Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday 13: Thanksgiving Edition

Yes, it's a little late, but it'still technically Thanksgiving, so I haven't missed the boat entirely!  Without further ado, Thirteen Things for which I am grateful this year, in no particular order:

  1. My health. Yes, I know, the last two weeks haven't exactly been stellar in this regard,with the knee thing and then this whole removal of optional organs and such, but, on balance, I am a healthy person, and for that, I am eternally grateful. My heredity certainly does not wire me to be so - I should be severely obese, hypertensive, diabetic and otherwise unhealthy, so that I am fit enough to complete four marathons this year is a pretty cool thing. 
  2. A job with a good paycheck and benefits. The other thing that was brought to mind this week is that when the doctors said "You need this operation," I was able to schedule it without hesitation as to how it would be paid for. And when I realized I had to go to the ER last week, I was able to do that without hesitation because I have decent health coverage. I know not everyone is as fortunate. 
  3. My husband. I have been through a lot this year, and he has been with me along every step of the way. He was supportive and encouraging at every turn, and even when I did some stupid things that could have been taken otherwise, he never doubted or questioned me or my love for him. Never. I am truly lucky to have such an awesome partner in my life. 
  4. My oldest son. He is exactly like me in nearly every way. Which means we butt heads more often than not. But we also understand each other, as much as a mother can ever understand her 15 year-old son. We "get" each other like nobody else in our family gets us. And he loves his momma and still gives me hugs and sits next to me on the couch to watch TV with me. 
  5. My youngest son. He is nothing like me. Nothing at all. He is artistic and musical and sensitive and caring. He brings me happiness and light with his scary smart wit and sense of humor, every day of our lives.  He loves his momma. And he is my biggest cheerleader. 
  6. My friends. Here is where I want to say "my running friends," but I also hesitate to do that, because the friends I have met through running have become more than just running partners. I have found some amazing people that have truly shaped my life and influenced me and motivated me and inspired me in ways that I could not have imagined. I am a better person because of them. I am so lucky to have added such wonderful people to my already overflowing list of friends. 
  7. My traveling buddies. I had an amazing experience in New York for the marathon this year, in large part because of the special women that shared the trip with me. It was a lifetime event, and I am so blessed to have had them along for the ride. We will do it again!! 
  8. My home. It is a warm, safe, and a loving environment for my family and for my friends. It is always open to anyone, any time of day, as long as they don't mind a little cat hair on them. 
  9. The EBV. My car isn't much to look at, with its missing side panel and slew of bumper stickers on it (I always swore I'd never be THAT person, but lookie there, I am THAT person now!), but what I love most about my car is that despite the water bottles on the floorboard, clif bar wrappers stuck in the crannies and the random hockey stick, golf clubs and/or speedskates in the back, it gets me all over FW-D so that I can meet up and run with all of my running friends. "Have shoes, will travel" is my motto and I love that my little car will get me to whatever trail, path, street corner or bakery in Waco I need to be at to Run It Out with my friends!
  10. Twitter. Yes, Twitter. and Daily Mile and Facebook.  Call them social media, call them an online community. Whatever. All of my friends and my support network in my computer keep me going when I don't feel like going out to run, and keep me sane when I want to run and can't. I don't think anyone who isn't involved in these networks can ever know how important they can become to us who have formed true relationships through them. 
  11. Sunny days. Need I say more? Nothing quite like running outside on a sunshine day, with mottled light coming through the trees. Nothing in the world. 
  12. Muddy trails. Makes it a little less painful when I inevitably trip and fall!! 
  13. The future. With this year behind me as far as racing and running goes while I rehab this broken body of mine, I am looking forward to what comes next. I have learned I can make all the plans I want and it may not mean anything, so I am excited to see what the future holds for me.  
I am most grateful for these guys.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I haven't bought my NYCM pics yet, since the expendable cash we had laying around off the money tree in the back is being used for this little medical procedure of mine, but I did want to share a couple of the pics from Brightroom from the race. They had photographers at a ridiculous number of spots along the course, and I am impressed that they were able to get as many clear individual shots of me as they did, considering the crowds along the route the whole way. Granted, by the time I made it into Central Park, the runners had thinned considerably, but it's still a monumental task.

I am going to be getting the plaque with the replica bib and a second medal in it, but I am having a hard time deciding which picture to use. I'm not sure if I should use one from early in the race, when my knees weren't bandaged up like a mummy and I looked like I was still having fun, or one from later on when I was clearly laboring to get to the finish. A couple of these pretty clearly show the amount of pain I was in, and while I'm kinda-sorta horrified by how miserable I look, at the same time, they do show the whole this-marathon-thing-ain't-easy. So, I'm still deciding, and I will have a little more time to mull it over since I have to save the pennies again until I can order them!

I think I like this one best. Smiling and kinda running...

Clearly walking but still smiling

yeah, I'm kinda hurting here.. 

Not sure what was going on here!!

I was running in this one... almost

Smile or grimace? You be the judge!

Lurch, lurch, lurch. Forward motion, baby... 

Running through the finish.

Happy & smiling at mile 13! WOOT! 

I don't even remember taking this picture... 

Thought bubble: "Well, this kinda sucks... "

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday Thirteen, the Gall Bladder Edition

Wheee!  Are we having fun yet? No? Oh, just wait!!

