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NYC Marathon – Experience of a Lifetime (Part 3) The Race within a Race

12 Nov

Before I go into a detailed race report for the NYC Marathon last Sunday, there are are a couple of things to say:

1. I am a very competitive person when it comes to running.  But NOT with other people.  I never show up to a race and look around and say, “I want to beat her and her and him” or “I want to finish in the top 10.”  I look at myself in the mirror before a race and say “I am going to beat YOU”. I am competitive with myself.  I think it’s fair to say that any serious runner has to be – you train for a race, sometimes for weeks or months, with one primary goal in your head…you want to PR (*for those not familiar with the jargon: a PR is a personal record).  You want to beat yourself.  You want to beat the effects of age, pregnancy, childbirth, sickness, stress, or whatever challenge you have faced or are overcoming.  You are stepping up to the start line telling yourself, “I am going to run faster than I ever have before.”  

2. I had waivered months ago about whether or not I should even submit an application to participate in the FL5BC.  Those who know me, understand that I am a solitary runner. I wholeheartedly love running alone – especially during races. Running, for me, has always been my release and to have some alone time that I wasn’t afforded when I was in the army (communal living), at West Point (roommates and communal living), and now that I have a son (I need some time to think like an adult without the babytalk!).  When I race, I  don’t maintain an even pace – it’s all based on how I feel, the terrain, and weather conditions, When my body tells me to slow down, I slow down.  When it tells me it’s feeling good, I speed up.  I’m constantly making adjustments when I race.  And I knew that by participating, I would have to run with 4 people whom I never ran with before. The rules of the FL5BC were this: run together for the first 13.1 miles and then race to the finish.  5 runners with 5 different paces, goals, abilities, and race strategies.  It’s very hard for two people to run a marathon the same way – even if they end up with the same finish time.  Some like to push through the hills, others like to maintain the same intensity (and therefore decrease the speed).  Some like to walk through water points, others cannot slow down because their legs start to cramp.  Some shoot for negative splits, others end up running the first half fast and gradually slowing down.  So I knew that running together would be tough for all of us – and knew that my hopes of running sub 3:20 would be impossible since I would have no control over the pace of the first half.  But, my husband convinced me to submit the application because of the once in a lifetime experience the FL5BC would be – and push my plans of sub 3:20 to a spring marathon.

3. I’m not embarrassed to say that I wanted to win the FL5BC.  But it had nothing to do with bragging rights or plans to post pictures of me breaking the tape.  I wanted to win for a few reasons:
– my son – I kept thinking about how I would love for my son to grow up seeing that his mom not only ran a marathon but won the race she competed in when he was 10 months old.  
– my family (especially my parents) – I may be an adult with a family of my own, but that doesn’t change that I still am my parent’s “little girl”. I wanted to make them proud of me – and I know I didn’t need a victory for that…but seeing how excited my family was in the weeks leading up to the race was more motivation than I could ever explain. 
– to help gain publicity and $1,000 for a charity that I feel SO strongly about – Team Red, White & Blue. It’s a non-profit organization focused on helping wounded veterans reintegrate into society when they return from deployments.  My husband and I are both veterans and feel so lucky and blessed to have returned from our 5 total deployments without any debilitating injuries.  But we know plenty of veterans who were not so fortunate – and are grateful that there are still thousands of soldiers protecting not just our freedom – but, more importantly, our son’s freedom. 
– to give Staten Island good publicity for a change.  I think anyone who is from SI would agree that it is quite frustrating to see some of the reality shows’ portrayal of Staten Islanders.  I wanted to represent SI in the best light possible – and show that there are normal, everyday people from here. 

4. I am going to be completely honest and candid in this recap – I’m not trying to be mean or hurt anyone’s feelings regarding the pace of the first half or in the details of the second half. 

So with all that said, here’s the race recap! 

I had checked previous years splits for the participants of the FL5BC – the last 2 years, the first half was run around 1:53.  I made the assumption that we would be running the first half in about the same pace (8:45).  This turned out to be a bad assumption.  

Mile 1: 9:34.  We stared out very slow. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t a big deal. It’s good to start slow.  We’ll pick up the pace – especially since first mile is uphill
Mile 2: 8:40.  Awesome! We are getting into a grove. Gloves come off. Legs feel great. Comfortable pace. 

