Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Yesterday evening: bundled up and out on the sidewalks of Jackson Rd with my Thursday Night Gang (yes, I know yesterday was Tuesday, but we ran then because of the holiday tomorrow).

Temperature: hovering around 18 degrees. Calm. Jacket of Wonder doing its job. Feeling good. We ran east to Fellow Gang Member Larry's workplace, one of the auto dealerships near Wagner Rd. A local radio station was on site and was giving away vouchers to local businesses. The eight of us entered en masse, breathless and red-cheeked after two miles. We presented an incongruous sight standing in the showroom. As I removed my gloves, one of the salesmen approached me and my Fellow Gang Member Lorenda and said in that voice (the same voice in which that guy asked me if I'd been running "the whole time") I've come to know so well:

" do know it's only like 20 degrees outside, right?"

See: Title of this post.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

I woke up this morning intending to run the Second Annual Christmas Day 5K, which means I wanted to run 5K as fast as I could on the roads near my parents' house.

Instead, I'm sitting in this increasingly chilly house nursing a beer (Bell's Oracle Double IPA) and reading a succession of New Yorker magazines because at about 11:00 am the power went out. About half a mile away a transformer blew up, throwing a huge wrench into hundreds of folks' Christmas dinner plans, including ours.

The reason I didn't go running didn't have anything to do with the lack of electricity; instead, at 8:30 am I peered through the blinds at gale-force winds, sleet, and 33 degrees and thought, "Hell, no." Kona coffee and opening presents with the family sounded much more appealing.

All is not lost, however. My six-pound pork loin roast (from my hog) will end up on a dinner table because we are packing up and moving the festivities to my brother and sister-in-law's house about 15 minutes away. A hot shower and working stove await.

Meanwhile, I continue to engage in the only activities available to me: reading and drinking beer. It's not so bad after all.

Merry Christmas, everyone!
Mobile Blogging from here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Running in 15 Degrees Looks Like

Pictures from last Saturday's Run Like The Dickens 5K:

Serious face, I has it.

I'm wearing my Jacket of Wonder, my preciousssssss Sugoi Firewall 220 Zip, my ultimate piece of winter outerwear, that which I do not dare to don until the temperature has fallen to 20 degrees or less, which it most definitely was that day. I would quantify the climate as "butt-ass freezing."

Bright red is the antithesis of my all-black Stealth Bomber outfit which is my other favorite winter getup; maybe I was feeling festively frisky?

I am still dragging my feet on setting my training schedule for Boston. I've had almost seven weeks of down time and I know what I have to do (GET MY LAZY BUTT OFF THE COUCH OF DOOM) but it's so...freaking...hard. I have utilized every lame excuse at my disposal to avoid running: it's too cold, I overslept, I went to bed too late, it's snowing, it's windy, I have to bake cookies, I have to catch up on my TiVo backlog, I'm doing something after work, my clothes are all dirty, my hamstring hurts, my knee hurts, I feel weird, it's rest day (who am I kidding, day has been rest day lately), etc, etc, etc.

I'm meeting my friend & running buddy after work (excuse to not run!) for dinner and we are going to complain about how flabby and out of shape we are and then we need to mutually kick each other's butts into gear, RIGHT? We will both be running Boston in FOUR MONTHS (omg omg omg omg!) and IT'S TIME TO PUT DOWN THE BACON AND POP TARTS AND START RUNNING AGAIN!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Run Like the Dickens 5K...and more

This morning I went up to Holly to run in what was most likely my last race of 2009: the Run Like The Dickens 5K. It was a fairly chilly 15 degrees when I arrived at the race venue, and I spent some time huddled in my car after getting my race number before doing a 15-minute warmup. I flaked out on both of my racing opportunities last weekend, a failure which was easier to swallow because I had not preregistered for either race. This one, however, I registered for earlier this week, so my primary motivation was not to let my entry fee go to waste. Oh and that silly goal I set for myself of running at least one race every month of 2009.

I wasn't anticipating a fast time; I just wanted to have an evenly-paced, smart race. Miles 1 and 2 were both 7:35. Excellent. My stupid hamstring injury flared up again out of nowhere , which forced me to alter my form, but I decided I wasn't going to let it slow me down and I barreled through the pain. Mile 3 was 7:39, and I finished with a chip time of 23:44. The post-race food spread was...unreal. Instead of bagels, bananas, and granola bars, this was a line of folding tables groaning under the weight of holiday goodies:

And this was after some containers had been cleared away, plus there was another table behind me!