  1. I have to have my gall bladder taken out. Right away. Like, the doctor wanted to do it tomorrow. I begged off until Tuesday. Mostly because I have to bake for Thanksgiving and ain't no way that's happening if I go under the knife tomorrow. So, priorities, people!!! 
  2. We figured out I have gall stones after I spent two excruciating hours at the local doc-in-a-box, followed by two more excruciating hours at the ER, followed by two kinda-nice-wow-these-are-cool-drugs hours there. This was after a few hours at home in severe agony fighting chills and profuse sweating, nausea and almost-vomiting.* Apparently, gall bladder issues are fairly common among Hispanic women in their 40s. Taking estrogen, BC pills and other girl-hormones exacerbates them, sometimes. Yeah, that's me... (raising my hand sheepishly). 
  3. My ER doc is a marathoner. Fast enough to qualify for Boston. Ran Chicago on 10/10. Shook his head, albeit understandingly, when I asked if I could wait until after White Rock to do the surgery. Damn. 
  4. So, no White Rock for me this year. Which means no Maniacs for me this year. F.M.L.  Crap. I have cried many tears over this. Many. But I have awesome friends who remind me that even if I don't qualify for Maniacs this year, that doesn't make me any less crazy... gee, thanks, guys!! 
  5. These same friends have assured me that if need be, they will break up my next marathon into chunks and relay it with me to get me to my sub 5:00 goal. THAT is awesomeness, I have to say. Which is why I love my friends. Not my "running friends." No, these are my friends. True friends. 
  6. To get Maniacs, I would have needed 3 full marathons in 90 days. The plan had been Tyler, NYCM and White Rock. My next marathon (ultra) is Bandera 50K. On January 8. 91 days after Tyler. SERIOUSLY?! 
  7. I will still be at White Rock. I will be cheering. Quite possibly, I will be wearing a tutu. And holding glitter signs. And taking pictures and otherwise being obnoxious. If you are running White Rock, please tell me so I can watch for you and cheer for you. LOUDLY! 
  8. The knee feels better. I went to Active Spine & Sport in Fort Worth, based on several recommendations, and I have to say, YES! They were great. He hurt me and made me cry, but it was in a John-Cougar-Hurts-So-Good kind of way. And I ran hills this morning, and the knee held up. We will continue working with him after I get the gall bladder removed and can resume running again. We kind of need to do a trial-and-error thing on the knee to make sure we're fixing the right thing, so I need to be able to test it and give the doc feedback, so we are postponing heavy PT on it for now. 
  9. I have only run 46 miles in November. 26 of those were in the marathon. I am really glad I have already hit my mileage goal for the year.. November will be my lowest mileage month all year. Bah. 
  10. This will be the first year since I started running that I will not be doing the FW Turkey Trot. That sucks. I was all set to PR on that course, too. Not that I will be eating any cheesecake that day anyway. 
  11. I very much am waiting for this movie to come out on DVD. The power of the unicorn, baby. 
  12. Until this gall bladder is removed, I cannot eat anything greasy, fatty or otherwise having taste and flavor. Which explains my craving for a big bowl of fried rice chased by a chocolate milkshake. Gah. 
  13. I am currently listening to this song in SEVERELY heavy rotation.  It's much deeper and very sad if you stop and  listen to it, but the title just kind of spoke to me this week. Yeah, I'm feeling kinda broken right now. 

*I don't vomit. I just don't. I can remember doing it only once in my life, and that was after drinking orange juice on an empty stomach while pregnant with my first son. I hate the sound, smell and idea of vomit and I will do nearly anything to avoid it. I knew something was very wrong with me when I would have preferred to vomit and have it done with than to hurt like I did on Tuesday. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

DNF #2 & Deep Fried Funk

I rested the whole week after NYCM, to give the knees a break. They didn't hurt all week. Maybe that was because I didn't run all week? In any case, Saturday morning broke clear and crisp and COLD and I was so excited to go out to Lake Grapevine and finally get my run on and hit the trails for a little 15K at the Rockledge Rumble. I planned to take it nice & easy and just enjoy the day and enjoy my transition from road racing to trail running.

Katie & Kevin - Kevin ran his first ultra on Saturday! WOOT!
My knees had other ideas. After meeting (FINALLY) with Kate and Kevin (the most adorable couple ever) at the start and chatting briefly with Jeremy who was out there volunteering, we watched the 50K group take off, then it was our turn.The first part of the route was on pavement as we ran down the road from the pavilion to the trail head. The first few steps felt great - my body was saying, "Oh, yeah, running, I remember that. It's what we were doing until Mile 23 last week. Cool."  But after about a quarter-mile, my left knee twinged a little. I thought it just needed to warm up, so I didn't give it much thought.

Start of Rockledge Rumble 50K.

Then we turned onto a grassy area before the trailhead and the footing was slightly uneven. Not much, but more uneven than the pavement. And it twinged again. Not enough to slow me down, but enough that I knew it was there. Then we turned onto the path. And it felt so good to run again. And it was a glorious morning and the trail is amazing and I was so happy to be out there. And then, the first slight little descent. And by slight, I mean SLIGHT. And there it was again. Ouch. Twinge?  Tweak? Pain? Maybe not pain, but I had to stop and think whether I could seriously do this for another 8 miles. And even if I could, should I?

I had toyed with the idea of doing the Fort Worth marathon on Sunday, too, thinking that even if I ran slow and didn't think about my finish time that I would qualify for Maniacs once and for all. I didn't have any knee pain or popping or anything all week, so I was still holding to hope that I might be able to do it. But after about 800 yards on the trails, I knew that wasn't going to happen. I knew that the run on the trails wasn't going to happen. The knee was twinging on every step, more so if it was a descent. There are many more miles to run, and more goals to meet, so I had to stop and turn around.

It sucked. I know it was the right thing to do. But it was an absolutely gorgeous day. No, really. I cannot remember a more perfect day for running through the woods. And then there was the uncertainty that started to creep in about what is wrong with my knee. It was a long walk back to the car, let me tell you what. By the time I got there, I was nearly in tears. And then I called a friend I was supposed to meet after the race to let her know that I would be there early, and the tears started. And I cried the whole way to where I was meeting her. It was the start of a very emotional up & down weekend for me.

Train for a marathon as your singular focus for five months. Come up short on your time goal, despite it being an overall amazing experience. Hurt yourself in the process. Don't run for a week trying to make it better and find out, no, you're still broken. Throw all that in a pot and stir it up, and you're going to have some serious funk, I tell you what. I tried to lift myself out of it by cheering on some friends at the FW marathon the next day, and that did help some, but mostly, I just felt jealous of all the runners out there on another picture-perfect day. It was another up & down emotional roller coaster of a day.

yay! my buddies on course at Fort Worth marathon.
I staved off my jealousy long enough to cheer for them...
Luckily, I have some great friends and an amazing husband, all of whom have been very supportive and encouraging and reassuring. So much of my identity is tied into running and it's scary to think that I am going to be sidelined for any amount of time. What happens to a runner if they can't run? What am I then? What happens if I trained for so long and the rest of my body is ready and willing to run hard at White Rock and get Maniacs and fulfill my goals, but my stupid knees won't cooperate? Then what?  Yeah. I'm kind of a mess.

I have an appointment later today with a highly recommended sports therapy clinic in Fort Worth. I am hoping and praying for good news and a fast recovery. I don't just want to run again... I need to run again. I need to break out of this funk now and I can't do it if I can't Run It Out.  I have focused on running for so long that I am kind of a mess without it. I would have to re-invent myself if I can't run, and dammit, I can't do that right now. I don't want to do that right now. Sigh.

