Brings Me Back-NYC Marathon

Hello from New York City!  You may have noticed my absence the past few weeks, or perhaps not.  I know that I have been pretty quiet around here lately.  The reason for silence is because I have been busy working 7 days a week for the past few weeks at the ice rink in Central Park.  I used to work there years ago.  It was how I worked my way through college when I first arrived in New York and where I met my husband, on my first day of work.

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Six years ago, we left New York and moved to Chicago and later to Michigan.  We continue to work here in the spring and fall and last winter I got a text from a co-worker asking if I could work her maternity leave this winter.  Knowing the struggles of becoming a mom and then the next struggle of being a working mom, I gladly obliged to a return to Wollman Rink for a few weeks.

The work isn’t easy.  The hours are rough.  I’m up well before the sun rises each morning and I run home to meet the girls after a few hours on the ice.  I return to the ice later in the day to work some more, before running the 4 miles back to get our children fed and to bed.  We’ve suffered colds, sinus infections, and ear infections.  But we are finally on the mend and despite being exhausted, we are having a  great time in the city.  So please excuse my absence over the next few weeks, I have great plans for a big return after the holidays.

Until then, I want to offer a huge congratulations and thank you to all of the runners of the New York City Marathon.  Anyone who dares to run and anybody who dares to train and finish a marathon is a super hero.  It is an incredible process that requires months, and weeks, and hours of diligence.  There are days of exhaustion and times of injury.  But there is nothing more incredible than crossing that finish line.

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That time Mary was a few weeks old and we went to cheer on the last of the runners on their way through Brooklyn!

I ran for many years leading up to the first time I really had a chance to admire the New York City Marathon.  It is always hectic trying to get in and out of the rink in Central Park, as it is very close to the finish line.  Most years I worked all morning and afternoon and missed much of the race.  When I finally got my own apartment situated in East Harlem, right by the 19 mile mark, I had a sunny afternoon to myself and I went to watch the runners.

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Spectating a marathon will change even the hardest of souls.  You will witness humans at their absolute greatest.  People are drenched in sweat and struggling.  Some are beaming and smiling.  Others are grimacing and crying.  Along the sidelines you will find people of all backgrounds, coming together to cheer on family and friends, and strangers.  It is amazing!

Watching those runners who spent months training for this big event, that year, touched me.  I felt chills listening to a band up the street, and the cowbells ringing.  There were dozens of languages being spoken around me and people were calling out names of strangers whose names were taped across their bibs.

The marathon was a uniting force!

I went home feeling like a changed person.  I commented on what an incredible experience it appeared to be, but that I would never do something so crazy.  Yet, that moment stuck with me, and was the reason I have run several marathons and helped hundreds of others cross their own finish lines.

There is something very special about the New York City Marathon.  A city that can be so busy rushing to and from work and other occasions, finds the time to slow down to cheer for tens of thousands of strangers for one magical day.

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This year was extra magical because I got to take my girls to cheer on the runners near that same place that forever changed me.  Mary made a sign and was quite the hit waving and cheering on the runners.  At one moment she asked me why people were “stopping.”  I tried my best to explain to her how hard those last few miles are for so many of us.  I choked back tears as I held her and watched people passing by and said, “You run when you can and walk if you have to.  We all just keep going.”

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Congrats to everyone who ran New York and Indianapolis this weekend!

The Stop Light Game

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Last week Chicago was brutally cold.  I wanted to get my run in and one evening I had to head out in the dark, layered, and determined to make something happen.  I avoided even looking at the thermometer as I headed out the door because I knew it would be a terrible idea.

Lucky for me I had spent the past 10 years working as a figure skating coach at Trump Rink in Central Park.  Spending your winter days outside on an icy rink will certainly teach you cold weather preparedness.  I layered in some great Lululemon Dog Walker Pants, Under Armor Cold Gear, and the usual hat and gloves and a gaiter.  I also used my go-to trick from those frigid days on the ice, hand warmers tucked on top of my socks in the shoes and in my mittens.

Can you believe I used to be able to call this my office?!

Can you believe I used to be able to call this my office?!

Off I went.  “This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself.  At the half mile point I started to feel the sting in my cheeks and shortly after I was really starting to question if I could make it the 7 miles I had planned out.  I don’t know how but at some point my tush actually went numb!

I am pretty Type A, and I had set out with a plan to run a certain route, but soon it became clear that things were going to have to change.  I came to a stop light where I would have to wait before continuing on my way and I knew stopping would be very, very bad.

Thus began the Stop Light Game.  Realizing I should just keep going, I turned and charted a new route (oh man, I hate when plans change) and then there was another light up ahead, so I took the next turn and kept running.  Things were starting to get interesting and it started to feel like a game to me.

Icy Toes.  Icicles actually formed on my laces.

Icy Toes. Icicles actually formed on my laces.

I encourage you to try this out if you are feeling a bit bored with your running or just need a change of pace.  Head out for your run and let the stop lights determine where you go.  If the light is red, turn in a direction that allows you to keep on running.  If it is green, proceed through.  You will twist and turn on a different route each time and it is pretty fun anticipating where you will go next.  Just turn around and do the same thing back home when you reach your half way point.

Once you let go and have fun with it you will have a blast, and hopefully forget that you are on your dreaded run.

I really should have taken a picture because when I got home and looked at the temperature it read 4 degrees with a  real feel of -17.  I am so glad I didn’t see that before I left.

I should note that this does not work if you live in rural areas.  I am up in Northern Michigan right now and the town I grew up in only has 2 stop lights and they are pretty far apart.  It would take me 3 miles to even get close to the first one.  If I played this game here I would have to run a marathon, perhaps even an ultra.

One of my other favorite games to get me through a treadmill run is to imagine that each mile is 3 songs long on my I-pod.  As I run I just remind myself I only have so many more songs to enjoy before I am done.  I heard Hoda Kotb say on The Today Show once that she uses this technique.  Hey if it works for her, its worth giving a shot.

Northern Michigan is awesome.  This is the former state mental institute converted into amazing market shops.

Northern Michigan is awesome. This is the former state mental institute converted into fun market shops.

Enjoying wine tasting inside the market.

Enjoying wine tasting inside the market.

 

Shoveling to check in on our summer cottage.  By shoveling I mean him, not me!

Shoveling to check in on our summer cottage. By shoveling I mean him, not me!

Do you have any games you play to help get you through a run or just get you out the door when you don’t want to run?