Staten Island Half Marathon Recap 2016

I ran the Staten Island Half Marathon this past Sunday. It felt more like a Tough Mudder thanks to the mud, rain and wind and enormous puddles. LOL!

A decent (and FREE) race photo!

A decent (and FREE) race photo!

It was the 10th consecutive year I’ve run it. It was my very first half marathon back in 2007 and I haven’t missed a year since. Here’s a link to last year’s recap and my 2014 recap and how my day went in 2013 too!

Staten Island Half Marathon

some years were better than others….2011 was the first time I ran 20 miles (did 7 before the race started) and you can see that reflected on my face!

And now, the Staten Island Half Marathon Recap 2016

Sunday’s race was not exactly the smoothest for a bunch of reasons. But there were still so many good things about the day too.

Let’s start with the day before the race: I was dealing with some stomach issues and barely ate. I was in the bathroom more than usual and didn’t really have a full meal until dinner. Not exactly how you want to feel the day before running a half marathon. Mr. Sweat Out the Small Stuff and I went for a hike with the dogs in the early part of the day but I just felt so crappy that I asked if we could cut it short. I felt like I might pass out.

I found myself struggling to keep up...

I found myself struggling to keep up…

Chester getting his muddy paws wiped

Chester getting his muddy paws wiped

Later in the afternoon he was limping. He said he went out for a short “shakeout” run earlier that morning and rolled his foot on the curb and the hike must have exacerbated the issue. So I forced him to ice it on and off for the rest of the day and take ibuprofen. We were feeling better about running the race by nightfall. His foot was feeling better thanks to the ice and ibuprofen (gold star for me!) and my stomach was feeling better. But then we noticed that the the weather forecast changed. On Friday it had been looking good for race day but now it said rain and wind were to be expected along with temps in the high 50s.WTF?!!!

weather

Race day morning: We were up and out the door at 6:30 a.m. The race starts at 8:30am but we needed to pick up our race numbers an hour before. (New for this year they had us get our shirts after the race). We took the train since I live on Staten Island, and were at the start area (The Staten Island Yankees ball stadium) by 7:15 a.m. Normally you’d get a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline but since it was raining and foggy the views weren’t happening. Getting our race numbers was a breeze. The old New York Road Runners system had you stand in line based on your last name and the volunteer would have to go through a bin of bibs to find yours. The new system requires you to present your QR code on your phone or a printout of email the sent a few days before. That gets scanned and assigns you a number and corral on the spot. It worked out to be much faster. Next up was gear check. We checked bags that had a rain coat and dry clothes for after the race.) We had about 30 minutes before it was time to walk to the start and get in the corrals so we just hung out under the ball stadium.

Staten Island Half Marathon recap 2016

keeping dry with ponchos

My friend Lisa texted me that she and two other of our running friends who had traveled in from Brooklyn would be in the corrals in 30 minutes too. So we met up. Lisa and Mike had run the RockNRoll Brooklyn Half the day before. I did that last year with them but this year I just wasn’t up to the whole back-2-back half weekend thing.

Lisa was the only one brave enough to get her phone wet for a pre-race selfie in the corral

Lisa was the only one brave enough to get her phone wet for a pre-race selfie in the corral

The race itself: This race has become fairly large (over 10,000 runners) and they now have a wave start. Mr. SOTSS was a few waves earlier than me and was planning on staying around a 9 minute per mile pace because he didn’t want to push it with his foot. While the course has changed slightly over the years, I know it, and the area well enough so I had a specific plan based on that knowledge. I knew I wasn’t going to race hard but I wanted to push my pace for the first 7-8 miles which are mostly either flat miles or slight rolling hills. With my comfortable running pace around 11 minutes per mile I pushed to stay about a minute faster and was happy that my first 3 miles were almost exactly 10 minute splits. The rain wasn’t really bothering me at first. I wore my poncho (the same one that I wore back in March of 2014 when I PR’ed at the Love Run in the pouring rain) and by mile 3 I tossed it as I started to get warm. Once I reached mile 4, the course is out and back for the next few miles more or less, so I kept myself distracted looking to my left to try and find Mr. SOTSS. Just at the last minute before I would have missed him, he came rounding the corner and I waved him down with both arms like an air traffic controller. I was SO relieved. He was past the halfway point and looking good so I knew his foot would be ok and that he’d finish the race. And I was also happy to get that smile in return. His smile is better than anything. I zipped through those miles also in the 10 minute per mile range. The wind didn’t appear until we were out by the water. And boy did it appear! Along with the big hills that I knew about around mile 8 1/2 to mile 9. This is where the race became my challenge. But a welcome challenge. I was proud of myself for sticking to my plan and now all I wanted to do was get up the 2 hills without walking and I did it. I kept my steps short and pumped my arms and before I knew it I was done with the hills. I did also take my phone out of the plastic baggie it was in so I could snap a couple of pictures at this point.

