KCTL Fundraiser

I am very proud to be working with the Kings County Tennis League whose mission is to teach inner city youths the game of tennis while developing life long skills like communication, teamwork, commitment and the virtues of good sportsmanship.

Every Saturday, I and about 25 other dedicated volunteers spend two hours with over 100 kids teaching them tennis. We make the best we can out of what we have. We’re at three different residential housing units, often we’re playing on blacktop courts with start-up nets (no tennis court required.) We teach kids anywhere from 4 years old basic hand-eye coordination to 16 year olds who are playing singles match play.

I’m so impressed by what I see everyday in these kids. To watch a kid just starting out to enthusiastically wearing his uniform every class, moves me. To watch a kid shake hands with his opponent even after he got trounced in a game, it makes me realize they get it. To watch a kid be outside on a sunny afternoon running until he’s out of breath, inspires me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I believe that this program is making a difference in these kids’ lives. I believe it because I see it every weekend.

Our 3rd Annual Fundraiser is coming up on July 24th. If you’re in Brooklyn, please attend! We have a silent auction for U.S. Open tickets and a raffle for other great prizes. If you can’t make it, please donate – your goodwill and support goes towards team uniforms, healthy snacks at practice, and taking the kids to Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day at the National Tennis Center (where the U.S. Open is held.)

Eventbrite - Kings County Tennis League Fundraiser

Thanks for listening.

KCTL Fundraiser

Run Report: Baltimore 10-Miler

I was nervous going into the Baltimore 10-Miler. Even though I was coming off a great 10K race the week before, I knew my training wasn’t right for a 10 miler, nor such a hilly course. But I tried to go into it with the best attitude possible.

Pre-Race
The night before, I had laid my outfit out, pinned my bib to my shirt, had gone through my training logs to get myself pumped, and settled in for an early night. Too bad the room next door hadn’t gotten the memo. They were having a party cramming too many people and too much alcohol in a single room.

I considered asking to change rooms, but I didn’t want to have to go through my pre-race, pre-sleep ritual all over. I sucked it up and threw a pillow over my head. A girl left the room shouting, “I’ll be back bitches!” and I knew I was in for a long night.

My alarm went off at 5:30am, and I contemplated staying in bed. I was still sore from my double dose of P90X two days previous. Alas, I got up, scarfed down half a bagel with peanut butter and sipped on two cups of coffee — probably one too many.

I hopped the bus to Druid Hill Park. I chatted some with an off-duty police woman. Her and the bus driver wished me luck. Thankfully, I rode the route the day before and knew exactly where to get off, that helped calm my nerves.

The lake was beautiful as the sun was rising and the dew glistening. I grabbed a bench overlooking the lake and meditated in the sunshine, absorbing and reflecting the energy and nerves of the 6,000 other runners around me.

It was getting close to time, so I made my way through all the scantily clad people towards my corral. They played the Star Spangle Banner and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a crowd be so quiet — maybe because Baltimore is still heavily Catholic, maybe because Francis Scott Key wrote the anthem only a few miles away from where we were standing, who knows, but it was the calm before the storm.

The Race
The race started and I immediately had stomach pains. Oh shit, I thought. My big worry was that because I hadn’t trained properly, I wasn’t ready for anything longer than 60 minutes, nutrition and drinking-wise. My plan was just to wing it, and that clearly wasn’t a good idea.

I stuck with the 1:35 finish pace group, but was having a hard time pulling it together. After 2 miles, I decided to run my own race and moved away from them. By mile 3, I was utterly surprised to be ahead of them. But I figure if this pace is what feels natural and good, I’ll just keep doing that. The race is fairly boring until about mile 4-6, when you go around Lake Montebello. I love running by the water. I also love the moment of being half-way done.

Nothing too exciting, I followed behind a young Rasta man (presumably from his shirt and dreads) and an older woman for awhile. I passed a man who was juggling the race, that seems to be a thing now. An older short gentleman who was carrying the U.S. flag with him as he ran. Overall, just a lot of single people trying to keep their heads up as they charged into the hills.

The hills weren’t so bad actually. The start of the race is all downhill, which can mentally defeat you knowing that the last two miles are basically all hill and no relief. Around mile 8, the pace group caught up and passed me. I was bummed, but was determined to finish no matter the time. At this point my stomach was a roller coaster, and I couldn’t decide if I should stop and grab a bathroom or try drinking something. Thanks to my lack of practice, I didn’t have a solution, so I did nothing.

It was getting hot and my legs were starting to falter. I started to notice that with each pounding foot, my knees were getting a jolt of hard pavement. Every now and then a breeze would come through and I’d end up covered in goosebumps (a bad sign of dehydration). Once we got back into the park the size of the crowd started to pick up, so I was grateful for that.

I only had a mile left and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it! But running through the park brought back a lot of positive memories – playing tennis and riding my bike – so I found that ‘thing’ deep inside and chugged on. Sadly, there was no strong, triumphant finish. Only me shuffling my feet across the finish line as the emcee announced my crossing (that was actually pretty exciting and lifted my spirits.)

Post-Race
Across the finish line there were snacks (chips and peanuts), but more important ice cold towels and watermelon! These two things are the best things ever, and every race should end with them. I stood around and stretched and then got my race premium, which is this badass white Under Armor track jacket. It is well worth the price of the race and the hilly course.

