Friday, November 28, 2014

Race Report: Annapolis Running Classic

My first double-half/back to back
weekend!  And I lived to tell
about it!
I knew going into it that this weekend was not going to be easy.  Scheduling two half marathons back-to-back is bordering on insanity.  And the fact that the two races would be my third and fourth half in the month of November – it definitely would be a real test.  I would reach my milestone tenth lifetime half marathon (and tenth of the year) at the Annapolis Running Classic in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday.  It would also be my eighth state to cross off my list of fifty states to run a half marathon in.

On Friday night, November 21, I left work to head to Newark Airport and pick up a rental car for the weekend.  Originally, I was going to pick up a car from Hoboken but in the week before my trip, I lucked upon a $17 a day rental instead of $45 per day.  By 7pm, I was en route to Annapolis, Maryland in a pretty blue Nissan Sentra. 

Ready to get going for the 7am start
of the Annapolis Running Classic!
After a three and a half hour drive, I arrived at my homestay for the evening in South Annapolis.  Thank you Heather and Will Montague for the quick six hour stay!  I laid my kit out for the morning and went promptly to bed, as the drive had definitely tired me out.

I woke up at 5:00am and got myself ready and out the door by 5:45.  The car had a thin film of frost on the windshield, so I had to turn the front and rear defrosters on.  It was definitely cold.  I got to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at 6am, with more than enough time to warm up and pick up my bib prior to the start of the race at 7.  The temperature at the start was 25 degrees.

The view down Main Street in
Annapolis toward the harbor
The field wasn’t too crowded, so we went off without a hitch from the parking lot of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and circled around the route passing single-family homes on both sides.  We would also be crossing a series of bridges that crossed tributaries of Chesapeake Bay. The course had several turn around spots where we would be seeing other runners.  One of my favorite spots was about 2.5 miles in, when we turned onto Main Street – a nice downhill with quaint little mom and pop storefronts on both sides of the street and a gorgeous view of Chesapeake Bay and the Annapolis Harbor in front of you.  At the end of the harbor was a turnaround spot with a water stop… which was a bit perilous – below freezing weather and spilled water made for a very slippery running surface.  And when the ground was made up of bricks… even worse.  Needless to say, I walked at this point.  It happened to be the 5k point, and I had decided before the race that I would be enforcing three minutes of walking upon reaching each 5k point, just to pace myself and not overdo it since I had another half the following day.

The Naval Academy Bridge, which
I had to run over... twice.
Around the 3.5-4.5 mile mark was where we encountered a little bit of a problem.  It seems that some of the runners out front made a left turn onto a street that would be used as an “out and back point” into the right lane of the street rather than the left lane.  This caused a bit of a traffic jam for runners returning in the other lane where there was a bit of a criss-cross.  By the time we had returned to that point, the race coordinators had resolved the issue and had the remaining runners hug the curb to run on the left side of the street.

We proceeded toward the Naval Academy Bridge along King George Street, which was just after the 5-mile mark of the race.  Seeing it was jarring… you could easily see the crest of the bridge, and you knew you’d be in for a tough climb to get over that elevation.  Nevertheless, I trudged along.  At about the midpoint of the bridge, we could see the leaders of the race approaching, heading back toward the stadium for their finish.  We continued on, partly along the highway and onto more hilly areas of the race on the other side of the Severn River where there was another out-and-back.  Luckily around the turnaround point was the 8 mile of the race, and I took another three minute walk break.  Slippery here as well!  I continued along and cheered on the other runners who were making their way through the hills.

Half number 10 and state number 8
completed!  And it was a cold one!
We returned across the Naval Academy Bridge for the second time, and then made a turn back toward downtown Annapolis on King George Street, which had another turn around at College Avenue to return back down King George Street for one last time.  We were in the final stretch and finally made it to mile 12, and then turned left to run the last mile back into the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium parking lot and to the finish line, where a heat sheet and our finisher's medal awaited us.  I finished in 2:14:02, and the weather had warmed up... to 34 degrees.

