Sunday, October 20, 2013

Double Header Weekend: NYRR Staten Island Half Marathon

Finally!!!! I get to finish my blog about the amazing Staten Island Half Marathon that took place on Sunday, October 13. I've been sick for too long, preventing me from sitting at my blog and clearly writing my experience.

As part of my new year's running goals, I wanted to complete the 5 borough series. So without a doubt I needed to finish strong at the last race of the series. In order to go strong a lot of training and miles needed to happen. I started my training in mid-August. I was even more serious about training this time around. I put in a lot more long runs then I did for the Brooklyn Half. 

Since it was double header weekend I had to wake up at 4am for the second day in a row. I was not happy about this. 
After I got dress and taped, I sat on my sofa and felt completely overwhelmed with the thought of 13.1 miles ahead of me. I started to tear up. I stopped myself from crying. I couldn't cry nervous tears. I needed to save those tears for happiness. I wanted this day to get's what? It was time to get to the start line.  
Alnardo, @Serious06, and I travelled to Staten Island in the dark. We need to find parking before the massive crowds showed up looking for the same spot we were. We lucked out and got a spot very close to the start. We waited in the warm car as the wind whipped around. Gosh it was cold!

So what do we do while waiting for race time? Why we film commercials for the products we use. HA! 

We watched the sun come up over Manhattan in the distance. It was beautiful. 

It was time to get out of the warm car and find our way to the start with the masses. Brrrr!

Next we found Jeanne, @HeyJdubs, and Joseph, @Jomak_ny. Jeanne had been in the start area hours before we got there. We were texting each other the whole time we were waiting. 
Since meeting Joseph at the Percy Sutton 5k in August, he and I have become very great friends. BFFs even. He and I share a lot of the some outlooks on many things. We are big dorks and have major issues with ADD that syncs up. HA!

After that we met up with a bunch of IG-runners aka #nycinstarunners. It was so great to meet so many runners that share their stories on Instagram. This made me very hyper to get going.

While waiting at our starting corral an older lady tapped me on the shoulder. She asked if I was at the Brooklyn 10K the day before. I said yes of course. She remember me and my group. We were making a lot of noise that's for sure. She share with me that she was 2nd in her age group for that race. That is amazing. She will be completing her very first NYC Marathon. I told her that she needed to find me so that I can give her her medal.

It was go time!

Alnarado and Jeanne ran with me as long as they could. I was running very slowly because my body was just tired. The crowd started to pass me by. In no time I was left with very few runners around me. I kept moving slowly. I focused one listening to my body. No music until I hit the loop around. That's when I run with Miguel, @LL_MJ. He will be running the marathon with Team JDRF, advocated for type 1 diabetes.

Around mile 3 was when I started to see the elite runners on their 9th mile. This is always my favorite part of any race. I started cheering for those that race to place. This making the miles pass by quickly. I had my eye peeled for the #nycinstarunners that run in the first corral, Mario and Dave. I was able to spot them quickly as they jetted by.

As the crowd moved by I heard my IG handle screamed out a hand full of times. The runner next to me laughed and said, "You are a poplar one aren't you?" I told him, "No, I am famous." We both had a big laugh with that one.

As the last runners and I approached the loop around I started to cheer for us. There was no one there to see us turn so no cheering. I couldn't let that happen. I cheer loud for us. When I realized that another #nycinstarunner was behind me, Alexie, @Misterutah. He is also running the marathon. I first met him on my birthday race back in April.  When he passed me by it was music time.

When I turned on the tuned the next two miles went quickly. In with those two miles I saw....

Yep...those are the sweep vehicles. I was no letting them pick me up. I focused on my steps, on the hill at mile 9 and just keep going. When I saw the mile 11 sign I started to feel emotional. I also noticed that a few races ahead of me kept looking behind them. This is one of my biggest pet peeves! Don't look behind...keep going forward. They way they keep looking I knew the sweep vehicles were right behind me. I didn't look.

Around mile 11.5 the head van of the sweep with right by my side. He kept his van at my pace. I tried not to walk and jog slowly to keep up with him. When we reached mile 12, he asked me if I was ok. I told him "I was ok as long as I kept up with you." He said, "Don't worry. You got it. I am not letting them pick you up." I got so choked up when he said that. I check my run time. I had reached 2hours and 50 mins. I wasn't going to make it to the finish line in time for my sub 3 hour goal. I was one with that.

Out of no where I rude police officer screamed to me and another runner get on the sidewalk and get off the street. That was a huge blow.

