November 29, 2005

I am a bad boy

...I must be, since I'm sitting here enjoying a delicious reward for a run that doesn't deserve it. Really, I'm completely amazed and continually awestruck by the flavors and texture of the greek yogurt with honey.

Anyway, about the run: Did a solid three miles today, probably closer to 3.5. I'd thought to go do my 6.8 mile loop, but changed that plan as the clouds threatened to open up and my right knee started talking to me. (Now, this is something I don't get. Right knee hurts before the last run, legs felt fine by the end; LEFT knee had twinges yesterday, no running; and today it's back to the right side. WTF?)

So I decided to do the uphill run to the park, made a quick swing through a couple blocks worth of the park (from 16th street over to the exit at 11th street), continued on to 10th street, then started back downhill towards home. Made a quick stop at the bank to deposit some checks (tried to keep warm and loose while doing it) and had a good, solid run the last mile home! I finished up feeling really great.

My lungs cooperated better today, though not up to what they could be. At least I handled the steep uphill blocks without resorting to the over-stressed breathing and didn't feel a need to stop and catch my breath or to walk at any point. I DID, in fact, stop a couple of times due to the bank and some traffic that wasn't obeying the lights -- but those were minor and I feel didn't interrupt the all-holy Rhythm Of The Run.

Didn't take the music today either. Hm. Maybe I should go back to running without music...

and why am I a bad boy? I didn't get ANYTHING done today on my long list of minor items. Just the run, a couple of phone calls, a talk with my landlord, and a new calendar published on It reflects the NYRR calendar. As long as I'm punching in the information, I figured I'd save other Mac users some time. You can find it here:
NYRR Events. You'll find a subscribe button on the bottom left of the page if you just want your iCal to automatically keep it updated. I'll be updating it as information becomes available; which in NYRR-world is six times a year.

November 27, 2005

I am solar-powered

You ever had one of those mornings where the sun is shining in the window and you wake up despite having the opportunity to sleep in? Well, that was my morning. I could have slept all day, if I'd wanted, but I was wide awake by eight. Didn't actually get out of bed until nine or so.

I took my time getting ready for a run; doing the full pre-run routine, including therapy, stretching, and foam rolling. Meant to get out at noon, but didn't make it out the door 'til 1:30. Email has a way of slowing me down.

It was getting overcast by the time I got out the door, but the sun peeked through the clouds now and then. I have noticed before that when the sun is shining, I do a lot better in general than when the weather is cloudy. The sun going down doesn't count. Today was no different and it proved to be an uneven run.

I did the 6.8 mile loop and never quite got my lungs to cooperate. I had to stop and walk a minute perhaps four times total. I was never able to reduce my stress and put my breathing in a 2-out, 4-in mode, no matter how slow I ran. And I was way too often going into a 2-out, 2-in breathing pattern. I wore my old pair of 991s, as the new pair seems to result in a sore left ball of my foot and a "broken toes" feeling. Don't know why. But the old pair is too small with the orthotics. Guess I'd rather put up with bloody toes than lingering pain.

Knees held up, though the right one has the telltale signs of runner's knee. After the run, I did the full stretching and foam-rolling and did TKEs as well. I am amazed how much strength I've lost. I have to get the right ankle weights and get back on the TKEs and hamstring curls. I'll feel right as rain in short order.

After that, I needed groceries, so I put in a couple miles on the bike. This has me to thinking about biathlons and such. I need a lot of practice on the bike and I need a different seatpost, so I can adjust my seat better. I find if I scoot back on the seat, I can get more power into the pedals more comfortably...but then I just slide forward on the seat again. Also, the toe clips suck. maybe I should take them off completely. And helmets....? My current one is ten years old - probably well past the styrofoam's usable life-span.

November 24, 2005

Charleston Turkey Trot

Ran a 5K turkey trot this morning in the old district of Charleston. It started at some square where there's a lot of shopping, went to the Battery, then turned around and came back down Market street to finish. Lots of runners; a couple of thousand I guess. Pretty crowded, unorganized start; no numbers to line up at, which made for a very slow first mile.

