Magic happened in my race (the More Magazine/More Fitness Half Marathon) on Sunday. I won the bet and my coworker has to run in a tutu, which is all I was really going for. But unexpectedly five of my miles came in under a 9 minute per mile pace. On a crazy hilly course. My finish time was 2:03. In comparison my time at this same race/same location last year was 2:14:30. That’s a little over 11 minutes in time shaved off.
First up, I switched what I usually drink the morning of. I’ve always been a fan of drinking fruit smoothies on race morning. I think all the vitamins give you a little something extra. But I’d been reading some blogs of other distance runners and it looked like all the cool kids drink coconut water the morning of the race.
So I changed tradition and had this carton of coconut water on race morning instead.
Second, I paid attention to my split times. I know I probably ought to have paid attention to them before but I never have been very big on planning race strategy. The belt was for my phone, I had it in the pocket so I could run MapMyRun and I had Bluetooth headphones to hear my splits. The first time I heard the split in the 8-min range I thought it must be wrong. The second time I thought “Holy Sh*t. What is going on here. This isn’t normal, I am going to crash and burn.” The third, fourth, and fifth times I was feeling like Superwoman. I didn’t know how these times were happening but man they were happening. I think possibly I’d been doing miles in the 8-minute range during past races, didn’t realize it, and burned out in those races. When I heard the 8-minute range times I’d try to slow myself down a bit because I knew I couldn’t maintain it. When I heard the 10-minute time in the first mile (which was due to the course being too crowded to run) I knew I had to pick up the pace. Hearing the split times helped me regulate my speed and that led to strong finish.
I can tell this was taken around the 13-mile mark because I’d taken the headphones out. The lady in peach has clearly spotted the photographer and is trying to strain out a smile. The lady in gray behind me has just as clearly not spotted the photographer and is just trying to survive.
Third, I’d been under a ton of stress that week. The cat that I thought was okay was not actually okay. Being under stress during taper week (during taper week you cut back on the running and don’t run at all the day or two before, or at least I don’t) is the worst combination. The stress tension builds and builds and builds. By the time race morning came along I was ready to sprint and just let that stress gooooooooooo. If you can handle gross cat medical details then the story about what caused my stress is below. It starts at BEGIN TMI. If you can’t handle gross medical details do yourself a favor and skip your eyes down until you see END TMI.
Around six weeks ago I’d noticed one of our cats kept acting like he had to pee but he wasn’t going. He was in and out of the litter box every minute or two. I called our regular vet and she said I needed to get him in ASAP because it could be fatal, it might be an obstruction. This was as my husband was literally heading out the door to catch a flight. I brought the cat to a vet that was five minutes away as opposed to our regular one that is around thirty minutes away to get immediate attention. That vet said he didn’t have an obstruction or even a UTI though he was on his way to one. Shots of antibiotics, painkillers, and steroids later and we were on our way.
Two weeks ago my husband and I started noticing bloody pee spots around the house. First we thought one of them had gotten scratched and then realized nope, that was bloody pee. With 4 cats it can be tricky to figure out which has the problem sometimes but we guessed it was the same cat who’d had issues before. We were right. Our regular vet said he had a UTI. He got painkillers and the same antibiotics as the last vet gave him but in liquid form for five days.
One week ago we were still seeing the bloody pee. Took him back to the vet and the vet said we could either try a longer dose of the same antibiotics, try new antibiotics, or do an X-ray to make sure nothing else was going on. During this whole thing the cat was acting completely normal besides the bloody pee. No sign of pain or any other issues. We decided to go with the X-ray because at this point things had been going on long enough we were getting worried.
The X-Ray showed 7 stones in the cat’s bladder. Normally when you have stones (I am now an expert on all things bladder stones) crystals show in the urine. No crystals showed in his. Without that there was no way to be sure if these were the sort of stones that could be prevented/treated with diet/supplement or if he would have to have surgery. The vet said we could try a new diet but it would take four weeks to see results and with 7 stones she was concerned about 1 of them possibly breaking off and causing a fatal obstruction. We chose to be aggressive and went with surgery. Good thing we did.
The vet went in there and these stones had been in his little bladder for quite awhile. It was in rough shape. The vet removed the 7 stones and decided to do another Xray while he was in surgery just to be sure she got them all. The X-ray showed 2 more stones. Poking around the vet discovered there were not just 2 more stones remaining, but 3. That’s right. A total of ten stones in our cat’s bladder. She was shocked and we were shocked such a young cat (he is under 2 years old) had so many stones, showed so few symptoms, and didn’t have crystals in his urine as a tell tale sign. It would have been a bad situation if it had gone on much longer. Rocky, the poor cat whose name is now sadly appropriate 🙁 , had a catheter in for a few days and some minor post surgery complications but is now happy as can be and symptom free. Our vet was wonderful throughout this whole process and called us frequently during his recovery. She is also a heckuva lot cheaper than our old vet. If you have a cat and are in the Westchester County area I highly recommend Just Cats in Stamford. Hands down the best vet we’ve had here.
Adding to this, one of Mom #2’s (My mom-in-law) dogs had been recently dealing with a UTI. She’d been following the Rocky saga and we messaged a few times about all things animal and gross. I was thinking gee, it sounds like her puppy might have bladder stones. But her puppy had no crystals in the urine either and was a girl (I think I heard girls are less likely to have stones than male animals) so I thought I was worrying over nothing. Mom #2 brought her dog to the vet to get an X-ray just in case since things didn’t seem to be improving. I’ll be danged if that poor baby didn’t also have bladder stones that will require surgery! She is scheduled for surgery next week.
So all this was on my mind on race day and I was worked up and ready to run. PSA- If your animal is dealing with a UTI I would go ahead and get an X-ray.