Then I hear my name! It was Saville, Sheryl's friend. He was encouraging me to keep going and that I was not going to run on the sidewalk. He gave me that lift I needed that the police officer took away from me. As I approached the turn for the finish line there were tons of people there cheering. I looked up and saw the guy in the van I ran with for two miles. I thanked him for helping me as he made a u-turn.

As I made the next turn I realized I was almost finished. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't feel my feet. I couldn't progress anything anyone. Then I saw orange. It was Joseph. He ran with me across the finish line. Of course I couldn't hold the tears back anymore. I heard him talking but I didn't understand what he was saying. I was too emotional to process what was happening around me.

All I know is...I finished. I reached for my phone to check my time. I finished in 3 hours 12 minutes and 29 seconds. I set my new personal record.

Reflecting on this racing I never had that "I want to give up" feeling. Not even once. That's the biggest difference between this half and Brooklyn and Manhattan. During both halves I wanted to give up but didn't. I never doubt myself in Staten Island. I knew I will finish. That is a huge feeling to overcome.

I completed 19.3 miles over two days without injury. I am no way a fast race but I am a focused one. I set a goal, put my sneakers and complete my goals. I am able to complete these goals because I no longer use excuses. I have three beautiful children, a husband, a household to run and a full time job. There is no excuses strong even to stop me from being successful at all of the above and be a successful runner.

Monday, October 7, 2013

ING New York City Marathon 2013

First things first....I am not running the New York City Marathon this year. I was tempted to sign up when it first opened up in the spring. I didn't because I know I am not where near ready to do something like that without getting hurt.

With that being say....

I am still involved in the happening surrounding this year's marathon. In the summer time I am applied to be apart of the medals crew. I thought it would be exciting to hand out medals again. It would be more special handing out medals to the marathon since I have gain a community of friends since handing out medals at the NYC Half. When I applied I thought the process was going to be the same as the Half. Well it wasn't. Apparently, everyone wants to hand out the medals. Something like 300 people applied to do it. When I read this I was floored. I guess everyone wants to be down with the excitement of the big day. After reading that email that I had to wait a month to find out if I got picked I kind of gave up hope on being picked. Really...why would they pick me? I am just like everyone else that applied. Maybe not...I did have a volunteering for medals for the NYC Half on my side.

When the day came I've must have checked my email 1,000 times. When the evening arrived and I didn't hear anything from NYRR, I figured that I wasn't getting to it. It was ok not handing out medals. I was off that day and I could have spent the day cheering on the crowd. I checked my email one last time with the hope that I would see some good news.

I GOT IT!!!!!

I started jumping around the living room like a crazy person trying not to scream because the kids were asleep ready. Tears started pouring down my face. I was going to be apart of a lot of brave souls finish line story. A lot of those braves souls were going to be my friends and buddies.

When I completed my plus 1 during the NYC Half it changed my running life. It changed my view of the running community. It was a great feeling to give medals to runners that earned it. Emotions and excitement fill the air. Love and pride every where you turned. I got to give friends hugs and medals when they finished their 13.1 miles. I expect November 3, 2013 to be even more intense. Each person will be running their very own 26.2 miles. Everyone has there own story for each step that is taken. To all my friends, followers and reader that have those 26.2 miles waiting for them....I WILL be waiting for you at the finish line. With tears in my eyes, a shiny medal in my hand and a loving mommy hug for your accomplishment. 

You think I would get enough excitement out of handing out the medals. I applied for a Facebook contest that NYRR was running a few weeks ago. "The ING New York City Marathon is seeking 20 official social reporters to snap eye-catching Instagrams and produce top-notch tweets from the ground of the five boroughs of New York City." Does that not scream The Awesome Mom? I gave it a shot. I wasn't going to loose anything since I was already doing medals. I applied. I don't even remember what I wrote on the application. It was all a blur. I didn't read the fine print to know when I would find out if I get picked. I just sent it off and hope for the best. 

So.....earlier this evening I was pulling out my running gear for a double header race weekend I have this weekend. I stopped for a moment to check my email. My email loaded and....I screamed.....


I kept saying holy crap while reading and re-reading the email. I started jumping up, down and all around when it clicked in my brain. I ran up to my husband and hugged him. Back to jumping. I walked back into my bedroom and started to cry when it all hit me.....

I have selected to be an Official ING New York City Marathon Social Media Reporter!!! This is crazy! Not only am I doing medals....I am a flippin' social reporter!!!!! I officially get to share my prospective as a Bronxite the days leading up to, during and after the ING New York City Marathon! Is this for real? 

