Friday, March 23, 2012

Gimpy Mo's First Half: Go Team Fox

No matter what you, do in life you will make it to a medal finish if you have all the tools in place, you are physically and mentally prepared and you have a game plan.

Before the NYC Half Marathon start I went through my check list. Soft ankle brace check. Hinged brace check. Advil check. Inhaler check. Cell phone, check. Running playlist ready to rock at the touch of a button, check. Hugs and kisses from my daughter at the start check and check. And, I am off.

I decide the night before to tackle the NYC Half in three parts and plan for several exit points along the way in case I have to drop out of the race. Exits and how to handle exits are key in good strategies. My daughter will wait at the first exit. The park exit at 7th Ave. If I feel I can continue she will head to the finish. If in the worse case scenario I have to stop after, I have my Metro Card to catch a bus or train and she will come to meet me.

Part I: A full loop around Central Park starting with a down hill. A rush of able bodied runners behind me dart pass my right. Like a driver cruising with the emergency spare tire on, I stay on the outer lane of runner traffic in the event that I have to come to a full stop. 

I really want to run past Times Square. I hear there is nothing like it. 
Part I: Central Park Loop
After a light jog around the lower loop I walk up the infamous "Cat Hill," just ahead of East Park Drive and 72nd Street. This is the first major hill on the course and second in difficulty to the Harlem Hills at the Northern end of the park between mile 3 and 4. Once on top of the hill I jog down slowly, stop and walk and continue to jog. Walking up all the hills, jogging lightly all the downs and walking as needed I pass mile 6, exit the park and keep on going.

Part II: I pause my music and start to walk. I want to save my energy for a short run down past Times Square. Most of the heavy runner traffic has past. It is quiet. Just a few bystanders and police officers are on the street along with tourist, both puzzled and amazed by this running spectacle. The street appears wider than it does in the day when it is teaming with traffic. I have a Wow! moment and start to think of some of my favorite songs about NYC that always pump me up, Frank Sinatra's New York, New York and George Benson's Neon Lights of Broadway. There is definitely a magic in the air and I feel charged.

I put one ear bud in for my power song. Every runner needs a power song. For this race I picked Princess of China (Coldplay & Rihanna, from Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto Album).

The jog into Times Square is electrifying. I gimp a short sprint down the main stretch passing mile 7 and look forward to seeing the Team Fox squad at the end. They are awesome. Go Team Fox!!! Woohoo!! I got this far. I am running for a wonderful cause. My mom is home. It would have been nice for her to come out but it would have also been too much with her PD. She is with me in heart. Donning her photo and that of other members of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group on my black chapeau, I look at my second race exit point, the Subway entrance at Times Square and 7th Avenue- I think to myself, "There is no way I am not going to finish this race now!"
Passing by the Team Fox Squad. Photo by Team Fox
Part II. Middle 4 mile Stretch
The hardest part of the race physically is over. There are no more rolling park hills. Now the mental challenge begins. The stretch is long and quiet. There are few spectators. The silence is broken intermittently by cheers of pep squads and music. As a relative newbie to running and first time half marathoner, I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz trekking down the Yellow Brick Road, to Emerald City. At moments unsure if I would ever get to the end. The road ahead seemed endless. Most of the time I was filled with hope and anticipation of making it across the finish. What would it be like?
I did not have a Tin Man, Scare Crow or Lion to lock step with me on my course. Other runners along the way became a part of my crew by default. That is the beauty of participating in races. There is always at least one or two people who will run along or near you, most of the way if not across the finish.
Part III- Approach to and the Finish
Part III: You cannot help but pause for a moment passing through the rebuild of the World Trade Center. Good time for a walk break and to let my daughter know I was just around the bend. "Can you believe it?" "I can't believe it!" "I am almost there!" "You are finishing earlier than I expected."

I forget about my power song. The cheers of spectators and other runners who were done with the race, having a reason bigger than me to finish this race (to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson's Disease and the efforts of the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research) powers me across the finish.
Together we can do!
This was a race event that I will always treasure. A first of many half marathons.On the road to the NYC ING Marathon in November. But, my dear family and friends I still have a way to go to reach my fund raising goal. So, please lend as much support as you can. Click here to visit my page.


P.S. Why "Gimpy Mo"? A good friend who has shuttled me to many races at the crack of dawn (Thanks Mr. D! Don't forget I may need you in November!) and has seen me on the mend on many occasions endearingly called me Gimpy Mo the morning of. That is what friends are for. To rib you. To remind you, to look a the lighter side of life and.... keep smiling!


