Athena demonstrates how I will be spending the rest of my day…

Last night I tossed and turned all night. I had such trouble sleeping knowing I would be forcing myself to hit at least 16 – 18 miles (with a secret desire to hit 20). When it was finally time to wake up, I sprung up from my bed. The quicker I could get started, the sooner I would be done.

I met with my fellow teammates at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It was cold, so I wore my long sleeved running shirt for the first time. Everyone had plans to run 18 – 20 miles. All of my teammates did 20-21 miles, but I only managed to do 18.

It’s okay though; I spent 4 hours and 14 minutes running on my feet. Who does that??? I do!

So big news! I did my largest mileage and stayed on my feet the longest I have all season… wait, not just all season – but all my life! If that’s not news enough, here’s more. I also beat my Staten Island Half Marathon time! I ran 13.1 of my miles today in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 18 seconds. I guess I have 2 personal records today! 🙂

The only downside for me is that I still need to do one more long run before I am allowed to taper. Basically, the rest of my teammates haven’t had any problem hitting their 20 miler today, so they can taper. Since I did not hit 20, I will be hitting the streets again next Saturday on a quest for my 20. I am glad for the practice though, I know it will make me stronger for marathon day!

With all the progress on running, I am at a stand-still on fundraising. I haven’t had a single donation since the end of September. I am really hoping that I can just edge a little closer to the $5,000 that I would like to raise for the American Cancer Society. If you are a reader who wouldn’t mind making a small contribution, please feel free to visit my fundraising page: http://bit.ly/xahndra.

Now that I got all of that off my chest, I have to admit – I am exhausted. It’s time for me to relax with my puppy, Athena. Since it’s so chilly outside and  I refuse to turn on my heat yet – I will be spending the afternoon snuggled up in my down blanket until it’s acceptable for me to go to bed. Athena (pictured) is demonstrating.

My latest blog post on the CUNY School of Professional Studies Community Blog

Welcome to the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services

In less than 4 weeks, I will be standing in Staten Island waiting for the start of the 2012 ING NYC Marathon with great anticipation. This is what I have been working so hard for over the last 5 months. It started with giving up a pack of Marlboro Lights a day and my commitment to fight for my health. Even though 5 months seems like a very long time, it’s almost a blink of an eye compared to the events over the last 2 weeks since my last post, “The Final Countdown.”

On September 29th, I ran with my team at Prospect Park with a brand new pair of running shoes, shoes that I call my “ruby-red-running-slippers.” I had special ordered these shoes in this special red color to match my American Cancer Society DetermiNation blue and red jersey. And special they are! Wearing them for the…

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Potty Plan

At the start of the Staten Island Half

In just 27 days, I will be standing in Staten Island, waiting for the 2012 ING NYC Marathon start.YIKES! What will it be like? How will I feel?

I tasted 50% worth of what that might feel like when I stood in Staten Island this weekend for the Staten Island Half-Marathon. With racers all around me, I was anxious for the race to start. After the sound of the ferry-boat horn, we were off… and then there would be no turning back. Once I start a race, I know I will do everything I can so that I finish.

Believe it or not, getting to that race starting point was really half the battle. The night before, I left my keys at work – irretrievably. By the time I got into my home, it was well after midnight and past my bedtime for the night before a race. AND, the anxiety then began. I woke up the next morning at 4 a.m. so that I could eat a hearty breakfast and make it to the 6:30 a.m. Ferry from Whitehall Street in Manhattan to Staten Island. I was tired, groggy and I’ll admit, a grumpy monkey.

Runners commandeer the Staten Island Ferry on a special 6:30 a.m. trip for the half-marathon.

I love and hate watching the mass exodus of runners heading to the start of a race. I can’t explain, but I relish in the excitement of joining all the runners while anticipate the start of the race at the same time with apprehension. Also, seeing all the runners, I feel like I’m a spectator among Olympians. Basically, I am always fighting the feeling that I am out of my league.

