I’m a butterfly!

Cold running!

Last week, I spent some time in my home town, Toledo, Ohio. I promised to run with my mom (who is training for the Glass City Half Marathon) and my friend Mark (who is training for the Glass City Marathon) while I was in town. It was cold though, so the idea did not sound like too much fun to me at first – but I was committed to keeping my “running commitments,” so, I asked my runner friends for some help.20 degree weather

Here’s what I learned:

My mom and me before our “cold” run

David said: “Wear very bright/reflective/contrasting colors. Drivers don’t pay much attention especially in cold weather. And when you start you should be chilly.”

Angela said: “Wicking base layer, an insulating mid layer and a wind resistant outer later-can also be insulating like fleece. Zippers are great to help regulate comfort level (vent if too hot; close it if too cold). Cover your hands head neck (and face if you want). Invest in warm running tights or pants if you haven’t already (fleece lined but wicking). You should feel on the chilly side when you start! If you are totally comfortable when you step outside, you’re overdressed for the run and will overheat for sure.”

Christopher said: “From a dancer not a runner….extra stretching before, since the cold will make a difference on your muscles. Keep your head and hands covered….everything else will get hot.”

Carena said: “Thin layers, gloves and a hat! You will warm up!”

Mark & me before our run.
Mark & me before our run.                             Yes, I’m wearing a Santa hat.                            It was Christmas Eve!

Beth said: “Make sure the 1st layer is wicking material. Hat, gloves, light jacket.”

Kristy said: “Wicking material! Sweat will make you colder. Clothes with vents you can open are great too as you warm up.”

Rachel said: “Be comforted by the thought that you WILL warm up after the first mile or so.”

Lydia said: “ I’d be wary of a scarf, as it could blow around and bother you. I’d go for a wicking turtleneck or mock-zip-type top instead.”

So I took the advice and ran not once, but three mornings in a row in the colder weather of Toledo. After my cold running, I really started thinking about how much I have enjoyed this year being a newbie runner and all. The way experienced runners have embraced me has made me feel so loved! Not to mention, every week in running is another milestone or something to celebrate for me. Will I be that easily motivated now that I have 7 months under my belt? I don’t want it to end! So, how long can someone cling to newbie runner status?

2012 Newbie Recap:

Although I did not log every workout, I did log 319 miles of running from June 9th – December 30, 2012. I guess it does not seem like a lot compared to more advanced runners, but to me – it represents a great deal, specifically my new, healthier, identity. To put 319 into “xahndra” perspective:

… It’s 319 more miles than I ran in 2011!
… I consumed 10x my mileage in cigarettes in 2011!
… In my FASTEST time of a 12 minute mile, 319 represents over 60 hours of running and 82 minutes of running per week (spread over the 28 weeks I ran).

With smoking and my first marathon behind me and with 2013 and my “DetermiNation” to stay healthy ahead; I have decided attack the months of 2013 aggressively. Inspired by one of my American Cancer Society volunteer coaches, I’ll be committing to 13 resolutions for 2013. Because publicly committing to quitting smoking worked so well for me, I am going to use social accountability once again to help me master every goal I have for next year. So, here they are:

13 Resolutions for 2013:

  1. I will double my mileage from 2012 aiming for 638 miles in 2013.
  2. I’ll participate in 10 races in 2013, 2 marathons and 2 half marathons, 6 races 10 miles or less
    I have already selected the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, Ohio on April 28th, 2013 and the ING NYC Marathon on November 3rd, 2013
    I have already selected the NYC Half Marathon on March 17th, 2013. Any suggestions for my other half? Feel free to comment some suggestions!
  3. I’ve been vegetarian “trending toward vegan” for a year and a half now. I will become vegan in 2013, gradually eliminating one food item at a time.
  4. I will lose 52 pounds in 2013, averaging 1 pound a week taking me to an ideal healthy weight.
  5. I will obtain my BA in Communications in 2013, thanks to the CUNY School of Professional Studies Online Baccalaureate program. I am just 24 credits away, which translates into four classes in the Spring and four classes in the Fall.
  6. I will take my daughter on an incredible (hopefully international) vacation in 2013 to celebrate her 21st birthday.
  7. I will read 4 books next year, for pleasure. I have gotten out of the habit of reading on the subway, playing stupid games on my phone. That’s changing in 2013! (Any book suggestions? Please comment!)
  8. I will dedicate time to a good cause; and in my case – I have been chosen (and have agreed) to serve as the Social Media chair for the American Cancer Society endurance team, DetermiNation. Feel free to hit me up for details on joining our team or getting involved!
    Infomercial: We still have spots available on our 2013 NYC Half Marathon team. A small fundraising minimum guarantees you a spot in this sought after race and excellent training with a team of passionate coaches.
  9. I will spend more time with my family. In the last 2 years, I have only been to Toledo twice. Next year, I will make plans to visit Toledo twice and Cincinnati at least once. Get ready for me family!
  10. I will diversify my exercise routines: translate, I will buy a road bicycle and take swim lessons.
  11. Pursuant to my bucket list wish to run in all 50 states, I will add run in 5 new states in 2013.
  12. I make strides in the effort to help animals. For example, it’s my dream that animal abusers not be allowed to adopt animals. Similar to a “sex offender” list, I believe there should be an animal abuser offender list that would black list animal abusers from adopting animals. So, I will make strides or effort for that cause somehow in the state of New York for 2013. I have to start somewhere!
  13. I will graduate from newbie runner status by helping another newbie runner. And in good fun, I’ll rename my blog once that’s happened! Perhaps my blog will be titled, “Confessions of a ‘once’ newbie runner” – okay, that’s dumb… instead I’ll take suggestions!