This after party is going to be hard
to beat.  Free oysters? Yes, please!
We were directed to head to the smaller "Runner's Village" that was set up for us to pick up our finishers' premium - a quarter-zip Dri-Fit jersey - and post-race bananas, bagels, and homemade country tomato soup!  But that wasn't all... we were given an after party that had a live cover band, several beers (and root beer and hard cider) on tap, and... OYSTERS, both grilled and on the half shell, free for all finishers.  I stuck around as long as I could to partake in this after-party, of course got my headstand photo taken in front of the Blue Angels plane on display outside of the stadium, before getting back on the road again for the two hour drive up to Philadelphia to pick up my bib for my second half of the weekend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Race Report: 2014 Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas 5k and Half Marathon

Bib Pick-up at the expo... #stripatnight
What a hashtag.
I knew going into the weekend that it was going to be hectic.  The fact that I would be travelling over 4,000 miles round trip just to run two races adding up to 16.2 miles was bordering on lunacy.  But let's face it, I've been at this crazy running journey for enough time that literally spending only 36 hours in a place three time zones away wasn't surprising in the least.

So that's what I did.  Early Saturday morning, I made my way to JFK airport to get on my flight to Las Vegas.  Little did I know I would run into some problems just getting to the airport.  First of all, the AirTrain was receiving some routine maintenance, and all AirTrain service from Jamaica station was terminating at Federal Circle -- from there, people would need to board shuttle buses to take them to the various terminals at the airport.  I had the unfortunate situation of having to use JFK's Terminal 4, one of the most notoriously crowded terminals, with security lines that would require the utmost patience.  Upon arrival at the terminal, the security line looked like it would take about 30 minutes to get through -- and because of all the delays, my plane had already started boarding when I finally arrived.  Quite stressed already, while in line, I receive a text from Delta saying my flight was going to now leave five minutes earlier.   More stress.

Luckily I pass through the line pretty quickly, and a nice TSA agent let me cut a few people when she realized which gate I was at... which was CLEAR AT THE VERY END OF THE TERMINAL.  I got everything through the conveyor, and my backpack containing "The Stick" was brought to one of the TSA supervisors.  This wasn't good.  The supervisor would not let me leave security with my massage stick - it had to be checked, which meant going back to the check in area, and then returning through the egregiously long security lines.  With my flight leaving in less than fifteen minutes, I made the decision for them to confiscate it from me.  Angrily, I left the security area, and sprinted to my gate. By the time I got to my gate, they were three minutes away from closing the doors to the plane.  Lucked out, I made it on the flight for the five hour trip westward.

Carb loading at Capriotti's
I landed in Vegas at about 10:30 and met up with my friend from college, Basel, who's lived in Vegas since we both graduated from architecture school.  Upon arrival, we went to the expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  It was chaotic, to say the least, but pretty large and was well set up for the sheer amount of people attending.  I picked up my bibs for the 5k that evening and the half the next night.... oh yeah, I forgot to mention, the two races I was to run were AT NIGHT.  On THE STRIP.  Pretty cool, eh?  Anyway, after a little while, we left and grabbed food at one of my favorite food spots in the area (it's actually a national chain, but to me it's a Vegas thing, LOL!), Capriotti's Sandwich Shop, where they have a sub called The Bobbie, which is basically a Thanksgiving meal in a sub sandwich.  After I was thoroughly satiated, we headed to Henderson for me to drop my stuff off at Basel's place and rest a little before we headed out again to get me to the SLS Las Vegas for the 5K that evening.

5k done!

The 5K that night was pretty cool - it was a small course that looped around the SLS and Riviera complexes right off The Strip.  While we got the opportunity to run at night, because this race was smaller, they only shut down one lane of The Strip, and it was still a little scary to be running right next to cars speeding down the road with only a set of orange plastic barricade drums separating us from potential injury.  I ran in a respectable 28:53 - not fast, but good for getting used to the elevation difference (2,000 feet!) in Vegas compared to NYC.  Afterward, we stuck around for some race-sponsored Michelob Light and the awesome free outdoor concert put on by Chromeo - by the way, it was sad to see so many people not stick around for this free concert - Chromeo was REALLY AWESOME!  Granted, it was chilly, but still - it was an absolute blast of a concert!  By that time, some other friends who were running the half the next day had arrived in the city, so we got together for dinner at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, and ended up at a great burger joint called Holstein's to finish the night.  The burgers were excellent, and the alcoholic milkshakes were delicious!