More to come, I'm sure...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Number 10, Part II

This is part II of my 2010 New York Marathon race report. See The Good here. 

The Bad: 
  • Camera snafu, Part 1 –I knew the batteries on my small camera were running low, so I included batteries on my shopping list and made sure to bring them with me in my beltpack. I had taken a test pic when I left the house to make sure the memory card was in there, and we were good to go. Or were we? On the way to the subway, I took a pic of the subway sign (To Staten Island Ferry, or whatever it said) and then another when I left the subway. When we arrived at the ferry station, I tried to take another pic and got a message telling me the internal memory card was full.  Ex-squeeze me? So, use the external memory card… that isn’t there.  SERIOUSLY?!  Moment of panic. Am I really not going to have any pics of the race itself?  Oh, noes!  Then I spot the gift shop in the station and beeline for them, before the hordes of others coming off the boat. Yes, he has a memory card. Yes, it fits my camera. $17 please. OK, here’s that nifty credit card I jammed in my belt pack (not ATM card, credit card) – here ya go! What? Cash only?  SERIOUSLY? OK, not a problem, I have cash… (start pulling out and counting bills).. Ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15…16… After paying for my subway ticket and my pre-race banana, I have $16 cash. Not $17.  SERIOUSLY?!  Thankfully the guy takes pity on me and takes my money, smiles and sends me on my way. Whew!  Crisis averted.
  • Camera snafu, Part 2 – So, I’m taking pics as we get on the ferry (although I did make time for a quick snooze – had to rest up, right?), and as we walked from the ferry to the buses, and once I got to the Runners’ Village, there were tons of photo ops. And then, the batteries died. No problem, I knew they were running low. So I pulled them out, put the ones I brought in and turned the camera back on… Nothing. At this point, the 10:10 wave had just started and they were about to let us into the corrals. But the stupid camera wasn’t working. I checked the batteries again, making sure I had them in the right way… Plus sign up, yes, plus sign up. Minus sign up, yes, minus sign up. Try again. NOTHING. GRRRR. So after spending all my money on a memory card I am still going to not have pics?  SERIOUSLY?!  Oy. So before I had a complete fit and tossed the camera away (not really, it’s practically brand-new, but you can imagine!), I thought, let me try one more time. Let’s flip the batteries around, just for grins & giggles. And whaddyaknow? Viola! It worked. The little plus and minus sign meant you put the plus or minus in first, not at the top! Doh! Um, that was a stupid way to do it, Kodak, just so you know, mkay?  But, at least I  had a working camera and a functioning memory card. So camera crisis #2 averted. Whew!
  • Clothing – So, we all know about the Texas flag skirt, right? It’s gorgeous, and it was comfy and the first one John ordered for my birthday was just a smidge too tight (I blame the spandex in it and NOT my affinity for cheesecake). So I returned it and prayed that the right size would arrive in time for my trip. And it did, but not in time for me to wear it on a test-run. And, yes, I know. Rookie mistake. Don’t ever do anything for a marathon that you haven’t tried before on a long run. But, have you seen the skirt? It’s SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE! I HAD to wear the skirt. Had to. Even if I’d never worn it before marathon day. Even if it ended up that the larger size meant the legs on the boy shorts underneath were also larger and so they didn’t fit as snugly as I would have preferred. Even if it meant they rode up more than I would have liked once I started moving. Even if it meant that I spent the first six miles tugging at the right leg of the boy shorts underneath the awesome Texas flag skirt trying to make it stay put so it wouldn’t roll and wouldn’t chafe. Thank goodness for BodyGlide, because I ended up not having any trouble with chafing, but it was just really annoying fussing with those shorts for the first bit until I found a comfy position for them. And I’m sure Jared enjoyed watching me reaching under my skirt periodically while he ran behind me/beside me in those first few miles!! LMAO! Yeah, I will wear the skirt again, but only after a little tailoring to get the legs a little tighter – then they should be fine and good to go for any occasion!

  • Fluids on course – The official course drink was Gatorade Endurance formula, Lemon-Lime. I am a fan of Lemon-Lime Gatorade. I use it often. I actually alternate between it and Blue Powerade (despite the fact that Blue is NOT a flavor!) and enjoy the old-school taste.  But I have never used the Endurance formula, and even the regular stuff I typically water down in my bottles to about half-strength, with an added pinch of salt. And that’s what I had in my bottle. Except that I left the hotel without my extra throwaway water bottle, so on the subway trip, ferry ride and bus trip to the start, I had no fluids on me except my patented Gatorade/water mix. And I knew I needed to get fluids in me, so I drank some of that. I knew I could replenish my bottle at the stops, so I wasn’t worried about that at all. What I didn’t count on is that the Endurance formula was just too strong for me. It didn’t sit well with me after the race. Plus, it was mixed to a really strong concentration, so even when I watered it down it was still very sweet and it stuck to the back of my throat in a really nasty way, long after the race was done. Lesson learned – take extra water for pre-race, take two bottles of your own fluid mixed the way you like it for during the race, and supplement with plain water only during designated fuel stops. The thing is, I know this. I just slipped up when I walked out of the hotel without the extra water bottle. Doh.
  • Timing/Coordination – Timing my food for the morning of this race was tricky. I had a clif bar and some water when I left the hotel as my breakfast, but knew that I was going to need my pre-race meal about an hour prior to the start. That worked out well, but it was dicey having to wait so long before I could actually start running. And I walked way more than I had hoped to, from the ferry station to the buses and then all through Runners’ Village, which was HUGE!  So, while the logistics were really well-handled by the race coordinators – I cannot imagine the intricacies of getting 45,000 people to where they need to be in the space of four hours – I was unnerved by how it was all going to come together. The time actually went by pretty quickly, so I am glad it didn’t seem like four hours between the time I left the hotel and when I started to enter the corrals.  The other thing that required more thought than I preferred for such a mundane task was timing my rest stops!  I have never had to stop for a bio-break during a marathon. I typically hit the porta-potty right before the start (depending on lines, so I can be done about 20 minutes beforehand) and then my body just shuts down for the duration.  But, the timing of this race and the fluids I had taken in before the race start, coupled with the very LONG wait in the corrals and at the foot of the bridge before the start, made a quick stop a necessity at about mile 8. I was lucky that by that time, there were no line, and I only lost a few minutes, but it was still a matter of timing and volume of the fluid intake prior to the race that even necessitated that stop. I know Jared jumped ahead of me by a few minutes during that pit-stop!  And that brings me to the last “bad” part of the race for me…
  • Porta-Potties – Yes, I know we all prefer indoor plumbing. But the porta-potty is a necessity for a situation like this, where you have 45,000 well-hyrdated athletes in one place at one time. And I know it must be a feat to gather as many as are needed for this event (I think the website said they use a total of 2300 for the whole race, about half of those at the start), much less make sure they are all clean and fresh.  But seriously, eeew. I hate having to use one. Hate, hate, hate it. Let’s just say I’m very glad I carried my own baby wipes and hand sanitizer with me along the way & leave it at that, mkay? <>

