Monday, November 29, 2010

14. Find the cojones to converse, however crappily, in Spanish.

In case you're wondering how I'm doing with this number on my list, let me give you an update:

  • Not much progress on finding the cojones to converse. 
  • But doing spectacularly well at keeping my Spanish at a crappy level.
I have spent a considerable amount of my life studying the Spanish language. Not actually learning it, mind you—just taking classes for it. Much of my youth was spent studying conjugation at the required Spanish classes at Poveda Learning Centre, but all I have to show for it are the Catholic prayers we recited ad nauseum. I did the requisite foreign language units in college but didn't really learn anything I didn't already know. Now I've gone through five semesters ... and while I've definitely learned more this time compared to all those wasted years in elementary and high school, I am still quite pathetic at it. I somehow squeaked by all the way to Level 5 but I have a feeling my sad effort at today's written exam will have me repeating a semester.

All this time spent studying and I still can't carry on a conversation. I need to to figure out a more effective way to learn Spanish. Suggestions?


Friday, November 26, 2010

Calling All Listomaniacs!

Over the past few months, I've received links to very cool bucket lists made by readers and other carpe diem-ers out there. Today, while procrastinating from studying for my Spanish finals, I discovered a cool widget called Simply Linked that allows people to add their own links to my page without having to rely on my goldfish memory. So if you have an ongoing bucket list-kicking project, please click here and add in your link. Alternatively, you can navigate your way to this page by clicking on the Features tab above and selecting Listomania.

¡Muchas gracias!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I'm thankful for ...

Thanksgiving last year was a very difficult time in my life. The life that I had spent the last three years building had just shattered to pieces. I felt hollow inside, aimless and alone.

The memory of that desolate time makes me that much more thankful for the life that I have today. The most simple and yet stunning revelation I've had over the last year is that even though I am single, I am the farthest thing from alone. I have a wonderful family that has loved me unconditionally whether I'm being brilliant or terribly irrational. And I have been truly blessed to have a life full of the greatest friends one can hope for. When you spend a year being "single" and yet always have someone amazing to share a cold beer, indulgent meal, extraordinary experience, revelatory conversation, free-for-all night of dancing, hours-long run, eye-opening road trip, or chill day of surfing with ... it truly restores your self-worth. It makes you feel that you are a person worth knowing, worth spending time with, and worth loving.

So to all of you who have been with me through this amazing year, whether physically or simply giving your support from miles away, thank you. You have helped me to pick up the pieces and rebuild myself into a stronger, happier and hopefully better person than I have ever been.

Thank you all for making life a privilege to live.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Well hello darling ...

I had such high hopes that I would spend the night studying diligently for my Spanish finals next week. But Amazon had other plans for me. Look what arrived in the mail today ...
This, dear friends, is the required reading material for my upcoming introduction to burlesque with Ms. Jo "Boobs" Weldon. She's the headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque and the lady who gave Blair Waldorf these baby vamp moves. The book contains everything from tutorials on classic burlesque moves and how to make your own pasties to developing your act and coming up with a gimmick. I can't wait to dig into my new bedside reading material ...
... and I can't wait to give it a whirl! December 12, come quicker!!!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Art of the Teese

Ten days after crossing off a big challenge on my 30 Before 30 list, the inevitable question comes up: What next?

I think it's time to tackle burlesque.

From the moment I saw my first burlesque show, I've been fascinated with this coquettish performance art. I remember coming to burlesque night in Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg a few years ago and just being enthralled. The performers came in all shapes and sizes—shapes and sizes that perhaps would not be a casting director for Baywatch's definition of sexy. But every flick of the hip, every tug on a silk glove just oozed with sensuality—and yet, never vulgarity. Since then, I've sworn I would take a lesson (or ten) from these unapologetically sensual women. Thanks to my list, I've gotten that much needed push to just go and do it. So I've booked a 6-hour intensive class with The New York School of Burlesque next month, and I am beyond excited! I don't really know what I'm ever going to do with what I'll learn. I was a dancer for many years and a ham my entire life, but I don't know that baring it all (save for a few feathers and a couple of sparkly pasties) to the public is really my thing. What I'm more interested in is embracing the sensuality that every woman is born with but for some reason feels she has to quell. The older I get, however, the more I believe that there's really no reason for women to keep downplaying their femininity. There's a sense of power that comes with embracing what it means to be a woman. Just take a look at Dita Von Teese, who has parlayed her overwhelming feminine wiles into one very lucrative brand.
From being just a sideshow to Marilyn Manson's freakshow, she's taken over top-billing. She's become a pretty big player in the realm of celebrity endorsements:



Her likeness appears on water bottles and cans ...
... and even airplanes.
I for one look forward to the day when I'll be able to channel my inner bombshell and unleash that unrestrained womanly power out into the world!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Need a Vacation

Today it felt like months of exhaustion finally caught up with me. Last Sunday, I ran 26.2 miles. Today, my biggest accomplishment was a three hour nap. And I'm still tired.