Miles 3-13.1: Average 9:18 pace – total time=2:01:45
We ran the first half almost 10 minutes slower than I expected us to run it (I had checked splits from the last 2 years of participants in the challenge and they were all around 1:53).  
It was extremely hard for me to run at a much slower pace than I had been training.  I guess I didn’t realize the negative impact the slow pace would have on me.  My calves started cramping around mile 7 and I found that I couldn’t get into a comfortable rhythm in the later miles.  
I’m NOT complaining about the pace – I signed up and agreed to run the first half with 4 others runners in order to participate in this challenge and knew that the pace would be out of my hands. But, as this is a race report, I have to be honest about how the pace affected me.
On long runs, I let my mind wander. During the race, each time I would start to zone out, I automatically sped up.  It was extremely frustrating to not be able to just run.  I could only think of the pace and slowing down.  To force myself to slow down, I completely changed my stride (shortened it) and by doing so, put more pressure on the balls of my feet.  By mile 7, my calves were on fire and cramping.  
I tried to open up my stride (speed up) and loosen my legs (and then would have to slow down to wait for the others). Unfortunately, it didn’t really work and only seemed to have created the perception that I was pulling ahead and not following the guidelines set forth by the FL5BC.  In truth, I had been told prior to the race that it was NOT necessary to run in a straight line (I actually asked about this during the interview process – after 10 years in the army, I know how difficult it is to run in a straight line for even a couple of miles).  I was told that as long as we were within range of each other, we were fine.  
If you look at the splits of the 5 runners, you’ll see that we’re not more than 2 seconds apart the whole first half!!  Pretty amazing for 5 people that never ran a mile together before!! 

And, we even crossed the halfway point together, in one line, before saying a few words and breaking off to run the second half on our own. 

Mile 14: 8:00. Drew (rep from Brooklyn) and I took off together.  We stayed side-by-side over the Pulaski Bridge and into Queens. My legs felt good and I was happy with the pace.
Mile 15: 7:57. Drew and I were still next to one another. I didn’t want to pick up the pace too much. Drew had run a great half-marathon only a few weeks before with negative splits, so I didn’t want to push too much early on.  But, I also knew Drew had much better speed than I (he is faster than I am on shorter races) so I was worried that if I was too cautious, he would stay with me and then pull away with a few miles left.  It was at this point that I told myself to run my race.  To pretend like he’s not there, run comfortably, and enjoy the crowds. 

Mile 16: 8:10. Queensboro Bridge.  The 1/2 mile up was tough – no one else was running on the bridge so there was no one to try to stick with. We got to the top of the bridge and started the downhill portion together. Drew started to pull ahead. I considered staying with him, but felt that I needed to fully catch my breath from the uphill portion.  After a few moments, he pulled over to the side of the bridge.  As I passed him,  I saw him stretching his calf.  He must have been experiencing the same thing I had a few miles earlier.  He was back to running and right behind me within a few seconds and we continued on.  Another 20-30 seconds passed and when I glanced over my shoulder, he was no longer there.  I looked behind me and saw him stretching again.  I debated going back to check on him but before I could make up my mind, I saw him start running again.  I decided to take advantage of this small window (maybe 50m?) I had gained and push the pace for a few miles to see what happened. 

Mile 17: 7:51
Mile 18: 7:49
Mile 19: 7:52
The crowd along 1st Avenue was SO intense.  I completely zoned out and tried to keep my pace sub 8. Sometime around mile 18, I saw a runner I knew from Staten Island.  He jumped out on the street and was going crazy – told me that I had a block and half lead on the next runner.  Up until that point, I wasn’t sure how much of a lead (if any) I had built.  Knowing that I had a slight lead was exciting to hear.  I felt great and knew I could keep this pace up for another couple of miles. 

Mile 20: 8:07.My calves start cramping terribly going over the Willis Ave Bridge.  I found that if I tried to lengthen my stride to speed up, it only got worse.  So I had to change my stride to alleviate pressure on my calves.  Doing so made it tough to go much faster than an 8:00 min/mile. 

Mile 21: 8:06. I started to feel dehydrated and my calves were on FIRE.  Then, something amazing happened. There werehuge jumbotrons up ahead.  As I got closer, I saw scrolling photos and messages from my family and friends!  I knew several family members had decided to participate in this sponsored feature of the marathon, but had NO idea that so many of my friends did as well!! For those not familiar with the Support Your Marathoner feature, I would highly recommend doing it for next year’s marathon! Seeing SO many smiling faces (especially my son’s) telling me they believe in me and to finish strong (army strong!!) was all the motivation I needed to keep pushing through the pain I was feeling!!

