Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I am thankful for my Grampy

"I'm especially thankful for all my grandchildren. And for each one of my great-grandchildren."
- Grampy Thanksgiving 2010
James F. McAuliffe was my Grampy. Don't let the the stubborn persona fool you, he was a tender hearted Irish fellow. My Grampy lived 87 years. He was married to my Grammy for 65 years. He had 3 children. He had 8 grandchildren. He had 12 great-grandchildren. My Grampy was a hero to this country and to me. He went into the army as a paratrooper because, in his words, "They paid you more money to do the dangerous job." That's how he met my Great Uncle Buster, who died in combat. My Grampy received many awards, including the Purple Heart. After the war, he visited Buster's family, and met my Grammy. They have lived in the same town all their lives. My Grampy was a hard worker, a retired fireman and a chauffeur during his retirement. He taught me the value of hard work and dedication. "If you can work, you better work." He'd say.

I have fond memories with my Grampy. He may have been a bit gruff sometimes, but he was really a swell guy. He'd always talk with me, come out to say hello, and drive me whenever I asked. I have many fond memories including:
  • Walking to get the newspaper when I was REALLY young and slept over.
  • Going to mass with him when I was REALLY young.
  • Riding my bike over and swimming in their ultra clean pool.
  • Grampy drove me to Disney when I visited them in Fort Lauderdale.
  • Grampy helped me wash my car because "I needed help to do it right."
  • Grampy at Christmas. It was his favorite time of year.
  • Grampy sat Mr. Miller and I down when we decided to go Puerto Rico for our honeymoon to show us all his pictures from Rincon. He told us great stories about his vacations there.
  • In more recent years, we spent Thanksgiving with Gram and Gramp. It was the best time.
  • Seeing my Grampy with the great grandchildren. It pains me that he will never meet my own children.
  • One day this summer, when he was having a "bad day", I didn't go into the den to give him our usual hello and kiss on the cheek. He came outside, found me, and immediately gave me a kiss and said, "Hello Kristin." That was a good day.
  • All the good days we had this summer. My dad said he put on his "best face" when we came to visit.
I said good-bye on Sunday. I visited Grampy in the hospital, and he didn't know I was there. I gave him our usual kiss on the cheek and said good bye.

I'll miss you Grampy. You were loving, caring, and tender in your own way and in your own time. I'm so blessed that you got to see me graduate college, get married, earn my masters degree, and run a marathon. I will be forever grateful for your support and love.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Thanksgiving Day Race Recap here folks....

So, in case you missed it, I was sick. It all started Tuesday night, as stated in my previous post. I was apparently sick for a while, but because I ignored a lot of little things as "I'm just not feeling well today" type of symptoms. Nothing was severe, nothing said "Go to the doctor and get a prescription!" If I had done that, things would have turned out way differently. Instead, I spent our 3 hour traffic ridden drive to Connecticut (Thanks Mr. Miller for being a traffic trooper!) Wednesday shivering in fleece pants, wool socks, Uggs, a sweatshirt and down vest. Oh yea, and a Lambeau Lap Puppy. He's warm and toasty. When I got to my parent's house, mommy took over and immediately put me in her bed and ran the show. My fever finally somewhat broke around 9pm. I am thankful for my mommy. Thanksgiving morning I had a slight fever, but a steady flow of Tylenol kept it at bay most of the time. I am thankful for Tylenol. The worst part was that it apparently spread to my kidneys. I had extreme lower back pain since the end of last week, and I thought it was because of my realignment/massage/lack of running. I was constantly stretching, doing yoga, using the roller, hot showers, and bribing Mr. Miller for a massage (He always did it willingly, what a guy.) However, these interventions weren't doing any good and that should have tipped me off as well. It turned into stabbing pain Tuesday night whenever I moved, coughed, yawned, laughed, anything. Thankfully, Thursday morning the antibiotics showed signs of finally working after three doses, and I was coherent and able to talk and make sense!I am thankful for antibiotics. I'm still recovering from the back pain and moving around carefully, but I didn't want to let it ruin my weekend with family. I am thankful for my family. Below are some pictures of me putting on a big girl face to celebrate! Warning: I will be referencing Friends Thanksgiving Episode quotes! And yes, I'm thankful for Friends Thanksgiving Episodes.What, are you afraid you're gonna run out of pie?! My mom always makes amazing homemade pies! We waited a while for these. Oh my they were good. Challenge update: I did get the walk in after the meal, but it was a very short walk (1/4 of a mile). It's all I could take. Probably even a bit much! I didn't eat too much at dinner, simply because I couldn't. Also, not pictured: Mr. Miller's parents came! We had a great time. I didn't really have my phone, but my mom took some good pictures with her camera. More to come!
We all really missed Grampy. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about a year ago. Three weeks ago he had to go into the hospital. He's not doing very well, and everyone missed him. Needless to say, we had a steady flow of tears while everyone went around the table to say what they were thankful for. Grampy was included in a lot of them. I am thankful that this summer we had several good visits where I learned even more about him, about history, and his experiences in the war. Praying for peace and health for your Grampy!