The Ugly:
  • Queensboro Bridge – I guess it’s a good thing that the first Ugly thing on my list doesn’t come up until Mile 15, huh?  At the halfway point, on the small bridge from Brooklyn into Queens (forgive me for not knowing the official name), I was right on pace for a 5-hour finish, maybe with a little time to spare if I could negative split this. And I really felt like I could. I was feeling good, didn’t have any fatigue in my legs even to this point, and my nutrition and hydration were right on (hadn’t reached the point where I was gagging on the back of my throat from the Gatorade aftertaste yet). I had not been looking at my watch and I had been trying to ignore the clocks at each mile marker until then, because I didn’t want to get my hopes up, and more importantly, because I didn’t want to make myself go slower than I was capable of.  There is no spoon, remember? So if a 10:30 felt comfortable, not too fast and not something I couldn’t maintain, then I wasn’t going to slow myself down to an 11:15 or 11:30 just because I thought I needed to. It was better if I just ignored the time and ran by feel, so as I hit my splits manually, I never rolled my sleeve up to look at the time for each. So when I saw the clock at the 13-mile marker, and adjusted for my start lag, I was feeling really good about my chances to hit the time goal. And then… the Queensboro Bridge. Going up the bridge was not a problem. Yes, I felt the slight incline. I could sense the combined groaning and reaching of everyone around me as we all struggled with the impact of the uphill onto the apex of the bridge. But I don’t feel like it slowed me down significantly – the uphill was not an issue for me. It might have slowed me a tad, but the effort was not particularly perceptible (my split for mile 16 was 11:50, so I guess it did slow me down). I do remember thinking, “just crest the top and then it’s downhill to Manhattan. You can do this.”  But, I forgot about my knees. For some reason, I was feeling good enough at that point that I had forgotten about my knees and their aversion to the downhill. So while everyone else on that bridge was enjoying the free speed, and the little relief from no longer slogging uphill, I was starting to hurt on that ever-so-slight incline into Manhattan. With every step, my quads were pounding and the tops of my knees were starting to ache. And by “ache” I mean burn like there were pokers in them. Both knees. WTF?!  And by the time I got off the bridge and made the turn into Manhattan, well, that’s when things got even uglier.
F'ng bridge....
  • First Avenue – first off, the crowds off First Avenue were epic! I loved it. So many people jammed onto both sides of the streets, ten people deep in some spots. It was greatness. And I am familiar with this stretch because when I first started working in Manhattan, I stayed up on 92nd & First, and would run down the Hudson to the bridge and then back up on 1st street. So I knew what the elevation was like. I enjoyed the elevation at the time – it was always a nice negative split to run the route like that. But with the knees already hurting, the 2 ½ mile downhill stretch was mucho no bueno. It was mucho, mucho, mucho no bueno. It was OMG, I’m hobbling make it stop hurting no bueno. Does it make me feel better that the bridge took out Haile Geb, too? Not really… OK, maybe a little. At least I wasn’t the only one who suffered on that damn bridge and paid for it even more on First Avenue.
First Avenue toward the Bronx
  • The Medical Tent, Part 1 – So when I saw the medical tent somewhere between 16 and 18, I decided to stop and get my knees taped for the extra support. I knew it would take a few minutes out of my time for that split, but with the pain I was in, I also knew it would be worth it, a small price to pay if it meant I could get a few more pain-free (or at least pain-reduced) miles out of my knees. And it was worth it. I slowed the slow-down for the next miles (hearing my at-bat song helped about this time, too), and mentally, it gave me confidence that I could keep going a little longer. I have to give big kudos to the medical staff at this stop – I was in and out as quick as could be. They scanned my bib, sat me down and had me on my way in less than two minutes. Really, this section could be in the “Good” part, that the medical tent was so awesome. But it’s in the “Ugly” part because, really, who wants to be in the medical tent at all during a marathon? Not I, said the cat.
  • The Bronx Bridges There are two tiny little bridges leading into and out of the Bronx. Compared to Queensboro and Pulaski, they are barely blips on the radar. But by the time I got to them, even with the wraps on my knees, I was hurting really badly. And my times were slowing down.  At Mile 20, my time goal was still well within my reach. I had about an hour and 12 minutes to go 10K.  Totally doable. Even at a 12:00/mile pace. I had this. I was hurting, but I had this. At mile 21, I had exactly one hour to go five miles and change. I thought it might still be possible. Except that the last 1/8 of a mile before Mile 21 was an ever-so-slight downhill. And it killed me. I couldn’t keep running. I had to slow to a walk. And that’s when the wheels started to loosen. I knew I would finish – that was a foregone conclusion. But I also realized then that the 5:00 finish was not to be. I pulled a page from the quiz show handbook then and Phoned-a-Friend. She didn’t answer, and it was almost just as well, because I was kinda-sorta a mess by then. I was bawling and crying and saying things like, “I know I can do this, but I’m not going to get 5:00. I’m not going to get 5:00. Tell me it’s OK that I’m not going to get 5:00.”  It was sad, and thinking back on it, a little funny, that I was so in need of someone to tell me that it was OK that I finish outside of a time goal that I had set for myself. Nobody else on this planet needed me to bring home a 4:XX. But I was just so frustrated at that point. I had done one or two of my patented primal screams going over the bridges before I made that call.  I startled one or two people, but many more than that heard me and looked at me and understood. One guy said to me, “Yeah, that’s it, let it out. Let it out and keep moving.”  They got it. They knew. The Bronx Bridges were not a good place for me.  
  • Watching it slip awayAt mile 21, I had an hour left for five miles. I could do this. But at mile 22, with a 14-minute split, my window of opportunity was closing fast. And that was when, mentally, the wheels just fell off. Crap. There was no way I could do it. And when I crossed the Mile 23 sign and saw the official time as 5:32, I knew it was done. I can do a 30-minute 5K. But not with both knees taped. Not when it just took all I had to go the last mile out of the Bronx over those damn bridges. And that was so crushing. Then, to make matters worse…
Buh-bye 5:00... 
  • Getting Juked by Jared - At mile 23, I heard people cheering for him behind me, and even though I’d been walking for a while by then, it gave me enough of a boost that I ran for about a ¼ mile, thinking, “Oh, hells no, you are NOT getting in front of me now!”  But after a bit, my knees gave in again and I believe they said, “Have a good run, Jared. Go for it,” and I slowed enough that he passed me. But I have to say, when he was behind me, he was hurting. I’ve seen that look on his face before, trust me. Congrats to him on a good run.
