11 December 2014

My Christmas List

It's a gift giving time of year, the perfect time to ask for the items you love but don't necessarily need. Or, good timing to hope for things you need but don't want to buy yourself. My wishlist includes some running gear and some (gasp!) non-running gear that I'd love to check out.

1. BetaBrand Sweaters

A few of my coworkers rave about BetaBrand, a San Francisco company that makes fun clothing. I'm currently obsessed with the Cumulus Wrap Sweater and the Seafoam Cowlneck Tunic. Both are super cute, stylish, and have thumbholes. Please send these my way Santa!

Cumulus Wrap Sweater (image from BetaBrand.com) 

Seafoam Cowlneck Tunic (image from BetaBrand.com)

2. Hoka One One Clifton 

I still LOVE the Clifton and will be needing another pair as I train for my goal half marathon at SLO in April. Even better? They just launched new colors! I'm coveting the crazy looking Acid / Aqua / Neon Coral version.

New Clifton Color (image from HokaOneOne.com)

3. Oiselle Katron Pullover

The Katron Pullover keeps coming to mind even though I know I don't need a down jacket. I have a jacket I wear in Tahoe, and it doesn't get that cold here. Still, there is something about the style and uniqueness that gets me. Hint, Hint to Kevin...

Pullover (image from oiselle.com)

4. A New Headlamp

Ok, this WAS on my list but I ended up buying this for myself recently because I lost my old headlamp. I'm adding it anyway because I really like the one I chose! I bought the Petzl Tikka+ at Sports Basement for about $35, which seems very reasonable. It's plenty bright even on the lower settings, and it can go up to 140 lumens max. I love the soft sweat-wicking band that sits on the forehead and it's easy to adjust. 

Petzl Tikka+ (image from petzl.com)

That's all I have for now. What's on your list? Anything I need?

05 December 2014

Turkey Trotting and Eating

My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is the opportunity to race on a Thursday morning. It's the only time I ever race on a non-weekend day and it feels good to run before I indulge in Thanksgiving food and drink. This year was my fourth Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10K which is hard to believe; that means we've been in California for four Thanksgivings!

By this point, I'm very familiar with this race course and the crowds that go with it. Luckily, we live within walking distance of the start so we don't have to deal with parking. This year there were almost 21,000 people who ran either the 5K or 10K. Isn't that crazy?

Kevin and I left the house around 7:10 am for the 7:50 am start and made it in time to cheer for the elite men's start. I attempted to get into the 8-9 minute pace corral but failed in the crowd, and I ended up starting one corral earlier. I am not a 6-7 minute miler, clearly, but even that corral started around a 9:30 minute/mile pace so I wasn't blocking anyone. That said, I feel bad for the people who really do run that fast because they would not have gotten through. If you ever run this one and you are fast, get as far to the front as you can. 

For once, I treated the Turkey Trot like a race and tried to push myself. I had a mental struggle early on, as I always seem to when racing in San Jose, but I was able to keep going. I can't explain it, but racing in San Jose always seems hard to me. Maybe because I run similar routes here so often? 

By the time we hit mile 4 on the Alameda I was really feeling it and let myself be entertained by everyone around me. I focused on moving forward, not letting myself give up, and passing people one by one. Knowing the course and the turns was really helpful at this point because I could move toward the next turn when needed. (This course has many turns!) I wasn't moving fast enough for a PR pace, but I was happy with the effort considering I had felt slow during marathon training.

We came upon the finish line fast and it wasn't visible, so I didn't really get a chance for the extra kick at the end. I was happy with the effort for the day and the finish of 57:05. That's a course PR for me, and considering I always struggle on this course, I'll take it!

Oh, and they gave us free photos sponsored by TomTom. Pretty awesome!


Kevin sporting vintage Turkey Trot apparel.

After the finish line they directed us down the street and then into the nearby park for goodies. They have significantly improved this over the years - the first year I couldn't even get to the finish line because it was too crowded and had to slowly walk the last 0.1 miles of the race. No problems like that in the past couple of years though. 

The first thing we received in the park was a medal because it was the 10 year anniversary of the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. Pretty cool! They had tents with food and drinks in the park too. We hung out for a bit, said hello to many friends who were also running, and then walked the Guadalupe River Trail back toward our place.

Post-race in our courtyard. 

Showing off the bling.

Race shirts.

