informed me that my first mile was a 7:12 and I knew I would be in serious trouble if I kept that up. Luckily, two runners on my right were chatting about how they were going to try to run 7:30s which sounded much more realistic. I creepily paced off of them for the next 3 miles. Around mile 4 I told them they were officially my pacers like a total weirdo and when they asked if I had a goal I said no, but my PR is a 7:19 pace. The man who was clearly better at math than me said that I should think 7:18s and I could definitely get it.

So I pulled away and spent the rest of the race trying to keep two other women slightly ahead of me from getting too far out of reach.

I was feeling wonderful which was such a nice surprise and I was also scared that at any minute I was going to regret running 7:20s. But I just tried to enjoy the strength I was feeling in my legs. There’s something about racing that I just love. I’m a competitive person, and I can say all I want that I’m not there to “race” a race, but without fail once I’m out there – it’s on.

Up until mile 5, it was all about competing against myself. Setting a new PR, proving that I CAN still run fast after months of feeling “meh.” Proving that my work on strengthening my legs and hips has paid off.

And then, something happened.

The woman who I had been trailing the entire race turned around and said, “You better tell them you cut a corner.”

“What?” I asked , completely dumbfounded.

“You cut that corner. You were behind me and then you pulled up ahead.”

In my head, I was thinking, “Uhhh, yeah, it’s called a race and I passed you at some point…”

I thought back over the race and was still genuinely confused so I asked her, “When are you talking about?”

“Mile 3.5”

She sounded so nasty and so vindictive that I really didn’t know how to react.

“Well I’m not trying to win or anything so go ahead!” I yelled.

I was so upset – this has never been my experience with runners and the running community especially at a Halloween run. This woman was dressed up for God’s sake! And I had been planning on complementing her at the end for a really well-run race and for looking great doing it!

Then I got a little pissed.

“Happy Halloween to you too!”

Then, I started thinking that maybe she was doing this as a way to mess with my mental-game. Which is a game that two can play.

“You know, I was going to compliment you on a great race and tell you you looked great doing it. I think you’re just scared I’m going to beat you.”

Ooops.

It just came out.

And as soon as I said it, I regretted it. Because I just gave her all the fuel she needed to kick my butt and I had also given myself a lot more motivation to beat her.

A minute before I had been happily cruising to a PR and now I was scared this race was going to end a lot differently. With me angry and beaten down by this bitchy Wonder Woman.

I got a little teary. In my mind, I had let her take this race away from me. I had let her get in my head and suddenly I was no longer just racing for myself. I was racing to beat her.

But it is what it is – now I knew there was no slowing down that last mile. I stayed close behind her, sure not to pull ahead and give her something to chase.

Luckily for me, I could tell she was fading. I probably could have gone faster overall if I wasn’t playing a strategy game with her, which is frustrating to look back on. But hauling-ass the second I saw that finish line and leaving her in the dust felt damn good, I won’t lie.

NYCRuns Haunted Island 10K Roosevelt Island

And I still managed an 8 second PR – which was 2347293748 X more exciting to me.  

Of course, she immediately went to the race director who pulled me aside and asked if I had gone around the lighthouse two times. Yes, I most certainly did because I vividly remember the amazing volunteer stationed there who jogged in place the entire time and said, “I’m still going with you!” I thanked her for being out there both times I passed.

I told the race director that I totally understood if they had an issue giving me an award and he said they would look at the splits and that would make it very obvious if I had cut any corners.

Apparently, the clock told them all they needed to know and I received my plaque for 2nd place female ages 20-29.

My plaque matched my shirt!

My plaque matched my shirt!

And Wonder Woman got hers for first place female ages 40-49. Which she more than deserved.

She ensured that I finished with a major kick at the end – which is my favorite way to cross a finish line, so for that – I thank her. I legit blacked out those last 100 meters so THANKS ALLISON for these baller pictures.

NYC Runs had lots of candy, fruit and bagels afterwards along with a fun costume contest. It was a great way to spend Halloween and I even got to take the Roosevelt Island tram for the first time on our way home! It was anticlimactic but still a nice change from the underground subway.

The entire rest of the weekend was spent drinking and eating to celebrate Halloween and the NYC Marathon. There were Bloody Mary’s, nachos, brownies, Chipotle ($3 on Halloween, duh!) ciders and obviously 16 Handles (twice).

Congratulations to everyone who took on the five boroughs on Sunday– it was a beautiful day and I loved getting to give a giant hug to some of my favorite marathoners at the after party!

I know runner's are crazy, but come on!

I know runner's are crazy, but come on!