Challenge update number 2: Yes, I ate this. It should be noted that it was sort of a brunch. I ate fruit for breakfast and this for brunch. YUM. Ross Geller would be proud. Don't worry, I had on my "eatin' pants". I did make sure to have the thinnest layer of each item, but more turkey. Hey, it's a protein right?! Well Jim, you did it. She's finally full.

We dog-sat Lambeau's sister! This is Kerri. She's Lambeau's actual litter mate. My lifetime neighbors here in Connecticut bought Lambeau Puppy's sister because they saw how darn cute he was! They were getting ready for a wedding and needed peace, quiet, and no doggy/dress accidents! So Kerri came to play. They had fun. Truth be told, Urban dweller Lambeau was a little put off that we banished him outside! Crying and scratching at the door. Pansy. MAN UP! Play outdoors.
This is the wedding! Mark and Sandy had a beautiful wedding set in a historic barn. Mark and I grew up building forts in the woods, playing basketball together, and when it rained, pool and air hockey tournaments! They're a fabulous couple, we are so thrilled for them! Thankfully I was feeling good, but towards the end it was too much activity for me. I even tried to dance, but the Twist really didn't agree with my back.

Today, I'm determined to be productive. I'm going to arrange our Christmas Card list and Gift List. If I'm going to have a quiet weekend, might as well do something productive.

What are you doing to be productive this weekend? How is the running? I will try not to be jealous, I promise.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Prepare yourself for something truly dreadful...

Lambeau Puppy is excited to go to Connecticut, the land of fenced in back yards and rocking horses. Me? Well, this Thanksgiving just took a nasty turn. Last night I woke up around 1:30am with a fever, chills that woke up Mr. Miller, and delirium. Turns out I have a virus and antibiotics will be entering me shortly. Doctor's orders? NO. Running. TOMORROW. Yup. My Beloved Manchester Road Race streak will be ending today. In the caption explaining my absence next year? "ANTIBIOTICS." So, I'm trying to not be a pouter, and focus on spending time with family. Alright, so I did cry with my mommy over the phone and now I'm over it. Kind of. Sort of. So, will run vicariously through all of you Turkey Trotters! Get out there and support your community!

So, this will not be Mr. Miller and I tomorrow. I had a Packers-ish outfit picked out, so that will have to wait until next year I guess. I am unsure if Mr. Miller will brave the race! We'll see how driving to Connecticut in the car sick goes, praying it's a lot of Zzzz's!


Monday, November 21, 2011

I am thankful for health!

This was our Christmas Card photo last year, taken on Thanksgiving 2010. I love CONNECTICUT! Red barns and evergreens! BRING. IT. ON!

I'm so excited for Thanksgiving!!! It is a strong rival with Christmas in my favorite holidays category. I love Christmas because it celebrates God's amazing gift to us. The joy and love in the season is wonderful. However, Thanksgiving is very selfless, it's not about presents, but rather time spent with family and friends. This year my Miller-in-Laws are joining the McAuliffes! Watch out Connecticut! It will be so great to have Mr. Miller's parents joining us for Thanksgiving. This is also their first experience with the Manchester Road Race, I'm so excited for them to see my CRAZY community celebration! I seriously can't wait for mashed potatoes. Also, my mom's homemade pies (Baked fresh this Wednesday afternoon!) are to.die.for. Speaking of food...

