Friday, November 30, 2007


Who is the *we* in the following???

But we're never gonna survive unless...
We get a little crazy.
No we're never gonna survive unless...
We are a little...
No no, never survive, unless we get a little... bit...


Do you know these 2 words? I heard them both on the radio today and wondered why they were used in the context they were:

ex·is·ten·tial·ism (ěg'zĭ-stěn'shə-lĭz'əm, ěk'sĭ-)
n. A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

gauche [gohsh]
lacking social grace, sensitivity, or acuteness; awkward; crude; tactless.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Some took to calling him 'Jesus.'"

This gives me goosepimples. I could have written it.

A slice of my childhood and definately part of who I am. Not that I'll ever be as cool as Earl or Clyde.

I actually had that Clyde Frasier book in the mid seventies. Rockin' Steady-A guide to basketball and Cool

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

NYC Marathon Race report

"All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why." -James Thurber

First, I got to run this race because I signed up to support a charity. If it hadn't been for that I'd have been running the OBX marathon or Richmond or maybe Marine Corps, again. Those are good races but New York is in a class by itself. So that's why I've been bothering you all about sending a few dollars. The charity is called Team for Kids. It's a group that promotes exercise, specifically running and healthy lifestyles for kids, in the US and abroad. So, if you missed it and you want to, you can still donate here. Please use my entry number(094565) and last name(Alston). I really appreciate anything you can do. Thank you everyone who has supported me in this.

This race was just totally awesome. I almost don't want to call it a race. This thing is an event. Going in to town on Friday, it just seemed like it was everywhere from billboards to the sides of buses to the conversation of the taxi driver to the front desk clerk, waiters and waitresses, all seemed genuinely excited about it.

Doing this race sounded like a great idea but I probably would have sat around dreaming about if it had not been for my friend Tracy. One thing I love about Tracy is that she has no irrational restrictions on her thinking. Another thing I love about her is that she mixes so easily with any kind of people. Well one day at work she shows up with a picture we took after the marine corps marathon a few years ago and written on it is "NY here we come". And the rest as they say is history. We went and had a blast. Probably the hardest part of this was arranging the logistics of how to get my kids there after school on Friday. Even that worked out great thanks to some very great people.

I trained for this race more thoroughly than any of my previous 6 marathons and had PR(personal record) in the back of my mind... OK, I'll admit it, it was in the front of my mind. We(Tracy and I) had basically done three 20 mile runs. Ran half marathons in early September and mid October. Plus I had several weeks where my total mileage was over 50 miles(not much by many standards but huge for me). I felt confident and prepared leading up to Sunday morning. Team for kids chartered buses to take us from midtown Manhattan out to the start at Fort Wadsworth, on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge. We probably got out there before 8am, which meant alot of cold waiting around until the 10:10am start. But since we were part of Team for kids, we got to relax in their nice warm tent. This tent had enough porta-potties out back so that there were no lines to use them. These two things might not seem like much(the tent and the no lines) but they really made the wait very comfortable. They also had bagels and gatorade in the tent. At 9 am we removed all outer layers and checked our bags at the UPS trucks. These would be transported for retrieval at the finish. At 9:42 we were lined up in the blue start area. A zillion excited people crammed into a very small space, organized by bib number. Somewhere in there we got our pictures taken, thought we heard the national anthem and never heard the starters gun. We also took a moment to pray. A little after 10:10 the sea of people in the blue area started inching forward towards the starting mat, leaving behind all manner of discarded clothing. It took fifteen minutes of shuffling to finally cross over the starting mat. And then we were on our way. The sight was overwhelming. The Verrazano-Narrows bridge and all those smiling faces, the views of the Manhattan skyline... spectacular. The plan was to run a mile with Tracy and then go ahead. Well that plan went out the window as soon as we crossed the mat. I was so excited I pulled away hoping she'd go with me. She didn't. Sorry Tracy. Once we were off the bridge, the crowd of cheering people started and except for a few spots (The Queensboro bridge for one, which was dark and dreary), did not let up until the finish. This is the thing that I'll never forget, people cheering every step of the way. That and... the sound of my name. This was the first race I ever had my name printed across the front of my shirt (applied at the last minute in the tent) and I bet at least 500 people called me out by name, cheering me personally onward. At first I thought, how do all these good looking women in Brooklyn know me. After I figured it out I just felt like a rock star. Running and smiling. Through Brooklyn and Queens and all the various ethnic neighborhoods combined with people from around the world running the race gave it all a huge international flavor. I kept thinking this is like a moving international festival. There were bands all along the route. Each seeming to convey the spirit of the neighborhood. I heard everything from the Korean drum people in the Bronx, to various Rap musicians, to school bands to metal Rock to Gospel. People just out having a good time.

The thought process you go through during the marathon is a very interesting aspect of the race, for me. I've thought a lot about what is the proper mindset with which to successfully overcome this challenge. Profundities escape me. Here's my formula, Preparation(pre-race training and nutrition+in-race nutrition), Patience(don't think about the finish, work out the details of how to survive the next half mile), Positivity(stay positive, no matter what, as the kids say, it's not that serious),Pain acceptance(there will be some discomfort, welcome it as a friend) and before and after all else fails, Prayer. During this race my preparation and patience were so good that whenever things went wrong, my positivity never waned. I was just that confident about doing well in this race and that confidence just grew as the race progressed and that felt good!

Normally, I run out of gas around mile 19 or 20. That didn't happen this time. That may have something to do with my breakfast(an 8 ounce bottle of Ensure Plus(350 calories!)as soon as I woke up, plus 2.5 bagels as I waited in the tent). Plus, I was eating all the way. A mojo bar and bag of sport beans before mile 10, plus a couple of gels before mile 18 and another bag of beans, had me feeling very strong coming through Harlem and into Central Park around mile 23. That’s about where the crowd noise increased and it was like entering a stadium. People pressed against the fence on both sides encouraging the runners onward. I was passing people left and right. The biggest problem in this race was just that there were so many runners it was hard to get room to run. You'd get going good and then get boxed in behind slower runners. I did a lot of zigzagging. The number of runners was also a blessing though, since I was so busy ducking and dodging that I never really noticed the hills. I knew I was right on a PR and ran mile 25 at an 8:23 pace and mile 26 at 7:47. My heartrate reached a max of 169 at the very end. I crossed the finish line at 4:00:01... about 2 minutes slower than my PR, even though when I ran the PR, I stopped to use the Porta john twice and walked a bunch between mile 22 and 25. Doesn't matter, I feel so blessed just to be able to run.

This was a great experience. I consider it my best marathon, so far, even though, not my fastest. I was on cloud nine throughout the race but especially in that last 10K. It was the first time I've run all the way in a marathon and actually negative split the second half. Garmin(GPS) says I ran 26.78. My support crew was awesome. My kids, my mom, my aunt, my sister, and my nephew all made it to NY to hang out and support me. They make all the difference in the world. Interesting thing is that my teenagers had a ball in NYC and are talking about doing this race some day. Ha, my plan to run a marathon and do a triathlon with each of them is slowly winding it's way to fruition!

Official Race photos!

Pictures. Most were taken with the disposable camera I ran all the way with.

My Peeps at the finish

Staying warm at the start

Finally running!

Not much room to run!

Trudging over Queensboro