Chromeo rocking out at the 5k post
finish party
By the time we were done with dinner, we were all so exhausted because of the time zone difference, so we all left to get a good night's sleep.  I slept in the next morning and stuck around Basel's place until a little after noon.  Basel drove me to The Luxor to meet up with my friends as I was going to leave my bags at their hotel room so that I could easily get to them after I finished the race so I could get straight to the airport for my red eye flight that night.  I met up with Andrew, Donna, Hema, Joe, and Lynn at the Public House bar where they were several mimosas in, so I happily joined them to imbibe a bit myself.  It was Vegas, so it was most definitely going to be a fun run in the evening.  By about 2:30, we separated so we could all run our necessary errands before the race start at 4:30 - I headed back up to the room to change and sort out all my gear for the run.  Donna and I outfitted ourselves with quite a bit of glow in the dark gear, and sported some Rock 'n' Roll themed temporary tattoos for the occasion!

Elvis (Joe) and I!
Only a few mimosas in... PRE-race.
Awaiting the start in my corral!
While Donna was going to wait with Joe for Lynn and Hema to come down (they donned full on showgirl costumes!), Andrew and I decided to head off to the corrals - me because I had gear check that needed to be in by a certain time and Andrew who was in corral 2 (that speed demon!) At about the same time, the pre-race concert featuring Macklemore and Ryan Lewis was ending so thousands of runners began to trickle out onto the closed Strip to get ready for the race.  The race started promptly at 4:30, but it would be another half hour before I actually started.

The start line at RnR Vegas!
At 5, we were off.  And let me tell you, Sunday was already a bit cold.  The winds had come in the night before (the drive back to Henderson was unusually foggy - which was actually dust in the air being swept through with the wind) and the temperatures had dipped about five degrees lower than the day before.  By sunset at 4:30, it was pretty chilly.  The course took runners from in front of Mandalay Bay down toward the southern end of The Strip just beyond the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign before heading back up north toward the lit-up hotels.  At mile 3, some 73 couples were given the opportunity to get married or renew their wedding vows at the Monte Carlo for a "run-through" wedding ceremony.

The course had a lot of great support while passing through the hotels along the Strip. It got super quiet though as we headed further north toward downtown Vegas, and then we took a turn right into a residential neighborhood - completely devoid of people and lit by Klieg lights along the way.  It was around mile 8 when I ran into Kimberly, an online friend (and actual friend of a friend), with her friend Gail, who were doing the full marathon that night - after having done the Avengers Half Marathon in Anaheim earlier THAT MORNING.  Kimberly's been a huge inspiration to me, as she is a breast cancer survivor, and even through chemotherapy treatments, she's continued to run, train, and raise her family, with so much strength and perseverance.  Her blog, Maker Mother Marathon Runner, is a regular stop in my regular running reading.

My newest fans.
We finally returned back to The Strip, and the marathoners and half marathoners made their split at this point.  The half marathoners turned left to head back down toward the hotels, while the marathoners trekked further on to North Las Vegas, but first through the iconic Fremont Street Experience.  The remainder of the half marathon route was just as great getting closer and closer to the finish line at The Mirage.  I crossed in 2:11:39, and proceeded down the long finish chute down to the Bellagio.   And it was COLD.  My fingers were numb.  Had I realized it was going to be this cold, I would've come prepared with gloves. I headed straight for the Rock 'n' Roll tent where I got my remix challenge medal and my Super Six Heavy medal.  Less than twenty minutes later, Donna crossed the finish line and I met up with her at the Rock 'n' Roll tent where she got her Rock Idol medal for completing ten RnR races, an accomplishment that I hope to manage next year!  We hugged, posed for pictures, and then I had to set off for the long walk back to Luxor to get myself packed and to the airport while she waited for our other friends to finish.  En route, I was able to pose for a picture with some fancy showgirls!