Every year, I try to make Thanksgiving as healthy as possible. Easier said than done, yes?! Well, I try. And that's what matters. For the past three years, my Yoga Club at school has taken the "Thanksgiving Challenge". This entails 4 Levels:
Level 1: Do yoga everyday over break.
Level 2: Take a 15 minute walk after a big meal instead of video games or a nap.
Level 3: Bring someone on the walk!
Level 4: Teach someone yoga.
Level 5: Take one serving of everything, and wait 10 minutes after you're done before you decide to get seconds; chances are you'll be stuffed! I take this challenge seriously, as do my 4th and 5th graders. I also add in my own challenges. First up: The Manchester Road Race:Race Goals:
1. Have fun.
2. Get some decent pictures. This is like a Where's Waldo photo! That's me in the Green Bay hat (10-0...WHAT WHAT!!!). Brian is in the guy in the grey shorts saying hi to Lambeau Puppy. My dad is in the red jacket holding Lambeau Puppy. Lambeau Puppy is the cute dog being held by my red jacket dad. Coach Jen is in the NC Blue fleece. There's a little one in a red jacket next to my red jacket dad, that's my nephew Coach Jen's Number 3. Ok, seriously? The photo needs too much of an explanation! So yea. We'll stop. We'll smile. We'll hug.
3. PR? Eh, I've done it every year except 2004, so I might as well try. So 48:18 is the goal :-D
4. Wear a costume. I usually just wear something average or Packers-ish. Mr. Miller has a little something picked out. We'll see what I come up with!

My years in numbers:
2010: 48:19
2009: 49:47
2008: 49:52
2007: 52:54
2006: Don't think I raced and I'm not sure why
2005: Broken toe = no Manchester Road Race that year :-(
2004: 54:26
2003: 51:47
2002: 62:49

I have other fitness goals too, you know! In addition to doing my club's yoga challenge, I will also be adding in some at home and gym activity that I'll try to keep up regularly. Goals include:
- Doing 100 crunch style moves without wanting to puke. (I do a blend of pilates moves, keep my abs guessing!) BTW, my core is W-E-A-K. I want to remedy that STAT.
- 25 push ups. Let's start small and see how it goes. I currently can do, oh, 5-8.
- Strength train at least once a week. When I got checked out at my chiropractor, he highly recommended I take up my strength training that I did over the summer, because shoot girl, your lower back is weak! (My words, not his.)

So, healthy Thanksgiving weekend it will be. I'm hoping to get a run in with coach Jen, although she is a tad faster and better trained currently. I also plan on continuing this routine in December because, let's be honest, my cookie swap is December 3 and I tend to have a morning cookie with my coffee every day in December. They may be small, but an extra 80-100 calories adds up quick (560-700 a week!)! So calorie BURN will be a huge goal in December.

Per Usual, Runnersworld.com read my mind. To continue the runner's depression study, check out the article "Now What" which appeared in my inbox today!

Are YOU running in a Thanksgiving Day race?! Say it loud, say it proud! Gobble gobble!

1 Day until the Manchester Road Race!

Post-NYC Marathon days of Glory Part 3: Runner's Depression and back

How could I have Runner's Depression when I have a birthday/I-ran-a-marathon southern themed bonanza:

The girls in their plaids.
Pumpkin cream pies with imaginary candles!

I haven't run in two weeks. It's been two weeks since I became a Finisher of the ING NYC Marathon. Things got in the way. Birthday parties happened. Days of sleeping and lounging around happened. Visitors came to town. Concerts had to be attended. Parent Teacher Conferences messed with my schedule. And then there's the weather. The good 'ol weather. It's pretty much dark at 4:30pm, so right now at 7:51pm I feel like it's 10:00pm. Therefore, I'm not only in the midst of Runner's Depression, but I'm also fighting bear syndrome, aka hibernation. Now, you may be wondering, what is Runner's Depression? I found two blogs that detailed it well. Basically, the extreme version is like true depression. This is not me. I'm more like an injured runner, "I'm goal-less, I accomplished what I set out to do, now I feel like I'm in limbo." So you know what I thought today? I'm not injured. I am able bodied. I have two feet...granted, sometimes they are both lefts. So, in the words of Mr. Miller:
Don't be dramatic. Just run.