Welcome back folks of the weak stomachs.
The other thing that was a bit different was I’d done something different to prevent black toenails. My feet swell big time at the end of distance races and the snug shoes usually cause bruised (black) toenails. The shoe inserts I wear made the problem a little worse because they’re so thick. Then I realized I could cut the top off the inserts. So I cut the top of the inserts off starting at the ball of my foot. It was a little weird at first running with no insole at the top of my shoes but when my feet began to swell there was plenty of room to expand and I could go all out at the end knowing it wouldn’t cost me a toenail.
This is the victory smile! This is also after I went sprawling in the grass to collect myself. You can see mud all over my right leg from that.
To get the coworker to wear the tutu I needed to beat a 2:04:59 and I’d just found out I got a 2:03. I can’t wait to see photos :)!
I also beat Ivanka Trump’s time by 8 minutes, which had me feeling good too. She had a personal trainer of course. Who happened to be a former Olympian. Of course.
So yeah. I won the bet and PR’d. Great race right?
I’ve got to be honest. It was a really bad race. Race wise it was bad mostly because of the organization but also for a race whose theme is “Women Run the World” it sure wasn’t about female empowerment. I would definitely NOT recommend it as your first half. Central Park is a cool place to run but if you’re coming to NY for a half I would do the Diva’s Half Marathon on Long Island instead.
For starters, let’s talk about the expo. There was no expo. Last year’s had a great expo and you would think if they weren’t going to have one the $90.00 registration fee would have been lowered.
Second, instead of a nice tech shirt there were teeny tiny black cotton t-shirts. I usually see the official t-shirt worn by a lot of runners race day. Not so this one. Probably because they couldn’t fit in them. Not exactly making us feel good about ourselves on race day now is that?
To illustrate how extreme the sizing issue is here is how my shirt fits on me. I am a tiny person, 5’7 and a 1/2 and only 120 pounds. Do you see how snug this shirt is especially around my arms? I have little birdie arms. NOTHING is snug on them. Nothing except this shirt! It’s not an extra small. It’s not even a small. I am wearing a medium sized (or so this label says) t-shirt. The large would have been the best fit for me. Get real race people. If little me needs a freakin size large then your size charts are WAAAAY off. I don’t know how you’re fooling yourselves into thinking this is a medium. Also, again, downgrading from a tech shirt to a cotton one should have resulted in the registration fee being lowered. Where was that money going?
Let’s talk about what was in the race bag now. To the right is Arnicare Gel. Some sort of pain reliever is always in distance race bags. Except this race! Nothing to treat sore muscles. Instead I got the eye cream on the left for my dark circles, puffiness, dull tone, and wrinkles. I wasn’t even thinking about that stuff before 🙁 . Now all the runners are feeling like pudges in our tight t-shirts and dwelling on our tired raccoon eyes! That really makes us feel empowered!
The other issue was this race had 10,000 participants. Here is my corral.
Runners 8,000 to 8,999. That’s me. I was # 8097. That is way too many runners for a race in Central Park. Especially when we only had half the course (the other half was for pedestrians and cyclists) and sometimes not even that. It should have been capped a few thousand lower or held elsewhere.
Our left race lane was split again into two for people on their last lap and people on their first. That meant we were running in a narrow middle lane. The participants were all great but it was like trying to NASCAR race on a crowded interstate at rush hour. You had to constantly slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into people and it was tricky trying to get up to speed.
There was also the issue of the top racers. Deena Kastor ran again (and won again) and had a bicycle escort with her shouting at runners to get out of her way, which meant we were shoved into a pack in the middle lane. I saw a woman who must have been in her 70’s keeping pace to my far right and doing an awesome job. She was shouted at by the bicycle escort to get out of Deena’s way. I’ll repeat a quote that appears in the screenshot further down. All runners in an open race should get the same respect as Deena. Especially someone like that older woman running. She was doing great. Shouldn’t shout at her to move out of the way. I will admit though, my 9:16 time at mile 8 is when I heard Deena was about to pass and I practically came to a halt trying to spot her. Star struck.
I saw the below Facebook post and thought I should share. Read the comments. I saw the empty tables while women were still running. The level of encouragement from people who signed up to volunteer (and certainly the water available) shouldn’t depend on how fast you are. The organizers knew what time the park closed and should have staffed and prepared accordingly. I don’t see anybody at that table cleaning up if that’s what the volunteers were supposed to be doing.
So that is the low down on the half. One more quick story in this long blog.
The morning after the half marathon I flew into Alabama for work. At 6 am in the morning to be exact. Which meant waking up at 4 am. Early morning flights always sound great in theory!
I didn’t tell many people I was going to be in town because I had a surprise up my sleeve.
I see my mom for dinner at least once, sometimes twice, a week while I’m in town. But it’s only for two hours or so. This time I decided to do an early mother’s day present. I made dinner reservations at Connor’s Steak and Seafood and booked a night at the Westin at Bridge Street so we could hang out that night and get breakfast together the next morning. She knew none of this and was not expecting me at all. Not even my dad knew. Only my brother was in on the covert operation.
We planned a few different scenarios on how to spring the surprise but in the end we decided to have my brother call mom and say he was taking her out and to get dressed up and ready to go. When I was on the porch I texted him that I’d arrived and he called her again to say a package he was expecting was on the front porch. She cracked the door, saw a torso, totally spooked out that a person was on her front porch and slammed the door shut in my face! Welcome home to me!!! I pushed open the door, which spooked her even more (I am so glad her heart is in good shape!!) and then she realized it was me :). The surprise was priceless. I have never surprised mom so well, it is hard to pull one over on her! Many thanks to my brother for helping execute on Operation Shock Mom!