YES IT IS!!!!! 

I quickly responded to the email and applied for my credentials. It's on baby. I am going to be eating breathing and living marathon. I feel so awesome being giving this opportunity. I am not going to let NYRR down. 

Keep Going

Since I am sick and didn't go to work... I decided to dust off my hard drive and look at old pictures. I found this lovely picture from November 2011. I was at the USMC Ball on Ellis Island. I had a great time that night but the weeks leading to the event were horrible. I couldn't find anything that I wanted to wear and/or anything that was in my size. I had to order that red size 22 dress online because I gave up searching stores. Finding the support clothing under the dress was a worst nightmare! For this year's USMC I have my dress really to go. This year's dress was a gift from my best friend back in June. We got it off the rack. I can't wait to show off all my progress. Now...the one thing I have to worry about is shrinking out of the dress. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bronx 10-Mile 2013

If you are an Instgram follower you already now that I had been anticipating the Bronx 10-mile for a very very long. This race means so much to me. It was the my first 10- miler and it was on my turf. My first Bronx race! The middle of the Grand Concourse and Mosholu Parkway was closed down for me and 8,000 of my closet friends. I decided that I was going to take on my home town race wearing my Wonder Woman-like running gear.

Sunday morning I rolled out of bed, did my morning routine and pre-race prep and called a cab.The best part of running in the Bronx was I didn't have to worry about The MTA Gods controlling my travels. It took me about 10 minutes to get to the baggage area from my apartment. (Seriously, We need more Bronx races.)

Upon arrival, I sat and focused myself. I put my crown on and told myself that I got this. I had done 9 miles just one week prior to the race and my pacing had improved greatly. There was no fear of me getting picked up by the sweep bus.

When I walked to my corral I took my pre-race picture. Don't I look awesome!
The first person that recognized me was Liz S., @RosaBlanca5. She will be running the New York City Marathon this year! 

After some searching, I found my amazing race buddy Alnardo, @Serious06. The last race we ran together was back in June. It feels longer than that. He spent the month of September completing the trifeta of Spartan Races. He completed the last one the day before the Bronx race. He is truly amazing. I am proud of you brother.
Next up...Jeanne, @HeyJDubs. She is a fellow last corral runner. We started communicating via Instagram and ran passed each other at the Queens 10k. She completed a bunch of races along the East Coast. She claimed that she hasn't been training and didn't feel confident about this race. I think she is crazy. She has been running like a Last Corral champ. I told her that this race is going to be awesome.

Jay, @jaydenson, stopped by to say hello. It was great meeting another runner of the Bronx.

As the corrals started to get closer to each other Valerie, @vrtorres912, caught up to me and Alnardo. Gosh, she is a tiny person. I had to squat down to take a picture with her.

Soon to follow was Kathy, @Kata_razzi. She is a fellow Weight Watcher and blogger (NYC Runner Girl). Kathy and I will be handing out the medals at the New York City Marathon together. I can't wait for that day to get here!

As the crowd started moving forward I started to get very hyped. This was about to happen. Finally this day is here. I get to prove to myself that I can and will do these 10 miles in The Awesome Mom fashion. This race is my guide to completing the Staten Island Half taking place in two weeks. What ever ups and downs I feel at this race will with adjust for the half.

In August, I started training for the Staten Island Half. I did everything I needed to ensure that I will have a new personal record at Staten Island Half. Three weeks ago I fell off my bike. I sprained my ankle. I followed doctor's orders and managed to get back onto my training schedule a one and a half weeks before this race. I was so worried that I was going to be out of commission for the rest of my racing calendar.

It was time to go. Time to make my borough proud of me. I completed my first mile in 11:12! Amazing!