The rest of the day was spent resting, cooking, and hanging out with friends. I cooked Thanksgiving for two at our house for Kevin and I, which was really fun. I especially enjoyed making (ok, eating) my favorite broccoli casserole, a recipe from Kevin's mom. We opened a favorite wine from Casa Nuestra and had fun spending time together.


After dinner, we went to have dessert with friends. We took cheesecake, they had ice cream and pecan pie - yum. We watched Sleeping Beauty with the kids, and then we headed home because Kevin had to work on Friday. 

While he went to work, I went biking with a friend in Woodside. Friday was a fantastic, sunny day; it turned out to be the last day before the rain set in so I'm glad we took advantage of it. 

One of many awesome biking views in the Bay Area.

The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful but did include putting up the Christmas tree. How is it almost Christmas already? It's crazy how fast time goes. 

Cheers to the holiday season!


29 November 2014

Big Sur Half Marathon 2014 Recap

This race recap is very late, but better late than never. On November 16, 2014, we visited Monterey to run the Big Sur Half Marathon along Monterey Bay. It was my second time running this event (the first time was in 2012) and I absolutely love the course. Our friend Mandy was visiting from Ohio to run it, so Kevin and I both signed up too. Running a half only two weeks post-marathon was not my best decision ever, but I managed. That said, I won't be trying that again anytime soon.

We drove down to Monterey after dinner on Friday and spent the weekend at the Monterey Bay Marriott, which was the host hotel. That hotel is about a 5 minute walk to the start and is basically at the finish line, so it's very convenient for the race. On Saturday morning we grabbed breakfast sandwiches and coffee at Plumes Coffee House (we are big fans of that place) and then headed over to the race expo around 11 am. Packet pick up was quick and easy, I'd say less than 10 minutes total to get everything. We wandered around the expo for a while and enjoyed the booths, and I also had a chance to meet Marilyn (Oiselle flock runner) who was visiting from Seattle.

With Mandy at the expo entrance. 

Excited to meet and chat with Marilyn

Photo op.

The rest of our day included a trip to Carmel for wine tasting at Wrath and Manzoni and cheese tasting at The Cheese Shop. Those are our can't-miss stops when in the area. We had a late lunch at 400 degrees in Carmel and spent the rest of the evening relaxing at the hotel. It was a fantastic day.

We woke up early on Sunday for the 6:50 am race start and enjoyed the easy walk to the staging area. The sky was beautiful that morning and the weather was perfect. Kevin and Mandy went to their start corrals, and I went to the front to watch the elite start. After the elites went off and I cheered for the Oiselle ladies Megan and Kara, I jogged back to the C start corral just in time to chase them across the start line. 

You can't see us very well, but the sky is awesome. (Photo from Mandy)

I knew before the race that this would be tough because my legs were not fully recovered from New York. I tried to take it easy and to told myself I could manage a half distance even feeling like crap. Luckily, Carina (who I met through Alisyn) came running up behind me and chatted with me for quite a few miles. She kept me going as much as was possible, but by the time I hit mile 6 my legs felt dead and I told her to go ahead. I expected to do a lot of walk/run miles after that point, although I didn't end up needing it. 

The majority of this race is run along Monterey Bay, which is beautiful and makes for a great mental distraction. The course rolls up and down, never steep, so it's perfect for my taste. I said hi to friends during the out and back section, another welcome distraction and fun part of this event. I saw Kara, Megan, Meg (who had an awesome PR), Kevin, Carina, Marilyn, and Mandy. Aside for a couple of short walk breaks to stretch my calves and to get my legs back in the game, I ended up doing ok and finished in 2:11:03. 

After crossing the finish I met up with Carina again and then we found Hassan. We talked for a while until I decided I should go find Kevin - who by this point had been waiting on me for at least 30 minutes. Oops. By the time I actually found him, he'd already had a beer.

Finish photo with Hassan and Carina. (Photo from Hassan)

The finish area for Big Sur Half is really nice, complete with free beer, hot soup, cookies, and a live band. Kevin and I watched the awards ceremony because Kara took 2nd female and qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon - so awesome! I was happy to be able to talk to both Megan and Kara for a bit after the awards.

When Mandy finished, we found her and hung out for a little longer at the finish area. Sadly we had to head to the hotel to check out and drive back to San Jose, leaving the magic of Monterey behind.

Hanging out and listening to the band.

Post-race selfie. We did it! (Photo from Mandy)

Race Details.

