Sunday, March 06, 2011

Fitness Adventures: Coogan's Salsa & Shamrocks 5K in Washington Heights

Today I completed my 3rd qualifier run for the 2012 NYC Marathon. It was in Washington Heights, upper Manhattan - the Coogan's Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5K.

I considered biking up there but with threats of rain, I decided against that - and since it's been raining all day, I'm really glad I choose not to take my bike!

(Before you continue any further I want to mention that all of the photos shown, other than the 4 event t-shirt photos at the end, were taken 'blind' - the viewing screen on my camera stopped working yesterday. That meant 1) I couldn't see anything I took a photo of and 2) I had no control over the settings - flash, etc. I bought a new camera today after the event. I apologize in advance for the quality of some of the photos you are about to see but some of them came out pretty well despite this handicap)

I got ready and left my apartment at 7:30-

I took the B62 to the L Train, which was only running to Union Square. Then I walked west to 8th Ave where I caught the C, and then transferred to the A, getting off at 168th St.

As I was exiting the subway, a gorgeous young blond woman saw me and was really excited about it. She told me she reads my blog and she was hoping she'd see me. Her name is Allison, she's also a vegan and she told me this was her first run! We chatted on the way to the start and I learned she's in vegan cooking school (yum!) and she has a great blog I want to share - Chronicles of a Vegan Loser. (You'll love it even if you're not a vegan - she's really funny too!)

Here we are - she's gorgeous, I have sweaty pits. Great!

Allison, a blog reader & vegan!

Allison, I wish you the best in your running adventures and especially your upcoming half marathon in San Diego! I know you can do it!! (Oh, and she already blogged about today's run & meeting me! Wow, that girl is fast & srsly funny!)

I had just enough time to do my pre-run stuff: baggage, bathroom, water... I wanted to get pictures but between my camera not working and the rain, it was very difficult. I tried though. Some of them were surprisingly good!

Minutes before we were about to begin, I made my way to the pink corral -

the pink corral

And shortly thereafter, it began. About to cross the start line (again, sorry for the blurry photos, I had no control over the settings) -


There were a surprising number of bands and musicians on this run - every few blocks! It was great! i had my GirlTalk on, but low enough that I could hear the bands and not much of my iPod. The first one I captured were 2 bagpipers. (Some of you know of my love of bagpipers)

I <3 Bagpipes!

Running on Fort Washington Ave -

That's the George Washington Bridge in the distance -

GWB in the distance

Not only was I dealing with the elements, but I realized pretty quickly realized this run wasn't like any other I had ever done - it was VERY hilly! OMG, the hills!!!

As I was running up that hill, I was trying to take off my jacket to tie it around my waist. As I was struggling to do that, I heard my name. I looked to my right and saw Maureen! My work Mom! She ran along side me and told me "Keep running!" I shouted "I'm trying to take my jacket off!" And she offered to take it  and hold it for me. I hadn't even thought of that! I wrestled to get it off as quickly as possible and toss it to her, along with my gloves, as I kept moving. Then I said "I'm wearing a $#%^&! shamrock for you!" (pointing to my shirt) and then waved good bye and told her I'd see her at the finish.

Seconds later, I got really choked up and had to fight back tears (running & crying simultaneously is nearly impossible because of the breathing). I remember that same feeling of fighting back tears when I was looking at the photos of the 343 firefighters when I was on the Manhattan side of the Tunnel to Towers 5K. I would have had to stop running to cry, and I wasn't going to stop. So I fought back the tears - I just couldn't believe she was out there in the rain and she saw me. I was just really touched that she was there. It meant a lot to me.

Aside from the rain and the hills making the run challenging, it was super crowded too - I actually had to get off the street and run on the sidewalk just to have some room -

my curl looks good, if nothing else

And I ran on the sidewalk for a while.