I hung around to see if I had accomplished anything in my age group, and to my surprise, I placed first! I received a rather nice mug for my efforts:

Enjoying coffee out of my age group award.

After a quick shower and clothes change at home, I went to Ann Arbor for the annual Community Handel's Messiah Singalong. This was an informal gathering of musicians from the area, both orchestra and singers, who join together for the enjoyment of wonderful music. Three hours of singing and my voice was like warm butter. I came home, rested my voice by reading the newspaper, and then sang some opera. I produced my single best high E flat ever at the end of "Spargi d'amaro pianto," a note so ringing and gorgeous I burst out with a "holy shit!" when I was done. However, I could feel my voice getting fatigued and I knew I wanted to record myself before it went totally down the drain. Therefore, I give you: me. Never before heard on this site. Please be kind (of course all I hear are mistakes...)

"Eh parti..." recitative from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte

The great end cadenza of "Nei giardin del bello," from Verdi's Don Carlo, in which you can hear the truncated end of me saying "God dammit!" as I completely mess up the words, and then an exasperated sigh.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Three Thursday Thoughts

Normally I would title this "Thursday Thoughts" and roll with it, spewing out anything I felt like. However, today, I am going to limit myself to three big bullet points because that's what Redhead does. She's got my back (you know why) and a new man, yes she does, my friend and running buddy Spike, a longtime presence around here. Oh you crazy kids!
  • We got bitchslapped by Mother Nature here in the big mitten over the past couple of days. Tuesday night's storm went out with a whimper and a lot of mushy, melting snow Wednesday morning. Last night, however...different story entirely. I woke up this morning to 3 fresh inches of snow and 15 degrees. Despite the fearsome elements I packed a bag full of running clothes for my post-work perambulation with The Thursday Gang. I had every piece of my winter arsenal ready for deployment. I bundled up at the store and hit the sidewalk at 6:00 pm. By then it was about 12 degrees and the wind was blowing steadily. Nevertheless, our little band of crazies sallied forth with headlamps and reflective vests twinkling. My fingers and toes promptly went numb and I was terrified I was going to have a repeat performance of last February's frozen finger debacle. After about 3 miles they regained feeling, though my left ring finger still feels odd. While standing around jawing with everyone after our run, I remarked that I was warm everywhere except my rear end, which was still icy cold. I could feel its chill through two layers of pants. What's that they say...cold butt, warm heart? Ha ha ha.
  • After running (temperature according to car upon leaving: 10 degrees) I drove home and stopped at the market for a box of powdered sugar, which I need for the pecan snowball cookies that I am bringing to the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers holiday cookie exchange tomorrow. While at the market, I decided to spring for a bottle of big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon, something to warm me up from the inside out on this cold, cold night. I am happy to report that it is doing its job adequately. I decided I had enough of cold beer, I needed something warm! I got home, stripped off my cold, clammy running clothes and put on something warm and dry. I was about to grab my vintage 1996 Patagonia fleece which is normally my go-to item of warm clothing in my 60-degree (yes, I really do keep it that cold) house, but I said, "NO, not the polyester tonight, I'm going for fleece in its original form...WOOL. Straight from the source: a sheep." I got out my hand-knit Irish wool sweater, one of two enduring souvenirs from my geology field camp in Ireland in 1997 (three if you count my tattoo which replicated the pendant I bought in Galway). I am happy to report that my sweater, too, is doing a wonderful job of keeping me warm. Natural fleece...who knew?
  • I ran today not only because I haven't run in a week (no comments please) but because I have to toughen up for training for Boston all winter. I have to get used to it and be ready for the weeks of torture which await. This was only the tiniest taste of misery. Much worse is in store for me. I know it. That's why I'm dreading it. And you know what, wasn't that bad tonight. Yes, it was cold, but that's why I wore three layers of clothing. I know perfectly well by now that the heat generated by my motion will warm me (eventually). And so it did. I was okay. I survived. It wasn't the end of the world. Boston awaits.
Now, because it's after 11:00 and my furnace thinks I'm already in bed (programmable thermostats! yay!) the temperature in here is below 60 and my fingers and the tip of my nose are icy cold. Time to retire to the warm nest underneath my down comforter!