Once I made it off the ferry, nerves took me right to the restroom. I wasn’t sure if it was because I drank enough water to get me through a few days in the desert or because of the nerves. Perhaps a combination of both! I suspected mainly because I drank too much water. I am not running in the summer heat anymore; so my hydrated body doesn’t need to drink that much water before a race. (Noted)

A few more things hit me once I reached the bag check. It looked like rain. Bag check had no cover, which meant that all the contents of my bag were going to be soaked in a heartbeat if the rain started to come down. I also noticed that I was incredibly cold in my running outfit. I hadn’t packed a change of dry (warm) clothes. I was not prepared for a cold run. (Noted)

FINALLY, I ran into a few of my American Cancer Society DetermiNation teammates. I hate a great time conversing with Charlie and Stephanie (brother and sister). They made me laugh, smile and feel at ease. Charlie told me a story from our coach from the first time he did a marathon. Coach Ramon told Charlie to quit standing around and doing nothing before a race. He said that if there was nothing better to do, go stand in line to use the restroom. He said, after you use the restroom, go to the back of the line and wait to use the rest room again. We laughed and laughed as Charlie told the story (trust me, it was funnier coming from him). Even though I was chuckling, I immediately got into the bathroom line at the end of his story. Guess what – twice! Who knew how relevant this story would be for me on this race day!

After the second wait to use the restroom, it was literally minutes before the start of the race. I had to fight through thousands and thousands of people to get to the back of the line with everyone else wearing a bib in the 9,000’s.  Finally, I made it! … and finally the ferry blow horn! … and finally the crowd slowly moving toward the start! …and finally, the race begins! Half of the battle was over for the Staten Island Half.

So, everything was going smoothly now and I knew I would complete the race. I felt at ease, happy even. Until I hit the second mile and realized that I needed to use the restroom – AGAIN!

Inner monologue: Clearly I am drinking too much water. I am not used to the cool runs where you aren’t sweating so much. I need to adjust my plan… but it’s too late to think about that now, I need a restroom!

So at mile 3, I stopped. There were 4 people in line. I thought how that wasn’t too many people and it would be a wise decision to stop now. I figured as the race went on, the lines would be worse. I thought for sure I would zip in and out.  I could not have been more

Yup, that’s a medal!

wrong. It took me nearly 8 minutes to use the restroom. By that time, everyone had passed me and I was literally the absolute last person in the run! Even worse, after mile 3 – there was no such thing as a line to use the restroom. #FAIL! Who knew I would need a “potty plan?” Well, now I am all the wiser!

The New York Road Runners indicated on the race information that they would only be timing for 3 hours. By the time I got to the 10K point of the race (and thankfully passed it), they had begun taking down the timing mat. I resolved that I would not make it in the 3 hours and that I would be okay with that. My goal was simply to complete this race. I didn’t need the “finisher” title. (This is what I told myself, and I believed it.)

But, I’ll be raw with you. I was talking myself out of sadness because I knew I would have no idea what my time would be for this race. I plan to run and run and run and run for the rest of my life. I would really like to know what my official time is for my very first half-marathon ever. Is that too sentimental? Is it too much to ask? I spent almost $100 on a Timex GPS watch, that did not record properly. MapMyRun is so off, now by 3 – 4 miles ahead. And to boot, when I passed the start – the clock was all jumbled – I couldn’t see what number to subtract from the official clock to see what my time was – – but who knew if that clock would even be there by the time I got to the finish.

As I ran, I started passing people. 1, then 2, then a group of 4… I felt strong. I wasn’t too tired. My feet were hurting, but I didn’t care. I kept going. I didn’t want to stop. It started to rain. I started to sing the version of “Singing in the Rain” that my mentor, Dawn, and I sang the last time we ran (and sung) together while in the rain. I was happy. I was thanking the police officers along the way to the finish for guarding the course, thanking the people cheering me on, smiling, happy – euphoric! I really didn’t care about finishing with a time anymore. I was loving my moment in the rain, in Staten Island and on the course. In the very last moments of the race, I had at least half a dozen American Cancer Society DetermiNation teammates and coaches waiting for me and two more of my teammates who hadn’t finished the race yet. The were cheering so passionately for me! The excitement and happiness forced my eyes to well-up in tears! Don’t make me cry! At that point, I turned around a corner down a small hill to the finish – and there was my mentor, Dawn, with a few more teammates cheering me on. Dawn ran with me for a few seconds to encourage me and let me know how proud of me she was and then she encouraged me to press hard to that finish and let me finish that on my own. I was so happy, so overwhelmed.