I love the red, white & blue painted hydrants. They always remind me of 1976 - all of them in the Bronx were painted like that. I don't see that many these days -

Mile Marker 1. It looked like I was doing about an 11 minute mile. Considering how challenging this run was, I wasn't surprised.

Mile Marker 1

Eventually we made our way into Fort Tryon, the Cloisters -


Sheryl + Shamrock

That's the Palisades & New Jersey in the distance -

I love the Cloisters!

Exiting the Cloisters, I came up on Mile Marker 2-

Mile Marker 2

Did I mention the hills?! OMG there were so many hills!!! Steep hills!!!

On the way out of the park, there was an all female band performing -

My eyes started stinging from the rain dripping my makeup into them. And I knew my right eyelash was barely hanging by a thread at that point. Somewhere around 186th St, I had to pull it off my eyelid and toss it to the ground, running with only one eyelash...

And shortly after doing that, I saw *the* funniest sign I've seen at any running event. I'm only sorry I didn't have my camera ready so I was unable to capture it. It read
"Keep Running! Charlie Sheen is winning!" 
I could NOT stop laughing - out loud - as I ran. I must have laughed for a minute straight. I still laugh when I think about it (Oh Charlie Sheen, I love you and your tiger blood!)

Mile Marker 3, which means it's nearly over!

Mile Marker 3

And I hate to say it, but I didn't have my super sprint to the finish that I usually have. I am not sure why. I think I was irritated by the rain and looking for Maureen, which threw me off my game. I didn't even look for the overpriced event photographer! I think I'm also so used to doing 4 mile runs - not hitting the 3, then hitting the finish line a few seconds later. Next time I will stay focused!

After I finished, I was pulled over trying to call Maureen to find her. While I was waiting on a corner, I met Megan, another runner, blog reader and WWer! I think she said it was like her 8th time on WW - and I told her not to feel bad about that - it took me about 12 times! She didn't seem embarrassed by it, and she shouldn't be - but I'm mentioning it now because I try to remind my readers all the time - it doesn't matter how many times you try and quit or whatever, just get up and start again! I finally get that failure isn't when you fall down. It's when you stay down. And Megan and I are not going to stay down! (High-five, Megan!!)

Megan, a blog reader and WWer!

And what would a run be without a bagel?!

Bagel volunteers

From there I captured my favorite photo of the day -


As I walked towards baggage, enjoying my bagel, I saw a cute young man looking at me. So I asked him to get a photo of me & my bagel. (Wow, my makeup did not survive this rain!)

Post-Run Bagel

He called me "Greenpoint Girl" I said "How did you know that?!" Apparently he used to live in Greenpoint and had also seen my blog before. He was very cute - he looked like Denis Leary and had on green sneakers. His name was Kevin. I doubt he will see this but if he does, helllllllo Kevin!

I retrieved my bag and made my way to Coogan's Bar to meet Maureen. Her first reaction was how short I am (she's only sees me in heels!) She gave me my stuff and I thanked her for being there. It was so good to see her (we work in different cities, so I rarely ever see her even though I talk to her on the phone everyday). Here's my work Mom, Maureen! (you would LOVE her NY accent, by the way)

Maureen, my work Mom

From there I took the train to B&H and bought a new camera. Yay! I can see what I'm photographing and actually download my pics (I couldn't download anything for days from the broken camera)

On the way home

This is what I looked like when I finally got home. I was soaking wet and freezing!

soaking wet and very cold

My hair was a mess and very little of my makeup survived (somehow my eyebrows did though!)

Here are my heart rate monitor stats:
  • Total Time: 32 minutes, 31 seconds
  • Minutes in Cardio Zone: 32 minutes, 31 seconds
  • Percentage of Time in Cardio Zone: 100%
  • Average Heart Rate: 174
  • High Heart Rate: 186
  • Total Calories Burned: 362
  • Total Miles: 3.1
  • Pace: 10'29" 

Before I go, if you have a minute please vote for me! Today is the last day and I'm currently #2! Thank you to all of you have voted multiple times, and re-posted the link for me. You guys rock!!!

