Open Letter to NYRR and Race Officials Everywhere

*UPDATE: I received an appropriate response, and will continue to hold NYRR accountable.*

Dear New York Road Runners,

I have been a member since 2011, and have run 23 road races with your organization in the last three years. I won’t count the races I registered for and did not run, for which, you received my $, I will only talk about the 23 road races that I ran and finished.

I’ll start by saying as of today, September 17, 2014, I’m just coming out from under my injury, however, I am still running over weight, which means, I am running slower paces than some of my earlier races. This is significant and important. You see, the earlier races, I finished somewhere in the middle-back of the pack averaging 10:22-11:30 miles, a pretty average (some might call it “slow”) pace in those days. I would line up in my corral (I was SO HAPPY to move up a corral when I clocked those 10:xx miles) and run my race, and finish, and cheer on the folks coming through the chute behind me.

This past Sunday, despite so many odds (the injury and being over weight I mentioned earlier), I finished the 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up. It was the farthest I have had to run. I won’t say it was the hardest (because, the humidity the week before in the park certainly wore me down quicker). But I finished it, and I was so proud of myself, but also disappointed. I was at the back of the pack, you see. I only really had two goals: 1) finish before you pulled up the timing mat and 2) run as many of the hills as possible. I accomplished the first goal, and 2/3 of the second, so I’ll call it a win. I’m almost ready for November 2, but, I have a few concerns for that race day that only you, NYRR, can help me with, because it has to do with race-day amenities and providing for EVERY finisher that finishes within the race time (How you described it on Sunday: 4.5 hours from the last person to cross the starting line).
Let me explain a little bit more: It was made clear that the course had a 4.5 hour time limit. It was made clear, also, that Power Gels would be provided through the course, and gatorade at two stops during the race, and water at almost every mile marker through out the race. Because the race was 3 full loops of Central Park, you could get away with your 5 water stations and just keep it stocked. You didn’t need 18. You didn’t need 23 like you’ll need on Marathon Race Day. Just, 5. Just keep 5 water stations stocked for 4.5 hours after the last person crossed the starting line. Given that I wasn’t the last person to cross the starting line by a long shot, and it took me 7 minutes to cross the starting line, and the race started at 7:00am, by my calculation, there should be water, gatorade, and Power Gels at your 5 water stations for each of the almost 5000 runners until about, say, 11:40 AM, no?
But on the contrary. I’m slow. I know I need to keep a certain pace to finish on time. When I made my way around the third loop of the race–at this point, only 3 or so hours in, there was no gatorade at the 1,7,13 mile marker, as promised. Because it was clear that it would be provided, I did not run with water. Additionally, the West Side water stations–2,8,14 and 3,9,15 were packing up, and had no water set out for the runners who were still on the course with me. Of course, you can imagine if there was no water, there was also no gatorade OR Power Gels, during the critical points of the run.
I was thankful to find water and Gatorade at the Mile 17 station as I was finishing up the run, and EXTREMELY THANKFUL to find cheerful volunteers at the finish line, with water, Gatorade, bagels and apples.
But I think I should be clear at this point: if I am the first or the last runner to cross the finish line within the time limit, and if I pay the same price to run as every other runner, I should have access to all of the race-day amenities I am promised upon paying for the race. 
Because as I said, I have been a member since 2011, having run 23 of your races, ad not been slowed by injury before–I usually experience the uninterrupted joy that is NYRR race–free-flowing water, Gatorade for all–but I was extremely disappointed in running by water stations to find tables stacked up, volunteers *emptying* the water bins, and none set out when there was easily an hour left to the race, and other runners in the field, indicated by the race bib you ask each of us to wear.
I really hope to not pass by an empty water station during those critical miles of the Marathon, or that should I need Gatorade, there will still be cups for me to grab as I continue on my way, or I hope that when I get to mile 18, there are still Power Gels (as advertised) left for me to make it to the finish line on November 2!
But actually, before that, I still have the Bronx 10 Miler on September 28, and the Staten Island Half Marathon on October 12. Will there be water enough for me, too, at the end?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the plan for such a dream.
Sincerely,
DéLana

WEEK 12 MARATHON TRAINING: The Climb (plus 18 Mile Tune-Up Race Recap)

This is the song that got me over the last hill in the 18 Mile Tune-Up. 