I dusted of the Garmin from the Marathon. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's 26.51...so much for trying to avoid bobbing and weaving. I reset it. Time to move on. Time to reset toward a new run. (And yes, Lambeau Puppy did get his walk first.)
I wore inspirational gear. I rocked my Marathon Finisher's running hat for the first time, and my Manchester Road Race shirt in honor of my 8th running of the Thanksgiving Day Race this Thursday!!! (See posts about the race here and here)

So the running began. I went 3.6 miles, just to the park and back. I took the scenic route for once. The scenic route means about 2/10 of a mile shorter than running the non-scenic route. Today was a scenic day. I didn't bring my phone or iPod, I ran with a watch simply to keep track of time...obviously the sun did a good job of that by itself. By the time I reached the park the lights were already on and dusk was fast approaching. I did one nice loop and headed home. I had soreness behind both of my knees, I assume that's just from wearing flats, not sneakers, and not running for two weeks. My aerobic breathing was very good. I took it easy and thoroughly enjoyed it. There. I did it. Just run. Easy enough.

Tomorrow I will detail race goals for the Thanksgiving day race/a healthy Thanksgiving weekend. Hint: having fun is number one.

Don't be dramatic. Just run.

2 days until the Manchester Road Race!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Post-NYC Marathon days of Glory Part 2

In this edition of Mrs. Miller's Week in Pictures, get ready for puppies, concerts, and sight seeing! *Watch out for the birthday picture cliff hanger at the end of this blog for the next edition coming soon!*
Puppy time is time well spent. After the marathon, I spent a lot of time with this little guy and Mr. Miller. He is such a little spit fire, but bring him to the park and FORGET. IT. He freaks out! He loves the open space. He also enjoys sunsets and puppy walks on the beach.

These are my boys. They're the best things for me. My man boy and my puppy boy. I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing with them and relishing in marathon victory.

Hello, Foo Fighters! Yup, we saw them in concert at Madison Square Garden. This is where we got engaged during a Coldplay concert. The Foo Fighters were ELECTRIC.

Confession: We're old and left early. Foo Fighters, I'm SO glad you're cool and wanted to play for over three hours. Not so cool? Going on at 9:30. AKA my bedtime. I made it until a little before 12am and called it quits!
Top of the Rock to ya! I love this view. Skyscrapers fascinate me. We had a FABULOUS friend in town and we saw the sights. It was nice playing tour guide. I forgot how tiring it can be!

It's the most wonderful time: ROCKEFELLER TREE TIME! This is one of my favorite traditions. I will be writing more about this soon. Even though the PA born tree was surrounded by scaffolding, I felt a bit giddy at the sight of it.

JUST BELIEVE! Thanks Macy's for reminding me that, with God, anything is possible. Completing my first marathon is possible. Running a sub 2:00 1/2 marathon is possible!!! Exciting things to come!
Picture preview for the next blog: My Southern Themed birthday party. Yes, those are some marines. Yes, we bought them dinner and drinks. Yes, their birthday was on the day of my party. Prepare yourself for the next Mrs. Miller's Miles Week of Pictures! It's going to be a funny one!

9 days until the Manchester Road Race!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Post-NYC Marathon days of Glory

Medaling. First day back at work.

I have been so busy. Seriously. Between the NYC Marathon, recovering from the marathon, going back to work, receiving so many amazing compliments, my southern themed birthday party, a weekend guest, and a Foo Fighters concert, I'm exhausted. Oh, did I mention tonight is Monday Night Football featuring the PACKERS?! Needless to say, I will not be staying up for the whole thing, because it is against Minnesota. Mr. Miller is out watching it with friends because he knows I am wiped. So, since I'm so wiped, I figured I'd recap the days following the epic Marathon of my life. Honestly, there's not a lot of running going on. I know a lot of runners and bloggers get right back on the horse, but this girl needs some rest. Wednesday is my comeback day. I've recovered, done an insane amount of walking, got a massage and scolded my a chiropractor (Another time, another blog...), and have to get through Parent Teacher Conferences tomorrow (8:10am-7:30pm workday. Blech.)

So, prepare yourself for Mrs. Miller's Miles Week of Pictures!...a week later!!! As I'm playing catch up on life, I'll let you catch up with amazing visual images that made this past week exceptionally great.

