RACE REPORT: 2016 NYRR New Balance Bronx 10 Mile

This morning, I ran the NYRR New Balance Bronx 10 Mile race.

This race, for me, was particularly nerve-racking due to the setback that I had with my foot injury a few weeks ago. Somehow, I managed to run one of my best races in years.

I finished 10 miles with a time of 1:19:49. 

Again, I did not feel mentally or physically prepared leading up to it.

To backtrack, my weekend wasn’t off to greatest start. On Friday night, I had a stomach bug and was in bed by 9PM. The following day, I went for a short 2 mile warm up run in the morning, walked around the city all day, then hung out with my sister and a friend at night. When it came time to go to bed, I couldn’t get my head in a pre-race mentality. I ended up tossing and turning for hours and probably didn’t sleep until around 2AM (maybe even 3AM).

A few hours later, it was time to wake up. My first alarm went off at 5AM on the dot.

My sister and I left around 6AM and faced, what could have been, one of the worst journeys to a race that I have ever gone through.

The trains took forever, I had to pee entire time, and we thought we were going to be late.

Fortunately, we arrived with enough time for me to go to the bathroom, warm up, and even calm my nerves.

When the race finally started, my corral moseyed through the start line and we were finally off. The sun was shining and it was perfect race conditions with enough shade from the buildings surrounding to keep everyone from getting overheated.

My first mile was fairly quick and I only sped up from there. It wasn’t until mile 8 that I felt my speed impacting me.

The course was relatively flat with some slight elevation, but not overwhelming. It was my first time running this race and running in this particular part of New York, so I had no idea what to expect (even though they do provide you with the course info ahead of time).

The crowds were great and coming to mile 9 and 10 felt just like running during the New York City Marathon.

My sister was there to cheer me on right at the finish and I held my pace to get under 1:20, which was the unconscious goal that I placed in my head once I knew I was feeling good.

It was an amazing morning and a nice surprise. I honestly loved this race, not only because I was pleased with my performance, but the overall course, crowd, and distance. 10 miles is the perfect distance to know how much you can handle and know how to pace yourself properly. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested at trying their hand at a longer distance race.

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Refresh

I was introduced to a new friend at church this past Sunday who was visiting from another country. I learned that it was his first time visiting New York City – and the United States in general – so I ended up giving him a mini tour. Yesterday, we walked throughout the streets of Lower Manhattan, trekking from the Meatpacking District to Union Square.

It was one of those unexpected, special New York City nights.

Whenever I encounter someone who is visiting New York City for the first time, I’m elated at the chance of being able to show them how spectacular I think this city it. Because for me, it truly is a city that I am constantly in awe of.

After living here for nearly four years, I’m still discovering new people and new places every single day.

I recently moved to a new apartment outside of Manhattan nearly three weeks ago. It’s my first time living in a new borough and at first, I was slightly devastated to not be able to say, “I live in Manhattan.”

After guiding my new friend throughout Lower Manhattan, I realized how refreshing it is to look at New York City through a different lens; through someone else’s eyes.

Sometimes, if you’ve been in the same place for long enough, you become jaded, desensitized, and un-phased by your surroundings. It often happens to people in a city as large and ever-changing as New York.

New Yorkers are somewhat known for their ability to block out the loud noises, ignore the distractions, and go about their daily lives almost as if they never blinked; as if their eyes were never even open to begin with.

Similar to a young child who is excited about learning something new, it often feels that way for me when I’m talking about New York. I’m overjoyed for someone to experience something the same way I’ve experienced it – in awe.

The thing about New York City is that your experience is completely dependent on how you want to experience it. You can choose to see everything or choose to see nothing. The same goes for your life. And for me, I want to see it all.

New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down

I haven’t felt many positive emotions towards New York City lately. This is mostly circumstantial, in light of the recent events that have happened to me, so I’m writing this with a slight bias. But in the last few years, I haven’t had the best memories to associate with this city and it kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

When I first moved here, I set the bar really high for myself. I still had that post-graduate fire, driven towards a successful career. I envisioned a life that would weigh more on the fun and exciting side rather than the difficult and discouraging side. It comes in waves though, like anything in life.