Now, to recap Week 12. Here’s the stats:

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  • Total Running Miles: 34.6
  • Longest Run: 18 miles (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • Total Cumulative Donuts: 267.15
  • Total Workouts: 5

OK so I’m going to work myself backwards from most recent to recap this week, because I’m still in shock that I finished the 18 Mile Race on Sunday, yall.  The other little runs can be summed up: I felt strong, I ran all of them, and added some speed in. :) Now to the meat-and-potatoes of the week.

But before I do that, I want to shout out to my husband who has been getting MAD NYRR love. First, it was the picture from the training run last year. And then, yesterday, when he rocked out on his own 18 mile race, he was asked by NYRR for a quote to put up on the race report. You can find that here: http://www.nyrr.org/races-and-events/2014/tcs-new-york-city-marathon-tune-up-18m/race-report/marathoners-in-training

OK. So, last week I decided to prep for this 18 mile–or 3 full loops of Central Park–by running in Central Park with ALL THE HUMIDITY. I’m so glad that I did, honestly. I familiarized myself with Central Park (it had been so long since I ran it) and it’s twists and turns and minor hills, and of course, with the big hills–Harlem and Cat. Saturday I was watching results come in for the 5th Avenue Mile and was SO JEALOUS of the weather and prayed that it would be similar come Sunday’s run.

It turns out that it would be cooler, but also sunny, with some wind. I was OK with that! Saturday C had a film event, so I went to that to hang out for a bit, and see some awesome films, and then headed home to cook carbo-loaded food. Pasta, sauce, etc etc. The usual. I had a hard time going to sleep like I wanted to, and played around on my ipad in bed reading folks’ 18 mile tune-up recaps and mentally preparing for the hills.

We woke up at 4:45am. I fixed breakfast and finished packing up our stuff, and were out the door by 5:25am. It was still dark. I was questioning my sanity. But we were really gonna do it! It was supposed to be 50 something in the am warming up to 60 something by noon. Because I knew I’d be running until almost then, I needed to dress well. I brought a long-sleeved T-shirt to change into after the race, and wore a short sleeved shirt for the run. It was so chilly though that I decided to run with my long-sleeved shirt for the first mile (and to keep warm before the start) and it was a good decision.

We got a picture on our way to the start:

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When the gun went off, I kissed C good-bye and good-luck and we were out on our own. The race started at 102 transverse, which meant, we got Harlem Hill out of the way pretty early. My coach told me to take my time, and try to run up all of the hills, and walk at the top if I needed to, so I set out with the goals of: 1) finish before they pull up the timing mat and 2) run as many of the hills as possible.

I accomplished goal #1, though it was CLOSE! After a shaky mile 17 (Cat Hill for the 3rd time), I got a second wind from somewhere and ran the last mile.

Here’s the quick and dirty:

HILLS: I ran all of the hills for the first two loops! Having run Harlem Hill made every other hill feel inconsequential, honestly. Like I remember getting to the West Side Hills and be like: THAT’S IT?! Surely, it’s mostly perception, but, the first two loops went by as quickly as my feet would let them. The third loop, I kept bargaining with myself: “run to this stop light” lol, “run to this tree”. One of the West side hills had a water station on it, so I just walked that one, and then Cat Hill for the third time, I walked and almost thought I had used up all of my energy and may have to walk the rest of the race…..Here’s a picture of the elevation chart……Hold your heart!

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FUELING: I have to say my fueling was ON POINT. I never felt fuzzy-brain. I think near the end I might have taken in too much water, and felt a little water logged (also at mile 17), but once I ran through that, I felt as on top of the world I could have ever felt at mile 18…I picked up two PowerGels on the course and used them at mile 3 and 6, then took a GU Roctane at mile 9. I took an electrolyte tab and drank some gatorade at mile 17 and that fueling strategy got me to the end. Would I change something? Probably not. Maybe all PowerGels–they have more carbohydrates per package. They are more liquid-y and easier to get down.