  • The Crying – I swore up and down that I would NOT sit on the curb and cry this race. And I stuck to that. I did not sit on the curb and cry at any point in this race. I actually did not stop moving at any time during this race, except twice to stretch – once in Central Park after I saw my girls before we exited the park the first time, and again before Columbus Circle. But that is not to say that there was no crying. Oh, there was crying. But unlike in Fort Worth, where it was OMG-it-hurts-to-have-blisters-on-my-feet-and-my-hips-hurt-so-bad crying, this was angry crying. This was pissed off crying. This was crying mixed with rage.  Ugly, hitching, frustrated, what-the-hell-is-it-going-to-take-it’s-not-supposed-to-be-like-this-again crying. And it was all done while I was lurching forward at a freaking 14-minute a mile pace.  OK, to be honest, the last two miles were more like 19- and 21-minute mile paces.  SERIOUSLY?!  But I never stopped, and I never sat on the curb, Scout’s honor. But, sadly, there was Crying. Y’know what?  Enough with the Crying. Next time, there will be no Crying. When it gets hard (and I know it will get hard, it always gets hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it, right?), I’m going to just laugh. Laugh at how stupid I was to know that it’s going to get hard and yet I keep doing it! Did you really think it would be different this time, Dumb-ass?  Yep, that’s the strategy for next time. Laugh it Out! 
  • The Medical Tent, Part 2After the finish, they routed us along West Park drive to get our medals, take our pictures and pick up our food bags. By this time, keep in mind, I had been doing nothing but walking for about 2.5 miles. The sun had gone behind the buildings along 59th Street, so it was quickly getting colder as the afternoon wore out , and I had not been “actively” moving like I was when I was running. So it didn’t take long once I stopped walking to get chilled.  There was a huge logjam as we walked north toward the exit at 77th as tons of runners were retrieving their bags from the UPS trucks and many were stopping along the side of the drive to put on their warm clothes. The slowdown in motion was just enough to make me dizzy, enough that I flagged down a Red Cross spotter about four trucks past the main medical tent. I was worried about my blood pressure and heart rate, honestly, as I vividly remember nearly passing out in the transit station after Marine Corps while we waited for the train back to my friend Rebecca’s car. By the time she radioed for a medic and they walked me back to the tent to get my pulse, HR and blood pressure checked, I was in full-out shiver mode so that I was soon less concerned about my blood pressure and more worried that I couldn’t feel my feet, move my lips, nor stop violently shaking. They gave me a cup of hot broth, moved me to a cot away from the open doorway of the tent, covered me in two blankets and put a space heater four inches from me to try to get me warm. By then, my friends were at our designated meeting spot at a restaurant behind the Natural History museum, and they were worried about me. I was trying to get warm enough to brave the walk up there, but I was still shaking and shivering really badly. After about 20 minutes, I felt like I could get up and move on, but my food bag had been left on my original cot. This is the state of my mind at the time:  I was worried about my apple. We got an apple in our food bag, and I had been obsessing about my New York state apple ever since I saw that in the entrant info. I wasn’t about to leave the tent without my apple. How ridiculous is that?  That’s what running a marathon does to you – you obsess about a piece of fruit. Again, I have to give huge kudos to everyone in the tent – they took really good care of me, and I was very appreciative of their care. But again, not where I wanted to be at the end of the day.
Took this right before I got woozy...  can't you tell?
  • The Aftermath – The only solace I have about how this all ended up is that, based on how I felt in the 36 hours after the race, I know I gave it all I had. I have never in my life felt as bad as I did Sunday night. After I recovered from the chills I had in the medical tent and made my way to the restaurant to meet the girls, I didn’t really feel like eating at all at first, so I had a cup of hot tea. They had already ordered their pizzas and after a bit I had a little appetite so I had a small piece of Denise’s and a small piece of Irene’s. We’re talking pizza slices maybe three inches on each side, so not a lot of food. Afterward, we went back to the hotel, but not before we had to stand in the street and hail two cabs, which meant I got chilled again. We stopped at the concierge lounge for a bit, and I was able to get a little more to eat there. I had a few crackers, some hummus and about two oz of cheese. Then we went to the room so I could clean up before we went to Serendipity.  We had been planning on the frozen hot chocolate all weekend, and I was looking forward to splurging on some decadent gooey dessert thing after my trek through the city. But by the time we got there about 90 minutes later, I was feeling blicky in the worst way. The restaurant was way too hot, my stomach was roiling, and I had that awful Gatorade aftertaste in the back of my throat still. It was nasty. I ended up having to go outside and sit in the cool air for a bit to feel better, and barely made it back to the room before I just collapsed into bed.  One of my friends traveling with us is a nurse, so she took my pulse to make sure I was doing OK and advised me to drink more and try to rest. I think passing out is about the same as resting, right? Because I felt like I just went from 60 mph to zero, just like that. I was exhausted, and I felt terrible, all over. I ached, I hurt, and I felt like I was thisclose to hurling. A couple of hours later, I woke up and tried to sit up slowly, knowing that if I sat up too quickly I would regret it and get all swoony again. Instead, I almost instantly had the urge to throw up – all I could feel was that hot acid feeling in my stomach and throat. Bleargh. I managed to avoid that ugly fate but my stomach was very upset for the rest of the trip. I was barely able to eat Monday until well after I got home, and even then, I did not have the appetite I am used to after a race. Wednesday was the first day I was able to eat without making faces or wondering if it was a good idea. It was also the first day that I didn’t feel like crawling into a ball under the table and hibernating until next fall. I did go to the stretching station on Monday while I was getting my finisher’s gear so that helped with the soreness, too, I’m sure.  But basically, I was beat up by this race physically, and I am confident that I could not have done any more or pushed myself any harder than I did for as long as I did. That helps ease the pain of not reaching my goal just a little bit. I did my best. It just wasn’t good enough this time….

