Tag Archives: racing

Getting the Extra Push

23 Mar
Courtesy of Greg Fisher

Courtesy of Mayor Greg Fischer

Last week, I told you about my BFF who completed the United NYC Half Marathon. Appreciative of the love, she returned it kind with a message on Facebook.

I should have posted that while Cicely calls me her hero, there have been plenty of moments in my running life where I’ve wanted to give it up. But, I knew she’d kill me and/or would never let me live it down. So, if it weren’t for her, my butt wouldn’t have made it to the start line Sunday (literally and figuratively). So thanks, Boo!

Sometimes, we all need someone to give us the extra push when we feel like giving up. Sometimes its a text to Beth, a quick word from my workout nanny or even a reminder from my dad that even though my weight-loss journey is traveled alone, I can’t just give up anytime I like.


Courtesy of Mayor Greg Fischer

That’s why I almost teared up at the story of Asia Ford, who ran the Rodes City Run 10k in Louisville, Ky., over the weekend. Asia made the mistake that runners have been making since…forever. She forgot to eat before the start and nearly conked out at mile 4. With the pace car behind her, she struggled to keep going until her son and a police officer took her by the hands and helped her on her way. Asia finished the race in two hours seven minutes.

Running is nothing if not a community. If you’re looking, you don’t have to search hard to find a running group. The organization Black Girls Run has memberships across the country. Just in New York, there are groups by neighborhoods.

Beyond that, there’s a sense of belonging even when out by yourself. When I dropped Beth off at the race last week, I ran home in solidarity. It was a little after 7 a.m. and the sun hadn’t quite risen yet. But I knew there would be a troupe of runners along the path with me. You tend to see the same faces on your morning run. You’ll notice the same physical strains you had when observing a newbie. You’ll try to keep pace with that one guy who always passes you by.

Asia posted to Facebook several “before” photos of her and friends excited to hit the trail. But it’s the photo of her finishing with her son and the police officer by her side that show what this community is made of. We are a group of competitive people who are ready to cheer on another runner because we know how hard it is to keep going.

So, cheers to you Asia Ford for keeping it moving even when you thought you couldn’t. And double cheers to your son and new friend Lt. Aubrey Gregory for not letting her give up on her goal of finishing.

This 6.2 miles meant more to me than any race ever so my message today is, You don’t have to be 1st, AS LONG AS U DON’T GIVE UP AND U FINISH…YOU ARE A WINNER~Asia Ford

My Friend the Half Marathoner

18 Mar

Did I ever tell you I had a twin? My dad, who’s probably reading this right now, is just now finding out about this himself.

Her skin is much lighter, as are her eyes. She was born 339,840 minutes before me. She likes to say she was slathered in the SPF while my melanin-rich skin absorbed the benefits of Vitamin D.

ussies_halfThis is Beth. Obviously we’re not identical. We are, however, each other’s spiritual twins. We bonded over a love of journalism and a strong disdain for idiocy. For the past 15 years, we’ve been each other’s rocks during some pretty awful times. And although we haven’t lived in the same city since we were 22, we have remained ridiculously close. Which was why there was no question that she would stay with me last weekend while she was in town for the United Airlines NYC Half marathon.

Neither Beth nor I were runners in our younger days. It’s just something we picked up, her before me. So when I began pounding the pavement, she was one of the people I turned to for advice. When I scratched up my boobs by putting my cards in my bra, she got the first text (and responded that she couldn’t stop laughing at me). When I finally ran three miles without stopping, she was the first person to say how proud she was of me. And when my knee began to act in its funky way, she was the one to suggest all the things I could do so I could continue on my path.

If she could do all that, then I could make sure she had everything she needed for her race. This was the first time she’d ever run in New York. Her visits usually involve a show, a new tourist-y site and food. We walk around the city long enough to build up an appetite before seeing a show.

Like most of us, she was nervous before the race. Racing can be stressful, especially when you’re dealing with unfamiliar terrain. When you run, you can stop at anytime and not feel like a failure. Races have a set goal in the end. You’re not done unless you cross the finish line. When you’re competitive like us, anything less is unacceptable.

The day of the race, we woke up at 5:30 in the morning (Lord, help us) to make sure she got to the starting line on time. First of all, waking up in the dark is not the business. We were early, so neither of us was happy about that extra half our of sleep we could have gotten. Second of all, it was cold as a polar bear’s balls that morning. The forecast said it would warm up, but the wind was so harsh that we couldn’t tell.

She's a winner!