the second hill

the second hill

Mile 9 and still smiling

Mile 9 and still smiling

The wind for the last 4 miles was crazy (20 mile sustained but much higher gusts) but mile 11 in particular was just absurd. I literally watched as full cups of Gatorade were blown off the table about 10 feet. They were hitting us like water balloons. I’d feel the cup hit my leg and the liquid spill down. I was actually laughing. The cold rain was being whipped in our faces and everyone was holding their hats. (Maybe even some sleet?) As if this all wasn’t wild enough we came to a spot in the course where the puddles had turned into ponds and there was no way to avoid them. We were all slogging through like a Tough Mudder event. And then, at mile 13 you enter the field of the baseball stadium which was a complete mudfest. There were chunks of sod missing and all I wanted to do was slide into the finish line for a fun photo but was afraid i’d injure myself.

47373089_race_0-7788590994823832-displayI ran the New Jersey half marathon this past May and while it wasn’t raining at the start it started raining mid-run and by the time I finished i was crying and felt absolutely horrible. I was successful this time around to keep my chin up and make the best of the conditions. I really kept that smile on my face and felt so proud of myself for not going own the hole….that is until I realized that there were long lines at the gear check to retrieve your checked baggage. Oh my god. It took 30 minutes (standing in the pouring rain after running for 2 hours and 21 minutes) to get my dry clothes. I kept marching in place to prevent hypothermia. But I saw big burly guys with chattering teeth. One guy looked like he was about to cry.

New York Road Runners posted this the day after the race.nyrr-response

Mr. SOTSS finished in 1:57 right at his predicted time. And I finished in 2:21 which is actually better than I had anticipated. My 2nd fastest of the 10 years. (My fastest was in 2014 at 2:15:39 and my slowest was 2008 at 2:54:55)img_6639

After running 35+ half marathons I am always amazed at the profound moments that stick with me. I spent all of mile 11 thinking about some people I know who are battling ALS. Their bodies are failing them. They can’t run. They can’t even walk. I may have been pelted with rain and Gatorade but I was in control of my body. I ran that race….it didn’t run me. And that is my biggest take away from the day. Running teaches me so much.

Eventually Mr. SOTSS and I were able to get our gear bags and change into dry clothes, take the train home, shower and refuel. The rest of the day was spent on the couch…

I just can't nap like they can. Oh well. I killed an hour sipping coffee and Facebooking

I just can’t nap like they can. Oh well. I killed an hour sipping coffee and Facebooking

ok maybe I can nap afterall

ok maybe I can nap afterall

Despite the inclement weather, mud and long wait for dry clothes, I really liked the course changes for this year, the shirt and medal and the fact that I ran a smart race with a nice balance of effort, mental toughness and appreciation for it all. It was awesome to see my friends Lisa, JD and Mike at the start and to see Mr. SOTSS during the race. And because this is the race where my distance running all began I’ll always have a special fondness of it and will most likely make it 11 years running next year. Of course it usually ends up being on the same day as the Chicago Marathon (which it was this year) so if I ever run Chicago I’ll have to break my Staten Island Half streaking. :)

Anyone run Chicago this weekend?
Anyone run anything else?
Have a local race you run each year?

Happy Friday y’all!

I knew yesterday morning it was time for a running route shake up.

I just didn’t have it in me to run my usual 3 -4 mile neighborhood route for a couple of reasons.

  1. Boredom
  2. The sloped road and downhills were bothering my knee

So I took my run to the beach.

IMG_4874There’s a great 4+ mile trail that runs between the beach and the marina at Gateway National Park here on Staten Island.

marina

marina

The weather was spot on….in the 70s with a nice breeze. There is a loose gravel trail that runs parallel to the cement sidewalk so I alternated between both. The gravel is softer but also requires my knee to work harder to stabilize me. By alternating I was able to give it a break every so often. And the route is pancake flat which meant no downhill for my knee to get aggravated by. It was refreshing to see different scenery and psychologically it felt good to run all 4 miles in the 10:XX range.

