waiting my turn (because I want to)

New York City Marathon Weekend

Last weekend, I went to New York City to work the marathon expo, as I did last year. I was not particularly excited this time around, mostly because it took a lot of planning just to get there, and I was in the peak of training and I knew it would take at least a few days to recover from the physical and mental exhaustion of the event. Still, I remained positive as I put together this whole plan of packing, dropping everything off at work, running to work, staying at a friend’s house, storing extra stuff at work, and walking to the connecting train early Friday morning to take it to the main NJ Transit station, which would in turn take me to NYC. Phew. To make matters worse, it was raining and ridiculously windy, and an entire water bottle leaked in my bag before I set foot on the first train. By the time I got to the Javits Center with all my stuff for the weekend, I already wanted a shower. Heck, I wanted a shower before sunrise. A twelve hour day of working on my feet, bright lights, and talking was ahead of me though. Long story short: I will never be a candidate to commute to another city for work. I need hours to get myself together after a single trip, it seems…that’s not good.

A scene from the maze you now have to navigate through construction to get to the Dinky station in Princeton. Time: 7:05 AM (after I missed the first train and was brave enough to try finding my way to Wawa while waiting for the second...).

A scene from the maze you now have to navigate through construction to get to the Dinky station in Princeton. Time: 7:05 AM (after I missed the first train and was brave enough to try finding my way to Wawa while waiting for the second…).

Thus, my own mini-marathon began. On Friday, day two of the expo and day one for me, I was assigned to work with CEP, but we had so many staff there that we were actually blocking the product, so I moved over to Superfeet, where I got to see two of my favorite reps, Anna and Rich (they were at the RW expo too)! I also tried beef jerky for the FIRST TIME, which was mind-blowing. Perhaps I shouldn’t have tried expensive, gourmet, flavored beef jerky first…I’m probably going to expect all future beef jerky experiences to be just as good. It was KRAVE Jerky…I can’t even look at the pictures, I just can’t…linking it and exiting that window right now.

Seriously though…

(Enough said.)

(Enough said.)

Clearly, the beef jerky was a memorable event at this year’s expo for me. Moving on. I eventually found myself needed at the Brooks booth (yessss), where I was stationed in the apparel section and then on one of the registers for the remainder of the expo that day. A strange moment happened when I saw a man holding two basketballs and commented, “Basketballs? That’s the wrong sport!” He replied with, “Or the right one! You don’t know who I am?” Note: when someone says “you don’t know who I am?” take that as a

I ended up getting a picture with Doctor Dribble....

I ended up getting a picture with Doctor Dribble….

warning that you are a.) justified in not knowing who he/she is, and b.) you are about to get a lengthy explanation of who he/she is. Turns out he was “Doctor Dribble,” and dribbles two basketballs while running marathons to raise money for charity. Apparently he holds a Guinness World Record for dribbling during a marathon.

Eight o’clock finally came. After closing up the registers, warding off rumors that the expo was until nine, and convincing fellow female coworkers that we should request a departure for the hotel, I escaped to fresh air for the first time since before 9 AM. Expos give you a warped sense of things…NYC air becomes fresh air, etc.

Later that night, everyone who was anyone in the running industry found themselves on the lower level of Rosie O’Grady’s, like every year on NYCM weekend. I got to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in awhile as well as meet new people I had heard of but never met before. I saw Megan and Hannah, met an editor at Running Times, met some cool people from our corporate office, had a business-related chat with the founder of a successful chain of running specialty stores, possibly met Desi, and definitely lost my voice. It was an overwhelming runner’s paradise, complete with alcohol. I only wish it wasn’t so late and everyone could have stayed longer…but unfortunately everyone still had at least one work day ahead of them.

Rosie's is for runners.

Riley, Jacqui, Chris, me, Pat…. Rosie’s is for runners.