There are moments like last week when I was reunited with a good friend from Australia whom I haven’t seen in over a year, which coincidentally brought together a group of friends in whom I hardly see anymore.

And I keep asking myself the question of whether it’s New York City or if it’s just me. As the great Sinatra once said, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” Well, Sinatra knows his stuff. It’s true. There is no life like New York City.

So, I’m not sure if I’ve done my time and proved to myself and others that I can withstand a beating by living here. I’m not sure if leaving this city will change anything – If I’ll find a better job, or a boyfriend, or a cheaper apartment (I’d most likely find a cheaper apartment). I’m not sure if it’s the mental state that I’m in or the city that I’m living. A lot of people take the action of changing their environment for a better life. I’m not sure if that will work in my case. I’m not sure if I just need to figure things out still. All I know is that I don’t know.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from New York City, it’s that it’s constantly changing. Change, ironically, is the only thing that tends to stay the same here. People come and go, jobs come and go, apartments come and go, relationships start and end. It’s a vicious cycle.

To me, New York City can be summed up perfectly in the words of E.B. White’s, in an excerpt from “Here is New York”:

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

I’m the settler who is trying to re-discover my passion for New York City. I’m trying to get back to the place where I was filled with ambition and fire. I somehow lost it along the way.

Chaos versus Order

Have you ever had one of those days that just ends up being magnificent without having planned a single event? As if the day couldn’t have gone any better than if you actually did plan it.

Have you ever noticed that those days end up being magnificent because of the fact that you didn’t plan anything?

Some of my best and most memorable days were the unplanned ones. The days when something great would happen and I didn’t expect it at all. They were great because I wasn’t trying to control anything or think ahead of what should happen next.

Yesterday, me and my sister’s band, Until Love, played at our favorite open mic spot called Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We’ve been singing there for a few months now and have made many friendships through continuously going and connecting with other singers and musicians.

There is a certain degree of intimacy that we lose with people after we’re done with school. Friendships often tend to die out if you don’t make an effort to incorporate them into your ever-changing life. We’re less inclined to reach out to people as we become busier.

I’ve always agreed that the best way to really get to know someone is through forced togetherness. And I’m not referring to the notion of physically tying someone down and holding them hostage against their will. I’m referring to the notion of being around someone all the time and just naturally becoming closer to them because they are in your immediate environment. When we see the same people, we often develop a specific relationship with them. It may necessarily be a positive one, but a certain type of relationship develops. You get to know their mannerisms, the things that bother them, the way they react to situations, etc.

Yesterday, my sister and I hung out with friends that we’ve gradually become closer to in the past few months through our involvement with music. On top of that, we became friends with people who were visiting from another state. We had amazing conversations with these people whom we had just met and it ended up being the most fun I’ve had in quite some time.

One of the topics that we came across while conversing with our new friends was the idea of chaos versus order and how the world goes through a natural cycle of destruction and rebuilding. It, then, got me thinking about the cycles that we go through as humans. In our lives, we need chaos and order. They go hand in hand and you can’t have one without the other.

This unplanned day, although not to be termed chaotic, was somewhat chaotic in the sense that there was no order, no plan.

Sometimes, we need to shake things up in our lives to avoid stagnancy. We need to step outside of our comfort zone for the possibility that something truly magnificent can come out of it.

After all, life is about taking risks. You should do one thing every day that scares you.

Never Forget

I’ve been working in New York City for almost two and a half years now.

I started working here on June 4th, 2012.

I moved into the city on December 1st, 2012.

I moved out of the City on May 31st, 2014.

With all the changes that have happened in my life and the lives of others over these past few years, the city seems to always remain the same. However, there are still certain days that have an impact on me and at this point, will most likely continue to have an impact on me for the rest of my life; those significant days that bring crashing waves of memories because it changed your life.

As I commuted into the city this morning to go to work, there was a difference that I felt.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the day that New York City’s twin towers were attacked. I was in my sixth grade English class at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Edison, New Jersey when it happened. The impact of this event never hit as close to home as it has in my recent years since I’ve had an attachment to New York City.

When I entered Penn Station this morning, there was a memorial ceremony taking place in remembrance of 9/11. I was going to continue on my way to work, but I stopped to watch for a few minutes and my suddenly eyes began tearing.

