Wait, did you say 15 miles, or 50 miles? As in five-zero?

Go ahead ask me why I’d run 50miles, I promise you I won’t get offended this time. I mean, hardly anyone would know that I had if it wasn’t for my social network.

I sleepily signed up for the North Face Endurance Challenge (at Bear Mountain which is the toughest course) last year while visiting my family in the Virgin Islands. At that time, I already had the base that I wanted so I anticipated a very effective regiment of training in the months ahead. I was determined. I had just ran the Central Park 60k, did my first ultra that year on snow and ice (and -2 degrees) and the 2nd 50K had been at Bear so if I trained well, I could do it (I told myself).

jerlyn_runningWhat I didn’t realize was how my job was going to affect my recovery, and although I don’t want to point fingers, I am. I spent the past months hardly able to recover from each important race and barely making each checkpoint planned trail run. You can never predict these things of course. However, running 50 miles helped me with the decisions that occurred shortly after to make myself a happier person.
18235_10101302257836895_7708512935973910961_nThe night prior to the North Face Endurance Challenge, Luis picked up Stalina and I in the meatpacking district and drove to the FairBridge Inn & Suites at West Point where we overnighted. We met with Jun and Maria, who were also signed up for the 50-miler, and had dinner at an Italian restaurant called Angelina’s Pizza (incredible place by the way). I inhaled about half the pizza that Luis and I shared and most of us had really strong stouts.
We weren’t sure how the stout would affect us but when we got back to the hotel, we were knocked out until our alarms went off at 3:30am. We got ready and headed to where the buses would take us to the start from Anthony Wayne.
I felt bad that Stalina had to come with us so early but she said she would be fine seated in the heated tent until it was her time to run the 50k. I kept nagging at her to do the 50 miles but she was quite content doing the 50k. I don’t blame her, especially after what occurred with my experience.
Apparently I had temporary amnesia from running last year’s 50k. I forgot the impact on my body until I started at 5am with wave 1 to embark on the 50 mile version of the North Face Endurance Challenge. I figured I would stay within 4-5 mph based on how I felt and I should hit my goal. So, I started off strong ensuring that I kept myself around 13 min pace. Wow, I thought, I was really doing this.
“Let’s take this aid station to aid station,” I reminded myself.
11182225_10205533060423244_2255405434215738372_nThe first few miles were terrific. I allowed myself to follow the runners infront of me because we all had headlamps and I trusted that they were following the correct milemarkers. However, we would only need to have the lamps for half hour. The sun rising is my favourite part of the day so I allowed myself to enjoy the moment as I let my body fall ever so slightly forward as I take the downhills and adjusted myself upright as I approach the hills. The sun rose so quickly that a fellow runner had to remind me that my lamp was still on. I turned it off and nearing the first aid station I tried to read what my body was telling me. I had taken Generation UCan with my coffee earlier and had a slice of orange. I figured the pizza I had the night before would also be burnt to fuel me for some parts of the beginning. I had prepped my refillable UCan in my bottles and placed them in my camelbak for when I needed them. So I looked at my Garmin to keep time. I’d take another serving within two hours to stay on track.
I was attacking those rolling hills like nothing, after all, I had the base. Memories of me climbing the stair master left me confident as I hiked up the hills and jogged the flats. I shouldn’t feel anything too challenging until mile 38 I predicted. I paid attention to what I was wearing also because I had packed my Brooks Cascadia just in case my Hoka One One Stinson failed. While everything was well and good with my shoes I was wrong about predicting that I would occur prior to mile 38.
I felt a tiny pain my my knee around half marathon distance. Not only that, my fingers were swelling so much and I didn’t know why. I think my friend Debbie got into my head at the relay that we had done together since her hands swelled. Was there something going around?
“Ok, Jerlyn don’t freak out.”