Saturday…I somehow held on surprisingly well after little sleep and general exhaustion. I worked at the Garmin booth all day, which was more exciting than I anticipated. I got to play around with the brand-new Forerunner 220 and 620! And let me tell you…they are awesome. You know when you see an old gadget and think of how it looks ancient compared to whatever is new? These watches made my 210 look old. No lie. I don’t wish I waited for the 220, since I got my watch in April and it has helped my training tremendously since then. However, if there was some sort of option to trade, I would do it in a second. The most notable improvements, in my opinion, are: 1.) weight and size: the 220 is as

Garmin Forerunner 620 and 220.

Garmin Forerunner 620 and 220.

sleek and light as an everyday watch, 2.) wireless uploading, and 3.) the buttons are much easier to press. The third reason may sound strange, but sometimes I have issues with the buttons on my 210…they aren’t the easiest things to find or press hard enough, especially while you’re running and wearing gloves, or during a hard speed workout when you really don’t want to expend your energy on pushing a darn button. Kudos, Garmin. Both models have increased $50, but for the improvements, it’s probably worth it. The black and blue 620 was so popular at the expo, we sold out of it early on Saturday.

I’m not going to go into detail about the extra time we spent after the expo technically closed at 5:00 PM on Saturday. We were there until after 9:00 PM, with the union workers, moving and carrying and stacking heavy boxes and not really knowing what was going on or how late we would be needed. I debated trying to get another night in the city out of my trip, but after going to one bar with a coworker for a quick drink while carrying two big bags, I decided to catch the next train back to Princeton from Penn Station. I ended up boarding one with three minutes to spare, not even realizing a train was leaving at that time, and then catching a free University bus back to town after that. I met up with some friends as soon as I was back, and they questioned my sanity for leaving New York after ten on a Saturday night. But you know what? I was so relieved. I felt so at home and so relaxed. I no longer was holding heavy bags, no longer felt rushed (I even wished I’d skipped the little bar and ran right to the train from Javits, honestly). I was happily exhausted and I couldn’t wait to go to sleep and then return to normal life. I will write more about this later, because this was a weekend that made me realize how much I love Princeton.

Princeton Half Marathon Morning

On Sunday, I awoke to the sound of cheering outside. I had thought about waking up early enough to catch the start of the inaugural half marathon, then go for my long run, and then go to work. Plan B was to wake up and start my long run way before the start, so I would arrive at the finish in time to see the fastest runners come through, then go to work. I decided on Plan C: do whatever the heck I felt like doing, and maybe the timing would match up and I would see part of the race. I ended up beginning my run at 9:00 AM, and the start had been at 7:30 AM, so I did see some people I knew heading down the final stretch to the finish. The first few miles of my run (my plan was 13 miles) was along the course; I ran on the other side of the road in the opposite direction. I saw plenty of people I knew, friends and customers alike, and cheered them on as I ran. It was a nice, distracting start to the run. I split from the course eventually, and entered a more quiet zone. I had expected this run to be quite the death march after the crazy weekend on my feet with very little sleep (and Halloween week before…just saying). It wasn’t so bad, though. I didn’t go out far enough for thirteen, and ended up doing some circling around downtown when I got back. In hindsight, I should have done an actual extra loop somewhere, but I didn’t…oops:

loops113A very interesting phenomenon occurred, during the entire run when there were people around, but particularly in the last couple miles when I was doing all this adding-on-distance nonsense to make 13 miles. People on the sidewalks seemed to think that if I was running, I should be running the half marathon. At least, that was the vibe I got from all the comments: “You’re running the wrong way!” “Why are you still running?” “Did you get a late start?” “You should’ve started earlier and done the half marathon” “Why aren’t you in this?” “Doing your own half marathon?” And the comments behind my back: “Why is she running now?” “Why didn’t she just run the race?” “Why is she running over here?” PEOPLE, CALM YOURSELVES. ALSO, YOU’RE NOT FUNNY. Just because I am running, and there is/was a half marathon within a few blocks of where I am right now, does not mean I cannot run through this town. I wasn’t really angry or frustrated by the comments, I was more amused by the number of people who just didn’t get it. Call me a running snob, I don’t care, I’ve probably earned it long ago and that’s cool with me if I’m speaking truths, but:

