Archive for January 2014

The Weekend to Nowhere

Shotblocked! Run Attempt #1

Last Saturday I brought myself back to the gym with the goal of running 12 miles. I have been unusually and incredibly busy the last two weeks, between work/internship/and grand jury duty with a dash of sickness/visiting family/ and theater tickets. But since I had a half marathon the following Sunday, and Bear Mountain waits for no one, it was time to dust off my Garmin (literally) and get my act together.

By the time I got out of work and got to the gym, it was already 5:30, I told the mister “I am going to run and run and run and never stop, though realistically, I will be stopping around 7:30, home around 8.”

Shot BlocksI began my run feeling a little sluggish, but lucky for me, I had also planned to use this distance run as a chance to play around with ½ marathon distance fueling in the form of shot blocks. (I had previously tried, some two weeks before, on a 13 mile run, I took a smaller-than-serving-size bit because I wanted to make sure they would gel with my stomach). So this time at mile 4, I popped the suggested three and slogged on. Thankfully, somewhere around mile 6 1/2  or 7, they really kicked in. My legs began to feel steady and forceful, my breathing steadied inesto something resembling rhythmic, and I had found my second wind on a run where I missed my first.

This was going great! I was going to hit my goal, there was a great movie on t.v., the gym was really mellow. I made a mental note: Saturday nights, nice and roomy. Too roomy. SURPRISE! Gym closes at 7. This I realize at 6:55 as one of the trainers shuts off all of the tvs. Wont. wont wahhhhhhhhh. I left with 8 ½ miles in my pocket and once more reminder that the Blink! Fri/Sat night hours blow.

Car-tastrophe

That Sunday I woke up early, around 5:30 a.m. to watch the mister’s television debut on a morning program. He was spectacular!

A couple hours later, I ran to the metro north and headed up to Woodlawn. I met my aunt and brother for a yoga class at
Nueva Alma on Mclean Avenue in Yonkers. My brother was actually in the middle of going to back to back classes, and my aunt and I joined him for the second one. I knew within the first 4 minutes that this class was probably just out of my range, but I was ready to sweat and determined to shrug off how massively silly I looked. And it was awesome. Erica, who I have had as an instructor at that studio twice now, is awesome. She is the best combination of chatty, tough, and approachable- with just the right emphasis on the tangible aspects as the intangible ones.

After yoga, and a well needed breakfast and shower, my aunt, mister, his brother, and I joined their mother for late lunch (early dinner? what do you call stew at 3 o’clock?) in Bronxville.

Old Rusty

Old Rusty

The trip home was a bit more complicated. I had taken the Metro North up. But the mister had driven and along the way his 614 BC Mazda imploded. Lucky for him, even though it was smoking heavily from the hood, a little old lady yelled over that “something is wrong with your car.” Long story short, we played several games of “musical cars” and eventually relied on ol’ Rusty (also known as ol’ Drafty) to get us home.

Run Attempt #2

Monday, after completing the final round of musical cars, and then researching every single type of car currently for sale, I suited up for a chilly run on the east side esplanade. Of course, since this was the weekend to nowhere, I only made it about 2/3rds of my intended distance. Blocked by some very official looking fences courtesy of the City of New York, will the construction over there ever end? Me thinks not.

All in all, sometimes things don’t go as planned- for example, finishing this post in a timely manner. But eventually, things will come around. SPOILER ALERT: That half marathon? Turns out just fine.

 

Fred Lebow Manhattan Half- Race Recap

Today was my first race of 2014! And with sub-20 degree temps and 13.1 miles to tackle it was quite a day! The Fred Lebow Manhattan Half is the first of six races in the New York Road Runner’s Borough Series (5 Borough’s + the NYC Half), and dedicated to the founder of the New York City Marathon.

I first became with Fred Lebow’s story (dare I say legacy?) when I stumbled across the documentary, “Run for Your Life” (2008,) on Netflix which centers on his impact on running events with NYRR. However, this December, when I was volunteering at a bib pickup at NYRRs headquarters on 89th Street, the “mandatory” volunteers like myself, had the opportunity to meet many of the older true volunteers who came for reasons other than fulfilling a 9+1 credit. And I will never forget at least two of them -each completely independent of the other- would get a faraway look in their eyes and smile as they recounted a story about Fred’s enthusiasm about something as usual as sorting bib numbers. And for that, as fantastic as “Run for Your Life” was, I feel like I learned more about Lebow in the 2 minutes I watched his friends remember him.