I need a vacation. The next one on the horizon is a trip to Mexico to set my eyes on Chichen Itza and perhaps to unleash my Spanish on an unsuspecting local. I guess it's time to get cracking on those plans. This hysterical Iberostar commercial definitely got me in the mood.
Ok back to bed. Hope you all had a restful weekend, and that you're nice and charged up for the week ahead!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Food for Thought

Every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around.
- Vanilla Sky     

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#3: Run a marathon—CHEEEEEEECK!!!

"So is it true? Does running the marathon really make you fall in love with New York?" asked a guy in the elevator yesterday as I entered still wrapped in foil. "I've had friends who were planning on moving out of New York, ran the marathon, fell in love all over again, and ended up staying," he said.

"Absolutely," I replied with conviction. 

New Yorkers are commonly stereotyped as an irate, impolite bunch. But nothing disproves this notion like marathon day. The support runners get from the people on the streets from Staten Island all the way to Manhattan is overwhelming and absolutely motivating. Little kids line the streets to give high fives and sit on their dad's shoulders in costume to share leftover Halloween candy. People brave the cold outside their homes to hand passing runners paper towels, tissues, candy and bottled water. All that and the indescribable feeling of running through avenue after avenue filled with people cheering you on and sincerely pulling for you to achieve your goal is nothing short of amazing. 

Before I go into the blow by blow account, I'll get to the important thing first: I DID IT!!! I ran in my very first marathon and finished—not just hobbling on two feet but running like a bat out of hell. I'm a little disappointed that I missed my goal of finishing in under 5 hours. But finding out that I have quite a kick left in me even after 20+ miles of running is encouraging and gives me enough incentive to give marathons another go. So here are my official stats according to NYRR.
I wasn't able to stick to the 11-mile pace I had aimed for, but finding out that I have it in me to push for a 10:30 pace in the end just makes me want to train more and run a marathon better next time.
Thank you Bong and Bads for tracking our progress!

Now that I've gotten that out of the way for readers with short attention spans, I'll get down to the full account.

Despite waking up every hour on the hour from sheer nerves, I felt fresh when I finally got up at 6am, grateful for the extra hour of sleep via daylight savings time. I immediately had coffee and a Power Bar for breakfast, willing my digestive system to get going since I wanted to avoid a dreaded Porta-Potty situation—or worse (I actually saw a runner who had an "accident" during the race, so my paranoia was warranted)! As I got dressed, I watched the marathon coverage on TV. It was surreal to think that I was getting ready for that very same race and felt like I was living a dream while watching the marathon coverage. I could hardly believe that in just a few hours I was going to be running in that very race!

Staten Island
I have the good fortune of living within 8 minutes walking distance to the Staten Island Ferry, so getting to the race was stress-free for me. It didn't take too long before the ferry pulled into Staten Island and Verrazano Bridge came into view, sending a ripple of excitement through the ferry packed with marathon runners. We filed into buses and were deposited to the "villages" where we were to wait a good two hours before our scheduled start. Between chatting with my friend Jet, eating half a bagel, getting my pre-race photo taken, taking stops at the porta potty, and warming up, those two hours just flew by. Before I knew it, I was listening to the final strains of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," the gun for wave 3 had gone off, and our corral was trotting to the bridge. It all happened so quickly that I completely forgot to set my watch! Thankfully, Garmin's satellites seemed to be set to New York yesterday and found me in a couple of minutes. Just as I'd been told by those who'd run the NY marathons before, I didn't feel the uphill climb on the Verrazano from being so fired up with the crowd. I did make a conscious effort to stick to the pace I'd projected and not get carried away. Two memories stand out for me for this stretch: 1) the row of men peeing on the side of the bridge immediately at the end, and 2) a runner's t-shirt that said, "Why couldn't Philippides have died at mile 20?" A very funny thought indeed when you still have 25.2 miles of running ahead of you.