So now what?  Well, we all know I have to keep trying, right? We knew that was coming. We knew I couldn’t rest on my laurels too long before going after it again. If my knees didn’t hurt so bad during the race, I would have considered doing the Fort Worth Marathon on this weekend just to get Marathon Maniacs out of the way once and for all. But honestly, the pain in my knees not only hurt but stabbed, so it is definitely for the best for me to get it looked at, even though I haven’t had any knee pain or residual soreness since Sunday night. I just feel like it can’t handle 20 miles or more at this moment. And I need to be ready to run White Rock. I just can’t keep expecting my knees to magically get better, now can I? So I have to take a total rest week (making me crazy, btw!!) and also get in to see a PT or chiro to find out what is causing the pain and make it stop. Seriously. I have things to do, and races to go to, and I can’t do all that with a bum knee, so I best fix it, right?  

In the days since the race, as I dealt with the fatigue and the disappointment, I HAVE realized that it’s not the end of the world that I didn’t hit my magical marker. But I still need to look at what else I can do to make it happen. I know my weak spots in my training are cross-training, weights and core work (and by weak, I mean more like non-existent), so I will be focused on working those elements in. I know I need to do more stretching, so I also need to add in more yoga and active recovery days to let my body heal from the miles I put in. I am also contemplating whether I need to work with a coach in addition to a nutritionist to get me over the hump. My gut instinct says I don’t, though – I know what to do and how to prepare – my body just couldn’t hold together on the downhills to allow me to carry out my plan. I know how to pace myself for a marathon to get me there – it’s just that my knees gave out on me. So I think at least for the next two attempts (Dallas White Rock & Cowtown), I will focus on getting the knees stronger.  If that doesn’t work, then I will have to consider hocking one of the children and getting a coach.

So, there you go… Long-winded, I know. Thanks to anyone who made it to the end! But I needed to do this and dump it all out of my brain so I can move on and quit obsessing and quit grousing and really embrace how lucky I was to participate in the largest marathon in the US and cross the finish line upright and smiling (even if I was mildly hypothermic!!).

Cumulative Splits (from the website tracking – my splits on my watch were kinda all over the place and I stopped giving a damn after 22…)
5K – 34:06 – Pace 11:00
10K – 1:07:47 – Pace 10:56
15K – 1:44:01 – Pace 11:12 – included pit stop at mile 8
20K – 2:18:35 – Pace 11:11
Half – 2:26:21 – Pace 11:11
Mile 14 – 2:36:31 – Pace 11:11
Mile 15 – 2:48:22 – Pace 11:14 – Lap Time 11:51 – first incline up Queensboro
Mile 16 – 3:00:12 – Pace 11:16 – Lap Time 11:50 – up in middle of Queensboro
Mile 17 – 3:13:55 – Pace 11:25 – Lap Time 13:43 (stopped for knee taping)
Mile 18 – 3:24:44 – Pace 11:23 – Lap Time 10:49 – whee! Downhill on First Ave
Mile 19 – 3:36:07 – Pace 11:23 – Lap Time 11:23 – completely flat
Mile 20 – 3:47:59 – Pace 11:24 – Lap Time 11:52 – first bridge into Bronx
Mile 21 – 4:00:35 – Pace 11:28 – Lap Time 12:36 – second bridge out of Bronx
Mile 22 – 4:14:17 – Pace 11:34 – Lap Time 13:42 – call to Marci
Mile 23 – 4:29:47 – Pace 11:44 – Lap Time 15:30 – relatively flat along Fifth Ave
Mile 24 – 4:45:53 – Pace 11:55 – Lap Time 16:06 – freakin’ uphill into Park
Mile 25 – 5:04:13 – Pace 12:11 – Lap Time 18:20 – downhill toward 59th – OUCH!!
Mile 26 – 5:25:21 – Pace 12:31 – Lap Time 21:08 – cold, cold walk toward Columbus Circle
Finish – 5:29:14 – Final Pace 12:34

Victory Celebration with my Posse. Yeah, I got my medal. #10 DONE.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Number 10, Part I

Um, so apparently, I am a ten-time marathon finisher.... Wow. That is still hard for me to fathom. Me, the girl who hated PE in high school, who drove across campus to go to the gym, who still refers to herself as the "laziest marathoner you know." I have finished TEN marathons, four of them this year alone.  I have to focus on this achievement for a little bit, because the other achievement that I was hoping to have finally reached this weekend as I ran in the 2010 ING NYC Marathon didn't happen.

At the finish, upright & smiling, kinda-sorta. Before the medical tent...
My finish time on Sunday was 5:29:14, good enough to come in third-fastest of my marathons and ahead of the Chilean miner, but not fast enough to come in ahead of Jared the Subway Guy. And not fast enough to reach one of my primary goals for 2010 of breaking 5:00 for a full. Am I disappointed? Yes, I am.  And I have received all kinds of compliments and kudos from friends, from FB peeps and from Twitter tweeps in the last two days, and they have all been telling me I should be happy to have finished, that NYC is a tough course, that it is an amazing experience and that I shouldn't be so hard on myself. And I get that. I AM happy to have finished. I am thrilled that I got to participate, after four long years of waiting and anticipating. I had an absolutely wonderful weekend with four of my beautiful close friends and I do appreciate all of it. But, at the end of the day, I am very disappointed in how my race day ended. I can't sugar-coat it, I can't lie. This race hurt me physically and it hurt me mentally.

I prepared myself for this race more strenuously than I have prepared for any race in my life. I ran 824 miles since June to prepare my body for the journey. I skipped exactly ONE workout in 18 weeks of formal training. I re-arranged mileage and altered my plan only three times in that same time period. I worked with a nutritionist for two months to get my food intake and body composition fine-tuned. I had three 18-milers, 2 20-milers and a 26.2 as long runs leading up to this race. I stuck to the plan. I slept well, I ate well, I rested when the plan called for it, and I Ran It The Fuck Out when the plan called for it. I did more than I ever have to get ready for this race and it still wasn't enough to get me from Verrazano to Central Park in five hours.