I had no idea what came over me, but a wave of emotions took over and I was completely filled with sadness. As I got on the subway, I started thinking back on my life in New York City and how much it has changed me. I started thinking of all the past and present struggles in my life. I thought about why in the world I even chose to work in such an overwhelming place. As I looked around at the people who were next to me on the subway, I wondered if they were thinking the same thing.

I never thought that I would end up here. To be honest, I hated the idea of even being in the city when I was younger. I hated the smell, hated the crowds, hated the speed of everything.

Not until I started working here did I embrace this lifestyle.

This morning, I thought about how strong of a city New York really is and moreover, how strong the people inhabiting this city are. I thought about the impact that it has on millions of people.

I remembered why I fell in love with this city, with all of its seductive qualities; its chaos.

Then, realized why I became so sad this morning. I started to think about how close to home 9/11 really does hit me now and how close to home it hits to not only the people who live or work here, but to those who are outside of New York City; It hits not only just the United States, but the entire world.

New York City is made up of an endless combination of human beings. There are people living and working here who have come from every corner of the Earth. In the few years that I have been here, I’ve been moved by so many people who all have a unique story and attachment to New York City. To me, this place, this concrete jungle is my home. It’s no surprise that when I traveled all the way to Australia, I introduced myself as being from New York City instead of my actual hometown in New Jersey.

Everyone has some sort of attachment to this place. For some reason, it attracts all types of people and we will never fully understand why. It’s dirty, loud, and overall stressful to be in. But I do love it.

I’ve fallen in love a few times before – three to be exact. But the one love that has changed me the most is the love I have for New York City.

I know it’s a little melodramatic and exaggerated to say, but I fell truly, madly, and deeply in love with this place.

I watch television shows like Friends, Sex and the City, and How I Met Your Mother and I can fully understand and relate to everything that they reference.

To my friends who haven’t experienced the city the way I have, who haven’t worked or lived here, believe me when I say that you can never fully understand. There’s just something about being in New York City constantly; something that keeps us on our toes and wanting more. But, it’s definitely not for everyone.

So, on this day, when I think about the attack that happened on 9/11, I’m overcome with emotion. Because how dare someone attack something I love so much?

There will always be days that I will never forget. The day I started working here. The day I moved in. The day I moved out. And today.

Today is one of those days.

23

Lately, life has been moving too fast for me to be able to sit down, collect my thoughts, and put them out in the world. I’ve been holding everything in, which has been quite noticeable through the lack of writing I’ve been doing on this blog. It seems that time goes by much faster when you’re not watching it. From my last entry up until present day, I’ve gone through enough changes for it to feel like it’s been a whole year. Now that I’m looking back, the vast collection of changes that have happened to me since I’ve moved to New York actually does add up to a whole year. Yesterday, I acknowledged the fact that I moved into this city exactly one year ago on December 1st, 2012.

A whole year of my life has been devoted to this city; experiencing it, learning from it, growing from it. This past month alone, I’ve transitioned from the very first job that I obtained as a college graduate to a new job in which I was recently promoted to in November. Within the same week of adjusting to this new role, I also found out that my roommates decided to not re-sign the lease on our apartment (my very first New York City apartment). This is a lot to digest in just one week.

In the span of one month, I’ve managed to transition into a new job, move out of my first New York City apartment, and move into a new apartment. The phrase that I’ve been using lately is, “When it rains, it pours” and I’ve found this to be completely true.

The entire month of November, it has been pouring and I just wish I was more prepared, but I guess there’s only so much you can do but roll with the punches. Life throws these things at you and that’s the beauty of it. You can never predict what’s coming next.

Most of my close friends have seen me through this time of transformation. On the outside, it may have appeared that I was keeping it together, but on the inside, everything was falling apart. Piece by piece, I’ve been shedding a lot of layers in terms of finding out how much I can handle before I completely break. I’d say that I was pretty close to breaking this month.

But I didn’t.

On a more positive note, I believe these changes were necessary. Change is always necessary. Chuck Palahniuk had a quote in a book that I read a few months ago called, “Invisible Monsters”. The quote went like this:

“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open”

Well, I’ve been trying to find true happiness for quite some time since I’ve moved into New York City and I like to think that I’m getting a little closer with every obstacle that life has thrown at me.

