Monday, September 26, 2011

Trail running, I am in a committed relationship with MCM, please stop flirting with me.

 Saturday I went up to NY for a 45 min Doctor appointment, somewhat kicking and screaming my way up there. I needed to do 18 miles and hated the idea of doing it alone in an area I don’t know but, like any other committed runner I would find a way come hell or high water.  I walked into my girlfriend’s apartment and got straight into my running clothes, filled up my badass Army camel bag with 2 parts Gatorade and 1 part water. Took a good 10 million minutes to figure out how long I should set my stop watch for (I am not fancy or rich enough to have a super cool GPS watch yet) and decided 3:30 ought to do it. Called my girlfriend to tell her my route, conversation goes as such “Hey Brower Power, I am taking a right out of your apartment building and running through White Plains, past Walmart, down to County Center where I will pick up the paved trail and head south. It will be an out and back so if I am not back in 4 hours be worried.” She said. “You should go left out the apartment and go down the hill, then up and then down the next hill and then up and you should be able to pick up the Bronx River pathway there”. Clearly she wasn’t able to comprehend what running 18 miles meant because she was about to send me up and down not one but TWO Mofo hills at the start and finish of my run. Needless to say I stayed with plan A.

Although I loved that she had so much faith in my abilities.     

I headed right out of her apartment and got started. The first 2 miles every step hurt. This long run was going to be the make or break moment of marathon training and things were not looking good so far. I got down to the paved trail and headed south in the direction of NYC wondering how close to the city I would get. About 3 miles in I felt my stride picking up. Pain and stiffness was gone and I was feeling pretty good about going all the way. As my mind started to drift to recent conversations about trail running post MCM, I came around a bend just to stare trail running right in the face. It was like a tall, dark, handsome mysterious man leaning against the wall pretending like he didn’t know I was coming but know full well he was going to seduce me. This mysterious trail came to me in the form of a broken up bridge.

Well, at this point I decided I had no choice but to turn back and go north on the paved trail. I looked back at the trail, and then at the broken bridge. It looked so scary and fun and forbidden and how in the world does any self respecting trail running dreamer pass up a chance to cross a dilapidated bridge where the “DANGER PATHWAY CLOSED” sign is used to cross over. I took another look behind me and decided screw it I am going for it. The rush was incredible and my blood was pumping with excitement as I scrambled my way over. I got over and looked back, smiling from ear to ear pleased at my rendezvous. Able to pull myself back together, I got back to running on the nice paved road, telling myself to stay focused on normal running as MCM is little over 1 month away and getting hurt is not an option. This internal conversation turned into me scowling at myself for acting a fool. Just as I finished up that argument with myself I came up on a sign that saids “END OF TRAIL”. Well once again I had to decide whether to go back or go exploring for more trail. A lady ran by and I asked her if the trail picks up ahead. She said “Yes just go over the train tracks and along pipeline and you will be able to pick up about a mile down the road”. Awesome I headed down the road and come up on the train tracks.  

 At this point I was thinking what sick bastard puts a set of stairs like that in my 18 mile run route. Okay apparently I am doing Bootcamp today too. Up and over the tracks I looked to the left for a pipeline. Thinking to myself apparently we are in Alaska or Russia now cos we run along pipelines. Really this is how we roll?!? (Yes there are moments where there are more than one of me in me). I saw no pipe but I did see a little road along the tracks and I decide maybe roads like that are called ‘pipeline’ in trail runner lingo. 

 As I headed down this little road I wondered if I should be concerned about the area but my mind is put to ease by the slew of BMW’s, Mercedes and Audi’s driving along this road. Nice area along the tracks, go figure.