The Expo. The expo for this race is pretty big, and they have many booths for other races and for merchandise. I enjoyed talking to the guy at the CIM booth, who was ready to recruit me to staff it for saying great things about CIM. We didn't purchase anything, although the t-shirts for the Big Sur Half were really cute. Getting bibs and race shirts was very easy and there was no line when we were there. I also liked how the bibs were different colors for each start corral. 

Cute purple shirt for women, navy blue for men. 

Close-up of the ceramic medal. The animal changes every year. Love them!

The Course. The course is gorgeous. It has little rolling hills that give the leg muscles variety. The majority of the course is an out and back section along the bay and part goes through Pacific Grove. By the time you turn around at Asilomar State Beach, you are more than halfway done. One thing to note is that this course isn't actually near Big Sur as the April marathon is, and I think that confuses people. It's the same race organization but a completely different course.

The Support. Course support was great; there were plenty of water stations and they provided Gu gels two times along the way. There were a lot of porta-potties at the start area, and they were spread out near different start corrals. I waited in line at the first group we found and later realized I could have walked right into the ones near the front corrals. Gear check was also very easy and they had trucks stationed at varying locations along the start corrals. When I went to grab my gear bag at the end, they had it in my hands by the time I made it up to the gate. Impressive!

The Finish Line. They had a great finish line area and tons of food. Runners were given: bagels, cookies, tons of fresh fruit from the local area (grapes, strawberries, bananas), pretzels, chocolate milk, protein shakes, hot minestrone soup, gatorade, water...and likely things I can't remember now. We had three beer options too: Stella Artois, Shock Top, and Michelob Ultra. The band was really fun and played 90s music. I loved the atmosphere.

Overall, this is a very organized, fun event and I highly recommend it!

22 November 2014

What's Next?

Now that my marathon goal race is over, I've been thinking about what I want to do next. This past year has been a struggle from a training standpoint due to a hip flexor injury, and I did hardly any speedwork or trail running. Both of those things are what helped me to be stronger and faster before, so losing them made a huge difference in my times. My best half marathon time this year was 2:04, a far cry from my 1:57 PR set in October 2013.

Celebrating my first and only sub-2 half to date. RnR St. Louis in 2013

What does all of that mean? My next goal is to run a faster half marathon! I want another sub-2 hour half, and I want a PR. I feel like I can get back there.

As of now, I have three half marathons coming up in early 2015. The Surf City Half in February will be a good tune up but I don't expect to be ready to PR. The Oakland Half in late March could work out depending on how training goes. When it's time for the SLO Half in late April, I hope to go for it.

I was considering the full marathon in SLO, and as an ambassador I thought it would be great to target the big event. But when it came down to it, I considered what I really want out of my next races and another marathon just isn't it. Training for a marathon needs extra weekly mileage and long runs that never seem to help me with getting faster.

I'm managing my training plan for the SLO Half via RunCoach.com, which I've been using for many months now. I was skeptical at first, but I've really come to enjoy my workouts being outlined by someone else. It makes it easy to figure out a schedule and I have it set to email me the workout each morning.

What April looks like right now.

I'm also interested in a book I read about on Nicole's blog, which I purchased and will be reading soon. The book is called 'Run Faster (From the 5K to the Marathon - How to Be Your Own Best Coach)' and talks about how training by specific pace is important. I admit I'm not someone who usually trains by pace; aside from speed workouts, I run whatever I feel like that day.

I'll be giving training updates on my SLO Half progress here so you can all hold me accountable for working hard and training at pace. Let's do this!

P.S. If you sign up for the SLO Marathon or Half, use my discount code FERAMB for $10 off!

17 November 2014

Farewell, Fitbit

I stopped wearing my Fitbit.

Why? I can't say for sure, but I had become increasingly annoyed with wearing a tracking device 24/7. The more tracking devices that entered the market, the less I wanted to wear mine. I realize this makes no sense; shouldn't I want to track my steps now more than ever because the devices keep improving? Won't having the data and understanding my habits continue to benefit my health? Maybe, maybe not.

I was an early adopter of fitness tracking, acquiring the original Fitbit in September 2010. At the time, I was working on the [no longer existing] Google Health product and we integrated Fitbit into our platform. The idea of quantified self was new to me and I was excited to check out the devices and the data. I ran a team challenge at work using our new Fitbits, complete with t-shirts and prizes for the most active people.

Even more important than having the data, I found myself changing behaviors to make sure I hit the 10K step goal each day. I took the stairs more, ran more often, and added mid-day walk breaks to my day whenever possible. Many of my friends became my 'friends' on the Fitbit platform, adding extra motivation to hit the goals and to 'beat' others that week. I was hooked.