I finally met up with my childhood neighbor, Melissa! We couldn't connect to run the marathon together, but we met up in Manhattan to be like kids in a candy shop giddy. Marathon LOVE was in the air! We wore our marathon medals loud and proud. Let's call it medaling.
A medaling hanging. We had to wait in line just to get into the NYRR Finisher's store! WHAT?! Semi sore runners here, easy in easy out?! Not so much. 15 minutes of waiting in line is just too darn long.
Mary Wittenberg sent me a personal email congratulating me. Thanks Mary, we'll do lunch soon.
My parents had given me orange flowers. I forgot!!! In the tissy of getting home, showering etc, my parents left to drive back to Connecticut. I forgot their cute gesture of naranja flores!
Nike Town, Thank YOU! Yes, this is awesome. In case you can't see the sign, it details finisher tee's, (FREE) medal engraving, (FREE) refreshments, and a (FREE) massage! Yes please. I took full advantage!!!
Jamba Juice Jubilee. Okay, so maybe I had two. My new marathon friend (Didn't catch his name...) and I swapped Jamba Juice retrieval duties while we waited for our massages.

Even after the marathon, ads still get me. I see this and think, "Heck yea 59th street bridge repeats. Yea Bronx rising, I rocked you." It's swell. Just swell.
How can you read this and NOT get chills!? I'm a sucker for strong sayings/statements.

"Victory is declared by us. But it's not easy to earn it. But then, nothing worthwhile was ever easy. After all, If you don't think you're the best, you're not the best."
-Nike Town NYC Ad

10 days until the Manchester Road Race!!!

...had to change the countdown! On to the next one/on to the next one...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ING NYC Marathon in Pictures

I'm recovering well! Post race I've been feeling really good. I've had some tightness in my right IT band, which had already been agitated. My left leg thinks we're running a marathon tomorrow. Silly left leg. Mr. Miller is still in shock that I didn't have an injury, throw up at the end, or rendered inadequate in the walking department. I may have tripped three times in five minutes at work, but my legs are working; at least most of the time!

My family, friends, and coworkers have been EXTREMELY excited and celebratory! I've never felt so much love. Seriously. Every time I turn a corner at work I hear, "How was the race!" I'm still getting emails and texts congratulating me. It's the most amazing experience to know people around you are proud of you. I love each and every one of them. I even had a conversation with my principal about peeing during marathons, which turned into her telling me that Fergie pees on stage!? Needless to say, there has been no end to their jolly interest in my marathon adventure. Their encouragement only fuels to the fire toward new goals! (Already thinking of them...)

Did I mention I got tenured?! Yes, I was granted tenure. My binder worked. Pressure off. This week is great.

And now, the NYC Marathon in pictures. Thank you Brightroom. Thank you Paint. (Follow link to watch me finish on video!)

Holy ponytail! Sparkly Soul held it all together.

All business.


Thumbs up! FUN! Finally!

I join the elderly in being peppy (He probably schooled me with those legs!).

My glorious finish.

Aw shoot, here comes the emotional breakdown. It's hitting me.
It's all hitting me...

Tears. Glory to God.

MEDAL PHOTO PERFECTION! It turned out better than I could hope for!

It still makes me cry. I was telling a coworker about a couple I encountered during mile 24. They had pictures of their son on their shirt. The woman's shirt said "Mom" and the man's said "Dad". They were running for autism. I pulled up next to them and said "Your shirts are beautiful, your son is beautiful. Congratulations." They were so appreciative. As I retold the story today I got choked up and had tears. People are truly amazing. NYC Marathoners are amazing. Charity runners are amazing.

Who are all you people reading my blog? I'm getting tons of page views. Let me know who you are! Share your blogs! Don't be a stranger!

How's running going this week? I did some sprints at the park today. SHORT sprints. I picked up Mr. Miller with Lambeau puppy in the car. We went to the park, as we have tried to do once a week since Mr. Miller's hours changed this fall. Today, it was basically dark when we got there at 4:45. I saw a mom pushing her jogging stroller. The street lights were on. It was dusk.

She inspired me. Press on. Go till the lights turn out. Then keep going some more.