Running is not racing. I am training for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I raced a ten miler and a 10k a few weeks ago and I am allotting the three Sundays in between those races and that race for quality long runs. I just worked the New York City Marathon expo and got back to NJ less than twelve hours ago; I spent twenty-four hours on my feet this weekend, with poor sleep and poor nutrition to boot. I am feeling run down from all of this, and I need to run thirteen miles easy today. Running thirteen miles at whatever pace I feel like running is what my body can handle. Racing a half marathon after all that, and two weeks out from my goal race? No. Why would I ever do that? If I ran the Princeton Half Marathon, with a bib number, I would race it. I would probably feel horrendous, yet still make myself run pretty fast, and then get sick, and sabotage my goal race. I might injure my calves, which were noticeably cramping up after not having much time to hydrate during the weekend.

To summarize: yes, I live in Princeton. Yes, I work at a running store in Princeton. Yes, I had thirteen miles to run on the same morning. Yes, I chose not to run the Princeton Half a long time ago because I knew my schedule and I knew that it didn’t have a good place in it, for smart reasons. I am happy with my decision. Some runners can run races, and work them into their schedules as long runs. I can’t. That’s just the runner I am, and honestly, I don’t have a desire to change that. Running may be racing to some people, and I respect those runners’ goals and perspectives. But, I am not one of those runners, and I can only hope my goals and perspectives can be respected too.

Anyway, I ended up running a semi-hilly 13.0 miler at 7:51 pace (I ranged from 7:20 to 8:20…), feeling much better when I finished than when I started. The marathon of a weekend continued, as I worked all day and tracked lots of people via the awesome NYCM tracking app on my phone and watched live coverage at the finish on our store iPad (yay for working technology!). The app allowed me to track up to ten runners…as each one finished, I added another – there were so many people I wanted to track! Congrats to everyone who ran (and a shout-out to fellow bloggers I follow, Susan and Hollie, my coworker Becca, and a member of my running group, Michelle, who finally got her sub-4)!

That weekend was very much about waiting my turn to race. I was absolutely fine with it.

Next up, the last couple weeks of training and Philadelphia Half Marathon goals, all that required stuff….

2012 NYCM weekend: a look back

Sunday is the New York City Marathon!

I feel like this year especially, the vibe in the city is going to be amazing for all the runners, since the marathon didn’t happen last year and this part of the country was rather distracted by sad, discouraging things as a result of Hurricane Sandy. I am heading up on Friday morning to work at the expo all day Friday and Saturday (8 AM – 8 PM…bring on the insanity! Just kidding, I’m totally not mentally ready yet). The NYCM expo last year was a big week for me…if you’ve ever had a moment you define as a “turning point” in your life, you understand. I can’t pinpoint one thing that made it like this for me, but I came back to New Jersey feeling like there was “Before NYC” and “After NYC.” Or more accurately, “Before and After Sandy/NYC.” It wasn’t the first expo I had worked, but it was the first at which I felt truly immersed in the running industry community. This was strengthened by the fact that staff from other stores had flown in from across the country to work with us that weekend, and I was finally getting to meet them! At this time, I was still interested in pursuing job opportunities within the field (more on this later, but there’s a reason I avoid writing about it), so this was a “day-in-the-life” experience for me to the extreme. Not to mention the experience of being there when rumors were flying about the cancellation, people were being denied their bibs after cancellation (that didn’t last long…), and the official announcement was made. The run in Central Park among a sea of orange shirts, many runners speaking different languages, just solidified the entire weekend. A combination of all of these things – and an escape from my wind-beaten, electric-powerless town – made my first true NYCM expo experience like stepping into another life for five days. I can’t believe a year has passed…wait, I can…since this monumental weekend of meeting new friends and coworkers and witnessing the power and unity of the running community. I remember signing up for Twitter as soon as I got home (but not using it until February…) and asking a friend about how to start a blog. That’s how much I wanted to write and reflect on my mixed-emotion experiences that week. Here’s a look back on the 2012 NYCM weekend in pictures.

First, here’s the scene I left:sandy

 

...and here’s the world I entered in NYC:DSCN0293

The only time the moon shone brighter than the midtown/LES skyline.

