Tuesday, February 15, 2011

AIDS Service Center, Track Meet and Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, The Trevor Project

Lots of running and eating news to report this past month.  Sorry for cramming it all into one long post!

First, I am so super proud to say that I've received an award from the AIDS Service Center NYC for the work that I've done for them on behalf of Front Runners New York.  FRNY has had a great relationship with ASC over the past few years.  For those of you who aren't familiar with ASC's work, they're a community organization that provides services for New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.  Their programs include peer education and training, harm reduction, specialized women's services, HIV counseling and testing, and a host of other services that help NYC's most vulnerable individuals and families survive and thrive in the face of HIV/AIDS.

I've actually been involved with ASC for longer than I have with FRNY, since my good friend David Berman used to work with them.  (By the way, ASC holds a great party every June, Safer Sex in the City, which I've been proud to be on the planning committee for.)  FRNY's partnership with ASC started out in 2009 when FRNY's Charitable Foundation provided ASC's clients with hundreds of holiday gifts bags (which consisted of hats and gloves and the like).  We then gave ASC a large financial gift so that they could continue doing the valuable work that they do.  In honor of FRNY's gift, ASC named their new wellness room the "Front Runners New York Wellness Room," and even held a dedication ceremony for it.  That's when I, along with several other Front Runners, received our awards, which honored us for our "spirit of giving" which has "touched the lives of countless New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS."

It was a really touching gesture by ASC.  I'm so proud of the work that they do, and so happy that FRNY has been able to develop a great partnership with them.

The picture above is of me and Sharen Duke, the Executive Director of ASC, and a current member of FRNY.  Sharen actually ran in the 2010 New York City Marathon wearing the Front Runners singlet, and finished in an amazing 4:22:29, earning her the 3rd fastest FRNY Women's Masters time in history.  Awesome job, Sharen!!!

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Remember my post about cheering with the Front Runners at the ING New York City Marathon?  Well, the New York Road Runners did a story about our cheering group in their New York Runner Magazine!  Check it out below!

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This past week was a week of tough races.  Last Thursday was NYRR's Thursday Night at the Races.  I decided to run the mile on the track.  It was my first track race since last year's FRNY Track Meet, when I did the 1200m in the Distance Medley Relay with Team Joy Luck Club, and only the second time I've ever raced a mile in my life (the first one was at the FRNY Track Meet in 2008... a 5:33.42 that may forever be out of my reach now...).

I knew this wasn't going to be the race of my life.  I had done a speed workout on Tuesday, and then a pretty fast 6-mile loop on Wednesday, so my legs were tired even before the race started.  I really wanted to break 5:45, though, but wasn't quite sure if I'd be able to do it.

I was really nervous.  There's something about running on the track that terrifies me.  Maybe it's the fact that everyone is standing in the middle of the track watching you.  Maybe it's that in short distances, you're pushing your body harder than you ever would in a road race.  Or maybe it's that the track sometimes seems dominated by people who are running 4-minute miles.  Either way, I felt a huge pit in my stomach, a feeling of utter terror that I haven't experienced before a race in years, if ever.

Then the starting gun went off.  Through the sheer randomness of how we lined up, I was placed in lane one.  All of the other nine runners in my heat were outside of me on the track.  That meant that everyone had to merge together after the start, except for me.  So for the first 75 meters or so, I was out ahead of everyone.  I didn't know what was going on, and where everyone else was.  Then I realized that I was out in front.  I hate running in front of everyone, since I'm so bad at pacing myself.  Koach Kelsey saw me kind of confused and panicking around the bend, and he yelled out to me to run my own race.  It was definitely comforting to hear that.

Finally, as I was finishing the first lap, I was passed.  This was actually a relief to me, as it made me think I wasn't going out too crazy fast.  My first lap was 41 seconds.

Around lap three was when I wanted the race to end.  I had completely forgotten that feeling you get when you run really, really fast at the Armory, and your mouth, throat and lungs can't deal with the dry, disgusting indoor air there.  I felt like I needed a giant glass of water, but I still needed to go five more times around that damn track.  And I started getting passed by two more people.  Kelsey was telling me to keep up with them, he said he knew I could do it.  I knew I could too, but my legs and my breathing just weren't cooperating.  I felt myself slowing down rather than trying to reach them.  I saw that my splits had fallen closer to 44 seconds.  I just couldn't get myself to push harder.  It was a bit disappointing, especially when I was passed again towards the end of the mile.