BODY CHECK: I had some debris get into my shoe that annoyed me a little bit but not enough to stop and empty the shoe. I was on a time crunch and every minute was so important. Everything else felt strong and good except some chafing from my t-shirt sleeve at the end. THE STING was something serious when I changed shirts, yall. But given the hills, the distance, and my pace, I’ll take that as my only road casualty, and it’s 100% preventable next time. Here’s another picture from the run :)

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PACE: I’m slow, and I’m not proud of it. So I won’t talk specific numbers, however, I will say that my pace was 1 minute per mile faster than my 16 miler last week. I did not stop my forward movement for any break, so it was my first long-run without any pausing of the garmin, so my elapsed time and running time are the same. I walked, but not nearly as much as in any of my other long runs, and my pacing in the first 8 miles shows that effort. Basically, I ran up the hills, walked for 20 seconds to recover, and then took the downhills (I held back, but still used the downhill to recover from the walking drop in pace). And the only other time I would stop to walk would be the water stations. I held this pattern for the first 8 miles, and maybe walked 1 other time in between for some of the miles after that.

MUSIC: I didn’t think I would go practically the whole race without music, but I did. I think having so many other things to think about kept me busy. I was remembering passages from Marakumi’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” and thinking about running as meditation, and I had maybe 3 choruses on 3 songs on repeat here and there, but for the most part, I was checking in with my body, focusing on the ground to get me up the hills, and giggling at folks run-singing around me. At mile 15, as a “treat” I gave myself the ipod, and I listened for about 2 miles, but it didn’t seem to be helping, or else I couldn’t find good enough music worthy of the task, so I took it off around mile 17.5 and went without for the rest of the run.

It is a lonely road when you’re as slow as I am…..by the time I was finishing up the last 3 miles, the park was filling up with tourists and other runners. I thanked every volunteer who cheered for me at the end, and it really did help me power through. There was one runner who passed me miles ago that I was inching up on. She was walking with another runner–they didn’t seem to be friends, but were with each other to get through the end. I was walking too–they were a few feet ahead on Cat Hill, and I thought, “If I catch up to them, maybe we can support each other to the end,” because I thought I needed it. It was the dark 17.5 mile Cat Hill hour, and I knew I would finish, but I didn’t know how strong, or if the timing mat would still be there, or what on earth my husband was doing waiting for me… (he was finishing and posting on instagram :) )

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Anyways, I caught up to the two women after the hill, when I got my final final wind, and decided to jog the straight away on the east side (THANK YOU LAWD FOR THAT!) and the final stretch to 102 transverse. I passed them, said some niceties, and kept it moving. I made it to the finish, and folks were packing up and gettin ready to go, but I wasn’t the last and I got so much individual attention that it felt good. They probably felt sorry for me, but I felt amazed. Amazed that this was my strongest run yet, and also the longest. The longest I’ve ever run in my life, and I FELT GOOD!!

Once the adrenaline wore off, I realized I had no appetite, but forced an apple down, and we walked a little bit where I changed my shirt and learned of my chafing issue (OUCH–RIP skin on my right bicep), and it took us FOREVER to get out of the park, but I thank my lucky stars I packed my compression socks. We were trying to decide if we would stay in the city and eat, but I just wanted to get home. We go into the train station to find that the trains weren’t running downtown that we’d have to go uptown, cross over and come back down. HELL NO. We might as well have stayed on the east side—-I picked up my stuff in the station and told C i’m buying us a cab home.

And we made it. And this was my situation for the rest of the day:

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Today, I’m a little stiff, but nothing worrisome. I feel strong, on top o the world, and starting to believe I will finish this marathon….But not fully believing it yet. I’m a realist.

WEEK 11 NYC MARATHON TRAINING RECAP: Turn Down For What

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The last couple of updates I forgot to do the stats. So let’s go!

  • Total Running Miles: 25.6
  • Longest Run: 16 miles (!!!!!)
  • Total Cumulative Donuts: 244
  • Total Workouts: 5

This past week’s training included a PDR (personal distance record) and some mediocre runs during the week. If you don’t remember, I’ve been having some hip flexor issues and just running a few miles on the treadmill has been causing me so much strife that I just kind of let them slip up and focused on the long runs, for good or for bad. I joke with my friends who know about my hip pain that my hip just gave up on me; because I was so determined to keep training, it just threw its hands in the air and said, “so you’re really going to do this, huh?” and I said, yep! and gritted my teeth (literally) and did what I could.