Monday, December 7, 2009





That's me, folks. Lazy. LAZY. What base mileage building? It's cold outside! It was 26 degrees the morning! No way I'm running in that (save it, Viper). I have barely put shoes to street since my spontaneous half marathon (a 13.1 mile long run around my parents' house in Ohio) of November 29.

I'm going to get my ass handed to me when I start training for Boston in approximately 3 weeks. I may whine about it being "too cold" right now, but winter hasn't even officially started and I know perfectly well what I'm in for when January and February roll around. Misery. Cold, horrible misery. Weeks and weeks of dragging myself out of my cozy bed in the frigid darkness, shuffling through snow and ice, freezing my fingers doesn't that just sound like so much fun!

Last winter when I endured the same thing while training for the Cleveland Marathon, my mantra was "Boston Boston Boston." It kept me motivated. Now that I'm actually going to be running Boston, it will be the same. "Boston Boston Boston." I don't want to simply run this marathon, I want to rock this marathon. I want to prove to myself that I deserve to be there, that my performance in Cleveland wasn't a fluke. My ultimate goal (of course I have one already) would be to re-qualify for 2011 by setting a new PR. In order to accomplish that I am going to have to train my ass off. Sitting on the couch of doom after work and watching TiVo-ed episodes of "So You Think You Can Dance" or setting the alarm for 7:00 am isn't going to get this important job done.

Boston Boston Boston!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Favorite NYC Marathon Picture

I had to give this one its own post, because this is my favorite picture from the race, and quite possibly my new favorite race picture ever. I love this picture. I have the same quasi-stunned expression I had right after I walked across the stage at Smith and received my college diploma: the perfect blend of "I can't believe this is happening" and "Oh my God, this is the most insane and exciting thing ever!" The whole race was like this. I enjoyed it so much.

New York City Marathon 2009

I'm truly embarrassed at how long it has taken me to sit down and write this. One would think that for a race which I deemed "the best ever" I would have been more prompt in producing my race report. I am sad to say that the details of the day are growing hazy, their clarity obscured by the passage of weeks. I am writing this more for me so I do not forget the events of the weekend than I am for you, my approximately 130 faithful subscribers. (I apologize for being so selfish.)

Nevertheless, here it is, my New York City Marathon experience. And what an experience it was.

The beginning: June 11, 2009. First day of group training in Dexter. (Yes, it was mid-June and I'm wearing one of my winter jackets. So?)

The end: November 2, 2009. In Central Park the day after the race.

In between these two dates were 20 weeks and three days of training. I ran 529 miles, burned 58,285 calories, ran in eight races (setting two new PRs), went to Vermont for a weekend relay, went to California for the best vacation ever, and made four new and excellent friends (hi ladies!)

The day before I left: Darwin and Boo helped me pack. "Helping" when cats are involved is entirely subjective.

As I stated shortly before heading to the city, my only goal for the race was to relax and enjoy myself. I embarked on this quest the night before I departed, sharing a send-off dinner with one of my favorite running buddies. Said dinner also included one of the best beers I've ever tasted.

Beervana: Bell's Oracle Double IPA. If you're a hophead and you ever see this available anywhere, you must get it. Do not argue. You. MUST. GET. IT. Then, get ready to swoon.

Once I arrived in New York on Friday, October 30th, I went out with my hostess and BFF Sara to her favorite after-work watering hole for my last (yes, I swear) beer before the race.

At the Gin Mill on the Upper West Side. Clearly I'm not taking this very seriously if I'm having pints two days before the marathon. Sara also made me flex my arm. Want tickets to the tiny gun show?

The next morning I was up bright and early to meet my Green Mountain Relay teammate Eric for breakfast and go to the race expo.

The promised land! The Javits Center was the most enormous building I've ever been inside. It was so vast and cavernous that looking up at the roof made me dizzy after a while. Of course my nerd brain said, "I wonder what kind of engineering went into keeping this structure aloft?"

My prize possession, my coveted golden ticket to the NYC Marathon.

Eric and I cruised around the expo for a long time. It was immense and there was so much to see (but no Bondi Band booth, what gives?). I was thrilled when I found a clothing booth, tucked into the farthest corner of the giant hall, which was selling everything for 50% off. Not just run-of-the-mill clothes, either...but official Asics marathon gear which was selling for full price near the expo entrance! Finding the official race jacket for $60 (regular price $120) was a triumph only slightly overshadowed by my running of the race the following day. Of course my efforts at frugality were eclipsed by my purchase of not only one official jacket for $60...but another for $43...and another piece of marathon gear for $30...