I never imagined to be where I am today, at this young age of 23. I really had no idea what to expect. From observing my friends’ personal experiences at this age, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. A lot of the songs that were written about the age of 23 aren’t the most up-lifting, but I couldn’t understand why. Now that I’m here, I get it.

This is an uncomfortable age. They say that people in their 20’s have a hard time dealing with this period of “quarter-life crises” This is when the big changes happen; it’s the most confusing, lost, and vulnerable time of your life.

It’s exciting in a way, though; the unknown. I suppose this is also why your 20’s are also regarded as the best time of your life. Our lives are still in the making. We haven’t settled yet. There are still more surprises.

In the short amount of time that I’ve been in my 20’s, I can tell that I still have many more changes coming my way.

23. I’m ready for you.

RACE REPORT: Electric Run

I’d like to preface this race report by saying that I should hardly be calling it a “race report”.

This past Saturday, I participated in the newly trending fun run called the Electric Run in Brooklyn, New York. It’s a 5K evening race that took place at Floyd Bennett Field at the Aviator Sports & Events Center at 8PM on both Friday night and Saturday night.

I signed up for this race several months ago after being convinced by someone that I met from Nike Run Club to join with her group. I didn’t know what to expect and I always like to try something new, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’ve never ran a race without being competitive or training before, so this was definitely an experience for me. At first, I couldn’t even comprehend the idea of running “for fun” To me, every race that I’ve ever signed up for, I was aiming to set a PR (personal record).

When I picked up my race packet at the Sports Authority on Third Avenue on Wednesday, the line wrapped around the entire store. I went during my lunch break at work because I figured it would be easier to get it over with earlier on in the day. Apparently, everyone had the same idea as me. Once I was on line to pick up my race packet, I finally started getting excited as I saw the herds of people coming in. This seemed like a pretty big deal. Up until a week before the event, I had completely forgotten that I was even signed up for the Electric Run; although, I don’t know how I possibly could because it was the most expensive 5K that I’ve ever signed up for.

The total cost was around $65 and that was only because I signed up with a group. The cost to sign up as an individual was approximately $5 more ($70 total). I had anticipated that it would be worth what I paid for and just hoped for the best.

On Saturday afternoon, I headed to Brooklyn from Manhattan to meet up with my group at the Buffalo Wild Wings near the Barclays Center. I wasn’t quite sure why we were were meeting at Buffalo Wild Wings before a race. Typically, I’m very conscious of what I eat or drink before running. Once I got there, everyone ordered beers and baskets full of fried wings. I was in absolute shock. Everyone kept reassuring me that it wasn’t a big deal to drink and eat unhealthy prior to a race like this. I still didn’t understand. In my mind, I was still thinking that I was going to run the entire thing.

Three beers and many wings later, we finally left Buffalo Wild Wings around 7:30PM. The event started at 8:00PM and I was starting to get anxious. Another thing that I’ve never done before was be late to a race. As we were in the cab, I was panicking, thinking that we were going to miss the start of it.

Once we finally arrived at Floyd Bennett Field, it was a few minutes past 8:00PM and we still had to find the rest of our group because they took a separate cab. At this point, my nerves were spinning out of control. I looked around and saw crowds of people who were still mosey-ing their way through the parking lot. Once our group was reunited, we walked over to the start line. No one seemed to be in any immediate rush. I, then, remembered that this wasn’t a timed race.

This was single-handedly one of the weirdest experiences of my life.

We walked almost the entire course which took upwards of about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. The entire time, we just admired the flashing lights, elaborate costumes, and glowing golf cart that was driving around blasting electronic music. We stopped about every 5 minutes to take pictures.The only reason for running was to get it over with quicker.

As an experienced and competitive runner, this was not an ideal situation for me. I must admit that I did have fun, but the cost and reward that I felt I received after participating, I’d like to inform people who are contemplating doing this, that it is definitely more of an experience to enjoy and not take seriously at all, instead of a “race”.

If you have the same mindset that I have, it would also be difficult for you to comprehend the meaning of a “fun run”.

Although it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I’m glad to say that I tried it for myself. After all, if you never try, you never know.