I'm a data lover.

After about a year and a half, I found myself less interested in tracking and hated that I often forgot the Fitbit on my jeans when I went to workout. When my Fitbit charger broke, I didn't have it replaced and decided to forget about tracking for a while.

Fast forward to 2013. Fitbit was in v3 on the clip-on trackers and had added the hugely popular Flex wristband. I jumped back on the bandwagon and purchased the Fitbit One, which was definitely an improvement over the original. My favorite part? It counted flights of stairs - a really enjoyable metric after hard trail runs. 389 flights over 10 miles? Awesome.

Soon after, activity trackers started appearing out of the woodwork with each company creating its own version. While the new trackers added diversity to the market and choice for consumers, they also spread the users (and my Fitbit friends) more widely across platforms. Over time, many Fitbit friends migrated to other trackers or went inactive, which left me feeling less invested in using the app. I honestly didn't realize how much I cared about the social part of fitness tracking until this began to happen.

By the time fall 2014 came around, I still liked the overall Fitbit platform and the data it provided but my excitement for tracking every step had disappeared. Some friends had joined or re-activated their Fitbit use, but even that wasn't keeping me invested anymore. Add that to feeling annoyed with wearing the clip, and I found myself wondering why I continued to put it on everyday. So I stopped.

Every day since then, my brain has told me to put on the Fitbit, to move it to my running clothes, and to glance at the app to see how many steps I've taken. I didn't realize how much I thought about the Fitbit until I stopped wearing it - I've realized I literally thought about the Fitbit all the time. Isn't it funny how such a little, optional activity tracker can start to rule day-to-day thoughts?

That said, I'm happy about the thoughts and behaviors that have become second nature because of this device. I almost always take the stairs to my third floor office, I walk to cafes that are farther away at lunch, and I make sure to get some activity in on non-running days. I'm extremely aware of my daily activity level in a good way.

Going forward, I have yet to decide if I'd rather have an open platform tracking device or if I want to be completely free of activity data. Would integrating all fitness tracker brands into one social platform be more engaging? What if a single company could import fitness data from all tracking platforms, allowing users to interact regardless of which tracking device they chose?

Even if I don't go back to wearing a tracker in the future, I'm glad I used one for so long. My behavior has truly changed over time thanks to the Fitbit.

Tell me: Do you wear a fitness tracker? Does the social part matter to you? Do you think it changes your behavior? 

11 November 2014

SLO Marathon Ambassadors

I've mentioned this on social media a bit, but it's time for the official blog announcement.

I'm honored to be a San Luis Obispo Marathon Ambassador for 2015!

The race is in San Luis Obispo, a beautiful wine country area, on April 26, 2015. This is a new race for me and I always love the scenery in wine growing regions. I haven't decided if I'll be running the half or full yet, although my successful marathon in NYC makes me lean toward the marathon. That said, it's a little close to SFM (I'm already signed up) so I have some thinking to do before I finalize the plan.

Another fun part of this is that I'll be ambassador-ing with a few friends I met from the SFM Ambassador group: Erin, Laura, and Charles.

Kevin is already signed up to join us in SLO, and you should come too! Hit me up in the comments with any questions.

Happy running!

06 November 2014

NYC Marathon Part Two: The Race

The New York City Marathon: wow. I've never run anything like it. There was so much crowd support along the entire route; if spectators were allowed to be there, they were there. We ran through all five boroughs, so I was able to see more of the city than ever before. I loved every minute of it.

As I mentioned in the pre-race post, I slept very well the night before. The fall back time change was an added bonus because it gave me more sleep time before I had to head to the bus at 5:30 am. I woke up excited and nervous, got dressed, and headed out the door. Everything had been set out or packed in my start village bag the night before; I made sure I could wake up as late as possible. I wasn't starting to run until 10:30 am, so I knew I'd have plenty of time to prep and eat after arriving at the start village.

Race clothes ready.

Race morning was cold and windy. I went to the bus in three throwaway layers on top and one on the bottom, and I was worried it wouldn't be enough. The ride to Staten Island took longer than it should have with traffic, but that was fine with me because we were on a heated bus. The sooner we arrived, the sooner we were outside. After exiting the bus, I followed the herd of runners through security (metal detectors and bag check) and into the village. The start area was crowded with people sitting and laying on blankets or old race heat sheets, and they had covered the muddy grass with straw.

Race morning at Central Park.