When we entered Brooklyn, I made sure I had on one of my favorite running songs: Jay-Z's "Brooklyn We Go Hard." And boy, do they. Brooklyn was an absolutely phenomenal stretch to run. Practically all of the streets were lined with spectators handing out everything from bananas to popsicle sticks slathered with Vaseline. I got my first big high on 4th Ave. nearing Atlantic Ave. when I suddenly heard my name being screamed on my left. It was my cousin Melissa and her boyfriend Ben, so I stopped to give them a quick (and sweaty) hug before running off. I remember being told once that little things like a sign or simply showing up to cheer makes such a big difference to someone running a marathon, and I couldn't fathom how that could be when the runner really only sees it for a second. But it is definitely true. The sight of loved ones and funny signs made just for me stayed in my mind for most of the run and made me smile when my body was doing its darndest to make me cry.

From Atlantic Avenue, we turned into Lafayette, which stood out in my mind as a really beautiful section of the run. This tree-lined avenue with its lovely brownstones and even lovelier crowds making a ruckus on the streets was absolutely amazing. There was even a school band at some point! From Lafayette, we went into Bedford Ave., where even the hipsters got in on the action. Another memorable moment for me was seeing a girl holding a sign that said "Fist Pump All the Way to the End" meet a runner wearing a shirt that said "It's T-shirt Time!" I was laughing for a good quarter of a mile after that.

The last time I ran on Pulaski Bridge, I must have been in severe pain because I don't recall being amazed by the view. This time though, I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful view of Midtown Manhattan—the sun glinting off the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, and the rows of skyscrapers set against a bright blue sky. As we got off Pulaski Bridge, I started to look out for friends who were supposed to be spectating. The first people I found were Tricia and Michele, who had these signs that just totally cracked me up:
Next were Alida and Buck, who ended up running with me for part of the way because I just ran past them. As we ran together, Buck said, "So how's it going? What have you been up to today?" To which I answered, "Oh not much, just running about two to three hours nonstop." The runner in front of me took a quick look back at us and got a big smile on her face from that conversation.
It was great to get that big boost from seeing my friends right then because we were heading towards one big hill that breaks many a marathoner: Queensboro Bridge. I wasn't too intimidated with it because I had a pretty strong run on the bridge during our 20-mile training run. But even though I didn't really suffer through it, I have to say damn, that bridge was long! I popped a gummy power gel, pumped up the volume on "Like a G6" on my iPod (awesome running song, by the way), and pounded on that hill, and soon enough I found myself in Manhattan.

Having lived on 62nd St and 1st Avenue for two years, I know what crazy energy this place has on marathon day. So I was particularly excited to finally be running on this road. For years I stood on that apartment's balcony and watched runners go by. But this year, my friends Tanya and Laudine stood there with signs and looked out for me in the sea of runners passing by.
I spotted them immediately, of course, since I knew where to look. But it took them awhile to register the tiny girl in all black waving her arms like mad from the middle of the street to catch their attention. When I finally did and they screamed, waved and showed their sign, I took off with another big boost of energy. Elsewhere on First Avenue, Diane and Ria looked out for Diane's hubby, Dwayne (who was one of my training buddies this season). What is it with us friends and all these signs about beer?
I was looking forward to seeing Adobo Club's marathon-running chicken but somehow missed him. I must have hit the proverbial marathon "wall" at around this point because how in the world can anyone with 20-20 vision miss this?

The Bronx
By the time we reached Willis Avenue Bridge, I started to fade. This must have been the point where I hit the wall. "The Wall" is what runners call that point when the body uses up all the glycogen stored in the liver and muscles, and thereafter has to start digging into fat supplies. Since the body is less efficient at metabolizing fat than glycogen, it slows down and fatigue sets in. I didn't experience anything dramatic—no part of me went numb, cramps never set in, nor did I ever feel an overwhelming urge to just stop and sit down. My mind did, however, start to turn against me. Why the hell are you doing this? it asked. The only response I could muster was to continue putting one foot in front of the other. My legs felt heavier with every step. I wasn't just out of steam; it seemed I'd just lost all my joy, too. I ran at least 15 miles with a big smile on my face but by this time, I was over it all. I'm never doing this again, I thought bitterly.

And then a thought occurred to me. These thoughts used to come to me at mile 10 during my half marathons. Now they're hitting me at mile 20. I had gone so far, and if I push through I'll only come out stronger. If there's anything I've learned from these last few months it's this: Every time it seems that I've given all I've got, I've always found that I have more to give.

It started with a firm conviction to just keep on going. I just kept running, telling myself I only had 6 more miles to go. I'd gone into regular runs feeling more exhausted than I did now. I was certain I had it in me to get through 6 more miles.