Not a bad run altogether. Felt strong the whole way and finished in about 27:30. The course was flat, of course, as there isn't more than 14" of elevation change in the whole area. Nice to see some of the places I passed on the horse-drawn tour yesterday. I'd like to spend some more time on foot seeing some of the historic houses, courthouses, and churches.

I remember about a mile from the finish that today is exactly one year from my first organized race, a 5M turkey trot in Prospect Park! I ran that one in 11 m/m and today's in perhaps a 9 m/m. Felt good to cap off a year of running with a simple turkey trot.

November 23, 2005

two runs lately

I'm on vacation - and on the road - but I've gotten in some runs the last couple of days.

Sunday, after a day of driving, I checked into a motel (free night - Choice Rewards really does work!) and got out for a quick two-mile run in the cool evening air. I didn't want to go far at this little waypoint on the highway, but it felt good to be out. I'm still breaking in the new shoes, so I'm keeping it to short runs until they're a lot more broken in.

This morning, Wednesday, I got up early at my sister's house and got outside for a chilly 4-miler on a route I mapped out last year. Good run, but tough. Lungs not cooperating; felt very stiff. And my legs felt tight, too, though by the end of the run I was much improved.

Tomorrow morning is a 5K turkey trot in Charleston. Don't expect to turn in a PR, but will try to do a couple miles of warmup before the run and will do my best regardless. All of this will be in the new shoes.

November 18, 2005

hard, painful Central Park run

Okay, haven't run much this past week, but I made it a point to get out today for about three miles. Should be a nothing distance, but it felt like a half-marathon. From the beginning to the end, I found it very difficult to keep going, though I was a slow pace. I did stop about half mile in and stretch leisurely, but that didn't really help. I just felt cold, klunky, and terribly inexperienced. I coughed the entire time.

I did just the upper park loop, entering at 90th street, turning left on the 102nd street crossover, then going clockwise on the hard hills and back down to 90th street. A solid workout if done as speedwork, I should think, but today it was just a miracle to do it without walking.

By the time I'd changed into street clothes at NYRR, I felt like I had the flu or something. I've since had myself a long hot shower and I'm feeling OK.

Maybe its the cold, and that I'm not acclimated. Maybe its something else, I don't know. Must keep stretching, must keep doing ankle weights, must get back on at least an every-other-day schedule.

Of course, reading other people's blogs, it seems like everybody's having a couple bad weeks, so I know I'm not alone.

November 13, 2005


Argh...another weekend of beautiful weather gone, with me not having enjoyed any of it, much less having gotten in a run. Spent the whole weekend teching another dance concert. (It's good work; but I wish I'd had time to get out.)

My contact Wil at Through Th3 Wall has opened her online store. She and her husband have cooked up some great triathlon-centric designs. I'm going to buy the SwimBikeRun shirt because a) the highlighted part makes it kinda read "biker" which speaks to other areas of my life, and b) I came up with reason number 8 in the Top Ten on the back of the shirt. Besides, maybe if I own a Why I Tri shirt, I'll be forced to up the ante, hm?

November 10, 2005

hard, blustery run

Did about five miles today. Meant to do a full 6.8 loop or even go for 10, but it just turned out to be one of those hard mid-week runs that pretty much suck every step of the way.

Sometime on the last run, I hurt my toes a bit in the new shoes. Don't know what's going on down there, but they feel bruised, though they don't look it. That little injury didn't stop me today, but it did slow me down. So did some aches in right knee, left ITB and hip... all in all, an ACHEY run.

It was also getting cold. My boiler is on the fritz, so I had to wait until my landlord arrived to take a look at it. Then I got going on the run. Despite 60 degrees (and dropping), it felt far colder since the wind was up and very blustery. It just made the run that much harder. I took several short walking breaks but didn't feel like I'd earned them. And though I did take the cutoff in the park and not go around the bottom of the lake (the first time I've ever cut the lake out of the loop), I did make it in one shot on the shortened park loop, including the big hill and upper park. I even made it down to my old abode. However, after stopping to pick up an eight-inch pile of mail that was waiting for me, and sorting out the junk, my plan to jog home was cut. My body had simply had enough running for the day. After a short subway ride and several walk block to my apartment, I felt tired, achy, like I have the flu or something. Which reminds me, haven't got the flu shot yet.