Monday, November 7, 2011

ING NYC Marathon Race Report: Mrs. Miller Runs New York

11/6/11 will forever live in infamy. This is not going to be a mile by mile race report, because, quite frankly, I don't remember things mile by mile! So, in orderly fashion, let's go borough by painstaking borough, NYC STYLE! Let me ruin the end of the story, proverbially turning to the last page of the book early: I FINISHED THE ING NYC MARATHON!

Staten Island: Getting to the race was L-O-N-G. I didn't anticipate 30 minutes on the ferry THEN 30 minutes on the bus! I didn't arrive to the start until after 8:30. Thank God Mr. Miller convinced me we didn't need to leave our house until 7am! Unfortunately, I couldn't find my childhood neighbors, a brother and sister, who were running it together :-(. I had throw away clothes and barely needed them. The weather was crisp, warm, and barely breezy. This was going to be a good race day. As time wound down, I watched the Wave 1 and Wave 2 run across the Verrazzano Bridge.
(Sidenote story: As I slowly moved toward the start, I really appreciated the overweight working smoking a cigar and blowing it in our faces. Stay classy S.I.)
Suddenly, it was my turn. My turn to begin my 26.2 mile journey. I got to the start and had to pee. Really pee. Like going 20 minutes before the had never happened pee. Decision time: go back or stay put. I stay put. I began the start. I promptly tripped less than a mile into the bridge; apparently the paint on highways is somewhat raised. Not good for this runner who is known for tripping less than gracefully! I made it over the bridge, and into Brooklyn.

Brooklyn: Brooklyn take me in. I got into Brooklyn and it was somewhat quiet. It was completely unfamiliar to me. A few miles in and the crowds got louder and prouder; I liked that. I got a ton of "Go Kristin!"'s and high fives from little kids (You know, because you can't leave anyone under 10 years old hanging!). Surprisingly, I got a little bored. Brooklyn is the longest stretch of the marathon in one borough, and the unfamiliarity and endlessness got to be a bit much. I named it: Brooklyn A.D.D. This is where I've seen too much of the same borough and want OUT. It didn't help that I knew my cheer squad was in the next borough waiting for me. Okay that's probably the real reason I was plagued with Brooklyn A.D.D., but still, B-r-o-o-k-l-y-n come again cheered their hearts out, and I am forever grateful! Adios BK!

Queens: Hello Home Borough!!! As I entered Queens I was INSTANTLY familiar and excited. This is my town to run tonight Rihanna, recognize. As I ran through each water station, it was becoming increasingly treacherous. Runners weren't adhering to etiquette and discarding cups from to the side, but rather, right in the middle of the course. Slid a few times. Again, clumsy runner here. I took people's advice and waited until the end, and you'll find the peppiest volunteers because no one takes water from them! I used my iPhone to call Mr. Miller and let him know I was approaching, and he let me know where to look. Suddenly, there they were:
My light at the end of 14 miles thus far. My work wife Alyssa was with them, she's not pictured. I'll try to find one because she's a good friend, great supporter, and child sponsor!
My dad holding my family's sign!
My mommy hugging her smelly little girl.
Mr. Miller smiling after a sweaty kiss (Not sure if we got it on camera...)

Needless to say, this was an amazing cheer squad. They were inspiring and loud and proud! I got choked up leaving them. I knew I had only 12 miles left. I could do this. I felt good. I entered the Queensboro Bridge and was immediately frustrated. Again, runners etiquette: If you're going to walk, move to the side. Nope. I'd say 75% of the people were walking, and they were ALL. OVER. THE. BRIDGE. I had to bob and weave and it was frustrating. I could run this bridge. I may run slow, but I wasn't walking. I didn't want to be the jerk to say "Run or get out of the way!" but I sure felt like it. Thankfully I used my manners and quietly channeled that into running a tough hill. Enter 1st Avenue.

Manhattan: Now mind you, I still had to pee. We're now 15 miles in and every port-a-potty is a game time decision. I chose no every time. I figured if I ran I'd sweat it out. It technically worked! Manhattan was awesome. Cheers, noise makers, signs, it didn't matter who they were cheering for specifically, they rooted for anyone and everyone! As we approached the Bronx, I braced myself for the wall at mile 20 and the bridge shortly thereafter. (Sidenote: I had a dream last week that I didn't hit the wall and entered Central Park perfectly fine...my only good marathon dream!) Mile 20. No wall.