Mile 22: 8:01 Another jumbotron with MORE messages, photos, and videos from different friends and family appeared just before mile 22.  I really think I ran with a smile on my face for most of the rest of the race.  
Somewhere just before 5th Avenue, my bike escort pointed out the cameraman and police escort up ahead and told me they were waiting for me.  He also gave me the update that he could no longer see the 2nd place runner – that I had built a couple of minutes lead.  I knew that all I had to do was maintain my pace to the finish. 
Loving every moment!
Waving to the crowd!

Mile 23: 7:58 The crowd along 5th Avenue was AMAZING. Despite the 23rd mile being one of the tougher miles in the marathon, I ran one of my better mile splits!  And I was completely enjoying myself and the wonderful opportunity NYRR and Foot Locker had given me.  I am usually all business during races – I typically don’t wave, slap high fives, or smile – but this was different. I was not racing against the clock. I was racing against 4 other people and had set myself up to win.  I didn’t want to wait until the finish line to enjoy this all!  

Running up Central Park hill

Mile 24: 8:24
Mile 25: 8:11
Mile 26: 8:12
The last 3 miles are a blur. My calves were still hurting and I was worried that I would have to walk if they cramped up any more.  I grabbed 2x cups of water and gatorade at each of the last few water stations to ensure I was hydrated enough. 

Me and my bike escort!

The miles flew by.  All I kept thinking about was my family at the finish line and how I couldn’t wait to see and hold my son again! (I’m never really away from him for long periods of time – this was one of the longest stretches to date!)

Before I knew it, my bike escort said goodbye, and I was on my own back in Central Park –  pushing to the finish.  

I had no concept of how long I had been running or what my finish time would be.  For the first time in my life, the number at the clock meant nothing to me. What mattered this time was what was waiting for me at the finish line – my son and husband. 

Excited to see my son and husband!!

Just a few numbers:
1st Half: 2:01:45 – 9:18 pace
2nd Half: 1:45:05 – 8:01 pace
5k splits:
5k: 28:41: 9:14 min/mi
10k: 29:16: 9:25 min/mi
15k: 28:23: 9:08 min/mi
20k: 29:08: 9:23 min/mi
25k: 25:35: 8:14 min/mi
30k: 24:17: 7:49 min/mi
35k: 25:14: 8:07 min/mi
40k: 25:10: 8:06 min/mi
Finish Time: 3:46:49 (8:40 min/mi)

NYC Marathon – the Experience of a Lifetime (part 2)

9 Nov

Once we started running on the Verrazano Bridge, the nervousness and doubt I had been struggling with the last few days quickly gave way to excitement for what we were getting ready to experience.  

Running across the bridge with just 4 other people was one of the most surreal moments in my life.  As a native Staten Islander, I’ve driven across the Verrazano Bridge hundreds of times before, run up to and under her countless times on my morning runs, and even had the joy of running across her once before in the 2007 NYC Marathon.  But those occurrences could never have prepared me emotionally for what I felt on Sunday.  It was eerily quiet and peaceful.  There wasn’t the expected sound of thousands of  feet hitting the pavement.  There wasn’t heavy breathing from the first mile incline.  There wasn’t the usual jockeying to pass other runners in the early miles. IT WAS JUST US.  At one point, I turned around to look behind me – I had a clear view all the way back to the start line – it was truly amazing. 

When we exited the bridge in Brooklyn, I was happily greeted by my King family – my aunt and uncle, cousins, and friends!  They were waiting for me at the foot of the bridge – screaming and cheering as loud as they could!  
Once we turned onto 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, the excitement only grew. For those not familiar with the NYC Marathon route, we remained on 4th Ave until mile 8 – at which point, the 3 lanes (the marathon has 3 different start lanes) converge into one during the turn onto Lafeyette Avenue.  4th Ave was already becoming packed with spectators – some were taken by surprise that there were already people on the course, but a good number were aware of the challenge and were rooting for their borough (Drew was getting a lot of acknowledgement and cheering from his home borough!!).  