My bling collection coming home
with me from Vegas
I managed to get everything together quickly and luckily the streets near Luxor began to open up.  I got a cab and headed straight to McCarran, and quickly through security - where apparently I was the first runner to appear after the race to the TSA agents.  Thankfully, they did not take away my medals (I would've pitched a FIT!), and I got to my gate to wait for my late flight back to NYC that would arrive early in the morning.  As soon as I got on the plane, I threw earplugs in and conked out.  About five hours later we landed.  After another chaotic experience getting out of JFK due to AirTrain troubles, I got on the subway... and I went to work.  Boy, was I tired that day.  But I made it through.  And I managed to cross state number 7 off my list. :)

State number 7, Half Marathon number 9 done!  #victoryheadstand

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Race Report: 2014 Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Half Marathon, 5k, and 1 mile

Savannah from the airplane
I left work early to get myself to JFK to take my 1:45 flight to Savannah direct.  So far, this has been the cheapest of my airfare expenses to get to a race that required an airplane; sales were aplenty from JFK to Savannah and back, as well as to and from Charleston, so I quickly booked those fares back in July!  I decided to make an extended trip out of it, since Savannah was only two hours south of Charleston, and visit my childhood friend Sarah while I was in the area, and it worked out perfectly!

Downtown Savannah at dusk
Only three weeks prior to Savannah, I met Andrew Martin through my friend Donna, and he decided to run the Savannah race on a whim, booking his flight from central Illinois to Georgia only a couple weeks before the race weekend.  We timed it perfectly that his flight arrived fifteen minutes after mine, so after he landed, we proceeded to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car counter located right in the airport.  Very quick and easy, we got the pretty silver Nissan Sentra (they upgraded me!) and headed over to the expo for bib pick-up.

The expo was located at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center on Hutchinson Island, just across the Savannah River from downtown Savannah.  We crossed the gorgeous Talmadge Memorial Bridge along US-17 to get to the expo, and immediately found ourselves in slow moving traffic getting to the convention center parking lot.  After finally parking, we made our way to the expo – a nice, medium sized expo, a little larger than St. Louis’.  You found your standard Rock ‘n’ Roll expo exhibitors here, plus some booths advertising races in the Southeast like the Gasparilla Half in Tampa, the Charleston Half, and many others.  Here, I picked up all three of my bibs for the weekend – since I was running the half marathon on Saturday, and then a 5K and 1 mile race as part of the “Sweet Tee Challenge” on Sunday. 

It was starting to get a little late, and Andrew and I were getting hungry, so we headed to downtown Savannah, and went to a nice Italian restaurant along East Bay Street, Pacci Kitchen + Bar, the restaurant within The Brice Hotel.  Dinner was delicious, and they had a special prix fixe menu for participants of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon and Marathon.  I had a delicious arugula salad and a tasty gemelli caserecce with garden herbs, market vegetables, shaved parmesan, and salmon, with a glass of montepulciano.
We finally headed to our accommodations, an Airbnb on nearby Whitemarsh Island.  Our host, Julia was very accommodating, and it was a great set up since she was running the race the next day, too.  In fact, she had guests for other Airbnb listings in another bedroom in the house and in another house she owned next door!  She even drove into downtown with me so that I could park my rental near the finish line for easy access after the race since she was doing the full; and she or her friend would take us to the start in the morning.
The next morning, Andrew and I headed downtown pretty early and were dropped off by Julia’s friend Brian near the start line, where we made it just in time for a photo with other members of the Fifty States Half Marathon Club on the steps in front of the US Customs House.  It was a chilly morning, so I  warmed up as best I could since the race wouldn’t start for another hour.  Bay Street began to fill up rapidly with people, stretching all the way to the end of Emmet Park.  At 7:15, we were off!

The race course was great, offering me an opportunity to see a lot of Savannah.  The first couple miles headed westward toward a poorer section of the city.  It was a little sad to see several people collecting discarded clothing along this part of the course route (since many people rid themselves of sweatpants, sweatshirts, and jackets to shield from the morning chill).  We passed the majestic Talmadge Memorial Bridge and toward a long stretch of highway toward the first entertainment stage, featuring a gospel choir – great to witness at 7:30 in the chilly morning!  We entered the poorer neighborhoods of West Savannah, but still the residents in the homes along the route in were very vibrant and jovial, cheering us on as we passed them.

The iconic oak trees and Spanish
Moss of Savannah
(photo from Bonaventure Cemetery)
As we approached mile 5, we re-entered downtown Savannah, and began to encounter throngs of spectators cheering us on.  We ran around several of the historic public squares that dot the downtown landscape.  The best part of downtown was running down Oglethorpe Avenue, enclosed by a gorgeous canopy of live oak trees with “hanging beards” of Spanish moss that typify this great city.  Mile 8 took us down East Broad Street and then eastward toward the more affluent areas of East Savannah, near Truman Parkway.  An out and back took us back toward Savannah proper, and to the finish line at Forsyth Park, where we were greeted by an awesome post-race concert with Detroit-based Cranford Hollow and the headlining act, Phillip Phillips of American Idol fame.  I also got my “Rock Star” Heavy Medal, commemorating my fifth Rock ‘n’ Roll race in 2014!