And then there was the special promotional Asics booth...which resulted in this:

Yes, that's me on the billboard in the background. In Times Square. I was on a billboard in Times Square. It says: "Hello New York. Goodbye Couch of Doom." This was extremely exciting, no matter what Sara thinks. ;P What can I say, I'm just a country bumpkin from the Midwest.

The marathon was everywhere. This was on my way back to the Upper West Side after having lunch with Eric and visiting my cousin.

Saturday afternoon I headed back to Sara's apartment to begin serious energy conservation in the form of sitting on the sofa watching TV and moving as little as possible. I made a dinner of pasta with sauteed vegetables (enough for everyone) and went to bed--or tried to go to bed--around 9:30. I was finally getting nervous and excited. In approximately 12 hours I was going to be a participant in one of the world's biggest marathons.

4:45 am arrived too quickly.

Looking a wee bit bleary-eyed but otherwise race ready. 5:20 am, Sunday, November 1.

I headed out into the cool early morning. There had been some rain overnight, and the air smelled sharp and clean. The streets were empty and quiet. Workers were unloading boxes of produce at the grocery store around the corner. I got on the subway at 72nd and Broadway. The only other people on the train at that hour were other runners...and a lot of dazed-looking late-night revelers in costumes staggering home from Halloween parties. They had been out all night partying...I had been in bed since 9:30. The dichotomy of the scene was remarkable.

Once at the South Ferry terminal, I entered the building with hordes of runners and sat down to wait for the ferry to Staten Island.

Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. It was about 6:10 am and I had almost four hours yet to wait until the race.

On the ferry, I was looking out the window at the nice view of the Statue of Liberty when all of a sudden my Green Mountain Relay teammate Thomas was in front of me! Of 43,000 people heading to Staten Island that morning, we crossed paths on the boat...what are the odds?

On the ferry. Love that fluorescent lighting!

However, that's not all. After disembarking from the ferry, we were herded like cattle to a line of waiting buses that would carry us to the final staging area at Fort Wadsworth. I got on a bus and had just seated myself when I heard someone squeal, "OhmygodSARAH!" I looked up and it was another one of my GMR teammates, Maria! I immediately jumped up and went to sit with her. We talked all the way to the fort and I only lost her in the crowd when I stopped to take advantage of a port-a-potty.

Speaking of that crowd, the sea of humanity inching towards the fort entrance was endless. It was one of the biggest crowds I've ever been in. FINALLY after shuffling along for what felt like forever, I reached the athletes' village area, found where my bib color (blue) comrades were, unfurled my plastic bag, and sat down. The ground was not yet a quagmire (remember the overnight rain) but I could tell by the disheveled grass that certain areas were going to get ugly. I chose a spot on an incline, well away from the heavily trafficked zones, and didn't move an inch for an hour and a half. I watched as people's shoes became covered in mud and the ground disintegrated. I had two plastic shopping bags which I tied around my feet to keep them dry and clean. My body was similarly warm and dry; I had on several layers of throwaway clothing and the ambient air temperature was only about 50 degrees.

In the athletes' village: More waiting.

I ate a Clif bar, drank some water, laid back on my plastic and stared up at the sky, watched my fellow runners, and simply relaxed and bided my time. Around 9:15 I decided it was time to mobilize to my starting corral. I attached my Gu packets to my running skirt, clipped my bib number belt and iFitness small item holder (on loan from a running buddy and truly fabulous) around my waist, made sure I had my RoadID and Garmy, packed up my gear bag and turned it in to one of the phalanx of UPS trucks lined up by the edge of the grass. I briefly talked to my parents, and when I hung up I realized I had left my RF501 team hat in the bag (bad) but also my royal blue Bondi Band which I had selected specifically because it matched my RF501 team singlet (DISASTER). People, do you know the last time I ran without a Bondi Band, or anything on my head? That just does not happen. Ever. Panic-stricken, I raced back to the UPS truck in a futile attempt to retrieve my bag, but it had disappeared into a heaving, endless mountain of other clear plastic bags. I sighed and told myself, "This is not the end of the world." I did a quick check to see if I had left anything else important in the bag. Gu, iPhone, camera, RoadID, Garmy, bib, D-Tag timing chip, heart rate monitor. All was well. Bare headed or not, it was time to go.