I had to split Tuesday’s run up because I went to the gym that decides not to run AC in the morning and I just couldn’t handle it. But perhaps, I’ll learn later, it was a perfect test-run for ALL THE HUMIDITY that would be Saturday’s long run. Anyways, I did some stairs after the run cut short, and stretched, and went to work. After work, I had my first meeting with a nutritionist! I’m excited to get my eating right, and find the best fueling strategy for the BIG RACE THAT IS LESS THAN 2 MONTHS AWAY. I asked my coach for a suggestion, and the person she recommended didn’t have time–everyone is running this race!–but she recommended a few people. The first one she recommended, the folks at Nutrition Energy seemed to be a win! I called them up, gave them my health insurance information (even though I was fully prepared to pay 100% out of pocket), found out that it’s covered (woot!) and scheduled a meting for Tuesday afternoon.

The meeting was for an hour, which, is not enough time for basically two introductory meetings: 1) to talk about training nutrition and 2) to talk about regular nutrition so that I can more effectively drop some weight. Because I read voraciously, and have gone through the whole lose-a-whole-bunch-of-weight thing before, I kept pace with her, and she kept apologizing for going through things so quickly, but honestly, I would have felt some kind of way if she was talking to me like I was brand new to it. I just need guidelines, someone to hold me accountable, and someone to help me through the rough patches. And I’m at a point in my life where I am not ashamed to pay someone to do it! (luckily, though, like I said, I don’t have to pay!!).

Anyways, the biggest surprise was that I wasn’t eating enough!!! Y’all, I have like 3 breakfasts :). Of course I was probably eating “enough” of some bad things, but, where it counted–on the road, in the morning–I wasn’t consuming enough. So she gave me some breakfast and lunch ideas, and asked me to log my food and come back in two weeks. In terms of training, I also wasn’t drinking or getting enough carbs. She told me to “go back to GU” or “at least GU chomps” (even though I’d successfully trained this far without it!, or was it “successful”?) and this time with enough water, I should be OK. Spolier alert: I was more than OK. I did GU Chomps and survived. She also gave me some outline of what to eat (portion sizes, etc) the night before long runs and for breakfast.

So, Friday night I made pasta for C and me–he had 15 on tap, I had the looming 16–and had the two cups of pasta (which is actually more than enough! who knew?! It was super delish, though.

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I forgot to drink my nightly Nuun, but in the morning, dark and early (ugh, I miss the sun a little bit) I had a cup of gatorade as I walked to the train to go up to Central Park to do my 16 miles.

I could have stayed in Brooklyn for the 16 miles, however, I somehow convinced myself to sign up for NYRR’s 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up which is three brutal hilly miles of Central Park. Because I’ve been choosing relatively flat runs (on purpose, hey!) for my long runs, I decided I needed to give myself even more of a challenge than the 16 miles I’ve never done before in my life. The plan was to run 1 6-mile loop with Harlem Hills, 2 5-mile loops by-passing Harlem Hill.

It was so muggy. I was going to move my run to Sunday, but I decided that a full day of rest was more important to me, so I just went with it. I didn’t have any time goal, just, however long it took me to finish 16 miles (and it was a long time).

Three miles in, this is what I looked like, though:

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UGH. So sweaty. This is right before Harlem Hills. I stopped, took my first fuel, and took a picture of the calm before the storm, lol.

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The rest of the loop, I fell in with the 4 mile race that was happening, and my former co-worker tapped me on the shoulder (as I was talking a walk break, WOMP WOMP) and we chatted for a little bit, and it was nice to have company even for only 30 seconds of my 16 mile run. I made it to my starting point, stretched, and continued on my second loop of the park. During my second loop, when I made it to about 9 miles, I told myself that If I did the long loop (not the plan, and harder than my plan, in this humidity. OH did I mention I was on day two of my monthly. YEP. All of this was going down on this run!) that once I made it to my starting point, I could treat myself to a frozen fruit popsicle. That was all I needed to get down to the starting point, and to 12ish miles.

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The nice guy at the stand also gave me some pretzel salt–I dipped this in the salt a few times to replenish that also. I ate about 1/2 of this sucker, and put the other half in my water bottle, and kept it going. I had less than the 5 mile loop left to go, and the sun was coming out. UGH. If it wasn’t bad enough with the humidity before, at least it was overcast! Now I had full sun on my back for my last 4 miles.

BUT Y’ALL. Y’ALL!!

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I made it. I MADE IT!!!