Anyway, found the boiler on the blink again. Got it started enough to warm up enough water for a shower. I'm going to go dress in some fluffy warm clothes now and post a note to my neighbors about when to take a shower (tonight) and what's up with the boiler. Then I might just go see a movie - been a long time since I treated myself to one.

November 8, 2005

Running isn't pretty - part 5 - Great Expectorations

Fall in Central Park - can it get any better?

I got a LOT done today, including two laps of the reservoir (3.2 miles) to begin breaking in my new 991s I picked up at the Expo. The shoes felt pretty good on my feet, though obviously stiff. The extra length - I'd purchased a half-size larger than before, to accomodate the new orthotics - is definitely what the doctor ordered. Nevertheless, my feet were definitely done with the run at the end of two laps.

I found this run pleasant and mildly stressful, just like a run is supposed to be. As follows my pattern, the first two and a half to three miles are harder than anything after that. I had found my pace for the day midway around the first lap and ran a good strong 5K, basically, despite a couple strong coughing fits. There are advantages to flat cinder track.

WARNING! Intriguing, yet gross stuff ahead! Slippery when wet!

There's an element to running with Cystic Fibrosis that is just plain ugly - and that's the phlegm. You see, I produce rather a lot of it and when running I'm often coughing. I am a vertiable slime factory; continually bringing up large blobs of vibrantly colored mucous. I'm used to it - others are not. (Only once have I ever passed someone at what I shall call an inopportune moment and gotten a bad reaction. The girl who saw me spit and saw WHAT I spit is undoubtedly scarred for life and even now sitting in therapy, babbling about how the park now terrifies her and that she battles night-terrors filled with cobras made of avocado-tinted jam.)

Surely other runners spit, too, as there are posted guidelines about where to aim during a run (in front of you, not to the side, so as to avoid hitting someone else). But I can't help but think my personal theme song should be this one off the old Sesame Street album I had as a kid: Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts.

I often have to pound my chest in the middle of my coughing fits to bring the phlegm up - the coughing won't stop until I do. :( This is a new thing related to the running, unfortunately. And of course, all of this interrupts my breathing, slows my pace, and makes my abs hurt. The upside is, I have rock-hard abdominals. As I pound away on myself and keep running, I can feel stuff moving inside, if I'm lucky, and then work to bring it up. My coughing is loud and attention-getting. Other runners have asked me if I'm OK. Yes, I'm OK; you really should be asking the runner who's having convulsions by the side of the road.

So I move something. Now this salty blob is in my mouth and I have to figure out where and when to dispose of it. If I'm feeling generous, I will be as discreet as possible and wait until runners have passed before spitting. If I'm VERY polite, I'll even swallow it, though that's not optimal. But most of the time, I just stop caring. NY spitting laws be damned, I've got to get rid of this phlegm and it will go where I tell it to! I've become quite good at hitting a target and will often aim for a white stripe; because the pale green is disguised better against white than grey or black. (I'm thankful the rain eventually clears all this away, otherwise Prospect and Central parks would have pronounced loogie trails by now.)

As I exhale forcefully through pursed lips, this new bit of phlegm - perhaps a teaspoonfull - goes flying toward my target, rotating a little as it goes, elongating in the air. Perhaps only I see it go in slow motion. It hits the ground with a pronounced "You Can't Do That On Television" splat! If it hits dusty dirt, it will roll like mercury on glass. On plant leaves, it sticks like napalm; it is much thicker than Ghostbusters ectoplasmic reticulum.

I take a microsecond to check its color and consistency. Thicker/thinner than usual? Foamy or not? Quantity? Paler or greener than usual? Paler is better and usually means I'm doing pretty well. Greener indicates more infection and I usually can tell that anyway from being unable to breathe as well. Does it have streaks of blood in it (usually brown)? I get scared when I see that, to tell the truth, though the last few times, I've only had one expectoration with blood, then the succeeding ones don't have blood spots. Odd; but good. Continual blood in the sputum means another trip to the doc's.

