Category Archives: Travel

Marathonpalooza Part 2: Running the New York City Marathon!

WARNING: LONG & with photo overload! For the Marathonpalooze Part 1: MCM recap, click here.

Wow, where do I start with this one? The entire weekend was such an experience and I know I won’t be able to do it justice. The marathon consumed the entire city for the entire weekend – it was so cool to be a part of it, and to travel specifically for this purpose. I love Marine Corps Marathon, but since it’s a hometown marathon, a little of that excitement doesn’t exist (for me).

Brian and I flew in on Friday night and stayed at one of the host hotels, Sheraton Times Square. The location was pretty convenient for all marathon-related (and tourist-related!) activities; there were shuttles to everything we needed!

We spent Saturday morning at the expo, which was HUGE and so well-run. It was in the Javits Center which is basically all windows, so it was a bright, open venue. We got there pretty early, and even though it was crowded, we had tons of room to move around and wander. The guy who handed me my bib ran Marine Corps Marathon the week before previously, so it was sort of fun to chat with him about how hard the race was due to weather and other factors. MCM should really take a page from NYCM’s book and ditch the Armory in favor of a larger, airier, and more well-lit location. Another super fun aspect of this expo was that I could pick up my Asics mini-marathoner! Asics customized a limited number of mini-marathoners, and I was lucky enough to be chosen! The mini-marathoners were also spotlighted on a billboard in Times Square!

After the expo, we wandered around Broadway and Times Square a little bit where we carb-loaded & went to see my mini-marathoner on the big screen before heading back to the hotel for an early bedtime. Thank God for the extra hour of sleep that weekend because the next day was a long one.

I joked with one of my friends that there needs to be a manual written about the down & dirty of NYCM (and I’m sure there is something out there) because people only see the exciting parts of it, but not the parts where you sit outside in the freezing cold on Wadsworth Island for four hours before you start. My start time was 10:30am, and my bus was scheduled to leave at 6am. We got there at 6:30am, quickly made it through security, and did a whole lot of waiting in that now infamous wind. I am glad I wasn’t putting much pressure on myself for this race because I don’t know how people keep their heads in the game after a wait like that. It was a good time to make lots of new friends, including people I’d “met” on message boards (hi, Abbie!). Despite the long wait times, everything was organized perfectly and logistics were a breeze.

When it was finally my turn to start, I started getting really excited (and nervous!). Standing at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge surrounded by other runners and listening to “New York, New York” was amazing! It was hard not to get into it after that…in fact, it was a little TOO hard because I went out a little too fast and had to keep telling myself to reign it in. I’m sure part of it was just me wanting to get off that bridge and away from the wind ASAP. By now, everyone knows that the weather for NYCM this year left a bit to be desired because of how windy it was. Well, everyone definitely felt the wind on the bridge, and even though the view was beautiful, I think we all missed it because we didn’t want to expose our face to the brutal wind. It was so harsh that I kept tripping over myself just because my foot would crash into my other leg. You could feel yourself being pushed over by the wind, and everyone’s throwaway clothes were swirling and flying all over the place. Despite treading carefully over the bridge, I hit my first 5K at around a 9:40 pace.

After the bridge, we hit Brooklyn, where we’d spend a good part of the first half of the race. Brooklyn was so fun, and there were people everywhere. There was even a church that had all of its members outside cheering us on. SO MUCH FUN. I hit my 10K at an hour on the dot, so still a sub 10 pace, but I consciously tried to slow it down here. I hit my 15K at 1:36, so still a good time, but definitely slower than I started out which is what I wanted.

Unfortunately, it was around that time (miles 9-10) that it all started going downhill. After MCM, my left ankle bothered me a little bit, but I didn’t think anything of it because it wasn’t the foot that bothered my during training, so I thought it just needed rest. By Tuesday it was swollen, so I iced, elevated, wrapped, & rested it for the whole week in preparation for NYCM. It seemed to get better enough, and even though it was still a little sore on marathon morning, I thought it would be something that would dissipate after a few miles (like so many little pains do). If only that were the case, but it wasn’t! I ended up at a medical tent right before the halfway point because it started becoming so painful that I couldn’t put weight on it while running. At that point, I really didn’t know if I’d finish the race, and told Brian so via text.

The second I walked into the medical tent, they asked me what was wrong and I just burst into tears. It took me a minute or so to finally get out what was wrong, and they sat me down to look at it. It was swollen, so they iced it and inquired whether I was going to go back out there (duh, yes I was). They told me that after looking at it, I shouldn’t really put too much hard effort in to finish. One of the aid attendants came up to me and said, “Are you wearing new shoes today?” I seriously almost slapped her for asking me that question, and I know I gave her the biggest side-eye before saying, “Of course I’m not wearing new shoes to a marathon…” After sitting for what seemed like forever and being ignored by everyone there, I decided to have them wrap it and be on my way because they clearly weren’t going to be of any more help to me!