Nowhere did I find a trail but I did find myself running straight smack into
Bronx River Parkway

Once again I am asking myself “what now?”. I can turn back, run 55 miles an hour to the next exit or do my best to run on the 6 inch shoulder while cars are flying by me. We all know I can’t run 55 miles an hour, but again how does any self respecting trail runner dreamer not run her heart out on the side of a 55 mile/hr Parkway. About 200 yards later I made a left off the exit and crossed over the overpass and picking up the trail. At this point I was a good 6 miles into my run which usually I would be pretty tired but my heart was about ready to burst out of my chest with excitement and there was just no stopping me now. Of course the side of me that is committed to MCM and doesn’t want to get killed is yelling and screaming… yet again. This voice was barely done freaking out when I was faced with this…

WTH!!! All I wanted to do was my 18 miles on a smooth path but at every turn I am faced with such exhilarating dilemmas. Do I stay on the straight and narrow or do completely and utterly lose myself in this forbidden adventure. At this point I don’t think I need to tell you what I did.

Feeling basically invincible I was able to run the 1hr 45 min out and it was now time to head back. And of course it wouldn’t be a trail run if I didn’t get a little lost at least once. Found my way back to the paved trail (remember the thing I was meant to be running all along). At this point I had to decide do I go back to race with 55 m/hr cars along the parkway or do I find a different way across. I found a tiny little trail that lead me to the other side of the trail.

Totally gave my screaming self I shit eaten grin because I didn’t do the crazy thing. That grin was short lived as this lovely little path leads me to this…

 Well I do know how to swim but screaming me doesn’t want to run the remaining 8 miles in soaking wet sneakers so we had to find a different way


I climbed up over the flooded part only to find myself standing right next the train tracks.

Yes! Right! Next to the tracks.

“Mary mother of god! Can this run get anymore amazing?!?” is what I said. 

By the way on the way back I found the spot where the lady said the trail picks up, because apparently not everyone is trying to run 55 miles an hour along the
Bronx River Parkway

Do you see where the trail picks up?

Exactly! Who thinks to look for a 1.5ft opening in the guardrail?!?!

I made my way back to White Plains over the tracks,

around tree roots,

through the underwater path

and through another muddy path

and back over that incredible busted up bridge.

With thighs burning (forgot to put anti-chaff gel on), hair a mess, sweating from head to toe, draped over the entrance stairs, panting and cigarette lit I found myself saying breathlessly

“F#ck that was amazing”       

Are you having an affair with other sports while training for a big race?

P.S I am aware we are missing a few weeks but this couldn't wait so I will catch up later.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I have surrendered to 2 things in life.

  1. Planning every step of your life makes for good jokes for the dude that pulls the strings
  2. Listen to the whispers that over time become a screaming blow horn

(belly laughing higher power)

Plan was to be a big fancy executive with a corner office, then a successful therapist that was going to save the world, then be a wife to a IT hotshot with all the big, fancy expensive stuff he could ever want, then marry a man with a child that had special needs and build a beautiful home… and so the plans continued each time ending with Him belly laughing and me starting again… and again.

Well after many attempts to plan every step of my life I have surrendered to the whisper that started back 2003 and is now a screaming blow horn:


If only that whisper didn’t cost me and people involved an expensive wedding, failed marriage, failed relationships, another failed relationship and many years in a shrink’s office.

Sneakers are so much cheaper than therapy.

Average cost of a therapist                      = $480/per month
Average cost of pair of sneakers              = $120 every 4 months
Average cost of a race                            = $ 45-$120 if and when you can
(Therapy fun fun)

Race day is almost like a huge conference for the battered, bruised, challenged Badass’s in the world. We all stand at the start line with one foot forward, finger on the GPS watch looking straight at the challenge ahead of us and waiting for that huge blow horn to go off.

Along the way we see shirts that reinforce how badass we are and signs that validate our determination. These are a few mantra’s we get to see during a race.


“Pain is weakness leaving the body” (my fav)
“If this was easy then EVERYONE would be doing it”
“If you are reading this you were passed by a pregnant woman”
“I fight cancer… what do you do?”

Going into week 11 of training with a renewed sense of determination, I will be thinking about how great my runs are, how great my life is and how the blow horn is so much louder than any plan.

What is your fav Mantra on race day?