Bronx: Bridge. No wall. Mile 21. Moving strong. The Bronx was OUT AND ABOUT! Rappers screaming my name, church goers singing and encouraging, it was AWESOME. It was not as nearly as quiet as I had envisioned. Bronx, thanks for giving me a fantastic push back into Manhattan! Spoiler alert: Dream came true. I never hit the wall. I may have been slow, but I did this, unlike most things, gracefully!

Manhattan: Mile 22 got me big time. Not in the way you're thinking. There was a really cool feature for the race called "Support Your Marathoner", where family and friends could record a video or a digital message to be shown on a screen when you ran over a sensor. Well, it happened for me. As I rounded Mile 22, the screen above me flashed a video of Mr. Miller and Lambeau Puppy waving and smiling. Tears. I got all sorts of choked up and it pushed me to meet them on 95th Street and 5th Avenue. This was the home stretch. Of my very first marathon. No wall. No peeing.
I ran right up to them! (My legs look good here!) My friends Nick, Rebecca, and Nadia joined in the cheer squad to get me to the home stretch. They were amazingly louder than Queens and excited!!!

Rebecca jumped in to run! Rebecca would be the girl to my left in fierce heeled boots, an adorable jacket, a flashy white purse, and running with me!!! She kept up for a 1/4 of a mile. R, you're the bestest. I love you too much!!! After this I ran by the Team World Vision cheer section and they were STOKED! I loved their energy and support. THANKS AGAIN TO ALL MY CHEER SQUADS!

Central Park: (It's not a borough, but it is epic in its own right!) As I entered the park, the crowd was definitely still alive and well. I even got a slow clap chant! However, it wasn't enough. I needed an extra boost. So I put on my ipod and let the music take control/let the music move you. That selection of music is as follows:

The Time (Dirty Bit) - Black Eyed Peas
Any Way You Want it - Journey
Otis - Jay-Z and Kanye West
All I Do is Win - DJ Kalle
We Found Love - Rihanna

Then, it was time to become a finisher.

The final .1 of the marathon. My childhood neighbors' parents were there, siblings, fiances, all in the grand stands waiting for their family members who were about 10 minutes behind me. All of a sudden I hear "KRISSSSSTTTTTINNNN!" and my girl Stephanie is screaming her heart out! Then I see Carl and Vicki and I start BAWLING. Down to the very end, I was supported. I was cheered for. I was pushed forward.

The finish. I crossed the finish line, tried to hold it together for a good finish line photo, and then sob/heaved/sobbed. It was the most fulfilling moment to complete a project that has taken not only running, but the sponsoring of children. It all hit me there. It wasn't just about the run. It was about making a difference in the world THROUGH THE RUN. I got my medal picture taken, and then things turned ugly. I don't want to ruin a great post about a life changing experience, but dearest NYRR, that finish line walk to exit the park is unacceptable. I am slightly claustrophobic, and I almost went into panic mode. From the finish to finding the exit, it took 20 minutes of muscle tightening standing and moving an inch, standing and moving an inch. Thankfully, I found the exit, and my loves with my warm clothes!!! I finally peed, well over 5 hours after I had initially had to go. It was sweet, glorious, and a lot! Thankfully I found these cool people with my belongings. They helped dress me, change my socks and shoes, etc:
My cheer squad! NOTE: That's only HALF of my family in the photo! I'm one of six kids!
Proud mommy and daddy. They had an adventurous day running around the city with Mr. Miller!
Proud husband and trying to calm down his near panic attack ridden wife. So glad to be in his sweatshirt.
The whole gang together. After this, we had quite the taxi ride home, but it was worth it to simply be sitting.

Marathon finish time: 5:10:23

This is a really overwhelming thing to write about. I really didn't want to write a review yet. However, I wanted to remember things as vividly as I could. I'll end with a quote I saw in the Nike Town Store:

"The real purpose of running isn't to win a race, it's to test the limits of the human heart."
- Bill Bowerman

My heart has been tested. My body has been tested. My mind has been tested.

I am a finisher.

I Run New York.

1 day since the ING NYC MARATHON!!!