From then on, the rest of the marathon was just a massive struggle-fest. I ran until I couldn’t stand the pain anymore, and then I walked…rinse, repeat and alternate with some tears. I tried so hard to enjoy what I could, but it was cold and windy and I was hurting. I was counting down to mile 16 when I’d finish crossing the Queensboro Bridge, get to Manhattan, and see Brian. Except that it never happened. I did successfully cross the bridge & made it to Manhattan, but I didn’t see Brian, and that was a downer. Eventually he texted & we planned to meet up at mile 22 before heading into Central Park. Okay, something else to look forward to!

The next 6 miles when pretty much how the last few had gone: run, limp, walk, cry a little, try to high five little kids, etc. The crowds were awesome, the other marathoners were pretty awesome, the volunteers were awesome (seriously awesome)…I just wish I could have enjoyed it more instead of wishing so hard for it to be done! And, after counting down from mile 16 to mile 24, I MISSED BRIAN AGAIN. I’d like to think it was because I was moving too fast for him, but HA HA, that was not the case this time around! I wasn’t as sad about it this time around because I knew I only had TWO MILES left! Even though I was really struggling at that point, there was no way I was going to backtrack once I suspected I had passed him.

Everyone was struggling during these last two miles in Central Park (which felt so so so long), and there was a lot of camaraderie. I was still crying off and on because I was in so much pain, and ended up next to a tall Dutch man who just looked at me and patted my shoulder in solidarity. It was so nice to feel like we were all in it at once. The crowds at that point were cheering loudly too but a lot were saying things like, “don’t give up!” or “run, everyone!” Well, I am a HUGE proponent of finishing strong the last mile or two, but sometimes you are injured and just cannot do it, so those cheers were pissing me off. I did make more of an effort to run more than walk in those stretches, but I thought my ankle was going to fall off my leg.

The second I finished, I burst into tears again (not just the passive, pathetic crying that I had done ohhh, the entire second half of the marathon), and a guy right after the finish said, “YOU ARE HAPPY, RIGHT?!” I mean, I guess so, but mostly I was just in pain and so relieved to be done…or so I thought. The walk out of Central Park to get to your non-baggage ponchos (awesome, by the way) was SO LONG. I finished in the daylight, and didn’t meet up with Brian until the sun had set. Unlike after MCM, I wasn’t disappointed in myself, but really just in so much pain that I wanted to find him and leave. After the mile or two walk out of Central Park, we got our ponchos and had to walk another 10 or so blocks to get to family meet-up. My ankle was killing me at that point and I wanted to go to the medical tent again, but it was still in a restricted access area, so I opted to bypass it and head straight to Brian…well, I had to take a lot of sitting breaks, ha.

I finally got to him & made him snap a picture through tears before walking another mile and a half to the hotel (which took forever because roads were closed and I was hobbling and stopping for breaks the whole way).

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YAY OMG I AM DONE WTF DID I IUST DO?

I was so so so so so so so so so happy to get back to the hotel to rest, eat, ice, shower, & thaw out because it had been the world’s longest day. The situation sucked, but I was proud that I had powered through. The orthopedist that I visited this past week, though, may not agree with that! He sent me for x-rays of my ankle which showed tenodonitis for sure, and because my ankle was still swollen (even a week later), he prescribed anti-inflammatory meds and sent me for an MRI this past Thursday to see if it’s a stress fracture or ruptured posterior tibial tendon. Oof. We’ll see what the prognosis is tomorrow (Monday) morning. It’s still a little swollen, even after a week on anti-inflammatories. I am just ready to run again and am getting antsy!

The rest of our weekend in NYC was so fun! We went back to Central Park (via taxi, ha ha) the next day for Marathon Monday, hung out in Times Square more, went to the 9/11 museum & memorial, and GOT TO SEE JIMMY FALLON. Uhhh, SO AWESOME. And we got home just in time to vote :). The only thing I am sad we didn’t get to do is to see a show on Broadway. Next time, because even though I had a really tough race, part of me is so determined to make it back to NYC next year to do it all again!

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Filed under Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, New York City, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Travel

today made me want to go back to Great Falls

(and that is a serious thing to say!)

I had the travel day from hell today. It actually started a month or two ago when my flight out of Great Falls was changed from a noon flight to a 6:25am flight. That’s irritating, but easy enough to get over. Anyway, everything was pretty smooth today until my flight from Salt Lake City to Burbank…that’s when things got a little nerve-wracking. We get an announcement from the pilot saying that the plane was going to be diverted to LAX instead of Burbank because one of the flaps on the wing was broken and the runway at LAX is longer than Burbank. Because of how short Burbank’s runway is, he refused to land it there because it wasn’t safe. Okay, no problem, especially since I didn’t really have any plans for the afternoon. Then, I watch the flight attendant get a call from the pilot and see her go back to talk with the exit rows. I know it’s just standard, but of course that makes me really nervous! Then she gets on the main phone with all of us and tells us that there are going to be a lot of firetrucks and ambulances when we land but not to panic…hmm. Much easier said than done, especially when I had been awake since 430am and was exhausted and prone to panic. We land at a speed about 1/3rd faster than normal which was sort of scary; the pilot used almost the entire runway at LAX, too. Thank goodness we landed safely, but it was definitely a sobering few minutes.