The corral entry area was, to put it mildly, a complete and total clusterfuck. Everyone was standing jammed shoulder to shoulder, bunched up at the single Corral C entry point, most of us with Blue Wave 2 bibs, and no one was being allowed into the corral. I heard the same bland female voice I'd been listening to on the PA system all morning announce, "Corrals for Wave 2 are now closed." I looked around in horror: Closed? What the fuck? What about the hundreds of people who were supposed to be in Wave 2 who were now shut out of their corrals? An uneasy murmur swept through the crowd. With another surge of panic welling inside me, I said to some random woman in front of me, "Wait a minute...what's going on? How can the corrals be closed already? No one ever went in after Wave 1 left!" People at the blocked Corral C entry point were beginning to get agitated. There was some yelling. People were awkwardly climbing the fence and dropping down into the corral. Another young woman next to me said, "What are we supposed to do now?" Someone else said, "Down there--next corral down--there's a guy who's still letting people in." I looked at the other woman and we both began shoving our way to Corral D. It was the same scene: mobs of people pressed against the fence, prevented from entering the corral. I whispered a plea to no one: "I hope this works." I showed the race worker my blue bib with the yellow background and he gave me the briefest of nods before lifting the mesh barrier, allowing me and the other woman to slip underneath. Once inside the corral, my breath exploded in a sigh of relief. I quickly disrobed, leaving my throwaway clothing in a heap at the side of the corral with the multitude of other discarded items. The cool morning air washed over my bare skin for the first time that morning. I don't know if I had goosebumps because of the sudden chill or because I was finally, utterly, outrageously excited. I fired up Garmy, adjusted my bib holder and iFitness belts, fussed with my hair (mourned my lack of Bondi Band for a moment), and then waited, calmly, for the next stage of the journey.

It didn't take long; a few minutes passed and suddenly everyone was moving. The tide of humanity streamed down a long, narrow chute formed by lines of buses parked nose to tail. Someone was hollering encouraging words over the PA system, a cannon was fired, and then Frank Sinatra came on the PA, singing "New York, New York."

The starting area. I was in the crowd in the foreground which ran on the upper right of the bridge.

Mere minutes before the start.

And we're off! "If I can make it there, I'll make's up to you, NEW YORK, NEW YORK!"

Isn't this a thrilling sight? The Verazzano Narrows Bridge in all its glory.

I felt so relaxed when I started running it was almost ridiculous. I wasn't nervous at all, just excited. I felt my left hamstring twinge around mile 1 and I immediately thought, "Not today, you son of a bitch," altered my stride slightly, and it never bothered me again. The trek across the bridge felt like a party. People were yelling back and forth across the divide in the middle of the bridge, waving to the helicopter hovering over the water (hence the great aerial pictures which I clearly did not take myself), and the overall mood of the crowd was one of sheer joy and exuberance. A big goofy smile spread across my face and it stayed there until mile 24.

At mile 2 I came off the bridge into Brooklyn, where I would be until mile 13. I was running smoothly and easily, totally unconcerned about how fast I was going, or, in this case, how slowly. I was drinking in every sound and sight which came my way.

Heading north on Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn.

Aerial view of Fourth Ave., looking south to the Verazzano Bridge.

Early in the race, somewhere in Brooklyn, and ridiculously happy.

Front and center (I used this one for my new blog banner).

Find me! (click to enlarge)

I stopped to use a port-a-potty around mile 5 and even though it took five minutes, I didn't care. I took the opportunity to quickly text Sara to find out where I would see her later in the race. Not long after my port-a-potty stop, I snapped this picture, which is one of my favorites from the entire day:

Yes, this is a bunch of dudes peeing on a fence. Not just any fence, a cemetery fence. Have some respect, for pete's sake!

The miles slipped away effortlessly. I was so entranced by everything I was seeing, the distance I was running barely registered. I hit the halfway point in 2:02 on the Pulaski Bridge as I crossed into Queens. Queens was a blur; a couple of miles and I was on the Queensboro Bridge heading into Manhattan.

On the Queensboro Bridge.

This is my GMR teammate TK's home turf. She runs this bridge all the time. I was honored to follow in her footsteps. Eric told me that coming off the bridge onto 1st Ave, you are confronted by a wall of sound. Any spectator noise and density you have experienced thus far would be blown away by the sonic force of the mobs lining 1st Ave in Manhattan.