I had to book it after the race was over, since I wanted to get back to my hotel with enough time to shower before checkout. Unfortunately, the bus was taking too long to show up, so I opted to just run the 2 miles back to the hotel. It wasn’t too bad actually, given that it was all downhill!

My official time: 1:36:29.86, 9:39 per mile.
Kind of funny, my pace for the first half? 9:26, not bad. My pace for the last half? 9:52. Yikes!

Before and after photos. That thing around my neck is the ice towel.

Run Report: Baltimore 10-Miler

NYRR Women’s 10K & Competition

I ran my first 10K this morning. I am excited to say it was the NYRR’s 40th Mini Marathon women-only 10K.

I prepped last night with a bowl of pasta and a Guinness, then sat down to watch the documentary, Run for Your Life – the Fred Lebow story. It was an apt choice since Lebow launched the NYRR club into notoriety and created the NYC marathon. They even had a brief mention of the Women’s Mini 10K. (For the first one, Lebow got Playboy bunnies to run it and it was called a ‘Mini’ because the pseudo sponsor was a women’s shaving cream company and the mini-skirt was popular at the time.)

I couldn’t really sit and watch due to nerves, so I got all my gear ready for the next day. I looked over my time logs and realized this run would put me over the 150 mile mark for the year! Not bad considering my bouts of illness, back pain, traveling, oh and winter too. I headed to bed and actually got sleep this time, unlike the night before my Miami Half race.

Everything went smoothly in the morning and I was at the start line at 7:30am with my iced coffee in hand. At this point I just soaked it all in. The emcee talking on the speakers, the big corral numbers, the great statues and buildings at Columbus Circle, and the beauty of Central Park — this was my very first run in central park! The emcee named some running greats and Olympians who were running, who I had only ever read about in Runner’s World, and today I was going to run ‘with’ them. I was so stoked to see so many women ready to compete, hundreds, maybe thousands.

The race started at 8am and shortly thereafter I hustled across the start line. The start of a race is a always a bit of a madhouse, so I bobbed and weaved until I could set a pace down. And that pace was too fast at the start of course. I hit Mile 1 at like an 8:30 pace – mind you, I’m more a 9:30 pace runner. But I felt good, so whatever, and I galloped on.

I loved running through Central Park. There was one section of Mile 2 where you’d think you were in rural NY, not in the middle of Manhattan. So many lush, big green trees. Lots of shade which was nice even though it was cloudy, even breezy at times – great weather overall.

I was a little worried about the hills. I had only read the NYRR description and had no idea what sort of elevation I would hit, but I got through them just fine. I kept thinking to myself, these aren’t hills! I’ve battled hills, thank you very much Ithaca.

I hit the 5K mark at 28:32, so I was more or less on time. My goal was just to finish this thing under an hour. By mile 4, I was getting tired, but there was a great group of NYRR cheerleaders that really got me pumped up. Unfortunately this is the part of the race I have a hard time with, because you feel like you’re close, but really you’re not, really you’ve still got to put the effort in.

Right before Mile 5, I grabbed some water and got back into gear. With each step I told myself I was getting closer, that in mere 10 minutes, a mere 6 minutes, 5 minutes, I’ll be done! It was exciting to see some NBR cheerleaders, as I run with them occasionally. It definitely made me want to start running more often with them.

I kept waiting to hit the 6 Mile marker but instead it just goes into 800m and 400m signs. Holy crap only two track laps to go – piece of cake! I held back a little because I knew there was a hill going to the finish line, but it took me a few seconds to realize that I was literally coming off it just as I started looking for it.

And then the money shot. I could see the finish line. I’m not a crazy sprinter, so I picked up speed gradually but I was at a hard run when I crossed the finish line — with a big smile on my face, because the main timer said 58-minute something, and I knew my time was even a little faster than that! I did it, I ran my first 10K under an hour!

I wasn’t too impressed by the medal (or shirt) but that’s probably because the Miami metal is super, super awesome. But it was cute that they also had flowers and French toast bagels – so delicious!!

Sometimes I think paying to run in a race is stupid, but honestly it’s such a nice feeling – the combination of camaraderie and competition – you share with all the people around you. I’m on track to run my marathon in October, and cross you fingers, I stay injury free until then. Next up, Baltimore 10-Miler next week.

Final Note
When I registered for the race, I estimated my pace at 10:30.
My timer shows 56:17, for a pace of 9:03! Nothing in my race log is that fast for that long!!
Look forward to getting my official time. Ha, my official time was 56:13, which is a pace of 9:02!

Before & After (My teeth are green in the after because of the popscicle.)


NYRR Women’s 10K & Competition

News Item Reflection: “Every Black Hole Contains a New Universe”

I’m on twitter and see someone’s tweet linking to a story titled, “Every Black Hole Contains a New Universe.”

I haven’t read the article. But the title tickles me just a little bit. People – we are so small and stupid – let’s all stop pretending we are the masters of the universe. If we all just stopped the BS that we suffer internally and externally, we could enjoy our less-than-100 years blip in contentment and peace.

Sometimes I feel like the direction I’m heading in is the most exciting, rewarding thing – and I really want all of you to come along too.

[Update: I just scanned the article and way too many references to quantum mechanics and dark energy and torsion mechanics for me! Lol]

News Item Reflection: “Every Black Hole Contains a New Universe”