The only time the moon shone brighter than the midtown/LES skyline.

Run Co group picture.

Run Co group picture.

The day I got to sell Brooks shoes all day (sometimes in French...) was awesome.

The day I got to sell Brooks shoes all day (sometimes in French…) was awesome.

DSCN0328

Jack O'Lanterns at Heartland...one of the best dinners of the weekend.

Jack O’Lanterns at Heartland…one of the best dinners of the weekend.

THE place.

THE place.

DSCN0376

Clearly, this post isn’t really about the marathon itself. Those posts can be saved for those of you who are actually racing this weekend! Good luck to everyone and relish in the energy. Someday I’ll run New York, but I’m not in a big rush. (I clearly need to get my priorities straight before committing to racing on a Halloween weekend…).

If you’ll be at the expo Friday or Saturday, I’m assigned to work with CEP allll day Friday (8 AM – 8 PM) and with Garmin alllll day Saturday (8 AM – 8 PM again). If you come and say hi, I would love it if you also gave me some free food. I know it’s around at the expo…but sometimes we can’t escape (and Gu Chomps do not agree with me for lunch!). Expos are hard work but they’re worth it because I get to see so many people I am acquainted with through running, all in one place.

Good luck if you’re running NYC! Visit me at the expo!

Runner’s World Festival 10k race report

If you follow a lot of running blogs, you probably heard about the second annual Runner’s World Half & Festival in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Runner’s World invited a group of bloggers to the event for the weekend, where they toured the RW offices in Emmaus, attended seminars, and were entered in the hat trick (5k + 10k + half marathon!). So, there was undoubtedly a lot of promotion going on via the blogosphere the last couple months! I was not one of those bloggers, but the event did intrigue me, particularly because: 1.) I’m a running nerd and thought it would be cool to meet the RW staff, 2.) I already did meet Megan and Hannah (RW reporters) at Hood to Coast (they were also on Nuun Team Watermelon!) and it would be great to see them again, and 3.) why not??? It was about time for a little running-related adventure outside of NJ anyway.

Oh, and I wanted a 10k PR.* 

Look, new phone! Blackberry Torch --> Samsung Galaxy after 2+ years.

Look, new phone! Blackberry Torch –> Samsung Galaxy after 2+ years.

So, I forked over the money for the experience…on Tuesday night, a bit last minute. This is my new thing, apparently. AND IT WORKS. I woke up early (by my new phone – so exciting!) and drove the ~75 miles to the ArtsQuest center in Bethlehem, right next to the famous steel stacks. I had done this drive before many times (let me see…seven times), to either watch a meet or race at Lehigh and Moravian in college. After some debate over what to do about my “long run,” I decided to do an extra long warmup and try to time it so that I wouldn’t have much downtime before the 10k started. I got my bib number and ran into Megan right away! Then I set off on a warmup/pre-race run that ended up totaling ~5.6 miles at just under eight minute pace. It was cold, so this helped a lot!

THE RACE

At the starting line, they played very intense pump-up music. I was feeling really chill and relaxed, so I tried not to let the music get me too excited. Negative splits were the name of the game. Bart Yasso and Summer Sanders started the race, and I was able to get a good view since not too many people lined up between the 6:00 and 7:00 pace signs.

View of the steel stacks from near the start.

View of the steel stacks from near the start.

Miles 1 & 2: 6:59, 6:37

I settled into a decent pace feeling comfortable, and I was glad it wasn’t too fast, because the first mile included a pretty big uphill. I passed the mile in basically seven minutes, which concerned me at first, just because I knew that was not an average pace I wanted to run; it was too slow. I convinced myself I had a plan and was being smart though, and just went with it. The downhill came soon after, and I was instantly glad I’d conserved the energy. A quick glance at my watch told me that “just rolling” with the downhill had me close to six minute pace, so I knew then that everything would even out. We crossed over the river on a bridge and headed into the little downtown where I had warmed up earlier. There was loud music playing at the end of the bridge, and at first I was pissed it was Bruno Mars (cannot stand him, sorry), until it turned into a pretty sweet remix, not going to lie. Good sign. I could see Susan a couple runners ahead of me, and let her plus some guys in neon shirts (seriously, neon yellow was the color to wear in this race; I missed the memo) pull me along. I was still feeling really comfortable.

