Thursday, May 03, 2007


Last week, I caught up with a good friend that I haven’t seen in months. By our third cocktail, she was complementing me on my writing skills (bless her) and asked why I’ve been neglecting this blog (again). I didn’t really have an answer. It seems I’ve been at a loss for words – and just when I have so much to say! I mean, I did just complete MY SECOND MARATHON. Yes, that's in all caps just so nobody misses it.

I’m not going to lie – running the New Jersey Marathon was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done (besides my attempt to give up carbs, which lasted one painful day). The challenge, however, is one I will not soon forget.

Allow me to set the scene: It's a Sunday morning at 6:50 a.m. in Long Branch, New Jersey. My friend Liz and I are standing amongst a few thousand other crazy people, about to run our second marathon. (Did I mention we were wearing matching outfits, down to the baby bluebaseball caps with "26.2" on them). All I can say is thank God for Liz - I wouldn't have made it without her.

I also wouldn't have made it without my rock star friend Colleen, who jumped in to run with us from miles 13 through 17. During that five miles, Colleen had multiple roles: she was a supporter, comedian, storyteller, gummi bear fetcher, therapist, motivator and the wearer of a T-shirt that had my name on it and a removable arrow (so it could be moved according to which side of me she was running on).

Saturday, March 03, 2007


The first day of spring may not be until March 20, but today was a preview of sunnier days to come. Central Park came alive this morning, with the most people I've seen on a Saturday at 8 a.m. in months. Runners, walkers, cyclists and tourists were all taking advantage of temperatures predicted to hit the 50-degree mark before the weekend is over. Shorts came out of the closet, the park vendors came out of hiding, and I came out of my funk. It's amazing what a change in the weather can do for your spirit.

I've been feeling a bit anxious about training this season, and this was especially true this morning. I've missed a couple of long runs and haven't been feeling up to par (which is evident by the fact that I've been majorly slacking with this blog). Add to that my brilliant idea to have Indian food for dinner last night, and you see the predicament I was in today. Alas, I completed 15 miles, thanks to a little sunshine, a lot of gatorade, and an abundance of good-looking men in spandex (the acceptable kind of spandex. There's unfortunately a lot of the unacceptable kind going on in Central Park too).

And, if finally reaching the 15-mile mark this season wasn't enought to put me in a fabulous mood, some encouraging words from my devoted Team in Training mentor, Seth, were. As he was passing me on the five-mile loop today, for the second time, he commented on how much he enjoys this blog.

"You can tell it's written by a real runner," he said.

Did he just call me a real runner? I thought. Even though I have completed a marathon and a few half-marathons, I don't think of myself as a "real" runner. It felt like I was back in grade school and one of the gym class captains had chosen me first to be on their team (yes, I am aware of how dorky I sound, but I was a late bloomer who didn't excel in any type of athletic activity until high school. If only my gym teacher Ms. Griffin could see me now!).

But back to my point, which is that I'm up to 16 miles next week. Now, as we were reminded this morning by our coaches, it's crunch time. There are less than eight weeks until the Long Branch marathon. Will I be ready for Jersey? Who knows, but today, the forecast looks a lot less cloudy.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Up until last Sunday, I'd only really been to the Bronx by default. I grew up on Long Island, and was forever taking family roadtrips to visit relatives in New England. If you're on the Cross Bronx Expressway and you miss the exit for I95, odds are you will end up in the Bronx. I have fond memories of my father shaking his head, half yelling and half laughing at my mother as we drove through some very interesting neighborhoods on our way home (think Chevy Chase in the movie Vacation - luckily we always made it to Long Island with our hubcaps in tact). I got a very different view of the Bronx, however, when I ran through it during the New York Road Runner's Grand Prix Half-Marathon on February 11.

