Friday, November 19, 2010

Cheering to Dinner...and It Gets Better!

It's been almost two weeks since the New York City Marathon, and I have lots of news to report.

First off, cheering for the marathon was SO MUCH FUN!  I have to admit, the weekend leading up to the race was kind of a bummer for me.  As I mentioned last year, marathon weekend is one of the biggest weekends of the year for Front Runners (next to Pride weekend), as we host a big pasta dinner, a pancake breakfast, and the water station at mile 24.  But this year, I couldn't help but think that I was an outsider, undeserving of all of the carbs since I wasn't running.  When it seemed like all of Front Runners, indeed the whole city, was preparing for the run of their lives, to me it felt like it was just another day.

To get my mind off of not running the marathon, I tried to completely immerse myself in cheering for those who were running.  I was determined to be the best Front Runner cheerer ever!  To that end, Mikey and I dubbed our cheering squad as CHEER FORCE ONE, and we embarked on a momentous crafting project--making a huge banner with the FRNY logo so we could cheer our teammates and have them notice us as they ran by.  It was one of my first major sewing projects since last year's yoga mat bag.  And it came out really well!

Sunday morning, team Cheer Force One gathered at Mike's house in Greenpoint, where we were treated to a yummy breakfast spread.  My favorite was a marscapone whipped cream that went on the French toast.  Very tasty.  :-)  Oh, plus we had some mimosas and Irish hot chocolate, and I made a giant thermos full of bourbon and hot cider.  Heehee, we were definitely going to be toasty despite the cool temperatures.

Our first stop was around mile 8.  This was a great spot to cheer from, since everyone was still feeling pretty fresh, looked good, and were happy to see us.

As you can see, there were about a dozen members of Cheer Force One!

Here's John and Rich, the 2nd and 3rd Front Runner finishers, whizzing by us at mile 8.  John ran a 2:41:53--that's a 6:11 pace for the whole marathon--and came in 159th out of almost 45,000 finishers!  Pretty amazing that his marathon pace is faster than the pace for my 5k PR (6:12).

It was somewhat bittersweet, though, to see another group of Front Runners come by.  Mikey, Cenk, Darin, Manja and Marty formed a 3:30 pace group and all came by together.  For the week leading up to the marathon, even two days before the race, I seriously debated doing the marathon and running with them. They looked like they were having so much fun; it would have been great to run the whole race with a group of friends around to help pace me.  But in the end, I decided that it was wiser to just be a spectator.  Trying to run a marathon with the little training that I had, and just coming off two injuries, was probably not a good idea. And I didn't even know if I could run a 3:30...I would have been really upset if I had set out to run a relatively modest pace for a marathon, and not even be able to keep that up (my Blue Line Run was at about a 3:30 pace, and we all know how that went).  

After Team 3:30 came by, Team Cheer Force One headed to our next stop.  I had wanted to try to see the runners at three locations--Miles 8, 18, and 23--but John was just too damn fast, and we decided that we probably wouldn't be able to make it to 18 in time for him.  So we went directly to Mile 23, around 95th and 5th, with our banner, hot toddy, and bullhorn in tow.

This was a great spot, pretty much at the top of that looooong 5th Avenue hill that I always hated running this late into the race. With our banner, I think the Front Runners could see us cheering from far away, and it was good to think that we might have helped boost their energy and spirits as they motored up the hill.  We stayed there for a while, and got to see everyone from the lead men to the middle-of-the-packers.  It was great to see so many Front Runners!  And every time a Front Runner came by, I went berserk and started screaming, jumping, and waving the banner. By the end of the day I had no voice left.  But it was so much fun!!

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My other big news of the week is that my running club, Front Runners New York, released its video for the It Gets Better Project.  For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the It Gets Better Project is a collection of videos that were made in response to a recent and heartbreaking string of suicides following instances of anti-gay bullying.  The videos are directed towards kids facing bullying and harassment or considering suicide.  It's a terrible tragedy that 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school, and more than 1/3 of all LGBT kids have attempted to commit suicide.  I hope our video can reach some of these kids and possibly make a difference in their lives.

I'm so proud that FRNY has decided to take part in this project, and I'm so honored that I was able to have a part in it.  Please take some time to view the video and forward it to your friends, families and colleagues, especially to any young people or anyone who works with young people, like teachers and coaches.  Together, I think we can really help make a difference in the lives of countless LGBT youth.

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This week, Front Runners also restarted its indoor track workout season.  Our first workout was Tuesday.  Even though this will be my fourth year doing the Armory workouts, I always get butterflies in my stomach before every workout.  And it was no different on Tuesday.  Our first workout was 8x400m.  I was really nervous.  The last time I ran on a track was at the Lockport 100 Mile Relay in July.  And I have lost like pretty much all of my fitness since then.  So this was going to be interesting.

I decided not to run with the "fast" group, settling instead in one of the "medium" groups.  I didn't want to run first in the group either, so luckily Tsing was in my group and I was able to tuck in right behind him the whole time.  My plan was to try to just maintain 90-second 400s.  The first one was a little slow, like 93 seconds, but we gradually got faster and faster.  I finished the 8th 400 in 84 seconds, and I felt like I could do a lot more.  It felt great to be back, running fast-ish.  But for now, I'm trying to take it easy for a few weeks; there's no sense in rushing into the speed workouts right now.  I have my eyes on Boston in April 2011.  Until then, I'm going to train smart, stay as injury-free as I can, and enjoy my gradual progression back into shape.

On the Subway after the Track Workout.