Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Marathon Update--a few months later...

Most of this blog has been sitting in my "edit" on Blogger account for almost 9 months now... so, here goes nothing!
The Marathon Recap:
(original text)
In some ways it was a blur. It all went by so quickly. And then I think how strange it is that over 4 hours of physical taxing could be a blur?
My day started at 6am in Brooklyn. The day before had been a busy one with the DBF's sister's baby shower and a coaching in Brooklyn so it made sense to just stay out in the borough and figure out the best way to make it to the marathon start point in Staten Island. You hit all 5 boroughs of New York City during the race, but Staten Island pretty much gets the shaft, since you arrive only to leave it via the Verrazanno Bridge. The question was how and when to get to start.
You are assigned a start time (mine was 10:10am) and you are also assigned the appropriate travel method depending on your direction from which you arrive. I was scheduled to take the Staten Island Ferry at 6:15. There was also a bus leaving from my favorite running store in Brooklyn at 6am. Now, I felt like this was too early. What was I going to do once I GOT to Staten Island? There's food, sure, and coffee... But it seemed to me to take advantage of Daylight Savings, sleep in a little more and figure out another, later, mode of transportation had it's advantages. Like enjoying more sleep, eating at home, not going to the bathroom as many times in a port-a-potty.
The DBF and I spent a long time trying to figure it out and eventually decided I could take a MTA bus from Bay Ridge Brooklyn to Staten Island. We checked three websites, all of them said the bus would be running at 8am, which would bring me to Staten Island via the Verrazanno Bridge by 8:30 and still give me more than enough time to do what I needed to do. But The DBF couldn't figure out how this was possible. He woke up at 6am on Race Day morning convinced it had to be an error, that since they close the bridge, there's no way there are buses running, and I would get there and be stranded in Bay Ridge.
So we changed plans: I took a car service into Manhattan to the Staten Island Ferry and was on the 7:30 Ferry with thousands of other runners. It's overwhelming to see the first conglomeration of runners, all standing in the terminal of the Ferry. You see their bags and they say countries like Poland, New Zealand, Finland, and you just start to get a small sense of the magnitude of the whole event. 43,000+ athletes, plus thousands of volunteers, and thousands of spectators. It's like the state fair times a million. Except instead of people single minded about cheese fries, people are single minded about running the marathon.
It was at this point that I cried for the first time. I had brought my phone with me (wrapped in a ziplock bag so to avoid water damage from sweat), and was checking my Facebook updates while waiting in line, and read my friend Kate Clawson Kunkel's update, which said:

