The ING New York City Marathon 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011  |  Bullish Insights, Favorite Posts

This begins my story about the ING New York City Marathon which took place last November 6, 2011. Over 47,000 runners from all over the world ran 42.195 km through the five boroughs of New York City: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan. Over 2 million spectators came out to cheer for the runners. A whopping $34 million was raised for charity. And its male winner, Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest ever on a record-certified course in the United States with a time of 2:05:05.

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– NYCM 2010. Photo courtesy of Brightroom –

Thanks to Gatorade, I had the opportunity to run the ING New York City Marathon for a second time. The awesome people at Gatorade, who I can now call friends, offered full support from hydration allocation and scientific tests to actually running long runs together. They often said: We’re giving you the chance to redeem yourself at New York, but now with our full support.

I always say that every runner should run the ING New York City Marathon at least once in their lifetime. Imagine, I was given the chance to run it twice! This was a gift that I felt blessed to receive and I planned on giving it my best, whatever “best” meant given the situation I found myself in months before the race.

A TALE OF TWO RUNS

My story about the ING New York City Marathon is a tale about two runs within the marathon that were as different as night and day. The first run was the first 21k of the marathon, while the second was the last half. Everything changed for me after a potty break at the halfway point.

THE START

For those unfamiliar with the Big Apple, reaching the race start at Staten Island before the race actually starts feels like a huge win already. It can be quite confusing for international runners so careful planning must be done days ahead of the race. Fortunately for me, I rode a cab with NY-based runner and member of Adobo Run Club, Jet, to Whitehall Terminal, boarded the ferry to Staten Island together, and made it to our own corrals at around 8:30am with lots of time to spare before our race start at 10:10am.

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I waited alone for over an hour. I was excited but anxious at the same time. After five marathons under my belt, I had never been so ill-prepared for a race as this one. Don’t get me wrong; I always take marathons seriously as everyone should, but, due to my neuroma, which I only fully recovered from 3 weeks before race day, I only had 21k as my longest run. 21k?! No amount of prayer would take me to a smooth and easy marathon. I predicted one of two things: 1) Bonk at 21k, or 2) Bonk at 25k. Either way, I knew from experience that this was going to be a painful and agonizing 42km. At the same time, I tried my best to calm myself with the idea that this was NYC and “In New York, there’s nothing you can’t do, these streets will make you feel brand new.” I sure hoped my legs would feel brand new even at 32km!

We were then finally called to walk to the starting line at Verrazano-Narrows bridge. A booming, energized voice welcomed us all for the race. Runners chatted nervously or walked quietly unto the front of the line. The weather was perfect, just a little colder than Baguio, so my two layers of clothing plus the throwaway jacket was just right. I walked slowly towards the race start smiling from ear-to-ear barely able to contain my excitement.

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– At the race start –

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– Woohoo! Few more minutes to race start –

Suddenly, there was silence. The US National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner was sung. Then, one of New York’s anthem’s, Frank Sinatra’s Start Spreading the News broke through the air. There was cheering, yelling, screaming, then we raced forward towards the bridge and unto the start of our 42km through the five boroughs of New York.

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– Running on the cold and windy Verazzano-Narrows Bridge –

THE FIRST HALF: FAST & FURIOUS

Once we got out of the cold and windy run through the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and unto the sunny roads of Brooklyn, it felt like we were racing for our lives. The course was flat and fast and it was hard to hold back.

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– Out of the bridge and unto Brooklyn –

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– Ran behind a guy named “JOHNNY P.” same name as my Dad. My dad passed away just a few days before the race in 2008. Thought of Dad and ran in his memory –

We were running at a pace below 6 min/km. I knew I should’ve gone at a more conservative pace, but at the same time I thought: “Hey, if I’m going to bonk at 21k anyway, I might as well go full speed ahead. Besides, it was difficult to slow down with a crowd this fast anyway.” (I know, I know. I shouldn’t have done this. But, they don’t call me TBR for nothing!) So off I went.

5k – 29:48, 5:57/km
10k – 59:13, 5:55/km

I would slow down only for hydration breaks which, as advised by Gatorade was 125ml every 15 minutes. The hydration stations for the race were every 1 mile or 1.6km. I took gulps of Gatorade Endurance at most of the stations. Took a Hammer Gel at 10k. And off I went again feeling strong.