So I ran. And before I knew it, I was crossing the 23-mile mark. I felt that familiar old gear kick in and I knew that I could now run my heart out. Somehow I just knew that I had enough energy stored up to keep going until I crossed the finish line. I learned later that I unknowingly zipped past several groups of friends who were waiting on Central Park South. I had my iPod turned up high, I was loaded up on energy gels, and I was downright determined to just finish.
As I crossed the finish line, I realized what song was blasting on the speakers: "Empire State of Mind." I could not have picked a more appropriate song to run to end this amazing journey to. Less than a year ago, running in and completing the New York City Marathon seemed to be the most unattainable goal. But there is just something about this city that makes you believe and feel in your bones that anything is possible, so you go for what once seemed unfathomable. You dare to dream. And just as liberally as it dispenses dreams, New York also gives us all these amazing opportunities to prove to ourselves what strong stuff we're made of.

Again, thank you so much to all our friends who came out in full force to support us and celebrate with us. We couldn't have done it without all of you!


Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Road to 26.2

It's just a few hours til we toe the line at tomorrow's marathon and I can't believe I'm almost there. It seems like a lifetime ago when I first sat down with my buddy Mike and told him I wanted to run a marathon for my 30 Before 30 Project. When he told me that I should prepare by running a 10K and then a half marathon, all those distances seemed unfathomable. But I got through each little hurdle and now I'm thisclose to the big one.

I don't quite look like the super fit runner I thought I'd be by this time. I guess I should've realized it probably took Paula Radcliffe more than six months to develop those abs of steel. But I'll post my wincing race pics anyway with pride because each of them shows me accomplishing something I couldn't even imagine I was capable of a year ago.

The last few months gave me some challenging and yes, even torturous moments, from trucking on through a 10K after a night of far too much wine and too little sleep to persevering through my first few half marathons during the summer's merciless heat waves. But with those challenges came many moments of bliss. My sunset runs brought me a lot of peace and sheer gratitude for being alive, well and healthy. My training began with runs underneath canopies of cherry blossoms in Central Park's Reservoir during the spring.
With my summer travels, running was limited but inspired. I only got in a few quick sprints while on the road trip with Kate ...
... but I did tackle some hilly roads in Ibiza, which were made a tad less painful with these stunning views.
The biggest blessing was living in the city of New York, which has some truly gorgeous settings for a runner. I will always treasure my beautiful runs by the Reservoir.
And I will continue to be grateful for the stunning views of the Statue of Liberty that I have the pleasure of enjoying when I run in my new neighborhood.
It's been a truly amazing training season, and I hope that there will be more of them in my future.

But for now, it's time to hit the sack and wake up to run one of the most amazing marathons in the world. Bibs and D-tags are attached, and I'm ready to run!
To tomorrow's runners, Godspeed! And to all the supporters, God bless you!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Shoppaholic goes to the Marathon Expo

"Javits Center. Good luck to all the runners on Sunday. Watch your step," said the bus driver as he dropped off a busload of eager marathoners at the corner of 11th Avenue and 34th Street. It would be tragic to have come all this way after months of training and then take yourself out of the race by tripping on the way out of the bus, I thought. Thanks bus driver.

That little announcement just made me think about what a quintessentially New York event the marathon has become. Long before I put on my first pair of running shoes, I would wake up to watch the marathon from my balcony and daydream about how I would love to do it someday. Three years ago, I sipped my coffee while watching runners zip by on First Avenue and it seemed like such an impossible task. But here I am, attempting what I thought was impossible.