And guess what, the clock was STILL there! I have my official time. All that worry for nothing, right? So, for today only, I am celebrating my medal and finish for the Staten Island Half-Marathon at 3 hours, 4 minutes and 11 seconds. After today, I have to get back on track and start thinking about the big day – the ING NYC Marathon on November 4th in just 27 short days!

Please feel free to support me and my journey to the ING NYC Marathon by supporting the American Cancer Society through my campaign link here:  http://bit.ly/xahndra.

The Little Engine that Could, or WILL!

My Ruby Red (Running) Slippers

Joining the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team has been such a wonderful game-changer for me. I am capable of so much more than “average.” Would you believe me if I told you I ran for 3 hours and 32 minutes yesterday? True story!

After last Tuesday’s practice with my team in Central Park, I learned that I blew through my running shoes faster than I could have ever imagined. So, I went to my wardrobe and pulled out the pair of shoes I had special ordered specifically for the ING NYC Marathon… My Ruby Red Running Slippers, the Saucony kind. I tried them on at the store in a different color and special ordered the red for race day. Since I wore out my shoes, it was time to switch. My coaches said now was a good time to switch too because I will have one month to break them in.

I love my Brooklyn American Cancer Society DetermiNation coaches & teammates!

So, I laced them up and met my teammates & coaches at Prospect Park this Saturday for our usual long run. The weather was a little chilly – probably the coldest run I’ve had so far in my training. I went in with a positive attitude, owning the fact that my last run was so bad because my running shoes should have been retired. That is the reason that my feet and ankles hurt. I can do a marathon, and so today – I am going to hit a milestone. Yup, that’s right!!! I have magic slippers… and they will help my feet glide over the pavement, one step at a time!

I was aiming to at least beat a half-marathon. So far, the most I had done was a questionable 13 miles. I say questionable, because I have learned that the MapMyRun app is not 100% accurate. So this time, I ran a distance that I 100% knew how long it was so I could be sure. At Prospect Park, you have 2 choices. You can run the straight loops which are 3 miles, or you can run what my teammate (and mentor), Dawn, calls a “crazy 8.”  The crazy 8’s add mileage so that the completed 8 is 4.6 miles. So, I did 3 crazy 8’s and thus put 13.9 miles under my belt!

I attribute this new milestone with a couple of things: I have been practicing, and I am getting stronger! I am part of a fabulous team with dedicated coaches and passionate teammates. I had incredibly good company (Thanks again, Dawn)! And last, but not least… I had magic ruby red slippers!!!! It was as though I clicked my heels three times and POOF, the run was done…

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite as magical as that. But I do feel as though this long run was magical! The magic is the transformation this run had on me. This run helped me have a little bit more faith in myself. Just like one of my favorite childhood stories, I am the little engine that could get up the hill (or complete a marathon), “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!” I can’t wait to write my first blog after this race so that I can say, “I knew I could, I knew I could, I knew I could!”

Running for the Cure: Fundraising 101

Welcome to the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services

With the start of the Fall 2012 semester this week, those of us who took the summer off are quickly reminded of the juggling we will need to do in order to maintain our family responsibilities and jobs. Schedules need to be re-arranged, social outings declined or cancelled, and sometimes we have to ask others for help. I’ve already had to ask my brother to spend time with Athena, my daughter’s Chihuahua, because we are both keeping long days with work and school, and in my case, training for the marathon too.

Asking for help has become a new talent of mine. It is how I have been able to raise over $2,500 for the American Cancer Society and how reaching the goal of $3,500 is attainable. Since the CUNY School of Professional Studies has an opportunity to fundraise for Komen’s Race for the Cure, I thought it would…

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10 Minutes and 10 Miles

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In early June, on my very first group run with the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team, I ran for 10 minutes and wanted to cry. Not even 3 months later, through practice and DetermiNation, 10 minutes turned into 10 miles.

Last Sunday, I ran for 10 straight miles for the first time through my participation in the Jack Rabbit Battle of Brooklyn race in Prospect Park. The course consisted of three laps around Prospect Park. Each loop was just a little over 3 miles making the total course 10 miles. It was generally a nice course, mostly in the shade with only one doozy of a hill.

While the change “on paper” seems miraculous, there is no miracle about this great accomplishment. Getting here took practice, persistence and preparation.*

*Please note: This is a personal account of my experience and would like to recommend that…

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Don’t Turn the Page!