IMG_4871The heat and the knee aggravation have made left me running in the 12:XX lately because I have been choosing to walk during downhills and when the oppressive weather forces me to.

Beaches are the best backdrops!

Beaches are the best backdrops!

Yay 10:29 average pace!

Yay 10:29 average pace!

I’ve been running mostly just to achieve my 12,000 steps a day goal (and to relieve my stress) but haven’t had any other real goals. But the Staten Island Half Marathon is at the beginning of October and that means I’ll finally be focusing my running on other things like hill workouts and long runs. I know at mile 9 of the Staten Island Half Marathon there is a big hill, so I’d like to run lots of hill drills. And since my knee is fine on the uphill I can get good workouts going up and walking down.

Anxiety lift

Well don’t ya know that my anxiety levels have come down so much over the last 3 weeks since leaving that full time gig. I’m enjoying freelancing again.

Such a lovely office view

Such a lovely office view

The flexibility is by far one of my most treasured aspects of freelancing. Not just for personal stuff like running and keeping up with my chores but to be available to bail people out when their in need of something, most recently when Mr. SOTSS had to work late and I was able to go feed Chester and let him out in the yard. I love that I can almost always create my own hours, whether to join my niece and sister-in-law for a jaunt in the city for epic milkshakes or today for instance, I’m going to a friend’s pool party but I’ll work this evening. And have I mentioned how awesome my clients are? They are really happy with my work and don’t hesitate to communicate that to me. It’s empowering as I start looking to sell my services to new clients. I’m working on updating my portfolio and credentials website and then I’ll be pushing hard this fall to land a few more clients. My life will always have things in it to cause anxiety and I’m ok with that but the anxiety I had being at a job that wasn’t a good fit for me was causing that anxiety to be more than I really should have had to deal with. The constant uneasiness of not knowing what my responsibilities or daily tasks were supposed to be and the complete lack of communication/direction from my superiors was just not my style. I also felt a ton of anxiety letting my family, especially Mr. SOTSS know how upset I was and how disappointed I was. I felt like a failure at first. I also wanted this job to work because I wanted that steady income so I could start saving for our (Mr. SOTSS and I) future together. And of course, as everything else in my life, everyone was so supportive of me. Life is too short to do anything that doesn’t make you happy or give you fulfillment. I’ve got plenty of time to save for that future. And once I realized I just wanted to work harder to find more freelance clients I felt so much better. I am a hard worker and have a marketable skill. There’s no reason I can’t make the same, or more money as an independent contractor. Actually I did this for many years so I know i’m capable.

Sorry for that ramble! Sometimes these blog posts become some much more for me than for you. :)

Have a great weekend!

Question:

Do you remember a time in your life where you just felt overwhelmed with angst? How did you handle it? Did it force you to make a change in your life?

P.S. I totally missed National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day yesterday! I guess that means next year I’ll have to eat 2 cookies. (or 2 boxes:)

Happy Friday,

I finally went to the doctor. Sinus infection. Starting on antibiotics. I should be feeling better in a couple of days. I am so stubborn but someday I’ll learn to go to the doctor sooner.

And now on to recap #2 of my double half marathon weekend. Sunday I ran the Staten Island Half Marathon for the 9th year running. (2007-2015). You can read last year’s recap here.

I love this race for so many reasons. It’s almost always a beautiful day weather-wise.
It’s so convenient for me to get to.
It’s my hometown and I am extremely familiar with the route.
It’s always got a large group of runners who are preparing for the NYC Marathon so there’s lots of runners running before and after the race creating this energy and excitement that the big marathon is coming.

This year there were a few changes. Because of a large construction project along the waterfront, the staging area and the parking situation have changed. There is no more parking at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal which is where I’ve been parking for the last 8 years. And the staging area has moved mostly to inside the ballpark of the Staten Island Yankees. I’m not a fan of change but this had to be and actually aside from parking becoming more challenging I think the ballpark staging area is kinda fun.

