While I don’t maintain a formal bucket list, I have long thought that I would like to take part in a race in NYC. When an elementary (!) school friend contacted me a few months ago about the Shape Half Marathon, I knew I had found my race. The price was a little extravagant, and the media partner wasn’t really my cup of tea, but the course was appealing and I’ll pretty much spend a weekend in NYC anytime – even if it means I have to run 13.1 miles!
Spring has been a long time coming in the northeast this year, which only made Saturday’s forecast of sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s that much more appealing. The race, however, was being held on Sunday morning, which had much less favorable forecast. Our only solution was to soak up as much sunshine (and carbohydrates) as possible pre-race, which we did as we walked and ate our way around the city.
Race day dawned dry, but cold. We cabbed the 30 blocks to Central Park and spent the 45 minutes or so before the start working hard to stay warm. It was a raw and miserable morning* and I regretted not adding gloves or a warm hat to my racing wear. My legs were trembling from the cold for the first mile and it wasn’t until the 3 mile mark that my hands felt warm, but, I was running a race in NYC and somehow that made it ok. My favorite parts were when we were on the east side of the park with views of the Guggenheim and the Met, the area at the northernmost part of the park and all of the daffodils and flowering trees in bloom. It was spring in NYC!
The hills of the park didn’t register too much on my radar, but my pace was slow and comfortable, except for that last mile which felt like 5 miles. I didn’t have much kick left to finish strong, but I managed to get across the line in 2:23:09 with a bathroom break and multiple water stops. I was in the top half of my age group and that satisfies me. After the race I wrapped up in my first foil blanket and caught a train back to the hotel for a gloriously hot shower. Next race: The Seneca 7, a 77 mile team relay in the Finger Lakes. Let’s hope for a sunny day!
*although not as raw and blustery as this year’s Boston Marathon. Man, those runners are warriors!
Yesterday I did something that scared me. And then I did it again. And again and again for a total of four times. The first time I did it, I was slightly less frightened than I had been on the chairlift. I don’t like heights. Actually riding the chairlift made getting on and off the chairlift (2 things that always prompt me to feel anxious) seem pretty mild in terms of fear generated. I was so afraid, as I rode the chairlift up to the top of the mountain, that I couldn’t even look behind myself to see the view. I tried to snap a photo without turning my head on my way up the mountain, but it really didn’t work out too well.
I went skiing by myself. In Vermont.
Why would I do something that makes me feel so fearful? What’s the point of pushing so far outside of my comfort zone?
Because the sun was shining and the air was fresh and I had a voucher that made my couple of hours cost practically nothing. Because none of the friends I was “weekending” with wanted to come. Because the mountain was 15 minutes from the hotel and hardly anyone else was there so late in the season. Because I wanted the experience. Because I couldn’t see the view until I reached the top of the mountain.
I took the green one on the left.
During my four runs down the mountain, I saw the weather change three times. I navigated around the icy spots and basically remained in control of my skis most of the time. When I fell, after sliding a fair bit on the slick snow completely out of control, I figured out how to pick myself up. It was a challenge and I did it.
I went skiing by myself. In Vermont.
Whenever someone says to me “I have a weird question,” I always interrupt and tell them that I hope they don’t disappoint me. If you say it’s going to be weird, please let it be so. Now that I’ve preset you for weirdness, let me tell you what happened yesterday during my run…
I was about 3 miles in as I approached the intersection of New Scotland Avenue and South Manning Blvd. The light was green, which prevented me from immediately crossing the street, so I took a moment to stretch, something I’ve done in this very same spot countless times. Because my hips and glutes are where I need the most attention, my technique is as follows: place my hands around a nearby pole, clasp them together and then kind of sit back into an almost a seated position, sort of making my body into an upside down L.
Well, imagine my surprise when, as I settled into my stretch, the pole I was holding onto snapped at the base and fell towards me! I swear I don’t know what prevented me from getting seriously injured by the heavy metal post as it came at me. Somehow I moved my body to the left just in time and the post barely grazed my right shoulder and hand before it hit the ground. Holy crap.
I looked at the base where the pole had snapped and there was an irregular line completely around the base where it had broken. I like to think of myself as strong, but, seriously? I can’t claim to have used brute strength to snap a metal pole – no way. A woman who witnessed what had happened, called out from her van checking to make certain that I was ok. I was. I am. She agreed that I should call 911 to share what had happened, which I did. I told the person who answered my call that I had something weird to tell them.
How do you follow a terrific meal in Saratoga’s finest restaurant? The answer (for me) was an overnight stay followed by a few hours enjoying some of Saratoga’s other assets. First stop – Mrs. London’s for my usual almond croissant and glorious bowl of latte.
Carbed and caffeined, I made my way to Saratoga National Park determined to either ski or run a few miles. Conditions were better than I had originally thought and skiing won out. After parking near the warming hut, I stepped into my skis and spent the next hour exploring the golf course. It wasn’t the most challenging ski I’ve ever had, but it certainly was a great way to spend some time outdoors in the fresh air.
I wrapped things up and drove over to the Roosevelt Bathhouse for my scheduled appointment, allowing for a little extra time to enjoy the steam room. I’ve only ever been to the baths once before, and it was a long time ago, so the experience felt new. The facility is a positive blend of old school classic and new age modern with a comfortable lounge area to enjoy while waiting for one’s bath attendant. After taking about 20 minutes to enjoy the steam room, I relaxed on a chaise with my book until Colleen came to escort me to my personal bath room.