It felt surreal to finally hold the bib in my hand.
After getting my bib, I had my D-tag scanned and then got my heavy goody bag. The goody bag was pretty ho-hum, I thought. There was a bottle of Poland Spring water, a bottle of Gatorade, some kettle corn chips and nuts, and random little sponsor-logo'd knickknacks. The Asics-sponsored shirts were pretty nice though. It was a good thing I came on the first day of the expo because I was able to snag an XS shirt. I like the design: gray, long-sleeved and made with tech fabric. I know it'll go into my regular rotation of running clothes, especially this winter.
The Asics area in the expo is MASSIVE. I must've wandered around it for half an hour, checking out all the marathon branded stuff. I bought a pair of Nimbus socks since I ended up with a blister on my 20-mile run using my regular cotton running socks. Hopefully this pair will work better. I also got a skullcap for this Sunday and for winter running. I thought about buying a tech shirt there too but wasn't keen on the designs and decided my freebie shirt was good enough. I momentarily thought about getting these running gloves with all 5 boroughs on it but decided to reign in my inner shoppaholic.
Once I hit the other booths, though, my restraint faltered. I couldn't resist getting this Adidas shirt, even though it's not even on tech fabric and I would never run with it. I'd wear this on any old day. I think it's a cute take on the classic "I ♥ NY" shirt.
And then I got a few running essentials for Sunday. It's gonna be chilly but I know I don't respond well to being all covered up. So instead of getting a tech shirt, I opted for these arm warmers that I can just slip off and tuck into my running pouch if it gets too warm. Cute little souvenir too, don't you think?
I hope I this won't bite me in the butt later on, but I'm thinking of switching from GU chomps to Power Bar Energy Gel Blasts for the marathon. I had some at the expo yesterday and they were soooo yummy! They taste like Haribo gummy candy and they don't stick to the teeth like the GU chomps. I picked non-caffeinated ones to minimize the possibility of having stomach issues.
After that I decided to end my debit card's mini marathon through the expo. Our work there was done. I loved the text on this North Face t-shirt but decided I could live with just a picture of it.
Two more days! It's been heartwarming to get emails and messages from friends who are going to be watching on various street corners to show the runners some love. If you're going to be on the streets of New York cheering the runners on, please snap a picture and email it to me for the blog. 

See you on the streets on Sunday!


Thursday, November 04, 2010

On Course

I've been caught up in such a whirlwind of work, friends and fun these past few weeks that it feels like the marathon just snuck up on me. I can't believe it's in THREE DAYS! There's so much I'd like to write but there isn't enough time to hammer out an insightful post just now, so let me focus on one practical thing today.

Some of my nearest and dearest have been so sweet as to actually want to come out and show some love during the marathon. So for those who have gallantly offered to cheer/heckle/attempt to lure me off the course with beer, here are my projected times for each mile marker: 
Click here for a larger view.

Mile 1: midpoint of Verrazano Bridge
10:52 AM

Mile 2: Fort Hamilton Parkway near 92nd Street
11:03 AM
Mile 3: Bay Ridge
11:14 AM
Mile 4: 63rd St. and Fourth Ave. 
11:25 AM
Mile 5: 43rd St. and Fourth Ave.
11:36 AM
Mile 6: 21st St. and Fourth Ave.
11:47 AM
Mile 7: 4th St. and Fourth Ave.
11:58 AM
Mile 8: Atlantic Ave. and Lafayette Ave.
12:09 PM
Mile 9: Lafayette Ave. and Classon Ave.
12:20 PM
Mile 10: Bedford Ave. and BQE
12:31 PM
Mile 11: Bedford Ave. and S 3rd St
12:42 PM
Mile 12: Bedford Ave. and Manhattan Ave. (McCarren Park)
12:53 PM
Mile 13: McGuinness Blvd. (halfway between Greenpoint Ave. and Pulaski Bridge)
1:04 PM

Mile 14: Vernon Blvd. and 44th Dr. (Hunters Point)
1:15 PM
Mile 15: Queens Blvd. on the approach to Queensboro Bridge
1:26 PM

Mile 16: Queensboro Bridge into First Avenue!
1:37 PM
Mile 17: First Ave. and E 77th St.
1:48 PM
Mile 18: First Ave. and E 97th St.
1:59 PM
Mile 19: First Ave. and E 117th St.
2:10 PM

Mile 20: 135th St. off Willis Ave.
2:21 PM

Mile 21: off Madison Ave. Bridge
2:32 PM
Mile 22: Marcus Garvey Memorial Park
2:43 PM
Mile 23: Fifth Ave. and E 102nd St.
2:54 PM
Mile 24: Central Park (just off Engineer's Gate near E 86th St.)
3:05 PM
Mile 25: Central Park (near E 66th St.)
3:16 PM
Mile 26: Central Park (off the Lower Loop near Columbus Circle)
3:27 PM
BIG FINISH: Tavern on the Green
3:30 PM

Since I am but a newbie runner, however, I think of this more as a wish list than an actual plan. I will be a very happy little girl if I'm able to run/walk/hobble at a consistent 11-minute per mile pace. And I will forever be grateful to those willing to brave the cold and the mad New York streets to give me and 30,000 other crazy runners a much-needed boost.

To those who have patiently followed my obsessive training and random ramblings on this blog, a massive thanks as well. This run is dedicated to all the other crazy optimists out there chasing a dream. Cross your toes and fingers for me!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...