Mr SOTSS was actually supposed to run with me this year but after losing 6 weeks of running to plantar fascia issues he decided it was smarter not to attempt to run. He’s only up to 4 miles in his training. I asked if he would still come with me in the morning and drive so we could be armed to look for street parking. It worked out! We arrived near the stadium at about 7:15 and spent a good 15 minutes driving up and down all these windy one-way streets to find a spot. Then walked to the stadium to grab bibs/shirts and meet up with my running peeps.

He might not have been able to run the race but I’m sure he’ll get use out of his shirt.

12122912_10153115777157409_8752153912200066482_nI’m always a bit anxious on race mornings so it was nice to have my uber calm boyfriend there to ensure I was there with time to spare. Thanks boyfriend! XO

The start line and corrals were moved this year as well but I actually liked it better.

The gang....all of who ran the day before too

The gang in the corrals….all of who ran the day before too

In addition to all the changes at the start, there were a lot of changes along the course this year too, some good and some not so good which I’ll tell you about in a minute.

Once we walked to the corrals I kissed Mr SOTSS goodbye and apparently he then went on to a local dog park to let his dog Chester have some play time. I guess if you’re gonna miss out on running the next best thing is watch your dog play and be happy.

Text from Mr. SOTSS

Text from Mr. SOTSS. Actually it looks more like Chester made friends over drinks. LOL!

si-half-2015-running

Up until this year, during much of the course, there were lots of out and back portions of the route which I always enjoyed. I used to see the leaders of the pack as I was approaching mile 4 and they were probably close to mile 10 by then. but this year’s course changes removed those out and backs. I was kinda bummed about that. Not to mention since most of my friends are faster than me it would always be a good distraction to look for them as they passed in the opposite direction.

si-half-2015-smile

They moved the halfway point a bit so that now you run about 2 miles on the boardwalk. This makes the route more scenic for sure. It’s my stomping ground. It’s where I do so many of my long runs. (Including my 18 mile muscle-cramp run). I bumped into my friend Cindy on the boardwalk (around mile 7) and we stayed together for the remainder of the race.

And so i am back running exactly where I was during my crappy 18 miler

And so i am back running exactly where I was during my crappy 18 miler

The downside to the boardwalk is that it’s not so easy to run on. I usually do my training runs on the bike path that runs parallel to the boardwalk to avoid the wood slats.

There used to be a big hill at mile 9ish. Well, that hill is out but they replaced it with a BIGGER HILL! I knew it was coming since I’ve been along this part of Staten Island many times before. I biked here last year when I was injured.It’s really scenic and takes you directly underneath the Verrazano Bridge and then you can see a view of the NYC skyline but boy is it a killer hill.

Easy to take a pic when you're walking up a hill

Easy to take a pic when you’re walking up a hill

This pic is from the time I tried riding my bike up the hill. But gives you a good idea as to how steep and long it was.

photo-56-e1403953886245-768x1024

Dirty Old Sneakers has a great video on his recap that shows the hill a bit better. Mind you he’s fast and reached the hill while most runners were still running up the hill. By the time I got there almost EVERYONE was walking =)

And the views!

photo-38-e1403953589218-1024x768

Verrazano

photo-29-1024x766

NYC

Cindy and I had both run the Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half the day before. We walked up the big hill and then mostly ran the remainder of the race with a little more walking at the last incline at mile 12. It was really great to have the company. I hardly ever get to share race miles with a friend.

Me and Cindy crossing the finish together!

Me and Cindy crossing the finish together! The guy behind us did Brooklyn the day before too!

We finished in 2:34 just 2 minutes faster than my first ever half marathon back in 2007. Because I’m a numbers person I added up and averaged all my times from the SI half and guess what? I average 2:30. So there ya go.

FullSizeRender 6

i need to get more creative with my watch shots.

IMG_8550

You cross the finish line at home plate of the ballpark. It’s definitely a highlight of the course.

There was plenty of fluid stations this year and Gu was being given out at the halfway point. All in all a great race.

I’m probably going to lay low this weekend and try and get healthy again.

What are you doing this weekend?
Ever been to Staten Island?

I did it! Completed the Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half on Saturday and the Staten Island Half yesterday with many of my favorite running peeps. Surprisingly my legs feel great today. Full race recaps to come but for now I need to get my cold under control. (Yes, I ran both races with some major sniffles.)

double half weekend = double bling weekend

double half weekend = double bling weekend

How was your weekend? I know Becky became a first time marathoner yesterday at Steamtown…NBD! (WAY TO GO!).