So, what happened?  Let's go back to my tried-and-true Good, Bad and Ugly for this recap. It helps me organize my thoughts, and usually by the time I get done using this format, I find the silver lining in the clouds. I need to find the silver lining in these clouds. My friends who traveled with me were ready to smack me with my medal after hearing me beat myself up all night Sunday and Monday. I had to promise them I wouldn't continue once I got on the plane to come home. And I am not complaining anymore about not breaking 5:00. I'm not, really, but I have to get all this out of my head and onto here, so that I can find some clarity about my next big race and my already-in-progress plans for next spring. So...

The Good:
  • Back in NYC - I LOVE New York City. When I "lived" here for a year, I enjoyed the hustle and bustle and the variety of people and just the busy-ness of it all. But I only got to spend a small amount of time as a tourist, enjoying it. It became a second home but I didn't have the opportunity to do the typical tourist things, and I honestly became kind of jaded by them all. My apartment was three blocks from Times Square - it was no big deal. But on this trip, it was all pleasure, and it was all fun, during my favorite part of the year, too. So it was a beautiful reminder of what a vibrant and fabulous city this really is, and why this marathon is so special. 
  • My friends - I had the distinct pleasure of traveling with four wonderful women this weekend. Two are great friends who have shared a weekend with before, one I knew through dinner club, and another who I'd never met. But, we had a great weekend and shared a great experience with each other, and we got to know each other well, as you only can when you cram women into a hotel room together for four days! It was great. And I was so fortunate to have them cheering me on at mile 25, and giving me an especially needed boost to get me to the finish. They were wonderful and I look forward to having many more equally fabulous weekends with them all in the future. In fact, Beth and Irene spent a large part of the expo scoping out races in exotic locales for ME to run, so they could come along for the adventure! 

My Posse: Irene, Denise, Sonya & Beth

  • Meeting Tweeps - I also had the chance to meet two other inspiring and great friends on this trip. My friend Erica met @multisportdad at the expo and they tracked me down, so I got to meet him in person and wish him luck before his first full marathon (he ROCKED it, BTW - speedster!!). Plus, he also set us up with about the most spectacular dinner ever at Oceana at Rockefeller Center, where his friend is executive chef. We were treated like royalty and the food was beyond delicious. Even my friend who didn't like seafood was impressed! And then on Monday morning, I met with @roynaim and got to hear the inside scoop on his amazing and inspiring story. He is a treasure and I feel privileged to have met him!

Me and Roy Naim at Columbus Circle. 
Me with Carlos & Erica at the expo.
  • Crowds - the crowds were great. Amazing support along every single mile of this course. All the different neighborhoods were so fun to see - you could see how the route along Brooklyn shifted from one ethnicity to another with the flags from different countries and the people on the sides of the streets yelling and cheering and encouraging. One thing I wish I had done: put my name on my shirt. I had my girls’ picture under my bib, to keep them close to my heart for motivation, but I hadn’t put my name anywhere on me. For anyone that did have their name visible, they got cheered personally all along the course. So encouraging and motivating. I had one lady somewhere in Central Park, while I was stretching and pounding on my quads and pretty visibly in pain, come over and put her hand on my back and very gently and very kindly tell me, “You’re almost there. You’ve done so well so far. You can do this.”  It meant the world to hear that, and to have her genuinely care that I was hurting right there. Awesome in every sense of the word.
Great signs from crowd in Central Park. 
  • Course – The course ran through the greatest city in the country. What do you expect? It was greatness, beginning to end. People talk about the Bronx being barren and sparse of crowd support. I didn’t find it so. The course was tougher than it seems. The elevation was more extreme than it looks in the maps. I was not bothered by the uphills onto the bridges like a lot of folks, I was hammered by the downhills. But overall, the course was awesome. My favorite part, by far, bar none? Entering Central Park off 5th Avenue. The energy was great, and I had so many memories of entering the park at that spot to run around the reservoir. Even though I was beyond hurting by then, it was just as spectacular as I remembered. Central Park is a treasure and I loved it just as much Sunday as I did the first time I set foot in it three years ago.
  • Weather – it was COLD at the start. Very, very cold. Especially walking along the sidewalk to get from the ferry to the buses before we even got to runner’s village. But once I got to the village and found a spot to sit in the sun and bask like a turtle for a while, it wasn’t too bad. I had my throwaway fleece blanket and a throwaway sweatshirt, and I was great. During the run, once we got off the bridge and away from the winds whipping at us up there, and my feet warmed up to where I could feel them again, I never felt uncomfortable temperature-wise until the last mile (more on that later). We couldn’t have asked for a more picture-perfect marathon weather day. And when you consider that the next morning we were greeted with hail and sleet and 30-something degrees, we were outright blessed!!
Beautiful clear blue skies and crisp temperatures greeted us.
  • Nutrition – My nutrition plan is fine-tuned and it works for me. I start fuel at 45 minutes in and then every mile marker after that I alternated sips of Gatorade/water mix from my belt-pack with clif bar (oatmeal raisin this time) and clif bloks. At Tyler I got really sick of the taste of the clif bar (it seemed like Hobbit bread and never got any smaller, no matter how many bites I took), so this time, I took the clif bar at one odd numbered mile, then two blocks at the next odd-numbered mile. That way I didn’t get burned out on either fuel choice. Plus the variety kept my stomach happy, and all along the course, even when I was hurting, I never felt like I didn’t have the energy to keep going. My legs were strong and I was fueled properly throughout. Fueling was not an issue.
  • Getting to the Start – I was very nervous about how I was going to get to the Staten Island Ferry. I had heard stories about crowded subways and not being able to get onto packed trains, so I took extra cash and my credit card with me in case I had to bail and take a cab at the last minute. I needn’t have worried. It was a quick two-block walk from the hotel to the 49th Street station, then onto the southbound R train and bam, right at the Ferry station. No issues, no mess, no terrible crowds. I even got to sit for the entire ride.
  • Running with Jared – My first celebrity sighting of the trip was at the airport, when one of my girls saw Geraldo Rivera’s mustache,  with Geraldo attached to it. The next celeb sighting for me was at the start. I saw a crew of about five people in matching black shirts with taped-on names next to me in the corral, but didn’t think anything about it until I heard one of them say, “we’ll try to keep him near the 5:00 pace sign so the cameras can find him.”  Well, of course, I had to turn around and see who merited camera attention, only to find myself two people away from Jared Fogle, the Subway Guy. I lost sight of him as we moved further into the corrals, but eventually we ended up leapfrogging for much of the first 20-22 miles. If you look at our splits, we are neck and neck for almost all of the race, with me surging ahead in some spots as he walked water stops and then him getting in front of me when I stopped for a potty break or to get my knees taped. He got ALL kinds of crowd support – at every Subway shop along Brooklyn, all the employees were in front wearing yellow shirts and waving signs and cut-outs of Jared and flipping out when he ran past and waved. Can I just say there are a LOT of freaking Subways in Brooklyn?!!  Seriously! But it was cool to see him and his Sherpa crew.
  • Mile 18 – I deliberately chose not to wear my iPod for this race, because I didn’t want to miss a thing. I knew there would be enough diversions on the course that I wouldn’t miss it. I had it for the subway ride, ferry ride and for the wait at the staging & corral areas, but tucked it away before the start. And I was right for the most part. There were bands, music blaring from open walk-up windows, people cheering. But I did miss “my” music –the stuff that got me through my training runs all summer long. I have been harassed in the past for listening to too much Tom Petty, but I’ve also said before that “Running Down a Dream” is my Major League at-bat song, I love it that much. It just speaks to me. So you can imagine the lift I got at mile 18, when right as I approach the bandstand, the  band begins to sing, “It was a beautiful day… the sun beat down… I had the radio on… I was driving.”  OH, HELLS YEAH! That few lines alone got me through that mile and the next. I just knew it was a good sign that I ran by as they were playing that – that’s not coincidence, my friends, that is NOT coincidence. 
  • Central Park – Have I talked about how much I love Central Park? I have? Well, that’s because I do. So I am going to say again how incredible it was for me, this girl from podunk South Texas, to run the last few miles of the New York City marathon in Central Park. In my wildest dream as a child, I never imagined I would do such a thing. And yet, I did it. It hurt, yes, but still. I RAN THROUGH CENTRAL PARK ON A BEAUTIFULLY PERFECT DAY IN NOVEMBER AS PART OF THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!! Talk about making dreams come true! 