But I knew I could still make my time of 5:45.  I managed to pull it together for the last 100 meters, pump my arms harder and broaden my stride a bit, and I charged for that finish line.  I put everything I could into that finish, and got there, at 5:44, just in the nick of time!  OMG, I was so happy!  So relieved that it was over.  So glad I had accomplished what I set out to do.  It was a great feeling.  Even though it was 11 seconds slower than my mile from 2008, it made me realize that I have it in me to run fast, to set a goal and then grasp it.  It's a great feeling.

But it wasn't just me that got myself around the track those eight times.  I think I saw Kelsey 16 times during those eight loops, as he ran back and forth and back and forth to encourage me to do my best.  And then there were at least a dozen other Front Runners, at various points along the track, always cheering me on whenever I ran by.  What a great way to run a race, knowing that I'm being helped out every step of the way by my friends and teammates.  Thanks to all of you who pushed and pulled me along!

After last Thursday's experience, I think I'll run the Mile again at the FRNY Annual Indoor Track Meet in March.  You should join me!  Click below to register:

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Sunday was the Valentine's Day Marathon / Half-Marathon / 10K, the Valentine's Day version of the free race that I did with my parents on Christmas Day.  I had gone to the race intending to run three loops (about 19 miles), but instead, ran-walked one loop, through treacherous ice and snow.  It was brutal, slippery, and dangerous, and it took me almost an hour and a half to finish.  But once I realized that this wasn't going to be my long run of the week, it was actually kind of fun.

Here's a picture of the 10K group.  Some other Front Runners decided to run a second loop.  No, thank you!

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It was Chinese New Year a little while ago.  I invited a bunch of Front Runners out to me and Fatai's annual Chinese New Year's Dinner and Booze Fest.  I decided to do things a little differently this year.  Last year, the gays all complained that the restaurant's set menu was too weird and Chinese-y.  Nobody liked the jellyfish and the baby octopus, and the fried flounder, and blah blah blah.  So this year, I pre-picked all the dishes and just ordered everything a la carte.  I was a little nervous, since it's hard to order for 24 picky gays (and Rachel, a vegetarian).  But everyone uniformly said that the food was MUCH better than last year, so I think it was a big success.

Here's what I ordered.  For just $25 per person, we all filled up on some really tasty Chinese food, and around 20 bottles of wine (plus a bottle of Stoli--thanks, Anthony!).

-minced beef, egg white and parsley soup (veggie bean curd soup for Rachel)

-peking duck
-sliced beef w/ black mushrooms + bamboo shoots
-pork chop w/ peking sauce
-steamed chicken w/ mushrooms
-diced pickles and bacon w/ snow peas
-beef chow fun

-steamed buffalo fish
-prawns w/ crispy walnuts in mayonnaise (always a big hit!)
-salt baked squid w/ chili
-clams w/ black bean sauce

-assorted veggies + mushrooms buddhist style
-braised eggplant
-braised bean curd w/ brown sauce
-sauteed snow pea shoots

Here are some pictures of the food, fun and booze:

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OMG, it's less than nine weeks to the Boston Marathon!  I'm definitely getting nervous, even though I think my training has been pretty good so far.

I was chatting with my friend Audra the other day, who's also running Boston, and she came up with a great idea.  She told me that last fall, she went out for a bike ride over the George Washington Bridge, where she saw rainbow streamers left by individuals and a few "You Are Not Alone" signs bolted to the railings.  This was shortly after Tyler Clementi, a gay student at Rutgers, had committed suicide.  Audra approached me with the idea of joining together with some other LGBT runners to raise money for the Trevor Project, a national organization that provides a 24-hour confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth.

I have a special fondness for the Trevor Project because, as you might remember from an earlier post, several Front Runners and I created a video as part of the Trevor Project's "It Gets Better" campaign.  If you haven't seen it, or would like to see it again, click below (note that Janice who appears in the video with me is also running in Boston and also raising money for the Trevor Project; so is Paul, who appears towards the end):

In this time when incidences of anti-gay bullying and suicides of gay youth are rampant, the Trevor Project's work is so important.  I'm so proud to be able to support an organization that is working to save the lives of LGBT youth all over the country.  Please join me in donating to the Trevor Project by clicking below so they can continue their amazing work.  Thank you!

1 comment:

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