Enjoying Savannah's lax open
container laws!
After resting a little while, Andrew and I got back to my car, left untouched, thankfully, at the spot we had parked it the night before.  We spent the rest of the day discovering what Savannah had to offer: eating some delicious barbecue at the recommended hole-in-the-wall restaurant “Angels,” per my high school friend Jessica; driving to the historic Bonaventure Cemetery; a quick stop back at the Airbnb for a shower, and then off to Tybee Island for a hot minute to see the beach (it was too cold and windy to spend much time there!), and then back to downtown Savannah for picture taking at Chippewa Square, made famous from the movie Forrest Gump, and drinks at various watering holes heading toward River Street, where we were able to sample lots of pralines and decadent candies! It also helps that the city has very lax open container laws, so we just took our drinks with us in to go cups!  We finished the night at Publix supermarket to get some oft-mentioned delicious Italian subs that definitely did not disappoint.

Medal Haul: FIVE!!! Half, 5k, 1 mile,
Remix Challenge, #5 Heavy Medal!
The next morning, I took Andrew to the airport for his early morning flight and then returned back for some more sleep before I headed off to Daffin Park for my last two races – a nice and easy 5k and 1 mile race!  The 5k was fun, circling around the neighborhood surrounding the park, and finishing at home plate in Grayson Stadium, home of the minor league Savannah Sand Gnats baseball team.  Afterwards, I made my way out of town toward Charleston for a fun couple of days with my old friend Sarah and her family!

Victory Headstand, as per usual!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 TCS NYC Marathon Week

NYC Marathon week is CRAZY.  Things started for me last Sunday, October 26, exactly a week before the marathon.  As a volunteer leader for the family reunions area of this year's marathon, I was required to participate as a volunteer leader-in-training at two events (I did the Boomer's Run to Breathe and the Marathon Long Training Run, both in July) and attend some training webinars and elective in-person training seminars at the NYRR headquarters.  The general on-site orientation was held on the 26th, where we were also given a walkthrough of the general area that we were going to supervise - in my case, the family reunions area.  We were told we would have as many as 200 volunteers manning the area on race day.  I got my nifty TCS NYC Marathon hooded windbreaker, and excitedly anticipated the week to come.

With Leo Manzano, 2012 London Olympics Silver Medalist in the 1500m
With Desiree Linden, #1 American female finisher at 2014 NYC Marathon
With Runner's World CRO Bart Yasso
Marathon Finish Line at Night
Expo shenanigans.  Looking forward to
the March 2015 NYC Half. 
Which is a lottery.  God I hope I get it... :)
The expo would run from Thursday through Saturday at the Javits Center.  I opted to come on Friday night after work and on Saturday after I ran the Dash to the Finish 5K.  Thursday night, I went to the Time Warner Center to participate in the celebration of the completion of the Timex ONE Relay, a month-long running relay that spanned over 800 miles between Chicago and New York City, and during the time between the Chicago Marathon in October and the New York City Marathon in November.  The relay benefited over thirty charities, and concluded with a celebration at the New York Running Company's store in Columbus Circle, where interested participants could run the final three mile segment in a fun run in the southern part of Central Park, alongside some luminaries in the running world, as well as a Q&A panel.  The really cool part was running alongside Leo Manzano, the 2012 London Olympics Silver Medalist in the 1500 meters for the first mile and a half.  We ran through the heavily barricaded finish line area of the marathon in Central Park, but I still managed to snag a photo of all of the digital screens lit up, prepped for the opening ceremony that would happen on Friday.

The panel at the Timex One Relay Celebration
(l-r) Bart Yasso, Desiree Linden,
Josh Cox, Molly Huddle, Leo Manzano
The panel afterward was quite nice.  With Runner's World CRO Bart Yasso moderating, the panel featured Manzano; 5K American record holder Molly Huddle; 50K American record holder Josh Cox; and 2011 Boston Marathon runner-up Desiree Linden, who would be running the NYC marathon that weekend.  It was a nice crowd and a great way to kick off the festivities for the weekend.