Remember the book “The Monster at the End of This Book” where Grover implores the reader to please please stop reading and to stop turning the pages because he doesn’t want to see the monster at the end of the book?

That’s me right now. Please stop reading this blog. If you keep reading, another post will appear after I’ve completed Jack Rabbit’s “The Battle of Brooklyn” 10-miler -and I am really scared, just like Grover in this book! Please stop reading, immediately 🙂 You are forcing me to the Battle of Brooklyn…, which will truly be a battle!

Race info here:

Okay, in all sincerity, I do want you to read. I do want to do this race; but I would be lying if I didn’t let you know – I am scared! Please support me with comments! Also, please note, I am selling my 10 miles for $25.00 each. So far, I’ve already sold miles 1 and 2. 8 more are left. Can you support me by buying a mile or leaving a positive “go-get-em” comment? I appreciate you!!!!

PS – follow me live during race day (8/19 @ 8am) by adding me as a friend on the MapMyRun app, @xahndra

Ex-Smoker Finds Support in Runners

Welcome to the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services

I am an ex-smoker
It’s hard to believe that just over 3 months ago, I was a heavy smoker. I used to love smoking. I smoked on and off from the time I was 17. I really didn’t want to quit. I believed that there was no hope for me to ever find the desire to quit.

That changed in January of this year. A colleague of mine was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It jarred me that this active and healthy young woman was facing such a scary illness and was now forced to fight for her life with every ounce of energy in her body. At the time that she was diagnosed, quite a few of my colleagues immediately joined Team in Training to run the NYC Half Marathon and raise funds in her honor. I contributed to the team, but completely shied away from participation. I was a smoker…

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More HILLS and New Shoes

Head Coach, Ramon, says BEHAVE!

Yesterday was FABULOUS! I pushed myself up hills, for strengthening instead of focusong on technique. It was amazing. My second time up the hill, my Coach Anthony ran along side me – helping motivate me to push even harder than I’ve ever done before. It was actually thrilling when I made it to the top.

A teammate and I were chatting – we love hills. We came up with a consensus – hills are really truly fun not only because they make us stronger; but there is a goal in site. The top of the hill is like an imaginary finish line. It’s a feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top.

Yesterday, Urban Athletics kindly gave American Cancer Society runners a 40% discount on the entire store. I used it as an opportunity to buy my second pair of Brooks running shoes, and another pair of red running shoes (Saucony) that will be very nice for me to use during the marathon. I also got a new water bottle and some “goo” and most importantly, BODY GLIDE to avoid the chafing.

It was a great day yesterday. I wish all training days were like that 🙂

I love these!

9 Miles

Yesterday I did 9 miles (or just a little over, I don’t 100% have faith in my mapmyrun app).

I ran from Prospect Park in Brooklyn to the Williamsburg Bridge (went about 1/3 of the way over) and then back again to Prospect Park. It was quite a run with hills and humidity. I actually felt great up until about 6.5 miles.

At 6.5 miles, I started feeling the chafing under my left arm (boo) and had to rest my arm on my hip to avoid further chafing. At that point, chafing was also beginning under my right arm. As a result, for quite some time – I was running with both my arms on my hips. That really made me incredibly tired. I learned, in a way I will never forget, how important arms are while running! Not being able to use them to help guide my stride really exhausted me.

My coach, Jen, joined me on the last portion of my run. God love her for dealing with my whining, moaning and my desire to quit the last miles back to the park. She really exercised great patience with me and kept encouraging me to work on my mental game. “Don’t say you can’t do it, tell yourself that you are doing it!” I really did have to hug that thought tightly in order to get back.

I was so grateful when this run was over… but now, I know I can do it… so the next 9 miles I run, there will be no excuses and no whining! Yesterday was great preparation for my 10 mile race next weekend….

Oh, and regarding the chafing. I have received recommendations for Body Glide and Aquaphor. You slather it on your “problem chafing” areas prior to a long run. I will be giving that a try before the long run next weekend.

Side bar!!! Tonight I am having a happy hour fundraiser in Brooklyn. I am hoping I have a turnout so I can boost my fundraising thermometer. For more information, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/137033306437415/

Thanks for visiting my page. Until next time 🙂