Miles 3 & 4: 6:49, 6:38

I think my effort level stayed steady or increased with each mile of the race; the pace variation is purely a result of the uphills and downhills on the course. The spectators were great; if they were standing at the crest of a hill, they always seemed to say, “top of the hill!” and it made me feel better. Before the fourth mile mark, I think, I found myself gaining ground on the runners ahead of me, then passing them. I wanted to practice making a decisive pass, not a let’s-run-together pass, because I wanted to run my own race and see how much I could negative-split (new game, it’s been fun, and painful). Luckily, after that was a significant downhill to the bridge again.

Miles 5 & 6 (and 0.31): 6:27, 6:21, 1:51 (for 0.31, 6:04 pace)

I was hauling it on the bridge because first, I love running over bridges, and second, I wanted to keep the momentum from the downhill going. There were a lot of race photographers and I made it a point to not look like I did at the end of last weekend’s raceSilly, I know, but sometimes looking calm and controlled = feeling calm and controlled. And besides, the race was not over. A guy on the bridge said to me as I passed, “I counted you as fourth female.” I’m going to go ahead and spoil this for you by saying: LIES. This was a false statement. I’m not disappointed that he said it though, because it fueled my fire for the rest of the race. After barely missing first in my age group and fifth overall in the Perfect 10 last week, and wondering if I just didn’t finish tough enough, I was determined to negate all that and make up for it this week. I wanted to give everything I had and see what happened. I could see the next girl ahead of me once over the bridge, but I wasn’t sure if she was close enough to catch. I kept rolling along at the same pace though, around 6:25, without letting the faster pace get to me mentally. I wasn’t going to slow down if I didn’t let myself slow down, simple as that. On a stretch of road heading to the Sands parking lot entrance where we turned left, I managed to catch her and pass her. Decisive pass decision number two was a lot harder; I was moving faster and there was only a half mile or so to go! We went under an overpass/walkway or something, and then I could see the finish chute lined with spectators and the finish line with the arc of fire. I ended up crossing the line at the exact same time as another guy, and someone announced my name in the same sentence as his (this will be important later…), and then they said my name and town again. 

According to my Garmin…6.31 miles in 41:46.5 (6:37 or 6:44 pace average – for 6.2 – depending on how you look at it)

After the race, I tried to get in an adequate cooldown but that didn’t work very well. Oh well. I ended up meeting Jocelyn and Susan and heading over to the awards with them. I was pretty sure I placed, thanks to the man on the bridge who can’t count. But my name wasn’t coming up in the searchable results. I found out I definitely wasn’t top three, which was okay (that would’ve been really cool but also would have been surprising!), but they also didn’t call me up for any F20-24 awards. Huh. Long story short: I was confused and really hoped my bib had registered when I crossed the line. They had said my name, that had to mean something?! It turns out it took longer for my results to show up, so I did place (second I believe), but someone else got to go on stage and get the award because the computers didn’t show my name. 😦 So that was sad. The results still show a time that is over 20 seconds slower than the time on my watch, and they don’t show me finishing within a second of another guy (which happened, photos will tell), so I’m actually not trusting anything for a few days; maybe they need to sort things out. They are a magazine, not a timing company, after all. I might write more general thoughts on why Brennan would have likely slapped me in the face during this mental freak-out of mine in another post….I ended up not needing to pretend I was a Lehigh athlete (wearing this shirt…yes I did pack it; I go to extreme measures for showers sometimes) or drive over a mountain to sneak into a shower facility thanks to my gracious new blogger friends (Nuun Hood to Coast Team ’11 and ’12, by the way!).

ReNUUNion! I admit I've been waiting to use this term since my flight out of Seattle.

ReNUUNion! I admit I’ve been waiting to use this term since my flight out of Seattle.