I'll admit to being slightly disgruntled at the thought of having to wake up before 6 a.m. to make an 8 a.m. race beginning in Harris Park, in the Bedford Park area of the Bronx. There's nothing like a protein- and carb-laden bagel with peanut butter, sitting in your stomach like a pile of rocks, before the sun comes up. Then, I was challenged to find a D-line subway stop in my neighborhood. Now, those of you who know me know that when it comes to subway trains I'm all 1-9, all the time (I live in Guam, so I'm allowed to be a Westside snob). Once we located the D train - we being myself and my friend Melanie, who slept over since she lives in Brooklyn - it wasn't even running. Okay, so it was running, but we were too tired/cranky to wait and hopped in a $30 cab. Stop judging me, it was early and cold.

Back to my point: the Bronx was lovely. Once I thawed out a bit around mile 4, I found the race route quite scenic. We ran around the Jerome Park Reservoir, down the tree-lined Moshulu Parkway, and along the infamous Grand Concourse. Was I imaging the Colonial-style houses I ran past? I don't think so. The sun came out, there was lemon-lime Gatorade at the drink stations, and I had a Team in Training friend to run with (I have to congratulate Drea, who ran most of the race with me, and then pulled ahead to make an amazing time for her first half-marathon!).

Would I have rather been in bed on the Sunday morning? You bet. But I'm glad I got a chance to see another side of the Bronx as an adult, and to get some practice in before my upcoming marathon. Who knows, maybe I'll even run a race in Staten Island. Probably not, though.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


(disclaimer: this won’t be one of my typical posts, where I make fun of myself for something like eating enough carbs to feed everyone in my zip code. I may actually get serious for a moment—promise not to do it again).

Someone recently told me that runners are simply running away from something. “It’s great that you have a healthy hobby,” she said, “but you realize you’re running nowhere fast, right?” (actually, in my case I'm running nowhere at a slow-to-moderate pace, but that's not the point.)

For some reason, this comment stuck with me. Last week, as I trudged up one of the steep inclines on West End Avenue, face to the wind, I had to ask myself: why? As I clocked the miles, I looked around. I passed a woman running to catch the crosstown bus, a boy running across the street to beat the traffic light, and a father running to catch up with his energetic son. And then there was me, just running.

Was I running away from something? Perhaps. Ask anyone who runs—or even exercises, for that matter—and they’ll tell you it’s a great way to let off steam, have some time to yourself, and escape for a few hours.

Yesterday, however, I was reminded that I’m running toward something.

After a grueling 2-hour run in Central Park on what may have been the coldest day of the year (I stopped in the boathouse bathroom twice to thaw my legs out under the hand dryer for fear of hypothermia), Team in Training hosted an event called “Connection to the Cause.” Honor Teammates—those who are cancer survivors and are training with the team—got up to tell their stories of pain, hope and survival. They talked about how much the team’s efforts touch them, and how every penny we raise helps to improve the lives of those with Leukemia and other blood cancers. Then, other team members shared the reasons that they are training and who they are running/biking/swimming for: their connections to the cause. The stories were sad, but inspiring.

I don’t have any friends or family members who have died from or are living with Leukemia, but I have lost loved ones to cancer. I am running for those who can’t run, and for those who want the chance to. I may not cross the Long Beach finish line in record-breaking time (hey, I never claimed to be great at this), but I’ll get there. If thousands of people can go through chemotherapy and transplant operations, then I can run in the cold for a few hours. I just might want to invest in some insulated pants.

That’s not to say that those who aren’t running for this particular cause aren’t running toward anything. I’ll always run because of its health benefits, because of the challenge it presents, and because of the high it gives me (at least until they find a way to bottle endorphins). Need more reasons? Here’s a short list from some other runners I know (what? I could know Jesse Owens):

- "Running makes me appreciate life.” (Jennifer Abrams, NYC)
- "I run to keep up with my very active dog, Briztow." (Karen Spinney, NYC)
- "Everyone who has run knows that its most important value is in removing tension and allowing a release from whatever other cares the day may bring." (Jimmy Carter)
- "I need to release my anger in a better way than hitting random strangers." (Colleen Danz, NYC)
- "I always loved was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs." (Jesse Owens)
- "It gives me something to do at 6am on Saturday and Sunday." (Danz)
- "I go running when I have to. When the ice cream truck is doing sixty." (Wendy Liebman, comedian)

Monday, January 29, 2007


Valentine's Day is around the corner, and whether you are single or attached (and even if you despise this Hallmark holiday) here's a chance to share the love, a little early.