This is important: Stop right now. Look around you. Notice what you have. Now love it, with everything you've got.
Sometimes, we run out of time for these things.
And that was the first time I cried. Just amazed at the sheer magnitude of the number people, both the runners as well as the volunteers, overwhelmed by excitement and anticipation. There was no dread, which I had thought I'd feel, no fear. Just promise. It is very exhilarating to be with that many people focused on a similar goal.
Eventually we were shepherded from the terminal onto the Staten Island Ferry itself, and I decided to take this opportunity to find a vantage point on the right side of the boat so I could get a glimpse of The Statue of Liberty. This was the second time I cried. Overwhelmed with pride of being an American, of being a New Yorker. Watching all the other runners grab their cameras and take pictures, it is truly a wonderful site. I forget sometimes how wonderful this city is (I don't really ever forget how wonderful it is to live in America), but you take things like The Statue for granted when it's just "there".
After a short trip the Ferry arrives in Staten Island and there is another herding process to get the runners onto Shuttle buses to take you to the start village. This was the first time when I really noticed the amazing infrastructure of the whole operation. It was a very well oiled machine. Runners walked down a long side walk and buses would line up along partitioned exit points, their front and back doors opening for entrance, and runners would just get on the first one that was available to them. It was really easy. No pushing, no shoving, no over crowding. I found a nice seat and watched Staten Island go by as we drove to the start village.
The runners are categorized into a few different groups. One has to do with your projected running ability. Obviously the competitive men and women start at different times than those people like me who have a pipe dream to run a marathon, or maybe run often but don't run for a competitive (monetary) finish. And within the three different start times, there are three color groups: orange, blue and green. Each group has its own mini-village within the village.
The next thing I noticed was the amazing number of port-a-potties! I read online that in the start village alone there are over 1600! I have never seen so many in my life. But here comes my list of things I would recommend to someone running the marathon:
Bring along to the start village a pack of travel kleenex and travel disenfecting wipes. Even though it's early, there are a lot of people. By my second trip to the port-a-potties my chosen stall had run out of toilet paper, and could really have used a nice sanitary, antibacterial wipe to wipe down some surfaces. I happened to have kleenex, but without the latter I just had to make due.
My hydration and nutrition plan was enacted starting the week before the marathon. My goal to try to stay as hydrated as possible all week long. No alcohol, and no caffeine aside from one cup of coffee in the morning, and then as much water as possible all day long. Then race morning to wake up, drink a large glass of water, and keep hydrating until 8am. 8am was my cut off time, just a little over 2 hours before my start, giving my body enough time to process the water I drank in the morning, and hopefully not giving me the nervous/anxious/I have to go to the bathroom feeling, because I would know I was fine. I forced myself to throw away my water bottle on the Ferry when we hit 8am, which felt strange and I suddenly felt dry and naked, but I knew I was totally hydrated and would have water along the course, so I tried to remind myself that everything was fine.
I needed to use the bathroom immediately once arriving at the start village, and then I used it one last time before going to my corral to line up. When I ran my half marathon by the end of the 13.1 miles I had to go to the bathroom so badly I could barely run anymore, so I wanted to avoid making that mistake in the marathon (which would also last twice as long!). I can safely say that my hydration/bathroom plan was perfect!
I was really fortunate that I was in the first corral of my color to leave. This is partially a mistake. When I had first signed up for the lottery for the Marathon, and I was still using Nike+, so I hadn't quite realized that it was just a little off. Therefore I had estimated my projected time to finish at just under 4 hours. (I also remember that one of the guys on The Biggest Loser ran his marathon in 4 hours and I thought "I'm sure I can run just as fast as THAT guy!") More on this later. But there were two benefits to being in the first corral:
1. It was sunny. Though it was nippy, in the sun it was quite warm. So in our holding row at least I had some sunshine.
2. I crossed the start line very quickly, and with the other "athletes", so I didn't need to fight my way through throngs of people to find my stride, I had an easy path to start.
While we were waiting, I sat in the grass and finally shed some layers. There are tons of volunteers collecting clothing to be donated, since many people dress for the weather but then don't need to be dressed that warmly to run. So people shed layers throughout their runs. I had dressed in my Team Free Arts long sleeved tech shirt, and my black running capris. I wore my standard socks, my standard shoes, heart rate monitor watch and chest band, and a SPI Belt loaded with GUs, chapstick and $20. Just in case. Of what, I don't know. But The DBF always wants me to have money with me when I run.
To the start village I also wore: 1 long sleeved t-shirt, a zip up fleece, a pair of warm up pants, fleece hat, fleece gloves, and a pair of tube socks I stole from The DBF and cut the feet off of to use as leg warmers (this in retrospect was pretty brilliant). The long sleeved shirt and the pants were donated right away, but I kept my "leg warmers" on until the last minute.
At this point I sat myself down in a spot in the grass and just said a short prayer. I don't really remember what the prayer itself was, something like "Thank you for getting me here. Please let's make it fun!" I cried again a little then.
We couldn't see the profesisonals and the members of the first wave at the start, but we could hear their gun firing to start, and hear Sinatra start singing "New York, New York" (which made it feel like the end of a Yankee's game, which was just a little weird! Things were just getting started!...). A few minutes after that, we were shepherded to our start. From my vantage point of the start line I called The DBF just to check in and say goodbye (he was up early for two conference calls, on a Sunday morning, no less!) I remember him saying the calls went well and then I replied "Great. Okay, I gotta go run a marathon." and some people around me chuckled. I hung up the phone, got everything repacked in the right pockets, and got focused. Someone sang America The Beautiful (I couldn't see him, nor did I catch the name when the announcer introduced him). I sung along and two Germans in front of me took my picture, which made me want to cry again. A little chit-chat led to a little chit-chat auf Deutsch, and then we took pictures together. No clue who they are. I will probably never see it again!
And this is where I stopped blogging... Awesome, Anna Lise. Way to leave a whole year in between to write your recap.
More later.

Long time, no blog

So it's been almost a year since my last blog post.