While we were running alone 4th Ave, my family remained on the double decker bus for a while where they watched the elite female start at 910.  They were then led off the buses to watch the elite males and wave 1 start. It was at this point when they were literally arms distance away from the elite males – and at one point – the top 3 finishers at the same time.  How amazing is that? 

After Wave 1’s start, my family boarded a bus and were taken across the Verrazano Bridge – WHILE runners were running!  They were on the lower level with the green start corral runners (separate side of the road) and got to see thousands of runners start their 26.2 mile journey!  The buses took them from the Verrazano Bridge and start line through Brooklyn and the Battery Tunnel to Central Park and the finish line. 

Love this picture b/c one runner is carrying the American Flag!

While the other 4 runners and I were still in Brooklyn somewhere near mile 5 or 6, we watched the elite females run by (and then the elite males – just before mile 13 and the Pulaski Bridge).  If you ever want to feel like you are running extremely slow, have a group of elites run by you.  It was amazing and mind-boggling to see these athletes sprint by us so effortlessly.  But, despite the momentary discouragement (because it seemed like we were barely moving as they passed), we got to run elbow-to-elbow with these extraordinary runners – even if it was just for a fraction of a second!

The remainder of the 13.1 miles passed quickly – I ran next to Rob Vassilarakis, the amazing runner from the Bronx, for most of it.  We both were running with our IPODs, but would occasionally say a few words to each other or share a smile at what we were experiencing. 

Other than the elite females and males that whizzed by us, we were still the only runners on the road (we had a few bike escorts – see picture below). The crowd was amazing and we were being cheered as though we were the elites or celebrities.  

After the halfway point, the five of us ran on our own to the finish.  I crossed over the Queensboro bridge into Manhattan and onto 1st Avenue alone.  By this time, some of the males from Wave 1 passing me – but for the most part, there was very few runners on 1st Ave.   

I had my own bike escort the entire second half – and even had a motorcycle (with an platform and cameraman) in front of me for the last 5 miles or so.  It was completely surreal.  There were a lot of people yelling “First Female!” when they saw me run by – I found it humorous that they thought I was the first female from Wave 1 (I can only dream to be THAT fast one day!).

While I was running the last half of the race, my family was settled into the bleachers along the finish line.  They were able to see the exciting female finish (2nd closest finish ever for the NYC Marathon) 

1st Place Female

 Firehiwot Dado – 2:23:15 (ETH)

2nd Place Female
Buzunesh Deba – 2:23:19 (ETH)

3rd Place Female
Mary Keitany – 2:23:38 (KEN)

…and the course-record finish for the males!

1st Place Male
Geoffrey Mutai – 2:05:05 (KEN)

2nd Place Male
Emmanuel Mutai – 2:06:28 (KEN)

The last few miles are a blur – I vaguely remember the crowds in Central Park, along Central Park South, and then along the finish line.  My bike escort had been giving me updates on my lead throughout the whole second half – so I knew that I had a comfortable lead with a few miles to go.  It allowed me to slow down, take it all in, and enjoy the moment without racing and trying to push myself to the finish. 

The following photos are of me approaching the finish line!

I felt the finish line experience deserved it’s own post (, so I won’t repeat what I already wrote!

While waiting for the other 4 runners to finish, I was interviewed by a few different reporters and managed to take a couple of photos with Edward Nortan and Lance Armstrong!

Part 3 (awards ceremony and post-marathon party!!) coming soon!!! 

Best part of the NYC Marathon

8 Nov

In the weeks leading up the NYC Marathon, two of the questions I was asked the most were What motivates you to run? and What will you be thinking about while you are running to the finish line?  Both answers were the same – I looked forward to my 10 month old son, AJ, and my husband, Paul waiting for me at the finish line

Waiting for me at the finish line was more of a metaphor or catchphrase.  I knew they weren’t actually going to be at the finish line of the NYC Marathon – the largest marathon in the world.  The number of celebrities, media personnel and VIPs are astronomical and security to even get somewhat close is extremely tight.  But, I knew they would be close by – somewhere in the general area of the finish line and that I would eventually get to see them soon after I finished.  

The best part of running and competing in the 2011 NYC Marathon had absolutely nothing to do with running across the Verrazano Bridge with only 4 other runners or having spectators cheer for me as though I were an elite runner.  It had nothing to do with winning the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge or running a 16+ minute negative split in the second half of the race.  These are all amazing memories that I will cherish FOREVER. 