EVERYTHING BESIDES THE RACE 

I didn’t mention that half of the reason I went to this event was to do some networking. I’m at a point where I feel like I should take every and any opportunity to meet new people, make connections, and try new things as far as my future career and also just my interests and well-being are concerned. One thing I have learned in 2013 (of countless things…) is that I love writing. Especially the past month or so, I’m finding myself sitting down to write and having three hours fly by without having moved more than my fingers, taken a sip of water, or looked around the room. I can’t say that about many other tasks. There are nights when I come home from work and get excited when I decide I’m going to write something. I’ll write more about this later I’m sure, but for now I’ll just say: there is a unique feeling that comes when you do what you are truly passionate about, and I think it’s important to recognize the feeling and what you are doing when it overcomes you. It could be a key to the puzzle of a happy life. Where was I? Oh, I went back to the ArtsQuest building after showering and eating, and continued settling in right where I belonged: the expo! A post-race expo, for me; that was a first. It was certainly a small expo; vendors included: Superfeet, Sweatybands (my bangs’ heroes), iFitRun, Larabar, BelVita, Aardvark, and Nestle Water…that’s all I can remember (not sure why I listed them, but hey why not). I ended up knowing all three of the reps working at the Superfeet booth (our store’s sales rep and tech rep, plus the NYC tech rep who I met NYCM weekend last year), so I chatted with them for awhile. I have yet to meet anyone from Superfeet who is not really cool. Go meet them at the next expo you attend! I met up with Jane (from PI!), who was running the half the next day. We took photos on the “cover” of RW, but I can’t say they ended up looking amazing:

Poor Jane…this is why there’s only one runner on the cover at a time!

At 4:30 I went to a “dinner with the editors.” It was a lot smaller than I expected (I think I was thinking of the Boston Runner’s World party when I signed up for this), but the food was really good! I sat with Megan and some other bloggers, plus two other RW staff members (one was a photographer I believe). At 5:30 they all went to Dave McGillivray’s talk. I could have joined but I wasn’t sure if there were spots left and I hadn’t registered. I also used cash at Panera (oops), so I couldn’t pay at the door. I did have enough cash for…an expo beer! That’s right, there was a bar at the expo venue, and the beer was cheaper than at Princeton bars. ‘Twas a win. I was happy to enjoy a Shock Top while sitting with Jane on the deck overlooking the steel stacks as the sun set. It was good to relax and reflect on my race with her (and get her excited for her own!). Summary: the steel stacks were beautiful with the purple lights shining on them at night, and expos are more fun when they are attended after a great race and they have a bar.

We snuck in a pic with Bart before leaving! Even with a new phone it's unfortunately blurry.

We snuck in a pic with Bart Yasso before leaving! Even with a new phone it’s unfortunately blurry.

Steel stacks at night. See the first photo in this post for the sunset snapshot: so pretty. Oh, and that's a steel arch of fire, by the way.

Steel stacks at night. See the first photo in this post for the sunset snapshot: so pretty. Oh, and that’s a steel arch of fire, by the way.

Final reflections:

There were so many people who did the hat trick this weekend (all three race distances over two days) that it was really easy to belittle the fact that I only did the 10k. Honestly, I was even thinking, back when I heard about the event a couple months ago, that I would come and just go to the seminars and network with people. Then I realized I wasn’t so scared of getting hurt anymore, but I was through with 5ks for now, and the half would have been a bit much if I really went for it in the 10 miler the week before. Because we all know I can’t run something for fun wearing a bib number. So, the 10k was my choice. Then there was the timing glitch, which I’m still kind of confused about. I was pretty distracted immediately after the race for the rest of the day, meeting new people and hanging out at the expo and being a runnerd, admiring the steel stacks and the RW dinner – all of that. So, it’s easy to dismiss the race with, “I’m happy with it, I ran a PR, I had a great day, I can write a blog post about it (ha, really though), I’m one step closer to the Philly Half.” I don’t have a problem giving the race the credit it deserves though, so I will. Regardless of the context and the controversy, that 10k was the best race I’ve ever ran. I said that last week. This was better than last week. The girl I passed in the last mile this week was the same distance away from me as Allison was last week at some point. Instead of doubting my ability to push harder and not be nervous by the pace given the distance ahead, I went for it and boldly passed her. I used each runner ahead of me to push myself and not get complacent. Every race teaches you something about your limits, but this one especially was a breakthrough for me. I learned last week, and in recent workouts, that I can finish faster and not get “tired” (unless a 20 mph wind slaps you in the face but that’s a different story). The question I asked myself subconsciously this week was, how much faster? I plan on asking that question now each time I race…but I suppose that is what racing is, isn’t it?