If you are reading this, you probably know I'm training for the 2007 New Jersey Marathon as a member of Team in Training (TNT). TNT is a division of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society that invests $32 million annually in support of more than 200 researchers, provides financial assistance to cancer patients, sponsors scientific conferences around the country and runs over 50 support groups nationwide.

I am doing my part by raising $2400 by April. You can help by attending my fundraising event (co-hosted by teammate Melanie Girshick).


- Where: No Idea Bar, 30 East 20th Street (btwn Park and Broadway)

- When: Wednesday, February 7, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

- What: $20 gets you in the door with access to the open bar from 7pm to 9pm (this includes tap beer, wine and mixed drinks)

- Why: Half of that cover charge goes directly to fighting Leukemia and other blood-related cancers.

So come raise a glass at a fun (conveniently located) spot. Bring friends...the more the merrier! Who knows, you may even meet a Valentine.

**Can't come, but still want to support the cause? Check out our fundraising sites:

Cara's Fundraising Page
Melanie's Fundraising Page

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


What is it about the word test that makes you want to come down with a severe case of the stomach flu? That's how I felt all day today, knowing that at 6:40 p.m. I'd be taking what the Team in Training (TNT) coaches refer to as "Test 1" (yes, for those of you who don't know, I'm back at it, training for the New Jersey Marathon and once again raising money for blood-related cancers. I'll hit you up later).

This particular test prompted some serious flashbacks to junior high school. Remember the good old Presidential Award for Physical Fitness? Just what every awkward adolescent girl dreams of--being humiliated before a room full of her peers as she struggles through the situps, pushups, chinups (gulp) and dreaded rope climb that could earn her this oh-so-prestigious honor. They might as well have handed out self-esteem issues and rope burn on the first day of class. But I digress. Back to tonight. . .

Here's how Test #1 went down: Run a mile at the fastest pace you can, timing yourself. Recover. Repeat. Think about what you are going to order for dinner while the coaches scream at you to "use your arms." Recover. Decide on sushi. Repeat. Rejoice that it's over.

Now, I've never been one for speed, and my times did not resemble the time shown on the clock above. But then again, I've never been one to run 26.2 miles--or anything close--and I did that in May (pause to reflect fondly on the Vancouver 2006 Marathon). That said, I am hereby challenging myself to shave an entire half-hour off of my time for my second marathon. Who's taking this bet? I have no actual money, but I'm sure we can work something out.

Now if only I could do a chinup . . .

Sunday, September 24, 2006


There we stood - about 30 helpless people who had just been deposited on the side of the road in what appeared to be Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. It was 9 a.m. on a Saturday, and my friend Jenn and I were just trying to make it to Washington, D.C. by Sunday morning. We had entered a 5k race that would put us one step closer to qualifying for the 2007 New York Marathon.

"Things have to get better," said Jenn. "The back of the bus says "Double Happiness."

Ironically enough, I was double tired, double cranky and double scared.

I was scared because without informing us, the driver of the "Dragon" bus had taken a detour through Brooklyn to change a flat tire. After screaming "Everyone off right now," he pulled into a mysterious garage, almost taking out the second bus already parked inside. We waited for over an hour until we were allowed back on the bus. All I could think of was that I had left my laptop inside and it was taking an awful long time for the supposed tire change. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up.

We finally made it to D.C. with all of our belongings (surprisingly, since a few weeks earlier one of the Chinatown buses had flipped over). We were a little defeated, but still had enough time to grab some dinner in our nation's capital, run the race, and get back on the sweet Dragon bus home. Our night in Arlington consisted of faux tapas and a cocktail called the Suffering Bastard. It seemed fitting.