It was also for these reasons that amid the threat of a “feels like -1 degree” weather forecast and potentially icy course conditions, that many runner’s pressed for NYRRs to continue the race as planned instead of canceling it (as they were considering last night).

It was probably some combination of Fred’s spirit prevailing and the cold winds not that culminated in the race continuing. And by 7:55 the mister and I were running from our car to the corrals, where I managed to squeeze in just before the gun.

Let’s break it down.

Miles 1-6: Not bad. Feeling strong. The hardest part was chewing super cold Shot Blocks.

Mile 7: Internal monologue: “Hey! I just ran 7 miles in 1 hour. Looks like I might come in under 2:00 hrs on light training after all. Wait, now I should try to shave 3 mins off of that and PR too….” Cue number crunching and minor stress.

Mile 8: Motivated by a high five from someone in a bunny suit, and the idea of a fuel-ingesting walk break reward after my favorite downhill.

Mile 9-12: Better understanding of why people cry might cry when they hit the wall during marathons. Beginning to think I pushed to hard to get to that walk break because my legs are finally feeling shot. Also, I know I am way behind on my water intake, but my stomach has had it today and any more and I know I am risking full blown cramps.

Mile 13: Longest mile of my life? Probably not. Quickest mile of my life? Definitely not.

And at long last, the finish! I lost my mister for the whole race, but found him again (with a huge scarf and an even bigger smile) exactly as they announced my name and a moment later I was crossing the finish. It. Was. Awesome.

1:55:44 – my new 1/2 marathon PR didn’t hurt either. 

Oh yeah, and then this happened!

"To a Cold Weather Runner"

To: ” A Cold Weather Runner!”

I saw the High-Five Bunny again.

Me (to the mister)- It’s that bunny!
Bunny (comes over for high five)
Me- I already got a high five earlier! It was great!
Bunny- Oh yeah. You want a gift card?
Me (suspicious new york style)- Um, kind of.
Bunny (gives me $20 Jack Rabbit Gift Card)

So I guess that makes him a High-Five Jack Rabbit?

December- Gone in a Blink!

December was quite a busy month for me; lots of running all around, both literally and figuratively. I completed my 9+1 volunteer requirement, ran the Ted Corbitt 15K, qualified for the New York City Marathon, created my winter/spring training plan, and joined the gym!

Blink Fitness Gym PassWhy join a gym at all when Central Park is the stuff my dreams are made of?

Cold. I have gotten much better this winter about forcing myself to run in the cold… that and a combination of being forced to run in the cold, but I digress. I can only take so much.

Snow. Ice. Snow and Ice. Let’s face it, running in snow and ice regularly seems to be just asking for an injury. No, thank you.

Cross training. Since I am planning on increasing my mileage, it’s becoming increasingly important to me to develop a thought out, sustainable workout regime. By supplementing cross training hopefully I can increase my overall fitness and strength, and decrease my chances of injury.

I ended up choosing Blink! Fitness for a couple of reasons:

Price. As the proud owner (re., reluctant holder) of a gross amount of student loans, I can’t afford to spend $100+ monthly on a gym membership – which is unfortunately what most gyms in Manhattan seem to charge. Moreover, even if I could spend that much, I’m not even sure I would want to.

Yelp. Planet Fitness falls into the same price range as Blink!, but I’m not gonna lie, I read their yelp reviews and they succeeded in putting me off.

Free trial? Yes please! Last year I tried a Blink! gym as my aunt’s guest and I loved it. Once they grew their locations to be accessible to my job, my internship, and my home, I knew we were meant to be- I would join this gym.

One month later, I am still loving it.

-Tons of treadmills… …in front of tons of tvs.

-Tons of lockers.

-Clean, clean, and clean- this gym feels as clean as a gym could. Only downside is the percentage of people who actually wipe down their machine when they are done is about 1 in 3. People, stop being gross.

-Friendly staff- as I was getting my card scanned in, the desk attendant asks, “Are you excited for your workout today?” Since I had just gotten off of work, and had been literally dreaming of running all day, I was excited. Realizing it only made me more stoked.

Also, it has really helped me get back into my running groove this winter. Beginning this December I began keeping track of my (running) miles so that I can stay on track and gauge my progress as I prepare for my spring marathon. This is what December looked like:

december running

It’s not ideal, but it’s a good baseline and I feel like I have finally caught up to my mid-october intensity. Watch out, January, it’s on.