Friday, March 16, 2012

My Right Ankle and a Series of Unfortunate Events: 3 Days to my Team Fox Journey at the 2012 NYC Half Marathon

“…what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, 
may, in fact be the first steps of a journey.”

- (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events)

On Father’s Day, June 20th, 2010 I ran what would be my last race for close to 11 months. It is not like I had been running races for long or running regularly for years. My first race was Race for the Cure, September 2009, and up till then I would do a combo of walk, sprint and jog for about 2 miles 2 times a week and once a week if I had time I would stretch it to three. My shins hurt, my thighs hurt and my breathing, which is still a challenge due to EIA but much improved, was as heavy as a pack a day smoker just a half mile into a workout. But with every additional half mile I was able to complete I was motivated to do more. I would joke with others about how I would run the ING Marathon when I turned 50, thinking 2 years would be ample time for me to get in shape if I could keep running consistently. It was a child’s dream in many ways. A nice thought, but hazy nothing I could truly grasp. What was my game plan? 

I joined NYRR after Race for the Cure and participated in my first NYRR race, Race to Deliver, November 2009, four sunny, cool, brutal miles. I remember after huffing and puffing pass mile three thinking “you are almost there!” I decided not to let the cold winter weather stop me from running and jogged my way to the finish at the Emerald Nuts Midnight run with my daughter, Krystal, who I encouraged to speed ahead and wait at the finish instead of running ahead to circle back for me every quarter mile (such a good daughter I have!). This was my second 4M challenge and I did it- Woohoo!

When the going get's tough... "Keep on Trucking!"

My New Years 2010 resolution was simple, to continue to stay on a path of fitness and good health, “keep on trucking.” “Don’t give up!” “Not this time.” “Not again.” I was terribly inconsistent with my workouts; keeping up the momentum for a few weeks, then, stopping abruptly for numerous reasons. Like most people I would claim to have no time, most times. I was doing, “the best I can,” hardly. But, I rang in 2010 with new kicks and a NYRR membership that I would not let go to waste. 

I registered for several races, Run for Haiti, Run as One 4M, R Baby Mother’s Day 4M, Japan Day 4M, and the Father’s Day Prostate Cancer 5M. Weeks into the new-year I was going to physical therapy for runner’s knee. Father’s Day things were looking better. I finished my first 5M ever and then as I exited the park, running to the subway I tripped and fractured my right ankle, “THE END!” I thought, “To, my running for fitness, let alone any marathon dream.” If this was some test of the universe of how resolute I was in my fitness goals and dream I was going to prove I was up to the challenge. From May 2011 to the end of December 2011 I ran 60 miles in a total of 15 races; first 10K July 2011, first 15K, December. I was running 3, often 4 days a week regularly.

Foot surgery and business travel set me behind schedule for training for my first half this Sunday, but I was planning on doing it one way or another. I am running for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research after all! So that people with the disease, like my mom, and those who may be inflicted with the disease in the future can enjoy life to the fullest. Then yesterday morning on my way to work I twist my ankle badly just stepping off a curb. In a pair of comfy loafers no less. Just goes to show you just never know what life will throw in your way. I gimp onto the bus and take a seat. “Shit!” “How could this happen to me just three days before the NYC Half Marathon!” “What, bad luck!” And, the same bloody right ankle! I could go to work and ice it and hope for the best or see the Doctor who treated me in the past and get some physical therapy and treatment in ASAP. I make a call before getting on the train, explain what happened and head over to see him right away.

After my examination and my asking a "Doctor Can I...?" He tells me there is no way I will be able to complete the half. I shouldn’t even think about it. “But, what if I just walk most of it, wearing an ankle brace?” He does not think that even that is possible. 13.1M is a lot. An hour later, after getting iced, stimmed and taped, I am at my desk working, taking Advil every few hours, icing my ankle every hour and continue with this regimen until I go to sleep. I went back today for some more.
The physical therapists know me too well. The icing has made a difference. I did good by taking action ASAP, but it is still sprained badly. “So, what are your plans for the weekend? You are not going to run, are you?” I am asked. I have to be honest and say that while I do not plan to run the whole way, I will be going and I have a game plan. I am going to continue with the icing and Advil. I will wear the soft brace and a harder hinged brace on top for extra support. I will jog lightly on the straight-aways as long as I feel I can without risk of further injury, I will walk up all hills. I will use a cane if necessary.

After my foot surgery in January, I got into power walking and I’m pretty quick on my feet. I feel confident that I can do this! I have to at least try. So many people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease cannot walk without some aid. For some walking a mile is a long journey. So I WILL do this. Because, I no longer see the unfortunate events in my life as, “The End!” but as steps in my journey!

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