After mastering the D.C. Metro, Jenn and I were at the race on Sunday morning. We were a little baffled at the scene we encountered. Were we just really early? I thought. More people had been in the bar the night before than had turned out for the race (although I may have had double vision caused by the Suffering Bastard). I registered onsite and was number 899. This was on the heels of my last NYC race, which attracted 10,351 runners.

So much for our plans to take it slow and finish somewhere in the middle of the heap. We looked around for out-of-shape runners that would surely trail us, but there were none. There weren't nearly as many participants as in a typical New York race, but those who did show meant business. The event kicked off with a group stretching session at the starting line. I was slightly intimidated, but did my squats nonetheless.

Never mind the lack of runners - the lack of spectators was disturbing. I think I counted 12. Add to that the fact that I was wearing all black on an 85-degree morning, and you can imagine my mood. I was questioning my sanity.

Then things took a turn (literally, around a rotary, but also for the better). There was something wonderful about running past national monuments in a group of people that remained almost silent. The city, for that half-hour, was all ours.

We also found out that the race, the Thomas G. Labrecque Classic, was to raise money for Lung Cancer. Jenn's mother was diagnosed earlier this year. Suddenly, it didn't seem so insane to trek all the way to D.C. for a 5k.

Jenn and I stayed afterward and talked to some amazing Cancer survivors. We later sat outside and had a glass of wine at a quaint Mediterranean restaurant. And when we boarded the Dragon bus, it didn't smell quite as bad as we remembered. And really, what could we expect for $20 roundtrip?


There are few things that will get me out of bed at 5:30 a.m. on a Sunday. Running through Times Square with 10,350 people from across the country—and the world—is one of them.

That was just one highlight of the inaugural New York City Half-Marathon, presented by Nike on August 27. Runners covered a 13.1-mile stretch from Central Park to Battery Park, trudging up infamous hills, pounding the New York City pavement, and battling a little morning rain. And while some claim to be suffering from post-race baggage-claim distress (it took them longer to retrieve their bags then to run the entire race), all other indications point to a successful event.

From the starting line near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we ran a full loop of the park plus one mile (7 miles in total) before exiting onto Seventh Avenue and through a Times Square quite unlike the one New Yorkers are used to. There were no yellow cabs, tour buses or street performers--just spectators, water stations and the road ahead.

As I stepped over empty Gu packets and worked my way through the crowd, Frogger-style, I had nothing but time to appreciate the city I've called home for the past eight years (particularly since I spend so much time avoiding Times Square). This was well worth the $60 entry fee, I thought, as I approached the West Side Highway.

I must have been nearing the halfway mark when Catherine Ndereba of Kenya was taking her victorious steps over the finish line. She inched past Australian Benita Johnson, beating her by just three-tenths of a second, 1:09:42.3 to 1:09:42.6. As for the men, Thomas Nyariki, also of Kenya (surprise, surprise)took the lead with a 1:01:22. It was reported to be a half-marathon record.

Meanwhile, others were making records of their own. My dear friend, Heather Greaux, stood in three separate locations and took four different subway lines in an attempt to get a glimpse of my sweaty face. Alas, she never did find me, but we did meet up for one hell of a brunch. French toast and Bloody Marys, of course.

I also need to thank Karen Spinney, Glen McAnanama and Briztow Jones the dog for attempting to support me. I'll be more descriptive next time guys (although I can't believe you couldn't find the girl in a baseball hat and the half-marathon shirt).

The most important record? My personal record! I shaved a good ten minutes off of my last half-marathon. Between that and the victory ice-pops that were being handed out, I was on quite the high that Sunday.

Now, I'm looking forward to November, when I can claim my spot near the 59th Street Bridge to watch my friends do the full New York City Marathon. My money is on Colleen Danz, the rock star who already did a marathon and a triathalon this year. I'll be joining her on the other side of the barricade in November 2007.