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– Hydration stations: water and Gatorade Endurance every mile –

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– Runners were running at a fast clip –

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– Blurry pic but guess what the sign said: DREAM BIG. RUN STRONG. Our tagline for our TBR Dream Marathon. How cool is that? –

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– Just one of the many bands that provided local entertainment –

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– I agree 100%! –

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– Check out those trees! Not the guy, he isn’t my type! Hah! –

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– Hey hey! Nice bumping into siblings Joey and Nona Torres of Polo Tri –

Wow. The sights and sounds of the ING New York City Marathon really compared to nothing else. The number of runners on the road that day were astounding already. But, to see the spectators lining the main roads and side streets, standing by the curb handing out food or yelling our names, was simply overwhelming. There were just so many people around us at any point during the race that there was no time for loneliness or boredom. Each borough pulled out all the stops to bring motivation, good cheer, and entertainment to us runners. It really was a celebration of running and the human spirit.

15k – 1:29, 5:56/km
20k – 2:03, 6:09/km

I took a peek at my watch when I hit 20k and had mixed feelings. It was a good split, but I knew I couldn’t keep it up with so little training in my legs. I took a potty break, saw the slight climb on the bridge ahead, and took a long, deep sigh. I suddenly felt depleted.

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– 20k. Sigh. Tired. 22k to go. Gulp. –

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– Nooo, not another climb –

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– Here we go! –

THE SECOND HALF: WALK IN THE PARK (LITERALLY)

21K – 2:13, 6:20/km

Why were there so many uphills? I remember myself thinking. I didn’t notice all the climbs from my run last year. They say that ING NYCM is one of the most fun courses you’ll ever run because of the crowd support, but make no mistake about it: it is still one tough route with five bridges to climb and several ascents throughout the course, even in the last mile.

One of the most unforgettable portions of the race was Queensboro Bridge. It’s one of the few portions where there are no spectators to cheer runners on, and most runners struggle to run the steep half-mile climb in silence.

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– Queensboro Bridge –

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– Well he was looking strong –

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– I had to stop for a photo op on Queensboro Bridge. Who could resist this fantastic view? Thanks to the nameless Spanish runner who spoke no english but agreed to take my pic –

By this time, I had accepted the fact that this could be my slowest marathon ever. I was alternating between running and walking and enjoying the walks a lot more than the runs!  I could choose to feel disappointed over this or enjoy the experience. I chose the latter. No use crying over missed training that I could do little about because of my Neuromas. Uhm, I may have also gone too fast during the 1st half and suffered for it now. (You marathoners, take note of this. Don’t be as bullheaded as I am and don’t do as I did in the first half!) I slowed down and started to notice more of the view around me and was overcome by joy: I was running NYCM a second time! How lucky was I?!

After surviving Queensboro Bridge, the next part was the highlight of the race for me just like last year. We entered First Avenue where the roar from the crowd was electrifying and energizing. The crowds here were five-rows deep from beginning to end. Cheerers provided tissue, chocolates, bananas, petroleum jelly and moral support just at the point where runners are struggling and wanting to give up.

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– Out of Queensboro bridge and unto First Avenue –

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– Thick, boisterous crowd awaits. Here’s a marriage proposal –

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– It’s like a huge party on First Avenue –

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– Crowds cheer but it’s also a tough portion for most runners –

By the time, I was walking most of the time and I was taking in the sights: I would read the banners from the spectators, watch runners struggle alone or find strength in another, and take photos of this incredible experience.

25k – 2:45, 6:36/km
30k – 3:25, 6:50/km

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– 30k! 12 more to go! –

I took me almost the same amount of time to run the first half of the race and the last 12k. As I run-walked through Central Park out again to Columbus Circle and back again into the park towards the finish, I was filled with emotion over the last few miles of struggle and the wonderful support from strangers around. It’s almost feeling a battle within: wanting so badly to finish the race and sit down to rest, but also wishing that this awesome experience would never end.

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– Central Park on our right. So near yet so far! –

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– Uphill again! –

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– No matter how tired, this guy made me laugh! –

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– Mile 24 in Central Park! Wooohoo! –

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– Ooops. Gotta get out of Central Park into Columbus Circle first. Gasp!

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– Thank God for crowd support. We really needed it here! –

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– Heading back into Central Park towards the finish line. Yes! –

THE BEST AND WORST TIME OF MY LIFE

I finished the ING New York City Marathon with a time of 5:21:09. This is my slowest marathon time for all six marathons I’ve run. In fact, I had never run a marathon over 5 hours before.

