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You Don’t Know the Half of It

There are certain things in life that have eluded me with such frequency that I’ve come to understand they’ll simply never happen to me. For example:

  • I’ve accepted the fact I’ll never be on the kiss cam at a professional sporting event.
  • I’ve accepted the fact I’ll never qualify for the Boston Marathon.
  • I’ve accepted the fact* that I have to give back my niece on Thursday and haven’t successfully converted her to a permanent New York City resident, despite all my best efforts these past eight days.

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*Note: I have not really accepted this fact.

There’s one more unwavering truth I’ve learned to internalize during the past half a decade: I’ve accepted the fact that I will never get to run the NYC Half Marathon.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve run several half marathons in New York City in the five years since I took up running. But despite having raced seven 13.1-mile events in my adopted home town, I’ve never actually run the New York Road Runner’s coveted NYC Half Marathon, an iconic March road race that shuts down the streets and takes runners from Central Park through Times Square all the way to the South Street Seaport. I mean, I’ve TRIED to run it, entering the lottery year after year after year, but every year the same message applies in my inbox (and the same $5 application fee is taken from my bank account): “Thank you for applying for the United Airlines NYC Half. Unfortunately, your name was not selected. Try again next year, you sucker.”

So when I yet again applied to the race this fall, I did it …

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… knowing I’d never get in. Because that’s my thing: Applying to the NYC Half Marathon and not getting in. Also, semi scandalous doodle photos.

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“Paint me like one of your French girls.”

So imagine my irritation when, earlier this week, the New York Road Runners had the gall to spam me with a link to their website selling official NYC Half Marathon training gear. I felt like they were just rubbing it in my face.

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“NO I don’t want to pre-order your fancy gear for your fancy race that you never let me into!” I shouted into the scruff of my temporary Chewbacca-like roommate. And then I remembered: I’d cleaned up my gmail inbox the week before, furiously marking thousands of e-mails as read so the bottom of my iphone stopped embarrassingly telling people I had 14,000 unread messages. And it turns out one of those messages I marked as read without actually opening was none other than this welcome surprise:

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Don’t I feel sheepish.

Speaking of sheepish:
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So what do you know? After years and years of rejection, the city’s most famous 13.1 mile race finally wants me. That means a lot of things: It means I have to start training again with earnest, it means I have to resume speedwork for the first time since the NYC marathon, it means I have to structure my weekends again around long-runs and recovery. But it also means something else: maybe I shouldn’t give up my kiss cam dream just yet either.

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Santa Claus Is Running to Town

Some people are hard to buy gifts for — the girl who has everything, monks who forgo all possessions, my dad — but don’t worry: runners aren’t one of them.

Whether we’re spending 15 miles a week hitting the pavement or 150, us runners tend to go through apparel at a rapid clip, and there’s nothing we’d like to find inside our stockings more than, well, stockings themselves. (Ok, fine, they’re called tights. I was trying to be clever here.) Also at the top of any runner’s wish list: new shoes that match the model and size of our favorite pair, wicking tops, headbands, hats, gloves, and let’s not forget the gold standard of gift-giving: industrial-sized tubes of Body Glide.

If gifting wearables isn’t your thing, fear not: Santa’s Workshop is brimming with other runner-friendly presents as well. From yoga DVDs and SPIbelts to cookbooks and NUUN, the possibilities are endless. What can I say? We’re easy to shop for. You’re welcome.

You’re also welcome for this adorable action shot of my brother’s ring bearer making her mid-ceremony delivery.

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But back to the gifts. What if you have a runner in your life but your funding’s running a little thin this holiday season? Here’s a suggestion: Embrace your inner 7-year-old and make a coupon book full of redeemables only a runner would appreciate. Some suggested gems below:

  • This coupon is good for 15 uninterrupted minutes of listening you talk about your upcoming marathon, yawn-free.
  • This coupon is good for one personalized sign at your next road race, so long as it’s scheduled to start after 9 a.m.
  • This coupon allows you to take up more than half of the closet floor with your running shoes.
  • This coupon is a guarantee that there will always be bananas, avocados and peanut butter in stock at the apartment.
  • This coupon is either good for one foot rub or one year’s worth of you never commenting once on how deformed your feet have become. Dealer’s choice.

Print ’em off, laminate them if you’re fancy, and I say you’ve got yourself one heck of a holiday gift.

What coupons would YOU want to see, runner friends?

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Running in a Winter Wonderland

Christmas used to be celebrated as a 24-hour affair. You’d wake up, open presents, eat yourself silly and roll into bed. Then one show-off with a thing for pear trees dragged it out for 12 straight days, and the art of the ever-expanding holiday season was born.

You know what I’m talking about. Thanksgiving doorbuster sales. Christmas carols in October. Your company setting up its massive 19-tree holiday display while the temperature is still in the 50s.

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(To be fair, that’s more global warming’s fault.)

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the holidays, and I mostly love that they’ve swelled from a one-day celebration into weeks of festivities. I love the family time. I love the music. I love the smooches under the mistletoe.

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Sing along, folks: “I saw mommy kissing her future mother-in-law’s former dentist’s westie!”

What I don’t love, however, is the indolence and indulgence that tend to accompany the holiday season. Or let me put it another way: I don’t love the fact that every year I have to ask for expandable elastic-waist pants from Santa.

Between all the cookie exchanges and latke-fests, the hot chocolate and buttered rum, the holiday season can work havoc on your waistline. Add on top of that a surprise engagement that has everyone busting out the bubbly, and this December is going to be a very delicious — and caloric — month indeed.

Now some fitness bloggers might tell you to simply shore up your defenses to prevent those holiday delicacies from ever passing through your lips. And sure, there’s some good advice to be had there: don’t go to a party famished, try not to get too sloshed, skip the everyday snacks like potato chips and pretzels in favor of the holiday specialties that only appear this time of year.

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Like pecan pie while traversing the New Jersey Turnpike.

Sure, it’s good to have some holiday eating strategies in mind, but let’s be honest: I don’t particularly WANT to deny my decadence this December. At the same time, I don’t want to jelly roll my way into January, so I’m going to try to curb my calorie count a different way this holiday season: not with less food, but with more with exercise. More specifically, with a running streak.

A running streak, or a commitment to run at least a mile every single day for a predetermined period of time, is a great way to hold yourself accountable and motivated during a long holiday season. Streaks can be fun any time of year, but they’re especially useful to bridge that gap between marathon season and spring training when some runners (I’m looking at you, mirror), let all athleticism go by the wayside.

Runner’s World recommends starting your holiday streak on Thanksgiving and maintaining straight through the New Year, but considering I haven’t started yet, it looks like mine will be a “25 Days of Christmas” streak instead. Enjoy the free advertising, ABC Family, but only if you play “Holiday in Handcuffs” on repeat ’til Epiphany.

So that’s the plan: at least a mile a day every day between today and Christmas morning. These miles can be slow miles, they can be treadmill miles, they can even be hungover miles, but they can’t be one thing: postponed til after the holidays. I may grow to regret this decision on the first snowy day of December, but as of Dec. 1, I’m excited to have a goal once again on my radar.

 

You could say it lights a fire under me.

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And behind me!

Twenty five days to go. Who’s with me?