The worst part is when I miss - when the expected escape velocity doesn't get generated and the green stuff ends up on ME. Then I have to wipe it off somewhere. My stuff is thick enough it will cling together and I can often clean up quite well with a leaf or something. Other times, I'm stuck with it. This is why I am better off wearing white shirts than my black tech T. After a long run with a few mishaps, I really look like hell - greenish streaks and spots on my t-shirt, shorts/pants, shoes, even my face. I've even been known to take off my shirt because it's gotten too gross for public display. And it's one reason I shaved off my beard.

Today, I didn't care. I only had one mis-fire, but it was a doozy. It was the kind where I knew before the trigger was pulled that this one wasn't going to make it to the cinders and sure enough - I spit and where did it go? Oh noes!, I think. OMGLOLWTF? my mind adds as one part of my consciousness text-messages another. I feel downwards on my shirt, and there it is - a wet, slimy mass liberally pasted vertically for six inches on my Staten Island tee. "Owned!!1!Eleventy!" I curse out loud.* Fortunately, the shirt is printed in yellows and greens anyhow - so at least I'm staying color-coordinated. I do my best to disguise the mishap and keep running. Later, in the bathroom at NYRR, I'll use that shirt to blow my nose - it's already goobered anyhow, right?

No, indeed, running is not pretty. Washers and dryers and rain are my friends, for they erase the evidence. I shall write a book about running with Cystic Fibrosis someday, when I have more experience. Now... what to call it....

*For the record, has warped my fragile little mind...

November 7, 2005

colors, flavors, and predictability

Awright! I got out this afternoon for the first run in a long time. Now that most of my shows and the marathon are over, my time is much less filled up with work. I didn't particularly plan this run, just figured I'd go up and do a loop of the park and come home. If things felt bad, I'd just cut things short and walk home or whatnot. No pressure. If the run went like most of my runs do, I'd feel like quitting for the first three miles, feel OK for the middle part, and finish up on a runner's high.

Ended up doing the whole loop up to the park, around, then home. Five miles max, I figured, but then I remembered that the OLD up-around-back loop was a touch over five. What am I running now when I do that loop? According to gmaps pedometer: 6.8. Huh. Did I really just do a nearly seven mile run after not running for... oh jeebus: eleven days?!?

First mile and a half felt rough, really rough. My legs felt like they knew what they were doing, but were out of practice. My pace, stride, foot placement were all over the place; loose and uncontrolled. Bleh. By the time I got to the park, I was running a little better. Strangely, the run UP to the park didn't knock me out like I thought it would. My lungs felt fine and I still had plenty of energy. Maybe all this resting up has its silver lining?

So I stopped at the park entrance and really really stretched. No sense in doing it stupid-style, if I'm going to go do a loop of the park, right? After stretching, started off moderately, feeling like I have a very short stride and I didn't feel at all "tall" like I do when my whole system is functioning well.

That changed, predicatably. Not in the first half of the park, but by the time I'd gotten around to the big hill and chugged my way up it - again with surprisingly less effort than I thought it would take - everything seemed to be falling into place. And speaking of Fall, the colors of the trees here are GREAT! Eight years I've lived in NYC and never have the colors turned out this well. Not every tree is joining the party, but the trees in the park seemed to have cut a deal with Crayola and gone hog wild. I realized after a time part of this effect is my running glasses: they cast a slightly brownish/amber tint over things - but even after taking them off, the colors continued to impress me. The perfect blue sky, the loud yellows and oranges and browns - just fantatic! Good enough to rival the best of the Missouri autumns I remember, though I miss that big blazing red sugar-maple that stood at the top of our driveway...

Anyway, finished with the park feeling good, though I could tell my body was all "are we still running? shouldn't we be done by now?" Come on, it's all downhill from here. Tried not to let the downhill of the Slope carry me away and ended up running very strong with good form all the way home.