I had felt the pain prior. A few weeks before I had used the Ragnar Relay ultra to cover 38 miles. While running one of the legs I felt a tiny pain. Back then, I had strapped my knee with KT Tapes so I began to regret not doing so even if I wore compressions everywhere (compression pants, compression calf sleeves). I decided to take it to the next aid station and see if I would be ok. We had to loop that station twice so I decided to feel it out again. When I got back, it was around mile 25 and I was determined to have it looked at by a medic. We iced it abit.
I tweeted out a pic saying “Temporary setback.” To keep people updated of what occurred but it was exaggerated.
11178285_10101302959725305_6187652030103479023_n
I looked at my Garmin and realized I had sat around too long so I tried to feel it out by taking it to another aid station. A runner next to me sat and gave me doubts because he decided to DNF. He had runner’s knee a few months back and he wasn’t going to finish the race. He waited for transportation. My mind quickly reflected to, “DNF is not an option.” This is a mantra that I’ve heard Kat expressed before however I quickly altered it to DNF only cautiously. I pushed the ziplock of ice back under my compression capris and scrambled off.
When I got to aid station, it was much too far to quit. I came along to a familiar face.
“Kenneth!”
He must have realized that I was in pain and I requested ice.
“This is my friend, I’m helping her.” He said to the other volunteers and he helped me get ice from his wife, Christine. He quickly told me why my hand had been swelling—too much salt intake. Surprise! As someone who doesn’t even cook with salt taking it in only when I race, or when I eat food outside, my body seems to go haywire.
This was the first time that I regretted not ever taking pain medication at a race. I inquired whether there was any. The medics said no, of course. No one wants a lawsuit if they administered pain meds without prior medical history. I think this was a good sign also because this race was going to be completed with sheer determination.
“I have enough time to hike this!” I proclaimed to Kenneth. He agreed that there was sufficient time.
I wandered off a few minutes later although my heart was set on stopping. I had to finish.
I continued on until another runner came upon me. He was college-aged and also injured. We chatted a bit and decided to hike and power walk the rest. However, I realized that he started leaving me when we went downhill and my knee shot in pain.
“Omg I should probably quit right now,” I thought however, since I had already passed the cut off on course. I didn’t understand why I should even bother quitting since I had gone too far. I was on my own.
“I’ll finish.”
I was determined. I texted Stalina and Luis because I knew they had already finished. They would wait for me of course however, I was abit bummed that I probably changed the plans that we had set initially.
I took each excruciating step slowly and cautiously. I struggled until I came to the final aid station. I was delirious. I started begging to die. I didn’t know why I was doing it.
Seriously… When will I ever run after this race? Yes, leave it to me to think about the next time that I’m going to race when I haven’t even finished the current race in progress.
The people at the station saw my singlet and called out my running team’s name.
Boy, was I thankful to be part of a popular team.
They made me feel like I could run the final 2.8 miles, and of course I did.
I don’t know where the jog came from but I was doing it. My watch died and I was bringing it home.
I don’t know how people run through pain. That day, I learned how. I was passing people along the way, including a woman who did this race without carrying any supplies at all (I know right?!)
The medal was earned in blood, sweat and tears. Ok… I didn’t bleed. However, I cried. Yes, I cried. I never deserved a medal so badly. I finished with hardly 3 minutes to spare from cut off—13:57:52.
Results
Overall I was the 294th out of 314 people who completed, the 35th female out of 41 (can you believe so few women run this?), and 8th in my age group (yup, out of 8, not surprised).
It’s certainly how bad you want it. This is where I said all I care about was finishing.
Seeing Stalina in the end, I hugged her and cried. We earned the medals.
She said she actually expected a more exaggerated reaction.
However, I need a do-over. At the time, I thought I’d never do that again but that wore off.
Yes, I’ll run another 50 miler.
*Eveytime I mentioned running the 50 miles since the race, everyone assumes that I said 15 miles. “No, 50 as in five zero.” If you’re into the metric system: 80.5 kilometers.
Why would I run 50 miles? Why would you not?