To be continued... 

Saturday, November 06, 2010

almost time

So, I'm here in New York City. and I ran through Central Park this morning. The weather was perfect, I felt amazing & I saw the finish line. Fairly amazing. But what made me really happy, what gave me a huge confidence about tomorrow and created an great sense of calm was the music that randomly came up during the three miles. A sampling of the lyrics that made my feel like this is going to be a good day:

Marathon by Rush
- "it's a test of ultimate will, the heartbreak climb uphill, got to pick up the pace if you want to stay in the race..." This is not a flashy or upbeat song but the lyrics & the feel of it and the rhythm really set the mood for a good solid long run.
Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus - "Got my hands up, they're playing my song, the butterflies fly away. I.m nodding my head like "yeah," moving my hips like "yeah". Got my hands up, they're playing my song, and I know I'm gonna be OK." yeah, I know, Miley... But whatevs, it's a good song & it was perfect this morning.
Hungry for Heaven by Dio - "So just hold on. you can make it happen for you. reach for the stars and you will fly.... We are sunlight, we can sparkle and shine and our dreams are what we're made of. So just hold on, you can make it happen for you. Reach for the stars and you will fly."
I Gotta Feeling by Black-Eyed Peas - no lyrics needed. 'nuf said.

So, I have a good feeling about number 10. And no matter the result, I WILL enjoy the ride. it's been awesome so far.*

*but, really, I will enjoy it so much more if my finish time starts with a 4... I'm just saying...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Packing & prep

So, we're getting close now... and I'm REALLY glad I took tomorrow off! Besides having lunch with one of my bestest buddies tomorrow (Hi, Mel!!), I have a lot to do... like pack... and get everything lined up for the weekend. Because while I've been planning on this and preparing for the race for MONTHS now, I haven't really done a good job yet of planning preparing for the trip that comes with it!  I used to travel for work and was a master at packing a week's worth of work clothes, running clothes and lounging around at hotel/dinner out clothes into one small roll-aboard. But, that was a long time ago it seems, and I have to remind myself how to be Road Warrior chick. But, really, I'm less concerned about what that part and more worried about having everything I need for race morning/day at hand. So, here is my prep list, prompted by Erica's planning and Heather's list

1.             Pack race-morning bag (throw-away bag)
    1. Clif bar (breakfast) – bring from home
    2. Orange (breakfast) – grocery store or hotel concierge lounge
    3. PB/honey (one hour pre-race) – hotel concierge lounge
    4. Banana (one hour pre-race) – grocery store or hotel concierge lounge
    5. Bottled water – grocery store in NY
    6. Baby wipes – bring from home
    7. Hand sanitizer – bring from home
2.             Pack post-race bag for friends to take to finish line (backpack)
    1. Sweatshirt/fleece
    2. Gatorade
    3. Crocs
    4. Dry socks
    5. Protein powder
    6. Clif bar
    7. Baby wipes
    8. Brush & Hair clip/ties
3.             Pick out, wash & pack race-day clothes (lay out night before)
    1. Long yellow tank bra
    2. Yellow LS tech shirt with bib
    3. Texas flag skirt - it arrived!! YAY!
    4. Moisture-wicking underwear
    5. MCM socks & black starter socks - race-day decision which ones to use
    6. Shoes - washed & drying in garage right now
    7. Visor
    8. Gloves (cheap, if they get lost no biggie)
    9. Throw-away sweatshirt
    10. Throw-away blanket
the Skirt! It arrived!! 

4.             Pack fuel belt
    1. Camera - small Kodak, fits in extra bottle pocket
    2. iPod (to calm pre-race jitters, not using during race)
    3. Clif bloks ( 2 packs - margarita & Cran-Raz)
    4. Clif bar (1 bar)
    5. Ibuprofen
    6. Biofreeze pack
    7. Bodyglide sample
    8. Chapstick
    9. 20 oz half-water, half-Gatorade, salt 
I'll run around tomorrow morning getting everything on the list, as well as going to the mall and having a shirt made for the expo.  I'll be there at 9:00 AM Saturday morning and if all goes well, will be wearing a shirt that says this on the back, so I'll be easy to spot! 

I'll Follow You to Central Park 
if You'll Follow Me on Twitter