I am way overdue in a post about the marathon. Like a year overdue.

But in thinking about this time last year, as marathon training was just really starting, I found I missed it. And I think I missed journaling/blogging too.

So here goes nothing, trying to start up again. We'll see how this works! Not even sure if there's a point... I'll stumble around as I go!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An Ode to Chandlee Caldwell!

If I could I would say it in Chinese!

I am so grateful to have just seen my friend Chandlee while he was visiting NYC, a long way from his current hometown of Wiehai (which I heard is on the Beach), China. Chandlee went to teach English in China a few years after college, and now is running his own school in the town of Weihai! How cool is that?

Other cool, fun fact--Chandlee is the first person I remember meeting at Davidson College, the first day of freshmen orientation. If I remember correctly, Chandlee was standing behind me in the line we were in for...whatever it was we had to line up for on the first day of orientation. Check-in, packets, something like that! I remember thinking two things:

1. They name boys Chandlee down south.

2. There are places named Look Out Mountain, Tennessee down south.

And thinking "We're not in Minnesota anymore, Toto!"

The great thing is that Chandlee ended up becoming a theatre major. Was this because he also was a dresser backstage for the very indecently exposed show "Cabaret" his freshman year, as required lab hours for his fine arts distribution credit? Very likely. But he was a great addition to our little team. My college graduating class had 10 theatre majors, which was one of the highest number of majors in recent years. Needless to say, there weren't many actors.

After college, Chandlee moved to NYC and worked in the film industry, and I've always been so amazed as his ability to just "Go For It!" Whether it's thinking working costume shifts for a lab hour credit in Theatre 101 sounds like it's probably "pretty interesting" or moving to China and starting your own business, he has cajones.

So I am very grateful for all my adventures with Chandlee, and to know he's supporting me in my life's adventures. I can't wait until my life takes me to his end of the earth for an adventure of Epic Chinese proportions! This time, we'll have to take some pictures!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An Ode to Jessica Ruhle

There is not enough room on any imaginable server space in the world wide web for me to write enough good things about Jessica.

Jessica and I went to Davidson College together, and were roommates from sophomore year until we graduated.

She is a sister to me. A friend. A confidant. Someone who challenges me.
I have learned so many things from Jessica, but two come to mind in particular.

It was Jessica who taught me how to "work what you've got". I'm not sure she's ever used this exact phrase, but this is in essence what she taught me. To be confident in who I am, and the beautiful parts of me, and to flaunt it. I first remember this getting dressed for a Warner Hall Madonnarama party. (Madonnarama is a party honoring, who else, but Madonna, to which everyone shows up dressed as their favorite era of Madonna). I remember being in our sophomore apartment (I don't recall our third roommate Elizabeth being there, perhaps she was out of town) and feeling insecure about my Vogue-era Madonna outfit. Jessica told me to look at myself in the mirror and say "I look hot!" over and over again until I decided I believed it.

Secondly, Jessica is the one who probably started me on the path towards running marathons, because she has already done it! Jessica will probably readily admit that she was not the most athletic person in college. And neither was I. I did a lot of yoga. But I think my idea of working out was mostly reading InStyle on the elliptical machine. I did run from time to time, but never particularly far, and generally only after some boy had broken my heart.

So some time after college, Jessica started running 5Ks. Then 10Ks, and then the next thing you know, she's running marathons! And I was so impressed. At her guts and courage for reinventing herself to someone that was doing something she used to think she couldn't do.

Jessica is fearless. She is selfless. She is strong and independent, and the greatest friend anyone could ask for. My only wish is that we could find a city where we could be roommates again, forever and always, and we could share clothes, and bake cookies, and decorate an apartment in matching colors and get family portraits taken. She and I are both not big "phone people" and we don't talk or email as much as I wish we did, but I don't worry about it, because I know we will pick up right where we left off, whenever it is we get a chance to.

She is the greatest friend a girl could have. For anything from sob-stories to laugh-yourself-silly, she's seen me at my worst and still loves me. And I am forever thankful to have her in my life to encourage me.