 

 

When banditing a race is ok

I live in NYC where the NYRR races are getting pretty pricey. I reflect on a time when the most I had ever paid for one was $15. It was affordable if I ever wanted to “race” with others to see how I had improved while training by myself. After all, running is free right? The price has surged as everyone appears to have joined the wagon. Don’t worry, this is a very good thing. Running seems to be one of the most cost-effective exercises that anyone can do.
banditAnyway, I decided to post this because I had a pretty long discussion with a few runners after the Brooklyn Half marathon, a pretty popular borough race that NYRR holds and AirBNB currently sponsors. I paid $65 (it was $55 last year) for it. It was my 4th time running, and possibly last (as of my thought-process now). It’s the first half marathon that I ran. Since it’s a popular race, it gets sold out pretty quickly if you’re indecisive about running it the moment that it’s opened. I bought entrance on January 21st as soon as it was opened.
The discussion I asked about the race was to question whether it was ok to copy bibs to get into the race. Sure, anyone could jump in and run along but, to get through security, into a specific corral, and to receive a finisher medal—a bib is required. Some people actually run for others, which I don’t condone either, but I have done it and most likely won’t again.* Many have come in to pace others (but for some races pacers bring their own supplies or coordinate with the event to get pacer bibs).
The bib that I’m aware of was copied to get into the race and the culprit also shown wearing the medal in the end. I’ll be honest, this is a bit of Schadenfreude because last year this girl was one of the reasons why I had to stay clear of many runners who were her friends on social media. I don’t know her personally but she got into trouble earlier for copying bibs. I certainly won’t post her name because she does have a following online like I do.
However, this incident totally reminded me of the Boston runners who copied a runner’s badge off Instagram. When the subject was brought up to her friend I had a pretty clear perspective of the other side of the discussion which was:
“Omg. Why can’t people just get a life and worry about themselves”
I do agree with that. However, I pointed out that many people didn’t get to run because they were late to sign up and the race was sold out. Some were pretty upset by it, hence how I became knowledgeable of what occurred. Hundreds didn’t get to run. She responded:
“There were a million bibs up for grabs. I know so many people who didn’t run and had a bib… Well then maybe they should have found a way!”
Although that might be an exaggeration of numbers seeing only thousands run this race, I disagreed. Not many people cheat, and cheat well at that. Not every person has access to a really good scanner and printer. Also, can you imagine if everyone that wanted to run the half suddenly did the same thing? What if a few more hundred people wanted to. That’s capacity that the race organizers didn’t expect. There are many runners who did the fair thing by joining a charity to help others to get into the race. Her friend didn’t pay, copied the bib, and I was told picked up a medal in the end.
One of my favourite articles that I read way back when was by Peter Segal, who I love from Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. He discusses his experience when he bandit a race. He brought his own gatorade and chews but ran out and had to refill at stations, which he hadn’t planned on. When he mentioned it in another article, he said, “I had been called a thief, a self-absorbed jerk, an idiot, an embarrassment to my employer (NPR, where I am the host of Wait Wait. . .Don’t Tell Me!) and to this magazine, and a “minor celebrity.” I was scolded, threatened with violence–”Someone should smash him to the ground”–and roundly condemned.
I like the part where his professor said “I understood this as a formal statement of the turnstile principle: If you jump a turnstile, the subway will run fine without your $2.25. If everybody jumped the turnstile, the subway would collapse for a lack of funds, and nobody would go anywhere.”
What I especially like about the article was when he spoke to the race director and the very reasons that I think banditing isn’t a good idea. I’ll quote after I explain my personal reasoning about why I don’t think banditing a race is ok:
– Being that I volunteered at races before, I know that it takes a bit of us to make everything run smoothly but there might not be enough support based on the wrong count.
Race directions. Sometimes the course changes or there are certain rules that the bandit won’t know. They might head in the wrong direction taking a few runners with them.
Resources. I would hate that a bandit is holding up the line to the bathroom, or taking up valuable parking spaces at the beginning of races.
Security. There’s a record of every person who has signed up for the race.
Medical. A runner passed out at the half marathon and CPR was administered to him. I’m not sure what became of him but there’s a story that they had to try to give him chest compressions as well. At the back of the bib, the emergency contact is there to be filled out but when you’re registered for most races, your next of kin or emergency contact is already accounted for.
emergency This is how it looks for NYRR under your membership. For other races, I had to add my emergency contact prior to purchasing entry.
Advertising. Since I’ve seen behind the scenes of how some races have been organized I’m aware of some of the cost of runners swag, medals, advertising (website campaigns etc), nutrition and hydration that goes about organizing the event.
As for the race director about Peter banditing the Chicago Marathon “he stressed that the risk to the race organizers was not one person drinking sugar water he didn’t pay for, but an unknown number of people on the course, cumulatively taking up space and resources, with no ID, no way to know their medical history, and no way to track them. We forecast all our allotted resources, fluids, security, medical personnel, against a certain number of participants.
So tell me, why should this be ok for runners to do?
Truly, this person might not be the last person to do this but I hope this post lets others know why banditing might not be ok.
Footnote:
*I ran for a young lady who needed 9 + 1 to get into the NYC marathon. Her job wanted her out of town for the weekend of her race. Instead of a wasted bib and losing her race to get into the marathon, I decided to run in her corral by pacing a friend who belonged to that corral (the very last corral). This assured me that I wouldn’t race it. I used that run to begin my weekend long run since I was going to be in the park anyway (I didn’t have to go out of my way). It’s certainly not right but the reason why I thought it wasn’t wrong was because I wasn’t trying to move her up a corral, I even brought my own supplies even if I didn’t need to, and I wear a roadID.