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– I did it! –

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed with the time. Of course, I could always blame the Neuroma for messing with my training, but still a bad performance is just hard to take no matter how you look at it. I was severely depressed about if for, uhm, around 2 minutes. Then, I plodded forward along with other runners in that long, cold walk out after the finish line (some runners call it “The Walk of Shame”) while sipping my Gatorade post-recovery drink and munching on pretzels. I claimed my check-in baggage, sat by the sidewalk on Central Park shivering in the cold alone barely able to move my legs and my teeth chattering. I glanced at the medal around my neck and thought: Woah, I just finished a marathon! Fast or slow, walk or run, I finished! And, boy was I proud of it!

Thank you once again to Gatorade for the opportunity of a lifetime!  

Bull Circle 2: Gearing Up for the Marathon

Friday, 25 November 2011  |  Bullish Insights

Last November 16, hundreds of runners showed up at ROX for our 2nd Bull Circle entitled Gearing Up for the Marathon.

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– That’s me welcoming the runners –

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– We filled up the 3rd floor again! Thanks to ROX for accommodating us –

One of Ateneo’s most popular and well-loved teachers who I was fortunate enough to learn Theology from and TBR Dream Batch 2011 alumni, Bobby Guevara, gave an inspiring talk to our future marathoners.

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Shoe guru Hector Yuzon of Secondwind Running Store shared his passion for shoes and talked about various kinds of shoes for runners and how to determine the right shoe for your foot type.

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Neville Manaois, Team Principal of Pinoy Ultra Runners and co-owner of Secondwind Running Store, discussed the essential gear for running and gave practical tips on choosing the right equipment.

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Until the next time guys! Click HERE for our December schedule.

Keeping Perspective by Jim Lafferty

Thursday, 24 November 2011  |  Bullish Insights

I received this email from Jim Lafferty, my co-founder for TBR Dream Marathon and one of my mentors in running and in life. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Jim is a huge believer in Youth Juice (no, he doesn’t own it nor is he a distributor of it and neither am I) and he shares this poignant story about a female runner named Uche, her challenges in life and how she faced them head on:

As you know, I moved from Manila to Lagos, Nigeria, in early 2010 to take a CEO role with Coca Cola.

Nigeria is also a developing market, and one of the “hot spots” of the global economy, yet FAR behind Philippines in many respects, including development of a running community. Despite some success in the Olympics in sprinting, typically the West Africans have not developed the kind of distance running pedigree of the east Africans. But the talent is there, like Philippines!

Soon after my arrival, I got into coaching and built a local team in Lagos, including key runners from the Women’s national team. These women, I can tell you, are real icons. They get zero support or funding–it all goes to sprinters. They are college educated, professional women—bankers, marketers, procurement officers. They work long hours, and train in what CNN Called “the worst city in the world to live in”. NO parks. No sidewalks. Dangerous roads. Extreme heat and humidity. Dodging cars, bikes, bodies (yes bodies!), rats, you name it. They are so inspiring.

One of the women runners, a 3:30 marathoner who also works for one of the top oil companies, was running with us one day in June this year. She is a quiet, but forceful personality. Keeps to herself a bit. Incredibly talented in so many things, and also a pillar of ethics in a tough environment for this. We stop for a road crossing about 7 miles into our Saturday long run, and she says to me: “Jim can we talk. I have some ‘female’ issues and it seems I have a fibroid tumour in my ovary and uterus. I want to go to the US to see a doctor there. What do you think I should do?”

Now realize this is a 32 year old, world class runner, top health, and takes good care of herself. She is single, beautiful, vivacious, about as special a person that exists. It was shocking, not only to hear her having such an issue, but I was humbled she would talk to me about it.

I told her it was probably a good idea to go to the US. I had seen some of the “best” Nigerian health care and it was concerning to say the least. So a few weeks later she went off to the US—AFTER finishing a strong second in an open women’s 5 kms race, narrowly losing to the national record holder by a few seconds!

She had her tests, and wrote me a note. Sure enough, she did have a fibroid tumour in her ovary. But when they opened her up, they also found COLON CANCER, stage 4, which had spread outside the Colon into surrounding tissues. So they had to extend the surgery to take the cancer out. And then lots of rehab time until the chemotherapy starts.

I cannot tell you all the things, all the questions that went through my head to get this news. But some big ones.

—How tough a human are we talking about? I think I am tough, I am nothing compared to her. She ran with stage 4 cancer and came in SECOND in a 500 woman open 5 kms race in the largest country in Africa! And she was hurting all the way. I struggle with pain being healthy in a 5 KMS race. She redefines mental toughness.