There's always room in my apartment for another roommate, Roomie. :)

(p.s. this picture is so old, which is totally unacceptable! We need a photo-shoot soon!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Ode to Chris Tilley

This donation from Chris came in an interesting form. I met Chris when I was performing in Spitfire Grill 3 in Roanoke, VA. Chris was our music director and he and I got along very well. I respected his abilities (and remember, I’ve done this show so many times, I’ve got opinions about how it should be done!) and I think he liked me, and so that’s always a good place to start to get me to like you! Be talented and like me. ☺

From time to time, I have needed transcriptions for auditions here in NYC. We musical theatre actors are constantly looking for audition songs, and sometimes we find something great, but it’s hard to get your hands on the music, or sheet music doesn’t exist, or what does exist is chicken scratches and illegible, or worse: it sounds awful on the piano.

Insert my first request: Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” in a piano version that didn’t sound tinny and empty. I asked Chris for his help, and he came back in less than 24 hours with not one, not two, but THREE versions of the song to be played on piano. I have a surplus of Madonna that I can sing at any audition, and can change the tone of the song as I need to: ballad, jazzy, rock. Amazing.

Then my second request: The Facebook Song by Kate Miller-Heideke, which The DBF actually discovered some way on YouTube. After one listen I KNEW I had to have it in my book for auditions. So I shot off an email to Chris, that there was no real hurry, just wanted to add it to my repertoire. And again, within what seemed like hours, the full song was back in my hands, beautiful transcribed.

So I owed Chris, big time. And he wanted to donate to the marathon. And in lieu of being paid, he asked if I would use the money to donate towards my fundraising goals. And I happily obliged!

Chris is a true gem of a guy. Interesting, talented, quirky and insightful. I think he has so much of life in front of him and I am always curious where he ends up and what he will be doing next. Hopefully we will work together in person very soon, not just via email and PDFs. ☺

So thank you Chris, not only for your generous donations, but for making me look so good in auditions!

Monday, November 1, 2010

And Ode to The Greengrass Family!

I am so humbled and honored to have received a donation from Michelle Johnson and Andrew Greengrass. There is always this unknown when it comes to the friends of your significant other. Are they your friends, are they acquaintences, do they like you, do they hate you? Or maybe even worse, do they just tolerate you or think quietly “I guess she’s okay, but he could do better”.

Now I’ve never heard definitively from Michelle and Andrew that they think I am the greatest thing that has ever happened to The DBF, but I am going to take this wonderfully kind donation as a sign that in fact I am above “Not too bad” and they must like me!

In fact, I met Michelle and Andrew, as well as their two children, shortly after The DBF and I first met.

A little background: The DBF and Andrew went to Hunter College High School together, and were among the same group of friends, so have basically known each other since 6th grade. Sometime there after a New Year’s Eve tradition developed among the boys (they were 15, I think) and it is a tradition they still keep today, over 20 years later. The tradition is: Eat Chinese food for dinner, spend some time recapping your previous year on this Earth, and then play board games until sunrise, when you then eat bacon and go home to go to sleep.

Funny little tradition.

So The DBF and I began dating December 14th, 2008, or at least we attempted to start our first date that night. I stood him up because I had a callback for Ragtime. So we rescheduled for December 17th, and our date went much better than either of us had expected, especially since I had already flaked out and stood him up for the attempted first date and our second date I never had time to change from the clothes I wore to move into my apartment, so I basically had our first date in sweats. So he liked me, I liked him, and we quickly planned a second date before I was heading home to Minnesota for the holidays.

By date two I was smitten kitten, and he had told me he wanted to date me exclusively, and we were a couple, pretty instantaneously. I was spending Christmas at my parents house when he and I were discussing our plans for New Year’s Eve. I had none. And he, of course, had long standing traditional plans. After some time there was a very hesitant offer extended to me to join the gang for New Year’s Eve. The DBF’s hesitation made me pause, and I tried to get him to qualify why he was being a bit recalcitrant to invite me, and he said previous girlfriend’s have come and not had a good time. Lore even tells us that one girlfriend of yore even cried.

Now, loyal blog readers, we already know I am nothing if not insanely competitive and that, my friends was a challenge. To go and have fun! But I also discussed it with my mother, who said “You have the opportunity to meet his friends of over two decades? You go, and you take notes!”

And so plans were made for New Year’s, which The DBF was hosting at his house. I think by the time December 31st had rolled around we had maybe had 5 or 6 dates… Fully fledged as a couple but… well… really not knowing much about each other.