(My entire Flickr set of photos from today's event can be seen here)


  1. wow how cool someone recognized you from your blog!!!

  2. I was going to do this race but it sold out before I registered!! I did run at the indoor armory track over there last week though and it was awesome :D

    My uncle and 2 cousins play the bag pipes!

  3. foursixtwoMarch 06, 2011

    I cannot believe how good you look after a run in the rain and with half your makeup gone. Amazing.

    And I love how you posted that picture with Allison and are like, hey, I have sweaty pits. Your confidence is so inspiriting! I'd be all "oh no, I have sweaty pits, what if people see it and don't like meeeeeeee?"

  4. I am hoping that when I visit the East Coast this summer - I will bump into you... Looks like you have a fun life.
    I've Become My Mother
    Kelly's Ideas
    Amazing Salvation

  5. Great meeting you!! thanks for taking a pic with me....keep up the great work!!!

  6. Lindsay: I get recognized several times a week! 3 times just today.

    Katie: Are they single? :)

    Foursixtwo: If I were alone, I would not have posted that pic but I *had* to include Allison. But what's the big deal? We all sweat. It's not like I killed someone, right? :)

    Kelly: I'm all over the place and run into out of town blog readers surprisingly often! Look for me & the HK Cruiser.

    Megs: Sure thing! Sorry I was distracted looking for my work Mom but you keep up the great work too!

  7. Yay good job!

    I'd love to know what you use for your brows... Mine always seem to come off from sweating at the gym or out in the rain!

  8. love the pics, as usual!
    and i love what you said about failure isn't when you fall down, it's when you don't get up again.

  9. Thank You for your well wishes! I still can't believe I met you!

  10. Hi Sheryl! This run looked cold and tiring, but you made it like the pro you are. I had my first C25K run yesterday, and I missed most of the hard rain. Great job, and that tshirt is cute.

  11. I have been voting! I love those hydrants, too. I especially love all the musicians though~what a motivation and encouragement! Even with disappearing make-up, you look FABU! :)

  12. Hey Sheryl!
    I was hoping I would see you at Coogans but I looks like I started about 5 min behind you. The hills and rain were killer! So great of your work mom to be there for you, that was touching. I voted for you for face of fitness several times this week!
    Stay bitchy
    Natasha w the curls

  13. Hi Sheryl,

    Nice meeting you yesterday. Thanks for the nice words :)


  14. GO, TINY WARRIOR!!!! You are amazing! I love, love, love reading your posts. :)

  15. It's fantastic to read about yet another run. Congrats!

    Also, the photos really did turn out well considering you were taking them blind. It's almost like going back to an old-school film camera for a day! :)

  16. In honor of International Women's Day, I just wanted to tell you how much of an inspiration you are to me. I think you're a very powerful and motivational woman. You rock!

  17. I do not know how you keep your eyebrows on during exercise lady! My personal trainer makes me wipe mine off because he cant keep a straight face as the sweat causes them to roll down my face anymore.

    You cause me eyebrow envy!

  18. Loved your blog to day Ms. Thang! :) Good job on the run. I am so jealous that you live in/near NYC. Love it there. I am also jealous in a good way that you can run these events. I am about to try my hand at it again now that I have lost almost 40 pounds. (missed it by a half a pound). Had to come back and check on you and see what you were up too. I hate I missed voting for you. Hope you are back up to #1!

    Blessings girl!

  19. You look amazing and your inspiring to a girl like me. I'm a huge fan of ink and trying to shed the pounds myself.Keep up the great work. If someone hasen't been over weight at some point and battled a food addiction they will never truly understand just how hard it is. I understand and I send you maja kudos!

  20. I saw you at the finish too. Next time I wont be so shy and I will say hi.

  21. Love the blog! The picture of the Female Band is Mother Cabrini High School my alma mater!!!

    Will frequently stop by!!!

    Congrats on your success