Embark on this journey—I quit.

I do random things… Like write post notes that read: “Happy Monday, I resigned” on my social network then watch people freak out about it. It certainly wasn’t intentional, I didn’t expect that people would assume that I had quit with absolutely no plans. So they were also surprised that I had a job a week after I had fulfilled my 2 week notice.

Yea, I am certain that some of us dream of “socking it to the man,” by tossing papers on the floor, turning over the desk and storming out the door. Well, 1. You won’t get a severance and 2. That only shows your inability to handle stressful situations. Besides, I need “the man” to pay my bills. I’ve always had a job since 14 years old so it’s just weird for me to not work. In the grand scheme of things, my previous job wasn’t at all bad. I did neither of those things and someone would be more than happy to have that very place.

It was just time.

In January when I had the epiphany that I couldn’t manage my schedule with my new accounts and have a race schedule to create a balance, I also realized that my position had remained unchanged for the duration of my presence at the company. So I started looking and while I illustrated for an author, I refocused my passions.* During that time, I had done jury duty for 2 weeks, turned 30 and went on vacation. These past few months have been a rollercoaster of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I felt like I aged in experience and gained a tremendous amount of confidence à la balls.
In my industry people move around often. That’s the only way you get significant raises or gain the experience for the next step. If you have to know, I left mostly because of inadequate room for growth. I finally hadn’t been overlooked for a raise. I had been there for a little over 3 years (longest relationship I’ve ever had). I had maximized my time spent by learning as much as I could from my managers (will choose to apply a few to my next experience). When you’ve reached your peak and you have skill-sets that aren’t being used, you feel stifled. So yea, time to go—like an unwelcome guest. However, I’m so going to miss my team.
Of course it’s difficult to write these things with the mindset that I have to be tactful, I used to fantasize about being at a place for decades like the generations before me (I don’t know how they did it). I am certainly proud for many things that I did there:
– I was the first black creative (Sr. Art director) in over 45 years (female and from the Caribbean, I feel like a pioneer).
– My design got a standing ovation from the reps when I first designed their digital platform for the iPad
– My work was constantly recycled and re-skinned
– I was seen as good at what I do (and that’s all I want)
Now I started this new job, and although it has only been one day, it’s definitely different than my old one.
I just wanted to give an update and I’d love to share more but as I embark on this journey, I have no idea of what to come. Who knows if it’ll last—all that makes it quite exciting. Stay tuned for other entries I’ve missed. I have to write about the 50 miles that I ran at Bear Mountain and that Ragnar Relay in San Diego.
Thanks so much for the well wishes! I hope that I do you all proud.
*P. S. Prior to quitting. I balanced my accounts and realized I could take a sabbatical to focus on some of my side projects just to make me feel like I was being more creative. I’ll be illustrating about 4 books and I’m really enjoying that.