That's when I hit "record" on my iPhone and made the audio clip I posted here. It really was just as he described. A canyon of noise, endless screaming, such a raucous exuberance shimmering in the air that my goofball grin got even bigger. It was mile 16 and I was in love with this race.

Heading north on 1st Ave. in Manhattan. A river of runners as far as the eye can see. It was the sight of a lifetime.

I have no idea where this was in the race but I still look stupidly excited, don't I?

I saw Sara in the crowd at 116th St., gave her a big happy sweaty hug, and continued chugging north towards the Bronx. I crossed the Willis Ave. Bridge into the Bronx at mile 19.5 still feeling relaxed and energetic. I crossed the Madison Ave. Bridge back into Manhattan at mile 21 feeling achy, tired, and disgruntled. It's amazing how quickly things can fall apart in a marathon. My feet were beginning to hurt. Someone yelled from the sidelines as I reached the bridge, "Only 5 miles to go!" Gee, thanks, buddy. I decided to slow down a little bit. There was no need to kill myself in these final miles as I had done in Cleveland, scraping up every last shred of will and stamina. I wasn't going for a BQ time. I wasn't going for any time at all. Even though I was at the stage where I was thinking, God, I just want this to be over with, I was still having fun.

5th Ave loomed and I began the long straight shot which would take me to the park entrance. I texted Sara on the fly to find out where she would be in the park, and there she was, just before mile 24. I ran over and gave her another sweaty hug, and when she asked how I was doing I rolled my eyes and yelled, "IT'S ALMOST OVER!" She screamed, "I'll see you at the finish!" and I launched myself back into the field for the final 2.2 mile slog.

We're in death march mode now: 2K to go. My smile finally disappeared.

On Central Park South less than a mile from the finish.


And done!

My official finish picture. I'm quite sweaty, but very happy.

My feet were crying in agony, I was exhausted, but I was overjoyed. I had finished my third marathon, the New York City Marathon! (Official finish time: 4:16:56, a 9:49/mile average). After a long, painful shuffle north through the park, I retrieved my gear bag(training team hat and Bondi Band safely stowed within) and slowly made my way out to Central Park West where I found Sara waiting for me.

My "Superwoman" pose, with mylar cape.

Right after taking this picture, Sara and I started to walk back to her place when I heard somone yell, "Sarah, oh my GOD!" It was my GMR teammate and fellow run-blogger TK! Just standing there on the sidewalk! I knew she was going to be spectating at the race, but I thought I was going to see her at the bar afterward. In one day I randomly bumped into three of my relay teammates in a city of millions of people and a race field of 43,000. What are the odds of that?!

Somehow I managed to walk/stagger back to Sara's apartment where I washed off the grime and put on clean clothes. I was ready to party! I met Eric at a place nearby and savored my post-marathon beer.

Ah, delicious reward for a job well done. And why yes, I am wearing my $43 half-price official marathon jacket!

My second-favorite picture of the day. Believe it or not, I saw a guy holding this sign in Brooklyn and it made me laugh. Imagine my delight when I saw the same sign again at the bar afterward! I had to get my picture taken with it.

Eric and I at the post-marathon party.

I made it all the way to 8:30 before I crashed like a ton of bricks. One minute I was sitting up watching the Yankees in the World Series and the next I had literally toppled over so my head was resting against the arm of the sofa and my eyelids had slammed shut. I was so tired my head was buzzing. When I finally laid down on the unfolded sofa bed it felt so good I groaned. I fell asleep almost instantly and didn't wake up for hours. The next morning every muscle fiber in my body was howling in pain. Everything hurt. Determined to make the best of it, I went for the slowest walk in history through Central Park and down to TK's midtown office building to meet her for coffee. The park was absolutely gorgeous, in full, bursting fall colors (I wish I had taken a picture). It took me almost an hour to walk the two-ish miles from the UWS to my destination. The motion loosened my legs and I felt better. On the way back north to Sara's place I walked the marathon route through the park. I wanted to see it again, slowly, to savor it as I had not the previous day. Work crews were busily and noisily dismantling the barricades, banners, bleachers, packing everything away for another year. People who had clearly run the race were milling around the finish line area. And so, I too posed for one last picture, the picture I placed at the very beginning of this post. I have come full circle, then, to the end of that epic race, that epic day, that once in a lifetime experience: my first New York City Marathon (but hopefully not my last!).