Being ridiculous with Donna
at the Saucony booth
On Friday, I made my way to the expo to pick up my bib for the Dash to the Finish 5K.  The expo was much smaller than in previous years.  Seemingly, though, the ASICS area right after the bib pick up had doubled in size (I mean, not surprising since ASICS is a lead sponsor for the expo).  I had about an hour to play around before I had to make my way to Mark Fisher Fitness for a training session.  I met up with my friend Donna, who was running her fourth NYC Marathon (and eighth marathon overall!) at the expo and quickly went around the place, promising that I'd come back the next day to take a little more time to check out the booths.  I also made my way to the Marathon Lounge at the Time Warner Center to play around with their green screen complimentary photo booth, and made myself look like I was running the marathon...

Not really running the marathon.  From the Green Screen at
the Marathon Lounge in the Time Warner Center.

Just before heading out on the
Dash to the Finish 5K course!
The next morning, I ran in the very rainy Dash to the Finish, a fun 5K race that kicks off marathon weekend out with style.  The race starts near the UN Headquarters on the east side of Manhattan, down a closed 42nd Street, up 6th Avenue into Central Park, and finishes the 3.1 mile course at the finish line for the marathon.  I finished in a not-bad 26:19 (8:30 per mile pace).  I headed back to the expo to take a little more time checking out the booths, and it was a madhouse.  SO many people.  And it was hot because of the gross weather outside.  I did manage to score a free pair of awesome Champion CSX compression socks in black and red that I'll wear to my Savannah race this coming weekend, in exchange for a testimonial on fit and comfort that should appear on their facebook page in the coming weeks!

Once again, my Garmin hates when I run in
urban locales with large skyscrapers.
So official... with a radio!
Captain Family Reunion, here to save
the day!
And then came Marathon Sunday.  I got up pretty early to get myself bundled up and ready for the day.  We assembled at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School at 9:30am to get check in ready for our expected 92 volunteers for the Family Reunions area.  It was super hectic - for one, our check in was on the 6th floor of a building with one working elevator (that I never actually saw work), and "staff" check in was in the 2nd basement.  Additionally, other zones for post-finish, particularly Poncho Distribution, did not have enough jackets to hand out to their volunteers, and we didn't even have all the sizes either - only Mediums XLs, and 2XLs!  As the volunteers began to trickle in, we started to quickly notice that many were missing; by the time we were ready to go out to our assigned areas, only 59 of the 92 volunteers had checked in.  The four or five of us volunteer leaders quickly assessed that we needed to cut our groups to much smaller numbers, and proceeded to hold our orientation as best as we could.  By 11:30, we were outside, and manning all of our areas, fielding questions from spectators and family members alike as to where the most ideal locations would be for watching the race and meeting with family members.  I had six awesome volunteers who really stuck it out through the roughly six hours of standing around in the cold and windy temps.

My six awesome volunteers! Claudia, Fanglin, Liz, Kumiko, David, and Ruby!
Look who I ran into in Family Reunions!
Aside from a couple bits of miscommunication with the NYPD officers handling security along the streets (shift change, oh well), the day went along seamlessly.  It was COLD.  Windy and cold. Thankfully not wet... but from the stories of runners on the course, the wind was a huge factor.  Being just outside of the finish line area and the actual family reunions area on Central Park West (which we were endearingly calling "The Jungle"), we didn't have to deal with too much drama.  I had a radio and got to hear all the updates from the race command center when there were runners who needed medical attention due to potential hypothermia issues, and how many more runners were still on the course.  I let my volunteers go by 5pm and proceeded myself into "The Jungle" to help out, and went straight to the main Family Reunions information tent adjacent to 65th Street, where they were in dire need of additional support to help out the frantic families and friends who were waiting for their runners.  All in all, it was a successful day, helping families reunite with their runners, and the NYC Marathon was able to see a record 50,564 finishers cross the finish line - and Desiree Linden, who I met on Thursday, finished 5th at the marathon among the women, as well as the top American female finisher!

Now... looking forward to this coming weekend, when I head out to Savannah to take Georgia off my list of states and complete half marathon #8 at the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Half Marathon!  AND... I'll come home with FIVE medals from this weekend alone!