Here’s a picture of the crazy elevation chart:

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TUNES: This run I waited until between mile 3-4 to turn on the tunes, and I had adjusted it on Friday to have a few more chill songs than normal, because, I didn’t need to get too hype too early and peter out. I’m happy that I maintained pretty consistent through out, and it might be because of the music, who knows. Anyways, I had .5 miles left of my run, and (this happened Thursday, too) serendipitously “Turn Down For What” came on, and I did get hype! And I was on a downhill! What a way to end 16 miles.

Up next:  Long runs: 18 miles, 16 miles, 10 miles to finish up September.

 

 

 

#nycmarathontraining update. I’ve run 196 miles since I started in June (June 16 to be exact). 1.9.6! (I would have surpassed 200 if it weren’t for the hip injury that sidelined me for a few or parts of runs). I’ve also burned an impressive 230 donuts :) I think I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve done so much in such little time. 59 days to go!  8.5 weeks! 8 WEEKEND LONG RUNS!!!!!

WEEK 10 NYC MARATHON TRAINING: Respect the Long Run

This week I don’t have a song title to accompany my marathon training, only the realization that I need to respect the long run, and that EVEN IF I ran 14 miles the week before, 8 miles is still a LONG RUN, and I need to not treat it like I was getting up to do my 4-5 mile run in the weekday mornings. 

But let me back up: this week my hip seemed to be on the mend. I wasn’t able to complete Tuesday’s run b/c the gym was HOT AS BALLS and I just couldn’t focus with dripping sweat at the rate at which I was dripping sweat. (Side note, I picked the best summer ever to marathon train, the “coldest summer ever” except Saturday morning and Tuesday morning, but I’ve been incredibly luckily with some mild temps for most of my long runs). So I aborted at about 1.5 and did the stairmill for about 20 minutes, and then stretched and called it a day. 

Thursday I went in and did my 4 easy miles, and there wasn’t much to write home about, except it got done, and I was feeling myself thinking about the 8 miles “only” that I had to run Saturday. 

Friday I prepared in my usual way: cook pasta and drink water. I didn’t get to bed as early as I would have liked because the plan was to meet C at his job and run over the BK bridge and run in Manhattan. I didn’t have to meet him until 8am, and that felt like I could “sleep in” and so I stayed up late dicking around on my ipad insttead of sleeping. So then I wake up, and fix my bagel and head out the door, but forget my ipod (mistake #2), and meet C at Starbucks.

NOW, my next “things I’ve given up for marathon training” is—coffee first thing in the morning. I’ll write more about that, but, for every long run in this cycle, I’ve not had coffee before it, and for most of the last month and change weekday runs, I gave up coffee before hand, and yet, yesterday, I’m sitting in Starbucks, drankin. 

Anyways, I already feel it. It’s the end of the month, which also means PMS which means I’m dragging even if I would have gotten the right amount of sleep, and I’m already complaining and we haven’t even run 1/10 of a mile yet. We walk towards the Bk bridge, and set off, and my calves are tight, which I usually deal with, and then I stop to take a picture of us (but I look horrible, so I’m not sharing it), and then I took a picture of the webbing on the bridge, and it’s the last picture I took of the run b/c the rest of the time I was thinking about how much life sucked. 

So we make it over the bridge and continue west to the Hudson, and we get there and I tell C, “this is fast for me, but I feel good.” Famous last words. You’d think I would have learned my lesson when I said that on my last 10 miler on the way to Coney Island, but alas, I didn’t realize it until mile 5 when I gave up on the run that I had said the same exact thing and the same exact thing had happened——the wheels came madly off, and I crawled to finish the distance. 

The rest of the conditions of the day: FULL SUN. Of course I have no shades or visor (when will I learn? As if “only” running 8 miles would mean that I would be immune to direct sunlight and heat exhaustion). It was just a hot mess, I have crazy tan lines and came home and passed out from how tired I was. 

So yes. I made it to about 5 miles, and then I just gave up and walked to 7.34. I didn’t make it to 8miles. It put a damper on my spirits to think that I will need to run more than half that distance next week, and I need to start preparing now, my fueling game plan for that. Then I got home and received the long-run distances for the rest of September, and it looks like this: 

16 Miles/ 18 Miles/ 16 Miles/ 10 Miles 

GULP. 

Yes folks, training is getting real.