She’s a winner!

Once the crowd started rolling in, I sent her on her way and ran the 100 blocks back to my apartment. My solidarity run had my fingers freezing, but it was only five miles and I just needed to suck it up. Beth did 13.1 miles in under two-and-a-half hours. My twin is my hero and deserves all the props.

A few tips before you set off running:

  1. When going preparing for a race, be it a 5K or a marathon, your best bet is to train. You’ll learn what your pace is, how to manage your breathing and what your endurance level is. There are books, magazines, websites and trainers in abundance who can get you ready in a matter of weeks for your race.
  2. Have a few race-day outfits at the ready if you’ll be running during a tricky weather season. New York just shoveled it’s way out of a month of snow, but the temps haven’t risen enough to know it’s almost spring.
  3. Know that hydration is key to keeping it moving. For longer races, you may need more than just hydration though. Beth keeps the squeezable applesauce packs on her belt for an energy boost. Race organizers will often have those as well as race gels.

Running vs. Racing

17 Jun
If this makes you nervous, I suggest you find a smaller race.

If this makes you nervous, I suggest you find a smaller race.

This year I participated in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, a series of races that take place around the country, including New York City. I forgot I’d signed up for it until I saw the reminder notice in my inbox. Crap! My knee has still been giving me a little trouble, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it. I talked my friend/co-worker Willa into doing it with me, mostly because I needed someone there who’d be able to identify the body if I fell over on the course.

When I began my weight-loss journey, running was the one exercise that I latched on to. I surprised myself with my enthusiasm for it because I’m a self-confessed couch potato. But it spoke to my other inclinations, like thriftiness, speed and convenience.

That’s running.

Racing is an entirely different animal. I won’t say I hate racing because I do enjoy the challenge. I will say that when deciding to race, you need to choose wisely.

Racing involves registration, registration fees, meeting up at a specific time (which is usually early in the morning) and, worst of all, running with a group of people like a pack of animals.

The Corporate Challenge is no different. Thousands of people from corporations across the city participate. The race was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. I didn’t get to the starting line until 7:40 on a humid June evening. I was not happy. While I was slowly making my way to the starting line, I thought of all the reasons I shouldn’t be doing it. Here are a few things you should consider before deciding to do a race.

1. Crowds suck. If you don’t like the feeling of being herded like cattle, don’t register for a big race. A race’s website should tell you how many participants are involved. The Corporate Challenge in New York was so large it was held over two nights to accommodate the 30,000 runners participating. You read that right: 30,000 over two balmy nights. In Central Park. For a 5K. There was a lot of funk going on.

2. Training can be a pain. If you’ve never done any type of race, you’re going to have to train and stretch. Racing is different from running in that the element of competition becomes a factor. I’m not a very competitive person. I don’t like to lose, but I’m indifferent about winning. However, there is a switch that’s flicked once you cross the starting line that pushes you to go a little faster and try a little harder than you would were you just out for your morning jaunt. That speed will test your endurance and stamina. If you haven’t trained, you’ll be puking along the way. And nobody wants to be that person.

3. Wishful thinkers are very slow. Everyone has ideas of what they look like and what they are able to do. Often these ideas don’t mesh with reality. Big races like the Corporate Challenge invite people from all fitness levels to participate. The desk jockey who ran a 4-minute mile in high school probably thinks he’s still got it. He’s also the jerk who registered for the fast heat and will probably get run over and cussed out by the pros.

4. Come rain or come shine. The week of the race, the weather had been really funky. It rained off and on a lot; it even rained the morning of the race. There was still a chance for more droplets to fall during the race. But the Corporate Challenge site said the event generally goes on despite weather concerns. Basically, forget your ‘do and your need to stay reasonably dry. If you can’t handle unpredictable weather, keep an eye on the forecast. Getting caught in the rain on a race is the pits.

The beast had taken over when the race was done. And I can't take a selfie when I'm out of breath, obvs.

The beast had taken over when the race was done. And I can’t take a selfie when I’m out of breath, obvs.

Every time I do a race, I have to talk myself into it. I have to convince myself that  it will be good to commune with people like myself who enjoy the fresh air and freedom that running allows us. Racing tests you in ways that running won’t because competition is a motivator. And in the end, you’ve completed a challenge. The goal of any race is to finish. Sure, you’ll finish after you’ve mowed down people who are moseying on by, but you’ve done it.

Do you plan on competing in any races this year? How do you cope with the crowds?

top photo credit: Derek K. Miller via photopin cc