Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Helloooo Brooklyn!

At 5:15 am on Saturday morning, I began my journey towards Brooklyn, New York, United States.

This was my second time competing in the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and last year contained the following exciting highlights:

1. I was late

2. I didn't attach my D-Tag correctly and therefore have no official time for that race

3. It was my first endurance event! (explains #2)

4. My dad was in town for the first time ever

This year, not to be totally outdone by last year contained these slightly variant exciting highlights:

1. I arrived on time, and with enough time to see my friends prior to the race

2. The weather was beautiful - a 5 hour window of sunshine amidst weeks of gloom and doom

3. I found a way not to die of morbid boredom on the 6 mile stretch of Ocean Parkway

4. I was able to celebrate for several hours afterwards in the beautiful sunshine with my amazing DetermiNation crew.

5. I PR'ed with a time of 1:39 - woohoo! Unfortunately though, this put me at 13th for my age division, meaning I did not place. Close, but no guitar, in the words of Mary Kate.

the only picture I took on race day - my friends Jacqui and Sara - care bears care!

The beautiful weather and my wonderful friends made this event a rousing success in my mind. That, along with the NYRR volunteers, many of whom arrived on the course at 1 am, who worked tirelessly to make sure that the race ran smoothly from the starting line-up to the water stations along the course to the bagels, apples and bevvies handed out post-race. That being said. What is the deal with apples at the finish line these days? The same thing happened at the UAE 10k. Not that I hate apples, but where are the bananas??!?

Banana phone calling...where are you bananas?!?

Anyway. I am proud to report that the DetermiNation team raised over $30,000 through this event and are still accepting donations now (duh) if you would like to contribute! Visit our team page!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Manhattan has an Olive Garden?

Yes, in addition to the (dozens? hundreds? millions??) of delicious, authentic Italian restaurants at varying price points throughout the island of Manhattan, it has recently come to my attention that there are also at least two Olive Gardens here. And people, apparently eat there.

Not that there's anything wrong with the Olive Garden! I went to one once in Augusta, Maine and enjoyed the salad a great deal more than I expected to, and of course whatever pasta + pound of cheese combo I ordered.

However, still shocking that when one can go here or here, one would choose to meander to the Olive Garden, which is conveniently located in every other city in the United States.

How did I find this out?

The Olive Garden, which I have just spent the last several paragraphs degrading, generously donated pasta, salad and breadsticks for 50 people to the American Cancer Society for our DetermiNation pasta dinner on Friday night. So....thanks!

I went to go pick up the food prior to the dinner with 2 fellow volunteers and while waiting for our order, perused the menu. In New York City, chain restaurants are required to post calorie counts on their menus. Let's just say that the calorie counts of some of our favorite Italian-American classics are maybe not what we would hope they would be. A dish that was 800 calories started to look "low-cal" to me.

My big question upon leaving the restaurant can you look at this menu, see a 1400-calorie alfredo dish and think "yup. That's the one. I'm going to order that." I mean, doesn't that strike you as sort of insane? But people obviously do order these dishes, even here in NYC where they are fully aware of the damage it's doing to their waistline.

Makes me sort of feel like shaking them and saying, stop being an idiot, don't eat that! It's not rocket science.

Anyway, the spaghetti and marinara sauce we enjoyed was not one of the grosser offenders and we did very much appreciate the Olive Garden's generosity. Now if only we can get A Voce to cater next year's dinner, then we'll really be set.

Even more enjoyable than the food was the venue - we were able to hold our dinner at the Hope Lodge, which has recently been re-done and looks really wonderful. Such a special place for patients receiving treatment in the city and staying at the Lodge.

The sweet Lindsay spoke at our dinner, giving us athletes a heartfelt reminder of why we run. Check out her words on the American Cancer Society's blog here. Her speech really hit home because we all have an inspiration when we run, and for many of us on the DetermiNation team, it's a loved one we've seen suffer from cancer. Thinking of them, their perserverance and strength, keep us moving through those moments when we feel like we don't have any juice left. If they can fight cancer, we can take another step.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Last weekend, I signed up for the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K with two friends of mine - one of my roommates, who is a marathoning champion, and another friend who is a fitness-ing champion and is just starting to get hooked on running.

First of all, what a thrill it is to bring another friend into the weird world of running long distances, by yourself, early in the morning on the weekends while everyone else is still sleeping off their hangover and will be for quite some time!

Welcome, Nicole!

And sorry for stealing that photo from your facebook album.

And this one. Normal cats we are not.

Second of all, what a thrill it is to run another race for a great cause. The National Kidney Foundation is not a foundation I've supported in the past, but one thing I really enjoy about road races is that so many of them sponsor charitable causes. By signing up, you are not only doing your own health a favor, you are also helping to raise vital awareness and funds for non-profits in your area! Win-win-win-win. Too many wins? Or not enough?

This was my first 10K eva and I wasn't sure what to expect. This is what I found: a lot of people. Goodness gracious. Almost 8,000 of my nearest and dearest squeezed themselves into Central Park to run just over a lap. This was amazing and I'm so thrilled for the National Kidney Foundation that their event was so successful, however, it did make for some interesting race conditions.

I am all for men and women who are either getting back into fitness or getting into a fit lifestyle for the first time. love it love it love it. What I do not necessarily love, however, is when these people overestimate how fast they can complete a race and find themselves, and all their friends they signed up with, in my corral a.k.a. my territory. I seriously spent the first several miles moving laterally rather than forward trying to get around groups of - pardon my language - slow pokes. And in a 6 mile race, the first several miles is about half of the entire thang!

Oh well. Still glad there was such a tremendous turnout.

In terms of timing, I also didn't know what to expect. I'd casually run the 4 mile Run For Haiti last winter with Ellen, and a very casual 5K with Ellen and Nicole and a slew of other biddies for the awesome cause Energy Up! last spring (incidentally, I wore the same shirt that day as I did this day! Go Team Cougarz!), but other than that I've only run half marathons and the recent full marathon.

after our victory lap at the Race for Haiti! note the snow. not warm.

I ended up winning the race, so that was a nice surprise, although on the New York Road Runners website, they've misprinted my name so it appears that I am a Kenyan man. This is an enormous oversight and I'm working with their web administrator to correct it.

No but seriously, despite what I felt was a sort of "meh" time, I did place for my age group which is SICK. Of course, my age group is extremely slow, but what can you do? I chalked it up to the fact that 20-24 year olds likely skip training runs to go to happy hours. NOT that I ever do that, of course, but those other hooligan 20-24 year olds surely do.


Anyway, all of the age-group placers names are listed on the NYRR website in conjunction with this race. That's right, my name is on the internet! And not even in a bad way!

This race was really a training run for my upcoming half marathon, the Brooklyn Half, also known as my first endurance event eva. Once again, I'm running on behalf of the American Cancer Society, support my fabulous team if you haven't already! Super psyched to return and hope to rock it!