—Where is the fairness in life? She is single, 32, healthy, did everything right. She has her whole life in front of her. How fair is this? To have a cancer so advanced that the survival rate is quoted at 8-15% maximum.

—How long did she ignore those early symptoms? When it was “something funny” and before it became so advanced? Do we all sometimes ignore the little signs we should not?

We were able to get her into the MD ANDERSON Medical Center, one of the world’s top Cancer Centers. They gave her a “Pre Chemo” protocol and she sent it to me. It had a listing of vitamins to boost her immune system, like CQ-10, Vitamin C and E. But then the shocker of them all–THE DOCTOR WROE OUT THAT SHE SHOULD TAKE DOUBLE DOSES OF YOUTH JUICE EACH DAY! That’s right. Apparently MD ANDERSON has done several trials on Youth Juice and they now make it a part of all their cancer protocols. That’s right. The very product you talked about last year, the product that you can find in S+R, is a key part of a cancer treatment. Imagine how it can help healthy people stay healthy?

Uche (that’s her name) is still in Chemo now, and we will see. I am convinced she will be in the 8-15% who survive and thrive. Someone has to be in the 8% so why not her? I think she will be back, and running competitively again. And her role modeling will only be bigger for it. She will touch more lives.

Its a story with a learning for all of us. To count our blessings. To never take health for granted. Don’t ignore ANY warning signs. And to take good preventive measures like our vitamins and Youth Juice. Its a small price to pay to be healthy.

Jim Lafferty

21k Charity Run for Pasig River

Monday, 21 November 2011  |  Bullish Insights

Last year, on October 10, 2010 (10.10.10), the Run for the Pasig River, led by ABS-CBN Foundation managing director, Gina Lopez, broke the world record for the most number of participants in a foot race when over 116,000 participated in a fun run to raise funds to rehabilitate the Pasig River.

This year, the Pasig River Run was held yesterday, November 20, 2011 at SM Mall of Asia with thousands of runners taking part in a 3k, 5k, or 10k fun run to save our historic river.

At the same time, a select group of runners were invited to join a 21k Charity Run for the Pasig River. This was not a race but an easy run meant to take the runners from the roads of Bonifacio High Street, along the Pasig River by Guadalupe, Paco estero, and ending at SM Mall of Asia for a special breakfast where the main event was held.

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– 21k Charity Run for Pasig route –

Along with a group of friends, Jun, Lit, and Miriam, I decided to join the charity run which started in front of Coach Rio dela Cruz’s new store, Riovana, in Bonifacio High Street at 4:30 am.

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– Have you dropped by Riovana, Coach Rio’s brand spankin’ new store at BHS? –

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– with Lit, Jun, Trixie and Miriam –

Spotted in the assembly were Polo Tri team member Fernando Zobel, Joey Torres, Cliff Eala and Levy Ang, Mitch Felipe-Mendoza, Malou Fores of Mamou, Michelline Suarez, Edwin Soriano of Runner’s Runner, Gem Padilla and more. It was nice to say hi to a friend and host for the race, Mia Bayuga of Magic 89.9. Too bad I didn’t even catch a glimpse of Piolo who I heard was in the crowd. Ernie Lopez gave a brief welcome speech then our little fun run began.

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– Ernie Lopez addresses the charity runners –

The run started like any other 21k race I’ve run before. We ran towards British School, circled the area, and climbed up University Ave. The pace was light and easy with a lot of time for chit chat, even with Ernie for a few minutes.

Then it got exciting. We exited Bonifacio Global City and headed for Guadalupe! Two things I loved: 1) It was the first time I ran in that area, and 2) there was a gentle downhill where we could run fast with ease, then the road flattened out as we ran by the Pasig River on our right.

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– Running by the Pasig River –

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– Jun, Lit, and Levy running in the dark by the river –

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– Shiny and sweaty with Edwin and his friend –

We ran straight through the back of Rockwell and through the little barangays of Makati. At first, the roads were familiar for me having lived in Bel Air half my life, but after a while, I had no clue where we were or where we were headed.  We just went straight ahead enjoying every minute of this new route we were taking.  This was definitely a welcome change from our usual weekend long runs.  This run felt like a thrilling yet safe adventure replete with support from organizers just like a real race: marshals, hydration stations, and bananas.

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– Fun run with Jun and Levy –

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– Levy, Jun, and Lit –

Since none of us had left our vehicles at the finish area, SM MOA, for a trip home (We actually planned on leaving one vehicle there for all of us to ride in, but ran into problems involving a minor car bump and 3 tipsy women before the race which is too long a story to tell here), we deviated from the route and decided to run our way back to Bonifacio High Street. The four of us waved goodbye to the marshals and made a right towards South Super Highway. Running on South Super was surreal. I couldn’t believe we were actually doing this.