Ok, maybe a bit “The Shining,” but lovely nonetheless.
The room was fairly spacious with an original and deep cast iron tub, a massage table, chair and a curtained window which I was invited to adjust to my preference for natural light. The bath was already drawn and I was given instructions as to how to moderate the water, but Colleen had nailed the temperature perfectly and all I needed to do was relax. The folded towel beneath my head and the plastic step stool placed in the tub for my feet to rest against showed a welcome attention to my comfort.
For 40 minutes I soaked the waters in and allowed them to extract stress, tension and negativity from my body and brain. Thoroughly refreshed, I stepped out of the tub and into a warm towel, got myself dressed and departed feeling like a million bucks. For $45 + tip, that is a far better way of getting soaked than playing the ponies. If you haven’t been – go!
My good boy looking a bit traumatized
After what felt like an extended time, I finally went for a run last evening. Knowing that the golf course is going to be lost to the golfers again soon, I planned a loop that would include the front 9 and brought Jeter along. He and I plodded up Whitehall Rd and turned left onto New Scotland. As we approached the course, Jeter’s pace picked up in anticipation of getting off leash for a romp. Muni is his favorite place.
We worked our way around the holes counterclockwise encountering dogs and
mercifully pausing for play time. At about the half way point, there were 3 or 4 dogs with 2 or 3 people and Jeter greeted everyone with a tail wag. A beautiful silvery gray dog came towards Jeter and I noticed his presumed owner jogging, leash in hand, in her dog’s direction. The gray dog started herding Jeter and Jeter just submissively permitted it. The dog became more aggressive and started nipping at Jeter. Things escalated and quickly became out of hand.
The owner of the other dog did not have control over her dog. He snapped repeatedly at Jeter as I tried to separate the two dogs. I felt really scared and yelled at the woman to make her dog stop and she attempted to grab her dog. Finally, she got a grip on her dog’s collar and was able to restrain him. Jeter came to my side and I got his leash on him without delay. He seemed ok, tail wagging and ready to move on.
I spoke to the woman briefly as she apologized. I explained that animals are animals and that I didn’t blame her for her dog’s aggression, but that if her dog has a history of reacting aggressively, she simply needed to keep him on a leash. Always. She didn’t disagree.
Jeter and I jogged off. A few minutes later, I noticed blood on my hand and jacket cuff. I stopped and looked Jeter over more thoroughly and realized he was bleeding. The other dog had drawn blood along the side of Jeter’s mouth. He really had been roughed up.
Dog season at the golf course is nearly over and, generally, it’s been a good one. Lots of skiing, running and walking has taken place during our terrific winter. It’s too bad that this incident has left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, as well as a bloody taste in my canine buddy’s mouth.
Folks – if your dog can’t play nice, do us all a favor and keep them limited to leash time. My dog doesn’t deserve to be injured because your dog doesn’t interact with other dogs in a positive way.
Sunday morning, at an hour far too early, I drove to meet the chartered bus which would be taking a bunch of runners to a race in Rock Hill, N.Y. I had the radio on to a Rick Steve’s broadcast. The topic was women and solo travel, a subject that felt really timely in light of last month’s trip to Rome and a recent DelSo post. The female guests shared their experiences and advice and it was pretty interesting. I especially loved the new abbreviation I picked up – Go With The Flow. It was a good way to start the day.
This was my second time doing this particular race and the fact that I opted to run it again, after the subzero temperatures from last year, is a real testament to how beautiful the course is. The hills are mostly rolling, the homes are beautiful, and there seem to be lakes in every direction. The scenery compelled us to pause repeatedly for photos, while the challenge of running 13.1 miles forced us to stay hydrated with frequent water stops. We weren’t in a rush. Lunar B*tches are all about the journey, friends!
This race is a fundraiser to help support people battling cancer, a fact which made my own state of exhaustion from lack of sleep and adequate fueling seem pretty damn minor. Signs line the course, honoring the people who have lost their battles with cancer and naming runners participating on their behalf. I remembered this from last year, but there was something about it on Sunday that just wrecked me. One sign in particular hit me hard. It listed a woman’s name and a simple sentence: She lived every second.
I’m so not ready to depart this life yet, but if I did, I would want to be remembered just like that. Until my time comes I’ll continue to go with the flow and celebrate life every second. How about you?
Filed under beauty, cancer, Events, Exercise, favorites, friends, musings, Recommendations, road trips, running, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter
- Everyone should have footwear that makes them feel like a rockstar.
- And friends who remind them how special they are.
- Seeing my children express their interests is the best part of parenting for me.
- My excitement for travel remains undiminished.
- February 2018 is the month in which one of my sons becomes an “adult” and the other becomes a teen. In theory at least.
- Packing for a trip challenges me in a way that I enjoy. The measure of success for me is wearing every thing I’ve packed.
- I believe there’s little in life that can’t be improved by fresh air, exercise and water.
- Fresh flowers in my house are an indulgence that I never imagined being able to afford. PS most of my bouquets come from the grocery store or my own garden.
- The days are getting longer, a fact which makes both cross-country skiers and folks who don’t like winter happy.
- I try to avoid scheduling much on Sundays, but don’t truly relax until the sheets are changed and the papers are read.
- In my retirement I want to explore yeast and dough. I love the smell, the magic and the kneading. Until then, it’s quickbreads and whisking.
- Long runs are Sunday are never the same but always appreciated.
Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, DelSo, Europe, Exercise, family, Fashion, Flowers, friends, Italy, musings, Observations, Random, running, sunday, travel