As a charity runner, I was lucky to have access to the charity village which was much less crowded. We had tents over our head, although they didn't have walls so we still got the wind. I had a small cup of coffee and used hot water to make my usual race day oatmeal. We huddled together under our tent wrapped in heat sheets, blankets, plastic bags, and anything that might help block the wind. This sounds really terrible as I write it, but in reality it was cold but manageable. Having my EMC teammates there for support made all the difference.

My biggest source of anxiety for NYCM was the wait time to start, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. In fact, it went really quickly and fueling was fine. I had a Picky Bar on the bus, oatmeal shortly after we arrived, and half of a peanut butter sandwich closer to my start time. NYCM provided coffee, hot water, and bagels to all runners. Dunkin Donuts was handing out pink and orange fleece beanies, but I missed them in the start village and had a hood so wasn't too concerned.

When they announced opening of the Wave 3 corrals, my stomach lurched. I hit the porta potty line once more and headed over. We had to be in the corral at least 30 minutes before our start time. I heard that some people who headed to the corrals near the 30 minute time were blocked out and made to start with the next wave; something to keep in mind if you run this one. I had no problems at all going over right when they opened and felt everything was very smooth.

At 10:30 am we heard the gun go off and started moving toward the start line. I was in Orange Corral F, so it took me about 10 minutes to get to the start line itself at the entrance to the Verrazano Bridge. I turned to the person next to me and said 'This is going to be awesome!' He gave me an inquisitive look and said it was his first race of any distance ever. I told him how excited I was to run this marathon and for the crowds and how impressed I was that his first race was a marathon. That takes serious guts.

We crossed the start and up the Verrazano Bridge we went. I expected this to feel like a big hill but it didn't, likely because I was preoccupied with not blowing over. The wind on the bridge was intense. There were times when my foot landed in a different place than I thought it would because the wind moved me. My ponytail was whipping around and the hair tie almost came out, so I wrapped the tie around my finger and grabbed a Dunkin Donuts beanie from the side of the road to tame my hair. Yes, I know I'm not supposed to pick up the donations but...it worked like a charm. I think the wind on the bridge is the worst I've run in, although I experienced some comparable wind at Big Sur Hurricane Point in 2012 and heavy wind+rain at CIM in 2012

The top of the bridge incline rewarded us with a jaw-dropping view of the New York City skyline. It was absolutely gorgeous. Once we came down the other side of the bridge, the wind situation improved. Don't get me wrong - there was still a lot of wind, but I think being a middle-of-the-pack runner in the crowd helped to block it. I can't imagine what it would have been like to be out there on your own or in the lead pack. I also suppose it's helpful to have the aforementioned bad race weather experiences in my past because I was able to draw on those memories to improve my mental state. I kept repeating to myself 'remember [insert bad weather memory here]? You can handle this.' We've all had our tough weather days, and I highly recommend this strategy for dealing with less-than-ideal weather. 

As soon as we left the bridge and entered Brooklyn, the crowds started. Brooklyn was out in droves to watch the race and everyone was cheering like crazy. We were in Brooklyn for a long time and I enjoyed the scenery and the people. I re-donated the Dunkin Donuts cap, put my hair back in a ponytail, and ditched my first layer of gloves. People were cheering for me by name (taped on) and by yelling 'Every Mother Counts' and I loved it. I tried to wave at each person who called out to me.

The miles kept flying by and soon we were crossing the Queensboro Bridge, a very quiet and difficult part of the course. I was struggling but still moving along at a decent pace. Luckily, I came up on a guy wearing a Google shirt and discovered he also works in Mountain View, on the same overall team, and in my building. Go figure! We chatted for the rest of the bridge and into First Avenue until I lost him at a water stop.

One of the bridges, funny face. 

The First Avenue crowds were the biggest and loudest yet, and they were right where I needed the encouragement. I usually hit a big 17 or 18 mile wall so I was expecting to feel awful, but the excitement kept me going this time and there was no wall. I knew I was approaching my cheering friends and was thrilled to see Kevin and Megan around this time. At around 101st and First Avenue, the Oiselle ladies were loud and awesome. That was the push I needed to stop worrying about why I hadn't hit a wall (was it still coming?) and to get to mile 20. 