Continuing with the theme of "let's do this the right way for a change," I put in some time stretching, then hit the shower, did some foam roller and strap-assisted stretching for my IT bands and now I'm icing my knees. Amy would be so proud.

A few days ago, at the expo, I picked up some samples of Powerbar's Beverage System, which includes an endurance drink and a recovery drink. I decided to try them both today. I'm comparing them to my current drinks: H.E.E.D. and Recoverite, by e-caps nutrition.

The packaging was very clear on these Powerbar products, particularly as they were single-use packets. There was no question of how much water to add.

The color of the endurance drink (lemon-lime flavor) is hideous, a sort of glowing green that belongs only in 50-gallon hazmat drums. The taste isn't hideous, not even awful, but is precisely the kind of taste that drove me away from Gatorade to begin with. While the formulation is fairly good, being mostly maltodextrin, with good amounts of sodium and potassium, the drink mixes up to strong to be palatable for long. It did slake my thirst during the run, so it did it's job. And once I got home and noted the sheen of salt on my legs, I was glad I could actually taste the salt in this drink. However, this drink also uses fructose, a short-chain carb that will burn too fast, and fails to include a full electrolyte profile. I definitely prefer the lighter-tasting, uncolored, and better-formulated HEED, which not only relies more on maltodextrin (smoother energy release), but also has L-carnosine, glycine, calcium, magnesium, B6, and a host of other trace-mineral crap that - in a long race - makes all the difference.

The recovery drink (orange flavor) was an improvement. Palatable with a pleasant orange flavor, though still too strong for my liking. Oddly, though, the color was a bright yellow-orange, looking a little too much like a bottle of opaque urine. It also foams badly. Foaming is a problem with the e-caps products, but not a show-stopper. This Powerbar recovery mix, though, quickly filled my water bottle with foam and it took 20 minutes for 1/3 of the foam to simmer down. Weird. As a recovery drink, I suppose it's OK, though it's little more than the endurance formula with some whey protein added. Recoverite, on the other hand, has a larger amount of whey protein, doesn't neglect the trace minerals, and once again supplies only malto-dextrin, rather than relying on fructose.

All in all, not a bad foray into the drinks world, for a company that previously only made workout-munchies, but I'll stick with my mail-order stuff.

November 6, 2005

post-race letdown

Well, I'm back from my day of volunteerism at the ING NY Marathon. In a few ways, it was a satisfying day - and certainly informative. As I wrote before, I will have no tribulations come next year about the logistics of race-day.

But right now, I'm feeling rather let down and disappointed. My position today was not nearly as useful as it should have been, or could have been. There were some communication issues and as a result both the guy next to me on the ham radio and myself ended up feeling about as useful as extra spleens. When you're walking around in an ING jacket and have credentials around your neck, you'd better have information. Whether walking or sitting behind a table, you ARE a helpdesk. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to help in the way either Dr. Maharam or I envisioned. These things will be addressed at the appropriate levels over the next few weeks as the various supervisors go through their post-mortem. For me, what transpired today - as well as some of the vents of the previous three days - have exposed some of the holes in the structure of the Marathon. It is not a perfect setup - but I don't think people realize HOW imperfect. Certainly the major needs and goals get accomplished. 36,894 runners have completed the course as of this writing. Nobody has died that I know of. The vast majority had a pleasant, happy, life-changing experience.

Logistics needs work, particularly communication between supervisors, staff, and volunteers. I will NOT go into the details here; they are not for public consumption. But they are details which will not please the race and medical directors, I suspect, and things will be set right for next time - of that I'm sure.