I’m a butterfly!

Thanks to everyone that nominated me for the 2012 #RunChat “Best New Running Blog” award. It was an honor and it really encouraged me to keep with my blog for 2013. Those of you who have supported me have really watched me transform from a smoker to a runner in such a short time. Now, I’m a butterfly and the sky is my limit! Accordingly, I look forward to transforming this blog from chronicling my experience as a newbie runner into a blog that helps newbie runners, like I once was.

Happy New Year!

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!”

The Final Countdown

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Does anyone remember what the feeling is like when you are on your way to school and you realized that you forgot your homework assignment at home? I had that heavy pit in my stomach last night at practice. A fellow American Cancer Society DetermiNator reminded me that we have just 4 weeks left of training before the big day in just 39 days. Race day will be here before I know it. Am I prepared? Can I do this? I’ll just say it, I am scared!

I hurried to practice yesterday evening straight from work, meeting up with my daughter and my puppy along the way. Pix11 was waiting there to interview me, hear my story, and meet my daughter and dog. As the official media partner for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation athletes for the ING NYC Marathon, they wanted to learn more about me. Who is…

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Looking for Cowbell Cheers

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On Your Mark, Get Set…. Go!!!

Last Sunday, I joined the CUNY School of Professional Studies “Race for the Cure” team comprised of students, faculty, and staff. Being with our team of over 20-strong was such an emotional high for me. All dressed in our CUNY SPS blue shirts, we (and our mascot, Lex the Lynx) made quite an impression! I was proud to be standing with our school and overwhelmed at the same time with the sea of pink supporters out to fight breast cancer with us.

The Challenge

So race day finally arrived and I was eager to attempt the personal (and fairly public) challenge I gave myself:  to beat my best 5K time. Why did I go with the public part? Was I over-confident? Was it for accountability? Well, it’s accountability that forces me to report that not only did I #FAIL to beat my last…

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I Really Want to Fall in Love

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Before a run, I wake up—excited… Usually it’s about 4 a.m. and I begin forcing myself to eat some oatmeal and a spoonful of peanut butter. I am anxious to leave the house, but I take my time filling up my water bottle, eating my breakfast and dressing for my big run. My mind wonders over every laborious bite of food. Is today the day that I will fall in love?

Okay, I am going to be honest. Please forget what I am about to say after you read it. I am so embarrassed to admit, I do not like running, not one bit! Even so, every time I tie up my laces and head out; I am hanging on to a glimmer of hope. Today will be the day that I magically turn into a real runner!

I see real runners every time I go out for my runs…

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Running for the Cure: Fundraising 101

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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

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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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SPS Joins the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Welcome to the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services

On Sunday, September 9th, we at CUNY School of Professional Studies will participate in our first Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure in Central Park. We are honored to run and walk among over 21,000 breast cancer survivors and supporters to build awareness for this very important cause.

To prepare the CUNY SPS team for Race Day, we’ve summoned the help of our marathon runner correspondent and current student, Alexandra Hertel. Throughout the next month, Alexandra will serve as our official Komen Race for the Cure blogger during which time she’ll share her personal experiences and tips about race training. Remember, you can join the CUNY SPS team at any time from now until September 6th by visiting www.komennyc.org/race.

We look forward to seeing you there!

I am grateful for my life.
I am grateful for the opportunities I have in my life. Because of opportunities like schooling…

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