The course headed into the Bronx where there were less people cheering but still way more than other races. I knew my friend Alisha was out with a sign for me around mile 20 and sadly I didn't see her, but knowing she was there and being distracted by looking for her helped me push through those miles. I was now solidly into the twenties and still hadn't hit the dreaded wall. We turned back toward Manhattan where we had to tackle a long, slow uphill around miles 22 and 23. This was another low point for me, but I saw the Oiselle cheering section again in this stretch and was incredibly happy to see them. I high-fived Beth and perked up, plus Stephanie got a few fun photos of me. Kevin and Megan were in this area too, but I missed them this time.

Spotting the Oiselle ladies.

 OMG I'm so tired and so happy to see you guys!

And now I keep going uphill...

The next thing I knew were were turning into Central Park and we were within 2 miles of the finish. I still felt strong and hadn't started to do a walk-run like I have during each of my other marathons. That in itself was a huge accomplishment for me. Aside from quick water station walks to drink and one or two other 30 second walk breaks to eat, I ran. Anytime I thought I couldn't keep running, I thought about the women we were supporting with team EMC and kept pushing on.

Feeling good at 40K!

The next miles along Central Park were filled with even more people cheering, and finally we climbed the last small hill to the finish line. I did it! I ran 4:35:36. Although not a PR, this race was by far the strongest I've felt during a marathon and I'm thrilled. It's easily my favorite marathon so far both for the course and for how I felt running it.

 Big smile in the finish chute.

 Finished! Looking tired.

And apparently I was unclear if I could walk...

 After crossing the finish line, the crowd of runners kept moving slowly forward. We collected our medals and I remember saying to an amused volunteer 'It's so beautiful!' They handed us heat sheets and taped them so they would stay on. We each received a bag with food and drinks and I was pretty sure my shaking legs were going to give out while I waited a few minutes for that bag. At least after that I had Gatorade, water, and recovery drink to keep me going.

Finish line on Friday, as seen during the Strava group run.

Beautiful medals.

Volunteers continued to usher us through the park, separating us based on if we had checked a gear bag or not. Runner who didn't check a bag would get a fleece poncho. I was very cold and it felt like we walked forever to get to the ponchos, but finally a volunteer wrapped me up in fleece and everything was so much better.

I kept walking toward the family reunion area, where volunteers along the sides were keeping us moving and congratulating us. Bart Yasso was one of the people, and I stopped to say hi-remember-me-we-had-beer-together-in-SF. Surprisingly, I was the only one I even saw talk to him; he was pretty incognito in his race employee gear. He meets a ton of people and I know he probably doesn't remember me, but it was fun to say hi anyway.

From there I continued through the crowded family area and met Kevin at our planned spot, a Starbucks on 58th Street. He took everything I was carrying and escorted me the last few blocks to our hotel. That was one LONG post-marathon walk; it took about an extra hour of slow walking to get from the finish line back to the hotel.

Documenting the poncho!

 Happy to be back at the (warm) hotel post-race.

After I showered, we had a beer in the hotel, grabbed pizza by the slice, and then went to the theater to see Wicked. What a great show! I knew beforehand that it was related to the Wizard of Oz but nothing else about it, and I really enjoyed the story line and how it tied the two together.

Race Details:

The course. I loved running this course and seeing so much of NYC. It's not an easy course, which I'd been told but understand more now that I've run it. It isn't hilly compared to something like SF, but it has noticeable grades and many turns that will slow you down. Although I didn't feel crowded the whole time, there were many people to dodge and I was held up a few times for that reason especially in the last 10K. The crowds were amazing and lined almost the entire course, plus there were people with music, marching bands, and jazz bands out to entertain us.

The support. I give this race an A+ for support! They had porta potties about every mile and water/Gatorade stations at a similar frequency. I took water at every other station because I didn't need it every time. They handed out Clif gels at mile 18 and bananas at each aid station for the last 6 miles or so. The fluid stations were on both sides of the road and long, so they weren't as congested as I would have expected for such a big event. 

The finish line. The finish line was very organized, but runners moved through very slowly. They had told us to expect 30-45 minutes from finish to exiting Central Park and it definitely took that long. I loved that they taped the heat sheets on us and everyone was very nice and helpful. The food bags included water, Gatorade, recovery drink, an apple, pretzels, and a Power Bar. Getting from our park exit to the family reunion area took a few more minutes of walking, and the family area was very crowded. I'm glad Kevin and I picked a meeting spot away from there for that reason. 

The swag. The race shirts were long sleeve Asics shirts and I love the colorful ribbon on the medals.

 Medal, shirt, and bib.

It's hard to believe my marathon goal race is over for this year! I'll be glad to change up the workout routine a bit and to take some recovery time. Happy running!