#TheBig30BdayTrip

I’ve been struggling to write a followup to this post (about the trip that I had back in February where I went to the airport and landed in Antigua) so much that I’ve avoided my blog. I’ve had other content to write about but this one kept me from writing them. So, instead I decided to make it an art project. I’ll be illustrating the journey of my 30th birthday. That way, the story will be mostly for those who donated. I’ll post excerpts for those who had well-wishes. Once completed, I’ll let everyone know where it can be viewed. :) Some of the trip isn’t meant to be on a blog.

jerlyn

 

Advice books are written by self-righteous assholes

and I can never be one…

I made it. I’m officially 30. As soon as the clock past 10pm on the night of the 19th it had been 30 years since my presence has graced the world. Thank you, bowing out.

Not so fast!

I wish I could tell you that everything magically occurred to make me wiser and fulfill every aspect of my dreams but nope, it was another day when I awoke in Brooklyn. I negotiated with myself on strapping up my New Balance 890s to get out of the door to run in what felt like 6 degrees at 6 am to run 6 chilly miles. I was successful around 6:30. I was going to change the distance to time on my feet (at least 30 minutes) and realized that I could make it to 6 when I was well on my way. I spent the rest of the day in jury duty, like a good citizen, and ending with an incredible dinner (main course with dessert) cooked by an addition to my life who helped me wrap up my day. The 30 years that took to get there was worth it and I felt incredibly blessed.

This is 30
During the day I had a great deal of reflection, as per usual. It started over my morning coffee.

1. Adults that I had looked up to when they were my age are still trying to figure it out.
It’s a misconception that adults know so much to children. It’s quite the epiphany when we realize that they are full of shit, ourselves included. We are also no longer children.

2. Advice books are written by self-righteous imbeciles who assume they know it all based off their successful experiences that can only pertain to themselves. I don’t think I could write an advice book even if I’m now 30. I don’t think anyone under 30 ever should. However, I wouldn’t put it past the idea to write one that sells if it motivate people to improve their lives. I’m still taking myself on that journey. My rules are simple… There are some things that I promised myself when I was younger and I tried to stick to it. One of them is to avoid being completely jaded.

3. Getting older can be an enriching experience and all of a sudden you can fall into the don’t give a fuck about offending people. Well, that was incredibly harsh but, I’m fortunate to have reached a point that I chose my happiness above everything. That has actually made me a better person. Being uber sensitive is dangerous and I remember having almost everything bother me. Some things, and even some people, just don’t matter.

4. Doing something completely crazy out of my norm was the best thing I could have ever done! I’ll write about that once the trip is over. There’s positive and negative that came out of this trip. Also, some uncertainty, I do know it’s a trip that I will always remember and appreciate for as long as I live.

That’s not all I thought about but, I’ve only got a limited time for this entry. The final thought is where I am right now.

On the 20th, I didn’t go to bed after my company’s gala. In fact, I packed as quickly as I could to head out the door at after 3am… stuff made for movies. This is the craziest trip ever. I’ll take you on a journey with me when I recap over the next few entries.