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– End of South Super near Osmena Highway. Bumper to bumper traffic in the wee hours of the morning. Just the four of us by this time –

After a few hundred meters, we spotted a some runners and discovered that we had cut 3k through the route and were back on course! Good thing this wasn’t a race!

The runners below us passed a portion of the river that was polluted by foam and dirt. This was truly a disturbing sight, but it was also an eye-opener and it made this run even more meaningful.

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– This is what the Run for Pasig River hopes to change –

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– Angelo, GM of RunRio, greeted us from the middle of South Super Highway –

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– Hydration stations, sponges, and bananas along SSH –

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– Runner along SSH –

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– Photo op with Makati Police. (Gasp I need to lose 5 more lbs or learn how to angle myself haha) –

When we hit the intersection of Buendia, we left the group and made our way back to Bonifacio High Street. It was then that it was just the four of us on the road and I felt like we were on a great urban run adventure.  (Ooh, don’t we need these things every now and then?!) We purchased water and Gatorade at 7-11, then ran along Ayala Avenue going up and down the underpass, and climbing the overpass along EDSA until we reached McKinley Road.

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– Jun and Levy. Felt like we owned the roads of Makati! –

We hit the parking lot where our cars were parked at the exact distance of…guess what…21km. A perfect end to a perfectly wonderful and meaningful run.

Thank you to ABS-CBN Foundation and Ernie Lopez for inviting us to participate in this run. It was a pleasure to run with you and to contribute to saving our Pasig River.

Empire State of Mind and Legs

Friday, 18 November 2011  |  Bullish Insights

Since I arrived from New York, I’ve been stuck in brain (and leg) freeze mode.

More than a couple of times, I’ve had to peel myself out of bed in the morning.  That’s despite the hour long nap I’ve been having lately, which has gone mandatory to keep me from dozing off by 7 PM!  I go about my daily business at half the pace I used to, slowly sipping that cup of coffee, gingerly leafing through the morning papers, and dropping and fetching the kids as if I didn’t have a truckload of work waiting for me in my Inbox.

Notice the blog? I haven’t had anything substantial pop into my mind except cool contests!  (Insert apology for the delay in my NYC Race Report. I’m working on it!)  I’m worse than a kid who gulped down a large Slurpee in one sitting; I’ve had brain freeze for over a week and that’s without even having a taste of Slurpee (Mountain Dew’s my fave by the way.) Yikes!

I’ve even turned into a freakin’ girly girl.  My friends will laugh.  My pre-NY self detested parlors and, if I had to step into one, I would tell the stylist at what time he had to be done; deadline was usually an hour.  But, since I’ve arrived, I’ve spent a combined total of four hours in the parlor, not including the one hour tomorrow when I plan to indulge in another mani/pedi.

Ack. I’ve fallen into full-on relaxation and recovery mode.  Something I believe I haven’t done in—uhm—five years, perhaps?  I must admit, I’m loving it for the moment (one deserves to relax every once in a while), but, at the same time, I’m freaking out!  This is not me and I’m dying to crawl out of this hole.  Yes, I call it a hole!

This new R&R body is so annoyingly uncooperative.  I swam with Bic and Adel last week and struggled to reach 1k when 2k was my norm.  I could barely hit a set of 20 crunches at the gym when I used to do 30 with ease.  And, during last Sunday’s Run United where I ran 15km, I mistakenly u-turned along with the 10k runners and when the marshall called my attention, I yelled to Jun “Aaaw man!” hoping I could’ve just headed back towards the finish line earlier.

Call this jetlag, withdrawal symptoms from New York, extended vacation mode, or pure laziness.  Whatever. I’m just hoping it ends and that it ends soon because California International Marathon is just around the corner on December 4.  My mind is racing with excitement and conjuring up visions of how strong I’ll be during the marathon after running 42k at New York.  But, as of now, the body is revolting.

So, for now, I’m giving in to my body and allowing it to rest if it really needs it. I put it through a 42km so I guess it deserves a little break and, okay, a little spoiling.  I’m observing every niggle of discomfort or twitch of a muscle, making sure it is well hydrated and nourished, and giving it everything it asks for in preparation for the next marathon.  What?  A 1.5 hour massage tonight?  Fine. What the body asks for, the body gets. Who am I to complain?