After we land, we sit on the plane for a while to figure out whether they are going to fix the flap and then fly onto Burbank or whether we can all get off at LAX. This process takes about 45 minutes, and eventually it’s decided that people who want to continue onto Burbank will be shuttled there and those who want to leave from LAX could do so because they didn’t want to risk flying the plane again. I waited for the Burbank shuttle because I didn’t have a) a rental car at LAX and 2) directions from LAX to where I was supposed to go. Getting off the plane and onto the shuttle was another ordeal, and the traffic was horrible (of course), so getting from LAX to Burbank was an hour-long trip. All of this was totally fine with me (and most of the other passengers, I think…aside from a few annoying ones, of course) because I was just happy we were there safely. As the day progressed, though, I was more and more ready for it to just end.

I get my rental from the Burbank Airport and much to my chagrin, it’s an off-airport rental. Last time, I was able to pick up my rental right from the airport. Any other day and this might have been okay, but I was already stressed and tired and running way later than expected, so this didn’t make me happy either. Then, after picking up the rental, I had an hour-long drive from Burbank to Anaheim. I get on the highway, only to see that my tire pressure light is on so I have to get off to check the pressure. The tires look fine and Brian tells me that Chevy tends to have horrible and inaccurate light gauges. So, we continue onto Anaheim. As a sidenote, LA traffic doesn’t stress me, it just annoys me. I want to drive rather than constantly stopping and going and having to watch out for interchanges. Argh.

Anyway. I get to the hotel and go up to my room. I decide to go set up the UGF table early at the fair and walk the half a block to the convention center with 40 lb bag plus a huge box of marketing materials. It was painful! Then, no one who worked at the gigantic convention center could tell me where the fair was, so I wandered between three floors trying to find it until I eventually called Brian (in tears because I was so ready to be done with the day) and made him look it up online.

After we FINALLY found it, Baby and I got to eat dinner (we hadn’t eaten since about 930am) and relax a little bit. It’s about 8pm here and I’m already close to crashing in bed. I figure it can only go up from today, right? Although it is supposed to be HOT (90s) for the next three days…so I can’t decide if I think that’s too hot or perfect temps. I was hoping for a gentler introduction to summer weather than going from 50 degrees to 95 degrees in a day!

BUT in exciting news, I’ve been feeling the baby today! He/she is probably angry with the lack of a peaceful, relaxed and well-nourished mom and is moving like crazy just to prove his/her point.

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Filed under Military Life, Montana, Travel

Home sweet home

I finally returned to Great Falls after being gone for what felt like a really long time (12 days!). It’s good to be home and to get settled more into the newlywed life that I feel I’ve been missing because of travel. I hope to catch up with sleep, homework, laundry, etc this weekend. We’ll see how that goes!

My time in DC was really worthwhile. It was a treat to get to see so many friends (and twice within five weeks, no less!), though a little bit weird (and sad) to see everyone for only about two hours before I had to say goodbye again. Luckily, though, I missed Montana’s first “snowstorm” and instead spent the weekend basking in eighty-degree temperatures! In my head I know that chances of us settling permanently in the DC/Northern Virginia area are really high, and I can’t help but count down until when that time might begin!

Speaking of Montana and leaving, I think we’ve made the decision not to extend until 2011 like we had previously considered. This is for a lot of reasons, but it means that we are here until spring of 2010…only one and a half more years and two more winters to go!

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Filed under Montana, Travel, Virginia, Washington DC, Weddings

Greetings from Portland!

As I write this, I am spending my last night in Portland, OR which at one point was apparently named “North America’s Best Big City” by Money magazine. I’ve been here since late Thursday night (so basically Friday morning), and with the exception of the college fair on Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, I’ve had most of the weekend to explore. I was not feeling brave enough to try to navigate the public transportation system (despite the fact that it is free within the downtown vicinity), so I walked everywhere.

Portland has also been named one of America’s best walking cities. My hotel is right near the Oregon Convention Center which is sort of downtown, but more on the outskirts of downtown (if that makes any sense). It was a mile and a half walk to the center of the downtown area, and that walk included a jaunt through Chinatown! There also happens to be a JCrew and Banana Republic on the other side of that mile and a half which gave me even more incentive to walk. Actually, I really wish I lived in a walking city again…

In addition to getting my shopping fix in, I also had the pleasure of getting to eat good Thai food and Italian food; an event like getting to eat at a good, non-chain restaurant is rare in Great Falls, especially considering Great Falls doesn’t even have a Thai restaurant. And I had the best tiramisu of my life at the Italian restaurant I went to! I also saw Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist which I loved and highly recommend!

I have very few complaints about this trip, but I really, really wish it hadn’t rained the whole time I was here. I also (as always) wish that Brian was able to be here to enjoy the experience with me.

I’ll be heading to Boise tomorrow and will spend this upcoming week in various parts of Idaho. On Friday, I’ll be heading to DC for Chris and Cindy’s wedding!

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