In the meantime, it was a frustrating day for other reasons. I wanted to volunteer to support the runners - and might have felt fulfilled on that count if I'd been able to do my job effectively. But as I was not, I found myself dwelling on that fact that for the last two years - while being completely uninvolved in NYRR - I was out there cheering the runners on in Brooklyn. But this year, with the best of intentions, ended up in a place where not only could I not cheer the runners on, I couldn't even see them run. Nor could I even hear the cheers of the crowd at the finish line or at Columbus Circle! I saw thousands of runners go by - walking - after they had retrieved their bags and were strolling the Family Reunion area looking for their rides home. All I could manage were many hearty "congratulations!" and to inquire with runners if they felt all right. I couldn't even help them if they weren't - I was not at a med tent and I'm not a medical technician of any type. In fact, due to regulations (all based on wise thinking I admit) I had to deny water to a couple of runners or family members of runners in distress who were pleading for some of the water I had at my station. Concerns of hyponutremia and all that. Fortunately, I was able to point to the Tent 7, about 50 yards away catty-corner from me, and insist they see the doctor in that tent, who I learned was an emergency room physician. These runners - ALL the runners on the course - were really in the best of medical hands. I am impressed with the field of physicians and specialists Dr. Maharam has assembled.

But I digress. I just felt pretty useless and ineffectual. I couldn't solve anybody's problems and I couldn't give them useful information. I would have been of more use to the runners, perhaps, screaming myself hoarse out here on 4th ave in Brooklyn where I live. They do say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I'm also afraid. I watched the faces of the runners as the day progressed. The leaders and the sub-3 hour marathoners all came in fast, clean; nothing but shoes, shorts, shirt, and a thousand-yard stare, as if looking forward to the next run. The 3 to 3-1/2 group began to have an inwardly reflective look - as if reviewing their race and finding flaws to improve on next time. This look could be seen up through the 4-hour marathoners, though looks of pure joy were also to be seen. Joy, satisfaction, and "wasn't that a good, solid run" were prevalent from 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hour runners. After that, the looks of fatigue became more obvious, then looks of shock started trickling in. This all got worse and worse until - as I was leaving at 6 p.m. - the stragglers crossing the finish line were walking zombies. They looked as empty and as spent and as forlorn as a child who'd just found out there is no Santa Claus; like there would be no tomorrow. These people - still all finishers! - looked as if this were an experience to be remembered only as painful, woefully drawn out, and cripplingly cruel. It can feel like that to anyone I suppose, but it LOOKED like that on these seven- and eight-hour finishers. What I have to remember is that my own first finish was NOT that bad, even though I was in pain. My next finish will be MUCH better and I devoutly hope I never look like that coming in after a race. To all who have yet to run their first marathon, and who are observing at the finish line, I strongly advise LEAVING after the five-hour group has come in, no later.

And now that I have THAT off my chest, I want to send out a HUGE and HEARTY congrats to Derek and Danny, both of whom ran decent races, Danny for his first marathon! I know, Derek, you're disappointed in your time and you have a right to be. I am still in awe of your skills. And Danny, I had you pegged as a five-hour marathon and you came in well under that. Given your leg problems and your recent cold or flu symptoms, I think you did a damn fine job!

To all the other brave bloggers who ran today; I salute you. I can't wait 'til next year.

November 4, 2005

Big Orange in the Big Apple

Okay, so Blogger apparently ate two other posts of mine. This is getting ridiculous.

I spent yesterday and today as a volunteer at the helpdesk at the NY Marathon Expo at the Javits Center. It's an exciting time, as all the runners come to pick up their bibs and bags. I learned a lot in my two days and will be much calmer - and better educated - going into my own marathon this time next year. There will be no guessing or wondering or last-minute questions because now - after answering several thousand questions - I KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS!!! or at least many of them.

Manning the help desk, I got to experience most of the problems that could be brought to bear. Very common: forgot to bring my registration card. No problem if you've got good ID. Most people do, some people don't. The mix of languages has been interesting. I'm proud to be able to help people whose language I don't understand and they don't particularly understand English. I helped people from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, France, Italy, England, Ireland, Russia, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, and the US. I helped people with very interesting names, including a few I had to go to the date of birth to identify, because there were three or four "Dave Jones" running. I even checked in Theodore Roosevelt.