In no time Joe, @JoMak_ny, caught up to me. He is my new BFF. We have been talking fitness, races, running and cycling since meeting him at the Percy Sutton a month ago. He slowed down just enough to take our awkward picture. He made it to the race after only a few hours of sleep. He party-ed hard the night before with his wife at the Electric Race. We gave each other a little boost after seeing one and another.
Picture taken by Joe
There was one person I was waiting to pass me by...Sheryl of course. Sheryl was somewhere in the last corral with me but there were so many people around so we didn't see each other in the corral. She found me on the course.
Picture taken by Sheryl
We took our action shot together. I love my Sheryl collection of action shots. She always captures my bewbs in motion. (I am cracking up so hard right now.) My bewbs always come up in conversation at one point or another because they are at Sheryl's eye level. She is so awesome!
Photo taken by Sheryl
I kept going after she ran away from me. I was completely distracted by all front runners and faster runners running the loop back on the Grand Concourse. That made the next few miles easier. However I noticed shin pain starting to set in. They means that I was going way too fast. The pace for miles 2, 3 & 4 were 12:30; 12:31 and 11:51 respectively. This pacing was the fastest I have ever done at a race. Right around mile 5 J.Dubs caught to me. She started to do interval pacing of 1minute run and 1minute walk. She was feeling the burn. She was doing a great job keeping up her pacing.

I have no idea what mile I was at when I saw my co-worker, Ms. Sonders. She is at almost all these races. She is so sweet and patient. It's always great to see her.

After that....I was alone. I was left with myself, my thoughts and my pain. I felt shin pain around mile 3 and ankle pain started to set in at mile 7. I felt like I was out of sync with my body. I turned off the music and turned on my timing app. For 20 minutes I ran 1 minute and walked 1 minute. Once the 20 mins passed. I took my earbuds out. No music, no timing app, no pacing app.....just listening to my body. Suddenly I was at mile 8.5. I didn't have far to go. I slowly heading to the finish line.

At mile 9, Alnardo called me. I didn't pick up. We played a little phone tag....I finally text him. "At mile 9.7." He texted back, "I'm coming." I didn't know what that meant at the time. I just kept going.

I looked up and saw.....

Sheryl and Alnardo running back out onto the course to finish the race with me. I immediately became emotional. I have so much love for these two amazing people. They waited patiently for me to cross the finish line. They have been my biggest cheerleaders throughout this year. Since we all run at different pace we will probably never cross the finish line together and have the same finishing time. This show so much unity and support. I am so happy that I have these guys by my side. (Yes, I am crying while I am typing this.)

Picture taken by J. Dubs
As I crossed the finish line I could not hold back the tears. I finished. The miles were not easier....they were better.

I had no idea that J.Dubs snapping pictures and recording my finish line. I realized she was there when I stopped. I gave her the biggest hug ever. Next up were big hugs with tears of joy for Sheryl and Alnardo. Sheryl captured my emotional hug.

I had waited so long to run this race. I wasn't one bit nervous about the 10 miles that I had in front of me that morning. I wasn't worried about pain or blusters or even losing a toe nail. I knew that 8 weeks of Staten Island Half training had prepared me for this race on my turf.  I am humbled by my accomplishment. 

After I wiped the tears away I became very hyper! I wanted to take pictures with EVERYONE!!!! 

We caught up with Sheryl's great friend, Saville and took a few pictures with him and his crew.

We caught up to the very inspiring, James Lu. He is 75 years old. He started running at the age of 59 years old. He is at each and every NYRR race. I gave him his medal at the NYC Half and I plan on giving him his medal at the NYC Marathon. Even if I have to fight for it.

When I got back home, I did what I always do. I grab my tape and stick my bib on to my victory wall and returned to be regular old mommy.

If you would have told me this time last year that I would have complete so many races I would have told you you were crazy. I was never a's amazing how things change so easily.  

Small Steps Towards Awesomeness

After 12 months of being in a CPSE classroom with a teacher that did not care about pushing students towards greatness...I gave up on the fight. I fought so much that I didn't want to fight anymore. I know that I shouldn't have ive up but there was so much happening in my world that I need to stop fighting all the battles. Many times I wanted to pulled her out of school and have her with a baby sitting that just watched her. It was really the same. I didn't do it because I didn't want to effect her Turning Five progress.

So I waited.....

I waited for Little'S Al turning Five IEP meeting. I knew the IEP team from Big Al's turning Five. These are the type of people you want on your side. They will fight for these that are willing to fight along there side. 

The gave us two options for kindergarden: Community School 12:1+1 with a 1:1 para or District 75 6:1+1 with all spectrum kids. 

After a lot of thinking. May be even too much thinking I picked District 75. 

One month of school has passed. 

This is the greatest decision I have made in Little Al CSE life. She has a teacher that completely LOVES her job. They is a teacher is change the lives of children. It has been a few short weeks but you can see major changes in Little Al's behavior. She is very calm when she comes home from school. She is happy to go to school. She calls her teacher, "The Favorite Teacher Ever." 

The icing on the cake is this quickly written note in the communication notebook. 

This is Little Al's year to shine.