So I first met Michelle and Andrew, and their two beautiful children, Adam and Rebecca, New Year’s Eve of 2008. I liked them both right away. First because of their beautiful children. My father has a saying that “Nutty kids come from nutty families”, and the reverse is also true: happy, bright and loving children come from happy, bright and loving families. But I also found Andrew to be open and welcoming and I liked Michelle because she is also from Minnesota and is a doctor (like my father). I felt a little closer to her perhaps just because a Minnesotan recognizes another Minnesotan. She has even moved Andrew and the kids out to Minnesota, which I think has given my parents the pipe dream that The DBF and I would also move out to Minnesota some day. Sorry guys, not going to happen.

Since New Year’s Eve of almost two years ago I have spent quite a lot of time with Andrew and Michelle, both in New York when they have visited Andrew’s family who still lives here and of course the crew of boys who have now become men and still steady friends. But we also spent a week in Canada with Andrew and Michelle (and many other New Year’s regulars) in a bi-annual tradition of a week at the cabin up in the Northern Woods, and we’ve visited their home in Minnesota when The DBF and I visited my family again this spring.

So the question still always remains, in a relationship, when do “your” friends become “our” friends. In reality I have accepted that in the case of The DBF and his motley crew of guy friends, they will probably really always be “his”. You can’t make up for the 20+ years of friendship and experiences, and if for some horrible reason we broke up, I wouldn’t expect to still be invited to New Year’s or Canada. But Michelle and Andrew have always made me feel welcome, and like I belonged. And perhaps not just “belonging”, but a more profound sense that I might be appreciated, that my presence might add a little something. Maybe more song and dance routines.

I also have to say one of my favorite things about Andrew and Michelle is they have been very patient with my learning how to play Wiz War. What is Wiz War you ask? Well, it is the game of choice for these guys, and to even begin to describe it would be another five blogs and I would fail. And I said I was competitive, but I meant it. I’m so competitive, I don’t ever want to fail, or God forbid, to lose! So I didn’t play Wiz War for a full year. I just watched. I tried to make note of strategy, tendencies, etc. And Andrew and Michelle have always been patient with my learning, and guiding me towards where I am now, which is a mildly competent Wiz War player. I have never won, though I came close once, and I think I’m starting to understand it enough that it might actually be fun!

So I am eternally grateful to Andrew and Michelle for always making me feel welcome every time I’ve seen them, but now also being so kind and generous in helping me with this latest competitive obsession: running a marathon (and raising $3000!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Ode to Clare McIntyre

To the Lovely Miss Sunny Clare...

Clare is the final of the quartet of Germany Girls (the others being Sara and Ailsa), and Clare has the unusual distinction that she is the only of the other girls that I have seen since 1998. Clare came through NYC for pleasure this spring and we had the opportunity to sit down at Alice's Tea Cup, one of my favorite places in Manhattan, and share delicious foods and "catch up".
But as I've said in the blogs about the other girls, it's not so much about "catching up", because how do you really catch up on years of time, when it doesn't really matter. You share the big stuff. There's no "And then in 2003 I did..." it's just the stuff that matters. The nitty-gritty. And I love that about Clare.

I'm not sure if Clare knows she believes this, but I think she exemplifies something that I hold to be a truism: if it's scary, it's probably the right thing to do. Clare does things that are scary. Not terrifying, but things that are hard choices. She recently was at a crossroads and unsure of where to go next, and made a scary choice, but she made it boldly and proactively and with the utmost faith.

I think there are lots of different kinds of courage, and I think Clare has a very special kind in spades. I think it takes a crazy kid to want to go live in a foreign country for a year, alone, at 16 or 17. God bless being naive, because I know I would have never gone if I knew then what I know now, but I don't regret it for a second. Now, as an adult, I would be aware of all the things that could go wrong. At 17, I was only aware of possibility of what could be. And that was enough.

Somehow, I think Clare has managed to stay this course--to constantly be aware only of possibility. Does she get dragged down in the mire of day to day life and responsibilities and the baffling questions of the unknown, sure, we all do. But in her in a spirit that just moves forward with the sense that "Alles wird gut".

So when I'm running and feel like I just can't keep going, I think I'll remember Clare and know what she would do: Just keep going forward.

Seems like a good way to run a race.

Immer alles gute, Mein Liebchen.