The stats. I did a little math and the last 5k was 19:59…what?!

*Note: My previous 10k PR was ~42:30 at the 2012 Princeton Healthcare 10k. We were directed the wrong way so I ran 41:14 for what was re-mapped as 6 miles, 6.02 on someone’s Garmin. So, I extrapolated, since I definitely could’ve kept going for 0.2. Actually, last week’s 10k split was basically my PR (the first or the last). After that fiasco I certainly hope RW gets my time right after results are official (the 42:16 I see now is wrong)! If not maybe I should stay away from 10ks.

Sweet Sixteen

If I told myself I would run my longest run to date in New Brunswick, I would protest…maybe cry…definitely question my sanity. It’s not a bad place or anything, but NB and I don’t get along very well. My stress level skyrockets when I drive there, I have never had a fun time going out there…it just isn’t the town for me. I like my trees, trails, farms, two-way streets, and higher quality bars. Sorry. It’s true. Princeton does this to you. 

SO SCARY.

All of these thoughts aside, I ran sixteen miles this morning…in New Brunswick. How on earth did this happen? Well, I knew Kate and Martin were running the E. Murray Todd Half Marathon Sunday, so they wouldn’t be up for a long run with me this weekend. Brennan told me Thursday that she was meeting up with fellow blogger Amy and the Raritan Valley Road Runners Saturday at 9:00 in New Brunswick. I got excited at the prospect of long run company and meeting new runners…and not excited when I heard “New Brunswick.” Actually, it was a Rutgers Half preview run. I have a lot of friends at Rutgers, including one of my best friends, Elana, so I apologize for saying all these negative things about the city in which your school happens to be located. 

I switched work days again, Saturday for Sunday, which was a lot easier than last week’s crisis, and planned on going to the run. For future reference, if I am ever on the fence about going to a group run, my thought process always ends up something like this: “Maybe I will meet an attractive guy there. And it will change my life. I need to go!” What can I say, I am easily swayed. And dramatic. 

The guy who played Jake was such a bad actor…but for some reason nobody seemed to notice….

So I went (The above circumstance did not come to fruition, unfortunately). I got there at 8:00 and ran about 6.5-7 miles alone, an out-and-back on the towpath. It was windy. You’d think I would have nice clothes for that. I don’t. It was definitely a shorts day though, which made me happy. I returned to the meeting spot at 9:00 and found Brennan and Amy. Luckily I stood still for a very short period of time before we were off. The “groups” that formed were extremely confusing, so the short story is: I didn’t want to slow my pace too much because I was in a good rhythm, so I passed pretty much everyone. Oops. I think we all have a pace threshold at which we change our form, which isn’t good. It kind of feels like the phrase “spinning your wheels.” Except literally. Except not. Anyway. I think mine is probably 8:45. When I run slower than that I feel like I’m skipping or something to stay behind where my legs want to go. I found myself running next to a girl with hot pink tights who I didn’t seem to be passing easily. We introduced ourselves, and ended up running together for the next seven miles or so. Apparently I was pushing her to run her half marathon PR pace (again, oops), but she was talking the whole time so I think she can run much faster! She let me go once we were back in the park after a mini-tour of the Rutgers campus (7 miles = mini only at Rutgers…) and I picked the pace back up (we were holding 8:20-30 which was nice in the wind) for my last couple miles. I stopped once I had given myself a couple minutes of a buffer to ensure I ran very close to sixteen miles. I was so glad I found someone to run with! I was seriously discouraged the first mile of running with the group….