Some problems are intractable -- people put estimated marathon times on the applications that are unrealistic or come in claiming a new and improved estimated time and they should get to change corrals. "I did this half marathon (handing me a printout from a race's website) in (pick a number...we'll say 1:50). So even though I'm placed in a corral with 4:30 marathoners, I should really be in the corral with the 3:45 marathoners, right?" No. You can't simply double your time; only the pros can run even or negative splits, dummy. YOU need to double, then tack on 30 minutes or more. You are in the correct corral!

People wanting earlier corrals often had proof of ability - but not documented, acceptable previous marathon time type proof. And they wonder why we don't want them moving into earlier corrals?

Other people...a handful....actually ended up in corrals WAY out of their league and they're going to be trampled. I counseled these people to go ahead and move back in corrals so they can run with their buddies and have a nice, relaxed marathon, instead of a terrifying start.

I mean, it's all in the Marathon Handbook people, didn't you read the handbook? No. Of course not. Here, let's send out 44,000 multi-page, glossy-coated collections of TOILET PAPER!

I felt proud of many of the people I met. Multiple marathons under their belts; people who run Boston-qualifying times regularly, etc. I felt most of the people are going to be just fine. A few I had doubts about; a handful who were clearly out of shape, some who were injured but determined to run, and several who were - quite simply - overly optimistic about their own ability. A half-marathon is one thing -- a whole marathon is three of them, get it? Some people seemed surprised when I described the rigors of racing beyond mile 18 or 20; that your body starts to put up a fight and doesn't want to keep going. Others seemed surprised that there were going to be hills -- big hills, including the bridges, and that the worst of all that is in the second half of the race.

Enough about the people, who were all very nice and patient, even though some were close to hysteria.

The other volunteers were sweethearts. Most of them were twice my age or more and most of them hadn't run a day in their lives. Like I've noted on other races, the volunteers seem to be drawn from the local nursing homes or something - though at least the CAPABLE residents. :) I worked next to one gentleman, Gil, who's been volunteering in various positions for the marathon for twenty-six years. He had a stroke in the recent past and had some trouble talking, but was very knowledgeable about the history of the marathon. He had been a track runner in his day, too, so he knew what the runners would be going through. He and I were the only runners at the helpdesk. While the others were all more experienced than I in doing helpdesk duties, they didn't have my energy, nor my experience running. I relied on them to learn the answers about where to go or who to ask or when to be there or how to fix a problem. But at the end of this evening, a few of the older volunteers thanked me for being there, that I did a great job, and that they learned a lot just listening to me, talking about race strategy and hydration and fueling and such with the runners (almost always to help keept hem calm and help them with the Big Picture). It got mentioned at dinner that it would be nice or should be a requirement, that all the runners volunteer somehow. I don't think that's realistic, but it is painfully clear that the marathon needs more volunteers who ARE runners!

Food: they fed us. Not the greatest food, but hey, it was there and it was free. And all the Poland Spring I could drink. Nice.

the expo: tons and tons of freebies. Some volunteers really worked the expo for swag, but I didn't. I'd swing through coming back from a meal or bathroom break and see what I could see in a couple of minutes and then got back to work. However, I did manage to come away today with several ice items. One guy gave me some titanium discs for pain. I'm not sure about this - sounds very new-age-y to me - but they were free. Another guy liked my compliments about Wigwam brand socks and handed me some sized runner's socks in another brand he sells. I got a few t-shirts, a water bottle, and a spiffy little messenger bag made out of some plastic that ING was giving away. More importantly, I got some sizzling deals on new running shoes! I got my hard-to-find New Balance 991B's for $15 less than I paid last time (they're still expensive); and got a pair for my sister for $20 less than she can find them at. Good score.

I'm worn out. It's been great volunteering, and I'll do it again next year. Tomorrow, I'll be helping at the Friendship Run and Sunday I'll be in the medical information tent beyond the finish line.