The best part was the most unbelievable and unexpected surprise I ever could have imagined – as I finished mile 26, I looked up to the finish line…and saw my husband, my son, and my mom.  They were ACTUALLY THERE – waiting for me to cross the finish line!!! 

The amazing, wonderful people from NYRR and Foot Locker made this happen for me. And I will be forever grateful and thankful for them and what they did.  

Life doesn’t get any better than this. 

NYC Marathon – the Experience of a Lifetime (part 1)

7 Nov

I plan on writing a few posts about the NYC Marathon on Sunday, Nov 6.  The first couple will be about the events before and after the marathon, one will deal with running the marathon (splits, how I felt, etc), and another will be a recap of the experience of participating in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge.

I don’t think I will ever experience a day quite like yesterday.  Winning the challenge is extremely gratifying but it pales in comparison to the day my family and I shared together.   I guess the best place to start is at the beginning of the day…

My supporters were in full force for the day – Paul, AJ, my mom, dad, 2 of my sisters, their significant others, and my niece!  Unfortunately, my sister who lives in the city could not make it to the start or finish as she was setting up and preparing for the after party she hosted for me in her apt (which is only 2 avenues away from the finish!!).  

In order to be at the entrance of Fort Wadsworth at 630am, we had to leave by 6am – which I can’t complain too much about since it is actually much later than runners coming from the city, other boroughs or neighboring areas.  The weather was chilly when we left (low 30s)- but with little to no wind and a crystal blue, clear sky, it was showing signs of the beautiful day that was to come.   

After eventually getting into Fort Wadsworth (we were held up for about 15 min by the security at the gate), my family and I were led through the fort to the VIP tent where I would say my goodbyes and get ready for the run.  

For anyone who has run a large marathon, the scene in the staging area would be nothing new – the groups of runners huddled together to stay warm, the bizarre and outlandish clothes that runners wear pre-race to keep warm, the thousands of port-o-potties (the last stat I heard is that there were over 2,300), and the excitement, thrill, and anticipation of 45,000+ people! Apolo Ohno, first-time marathoner,  stated that “it’s kind of like Woodstock but for runners.”  I was SO excited that my family got to see it all first-hand on our walk to the tent.  

We took a few photos, exchanged hugs and kisses, and said our goodbyes at the VIP tent.  At this point, my family was led to the bridge – and I will discuss their experience later on in the post!  Being inside one of the VIP tents was an experience all on its own – it was SO warm, there was breakfast, water, tables, chairs – and best of all – lots of available (and line-free) port-o-potties!  With all the water I had been drinking in the days leading up to the race, I had to make at least 10 trips over the course of 2 hours!  I got to spend some quiet time with the four other runners participating in the challenge – we chatted, wrote names on our shirts, ate our pre-race meals, and tried to keep our minds off of the upcoming marathon!!

Around 730, Drew (representative from Brooklyn), Sal (Queens), and I were called outside to do a short pre-run interview with CBS.  That definitely helped pass the time and calm my nerves and excitement for a while! 

We returned to the tent to pack up our gear, make one last bathroom stop, and head out to the start line.  Our start time was 8:45am – the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge allowed us to start the marathon alone – 25 min before the elite females (910am) and 55 min before the elite males and wave 1 (940am).  

While I was experiencing all of this, my family was being treated like VIPs!  After saying goodbye to me at the VIP tent, they were taken across the Staten Island Expressway (traffic was stopped for them!) and placed on a double-decker bus.  They had an amazing view of the start line, the podium where the national anthem was to be sung, celebrities, and later on, the top 3 elite males! 

I was reunited with my family for some quick last-minute hugs…

and kisses before our official start.  

After loudspeaker introductions and a few waves…

the horn sounded and we were on our way through the boroughs and to the finish line!!

We were the only 5 individuals running on the bridge and the course – and even had our own police escort and camera crew!

Media Day

1 Nov

Today was such a fun, exciting day!  For almost 3 hours, my mom, my son, AJ, and I were able to experience what it (almost) feels like to be an elite runner or a VIP running the marathon during race week.  

The other individuals participating in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge (FL5BC) and I were invited to the NYC Media Center – a bustling hub of reporters, camera crews, and workers.  We were to meet with the media, take some photos, receive our race-day credentials, and go over last minute details for Sunday.