Endless Pool! That guy so did not want to get in there….

Afterwards, we showered at Amy’s (thank you so much! The “shivers” came quickly today…) and headed to the Endurance Sports Expo in Edison! It was kind of odd to be at an expo that was not for a race. And that I wasn’t working!  I saw a few familiar faces…got every free sample possible…including a bottle opener (score! Okay I asked if I could have it). I witnessed an Endless Pool demonstration – it does work. Crazy. I decided I would get one if I ever ended up a rich triathlete in Milwaukee. I randomly announced, “I want pizza” at one point, which sparked a movement to leave the expo and find the best local pizza place. The search was successful. 

Overall, a fun day of running! The best part was, I could have ran six miles instead of sixteen, the way I feel! I had a gel and water ready in the car in case I needed it for the final miles, but I decided I felt fine. I even picked up the pace! Add four miles to that (and probably that Gu and water) and that’s twenty miles. Doable? Hmmm.

I am taking food donations (for myself…) for the rest of the night, by the way. Need. It. Now. 

Expo-ing: the verb, the skill, the sport.

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Yeah, I moved that.

Most runners have experienced race expos dozens of times. Whether you are that person who is annoyed at the long lines to pick up your bib or that person who stops at every booth looking to score some good deals and sample products, the expo is a unique and ingenious creation. Being with the Running Company, we often reserve a booth at expos and partner with a vendor or two (or seven…) so we can gain experience selling products we sell in our stores. When I hear of a chance to work at an expo, I jump on it. Actually, when it came to Boston, I’m pretty sure I sent an email about it two months before anyone actually asked who wanted to work…needless to say, they let me. The Boston Marathon expo was my first big expo, attended or staffed. I called it “runnerd heaven,” and was in a state of euphoria for the first two days. Until, you know, I lost my voice and my calves had swelled an extra half inch (exaggeration). It was such a great experience, and I want to expand on it in its own post later. I more recently worked at the New York City Marathon expo, which ended up being about twice as fun.

Expo-ing is not actually a sport. It is a verb, because I said so. And it most certainly is a skill.  Here is why. The standard expo schedule:

Day One:

7 AM: leave in the truck/van/car for the destination city.

Car ride of x hours later: Arrive at expo venue. Unload truck/van immediately, and begin booth setup. This may involve heavy lifting, pushing, and navigating poorly loaded contraptions on wheels great distances. It also may involve assembling a metal shelf system from probably 1985.

8 or 9 PM: Hotel check-in and dinner, in either order. The food at this meal is always amazing, and you always look sub-par (setup is sweaty).

10 PM: Return to hotel, mentally prepare for the exhausting and fun day ahead.

10:30 PM: Decide that you might as well go out and explore!

1:30 AM: Decide you went to a bar entirely too far away! Return to hotel, pass out.

Days two and three:

5 AM: Wake up. Drag yourself out of the hotel for a run before the madness begins.

8 AM – 7 PM: Work at the expo! At some point, make note of all the booths you may want to buy things from…before they sell out of what you want. At another point entirely too late in the day, get lunch and chug water.

7 PM: Dinner! Multiple beers on the tab, since you are not paying for them!DSCN0329

9 PM: Out!

2 AM: Return to hotel, organize, drink water, SLEEP.

5 AM: Run!

8 AM – 7 PM: Expo! You are a little more tired than you were the day before.

7 PM: Dinner!

9 PM: Out…DSCI2514

2 AM: Sleep…

Day four:

7 AM: Wake up. Rest day…

8 AM – 7 PM: Expo and BOOTH BREAKDOWN: see day one for level of strenuousness required.

9 PM: Dinner! Out!

Day five:

Run, and watch the race!* You almost feel like you’re running it yourself, you’re so tired.

*that is, if the race actually happens.

And that, friends, demonstrates (hopefully, this was quite long) the skill required to work an expo. Gosh, it doesn’t do it justice. Perhaps my official expo recap stories will. As a Brooks rep told me in New York, “We train for this.”