What I've learned:
- bring your photo ID, current with updated name and address
- don't lose your number AT the expo the day you pick it up. You will look like an idiot.
- signing up for a pace team might be a problem if you haven't ALREADY run a similar pace in a previous marathon. (Hopefully they'll get the bugs in this Pace Team thing ironed out.)
- All you really need is your bib and chip. Everything else flows from that.
- don't miss your bus to Staten Island. Bring a magazine and something to eat and drink, because you're gonna be there a while.
- accept your number and corral graciously and realize that nobody runs NY to make a personal best - you do it to have fun. You want a personal best - go run something smaller and flatter.
- the volunteers are not the staff and they don't have all the answers in the first hour
- it is neat to wear orange
- wear good shoes
- there are a lot of very fast women running this race
- 44,000 names single-spaced, two-sided STILL takes hundreds of pages and one's ability to alphabetize decreased as one spends more time doing so.
- parking isn't a problem when you have a motorcycle. I found a very, very unconventional spot that was very, very free just a block and a half from the convention center

got to get to bed; up early again tomorrow!

November 1, 2005

Rundown: Recoveries and Tapers

There are marathons, and then there are marathons - those that are on the radar of even the most ignorant non-runner. This week, we focus on two of those: The incredible Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. and, of course, the Big Daddy in the Big Apple - the NY Marathon.

Several bloggers put their shoes on and got all leatherneck in the streets of our nation's capital for the 30th annual Marine Corps Marathon. Uptown Girl Elyssa, a member of the Reservoir Dogs, had the right attitude going into the race: "I must admit my mental toughness for this race was sky high...there was no way I was going to bonk on this...nothing was going to stop me from 'sub 4'. haha." Her mile-by-mile description is fantastic and will make you want to run the MCM next year! She finished fabulously and has every right to crow about it: "Did I really just run a 3:45 marathon??? I cross the finish line and the feeling was just immense. I didn't cry this year but it just was astonishment. I really was in disbelief that I did it. I know many of my friends will say "not surprised" but it's just so different to rock a marathon as opposed to shorter races. I had set a 21 minute PR from last year's NYCM. Well I rocked, dismantled, and anihilated the Marine Corps Marathon!!!!"

Bexgirl, a member of Jeanne's entourage, jumped in to provide motivation and makes notes on the many many Iraq vets who ran, walked, or hobbled the course. Also, congrats to Lisa, who nearly qualified for Boston (and will in Houston!), Erica who finished despite hitting the wall early at mile 15, and Ken, who ran what I think is his first marathon for his friend Julie. He turned in a remarkable 3:33:48!

And then there is the NY Marathon which - though the same 26.2 all the others are - remains in non-runners' consciousness as the Big One. And it IS big! Though overshadowed by Boston for long-time runners, the NY Marathon is the novice's holy grail. And it's perhaps the only marathon that could be said to be several races spread out over a period of months: the sponsored long training runs in Central Park lead in, then the Marathon really kicks off with the Kickoff 5-miler, which NYFlyGirl ran brilliantly as a first come-back race after burning out on racing earlier. JC also ran the Kickoff and is so happy with how it turned out she's on a permanent runner's high.

Then, of course, there's the Friendship Run at the UN, which yours truly will be a marshall for, and the expo, where you can meet Pere Pujol, a member of the International Medical Marathon Directors Association, which meets every year the day before the NY Marathon and is this year concentrating on hyponutremia. And come Sunday: Marathon!

Right now, 44,000 runners are in their taper for this event - and the nervousness, jitters, excitement, and mono-mania are everywhere apparent. Danny, in his unending fretting over his splits and his feet, still sticks to his training schedule and ran 8 last Sunday. Don't worry Dan - you're going to be fine! One man just RAN a marathon using what he calls a "new-age training technique and a month long taper". And now he's going to run NY this weekend! His biggest worry is his dried-out blister; no doubt he'll do fine. Perhaps Treads Space put it best: "The NY marathon is one week from today and I must say I'm a ball of nerves.  Chris and I went for a run in Central Park yesterday and they already have the bleachers set up and the signs hung around the park.  It was pretty cool to finish my run yesterday right where I will on marathon day...knowing I'll be right there after 26.2 was a pretty cool feeling."

Good luck and good legs to all the runners; the blogging community will be anxiously awaiting your after-marathon posts!