After a brief summary of this year’s FL5BC theme, the other 4 runners and I were introduced to members of the media and asked to discuss why we were selected to represent our respective borough. (Here are our stories)

Talking to the media about how running helped me get through my deployments to Iraq

The 5 participants of the FL5BC posing for some photo-ops!

Then there were some individual photos –
My mom, son, and I

My son, AJ, and I

Next, we were asked to do one-on-one interviews with any media outlet that may have wanted to ask us specific questions or take photos of us running.

Meeting (and being interviewed by) Carrie Tollefson!
AJ enjoying plenty of open space to explore while I’m getting interviewed

After a few hours, I was exhausted!!  How do celebrities or elite athletes manage to do interviews all day??

I was honored to finally meet Mary Wittenberg, the President and CEO of NYRR and the Race Manager for the NYC Marathon.  Talk about a dream job!!

Meeting Mary!

Right before we walked out the door, we bumped into Bruce Beck, the weekday sports anchor for WNBC, and the reporter who will be interviewing the 5 runners after the marathon on Sunday.  Of course, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity for a photo!

Just a few outtakes from the day:

AJ getting close with the Tiffany’s Trophy (it is awarded to the winner of the FL5BC)

Hanging out in the bathroom – necessary quiet location to nurse AJ in private!  He refuses to let me use the nursing cover! 

Giving Grandma smooches!

Christmas came early for me!

27 Oct

I received an early Christmas present in the mail this morning!  It was a box containing an Asics gym bag…FILLED to the top with Asics running clothes! The most exciting is what I will be wearing on marathon morning in just 10 days – a striped Foot Locker tank top and Foot Locker branded shorts.  

I received the package because I am participating in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge during the NYC Marathon on Nov 6 (to read about this amazing opportunity, please visit an earlier post

Other items in the bag included (some of which are branded with the “Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge” logo):
– 2 long-sleeved shirts
– 2 short-sleeved shirts
– half-zip, long-sleeve shirt
– 2 pairs of shorts
– sports bra
– visor
– running shoes
– warm-up outfit

I’m sure many other runners can relate to the feeling of excitement I had as I opened the bag and saw that it was jam-packed with new running clothes! 

There was also a little “extra” surprise at the bottom of the bag for me:

What are your goals?

26 Oct

I have a long list of races that I want to complete.  Certain times that I want to run the marathon and half-marathon in.  Distances I want to run. 

Yet, I have never told them to anyone – including my husband, family and closest friends. 

Why have I not shared these lifetime goals with anyone?
I think the answer is that I am scared of failing and not living up to the expectations I create if they are said aloud.  If I don’t say them, then I’m not accountable to anyone.  And if I don’t meet them, I could easily convince myself I never was serious about them – so I didn’t actual fail. 

On this morning’s run, I realized I can’t go through life worried that I may not reach a certain goal.  I’ll never reach them if I don’t at least try. 

Saying my goals aloud not only makes them real, but it will gain me support from friends and family.  For me, having support is necessary – whether it’s a call or text from a friend, a reply on a blog, my mom watching my son so I can go on a 3 hour run, or my husband rearranging his work schedule for the day so he can run with me the last few miles of a long run.  But how can I expect support in reaching my goals if nobody knows what I’m after?

So with that said, here is what I want to achieve at some point in my life :
– Win the Foot Locker Five Borough Challenge (Nov 6, 2011)
– Marathon: 3:10
– Half-Marathon: 1:30
– Complete 50k, 50m and 100m ultras (First official 60k – Nov 19, 2011)
– Participate in and finish Ironman (Signed up for NY Ironman – Aug 11, 2012)
– Participate in and finish Western States Endurance Event and BadWater Ultra
– Complete all 5 Major Marathons (2 are completed: NYC and Boston) 

What are your goals??

Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge!!

2 Oct

I recently found out that I was chosen to represent Staten Island in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge at the 2011 NYC Marathon.  Each year, 5 runners (one from each borough) are selected to participate in the challenge – they are to run the first half of the marathon together and then race against one another in the second half.

Each year the challenge has a different “theme”.  The theme of this year’s challenge  is overcoming challenges.  If you are interested in reading about the other 4 runners (who have amazing stories!), please go to:

I am so excited for this amazing opportunity.  Not only do we get VIP treatment at the start and finish and great clothes to wear during the marathon, but we actually get to start the marathon before all of the other runners!  I am already getting goosebumps when I think of  running across the Verrazano with just 4 other runners!